The next morning, at Fluttershy’s cottage.
As the sun pierced through the trees, everypony in the cottage began to wake up.
“Morning already?” Twilight asked aloud, with a yawn.
“Mmm…just five more minutes…” Spike muttered from his sleep, before Twilight pulled the blanket off of him with her magic.
Braeburn walked into the main room, after using the bathroom upon waking up.
“Morning ya’ll. Anypony seen Rainbow Dash or that pink pony?” Braeburn asked.
“I’m not sure where Pinkie went, but I bet Rainbow Dash is probably still asleep. That pony never seems to wake up early.” Twilight replied, as she left upstairs to check on Rainbow Dash.
“I wonder if Fluttershy would mind if we helped ourselves to her kitchen.” Braeburn asked aloud.
“Beats me.” Spike replied, walking out of the kitchen with a daffodil sandwich.
“Spike! Braeburn!” Twilight called out, running down the stairs.
“What is it Twilight?” Spike replied.
“Yeah, what’s going on?” Braeburn asked.
“Rainbow Dash is gone!” Twilight replied.
“What!?” Spike and Braeburn both replied.
“I should’ve known that she’d try something like this. She never thinks things through!” Twilight exclaimed.
“She’s probably already in Canterlot, looking for Fluttershy by now.” Braeburn replied.
“Why couldn’t you wait for us, Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked aloud.
Just then, Spike began to grab his stomach, looking like he was going to be sick.
“What’s wrong Spike?” Twilight asked.
“That sandwich not sitting right with you?” Braeburn asked.
Spike grabbed at his stomach once again, before burping out a letter in green fire. The letter floated to the ground, before Twilight picked it up with her magic.
“That’s strange. Princess Celestia shouldn’t be sending letters through Spike; not if she’s still under Chrysalis’ spell.” Twilight spoke aloud.
“Well, what’s it say?” Braeburn asked.
“It’s indeed a message from the Princess…but it’s addressed to YOU, Braeburn.” Twilight replied.
“To me? How’s that possible?” Braeburn asked.
“I’m not sure, but it says that the Princesses are requesting a representative from Appleloosa to report to the Royal Palace at once.” Twilight replied.
“Well let’s get going to Canterlot then!” Spike exclaimed.
“Hold on Spike. While I agree that this sounds like a good opportunity to return to Canterlot, we should make sure that we’re not heading into a trap. Remember, even though Princess Celestia just sent this letter through you, it was meant for Braeburn; which means that she may think that we’re with him, and use him to lure us in.” Twilight explained.
“But how would the Princess know to send a letter through me?” Spike asked.
“I’m not sure, but I think I have a plan on how to respond.” Twilight replied.
“And what’s that?” Braeburn asked.
“You’ll go to the meeting Braeburn, and learn what you can about what’s going on. In the meantime, Spike and I will search the castle till we find Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. Once you’re done, we’ll meet up somewhere in Canterlot, so we can decide on our next plan of action. Hopefully by then, we’ll have Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy back safely with us too.” Twilight told Braeburn.
“I guess that sounds like a plan.” Braeburn replied.
“But how are we supposed to search the castle without anyone catching us?” Spike asked.
“Well, normally when Fluttershy and I visited the Royal Palace for the Friendship councils, all the guards would standby on the outside of the room, and the Princesses and Discord were nearby the Queen. As long as that doesn’t change, then you two shouldn’t have much of a problem wandering the halls.” Braeburn responded.
“Then it’s settled. We should get going then, the train ride is going to take a while.” Twilight replied.
Atop Rainbow Falls.
“Brother! We just received that letter Princess Celestia was talking about.” Flim told Flam.
“I guess she was serious after all.” Flam replied.
“But there’s one problem dear brother.” Flim replied.
“And what’s that brother?” Flam asked.
“If we’re supposed to travel to this meeting, then what are we supposed to do about her?” Flim responded, whispering the last half and pointing towards Spitfire, still asleep in the bed.
“Oh, you’re right brother.” Flam replied, whispering as well.
The brothers thought about their predicament for a moment, before one of them came up with a plan.
“I suppose we don’t have much of a choice. We’ll just have to lock everything up, so that she doesn’t go snooping around while we’re gone.” Flim whispered.
“Agreed, brother.” Flam whispered.
With their plan decided, the brothers quietly locked up everything they could in their tent, before leaving to make their way to the train.
Inside the Mayor’s office in Town Hall.
“Hmm, they really must not trust us right now.” Mayor Mare spoke aloud, setting the letter down on her desk.
