My Little Pony: Magic Is Fiendish

Side Trip to Trail's End :: Episode 11
In which curious fillies' minds want to know answers...

Before boarding the train to Brindlebury and having packed quickly, Joneigh and Autumn decided that they would like to swing by and interview Pale Smoke.

WHAT was she thinking when she participated in the madness (and murders)?
Did she know HER parents?
Does she recognize Joneigh or think she looks familiar?
What’s Windsmouth actually like?

These were the questions on the two fillies minds.

When they asked at the front desk, the clerk seemed to be stalling and disinclined to allow them a moment with Pale Smoke, but then they watched as the clerk saw someone to their right, just out of eyeshot, who apparently signaled in some way to suggest it was all just fine. Instead of putting us off, the clerk told us to go to a designated interview room.

After a few moments, Pale Smoke was led in in hoof cuffs and wing clips. Upon seeing us, her eyes grew very wide and she showed every sign of true fear. Perhaps even paranoia. Joneigh surveyed the room, and while there was no such thing as a double-sided mirror, there was a small trumpet up in a corner that probably led to either a vent for others to hear, or a recording gramophone. Joneigh covered that with her cloak to muffle the sound and make it difficult for the Inspector (who we presume got us the chance to speak with Pale Smoke) or anyone else who might be listening in. Autumn watches without comment, although personally thinks it might be a step too far. Pale Smoke, on the other hand, only seems more terrified.

Joneigh tells her consipiratorially, “That’s to protect us both.”

Autumn murmurs, “That seems reasonable, for now.”

Pale Smoke is quick to say, “I won’t tell them ANYthing”.

Joneigh asks Pale Smoke how long she has been here.

Pale Smoke, answering the literal question, “Well, since I was arrested and brought here…”

Joneigh, “No, not here here. HERE, as in not home.”

Pale Smoke, “Oh! So, you HAVE come from there!”

Joneigh, “What made you doubt?”

Pale Smoke, “I wasn’t sure. Because. You’re with … her.” And looks at Autumn Gallery.

Joneigh, “Well, don’t you have other friends from out here? She’s my friend.”

Autumn, “And besides. I’m not as normal as I might look anyway.”

It is revealed that “The Windsmouth Look” extends to coloring, which explains why they look so similar. Joneigh coaxes Pale Smoke into revealing that her parents died, and she was raised by her grandfather. She didn’t get to go back to Windsmouth until she was an adult and researching her own history. Even once she was there, though, she didn’t learn much. They didn’t seem to trust her. In fact, they seemed on the edge of coming after her, and she fled in the night to avoid something nefarious they had planned for her.

Joneigh asked if she’d left any trace of herself behind and Pale Smoke said no.

Joneigh asked where she learned more then.

Pale Smoke went to Trails End in the Varmint Hills.

Autumn murmured, “But, I thought that had been abandoned…?”

Joneigh also questioned Pale Smoke, “I didn’t think there were towns there?”

Pale Smoke said that the area had in fact been settled by families with problems in Windsmouth. A very kindly old pony named Windworth took her in and explained his misadventures as a child, trying to research HIS own history. And that’s where she learned about the Beyond. She made it to Canterlot, because he told her that’s where the last door to Beyond was. He had intended to go also but, well, he didn’t make it.

Autumn had a moment of confusion, but Joneigh was quicker, and realized that Pale Smoke meant he’d died before being able to make the trip.

Autumn asked how Midnight Skies got involved at all. They were cousins! When she’d gotten back to her grandfather’s, she found delivered mail to him. Since he was dead, she’d opened it and some of the letters were from Midnight Skies who was researching his family tree, and had determined that they were cousins somehow. He wanted to go Beyond for answers to EVERYTHING, which they were promised was there.

Joneigh tries to determine if they were all going, or how it happened that Doctor Sir Jeckyl Steele made the transfer to brain-in-jar first, and Pale Smoke, the interview having gone on for a bit, was unsure. It rapidly becomes apparent that she’s somewhat mad, and definitely not all there, and even somewhat suggestible. Questions must be asked quite carefully. We determine we haven’t much else to ask, so before they leave, Autumn asks Pale Smoke if SHE has any questions for them. She’s very still, and calmly asks, “Well, are you going to kill me now, or make me go through the trial?”

Autumn, feeling somewhat guilty still about her part in killing the Princess wanna-be, notes that they don’t kill intentionally, and one of her dopplegangers (Bone, the paler of the two) flickers into view beside her.

Pale Smoke seems to accept this, especially when Joneigh reassures her that it isn’t their PLACE to kill her, just make sure she keeps any secrets she’s promised to keep. Joneigh collects her cloak, and checks herself to make sure she’s dressed basically as she was when she entered. And then they leave.

Upon leaving, they meet Inspector Morning Dove who says to exit in “that” direction. He then turns down the hall, and can be heard murmuring that he has “just one more question” for someone who sounds in a hurry. He’s obviously giving them a moment or two to escape. So they follow his suggestion.

The two fillies determine that a trip to Trail’s End should definitely be in the future. They meet Jimmy, Shucks and Hurryup Ann at the train and board to go to Dodge Junction, which is the first stop.

It’s a couple days ride on the train there, and the spend the time chatting. Once they deboard to stretch their legs and rest, the two review a map and determine that the Varmint Hills aren’t THAT far, and they could probably slip away while Jimmy and Shucks are chatting. And so they do.

Of course, Hurryup Ann realizes that they’ve disappeared, and ninja-vanishes to follow them. And then of course, Jimmy realizes that Hurryup Ann is unsupervised (Not Again!) and the other girls are gone and… he and Shucks follow soon after, hoping they remembered to pack some water in their bags. (Which he of course is sure to do himself.) “Shucks, you should put on your tentacle hat, to protect you from the sun. You don’t want to be struck with sun madness again, now.”

After a time (and a brief flight and touch down), the Autumn and Joneigh hear a scream they recognize. It’s Shucks. Once they’re listening, they hear Jimmy reassuring him. Autumn and Joneigh discuss their dismay at being followed, because “If that’s Shucks and Jimmy, then where’s Hurryup Ann?” who pops up immediately beside them upon being mentioned. Of course.

