News - Jan 16, 2019 (2 months ago)

Thank you for coming.

It's been a long time coming now, but it's time for Twenty Percent Cooler to close down. We've had a good run and had a great time in our heyday, but the sun has set on our little website and now it's time to go. You have about a week to record, save, and archive what you would like before everything goes dark, so please make the best of this time.

Thank you for all the memories and contributions to our community in these last 8 years. We had a great time.

~ Sincerely, Princess Luna
Lead Administrator for


"Oh! Hey Diamond, can we tag along? We were heading to square anyway. Besides, Me and Red have nothing much to do anyway. Unless you want to do something else Red?"

He asked as he turned to Red.

"I would like you twoo come with me," said she grinning and also looked at red then.

"Yeah sure Ryan!" Then looked at Diamond and said, "Like he said, we got nothin' else to do anyways so I would like to come."

Twilight frowns at the shadow, which has gone back to looking almost normal. “Potion? You’ve already had too many in the past day. The remnants are still in you and they can cross-react in unpredictable ways. That’s why my attempt to cure you only…” Twilight clears her throat, certain that Light isn’t eager to be reminded of that impolite eruption of rainbows. “Shadows can’t exist in the dark. Maybe you could…”

Light’s stricken expression stops her. He smooths it away fast, but not fast enough. After a moment’s thought, she finds it perfectly understandable that Light wouldn’t like being in total darkness. He shakes his head. “No.”

“Hm. Well, if you surround yourself with sources of light you can destroy your natural shadow. Like I did: forcing it to manifest. If you can maintain a light-cage construct in your sleep or make it permanent--”

“I cannot.” Light said. “Please, a potion. Just for tonight?” Twilight gazes into his eyes and feels her resolve waver. She shakes her head and looks away. “No. I’m sorry, but drinking any more magical potions could seriously hurt you.” She begins to offer to watch over him and make sure the creature causes no trouble. “I--”

“No, it’s quite all right. I understand. I suppose I should at least try to sleep without it first. Perhaps it will be less disturbing than I suspect.”

“All right.” Twilight beams in relief. “In that case I have some books you should really--”

Light holds up a hoof. “Please. I am too tired to think clearly. I am grateful for you offer of hospitality and would still like to spend the night here. Being alone in my apartment with this thing…” He shudders.

“Oh. All right. The spare bed is this way.”

Twilight lies awake for what feels like forever, listening to Light’s quiet breathing and trying to make sense of her tangled mass of conflicting emotions. She eventually slips into fragmented dreams that confuse her deeply on more than one level. Then they settle as Light vanishes from them, though the absence makes them feel bleak.

[viewpoint shift]

Light creeps downstairs, finding his newly-cloven hooves far more agile than before. His makes the descent in near-perfect silence. Carved from the solid tree, nothing creaks. Light dons his winter garb, now in far sorrier condition than yesterday before the party and smelling faintly of fried monster. Twilight had taken a long time to fall asleep, but she had in the end.

Outside, Light shudders, and not from the cold. A bit of lamplight leaks from various shuttered windows, the clouds glow dull grey from the moon behind them, and the snow has the eerie inner light of all snow. Aside from those, darkness covers the world. He probes at his reserves and finds them shockingly large. For that much he should have been trailing a mane and tail to make Princess Celestia’s look like a bob-cut. Light is far from at peace with his transformation, but he begins to realize it isn’t all bad. Causing golden light to leak from his horn, he heads for his lonely little bachelor apartment. He plans to pick up his money-pouch and then head for the Emergency Help Center, where he would plead dreadful insomnia.

Pauses as a memory nudges at his attention. Zecora, the zebra in the Everfree Forest. She made potions. Those three fillies had been following a path to her house, one already marked by hoof-prints coming and going. They had diverted for some reason but the path was there. Light turns and heads another way. Normally he would sooner shave his head than venture into a place like that on a night like this. His deep new reserves reassure him. So does the bone-deep sense of rightness the Everfree instills in him. The wild land calls to him more than his dwelling in town. Light focuses the light forward and speeds up. Snow is coming and it will hide the hoof-prints. Part of him is aware that he isn’t thinking as clearly as he should. The part that would stop him has been beaten down by too much happening too fast. A calming sense of unreality embraces him.

A clicking purr makes him look left. The shadow-thing has manifested. It half-runs, half-glides beside him: skittering over the snow with the twitchy weightlessness of a dead leaf before the wind. Its blank glowing eyes turn to his. The clicking ends on a rising, almost questioning tone. Light views it with dispassion, a little voice in the back of his head chanting: it is all a dream, I am just having a strange dream, just play along and I will wake up safe in bed in the morning.

“She said you might be useful.” Light said. “I wonder if you can track things.” The thing twitches its jointed feelers at him, radiating puzzlement. Light snorts and turns his attention back on his path. As he imagines the forest, the path, the hoof-prints, the clicking rises to an excited buzz. It streaks ahead, briefly melting into a flat puddle that swoops along like the shadow of a pegasus. Pops up, seems to cast about, and then turns to hop up and down, staring back at him.

