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The Horror House Haunt! (Open)


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There was something about the fall that seemed so enticing. That strange smell that melded with the cold and scent of the season into a crisp sensation that engulfed your senses partially: a time when winter is near by the liveliness of spring and summer hadn’t quite yet faded. A magical time for a magical town (and even more so magical than lately) like ponyville. By the sun stamped buttocks of the princess it was even more exciting than usual for the very night it was… Nightmare Night!

 

Droning creaks echoed through the hallways as a lone equine figure warily cantered through this eerie scene. A musty smell offended the olfactory senses with each step deeper in. Along the sides of the halls were perfectly symmetrical rows of gas lamps… at the end of the corridor was bright red door with a quaint looking exit sign resting above it.

 

A relieved sigh broke the silence as a mare with an off white coat and scarlet mane in a bandana made her way to the end of the corridor. Her hoofs hurriedly meeting the old wood of the house as galloped towards it only to hear a loud thump far behind her. The pony swallowed her fear and slowly turned around to see what was behind her.

 

At the other end of the hall was what looked to be a stallion wearing a mask… a mask with no eyeholes… only a constantly smiling maw and slits for nostrils. His coat bore a sickly pallor and he wore a ragged looking over coat: patches of worn dorn cloth and washed out areas clinging to it. In that unceasingly smiley mouth of his he held a chain with a rusty looking hook at the end. What made the mare in the hall most worried… was that he wasn’t moving. Even when she took a step forward he did not take a step to follow suit.

 

It was then that she noticed something: She’d taken at least twenty paces since she looked back and kept her eyes on the equine at the end of the hall during the whole walk. She was no closer to the doorway. She took another glance back. Her eyes widened to saucer to see in the time she’d looked to the door he was now standing MUCH closer… His smile only growing unnaturally larger.

 

She broke into a run, putting all her faith in her legs to bring her to safety. Her eyes shot forward. The Door was no closer. The mare’s heart was prepared to jump out of her chest… but it seemed to stop along with everything else in her perception when she felt the feeling of a hoof on her shoulder.

 

An ear piercing scream echoed through the house. Soon just above the mare’s body a purplish spark came from around her head as it looked like a shell of paper was burning away around her to reveal… an absolutely terrified looking changeling clutching her chest as she tried to catch her breath.

“Oh… Okay, Y’all. Ah… Ah think….” A heavy gasp broke her train of thought, “Ah think that might’ve been a little much.” After a few more deep breath and the removal of the pony in the suit and holding the hook’s mask. It revealed another rather nervous looking changeling underneath it. Attached to the mask was a tag with the words ‘Masquerade’s Fantastic Facades’ The changeling gasped one more time and soon began to laugh. “That was ahbsolutely wild!” Whinnied to dark grey changeling with a bright smile on her face, “That mask is amazing! We’re gonna owe that masquerade fella the biggest ‘thank you’ ever if this goes smoothly!... then again Ah s’pose we’re gonna need ta thank ‘im regardless.”

 

“So everybody’s in positions right?” There was a chorus of buzzing voices affirming the question, “Well, All right! Let’s get this Spook house goin’!” The purple maned changeling’s wings started to flap rapidly and already she was moving towards the door… only for her to pause as she realized the spell that kept it from getting closer was still active. “Ahem!” She cleared her throat loudly. The spell fading as she went on out the door and zoomed around to the front of the house. She landed calmy at the front door , filling her lungs before shouting out as loud as she could.

 

“Come see the spookhouse! Ghosts, ghouls, and other nefarious monsters lurk within these miserable halls!” This would be the first Nightmare night in Ponyville she’d have that didn’t go wrong! Nevermind she only had one that turned into an invasion of her people where she wound up stuck in their hive until recently. This was going to be a great night and nothing was going to get this mare down!


“Come one! Come all, To the Horror house!”

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Flux always loved this time of year, partially for the fact she could go around in her natural form without too much worry, but mostly for the festivities and candy. This year, however, the bubbly changeling had decided to not go as herself and instead flew down the road as a pony-sized dragon with purple scales and a pink underbelly. 

 

"Ooh! A spooky house? Sounds great!" Flux said, landing happily in front of the changeling and waving a hoof with little claws on it. "Count me in!"

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So...this was the festival of spooks and ghosts that Equestrian ponies had been raving about all month prior. 

 

Mei wasn't sure how she felt about it, just yet. 

 

After all, roaming about Ponyville surrounded by dark silhouettes and frightening visages as they strolled through the festivities was hardly the type of thing an Empress would be doing on any given day, now was it? And the costumes...when she had first heard of Nightmare Night, she had been positively stunned, thinking she would be expected to wear some garish strips of cloth to pass herself off as a ghost, but she had been pleasantly pleased to learn that costumes of all sorts were welcome, not simply frightening ones. At least she got to look pretty.

 

A proper set of Empress' robes would have been ideal, but she had had to make due on her time and budget. 

 

There was a tradition behind everything, she knew, something to do with the Princess of Friendship's castle and the dark Alicorn that had taken refuge there for some sort of performance - but for the life of her, the blue Qilin couldn't rightly remember what that tradition was, and hadn't even thought of it when she had asked her companion to join her for the festivities. Perhaps he would be able to shed some more light on the subject at some point, but in all honesty, Mei wasn't too caught up on the details. All that mattered was that she was here, with her friend, enjoying an Equestrian tradition that would live on in her memories for years to come. 

 

"Oh, there's just so much to look at, don't you think, LÍmi,the vivid blue Qilin stated rather unnecessarily, her modest candy bag held primly in the crook of one elbow as the two of them entered the festival grounds proper. Screams of delight or terror were already beginning to permeate the air at random intervals, though the overall mood seemed jovial and light-hearted. "Where should we go first? Maybe to the - hsst!" The aborted sentence gave way to a sharp hiss as Mei recoiled into the Caribou at her side, their walk around the side of a building having revealed a rather intimidating looking scarecrow looming ominously over passer-bys.

 

Ah yes...she had heard of this too. Nightmare Night was supposed to be a night of thrills and scares, for whatever reason, and Mei suffered a brief pang of regret for ever considering attending an evening that was dedicated to scaring the tufts right off of her fur. But oh, the festival had seemed such a perfect way to spend time with Lími - and socialize with others, too! - that it had simply been too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

 

Even if she wasn't that big on the scaring and whatnot. 

 

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Why did ponies like this Nightmare Night so much? How did he get suckered into coming down to Ponyville with Lián Mei? And what made him think it was a good idea to listen to Chipper's garbage costume ideas?