They hear Jimmy telling Shucks it’s all right, the dogs been dead ages, and is JUST a skeleton, which isn’t that scary. Although the cross-bow bolts are a bit concerning, perhaps. Hurryup Ann sees a farmhouse nearby, and notes that there are FAR more cross-bow bolts in the walls THERE, which might be worse. Joneigh is all set to leave, as obviously it isn’t THEIR problem, they’re on the way to Trail’s End! But Autumn notices that the name on the mailbox for the farm is Windworth – the name of the old pony who took in Pale Smoke. So now they HAVE to investigate.

Scattered in the yard are more skeletons full of cross-bow bolts. Mostly animals Windworth apparently bred, and two more guard dogs.

Hurryup Ann investigates the farm, while the others are discussing what to do. A LOT of somebodies shot up and then ransacked the house. There’s a massive bloodstain in the main room, and a trail of blood from there as some-pony tried to drag himself away to safety. She follows the trail and discovers the final resting place of the pegasus pony who is desiccated and mostly decayed away near the pantry. There are towels and other wrappings where he apparently tried to bind his wounds but was unsuccessful. Autumn and Joneigh come in to find Hurryup Ann poking the body with a stick to determine if he’s ALL dead or not.

Jimmy, outside, is looking at the cross-bow bolts, trying to determine if he recognizes them as palace guard bolts by any chance (or Mare in Black), but all he can determine for sure is that they are NOT Guard Pony weaponry.

Joneigh notes that the dogs were probably barking at the intruder, which is why they were shot, and the first dog they found had been trying to get away.

Joneigh notices upon looking at the pillaged home, that there are far fewer books lying about than there should be, considering the massive shelves in all the rooms. For the most part, they only find almanacs for a HUGE number of years going back, and a few business ledges for Windworth’s breeding business.

There are also an extreme number of cracked and shattered gramophone records everywhere. A single gramophone sits in a corner, relatively undisturbed.

Autumn had been thoroughly distracted by a large portrait on the wall of Windworth’s ancestor with one of his prize-winning stock – a Kimono Dragon. (Something like a frilled/cloaked lizard but with “wings” from their forelegs back to their ribs.)

They notice that several of the smashed records have hand-written labels, “Vacation at…” and so on. There are also some records of famous singers.

Jimmy goes back to what he determines is the old pony’s bedroom and pries up the floorboards to see if the stash of money is still there or not. It is. “Well, whoever did this obviously wasn’t after his bits…”

Autumn wanders into the kitchen, looking at the selection of herbs to see if he was involved in anything nefarious. But she doesn’t find anything. In fact, it appears to have only been searched – not as thoroughly ruined as the records in the main room.

Jimmy succeeds in finding a lone record way back and flat in the hidey-hole! He comes out and examines the gramophone to see if it works.

Joneigh, having been looking for a root cellar, or other cold storage dry cellar, finds a Moth Pony corpse, lacking any gear, who has been smashed in the head. They presume suddenly that instead of passing quietly to his death, that truly Pale Smoke must have somehow witnessed this, or at least been in the vicinity. Likely, it was her who killed the Moth Pony and dressed as it to sneak away unobserved.

Jimmy discovers the gramophone works perfectly well! “Bad search practice. Leaving it functioning like this.” But it’s useful for them, as there is the one record left, which is of course not labeled in any way. He checks as best as he can to be sure that playing the record won’t ruin it, and then, once he’s sure, sets it on the turn table.

Jimmy cranks up the gramophone and the record when played produces rustling sounds, as if the recording was happening outdoors. Perhaps leaves in the wind? And then, there are drum beats heard. A voice says quietly, “I think they’re going to chant now..” and indeed, the party hears the following chant:

“She comes victorious from the moon;
Her legions ready to unleash doom;
Her faithful shall not truly die;
But with her will forever fly!”

which repeats several times before a shout of “Over there! Intruder!” is heard. A zzzpsstrrrt scratching sound is heard and that is the end of the recording.

The group goes out to the barn, to see if anything else can be learned there. Indeed, after a shriek and duck, and more shrieking and ducking, they discover dozens of kimono dragons, which have been breeding unsupervised and surviving as best they can.

Jimmy, of course, goes looking for feed to put out for them, but finds very little. He does put out what he finds, but of course they’d eaten what they could find on their own. They appear to mostly be vegetarian lizards, and disinclined to attack the group.

Joneigh, looking back at the house, sees a destroyed light on the roof of the house. It is seriously shattered, in every way possible. It looks like the light fixture and lens apparatus of a lighthouse, but only the light and lens portion, on top of the roof. After going back inside, they realize some of the bell pulls they assume had simply been for servants back when the entire house had been used, actually run the light.

Shucks, out with Jimmy, manages to shove a couple (few) very small kimono dragons into his tentacle hat to take home.

They decide there’s nothing else to be done, although Jimmy does try to leave the barn in a good condition for the kimono dragons, and restock their water from the farm’s well (which is quite full, from disuse) and go into town – Trail’s End – to investigate further.

It is soon apparent that Trail’s End was a VERY small town. Even smaller than Brindlebury. There was only one single building which was a library/town hall/clerk office/post office/mayor office/etc. There are a few other buildings, but no pony is there. A lone tumbleweed rolls in front of them.

Joneigh opens the door to the library/town hall and kimono dragons fly out. They have apparently gone to find any shelter in the vicinity that they can find. They’ve taken over the town, essentially, and yet there are still so many spiders and webs and disused cobwebs. (Further reinforcing the idea that the kimono dragons are vegetarian.)

There seems to be one main room downstairs at first, with a General Store window. There’s also a cage with a post office shingle and pigeon holes off behind. To the side, there’s a door that they open to reveal a desk. Autumn recognizes the stamp with dates! It was last used about eleven months ago. Autumn continues on looking for records of outgoing and incoming telegrams or other correspondence and journal entries. The most recent one she can find mentions So-n-So Pony aggreeing to go in to Dodge City to collect any mail they might have for Trail’s End as they don’t have delivery any longer.

In the meantime, Joneigh is in search of the library. (Most of the doors have signs, and the library is upstairs on the second floor, along with some offices for the major and so on. The only other room downstairs was the main meeting hall.) It’s very dusty and not big at all. Archives are very basic, and the meeting notes for town meetings are very basic and matter of fact. Joneigh searches for walls that make the space seem wrong in dimension, looking for secret panels or passages, but find nothing. They decide to look for an inn.

What they find is a combination Inn/Saloon/Entertainment area with a shingle that shows it is called The Silver Key.

Hurryup Ann is already inside, exploring, and examining odd frilly-skirted costumes inside.

