Mind Games

Food for thought

Twilight and friends reappeared outside of Donut Joes in a flash of light.

The group separated from each other a little, giving each of them space to breath.

“You think anyone saw us?” Spike asked.

“I don’t think so. Otherwise I’m sure whoever it was might have said something.” Twilight replied.

“So is this where we were supposed to meet up?” Rainbow Dash asked, lifting up Fluttershy while looking back at the donut shop.

“Yes. Braeburn should be inside by now.” Twilight replied.

“Hopefully he hasn’t been stuffing his face with donuts while we’ve been risking our tails.” Spike added on.

The group proceeded inside the donut shop.

Twilight looked around the store, trying to see if Braeburn was around. Surprisingly; Twilight didn’t see anypony inside the shop, not even Donut Joe.

She gave another scan of the area, before finally spotting Braeburn walking out of the backroom, a glazed look in his eyes with pieces of donut stuck to his mouth.

“There he is!” Twilight alerted the group. “Have you been stuffing your face this entire time Braeburn?” Twilight asked.

Braeburn let out a groan, before collapsing on the ground.

“Braeburn!” The group called out, before hurrying to his side.

“Are you okay Braeburn?” Twilight asked, hoping it was just because he ate too many donuts.

A mare’s voice then came from the backroom, catching the group off-guard.

“If they weren’t filled with Apple Jelly, I wouldn’t think that he’d have eaten so many.” The voice called out.

Recognizing the voice, Twilight quickly responded.

“Trixie! What are you doing here?!” Twilight called towards the backroom.

“Humph. If I were you, Sparkle, I’d be trying to get out of Canterlot while I still could.” Trixie replied from the back room.

“What are you talking about Trixie!?” Rainbow Dash demanded.

“Yeah! What’s going on now?” Spike asked as well.

The group could here hoof steps approaching from the back room, while Trixie continued to talk.

“Those two brothers are currently working on another love poison to give to Queen Chrysalis.”

“What!? Why!?” Twilight replied, shocked.

“But I thought they wanted to get Chrysalis while she was in the Royal Palace? That place is on lockdown right now!” Spike asked.

“What about the first one?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“The first one is no longer in the Royal Palace.” Trixie replied from the back once more.

“What!?” The group exclaimed.

“The love poison, is right here.” Trixie told the group, stepping into the doorway of the backroom, levitating the bottle of love poison with her magic.

“But how? When?” Twilight asked.

“When the Princesses were chasing after that spy back in the palace.” Trixie told the group.

Last night in the palace hallways.

“This place is just as confusing to get around as the dungeon.” Soarin said aloud to himself. “I need to hurry up and find the Queen’s chambers before I’m too late.”

Soarin checked another door as he walked down the hallway.

This time the door revealed an empty dining room, the lights all off.

“No luck here either.” Soarin said to himself.

Before he could leave however, the door slammed shut behind him as he heard hoof steps running past outside.

“What the!?” Soarin exclaimed, surprised.

It didn’t stop there though; as Soarin was then seemingly pulled away from the door by a magical red force and thrown into a corner of the room, before being tied up by magic ropes and having an apple stuck in his mouth.

“MuMpH!” Soarin tried to call out, but was unable due to the apple.

“Humph….There, that should do it.” A mare’s voice spoke.

From outside the door, the mare could hear the voices of other ponies approaching.

“Any sign of it yet?” A voice spoke outside, whom the mare recognized as Twilight Sparkle.

“Nope.” Two others replied at once.

“I wonder where it could be? We still have about half of the palace to go, and I still find it strange that there are no guards around.” Twilight spoke.

“Here already?” The mare thought to herself.

“No clue, but we have to keep looking.” Another voice spoke, whom the mare recognized this time as being Rainbow Dash.

“I suppose it’s time to take my leave.” The mare thought to herself, before walking over to a window and opening it with her magic. She then hopped out the window as she heard Twilight speak once more outside the door.

“Okay, you two go…” Twilight began to speak, before Trixie cut her off by closing the window with her magic.

Donut Joe’s, present.

“So you had the love poison all along?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Was there ever any doubt?” Trixie replied.

“So does that mean you’re going to give it to us?” Spike asked.