 

These were the questions Lími asked himself as he walked alongside the Princess Qilin of Love. The caribou bull was dressed up in an all-encompassing dire wolf suit (complete with antlers sticking out on top); an ensemble made by Chipper Demise himself. As he had already planned on being garbed in authentic crow feathers, Lími's demented best friend naturally suggested that the young bull wear authentic wolf skins. That barbaric thought horrified Lími to his core; instead, he commanded Chipper to use materials that weren't found in the Southern Wilds of Whitescar.

 

Of course, had the caribou known then that he'd end up suffocating inside the accursed wolfsuit, he would have reconsidered his costuming choices in life. As it was, he was stuck with panting like a true canine as he accompanied Mei. Not improving matters were the large saddlebags strapped onto Lími's sides. Although mostly empty at this early stage of the night, it was quite clear who'd be burdened with carrying the vast majority of treats and goodies for the odd couple.

 

As to how Lími got roped into attending these foreign festivities by someone who once called him a savage and a liar in front of dozens of ponies..... well geez, that's actually quite an interesting story to tell.....

 

*****

 

See, not long after the Grand Galloping Gala where said incident occurred, Lián Mei attempted to make amends for her outburst. But in truth, she nearly botched things so hard in the process that Lími had been on the verge of storming away and banishing Mei from his life completely. It was only by realizing that the qilin mare was sincere, and that he'd bring great hurt upon her heart if he followed through with his plan, that Lími relented. And thus did caribou and qilin reconcile... officially, anyway.

 

But even though Lími and Mei agreed to remain friends, the bull's actions spoke otherwise. Not once did Lími make a trip to Garden Gait, not even after he finished settling into his new townhouse in Canterlot. And his written correspondence with Mei was minimal and cordially distant, always coming up with excuses as to why he wasn't able to meet up with Mei in person. He was busy translating old Viking Caribou literature into the Common Tongue; busy learning from publishers the tastes of Equestrian readers in contemplation of a proper writing career; busy performing diplomatic favors for his foster mother, stepfather, and blood relatives; busy taking his dog Hammer to the vet's office. And so on.

 

In truth, the risk-averse Lími wanted nothing more than avoid the potential awkwardness of facing the qilin who once broke his heart. The young bull assumed the best way to avoid getting hurt was to avoid contact with Mei at all costs, at least until Lími was absolutely sure his foolish desire for the qilin was extinguished for good. It sounded like a rather wise plan, the caribou thought.

 

Lián Mei had friendship plans of her own, however. Looking back on things, it was inevitable that the strong-willed dragon mare would eventually take matters into her own hooves.....

 

*****

 

And so here was Lími now, having accepted an invitation from Mei he couldn't bring himself to refuse. Or dared not; the line between the two was always blurry whenever the self-assured qilin was involved. As much as Lími hated to admit, it was impossible for him not to be bewitched by Mei's charms, even when she wore those tacky strap-on wings and horn. Although in a way, those accessories made her look cute after a fashion, and the way her gorgeous hair was-

 

NO NO NOOOOO! THIS WAS NOT THE TIME TO THINK OF SUCH THINGS!


Lími's inner monologue was finally interrupted by Princess Mei pressed against his side, hissing at... a giant-sized, nonthreatening stick figure hanging overhead a entrance to some venue. Acting on instinct, Lime's hoof- errr, wolf paw  gently latched onto Mei's hoof. "There's nothing to fear," the antlered dire wolf found time in-between panting to reassure his companion; "Tis but an inanimate statue that poses no threat." Lími may be a wimp compared to his furry brethren, but he was a Viking Caribou of Whitescar, darn it! As someone who’s seen the actual Dead walk the earth, the ponies of Equestria would have to do much better than that to faze the Son of Sigrun!

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"Oh! An honest ta goodness dragon?! Well, Shucks I reckon there ain't much that could scare someone like you... but what little is is sure ta be in here, Stranger!" The  excited changeling offered her hoof to the 'dragon' in an enthusiastic hoofshake. The Changeling's hole ridden hoof shook with considerably more strength than one would expect of the appendage. "Although if'n ya don' mind at'all We'd like ta see if we can get a few more participants involved." The wings at her sides rapidly flapped and fluttered until she got herself up and off the ground. Her right hoof held under her horn but above her eyes as she scanned the horizon for potential tourists. She narrowed her vision before noticing a pair of ungulates nearby looking at a scarecrow...

 

"Hmm... Scuse me fer a sec! I think I see a pair who could use a few scares." 

 

The changeling Stealthily made her way over to the scarecrow as the two came closer and closer into view: Someone in a full body wolf costume... and a what were they called? Kirin? Qilin? She'd heard about these creatures recently coming over to the lands of Equestria from their eastern home, but she'd never gotten to see or meet one before....Evidently this one and her friend were about to get a taste of the nightmare night spirit! Aria snuck on behind the scarecrow, moving behidn other decorations quickly until she was positioned perfect behind it. She looked at the back of the decoration and thought, "Well... Ah'm sure noone will mind a bit o' damage if it's in the spirit of the season."

 

As the couple were looking at the bundle of hay, cloth, and other things... they would notice some movement. The chest of it beginning to stir. A bump straining the cloth shirt of the scarecrow as if something was pushing from within. An ominous clicking noise rattled inside the scarecrow... and another push was made, this time a black pointy horn piercing the cloth. Then, Finally, The changeling bursted through in a rain of loose hay letting out her fiercest Hiss and the innards of the poor decoration rained upon the couple!

 

"HSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTT!"

 

"Ahem... Howdy! Ah'm Aria." She said, pulling herself out from the the scarecrow with a bit of of a struggle, since there wasn't really much solid surface she could push off of. After a few more wiggles and the occasion thrash the changeling popped out of the Scarecrow's chest. and landed on her chest in front of the couple covered in a cloud of loose hay and dust from said farm fodder. Hooves brushing off what clung to her coat. Now that she was free it was easy to see what she'd done. She cut through the back of the decoration with her horn in order to put herself inside chest of the decoration and the rest was foals' play to figure out.

 

"S'a right pleasure ta make ya'll's aquaintance! Ah'm running a haunted house just over yonder and I was wonderin' maybe... someone would like ta prove their bravery!" She pointed off to a dilapidated looking house. It was a decently large looking cottage type of place. From the outside one could see it had several rooms to it. Most likely a small lounging area, a dining room, bedrooms up stairs, and an attic. The attack of the house looked the most ominous as it had a window. Well, it may be more accurate to say it had two oddly shaped windows that gave the impression of angry eyes looking down upon any visitors that dared enter. 

 

 

 

 

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Well obviously. But its inanimate nature didn't change the fact that it was still creepy looking, and honestly, setting it up around a corner like that.

 

Any innocent Princess wandering by could suffer a heart attack!