“For only asking one of us to go, I suppose the bond of trust has been damaged.” Rarity replied.
“I agree, but I suppose we’ll just have to see how things go.” Mayor Mare replied.
“What should we do about poor Apple Bloom? Without knowing what became of Zecora, she would be the only stand-in once again.” Rarity asked.
“It’ll most likely be best if she stays here. I’ll ask Sweetie Belle and Derpy to go investigate Zecora’s hut, while I keep an eye on her here.” Mayor Mare replied.
“Very well, Mayor.” Rarity replied.
Rarity walked out of the Mayor’s office, and into the bedroom where Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom were staying in.
“Sweetie Belle.” Rarity whispered.
Sweetie Belle didn’t respond, still fast asleep.
“Sweetie Belle.” Rarity whispered again, this time booping her sister on the nose.
“Huh?...Rarity?” Sweetie Belle replied, her eyes half open.
“Sweetie Belle, I have to go off to Canterlot now, but I want you to be a good little filly, and listen to Mayor Mare while I’m gone, okay?” Rarity told her sister.
“Mmm…okay, Rarity.” Sweetie Belle replied, before falling asleep again.
Rarity gave her sister a peck on the forehead, before heading out the door, and off to the train station.
Later that afternoon, outside the Royal Palace.
“Here we are, back at the Palace once again.” Twilight spoke aloud, looking up at the gates.
“At least the train ride was more enjoyable this time.” Braeburn replied.
“It was…at least until somedragon almost blew our cover!” Twilight replied, glaring at Spike on her back.
“I couldn’t help it. It was my first time seeing her since that rainstorm.” Spike responded.
“Well at least she didn’t see us, but honestly Spike, you should learn to control yourself.” Twilight replied.
“Yeah, yeah.” Spike replied, waving a claw.
“Well, I suppose I should be heading in now. Ya’ll should be good to go in after I start making my way up.” Braeburn told Twilight and Spike.
“But what if there are still guards around when you go in?” Spike asked.
“Hmm, good point.” Braeburn replied. “Perhaps you two can go in from the garden entrance. I doubt many guards will be over there.”
“Alright, will do.” Twilight responded.
“I wish you both luck in finding those two. I’ll meet up with you as soon as I can.” Braeburn told Twilight and Spike.
“Remember, we decided on Joe’s donut shop to meet up at.” Twilight replied.
“Why not our old place Twilight?” Spike asked.
“Braeburn doesn’t know where that is, and besides, it’s a lot closer to the palace than the donut shop.” Twilight replied.
“Alright then. I’ll see you two soon.” Braeburn replied, before making his way towards the main palace doors.
Meanwhile, in the Canterlot dungeons.
“Jeez, it took me long enough to get down here. Also, what were the two most random beings in Equestria doing in the garden?” Rainbow Dash whispered to herself.
Earlier, in the Canterlot garden.
“Alright, there’s the door to the castle. Now I just need to…whoa!” Rainbow Dash spoke to herself, until she spotted somepony and quickly hid.
Rainbow Dash peered out from the hedges, and saw Discord and Pinkie Pie talking.
“What the hay?” Rainbow Dash thought to herself.
“Alright Pinkie Pie, now let’s see if you’re any better at charades than Princess Luna.” Discord told Pinkie Pike.
“Okie Dokey Lokie!” Pinkie Pie replied with a smile.
Discord started off, by changing into the same cheese wheel that he had used to stump Princess Luna.
“Okay, what am I?” Discord asked.
“He he he! That’s easy! You’re the moon!” Pinkie replied.
“Oh, I see we have a professional on our hands here.” Discord responded, changing back to normal. “Now how about this?” Discord then transformed into a giant boulder, keeping his face on the front.
“Oh my, YOU’RE sure being GENEROUS. That’s Tom!” Pinkie Pie replied.
“Wow, you ARE good at this.” Discord replied, before changing back to normal once again. “Alright, I’ve got one that I guarantee you’ll never get.”
Discord then transformed into a creature that he was sure Pinkie Pie had never seen before. All of his fur turned tan, except for the top of his head, and his goatee. He wore a red and black vest, with a small triangular shaped symbol on the chest. He also wore what he knew were called pants, and black shoes.
“Can you guess what I am?” Discord asked Pinkie Pie, crossing his arms with a smirk on his face.
“Hmm, this one sure is a doosey, but I’d have to say…” Pinkie Pie told Discord.
“Ugh, I don’t have time for this!” Rainbow Dash thought to herself, and decided to dash past the two of them while they were distracted.
