After killing the transmogrified Carnellian Carter III, the ponies each go home for a well-earned rest. Jimmy is the first up in the morning, and gets busy in his fields. Shucks finds an incredibly large number of spiders taking refuge among his rows of corn, and goes to the general store to buy vine stakes and/or “mater cages” to set up better places for the poor spiders to weave their webs.
Hurryup Ann, meanwhile, has been dragged out of bed by her excessively cheerful mother for a hearty breakfast before going to school. On exiting the mill, a tiny spider, busy weaving its web, drops down in front of Hurryup Ann’s nose, which makes her scream profusely. Autumn Gallery is awakened by the screaming, and rushes over to help her friend. She finds Hurryup Ann’s mother trying to calm her down. Hurryup Ann, meanwhile, can point precisely to where each and every spider is in the immediate environs outside the mill. Autumn Gallery convinces Hurryup Ann to go to school by agreeing to walk her there and protect her from spiders.
Joneigh is trying to have a nice breakfast when she hears Hurryup Ann coming down the road, going on and on about the evil spiders and their conspiracy to hurt everypony. She can also hear Autumn sleepily agreeing, so JoNiegh grabs some extra food, recruits young Mountain Berry (who was just heading out the door to go to school himself) to help her take breakfast and tea out to Autumn and to help walk Hurryup Ann to school.
Aurora Jane, meanwhile, is sleeping fitfully, dreaming of giant spiders, and when she dreams of blasting one, she shatters the window of her room, sending broken glass down onto the road behind Joneigh and the others. This sends all the other ponies inside and up the stairs to see if Aurora is all right. They find her door unlocked. Aurora is twitching in her sleep.
Aurora wakes up to find herself surrounded. She does not admit to the nightmare and either refuses to believe the broken window is her fault, or just doesn’t want to admit it. She is not happy that everypony is in her room. She is even more disturbed when Hurryup Ann asks why the strap-on unicorn horn is sitting on the floor, surrounded by a circle of what appears to be ground unicorn horn, and why there is a note nearby that says, “Don’t leave this out where just anypony can find it.”
Shucks arrives at the door to the room, having been tasked by Lunar Seed, the postmistress, to deliver an important-looking letter to Aurora Jane. Shucks realizes that Aurora is still in bed, blushes intensely, leaves the letter, and flees.
Aurora read a simple note from her mother about the upcoming gala. She decides she must see her designer.
The school bell is heard ringing in the distance, so Mountain Berry and Hurryup Ann rush off. Joneigh goes to the library. Autumn follows Hurryup Ann to the school to make sure that she isn’t sent into hysterics by any more spiders.
Jimmy brings his cart to the old Carter House in time to meet the other ponies when Hurryup Ann gets out of school to take on the task that the Select Ponies have given them of cataloging all the books in the Carter House private library and transporting them to the town library.
Joneigh carefully sets aside any books that give her a funny feeling or seem to be trying to communicate with her in a separate pile under a rock. Aurora Jane is getting books down off the shelves, particularly the high ones. Hurryup Ann is putting books into whichever pile Joneigh tells her. Jimmy is carefully checking every single flagstone, floor tile, wall-mounted candle sconce, and andiron to find more secret passages. He discovers a hidden compartment in one bedroom full of very old copies of Playpony and Rustler magazine. He finds a secret door connecting two of the other bedrooms. Autumn Gallery is going through the house with a big duster getting rid of the cobwebs and looking for more unusual artworks.
Joneigh and Aurora Jane get into an argument about one particular book. It tried to get out of the pile and into Joneigh’s bag on its own (which prompts Joneigh to find a bigger rock to hold the suspicious books down). Aurora decides to look inside the book, since there is no title on the outside, and reads, That Sweet Master Race.
This causes the book to start behaving oddly toward Aurora, which makes Joneigh even more convinced that it is a cursed book. Aurora thinks Joneigh is being superstitious: that merely looking at a title page would cause a curse, and their discussion becomes quite heated. Jimmy makes one attempt to get them to stop fighting. Autumn ends up in the corner muttering to herself. Hurryup Ann is too distracted pretending to read one of her schoolbooks into which she has inserted one of the porn magazines that Jimmy found. Aurora stomps off in a huff.
