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