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The Catastrophic Case of the Cutiemark Crusaders.

Chapter 3

Sour Apples

Apple Bloom opened her eyes, in the normal fashion one does upon waking up. The sunlight streamed in through the window in the corner. It made the dust floating in the air look rather pretty, which was good because there was quite a lot of it.

        Apple Bloom’s room was a small affair on the second floor of Sweet Apple Acres, a house placed squarely in the center of the farmland her grandmother owned. It shone a bright red, as did everything, it was an apple farm after all. It only made sense for things to look apple-ish, otherwise they’d look like some other fruit, perhaps a pear and that simply wouldn’t do.

        The small filly got up and walked blearily over to the small mirror Big Mac had attempted to nail to the wall upon her request. Most of the wall was still being repaired, but the mirror seemed to work fine, despite his best efforts. She placed her mane, un-ironically, in a ponytail behind her head with a ribbon, tying it into a bow. This is a very hard thing to do with hooves, but somehow she managed. She always wore the same red ribbon in her mane, without fail. It was a special ribbon, one of the few things Big Mac had been able to save from the fire that destroyed their home. She was too little at the time to have any proper memory of the night it’d happened, but memory is a funny thing. She could recall no images, yet if she concentrated hard enough, she could feel the heat and smell the smoke.

It smelled of burning apples.

She was told the ribbon was her mother’s, a mare she had never met. It was the only thing she had, they each had one, a tiny memento from the house. Whenever the story was told they would say Big Mac almost died trying to get them out. It was too late for her parents, but if the Apple Family wasn’t stubborn they wouldn’t be the Apple Family, they’d be some other family, perhaps the Pear Family and that simply wouldn’t do. They couldn’t just walk away from their home with nothing.

Applejack had gotten a hat, a wide brimmed Stetson, it had once been her father’s. In the old pictures her Grandmother kept under the cabinet that they were never to open under any circumstance -which she had on good authority contained salt-licks- he wore it in every frame. He was always smiling, a strong orange stallion, hard at work in the fields, or sitting at a table in good humor. Applejack almost never removed it. They’d gotten the scorch marks repaired, but I can attest to the fact that on hot days it still smelled like smoke, among other things.

Big Mac got the last thing he was able to drag from the flames, a yoke, a word which here means ‘That weird thing he always wears around his neck’. For those that are unaware it is a device meant to attach a plow to a work pony. Sadly there are no pictures of Mr.Apple wearing this device, all of them were either lost to the fire, time, or a badly placed coffee mug. Still, one can only assume he spent many hours plowing the field before the harvest in that very same collar. Which is why Big Mac insisted on wearing it, even in the winter, when there is in fact nothing to plow.

Apple Bloom yawned, examining her work in the mirror. A perfect bow as always.  She shook the sleep away and did a quick  spin, examining her flank. Much like two other rather unfortunate fillies, it was blank. She sighed, she was more than old enough to have found a talent by this point, but it remained elusive. Still, there was little to be done about such things, she’d tried to force it, but the issue would not be rushed.

“Apple Bloom!” Called her sister from the kitchen. “Soup’s on!”

She quickly made her bed, straightened her room and made her way down stairs. The kitchen smelled lovely as it always did. Apple pancakes sat steaming on the table next to various other apple themed foods, one of which was a plate of apple brownies, which I shall not go into. Let us simply say that the Apple Family was very efficient in the use of the apples nopony bought. The smell of the fruit, cooked in a hundred different ways, filled the small room completely. It was a quaint dining area, once again apple themed, to go with the spread of food: Apple napkin holders, apple salt  and pepper shakers -containing apple and pepper salt-, apple bowls, apple plates and apple chairs. The window in the corner, apple shaped of course, was open to let the sunlight in and the heat of the kitchen out.  Apple Bloom briefly noted a small pear shaped spice rack jutting out the bin in the corner, barely out of it’s packaging.

Granny Smith sat in a rocking chair in the corner. Apple Bloom couldn’t tell if she was asleep or not, as the wrinkles around her eyes made her look as though she were napping all the time regardless of what she was doing. Wrinkles are often not considerate of such things.

“Granny?” she hazarded.

There was a general mumbling reply. Something about the fillies these days, as far as Apple Bloom could tell.