Light stops dead. “You read my mind?”

Light’s certainty trembles, but solidifies. Just a dream. He thinks ‘come to me.’ Nothing happens. He forms the mental image of the thing beside him. In a swooping, deceptively lazy flicker, it is. After a frowning moment, Light forms another image. The shadow-thing pauses, melts, and then forms a very clumsy, crude imitation of Spike. With feelers. Light only recognizes it because he knows what he imagined. He has the strong impression all this obedience is entirely voluntary on the part of the thing. But it seems eager to please. Like a dog, maybe. A stupid dog. Treat a dog well and its loyalty is absolute. Treat it badly, cruelly, and…

Light snorts and changes the image. Dream or not, he has no time to waste standing around. It glides to the edge of the light his horn casts and pauses to look back. Light trots forward. It keeps its distance, melting on occasion to sprawl out, seemingly to trace the surface of the snow and every hoof-print stamped into it. Somehow, he has no doubt that the prints it follows belong to him. The shadow-thing’s tracking lets Light move much faster than he would have dared by the careful trickle of light. Soon enough it reaches where the tracks skew off the path.

The wind is absent in the forest, giving the illusion of warmth as he stops generating headwind. After a frustrating minute of enforced patience, Light manages to ‘explain’ to the shadow that he now wants it to track the different prints continuing down the path. After dipping a hand into a shadow-filled print, it seems to make the connection. Light sends it images of praise that make it bounce around in delight, purr-buzzing. The hoof-prints lead to a low and twisted tree that has been hollowed out into a dwelling. Down between his cloven hooves, Light feels a vague itch. He dismisses it as not being used to having them and knocks.

[viewpoint shift]

Zecora raises an ear, swiveling it toward the door as a hesitant knock raps against it. She slips out of bed with a shiver, quickly draping her travel cloak around her. Tossing a bit more wood into the central fire-pit, she walks to the door. But she has no intention of opening it for a knock alone. There are unfriendly things smart enough to pull such a ruse.

“Who is it that knocks without?
But when you speak, do not shout.”

A male voice answers, properly low. “A unicorn. My name is Light. I seek the zebra Zecora.”

“A unicorn in Everfree?
As for Zecora: I am she.”

Zecora hears the voice mutter as she lifts out the heavy bar lying across the doorway. “Rhyme. I thought she was kidding.” A wash of cold rolls in. Light hurries inside and Zecora hurries to close the door. The winters in this land are something to which she has despaired of ever becoming accustomed. She lowers the hood as she turns to him. He studies what she reveals: a short bristly mane, standing up straight and striped in alternating black and white. More stripes band her neck and barb her face. He stares for a shorter time than many. “I am deeply sorry to intrude, but I require a potion to aid sleep. Enough doses for many nights, if possible. My name is Light, ma’am.”

Zecora eyes the unicorn: taking in the goatee, the split hooves, and the griffin tail. Her mind travels back to her homeland and a sacred cave with ancient paintings on its walls. She looks around the one room of her home, stares at the fire burning in the central pit, and then back at him. She had come to Equestria to seek wonders, but never in her wildest dreams had she imagined a living myth walking out of the night. Her excitement fades as she truly looks at him. Something in his eyes tells her that part of him has gone away inside, denying what it can’t accept. She speaks, arranging the words to be as musical as possible, like everything in her native tongue.

“A darkness in your eyes I read.
Perhaps it is not sleep you need?”

“I have money.” The unicorn pauses. “Not with me, I admit…” He shuffles his feet, looking embarrassed and half-turning away. That exposes his cutie mark, and the scatter of tiny blue flecks on it. They slowly bloom in size even as she watches. Zecora plops down on her rump, groaning. “Ma’am, are you all right?”

“It’s not for me you need to fear.
Through Poison Joke you walked to here.”

“Poison what? Wait…poison?”

Zecora starts to explain, but then it happens.

internetcatchphrase said:
I did this post at Molestia's request, but it quite escaped my never-solid control of where my writing takes me. Seriously, this twist shocked *me.* It's not nice or funny but it feels true in my gut, so I let it stand.

Molestia said:
Tradewind got out of the bath and looked looked apologetically at Paramedic as he dried off. "I'm sorry Dearheart, but I might have to cut our spa day short, it seems I have to take three very annoying-" He glared at the Crusaders, who drew together in fear "-Fillies home. Come along girls."

With that, he put on his winter clothing and swept out the door, followed by the fillies, who for once were completely silent.

Outside, Tradewind pauses to look around, getting his bearings by the dim light. A golden glow, like a stray ray of sunshine, bobs in the distance near the library for a moment. Something about it makes Trade remember Para’s singing, and sitting in his mother’s kitchen as a child eating cookies, and curling up in a warm bed while a storm rages outside. The light hurries away, and Trade feels an almost violent longing to go after it.

The sound of chattering filly teeth checks him mid-step. They had been toweled off well but some dampness remains. Scooping Applebloom under one wing, he wraps her in a snug little cave of feathers. Scootaloo goes in the other. He leaves Sweetie Belle for tucking inside his sweater, as she is least likely to object. Rather heavily burdened, Trade heads for Rarity’s, which is closest. The fillies put up no complaint, likely just glad to be warm.