Autumn looks at the registration desk, and finds keys, and a large keyring of more keys, and everything very organized, just dusty and abandoned. Joneigh looks around and actually does find a hidden passage. Along the passage are head cavities shaped for pony heads! There are even eyeholes to look through. If they go out, and through the normal halls, they determine that each room has these spying devices. On the ROOM side, the head cavities look like dragon masks hanging on the wall. After counting, Joneigh realizes that the long blank section in the secret passage is on the opposite side of Room 1403. So they go back and use the key from the registration desk to enter.

(Shucks and Jimmy are exploring and find an enormous barrel of pickles. “Shucks, get your head out of there. Don’t eat those. You don’t know how long they’ve been there!” “They’re pickles! It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been here.” crunch muffled sounds of happy eating and explaining)

It looks like mostly a normal room, except there’s a tall antique silver mirror, from floor to ceiling. It doesn’t take up the whole wall, but is wide enough to allow a pony to walk through, if it was a door. Autumn looks at the mirror, and decides to reach out a hoof and touch the mirror. She yawns hugely and in the mirror, one of the alternate selves (Flame) yawns and falls down to the floor asleep. Joneigh nudges her away from the mirror with her shoulder. Autumn blinks sleepily, and wonders, “how long’ve we been walking so far?” Joneigh says, “We haven’t been walking. We’ve been standing. You should wake up.” Autumn looks at the mirror, and sees Flame, but doesn’t feel so much disturbed as vaguely concerned. She asks, “Can you…?” and before she finishes asking, Joneigh says, “Yes. I can. Is that at all normal? Really, you should try to wake her… you, up!” She’s obviously concerned and beginning to stress out. So Autumn, upon consideration of HOW to wake up herself thoroughly enough to wake Flame, who is normally just in her own head (she thinks) mentions that “Maybe you should just pinch me then!” And before she finishes, Hurryup Ann complies gleefully out of nowhere! It works. Flame wakes up, and appears beside Autumn and then winks out. Autumn yelps because, of course it hurt! but feels better.

The three examine the wall more carefully and note there’s a keyhole off to the side of the mirror. Hurryup Ann offers that it appears to have been left in the open position. There is some discussion of if it’s really a door or not, because Flame was on the other side. Autumn becomes agitated enough that Flame appears beside her. While Flame doesn’t seem to recall anything, they both stubbornly decide to touch the mirror, because, “You can just pinch me awake, it will be FINE!”

Joneigh is completely against this idea, but Autumn and Flame both put hoof to mirror and to their view, appear on a vast landscape. The ground is covered in brilliant green moss, and a tall archway gate of bone and ivory is before them. Otherwise, it’s quite desolate. They look around and realize, they don’t see a mirror to get back.

From Joneigh and Hurryup Ann’s perspective, Autumn and her other self have vanished. They literally walked through the mirror. Joneigh calls to Autumn, but Autumn can’t hear her, or at least is unresponsive. She begins to count. Hurryup Ann waits.

Autumn, on the other side, begins to argue with Flame, who is incredibly irritated with her. They eventually agree that they DECIDED to walk through, so they can just DECIDE to back right back up. It will be find. They can decide what to do after they get back to the party. They close their eyes, hang onto each other, and determinedly back up.

They back into Joneigh as they come through, tumbling over each other, but make it back. Among the commotion of what happened, and what they saw, and where they went, they slowly come to realize – there is another Autumn and, when it is noted that she can’t be real, because original Autumn has Flame and SHE doesn’t, another Flame, who are equally convinced THEY are the real Autumn and Flame Gallery. Autumn begins muttering about Peanut Galleries and gets agitated about other-selves who didn’t originate from her own head. The mirror Autumn persists in saying SHE’s the original and the mirror Flame does the same. Joneigh asks “Couldn’t you HEAR us?” and Autumn says no, explaining what’s there, and the mirrror Autumn and Flame explain you just go and come back, go and come back!

So, Hurryup Ann goes through the mirror happily. She sees the gate and landscape that Autumn saw, but beyond, she notices a beautiful castle of many iridescent colors. (Judy the player asks for clarification, and Hurryup Ann can see the castle both through and to either side of the gate. The gate is not another dimensional portal, just an arch of bone and ivory.)

So, Hurryup Ann starts blithely down the bath to the castle.

At The Silver Key, Jimmy’s danger sense goes off, and he makes it upstairs with Shucks and calmly finds a large ball of twine in his saddle bag, once he determines what’s going on, hands it to Autumn, and keeping hold of the other end, goes through the mirror after Hurryup Ann.

Hurryup Ann has made it to the first of 2 dilapidated houses on the path. There is an impossibly round pony (think the horse Bugs Bunny rode in the Ring Cycle opera cartoon). They chat, and he asks her name, pulling a notebook and quill to make notes in. She says it’s a secret, so he produces a lorgnette and eyes her, and TELLS her who she is, Hurryup Ann Whately, of the Brindlebury Whatelys, undecayed. She notes that it was a bit odd to ask, if he knew already, at which point he informs he that he keeps secrets. It’s sort of his thing. So she asks his name, and learns he is Abel.

Hurryup Ann grows bored when she realizes he’s not going to really tell her anything, and leaves him to go further down the road. There, she find’s an impossibly tall and thin pony, who is named Cain. He’s Abel’s brother. While chatting, she deliberately provokes him about not being particularly scary or effectual. Right about then, Jimmy shows up. Cain has produced a monocle and is reading from his notebook as he’s irritated, and sets it in his saddlebag and pulls out an enormous battle axe, cartoon style.

Hurryup Ann had asked what he saw about them, in his book. And he had said blood, terror, screaming. Upon pulling out the axe, he explains he’s just going to go ahead and get her a head start on that.

Hurryup Ann goes for Cain’s notebook. Jimmy’s there! He’ll save her! And she does in fact capture it in her teeth! …

And Jimmy watches as she’s decapitated and her head and one hoof go flying apart from her body.

Autumn and Joneigh and Shucks watch as Hurryup Ann appears in room 1403, unconscious, with a notebook in her mouth. Since Autumn has the twine, which is suddenly jerking about quite a bit more than it was, she is very upset and asks Joneigh to help! With the twine! Or waking Hurryup Ann! Or SOMETHING! They can’t just LEAVE Jimmy there. Joneigh sensibly notes he’ll get himself out, and dumps water on Hurryup Ann. It doesn’t work for waking her up.

