The Queen’s Curse
Part One – Raising the Moon
“Thank you for inviting me to the winter carnival, Mayor,” Luna said. The force of her words barely ruffled the mare’s mane.
The Mayor bowed gracefully, briefly showing the pink roots of her ashen mane. “Thank you for attending, your highness,” she said more softly, “You’ve been very popular here since your visit on Nightmare Night.”
“It has been our pleasure to attend,” the princess said and nodded her head in return. The deep blue cape she wore ruffled in the breeze of a crisp winter day. Tiny sapphires glittered in the sunlight like stars in the night. It coordinated perfectly with her mane and tail. Standing in the bright white snow she looked at if she were wrapped in glittering darkness.
Pinkie Pie zoomed past on a pair of neon pink skis, propelling herself with her wings. The Cutie Mark Crusaders followed close behind, Scootaloo pushing them on a large toboggan. The group slid to a stop in front of the Sugarcube Corner treat stand.
Luna trotted up to the stand. “Is this a private party or may anypony attend?” she asked.
Scootaloo, Applebloom, and Sweetie Belle got off their toboggan and bowed to the princess. Pinkie bowed deeply to the princess. “Luna!” she shouted, then bounced off her skis and into the snow. “I’m so glad you could come! We’ve got so much good stuff for you! We made moon cakes just for you. I know it isn’t the right season but here they are!” she squealed. Pinkie pulled a basket full of cakes from the stand and offered it to Luna.
“Why thank you Pinkie,” Luna said, She levitated a moon cake and nibbled on it. “These are excellent. Is that lotus paste filling?” she asked.
“Why, yes,” said Cup Cake from behind the stand, “Only the best for the Princess.” The mare bowed deeply behind the stand full of pastries.
“Thank you Mrs. Cake,” Luna said, and turned to Pinkie. “Thank you for the welcome, Miss Pie,” she said, “I do want to ask you something.” Pinkie sidled up to Luna and touched the princess’ wing with her own.
“What is it, Princess?” Pinkie asked in return.
“What are those things you were wearing on your hooves? It looks like fun.”
“They’re skis!,” Pinkie said, “and they’re loads of fun. Lets find you a pair!” Pinkie scrutinized Luna’s hooves. “I think you’ll fit a stallion’s size nine boot.”
“Huzzah!” the Princess shouted. The blast knocked Scootaloo over. Her wings made a perfect angel pony in the snow. The pastry stand wobbled and some powdered donuts lost their dusting of sugar but it didn’t topple over.
“Arise young one,” Luna said. She levitated Scootaloo out of the snow. “Have a moon cake,” she said, stuffing it into the filly's muzzle, “Mooncakes for all!”
• • •
Rarity suddenly stopped at the corner. Twilight Sparkle bumped into Rarity’s flank and fell on her haunches in the snow.
“Rarity?” Twilight asked, “Why did you stop like that?”
Rarity gasped. “Oh my!” she said. She pushed the other unicorn back around the corner. “I can’t believe it.” Rarity was hyperventilating.
“Oh, what is it?” Twilight asked.
Spike rushed forward. “Whatever it is I’ll take care of it.” he said.
“Nononono don’t look,” Rarity said, “Oh, do look, but don’t let her see you looking. I don't want her to see you looking.” The pale mare hid herself around the corner.
Twilight peered around the corner and Spike jumped onto her back and looked too. Rarity slid in beneath them, in a rather undignified position. “Uh, Rarity,” Twilight said, “do you mean Princess Luna? I know she’s a little creepy but…”
“Did you see? Did you see?” Rarity asked. She was so excited her mane was quivering and tickling Twilight's belly.
“See what?” Twilight asked between giggles.
“Yeah?” Spike asked.
“Did you see… what she’s wearing?”
Twilight looked puzzled. She peered around the corner again. “Skis?” she asked.
“Nononononono, not those silly skis,” Rarity babbled, “The cape.” Rarity quivered. “The deepest blue satin with pale blue sapphires and a ruffled verge,” she said, “Oh I think I shall swoon. Somepony catch me.”
“I shall ca…” Spike announced. He was cut off when she collapsed on the baby dragon, burying him in the snow.
“It’s so wondrous,” Rarity said, quite unswooned on top of Spike.
“Let me guess,” Twilight said, “She’s wearing one of your designs? It’s quite pretty.”
“Pretty?” Rarity demanded, “Merely pretty? Why it’s a cape fit for a princess! She’s actually wearing it. I can’t believe she’s wearing it. I don’t know what to say to her. After that disaster with the pink princess outfit I had to make something more appropriate. I sent her the cape as way of apology. I can’t believe she’s actually wearing it right here in Ponyville.” Rarity squirmed in the snow and squealed, burying Spike deeper.
