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Short version: I forgot to add the link to Trials Part 8 in the description for Trials Part 7.

Just in case here it is:  Trials and Tribulations Part 8.0“Shining Armor, are you certain?” Rarity looked at the Guard Captain and asked, “Could it be possible that Pinkie made a mistake?”
Twilight shook her head, “I doubt it. Pinkie remembers the name of everypony in she has ever met. I’m not about to question her memory, especially on something this important.” She brought a hoof to her chin and stared at the parchment.
Rarity shuddered and asked, “But why would anypony want such a spell?” She glanced at Twilight and nudged her.
Twilight snapped out of her thoughts and turned to face Rarity, “I’m sorry. What was that?”
“I asked why anypony would want such a spell? The very idea of using a spell to...” She paused and said as she looked over the spell again, “How does it work? I always thought the Princesses were immortal.”
Twilight nodded, “They are. As terrifying as the prospect of a spell that can kill an alicorn, I don’t see how it-



Long version: I updated my AppleShy series back in June, and I made pretty big error.

Thanks to killermidget42 . They asked when the next part was coming out. A good question, I'm currently working on the tentatively called "Storming the Mansion" but it's slow going, but what stood out was that the comment came from Trials Part 7.

I had a sinking feeling that I screwed up, and, when I checked the description for Part 7, sure enough I neglected to add the link to Part 8.

I feel like such an idiot for neglecting such an important step, but I fixed it.

As for why I'm posting this basically useless journal post, It's just my way of sharing the link to part 8.

I hope to have the next part up soon, but I will be needing a pre reader for it. I'm not looking for one right now, since the chapter isn't finished yet, but I will make an announcement when the chapter is finished.
  • Mood: Embarrassed
The group made their way through the palace. Pegasi and unicorn guards continued to patrol the palace in large numbers.

“I hope there is nothing wrong,” Fluttershy whispered.

“I bet they’re having one of those military parties,” Pinkie said as she bounced around Fluttershy.

“Military Parties,” Twilight asked, “Don’t you mean drills?”

Pinkie stopped bouncing and shrugged, “Close enough.”

Twilight sighed and looked around for somepony who could help them figure out what was going on.

Her eyes lit up when they fell on a familiar sight. “Stay here, girls,” she said.

"Shining," Twilight shouted.

A white unicorn looked away from a pegasus patrol and smiled, "Twily, How have you been?"

Twilight embraced her older brother and said, "I've been well."

She looked back toward Fluttershy and Pinkie and said, "We're on a new assignment."

Shining Armor laughed and said, "Another adventure for my baby sister, and I'm stuck with preparation drills."

"I thought it was a drill, but what exactly are you preparing for?"

"I have no idea," Shining Armor said with a laugh, "but Princess Luna wants The Royal Guard to be ready, and I have no intention of letting her down."

He sighed and looked over the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, and smiled, "I see there's a new couple among us."

Twilight looked at the group and groaned at the sight of Pinkie nuzzling Fluttershy, "I don't know what you mean."

Shining smiled, "You're not a very good liar, Twily."

He nodded toward the group and said, "You can see it in their eyes. There is more than simple concern, and notice how one won't let the other mess up their bandages?"

Twilight shook her head, "Bandages? Oh, no Rainbow Dash and Applejack aren't a couple."

Shining Armor smiled and said, "Well you could've fooled me."

He looked up and shouted, "Keep a looser formation."

Twilight looked up and spotted the pegasus captain Shining Armor shouted at and whispered, "Loose formations."

She took a closer look at the earth pony and unicorn guards, "Advanced combat training."

"It looks like you're preparing for an invasion."

Shining Armor tensed and quickly said, "I already told you, Twily. We're just practicing so we can be ready if there's another incident."

Twilight smiled and said, "You're also a terrible liar."

She pointed towards the group of earth pony and unicorn guards, "Those guards are using advanced combat techniques, and those spells are more advanced than normal."

Twilight looked up and added, "Having ponies fly in a loose formation means that you want to ensure that if one is injured, the entire formation isn't lost. And I see you have a medic flying with each group."

Her eyes locked onto Shining's, "What are you planning?"

Shining Armor sighed and whispered, "Promise me that you'll keep this quiet."

Twilight nodded, "Of course. Is Equestria in danger?"

Shining Armor shook his head, "No, we haven't heard of any impending invasion, and the added security measures are in place."

He rubbed his face with a hoof and said, "I don't like this, Twily, but the changeling invasion really shook up the citizens of Canterlot."

"Do you need any help?"

Shining smiled and said, "We'll be fine. The Guard will keep up the drills, until the nobles find a new problem to focus on. I might keep some of these drills as standard practice, but for now, we'll be fine."

Twilight nodded, "Okay, just be sure to let me know if you need any help."

Shining Armor laughed, "What kind of BBBFF would I be if I left my little sister out?"

Twilight hugged Shining and said, "A pretty bad one, but still the best big brother ever."

"So," Shining began with a smile, "Are you going to tell me who the new couple is?"

Twilight whispered, "Keep this to yourself?"

Shining laughed, "Twily, a new couple isn't something to keep secret. C'mon, just tell me."

Twilight shook her head.

"Fine," Shining said, "I promise that nopony will find out."

"Even Cadance?"

Shining Armor shrugged, "Fine don't tell me."

He turned away and stopped when Twilight called after him.

"Okay," Twilight said, "It's Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie."

Shining Armor looked back to the group and smiled, "Yeah, those two are in love. Wonder why I missed it?"

He shrugged and said, "Love isn't my specialty."

"Yeah, and those two are not exactly a match," Twilight said

She smiled and said, "Well we have to go. See you later big bro."

"Take care Twily, and remember, Cadance and me aren't exactly a match either."

Twilight nodded before returning to the group.

"So," Applejack asked, "What's the word on those patrols?"

"Shining Armor said that it's just training drills," Twilight said.

"So there's nothing to worry about," Fluttershy asked.

"Of course not," Pinkie said.

She nuzzled Fluttershy and said, "Nothing can go on because we're gonna be busy with those scary ruins."

"Pinkie, I don't think that's how it works," Rainbow said.

Pinkie smiled and asked, "Then how come we're never busy when something big happens?"

"We were all rather busy before that changeling invasion," Rarity said.

Pinkie laughed and said, "Yeah, but we were all here so we could have the big changeling bash."

"Pinkie," Applejack said, "The invasion was all over Canterlot."

"That's why I called it a bash."

"So random," Rainbow said as she absentmindedly rubbed her bandaged head.

“Leave it alone,” Applejack said readjusting the bandages.

“I can’t help it,” Rainbow said, “This thing is itchy.”

Applejack sighed and asked, “Where’s the problem?”

“I got it.”

Applejack shook her head and said, “Sugarcube, you keeping messing up your bandages with the way you’re scratching.”

Rainbow groaned and tapped the side of her head just below her left ear.

“All right then,” Applejack said.

She lifted a hoof and scratched the bandaged area while using another hoof to hold the bandage in place.

Rainbow’s ear twitched and she let out a content sigh. Her eye widened and whispered, “I hope you didn’t hear that.”

“Don’t you worry none. Ain’t nopony paying us any attention right now.”

Applejack put her hoof down and asked, “Feeling better?”

Rainbow nodded, “Yeah, thanks AJ.”

Applejack nodded and turned only to be almost muzzle to muzzle with Rarity.

“Oh, I’m sorry Applejack,” Rarity said with a smirk, “I didn’t mean to interrupt you two.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Applejack said.

Rarity winked and said, “I’m sure you don’t, but I’ll leave you two lovebirds be.”

She trotted away to Pinkie and Fluttershy, while a flustered Applejack stood there.

Once she found her voice she whispered, "It's not like that."

She turned to face Rainbow, who was still adjusting her bandages, and shook her head.

"And how are you two darlings doing," Rarity asked Fluttershy.

Fluttershy smiled and said, "Oh hello, Rarity. We were just talking."

"Oh," Rarity said, "About what?"

"Just that it's a good thing Princess Celestia wasn't mad at us," Pinkie said.

"Pinkie," Rarity said, "You know that neither princess would condemn anypony because of who they love."

"I know," Pinkie said, "but I was a little worried."

She leaned into Fluttershy and said, "But that's okay because Fluttershy made me feel all better."

"And how was that," Rarity asked.

"She-"

"Pinkie," Fluttershy whispered, "Don't tell her that."

Pinkie smiled and said, "Fine. I won't tell her that you gave me a kiss on the cheek."

Fluttershy's eyes went wide and her face became red as she gasped, "Pinkie!"

In her embarrassment, she buried her face into Pinkie's side, causing her girlfriend to provide a gentle nuzzle.

Rarity giggled and said, "Really, darling, there must be a law against being so adorable."

She smiled at Fluttershy, "Still, it's wonderful that you found your Special Somepony."

Fluttershy continued to rub her head against Pinkie's side and said as she blushed, "Oh it's wonderful."

Her eyes fell on Pinkie and smiled, "You really are special."

Twilight saw the two ponies and said, "I thought we-"

"Sugarcube," Applejack said, "Isn't it about time you give up on trying to keep those two quiet."

Twilight rolled her eyes and said with a smile, "I guess you're right."

“Now, what’s the plan for those ruins?”

Twilight stopped, causing the group to stop as well, and said, “I think we should settle this as soon as possible.”

"Are you certain that is a good idea," Rarity asked.

"We shouldn't delay," Twilight said.

Rarity lifted a hoof to her chest and said, "I'm not suggesting that we dawdle, but it will be nightfall before we arrive at the ruins."

Rarity looked back to Fluttershy and whispered, "And don't forget about a certain somepony's fear of that forest."

Twilight nodded and said, "I understand Fluttershy's reluctance of entering the forest."

She rubbed her chin with a hoof, before returning her attention to Rarity, "What do you suggest?"

"Perhaps we should leave from Ponyville tomorrow morning."

"We can't afford to wait," Twilight said, "I know you mean well, but these ponies have been trapped for far too long."

"Yeah, but what's one more day," Rainbow asked.

"If it was you, I wouldn't want to wait," Fluttershy whispered.

Rainbow sighed and said, "Yeah, I know Fluttershy, but we don't know these ponies. They can wait one more day."

Twilight nodded and said, "Well, Fluttershy knows where the ruins are. I think we should let her decide."

She smiled at Fluttershy and said, "Today or tomorrow. Whatever you decide, we'll support you."

"Keep in mind, darling, that should we leave now, it'll be nightfall before we arrive," Rarity said.

"Going into the Everfree Forest," Fluttershy whispered, "At night?"

Her breath became ragged, and her pupils began to shrink. She began to look for Rainbow when she felt a warm embrace.

"It'll be okay, Flutters," Pinkie said, "You're not going into that forest alone."

Fluttershy closed her eyes and steadied her breathing. After a moment, she looked at Twilight and said, "Um, we should go today. Those poor ponies have been there long enough."

"Alright then," Twilight said, "That settles it. We leave now and head straight into the forest."

Applejack adjusted her hat and asked, "Twi, don't you think we should stop in Ponyville for some camping supplies. Not all of us are comfortable sleeping under the stars."

Pinkie jumped up and down waving a foreleg in the air, "Oh, and we're gonna need something to eat. We can't go freeing ghost ponies on empty stomachs."

Twilight nodded and said, "Good point, we're going to need our strength, and I'll need to do some research."

She turned to Applejack, "Applejack, you'll take care of the camping equipment."

"Pinkie," Twilight said, "I guess you can handle the food."

"Oh boy," Pinkie shouted, "I'm going to make the tastiest cupcakes we've ever had."

Rarity sighed and said, "Pinkie, perhaps it would be best if you made proper food. As much as we adore your treats, we can't live on sweets alone."

Pinkie stopped bouncing and said, "Well, I guess so, but that's so boring."

"Well, maybe you could make some treats, and Applejack could make the food," Fluttershy said.

She blushed and added, "I mean if that's okay with you, Applejack."

Applejack nodded and said, "I can see that working."

She turned to Pinkie and asked, "Sound like a plan to you?"

Pinkie tapped her chin and nodded, "Yup, that sounds like fun."

Twilight nodded, "Okay. So we have food and supplies handled. What else do we need?"

"Let's just figure out what we need when we get back to Ponyville," Rainbow said.

"I agree," Rarity said, "It would be best if we decide on what we need back home."

"Yeah I guess you're right. Let's go home."

The group nodded in unison and began to head toward the palace entrance. As they made their way, Rainbow stopped and began to rub the side of her head.

"You all right there," Applejack asked.

"I'm fine," Rainbow said with a slight hiss as she rubbed her head.

"If you need medicine, just ask. You don't need to hide it."

"I said I'm fine."

"And I know you ain't, so I'm not gonna argue with you." Applejack reached to her saddlebag and produced a small bottle.

She set it down next to Rainbow and said, "Here. This'll help."

"Ugh, fine," Rainbow said as she lifted the medicine bottle in her mouth and took a drink. "Ugh. This better not be a prank."

Applejack tipped her hat, "Wouldn't do that to a hurt pony, and you know that."

"Yeah," Rainbow said as she looked away, "Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

"Is everything all right," Fluttershy asked.

"Everything is just peachy," Applejack said.

Fluttershy glanced at Rainbow and back to Applejack. One of her ears twitched and she nodded, "Oh, okay. I hope you feel better soon."

"Quit worrying," Rainbow said, "We're gonna be fine."

Fluttershy flinched and whispered, "Oh, okay."

Rainbow sighed and continued to follow the group.

Fluttershy followed and turned when she felt a light nudge.

Applejack smiled and said, “Rainbow’s just being Rainbow. Don’t worry. I’ll keep an eye on her too.”

“I know. I’m just worried about her, and, um you too.”

“And I appreciate that, sugarcube, but I’m doing okay.”

Applejack shrugged and added, “Sure I’m sore, but it’ll pass.”

Fluttershy gave Applejack a slow nod before returning to Pinkie’s side, and Applejack made her way to Rainbow Dash.

Before long, the group arrived at the carriage platform.

“All right,” Twilight said, “We’ll be landing at the library, and we’ll split up from there.”

Rarity nodded and asked, “Very well, but should we meet at the library again?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to meet at Fluttershy’s cottage? It is closest to the Everfree Forest.”

“And it’ll be a shorter walk to carry all the camping gear,” Applejack said.

Twilight tapped her chin with a hoof and said, “That does make sense. All right, we split up at the library and meet at Fluttershy’s.”

All ponies nodded and boarded the carriage.

"Well, at least we will be returning home in style," Rarity said.

She shuddered and added, "The thought of spending a night in that forest is almost too much to bear."

"Then stay home," Rainbow said.

Rarity gasped and said, "And abandon our dear friend? Rainbow Dash, I would never."

"Then stop complaining."

Applejack chuckled and said, "Sugarcube, that's like asking apples to stop being delicious."

Rarity rolled her eyes and said, "I'm merely stating my displeasure of having to endure some discomfort."

