Message from the Princess
The night wore on until the early hours of the morning. Twilight couldn't remember the last time she's had this much fun. Laughing until her sides ached, eating so many sweets she thought she'd throw up. Drinking cold apple cider until she was sure the others could hear here slosh when she walked. Dancing until she was weak in the knees. It wasn't until she finally flopped down on the nearby bench that she realized her group had grown significantly smaller than it had been at the beginning of the evening.
Big Mac, she remembered was the first to go, taking Apple Bloom with him. Shortly after that Rarity and Sweetie Belle had returned to their home. They'd lost Pinkie Pie and Maude somewhere after the apple pie eating contest. Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo had fallen asleep in the cool grass under a tree. Twilight hesitated to wake them before Shining Armor pulled her down the path. Now it was just her, Spike, Shining Armor, Braeburn and Applejack, from what she could tell those two were on the verge of falling out from the shear amount of spiked cider they'd consumed. It was more than apparent by Braeburn's slurred words and lopsided eyelids.
It seemed that Spike may have had too much to drink as well, he'd been complaining for a long while that he didn't feel well. Spike leaned against the bench next to Twilight, trying to hoist himself up, but was too weak too. Twili gave him a boost, helping him lay out on his stomach. A satisfied groan escaped his lips as his eyes drifted closed.
“Alright you three, I'm gonna take my light weight Cuz back home. I figure you three should be getting home as well.” Applejack barked, her voice so loud it startled Twilight. Applejack's own words were starting to fall apart under the weight of the alcohol.
Twilight got up from the bench to give Applejack a proper goodbye, but was shocked when she leaned over giving Twilight a hard hug, her breath smelling sweet of spiked apples. “Easy Applejack, I'm breakable.” Twilight giggled and returned the hug.
“We all know that ain't true.”
When Applejack finally pulled away she swayed back into Braeburn's waiting arms. A wisp of breath was sucked between her teeth. “Easy there Cuz, I ain't carrying you all the way back to Sweet Apple Acres.” Braeburn helped steady her on her feet, making sure to keep an arm wrapped across her back to keep her from toppling again.
“You gonna be alright getting home?” Shining Armor asked, resting a hand on each of their shoulders. Applejack opened her mouth to respond, but only a burp came out before she collapsed into fit of laughter. Her cheeks were flushed red, her eyelids hung heavily over her green eyes. After the laughter died away she managed a nod.
“If there's one thing an Apple can do, it hold their booze. Goodnight you two, behave yerselves.” She urged her cousin on. Braeburn tipped his hat and grunted under the extra weight of Applejack's flailing body. Twilight stood next to Shining Armor as they watched the pair disappear in the shadows of the dark building around them.
“We should get home ourselves, Twily.” Shining Armor took her hand like he use to when she was young.
Twilight nodded, pushing her wire rimmed glasses up her muzzle. “Lemme grab Spike and we'll be on our way.” When Twilight touched Spike's smooth scales she pulled away immediately. He was hot to the touch, clammy with sweat. Worse of all, Spike didn't respond to her touch like he normally would when she touched him. It wasn't until that moment that Twilight remembered what Luna had told her at the beginning of the evening. Her heart started pounding in her chest at the thought that Spike had been sick this whole time and she hadn't quarantined him as Luna instructed her to. Right now her friends could be carrying the same illness.
Twilight jolted when she felt Shining Armor's hand on her shoulder. “What's wrong?” It had been a question she'd been inadvertently dodging all evening and now there was no denying that something may be wrong.
“Spike has a fever.” Twilight turned to look at Shining Armor, who was already palming the small dragon's forehead, pulling away from the heat. “Careful, Shining Armor. When dragon's run a fever it's not unlike touching boiling water.”
Shining Armor shook his hand out, shooting her a glance that said 'you could have told me sooner'. “Sorry.” Twilight slipped out of her long sleeve cashmere sweater, wrapping it around the small dragon before picking him up. Spike weighed as much as an eight year old child, his arms and legs were gangling, flopping around her like tentacles. The first few steps Twilight took towards home were easy, but she nearly tripped over his limbs at one point. Shining Armor managed to wrap her arms around his sister, keeping her from falling.