“Oh seriously, Rarity,” Twilight said, “You need to get up. You’ll suffocate poor Spike.”
A muffled sound came from under the pale unicorn. To Twilight it sounded like, “I don't mind.”
Just then a huge figure slalomed around the corner followed closely by a smaller pink pony and three fillies on a toboggan. “Aah, the dressmaker,” she said, her horn suddenly glowing. Rarity was surrounded with a purple aura and floated up out of the snow. “Thank you so much for your kind gift,” she said, “I think it suits me much better than that frilly pink frock.” She swirled the cape in a regal way.
Rarity tried to bow in midair and managed to tumble head over hooves. “Oh princess,” she said, “The pleasure is all mine.” Her eyes rolled as she spun in the air. The princess righted the floating unicorn and plopped her down in the snow on top of a nearly buried baby dragon.
“Come, Scarcity, ski with me!” the princess said, “I command thee!”
• • •
Twilight opened the door and led a group of ponies out of the approaching dusk and into the library. Three little fillies left their toboggan by the door and shook snow off themselves all over the welcome mat.
Pinkie Pie giggled, “That was the most funnest snow day ever!”
Applejack trotted in, a cider barrel on her back. “Whoo doggies, that was a fun winter day. Now I think it's time for some hot mulled cider,” she said. The earth pony put the barrel down on the floor and bucked a tap into it.
No sooner had she done so than Pinkie rushed in and shouted “Keg stand!” The pink pegasus stood on the barrel on her forehooves and started drinking straight from the tap.
“Pinkie!” Applejack, shouted, “You stop that right now!”
Pinkie giggled and bounced across the room with foam all over her muzzle.
“Oh seriously, Pinkie,” Rarity said, indignantly.
“Pinkie Party!” the Cutie Mark Crusaders cried in perfect sync.
The fillies bounced around the library following Pinkie Pie.
Applejack trotted up behind Applebloom and grabbed her by the tail. “Oh no you don't, little lady,” she said, “This is a party for grown-ups. You need to get on home.”
“Nooooo!” Applebloom whined, “It's still early and we're all wound up!”
“Still, you need to get your little tail on out of here,” her big sister said.
“Awww! Do we all have to go?” Sweetiebelle asked.
“I'm sorry, but yes, little sister,” Rarity said, “This is a big girl party.”
“Now clear out or I'll have Fluttershy scoot you out,” Applejack said.
Fluttershy squeaked and hid behind her pink mane.
“You too,” Rainbow Dash said, sitting and folding her wings.
“Nuts!” Scootaloo said, “Lets get out of here.”
The three Cutie Mark Crusaders reluctantly left, grabbing the toboggan they'd left by the door.
“I know where we can go! Cutie Mark Crusaders Arctic Explorers!” Applebloom shouted as they left.
“Thank goodness they're gone,” Fluttershy said, “It can be so awkward trying to let loose and have fun with them around.”
“They're not so bad,” Twilight said, taking off her winter saddle and drawing off cider into a large pan. “Spiiiike!” she shouted.
The tiny purple dragon appeared on the stairway.
“Spike, get out the mulling spices and cinnamon sticks and get this on the stove. Princess Luna should be here in a few minutes and I want to have some nice warm cider ready for her. Throw some goodies together too. There should be some cookies in the cupboard.” Twilight spread cushions on the floor and turned on the lights.
Spike bounced down the stairs and took the pan into the kitchen.
Applejack poured out a few cups of cider and passed them around. “There's nothing like the good stuff on a cold evening,” she said.
Pinkie sat up and begged like a dog. Her tongue lolled out of her muzzle, still dripping with cider foam.
“First ponies first,” Applejack said, giving a cup to Rainbow Dash.
“Ooh yeah,” Rainbow said as she slurped the foamy head off her cup. She snuggled up next to Fluttershy who received her own cup.
Applejack passed cider around to everypony, then last of all gave three cups to Pinkie.
Pinkie gulped down one immediately, then sat on the floor alternately sipping the other two. She grinned and giggled with a foamy beard. “This is the good stuff,” she said.
“Darn tootin!” she said. Applejack sat with her own cup of cider. “Fresh milled is nice but once it's fermented it gets nice and smooth it's just a wonder,” she continued.
“Not too much imbibing before the princess gets here,” Twilight warned.
“Who, me?” Pinkie asked, fluttering her eyelashes.
“Especially you,” Twilight said.
Rarity sat with her hooves crossed delicately. “Even at an informal get-together she's still the Princess and we must be on our best behavior,” she said.