Aurora is frightened by a spider, and blasts a pair of Fancy doors to oblivion. Hurryup Ann has noticed that both Joneigh and Aurora are shedding excessively. Autumn notices that they both look unwell. Aurora and Joneigh begin arguing about the door and the book and a possible curse again until Hurryup Ann shows Aurora all the mane she has lost. Autumn points out that they both appear sick. Aurora shrieks something about being hideous and leaps from the second story to gallop to the doctor. Joneigh grumbles something about being cursed and flies out. The pegasus, of course, gets to the doctor first.
Autumn asks Jimmy to load all of the books into the cart and get them to the library while she follows the other two to try to look after them. When she gets to the infirmary, Dr. Sir Jekyll Steel is busy examining both Aurora and Joneigh, making notes as he takes measurements, et cetera, then he begins examining Autumn, and informs her she has the same fever, bloodshot eyes, mane beginning to shed, and other symptoms. He whips up three doses of medicine and urges them to take it.
Aurora downs hers immediately, without question: after all, the doctor is her boyfriend! Joneigh drinks hers normally. Autumn sips at hers suspiciously. Aurora falls into a deep sleep. Joneigh starts yawning and lays down. Aurora starts protesting that the doctor has tricked her… but also falls to sleep.
Hurryup Ann has followed just to see what’s happening. The doctor asks her to find Jimmy to help them carry the three to their beds. At Aurora’s room at Garnish Towers, he notices the strap-on horn still in a magic circle in the room, and that he can’t touch the horn, because the circle is acting as a force field. He tells Hurryup Ann to keep an eye on Aurora and goes to consult with Arctica Buckminster.
Aurora wakes up with Hurryup Ann looming over her. After some initial confusion, Aurora tries to figure out why she doesn’t remember making the force field/magic circle. She had assumed that Shells—the mad unicorn formerly known as Egg White—was responsible, but when she touches the barrier, her own voice asks her for the password!
Joneigh is awakened by Icy Garnish, who has delivered breakfast including a small pot of Jimmy’s corn leaf tea, which Mrs. Garnish said the doctor recommended as a restorative. JoNiegh only takes the tea once she is convinced by Mrs. Garnish that Jimmy made the tea. Mrs. Garnish has a similar tray for Aurora. Jimmy, meanwhile, knocks on Autumn’s cottage door with some of the tea, as well. Mrs. Garnish also had notes from Arctica for both Joneigh and Aurora, indicating that their symptoms sounded like an ailment she encountered years ago in her travels, and that she is looking for an herb necessary to treat it.
Aurora figures out how to take the force field down and get to the horn. (“BOREALIS MUST DIE!” does the trick.) All of the ponies end up at Garnish Towers. Autumn and Joneigh are very unhappy with the doctor (who is apparently also researching a possible cure). Aurora is upset that the book has found its way out of the crate they nailed it inside. Aurora decides the book must be destroyed, and persuades Autumn to hold it up so she can target it. Joneigh huddles around a corner, just in case.
Aurora blasts the book, which explodes and burns up. The strap-on horn inside Aurora’s saddlebag also explodes, as do the strap-on wings, which Joneigh had hidden up in her room.
Arctica arrives with some ingredients and explains about the time she was exploring in the jungles of a small island near Marelaysia and a pony became sick with symptoms similar to Joneigh, Aurora, and Autumn, and how a native pony taught her a concoction to make with several herbs that would allow the pony’s natural recuperative powers to shake off the effects. She explains the recipe and how she is going to brew it.
While this is happening, Dr. Steel arrives, having himself found a treatise about a similar potion, and tells them he is ready to brew it for them. Autumn and Joneigh say they would rather use Artica’s. The doctor is a little surprised, but then seems mollified when Aurora agrees that he can observe the effects of the potion.
Once every pony feels better, Aurora Jane casts every detection spell she knows on all of them again.
Jimmy, meanwhile, has finished reading the diary he found underneath the cache of Playpony and Rustler magazines. The diary belonged to Hefty Brick, the deceased butler of the Carter family (Autumn has been studying the diaries for Coral Belle and Merry Oak Carter, the owners of the house). Hefty Brick’s diary mentions several times how, as each pony who eventually succumbed to the illness and died, they also became extremely argumentative and antagonistic, though notably only with the other sick ponies.
Autumn mentions that while now she knows how her parents died, she still doesn’t know why they were involved with the Carters’ rituals. Jimmy asks her why she hasn’t just written to the princess to ask why the police reports were redacted. Autumn isn’t sure she would get an answer, but said she would think about it.