 

"Ah, of course,the vivid blue Qilin said, sniffing delicately as she removed herself out of Lími's personal space, slowly tearing her gaze away from the unnerving structure to gaze at the Caribou himself. "But they're so lifelike, that they might spring up at any moment..." Like Lími's own costume. Mei had no knowledge of furs, much more used to cloths and silks, but it had felt real enough. And fuzzy enough. Though not as fuzzy as the coat she knew was buried somewhere beneath the ensemble, perfect for a Qilin to pillow her head against on a cold winter's day.

 

...If a Qilin ever felt compelled to do something like that, or any such thing. As it went. Perchance an occasion might occur sometime this very evening, if the night air grew any warmer, and Mei gazed up at her friend, mouth opening in inquiry -

 

- and then horrible things were bursting out of chests and what was even going on -

 

She hadn't even gotten a full view of the blackened shape in her peripherals, her reaction visceral and immediate at the sudden sound and movement that had taken her completely by surprise. This time, she barreled fully into the body next to hers, performing an awkward sort of three step dance that effectively placed the Caribou in front of her while the echoes of her ear-splitting shriek dissipated into the night. The - oh, drat, what was the Equestrian word for their species? Cha...Chance? Changes?... - was saying something, she was sure, but it was mostly coming across as a buzzing sort of rumble, until the Qilin finally felt it safe enough to release the death grip she'd instinctively clasped around Lími's neck. A casual readjustment of her fake horn provided another moment of stability, before Mei stepped forward just far enough to be able to peer around Lími's body. 

 

And subsequently catch the tail end of an invitation to tour a...haunted house

 

Why, by the ancestors, would any pony want to tour a haunted house?

 

The very thing looked inhospitable, as if it were glaring at them on its own accord. Not to mention the interior, from what she could see, looked moldy and dusty and all sorts of dirty, and Mei could only shudder at the thought of getting cobwebs and dirt in her carefully and painstakingly styled mane. "Ah, we, um,the Qilin humed and hawed, glancing at Lími for support. Normally she wouldn't have hesitated to drag a friend away from an obviously poor choice of evening entertainment, but she didn't really want to upset the...Changes...who looked almost hopeful that they would accept the invitation. 

 

The invitation to utter death, Sun preserve her.

 

 

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Flux smiled widely at the Changeling as she spoke, talking as if the purple 'dragon' was actually a dragon. She gladly accepted the hoofshake, excitedly shaking the changeling's hoof in return and nodding enthusiastically at the notion of getting more ponies into the haunted house with her. The more the merrier applied in almost every situation for her, she loved hanging around other ponies, whether or not they were already friends. If they weren't friends, that just meant it was a new opportunity to make friends!

 

"Sounds great! I'm Flux, by the way!" She called up to the changeling as she looked for other ponies. Flux watched as the changeling went over to a couple of ponies to scare them by popping out of the chest of a scarecrow. As the changeling pointed back towards the house, Flux waved happily to them before beginning to fly over and landing near them. She really looked like some kind of mix of pony and dragon, but not like the qilin or longma, she looked more dragon than pony with her completely scaled body, leathery wings, horns, claws, and her dragon-like tail. She gave a toothy smile, her teeth all pointed as she looked between the two.

 

"Hiya! I'm Flux! Who're you guys?" She asked, marveling over the wolf costume on the male. "Great costumes!"

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Lími saw the anxious Mei turn her eyes back towards him, still worried over the nefarious-looking strawpony. On further reflection, perhaps Lími shouldn't be too hard on his partner. Had the caribou been in the qilin's horseshoes, he'd probably be scared of the same thing. Goodness knows how many times in his earlier life Lími secretly worried about whatever beasts were hiding in the shadowy forests of Whitescar.

 

Compelled by a force beyond his control, Lími's eyes locked onto Mei's, paying close attention as the qilin opened her mouth to-

 

"WAAAHHHH!!!!!" OHMYGODSCHESTBURSTINGHIPPOMORPH!!!!

 

Needless to say, Lími freaked out and took one giant step back as the black figure lunged at them with a hiss. Princess Mei handled the jumpscare with even less royal tact, screaming her lungs out as she took refuge behind the antlered dire wolf. The caribou bull's heart raced as he recovered from the fright, inhaling deeply to calm down his nerves. Lími dared not move a muscle; although his peripheral vision was non-existent thanks to the wolfsuit, he sensed Mei's forelegs squeezing the neck of his costume. Without having to think consciously, the bull knew better than to leave his qilin mare vulnerable. Viking Caribou always stood their ground!

 

.....Well, the warrior ones, at least. Lími wasn't one of those types, though.

 

A couple seconds later, the ambusher offered a friendly greeting and introduced herself as Aria... wait, WHAT? That nightmare-inducing sneak attack was just some SICK JOKE??? Was... was THIS the whole point behind Nightmare Night; to terrify ponies into submission? Did ponies not realize that being scared was a BAD THING?

 

Coughing up a storm due to Aria's messy escape from the straw figure (which coincidently left a huge amount of loose hay on the wolfsuit's head), Lími managed to get a better look at her. True to the custom of her land, the mare looked like a Shape-Changer; vile insectoid equines which had been expelled from Whitescar by High King Dragonsong. Aria's outfit looked incredibly immersive to Lími's eyes; had he been in less of a flustered condition, the caribou would have offered a well-earned compliment.

 

Instead, the disgruntled Lími listened as Aria bade them to enter a house she claimed to be haunted. "Bravery?" the huffing-and-puffing bull repeated incredulously with just a little hint of unease; "But but but... I'm a caribou of Whitescar; one who has passed the Will Test! In... in the eyes of the Ancient Ones and Clan Askr, I've- I have already proven my worth, and no mistake..."

 

Of course, Lími didn't believe a word he said to Aria. Who else but he, a bull utterly inept at fighting, could claim the title of Least Valiant Caribou of Whitescar?


Wretchedly seeking validation, the wolfsuited caribou turned to the qilinfied love princess, who dared peek at Aria from behind Lími. "Mei... you can vouch for my c-c-c-courage, can you not?"

 

The appearance of a dragon pony hybrid (and not Mei's kind) didn't help matters too much. "!!!" Lími briefly let himself get distracted; "Ummmm..." Too bad he was too flustered from earlier to give the new arrival a coherent response. Maybe the caribou would have better luck in several more seconds.....

Edited by Bellosh
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By Celestia's Sun-stamped Rump, What a scream! If Aria didn't know better she'd guess that if she'd tried an even more startling jumpscare that she could have deafened all of ponyville! Thankfully the qilin's cry did not last all that long and soon she was able to speak. Well, Not so much speak as mumble and voice monosyllabic expressions of her remaining Jitters, "Um... Are you alright, Ma'am? Ah didn't mean ta get ya -that- terrified... well at least not yet." She flashed a partly nervous fanged smile at the pair, hoping she hadn't prematurely scared off two potential guests.