As if on cue there was a knock at the door. Twilight trotted to the door and opened it for Princess Luna. She was accompanied by two guards who looked inside for a moment but stayed outside.
“Greetings, my subjects, Twilight,” she said, entering.
All the ponies stood and bowed. Pinkie wobbled just a little.
Twilight bowed before the princess. “Welcome, Princess,” she said, “Please make yourself at home in this humble library.”
“Thank you, Twilight,” Luna said quietly. She hung her cloak on a peg by the door and settled on a large purple cushion embroidered with stars and crescent moons.
“Thanks for joining us, Princess,” Twilight said, “It's so nice of you to spend time with all of us.”
“It was a wonderful day out here in Ponyville,” the princess said, “But to tell you the truth I'm ready for a bit of rest after moonrise.”
“It was great!” Pinkie squealed, “What a fantabulous day of skiing and sledding and eating yummy yummy stuff.” She giggled and burped.
The other ponies settled on cushions spread around the library.
In a moment Spike brought out a tray of steaming mugs with cinnamon sticks in them. He offered the cider to Luna first, then to the other ponies. Pinkie, who had already finished three cups of cold cider, took the last mug and stirred it with the cinnamon stick.
Luna sipped her hot cider. “Most excellent,” she said.
Applejack bowed without rising. “Thank you kindly, Princess,” she said.
Spike walked around with a tray of cookies. Pinkie didn't take any. She was too busy wobbling and going, “Woooo wooo,” as her head bobbled back and forth.
Princess Luna giggled. “I see Miss Pie enjoys the cider as well,” she said quietly.
Twilight rolled her eyes. “I'm sorry, Princess,” she said, “I think Pinkie has had a bit too much to drink.”
“Intoxication tends to bring out our true natures, Twilight,” she said, “and her words are honest. You enjoy the fruits of the orchard and the pleasures of the evening, don't you Pinkie?”
“I sure do!” she giggled, “It's nice to have a good roll in the sunshine but nothing compares to the soft kiss of the moonlight on your cheeks.” Pinkie turned to show off her rosy plot.
Rarity harrumphed. Applejack laughed. Rainbow Dash took a good look, then whispered something to Fluttershy and they both giggled quietly.
“I guess I'm one of your biggest fans,” Pinkie said, “and it's only three-hundred and two days until Nightmare Night!”
“Well, Pinkie,” Luna said, “night is falling right now and I have a schedule to keep and a show to put on. How would you like a very special showing for just you and your group of friends?”
Pinkie went, “Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” and rolled around on the cushions, crashing into Fluttershy. The three pegasi ended up in a tangle of legs and feathers.
“Come, fine ponies,” Luna said, rising, “evening falls and the time rapidly approaches. She strode to the staircase floating her cider along in front of her.
The ponies and one little dragon gathered on the library's balcony as the last glow of the sunset faded. Aloysius flew in and perched on the railing to watch.
Princess Luna sat down her empty mug and rose into the air. The lights of Ponyville reflected off her spread wings as she rose. Her mane and tail swirled through the air, joined by trails of swirling energy.
A silvery glow appeared on the far horizon. Clouds high in the atmosphere were lit by its glow as the moon began to rise. The owl blinked as the first beam of moonlight shone on the great oak tree.
The moon rose until Luna appeared in silhouette against its light. Pinkie fell over backward with her legs in the air, happily giggling.
After a long moment the Princess landed and nuzzled Pinkie's frizzy mane. “Now, my subjects,” she said, “I think it's time for me to go back to the inn. It's been a long sleepless day and I think I shall retire for an evening nap.” She led the group down and back out of the library. All the ponies followed her out the door.
• • •
The large group of ponies walked along in the softly falling snow. Street lights cast pools of warm light along the street. Between them the glow of the fur-wrapped moon fell on the newly-fallen snow. Luna's guards walked by her side. Spike rode on Twilight's back, facing backward and making faces at Pinkie, who was making them back with the help of nose glasses.
Pinkie trotted along happily for a while until something odd happened. Her wings started to vibrate. She bounced off the ground and left two parallel rows of hoofprints. Her nose glasses tumbled into the snow. Twilight looked at the mare and winced. “What is it, Pinkie?” she asked.
“I donno,” she said and shrugged, “I’ve never had anything weird happen with my wings before. Whatever it is must be another doozy.” She shrugged. Then her pink-feathered wings vibrated again. “Y-y-you aren’t going to burst into flames again, are you Twilight?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes.
“I wasn’t planning on it, Pinkie,” Twilight said, rolling her eyes.
Further down the street a dark cloaked figure came into the light. Whoever it was carried a large package in her teeth. The strange pony wobbled as she walked.