“Absolutely not.” Trixie answered the dragon.

“Then what are you here for Trixie?” Twilight asked.

“Trixie is here because she’s tired of you showing up and ruining her plans again.” Trixie told Twilight.

“Huh?” The group replied.

“What exactly are ‘your’ plans Trixie?” Twilight asked again.

“Like we told you before Sparkle; the plan was to have Queen Chrysalis drink the love poison and then have that stallion take the fall.” Trixie responded, pointing to Soarin at the end.

“You’re saying I’ve been a scapegoat this whole time?” Soarin asked, a confused look on his face.

“In a sense, yes.” Trixie replied. “Spitfire wanted to make sure that somepony took the fall when things went south. You just happened to be the one that got selected to go.”

“So that was why Soarin was in the dungeon as well?” Twilight asked.

“It didn’t have to be him, but whoever it was, she intended for them to appear as the culprit.” Trixie answered Twilight.

“But how could they go ahead with their plan if the love poison didn’t work?” Spike asked.

“Trixie knew that whoever was to be blamed would be caught and detained eventually, and it was by luck that you didn’t take him with you the first time.” Trixie replied. “So long as Chrysalis remained missing they would never release him, so he would have stayed down in the dungeon. Either way, it was all set so that Chrysalis would be taken out of the picture and all suspicion would stay away from them.”

“So then what’s the problem? Why are they making another poison?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“They realized that I interfered with their plans and have decided to shift focus to save what’s left by making another poison and leaving it with Soarin.” Trixie answered.

“So then they’re after Soarin now?” Twilight asked.

“Not quite.” Trixie replied. “They also want to keep you lot from interfering any further as well.”

“So then they’re looking for all of us?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Yes, and you might’ve been able to save yourselves if you hadn’t taken him with you, as it would’ve been extremely difficult for them to reach him had he stayed.” Trixie answered.

“So what you’re saying is that we freed a pony that’s wanted by two different counts?” Spike asked Trixie.

“Yes.” Trixie told the dragon.

“So what are we supposed to do then!? Throw him back in the cell? Leave him here? Maybe go toss him at their hooves?” Rainbow Dash asked angrily.

“I’m not going back in that dungeon, but I can’t believe that Captain Spitfire would really do that to me.” Soarin added on, looking down at the ground.

“While turning him over to Spitfire and those brothers would give you the chance to eliminate your involvement in this Sparkle, I get the feeling that you wouldn’t actually do that.” Trixie told Twilight, a grin on her face.

“So Spitfire is with the Flim Flam brothers then?” Twilight asked.

“That would explain why we didn’t find her there when we went to her office.” Spike said aloud.

“Correct.” Trixie responded.

“So going back to my question; ‘What are we supposed to do!?’” Rainbow Dash asked once more.

“As it stands, you ponies have two options.” Trixie told the group. “1) You can keep him with you and run the risk of being caught by either side along the way.” Looking over at Soarin. “2) You can leave him and avoid apprehension until you reach Rainbow Falls.”

“I’m not being left behind again!” Soarin exclaimed.

“Neither of those sounds very good.” Spike spoke up.

Not liking their options, but unsure what to do next, the group pondered on what their next plan of action should be.

Nothing seemed like a good idea, until somepony opened the front door, setting off the bell at the top.

“Maybe I can help.” The creature spoke.

Everypony turned to the door, finding that one of Chrysalis’ changelings had found them.

“A changeling? Now?” Twilight asked aloud.

“Don’t even think about trying anything you bug!” Rainbow Dash yelled at the changeling.

Tensions quickly rose, until Soarin managed to stop everyone.

“Wait a minute! I recognize your voice.” Soarin spoke, looking at the changeling. “You were the one in the dungeon with me.”

The changeling gave a grin.

“That’s right.” The changeling replied.

“You tried to turn Soarin on me back in the dungeon!” Rainbow Dash yelled at the changeling once more.

“I’ll admit that I went a little…crazy after being tossed down there, but thanks to you I was able to escape.” The changeling told the Pegasus.

“Why would you help us?” Twilight asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be loyal to your Queen?”