“Here,” Shining Armor cradled the dragon against his broad chest. His modest muscles tensed against the tight blue t-shirt he wore. “I'll carry him. Not saying that you can't, mind you, but we should get him home as soon as possible.” Twilight sighed, she wasn't about to argue with her brother. Secretly she was glad Shining Armor took the brunt, her little dragon wasn't so little anymore.
They walked through the eerily empty streets, the further they got to the edge of town and away from the street lamps, the darker it got. There was a low grade green mist gathering around the dew soaked grass. Even the full moon above had a green tint, it did little to light their path.
Shining Armor grunted and slowed his steps along the cobblestone. “I guess I drank more than I thought.” He whispered. Twilight knew that it was just a thought spoken aloud, but turned an looked at him.
“What?” Twilight could see little sparks catching at the tip of his unicorn horn and nothing happened. Something was blocking the stallion's natural magic ability.
“I can't seem to cast a glow charm.” Shining Armor grunted again before laughing. It wasn't his normal carefree laugh, but a nervous one that Twilight very rarely heard.
“Don't strain yourself.” Twilight rested a hand against his shoulder. “Here, let me try.” Twilight closed her eyes and concentrated on a single glowing light residing in the back of her mind. It was the first spell she'd ever learned how to cast, and the easiest in he repertoire. When she opened her eyes, they were still standing in the darkness. The spell failed and all she managed to conjure was a shower of rainbow sparks. “That is...odd.” She thought out loud.
“Well, how much did you drink tonight?” Shining Armor hefted the sleeping Spike and started off towards her castle in the distance.
Twilight lagged behind, lost in a new wave of concern. “I didn't drink anything. You know I'm underage.” The idea of drinking illegally offended her, but it was lost in the heavy laugh of her older brother.
“I don't think that would have stopped those Flim Flam fellas from selling to you.” Shining Armor stepped around the fence at the very edge of town, taking a shortcut through the field. The ground was a bit uneven, but it would shave several minutes off of their trek.
When Twilight stepped onto the grass, the mist rippled around the ankles of her white knee-high socks. She was able to confirm that there was a visible green tint to it that matched the same tint of the moon. It caused her to tremble so violently that her teeth chattered. There was something unnatural about all of it, something otherworldly was at hand.
“Catch up, sis. I can't carry your pet and open the door all on my own.” Shining Armor was so far ahead, he was almost at the castle. Because she'd spent so long lost in thought, she'd not even noticed she was alone now. A prickle moved up her spine, urging her to pick up the pace. The fast walk, turned into a jaunt, before breaking into a full on run. It had gotten so dark that she couldn't see more than a few feet in front of her, which is why she hammered into the back of Shining Armor sending all three of them sprawling into the cold wet grass.
Shining Armor grumbled and got to his hands and knees. Spike was shifting around a few feet in front of them. He was coughing, almost gagging on something. “Twi...light.” There was a heavy burp as if he'd vomited and a spark of green flame lit the darkness, then cast them right back into it, this time it was blacker than before.
Twilight crawled over to the small dragon, running her fingers up his back soothingly. The scales threatened to catch her fingers on fire, she pulled away as her fingers touched his shoulder blades. “Are you alright, Spike?” There was no response for a long beat. Spike shifted to lay his hot face against her thigh, she could feel his heat radiating through her pleated skirt, “Spike? Shining Armor, Spike's getting worse.” Spike weakly thrust something into her hand, it was scroll from Princess Celestia.
A single shaft of blue light lit cut through the darkness. The jingling keys brought Twilight's eyes up to her brother, who was moving towards her. He held out his tiny key chain light, angling it around the cool, wet grass. The light beam wasn't much, but it managed to light up the pitch black enough for Twilight too see Spike, the red tint on his cheeks spreading to the rest of his face. The beam darted past her at first and then slid back until it found her and the dragon again. “Alright, let's get him inside.” Shining Armor held his hand out to her, Twilight didn't realize Shining Armor was that close, his sudden appearance startled her. She took his hand and was pulled to her feet with ease. There was a sharp pain in her knee from where she banged it in the fall. Her concern for Spike kept her from noticing it until now. Luckily that was the only injury she sustained.