Pinkie giggled. “I think somepony has had too much cider.”
“I think you've had too much cider,” said Applejack.
The figure came closer and suddenly collapsed. The round package rolled away into the snow. Everypony rushed to her side.
Twilight pulled back the hood to reveal a zebra’s face. “Zecora!” Twilight shouted, “Are you alright?”
The zebra in the snow didn’t respond. She only made a moaning sound. Twilight touched her nose to Zecora’s forehead. “She has a bad fever,” she said.
Luna came closer. “Something is very wrong with this zebra,” she said.
The package continued to roll on its own, leaving shallow furrow in the snow.
“Oh my,” Fluttershy said quietly, “There’s some poor creature in that sack.” She trotted to it. “Come out little critter. There’s nothing to fear.”
The package wiggled but didn’t open. Fluttershy pulled back the edge of the bag and its contents rolled out into the snow. She stood frozen staring at the severed head of an earth pony. Most of the hide covering its face was rotted away. Its lips were gone and its long teeth were stuck in a hideous rictus grin. The thing’s jaw moved and one lidless bloodshot eye swiveled in its socket.
Fluttershy squealed in terror and zoomed off into the falling snow. She was out of sight in a moment. Angel fell from her back into the street. He sniffed at the strange head, then looked up at Luna. Pinkie stared at it, her wings quivering. “Zzzzombie!” she shouted, “A servant of the Queen of the Undead!” Her mane frizzed more than usual.
Exposed neck vertebrae moved, pushing the severed head along through the snow.
Luna approached, surrounded by her bat-winged guards, and stared down at the thing. Her horn glowed. She swept Angel away and lifted the head from the ground. She pulled an earring from one of its rotted ears, taking part of the ear away with it. Luna dropped the head, which landed in the snow with a whuff.
Luna turned the small silver earring and ear fragment in the air. Perfect square-cut emeralds set in tarnished silver glittered in the moonlight. All the ponies gathered around. “I know the style of this jewelry,” Luna said, “This poor creature came from the Altai Necropolis.” She looked at Twilight. “Are you familiar with the story of the undead army?” the Princess asked.
Twilight nodded. “The army of the dead bound to serve their queen after death?” Twilight asked in return. Despite the scarf she wore she shivered. “I assumed it was just a legend.”
“It’s as much a legend as the mare in the moon,” the Princess said, “There was once an army of executed criminals magically put in this undead state and unleashed on the battlefield by their queen. Not only were they bound by dark magic, but they could convert other ponies to their condition.” She dropped the earring in the snow. “Their bite can spread it to others, turning them into more undead soldiers. When their queen fell in battle her body was entombed in the necropolis along with an undead army to protect her until she rose again. They've been sealed in for more than a thousand years.”
“That pretty little earring was made by ponies who turned others into an undead army?” Rarity asked, “How could evil ponies have such a fabulous fashion sense?”
“No,” Luna said, “This isn’t one of them. At one time all the ponies at the old royal court wore such finery. This is a pony who was changed by the bite of the undead.” There were tears in her eyes. She looked down at the head that was wriggling in the snow. Tears ran down her muzzle and dripped from her chin. “I don’t know who you were, old friend,” she whispered, “but you didn’t deserve this fate.”
Luna’s horn glowed brightly. An aura of blue flame appeared around the head. The surrounding snow melted and almost instantly turned to steam. The head rose from the ground. What was left of its skin peeled away and vanished in flame. It quickly turned to a bare skull and cracked in the heat. The skull blackened and crumbled. In moments the flames faded and a small shower of dust and tooth fragments fell into the snow.
Luna shook her head sadly. Tears flew from her chin.
“Are you okay, Luna?” Twilight asked.
“I’ll be fine, Twilight,” she said, “It’s more important to take care of the living.” She walked over to where Zecora lay in the snow. Applejack had cradled the zebra’s head. Luna pulled Zecora’s cloak back. There was a bloody poultice of dried herbs bound to the zebra’s foreleg. “This zebra has been bitten,” she said.
“Oh, Zecora,” Twilight cried. She gently nuzzled the zebra’s ear. “Will she survive?” She asked.
“I hope so,” Luna said, “If she dies of the fever she will become like the poor pony whose head she brought here.”
“What can we do?” Twilight asked.
Luna said, “We have to get her to the hospital quickly. It is possible to survive. I was bitten long ago. The suffering was terrible but I lived.”
Twilight nodded. “I’ll do whatever I can,” she said.
“Good,” Luna responded, “If the tombs of the necropolis are open there may be more zombies abroad. Raise the alarm. Find the mayor. Get everypony indoors. I’ll take this Zecora to the hospital myself. Oh, and I’ll need Spike.”
