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So I finally started my first fanfiction...and it turned out to be RariDash. I love them together~ So here's the first chapter for now. I'll probably update with others. Here's a link to the story on FimFiction for easier reading. (: Like I said in the title, any feedback is appreciated as long as it's nice or constructive. EDIT: Chapter two is up now~ EDIT: Finally finished chapter three. x3 EDIT: Chapter foooouuuuuuurrrrr...finally. ~~~ Unlikely? Chapter One - "...Have You Been Crying?" A fat tear dripped slowly down Rarity's cheek as she drew a shuddering breath into her slightly air-depraved lungs. She turned her eyes to the ceiling to stem the flow of tears now following after the first, shaking her tightly curled hair away from her face as she did so. Careful to avoid the pins scattered around her from when magic had failed her and dropped a box full of them, she sat down hard in front of a sewers dummy, empty of any scraps of fabric; the sight of the blank face staring into the distance only made her feel worse, and her crying intensified to the point where her chest was heaving between sobs. Only a few minutes earlier, the glamorous mare was enjoying a regular day in springtime Ponyville. She had just finished making a new spring frock, adorned with a waterfall of beautifully crafted fabric flowers and ribbons, and was busy showing it off around the quaint little town when she had stumbled across her five best friends; Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and last, but most certainly not least, Rainbow Dash; having a party of sorts in the town's bakery, Sugar Cube Corner. Quite unsure how to react to this, and confused as to why she had not merited an invitation, Rarity had graciously excused herself from the ponies she had been speaking with and made her way home, fighting with the flood of negative thoughts that poured into her head like the rain that began fall just as she slammed the door to the Carousel Boutique. Why had her friends had such a lovely party without her? Had any of them been distant recently? It did seem like Twilight was ignoring her the other day… Was Fluttershy running away from her that morning? There was far too much for Rarity to process as her thoughts began to overlap and close in about her, choking off rational thinking to make way for twisted fantasies of her supposed best friends shunning and poking fun at her. A strangled scream ripped from her throat and she clasped her front hooves over her head, all the muscles of her back tense as she let all her inner turmoil come out in a torrent of garbled words and inane shrieking. A particularly wrenching sob caught painfully in her throat as frantic banging on the door drifted to Rarity's ears. She jumped to her hooves, using magic, which she had thankfully regained control of, to shove the spilled pins out of the way while she walked to the front room. Unaware of how out of sorts she looked; stray hairs were hanging limply from the curl of her mane, her eyes were red and puffy and she was shaking slightly; Rarity unlocked the door and placed one hoof daintily on the handle, attempting to regain more control of her emotions before she turned the knob. She didn't have time however before the door was thrown open violently from the outside and she had to leap back to avoid it. The unmistakable silhouette of Rainbow Dash stood framed against the stormy sky and rain outside. Her multicolored mane was dripping wet and a fierce light flared in her eyes as she darted into the store. "Rarity! Where are- There you are!" Rainbow Dash spun in place as she caught Rarity in her peripheral vision, cowering against the now closed door. "Are you alright? I heard screaming and…have you been crying?" A perplexed expression flitted across the pegasus's face, but was quickly replaced by tentative fear, an emotion rarely seen there by any of Dash's friends. "That's preposterous!" Rarity straightened herself up, trying to recover her usual aloof attitude as she recovered from the shock of the other pony's sudden insertion into her alone time. "Why ever would you think that?" Dash raised an eyebrow and gently brushed a hoof against Rarity's cheek; a few fake eyelashes rested there, unstuck from the unicorn's bottom lash-line from her deluge of tears. Rarity's eyes widened and she bit her lip, casting her gaze away from Rainbow Dash and instead onto the russet colored floorboards. "Why…why were you all having a party without me…?" Rarity's voice began to shake once again as she spoke; Dash noticed the change, and rushed to her friend's side. She placed a hesitant hoof on the unicorn's