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Nightmare Muffin

Crossover Summer Sun Celebration-Part 1 - 3

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(edited)

This is a MLP / Care Bears crossover fanfic

 

Part 1- Alchemy

It was a gloriously sunny day in Care-a-Lot, the gorgeous cloud city that was home of the Care Bears. A bright yellow bear by the name of Funshine stepped out of his cozy home and greeted the day with an exaggerated stretch. “Ahhh, what a spectacular day!” he hummed in a sing-song tone. He waved hello to his friends, two pastel pink bears who happened to be passing by on their morning jog. “Good Morning, Love-a-Lot! Morning, Cheer Bear!”

“Good morning to you, Funshine!” they called out in unison.

The warm-colored ball of fur watched them go by as he made his way down a paved pathway. He was thinking about taking a leisurely stroll, perhaps into the Forest of Feelings to visit his Care Bear Cousins, when a familiar voice called out his name in a cheerful whinny.

“Funshine! Hey, Funshine, over here!”

Looking around, the golden bear spotted a lavender equine trotting his way. It was Care-a-Lot’s co-founder, and patriarch, Noble Heart Horse!

“What’s the matter, Noble Heart?” Funshine asked, a worried expression settling on his muzzle as Noble Heart’s hooves came to rest upon his shoulders.

“I’ve got a job for you, and it’s very important. I’m extremely busy, but our old nemesis, No Heart is up to his old tricks again.” he warned, his voice commanding every bit of Funshine’s attention. “But the thing is, he’s not after us this time. Truthfully, I don’t know what he’s after.”

Fear and concern dawned in the bear’s eyes as he listened intently. “So, what is it that you need me to do, Noble Heart?” he asked, warily.

“I’ve been informed by a close friend of mine that No Heart may be lurking in the shadows in their lands….” he trailed off to momentarily will the apprehension in the pit of his gut back down from where it had lodged itself to create a lump in his throat.

“A friend?” Funshine parroted. “Do I know them?”

“Not yet, you don’t. But you will, soon. Come with me.” Taking his paw, Noble Heart quickly guided Funshine Bear toward his house, through entertainment and dining areas, until finally they came to the basement. Against the back wall stood a wide arcing rainbow with a reflective surface that gleamed and glittered with magic at its center.

Funshine stared, confused and flabbergasted. “Wha…what is this, Noble Heart?”

“This,” he gestured with a hoof. “is a magical gateway to a place that I hold just as dearly as Care-a-Lot. Someone very special to me helped make this bridge, and only True Heart Bear knew about it. Now you do, too. The lands that lie beyond here are like a second home to me, Funshine, so I need you to take this Caring Mission very seriously. If No Heart has invaded over there, for some reason, then I need you to do everything in your power to stop him.”

Though this information was a lot to take in, Funshine hardened his gaze and gave a sharp nod. A paw raised to his forehead in respectful salute. “Yes sir, Noble Heart, sir!”

“Good. Then off with you!”

His own pounding heartbeat thundered in his ears, drowning out Noble Heart’s words. Step by step, Sunshine willed his shaking knees not to buckle as he advanced toward the magical portal. What would lie beyond its reflective surface? Was their long-time enemy, No Heart truly over in whatever strange and unpredictable world he was about to enter into? There was simply no telling anything, he supposed, until he made his way over into this brand new territory, to find out. His eyes shut tight as he passed beyond the multi-colored rainbow, his fur standing on end and surging with what felt like static jolts of magic. Then suddenly he felt somewhat heavier, as if gravity had somehow increased. “What the-?” Eyes snapped open so that he could survey himself, hoping to draw a conclusion about the added weight. But then his breath caught in his throat as he surveyed a landscape of lush green valleys with impossibly high, snowcapped mountains in the distance, white, cotton candy clouds overhead, a small, lavender-colored horse nearby, with a plum mane who Funshine could swear might have been related to Noble Heart Horse.

“Hello!” he nervously called out, watching as the creature’s ears pricked and swiveled in his direction shortly before a pair of amethyst eyes landed on him.

“Oh, thank Celestia!” she replied, lifting herself onto her hooves from the sitting position she had been in. Instantly, she closed the short distance between them, and momentarily seemed unable to prevent herself from doing some sort of nervous trot pacing. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting! Are you the representative that Noble Heart sent? Who am I kidding? You have to be, right?!” she shook her head, as if to clear her head and re-organize her racing thoughts. “I’m sorry. I’m Princess Twilight Sparkle. The ruler here….Princess Celestia of Equestria, sent me as an escort for you. You….you are Funshine Bear, right?” she asked.

Funshine could only blink, trying to wrap his head around all that she had just blurted out. “Um…y-yeah, that’s me.” he nodded, unable to keep himself from staring at the feathery wings that were fanned out on either side of this creature. He had never heard of a horse having wings. Why on earth did she have wings?