Jimmy battles Cain and wins, mostly by bowling him over. In the end, he gets the battle axe and knocks out Cain (but doesn’t kill him, because Cain explains that Hurryup Ann isn’t REALLY dead, they’re DREAMERS, so she’s just gone back to the waking world, although she’s probably still asleep and having a wonderfully horrid nightmare. She is. The Dark Pony has had his way with her, impregnated her and….), and leaves. On his way back past Abel’s house, he tells him his brother Cain is asleep and not very nice. Abel wishes that Jimmy would’ve chopped him up a bit, and inquires if he can’t go ahead and do that? Just a little?

Jimmy simply walks back through the mirror. Coming through, the battle axe is now just an axe handle, although Jimmy can feel the weight of the axe as if it’s still all there.

They all try to figure out how to wake Hurryup Ann. Joneigh takes the book out of Hurryup Ann’s mouth and notes that it says it’s The Book of Mysteries. Although, trying to actually read the book is almost impossible. The letters squirm and squiggle and try to slide off the page.

Jimmy notes that since the water bath didn’t work, there’s only one thing left to do. Shucks is going to have to kiss Hurryup Ann awake. It’s HIS turn. Shucks is very embarrassed about this. But in the end, he presses a pickle-breathed kiss to Hurryup Ann’s muzzle. It works, and she wakes up just as in her dream she’s about to explode with the spawn of the Dark Horse … obviously he doesn’t want her for MARRIAGE as she thought!! Oddly, she tastes pickles…. Shucks passes clean out.

Hurryup Ann, upon talking after a moment or two, realizes she has a doppleganger as well, and initially loves the idea. Autumn is NOT PLEASED AT ALL, because these aren’t reasonable mirror selves and they didn’t originate from her own head. She doesn’t trust them, and wants them gone. She’s angry, but so far has not generated her third self.

Joneigh concentrates and defocuses, even as she realizes she’s going to have a horrible headache, and reads from the Book of Mysteries about how to deal with the mirror and mirror selves that have come through. It’s almost as if she’s narrating a bit of the Twilight Zone, and telling the actual story of how mirror selves happen, and how you must determine which of you is Real.

Autumn simply can’t stand it. She KNOWS she’s the real Autumn and her Flame is the real Flame. She walks to the mirror, to go through and get rid of the false-Autumn/Flame she’s named Peanut Gallery and … bounces off the silver as the other Autumn/Flame walk straight through and poof out of existence.

Hurryup Ann walks through the mirror, both herself and the Mirror-Hurryup Ann. Mirror Hurryup Ann says, “Well, you know we’re both false, actually.” Hurryup Ann looks at the Mirror Hurryup Ann and says, “that sounds like head smarts stuff, and definitely not something I’d do, so you really ARE false.” Mirror Hurryup Ann says, "No I’m no- " and poof! She’s gone. Hurryup Ann tumbles back through the mirror and crashes into Autumn. “Hey, you want pinched again?!” “We have to stop meeting like this!” and giggle in relief. Joneigh is unconvinced and asks them to prove they’re real. Autumn apologizes, and Hurryup Ann doesn’t, and she is satisfied they’re both her friends. Especially when Hurryup Ann wants the notebook she basically had to survive a horrible nightmare decapitation and rape and almost birth of monsters to bring back!

Joneigh does not think it’s at all rational to let Hurryup Ann have the book, and pretends it doesn’t exist. She didn’t come back with a NOTEBOOK, which is what Hurryup Ann keeps calling it. She appeals to Jimmy, but both he and Autumn feel that Hurryup Ann brought the book back fair and square, and besides, the thing Jimmy said was a battle axe just looks like the stick of an axe, so being stubborn about what the book or notebook is called isn’t fair or kind. Joneigh flatly refuses to give the book to Hurryup Ann regardless, because it isn’t safe or rational. She’s extremely upset that her friends aren’t making sense or listening to her. They’re extremely upset that she’s not trusting Hurryup Ann. So Autumn says she can give it to her, and then she’ll give it to Hurryup Ann. Joneigh does, but flees the scene immediately and goes out to the town and turns back to see if the inn explodes. Or implodes. Or is otherwise destroyed.

Autumn holds out the book, which Hurryup Ann takes. They discuss what they should do, as they wake up Shucks. Once he wakes up, his duplicate, which had been there, but not being intrusive particularly, disappears. They decide Hurryup Ann should pick the mirror LOCKED, which she does. It … shimmers, but otherwise doesn’t look very different. It’s simply obvious that it’s no longer able to be used as a door. They lock the room as they leave, and although Autumn returns the keys, she conveniently does not put them away CORRECTLY, at Jimmy’s suggestion.

Jimmy has the axe stick, Hurryup Ann has the book, and Autumn is back to just her normal duplicates. As they make their way back to Dodge Junction, they make up and mend fences. When they investigate archives there at the post office, they see no sign of fowl play at Trail’s End. The town just slowly got smaller and smaller in population, and when they quit showing up for mail, and somewhen went to look, they found the town abandoned. They did send a report to Canterlot, but never heard word back. They do note that there did seem to be an awfully high percentage of pegasus ponies for an Earth-bound town.

Hurryup Ann gives the book to Joneigh to keep for her, since she can’t read it at the moment anyway.

The book, next time Joneigh reads it, firmly suggests Joneigh should go back to the mirror for answers!! She does not want to, and shoves the book away, but does not destroy it to the group’s knowledge.

They board the train to head home.

View
Episode 10
View
Death of a Surgeon :: Episode 9
Who last saw Dr Sir Jeckyll Steel alive?
View
Mysterious Equestria! :: Episode 8
It's the convention that brings together the stories of ponies who have lived through experiences that defy explanation!

Teaser: The stars have aligned in such a way that the Grand Galloping Gala takes place the same weekend as the Mysterious Equestria! convention in Canterlot. The pony gang are looking forward to engaging other intellects in their search for clues to their own mysteries. Aurora, on the other hoof, thinks she’s finally ditching the hicks for a night of splendor, romance, dancing, and catty comments about other ponies’ ensembles.

GalaAu-SMLL.png

How… how did this happen?

Aurora Jane left Brindlebury in a chartered coach with Dr Sir Jeckyll Steel and her aunt, Arctica Buckminster to attend Aurora’s first Grand Galloping Gala. Her return to Canterlot, attending tea and a dinner party with her family, reminds her of everything she has missed about pony high society. She is a little worried about some odd reactions that her grandfather, Sir Carbonado Buckminster, has to her boyfriend the doctor, but otherwise all seems well.

