Mind Games

Midnight meeting

Along the streets of Ponyville.

Twilight, Spike, and Rainbow Dash made their way through Ponyville, after traversing the woods to the north. The trip had certainly taken its toll on the friends, as the trio were exhausted.

“Gee, I didn’t think the walk here would have taken so long. I must have miscalculated on where we landed in the woods.” Twilight spoke to her friends, before letting out a tired yawn.

“Maybe we should have stopped at Town Hall?” Spike added, before giving a yawn of his own.

“I didn’t seem like anypony else was there, and besides, we’re not too far from the library now.” Twilight replied.

“Yeah, I’m not sure how I would’ve felt about sleeping in Town Hall, especially while Derpy’s been there.” Rainbow Dash spoke up.

A few minutes earlier.

“Are we there yet?” Spike asked aloud.

“No Spike, we still have a ways to go.” Twilight replied.

“Well my wings are killing me from flying all night.” Rainbow Dash complained, before something off to the side caught her eye. “Hey, check it out.” She told her friends, pointing to what she was looking at.

Twilight and Spike looked over at what Rainbow Dash was pointing at, and saw Derpy sitting on the front steps of Town Hall, eating a muffin.

Derpy was about to take another bite, until she finally noticed the trio with one of her eyes, and stopped eating.

The four of them stared back at each other in silence, before Derpy took another bite of the muffin, and headed back inside, closing the door behind her.

Twilight, Spike, and Rainbow Dash looked at each other, confused, before continuing on.

Back in the present.

“That was kind of strange, but at least she seemed timid.” Twilight spoke up.

“I don’t know, it did take a while to rebuild Town Hall the last time she was there.” Spike replied.

“Don’t remind me.” Rainbow Dash added, an annoyed look on her face as she lowered her head. “So how much further?”

“The library is just around the corner. Almost there.” Twilight replied.

“About time.” Spike replied, letting out another yawn. “I can’t wait to sleep in my bed.”

The group began to round the next corner, before another pony caught their attention, this time, speaking to them.

“Hey, there ya are!” The pony spoke.

The three of them turned to the pony, and discovered that it was Braeburn.

“Braeburn! It’s good to see you again!” Twilight replied back.

The four headed towards each other, meeting in the middle.

“Likewise. Did ya’ll by chance see Fluttershy while you were in Canterlot?” Braeburn asked.

Twilight, Spike, and Rainbow Dash looked away from Braeburn, as they thought back to what happened.

Twilight brought her head back first, as she replied to him.

“Yes…we saw her.” Twilight spoke.

“She saved us back there, but how did she know that we were in trouble?” Spike added.

“While we were trying to follow you guys, we ended up at a shack in the back-woods. Soon after, Zecora got some kind of sign of danger, and Fluttershy sped out of there.” Braeburn replied.

“Good to know that you two were alright after we left.” Rainbow Dash told Braeburn, a somber look on her face. “I hope she still is…”

“Hmm? Did something happen?” Braeburn replied, a confused look on his face.

“We were forced to leave shortly after she arrived.” Rainbow Dash answered.

“Well if I know Fluttershy, then she’s probably long gone from there by now. She normally doesn’t stick around a place too long if it gets on her nerves.” Braeburn replied.

“I sure hope so.” Rainbow Dash spoke.

Thinking back on the event, something began to tick in Twilight’s mind, as she came to what she believed to be a reasonable conclusion.

“Wait a second. Before, Fluttershy didn’t seem to care about anypony else, but something happened that caused her to rush to our aid. Maybe whatever that was finally broke the spell, and she remembered us!” Twilight finished with glee.

“I don’t know, but she sure took off fast, and without saying a word to anypony.” Braeburn replied.

“Maybe you’re right Twilight! Rainbow Dash snapped out of it at Zecora’s, and maybe Fluttershy did the same!” Spike spoke to Twilight.

“Then it looks like we’re headed for Zecora’s!” Rainbow Dash spoke aloud.

“Alright, let’s make a beeline for Zecora’s! You should come too Braeburn, the more help, the better.” Twilight replied.

“Well alright I guess. I did just come from there, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find again.” Braeburn replied.