Twilight bowed to the princess and started running toward the central square. Spike hopped off her back and bowed to the princess.
“Rainbow Dash,” the Princess said, turning to the pegasus, “Go with my guard and gather the weather teams. Stop this snow. I want it over by morning. Nightwing, go with Rainbow Dash and protect her if there are more of these foul creatures about.”
Rainbow and the guard both saluted and took off into the gray sky.
“The rest of you, go home and stay off the streets. Defend yourselves if you need to. These creatures can be disabled by ordinary weapons but only the hottest magical fire can destroy them permanently.”
“Omigosh omigosh! I have to find a flamethrower!” Pinkie cried. She kicked up snow and spread her wings.
“Pinkie,” Luna said quietly. Pinkie lifted herself into the air.
“Pinkamena!” Luna shouted. The blast sent snow swirling into the air.
Pinkie dropped out of the sky, only recovering a few feet from the ground. Her hooves hit the snow with a soft ‘pluff’. She slid to a stop in the street. The pink pegasus turned to look at Luna. “Yes, Luna?” she asked, her ears down.
“That won’t help,” Luna said, “Only magical fire can put an end to the misery of these poor creatures. A flamethrower will just set them on fire. It would turn them into charred skeletons that can still walk and bite.”
Pinkie put her head down. She nodded.
“I do have an important mission for you,” Luna said more quietly. She turned to her remaining guard. “Cinder, go with Pinkie and try to find Fluttershy. Her cottage is on the edge of the Everfree Forest. If she’s there she may be in danger. Don’t stay too long if she isn’t at home. If something goes wrong get to safety immediately.”
The dark pegasus stallion saluted and trotted to Pinkie’s side. Angel jumped onto Pinkie’s back and the three of them took off into the night sky.
Luna lifted Zecora’s limp form into the air in a cloud of cool blue glow. Spike followed her down the street. “Spike,” she asked quietly, “Which way is the hospital?
• • •
Pinkie Pie rode the air currents very irregularly. Still, Cinder had trouble keeping up with her frantic flapping. Far below was a soft white landscape in the moonlight. Cloud shadows and showers of snow obscured the view of the ground in places.
“Do you have trouble preening?” Pinkie asked, “I’m just asking because I didn’t always have wings. You’d never know I didn’t always have wings but I didn’t. I was born an earth pony. I grew up on a rock farm. Did I mention that already?”
“At least twice,” Cinder answered rapidly, trying to get a word in.
“Anyway I have the worst trouble preening. My feathers want to go all frizzy. I use Mane and Tail on them and everything and it doesn’t help and it tastes awful. Aww, but you don’t have feathers on your wings, do you?”
“No,” he said. The pegasus rolled his slit-pupiled eyes.
“So I guess you don’t have any trouble preening then? I have the worst trouble preening. Rainbow tried to teach me but she doesn’t care much about it so maybe she isn’t the best teacher. I asked Fluttershy but she says the bunnies usually preen her wings. They’re good at it but they run away from me when I ask them. I guess bunnies are skittish. They don’t run away from Fluttershy but I suppose she’s a little more calm and gentle than I am. Bunnies like calm and gentle. I tried to wake them up in the spring once and they all ran away.”
Cinder rolled his eyes again.
“There it is!” Pinkie shouted. She started circling down toward Fluttershy’s cottage. The trees were covered with a thick icing of snow. The two pegasi dropped into the little chicken yard. There were no lights inside and no tracks in the snow except small animal tracks. The chickens were making some noise but otherwise everything was eerily quiet. Pinkie’s wings twitched.
Pinkie trotted up to the door and knocked. “Hellooooo! Fluttershy?” she called. She looked in one window after another. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” she squealed. She flew up and looked in through the upper windows while Cinder circled the building. An owl perched in a tree nearby watched him warily. Pinkie returned to the front door. “I don’t see anything,” she said. Angel hopped off her back and opened the door with a tiny key he pulled out of his ear. The bunny scampered inside.
The two pegasi walked in, leaving the door open. The interior was dark. A match suddenly flared to life as Angel lit a candle. He clutched the candle holder in his teeth and scampered around the whole place. In a few minutes he had returned. He shook his head sadly. “Not here, eh?” Pinkie said. The rabbit shook his head again. He hopped onto her back.
In the darkness outside there was an eerie squawking sound. Elizabeak appeared in the doorway surrounded by snow. The chicken ran up to Pinkie and squawked loudly. Angel looked down at her, startled. He grabbed Pinkie’s mane and gestured toward the open door. The pegasi ran to the door and looked outside. Chickens were running around in the snow.