shoulder. "It's okay, don't cry… We were wondering the same thing, actually… We put an invitation in your mailbox, but you never responded. We just thought you were busy or something…" Dash made sure to tone down her normally raucous tone, though she wasn't certain how to manage this situation and felt incredibly awkward. It was obvious Rarity was extremely upset, but Rainbow Dash had never been good at handling emotions, especially those not her own. Her eyes settled on the bed in the next room, and she began to slowly lead the unicorn towards it, muttering what she hoped were encouraging words as she did so. Rarity followed Dash without a fight, attempting to wrap her somewhat cloudy mind around what the pegasus had just said. "But…I checked my mail this morning and there was nothing there…" Her legs bumped against the bed and she fell into it, abruptly feeling the weakness in her knees. Rainbow Dash settled next to her, once again wrapping one arm around her unicorn friend's shoulders. "Well, maybe it just fell on the ground or something. We'll check when the rain stops, alright?" Dash smiled uncertainly, and breathed an inward sigh of stark relief as the ghost of a answering smile graced Rarity's face. "Rarity…we'll always be your friends. Twilight, Fluttershy…all of us. No matter what, okay?" Rarity stared into the pegasus's eyes for a few seconds before jumping to her hooves once again and throwing her arms around the other pony's neck. "Oh, thank you Rainbow Dash…thank you for coming… I know we'll always be friends, I just…oh, I just don't know…" She clung on for dear life, and missed the look of wonder and the small, secretive smile that flickered over Dash's features as she closed her own hooves around Rarity's back. "Tomorrow, we'll find out what happened to that letter, alright?" ~~~ Chapter Two - "...And Come Alone." Rainbow Dash cracked one eye open slowly, using a hoof to shield her face against the dazzling morning sun. A sour look wormed its way onto her features and stuck there, making her appear somewhat like an upset tortoise; the window in her own room in Cloudsdale was far enough from her bed that the light didn’t fall across her. Here, in Rarity’s room, the window- Dash’s eyes flew completely open suddenly, and she whipped her head around, cricking her neck painfully in the process. Sure enough, Rarity was curled up beside her, still asleep, her thick, slightly mussed up mane shielding her eyes from the golden light of morning. An odd look of confused happiness mixed with a weird sort of dislike replaced the pegasus’s shocked expression as she gazed at the other mare; it took several seconds for the memory of the night before to come back to her. Rarity had been crying…the letter! They had to go look for it today, and find out who had done this, if anyone. “Rainbow Dash?” Rarity’s quiet, somewhat groggy voice floated up to where Dash was now sitting bolt upright in the center of the bed, breaking the pegasus’s concentration on the task before them. Rarity’s eyes were also squinted against the sun, and she pulled herself across the bed to close the curtains before looking at Rainbow Dash again. “Did we sleep all through yesterday evening?” This hadn’t occurred to Rainbow Dash; she slept a lot, but it had barely been noon when she and Rarity had fallen asleep. “I…I guess we d-d-“ A huge yawn interrupted Dash’s sentence, which she didn’t bother to finish, instead taking that moment to stretch her hooves up to the ceiling in an immensely over exaggerated stretch. “Well, you were pretty broken up yesterday, so I’m not surprised.” A good night’s sleep had returned Rainbow Dash to her usual nonchalant attitude. “I beg your pardon! Rarity is never ‘broken up’.” Rarity jumped gracefully off the bed and flicked her mane back out of her eyes, casting a withering glance back at Dash as she did so. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a shower. I look simply hideous…” The unicorn trotted her way to the bathroom, muttering to herself about the state of her usually immaculately styled mane and tail and leaving Rainbow Dash sitting on the bed completely clueless as to what to do next. Once in the privacy of her bathroom, Rarity collapsed on the floor, swooning silently over the condition of her lovely hair as she turned the silver shower knobs with magic. Steam began to rise from behind the curtain as she regained control of herself and stood up again, taking a moment to glance at her reflection before checking the water with one hoof. It was suitably hot by that point, so the unicorn wasted no time in stringing a towel through the ring beside shower and pulling the curtain aside, then