 

The... caribou! That's what was under all that fluff of the wolf costume! Those brave (if occasionally barbaric) creature to the north, Renowned for their magnificently fluffy chests and fluffy small tuft tails... and the raiding, and plundering, and pillaging and all that stuff. Can't judge a book by it's cover though, Nosiree!

 

"Ah don't know nothin' about no will test, Stranger! But this here haunt is sure ta be the biggest test any creature could hope to have!" The changeling moved in and whispered something to the caribou's ear. "Besides... Don't ya'll wanna impress yer mare friend there?" She asked with a cheeky little smile. There were some benefits to having spent her time in the hive. Thanks to a lounge singing friend of hers, Aria had fine tuned her senses for seeking out love and where it was aimed and in this case she could practically smell all of the love wafting of the Caribou in the wolf suit!  All of it directed in this instance to the qilin behind him. At this point though it had that sort of feeling of it that was very sweet, usuallly a kind of puppy love: Exceptionally sweet but not at all substantial to the appetite... well, according to what Luxuria said anyway. Interestingly though she got a hint that the caribou's love was developing too! 

 

The arrival of the previous pony who attempted to visit in costume was a breath of fresh air. Hopefully a new face might lessen some of the nervousness that lingered in the couple's systems. In hopes to calm down the Caribou's romantic companion Aria peaked behidn the caribou and spoke up. "That one's absolutely right by the way! That costume look great on you. bein' entirely honest: You've sure got a mane swell enough ta be a princess, Ma'am!"

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My, but that was a bit unnerving.

 

Granted, the costume was immaculate, the pony looked very much like a dragon - which was probably why the image unnerved her so. She was used to Qilins, obviously, but it was an entirely different matter to see what essentially looked like a pony-shaped dragon, rather than a pony with draconic features. Even taking Equestrian dragons into account, with their large stocky bodies and leathery wings, the entirely realistic nature of the costume made the "dragon" move in a rather eerie fashion, nothing at all like she was used to seeing. 

 

If the jump scare from earlier was any indication, perhaps that was simply the point. 

 

Mei managed a somewhat shaky smile at the pony-turned dragon, along with an "Oh! Why thank you, yours is quite...lovely, as well." In truth however, the Qilin was much more focused on the Changes that would not go away and kept pressuring them to tour the haunted house...though, her words invoked a response from Lími, a response which, despite herself, caused her lips to purse, as if she had just swallowed a particularly sour lemon. 

 

Ah yes...Lími's little will test...

 

She'd had time to hear all about that, that, and it had only been to their newfound tentative friendship that Mei had held her tongue in the face of further horrors contrived in the frozen wastelands of the north. Honestly...how could anyone not think poorly of a race that led its young out into the wilderness to die?! Now granted...she had learned some...things, about the Caribou tribes in Whitescar...how not all of them practiced the same traditions...but that didn't change the fact that some of them did, including Lími's own Ask. Askar. 

 

Poor Lími. It was no wonder he had escaped those horrid frozen wastes to venture into the warm, welcoming fragrance of flower meadows and clifftops. 

 

Contemplating warm evenings surrounded by a natural treasure trove of flora, Mei was almost taken by complete surprise again, when a black face suddenly appeared in her line of sight again. The Qilin automatically jolted away, a reflex from the sudden movement, though she managed to retain a polite smile, even as it took on a more strained tone. Equestrian common was fairly easy to pick up, but the myriad of accents in the country had always been a struggle for her to understand, considering that she had spent almost her entire adult life in one small village. Mei wasn't even sure what sort of accent it was, only that it was making it unnecessarily more difficult to understand what the Changes was saying, leaving the blue Qilin to nod along at what seemed like appropriate intervals. 

 

Something something costume...something about her mane...and ooh, Princess! She'd heard that one loud and clear. The Changes clearly understood her costume them, causing her to swell with pride. 

 

All of which still left the matter of the open invitation to view a death trap, causing the Qilin to immediately deflate again as Lími turned to her in (albeit adorable) confusion. "Yes - ah, yes, no," Mei blustered, unconsciously slipping one of her forelegs through one of Lími's own as she began to tug him a bit, "yes, I can vouch for that. But I'm sure there's other things you can prove tonight, you know," she said airily as she continued to try and lead him away from the other pair, not paying the slightest bit of attention to exactly where she was tugging him. "Other such things, perhaps over there..." A toss of her head aimed somewhere behind her, as Mei kept her eyes on the Changes and Flux, almost feeling as if they might grab the two of them and hurl them into the house if she so much as turned her back on them. 

 

Although, she did look away to glance up at her companion, pink eyes searching out his own green. "Right, LÍmi?" the Qilin stressed, eager to ensure the two were on the same page as to why she was tugging him away from the other two. "Let's go, ah, over here, where I'm sure you can prove yourself all over again, yes?" 

 

 

 

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Flux giggled at the qilin's response, bouncing in place excitedly. Yay! She liked her costume! Never mind that it was completely made of magic and not really a costume in the end, it served its purpose and they liked it!

 

Unfortunately, they moved off before they introduced themselves, making her frown slightly before she thought over what had been said and picked out the names from that. 

 

"Umm... weren't they trying to go away from the haunted house?" Flux said quietly to the other changeling, her head tilted as she watched the couple. Couple was a loose term though. The love was there, but things seemed to be quite complicated between them. A moment later, the 'dragon-pony' burst out into a fit of giggles. 

 

"Princess Mei-dance! Perfect!" She giggled, smiling again as she looked to Aria briefly. "Should we tell them they're headed towards the haunted house?"

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Ohhhh, right..... almost all non-caribou had no idea what a Will Test was supposed to be. Welp, Lími was back to square one of proving his worth in front of equines. It was here when Aria whispered a devious idea to the young bull; to impress Mei. Wait a minute; what did Aria mean by "mare friend"? Lími had resided in Equestria long enough to understand what the term implied. There... there wasn't anything going on between he and Mei! They- the two of them were just friends... and- and they each wanted things to remain as they are..... r-r-r-right?

 

Besides... it wasn't as if Lími needed to enter a dilapidated structure to impress Mei. The caribou could still remember the happier moments of the Grand Galloping Gala, when his precious qilin repeatedly bragged about the poem he composed in her honor. Come to think of it, didn't she wrote in a letter that she still kept a written copy around in her cottage somewhere?