The memory of that brief sunbeam refuses to fade. He has the heavy feeling that he has just missed out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Feeling the three warm bodies huddled against him, he steels himself. This regret was nothing to what he would have felt at abandoning them.

At Rarity’s, Tradewind finds the unicorn in a near-panic. Snatching Sweetie Belle away in a wave of magic, she scolds her little sister and then hurriedly shoos Trade back out. It was possible she hadn’t even noticed the bulges under his wings. Trade sighs and heads for Sweet Apple Acres, where much the same scene plays out yet again. Trade slips into their barn afterwards and lets Scootaloo out.

“All right, little one, in the sweater and I’ll fly you up to Cloudsdale. You’ll have to tell me where your parents live.” Scoot scowls and looks away. “Now come on, no need to be like that. I’m sure they’re worried about you.”

“Hah, as if.”

Trade frowns, concern rising. “They don’t care about you?”

“They don’t care about anything.” Scoot keeps staring away from him at nothing in particular. “Dead people don’t.”

Trade’s insides lurch as if he had just hit turbulence. He casts about for something to say and decides Scoot has heard almost any platitude he could imagine. “Who do you stay with, then? A sister, an aunt?”

“Different people. I get passed around. I’ll be okay in the hayloft here tonight. Don’t sweat it, Tradewind. I don’t even remember them. It’s okay.”

“This is not okay. Why aren’t you adopted?”

Scoot cringes before acting uncaring again. “Dunno. Maybe because I can’t fly.” Her wings, which are indeed below-average size, give a twitch.

Tradewind feels physically ill from the rush of emotions that flood him. He casts around, looking for something to say, something he can do. Then he remembers that light. It had felt like home to him. Like being home: like belonging somewhere. Tradewind drops down and pulls Scoot close. After a long moment, she stops staring at the ground and looks up at his eyes. “I won’t make you a promise I don’t know if I can keep. I won’t do that to you. But you can always stay with me when I’m in town. And you can stay in my apartment when I’m not. I want you to have a place that’s yours. Just…try not to make it too much of a mess?”

Scootaloo stares at him for a long time.

Then she hugs him, and he feels warm dampness spread across his chest from her silent tears. Tradewind lowers his head and waits. Maybe he hadn’t missed that opportunity after all.

META: Sorry to do that to you, Trade, but I write what comes to me, and I’ve always harbored suspicions about Scoot’s total absence of a family in the Canon. I feel this explains her rather independent attitude and why she follows Rainbow Dash everywhere. I’m prepared to take full future responsibility for any scenes that involve Scoot and Trade interacting, should you decline.

Oh, and Sweetie Belle is going to be epically pissed.

internetcatchphrase said:
“Poison what? Wait…poison?”

Zecora starts to explain, but then it happens.

Meta: After a lot of thought, a -lot-, I decided on something totally different that would make everything an absolute riot. It does, however, involve the laws of irony, and a small stretch in what may not be totally canon. I'll redo my post if you don't like it.

Poison Joke was just a plant, a weed, an infection, that had a sense of humor. It really knew how to get at people at a particular time and place, but as of now, had a small goal in mind for the next pony that happened to step into the patch in the Everfree.

Yasee, this Zecora character had cut the fun off prematurely. With her little cure. The plant had managed to nail a good six different ponies at once, only to have it all cured within a day.

And at the same time, what had Light done recently that deserved a prank to be played on him? He'd had a hard enough day as is.

Oh, no. This one was on Zecora, indirectly. As Light's ears pinned, he felt a shiver roll up his spine. The pony's eyes went from yellow to poison-joke blue as he spoke to her in return, not skipping a beat.

"What the hay's a poison joke?
Should I worry? Will I choke?"

He began to sniff under one of his front legs, squinting his eyes. Zecora, on the other hand, was slowly going agape and speechless, eyebrows furrowing. Oh, surely not. Absolutely flustrated. Flustered and frustrated.

"Unicorn, why do you talk like that?"

"Talk like what? I'm just happy to chat."

Light finished her statement. The awkward pause created had them staring back and forth between the open air. Her cheeks were burning pink, and the unicorn looked to be totally unaware of what was going on. As if rhyming like this was totally normal, no problem at all.

"I'm really sorry, I woke you.
But can you tell me about this poison flu?"

With the second full rhyme, he took a step forward towards her, causing the zebra to draw back a step. Oh, and the joke wasn't even finished. Light didn't notice his fur turning white and developing black stripes, (or is it turning black and developing white stripes?,) his mane following suit and beginning to stand up on end. His accent was going tribal, as well, almost as a mockery of the outlanded zebra, as changes to his personality and appearance swept over him like wildfire.

"I've been around da' Everfree for a long few years.
But this plant I neva' seen before, the blue signs like tears..."

Zecora had to rub her eyes just to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Or seeing things. This was, by far, one of the oddest and weirdest happenstance chance things that had ever happened to her.