“Great!” she smiled nervously. “Come with me, then. Hop on!”

“Pardon me?”

“On my back!” she clarified, curtly. Her purple wings folded into a rest position at her sides, allowing him to mount her more easily.

“O- oh….” Funshine fumbled, approaching her warily, and maneuvering himself onto her back. Barely having time to hold on, he found her flapping hard and rising up into the sky, taking him with her. “Wh-whoaaaa!” he yelped, furry arms wrapped tight around Twilight Sparkle’s neck. Higher and higher, they ascended until the trees and what he assumed were other colorful horses on the ground far below looked like ants.

In what seemed like an eternity, though Twilight had assured him in between panted breaths that they had only been traveling for two, they reached a glistening city of gold and royal purple hues. A fantastic castle with alabaster pillars and lookout towers that seemed to scrape the clouds stood at attention, commanding admiration and awe from any citizen who dared to step within its courtyards, or even admire if from a distance. “Wow, we don’t have anything like this in Care-a-lot.” Funshine Bear breathed.

A gentle, playful nudge was given by Twilight, a smirk pulling at her lips. “This,” she spoke. “Is the Capital City of Canterlot, and the home of Equestria’s brave and radiant ruler, Princess Celestia.” Walking side by side with him, they passed through the castle gates and guard towers, past two security checkpoints, and were provided with a royal guard to accompany them to the day courts of the Princess, once they had been cleared.

“I believe that you’ll find the security measures appropriate, Princess Sparkle.” The stallion guard spoke as she and Funshine kept pace with him. “Princess Celestia has decreed the increased security at the palace and throughout the city the behest of Princess Cadance in the Crystal Empire, since rumors of a threat had been traced from the north.”

“I understand. We can’t take any chances.” Twilight nodded, though this was all fresh information to her. Though she too bore a crown that would identify her as royalty to the Equestrian populace, Twilight understood that she was far lower in rank than the three other known Princesses, and played less of a role in being allowed knowledge that the others were privy to. Thinking back, she realized, that that was how it had always been, even before she had been crowned. However, she bore her mentor, Celestia no ill will in spite of it.

The three arrived towering golden double doors that shone like the sun itself and was polished to the extent of it seeming like liquid diamond. Above the doors themselves was an intricately detailed sun insignia. The two guards that were posted at either side of it stood at attention before the higher ranked stallion and purple pony Princess that approached them. However, both drew curious glances at Funshine from behind their polished helmets.

Funshine, though wary of the muscled and stoic stallions smiled and waved a paw in greeting.

Once access had been granted, the two guards pushed open the heavy doors and announced their presence to the Princess awaiting their arrival inside. A snow white mare seated upon a cushioned golden throne solemnly nodded her thanks before the guards retreated to their posts before Twilight Sparkle and Funshine were allowed to enter.

“Greetings, Princess.” Twilight said, respectfully. “I brought the guest to you, just as you asked!”

“Thank you, Twilight.” Celestia’s voice cooed, melting like warm butter in Funshine’s ears, and putting him at ease. “You may be dismissed.” he then heard her say, before Twilight departed from his side, albeit with a disappointed look on her face. And then he was alone with the regal white Princess, save for three winged ponies of different colors who immediately flew from three of the four corners of the room to flank the Princess on either side. For a while, hardened purple eyes surveyed him, studied him intensely, and the bear soon found himself shifting uncomfortably under the weight of the silence between them. A moment more, and she dismissed her Pegasi guards back to their posts, once having ascertained that the cub was of no threat.

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“Funshine Bear, is it?” Celestia at long last spoke, her voice for his furry ears alone. “Child of the Ursa?”

“Yes, your Highness.”

Another moment of silence passed, shorter this time, before Celestia rose from her throne on long, slender legs. Golden horseshoes on the end of her hooves clacked and clopped lightly as she descended a set of stairs on her elevated platform and advanced toward him. Her hair, the color of auroras radiated around her, as if defying gravity and having a life of its own. “Thank you for coming all this way. Noble Heart spoke fondly of you in his letters, and ensured that you would be able to assist in the protection of my subjects.”

Funshine only watched her, wondering what she could possibly have in mind for him to do that dozens of trained guard ponies and at least one other pony Princess could not. Just how powerful was Care-a-Lot’s nemesis, No Heart, in this world?

“I assume that Noble Heart made you aware of Equestria’s circumstances?”

“Only to the barest minimum, your Highness.” the bear replied. “I really don’t know what he…or you expect me to do, or even why No Heart chose to come here.”