 

At any rate, all this mental conjecture was a moot point since Mei didn't want anything to do with the haunted house anyway. The dragon mare made her feelings quite clear by leading her companion away from the two other costumed ponies, conjuring the most hastily thought-out excuses as she did so. Little did Mei realize that in as she fixated on the mares she attempted to flee from, the qilin was dragging Lími towards the very place she wished to avoid in the first place!

 

Lími was quite aware of this... but he was suffering problems of his own. In all this excitement, the caribou's body warmed up considerably, generating sweat that made wearing the thick wolfsuit more and more suffocating. It wouldn't take long now for the furry caribou to faint, unless he did the sensible thing and take his costume off. But then that'd mean that Lími would dishonor this Equestrian festival by removing his outfit, and a caribou like Lími was more likely to make the honorable choice rather than the rational one.


Too burdened to raise his voice, it was only when he and Mei stood in the the haunted house's foray when Lími slumped and refused to budge any further. "Wait..." his weak voice came through; "I can't... this suit... it... stifles....." Boy, could the young bull use a cool down; something that'd give him the chills, even!

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Bon Bon felt a delicious rush of excitement as she decided what to go as this year for Nightmare Night, and not becasuse of an especially scandalous or ruinous idea. No vampire or zompony, cheerleader or monster here. To many, her idea would seem a bit more tame and perhaps shaded towards the boring and trite, but that is exactly what made her costume the best. Not many would give it a second thought yet for all of the costumes here tonight only a few would be honest to themselves, and of that narrow selection only Bon Bon's costume was actually entirely true.

 

To most she was Bon Bon, simple candy mare who lived in Ponyville. But in another place and time she had been Special Agent Sweetie Drops of the Equestrian Monster Capture and Control Service, or EMCACS. She didn't often get to relive that part of her life as her 'cover' as Bon Bon was much more enticing thanks to Lyra, her marefriend, and a sense of failure that often pervaded her old life. EMCACS had disbanded after failing to prevent a bugbear's escape from Tartarus. She had only been on the outside looking in, but one agent's failure was the same as every agent's failure.

 

And so she rarely wore the duds of her secret organization and lived her life as happily and plainly as she could. But here, on Nightmare Night, she decided to wear the old duds for a bit of a laugh. Everypony would think she was just playing a secret agent mare without knowing she had actually been one. Perhaps the greatest trick she could ever pull was pretending it was just a costume and not something that had been deadly important and made her a huge chunk of change.

 

So she pulled out her shades, her tux, and a few of the tools of the trade. She looked dapper as all heck and felt as smooth as the finest Prench silk. The only question now was where to go, what to do, how to do it. Well later she'd sell some treats of her own but for now she wanted to have some fun, and for a mare like her the idea of a spook house sounded pretty exciting. She didn't expect much could scare a former monster hunter, after all. So she made her way to the spook house and trotted her way in, ready and willing to engage and be engaged with the horrible horrors of the horrifying house of horrors.

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Aria watched as the qilin pulled the caribou off and away from her pitch. A feel of disappointment began to hang heavy on the changeling, but only for a moment as it was replaced by confusion. Why was she dragging him towards to haunted house? From her tone and actions the qilin-corn princess seemed to have an aversion to the whole idea... Maybe she just wasn't paying attention when aria pointed at the spot. Before she could say anything to try and tell her she was heading the wrong way, the dragonpony who joined her in introducing herself spoke up.

 

"Ah sure thought they were, but now... Ah guess not? Ah did point out where it was and all, so maybe she wasn't payin' attention..." She looked to Flux and pursed her lips, "Well... Maybe they'll wind up likin' it at the end!" The changeling began to fly back over to the couple having only made it in time for them to have already gotten into the house. The two managed to make it to the foyer. Oh dear... well that was going to be a problem if they were hoping not to start the experience. Once you came through the front door there was an enchantment on the entrance that made just that: and entrance ONLY. Once you came in to this house, you had no choice but to continue forward. 

 

Now inside:

 

The foyer of the medium sized house was very accurately described as worn down. Many convincing cobwebs strewn around the banisters and railing of a staircase that lead up to the second floor. To limi's momentary relief there was a chill in the air... not the kind of calm or cooling chill that one might find in the snowcovered lands from which he hailed, but an an almost electric type of chill. Aria cantered over to the couple, Her voice now sounding a tad more authoritarian: something like that of a caregiver or a physician woudl have when talking to a patient in their care.

 

"Um... Ya might wanna lose that, costume. I mean it'll only slow ya down some." A hoof came up and touched the caribou's forehead,"Yer certainly runnin' hot! My princess... could y'all go ahead and help him get undres-- um... excuse me a moment." She said, eyes now focusing on the pony she hadn't seen before? This one must have slipped in earlier while she was trying to convince this couple to come in. Magnificent prench silks in a nice tuxedo and fancy shades: She brought to mind one of those pulpy spy novel protagonists. Come to think of it... the house was short one pony volunteer who said they'd be coming late and in a costume to blend in. "Oh, thank Celestia! You finally made it... It's kinda too late ta get yer in costume but if ya can help me keep 'em good and scared that'd be great!" She whispered to the tux clad pony. A faint purple spark came off the changling's horn: The signal to start the first scare... 

 

"Shooooowtime" She whispered giddily to the tuxedo pony at her side...

 

As soon as Limi had been appropriately helped by Mei, what little light there was when out for a few seconds... replaced by an ambient orange emanating from gas-lamps on the walls. Visibility was low... the only lights coming from many, almost ancient looking lamps on the walls and a few candles set in the chandelier above. In that space of Darkness, one of their group was gone: Their hostess, Aria. The lamps all began to dim as whispers began to fill the ears of the house-guests. The voices speaking sounding almost innumerable. Many spoke what sounded like gibberish, but one word could be understood by one of many youthful sounding tones..."Run." The voices only grew louder and more irritated sounding until it all stopped: dead in their tracks...

 

A sound came from upstairs... an ongoing creaking noise of dry, wretched wood upon more of the same. Faint off key notes coming from a voice upstairs as if singing a lullaby with no heart or joy behind it. The sounds of wood straining soon came to follow, the sound of hoofs stepping forward in whatever room was above the ceiling above the couple. The lyrics to the song being sung were too muffled to make out, but one sound was certainly not made by any voice: It was the hard sound of an impact and then another thump as something fell to the floor, limp, but somehow heavy at the same time...

 

Down the Hall something else might grab the two's attention. A pleasant blue glow coming from around the corner of the. There was the sound of soft piano keys being touched by hoof or magic that was very skilled with them. A sort of soulful solo number growing more and more obvious to any who moved closer to it. Their was a sign by the door... written in some crude red ink: Music room.