stepped delicately into the blistering cascade. A sigh of contentment passed her lips as the water slicked down her hair and tail and soaked into her aching muscles. “Nothing like a hot shower to calm one’s nerves…” Rarity’s voice was little more than a whisper as she closed her eyes against the stream of water. Though she usually liked to reflect on her day or simply think about little things while she was showering, today the unicorn let her mind go blank as the water beat out a throbbing rhythm against her glistening coat. All the horrible memories from the previous day and her trepidation about what might have happened to the mysterious invitation trickled slowly out of her thoughts, following the water’s path, trickling over her neck and shoulders and finally down the drain. After washing herself thoroughly, Rarity once again pulled away the curtain and stepped out of the shower, turning back to stop the water with a hoof while her magic was busy wrapping her hair up in a spare towel. She wrapped the largest towel, the one she had hung beside the shower, around herself and took several minutes to dry off, paying close attention to her tail as she did so. A fluffy purple bathrobe awaited her as she made her way through the bathroom door and out into the kitchen. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash, who had caught a few minutes of extra sleep under the covers and felt much more awake, was making, or attempting to make, breakfast in Rarity’s small kitchen. Several horribly burnt eggs were already stinking in the trash, and the first batch of apple pancakes were beginning to burn as well. One flew over Rarity’s head, the product of Dash’s over-zealousness with a spatula, and splattered on the opposite wall, just barely missing the window. Rarity gasped as she saw the mess spread all over the counter, but retained some sense of dignity as she addressed her pegasus friend. “Rainbow Dash! Away from the stove this instant!” Rarity galloped to the stove and turned it off quickly, using magic to remove the smoking applecakes from the scorching hot pan. She dropped the cakes in the trash and moved several containers of ingredients back to their respective places, scolding the unfortunate Dash all the while. “You couldn’t have waiting until I was finished with my shower? Goodness, this is going to take forever to clean up… Rainbow Dash, grab that dish towel and begin to wipe up that mess you made on the wall please…” At this point, Rarity took a moment to look up at her friend. Dash was scrambling to do as she was told, and a pink flush was creeping into her cheeks. A smile spread over Rarity’s face, which soon blossomed into a full-fledge fit of giggles. “Oh…Rainbow Dash… Thank you for trying!” The unicorn’s towel became dislodged as she laughed, but she ignored it and shook her hair into place; it fell perfectly into its usual tight curl, as if by magic. “I really appreciate you wanting to have breakfast ready, but next time let me do the cooking, alright?” Her laughs died down to a few amused chuckles as she draped her bathrobe and towel over a peg beside the bathroom door. Rainbow Dash stuck her head out of the kitchen door to see where she was going. “Uh…yeah, right.” Though not entirely sure when she would have another chance to make breakfast for Rarity, Dash left the kitchen and stood by the front door, her cleaning forgotten. “Hey Rarity, let’s see about that letter now, huh?” She shifted her weight from one side to the other and rustled her wings as she waited, hoping that there really was someone trying to distance the six friends, or just Rarity, from each other. That , at least, would be exciting. Rarity, on the other hand, was not looking forward to finding out the letter’s fate. In the event that the invitation had in fact been stolen, there was the troubling matter of finding out who exactly did it, a mystery Rarity was sure Rainbow Dash wouldn’t pass up. Rarity didn’t want to have anything to do with any sort of mystery; of course, she would have to go along with Rainbow Dash, considering all this fuss was about her. Though she felt fairly certain the letter was probably just lying somewhere on the ground around her mailbox, there was always the chance that someone really had taken the letter in spite, although she had no idea why another pony would do something so hateful. After taking a deep breath or two, she turned back to Dash. “Alright then… Let us go, if you really are so worked up about this stupid situation, I mean it’s really not-” Rarity stopped talking at this point and sighed instead. Rainbow Dash had shot out the door at the word ‘go’ and was already searching