"I think the ponies trapped in Princess Luna's temple are even more uncomfortable," Fluttershy said.

Her gaze remained locked outside the carriage window and she said, "I'm sorry Rarity. I shouldn't have snapped at you."

Pinkie giggled and said, "You didn't snap at her, silly."

Rarity nodded and said, "I agree, and I suppose my concerns are being expressed a tad too harshly."

"You mean that you're complaining more than usual," Rainbow asked.

"Then fine," Rarity said in a huff, "I'll just keep my-"

"Rarity," Twilight said, "It'll just be one night, and, as you said, you want to support Fluttershy."

"Yes, darling. I suppose I can bear the slings of a certain pony."

Pinkie jumped out of her seat and began hopping up and down asking, "Is it me? Oh, is it? Is it? I might have a sling in my party trunk, but I can make one."

"I was referring to Rainbow," Rarity said with a bemused smile.

Pinkie sagged and said, "Aw, I was hoping to be it."

Fluttershy nuzzled her and said, "You always be-"

"I will fly home myself if you two keep up being mushy," Rainbow said as she motioned a gag.

Applejack nudged her and said, "Just let 'em be."

Rainbow groaned, but she nodded, "Fine, but if the mushy level gets any higher, then I'm flying home."

"You can use my window, Dashie," Pinkie said giggling.

The group enjoyed a good laugh, and Twilight said, "Sorry to bother you with this, Fluttershy, but is there anything you remember about the temple that we should know."

Fluttershy looked down as she tried to remember before shaking her head, "I'm sorry, but I told you all I remember."

"That's all right," Twilight said, "I guess it's for the-"

A book materialized before the group before falling with a solid thud on the carriage floor.

For a moment, nopony dared to breathe. All eyes remained locked on the tome, until a lavender glow surrounded it.

"It's alive," Pinkie shouted as she jumped from her seat.

She tried to run, but Fluttershy held onto her.

"It's alive and it's got me," Pinkie cried.

"Pinkie," Fluttershy said, "I have you."

Pinkie turned and smiled at Fluttershy, "Oh, that's much better than a book."

She smiled at Twilight, who had the book within her grasp, and asked, "You okay, Twilight?"

Twilight's eye twitched but she said nothing.

"I think she's upset about what you said about books," Fluttershy whispered.

"Oh that," Pinkie said, "But it's true."

She held up a sign with a drawing of Fluttershy drinking from a juice box on one side and a stack of books covered in cobwebs on the other. In between was a drawing of Gummy in the shape of a greater than sign.

"See," Pinkie said, "Flutters is greater than books. It's just math."

"But-"

"Twilight," Pinkie said, "You can't fight math."

"Still-"

"Math. You can't fight it."

Twilight sighed, placed the book in her lap, and said, "I like books."

"And we like you, too," Pinkie said.

Twilight shook her head and opened the book.

"There's a note in here," she said.

She read the note and said, "It's from Princess Celestia. She says that this book has information about their temples that can help us out."

"Well that takes care of the research," Applejack said.

"Yeah, now we don't have to wait," Rainbow agreed.

"I wasn't going take that long," Twilight said.

The nervous glances among the group told her otherwise.

"Seriously? I try to get as much information as possible."

Rarity placed a leg around Twilight and hugged her. "We know that you want to be as informed as possible, but you do tend to go a tiny bit overboard."

Applejack laughed and said, "Well you would know all about going overboard there, Rarity."

Rarity huffed and said, "Well, someponies just don't understand, but I promise that we appreciate your efforts. It's just..."

Twilight turned to face Rarity and asked, "Just what?"

Rarity looked away lost in thought before saying, "It's just that for all your planning, we tend to, um-"

"We always save the day with a last minute plan," Rainbow said.

Twilight flinched and said, "We can't go in uninformed."

"Yeah, but you get so much information that most of it we don't need."

"I don't know what we'll need-"

"Darling, all we're saying is that, as much as we adore your studious nature, you could stand to study a little less."

Twilight rolled her eyes and said, "You have no idea how much I've cut down on my studying since I moved to Ponyville."

"I like that Twilight studies so much," Fluttershy whispered. "Um, I mean, she always has an answer, and that's, nice."

Pinkie nodded, "Yup, if Twilight doesn't know something, it doesn't exist."

She tapped her chin with a hoof and said, "Unless..."

"Anyway," Rainbow said, "Is there anything else in the note?"

Twilight read over the note and said, "All it says is that information has something to do with Fluttershy and Pinkie's situation."

"What does that mean," Rainbow asked.

"I don't know. Any ideas?"

"Well," Applejack began, "It could be on account that... Never mind."

Rarity gave Applejack a curious glance before she said, "Perhaps it could be their love the princess is referring to."

"That makes sense," Twilight said.

Rainbow scratched her head and said, "Okay, you lost me."

She looked around the carriage and said, "They're girlfriends. How can that be a bad thing?"

"Rainbow, nopony is saying that their love is a bad thing," Rarity said.

"I agree," Twilight said.

She scratched her chin and asked, "Rainbow, you know about the magic of friendship, right?"

Rainbow rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, we all do."

"Right. Now, what I think the princess means is that love is another kind of magic. It might be more powerful than friendship, or it could just be more focused. Either way, I think their feelings could cause issues while inside the temple."

Fluttershy moved closer to Pinkie and whispered, "Issues? What kind of issues?"

Twilight shook her head and said, "I honestly don't know, but very little is known about the Everfree Forest. Magic might not always be reliable, and I don't know what exactly will happen."

Pinkie nuzzled Fluttershy and said, "Don't worry, Flutters. We'll be fine."

"Yeah, anything messes with us will regret it," Rainbow said.

Rarity smiled and said, "I agree. Together we will succeed."

The rest of the group nodded in agreement and waited as the carriage continued its flight toward Ponyville.

Soon, the carriage landed in front of the Ponyville library and the ponies disembarked.

Twilight looked around and said, "Okay, so the plan is-"

In a sudden rainbow flash, Rainbow Dash took off in the direction of her home.

"Uh, where is she going," Twilight asked.

She glanced at Applejack and asked, "Do you know where she's going?"

"And just how would I know," Applejack asked.

"Uh, no reason," Twilight said with an awkward smile.

Applejack sighed and said, “I’m going to Sweet Apple Acres to get the food ready.”

She turned to Pinkie and asked, “You ready, or do you need some more time with your girlfriend?”

Pinkie stopped nuzzling Fluttershy and asked, “There’s a choice?”

“Pinkie,” Applejack said, “We gotta go.”

“Okay,” Pinkie said before she gave Fluttershy a quick nuzzle.

She hopped to Applejack and said, “Let’s go bake the best treats ever!”

“Sounds like a plan,” Applejack said.

She turned to the group and said, “Well, we’ll see you girls over at Fluttershy’s.”

Pinkie waved a farewell and hopped alongside Applejack toward Sweet Apple Acres.

“Twilight, would you like to come with us to Fluttershy’s cottage, or do you need to collect some things first?”

“I still need to get some stuff, and I have to tell Spike where I’ll be going.”

Twilight smiled and said, “You two should go on ahead. I’ll stay here and wait for Rainbow Dash.”

Rarity giggled and said, “Do you think she forgot to go to Fluttershy’s cottage?”

Twilight smiled and said, “She seemed really excited about something, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it slips her mind.”

“Oh, then maybe we should wait with you,” Fluttershy said.

“Nonsense darling,” Rarity said as she nudged Fluttershy, “Twilight can wait for Rainbow Dash. We can enjoy a nice spot of tea as we wait. Oh, and we can finally catch up.”

Twilight smiled and said, “Well you two have fun. I’ll be fine here. I promise.”

“Oh okay,” Fluttershy said.

“Wonderful. Now let’s be off.”

Rarity and Fluttershy began to walk toward Fluttershy’s cottage, and Twilight watched them go.

Before she entered the library, she said to herself, “Always looking for juicy gossip.”

"Spike," Twilight called, "I'm home."

Spike climbed down the stairs and asked, "How did everything go?"

"Everything went fine. I just wanted to let you know that I won't be home tonight."

Spike scratched his head and asked, "Want me to make you something to eat?"

"No. Applejack and Pinkie are going to make the food for the trip."

"Okay, be careful."

Twilight nodded and said, "We will. I don't want to take any chances."

She sat down on her couch and opened the book Celestia sent her.

"Okay," she said, "Let's see just what we need to know."

Twilight flipped the book to the first marked passage and began to read.

The students of the Lunar Temple enjoy more freedom in their studies than their Solar counterparts. This freedom comes at a cost.

Their methods of study favor intuition over logic, and this method has led many to suffer from various accidents.

While the teachers of the Solar Temple point out the accidents as a means to reign in the methods of the Lunar Temple, the students of the Lunar Temple enjoy reminding the Solar Temple of the many magical advancements that have been made there.

Teleportation is a common example the Luna Temple often provides.


A sudden noise brought Twilight out of the book.

"Sorry," Spike said as he set a cup of tea on the table. "I thought you might want a cup."

Twilight smiled and said, "Thanks Spike. I guess I was too focused on the book."

Spike shrugged and said, "Nothing new there. Learn anything good?"

Twilight shook her head, "No. I already know what's in the marked passage."

"I know you'll find something useful, and, if you don't, you always come up with something."

Twilight sighed and asked, "Is it that bad?"

"Uh, what are you talking about?"

Twilight shook her head and said, "Nothing. It's just something the girls said on the way home."

Spike made his way next to Twilight and placed a hand on her shoulder, "What was it?"

"They said that I study too much, and that it doesn't matter since we always find a last minute solution."

"They said that it doesn't matter?"

"Well, not exactly, but they said that my research..."

She cast her gaze away from Spike and looked over her books as the world began to blur.

Spike jumped onto the couch, hugged Twilight, and said, "I don't think they were trying to be mean. They just think that you depend on your books so much that you don't look to your friends."

Twilight wiped her eyes and asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well," Spike said tapping his chin, "Let's say Owlowiscious was sick, what would you do?"

"I would first examine him, and then I would look over my veterinary books to find-"

"And when you can't find what you need, you'd go to Fluttershy, so why not just do that first?"

Twilight sighed and said, "Fluttershy knows a lot about animals, and she does have the medical expertise."

Spike smiled and asked, "So why don't you just ask Fluttershy? You don't have to know everything."

Twilight blinked and stammered, "Wh-what?"

"You don't have to know everything. You have friends that can help you. That's why you girls always come up with a last minute plan. You do the planning, but you think that you have to know everything."

He tightened his hug and said, "You trust your friends, but you don't think about their strengths."

"I guess you're right. I do trust them, and I know their strengths. I guess I just don't want to go unprepared."

Spike smiled and said, "Then study. That's your strength, and nopony makes a better book fort than you."

Twilight laughed and said, "Thanks Spike. I guess it might be better to get as much information as I can, and then form a plan with the girls."

"Exactly," Spike said as he headed back to the kitchen, "I'll make you a snack."

"Thanks Spike."

Twilight returned to the book and turned to the next marked passage.

The Everfree Forest is an area of great interest to magical scholars. The woods, as a laypony would put it, absorb magic from the very air, and few scholars can find a more accurate description of the phenomenon.

Unicorns from all across the Equestrian Territories come to the forest to test their skills. In fact, it is from these pilgrims that the both the Solar and Lunar temples recruit their students.

While there are few students accepted into either temple, their criteria differ so much that it is rare that both schools would approach the same unicorn.

The only known instances are Starswirl the Bearded and later his apprentice Clover the Clever.


Twilight shook her head, "Interesting, but I already know that the Everfree can affect magic."

"Here you go," Spike said as he set down a small plate with a daisy sandwich.

"Thanks, Spike."

Twilight took a bite from her sandwich and turned to the final passage.

The heart will choose what it will. This wisdom, while a source of inspiration for poets, has proven problematic to the teachers of the Lunar Temple.

One of the main tenets within the Lunar Temple is the belief that true knowledge comes from total freedom. In truth, the teachers of the temple are there to provide guidance and ensure that the temple remain standing.

It is in this regard that certain measures were implemented. Among them were measures designed to keep relationships between ponies as professional as possible. The measure in question reacts when a pony’s love for another is at a point of being distracting. When this occurs, the measure separates the two.


Twilight took a sip of tea and whispered, “That doesn’t sound right.”

She glanced over the rest of the passage until she found another mention of the measures.

Honest students are something of a rarity at the Lunar Temple. In fact, many believe that the only reason that the temple was able to maintain its discoveries was through pride. The pride of being in direct competition with the Solar Temple kept the majority of students from selling temple secrets.

Not all students were able to be kept in check, and, as a result, strict security measures were implemented. These measures still allowed the students to continue their experiments, but any and all unicorns whose unique magic signature hadn’t been registered would be dealt with.

The temple never had a curfew, so there was no need-


“What,” Twilight said as she read the section again, “How were they dealt with?”

She sighed and closed her book.

“At least Rarity was right. Pinkie and Fluttershy’s love could cause problems.”

Twilight rubbed her eyes and looked out the window.

“I wonder what that pony had to get.”

---

The Apple family homestead glowed in the late afternoon light, and the scent of apples made the old home feel as welcoming as a loving parent's embrace.

"What are you planning on making," Applejack asked as the pair arrived at the front door.

Pinkie stopped bouncing and said, "I dunno. I'll think of something."

"You really should take this more seriously," Applejack said with a shake of her head.

Pinkie giggled and asked, "What's to take seriously?"

"Yeah and that's the problem."

Pinkie stopped bouncing and said, "What do you-"

"I'm sorry, sugarcube," Applejack said.

"Okay," Pinkie said, "What did you mean?"

"It's not important."

Applejack tried to walk away, but Pinkie stopped her.

"Jackie, it's important to you, so it's important to me."

"I'd rather not talk about it."

"But, why?"

Applejack walked around Pinkie and grumbled, "I don't want to be a bad friend anymore."

Pinkie ran in front of Applejack and said, "Well you're not being a good friend right now. Let me help."

Applejack sighed and said, "I wanted to say that I was right about you."

"What do you mean?"

"It's your attitude that's the problem."

Applejack sat down and said, "We're on our way to free some poor ponies who've been trapped for hundreds of years, and you're asking what's to take seriously?"

She shook her head and added, "How can I expect you take being with Fluttershy seriously if you can't take anything seriously?"

Pinkie sat down and looked away from Applejack.

Applejack tried to hug Pinkie, but she was pushed away.

"Sugarcube, I'm-"

Pinkie raised a hoof to stop Applejack. She sighed and said, "You're right, Jackie. I love Flutters, I really do, but..."

Applejack put a leg around Pinkie's shoulder and said, "I feel just awful, but I just don't want to see either of you hurting."

Pinkie sniffed and said, "I know, but I'm scared."

"Scared of what?"

"Every time somepony takes something seriously, something bad happens. I just don't want anything to happen to Flutters."