“My Queen was the reason why I ended up down there, and while its true that I can’t go against her, I can still help you keep him away from everyone else.” The changeling responded.

“How?” Soarin asked.

“I know how to get around without anyone else finding me.” The changeling told the Pegasus. “I can keep you safe from even my own swarm.”

“I don’t know if we can trust him.” Rainbow Dash spoke up, letting out a snort in disapproval.

“Well right now he sounds like the best chance we have to buy some time for us to stop them.” Twilight replied.

“I agree.” Spike added on.

“Then I guess your minds are made up.” Trixie told the group, before walking over towards the windows.

“Wait Trixie!” Twilight called out.

“What is it Sparkle?” Trixie replied, not looking at Twilight.

“Why are you helping us?” Twilight asked.

Trixie gave a boasting laugh before responding.

“I guess The Great and Powerful Trixie gave your memory too much credit.” Trixie replied. “A magician never reveals her secrets.” Trixie spoke once more, before disappearing in a cloud of smoke, only to reveal she had hopped out the window again.

“Hmm.” Twilight thought to herself, while waving the smoke out of her face.

“That Trixie! I can never tell if she’s trying to be helpful or not!” Spike spoke aloud.

“Well I don’t trust her either, but if what she said was true, then we need to do something soon.” Rainbow Dash added on.

“I agree.” Twilight replied, before turning her attention to the changeling. “Can we really trust you to keep Soarin safe?” She asked.

“I can keep him out of sight, but only if he listens to everything I tell him.” The changeling responded, looking over at Soarin.

“I’m still not sure I trust either of you yet either, but I guess I don’t have much choice right now.” Soarin replied.

“Then it’s settled. We’ll leave Soarin in your care.” Twilight told the changeling.

“Alright. Come on pony, it’ll be getting dark soon, and my kind can see better at night.” The changeling told Soarin, while turning around to leave the store.

“Just be quiet and lead the way.” Soarin responded, as he made his way towards the exit.

“Good luck Soarin.” Twilight told the stallion.

“Yeah, try not to get lost again.” Rainbow Dash added on.

“I’m still not talking to you!” Soarin retorted back to Rainbow Dash, before finally leaving with the changeling.

“Well now that that’s out of the way, we should probably rest for a little bit. We need to make sure Fluttershy’s okay.” Twilight told the group.

“You’re right Twilight.” Rainbow Dash replied, gently setting Fluttershy down.

“Yeah.” Spike agreed as well.

Meanwhile, Braeburn finally started to come around from his donut induced coma.

“Uhhh….” Braeburn spoke, starting to move again.

“Hey, it looks like Braeburn’s coming around!” Twilight spoke up, noticing the stallion moving again.

“Ugh…what happened?” Braeburn asked, standing up. “Last thing I remember was waiting for ya’ll to show up when I found a trail of apple jelly filled donut leading into the back.” Braeburn put a hoof to his stomach, starting to feel sick. “I can’t remember how many I ate.”

“You can probably thank Trixie for that.” Spike told him.

“What?” Braeburn replied, confused.

“Never mind that now. We can bring you up to speed later. Right now we need to make sure Fluttershy’s okay.” Rainbow Dash told the stallion.

“Huh? Fluttershy!” Braeburn exclaimed, seeing his friend lying on the ground. “Is she alright!?”

“She’s still a little weak, but the worst should be behind her now.” Twilight replied, looking from Braeburn to Fluttershy.

“That’s good to hear. I was really getting worried.” Braeburn replied, looking back at Fluttershy.

The group then gathered around Fluttershy, while another pony watched from outside the window.

“Those ponies don’t even know what they’re getting themselves into.” Trixie thought to herself, as she turned her attention away from the window and began to walk away. “I still can’t believe that those three would go this far though...”

Earlier, atop Rainbow Falls.

“Well that was a wasted endeavor.” Flim told his brother.

“Indeed brother. A complete waste of time.” Flam responded.

The two brother approached their tent and walked inside to find Spitfire waiting for them on their couch.

“I trust things at the meeting went smoothly?” Spitfire asked the Unicorns.

“Why yes they did.” Flim replied.

“And what about you?” Flam added on. “We assume you’ve been busy yourself since we’ve been gone.”