around the mailbox before Rarity was even out the door. Deciding to let her eager friend finish the hunt for the letter, Rarity sat just inside the door, letting the refreshing spring breeze wash over her. She had closed her eyes and was quite relaxed when Dash shouted. “Rarity! Come here, now!” Rarity jumped to her feet and galloped to where the other mare was hovering over the mailbox. “What is it? What did you find?” The unicorn’s heart was in her throat as Dash held out a slightly damp piece of thick parchment. “What…what is this?” The writing was barely legible; it was a miracle it had made it through the previous day’s rainstorm. Rarity squinted as she tried to make out the words. “It just says…‘Missing something?’ What’s that supposed to mean?” A look of slightly contempt crossed her face. “The nerve of some ponies…” She made to toss the parchment aside, but Rainbow Dash swooped low over her head and snatched it away. “C’mon Rarity! We’re going to see Twilight! She has all sorts of this paper stuff, she might be able to help us!” The pegasus zoomed off towards Twilight’s home in the library, her rainbow trail disappearing almost lazily behind her. Rarity growled to herself and galloped after Rainbow Dash, thankful that the library wasn’t very far away from her own home. When Rarity finally arrived, slightly winded, at the large, hollow tree that served as a library, she found Twilight and Rainbow Dash already sitting, their heads together, bent over the parchment. “Yeah, that’s all it says- Rarity! Took you long enough!” Dash sped to the door and shoved Rarity inside; the unicorn scowled, but allowed her to do it. “I’ve already told Twilight everything and she says-” The purple unicorn cut Dash off, preferring to tell her findings to Rarity herself. “Unfortunately, I have nothing to tell you…sorry girls, but I have no idea what this could mean. I’ve never seen the writing before…maybe there was more, and the storm washed it away.” Twilight stared, seemingly confounded, at the scrap of parchment on the floor in front of her. Dash refused to take this as an answer, and began flying agitatedly around the library, ignoring Twilight’s shouts to be careful. “Well…can’t you…use a spell to see what could have been on it or something? I mean, you are, like, the most powerful unicorn in Equestria, right?” The apparently restless pegasus landed in front of Twilight, who was pondering this idea. “I guess I could try…” She looked doubtfully at the paper for a moment before hardening her gaze and attempting the magic needed. Her horn began to glow along with the parchment, staying alight for several seconds before fading with a few purple sparks. The three ponies crowded around the scrap, anxious to see what, if anything had decided to show itself. “There’s…nothing else there.” Rarity spoke what was in everyone’s mind, then backed away, somewhat relieved that the paper had revealed none of its secrets. “Well, that’s just too bad! I was so curious, but I guess it’s time to get back home, I’ve got lots of-” “Wait! There’s something…” Rarity stopped in her tracks towards the door at Twilight’s words. She bit her lip lightly, then turned slowly to look at the parchment now hanging in midair, suspended by the other unicorn’s magic. It seemed to Rarity, as Twilight read the new words out loud, that the air was gradually being sucked from the large, book-filled room. “’Missing something? Come to the edge of the Everfree forest when you’re ready to find out…and come alone.’ That…doesn’t sound good…” Twilight glanced up at Rarity, who was frozen on the spot, with concern in her lavender eyes. Rainbow Dash, who had completely missed how this message could have been scary for Rarity, butted in. “Well, what do you suppose that means? Guess there’s only one way to find out, huh? Ready to go out to the forest, Rarity?” Twilight threw a book at Dash using magic, then walked to Rarity’s side. “You don’t have to go, you know. Everything was worked out, with the invitation and everything, so they didn’t ruin our friendship… I mean, that’s the only thing they could be going for, right?” Rarity shrugged. “It did say ‘to find out’… It’s obvious that the invitation was missing, but what if they took something else? I’m not aware of missing anything… Maybe I should go…” Rarity bit her lip once again and looked up to her friends for support. “Don’t worry! We’ll be right there next to you! Err…hiding. It did say to go alone. But I’ll definitely go, and Twilight’ll come too, right?” Rainbow Dash grinned and flew to the door, throwing it open before looking back at the other two. Twilight nodded and flashed an encouraging smile at Rarity. “Of