 

The lights flared up and their host was back along with the rest of them. Her head tilted at the quartet in attraction's grasp, "Um... Are Y'all ok?" The entire room was back to the original look. Spooky and offputting, but nowhere near as dark and cold." Ya seemed ta just space out on me there. Anyway like I was sayin'... We got two places we can start! The music room and the study... Who wants ta go where? We could split up if ya want but... I wouldn't recommend it. This place is plenty bigger 'n it looks."

 

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This was not okay.

 

Nothing was okay. Not Lími's apparent heat stroke, not the Changes' oh-so-helpful hoof to his forehead, not the newly arrived pony dressed in a tux that was in apparent cahoots with said Changes (along with the dragon-spelled pony from earlier. Probably)...and definitely not the fact that they had obviously been tricked into entering the creepy house because she most certainly hadn't wandered into the house with Lími on her own accord, no, that would have been utterly moronic.

 

But perhaps above all, the voices echoing and groaning around her were definitely not. Okay. The creaking, the various noises, the unsettling sounds...all of which were bad and becoming increasingly more difficult to drown out with her mantra, " - it's just a trick, it's just for fun, nothing is real, it's not real it's notrealit'snotreal - " repeated over and over in the barest of whimpers underneath her breath...they were okay. Not really okay, but okay, she could handle them. With Lími at her side to stand vigilant against the Door-bent forces awaiting in the darkness, a few scares here and there? Pah!

 

...But the voices -

 

"RUN, HE SAID RUN," Mei shrieked, her death grip around Lími's neck (she wasn't exactly sure when she had grabbed on, really) reaching new levels of suffocation danger, and never mind what other insane whispers had been echoing around the house, that was the one word she had picked up on. And it was a word she understood from every foalhood book that warned little ones of the whispers of oni demons, those who would come to snatch misbehaving foals from the beds.

 

When the oni came for you, you ran.

 

Which is why it was a completely natural reaction, thank you very much, for the Qilin to shoot off down the hallway, trusting that Lími and the others would be right behind her because what sort of fool would just sit around waiting to die and it was mares and foals first anyways. Or that Lími and the others would be valiantly facing the scares this terrible horrible excuse for an Equestrian festival had to offer while she quite calmly and confidently strolled out the door, refusing to take part. Never mind that she was still screaming as she rounded the corner, having naturally fled towards the back of the house in an effort to find the back entrance. Which, should have been somewhere around here right, the house hadn't seemed that large from the outside, so the back door should have been somewhere around here around the soft blue lighting. 

 

Instead she was getting nothing that resembled a doorway, and if she didn't find a doorway in the next five seconds, this entire house was getting dragon-breathed to the ground.

 

 

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Flux flew back over to the haunted house as well, humming happily as she walked in with the others, smiling as the scares began. 

 

"Spoooopy!" Flux giggled after the lights came back up and Aria continued talking. Unfortunately, Mei had no intention of listening, and she ran off into the house screaming. 

 

"You want some help, Limi?" She asked, realizing he was still clad in the hot costume. After he accepted with his nod, her horns lit up like a unicorn's and his costume was stripped from him by her magic. "There ya go buddy!"

 

"The music room sounds fun! Let's go there! Or we could chase down Mei-dance, they both sound fun!" Flux said, hopping in place excitedly. 

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Mei's incessant fretting was doing Lími no favors whatsoever. There the wolfsuited caribou was, about to pass out from overheating, while his qilin companion jumped at every shadow and noise she perceived. For a few brief moments, Lími was certain he'd lose consciousness when Mei's forelegs latched onto his neck with all the strength of a dragon. Mere seconds later however, Mei went completely mad, galloping off to who knows where.

 

Yet in the nick of time, help arrived in the form of the dragon pony. She used the gift of unicorn magic to unzip Lími's smothering wolfsuit and levitate that (and the empty saddlebags along with it) off to the side. Aaaah, that was much better! Life flowed back into Lími, who could now breathe more normally. Without that blasted fully body costume, the young bull could feel the brisk air of the haunted interior on his furry hide. Stripped bare of all garments, even the caribou's clan tattoos on his flanks (which were normally covered) were visible to naked eyes.

 

"You have my gratitude, friend," Lími thanked his rescuer in-between deep breaths; "I am in your debt."


There wasn't time for additional chit-chat or gawking at the strange surroundings however; Mei was still unaccounted for, her shrieks still faintly audible. Lími only had one qilin mare on his mind; nothing else mattered. "MEI!!!" he strained to shout at the top of lungs, heedless of anything or anyone around him; "WHERE DID YOU SCURRY OFF TO???" If the Ancient Ones were merciful, then Mei would quickly yell back a response, allowing Lími to track her down. Hopefully, the won't get herself into any more trouble, and the two friends could resume their pleasurable and orderly Nightmare Night.....

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Well, that went even better than expected! Already one of them was scared! The qilin was apparently even more nimble than she looked: seeing as she was off like a shot down the hallway towards the blue glow down the hallway... but curiously enough not in the direction of the music room. Aria winced at the sounds of cloven hooves patting the wood with gusto. Mei's groping soon got her results as a secret passage opened. Her hoof met a switch that pressed down into the wall and then the sound of clicking echoed through the halls.

 

A part of the wall spit to reveal a downward staircase. Down at the bottom of the stairs was an exit sign. While the sign itself looked normal: everything about the staircase passage that lead straight down did not. The were heavy, mechanical, sounds coming from below... something like the sounds one might think would come from a steelmill: Metallic thuds and loud gouts of hissing steam being heard from deep down below. Some copperish looking substance seemed to flow down the walls, and stranger still it wasn't going down. It was flowing upwards, almost as if it were trying to escape whatever laid at the other end. The first step on the stairs themselves brought forth and incredibly unnerving creak that echoed down to the bottom of the steps, to be answered by a visceral scream that filled the mare's ears.

 

If Mei attempted to descend the stairs, after any significant distance she'd see that it looked like with each small step the passage grew longer on both ends. Each step towards the door making it look like she was only going to have a much , much longer trip to make to escape... 

 

Back with the rest of the group, Aria grinned at flux. "Music room sounds great! We should probably go get our princess first though. Ah haven't gotten to look at every inch of this place just yet." The rather eager and excited looking mare buzzing out and over to panicked looking Qiilin and gawking at the find. "Huh... um... I didn't even know we had this... maybe we should just stick to the course?" she asked with a nervous looking smile.

 

 

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This was not okay.

 

This was completely, and utterly, not. 

 

Okay.

 

And yet for some reason, she was still inside this not okay house

 

And even worse, there were not okay passages simply springing from the wall now, staircases that screamed most horrifically in the face of innocent Qilins simply attempting to casually and gracefully make their exit from this horrid place. Is this really the sort of festivals Equestrians chose to celebrate? WHY. Any sensible fool would celebrate a sensible festival in a sensible way - like, wearing a nice hanfu and strolling the lit streets as all sorts of games and food booths spread outward on either side. Or, a trek through the forest, following an ancient path laid down by their ancestors until they settled atop the waterfall and ate honey and fresh dew. 

