On the edge of Sweet Apple Acres closest to the Everfree, Applejack pawed the ground with a hoof.
Something was wrong. She didn’t know what.
She looked around, allowing herself a small smile. The farm seemed in order, anyway. She’d gotten all her chores done in the early morning, and the apples looked to be just about ripe. Tomorrow would mark the start of Applebucking Season.
And yet…something felt off.
She was inclined to listen to such ominous feelings, but she didn’t have anything to go on.
Perhaps it was just stress. Applebucking Season was always a difficult time, especially with Big Mac injured once again. Even though she was willing to accept help now…
Then, she realized. Realized the reason she’d been able to finish the chores early. Realized why the farm was so quiet.
She hadn’t seen Apple Bloom all day.
Applejack wasn’t about to panic, of course. Apple Bloom was perfectly capable of looking after herself. But her sister usually pitched in with chores, or made herself known in other ways. The sun was setting and Apple Bloom was nowhere to be seen.
Applejack looked around, eyes narrowed. She had a feeling she knew what was going on. Only a short ways away from her position at the edge of Sweet Apple Acres lay the Everfree Forest.
It would soon be Nightmare Night, and Apple Bloom had of late seemed quite fascinated with the forest’s resident rhyming zebra. Perhaps—
Her train of thought came to an abrupt halt.
There was something moving in the forest.
Applejack frowned, and moved closer. “Apple Bloom?”
She stopped. Whatever it was, it was big.
And it was coming straight at her.
Again, Applejack didn’t panic. She’d dealt with a few Everfree creatures before. Mostly under the light of day, and with Big Mac at her side, but this surely couldn’t…
It was coming closer now. Whatever it was, it had a vaguely equine shape, being about Applejack’s size. It seemed to be composed entirely of mud and branches.
Levitating above it were three little fillies.
“Apple Bloom!” Applejack found her voice to be a little panicky now. She beat the ground with a hoof, preparing to charge.
“Oh, marvellous. So glad you’re here, Applejack.”
The voice of the creature was biting, whiny, and, above all, extremely patronizing.
Applejack blinked. “Rarity?”
Now that the creature was closer, she could indeed see her friend beneath the muck and sticks. It wasn’t easy, though. Whatever Rarity had been through, it clearly hadn’t been pleasant.
A blue aura carried the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who looked quite clean—and very sheepish.
Rarity passed Applejack by, dropping Apple Bloom as she went.
Applejack cocked her head, turning. “What happened?”
“Inform your sister of the risks in picking fights with Feyquines.”
Applejack looked down. Her sister was avoiding eye contact.
She looked back up. “Rarity, what happened?”
“And besides that lesson, never speak of this again.”
Norse Pony’s comments: Haha, Rarity saves the day. I like how much of this is unsaid and mysterious. Why was Rarity in the Forest? How did she save the CMC from the Feyquine(s)? Why is she filthy and they’re not? It’s a lovely little can of worms to ponder. Also, the comedy beat with “Then, she realized. Realized the reason she’d been able to finish the chores early. Realized why the farm was so quiet” made me laugh out loud. That was very good.