“Granny? Breakfast is ready, come to the table.” She shook the old mare with her forelegs.

“Huh? What? Tell him I don’t want any.” Granny mumbled, stirring slightly.

“No, Granny, it’s breakfast time, come on now, get up!” Apple Bloom urged, shaking her a bit more.

Applejack came in, carrying a tray of apple juice. She stepped around Apple Bloom, careful not to spill anything. She sat it on the table and looked questioningly at her grandmother.

“She won’t get up again.” said Apple Bloom.

“Oh just leave her, she needs her sleep I reckon.” Applejack picked up a blanket from behind the chair and draped it over the old mare. “She’ll eat when she gets up, I’ll save her somethin’”

Granny began to mumble again. “Mmmmh, yes Mr.Breezy I li-”

Apple Bloom was unable to hear the rest of that sentence, as Applejack quickly placed her hooves over over her ears.

“Big Macintosh!” she called. “Get in here and move your Granny! She’s startin’ to talk in her sleep again!”

The large stallion poked his head in through the window, almost blocking out the sunlight with his massive frame. “What’s that?” he asked.

Still covering Apple Bloom’s ears, Applejack nodded over to Granny Smith, who was till mumbling things small fillies ought not to hear.

Big Mac nodded back. He quickly trotted over to the door and walked inside. He hefted Granny, chair and all, onto his back as though they weighed nothing and walked up the stairs to deliver the sleeping mare to her bedroom.

Applejack went back to preparing the food as usual.  Apple Bloom stood, unsure what to do with herself and wondering what Mr.Breezy had to do with anything.

Big Mac reappeared shortly and they sat down to eat. This wasn’t the first time they’d eaten alone, it seemed to happen more often than not. While their grandmother meant well, she wasn’t the mare she once was. They ate in silence, pondering, as young ponies in such a situation are prone to ponder, what it might be like if things were different.  

I can attest to the fact that this is a rather bad habit. I’ve found that pondering what might happen if one’s life was different hardly ever helps matters and can in fact make things worse. This is more so if you find yourself pondering how life might be different if you hadn’t poked that manticore. Though the answer is rather obvious in that you probably wouldn’t be screaming something along the lines of “Oh Celestia help me I’m being eaten by a manticore.” and that the life you would be pondering would be a lot longer.

In anycase, as the Apple children sat around their breakfast, they were quite unaware that their lives were about to became very much different, more so for Apple Bloom than the others. They were also unaware that this would not be a good thing. In fact, it would be a very bad thing, a very bad thing indeed.

Apple Bloom sat, picking at her apple pancakes. Wondering what breakfast had been like at her parents’ farm. She was the only one of the three who had never seen her parents when they were alive. She only had pictures and her imagination.

“Hey Applejack?” she asked softly.

“Yes Apple Bloom?”

“Can you tell me what mama was like?”

Apple Bloom often asked this question, and Applejack’s reply was always the same. She’d smile a kind of far away smile and say, “Why your mama was the kindest pony in all of Equestria. She had mane, just like this,” then she’d ruffle Apple Bloom’s mane.”and a coat just like this,” then she’d tickle Apple Bloom’s sides. “and eyes just like those.”  then she’d point to Applbloom’s big brown eyes. The little filly would laugh, and Big Mac would look on with that same far away smile.

Then Applejack would go on. “She was a hard worker too.” she’d say. “Never went a day

without doin’ a bit of work. She’d run circles around your Daddy sometimes, always giving him a run for his money.” Then her sister’s voice would go soft. “They loved each other very much Apple Bloom, your Mama and Daddy. But they loved you even more. Don’t you ever forget that.”

I can say with surety that Apple Bloom never would forget this. Through all the trials and

tribulations that would befall her, she would never forget that simple fact. Sadly I can also say that there would indeed be trials and tribulations for her to remember this through, and it was at this point one of them chose to ring the doorbell.  

        “Who could that be?” asked Applejack.

        The doorbell rang again.

        “Okay I’m coming, I’m coming! Keep your horseshoes on.” she walked over to the door and opened it to find three ponies standing there.