Applejack nodded and asked, "Well, that's a mighty fine reason to worry, but don't you think Fluttershy is worth the risk?"

Pinkie stopped sniffling and stood up. She turned to Applejack, and, with a slight narrowing of her eyes, said, "Of course she is."

"That's what I've been waiting to hear," Applejack said with a big smile, "Now let's get inside. We got to fix some grub."

"Okie dokie," Pinkie said as the pair entered the home.

---

"It certainly is a lovely day," Rarity said.

Fluttershy shook her head and said, "Yes it is."

She glanced around and asked, "Rarity why are you in such a hurry to get to my cottage?"

Rarity smiled and said, "Darling, I merely wanted a chance to catch up. It's been so long since we've had talk, what with your new found love."

A warm blush rose from Fluttershy's cheeks and she said, "Um, it would be nice to talk, and it had been too long. I'm sorry."

"Nonsense," Rarity said, "There is nothing to apologize for. You have found a special somepony, and that is simply wonderful."

She nudged Fluttershy and asked, "And just how are things going with Pinkie?"

The blush on Fluttershy's cheeks grew deeper and she said, "Everything is going fine."

Rarity giggled and said, "Well that blush on your face tells me that something special happened."

Fluttershy shook her head and her face continued to grow red to the point that she could feel her cheeks getting warmer.

A sharp squeal left Rarity's lips and she jumped in front of Fluttershy.

She grabbed Fluttershy's face with her hooves and said, "Oh darling, you must simply tell me everything."

Fluttershy managed to get Rarity to let go of her face and said, "Um, there's nothing to tell."

Rarity grabbed onto Fluttershy and cried, "Oh, please tell me."

"Rarity," Fluttershy whispered, "Please let go."

"Not until you tell. Me. Everything."

Fluttershy shook her head and said, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to say anything without Pinkie knowing."

The mention of her special somepony made her blush return.

"Ooh," Rarity pouted, "Could you at least give me a hint?"

Fluttershy stepped back from Rarity and took a deep breath.

Rarity smiled and rose to her hooves, and stared blankly as the yellow pegasus leapt over her.

Fluttershy resumed her walk home and only glanced back when she felt pangs of guilt.

"What-," Rarity stammered before she ran to catch up with her friend.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I should never have pressured you."

Fluttershy shook her head, "No, it's alright."

Rarity smiled and asked, "Could I at least guess?"

"I can't say anything."

"Oh that's quite all right darling. I'm merely going to guess."

Rarity nodded as she said, "Whatever this secret is, it's important enough to you that you wish to keep it secret. Also, even though you're blushing, you aren't embarrassed by it. Lastly, you seem to be happy about it."

She stopped and a moment later let out a delighted squeal.

Fluttershy turned around only be caught in a vice-like, though still very lady-like, embrace.

"You had your first kiss," Rarity said as she nuzzled Fluttershy.

"That is simply adorable."

Fluttershy smiled as her face regained its red glow yet again.

She smiled and asked, "Um, could you not say anything?"

Rarity nuzzled Fluttershy one last time before the pair resumed their way across Fluttershy's stone bridge.

"Of course I won't say anything," Rarity said.

She looked away and stopped before they arrived at Fluttershy's door.

"What's wrong," Fluttershy asked.

"Oh, it's nothing," Rarity said with a slight strain in her voice.

Fluttershy shook her head and said, "It's important to you, so it's important to me. Um, if you want to tell me..."

Rarity couldn't help smiling at her friend's insistence. She sighed and said, "I just thought I would be the first one to find love."

She laughed and added, "I know you and Pinkie will be happy together, but I can't help feel left out."

Fluttershy hugged Rarity and said, "I'm sorry."

Rarity sighed and said, "Darling, you have nothing to apologize for."

Fluttershy shook her head, "Yes I do. I never though about your feelings when-"

"And there is nothing wrong with that," Rarity said as she took a step back from Fluttershy. "You are so head over hooves in love that the entire world disappears when you're near Pinkie."

"Yes," Fluttershy said, "That's exactly how it feels." She blushed and added, "Whenever I see Pinkie, she's the brightest thing in a room. Even brighter than Celestia's sun."

She ducked slightly and whispered, "I hope the princess isn't mad that I said that."

"Of course she won't be upset," Rarity said with a giggle.

She gave Fluttershy a gentle nudge and said, "I certainly could go for a spot of tea. Would you like a cup?"

Fluttershy's eye widened and she said, "Oh my, how rude of me! I'll make the tea right away."

She darted into the home leaving a bemused Rarity at the entrance.

"Oh, Fluttershy," Rarity said as she entered the cottage.

---

"Why don't you ever try reading backwards?"

Twilight looked to Spike and asked with an arched eyebrow, "What? Why?"

Spike shrugged, "I dunno, it might be better than reading the same book three times."

He tapped Twilight's shoulder and said, "And you never learn anything after the third time."

"How do you know that?"

Spike smirked and said, "A number one assistant knows."

Twilight sighed and closed the book. She finished her daisy sandwich and said, "That really hit the spot."

"Glad to be of service," Spike said with a slight bow, "Did you learn anything?"

"Not much, Spike. The best I could find was that their love could affect things at the temple."

Spike scratched his head and asked, "What kind of things?"

"I don't know. The book the princess gave me doesn't have anything about specific reactions, only vague warnings about unauthorized magic being used in the temple."

"Is it safe?"

Twilight stared at Spike and said, "I don't know. From what I learned, the temple was a school, but there is nothing specific about the security measures that were put in place before the temple fell. I don't know if they're still in place or how unstable they could be. All I know is that Pinkie and Fluttershy can't be together."

The front door closed and Twilight stared into the eyes of an angry Rainbow Dash.

Twilight waved her forehooves in front of her and said, "Wait Rainbow, you got it all wrong."

Rainbow glared at Twilight for a few seconds before she began laughing. "You should have seen your face," she said between her laughs, "Oh that's rich."

Twilight sat down and ask, "So you're not mad?"

"Nah, I know you didn't mean it like it sounded, but tell me anyway."

"Okay," Twilight said, "The book Princess Celestia sent me gave me some information about the temple."

She felt her face grow a bit warm and said, "It seems that there was a problem with students become a little too friendly with each other."

Rainbow looked at Twilight for a while before the meaning dawned on her. "Oh," she said.

Twilight cleared her throat and said, "Anyway, in order to keep the students honest and keep unwanted ponies out, they installed security measures."

Rainbow frowned and asked, "What kind of-"

"Don't bother," Spike said, "She doesn't know."

"Spike," Twilight said.

"What," Spike asked with a shrug.

"Oh never mind," Twilight said, "Anyway. I just think it might be a good idea to keep Fluttershy and Pinkie apart while we're inside the temple."

Rainbow nodded and said, "That makes sense. Did you learn anything about the ghosts?"

Twilight shook her head, "No I didn't."

"That's okay. We'll figure something out. We always do."

Twilight let out a groan.

"Are you okay," Rainbow asked.

"I'm fine," Twilight said, "We should get going."

She stood up and took a good look at Rainbow Dash.

The blue pegasus wore a khaki shirt with a compass around her neck, and on her head was...

"Is that a pith helmet?"

Rainbow grinned and said, "It sure is. I'm ready for adventure."

"Well that's good," Twilight said while giggling, "But we should get going to Fluttershy's."

She turned to Spike and said, "Be careful, Spike, and don't stay up too late."

Spike smirked and said, "I won't."

Twilight rolled her eyes and opened the front door to let Rainbow out.

As the pair exited the library, they saw a crowd of ponies gathered.

Rainbow Dash grumbled, "Great. At least I'm ready for them."

Twilight stepped in front of Rainbow Dash and said, "Rainbow wait."

"Wait for what?"

A voice spoke up from the crowd, "Perhaps an explanation is in order."

"Mayor," Twilight asked.

The Mayor of Ponyville nodded and said, "I didn't mean to cause any distress. I merely wished to express my concern. I heard about what happened to Rainbow Dash and Applejack."

She turned to Rainbow, "A pony from the royal guard arrived and informed me of what happened. I just wanted to reassure you that those ponies are not from Ponyville."

"How do you know that they weren't from Ponyville," Twilight asked.

Mayor Mare smiled and said, "Let's just say that I know the citizens of Ponyville, and none would attack somepony because of who they love."

Rainbow Dash nodded and said, "That's good to know, but AJ and me aren't a couple."

The mayor took a step back and said, "Oh, I'm sorry, but you could have fooled me."

"Yeah, I've been getting that a lot lately," Rainbow said, "Anyway, we gotta get going.”

"Oh? Where are you going?"

"The Everfree Forest," Twilight said.

A shiver ran through the ponies gathered in front of the library and Mayor Mare said, "I see. Please be careful."

Twilight nodded and said, "We will."

The group began to part so Twilight and Rainbow Dash could pass, and Twilight stopped next to Mayor Mare.

"Mayor," Twilight asked, "Did the royal guard tell you anything else?"

"All he told me was that the ponies escaped into the forest."

"Well, they're the ones that need to be careful," Rainbow said.

Mayor Mare swallowed and said with a weak laugh, "I certainly don't doubt you."

Twilight smiled at the mayor and said, "Thank you again. I'll let Pinkie and Fluttershy know that they'll be safe in Ponyville."

Mayor Mare laughed and said, "Oh the hearts that were broken when news of the new couple spread."

Twilight shook her head and said, "I didn't know Fluttershy was so-"

"Oh not just Fluttershy. Many a stallion had their eye on Pinkie."

Rainbow turned around and asked, "Pinkie? Really?"

Mayor Mare nodded and said, "Oh yes. There is a, um, specialness to her. Fluttershy as well."

"Well that's true," Rainbow said, "Sorry but we gotta go."

"Oh of course. But please be careful."

Twilight nodded, and the pair began to walk toward Fluttershy's cottage.

The afternoon's warm air was beginning to give way to the early evening's cool breeze, and the two ponies made good time walking.

As they walked, Twilight asked, "Rainbow, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, I guess."

"Okay. Um, why are you so adamant about reminding ponies that you and Applejack aren't a couple?"

"Well, how would you feel if everypony thought you and Rarity were dating?"

Twilight slowed her pace and said, "Well, I don't think I'd like it very much. I mean, I love all you girls, but to have ponies think that would hurt."

Rainbow Dash nodded and said, "Exactly. I don't care, and AJ's got thick skin."

Twilight stopped and whispered, "I'm so sorry."

"What was that," Rainbow asked.

"I said that I'm so sorry. I. I never thought about how this could be hurting you."

Rainbow shook her head and said, "Don't sweat it, alright? It's not like you were trying to hurt our feelings."

"But that's just it," Twilight said, "I never even considered your feelings. I really am a terrible friend."

"No you are not. You're great friend."

Rainbow Dash sat down next to Twilight and said, "Yeah, it's weird how everypony is so hung up on AJ and me, but that doesn't mean you're a bad friend."

She nudged Twilight and added, "So how about we just drop this, okay?"

Twilight nodded and said, "Okay. I promise to never say that again."

"Good," Rainbow said with a nod.

"But..."

Rainbow sighed and asked, "But what?"

Twilight smiled and said, "But you two would make a cute couple."

"Are you still on that?"

Rainbow laughed and said, "Hey, AJ. Don't worry, she promised to drop it."

Applejack laughed and said, "Well that's good to hear."

Pinkie bounced up to Rainbow Dash an let out a sharp whistle. "Where did you get those super duper cool clothes, Dashie?"

Rainbow puffed out her chest and said, "This is an officially certified Daring Do Adventure Safari Outfit."

Pinkie jumped up and said, "Oh boy, now this is a real adventure."

Applejack nodded and said, "Well you certainly do look mighty sharp there Rainbow."

Rainbow adjusted her helmet and said, "Thanks Applejack."

Twilight gave Rainbow a passing glanced and noticed a slight red on her cheeks. "That's just the sun, right," she whispered.

Applejack chuckled at Rainbow and asked, "Think the great adventurer could give me a hoof with one of these saddlebags?"

"Sure thing," Rainbow said as she took the extra saddlebag.

Twilight noticed that Pinkie also had two saddlebags on and asked, "Pinkie, do you need any help carrying one of those bags?"

Pinkie shook her head and said, "Nope, I totally got it."

She continued admiring Rainbow's outfit until she felt something missing.

"My bags are gone," Pinkie screamed, "Somepony stole them."

"Pinkie," Twilight called with the bags held in a lavender glow, "I have your bags."

Her calls landed on screaming ears as the pink pony began to run in circles.

"Help," Pinkie cried, "Somepony stole my bags."

She grabbed Rainbow Dash by her shirt and screamed, "I had a super special treat made just for Flutters, and now..."

"Oh no you don't," Rainbow said as she shot up into the sky.

Her timing was perfect, as just a moment later, Pinkie began crying.

Twilight set the bags down on the ground and hugged Pinkie, "I have your bags."

Pinkie sniffed and looked to see her bags on the ground.

"Pinkie," Twilight said, "I thought that they way you bounce around, that it would be best if I carried your bags."

Rainbow landed and added, "Yeah, and the food would be ruined before we even get to Fluttershy's cottage."

Pinkie rubbed her eyes and said, "I never thought of that."

She hugged Twilight back and asked, "Can I have one of the bags?"

Twilight nodded and said, "Of course you can."

Pinkie stood up and smiled when she felt the familiar weight of a saddlebag on her back.

"Sorry I freaked out," Pinkie said, "I was just worried about Flutters' special treat."

Applejack laughed, "And it sure is a treat. I think it's the best thing Pinkie's ever baked, and that's saying something."

"What is it," Rainbow asked, "Let me see it."

"Dashie, you'll have to wait," Pinkie said as she stuck out her tongue.

"Fine, but let's go."

The other three ponies nodded, and the group continued toward the cottage.

Applejack walked alongside Twilight and asked, "How far do you think we'll get into the forest before nightfall?"

"If we don't take too long, we should get fairly close to the temple."

"Sounds good," Applejack said before she turned to Pinkie, "I think I see Fluttershy's bridge up ahead."

Pinkie began hopping up and down and said, "I can't wait to see Flutters."

Twilight laughed and levitated the saddlebag off of Pinkie's back.

The moment the bag was off, Pinkie took off toward the cottage.

The remaining ponies had a good laugh and made their way across the bridge. Once they arrived, they found Pinkie nuzzling Fluttershy.

"We're all ready to go," Pinkie said.

"Oh, okay," Fluttershy said, "Um, I just need to take care of one thing."

She turned to Angel Bunny and said, "Angel, you're in charge of the cottage until I get back."

The bunny nodded and gave Fluttershy a quick salute before lying back down.

"Well, now that we have that taken care of," Rarity said, "Let us depart."

Pinkie, Rarity, and Fluttershy left the cottage, and Rarity began to giggle.

Rainbow shook her head and said with a wave of her hoof, "You just can't handle this level of cool."