course we will! Don’t worry Rarity, it’s probably just some silly filly or colt playing a prank. It’ll be fine!” Rarity smiled back, allowing the other unicorn’s words to placate her own fears as she trotted for the door. “Oh, you’re probably right. Well, I suppose there’s no time like the present…” ~~~ Chapter Three - "...You're Absolutely Right!" As she walked along the road to the Everfree forest, Rarity fought to control her racing mind. The presence of her two friends close behind her was reassuring, of course, but there was always the chance that they would be too late to help her if something bad happened, or the danger would hurt them as well. There was, however, nothing that could be done about the situation other than what had already been established, and Rarity herself wasn’t as helpless as many might think. Soon, too soon in Rarity’s mind, the dark edge of the forest loomed before the friends, a stark contrast from the grass and rolling hills around Ponyville. Glancing behind her, Rarity saw that the other two mares had already vanished into a small crop of bushes several yards from where road and forest met. Already feeling very alone, the white unicorn slowed her pace, sweeping her gaze left and right across the tree line. The note hadn’t said exactly where to meet this mysterious stranger, so she was a little nonplussed when no one was sitting there waiting for her. She glanced in the general direction of her friends’ hiding place, but flicked her eyes back to the trees as a flash of movement caught her eye. Plucking up her courage, she addressed the movement. “Yoo-hoo? Rarity is here, just like you asked… Now, if you would please show yourself, we can have a civilized conversation.” Her voice was astonishingly steady, betraying almost none of the trepidation gradually building in her chest. There was something about the atmosphere the note had caused, that, mixed with the foreboding forest and movements in the trees, made Rarity want to turn tail and flee back to her safe, comfortable home, no matter what she was supposedly missing. She opened her mouth to speak in the direction of the trees once again, but the words caught in her throat as a low, quiet laugh rolled across the empty space between her and the trees. “Hmm… I didn’t think you would actually be daft enough to show up…I suppose I was quite wrong.” To Rarity, it seemed as through the voice was a palpable presence, curling around the unicorn’s ears and into her head, freezing her hooves into place, no matter how much she struggled to move them. Her eyes, though untouched by the strange, paralyzing aura, stayed plastered to the trees; she half hoped that something would show itself, though the majority of her rational brain just wanted to leave the situation alone. “I suppose you want to know what you could have possibly misplaced.” Rarity’s eyes raked the treeline as she heard the voice once again. This time, she pinpointed where it was coming from and locked her gaze there, her breath coming in short gasps as she waited for the owner of the voice to show itself. It sounded male, deep and smooth, though quite unlike most other male ponies she had heard. Was it possible that the voice belonged to something more sinister…a Manticore or Hydra maybe? Forgetting that these creatures couldn’t speak even if they wanted to, these and many other dark thoughts drifted into Rarity’s mind, and she suddenly wished for Rainbow Dash and Twilight to come save her from the horrible power of the voice and it’s owner. If only she could see him… As if on cue, an oddly bright figure stepped out of the thick trees. It took several seconds for Rarity’s brain to register that what she thought was shining white fur of some kind was actually a cloak, which was draped across the shoulders and back of a pony-shaped figure. Its head and face were shrouded by a large hood, which had thrown off her perception, and had made the figure seem disproportionate and bigger than it actually was; that particular detail was quite unneeded, as the actual creature was almost twice as tall as Rarity at the shoulder. The creature kept its head down as it spoke, and motioned back to the trees, as if drawing out some unknown force. “This, my dear, is what you have overlooked. Though I suppose if you haven’t noticed by now you shan’t miss it that badly.” The voice was very matter-of-fact now, as something drifted slowly towards Rarity out of the trees. The unicorn’s violet eyes widened and she opened her mouth to shout, though she still couldn’t move. Before she could speak, however, another voice interrupted. “Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash crashed out