"It not a flu or illness... be.
But your case of joke... has it out for me?"

internetcatchphrase said:
Bloody curveball

Part 1 (Because I got carried away and wrote too much for the website to handle)

Tradewind ended up carrying Scootaloo on his back to the spa, where Paramedic was waiting for him. Stepping through, he found her lounging in the relaxation room, her eyes closed, and a classical record playing from the record player in the corner. She looked so cute and relaxed, and Tradewind nearly lost the fight with the urge to greet her with a deep kiss, opting instead to cough politely at the door.

Para opened her eyes, and immediately jumped to her hooves, leaping into Tradewind and nuzzling his neck. "Tradie! How'd it go with the gi-ew, why are you all damp?"

"Um... That was me" explained Scootaloo, still tear-stained, emerging from Tradewind's mane and looking at her over his shoulder. "I was crying, and..."

She never got the chance to finish that sentence, because the moment Para heard the word "Crying" she immediately grabbed the filly and held her in a tight embrace, cooing and rocking her back and forth. "Uh, HEY! Get offa me!" Yelled Scootalooo, her brash young self again.

Tradewind chuckled, and explained the situation to Paramedic, who was just about in tears herself by the time he got to "... and so I carried her back here, so I could explain the situation to you. But I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut our evening short, unless you want to come back to my apartment with me?"

"Um, well, actually, I've got to get back to Canterlot. The Captain expects me to do drills with the other guards, and if I miss them, it could seriously hurt my chances of becoming an official part of his squad." Para explained nervously, hoping that yet another mention of the Captain wouldn't annoy the stallion too much.

"Oh, alright then, how are you going to get back? It's well dark, and-"

"I can teleport, Unicorn, remember?"

"Oh, right, yes, of course. Er... Well, Goodnight. I have to fly back to Manehatten at dawn tomorrow, but I'll be back in Ponyville probably next week or the week after that. So..."

Tradewind kissed Paramedic goodnight, a long, deep kiss that said without words everything that that small unicorn meant to him, even thought they had known each other just a few days. She eagerly returned the feelings, although at one point she did risk opening her eyes to see Scootaloo, a slightly disgusted look on her face, staring intently at the both of them. Finally, it was Tradewind who broke off, and immediately he looked away, both cheeks burning bright red.

"Well, Goodnight then. I'll see you soon"

"Hey, if you're not going to be here next week, perhaps I could write you a letter! Or vice versa...?"

"Hmm, maybe, probably not much point though, since I'll be the one delivering them..."

"Heh, oh yeah. Well, bye. Bye little Scootaloo!"

With that, Para winked out of the room with a sound not unlike the rustling of autumn leaves. Leaving two rather embarrassed ponies standing in the middle of an empty room, Sebastian Buck's The Well-Tempered Clopier playing softly in the background.

Molestia said:
Part 1

Part 2

It was a few minutes later that Tradewind pushed open the door to his rather modest post-office apartment and switched on the light. Even to Scootaloo, unwitting-connoisseur to barns, sheds, and the occasional cardboard box, the room seemed small and sparsely furnished. A bed, just large enough for a medium-sized pony, was shoved in one corner, a table with an alarm clock sat in the opposite. As far away from the bed as possible, to disallow any damages done during the night. Scootaloo guessed that they were inevitable, even she had trouble controlling her tiny wings while she slept, and Tradewind could easily touch both opposing walls with his fully unfurled. Aside from the two pieces of furniture, there were some clothing hooks buried in the wall without the grimy window. and nothing else.

Tradewind sighed. "Well, this is it. The bathroom and toilet are in the the next door over, There's a kitchenette downstairs, but ask Derpy if you can use it before you do. Otherwise, what's mine is yours. Welcome to your new home.

Scootaloo found herself tearing up again, and sniffed. She didn't want to cry, but not many adults had bothered to see past her brash - and frankly rude - attitude and give her a chance. Even Rainbow Dash just put up with her because of the hero worship she offered.

Tradewind put his wings around the filly, and waited until she stopped shaking, gently singing a song that his mother had taught him some years before, the first time he had smashed his wing into a pillar in Cloudsdale.

Eventually, he realised that the girl had not only stopped crying, but had cried herself to sleep in his grip. Smiling gently, he placed her in his bed and pulled the covers up tight. After making sure she was tucked in nicely, he made his way downstairs. Hmm, almost midnight, I suppose... he thought to himself, making a cup of tea in the half-kitchen that was the post office's break room. Yeah, why not, it's not like I've got a bed to sleep in... heh.

Quickly writing a note for Derpy, explaining why Scoot was in his bed, and Scootaloo herself, explaining why he wasn't there when she woke up, Tradewind grabbed his personal saddlebags and took off into the night, headed for Manehatten and the apartment that actually was his home.

It had been a very weird couple of days, Not only had he nearly died, but he had found an old friend (and all the baggage that would eventually entail, he wasn't looking forward to that part), gained a marefriend (whom he hoped wouldn't realise her horrible mistake too soon), and a little sister. Not to mention seriously ticking off a little Unicorn filly, whom would probably swear revenge at some point. Yup, all in all, a very interesting week in the life of a boring old mailcolt.