        The one in the middle was a fancy looking grey mare. Her mane reached all the way down to her hooves and her cutie mark was a bass cleft. She leered into the Apple home the same way one might leer into a dumpster when they’ve dropped something valuable inside and are contemplating whether or not it’s worth it to go in to get it.

        “Hello, sir.” she said with forced happiness. She looked Applejack up and down. “Or madam. My name is Crescendo, can I have a moment of your time?”

        The other two who’d come with her leaned in greedily. I’m sorry to say their names are lost to the records. We shall simply refer to them the pony who was far too big and the pony who was far too small. This may be confusing for some, as the pony who was far too big was only a little taller than Apple Bloom, while the pony who was far too small stretched lankily over big Mac’s head. We describe them this way because it seemed to Apple Bloom that they looked as though they had had gotten each other’s body parts.

        The pony that was far too big opened his rather small mouth to reveal a set of teeth the size of fence posts. His large eyes focused on Applejack  “Yes, we have a few few questions regarding miss....uh...” he drawled.

        The pony who was far too small opened his rather large mouth to reveal a set of teeth the size of tooth picks. “Apple Bloom” he said quickly, his beady little eyes swinging every which way.

        The grey mare, Crescendo, shushed them.

        “Yes, I’m happy to report that your sister has received a full scholarship to the Blueblood Academy of Music for Fillies.”

        Applejack eyed the strangers warily. “Apple Bloom never applied for no Academy.”

        Crecendo smiled a plastic smile. “But this is a high honor. One need not apply, we only select the most musically talented fillies in Equestria for this Academy.”

        “But Apple Bloom’s never played in instrument in her life.” said Applejack resolutely. “I’m sorry, but I think ya’ll got the wrong address.”

        She tried to close the door, only to find the pony who was far too small  had stuck his hoof in the doorframe.

        “I assure you sir or madam,” Crescendo continued. “That this is no mistake. Why don’t we just come in for a moment and talk this over with a nice cup of tea?”

        Applejack grunted, trying harder to close the door. “No thank you...Miss...I tell ya we ain’t interested.”

        “But, sir or madam, this is a great opportunity for Applebuck.”

        “That’s Apple Bloom!” Applejack pushed even harder against the door. The pony who was far too small began to whimper slightly. “And how many times do I have to say it!? She ain’t never played no instruments and she ain’t going off to your academy, you hear!?” With a great shove the door finally closed. Behind it Applejack could hear the pony who was far too small cursing and grunting as he nursed his injured hoof. “Good riddance.”

        She walked back into the kitchen.

        “Who was that? asked Apple Bloom.

        “No one you need to worry about.” said Applejack, taking a bite of her pancakes. “Just someponies’ workin’ a scam I’m sure. ‘ Blueblood Academy of Music for Fillies’ my hoof.”

        The three young ponies jumped as Crescendo’s head popped through the window. “At the Blueblood Academy of Music for Fillies we’ll train young Apple Bloom’s hooves in the finest of musical skills! Please reconsider, sir or madam.”

        “You hard of hearing?” asked Applejack. “I said no!” she slammed the window.

        A pamphlet worked it’s way underneath. “Are you sure? Have some literature, I assure you we will take the up most care of your young filly and or colt. Applecore will only have the finest of room and board, the best food Equestria has to offer and the most renowned teachers in academia.”

        “I don’t care if you’re going to teach her to turn pennies to peaches, I don’t want your fancy pamphlet and she ain’t going!” Applejack shoved the paper back outside.

        “What’s she talking about sis?” asked Apple Bloom.

        “It’s a couple of city ponies, come down here out of the blue talking about some fancy music school. It don’t sit right with me.” Applejack said resolutely.

        “Music school? But I don’t know the first thing about music.” said Apple Bloom confused.

        “That’s what I told’m. They ain’t taking you Apple Bloom, that’s that.”

        Granny Smith, who had an excellent sense of bad timing, chose this time to walk down the stairs. “What’s, what?” she asked sleepily.  

        “It’s nothing to concern yourself with Granny.” said Applejack.

        “Sir, or madam! I beg you to reconsider!” called Crescendo from outside.

        “What’s that!?” asked Granny Smith, looking suspiciously at the three young ponies eating dinner. “Are you ignoring someone at the door? Well that ain’t no Apple hospitality I ever heard of. I taught ya’ll better than that!” she hobbled shakily over to the door and opened it. “Yes, who is it?”