With Spike on Twilight’s back, the three ponies headed towards the Everfree Forest, to visit Zecora once more.

“This is awesome! Two friends down, and three to go! We should be able to help all our friends in no time!” Rainbow Dash called out, as she flew slightly ahead of her friends.

“I agree.” Twilight replied. “So how were things with you Braeburn? You seem to be in better spirits.”

“Things went alright I guess. It’s also been nice to not deal with Fluttershy’s yelling. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always gotten along pretty well, but it was a hassle reassuring everypony she yelled at.” Braeburn replied.

“She was never like that before. Well, except for that time Iron Will came to town.” Spike responded.

“So I take it you stayed at Zecora’s this whole time?” Twilight asked.

“Well, yes and no. I stayed there for a little while, even after she left, but I got lost coming back.” Braeburn replied.

“Yes, it can be a challenge navigating these woods. Especially for a pony not from the area.” Twilight spoke.

“And Fluttershy didn’t cause a scene while you were there?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Well ‘she’ didn’t, but that’s not to say there wasn’t a ruckus.” Braeburn replied.

“What happened?” Spike asked.

“Those mares and the filly from the Town Hall showed up.” Braeburn replied.

“Rarity, Mayor Mare, and Sweetie Belle? Did they come to make trouble?” Twilight asked.

“Not exactly.” Braeburn replied.

Earlier, inside Zecora’s hut.

“Ah’ll give ya this. You sure can hide an apple well.” Apple Jack spoke to Zecora, still ransacking her home.

“Is an apple really that important to you?” Braeburn asked.

“Ah course it is! Mah family and mah farm have been farming apples for years, and we don’t take kindly to folks who steal from us!” Apple Jack replied, stamping a hoof on the ground to make her point.

“Did you really steal from her?” Braeburn asked Zecora.

“Let me assure you. What she claims, isn’t true.” Zecora replied.

“If you say so.” Braeburn replied, before he heard Fluttershy’s impatient tapping of her hoof behind him.

“Can’t you just go pick some apples from somewhere and give them to her already? I’m getting tired of waiting around for this nonsense!” Fluttershy spoke.

“It shouldn’t be too much longer Fluttershy.” Braeburn tried to reassure her.

“Although she appears to be filled with spite, I can sense that she is not alright.” Zecora spoke to Braeburn.

“She’s been acting like this ever since we met Twilight and her friends. Also, we got into a…disagreement with some ponies back in Ponyville. We were trying to help their friend Rarity I guess, when Fluttershy kicked down the door and started lecturing them.” Braeburn replied.

“Hmm.” Zecora spoke.

“Twilight and her dragon friend fled first, and then Rainbow Dash followed after Fluttershy finished. However, we didn’t end up helping Rarity, on account of her and Mayor Mare being scared stiff from Fluttershy’s yelling.” Braeburn continued.

“Hmm.” Zecora spoke.

“After that, we left in hopes of finding Sugarcube Corner, where we hoped to meet up with them. Unfortunately, neither of us knew our way around the town, and while I thought we found help in a white bunny we passed, we eventually lost him and wandered into this here forest.” Braeburn finished.

“I see. So that is how this came to be.” Zecora replied. “Either way, I am glad. Now the future doesn’t look so sad.”

“What do you mean?” Braeburn asked.

“I had a feeling days ago, that a different wind into our world did blow. I wasn’t sure if things would be alright, until I laid my eyes on our friend Twilight. She and her friends seek to break this spell. They will succeed, of that I can tell.” Zecora replied.

“That so huh?” Braeburn responded.

A knocking then came at the door, but despite being the closest, Fluttershy walked away from it.

“Apple Bloom, would you see who wishes to enter the room?” Zecora asked the filly.

“Yes ma’am.” Apple Bloom responded, before making her way to the door.

“I know we showed up unannounced as well, but do you always have company this late?” Braeburn asked Zecora.

“It’s Mayor Mare and a couple of ponies from Ponyville, Zecora.” Apple Bloom called back.

“Oh no! Did they come back looking for a fight?” Braeburn exclaimed, taking a step back.

“Oh grow a back bone Braeburn!” Fluttershy scolded.