Oh well, at least I managed to pay back Pinkie Pie, Tradewind thought, as he flew into the night.

Meta: Whew, that was a marathon, Thanks Internetcatchphrase, that curveball was exactly what I needed, you got the old "Making shit up on the spot" muscles moving :D. Oh yes, and This is the song I had in mind:

Ryan, Red, and Diamond starting walking together towards the Square. It was silent for a while. Ryan spoke out and looked at Diamond.

"So Diamond...I assume you still own your Flowershop huh?"

Ryan started to blush a little as they continued on walking.

Diamond was walking on Ryans Right side and looked at him when He spoke to her.

"Yes I have my own Flowershop here in manehattan," said she proudly.
"I could yhow you later if you want." Now she blushed

She looked to the pegasus that called hersef Red Raider.

"May I ask what happened to you ?", Asked she and continued walking.

Molestia said:

"Um, well, actually, I've got to get back to Canterlot. The Captain expects me to do drills with the other guards, and if I miss them, it could seriously hurt my chances of becoming an official part of his squad."

Meta: this is a great time to show a background story on paramedic. on how she became a guard. this is part one. will add more to build the story before she will come back to this RP. :Meta:

Winter training always was fun to do as the cold, and snow pushed the new recruits to their braking point. "LINE UP!" yelled Captain Courage as he walked into the room. all the recruits lined up quickly exp for a small mare that seemed to be pushed out of line by the other recruits. Courage didn't say anything as the mare moved to the end of the line, doing her best not to stand out. the Captain walked to the end of the line to look at the mare. Paramedic did her best to stand tall like the others. she was easily half their size, with little muscle build. Courage smiled to paramedic giveing her a pat on the head.

Captain Courage had plans for paramedic. something that would change how the royal guard worked altogether. he was forming an all medic team, to heal any hurt guard on, or off the field. some looked at this plan as a waste of bits, but they don't see that having to ship guards ALL the way back to a major city when they are hurt was crazy! when it would be so much better to have a trained medical team on hand, to go anywhere it is needed.

the drills started as Captain Courage ran the recruits in the ten miles run each morning. all of them easily stayed with the pack but paramedic. Captain Courage moved back to run with her, she was breathing hard trying her best to stay with the pack. "paramedic! don't give up! we only have two more miles to go!" paramedic did her best not to cry from the pain, when she fell hard to the ground, missing a step. Captain Courage stopped to look over her. "paramedic are you OK?" he said worried. she cried into the snow. "I...I can't... it hurts to much..... I keep falling down.... I'm so sorry Sir..." Courage nuzzled her neck and said. "it's not how many times you fall down.... but how many times you get back up."

paramedic stopped sobbing, and listen to what Captain Courage said. she started to move, tearing up some as she lifted herself up. "that's good para... now two more miles to go. I will be right here by your side." Courage said standing tall beside her. she looked up to him and nodded. each step burned, para was running blind, as her tears ran from her eyes. "stay with me para, your doing great! one more mile to go!" paramedic had to use the Captain's body to keep her in line as she swayed back and forth, she wanted to just give up.... to go home to her greenhouse.... her small bathroom she slept in.... no money.... lots of loans..... no.... NO!!! she must push on!!! not just for the Captain, and his plans. but for herself! she is sick of being poor! she has to become a guard. even if she has to beg both the Princess, she will!

her hoofs stomped the ground as she charged the last mile! Courage having to keep up with paramedic now. "Great job! push it paramedic! your about their! show them your fit to be a guard!" Courage screamed, building paramedic's will. paramedic passed the line. her whole body hurt, and wanted to lay down. she seen some of the recruits look her way. she stood tall, and proud of what she just done. just like a guard!

"Oh yeah this." She smiled and looked at her wing and leg. "Well, I got hit and midair by some Griffin that just flew past me, and hit me. Suspiciously hard." She looked at smiled Diamond, "Well I was fling low and that was bad, or good, can't really tell. If I was higher I might've been able to steady myself, but if I couldn't well... you get the picture. Anyways, I thank I landed on my wing, or something, cause' last thing I rember was being stuck in a ditch and not being able to fly, which is really weird being a Pegasus." She paused "Then Ryan showed up and helped me out." She decided not to mention the him carrying her part, that might cause some tension, Red din't like tension, she liked action but not tension.

"Yeah, I helped her get back here to Manehatten. Lucky too, good thing I was taking Tradewinds Route for him since he got sick and all." Ryan pauses and looks at the girls. He gives a nervous smile at them.

"But his fine now, he should be out today!" Ryans chuckles nervously and looks away embarrased.

In his mind:smooth Ryan...

"Gryphons... I fear those brutal guys," said she a slightly angy tone in her voice.

After a while of walking they reached the Shop, where she was delivering her flowers to. The shop owner didn`t notce that the flowers once felt to the ground and payed Diamond Flower.
When she finaly left the store she was worried at first, that ryan may left in the meantime but as she opened the door, she saw Him and Red standing right where she left them.