of the bushes as she screamed and sped towards the floating bundle, which was, in fact, Fluttershy, out cold and suspended upside-down, limbs hovering at weird angles like a grotesque, terribly life-like puppet. Dash, who going almost fast enough for a sonic rainboom at this point, screamed once again, this time in pain, as she was suddenly stopped in mid-air only a few feet from Fluttershy. She was panting but was apparently just as helpless as the other unconscious pegasus, because only her eyes flicked to Rarity, wide with hurt and fear. Rarity shrieked now, directing her fury at the cloaked figure. “How dare you! Let my friends go, you monster!” Directing all her energy at her feet, Rarity managed to take several shuffling steps as her horn began to glow. A growl issued from the cloaked figure and it reared, casting off the robe to reveal an even whiter coat underneath. Rarity stopped trying to move and simply gaped as the creature spread huge, feathery wings; it was a pure white alicorn, mane, tail, horn and coat all gleaming in the sunlight. Its eyes were quite disconcerting, as they were completely black, save for a white circle that served as a pupil. The Cutie Mark was a large black circle, though what this meant, Rarity didn’t know, and certainly was in to place to ask. A maniacal, sharp-toothed smile spread over the alicorn’s face as he watched the little ponies’ dread gradually build. “Hahaha! You have no chance against me, my little ponies. Now…this isn’t quite going as I had planned, what with your little magic using friend sneaking around…” Twilight stopped dead in her tracks, a few feet behind the alicorn, hidden under the eaves of the forest. “I think I’ll just take this and be on my way…” Fluttershy began to drift back towards the trees, and the snow-white creature turned his back to leave. “If you want to see her again, come find me. I’ll give you a hint…you’ve been at my hiding place before, where you first found out your worth.” A heavy gust of wind blew around the small group as the alicorn took off; he was soon invisible against some large, fluffy clouds in the distance, and Fluttershy had disappeared as soon as she reached the darkness of the forest. Rainbow Dash fell to the dirt road and lay there, winded, unable to get up or speak. Rarity was likewise stunned, though she found she could finally move her feet. Twilight, however, galloped over to Dash and lifted her with magic, the strain of doing so showing in her eyes. “Rarity!” The white unicorn snapped out of her daze as Twilight shouted. “We need to get Rainbow back to Ponyville! Help me.” Rarity nodded slowly and melded her own magic with Twilight’s, who immediately began to run back to the little town. Falling into step with the other unicorn, Rarity finally voiced what she was sure they were both thinking. “It was…an alicorn… Only the princesses have horns and wings. We have to tell Princess Celestia, before-” Rarity was cut off and both unicorns started as Rainbow Dash’s grating voice ripped into their thoughts. “No! We don’t have time!” The pegasus broke free of the magic that held her and shot into the air, only to be stopped by Twilight grabbing her multicolored tail in her mouth. “Let…me…go! We’ve got to save Fluttershy! Right…now!” Rarity scowled and helped Twilight yank the overexcited Dash back to earth. “Dash! Listen to me!” Twilight was shouting at this point as she slapped her hooves on either side of Rainbow Dash’s face. “You can’t just go chasing after somepony like that! We need to plan!” Rainbow, who had never seen Twilight like this, became suddenly serious. “This is a huge deal. Like…gigantic. We can’t leave Fluttershy with him… Who knows what he’ll do to her...” Though she appeared steely on the outside, Rainbow Dash was inwardly frantic, her mind filled with horrible visions of how her timid friend would be treated with the seemingly insane alicorn. Twilight saw this easily, and calmed herself with a few deep breaths before speaking soothingly. “It is a big deal, but we’re not completely clueless. He hasn’t hurt Fluttershy yet, so he probably won’t do anything to her any time soon. We know he wants the rest of us as well, or he wouldn’t have bothered showing himself to Rarity; he obviously wanted to catch her off guard and capture her at the forest, but that didn’t work. And we know where he is.” “Oh really? And where would that be?” Dash’s voice was slightly sarcastic, as if she didn’t believe that Twilight really knew anything. “The Moon Castle, where we defeated Nightmare Moon. Where you first found out your worth? He must mean when we found the Elements of Harmony. That has to be what he wants. With