Meanwhile, Hurryup Ann, Autumn Gallery, Joneigh, Jimmy, and Shucks take the ordinary coach to Dodge Junction, and then the train to attend this year’s Mysterious Equestria Convention. Shucks becomes increasingly nervous about forgetting something important that he wants to do at the convention.

While standing in line at registration, Shucks notices that one of his favorite writers, Hasty Pudding, is listed as an attendee on the voodoo message board. Hurryup Ann says nothing as she collects her badge which bears the name Hasty Pudding. The Brindlebury ponies split up: Jimmy accompanies Shucks to some panels, Joneigh hits the dealers’ den, Hurryup Ann meets with an editor and then the den, while Autumn takes her first tour through the art show, then joins Joneigh in the den. Joneigh finds a tentacle hat, and soon all her friends own one, as well. Then the Brindlebury group meets up for lunch.

Aurora is irritated by the arrival of her brother in Canterlot the next morning, and a bit suspicious that Borealis seems to have changed colognes to match Sir Jeckyll Steel’s favorite choice. She begins to wonder if some earlier signs she saw that indicated Dr Steel and Borealis were more than friends actually meant something, so she sneaks into her brother’s room to check his cologne. He does not own any of the cologne in question, which does not ease Aurora’s mind. After getting her mane done, Aurora goes to a restaurant to meet her mother and Aunt Arctica for a late lunch, and is shocked to see that her old school rival, Ginger Harmony Bullion (of the San Palomino Bullions). She can’t decide whether she is amused or annoyed to learn that Ginger Harmony is to be Borealis’s date for the gala. But then she is distracted as she recognizes the voices of her Brindlebury acquaintances at a nearby table… talking about attending a banquet and dance!

After Arctica arrives, wearing her Guest of Honor badge for the convention, Aurora figures out that her “hick” friends probably aren’t talking about the gala, and is able to focus of the banter battle with Ginger Harmony. She has a few too many martinis, not noticing that Ginger Harmony slips her a few extras. Aurora excuses herself to find a restroom and try to cast a sobering spell. She gets lost briefly, is assisted by the head of convention security.

Hurryup Ann, meanwhile, thinking that perhaps they had embarrassed Aurora, had purchased a drink for Aurora as an attempt at an apology. When she saw Aurora flee the restroom, she snuck away to check up on her. Then, realizing that Aurora was arguing with her own reflection, she imitated Aurora’s voice and encouraged her to go give Ginger Harmony a piece of her mind. Aurora returned to the table, delivered what she thought would be a deeply cutting remark about how long Ginger Harmony has pined for Borealis, how he dumped her in school, but now she’s finally worn him down. Ginger Harmony is devastated… and fires back with the accusation that the only reason Dr Steel was with Aurora was because Aurora reminds him of her brother, and adds that everyone knows it. Aurora loses her temper and splashes the fruity drink that Hurryup Ann had sent into Ginger Harmony’s face.

And she fled.

She breaks down crying on the sidewalk, and is approached by the head of convention security, a buff, handsome unicorn stallion named Moon Ray. Moon Ray comforts her for a while. She winds up going back to his hotel room, and despite learning that he was another old classmate, who was a skinny, nerdy pony everyone called Dew Dropper back then, decides to let him comfort her rather more than she probably ought.

Aurora missed her pedicure appointment, and barely arrives back at her parents’ home in time to get dressed for the gala. Sir Jekyll Steel picks her up as planned, and she finally arrives at the gala.

Meanwhile, Shucks was shocked to find Hurryup Ann sitting behind the autograph table in Hasty Pudding’s spot. He is convinced she’s going to get in trouble, never quite realizing that she is Hasty.

Hurryup Ann’s Uncle, Tom Whately, who is another Guest of Honor, asks Joneigh to be his date to a “little dance” which turns out to be the Grand Galloping Gala. Hurryup Ann, meanwhile, is shocked when a couple of palace guards show up to take her to the gala. She never opened that one envelope that came in her convention packet, and therefore didn’t realize that the princess invited all the convention Guests of Honor to the gala. She grabs Jimmy as her plus one. Shucks sees Hurryup Ann, Jimmy, Joneigh, and Tom being taken away by palace guards, and is convinced they are being kidnapped, so he disguises himself with his MIB (Mares In Black) cosplay, and drags Autumn with him to the Gala.

At the Gala, Aurora becomes slightly concerned that no one seems to want to talk to her. Then Tom, Joneigh, Hurryup Ann, and Jimmy were announced… and then are presented to the princess! Shortly after Shucks and Autumn Gallery crash the gala, someone comes to take Sir Jeckyll to the presentation line, but Aurora’s mother takes her aside and explains that she should not be presented. She informs Aurora that Sir Carbonado has had to pay a large sum of money to prevent publication in the newspapers of the fight between Aurora and Ginger Harmony, and more specifically Aurora’s indiscretion with Moon Ray. Because of Aurora’s behavior, Sir Carbonado wished to send Aurora away, to some post in Neighbraska, but Arctica had intervened and promised to take Aurora back to Brindlebury and help her sort herself out.

Aurora leaves the gala, though she doesn’t go home right away. She finds a quiet spot in the garden to cry. Which is where Shucks finds her, and asks if he can help. She explains that this is a problem only she can solve, and tells Shucks that he can call her Aurora rather than always trying to pronounce Miss Buckminster-Kimblewick. Shucks tells her he was sent to find out if she wanted to go to the dance at the convention. Aurora says she should just go home.

Then Aurora notices an odd aurora-like light, and a voice asked Shucks, “Mr McKorn, have you found your friend?” Shucks informs Her Majesty that his friend isn’t feeling well and can’t accompany them to the dance. Aurora bows to Celestia. When Aurora agrees to attend the dance, Celestia comments that she has so wanted to meet Aurora ever since finding out the Miss Pudding based the character of Miss Bustle-Haunches on Aurora.

The opening night dance of the Mysterious Equestria Convention is a success. Many people are delighted at the mysterious fan who showed up in such convincing Princess Celestia cosplay. Aurora winds up wearing vampire fangs and a few other costume accessories, and finds out she can have fun with the Brindlebury ponies at the ordinary dance.