"Okay it seems Like I am done for today," Said she smiling and walked towards the onthers.

Light said:
Zecora had to rub her eyes just to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Or seeing things. This was, by far, one of the oddest and weirdest happenstance chance things that had ever happened to her.

"It not a flu or illness... be.
But your case of joke... has it out for me?"

Zecora struggles not to laugh, though more from disbelief than amusement. The transformation completes itself, and Light is entirely a zebra, albeit with a much longer mane standing up stiff from his head. And a unicorn horn. Then golden jewelry appears, a mirror of hers. Something about it looks not-quite-real. Solid light? Zecora grinds her teeth. She finally has a living myth walk out of the night and the Poison Joke turns it into a zebra. Grabbing a hand mirror, she hold it up for Light to see.

“In the mirror you must gaze.” she said.
“Fight you must this mental haze.”

“I said before, I feel just fine.” Light said.
“Though now my stomachs wish to dine.”

“Stop that now!”

“Why, you cow?”

Zecora calmly sets down the hand-mirror. She walks to the door and bars it, slipping the hidden puzzle-catches inside the braces. She walks to a corner and picks up her bamboo staff. Now armed, just in case, she feels more able to face her unexpectedly deranged guest. Of all Discord’s creations that lingered in the world, Zecora had developed an intense dislike of Poison Joke.

“You say that now you wish to eat?” she said.
“Come: help me make the meal complete.”

“I’m glad to help, you lovely mare,” Light said,
“But cooking skills make me despair.”

“This is fine.” Zecora said. She pauses.

“Your eyes shine.” Light said.

Zecora blushes hotly despite her stoic expression. Light makes a very handsome zebra male, ridiculous mane or not, and it has been a long time since she saw anyone with proper stripes. She takes the thoughts that have arisen and locks them away in a mental box. Outwardly calm, she fixes a quick meal and sets it before him.

internetcatchphrase said:
Zecora blushes hotly despite her stoic expression. Light makes a very handsome zebra male, ridiculous mane or not, and it has been a long time since she saw anyone with proper stripes. She takes the thoughts that have arisen and locks them away in a mental box. Outwardly calm, she fixes a quick meal and sets it before him.

Light sneered, the sides of his mane dropping along his neck and braiding itself into several cords, the rest standing up in a crest. It totally completed the image of a male from Zecora's homeland... or at least, what the Joke percieved, as he leaned down to sniff the food, the zebracorn clicking his tongue and grimacing in a haughty manner.

"This kind of food is not the best.
I'd rather go for something with a tad more... zest."

He spun one of his hooves as he seemed to be contemplating, looking off in an abstract direction. Eyes swiftly turned back to Zecora with a sudden teasing smile, the corner of his muzzle upturning as he squinted with mischievous intent.

Zecora's eye was twitching rapidly at this point. She'd had just about enough of this nonsense. The woman quickly tightened her grip on her staff and slid it under the plate, balancing it on the tip of the stalk and shoving the whole meal up to Light's face.

"Eat this meal, else I swear by the mark on your flank...
I will have you gone from this house, with a firm, sharp spank!"

Her eyes were having trouble suppressing the rage she was harboring, by now. Bloodshots crossed the white of her eyes as she stared Light down, the male zebra easily intimidated.

The pony leaned forward and nabbed a bite of one of the mushrooms, crunched it in his mouth, and immediately fell over.

Out like a light.

Zecora uttered a very long sigh of relief.

Light said:
The pony leaned forward and nabbed a bite of one of the mushrooms, crunched it in his mouth, and immediately fell over.

Out like a light.

Zecora uttered a very long sigh of relief.

Zecora spends the night in meditation. It couldn’t replace true sleep, zebras had gone mad trying, but it was far more restful than wakefulness: while leaving her aware enough of her surroundings to react at speed if she must. In her bed, the cursed unicorn snores and sometimes mumbles. Zecora’s body stands nearby, head low, but her mind is far away and long ago, watching a sunrise over the plains of Zavros. It never ends, the golden sun perched soft on the horizon. Then she becomes aware of a presence beside her. Just standing by her, watching the eternal dawn.

“Grandmother?” Zecora said. Not her true grandmother, of course, just all of Zecora’s memories of her. It would still be a relief to speak with her, for Zecora to talk about her worries and untangle her emotions.

“Afraid not, Striped Lady.”

Zecora’s fragile serenity shatters. She turns to view the stranger. It looks like Light, yet not. “You are not a part of my mind, I think.” She thinks she speaks her native tongue, but in dreams all languages are one.

The pure white unicorn sits, stroking his goatee with a cloven hoof. His body is young, but his eyes are ancient and heavy with something too tranquil for grief. “No, and I apologize for intruding, but your spirit has partly left the physical world. That made it easy to meet you partway, without entering it. It’s a bending rather than a breaking. The need for intervention is great.”

“You speak of the unicorn named Light.”