them, he could overthrow Celestia and Luna…and…” Twilight finished speaking and bit her lip. “But…that’s so obvious…either he’s really stupid, or up to something.” Rainbow Dash snorted. “I don’t care what he’s up to. We have to go find him! We’re going to have to confront him eventually. If he’s found a way to harness the Elements’ energy, he already has Fluttershy. He’s obviously strong, so who knows what he could do with her extra powers?” Twilight rested her head against one hoof as if she had a headache; Dash and Rarity knew, however, that she was thinking very hard about what to do next. “I really hate to do this…but Rainbow, you and Rarity go find Pinkie and Applejack and go after that creep. I’ll go get Celestia in the hot air balloon. Hopefully we can all meet at Moon Castle, and stamp this out before it starts.” Rarity finally spoke at this point, her voice quiet and halting. “Applejack isn’t here. She went to Appleoosa to visit Braeburn for the week.” Twilight blanched at this news; Applejack was one of the strongest of the bunch, and she would be sorely missed. “Well, that’s just great timing… Go find Pinkie Pie then. I’ll start getting the hot air balloon ready right away.” Rainbow Dash saluted and turned to Rarity. Stay here. I’ll come back with Pinkie.” Rarity nodded as Dash zoomed off, leaving her signature rainbow trail in her wake. Twilight touched Rarity’s horn with her own before galloping off in the same direction as Dash and left the other unicorn with her thoughts. Rarity sat and closed her eyes once her friends were out of sight. This was way too much for her to accept in such a short period of time, and she definitely wasn’t ready to embark on some huge adventure into the Everfree forest, especially not one with a mysterious alicorn at the end of it. These thoughts, like most of her others that day, were shoved out of Rarity’s head as Rainbow Dash shot back up the road, carrying a squealing Pinkie Pie under the armpits. She dropped the hot pink mare beside Rarity and flopped to the ground. “That. Was. Awesome!” Pinkie whooped and grinned at the other two. “So, where are we going?” Rarity sighed deeply before she answered. “Into the Everfree forest. An alicorn has kidnapped poor Fluttershy, and we’re to track her down while Twilight goes to warn the Princess.” Pinkie Pie’s smile faded slightly and she tilted her head to the side, confused. “Wait…what? Rarity, silly, you’re not making any sense!” She giggled, but stopped quickly as Rarity and Dash remained completely serious. “Um… Well then, if you two aren’t crazy, I guess we should get going! Gotta save Fluttershy!” She began bouncing off down the road, leaving the other two ponies dumbstruck. Rainbow Dash was the first to speak. “Wait up Pinkie!” Once they caught up to her, Rarity gazed at the still smiling Earth pony, her eyes filled with questions. Dash, once again, spoke first. “So…you’re okay with that? Just going into the Everfree and chasing this guy?” Pinkie widened her smile until her eyes were reduced to slits and nodded. “Of course! I always believe my friends, and if one of us is in trouble, it’s up to the rest of us to save them, right?” Rainbow Dash and Rarity glanced over at each other and inexplicably broke into waves of giggles. “You know Pinkie Pie? You’re absolutely right!” ~~~ Chapter Four- "...Good Grief, Dashie!" The Everfree forest hung menacingly over the three ponies’ heads as Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie stepped cautiously into the trees. Though performing a daring rescue and bringing Fluttershy back from the brink of calamity had seemed like a gallant, brilliant idea a few minutes ago, now, as the first line of overgrown trees closed in behind them, the companions were beginning to have second thoughts. Pinkie, per usual, was the least effected; she retained her standard bouncy gait, and was certainly not as jumpy as the other mares, who ducked behind each other at the slightest rustle in the nearby bushes. After several minutes of aimless wandering, the path they had been following slowly began to dissipate into the surrounding forest. Rarity stopped and frowned, surveying the ground before her with a doubtful expression. “Ladies… I don’t think we’ve come the correct way.” She flicked her violet hair out of her face and sighed heavily, just as upset about her drooping curls as the road that disappeared beneath her hooves. “I don’t remember having to pick our way through the forest the last time we came though here.” Rainbow Dash nodded in agreement, but took several steps forward regardless. “This has to be right! There are no other paths into the forest and this one doesn’t branch