 

Not...this.

 

Though perhaps luckily for her (the one lucky thing, really), this constituted one sane point that pierced through Mei's consciousness, frozen after the sudden opening in the wall had sent her careening down one step. It rang out from the direction she had just fled from - which she supposed was good, that he was still alive and well and such, but also bad, because he had apparently not run like any sane pony should have, and also badbadbad, because she was separated from him and he wasn't there to protect her in this horrid excuse for a holiday

 

It was bad enough that Mei couldn't even find it in herself to answer back - though, she was able to manage a high-pitched squeak as the Changes from earlier suddenly buzzed around the corner, and that impetus was enough to pull the Qilin away from the ghostly staircase that had screamed at her - what sort of staircase screamed, even - as she cast her eyes towards the entirely too calm looking Changes. Well, of course she was calm, she was in on the whole thing...and she had seemed awfully intent on getting the two of them into this house in the first place. Maybe to separate the two of them, get her, Mei, conveniently well and lost so she could have Lími all to herself?!

 

...Never mind that she was offering for the two of them to 'stick to the course'. The course that probably led to her being stuck in a damp and dank basement while she soaked up all of Lími's floof for herself.

 

'Very well,', is what Mei tried to say, but it instead came out as "o-okay," as the Qilin quickly latched onto the other's foreleg, because despite the nefarious plots the Changes might have been cooking up, she was still a living, breathing being, and it was far better to be near a living, breathing being than being stuck by herself in this place. And Mei had no trouble keeping her grip firm on the Changes, right up until they were relatively close to the two they had left behind, before transferring her grip from the Changes and back onto Lími, hooves once again securely fastened around the Caribou's foreleg in what might have been a demure gesture if her hold wasn't so tight"Let's just - " Mei tried, and had to suck in a breath before starting over, "l-let's just get out of here. What's the fastest way through?" 

 

 

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Flux gave a nod and a wide smile to Limi as he thanked her, her eyes drawn towards the tattoos on his flanks. If he wasn't a caribou, she might have thought they were cutie marks...

 

Oh well, there were other things to think about, more fun things! Flux bounced along as they went to go find Mei, who seemed to have found a fun little secret staircase!

 

"Cool! A secret staircase! Let's go!" Flux said, bouncing in place excitedly. That lasted up until Aria suggested they stick to the path and Mei agreed. Taking a moment, she saw, and sensed, how scared the qilin was, making the disguised changeling frown and her wings droop a bit. 

 

"Are you not having fun, Mei? Maybe we should just find the exit..." Flux said, approaching the mare gently and offering her a hug. 

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Oh, the group definitely found Lián Mei alright..... in the strangest stairwell that Lími ever laid his eyes upon. For someone who had trotted through the Southern Wilds, that was saying quite a lot. Only thing was, the caribou bull wasn't sure what to make of a scream-emitting staircase, other than it being proof that the "shape-changer" pony possessed greater gifts in enchantment magic than previously imagined.

 

As for Mei, she must have felt so much horror that she was at a loss for words... or screams. Instead of a lively dragon mare, Lími only saw the broken remains of a qilin whose spirit was utterly crushed. For his part, the caribou blamed himself for this fiasco. If only he had opened his mouth in warning earlier, or picked a less life-threatening costume wear, or took a more unwelcoming stance towards Aria... then Mei would be enjoying a more fun Nightmare Night instead of being stuck here in this wretched dwelling.

 

Yet as Lími's foster mother always taught her son, it was the worst of times when one needed to expunge all trace of second-guessing within themselves. It also never escaped Lími's attention that Jarl Sigrun seemed to exhibit her strongest image of strength whenever the younger bull was present. Lími understood well that a caribou always needed to display the most fortitude whenever a cherished one needed to be availed, and it looked like his precious Mei required plenty of that right now.

 

"W-we must make haste, Aria!" Lími stamped his free foreleg on the floor (while doing his best to ignore the loss of blood circulation in the other); an attempt at appearing forceful undermined by the quivering of his voice and the obvious concern shining in his eyes. "My uhhh, my dear friend is in no condition for any further tricks of yours....."

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Hmm... maybe the initial scares were a bit too unsettling for the guests tastes? It seemed likely, perhaps some of the creepier aspects should be reserved for later in the tour for the next visitors. It was still disheartening to see the couple not having even a quarter of the fun Aria hoped they would have, but her place was to entertain for tonight and not do so at other's expense. "Well,  I reckon there is one fast track outta here...." A braided rope soon fell from the ceiling above her, "I can't promise Y'all are gonna like it all that much, though." A sharp yank and the floor gave way beneath the group: all of them floating in the air cartoonishly before plummeting downwards and leaving a silhouette of themselves in the shape of smoke in their wake. Aria was the last to fall in, although her demeanor while others tumbled was more like she was lounging an invisible hammock.

 

All around the quartet were a phantasmagorical series of flashing lights and floating images. Wide grins and staring eyes appearing at all angles as the group seemed to be falling downwards towards an empty void of uncertainty. Sounds of screams, whimpering and whispers of warnings would fill the ears of every guest while the relaxed changeling Hummed along to recurring melody that was playing as they fell further and further down below... soon the humming turned to a calm, siren like song.

 

"There's no earthly way of knowing... which direction we are going...is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a blowing?" The mare's position in the descent grew lower stil until she caught up to Flux, "Not a speck of light is showing... so the danger must be growing!" The lights in the void where the group fell began to blink out. Another fall further brought her Mei, "Are the fires of the narakas glowing?" The blackness at the bottom of the pit soon flared up to show a bright light and the smell of brimstone filling the pit and the noses of those within it as the hole at the bottom grew ever closer.  Another descent further brought her to eye level with Limi. "Are odyr's Valkyries mowing? -as invmowing down the less honorable.-"  

Soon the falling changeling outpaced all of them, heading faster and faster towards the light at the bottom of the pit. "Why, Yes! The Danger must be growing! For The winds of fate are blowing! And they certainly are not showing... ANY SIGN THAT THEY ARE SLOWING!" A mad cackle emitted from her as she was engulfed by the light and not long after that so were the group.

 

And just like that everyone was outside the front door again. Mei was standing at a still nude Limi who had a sweaty version of his costume across his back. Flux was hovering above them and Aria was standing in front of the ominous looking door to the spook house. 