Shucks comes to Joneigh to ask what a word that the Princess said to him means. Then Joneigh has to calm Shucks down and assure him that the only reason the princess probably mentioned an assassination order was in reference to his Mares In Black costume. It’s a joke, surely. Joneigh is almost certain it is a joke.

When Aurora Jane arrives home, at nearly dawn, she is amused to see Borealis sneaking in through the window, and wonders just how many assignations he had that night. As she is getting out of her costume and gown, she hears an urgent pounding at the main door, and a sleepy servant answering. It is the Canterlot Police, and they must talk right away to several members of the household. They have to determine who it is that last saw Dr Sir Jeckyll Steel alive!

To be continued…!

View
True Friends, Blue Friends… : Episode 7
Autumn hopes for answers at last

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.

Playpony.jpg

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.

View
Cobweb Rings and Phantom Wings :: Episode 6
Continuing from Episode 5...

Autumn Gallery continues to search for the explanation of her parents’ death, JoNeigh wants a closer look at an abandoned library, HurryUp Anne seeks the key to the pattern of disaster, Aurora Jane is distracted preparing for the upcoming gala, and Jimmy ponders asking a direct question…

View
It's Only When You're Outside That You Notice :: Episode 5
Autumn Gallery learns something about her parents…

When the weekly coach brings a much bigger pile of mail to the town hall clerk’s desk, Autumn Gallery learns that Hurryup Ann sent requests all over Equestria to other civic offices asking for police records on just about every pony in town. She realizes this is probably why Hurryup Ann has been showing up at the town hall every morning since Autumn Gallery returned from Balitmare.

One of the reports is about a missing pony investigation twenty years ago in which Autumn Gallery’s parents are mentioned as interviewed witnesses.

Hurryup Ann is shocked to learn that each of these reports is going to result in a charge to the city coffers, which means she would be in trouble, so grabbed as many of the reports as she could and ran for it. Then she ran right into Constable Hobb, who believed her story that she was doing homework, and therefore going back to school, so he helped her get the stolen reports home. Aurora Jane overheard the conversation, and assisted in getting the papers to the Whately Mill. At the Mill, Hurryup Ann’s mother was overjoyed to learned that her daughter was going back to school, and revealed the desk in the study that had been awaiting this hoped-for event.

Autumn Gallery and Joneigh, meanwhile, were trying to get all the remaining reports properly cataloged and filed, since they are public records and must be properly dealt with. Eventually, Autumn Gallery looked at the report that mentioned her parents: A famous poet and playwright from a prominent Vanhoover family, Carnelian Carter III, who had settled in Baltimare as a writer in residence, came to Brindlebury 20 years ago to meet her cousins, Coral Belle Carter and Merry Oak Carter. She stayed for about a month. On her last night in town, her cousins threw a dinner party in her honor at their home in the ritzy part of town. Carnelian never made it back to Baltimare where her husband filed a missing person report after the cousins in Brindlebury reported that she had left on the stagecoach weeks before.

Inspector Stone Briar of Baltimare came to Brindlebury to interview the other attendees of the dinner party: Coral Belle Carter, Merry Oak Carter, Crescent Cream and Verdant Gallery (Autumn’s parents), Honey Blush and her sister Spun Sugar, Daffodil Jazz, Amber Wing, and Brittle Peach. Additional witnesses interviewed are: Hefty Brick (butler), Marigold Delight (cook), and Egg White, the young son of the cook.

Almost all of the report is redacted. There was a note at the end of the report from the Baltimare clerk who had had to copy the redacted report, that a note dated 19 years ago from the then Brindlebury Constable (Hobb’s predecessor) indicated that all of the witnesses the Inspector wanted to re-interview were dead.

Hobb finds out the Hurryup Ann stole the reports, and goes back to the mill to arrest her. She flees. Aurora Jane helps Hobb get the stolen reports back to the town hall.

Meanwhile, Joneigh and Autumn Gallery decide to go visit the old Carter house, which records indicate has been owned by the city for back taxes….

View
Got You Covered :: Episode 4
What could possibly go wrong?

Autumn Gallery and Bristol must accompany the Selectponies on a trip to Baltimare. They therefore have to explain their duties to HurryUp Ann and JoNeigh who will be covering for them while they are gone.

JoNeigh’s orientation went quickly, since JoNeigh already knows her way around the stacks, the stamps, card catalog, and so forth. When Dr Sir Jekyll Steele needs to process an inter-library loan, JoNeigh and Aurora Jane make use of Aunt Arctica’s magic dragon figurine to send the request in hopes the book can arrive on the next stage from Dodge Junction. HurryUp Ann spends on entire day with Autumn Gallery, getting distracted throughout, but is certain she’s ready to handle the job. The next day, before the Selectponies, Bristol Index, and Autumn Gallery board the stagecoach, HurryUp Ann’s grandmother, Vera Long Whately, takes her aside to emphasize while everyone is gone that Constable Hobb is in charge, not HurryUp Ann.

HurryUp Ann is busy seeing how fast she can spin in the chair at city hall when Constable Hobb tells her he’s going to deal with a problem report: Old Sleepy Oats got into the salt lick again and is dancing on Walnut Meadow’s roof.

Shortly after Hobb leaves, Shucks MacKorn arrives to file his flood abatement certification. And it’s due today. And Miss Gallery always helps him with the forms because they’re just so confusing! He’s very nervous that he’s going to do it wrong. HurryUp Ann sets him up with the form.

Meanwhile JoNeigh’s day started off with a surprise gift of fresh coffee delivered thanks to Aurora Jane, but then the day takes a bad turn when Ruby Wishes chains herself to the library front door because she has received a Vacate the Premises notice for failure to pay back taxes. She has swallowed the keys, including the key to the magic “unpickable padlock.” When JoNeigh asks her why she’s chained herself to the library instead of city hall, Ruby Wishes explains that the columns and grand stairs of the library facade make a more dramatic presentation.

A crowd forms, and Jimmy MacKorn begins selling popcorn (and sets aside the profits for a fund to help pay Ruby’s back taxes).

HurryUp Ann starts to empty out an old drawer to make room for her new gossip forms, then decides that’s too much work, and starts filing the forms in a bucket. But she notices a strange scratching sound coming from behind one of the filing cabinets.

Some pony comes in to report that Ember Cake and Cinnamon Song are having a gigantic argument. Ember Cake has had to take shelter in his garden shed as his wife throws tools, dishes, and random household items at him. HurryUp Ann takes the report to give to Constable Hobb when he gets back.

