My Little Pony: Magic Is Fiendish

“Who Moved My Rusty Horseshoe?” :: Episode 1
Mills, fungi, ghosts, and being burned at the stake

Four young fillies (who are the very best of friends): Wry Sprout, Bitta Whately, Lace Leaf, and Tulip Seed, set out to have a picnic one fine day near the mill pond. As dinner time approaches, the fillies are nowhere to be found, and soon many members of the town join the search.

Hurryup Ann, Aurora Jane, JoNeigh, Autumn Gallery, and Jimmy eventually found the girls hiding in a dilapidated tool shed on the abandoned site of the Old New Acres farm and mill. The girls were nearly catatonic with fear and provided little help in describing what had happened to them.

Investigating further, Hurryup Ann became lost in an unnaturally moving fog, a fog which would not respond to JoNeigh’s attempt to dispel. mooshroom__by_davidn6597-d68gag6.png

The next day, Hurryup Ann and each of the fillies awoke to find themselves covered in odd-colored mushrooms, similar to patches that had started spreading from the old farm.

Lots of solutions were suggested in answer to this, but plucking the mushrooms only seemed to make the problem worse, and the typical battery of folk remedies made little headway against the fungus. The short version is that, thanks to a lucky break and to Jimmy’s desperate/cute obsession with corn and corn-related products, it was discovered ultra-sweet corn syrup not only washed the mushrooms off, but cause them to disintegrate. A high-pressure corn syrup gun—which Jimmy happened to have handy and in perfect working order on his farm (don’t ask)—was deployed in an effort to curtail the spread of mushrooms from the old mill.

Adjacent to the tool shed is a cemetery—natch—that hasn’t been maintained since the old mill was discarded in favor of the new mill. Upon investigation and much poking around, several loose horseshoes and nails were found to have been disturbed from the plots. Whether they were specifically buried only shallowly, or had fallen from the markers to by buried over time was never discerned. Aurora tried to appease any restless spirits in the area by making sure they were each accorded a nail and by laying bunches of flowers on the sites, but this only made her queen of the mill pond frogs. Somehow. We’re still working on that one.

Many of the tombstones bore a motto which had been defaced, "The gate may be _______ shut.”

Joneigh was investigating some hoofprints and an apparently recently discard pry bar other near a dense patch of brambles on one side of the cemetery when she noticed a stone structure inside the brambles. Hurryup Ann insisted on uncovering the object, and discovered that it appeared to be a sarcophagus. After much debate, the lid was pried off to reveal a set of stairs descending toward an underground chamber.

Scattered on the stairs of the secret entrance were more nails, which Aurora carefully collected in a field: no way is she touching anything that might give her mushroom herpes. The hidden space below the cemetery turns out to be an ancient place of power for some degraded and horrific elder cult—natch—because the walls are covered with depictions of pony sacrifice and other equally off-putting scenarios. Among the ritual accoutrements left in positions of prominence were (the change in tense is appropriate) a moldy old book and a ceremonial dagger whose hilt was (are you sitting down?) made from the horn of a unicorn!

While Joneigh investigated the book and the knife, Aurora read the names on the burial plaques ranged around the ritual area (this means it isn’t a fake sarcophagus after all, it’s just bigger on the inside). Suddenly, a wild apparition appeared! The ghost of a long-dead pony cult member, Juanita Whately (great-great-grandmother of HurryUp Anne’s cousins) who had released the mysterious mushroom-producing fog in the first place, put the whammy on Aurora, (who failed her Magic roll rather spectacularly, the same way she does everything). Using the siphoned-off life-force of the unicorn, the ghost strengthened her own form. The sarcophagus lid slammed close, apparently trapping everypony inside the chamber.

While Hurryup Ann argued with the ghost, JoNeigh investigated the compartment where she had found the book. Aurora, barely alive or awake, did not contribute much to the conversation. Jimmy, meanwhile, had been finding old tools scattered on the floor, and noticing that one solitary but solid horseshoe nail appeared to be imbedded in one ectoplasmic hoof of the ghost, decided to try knocking the nail loose with the rusty old hammer he had found. This caused the ghost to disintegrate and appear to flee into the burial vault bearing Juanita’s name.

Thinking that maybe something could be done to the ghost by, say, blasting her dessicated corpse with fire, should some suddenly become available, Jimmy wrenched off the slot’s cover…

…and suddenly it became apparent where all the loose nails had come from: the corpse’s horseshoes! Jimmy and Autumn realized that the motto on the tombstones had been, “The gate may be nailed shut” which had been left by Weyland Whately as a clue that the horseshoe nails had power over the ghost. Since Aurora was in no condition to be starting any fires, considering the ghost’s attack had left her at Death’s door, knocking loudly, a great deal of effort was instantly expended to hammer the shoes back into place, neatly trapping the ghost back in her corpse. They were some kind of long-term spirit ward. Job well done!

As all this excitement is going on, Aurora was given a very mean choice by the GM: maybe possibly die right here, or utilize the life-force stored in this here canopic jar in which are interred the teeth of Weyland Whately, husband of the dread Juanita, who late in life had turned his back on the cult, and had been killed while trying to undermine the cult’s machinations. Since no one wants to die on her first adventure, Aurora rather reluctantly accepted the life force and survived.

But what to do with the old book of forbidden knowledge (entitled “Unnameable Things”) and the gristly knife? Remember what was said earlier about that change in tenses being intentional? Eeyup. Burn them both! Joneigh, overcoming some deep-seated aversions and cherished beliefs about the sacredness of knowledge, set the whole lot aflame until it was all ruined beyond further use.

Meanwhile, the population of Brindlebury, who the hero and heroines had been far too busy to inform of their discovery regarding corn syrup, were about to burn the four fillies at the stake for the greater good of the community.

Luckily for everypony, that turned out not to be necessary because, even though the GM is evil, he’s not THAT evil. And Arctica’s elite ghost-busting squad called from out of town also turned out not to be necessary, a situation at which she seemed moderately proud of the investigators.

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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

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Strange Weed :: Episode 3
In which the ponies race to find a cure...
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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….

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…!

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Death of a Surgeon :: Episode 9
Who last saw Dr Sir Jeckyll Steel alive?
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Episode 10
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