"Well, I think you look nice," Fluttershy said.

Pinkie ran to her saddlebag and began to rummage through it. After a few moments, she returned to Fluttershy.

"Here you go, Flutters. Just for you."

Fluttershy looked at the paper bag and removed the ribbon. She used her snout to open the bag.

"Oh, my," she said, "Pinkie, this is wonderful, but..."

Fluttershy reached into the bag and pulled out a large cupcake. She blushed and said, "I couldn't eat this by myself."

She returned the cupcake to the bag and said, "Maybe we could share it?"

"That's a great idea," Pinkie said as she bounced up and down.

"Maybe you should wait until we eat dinner," Twilight said.

"Spoil sport," Pinkie said.

Fluttershy giggled and said, "I can't wait to eat it."

"Well," Applejack said, "We had best head out."

Rainbow Dash nodded and took to the air. She pointed and said, "It's time for adventure. We head to the north"

Twilight grabbed Rainbow by her hind leg and turned her north. "Rainbow, we're going to the southeast."

Rainbow landed and shrugged, "All great adventures go north."

She turned around and said as she pointed, "To the southeast."

Twilight sighed and corrected her leg again. "Is everypony ready to go?"

The group nodded and began to walk to the Everfree Forest. As they made their trek, the sun continued its own journey towards the horizon.

Rarity smiled and said, "It certainly is a wonderful breeze blowing this evening."

She glanced to Rainbow Dash and asked, "Do we have you to thank for it?"

Rainbow smirked, but a gentle nudge caused her to say, "Uh, no. That's probably just some wind blowing down from Cloudsdale."

"Did you have to nudge me," Rainbow asked Applejack.

Applejack laughed and said, "Hey, somepony's gotta keep you honest."

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and continued to walk alongside Applejack.

As the ponies walked, the air continued to lower in temperature. This caused Fluttershy to step closer to Pinkie Pie.

"It's gonna be a cold night," Pinkie said, "but we'll be okay in the forest."

Rarity nodded and said, "Oh yes, darling. Why I think the forest will help keep the cold away."

Pinkie nuzzled closer to Fluttershy and added, “I’ll be your sweater, Flutters.”

She hopped up and down, “Oh! Or I could be your jacket! Or Pullover! Or Hoodie! Or-”

Fluttershy nudged her and said, “How about you just be my Pinkie?”

She stifled a giggle as she heard Rainbow Dash make a retching sound.

Twilight stopped and turned around.

Rainbow landed next to her and whispered, “What’s up?”

“I should tell them about what I learned about the temple.”

“Can’t you leave them be?”

Rainbow motioned with her head for Twilight to continue walking.

Twilight resumed walking and said, “It’s important that they know. We can’t take any risks.”

“Yeah, I know, but do they need to right now?”

Twilight shook her head, “No, it isn’t absolutely necessary that I tell them right now.”

Rainbow smiled and said, “Thanks, Twilight.”

Applejack’s eyes scanned the edges of the path and only looked away when she heard Fluttershy.

“Do you see anything?”

“Nothing yet, but I ain’t taking any chances.”

“Applejack,” Rarity said, “You’re being overly cautious.”

Twilight looked back and said, “I agree with Applejack. There’s just too much that we don’t know about the forest to take it lightly.”

Rarity nodded and said, “That is true.”

She turned to Applejack, “I do apologize.”

“Nah,” Applejack said, “Got nothing to apologize for.”

Her eyes returned to the sides or the path, and she smiled when they fell onto Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.

“Thank you for staying close,” Fluttershy said.

A giggle escaped her when Pinkie nuzzled her.

“Any chance to nuzzle you,” Pinkie said with a smile.

The sharp sound of a branch breaking caused the group to stop in their tracks.

In an instant, they formed a line facing the direction of the noise with Pinkie and Fluttershy behind.

Silence passed and the ponies relaxed.

“We should check it out,” Applejack said.

“I’ll go with you,” Rainbow said.

“No, go on up. You can be our eyes in the sky.”

Rainbow nodded and said, “Okay, but I won’t be able to see much past the canopy.”

Applejack tilted her hat and said, “We’ll make do.”

Rainbow took off and began to look around.

Pinkie stood next to Applejack and called to Rainbow, “How’s the traffic out there?”

“Quiet down,” Applejack said.

She glanced to Pinkie and said, “Come on. Let’s check it out.”

“No way,” Pinkie said, “I’m not leaving Flutters.”

“I’ll stay with Fluttershy,” Rarity said.

Twilight stepped forward and said, “Splitting up is a bad idea.”

“What should we do,” Applejack asked.

“We keep going,” Twilight said.

She began to walk and glanced when she heard Rainbow land next to her.

“Think it might be a trap,” Rainbow asked.

“No. It’s probably just an animal.”

“Ponies always say that it’s an animal, and it’s always the rival treasure hunters.”

“Ooh, we’re on a treasure hunt now,” Pinkie asked with a happy bounce.

“We aren’t on a treasure hunt,” Twilight said.

She shook her head at Rainbow Dash and said, “Somepony’s been reading too much Daring Do.”

Rainbow Dash scoffed and said, “No such thing.”

The group came into a clearing and Applejack said, “This looks as good a place to set up for the night.”

“We can keep going,” Twilight said.

“It’s getting too late, and we need our rest for tomorrow.”

“I can light the path when it gets too dark to see.”

Applejack nodded and asked, “And when you get too tired? You expect Rarity to take over?”

“I agree with Applejack,” Rarity said, “We should find a place to rest.”

She glanced around the clearing and added, “Preferably somewhere else.”

“Why,” Twilight asked.

“This looks a little too exposed for my liking,” Rarity said.

“We’ll be fine,” Twilight said.

Applejack, Pinkie, Rainbow set their saddlebags down and began to make camp.

Rarity stood next to Twilight and asked, “You can’t be serious. Surely you don’t expect us to sleep in this clearing?”

“Of course I do,” Twilight said.

She stifled a giggle, “And don’t call me Shirley.”

The group stared at Twilight, except for Pinkie who let out a high pitched giggle.

Applejack shook her head and asked Twilight, “Are we on the right path?”

Twilight nodded, “If we rest now, we can reach the ruins by noon.”

She glanced at Rarity and noticed she was scanning the edges of the clearing.

“Hold on girls,” Twilight said.

When the group stopped, she asked, “Is everypony comfortable camping here for tonight?”

Rainbow, Pinkie, and Fluttershy nodded, though Fluttershy nodded slower than the others.

Rarity sighed and said, “We shall be fine.”

Twilight smiled and said, “Thanks Rarity.”

The ponies finished making camp just as Luna’s moon rose ahead, and they were sitting by the fire.

“Let’s get the food ready,” Pinkie said to Fluttershy.

“Okay.”

The two opened the saddlebags and began to pass the food around.

“This looks really good,” Twilight said.

“Thank you,” Applejack said with a tip of her hat.”

Everypony ate their food and Twilight waved Rainbow Dash over.

“What’s up?”

“Think I tell Pinkie and Fluttershy?”

“Tell us what,” Pinkie asked.

Twilight spun around and saw Pinkie’s smiling face.

“Oh, uh, that you and Fluttershy can’t be together.”

Rarity dropped her plate and the others just stared at Twilight with slack jaws.

“Wait,” Twilight said, “I can explain. It’s that- I mean. There’s this thing with the ruins-”

She turned when she heard Rainbow laughing.

After a while Rainbow said, “She doesn’t mean it like that.”

Twilight regained her composure and said, “I read that there is a security system in place at the ruins, and it might be affected by the feelings between Pinkie and Fluttershy.”

“Really,” Rarity asked.

“I’m not absolutely certain, but I do know that we should limit our use of magic.”

Rarity tilted her head and asked, “Why?”

“Because of another security system. One designed to only allow authorized ponies access.”

“I see,” Rarity said, “Well, magic is really more your style, but I shall try to remember.”

“Just how far apart should they be,” Applejack asked.

“I don’t know,” Twilight said, “But I think we might be okay if they don’t stand next to each other.”

“We could split up,” Rainbow said.

Twilight nodded, “Good idea. Let’s see, how about-”

“Let’s decide that in the morning,” Applejack said.

“Fine,” Twilight said as she walked to her sleeping bag.

“I guess that means it is time to turn in,” Rarity said as she entered her tent.

Rainbow flew to a nearby tree and rested on a branch.

Applejack sat down underneath and said, “I’ll get the first watch.”

“Okay,” Rainbow said, “Get me up in two hours.”

“Sounds good,” Applejack said.

She settled in her spot and checked on her bandages. With everything in order she moved her gaze to the edges of the clearing.

Though she didn’t care to admit it, Rarity had a point. They were exposed in the clearing, but she’d spot any danger that came close.

On the far side of the clearing four ponies nursed their wounds.

“Let’s rush them,” one said, “I can’t believe they got the drop on us like that.”

“Don’t be stupid,” another said.

She looked around and said, “They didn’t get the drop on us. Some ghost attacked us.”

“Fine. Then let’s follow them and see what they’re up to.”

One unicorn who was laying down sat up and said, “Let’s just get out of here. Why are we even following these ponies?”

“Because of those freaks.”

He rolled his eyes and laid back down, “Well get some sleep. The forest will deal with them.”

“No,” the other unicorn said, “We will deal with them. They’ll learn not to mess with the way things are supposed to be.”

Silence fell and she glared at the sleeping ponies and whispered, “Soon. Soon you will pay.”
Into the Depths Part 2
In this chapter, the girls begin their journey towards the ruins of the Lunar Temple. Plans and bad jokes are made, along with much Daring Do. Kinda.

Depths Part 1: fav.me/d50t39x

Words are mine, MLP is Hasbro.
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“Shining Armor, are you certain?” Rarity looked at the Guard Captain and asked, “Could it be possible that Pinkie made a mistake?”

Twilight shook her head, “I doubt it. Pinkie remembers the name of everypony in she has ever met. I’m not about to question her memory, especially on something this important.” She brought a hoof to her chin and stared at the parchment.

Rarity shuddered and asked, “But why would anypony want such a spell?” She glanced at Twilight and nudged her.

Twilight snapped out of her thoughts and turned to face Rarity, “I’m sorry. What was that?”

“I asked why anypony would want such a spell? The very idea of using a spell to...” She paused and said as she looked over the spell again, “How does it work? I always thought the Princesses were immortal.”

Twilight nodded, “They are. As terrifying as the prospect of a spell that can kill an alicorn, I don’t see how it-”

“Actually, it might be possible.”

Twilight’s eyes locked onto Shining Armor’s, “What do you mean?”

Shining Armor looked around to check that there were no ponies in the immediate vicinity. Comfortable that it was just the four of them, he closed his eyes and his horn began to glow. The air began to become electric and sparks formed above them. A transparent blue dome began to form, stopping just behind the edge of the table’s chairs. With a final effort, Shining Armor solidified the barrier.  He took a deep breath and spoke with a seriousness that scared Twilight, “Now nopony can see or hear us. I want to make this perfectly clear, what I have to say does not leave here, understood?” His eyes grew cold and his face hardened as he cast his gaze towards the occupants of the table.

Spike swallowed and gave a weak nod.

Twilight kept her eyes on Shining Armor’s and said, “I understand.”

Rarity managed to maintain some of her composure and said, “I understand Captain. Whatever this information is, it must be vital to keep it out of the wrong ponies’ hooves.”

Shining Armor’s gaze softened and said, “Good. The Princesses are not truly immortal. Time has no effect on them, nor is there any known illness that causes more than a mild annoyance to them. They are however not immune to physical harm.” He raised his hoof to interrupt Twilight, “Think about it Twily, as Captain of the Royal Guard, I’m basically their bodyguard. Why would they need me if they couldn’t be harmed?”

Twilight looked away but said nothing.

Rarity moved closer to Twilight and said, “I can see why it should remain secret, but do you truly fear these ruffians would actually attack the princesses?”

Shining Armor shook his head, “I can’t take that chance.” He looked toward Twilight and asked, “Twily, are you okay?”

Twilight turned back to her brother and said, “I’m fine." She felt Rarity place a hoof on her shoulder, but she brushed it off

"Hold on. What about Cadance," Spike asked.

"What do you mean," Shining Armor asked.

"Well, she's a princess too, so won't this spell hurt her too?"

"I didn't think, I mean, I don't believe that these ponies would target her." Shining Armor cleared his throat and glanced in the direction of the palace.

He shook his head and said , "No, their intended goal would be to disrupt the Royal Court, and Cadance is lacking in experience."

Though he appeared confident, the concern in his eyes betrayed any sense of certainty to his voice.

"But she could be a target, right," Spike asked. He opened his mouth, but the sight of Rarity shaking her head caused him to stop.

"In any case," Shining Armor said, "Cadance is safe within the palace. My focus must be to find where these ponies are established and stop them." He looked at his little sister and asked, "Are you sure you're alright, Twily?"

Twilight nodded and said, "I'm fine. Just got a lot on my mind."

Shining Armor nodded, "I can imagine. Can you tell me all you can about the ponies who tried to harm Fluttershy in hospital?"

"Allow me, Captain," Rarity said, "After Fluttershy was admitted into the hospital-"

"Yes Miss Rarity I've read the report. After being admitted, Fluttershy was placed under arrest. Shortly after that a female unicorn attempted to inject a poison into her I.V. bag. Fluttershy then managed to trigger a code blue by manipulating her heart monitor."

Rarity nodded, "That is correct, and sadly all we know for certain." She scratched her head and added, "Pinkie and Applejack left to follow a lead Pinkie."

"I gather this is where the note comes to play?"

"That's right. I'm sorry Captain, but there isn't much I can offer. Detective Smoke said that they were most likely hired."

Shining Armor nodded as he took in the information in. His head snapped up at the mention of the name, "Did you say, Detective Smoke?"

"Why yes, do you know him?"

"Yeah, we worked together once a long time ago. I'm not surprised he's still a detective."

Rarity tilted her head, "Whatever do you mean? He seemed very competent and quite driven."

Shining Armor nodded, "I remember when I worked with him. He was a great detective, but I remember him telling me that being a detective was what he was meant to do. He never saw it as chasing down bad guys and saving the day."

"Then what did he see it as," Spike asked. He shrugged and let out a sheepish laugh, "Sorry."

Rarity sighed but still gave the young dragon a smile, "It's quite alright." She turned back to Shining Armor, "Please, continue."

"He told me that his job was to bring ponies answers. The answers aren't always what they want to hear. But he felt it was his duty to find the truth and bring the victims the closure they deserve."

Rarity nodded and whispered, "That must be why he was so driven to bring Fluttershy in."

"What was that," Shining Armor asked.

"Oh nothing. I was simply thinking out loud."

"Well, if these ponies were hired, then there is a chance that they have a reputation." Shining Armor turned back to Twilight, "Sis, we'll set this right. I promise." When Twilight didn't answer he turned to Rarity, "Keep an eye on her, please. It's bad enough that Cadance might become a victim, I don't want anything to happen to Twilight."

