Being overburdened is the most unholy thing it seemeth!
But the Royal Word is the Royal Word! As ye can't get the proper episode, let alone the chapter yet... ye shall get a teaser at least!
20. Nightmare Knight (chapter teaser)
“Is everything okay, Lulu?” princess Celestia glanced across the table at her sister. “You are smiling quietly for the whole day… I know it’s your rightful holiday, but still… bit unusual, blueberry…”
Luna indeed was mysteriously cheerful: in the morning, when she passed the court to Celestia with that tiny smile, and then later in the evening, right after getting up, preparing for her nightly duties, which included the special holiday activities on that day – all the time she was subtly enjoying some idea. Even knowing her love for the Nightmare Night – the day when pranking was officially encouraged – princess Celestia looked puzzled; she couldn’t remember her regal sister being so inspired the last year for example.
“Simply anticipating,” Luna daintily sipped her usual coffee with the most innocent look, but the sparkles dancing in her deep blue eyes told her sister at once, there was anything but simple in Luna’s expectations. “I have so many plans for this night, so many places to visit. It’s always exciting, even more befalling once a year, sunny!”
“Like every year, dear, when you try to cover all the significant places of Equestria,” noticed Celestia casually. “Do you plan to visit Ponyville again?”
“Yes, Tia, like a good old tradition,” smirked Luna, putting her cup away. “Alas, only Ponyville is getting the special treatment tonight…” she sighed with a tint of disappointment. “It would be quite difficult to bring this trick to every place…”
“Don’t overdo it… you two,” Celestia looked at her fixedly, while Luna was musingly observing the darkening sky behind the arched windows.
“What? Oh… thou knowest us, sister, we are prudence embodied,” the big blue filly pretended to wake up from her thoughts and shrugged. “No casualties!”
“We?” with a wry smile the Solar princess rolled her eyes. “Does “we” mean you – Luna Selena of Equestria… or is my primary assumption correct?”
“Either way is valid, sunny!” Luna only smiled, wishing puzzled Celestia a good night.
That day finally came; shorter than every previous one, while the nights fell each one darker and longer. The air misty and humid at night, was crystal clear in the daylight, subtly bringing the chillness of upcoming season. Managed to survive the Running of the Leaves, the golden and red foliage fluttered in the light wind from the western mountains.
The spirit of general anticipation filled the air: the foals got their day off school, despite it was only Thursday; the adults prepared to deliver them a long-awaited holiday and, truth be told, to enjoy the process as well, remembering their own adventures during Nightmare Nights. Thus Ponyville reminded some noisy beehive long before the actual celebration started. The activity was noticeably centripetal and reached its maximum at the Town Hall square – the largest open place of the town, where the majority of Ponyville-wide celebrations were usually held. Mayor Mare was extremely supportive of the event, even taking not the least part in it; her only stipulation was to aim pumpkin-catapults away from the actual Town Hall. The latter was easily affordable, aiming them towards the creek, skirting Ponyville from the south, so, the aquatic friends of Fluttershy could have personal part of Nightmare Night feast, when an accidental projectile missed the targets and smacked into the waters instead. However, Mayor Mare never got tired to repeat each October 31st – “No pumpkin stains on the Town Hall, okay!!!”
Applejack was to hire a few stallions to help with the loaded wagons, otherwise she and Big Mac would never manage to deliver in time all the treats Apple Farm usually supplied for the celebration. Harnessed like the others, she pulled the next overloaded cart, huffing tiredly. Her head was occupied by the dilemma: to put on her Nightmare Night costume meant to reveal it beforehoof and probably bedraggle on the road, but lingering with that could lead to having no time to put it on or forgetting something important. Applejack secretly regretted not following brother’s advice; Big Mac already had a word with Rarity, whose boutique was almost next to the Town Hall, and brought his packed costume, leaving it at unicorn fashionista home. Not doing that herself now looked even more stupid to Applejack, as the last stroke of her own disguise needed Rarity’s help anyway.