Shining Armor held his key chain flashlight out to her. “Here, light up Spike so I can pick him up.” He helped angle the beam down to the dragon, so he could scoop him up. “Alright, let's go.” Shining Armor grunted and headed out with Twilight casting the beam along the cobblestone path that lead to the front door. Twilight slipped the scroll into her bra, fishing her keys out from her fanny pack. The largest one slide into the lock easy, turning the tumblers until she heard the lock click twice. Then she pushed the door opened.
Twilight flipped the switch on the wall, filling the long hall inf front of them with a warm light. The same warm light flooded out onto Shining Armor, luring him into the house. Already the warm smell of her home was easing away her anxiety. At least she knew they'd be safer in the castle. Shining Armor was already moving along the corridor, while Twilight closed and locked the front door. “Take him up the stairs to the first room on the right.” Twilight dropped both sets of their keys into the bowl on the table next to the door. The sound of his hoof steps moving up the carpeted stairs caused a muffled echo through the halls. She cocked her ear to track him through the hall, following close behind him.
Twilight managed to catch up with her brother in enough time to open the door for him. There was a soft flowery fragrance wafted out in the hall as soon as the door opened. The only light in the room came from the constellation lamp sitting on her nightstand. Blue stars covered the ceiling and walls all around them. Shining Armor chuckled, she could barely make out his features against the pale white fur on his face. “I can't believe you still have that old thing, Twily.”
Twilight felt her cheeks flush red as she flipped the overhead light on. “Of course I still have it, you gave it to me didn't you. I keep all the stuff you give me.” Was it such a preposterous thought, the idea of her getting rid of anything he'd given her. The easy smile on his 'aw shucks' face told her that it made him feel good to know that she treasured that things that he gave her. Twilight matched his smile, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. As the look lingered a moment too long she could feel the awkward silence prickling sweat up her spine. In an urgency to end the long awkward silence between them, Twilight moved to pull the covers down on her bed. “Come on, let's get him into bed.” Shining Armor nodded laying the gangling lad onto the soft cool sheets. Spike let out a low moan, his chest hitching a quick breath. No down the cool fabric was soothing. Twilight pulled the covers up around him getting rewarded by another soft moan, she smiled at the idea that he was finally able to find some comfort.
“Is he going to be alright?” Shining Armor paced around the room, looking at the posters and pictures plastered on the walls. The soothing thoughts of her friend's comfort were whisked away from her mind when she noticed her brother snooping around her room. Discomfort coursed through her at having her life pried into by her big brother. It shouldn't bother her as much as it did, there was nothing incriminating at all, just all of her private and nerdy stuff, what was he going to think of his seventeen year old sister, who was holding on to all of her old childish stuff.
“Shining Armor, would you mind going down stairs to make us some tea, while I get him all squared away, then I'll be down to join you.” Twilight could see the smirk on his lips fade away.
On his way towards the door he pulled her into a warm, reassuring hug. “It's going to be okay Twily, sometimes people get sick. I know with you taking care of him, he'll be right as rain in a few days.” He let her go and disappeared through the door. She could hear those familiar hoof steps down the stairs, fading as they echoed through the halls, going silent when he got to the kitchen.
Twilight leaned over Spike, giving him a gentle kiss on the forehead. It burned her lips, but no more than the first over eager sip of hot tea. “Sleep well, Spike.”
Twilight slipped her knee-high socks off, tossing them into the hamper next to the dresser before walking into the bathroom right off of her room. The bright makeup bulbs above the medicine cabinet flickered on. Everything in the medicine cabinet was kept neat and tidy, making searching for medicine for Spike much easier. Unfortunately by not knowing what he had, treating wasn't going to be an easy task. That's when her attention was grabbed by a bottle of green multi-symtom flu solution that sat unopened on the bottom shelf. Twilight snatched it up, tearing the plastic seal off with her teeth. Carefully she twisted the top off the bottle, before measuring out a dose. It was then she felt the crinkle of paper against the soft fur on the side of her breast. The scroll Spike had conjured up outside. The once forgotten letter now occupied her mind, urging her to read it. But first she should take care of Spike, the letter was just going to have to wait. Twilight balanced the small cup of medicine while filling a glass of water. Judging by the smell, the medicine was going hard to swallow.