Spike stood on his chair and said, "Don't you worry. I'll keep an eye on her."

"Thanks Spike. I know she'll be safe with you." Shining Armor gave Rarity a concerned glance earning him a small nod.

"I too shall keep an eye on her."

"Good," Shining Armor said standing up. The magical dome dissipated and he began to return to the library entrance. He glanced back and said, "Let Twily know that I left to check out a lead of my own."

"Will you be alright," Rarity asked.

Shining Armor nodded, "I'll be fine. I just need to find some answers of my own. Make sure that Twilight sends that precedent to Fluttershy's lawyer."

"We will," Rarity said, "and do be safe." She watched Shining Armor leave and sighed. "Spike," she asked, "Be a dear and fetch us something to drink."

"You got it," Spike said hopping off his chair and ran towards their saddlebags.

Once the young dragon was out of sight, Rarity leaned towards Twilight and gave the unicorn a gentle poke.

"Wha-," Twilight began to say.

"Are you alright, Twilight," Rarity asked. She placed a hoof on Twilight's and said, "You seem to be distracted by something, and I can tell that it's troubling you."

Twilight shook her head, causing some of the tears in her eyes to begin their journey down her cheeks, and said, "I'm fine. Really I am-" Her words died in her throat as Rarity wrapped her forelegs around her in a warm embrace.

That was all Twilight needed. She began to cry into Rarity's shoulder. No words were spoken. Only the sounds of a weary and troubled heart echoed throughout the library.

Rarity continued to stroke Twilight's mane and whispered, "What's wrong, Twilight?"

Twilight sniffed and tried to deny Rarity again, but the white unicorn tightened her embrace. The warmth of the embrace compelled Twilight to be honest.

"She never told me."

"Tell you what dear?"

Twilight pulled away from the hug and said, "Princess Celestia. She never told me that she could be..." She wiped her eyes and said, "She doesn't trust me." Twilight looked away and whispered, "No pony trusts me."

Rarity glared at Twilight and said, "That is not true and you know it. You are the most trusted pony in Ponyville."

Twilight scoffed, "If that were true, the princess would tell me about her weakness."

Rarity smiled and with a soft hoof stroked Twilight's cheek. "Think about it, Twilight. The more ponies that know about their weakness, the easier it would be to get out."

"Exactly," Twilight snapped, "Only those who she could trust were told, and I guess I wasn't good enough."

"Twilight," Rarity began. She shook her head and said, "Darling, please think emotionally for a moment."

"What?"

Rarity smiled, "Please, just for a moment. Think about it from the princess' perspective." She lifted Twilight's chin with a hoof and said, "You idolize her. How do you think she would feel if you knew that she wasn't perfect?"

Twilight looked away and whispered, "She still didn't trust me."

Rarity tilted her head, "What was that, darling?"

"She still didn't trust me." Twilight faced Rarity and said, "No matter what her feelings, she should have told me. She had nothing to fear from me."

Rarity smiled and asked, "Oh? Just as you should have trusted her not to punish you that one week you forgot to send in a letter on friendship?"

"That's not the-"

"You shouldn't be tormenting yourself with why others have kept secrets from you. They have their reasons, and they most certainly are not that they distrust you."

"But what about Applejack? Or even Fluttershy? If I had known, I would have done anything to help her."

"So you claim," Rarity whispered before regaining her composure. She shrugged off the anger as best she could and said, "I'm certain that Applejack's stubborn pride kept her from telling us. I bet it took her long enough to convince herself that she was in love with Fluttershy."

She let out a sigh as she thought of the pony that stood at the center of all that has happened these past few days. "Fluttershy is... Well, Fluttershy is Fluttershy. You can understand why she wouldn't tell us, and she has every right to try and leave the past right where it belongs." She smiled and said, “And don’t forget that she had Rainbow Dash to support her.”

Twilight wiped her eyes and nodded, “You. You’re probably right, but it just feels like nopony trusts me.”

“It will pass,” Rarity said, “You just need time to adjust.” She turned around to see Spike standing near the table concerned.

“Oh, Spike,” Rarity began, “When did you return?”

“A while ago,” Spike said not taking his eyes off of Twilight. He stood on the chair next to the unicorn and hugged her.

“We were talking,” Rarity said, “and-”

“I heard you two, but Twilight will tell me.” Spike let go of Twilight and smiled, “She always does.”

Rarity placed a hoof on Twilight’s and asked, “Will she?”

Spike nodded, “Yup. She doesn’t keep secrets from her Number One Assistant.” He punctuated the sentence with a pose, and one could almost swear heroic music played for just a moment.

Twilight giggled and said, “Thanks Spike. I really needed that.” She turned to Rarity who wore a smile that clearly said, I told you so.

Clearing her throat, Twilight said, “Spike we’ll talk soon. I promise.” She stood up and said, “But first, Fluttershy needs our support.”

Rarity folded both the precedent and the pamphlet. She levitated the former over to Twilight leaving the latter in front of her.

“Twilight,” Rarity asked.

“Yeah,” Twilight answered as she began to focus her teleport spell.

“We should press on to the courthouse, but I’m rather worried about your brother.”

Twilight turned to Rarity letting the envelope fall, “What do you mean? Is this about Cadance?”

Rarity nodded, “You didn’t see his eyes, darling. There was something that troubled him, and I think this has become more personal.”

Twilight tapped her chin with a hoof and said, “You have a point, and it was Spike that suggested that Cadance could be a target of-”

“I didn’t mean to make him worry,” Spike pleaded.

“I know you didn’t, Spikey,” Rarity said, “But now his concern is towards his love as well as his rulers.”

Twilight stared at the envelope and let out a tired sigh, “What do you think we should do, Rarity?” She lifted her gaze to meet the white unicorn’s, and her eyes shone with an unspoken plea for comfort.

Rarity placed her hoof on Twilight’s cheek and said, “Perhaps we should head to the palace and check on him.”

“But he didn’t say where he was going,” Spike said.

Rarity nodded, “True, but I would think that he would return to the palace to check on Cadance.”

She returned her gaze to Twilight, “After, we shall give Fluttershy all the moral support that we can.”

Twilight let Rarity’s hoof drop and said, “That sounds like a good plan.”

She stood up and teleported the envelope to the courthouse, “Then let’s get everything cleaned up and get to the palace.”

They all nodded in agreement and began to organize all the books and parchments.

---

“When is this thing getting to the courthouse,” Dexter grumbled. He glanced out the window. “We could’ve walked faster than this.”

“Um, it’s only been a couple of hours,” Fluttershy said.

“Really? Because it feels like a couple of years.”

Fluttershy sunk a little in her seat, “I guess they are going a bit slow.”

Dexter raised an eyebrow, “And...”

“And that is kind of, um rude.”

“Exactly,” Dexter said with a triumphant smile, “Now let’s review your defense.”

“Oh, okay. Not guilty?”

“Yeah, that’s a good start, but I’m talking about during the trial. I’m still thinking your friend-”

“Absolutely not,” Fluttershy said, “I won’t let you use her like that.”

Dexter waved a hoof, “Okay okay I get it, but think about it. Rainbow Dash is you best shot. She was in harms way, and you did what you had to. There isn’t a jury in Equestria that would fault you for that.”

Fluttershy’s cold stare halted any further argument he had. He cleared his throat and said, “You got spirit. Gotta respect that.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” Dexter said as he continued to look over his notes.

“Um, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you become a lawyer?”

Dexter laughed, “You don’t want to hear it, it’s boring.” He smiled at Fluttershy and said, “I have your file here. I didn’t fall miles to the ground only to have a cloud of butterflies catch me.”

“Then...”

Dexter sighed, “Fine. I got a job and I was good at it. The end.”

Fluttershy shifted in her seat, “That’s it?”

“Yeah, it’s not always dramatic. Sometimes it’s just a light bulb goes off and you know what you’re meant to do.”

Fluttershy nodded.

Dexter smiled, “How are you holding up?”

“I’m scared, but I’m worried.”

“About?”

“Rainbow Dash.”

“Why?”

Fluttershy looked out the window and said, “Well, Rainbow Dash has a hard time when she can’t help. If she can’t save the day, she feels lost.”

She cast her eyes down to her shackled hooves, “I just don’t want her to do anything... brash.”

Dexter smiled and said, “Why don’t you worry about yourself for now and let Rainbow worry about Rainbow?”

Fluttershy nodded, “I, I’ll try.”

“It’ll have to do,” Dexter said with a laugh.

He looked out the window and said, “Well it’s about time.”

Dexter smiled and asked, “Are you ready?”

“I hope so.”

“Good. Now remember, just let me do the talking and only answer what is asked. No more, no less.”

Fluttershy nodded.

“Great.”

The carriage landed at the courthouse, and the two waited for the guards.

“Prisoner secure,” a voice called out from outside.

“Affirmative,” another replied and the door opened.

Dexter stepped out of the carriage and took a deep breath. He looked back inside the carriage and said, “The air’s much better out here, you know.”

Fluttershy made her way out of the carriage and nodded. “I’m ready.”

The pair made their way toward the courthouse entrance. The large symbol of Equestrian justice stood before them. All along its four pillars murals spiraled toward the top. There the ancient Princess of Justice cast her gaze over the citizens of Canterlot.

"This looks scary," Fluttershy said.

"Don't worry," Dexter said, "It won't bite."

Fluttershy nodded and followed Dexter inside along with a guard. Though her frayed nerves began to settle down, she still stole a glance at the stoic, almost unforgiving, princess.

A guard opened the door, and a young unicorn mare walked out.

"Mr. Hoofstrom," she asked.

Dexter smiled and said, "That would be me. How can I help such a lovely lady."

The mare smiled and levitated a sealed envelope along with a clipboard.

“A letter arrived rather suddenly for you.” She motioned toward the clipboard and added, “I just need your signature.”

“I’ll gladly give you my autograph,” Dexter said before he took the pen in his mouth.

“Here you are, and might I have your name?”

“Thank you, Mr. Hoofstrom,” the mare said as she levitated the scroll to Dexter’s saddlebag. She turned and reentered the courthouse.

“I charmed her,” Dexter said, “but she hides it very well.”

Fluttershy turned to Dexter and asked, “How can you tell?”

Dexter shrugged, “Because all the mares I talk to act like that.” He smiled and motioned for Fluttershy to enter.

Fluttershy nodded and followed him inside. As the two walked down the hall, Fluttershy's eyes kept finding their way to Dexter's saddlebag.

"What was that letter?"

Dexter stopped and smiled, "I don't know. Would you like to find out?"

Fluttershy nodded and said, "Um, yes please."

"All right."

Dexter opened the saddlebag and pulled out the letter with his mouth. He opened the letter and began to read. After a few moments, he began to laugh.

"What is it," Fluttershy asked.

With a grand smile, Dexter said, "We have exactly what we need."

---

The damp basement began to grow bothersome to Trixie. She rubbed her eyes and looked around the room.

"With all the money he has, it's a wonder this room is in such a state."

The sound of the basement door opening drew Trixie's attention away from the dais.

"Have you studied the spell?"

Trixie nodded and said, "Trixie has studied the spell, and she has found it to be rather crude."

"Crude," Velvet asked, "That spell was created by some of the greatest minds in Equestria."

"Lies are how the greatest minds are able to keep their reputations."

Velvet shook her head and said, "It doesn't matter. I only came down here to ask if you needed anything to eat."

"Trixie is feeling a tad peckish."

"Is everything all right?"

"Must you bother Trixie?"

Trixie sighed and said, "If you must know, Trixie would like to have some sustenance."

Velvet nodded and motioned toward the basement door. "It is too early for lunch, but I'm certain that Mr. Tray can make something for you."

Trixie stared at Velvet for a moment longer before waving a forehoof in her direction. "If you insist, but leave Trixie to her work."

“If you insist,” Velvet said as she turned towards the staircase. She stopped halfway to the door and asked, “Shall I call for you?”

“Do as you wish.”

Velvet nodded and exited the basement.

“Finally,” Trixie grumbled. She looked over the spells and shook her head. “This is just too much. How can anypony even dream of something like this?”

With a shake of her head, Trixie turned her attention towards the hiding Pinkie Pie. Perhaps I should check on the farm pony.

Trixie approached the prone Applejack with caution and spoke in a low voice.

“How are you faring?”

Applejack groaned and shifted a bit. She opened her eyes and saw Trixie.

“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” Applejack said through a pained laugh.

“Rest,” Trixie commanded, “Trixie will find a way to help you.”

“Did you really try and help my Fluttershy?”

Trixie nodded and said, “Trixie did what she could. It was but a simple task for a unicorn as powerful as...”

“Thanks.”

“You shouldn’t interrupt when ponies are speaking.” She gave Applejack a smile and said, “Fluttershy is under Trixie’s protection. Nothing shall harm her.”

Applejack raised her head and stared at Trixie.

“Is something wrong,” Trixie asked.

With a slow shake of her head, Applejack said, “Not a thing. I believe you.” Her head hit the ground with a dull thud.

Trixie couldn’t hide a cringe and asked, “Was that not painful?”

Applejack smiled, “That doc sure has some powerful medicine.”

Her smile was short lived as she asked, “You’re not working with those ponies are you?”

Trixie shook her head and said, “It’s a long story, but I swear to you that I shall do everything in my considerable power to see that they fail.”

Applejack shifted a bit and said, “That’s a mighty tall order for one pony.”

“Oh but I’m not alone,” Trixie said a smirk growing on her lips.

She glanced to the staircase leading up to the ground floor and asked, “Just how can you be so sure that I’m not lying to you?”

Applejack let out a dry laugh. She grimaced in pain, but she caught her breath and said, “It’s just a thing I got. There ain’t a pony alive that can lie to me. Somehow, I just see right through it.”

Trixie nodded, “I see. That could be a good skill to have-”

“Problem is that I couldn’t lie to save my life.”

“Then it’s good that I don’t have such a skill,” Trixie said with a slight laugh.

“Ain’t nothing wrong with honesty.”

“I agree on principal, but certainly there are times when honesty is not the best policy?”

Applejack sighed, “I know. I’ve been taking my lumps learning that lesson, but I’m a stubborn fool. I just wish that I was the only one that had to pay the price.”

Trixie shook her head, “I take it you are referring to Fluttershy? I have my suspicions that she would be willing to carry the world’s worth of burdens for you.”

She nudged Applejack and asked, “Did the possibility ever cross your mind to ask her to?”

“I think she just might,” Applejack said, “I just wish I...”

Applejack let out a yawn and said, “Guess that medicine is kicking in faster than I expected.”

“Rest,” Trixie said, “We shall do what we can.”

Through drooping eyelids, Applejack asked, “And just who is that again?”