Big Mac pulled his burden almost relaxedly and looked content, chewing as straw in the corner of the light smile. Applejack threw a quick glance at him; perhaps he thought about the better ways to set up the holiday attractions, he was going to help with after delivery. Or, and Applejack had a strong suspicion of that, McIntosh heard out of the corner of his ear about the most likely being prepared surprise part of the party… But trying to pull a word about that out of his mouth was like watering the sand in Appleloosa desert.
“Where are the fillies, Ah’d want to know?” Applejack pushed her stetson to the nape and wiped her forehead.
“At the clubhouse,” shrugged Big Mac, still in his thoughts. “Last time Ah saw them there, with Babs. Making final touch to their costumes…”
“Ah certainly hope they know, what they’re doin’!” smirked Applejack.
Babs, Apple Bloom’s cousin, came to visit Apples on the holiday. Applejack was still unsure if the fillies were entirely safe with their older friend… or not, as that mischievous short-maned filly could equally keep the girls in hooves or serve as an exact detonator in their TNT pack. But apparently, it was either sending them four to the clubhouse or putting all the watching after the colourful hurricane (plus Winona naturally adding to the rush) sweeping around the farm on the shoulders of Granny Smith.
“Hmmm… Rares, I still don’t see the point in the costume being quite alike the dresses you usually make,” Pinkie’s voice sounded muffled because of her own Nightmare Night disguise; she stepped back and looked evaluatively over Rarity’s long dress. “Maybe a bit more extravagant than usual… The bow and the whole length of it… Are you sure, you can walk normally? I mean, this should definitely get under your hooves.”
“Besides,” she snorted quietly. “Nopony will probably doubt that is you, knowing your artistic tastes…”
“Oh, stop it, Pinkie, and help me tighten the belt properly!” Rarity rolled her eyes, batting the carefully outlined eyelashes: the whole dark and red makeup advantageously contrasted against her pale coat and she cocked her head graciously, boasting the high complex hairdo her mane was constructed into. “You should educate yourself better, darling. That’s not “one of my extravagant dresses”! I’m the neighponese geisha assassin, dangerous mare fatale…”
“Fotefeff! Ff fu fure, fu fan freaff wif ffat?”
“What, sorry?” Rarity was too busy estimating the result in the large mirror.
“I said, are you sure you can breathe fine with that?” Pinkie released the belt, when Rarity nodded contentedly, tightening her already shaped waist and letting Rarity fix the rest with her aura. “And… What if you need to run… I doubt you can in such a long dress…”
“Hmpf!” huffed Rarity, she opened the hem cut and stretched her hind leg out, demonstrating a pack of throwing knives strapped to her thigh instead of the answer. “I won’t run from anypony! They should run,” glanced she at Pinkie with emphasis. “…and more of them instead of the hairpins, yes.” Rarity winked. “By the way, with all due respect, I doubt I can see something creepier than your costume tonight… Unless you plan to throw the same trick as three years ago, dear. But I’m sure everypony is prepared.”
“You know that was a mistake,” Pinkie Pie pouted jokingly. “And… scaring the hay out of others is the point of Nightmare Night, isn’t it?”
“One of the points…” corrected her Rarity.
“Another is to GET MORE CANDY!” Exclaimed Pinkie, at that moment the large sundew-like floral maw slammed shut, making her owner sound muffled again. With a tiny effort Pinkie opened the large raptorial plant flower, the centre of which being her head and giggled, making the numerous green tentacles and leaves on her neck and shoulders shake; Rarity watched that scene with the mix of reproach and carefully hidden shiver. “I decided that dressing as chickens and stuff was irrational, when it came down to candy,” Pinkie raised one brow. “Omnivorous monster-plant is way better for that purpose! With that I can gather tons of it literally with little to none effort,” she sported a wide grin.
“I’m sure you will,” muttered Rarity aside. “Would like to see a suicide refusing to pay that thing off.”