When she came back into the bedroom, Spike lay under the mountain of covers in the same position he'd been left in. Twilight moved to sit next to him on the edge of the bed. “Spike, I'm going to give you some medicine.” She wasn't sure if Spike heard her, but she used the bed sheets to help sit the dragon up. Spike didn't open his eyes, he barely opened his mouth when she touched the cup to his lips, but he still recoiled at the taste of the thick green liquid on his tongue. A sharp cough sent a dribble of the medicine out of the corner of his mouth, running down his chin dripping down to his chest. Twilight gave a comforting giggle, taking a tissue from the box on his nightstand so she could clean him up.
“Alright sweetie, I'm going to give you a drink of water now.” Spike nodded, but didn't open his eyes. Twilight touched the glass to his lips, tipping it back. The dragon let the water fill his mouth before he swallowed loudly. In only a few gulps to empty the cup, the dragon was laid out in the bed once again. She covered him back up and whispered 'goodnight'.
On her way back to the bathroom, she gathered up a pair of pajamas from the dresser. Once she was there, she closed the door behind her for some privacy while she changed and...to read the note. Twilight slipped out of her shirt and skirt, before unhooking her bra at her back. She managed to catch the scroll before it fell to the floor. As much as she wanted to break the seal and read the letter, she knew it would be more prudent to get dressed first. Without wasting too much time debating the issue, she slipped on a sport bra, followed by a purple pajama shirt with a book on the front and the words 'Knowledge is Power' scrawled across the pages in a vibrant action text. Twilight pulled on the matching pants, quickly snatching up the scroll. Nothing was keeping her from reading it now.
Dear Twilight Sparkle,
I was hoping to keep knowledge of this new situation from you, but Luna has informed me that she already made you aware of it. So I feel it's necessary to update you on my findings. I've been able to ascertain that the illness is real and is spreading at an alarming rate. Even now I can see a mass gathering of the sick at the gates to the castle. They don't seem to be attacking each other, but when they come in contact with any pony that isn't a carrier they attack viciously.
Luna believes that the illness can possibly be transferred through the air and water, but seems to be more infection through bites and scratches. Luna also informed me that you're aware of the symptoms, so if you come in contact with anyone carrying the illness, quarantine them immediately and keep everypony away from them, but most importantly...Keep yourself safe. I need your help to find a cure for this. Keep in touch via Spike's transfer abilities and keep your head held high. We will get through this.
As always, your faithful teacher and friend,
Twilight took a deep breath, slipping down to sit on the toilet. There was no denying it, Spike was infected and it didn't bode well for any of them if the illness could be transferred through the air and water. It only got worse from there. Not only was her dear friend sick, but also her only means of communication with Princess Celestia. Things were already starting to seem hopeless. Her purple eyes skimmed the letter again, stopping at the part that stating that she should keep her head held high. “We will get through this.” The words echoed off the tile walls. Twilight felt the swell of determination inside, climbing to her feet. Finding the cure was the most important part, getting it to Celestia would be a problem she'd have to solve later. She tucked the scroll into her pocket and passed through the bedroom.
Spike was sleeping soundly, Twilight felt a twinge in her heart looking at the little dragon. How had he gotten infected in the first place. If it was airborn why wasn't she starting to show symptoms. Maybe she had a natural immunity to whatever it was. If that was the case, would Shining Armor have the same immunity? Just then the twinge in her heart twisted harder. What if he was already infected? She had to go check on him. Quickly Twilight headed through the door, pulling it behind her before taking the stairs two by two. She made such a clatter running down the stairs that she hadn't heard the bedroom door creaking back open.