“It’s-”

Trixie stopped herself when the sound of the basement door opening. She made her way back to the spell book, and she noticed the curious expression on Velvet’s face.

“Is something wrong,” Velvet asked.

“Oh it’s nothing,” Trixie said. “Except that one,” Trixie motioned toward Applejack with a hoof, “was becoming rather annoying. Trixie tried to silence her.”

Velvet took a guarded step towards Trixie and glared at her, “Did you harm her?”

Trixie laughed, “And risk your precious experiment?”

“That is not an answer,” Velvet said through clenched teeth.

“Trixie did no such thing,” Trixie replied with a raised eyebrow.

“Good,” Velvet replied.

She cleared her throat and said, “Your meal has been prepared. Would you mind if I accompany you?”

“If you insist. Trixie would prefer to be in the company of ponies fitting her stature, but she supposes that you shall have to suffice.”

“I’m touched,” Velvet said.

The pair of ponies made their way up the stairs, and Trixie managed to steal a glance towards Pinkie’s hiding place.

I certainly hope that pony doesn’t do anything foolish before it’s time.

She returned her gaze to Velvet and catches her giving Applejack a concerned glance.

Trixie nodded to herself and she followed Velvet to the foyer.

“Good afternoon, ladies,“ Silver Tray said with a bow.

Velvet smiled at the stallion and said, “Is everything prepared?”

“Of course,” Tray said, “Please follow me.”

Trixie nodded, but she spoke no words to the servant. She merely walked in the direction of the dining hall.

Once inside the hall, Trixie scanned the area quickly.

It certainly was quite a hall. A ball could be held inside and still would have room left over. The table commanded the majority of space and construction was of oak, or some such expensive wood. Gold inlays of leaves ran down the corners and legs. A silk cloth stretched down the center of the entire table and a cotton tablecloth underneath. Trixie knew better than to count the chairs, but rather she made a direct path to the master’s chair.

“That chair is reserved for Master Ring,” Velvet said.

“The master is whoever is the leader of the group,” Trixie said, “And right now, I am the leader.”

Velvet shook her head, “As you wish.”

“Trixie is curious though. Why are there two plates? Would it not have been awkward if Trixie refused your company?”

Velvet smiled and said, “I would have just invited myself.”

“Well said,” Trixie said with a smile.

Both ponies sat down and waited for Silver Tray to bring in their meals.

---

This part of town hasn’t changed much.

Shining Armor made his way through an old section of Canterlot with a single destination in mind. It was an old bar that stood at the corner where his old patrol took him.

He had to shake his head of the nostalgia and continued to make his way. Along the road, he nodded to the citizens. A few nodded in response, and he soon found himself using the same stride as he once did years ago.

His gait took on a pace of a seasoned officer, and his eyes, seemingly on their own, glanced certain corners and alleys. He even had to stop himself from reprimanding a young colt for scribbling something on a wall.

That’s for this area’s officers, he thought.

When he arrived at a bakery, he paused and took a deep breath. The warm scent of the soon to be ready dinner rolls filled him, and he couldn’t help smiling. Still, his destination remained at the forefront of his mind.

He nodded and continued to walk down the road making an accustomed left which ended at a bar.

Just as rundown as I remember, thought Shining Armor as he entered the old building.

The light of the outside shone through the open door and caused the nearest patrons to cover their eyes. Thankfully, for them, darkness soon fell over the bar. Only a few flickering candles provided illumination.

Shining Armor nodded to the barkeep. What was his name, he thought.

Instead of waiting for a response, he scanned the bar and spotted the pony he was looking for.

“Afternoon, Captain,” a voice belonging to a white earth pony with a light blue mane said.

Shining Armor took a breath and said, “Hello Sugar.”

He took a seat and glared at the pony across from him.

Sugar smiled and said, “It’s been a long time.”

“Not long enough.”

“That hurts,” Sugar said with a smile, “But I suppose we didn’t end things on a positive note.”

He took a sip from his mug and continued, “I mean, after that business with-”

“I’m not here to talk about the past. I need information.”

Sugar leaned back into his chair, “Then ask.”

With an eyebrow raised Shining Armor asked, “The catch?”

“No catch.”

“Why?”

Sugar sighed, “Look. I know this is important to you, and we worked together long enough that I know when you have a personal stake in something.”

Shining Armor leaned back into his chair waiting for Sugar to continue.

“Just tell me what you need to know.”

“Tell me what you’ve heard about hit ponies.”

“An odd question, Captain,” Sugar said, “Their M.O. might be helpful.”

“Their last attempt was to inject a poison into an I.V. bag.”

“That narrows it down a bit,” Sugar said.

He drained his mug and said, “I think I know who they might be. By any chance, would this be a team effort of two ponies? A pegasus and a unicorn?”

Shining Armor nodded.

Sugar shook his head, “I was afraid of that. Yeah I know who they are. Heavy hitters. They’re expensive too.”

“Do you know who their latest client was?”

“Yeah, and I also know Celestia’s saddle size.”

Shining Armor glared at Sugar and said, “I’m serious.”

“Do you honestly think that they would let that kind of information float around? I’ve heard things, but I’m not sure it would be smart to share it.”

“I need to know. It’s important that you tell me.”

“And it’s just as important that I keep it to myself.”

Shining Armor leaned forward and asked, “What is your price?”

Sugar set the empty mug down and shrugged.

After a moment, he said, “I have all I need right now. Just tell me one thing.”

“And that would be?”

“How certain are you that he did it?”

Shining Armor growled and said, “I’m positive, and I don’t need you to remind me that we let him get away.”

“I was just curious. All right, word is that-”

“Why are you being so helpful? You had me jump through hoops for information.”

“Not just you, Captain, but that’s not important. I already told you. I can tell this is important to you.”

“I don’t believe you. Who do you report to these days?”

Sugar laughed and said, “My informing days are over. They have been for a long time. Do you still want the information?”

“If your informing days are behind you, then how is it that you have this information?”

“Old habits,” Sugar said with a shrug.

He set his mug down and said, “Last I heard, a pony by the name of Zephyr was looking for a team to do some dirty work. That might be a good a place as any to start.”

Shining Armor tapped his chin with a hoof, “Zephyr? I heard that name before.”

“Really,” Sugar asked, “From where?”

“I remember that name floating around during a strike at a weather factory a few years back but nothing concrete.”

Shining Armor stood and said, “Thank you. I don’t think your being completely honest with me, but you never steered me wrong.”

Without waiting for a response, he turned and left the bar.

Sugar waved the waitress over.

“Another beer?”

“Nah, just give me the check.”

“You got it, Sugar.”

The waitress left the check on the table and made her way back to the bar.

“I sure love watching that pony walk,” he whispered.

Sugar then stood and made his way toward the back of the bar.

The waitress smiled and asked, “Up for a show later?”

“No can do,” Sugar said with a wink, “There’s somepony I gotta see.”
Trials and Tribulations Part 8.0
When we last left our ponies, Fluttershy and Dexter were on their way to the courthouse for Fluttershy's arraignment.

Trixie scrambled to figure out a means of sabotaging the spell Storm Ring plans to cast on Applejack white Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie wait for their chance to help.

Back in Canterlot, Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Rarity, and Shining Armor try to come to terms with the discovery of a new deadly spell.

It's been so long, a quick recap is only fair.

Trials and Tribulations Part 7
Trials and Tribulations Part 8.5

My Little Pony belongs to Hasbro.
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“Are all the books back in their proper place?”

Spike, with scroll and quill in hand, checked off the list, “Check.”

“Are the bags packed?”

“Check.”

“Checklist complete?”

“Check.”

Spike smiled as he rolled up the scroll, “We’re ready to go.”

Twilight nodded and glanced at Rarity who sat at the table looking over the Nightmare Moon pamphlet.

“Rarity,” Twilight asked, “Is something wrong?”

“Wha-”

Rarity blushed and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. There is just something wrong about this pamphlet.”

Spike walked over to Rarity and said, “It’s evil. That’s all I need to know about it.”

Rarity sighed, “I know, Spikey, but there’s something more that I’m missing.”

She placed the pamphlet on the table and began to rub her temples, “Where are you hiding? I know you’re there.”

Her attention was broken by a hoof placed on her shoulder.

Twilight smiled at her and said, “If there is something there, I know you’ll find it, but please don’t overdo it.”

“Yes, you’re right. I’ll try.”

“We should get going.”

Rarity nodded and said, “Yes, you’re right, Twilight. We must be on our way.”

The ponies began to make their way to the library entrance with Spike keeping pace between the two.

Twilight enjoyed the soft sounds of hooves on the marble floor, and she closed her eyes to better take in the sensation.

Spike, seeing this, rolled his eyes and directed the unicorn with the occasional nudge.

After a while, Twilight stopped, “Where’s Rarity?”

“Huh,” Spike asked as he looked around for Rarity.

“I couldn’t hear her hoof steps.”

“Rarity,” Twilight called, “Where are you?”

The sounds of hooves made their way to Twilight’s ears, and she smile when the white unicorn came into view. A smile that faded when she saw what had Rarity’s attention.

“Are you still with that pamphlet?”

Rarity looked at Twilight and gave her a sheepish smile. “I think I found something.”

“Are you sure,” Twilight asked, “You’ve spent a lot of time looking it over and didn’t find anything.”

“Well, my discerning eye was able to find it,” Rarity said with a laugh.

She trotted over to a nearby table and set the pamphlet down.

“We should hurry to the courthouse,” Twilight said.

“I agree, but this will take but a moment.”

Rarity pointed to a section of that pamphlet and said, “There.”

Twilight levitated the pamphlet and began to read.

We have all suffered under the hooves of our so-called Princess, but ask yourself this one simple question, are we truly free?

There have been various calamities that have befallen our fair land, but yet we still stand. How is this possible?

You might be thinking that the brave stallions and mares that make up our proud military? Sadly, the answer would be no. Our forces have not been mustered since the return of Princess Luna.

Again, you must ask yourself, why?

What force is at work to protect us from such dark forces? Or, perhaps the better question would be, What force is at work to control us with such dark forces?

The evidence is quite clear my friends. Princess Luna is a victim of Celestia’s plot of control. We need Nightmare Moon back, and, with her in power, we shall finally have a ruler who will be upfront with their intentions.

Choose the lesser of the evils.

Should you feel the call, all you need to do is follow the gentle breeze. If you are ready, you will understand.


“There,” Rarity said, “That last part.”

“Follow the gentle breeze,” Twilight asked.

Rarity nodded.

“Uh, I don’t get it.”

Spike scratched his head and said, “Yeah, me neither. What does ‘gentle breezes’ have to do with anything?”

Rarity sighed and said, “It’s not just that.”

She pointed at the pamphlet and added, “Look past the words. There is a symbol.”

A triumphant smile grew on her lips as she giggled, “You thought you could hide from me? I told you I would find you.”

Twilight tapped Rarity on the shoulder and asked, “May I?”

“Oh of course,” Rarity said as she stepped aside.

“Well it definitely looks like a watermark. In fact, it might be a cutie mark, but I know I’ve seen it before.”

Twilight looked over the pamphlet and noticed the symbol was not located anywhere else.

“Well, there is something important about this symbol, but I think I’ve seen it somewhere before.”

Spike climbed onto a chair and looked at the pamphlet.

“It does look familiar,” he said, “But where have we seen it before?”

Twilight and Spike stared at the pamphlet for a while longer when a shrill squeal pierced their eardrums.

“Is there a fire,” Twilight asked.

“No,” Spike said as he uncovered his ears, “Rarity just figured it out.”

Both pony and dragon stared at the white unicorn who could only blush in embarrassment.

Rarity cleared her throat and said, “Well, I know where we have seen this symbol. In fact, I would wager that every pony from Canterlot to Cloudsdale to even Ponyville has seen it.”

She ran a hoof through her mane, closed her eyes, and took a deep breathe.

“Could you just-,” Twilight began until she felt a light poke.

She glanced down and saw Spike giving her a look that said, Just wait for it.

Rarity, oblivious to all this exhaled. She took a quick breath and said, “That’s the symbol that accompanies the daily weather report in the paper.”

Spike smiled and said, “That’s right. I remember it from the Ponyville Gazette.”

Twilight nodded, “Doesn't the same weather factory that delivers the weather provides the forecast?”

“So, who sends the weather to Ponyville,” Spike asked.

Both were at a loss, so they looked at Rarity with hopeful eyes.

Rarity rubbed her temples and tried to remember the source of the weather, but she drew a blank. She dropped her head, striking it with a dull thud, and smiled.

The very impact seemed to knock loose the information see sought.

“Storm Ring Industries provides Ponyville with its weather,” she said lifting her head from the table.

Spike placed his hands on the table to steady himself. He took a deep breath and asked, “Storm Ring? As in...”

Twilight nodded, “Grey Ring.”

“What should we do,” Spike asked.

“I think we should bring this new information to Shining Armor,” Rarity said.

“I agree,” Twilight said, “This might even lead us to where Pinkie and Applejack are.”

Rarity placed a hoof to her chest and whispered, “Oh I hope they are okay.”

Spike nodded, “They’ll be fine... I hope.”

“We need to get this to my brother.”

Rarity wiped her eye and said, “Of course, Twilight. I wish we could be there for Fluttershy, but this is much too urgent.”

Twilight tucked the pamphlet into her saddlebag and whispered, “You can go if you want.”

She looked down when she felt a sharp poke, and saw Spike shaking his head at her.

“We can all go and support Fluttershy when this is all over. I promise.”

Rarity smiled and said, “Yes, you’re right.”

“Then, let’s get to the castle,” Twilight said.

With a nod, the three left the table and exited the library.

---

Trixie stared at the empty plate before and wondered just how she was able to eat so quickly. Her thoughts were snapped to reality by a sudden voice.

“You must have been quite hungry,” Velvet said. She smiled at Trixie and asked, “Would you care for some of mine? I, I don’t think I’ll finish.”

“Trixie is not in need of your pity...”

She shook her head and added, “But if you insist, Trixie shall have some of your meal.”

Velvet gave a short laugh and levitated her plate to Trixie. “Please, take all you want. You need the energy more that I will.”

Trixie nodded and asked, “What is your name, your full name?”

“Why are you so curious?”

Trixie’s flat stare caused Velvet to say, “My name is Red Velvet.”

“Perhaps you will be willing to answer another of Trixie’s questions.”

“And that would be?”

“Why must you continue to watch that old building. It should be demolished and save everypony from the eyesore.”

Velvet let the plate drop with a clatter and said with narrowed eyes, “Perhaps it would be best for you to mind your own affairs.”

Trixie smirked and began to eat the portion Velvet gave her. She glanced up to Velvet and noticed that she was uncomfortable.

With an annoyed sigh, Trixie asked, “Yes?”

“I apologize,” Velvet blurted out, “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

“It takes more than that to make The Great and Powerful Trixie unnerved. But now you must tell Trixie, why you are so interested in the building.”