off anywhere. We just have to keep going forward.” Dash set her face in a resolute expression and plodded forward, quite depressed that she couldn’t fly in such close quarters. Without her wings, Rainbow Dash felt claustrophobic and vulnerable; the sky could only be seen in brief splotches through the thick branches above her, as if the twisted boughs of the forest were slashing the blue expanse to rough-edged shreds. Pinkie Pie followed Rainbow immediately, humming to herself just loud enough for the others to hear. This did nothing to calm Rarity, however; she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were being lead into a trap. The forest, which was normally alive with noises scary or not, got quieter as they forged onwards, until the silence pressed against their ears and seemed to weigh down their steps. Finally, Rainbow Dash stopped once again and flopped down on the forest floor. She said nothing, the absence of sound so complete that the mares could hear their own quickening heart beats. Rarity was the first to speak, keeping her voice down to a hushed whisper, as though talking too loudly would cause the noiseless, tension-filled calm around them to shatter. “This quiet is not natural; it has to be magic. I’d bet my mane that alicorn is causing it. He must know we’re here.” This was enough to rouse Dash. Her combative instincts were never dampened for long, and the thought of the alicorn hiding in the shadows controlling them was just enough to set her off. “Come out here, you coward! We know it’s you doing this!” The rainbow-maned mare jumped to her hooves and began shouting at the trees, her voice breaking every now and then as she let her anger flow out through her mouth. “Stop hiding like a little scared foal! Give us Fluttershy back, and stop- Oof!” The air was knocked from Dash’s lungs as Rarity tackled her, sending them both tumbling several feet into the forest. Brilliant white stars flashed in front of Rainbow’s eyes as Rarity came into view standing over her, her eyes alight with a strange fire as she whispered; she was so mad, however, that the whisper sounded more like a venomous hiss than a warning. “Rainbow Dash, I swear if you do that again I will skin you alive! We can’t fight that thing, and we can’t get Fluttershy back by being insufferably stupid!” She whipped her hair out of her face, sending a spray of leaves and twigs away from her. Unexpectedly, Rainbow Dash smiled awkwardly. “You look good like that Rarity. You should get mad more often.” Though unsure if this was just her semi-conscious mind speaking, Rainbow did mean what she had said, and stayed put beneath the fuming unicorn, gazing lecherously up at her. Rarity, who was quite taken aback by this statement, was speechless for a split second before spinning around and stomping away from the inert pegasus. “I- Wha- I cannot believe you would say something like that at a time like this! Good grief, Dashie!” Though she seemed livid enough, the unicorn hid the extent of her disbelief and the faint pink blush that, to her horror, began to creep onto her cheeks. “We are supposed to be focusing on Fluttershy, now your own deluded-” “Hush!” Rainbow Dash was back on her feet now, glancing around worriedly. Rarity spluttered in anger at being interrupted, but forgot her irritation at the pegasus’s next words. “Where’s Pinkie Pie?” The pair immediately began galloping around, on the verge of panic as the missing mare didn’t respond to their despnate calls. “Pinkie! Pinkie Pie! Can you hear us? Pink-” Keeping with the day’s custom of interjecting, a low, chilling laugh rumbled through the trees toward the two mares. They froze; the chuckle unmistakably belonged to the creature from earlier that day. Rarity glanced over to Rainbow, quite sure her own face mirrored the alarm plastered over the pegasus’s features. “It seems you ponies are even more oblivious than I previously thought. You can’t even keep up with your little friends when they’re right beside you!” It was impossible to discern any emotion behind the words; they could have been amused or disappointed; and equally difficult to tell where the voice was coming from. “Keep trying, my little ponies, but you’ll have to do better than this if you want to help your friends.” The voice faded gradually, leaving the two still fixed in place. Rainbow Dash gulped audibly. “It’s…it’s just us now.” Rarity nodded dumbly, agreeing with the pegasus’s statement. She looked over at Dash, who met her sapphire eyes. The unicorn took a deep breath before asking the question on both their minds, though she didn’t expect an answer. “What do we do now? How can we stop that thing alone?” ~~~