The opening door revealed a small part of Fluttershy’s muzzle and her turquoise eye cautiously focused on Rainbow Dash. Obviously, the yellow pegasus girl expected somepony else and a certain dose of anxiety added to recognition and reserved joy in her glance.
“Oh… Th-this is you, Dash,” Fluttershy opened the door a bit wider and Rainbow almost saw, how her friend scanned the landscape behind Dash’s back carefully. Pink Angel’s nose peeked funnily from her sumptuous mane between Fluttershy’s perked ears; it was so funny, Rainbow couldn’t hold a snort.
“Of course, it’s me, pal! Who did you expect – hurricane?”
“Is there a difference?” Fluttershy let out a tiny smile. “Slip in!” she slammed the door shut the second after Rainbow Dash squeezed through.
“Heh! You can rally, mate… That’s not bad!” she hugged Fluttershy tight, making Angel leave his cover and hop into the living room. “What’s going on though?”
“Oh, you know,” Fluttershy rolled her eyes tiredly, welcoming her guest after the bunny; automatically Rainbow noticed the unusual silence in the cottage. “I thought it’s already started… l-like each year.”
“I thought you have grown over this fear, Flutters, and wanted to bring you back with the herd tonight,” chuckled Rainbow Dash, flopping into one of the armchairs and glancing at the hostess slyly. “Especially since you are friends with… wooooo!” she made scary eyes and waved her fore hooves in the air, “princess Luna… Oops!”
“Sorry, mate!” Rainbow cupped her mouth with her fore hoof, throwing a guilty glance at Fluttershy.
“Oh, that’s okay, Dashie,” with a more relaxed smile Fluttershy brushed away sudden awkwardness. “We are friends with her, no matter what.”
“Then why not have some fun indeed?” after a momentary thinking Rainbow cheered up again. She examined Fluttershy’s mane with interest. “You know, Flutters… We could… Really, we could paint you into Chrysalis! What?”
“If I didn’t know you, I’d have thought you were joking…” Fluttershy stared at her friend bemusedly. “But this is a bit… much, Dash.” She picked up Angel and rested on another armchair, keeping him on her knees and shaking her head.
“Why not?!” Rainbow seemed quite inspired by her idea. “You have mane and tail long enough, you can fly… better than you think,” she squinted at Fluttershy, “ don’t deny it. And you can be quite… persuasive, if you want. And that would bring a fresh breath into the celebration, if you ask me, scaring the whole town shitless!” Dash sported a wide grin.
“Thanks!” Fluttershy wasn’t sure the idea was that bright. “I can’t… hiss like her. Yeah, definitely!”
Rainbow Dash burst laughing, making both Fluttershy and Angel jump on the spot.
“With the proper disguise that wouldn’t be necessary! Telling ya!..” she kept snorting for a while. “Anyway, that’d be super awesome…”
“Who are you going as?” Fluttershy interested politely, stroking Angel behind his ears soothingly.
“Oh!” Rainbow Dash puffed proudly, clearly telling Fluttershy’s method worked. “I think it won’t hurt if I tell you… especially as you’re not going to tell everypony,” she made a face and shrugged. “I’m going as Meteor-Mare. Kinda suits, right?” the cyan pegasus smirked.
“I’m absolutely positively not telling anypony,” assured her Fluttershy with a kind smile. “Especially as I’m not going. But…” added she, not letting her friend to object, “could the superhero start helping those in need already?”
With those words Fluttershy pulled a huge and seemingly quite heavy bag from behind her armchair, presenting it to silent Rainbow.
“Can you place that next to the garden entrance, please. And that note on the gate, Dash,” Fluttershy smiled apologetically. “I’m afraid we’re under siege tonight…”
Dumbfounded Rainbow Dash picked the announcement, written on the hard carton.
- take the treats you need (from the bag)
- don’t forget others may need as well
- main request: do not disturb the animals
Thank you very much and enjoy the holiday!”
She still chuckled, shaking her head, while nailing the note to the gate.