        Crescendo looked Granny Smith over in a lion-y sort of way. “Oh hello Mr. or Mrs. Apple. I was jus-”

        The pony who was far too small cut her off, shoving a clipboard towards Granny Smith and a pen into her mouth. “Sign here please.”

        “Oh, sure.” she said around the pen. “Have I won something?”

        Crescendo stared at the old mare in disbelief, but quickly hid it. “Um...Oh yes! Apple Bloom has won an all expense paid trip to Cantorlot!”

        “Hot dog!” yelled Granny, signing the paper. “Apple Bloom, did you hear that? You lucky filly! I can see you already, hob-knobing with the city folk.”

        Applejack looked around frantically. “I thought you said it was a music academy!?”

        “That would be silly.” said Crescendo. “You yourself said Applebomb doesn’t play any instruments.”

        The orange mare looked at her Grandmother imploringly.

        “That’s just silly Applejack,” said Granny “she’s right, Apple Bloom doesn’t play any instruments.”  she turned to the small Filly, who was trying to hide behind Big Macintosh. “Apple Bloom, go up and pack your things,” she smiled. “You’re going on vacation!”

        “That won’t be necessary.” said Crescendo quickly. “Everything she needs will be provided for her.” she nodded to the pony who was far too small.

        He walked into the house to get Apple Bloom, Big Mac and Applejack hopped in front of their little sister defensively.

        Granny Smith frowned. “Now you two let our little Apple Bloom have her fun. I know you’re worried, and that’s all well and good. But she needs to get out and see the world to grow up proper. Now go on, scoot!”

        “But Granny!!

        “I said scoot!”

        So, Applejack and Big Mac moved away and allowed the pony who was far too small to lead Apple Bloom to the door. She looked back at her Grandmother, who was beaming proudly. I feel I must defend her in saying that she thought she was doing the right thing at the time. Unfortunately for Apple Bloom she was not. And the poor old mare would regret this decision for the rest of her days.

 Applejack followed her to the carriage that lay waiting, looking fiercely at three ponies who were taking her away. Applebloom could see the fire in her sister’s eyes. She knew Applejack wanted to give each one of them a buck in the teeth, and take her sister back into the house herself, but their grandmother stood smiling and waving right behind her. Bucking guests in the teeth would be far from ‘Apple Hospitality’.

        So, her only possession being her mother’s bow, tied tightly into her mane. Apple Bloom was taken from her home and into the beginning of her own very sad story.


Chapter Four

Frantic Fashion

Rarity rushed hurriedly around Carousel Boutique, cutting fabric, measuring, sewing threads and generally doing a spot on impression of a humming bird having a panic attack. This is not because she was in fact doing anything related to small nectar eating birds, but because for the first time in the last few months she’d gotten a large order.

Rarity was a rather obsessive unicorn, in that she always wanted everything to be perfect. This is a highly unrealistic goal do to the fact nothing in this world is in fact totally perfect, except perhaps a well baked cupcake. Though the fact that making seventy one dresses in the course of three days was in no way related to baked goods was certainly not going to stop her from trying.

Sweetie Belle stepped through the doorway into the boutique.She’d just gotten back from helping Cherrilie, the local schoolteacher, with cleaning up after her latest endeavor. She considered saying something to Rarity, but quickly abandoned the idea. Talking to a busy Rarity was a bit like trying to talk to a comet. You could try, but they were often moving far too fast to hear you.  

The small unicorn filly trudged up to her room. Rarity didn’t even notice, she was far too enthralled in picking a nice lace hemming for the nearest evening gown at near the speed of light.

This is not to say that Rarity was a bad sister, quite the opposite, she was simply a busy one. After the unfortunate death of their parents she had been saddled with the burden of providing for both herself and Sweetie. She did everything she did out of love, though at times it left her younger sister alone in her room.