“I hate to say it, but Light should never have been born. But he was. He should never have awakened his sleeping blood. But he did. Let others brood on past wars and past wrongs. I deal with what is, and with an eye to the future. This cannot stand. Light’s existence is a violation of an ancient treaty. This cannot stand.” The unicorn finally meets her eyes, and his are twin wells of pain. “I ask you to let what has happened to Light stand. I can teach you how to lift the mental influence of that Discord-cursed plant while reinforcing the physical changes. They would become permanent. He would lose his horn and his magic. Let him live out his life as a zebra.”

“But that is…abominable.”

“If the war taught us anything, it was that sometimes, difficult decisions must be made. I would sooner cut off my horn than have this be done, but losing my horn would do no good to anyone. I can’t force you. I wouldn’t if I could. All I can do is ask. There is a part of Light who would be grateful. Not a large part, but it could grow in time. He could come to be at peace with his fate.”

“I have crossed a desert and a mountain range and a sea in search of wonders in distant Equestria. Now that I have found one, you wish for me to destroy it?”

The unicorn looks away. The sky of her mindscape turns bruise-purple on its way to starless black. The sun swings to noon and swells to a grotesque size even as it dims and turns the color of blood. The plains wither, waving grass replaced by sullen patches of dense tangled brambles. Shadows drift across the cracked soil. In the void-sky, monsters so horrible Zecora’s mind refuses to retain their details circle and screech. A dry wind, smelling of dust and cold as ice, sweeps across Zecora. But it isn’t cold that makes her shudder. She tries to awaken, but her sense of her body is gone.

“What have you done!?” Zecora said.

The unicorn refuses to look at her, instead staring at the desolation. “Your people remember the past, Zecora. Better than most, they remember. But they look too much to the past and not enough to the future. This is…a future. This is what will come to pass if the treaty is broken. Will you put your selfish desire for wonders and marvels, or even the rights of a single pony, above making sure this never comes to pass? Can you do that?”

Zecora masters her fear, though not easily. “Ancient one, I fear you have forgotten something. A wrong thing done for the right reason remains wrong.”

The unicorn hangs his head. The pearly tears that fall from his closed eyes make tiny green ferns sprout from the dead soil. But then they wither. “There is right, and there is necessary. In a perfect world, they would always be one and the same. Once, they were. We broke the world while fighting over it, the dragons and the unicorns. Magic now raises the sun and moon. Magic makes the earth fertile, the weather shift, the animals thrive. Magic does it all, where once none was needed. The name of that magic is Harmony, and while it embraces the entire world there are six gemstones that anchor it. Unicorns and dragons labored together to forge them: them the physical, us the mystical. But blind forces can only do so much. The Elements can be guided at need, by those whose spirits are pure enough, to correct more dire imbalances.”

Zecora almost forgot the nightmare around them. Her burning thirst for secret knowledge awakened. “The corruption of Luna. Her saving.”

“Just so, Zecora. The Elements of Harmony have wielders at present. Poor Light was touched by the magic of the most potent of the six, the keystone of keystones: Friendship. It happened in the one remaining place where the old world still lingers: the Forever Free Forest. Free of magic and the need for magic. Nothing else could have awakened the blood that slept in him. Nothing else could have breached the treaty, the Oath of Harmony. The treaty and the magic are one, Zecora. If not for the bracing of six perfectly suitable wielders, the Elements of Harmony would already be crumbling. The fate of the world balances on the point of a needle. But you have the power to undo what has been done.” His eyes open. “If you choose.”

Zecora feels her heart sink. “Is this the only way?”

His eyes slip from hers. “It is the best.”

Zecora scowls. “Tell me of the other ways, ancient one. Or put aside your lies that this is any true choice of mine. Is there another way?”

The unicorn shudders. “Yes, and you know what it is. I can see it in your eyes, smell it in your heart. Not even to save the world would I ask that of you. I must apologize again, Striped Lady. When you awaken, your mind will retain nothing I told you. The knowledge will remain in your heart. You will choose as it commands. As for why, I do you a kindness greater than you will ever realize. Some myths need to remain myths. Some wonders are best forgotten. This world is a good place for those shaped to live in it. To live in this world, knowing what it once was…or might become…would be a curse. That is a burden you don’t have to bear.”

Zecora stares at the unicorn in horror. He gives a sad chuckle and gently takes her cheeks in his hands. His lips brush her forehead for an instant. He retreats. Zecora touches her head, feeling strange. In her heart and mind, the storms of confusion and emotion settle into peaceful stillness. “What did you do?”

“The most I can. I gave you clarity. The malice of the Poison Joke will not be able to plant seeds of discord in you now. Its antics will provoke you, but nothing you can’t ignore. And now one more gift, the third to balance forgetting and clarity. I give you an insight.”

The unicorn makes a dramatic pause. “Poison Joke is well named.”

“That is all?” Zecora said. But then her eyes widen. “It plays jokes, but they are poison. Only it is laughing. Those it touches do not find it funny. I know such people. They cannot bear to be the one at which others laugh. They cannot bear to be the one on whom the joke is played. Laughter is their bane.”

