22 days ago…
"Life's not fair, Luna. Get used to it."
Celestia then stepped out of the door, shutting it tightly behind her. For a moment, Luna simply stared. A strange silence fell over the room, their argument having come to an end, but Luna wasn't sure how to handle everything that had just happened.
Then she screamed. Loudly. She didn't care who was listening or what ponies would think. She just needed to scream. Her frustration had been building throughout the entire argument and she simply couldn't hold it in any longer. She stomped on the ground and yelled a few more times.
"I'm! Not! A! Foal!" she exclaimed, punctuating each word with a powerful stomp of her hooves.
Luna vented her frustration for quite some time. Whenever she thought she was finally calming down, another wave of rage would crash over her. She knew that the guards outside were probably sharing glances with one another, but she honestly didn't care. Arguments like these happened far too often, and Luna had been growing irritated with them.
Finally, she took a deep breath and began to calm herself down. She wanted to shout some more, but her throat was beginning to hurt. She breathed slowly and deeply, eventually returning to a stable, but still upset, state of mind.
Luna glanced up at the clock. Nearly 45 minutes had passed. She gasped in mild surprise. When did that happen? she asked herself, Where did 45 minutes go? She sighed, knowing she was expected to be in the court 15 minutes from now. Despite her protests, Celestia still wanted her to go.
She wasn't going to let her sister down.
Her time at court was unbearably uneventful. Luna spent the entire proceedings bored and wishing she were somewhere else, preferably reading. Her frustrations from earlier hadn't fully mended themselves, and so they festered and steamed in her subconscious while she listened to the ponies before her prattle on about matters that held little importance.
Her mood hadn't improved when she was finally able to return to her room. It was probably worse. For a while, she simply paced around her room, replaying the argument in her head. Celestia's overbearing attitude and unwavering stubbornness were fresh in her mind.
"I don't need a damn escort like some filly who's still learning to fly," she muttered, even though nopony was around to hear. "I am an all-powerful alicorn Princess…I can't be taken down that easily. Worst case scenario, I can send Tia a distress signal with my magic."
She trotted over to her window. It was an extremely dark night outside, with her moon offering most of what little illumination there was. The window was closed, so she unhooked the latch with her magic and swung it open. Cool night air drifted in. She stuck her head out and gazed at the surrounding landscape.
"Your Highness? What are you doing?"
Luna glanced down to the voice below her. A group of three guards, two unicorns and one pegasus, were stationed below her window. She rolled her eyes. "I am letting in fresh air. Don't panic."
"Ah," the guard responded, "Very good. My apologies."
Luna shook her head and retreated into the room. She moved over to her desk and sat behind it. Frustration continued to show on her face. "This is ridiculous…" she muttered, "I am a Princess of Equestria. I should be able to go wherever I want and whenever I want to. Instead, they're foalsitting me. This is downright insulting.
"I should just go out flying anyway."
Luna glanced around her room, searching for inspiration. The unicorn guards were probably casting spells to detect magic, so any spell she used to conceal or transport herself would alert them. She needed another way to escape from her room without anypony knowing and without causing alarm.
She glanced to a wall opposite her bed where a piece of art hung from a nail. It was an abstract metal carving of the moon made out of pristine steel. It had been a gift from a delegate hailing from a neighbouring country.
The moon. It was her domain, her property, and her responsibility. She had complete control over it and everything relating to the night. It was the aspect of her duties that she most enjoyed. Ages ago she had felt jealous of her sister because the ponies of the land viewed the daytime as superior.
However, Luna had begun to realize that the night was special in its own way. Darkness was thick and fluid, and behaved in unusual ways. Moonlight as well had magical properties that only she could manipulate. It was a very unique time, and it was completely hers to control.
Suddenly, Luna had an idea.
Moments later, she stood near her window. She was off to the side, so as not to be seen by the guards outside, but could still clearly see the moon in the sky. Using simple telekinesis mixed with a bit of arcane alicorn magic, she grasped some of the moon's light from outside and gently drew it in.
It flowed into her horn smoothly like a river, but minutely so that it was undetectable to the observers on the grounds below. Using magic that was unique to her species, she manipulated the moonlight around her form, wrapping it gently against her body. To her, it felt like she was putting on a thin gown.