Sweetie was used to such a life, it was lonely, but at the very least stable. She opened the door to her room, walking past a large pile of failed sewing attempts. Most of which were a hideous color and still more that had an overabundance of legs. She’d tried several times to take up the art of sewing in an attempt to help her sister around the shop, but it was simply not her talent. She sighed as she walked past the vanity mirror looking at her hindquatters. Here our final resident of Hooftown stared at her blank flank in low spirits. The fillies and colts at school had all found their talents. Why not her? She knew of only two others who had not yet received a cutie mark. The young filly from the Apple Family, and that Pegasus from the filly’s home on the edge of town. The other fillies teased them mercilessly.

Something that ponies who do not fit in will often find, is that there are few things in this world more cruel than a classroom full of small foals. A classroom can be compared to the hierarchy of a pack of wolves in the way that the strongest come out as the leaders, regardless of personality. It is also similar in the way that the wolf that is born slightly smaller, or perhaps with an extra leg is often one of two things, the one that gets the smallest cut of caribou, or supper.

Sweetie Belle opened one of the vanity’s many drawers, taking out a check list. She grabbed a nearby marker and drew a large red X over the words ‘Archery Cutie Mark’. The local nurse had made her promise never to obtain a mark that involved sharp objects and on a separate, but equally important note, live targets. Rather unfairly really, they had managed to stop the bleeding eventually.

What was her talent? She wondered. Would she ever find it? She’d tried so many things to no avail. She wasn’t a fantastic designer like her sister, good at math, or science, or drawing or dancing.

She wasn’t good at anything.

It is in times like this when doubt creeps in and the brain, at times an awful, awful thing to have, turns to the worst of thoughts. Things like: ‘What if I never find my talent? I’ll  be an outcast forever. A talentless, useless outcast.’ Then to still worse thoughts like ‘Oh, who am I kidding...I’m that already.’

Tears stung the corners of her eyes as these things crossed her mind. She thought like this often. Her sister supported them both and she could do nothing to help. She had tried to learn to sew, she’d tried so hard, but nothing had come of it. She wanted so much to be useful, to be something, anything. Still, she always ended up alone in her room, her flank as blank as ever.

        At the moment, Sweetie felt unwanted, and indeed, unneeded as well. But, very shortly, a series of events I dearly wish I could have stopped, would show her she was wrong. She was wanted and she was needed and very soon, she would wish she was neither.

        “Sweetie Belle!” called Rarity from downstairs.

        The small filly’s head jerked up at the sound. She quickly dried her tears and raced down the stairs to her sister’s workshop. She always leapt at the chance to be helpful.

        “Yes, Rarity?” She asked hopefully.

        He sister gazed down at her, speaking around a collection of sewing needles clenched in her teeth. “It appears I’m out of purple #42 fabric. I simply must have it to complete this order. But I haven’t got the time to run down to the fabric shop. Would you be a dear and fetch some for me? There’s money on the table.”

        “Oh,” said Sweetie, unsure. “Are you sure you want me to do it? I’ll probably just get the wrong one.” her head drooped.

        Rarity looked at her sister, spitting out the needles and halting all work. She knelt down next to the small filly with a frown. “Now, Sweetie, I know full well you can do this. You’re my sister after all and no sister of Rarity’s shall talk like that I’ll have you know!” she smiled. “I have total faith in you.”

        She brightened a little. “Really?”

        “Of course dear, now run along, grab a little extra money and get something for yourself. But don’t dally darling! I really need this fabric. If you have trouble just remember this rhyme, ‘When we have much to do, remember purple #42.’ Got it?”

        Sweetie grinned. “I won’t let you down!” She dashed over to the counter, grabbed the money, and was out the door in the space of a second.

        Rarity stared for a moment, thinking perhaps her sister had disintegrated.

        “Bebackinaseconddon’tyouworry!” called a voice from halfway down the street.

        Rarity got the gist of this. She smiled, and went back to work.

        Sweetie ran as fast as her rather small legs could carry her to the town square. It is something that is often debated by scientist as to what the fastest thing is, and indeed what factors into the speed of anything. Many believe that it is in fact leg length plus muscle mass that contribute to the amount of speed given out by any creature at a given time. Small fillies and colts have neither of these things in very large supply, but disprove this theory in playgrounds around Equestria on a day to day basis. There are few things on earth faster than a happy filly.

        Several ponies leapt out of the way as a white and pink blur raced down the streets and walkways of ponyville. Sweetie Belle felt elated to finally have something to do. She could be useful, help her sister for once, instead of being a burden. It was freeing.