Aurora Jane arrives at the library in hopes of running into Doctor Steel when he arrives to pick up his book. She attempts to use magic to undo Ruby Wishes’s locks, but the magic of the padlock resists, even re-locking most of the other locks. The magic padlock even reweaves the chains after Aurora Jane destroys one of the links. Aurora Jane, upon learning how big the back tax bill is, heads over to City Hall to pay the bill and end the protest.

By this point Shucks has finished writing his first name, then needs HurryUp Ann to explain to him that “surname” means his family name, MacKorn.

HurryUp Ann starts looking for the tax payment ledger book, and notices that the scratching noise is getting louder. She convinces Aurora Jane to magically move the filing cabinet out so they can see what is making the noise. They find a door with two locks on it, one of which HurryUp Ann realizes she has, but she can’t remember who Autumn Gallery said has the matching key. (She didn’t, quite sensibly.)

Before they find the ledger, Sleepy Oats arrives, very inebriated, and shackled. He explains that Hobb cuffed him and told him to go turn himself in to be locked up, because Hobb had to go take care of… something… Sleepy Oats can’t remember what. And Hobb wanted Sleepy Oats to tell HurryUp Ann where Hobb had gone, but Sleepy Oats has forgotten that, too.

HurryUp Ann tells Shucks to tell people she will be right back, and she and Aurora Jane take Sleepy Oats up the hill to the jail, which is a small building at the base of the town water tower.

◆◆◆

Velvet Eclipse, an extremely elderly unicorn, comes into the library to return a book she found while cleaning out her grandson’s room, which has been sealed up since he died 37 years ago. She is trying to convince her great-great grandniece, Twilight Paradise, to move in with her. Velvet Eclipse is afraid there will be a fine. JoNeigh looks up the book (Unmentionable Varmints, by Scorch von Klimpt) and sees that both Bristol Index and his predecessor have unsuccessfully tried to find another copy of the rare old book to purchase. Since the book had been written off, but has been returned in good shape, there is no fine.

Velvet Eclipse asks about the pony chained to the door, and JoNeigh explains about the tax situation and that Aurora Jane is going to pay the tax bill. As Velvet Eclipse is leaving the library, she tells the ponies outside that Borealis James Buckminster-Kimblewick is paying the back taxes.

JoNeigh is looking over Unmentionable Varmints more closely, and finds that the book opens naturally to a chapter on Changelings. As soon as she opens the book, she starts hearing a scratching/scuffling sound from behind the door (just past the break room) that requires two keys to open and is marked “Authorized Ponies Only”.

JoNeigh decides it’s time for some tea, but when she turns on the tap, no water comes out. When she heads to the general store to find out where the plumber is today, she hears a number of other ponies discovering that there is no water. She decides to go to the water tower to see what has happened to the pump.

◆◆◆

Aurora Jane and HurryUp Ann arrive at the jail, and notice that nopony is working the treadmill that powers the water pump. A pegasus pony named Midnight Skies is supposed to be working off his own recent drunk and disorderly arrest. The ponies figure out how to lock Sleepy Oats into a cell. Aurora Jane, searching for keys to take the cuffs off her own hoof, discovers that Constable Hobb has developed a habit of doodling some portraits of her on his scratch paper. HurryUp Ann, with the help of Sleepy Oats (who knows every procedure at the jail all too well), realizes that she has a key that will unlock the cuffs. Aurora Jane draws a little heart on the inside of each cuff, then uses them to attach the constable’s chair to his desk so it can’t be pulled out. Aurora Jane proudly declares, “Mischief managed!” and is surprised when her magic seems to activate on its own. But she doesn’t know why.

◆◆◆

Meanwhile, JoNeigh is talking with Ruby Wishes again, and Ruby hiccups suddenly. The magical key pops out of her mouth, glowing with aurora-colored magic. JoNeigh unlocks the locks, and while helping Ruby pack away her chains and padlocks, slips the magic lock and key into her own pack.

◆◆◆

When the HurryUp Ann and Aurora Jane get back to city hall, there is a big crowd of ponies wanting to report about the water problem, the escalating argument between Ember Cake and Cinnamon Song, and other issues. JoNeigh is at the very back of the line wanting to report a few things of her own. The Elderflower sisters want report that the Cherry brothers are selling scrumble out of their backyard without a license. Another pony wants to report that she thinks Cloudy Flowers appears to have been attacked and abducted from her own front porch, leaving behind a suspicions scene. Old widow Amber Glitter wants Constable Hobb to do something about “immoral goings-on” she claims are occurring in the old shack where Twilight Paradise lives and very suspicious sounds that come out two or three times a day when Dr Steel visits. And Shucks interrupts because he has finished writing his surname, and now needs help with the next blank, because he knows how to add one and one, but doesn’t know how to add dresses.

HurryUp Ann deputizes as many of the crowd as will to go search the town for Constable Hobb. Aurora Jane, troubled about the gossip about her boyfriend, pretends to go searching for Hobb, but actually intends to discover what is going on with Twilight Paradise. When she finds the latter’s shack, she peeks in a window and discovers that the unicorn has some sort of ailment or curse that causes her horn to grow painfully whenever she uses magic. Aurora decides this is probably a legitimate ailment the doctor is treating and goes away.

◆◆◆

Meanwhile, Jimmy has learned that the water tower is empty and that it’s causing trouble for everypony in town who doesn’t have their own well (most of them), so he heads up to the treadmill to pump water.

◆◆◆

After completing her spying Aurora Jane hears the ongoing fight between Cinnamon Song and Ember Cake, and intervenes. She discovers that for many years Ember Cake has been secretly disposing of his wife’s homemade pickles and replacing them with pickles purchased from yet another old widow, Willow Hurricane. Aurora Jane turns on all her charm and convinces Cinnamon Song that this was simply an act of charity for the struggling widow, and not intended to disparage the pickles at all. The spouses are reconciled and Aurora leaves the scene richer by one jar of pickles.

◆◆◆

Jimmy was being too enthusiastic at the pump, and soon water is spewing out of pipes and flooding many pony homes. Jimmy is stopped before the tower explodes.