When she was finished, she glanced at the mirror but could not see herself. Instead she saw a faint, wispy glow. It was white and illuminating like the moon's light. She smiled. "Perfect…"
Moving quickly, she ran to the window and flapped her wings, taking to the air instantly and silently. Outside in the night air, her own glowing form was completely obscured by the ambient moonlight, allowing her to blend in. She stole a quick glance at the guards below her window. They gave no indication that they had seen her.
She snickered. The moon's magic couldn't be detected easily. It didn't last long and it was hard to manipulate, but she had complete control over it. As she flew away from the castle, her veil faded and the fresh night air rushed over her body.
Smiling, she flew off to explore the lands.
Luna had been flying for 45 minutes and enjoying every second of her time outside. She had promised herself that she would be back within an hour of her leaving, not wanting to cause suspicion or alarm. Now, that time was almost up. Sighing, she knew she would have to turn back soon.
Below her stretched the Everfree Forest. She angled her wings and flew down closer to the trees. She had briefly passed over it when she had left, but hadn't taken the time to admire it. The twisted, uneven trees were simultaneously unnerving and intriguing. The forest had simply refused to allow itself to be tamed, even a thousand years ago. Nothing her or her sister did could curb its wild growth and unnatural behaviour.
She flew around the outskirts, circling the collection of trees. Ponies had tamed the land as far as they could before the point where the laws of the Everfree took over, creating a sharply defined tree line. The forest was mostly surrounded by fields and croplands, with Ponyville adorning one of its sides.
Luna took a deep breath, marvelling at the splendour of the land below bathed in her night's ethereal glow. The light of the moon gave each object on the ground a new and exciting appearance. It allowed shadows to dance around more freely, creating art by covering up certain aspects of what they rested on.
Luna smiled. She hardly ever got a chance to simply admire Equestria. Though she had gone against her sister's wishes to do so, she was definitely glad she had taken the time to go on this flight. It was proving to be absolutely wonderful.
She thought back to the argument she'd had with Celestia. The pleasant, uneventful flight she was enjoying only served to reinforce her own argument. Nothing could harm her out here, especially while she was in the air. Anything that would try to harm her would be no match for her magic. Besides, Celestia was a simple distress spell away if things took a turn for the worse.
Luna shook her head. "She was being ridiculous…" she muttered, "I was right all along…" She tried to put the argument out of her mind, as it was spoiling her good mood. "Crazy Tia thinking I need to be protected all the time…"
Ten minutes left. Luna looked to the starry sky and sighed. She knew that she would need to return to the castle now. Any longer and somepony was bound to notice her absence. Muttering something about a lack of freedom, she banked and turned in the direction of Canterlot.
Luna's ears perked as the loud cry reached her. She turned her head back, searching for its origin.
"Augh!! Somepony help!! Please!!" The voice was hoarse and desperate, its owner clearly in a lot of pain.
Luna finally pinpointed the pony in trouble. Struggling on the fields, not far from the edge of the Everfree, was a grey unicorn. Blood was trailing behind him and he was tightly holding a hoof to his chest.
Luna wasted no time and dove down to ground level. "Worry not, kind sir!" she said in a fairly loud voice, the Royal Canterlot Voice. This was an emergency situation, but Luna prided herself on using the proper manners and poise she had been taught. "Art thou injured?"
Luna landed next to the stumbling pony, who groaned in agony. "Do not fear, we are here to assist you. Thy suffering shall soon be over, and- Oh, goodness…" Luna's royal vocabulary faltered as she saw how much blood was coating the pony's hoof and chest. The wound looked bad.
"I…I can't…I think…Aughh!" the injured pony stammered.
"Okay, okay, don't panic. I can use healing magic. Let me see the wound."
The pony, who had been standing on three legs, began to lose his balance. He swayed forward, but Luna caught him.
"Careful. Please, move your hoof. I can't use my magic until I see the wound."
"Uuughhhh…" the pony moaned in pure agony, holding his hoof against the wound even tighter.
"I know it hurts," Luna soothed, "but please let me see. I promise I won't hurt you, and once I see it, then I'll be able to mend it completely. Trust me!"
The grey pony before her still did not comply, panting in ragged breaths as the red liquid continued to coat his fur a deep crimson.
"Sir, it's only going to get worse if you hold your hoof against it like that. Please!" Luna pleaded. She reached forward with her own hooves, trying to pull her patient's hoof away.
"Ohhhhh…" the pony moaned.
"My magic is powerful!" Luna said as she wrestled with his hoof, "Whatever the problem is, I can heal it! But I have to see it first!"