        She reached the fabric store in what documents would later show may or may not have been land-speed record. She skidded to a stop and entered with a skip in her step. What was the color Rarity wanted? She couldn’t forget. Was it Blue #27?  No, that wasn’t it. She thought back to the rhyme her sister had given her, When we have much to do, think.....think......

        “Oh dear.” Sweetie fretted. “I’ve forgotten it. She’s counting on me and I’ve...forgotten it. I really am useless.” She could feel the tears coming again. “She just told me not a minute ago...and I couldn’t even remember it that long.” She choked back a sob. “She needed me, and I’ve already failed.”

        Mrs.Wool, the shop owner, noticed Sweetie’s distress. “What’s wrong dear?” she asked softly.

        Sweetie Belle stood there, still trying not to cry. She couldn’t just break down, this was a simple request from her sister. She had to remember, she just had to. What was that rhyme? When we have much to do...think.....”

        Mrs.Wool was almost thrown off her hooves as Sweetie turned to face her, suddenly smiling. “Miss, I need some Purple #42 fabric!”

        The old mare collected herself. The small filly had gone from sad, to manically happy in the space of a few seconds. Mrs.Wool figured she ought to do what she said, and get her out of her shop as quickly as possible.

        Sweetie Belle did a little dance in the aisle.

        Better make that even quicker.

“Alright deary.” she said, eyeing Sweetie warily. “Coming up.”

        Sweetie carried the shopping bag full of fabric happily. She had remembered. She’d gotten it right. Maybe she wasn’t so useless after all. She stopped as she passed Sugarcube Corner. She’d earned a reward, she mused.

        As she was about to step through the door, something sparkled in the window of the next shop over. She stopped in her tracks and stared.

        It was a glass rose, it’s bloom, instead of red, was a brilliant purple. It glittered brilliantly in the sunlight. It was beautiful. It reminded her of Rarity. Sweetie looked between Sugarcube Corner and the shop window, wondering what to do. She thought back to her sister, she’d had faith in her. She’d trusted her, even when a mistake might mean she wouldn’t finish the biggest order they’d gotten in a while.

        She made up her mind.

        The shop bell rung dourly as she entered. It was an antique shop and in classic antique shop fashion, the interior was rather terrifying in the way that only dusty old wooden pony dolls and ancient unflattering paintings can be terrifying. This is to say, quite a lot. It had the same smell all such shops share. A rather unpleasant mix of old wood, old mold and old mares who have never heard the term ‘There’s such a thing as too much’ concerning the subject of perfume.

 An old unicorn stallion with a pair of glasses so small Sweetie wondered if they did anything sat behind the counter, smoking an dandelion pipe and reading a paper, apparently the owner. She walked over and attempted to reach the bell on top of the counter. She jumped several times, but found she was too short. The stallion continued reading his paper, unaware of the small filly, who was feeling smaller by the second, trying to get his attention.

        He finally noticed somewhere around the fifty-seventh jump.

        He peered down at her for a moment, chewing his pipe. She stopped jumping, deflating slightly at the imposing figure.

        “Um...excuse me sir.”

        He magically removed his pipe, and adjusted his glasses. “What is it?” he asked gruffly.

        “Well....I’d like to buy that rose in the window.”

        He looked impassively at the rose in question. “It’s seventy bits.”

        Sweetie looked into the small wallet she’d placed in the shopping bag. “Oh...I’ve only got ten...”

        “Well you can’t have it then.” the owner grunted.

        “Oh...” Sweetie paused. “Well what if I-”

        “Nope, no bits, no flower.”

        “But sir, it would be the perfect gift for my sister, and-”

        “What part of ‘No bit’s no flower’ did you have a hard time understanding. Now buy something else or get out.” He spat, returning to his paper.

        Sweetie Belle hung her head in defeat. “Thank you for you time.”

        The stallion grunted in response.

        As she turned to leave she heard a voice from the back room.

        “Honey? Honey what’s going on up there, I thought I heard voices.” An old unicorn mare with equally tiny glasses wandered into the front of the store, looking at her husband rather crossly. “Oh, hello there,” She said upon seeing the small filly standing rather dejectedly on the shop floor. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

        “’s well, Sweetie.” she said sheepishly.  