A loud thump came from the chicken coop. A winged equine shape appeared in the door. It slid down the icy ramp on all fours and fell onto its side in the snow. Pinkie and Cinder ran to it. “Fluttershy? Are you okay?” she asked. Suddenly Pinkie’s wings began to shudder so much it nearly knocked her over.
Angel jumped off Pinkie’s back with the candle. Its light revealed a ghastly gray face with an empty eye socket. It wore a rotten bridle. The pegasus with ragged wings righted itself and snapped at Angel. His candle fell into the snow and went out.
Pinkie and Cinder backed off in a panic. Angel ran to his hutch. The undead pegasus raised its head and snarled. There was a rusty snaffle bit in its lipless muzzle. Blood and feathers dripped from its teeth.
The guard stood firm and lowered his head. A strange orange light appeared in his mouth. In a moment he let loose a stream of fire breath. The zombie pegasus’ tangled mane ignited. The sudden burst of flame lit the scene like orange daylight. Panicked chickens scattered in the snow. Angel peered out the door of his hutch. The burning pegasus stamped in the snow and ran at the other two. Pinkie and Cinder both took off. To their horror so did their pursuer.
It slowly rose through the swirling snow. The other two easily outdistanced it but it followed relentlessly despite the flames rapidly spreading across its back. Cinder circled and dove at it. He sent another stream of flame across its side. One wing caught fire. The undead thing began to lose altitude and went into a spin. It spiraled downward.
Cinder dove after it. The thing crashed through the branches of a spruce tree and into the snow beneath. It raised its head, which was rapidly becoming a smoking skull. Embers swirled around its grinning face and burned in its empty eye socket. The other blackened eye stared sightlessly. The snow had put out most of the flames and its roasted hide smoked. One ragged wing flapped uselessly.
The dark pegasus landed and took a deep breath. He released a torrent of flame directly at the creature. Its head shook and its skull cracked in the flames. The thing collapsed into a pile of burning bones. Burning tree branches fell on the pile, adding to the pyre.
Pinkie landed behind Cinder. “You can breathe fire!” she shouted, “That’s sooo cool!”
He turned to her. “You haven’t seen anything yet,” he said, “When I’ve eaten chili I can do that out both ends at the same time.”
• • •
Twilight walked into the isolation lab. Though the glass she could see Zecora in a huge tub. Only her head and neck rose out of the ice water filling the tank. An IV full of clear fluid was connected to a needle in the side of her neck. Monitors with cables attached to the zebra’s body surrounded her. Her mane looked terrible and her ears hung limp at the sides of her head.
Spike sat at a counter surrounded by papers and scrolls. He rolled up a message, slipped a seal with the letter C on it onto it and sent it on its way in a puff of green fire. The dragon took a bite from a chocolate glazed donut and nodded to Twilight as she entered. A hospital property bag containing heavy jewelry lay on the counter. Twilight could see bite marks in the gold of the thick spiral leg band. She shuddered.
Twilight approached and bowed to the princess. An IV bag full of blood hung from one of Luna’s forelegs and she had an IV port with a plastic connector taped to the side of her neck.
“Are you okay, Princess?” Twilight asked.
“I’m fine, Twilight,” she said, raising her foreleg, “They’re trying something to save the zebra. I’m the only living pony who has survived this so they’re taking plasma out of my blood and giving it to her. The doctor thinks it may transfer some resistance. She’s also lost a lot of blood and there are no other zebras and no zebra blood in Ponyville.”
Twilight nodded. “The Mayor has ordered everypony to stay indoors until further notice. The streets are empty. Rainbow Dash has her team clearing the clouds. The snow has stopped in Ponyville already. There’s still a little coming down over Everfree.”
The princess nodded. “I haven’t gotten any reports of further incidents but there are many ponies coming to Ponyville to help with the emergency. I’d like your help too if you’re willing.”
“Of course. I’ll do anything I can,” she said.
“Good. You have some fire abilities so you’re an asset. I have other fire ponies coming as fast as they can. Lucifer should be here by morning. I believe you’ve met him already. I want you to go into Everfree with him and find out what’s going on. If there are more zombies I want to know about it.” She spread a large map on the counter. It was extensively annotated with a quill in a very fancy archaic style. “This place that’s marked as a mountain is the necropolis. It’s surrounded by a large wall. I know of entrances on the East and West. There may be others. It’s been overgrown by forest for centuries so there’s no telling what’s in there or what condition the wall is in.”
Twilight examined the map. “That’s not far from Zecora’s house,” she said, “and uncomfortably close to Fluttershy’s cottage.”