Finally, Luna managed to pry the pony's hoof away. A few drops of blood were flung onto her face. Wincing, she looked to where the pony's hoof had been covering.
There was no wound. Except for the excess amount of red liquid, the pony before her was completely unharmed.
Pain exploded on the right side of Luna's head as something hard and metal struck her forcefully. Stars flooded her vision as she fell to the ground, completely unconscious.
Luna awoke to pain.
Her head throbbed with a staggering ache. It hurt to exist. Luna groaned and held her hoof to her head, trying in futility to dull the pain. She felt dizzy and nauseous. Her head felt heavy and incredibly tender. The pain was mostly centred around the right side, where she had been struck earlier.
Luna wrenched open her eyes. Panic momentarily gripped her when she couldn't see anything but blackness. I'm blind!! a panicked voice exclaimed in her mind. However, after a few deep breaths, she realized that she was merely in a darkened location, blinded only by the lack of light.
She moaned again in pain. It was difficult to focus with the constant pounding in her head. She wanted to get up and explore her surroundings, to find out where she was, but she couldn't find the energy. Her head simply hurt too much. She began to wonder if she had sustained a concussion.
Luna lay on the floor, resting and letting the throbbing in her head subside. She wasn't sure if she'd laid there for two minutes or two hours, but eventually she began to regain her senses. The pain began to recede and the pounding eventually ceased.
"Ugghh…" she moaned, feeling weak. As she tried to sit up, all of her limbs felt weak and unresponsive. She managed to sit upright successfully, but was hit by a dizzying vertigo. The pitch blackness didn't help matters. She placed her hooves firmly on the ground to steady herself.
The floor seemed to be stone and there was something else Luna could feel. Her dizzied mind struggled to catch up, still suffering from the injury she'd sustained. It was something around her legs. Something was touching her.
No. Something was holding her. Grabbing her.
In a moment of panic, Luna tried to back away from whatever was touching her. She was met with a cold, stone wall against her back. Clinking sounds of metal could be heard in the smothering darkness.
Luna shook her head, trying to clear her mind. "Hello?" she called into the darkness. There was complete silence in response. She held her hoof up to her head, which was still aching. Something cold and metal swung against her body as she lifted it. She realized that it was what was attached to her legs.
"Hello?!" she called again, "What is going on? Where am I?" More silence was her answer.
Her head dully throbbed and her whole body ached. What had happened? The last thing Luna remembered was being on the field, helping that pony. She shook her head, trying to wake up her mind.
Suddenly, she realized how foalish she had been. Sighing at her own ineptitude, she concentrated and formed an illumination spell with her horn.
Instead of the desired effect, however, Luna received a painful shock down the length of her horn. She cried out, mostly from surprise. "What…was that?" Confused, she tried the illumination spell again. She received the same painful shock. "Ow!"
More puzzled than ever, she stood up. The dark world momentarily spun, threatening to topple her over, but she held her balance. The alicorn took a few steps forward, the clinking metal sound following her.
Chains! she realized, recognizing the sounds. I'm…chained up? Luna held up her hoof to examine the chains, only to facehoof when she remembered that she still couldn't see anything.
Luna took a few more steps forward. She was able to take only five steps before the grips on her legs grew taut and pulled her back. Luna's confusion grew.
"What is going on?" she muttered. The utter confusion of her situation was beginning to frustrate her. She needed answers, and she wanted them now. Luna cleared her throat.
"WE DEMAND THAT SOMEPONY SHOW THEMSELVES AND EXPLAIN WHAT IS GOING ON!" Luna exclaimed as loud as she could in the Royal Canterlot Voice. The exclamation made her head throb painfully, but she tried to ignore it.
There was another minute of silence.
"DOST THOU HEAR US?! WE ARE PRINCESS LUNA!"
Finally, Luna heard a click from somewhere across the room. Dim light flowed in from a doorway far away from her. She heard the clopping of hooves as somepony- no, three ponies made their way over towards her.
Then there was another click and a light hanging near the middle of the room illuminated, finally shedding light on her surroundings.
The first thing she saw were the bars. She gasped and her mind froze. A prison? She gazed around at her cell. The light was feeble and she couldn't see very much of the room beyond the stone walls and a large, dirty bed. She returned her gaze to the bars.
Anxiety began to set in. I'm in a prison! her mind screamed at her, And I'm chained up too! She fought off oncoming panic, taking deep breaths.