The unicorn gives her a bow of deep respect, an impish smile in his eyes. “Because that insight came from you and not I, I cannot take the memory away from you. Awaken, Striped Lady. Your guest stirs.”

Zecora jerks her head up with a snort, blinking eyelids that feel too heavy. Dawn’s light, what makes it through the canopy of the trees, trickles in through the windows. She had somehow slipped into true sleep and it was a wonder that she hadn’t fallen over. Tatters of memory claw at her, dreams both wonderful and terrible. They fade away with a sense of both loss and relief. But one thing remains: the kind of inspiration that sometimes came in dreams. Her eyes focus.

From her bed, poison-blue eyes stare back.

Zecora bursts out laughing and they narrow.

“O Poison Joke so mean and sly,
let’s see you handle Pinkie Pie.”

ADMINS: Before you have a stroke or delete this or ban me, please read my words here. This is as close to epic-adventure territory as I dare to get. The only quest Light will undertake in the future is an inner voyage of self-discovery, not a prolonged journey through distant lands obtaining the Five Keys of Ancient Unicorn Awesomeness. I’ll quit this side-plot before I go along with any attempt to take it in that kind of direction. Nor will it ever be even indirectly confirmed that the world is or was in any way threatened by Light’s existence. Upon my honor as a writer, I will not. No future twist reveal, no curveball, and no exceptions: may I be banned forever from this site if I break this promise.

META: Light, I hope you enjoyed the above, and further I hope you find it a source of even the smallest inspiration. But I’m deadly serious about Zecora not ever remembering the tiniest bit of that dream. Nothing in her dream is Canon, nor should it even be considered canon within this fan-built universe. Because it isn’t. Maybe Zecora just has a really active imagination shaped by fragments of old legends. Maybe she wasn’t careful enough drugging Light’s food and absorbed things that gave her weird dreams. The truth is uncertain, even in my mind. And in a sense, it’s irrelevant. It’s a foregone conclusion that everything will turn out all right in the end. That’s how these kinds of stories go, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Say what you will about predictability, I have yet to find an ending that can trump “and they all lived happily ever after.” When, of course, it’s done well.

I wish I lived in a world where it was true.

This is a placeholder post, essentially where Chapter Three ends and Chapter Four starts up. I refer you to this elegant and finely-crafted link (+1 internets if you get the refrerence):

I've moved the Recap Pages to a seperate thread (and there's room for other stuff, should PCrs feel so inclined) so they don't clutter up this one. I'm behind but going to try to commit to adding updates every day (or so :P). But that means editing the current chapter-in-the-works post, so don't expect that thread to be frequently bumped by me.

"So!' Red said cheerfully, "What do you guys wan't to do? Hmmm?" She asked as she looked a both of them quizzically waiting for a response.

**Thank Celestia for spell check!**

Ryan looked at Red "Well, I dont know, wanna got browse throught the stores?" He looks back at Diamond.

"What do you think Diamond, want to go check out the stores?"

Ryan asked smiling at her waiting a reply from the Both of them.

Diamond Smiled at Ryan.

"Iwould love to go check out the stores. It is been a while since we did that the last time," Said she and still smiled at ryan while that.

"Are you also in red?", asked she and looked at the pegasus.

"Yeah sure sounds fun! I'm in." She smiled at them. Red followed them as the started to walk. "Man I haven't done this in forever too." Red told them.

Ryan, Diamond, and Red start walking towards the stores

"Well, where do you girls want to go first?"
he asked smiling

Ryan thought to himself
I hope they don't choose some frilly girly store...

"Hm. I don`t know," she said as she looked around.
"Oh that store looks nice,"she pointed at a store and began to walk towards it.

As they were inside Diamond looked at some Saddlebags which they had for sell.

"I could use a new Saddlebag," she thought as she browsed through the other stuff.

When they left the store some time later, Diamond carried her new Saddlebags and had new boots for the upcoming winter into them.
A satisfied look in her face as she looked at them and waited for a short while, untill Ryan and Red came out of the store.

"Oh..." Red said and smiled as she looked at some glasses. "Sweet I love teal!" As the color of the lenses.

She bought them, left the store and stood next Diamond, "Nice saddlebags and boots." Red said as she put on her glasses.

**Ill be gone for a few hours I think or maybe like 30 minutes so don't expect a response too soon**

"Thank you Red. I like your new Glasses," replyed she smiling and continued waitng for Ryan.

Ryan came out of the store, He didnt buy anything.
He walked towards the girls.

"Nice Boots Diamond and nice Glasses Red. Now where do we go next?"

"Well I have new Saddlebags. Now I think I also could need A saddle that fits to the bags and my boots. We could search for a saddle store," said she and grinned at Ryan.

"Also .... I could need something to eat first," Said she laughing.

Red smiled as Diamond laughed, "Yeah I guess I'm hungry too, how about your Ryan?" She asked as she looked at him.

"Sure I could use something to eat, Im Buying though."

Ryan looks around and points at a Resturaunt

"How about over there girls? It seems like a nice place." Ryan said awaiting a reply from them.