        The mare took a moment to process this. “Oh, well I guess I got it right off the bat then.” she smiled. Sweetie decided she liked this mare immediately. “I’m Mrs.Curio, that grump over there is my husband, Mr.Curio.” she nodded the the stallion, who grunted the affirmative. “You looking for anything in particular dear?”

        “Oh,” Sweetie stared at her hooves, pawing the ground slightly. “I wanted to buy that rose in the window....but I don’t have enough money.”

        Mrs.Curio frowned. “Well, that’s certainly a problem.”

        “Yes, I know, I’ll just leave then. It was nice meeting you Mrs.Curio.” Sweetie turned sadly to the door.

        “Well now, wait a minute little Filly.” Mrs. Curio held up a hoof. “I said it was a problem. I never said we couldn’t work around it.”

        Sweetie stopped, confused. “But I’ve only got ten bits. I can’t afford it.”

        “Oh, but Sweetie, you’re forgetting about the sale.” The old mare smiled.

        “What sal-” Mr.Curio grunted as he found a hoof kicking him sharply in the leg.

        “Oh you silly old stallion. The sale that depends on one thing.” she leaned down and looked Sweetie in the eye. “Who’s it for?”

        The small filly’s face broke out in a grin. “Oh it’s for my sister Mrs.Curio! My sister Rarity.”

        “Is she a special person?” asked Mrs.Curio, raising an eyebrow.

        “Oh yes, the most!”

        “Do you love her?”

        “More than anything!”

        Mrs.Curio chuckled. “Well then, go ahead.”

        Sweetie paused. “Huh?”

        “Well, don’t doddle, pack up that rose, and take it to that sister of yours, she sounds like she’s really something.  

        Sweetie jumped up and hugged her. “Oh thank you! She’ll love it! She really will!”

        “If you’re the one getting it I know she will.” the rose floated over to the counter where Mrs.Curio wrapped it carefully in old Equestria Dailies. “But be careful with it dear, it’s very fragile.”

        “I will! Oh, I’ll be very careful! She said, carefully placing it in her shopping bag. “Do you have some paper?”

        “Hmm? Why do you ask?”

        “I wanted to write a note to go with it. My sister’s very busy, I don’t want to disturb her, so I was going to leave it among her supplies and I want to write something special so she knows how much I love her.”

        Mrs.Curio smiled. “I’m sure she knows already.” her horn glowed as she refiled through some drawers, “But In that case, yes, we do have paper. Just tell me what you want to say, I’ll write it down. That way you can hurry and get back to your sister.”


Sweetie trotted back to the boutique in high spirits. She’d been useful and helped her sister, plus she’d gotten her something she just knew Rarity would love. The rose jangled around in the bag. Mrs.Curio had even invited her back for tea next time she was in town. She liked the old mare, and looked forwards to getting to know her better.

        It is at this point, you may have noticed that this story is getting far too happy. If you would like it to remain this way, please stop reading here, and go read something else. Maybe something involving Fluttershy’s day feeding turtles. You will be much happier for having made this decision. If you are the kind of person that enjoys this sort of thing, then either keep reading, or seek help immediately. I shall wait while you make either choice.


 If you are reading this, then you did not take my subtle warning. You really should have, but since you wish to continue I shall not stop you. Sadly it is at this moment in this unfortunate story, that Sweetie took a short cut and it is at this time of day that nopony was paying attention to the small filly taking the almost deserted road home and it is indeed at this point that the very nasty, vile ponies that weren’t very nice at all in our story got her. There were no schemes, there were no tricks. No, they were done with that. The  ‘Grab her and toss her in the carriage’ method was so much quicker. So that’s exactly what happened. A carriage pulled up, the driver asked Sweetie how her day was and as she turned to answer a pair of hooves shot out, grabbed her and pulled her inside. Behind her the shopping bag dropped, and there was the sound of glass shattering.

To Sweetie, there would be few worse sound than this in her life. She had no time to dwell on this though, because at the moment she found herself in what could very generously be described as a sack. Heading far away from her sister, her town, and almost anyone who could help her.

To be continued (Unfortunately)

Told you to stop reading