The ponies who had entered the room finally stepped into view. There were three of them, all unicorns. One was grey, one was a dark yellow, and one was orange. After a moment's observation, Luna recognized the grey pony as the one she'd tried to help on the field.
"Well, well, well!" the orange one said, stepping forward to the bars, "Look who finally woke up!"
"What…What is the meaning of this? Dost thou not know who we are?!"
"Ugh," the yellow unicorn muttered, rolling his eyes, "I told you she'd talk like that."
"Why is she talking like that?" the grey one turned to the yellow one and asked.
"It's the official Canterlot voice or something…"
"Excuse us!!" Luna boomed, "We asked a question!"
The orange one at the front chuckled. "You're where you belong," he said simply.
Luna blinked. "Er…what? I mean…What art thou talking about?"
The unicorn held up a hoof. "That's gonna get really old, really fast. Can ya knock it off?"
Luna regarded the unicorns before her in incredulity.
"It's taken months of work and planning," the orange pony continued, "but we finally caught you when your guard was down. Hard work really does pay off, eh boys?"
Luna shook her head. "Explain thyselves! Why hast thou imprisoned us?!"
"Well, Luna," the orange pony responded, dragging her name out in an exaggerated tone, "it's because we know who you really are. You've fooled a lot of ponies since you came back. Like the foals they are, they blindly accepted your ruse. But we can see right through you. We aren't fooled."
Luna tilted her head and arched an eyebrow. "Whatever art thou talking about?"
"Cut the charade," the grey unicorn spoke up, "we know who you really are. It's about time somepony stopped you."
Luna's concern grew. "What dost thou mean, 'Who I really am'? We are Princess Luna. Is it not clear to see?"
The three unicorns' expressions darkened. "Princess Luna is dead," the orange one said.
"You killed her."
Luna's mind blanked. She sputtered for a minute before shaking her head. "Thou art not making any sense. We are Princess Luna! How could we have killed her?"
The orange unicorn suddenly rose up and placed his hooves on the bars, glaring in at the trapped alicorn with a furious expression. "Quit trying to fool us!" he exclaimed angrily, "We know who you are, Nightmare Moon!"
Luna gasped, her eyes widening and her jaw falling. No…
"We know the legend!" the orange unicorn continued, "A thousand years ago, Princess Luna was lost to the temptations of her rage and jealousy, and her body and mind were taken over by the vengeful spirit, Nightmare Moon! Princess Celestia was able to seal you in the moon for a thousand years, but now you're back. And we're not going to sit idly by and let you destroy Equestria!"
Luna could only stare at the furious unicorn in stunned silence.
"You fooled everypony! You disguised yourself as the young Princess Luna! But we know the truth! You can't hide it from us, Nightmare Moon!"
"No…It's not true…" Luna said, her voice quiet and pleading, "I'm not Nightmare Moon anymore! I'm not!"
"You're making a mistake!"
The orange unicorn banged his hoof against the bars loudly. "Silence, demon! We will not have you defile the image of Princess Luna, may she rest in peace. There's nothing you can do to escape now, so just sit there and shut up."
"Please! You have to believe me. I can prove it! Nightmare Moon is long gone!"
"NO!" the orange pony exclaimed.
"Ray, forget it," the grey one interjected, stepping forward, "she's just trying to rile you up. That's what Nightmare Moon does."
The orange pony, Ray, spent a few moments staring into the cell. He stared deep into Luna's eyes. The Princess was surprised by the fire she saw burning in his eyes.
Finally, Ray turned to leave. "You'll be dead soon, anyway…" he muttered as he left, the other two unicorns following behind him.
"What?!" Luna exclaimed, her anxiety spiking, "What do you mean, 'dead'? Come back! Please, let me go! I'm not Nightmare Moon! She was defeated by the Elements of Harmony! Hadn't you heard?"
The unicorns paid her no mind. They turned off the light in the room, plunging Luna into darkness once again.
"Her dark spirit was purged by the Elements! She's gone!"
"Enough of your lies!" Ray exclaimed before Luna heard the door slam forcefully, cutting off what little light remained.
Seconds later, the door reopened. "Oh," Ray's voice called in, "And don't worry about all your friends and family. They all think you're dead." The door slammed shut again.
For a moment, Luna was stunned and rendered speechless. "They're…" she muttered, "They're crazy. They're…They think I'm Nightmare Moon…"
You'll be dead soon, anyway.