Velvet nodded, “Thank you.” She looked in the direction of the old building even though neither pony could see it from the dining hall. “There is a great deal of history to the building, and I hate to see it continue to fall in such a state.”

Trixie took a sip of her water and asked, “Who owns the building now?”

“Master Ring owns it now.”

“And he allows it to fall into disrepair?”

Velvet shook her head and said, “It is not my place to question his intentions.”

Before Trixie could ask any other questions Velvet rose and said, “You should continue your study of the spell. I would hate to be responsible for any complications.”

Trixie rose from her seat and said, “Yes, that would be wise. Still, Trixie isn’t looking forward to the confines of that basement.”

Velvet laughed and said, “Basements are more discreet than, let’s say, a mountaintop?”

Trixie began to feel the beginnings of a cold sweat form on her brow, but she laughed and said, “That would be such a foalish notion.”

Velvet smiled at Trixie but said nothing.

The two continued back down the hall and Trixie asked, “How did you meet your master?”

“Zephyr hired me,” Velvet said with a slight cringe that failed to go unnoticed to Trixie.

“Is that it?”

“That’s it.”

Trixie stopped at the basement door and said, “Trixie notices that you refer to Zephyr with a certain disgust.”

“My opinion of him doesn’t matter,” Velvet said.

She nodded to Trixie and added, “If there is anything you need, you just need call.”

Trixie sighed and said, “As you wish. Trixie shall continue with her studies.”

She made her way downstairs and shook her head. Does she know about Rainbow Dash?

A quick glance up the staircase gave her a view of Velvet staring at her, but, after a moment, the white unicorn closed the door.

“No,” she whispered, “There is no way she could know. That idea is so silly that anypony could think it up.”

Still, the thought provided little comfort. She chose instead to check on Applejack.

“Shouldn’t you be resting,” Trixie asked the still-conscious Applejack.

“And shouldn’t you be working on getting me out of here,” Applejack retorted with a wry smile.

Applejack attempted to roll onto her stomach, and almost succeeded.

“Well,” Applejack said as she gasped in pain, “That’s not going to happen.”

She looked at Trixie and asked, “Just what are these ponies up to anyway?”

Trixie rubbed her forehead, “They wish to test out a very dangerous spell, and...”

“And I drew the short straw,” Applejack said finishing the thought.

“Yes, I’m afraid so, but I have a plan.”

“No you don’t.”

“And just how do you-”

“I can tell when a pony’s lying remember?”

Trixie sighed, “Right. Well I promise that I will think of something. I think our best bet would be to destroy the spell book, but I don’t know what the immediate consequence would be.”

Her eyes scanned Applejack’s injuries, “You certainly wouldn’t be able to get very far.”

“Maybe you could, I dunno, zap me outta here?”

“It’s called teleportaion, but that could work.”

Trixie motioned with her head to the storage room, “The pink one is here.”

“Pinkie?”

“Yes.”

Applejack’s hoarse laugh caused Trixie tilt her head and stare.

“And what is so funny,” Trixie asked.

“I told ‘em,” Applejack said, “When Pinkie is after something, there ain’t a force in Equestria that can keep her away.”

“Yes, well the blue one is also here.”

“Rainbow Dash?”

“The very same. She is waiting for my signal to interrupt the spell.”

Applejack took a deep breath and said, “That pony would make sure that her part is flashy as possible.”

Trixie smiled and said, “She was rather adamant that the spell would be cast on a mountaintop.”

“That sounds like Rainbow,” Applejack said with a dry chuckle. She laid her head back down and closed her eyes.

“Just rest,” Trixie said, “You will be free soon. Trixie swears it.”

---

“Mr. Hoofstrom?”

Fluttershy turned to face the young pony and smiled, “Oh, just a moment please.”

She nudged the sleeping lawyer and whispered, “I think our case is being called.”

Dexter mumbled something but remained asleep.

“Oh my,” Fluttershy said, “Maybe I should be a little louder?”

The mare rolled her eyes and said, “That might be a good idea.”

Fluttershy nodded, the sarcasm going over her head, and said, “Okay.”

She placed her mouth over Dexter’s ear and said, “Wake up, please.”

“Oh for Celestia’s sake.”

The mare kicked the bench and said, “Wake up already.”

Dexter woke with a start and said, “We’ll see what your wife has to say about...”

He looked around and shook his head, “How long was I asleep?”

Fluttershy smiled and said, “Not long.”

The sound of a throat being cleared reminded Fluttershy of the reason behind Dexter’s rude awakening.

“Oh, I think our case is being called.”

Dexter nodded, “Right. Then let’s get to it.”

He smiled at the young mare and gave her a polite nod.

The mare smiled and returned the gesture before returning to her office.

Dexter spun around and said with a grin, “This will be a cinch. Just do what I say, and I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Okay,” Fluttershy said as she shifted on the bench, “I was wondering, um, what did the note say?”

“Oh you’ll find out soon enough.”

“But-”

“I should tell you in private,” Dexter whispered, “The walls have ears.”

“I understand,” Fluttershy said as she dropped her gaze to the marble floor.

She glanced at Dexter and asked, “You would tell me if it was bad news?”

Dexter stiffened and looked away from Fluttershy.

“Is it bad news,” Fluttershy asked, fresh concern growing in her voice.

“No it’s good news.”

“Then why aren’t you looking at me?”

“Because you’ll give me those puppy eyes.”

“I won’t.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Dexter sighed and turned to face Fluttershy and shouted, “You lied!”

Fluttershy nearly fell off the bench and whispered, “I didn’t mean to. In fact, I didn’t know I was doing any kind of eyes.

“Well, call them what you want, but those are definitely the eyes of some adorable animal.”

He shook his head and mumbled, “Should be criminal being that cute.”

“Um, thank you?”

Dexter laughed, “I like you, but we need to get going.”

“How about I join you, so you don’t have to go far?”

Fluttershy turned to see a unicorn wearing a suit. He wore his mane in the same style as Dexter, but he didn’t look at her the same way. He eyed her as though she were gift on Hearth’s Warming.

“Such a short mane and tail for a former model,” he said after a moment.

“It was for a disguise,” Fluttershy blurted out.

The unicorn laughed, “And how did that work out?”

Fluttershy looked away.

“It didn’t. Did it?”

He let the question hang in the air before turning his attention to Dexter.

“Mr. Hoofstrom?”

“That’s me. And you are?”

“I’m Parker, and I’m here to make your client the best deal she’ll ever have.”

Dexter stood and stretched his legs, “Sorry to disappoint you Mr. Parker, but we won’t be taking any deals.”

“Don’t be so hasty,” Parker said, “There is no reason to throw your client’s life away. All I ask is you take full responsibility for the premeditated murder of Grey Ring. Cooperte and we’ll give you life in prison without chance of parole.”

He leaned closer to Fluttershy and added, “You will be found guilty, and you will be put to death for your crime. And, once I’m done with you, Rainbow Dash will be next for her role in the cover-up.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened and her breathing became heavier. She opened her mouth, but Dexter stood between her and Parker.

He glared at Parker, “Let’s get something straight right now. You will never address my client directly. If you have anything to say, you say it to me. And you will not threaten her again.”

Parker took a step back and said, “Empty words.”

Dexter smirked, “Do you really want to risk it?”

“It doesn’t matter. Take the deal or don’t. Either way, she’s going to pay.”

Parker turned and walked into the courtroom.

“I have to take that deal,” Fluttershy said.

“No you don’t.”

“But he said-”

“He said what he needed to get a reaction from you, and it worked. He’ll go after your friend anyway, but if you are found innocent of the charge, then you will have nothing to worry about.”

The two enter the courtroom and make their way to one of the tables.

“Um, you will tell me what your plan is, right?”

Dexter nodded, “Of course I will. Just not now.”

The bailiff entered the courtroom from a side door and said, “All rise.”

Dexter, Fluttershy, Parker, and the few ponies in the gallery stood.

A large stallion wearing a black robe entered the courtroom.

“The Honorable Judge Bloodhoof presiding,” the bailiff continued.

The judge took his seat and said, “Be seated.”

All ponies sat down.

Bloodhoof read over the docket and said, “In the case of-”

“Your honor,” Dexter said, “May we approach?”

“You may,” Bloodhoof said as he placed the docket down.

Dexter and Parker walked to the bench.

“What are you doing,” Parker asked.

“My job,” Dexter said before he turned to the judge.

He fished the precedent out of his saddlebag and placed it on the bench. “I request a dismissal on the grounds of justifiable homicide.”

Bloodhoof glanced at the precedent and asked, “Is your client pleading guilty?”

“Guilty to what charge,” Dexter asked.

“I didn’t get a chance to say,” Bloodhoof said as he read the precedent. He cleared his throat and said, “The Spousal Abuse Precedent is quite old.”

Parker shook his head. “Your Honor, Such a precedent would apply to loved ones and immediate family members not close friends.”

Bloodhoof leaned back into his chair and after a few breaths said, “I will not dismiss the case.”

He raised a hoof to silence Dexter and said, “A pony’s life was taken violently from this world. It is our duty to see that court is able to decide the matter properly.”

Bloodhoof looked at Parker. “The precedent specifically states family. In these modern times, family also applies to close friends.”

He returned his gaze to Dexter, “Still, the precedent is simply too vague to warrant a dismissal. You may use it as part of your defense.”

Dexter placed the precedent back inside his saddlebag and said, “Thank you your Honor.”

He and Parker walked back to the tables and sat down.

Bloodhoof cleared his throat. “In the case of The Ponies of Equestria versus Fluttershy, on one count of Murder in the first degree, how does the defendant plead.”

Dexter nudged Fluttershy and both stood.

“Um, not guilty,” Fluttershy squeaked out.

“Did you hear that,” Bloodhoof asked his stenographer.

The stenographer nodded and read her notes, “Um, not guilty.”

“Very well.”

Parker rose and said, “Your Honor. We request that the defendant be remanded to custody and denied bail.”

“My client is not the threat that the prosecutor is making her out to be.”

Parker turned to Dexter and said, “She is a flight risk.”

Dexter chuckled and said, “I love pegasus jokes too, but she is not a flight risk.”

“Given the chase she gave authorities,” Bloodhoof said “I would say that she is a flight risk. No, in spite of her honorable service in the care of animals big and small, I have no choice but deny her bail. She is ordered to return returned to the prison.”

“Can we keep her out of general population,” Dexter asked, “She doesn’t do well in such environments.”

Bloodhoof shook his head, “No, but until she is cleared by the prison nurse, she will remain in the infirmary.”

He turned to Parker, “Do the Ponies object?”

Parker shook his head, “No objections.”

“Good. The trial will begin in one week.”

Bloodhoof pounded the gavel and rose.

“All rise,” the bailiff said

All ponies rose and Bloodhoof left the courtroom.

Parker left but gave Fluttershy and smirk as he did.

Fluttershy’s heart pounded in her chest. Her chances of being found innocent seemed further away than ever, but she turned to Dexter and saw him smile.

“It’s fine,” he whispered, “I knew we weren’t getting bail. I just needed to ask to learn a little something about our judge.”

“And that is?”

“He considered it, so that means that he hasn’t written you off. We have a solid chance.”

He laughed and said, “Though he is known as the ‘Hanging Judge’.”

“What does that mean?”

Dexter shrugged, “Could mean that when he gives out punishment, he’s harsh. Or that he abides by the rules of the court and we have a good shot.”

He smirked and added, “Then again it could be an affectionate pet name.”

Fluttershy opened her mouth to ask and closed it. It seemed like a bad time to ask.

Dexter motioned for the door and the two left the courtroom.

“Don’t worry. You will be just fine. Just keep your head down and count the hours before I check on you.”

“You will?”

Dexter laughed, “Of course I will. If I can get you out of general for even a short while, I will.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.”

The walk back to the prison carriage seemed shorter than the walk to the courthouse, but Fluttershy failed to notice.

"Here we are," Dexter said.

He opened the door and motioned for Fluttershy to enter.

"Are you coming with me?"

"I'm afraid not. I need to get in touch with my firm, but I'll check on you in the morning."

"I understand, and thank you."

She boarded and the guards shackled her wings and hooves.

“Prisoner secure,” one guard said.

“Roger,” the driver said.

The carriage jerked into motion and soon became airborne.

Fluttershy leaned her head against the window and thought about that past few days. She made a friend out of an old enemy and possibly made an enemy from a close friend.

Her eyes closed from the weight of all that happened, and she soon fell asleep.

---

Sugar walked down the familiar street and, without even thinking, made the usual left turn down the alley. He half-heartedly counted the gates leading to backyards before stopping.

He checked the gate and smiled when it swung open.

"Guess you're expecting me," he chuckled.

Sugar walked across the backyard and knocked on the door of a modest house.

"Come in," a voice called.

Sugar obliged and entered. He looked around the kitchen and laughed.

"You really need to redecorate."

"My wife likes the look."

"It's your house."

Sugar sat down and asked, "Down to business?"

"How did your meeting with Captain Armor go?"

"The captain hasn't changed. He still thinks that you let the pony go."

"Did you pass on the information?"

Sugar sighed, "Yeah, I did."

He glanced around and asked, "Got anything to drink?"

"Just milk. Sorry."

"Ugh, I'll pass," he leaned back into his chair and added, "I passed on the information, but are you sure it's a good idea? He's liable to kick a hornet's nest."

"I want him to. He can use the information. Take it directly to the Princesses.”

Sugar shook his head, “Yeah, but couldn’t you do something with it?”

“There is nothing I can do with it. I have to go through channels, that means more ponies who can prevent me from doing anything.”

“It’s in the good Captain’s hooves now,” Sugar said as he rose from his chair, “I just don’t want to get in wrong end of this.”

“You won’t. Just behave yourself.”

Sugar laughed, “Oh I will.”

He opened the door, “Good night, Smoke.”

Detective Smoke remained at his kitchen table, a glass of milk sitting before him. He levitated the glass and drank the contents with a single gulp.

His eyes turned to Canterlot Castle and he whispered, “It’s up to you now Shining. I know you’ll do what you have to.”

He levitated the glass to the sink and left the kitchen. The past few days made him feel quite old, and he needed rest.

---

“Prisoner, we’ve arrived.”

Fluttershy stirred from her sleep and nodded at the guard, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

The guard shook his head, “No bother. Just step out of the carriage.”

“Of course,” Fluttershy said as she complied.

The guard looked over the carriage and yelled, “Transport secure.”

The driver yelled in response, “Roger.”

The guard began to walk toward the infirmary, and Fluttershy did her best to stay close behind him.

She kept her head down, fearful of saying the wrong thing.

“Are you always this quiet,” the guard asked.

Her head slowly rose, “Um, I don’t know what to say.”

“That’s all right,” the guard said as they stopped at the infirmary door, “I guess after a day in court, you’re all talked out.”

Fluttershy nodded and said, “I am feeling a bit tired.”

“Word is that you’ll be moved to general soon.”