Rainbow Dash ended up making it inside the door without being seen, but could hear Discord crying and complaining from the other side of the door.
“No fair! You had to have cheated!” Discord yelled at Pinkie Pie, who replied with uncontrollable laughter.
Presently, in the Canterlot dungeons.
Rainbow Dash walked down the cobblestone halls, searching for where Fluttershy was being kept.
“Now where could they be keeping Fluttershy? She’s got to be around here somewhere.” Rainbow Dash spoke softly to herself, until she saw a familiar face.
Inside a nearby cell, Rainbow Dash saw Soarin lying on the ground, his back to the door.
“Whoa! Soarin’s here too? I’ll have to get him out of there after I find Fluttershy.” Rainbow Dash whispered to herself.
“Uhh…huh? Who’s there?” A voice called out from the cell across from Soarin’s.
“Dang!” Rainbow Dash thought to herself, crouching to make herself less visible.
“I know you’re there, whoever you are! Just come out now!” The voice spoke once again.
Rainbow Dash squinted in the dim lighted hallway, and could vaguely make out the shape of one of Chrysalis’ changelings.
“What’s one of Chrysalis’ changelings doing down here?” Rainbow Dash thought to herself.
“Come on! I know I’m going to be stuck down here for a while, but you could at least show yourself so I have someone to talk to that isn’t either frozen or weeping!” The changeling spoke once more.
“What!?” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, jumping back to her hooves.
“Heh, I thought that might work.” The changeling muttered to himself.
“Who’s frozen and crying!? Where’s Fluttershy!?” Rainbow Dash asked the changeling, while jumping towards his cell.
“Oh! Why if it isn’t Miss Vice Captain of the Wonderbolts herself? What brings you all the way down here?” The changeling asked.
“Put a cork in it you sneaky insect! Where’s Fluttershy!? I know she’s down here somewhere!” Rainbow Dash told the changeling.
“Oh, so you’ve come for her, huh? Well I would be glad to tell you where she is, if you’d just let me out of here.” The changeling responded.
“Not happening you creep! Now why don’t you just tell me, before things get REALLY ugly!?” Rainbow Dash replied.
“If it weren’t for this cell, I’d show you something REALLY ugly.” The changeling responded.
“Stop wasting my time! Where is she!?” Rainbow Dash demanded, stomping her hoof onto the ground.
“She’s behind his cell, but you have to go through his first to get to her.” The changeling replied, pointing his hole riddled leg towards Soarin’s cell.
“Bout time you’re useful for something.” Rainbow Dash replied, turning to walk towards Soarin’s cell.
“I should warn you though.” The changeling spoke to Rainbow Dash.
“What?” Rainbow Dash responded, while trying to open Soarin’s cell door.
“She’s been shivering and hasn’t moved in there for a while now, and I’m pretty sure your friend there has something to say to you.” The changeling told Rainbow Dash.
“Sheesh, this door is locked tight! Where’s the keys?” Rainbow Dash asked aloud.
“How should I know?” The changeling replied. “I haven’t seen anything but the walls of this cell for the past day.
“Well you have to of seen something!” Rainbow Dash replied, turning back to the changeling.
“She has them…” Soarin quietly spoke up.
“What!? Who has them!?” Rainbow Dash asked, turning to Soarin.
“Prin…Princess Celestia.” Soarin replied.
“Princess Celestia has the keys!?” Just great! Now how am I supposed to get those keys?” Rainbow Dash asked aloud, raising her hooves to the ceiling.
“Rainbow Dash…there’s something I...wanna ask you.” Soarin spoke to Rainbow Dash.
“Dang it! I’ve come so far, and finally found Fluttershy, but I can’t get her out of here! Fluttershy! Hey Fluttershy! Can you hear me!?” Rainbow Dash called to Fluttershy.
“I told you, she hasn’t moved in a while; but if you release me, then I can use my shape shifting ability to deceive Princess Celestia and get those keys.” The changeling told Rainbow Dash.
“What? Shape shifting?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Yes. We changelings can shape shift into anything, so we can trick…” The changeling began to say, before Rainbow Dash cut him off.
“That’s it! I’ll just find another changeling, and get them to get those keys for me!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, before dashing off down the hallway she came from.
An awkward silence filled the hallway.
“…I really thought I could get her to let me out...” The changeling said aloud.
“Rainbow Dash…” Soarin muttered to himself.
It once again became quite in the dungeons, as the captives stopped talking. Fluttershy shivered once more under her blankets; her breath visible as she quietly exhaled.