"... Um are y'all ok? Ya seemed like Ya seen a ghost. Anyway, Like I was sayin'! Couples gettin the spookhouse free! Were ya interested in comin' in?" The changeling offered up a smile to the two at the front door.  Her eyes rested on Mei who seemed unusually freaked out from her perspective, "Hm... I don't think yer marefriend can take many scares tanight so I'll leave Y'all with one ya can take home with ya!" The changeling took in a deep breath. A serene, but eerie smile spread across her face... while behind her the sound of buzzing could be heard. One pair of eyes glowed in the dark entrance of the house... and then another, and another, and another until the darkness in the doorway behind her was completely full of bright, dull blue eyes. Underneath each of  them was a grin of fangs and following that came a unified buzzing laugh that seemed to make the house shudder. 

"I'm not wearin' a costume... Now, Everyone: Altogether." She shoute wiht a glance behind her at the many eyes and mouthes.

 

"Happy Nightmare Night!" cheered a group of exuberant buzzing voice!

 

 

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The hug from the pony-shaped dragon was not unwelcome, but Mei only half-consciously registered it, her free hoof wrapping around Flux while the other one remained steadfast in its grip around LIMI's foreleg. She knew - had known, going into this entire mess - that scares and frights were all a part of the tradition of Nightmare Night in Equestria...but she had honestly been expecting this level of scaring.

 

Spooky costumes and decorations, yes - perhaps some smoke and eerie lights to set the mood, certainly. But the amount of detail and - undoubtedly - magic that must have gone into productions like this Door-raised excuse of an attraction was mind-boggling. What even were Equestrian ponies doing with their time?

 

Perhaps the effort Equestrians placed into this holiday had simply failed to arrest her attention, during her initial preparations to meet LIMI and wander around the festivities...but either way, no matter which was true, at least her companions were finally regaining some of their senses. LIMI, especially, was adamant in his desire to make away from this place on her behalf, and if Mei had been in any clearer sense of mind, she might have had the ability to swoon over the protective keen in the Caribou's voice, adamantly stomping the floorboards as if the make clear his presence as her protector against all things foul and dark.

 

Who knew? Maybe a new poem would come out of this horrid mess.

 

Though Mei wasn't given much time to consider what his first verse might be, because she was falling through the floor -

 

The Qilin was vaguely aware of high-pitched shrieking that was emitting from her poor, abused throat, but she was mostly focused on clutching the nearest available source of familiarity to her as tightly as possible. Whether that source was Flux or LIMI, she had no idea - all she knew was that she was falling, her wings were only plastic they weren't going to do any lick of good for her and that mad mare of a Changes was still singing and she was going to die in this foreign land that likes to entrap beautiful Qilins in light as they fell to their dooms -

 

And quite abruptly, they were all suddenly outside again. The sudden shift did not change the fact that Mei had somehow crawled onto the body in her clutches - who did, in fact, turn out to be LIMI - the tickling sensation of his costume scrunched underneath her belied by the death grip that had returned to the Caribou's neck, using both hooves this time. Mei had no idea why the Changes was acting like nothing had even happened, as if they were all little foals, and never mind the shaking her body seemed incapable of stopping. And perhaps to the credit of her still shell-shocked brain, Mei displayed no reaction to the final farewell, a rather mild send-off in comparison to what she had just experienced. 

 

...And if her hooves tightened that much more around LIMI's neck, well. That was entirely her own business.

 

"...next time," Mei whispered, and didn't even bother attempting to clamber off of the Caribou, eyes wide and near unseeing and she was quite comfortable where she was, thank you very much. "Next time we celebrate a festival, we celebrate at home." 

 

 

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Flux could tell Mei wasn't completely registering the hug, but oh well. It wasn't like she could really do anything about that in the end. At least she was partly returning it. 

 

That was, of course, right before Aria decided the best way out was down a pit. Flux was giggling almost madly as Mei left her to latch onto Limi again, leaving the dragon-pony by herself until Aria came by singing a song. Flux herself soon enough curled up, as if getting ready to cannonball into a pool, still giggling up to the point they all fell into the light and ended up outside. 

 

The appearance of so many changeling eyes had her bouncing in excitement, smiling widely. 

 

"Happy Nightmare Night to you too!" She called back to them. At the same time, she let her eyes return to their natural all-purple state and she gave the changelings, Aria included, a playful wink. "Always fun meeting more changelings!"

 

"I'll see you all later!" She said, her eyes being disguised again before she turned to look at her two new non-changeling friends. She flew over and gave them both a big hug before bouncing off. "Have fun you guys!"

 

(Exit)

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Why did nobody ever take Lími seriously? He told Aria that Mei wasn't in a gaming mood, so what did the shape-changer do? Why, plunge them all into a bottomless abyss! For the first time that evening, the voice of a screaming caribou joined with that of the qilin's, both of them bombarded by strange visions and terrifying sounds. Lími assumed that Equestrians were incapable of frightening the likes of a Viking Caribou; it turned out that a free-fall (or simulated one) did the trick.

 

Only several seconds into the ordeal, Lími's vocal cords ran out of energy to yell any further, so he satisfied himself with endlessly reciting Odýrr's name over and over in frightened tones as Aria recited a macabre poem. The young buck couldn't keep that much for long either, for something crawled onto his back and locked his throat in a tight choke-hold! Due to the psychedelic lighting conditions present, Lími couldn't identify his attacker... or see where Mei was! MEI, WHERE WAS SHE???

 

.....Oh dear, indeed.

 

Finally, Odýrr the God of Mercy seemingly listened to Lími's pleas. A shroud of light engulfed the four, sending them back outside the entrance to that dreadful house of malevolence. The caribou's face was almost as blue as the tufted legs — Mei's legs — encircling his throat. Poor Mei; she must have so scared to death that she hightailed it onto her fluffy companion's back (which via mysterious means was covered by the discarded direwolf costume).

 

It was at this point when the truth was finally revealed: Aria was no mere pony, but a shape-changer in the flesh! By itself, the revelation did nothing to disturb Lími; those changelings clearly didn't seem to be after. However, it became an issue once Mei's grip on the suffocating caribou tightened in response. If only Lími could offer words of encouragement; to kindle the spirits of his treasured confidante and reinvigorate her heart with a dragon's fire. Anything that'd allow him to breath again!

 

"Mei..." Lími's voice responded faintly to the battle-fatigued qilin; "You... you are... a dra-................" NOPE. The caribou ran out his clock, unceremoniously fainting from oxygen deprivation as he flopped onto the ground. For all the threats the son of Sigrun faced in his life so far — undying wrights, a warmongering half-brother, infected berserkers, death trap wolfsuits, and horror houses — did any of those ever vanquished the noble scion of beastly caribou?

 

No. In the end..... 'twas Beauty felled the Beast.

 

*EXIT LIMI*

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