“Fear not, we shall discover their true plot.” Zecora replied. She then gestured to Apple Bloom to let the ponies inside.

“Thank you dear.” Rarity told Apple Bloom, as she entered the hut.

A look of disgust came over Rarity’s face, as she looked around at the décor. However, it was quickly replaced with shock, when she saw Fluttershy and Braeburn.

“Oh! You ruffians again!” Rarity exclaimed.

Zecora stamped her hooves on the ground, getting the attention of everypony else, besides Fluttershy and Apple Jack.

“These ponies are my guests as well! Calm yourself, before I cast a spell!” Zecora bluffed to calm Rarity down.

“Oh…umm…yes, very well. We did not come here to cause a ruckus. We simply wish to inquire on a matter at hoof.” Rarity replied.

“Then guests from close and out of town, won’t you all please sit down.” Zecora spoke.

Mayor Mare and Sweetie Belle entered the room, and sat down with the others. Fluttershy remained by the window, her back to the group, while Apple Jack continued her search.

“So what is it Rarity, that you wish to know from me?” Zecora asked.

“We wish to hear from you regarding the events that have occurred, as well as anything you can tell us about the ponies you brought here the previous night.” Rarity asked.

“The ponies I assume you have also met, I can guarantee you are not a threat.” Zecora replied.

“What!?” Rarity exclaimed.

“Unlike the darkness of the night, I believe those ponies shall bring us light.” Zecora replied, placing her hooves together in front of her.

“But the tale of the evil Uni…” Rarity began to reply, before she was cut off.

“Do you doubt the words I speak? I assure you I am not meek!” Zecora replied.

“Of…of course not. My apologies.” Rarity responded.

“Very well, but I will keep within my mind a spell.” Zecora replied, bluffing once more. “As for the events that have occurred, they branch from something much more absurd.”

“Do tell.” Rarity asked.

Zecora proceeded to tell Rarity and the other ponies the same story that she told Twilight. While some parts seemed hard to believe, they listened without saying a word.

“That is all I know. A truly tragic tale, no?” Zecora spoke.

“Truly an amazing story.” Mayor Mare replied.

“So then…none of this is real?” Rarity asked.

“I’m afraid so dear pony, but not everything was phony.” Zecora replied.

“Whatever do you mean?” Rarity asked.

“Although the lies were like a twister, you did not forget your sister. And while very few have defected, still many more remain affected.” Zecora replied.

“I do suppose you’re right Ms. Gpy…I mean, Zecora.” Rarity responded.

“Enough with all the blabbering and wasting more time! Braeburn! Are we going or not!?” Fluttery turned around and yelled to the group.

“We’re still waiting on Apple Jack, to show us the way out and…” Braeburn started to say.

“I don’t want to hear any more excuses! We’ve wasted enough time!” Fluttershy replied.

The rest of the ponies in the room remained silent, until a severe chill swept over Zecora, causing her to fall and huddle on the ground.

“Zecora, what’s wrong!?” Apple Bloom called out.

“I sense danger from the Canterlot Palace. Coming from one acting very callous.” Zecora spoke, her cold breath visible after each word.

“Wait, weren’t Twilight and her friends planning on heading there?” Braeburn asked.

Upon hearing of the danger, and the relation of Twilight and her friends possibly being in the same area, something sparked in Fluttershy’s mind. She quickly zipped out the door, and sped off into the night’s sky.

“Fluttershy come back!” Braeburn called out after her. He then turned his head back to the group, preparing to leave as well. “I have to go after her.”

“Braeburn wait! This is not your fate!” Zecora raised a hoof towards the stallion, her breath still visible.

“What do you mean wait!? Fluttershy is rushing off to something dangerous! I need to make sure she’s alright! She’s my…!” Braeburn spoke, before getting cut off at the end.

“Within this world’s twisted view, what is she to you?” Zecora asked.

“She’s…my friend.” Braeburn replied, taking a stop back inside.

“I implore you to this time stay. You would never catch her anyway.” Zecora responded.

A depressed look came over Braeburn, before Apple Jack broke the tension.