The words of Ray replayed continuously in her mind. "They're…going to kill me." Luna was nearly breathless.
"Tia was right…" She recalled the argument that had happened mere hours ago. She remembered Celestia's insistence that somepony defend her and she remembered her older sister often worrying that ponies would try something drastic or extreme.
She hadn't listened. She had been overconfident in her own abilities and ignored her sister's warnings. She had upset her sister with her harsh attitude and gone against her wishes behind her back.
Now she was paying the price.
Luna could feel tears. She felt her heart break and her stomach do flips. Her breathing quickened. "No, no, no, NO! This can't be happening!" She began to sob. "What have I done?!" Panic gripped her. Her situation was bleak. She was locked up, restrained, somehow prevented from using magic, and Ray had said that everypony thought she was dead.
It was too much to accept.
Luna spent the next hour exploring her confinement and trying to find a way out or a way to get help. She couldn't reach the bars, her chains were very strong, and she found that the more complex of a spell she cast, the more painful the backfire was.
She was trapped. She was utterly helpless. She was going to be killed.
"And…it's all my fault…"
Comet returned from the prison in the basement. He found High Noon sitting in the same position as when he had left.
"Have fun?" High asked of his companion.
Comet smirked. "Sometimes I still can't believe we managed to pull it off."
"Hey, don't sell us short. This took a lot of planning and a lot of effort, but we're gonna succeed."
"It's just annoying that we can't finish her off yet."
"Yeah…" High muttered, glancing out the window at the field bathed in the moon's glow, "but you know what the ancient tome said. Unless we kill her under a new moon, the demon will just use the moon's power to keep herself alive and find a new host."
Comet joined High at the window and gazed at the moon in the sky. It was waning and less than a quarter of it remained visible. "Won't be long now…"
"Twilight, have I ever told you you're crazy?"
"Yes, Spike. Yes you have."
Spike was helping Twilight pack a few last-minute essentials. The other five ponies had already run or flown back to their homes and packed materials and supplies for the journey. They had no idea how far they would have to travel so they were preparing for a long journey.
Everypony was wearing two heavily-packed saddlebags, except for Applejack who had three collapsed tents slung around her.
"Wouldn't it be hilarious if we only had to travel for like five minutes?" Dash mused.
"We can only hope…" Applejack muttered.
The group had been energized by the prospect of what they were about to undertake. There was no trace of fatigue to be seen in any of them, not even young Spike.
"Okay!" Twilight announced, "Everypony ready?"
She was met with a chorus of agreement.
"Good. Everypony understands the plan?"
"I'm gonna blow blue fire on all those scrolls," Spike replied, indicating Twilight's saddlebags, which were full of scrolls, "and we follow the fire."
"Are y'all sure this is gonna work?" Applejack asked, "I've seen Spike's dragon fahr b'fore. It flies pretty dang fast."
"That's why you have me!" Dash proclaimed, pounding a hoof against her chest.
"C'mon Dash, don't get a big head. Even yer not as fast as dragon fire."
"That's why I'm bringing so many," Twilight said, "We're gonna follow it until we lose the trail, then burn another one."
"I hope we don't run out…" Fluttershy mumbled.
Twilight chuckled. "If we manage to burn through all of these, then we'll probably be a few towns over. It'll be easy enough to buy more."
"I like this plan!" Pinkie piped up, "It combines the serious seriousness of our epic responsibility with the fun fun-ness of a road trip!"
"I do hope we don't have to travel far…" Rarity moaned, not quite whining, "I hate walking over dirty terrain. I certainly hope the fire doesn't travel over any swamps."
"I'm jus' hopin' it goes somewhere easy ta follow," Applejack said, "Imagine if it flies over th' ocean."
"Or up a big huge mountain…" Fluttershy whimpered.
"Calm down, everypony!" Twilight said, "We'll cross those bridges when we come to them."
"Who said anything about a bridge?" Pinkie quipped, "They were talking about the ocean and a mountain! Bridges don't go up mountains. And they definitely don't go over the ocean! Well, not the whole way, anyway. Sometimes a bridge might go over a little part of the ocean. Maybe an inlet or a channel. But not the whole ocean."
Everypony stared at Pinkie.
"What?" she asked, confused by the attention.
"Um…" Twilight stammered, "Anyway…"
"So this is really happening, isn't it?" Spike said in a dubious voice, "I'm still having trouble trying to wrap my head around it."