He glanced at her leg and said, “And I get the feeling that it’ll be before you’re cleared from the nurse.”

“Why is that,” Fluttershy asked with a shiver.

“Because the nurse was called away earlier today. Something about an emergency.”

He shook his head and said, “I know what you’ve been accused of, but you’re getting your day in court. If the jury decides that you’re guilty or not, then that’ll be that.”

“Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to ramble like that.”

He opened the door and let Fluttershy in.

“Thank you,” she whispered and walked to her bed.

Her heart sank when she saw empty bed next to her own.

---

“Do you think he’ll take much longer?”

Twilight shook her head, “I don’t know, Spike. He should be here soon.”

Rarity nudged Twilight and asked, “Perhaps we should check inside?”

“Good idea,” Twilight replied.

The three made their way to the main gate and the guard saluted Twilight.

“Miss Twilight,” the guard said, “Are you here to visit Princess Celestia?”

Twilight shook her head, “No. I’m waiting for my brother.”

The guard tilted his head and said, “I believe the Captain might be inside. He may be giving the Princess her daily briefing.”

“May we wait for him,” Rarity asked.

The guard stiffened and said, “Of course. Apologies for delaying you.”

He ran into the guard house and the gate soon opened.

“Please, go on in,” he said with a bow.

Twilight stood, uncertain about what to say, but Rarity stepped forward and smiled at the guard.

“No apologies necessary.”

The guard returned to his post and watched the ponies and dragon enter the palace.

“Should we head to the throne room,” Rarity asked.

Twilight nodded and said, “Yes, we can wait for him if he hasn’t arrived, and if he already left, then we can ask where he is.”

A member of the Royal Guard stopped before them and bowed to Twilight.

“Good afternoon, Twilight. Are you here to visit Princess Celestia?”

“No,” Twilight said, “I’m just waiting for my brother.”

The guard nodded, “The Captain should be arriving this evening with his daily report.”

Twilight frowned and asked, “And should there be an urgent matter, would the Captain wait until the usual time?”

“Can’t remember the last time that happened, but if it’s urgent enough, I don’t see why he would wait.”

Twilight turned to Rarity, “We should wait and see if he stops by.”

Rarity fidgeted a bit and said, “Are you certain that is a good idea?”

“I know this is urgent, but I want to know what Shining has learned.”

“Hey stranger,” a voice called out.

Twilight turned and smiled, “Cadance. How are you.”

The ponies embraced and Cadance said, “I’m doing okay.”

She motioned for the group to sit down on a nearby bench and asked, “But how have you been?”

“I’m fine,” Twilight said, “But I’m worried about Fluttershy.”

Cadance nodded and said, “I understand. Would you mind if I wait with you?”

“Of course not.”

Rarity and Spike sat on the couch, and the young dragon laid down.

Twilight glanced over and smiled as she saw Rarity move closer to Spike without noticing.

She looked back to Cadance and saw her fiddling with her hooves.

“Is everything okay?”

Cadance sighed and said, “Shining didn’t come for lunch today.”

Twilight stared at her.

“I know it’s not a big deal, but...”

Cadance got off the couch, “We have a system. We always have lunch together, and if something comes up, we let each other know.”

“Perhaps whatever lead he followed took longer than he expected,” Rarity whispered.

Cadance and Twilight stared at the white unicorn.

Rarity could only give a sheepish shrug as she pointed to the now sleeping Spike by her side.

Twilight rubbed her chin with a hoof and jumped when she heard laughing.

“Oh, I’m sorry Twilight,” Cadance said between her laughs, “But I should’ve guessed that he would be hard at work on a case.”

“He helped out a lot in the Royal Library,” Twilight said.

Rarity nodded, “Yes, he certainly is hard at work helping Fluttershy.”

Cadance’s ears perked up, “How is Fluttershy doing?”

“How much do you know about the case,” Twilight asked.

“Only what Shining was able to share with me. Fluttershy had taken a pony’s life and she is on trial.”

She lowered her voice as though she feared the words that came out, “Is it true? Did Fluttershy really...”

Twilight nodded, “Yes, but she did what she did to protect Rainbow Dash from a very bad pony.”

“Yes,” Rarity added, “A monstrous pony named Grey Ring.”

Cadance shook her head and said, “I don’t know that name, but what was he about to do to Rainbow Dash?”

“I’d rather not think about it,” Twilight said.

“I understand.”

Silence fell on the group before Twilight spoke again.

“He told us that he was following up on a lead.”

“And that means Sugar,” Cadance whispered.

“What was that,” Twilight asked.

Cadance smiled and said, “It’s nothing. I was just thinking about when Shining worked with the Police department before joining the Royal Guard.”

She poked Twilight and said, “Enough about this. What have you been doing?”

Twilight smiled and said, “I was doing some research on each of our elements. I believe that it enhances certain aspects of our personalities...”

Cadance smiled and nodded in the well known way she did countless times before.

Rarity shifted on the bench, Spike very warm body getting a little too warm for her comfort. Unfortunately, this also caused Spike to wake up.

“Wha,” he said with a yawn, “Is Shining Armor here yet?”

“No not yet,” Rarity said with an apologetic smile, “Sorry about waking you.”

She rubbed her side and said, “Dragons are warmer than I thought.”

Spike blushed and moved away from Rarity.

“Is something wrong,” Rarity asked.

“I’m fine,” Spike said.

“Then why don’t I believe you?”

“I’m sorry,” Spike said, “But I’m still kinda mad at you.”

“Well, I certainly understand that-”

“Then explain it to me,” Spike said, “Every since you two fought, I haven’t been able to see you the same way again.”

Rarity moved to hug Spike, but the young dragon scooted away.

She sighed and said, “The reason is because you realize how important Twilight is to you. You did everything you could to prevent a violent encounter, but we still fought.”

She quickly leaned over and hugged Spike. “I feel simply terrible that I haven’t spent enough time to repair the damage I caused.”

Spike leaned into the hug and said, “I know you want Twilight to be your friend again.”

“And I want you to be my friend as well,” Rarity added.

She let go of Spike and said, “Once Fluttershy is back home, I’ll do all I can to set things right.”

Spike nodded and gave her a warm smile.

If only promises were all it took, Rarity thought to herself.

She glanced over to Twilight and Cadance when she heard laughter.

“Why does everypony assume ‘laser-eyes’?”

“I don’t know,” Cadance said between laughs, “It just made sense when you said that you gained special powers.”

Twilight shook her head and said, “It doesn’t work like that, but...”

Cadance grinned and asked, “And?”

“It would be pretty cool,” Twilight said with a slight blush.

“He’s coming,” Cadance said.

“How do-”

“I know his run,” Cadance told Twilight. She stood and waited in the hall.

Her ears didn’t fail her, because a few moments later Shining Armor came running through the hall, and almost ran into his wife.

He jumped to the side to avoid Cadance and skidded to a stop.

“Sorry, Cadance,” Shining said.

“It’s all right,” Cadance said as she laughed. “Whatever your working on must be important if you can’t even see what’s right in front of you.”

Shining Armor smiled and said, “That’s what you told me before our first kiss.”

He nuzzled Cadance when she began to blush and saw Twilight.

“I thought you were going to the courthouse.”

Twilight waved Rarity over and said, “We were, but Rarity discovered something hidden in the pamphlet you gave us.”

Cadance shook her head, “Why would somepony want to do that to Aunt Luna?”

“I don’t know why,” Twilight said, “But we have a pretty good idea as to who.

Shining turned to Rarity and asked, “Who is it? What clue did you discover?”

Rarity nodded and said, “A simple phrase, ‘follow the gentle breeze.’”

“Do you know what that means,” Twilight asked.

Shining nodded, “Zephyr.”

“Is that a pony,” Spike asked.

“No,” Twilight said, “A Zephyr is a gentle breeze.”

“It’s also a pony,” Shining Armor said. “My contact told me that he was looking for a team to do some dirty work, and that he has ties to a weather factory strike.”

Rarity and Twilight shared a concerned glance.

“What,” Shining asked.

Rarity cleared her throat and asked, “Would that factory be owned by Storm Ring Industries?”

“Yes,” Shining said, “Do you think there’s a connection?”

“I do,” Rarity said producing the pamphlet. She levitated it over to Shining Armor and pointed to the watermark.

“That’s the symbol for Storm Ring’s weather factories.”

“Then the pamphlets are coming from their home.”

Shining Armor faced the door to the throne room, “I need to inform the Princesses. We need to raid the home.”

“Celestia won’t give you permission,” Cadance whispered.

“What do you mean,” Rarity asked.

“It’s a good lead, but you don’t have actual evidence that Storm Ring is responsible. Aunt Celestia might not give you permission to raid a pony’s home if there’s still doubt about their guilt.”

“You’re right,” Shining said, “But I need to take the chance.”

Without waiting for a reply, he entered the throne room. He stopped before the two princesses and knelt before them.

“Please rise, Captain,” Princess Luna said, “It is rather early for your daily report.”

“I apologize, but I need to report this.”

Shining Armor glanced behind him and saw that the others had followed him.

He took a deep breath and said, “We have come into information that strongly suggests the source of the Nightmare Moon Pamphlets. There is a hidden message in the pamphlet that point to the Storm Mansion. There is also a link between between the ponies that attempted to kill Fluttershy at Cloudsdale General. we also found a connection to the violent abduction of the Element of Honesty, Applejack.”

Celestia gasped, “Applejack has been abducted?”

Twilight stepped forward, “I’m afraid so, Princess. Pinkie Pie was able to contact us with a letter informing us that Applejack was severely injured. She couldn’t give us the exact location, but she was able to send us a drawing of a spell.”

She stepped back when she felt Shining Armor’s hoof on her shoulder.

“The spell in question,” Shining said as he bowed his head, “Is specifically designed to murder the princesses.”

Luna rose from her throne, “How dare they? Is it not bad enough that they wish that monster to roam Equestria again, but to actually design magic to end our lives?”

“Luna please calm yourself,” Celestia said, “I doubt that the spell would be successful.”

Shining Armor shook his head, “That’s a risk I cannot take. I request permission to lead a strike team and raid the Storm residence.”

Celestia didn’t speak for several moments. Her eyes darted over all those before, and, a few times, glanced to her sister. She sighed and said, “There is enough to warrant concern, but I cannot grant you permission to invade another pony’s home. I’m sorry.”

Luna scoffed and said, “Don’t be sorry.”

She turned to Shining Armor and said, “Prepare your team. I want you ready as soon as possible.”

Celestia gasped and said, “Sister, please. Don’t act with such haste. At least confide in me.”

Luna turned to Celestia, a slight sneer on her face as she said, “Just as you confided in me when you rejected the Captain’s request?”

“I am merely thinking about the welfare of our citizens, and, as the older sibling, my ruling must stand.”

“I rule beside you,” Luna snapped as she jumped off the throne, “Not beneath you. Perhaps it is time that I begin to regain my old responsibilities.”

Celestia shook her head, “You do rule beside me. I just feel that you are rushing headlong into this. The Royal Guard still answers to me-”

“Then it’s time that changed,” Luna shouted, “I am assuming control to the Royal Guard. It is my duty and birthright.”

Celestia stared at her sister and shuddered when she saw a green glimmer in her eyes.

“Do you contest my claim,” Luna asked with a hiss.

“Of course not,” Celestia said worry clear in her voice, “I just ask that you exercise caution. I don’t want to lose you again.”

Luna’s face softened in an instant. She sighed and said, “I know what I am doing.”

She turned to Shining Armor and said, “He is performing his duty, and we must support him.”

Celestia leaned back into her throne and nodded.

“Thank you, sister. I shall accompany the Captain.”

Luna walked away from the throne and left the throne room.

Shining Armor bowed to Princess Celestia and said, “Thank you for your time, Princess. I will protect Princess Luna.”

Celestia smiled and said, “Please do. Don’t let her get too headstrong.”

“I will do what I have to,” Shining Armor said.

He bowed and led the group out of the throne room and toward the barracks.

“Am I the only one who can’t stop shaking,” Spike asked.

“No,” Rarity said, “You are not alone. Princess Luna was quite terrifying.”

“She helped us,” Shining Armor said, “There’s isn’t much time to prepare. We strike tonight.”
Short version: I forgot to add the link to Trials Part 8 in the description for Trials Part 7.

Just in case here it is:  Trials and Tribulations Part 8.0“Shining Armor, are you certain?” Rarity looked at the Guard Captain and asked, “Could it be possible that Pinkie made a mistake?”
Twilight shook her head, “I doubt it. Pinkie remembers the name of everypony in she has ever met. I’m not about to question her memory, especially on something this important.” She brought a hoof to her chin and stared at the parchment.
Rarity shuddered and asked, “But why would anypony want such a spell?” She glanced at Twilight and nudged her.
Twilight snapped out of her thoughts and turned to face Rarity, “I’m sorry. What was that?”
“I asked why anypony would want such a spell? The very idea of using a spell to...” She paused and said as she looked over the spell again, “How does it work? I always thought the Princesses were immortal.”
Twilight nodded, “They are. As terrifying as the prospect of a spell that can kill an alicorn, I don’t see how it-



Long version: I updated my AppleShy series back in June, and I made pretty big error.

Thanks to killermidget42 . They asked when the next part was coming out. A good question, I'm currently working on the tentatively called "Storming the Mansion" but it's slow going, but what stood out was that the comment came from Trials Part 7.

I had a sinking feeling that I screwed up, and, when I checked the description for Part 7, sure enough I neglected to add the link to Part 8.

I feel like such an idiot for neglecting such an important step, but I fixed it.

As for why I'm posting this basically useless journal post, It's just my way of sharing the link to part 8.

I hope to have the next part up soon, but I will be needing a pre reader for it. I'm not looking for one right now, since the chapter isn't finished yet, but I will make an announcement when the chapter is finished.
  • Mood: Embarrassed

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PatRoison
Robert Slaid
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Texas
Favourite genre of music: Rock
Operating System: Windows 7
Shell of choice: Turtle
Wallpaper of choice: Pretty much anything Fluttershy
Skin of choice: My own
Favourite cartoon character: Fluttershy
Personal Quote: "I'm doing what I can, the best I can, the only way I can."
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:iconasluc96:
asluc96 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday good sir!
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PatRoison Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much. :iconflutterhappyplz:
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asluc96 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome!
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xxOMEGAxx000 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015
happy b day
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PatRoison Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much. :iconfluttershyyesplz:
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WagonWhack Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Happy Birthday! I still love to reread your fanfics
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PatRoison Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. I really appreciate that you take the read my stories. I look forward to updating the ones I have, and creating new ones. :iconfluttershyhappyplz:
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MetaKirb7 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015
Happy Birthday!~ Appreciate all the stories you do~
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PatRoison Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much, and I appreciate you. :iconflutterhappyplz:
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FairyBubblePuppy Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Student General Artist
Happy birthday! :)
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