“Well dagnabbit! I guess you didn’t steal mah apples after all.” Apple Jack said aloud, as the last drawer she searched through fell to the floor. “Ah suppose Ah’m done here then, and if’n you’re gonna stay here, instead of going to Ponyville, then Ah’m a headin out. See ya later, ya’ll!” She spoke, as she trotted past Braeburn.

“What is it about those ponies that’s making her act this way?” Braeburn asked aloud.

“Do you truly wish to know? If so, then the truth I will show.” Zecora replied, no longer shivering.

“I guess, but I’m not sure at the same time.” Braeburn responded.

“Allow me to tell you anyway. That way, your thoughts will no longer sway.” Zecora replied.

“Well…alright.” Braeburn replied, before sitting back down where he was.

As Braeburn was sitting down, Rarity, Mayor Mare, and Sweetie Belle all stood up, preparing to leave.

“Perhaps we should be going then. I would be best if we got some rest after hearing everything.” Rarity spoke, about to turn around.

“While this story may dwell, you could benefit from this as well.” Zecora replied.

The three ponies thought about it, and decided to listen to what Zecora had to say.

“Very well then.” Rarity spoke, as she once again took her seat.

“To quell your wondering why, let me tell you of the real Fluttershy.” Zecora spoke. “While Chrysalis made you all pretend, Fluttershy once called many of you a friend. And though you might consider it irony, six of you represented: The Elements of Harmony.”

“Elements of what now?” Braeburn asked.

“A magical combination, caused by a true friendship formation.” Zecora replied.

“I guess that might explain why she seems compelled to help them, but why doesn’t she remember them yet?” Braeburn asked.

“As I told Rainbow Dash, something inside her continues to clash. It will take some time, but I’m sure things will be fine.” Zecora responded.

“Do you suppose that our memories and friendships will return soon as well?” Rarity asked.

“That is my perception, even though I seem to have been an exception.” Zecora replied.

“Then why did you continue to play along with the rest of us, if you knew the truth?” Mayor Mare asked.

“It was my decision, not to raise suspicion.” Zecora answered.

“So then, how do we go about regaining our own memories?” Rarity asked.

“Sadly that is to me unknown, but when the time arrives it shall be shown.” Zecora replied.

“Are you sure that Fluttershy will be fine?” Braeburn asked.

“Do not give yourself another scare, her friends she goes to will give her care.” Zecora replied.

“I sure hope so.” Braeburn responded.

Silence filled the room, before it was broken by one of the fillies.

“Um, excuse me. I have a question.” Sweetie Belle spoke up.

“Very well, what is it Sweetie Belle?” Zecora asked.

“So, what about the flood in Ponyville? When we found them, you showed up and said it was their fault. Is that true?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“I assure you it is not, although the true culprit must still be caught.” Zecora replied.

“So then, if it wasn’t the weather ponies, who could have caused all that rain?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Only one with magic, could cause something so tragic.” Zecora replied.

“Do you think it could have been one of the Princess’ or Discord?” Mayor Mare asked.

“While they all have the power, I find the possibility quite sour. The Princess’ have always been just, while Discord would have made a bigger bust.” Zecora answered.

“Then we may never know who caused it, huh?” Braeburn spoke.

“Until the culprit is caught, I suppose not.” Zecora replied.

With that last sentence said, everypony in the room thought quietly for a minute, until the silence was once again broken, this time by Braeburn.

“Well then, I guess I’ll head back to Appleloosa in case Fluttershy heads back there. Although I hope she remembers her friends, I’ll still wait there in case she doesn’t.” Braeburn spoke, as he stood up.

“Whatever the future may unravel, I still wish you a safe travel.” Zecora replied.

“Thank ya kindly.” Braeburn responded.

“Take care Braeburn. I’m sorry for all the trouble we must have caused you. I suppose we should have thought a lot more about our decision before we acted.” Rarity spoke.

“It’s alright. It wasn’t too different than a regular day for me, and I know you were just trying to keep yourselves safe.” Braeburn replied, before leaning in to whisper more. “But while I can come to that conclusion peacefully, this Fluttershy doesn’t, so ya’ll may want to be wary till she returns to normal.”

“Agreed. Thank you.” Rarity replied.

After speaking his last piece, Braeburn left out into the darkness of the Everfree forest.

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