“Oh I’ve been more than fine.” Spitfire replied, getting off of the couch. “In fact, you could say I’ve been getting ahead of the game.” She added on, walking around the tent.

The two brothers looked at each other, confusion on the other’s face.

“How so?” Flim asked.

“While you two were gone, I made a quick trip back to my office in Cloudsdale.” Spitfire replied.

“And how did that go?” Flam asked.

“Aside from finding that some ponies had gotten into my office, I also found out that Princess Luna had paid Cloudsdale a ‘visit’ last night.” Spitfire told the brothers, a twitch starting in her eye.

“But you knew about the Princess going up to Cloudsdale, same as us.” Flim responded.

“That’s right.” Flam added on.

“I knew about Princess CELESTIA!!! I didn’t know that PRINCESS LUNA had gone up there as well!!” Spitfire yelled at the brothers, rage accompanying the twitch in her eye.

“Uh…” Flim tried to respond.

“Well…” Flam added on.

“And to top it all off, I find out from Scootaloo that both Twitters, and Rainbow Dash and her friends were there as well!” Spitfire yelled again.

Both of the brothers were speechless, unsure of what to say.

“I thought it was strange that Twitters wasn’t responding to me, and now he’s up and disappeared altogether.” Spitfire said angrily.

The brothers remained silent.

Spitfire then took a deep breath, letting her anger subside a little, but still kept the twitch in her eye.

“But that’s alright.” She told the Unicorns.

Waiting a moment, the brothers finally responded.

“It is?” They asked in unison.

“Yes, because while both of you were gone, a little birdie came by and let me know about some useful information.” Spitfire answered, her eye starting to twitch less.

“A birdie you say?” Flim asked.

“What kind of birdie exactly?” Flam added on.

“Oh, just a little friend of yours.” Spitfire responded, causing the two to look at each other, before turning back. “He told me that Soarin is no longer in the royal dungeons, and is currently walking around with Rainbow Dash and her friends.”

The brothers looked to each other again, before responding.

“Is…” Flim began to say nervously.

“Is that so?” Flam finished for his brother, equally as nervous.

“Yes, which means that now we can find him and figure out what happened last night, and then send him right back with another potion that ‘you two’ are going to make up.” Spitfire told the brothers.

“Another potion?” Flim asked.

“Why would we need to make another one?” Flam added on.

“Why not just get him to find the original?” Flim asked.

“Because your little birdie friend also told me that Trixie was the one to take the potion.” Spitfire told the Unicorns, making them glance at each other. “And that you two and her were talking together yesterday before I got here.” She added on, making them look at her now.

Spitfire walked back over to the couch, taking a seat, before turning to the brothers again.

“So let me make this clear.” She told them with a smile. “You two are going to make another potion, and then we’re going to find Soarin and the rest of them.”

The brothers looked at each other, annoyed looks on their faces.

“And if we refuse?” Flim asked.

Spitfire just smiled, before whistling into the air and holding her hoof out.

The brothers looked on in confusion, until the phoenix they had swindled the day prior, appeared and dropped a bit in Spitfire’s hoof, before perching on the top of the couch.

“I’ll be taking this, and every last bit you own, until you cooperate.” Spitfire told the brothers.

The brothers looked to each other, unconvinced.

“And how do we know that bit is even ours?” Flim asked.

“Yes. How can you be so sure?” Flam asked.

Spitfire grinned before answering.

“Because locks don’t work on phoenixes that can melt them.” She replied.

Shocked, the brothers quickly looked around the room, only to find that all of the locks that they had placed on their belongings had indeed been melted, and that several of their stashes of bits were gone.

“This, this can’t be!” Flim exclaimed.

“This is stealing!” Flam added on.

Spitfire flipped the bit in the air, before the phoenix took off from the couch, snagged the coin, and flew off.

“Not in this world.” Spitfire replied, grinning.

The Unicorns now gave Spitfire their full attention.

Spitfire leaned back against the couch, crossing her legs, and placing her hooves together.

“So what’s it gonna be boys?” She told the brothers.

Meanwhile, outside the tent; an eavesdropping pony moved away, before disappearing in a red flash.

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