Luna nodded. “Your main mission will be reconnaissance. We need to find out where the zombie came from, how many more there may be, and if possible stop them leaving the necropolis. Destroy them if you can but don’t put yourself in danger. That’s why I’m sending only fire ponies at first. The two of you have a natural defense and can both teleport away from danger. A team of fire pegasi are on their way as well.”
Twilight nodded. “I’ll get my things together and be ready in an hour.”
Luna nodded in return. “I’ll have a guard find you some fireproof gear and another map.” She turned to Spike. “Spike, are you prepared to go as well? We could use your unique abilities.”
The tiny dragon looked up from his work. “Heck yeah! I’ve missed out on so many adventures. If there are zombies involved I’m totally into it. There’s no way I’m napping through this!”
Luna smiled. “Take plenty of paper and my seals,” she said, “I want reconnaissance reports.”
Spike stood on his stool and saluted.
There was a commotion outside the door. Pinkie Pie rushed in with a hen hanging onto her frizzy mane. “Princess!” she cried, “You won’t believe it! Cinder can shoot fire out both ends!”
Luna looked annoyed. “I knew half that already,” she said, “Have you found Fluttershy?”
“Oh. No! But there was a… zombie in her chicken coop,” she said. Angel, who was perched on her back, looked around the side of Pinkie’s neck and nodded.
Cinder crowded in behind Pinkie. He tried to bow but it was impossible with Pinkie’s pink butt and wings in the way. “Princess,” he said hurriedly, “We searched Fluttershy’s cabin and didn’t find her. There was a zombie pegasus there. It attacked and I burned it. There’s nothing left of it but ashes.”
“Thank you,” she said. Luna thought for a moment. “Could the pegasus fly?”
Cinder nodded. “Yes, but not very well.”
Luna nodded. “Join the patrols here in Ponyville for now,” she said, “Watch the sky and burn any zombie pegasi that come close if you can but don’t put yourself in danger. They aren’t very fast or smart so outrun them if there are too many. Do what you can and be sure to report any encounters.”
The pegasus saluted and left. Pinkie stood awkwardly in the doorway with Elizabeak pecking at her ear.
Luna turned to Twilight. “We really do have a situation. Still, I don’t want you going out until morning. We have a few more hours to plan and I hope more help can arrive by then. Now that the snow has stopped it will be your ally. Everything that moves on the ground is easy to track in fresh snow.”
Nurse Redheart appeared and nudged Pinkie aside. She was pushing a very tall IV stand with a bag of blood on it. “Excuse me, Miss Pie,” she said. She approached Luna and bowed. “Princess, I have your blood cells back from the lab. They’re ready for another pint to centrifuge.”
Luna presented the side of her neck with the connector. The nurse carefully attached the IV to it and loosened the valve. The deep red royal blood flowed down toward the connector attached to the princess’ neck. The nurse collected the bag full of blood from the princess’ leg and bustled out of the room.
“Twilight,” the princess said, “I hope we can end this situation tomorrow. What I need now is for you to find out exactly what’s happening and contain the situation as much as possible.”
Twilight bowed deeply to the princess and shoved Pinkie out of the room.
• • •
Pinkie Pie climbed the stairs to the loft above Sugarcube Corner, her wings drooping. Tears formed in her eyes. She had searched everywhere she could think of in Ponyville. Fluttershy was nowhere to be found and there was nopony out on the streets except for Luna’s guards. There was nothing more she could do.
She tottered in and collapsed on her bed. The bed beneath her made a strange squeak. The rabbit and chicken riding on Pinkie’s back fell off. Elizabeak perched top of a lamp. Angel scampered around the tiny loft until he found a blanket. An alligator was already wrapped in it. He yanked on the blanket and dumped Gummy onto the floor.
Pinkie rolled over. The bed squeaked again. The room was strangely cold and it made her wings shiver. Pinkie stared at a window that was partly open. A little pile of snow had gathered on the floor in the moonlight. Pinkie’s eyes went wide. The window she used to come and go by air was open. She never left it open in winter. She thought back and was sure she’d closed it when she left in the morning.
She reached out and flipped on the bedside lamp. The room looked fine. Some balloons bobbed around on strings. A book lay open on the table surrounded by a pile of stones, a bucket of turnips, a pile of lint, and a flour sack. Story time would have to wait. A bunny and alligator were fighting over a blanket on the floor. Everything looked perfectly normal. Then she saw the closet door was slightly open. The darkness inside suddenly looked threatening. Pinkie’s tail twitched.
She rolled out of bed and walked to the closet door. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” she said halfheartedly. Nothing moved in the closet. She grabbed a broom in her teeth. “Oday thombie, you’d getter tome oud right now or Binkie’s doing to boke you!” she shouted. Nothing made a sound.