"I know, Spike," Twilight responded, "It's pretty crazy. But it's happening, and we need to do everything we can."
"I still don't see why you don't just tell Celestia," he muttered.
Twilight's ears splayed back and she winced. "Well…" she said slowly, searching for her words, "I really don't…want to get her hopes up if this all turns out to be nothing. She's been so sad lately, I don't know if she'd even accept it. She might throw me out and refuse to listen."
Twilight hadn't told Spike about her and Dash's expedition to the Canterlot Graveyards. For some reason, she didn't think the young dragon would be as accepting of her actions, or as understanding.
"All right, unless anypony has any objections, I propose we begin!" Twilight announced.
Nopony in the room spoke up.
Twilight turned around to where, behind her, Owlowiscious was sitting perched on the back of a chair.
"Now, can I trust you to look after the library while we're gone, Owlowiscious?"
"She's talkin' to you!" Spike said.
"You! You, the owl! Owlowiscious!"
"Ugh…" Spike facepalmed. "Sometimes I don't know why I bother."
"Oh, now you're just screwin' with me."
"Spike!" Twilight interjected, stopping the exchange before it could escalate, "Let's go."
The group exited the library and Twilight locked the door behind her. They then made their way to the edge of town. Ponyville was asleep; There was nopony out on the streets and the only illumination came from the moon in the sky and the few porch lights. There was a serene calm accompanied by near silence.
The group reached the outskirts of the town, near Fluttershy's house. Twilight reached back into her saddlebags with her magic and pulled out one of the many scrolls.
"Okay, get ready Dash!" she said.
"Right!" Dash said, flapping her wings and taking to the air.
Twilight handed the scroll to Spike. "Is anything written on these?" he asked.
"No, they're all empty."
Spike chuckled. "All right then. Ready?"
Twilight looked up to Dash hovering in the sky, who nodded. She turned back to Spike and also nodded.
The young dragon held the scroll before his face with his claws. He glanced at his friends who were staring at him with anticipation, anxious to begin. Except for Fluttershy, who looked nervous as usual. "All right," he spoke, "Let's do this." Spike took a deep breath.
He then expelled deep blue flames onto the scroll. It was engulfed in the fire and completely disintegrated within seconds. The flames danced high into the sky and then suddenly shot off into the distance.
Dash took off in pursuit of the fire with extreme speed, leaving a backdraft behind her. Wind from her sudden departure made the grass and trees nearby sway. The ponies on the ground followed the rainbow trail left behind by the speedy pegasus.
"Okay," Twilight said, already breaking into a gallop to follow the trail, "It looks like it goes into the Everfree Forest later, but we can probably go around. Once Dash comes back, we'll follow her to the last place she saw it."
The other four ponies took off after Twilight, Spike hopping up on Applejack's back as she was closest to him. The group began to gallop into the fields of grass that surrounded Ponyville and hugged the edge of the Everfree. Dash's rainbow trail was hovering mostly perpendicular to the edge.
"Oh dear," Fluttershy murmured from the back of the pack, "This is going to turn into another wild adventure, isn't it?"
Applejack chuckled from in front of her. "It jus' might! Yee-haw!"
"Don't say that," Rarity chastised, "You're going to jinx us!"
"Heh, sorry," Applejack responded, "If I have ta go along with this crazy mess, I want it t'at least be mem'rable."
As their conversation ended, Dash suddenly returned to the group, hovering in the air above them.
"That fire is fast," she panted.
"Dragon fire is very mysterious. It has very special properties," Twilight explained.
"It's hard to see it too, but follow me and I'll take you as far as I can."
With that, Dash turned and flew along the edge of the forest at a slower pace so the other ponies could keep up with her.
"Maybe Dash has a point," Twilight said, "It'd be easier to see the blue flames in the day."
"But then the sky would be blue!" Pinkie observed.
"Hey, I still kept up with it for quite a ways!" Dash called back from her lead position.
"We don't want to wear you out either," Twilight called to her.
Dash let out an uproarious laugh. "Tire me out! Ha! That's a good one."
"Just don't get overconfident, Dash."
"No worries, Twilight! Flying this slow so that you can keep up with me is practically rest anyway!"
Twilight rolled her eyes.
The group continued to run, following Dash along the Everfree's tree line and keeping an eye out for stray creatures.
"I hope Twilight knows what she's doing…" Spike muttered from Applejack's back.
"Yeah," she replied, "I do too…"