◆◆◆

HurryUp Ann, JoNeigh, and Aurora Jane meet up at Cloudy Flowers’s home. HurryUp Ann remembers that Midnight Skies and Cloudy Flowers had been seeing each other romantically for some time. There is evidence that Midnight Skies may have taken her. They move on to Midnight Skies’s home. At his house they find evidence that he has been sending away for mail order remedies. There is a family tree he has reconstructed showing that he has several relatives from Windsmouth. He apparently was beginning to transform, his feathers being replaced with scales, his eyes changing, and his ears becoming more like antennae. JoNeigh recognizes the list of exotic ingredients on one of the remedies and double-checks Old Doc Leechwell’s apothecary book. The recipe is a tonic that speeds up the transmorgrification of pegasus ponies with the Windsmouth look.

Jimmy arrives, having joined the search for the constable. He shows the others the silken remains of a pony-sized cocoon he found at the treadmill where Midnight Skies should have been. Jimmy accompanies the others to Walnut Meadows’s house, since that is where Hobb was last seen. Walnut Meadows says that something flew overhead just as Hobb was cuffing Sleepy Oats. She also remembers hearing a scream, but by the time she looked it was gone. Hobb apparently saw it, and he told her he needed to get to the swamp.

So the ponies go to the swamp. They find the location where Hobb converted his personal cart/rickshaw into a water taxi, and eventually find it at the base of a gigantic tree. The tree has a large number of watermelon-sized fruit which appear black to everyone but JoNeigh, who says they glow and are beautiful. There are signs that Hobb has attached crampons to his hooves and gone up into the tree. JoNeigh investigates.

JoNeigh is confronted by Midnight Skies, whose wings have become like giant moth wings, his eyes are double cat slits, and ears are fluffy antennae like a moth’s. He wants her to go away and take the constable with her. He retrieves Hobb, who is partially encased in a cocoon. He drops the constable so JoNeigh has to catch him. JoNeigh takes Hobb to the ground, then goes back up. JoNeigh calls up to Cloudy Flowers, who says she has been unharmed, and pleads with everyone to let her reason with Midnight Skies on her own.

The others cut Hobb loose. He changes to large crampons then attaches a battle lance and some sort of gun harness to his body, and heads back up to rescue Cloudy Flowers. Jimmy gives him a boost.

JoNeigh is trying to reason with everypony, thinking Cloudy Flowers and Midnight Skies can work everything out on their own. Aurora Jane is convinced that Cloudy Flowers is in danger, so she puts on the other crampons and starts following Hobb. Jimmy, meanwhile, listens to where Cloudy Flowers’s voice is coming from for several minutes, then gets into position, and kicks the tree once. Cloudy Flowers is knocked loose, and it becomes obvious that she had been webbed to a branch much like the constable. Aurora and Jimmy catch her. When Midnight Skies dives to attack, Hobb catches him with the net gun.

It becomes clear that Midnight Skies believed that if Cloudy Flowers would eat the fruit of the tree, she would be transformed into a moth pony like him. He had been trying to make her eat the fruit. The captures Midnight Skies is transported to town and locked up in one of Old Doc Leechwell’s treatment rooms. Dr Steel is going to attempt to stabilize his moods. Cloudy Flowers is returned home unharmed.

Constable Hobb takes care of several of the other trouble reports. Shucks completes his form and to the surprise of everypony it is a masterpiece of calligraphic art. HurryUp Ann stamps it. It is only when Shucks asks if it really is stamped with the correct date that HurryUp Ann realizes she has been stamping everything with the previous day’s date. HurryUp Ann is surprised that the crowd is so small, and only then learns that a bunch of unscheduled stage coaches arrived while they were out, and the Marelem Brisk Trotters, the most famous hoofhoop ball players in Equestria (with team captain Meadow Lark) has come to Brindlebury by mistake, and have agreed to an exhibition game. Jimmy runs off to join the rest of the town, cheering.

HurryUp Ann can’t go: she has to help file all the reports. She arrives barely in time to see Meadow Lark and Maneless sink the last basket as the referee blows the final whistle. Then she sees Jimmy and Meadow Lark bump hooves, and hears Jimmy say, “Great game. Again!”

Ruby Wishes arrives at City Hall with a very old savings bond. She explains that when she went home, she couldn’t find the family heirloom magic lock, and while searching for it, found this old bond that had been purchased by her grandmother, Ruby Tiara. The bank redeems it for a large sum. Ruby is able to reimburse Aurora Jane for the back taxes, and has a goodly sum left over.

◆◆◆

The next night, HurryUp Ann becomes suspicious about her father’s sudden leaving in the middle of dinner. She follows him… and wakes up the next day with a bump on her head and no memory of what happened. She has a suspicion it has something to do with whatever is behind the doors in city hall and the library… the doors that, when she looked through the keyhole, she saw her own eyeball reflect a multitude of times in some sort of large compound eye!

View
Strange Weed :: Episode 3
In which the ponies race to find a cure...
View
Pale Grass :: Episode 2
In which a mysterious sickness comes to New Moon Acres

Teaser: When a mysterious new sickness comes to New Moon Acres, they send for good ol’ Doc Leechwell. Because everypony in Brindlebury knows that Doc always knows what’s good for what ails you. But when the doctor succumbs to the illness, and the infection spreads, can our heroes find a cure before it’s too late?

HurryUp Ann was up in the cupola, exercising her spyglass, when she noticed that Autumn Gallery had finished her chores early and gone to bed very early. She also saw that her cousin, Blown Grass, was insisting on taking a bath even though it was not bath night. Later that evening Blown Grass slipped out of the house, followed surreptitiously by his little sister, Sweet Grass.

Meanwhile, Autumn got up just before midnight and brought her easel and art supplies down to the garden to paint picture of the annual blooming of Nightbright, a viney plant her Grandfather had collected in his travels. She noticed a faint pink and purple aurora stretched across the night sky, and then shooting stars which seemed to be coming from the moon and were being intercepted by the aurora, somehow. The commotion in the sky had a deleterious effect on the Nightbright, causing the blossoms to close up and the plants to retreat back into the earth.

JoNeigh, meanwhile, was staying up late reading a new book, “A Guide to Flora of the Mustertonic Valley” by Ella Hoof Whipple. She heard strange noises outside, and when she looked, so nothing unusual. Then she realized she couldn’t see the moon, which should be up. When she removed her eyeglasses to clean them, then suddenly she could see the moon, and the shooting stars, and the aurora.

Aurora Jane was sleeping, having a most interesting dream about being at a party at a palace that she did not recognize (and she is quite certain that she has either visited or studied any palace that is worth knowing about).

Blown’s clandestine meeting in the woods with Kettle McKorn was interrupted

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.