She poked the broomstick into the closet and it hit something soft. A large rectangular object fell out, pushing the door open. Pinkie squealed and backed away. The broom clattered on the floor. A hay bale costume lay where it fell. Party hats and noisemakers scattered across the floor. Pinkie looked into the closet. It was filled with Nightmare Night costumes and one very fancy outfit in a bag from the Carousel Boutique. Nothing was out of place. It was just messy.
She put the broom down and headed back to the bed. She plopped on it heavily. This time there was a loud squeal from under the bed. Pinkie lay on the bed with her eyes wide again. She turned over very slowly and stared at Angel. The bunny shrugged and let go of the blanket.
Pinkie looked over the side of the bed. The edge of the gaudy pink and blue comforter moved. Pinkie sat and shuddered. Angel suddenly dove under the bed.
“What?” Pinkie asked herself. She looked over the edge again. There were muffled sounds from beneath. A bubblegum pink tail tip swished out from under the bed. Pinkie squealed. “Fluttershy!” she shouted. Pinkie dove off the bed and overturned it. Elizabeak squawked angrily and ran around the room. Fluttershy lay on the floor with Angel. Pinkie jumped on top of the mare and squeezed her tight. “I was so worried about you!” she yelled much too loudly in Fluttershy’s ear.
• • •
Applejack held a lantern in her teeth. The large axe strapped across her back wobbled as she trotted. “Don’t worry, Sam,” she said to an apple tree as she passed, “This isn’t for you. It’s for any stinking zombie unlucky enough to get in mah way.” She trotted further from the barn and out into the forest.
The shapes of familiar trees were threatening in the moonlight. “When I was a little filly and the sun was going down…” she tried to sing but the words stuck in her throat. The sound died away among the trees and soft snow. Lantern light reflecting off the eyes of an owl in a hollow tree startled her but she continued on her mission in silence.
Three sets of tiny hoofprints led away from Sweet Apple Acres.
In the distance she could see a dim light. The earth mare sped up to a canter through the trees. She came closer and could see a flickering light in a window high above. The earth pony hung her lantern on a cut-off branch below the Cutie Mark Crusader treehouse. “Applebloom!,” she called, “Are you up thar?”
• • •
There was a frantic knocking on the door. Twilight levitated the door latch and a tiny white bunny ran into the library. He scampered up to the unicorn and held out a blue card in his paws. It said ‘It’s a Party’ on the front surrounded by felt cut-out balloons.
“A party invitation?” Twilight asked. She levitated the card and unfolded it. She read the messily scrawled message aloud, “Dear Twilight. Fluttershy is okay. I found her under the bed. Please tell Woona. Pinkie Pie.”
Twilight looked a little confused. “Woona?” She rolled her eyes. “That’s so Pinkie Pie,” she said, “At least Fluttershy is okay. I don’t think I want to know whose bed she was under of how Pinkie found her there.”
Spike came down the stairs with a load of equipment. He dumped snowshoes and crampons next to a bag full of paper, quills, and seals.
“Spike,” Twilight said, “Take a message.”
The dragon grabbed a quill and bottle of ink. Twilight dictated, “Dear Princess C… Luna. Pinkie Pie has found Fluttershy and says she’s okay. I have the gear your guard delivered and I’m nearly ready to go.” She looked out the window. The eastern horizon was beginning to brighten. The full moon and bright snow made it look closer to dawn than it really was but sunup was getting close. “That’s all for now. Twilight Sparkle.”
Spike rolled up the scroll and slipped a seal with the letter L onto it. He breathed out a puff of flame and the paper turned into a green swirl in the air. It slipped out of an open window high up in the tree.
Pinkie Pie has wings because she should, really. She did in the pitch for the series and she’s based on Surprise. It’s just more fun that way. Since this story follows my other fics like New Moon where she gets a pair of wings, she has wings. Any argument against Pinkie wings is invalid because she's Pinkie.
Mooncake? That sounds like a shipping pair.
Rarity and Luna make reference to a deleted scene from Luna Eclipsed. In the scene Rarity makes Luna a pink princess outfit to soften her scary image, which she hates and tears off with her teeth, leading to another Pinkie freakout. It was cut for time, which explains why Rarity isn’t in the episode.
That cider can really hit you suddenly.
Flutterdash? Maybe just a bit. Moar later. Keep reading.
The zombies are based on a combination of the classic zombie created as a punishment and to be an undead servant and the more recent contagious walking dead zombie. I figure the combination makes sense in a magical land like Equestria. An army of the undead would be like a magical atom bomb. It would be more useful in war than a Sonic Rainboom anyway.