“You will soon enough.” she murmured, just as mysteriously as the Care-a-Lot co-founder, Noble Heart had. Funshine really wished that they would quit doing that! Though, on the other paw, he supposed that he could see some slight resemblances beginning to surface….. “Come.” she urged. The noble ruler moved with fluid grace out of the throne room and down a lengthy corridor lined with luxurious ruby red carpeting. Up flights of spiraling staircases she walked in silence, Funshine cautiously following behind, rather than alongside, as he remained unsure whether he had the right, and remained ignorant of these ponies’ customs. “Behold,” she finally said, once reaching stepping outside onto a veranda that overlooked the entire city and far out into the valleys below the mountain on which the elevated city sat.

Funshine took in the breathtaking sight, his heart soaring in his chest. Directly below, there were countless ponies bustling about the paved streets, and further still, into the valleys, he could spot numerous clusters of towns with an unfathomable amount of ponies inhabiting them also. “My subjects are very dear to me, Funshine,” she continued in a motherly tone. “I would give everything I have and everything I am in order to protect them. I have succeeded in doing so many times, both alone, and with the aid of my dear sister. But now, I need your aid, Funshine, child of the Ursa.” Her gleaming, golden crown atop her gravity-defying mane glittered in the sunlight, almost as if announcing its presence to Funshine and alerting him of the gravity of the responsibilities placed on the head of the one who bore it.

The bear fought to swallow the hard lump that had lodged itself in his throat. His paws instinctively moved to touch the gleaming symbol that was a smiling sun on his tummy; his own unique Belly Badge. He, too- with the help of his own friends and family had vanquished many villains who sought to destroy their home and ideals. His sense of duty trampled whatever fears and apprehension he might’ve had at that very moment, and he puffed out his chest, determined to do his very best to protect these ponies’ lands too.

“Next week, my subjects will celebrate a most momentous occasion, which is the Summer Sun Celebration.” she told Funshine. “I have reason to believe that an enemy from your lands has trespassed into ours, and may be planning to disrupt this event with their nefarious schemes. My abilities allow me great power, and due to the sun’s position at the height of this event, it will be exponentially increased, but I’m sure that you are aware that with great power comes greater control.”

Funshine nodded, locking eyes with the magnificent ruler. “How can I help?” he pressed.

Celestia smiled, looking back out into the distance. “For starters, we shall get you caught up on the traditions and aiding in preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration, here in Canterlot.”

The bear blinked slowly. “Excuse me?” he was uncertain whether he had heard the Princess properly. Was she truly expecting him to come to these strange lands merely to be a party planner?!

The proud Alicorn winked, clearly planning more than what the initial assignment entailed. “What better way to keep an eye out for danger than to be ready to spot any suspicious activity among my subjects, wouldn’t you agree?”

– – – – –

“Haaaaaa!” Funshine heaved an exhausted sigh as he threw himself into the nearest plush chair and stretched out once the day had come to an end. His paws sore from walking the endless expanse of the Canterlot castle, muscles stiff from carrying tension under constant surveillance, and his ears ringing from the voices of hundreds of bustling townsfolk and the demands of the elite upper class, the burned-out bear couldn’t recall a time where he had ever been so utterly bushed!

Princess Celestia stood, though she appeared just as tired from the day’s activities as he was. However, after a thousand years or more of ruling, she had gotten accustomed to the role that was required of her; as a ruler and protector of her ponies. “Many thanks for your assistance today, Funshine Bear.” she spoke formally. “When you are ready to retire to your quarters, you’ll find that any guard posted along the halls of this castle will take you. I hope you find your accommodations suitable.”

“Thank you for your generosity, Princess Celestia.” Funshine found just enough strength left in his furry body to remember to sit up properly in the presence of the noble Alicorn.

She gave a small nod and a warm smile. “May I count on you tomorrow to lend your aid to Equestria’s defenses. Until then, may Luna bless your night and guard your dreams.”

Watching her and her accompanying guards leave, the golden bear stretched his legs and reluctantly got back on his feet. Finding his room and getting to rest sounded like a fantastic idea! Much as he would’ve liked to avoid having to spend his remaining hours of the day in the company of any more guard surveillance, Funshine highly doubted that he would be able to manage to find his room on his own. There were far too many corridors that were lined with the same looking door in every one, in this place! There was no doubt that if he tried to get to his room alone, he’d be up searching for it clear until the next morning! No, with as much security there was around the premises, it’d be easier to find a guard on patrol or at their post than it was to go it alone. With his mind made up, Funshine Bear headed in the opposite direction Celestia had gone, hoping he’d run into someone soon.

Fortunately, no sooner had he stepped around the corner did he get his wish! At least two unicorn guards were stationed around one of the doors in this hallway, perhaps protecting whatever precious artifacts or royal treasures were locked up in the room. “Excuse me.” he called out. “I’m Funshine, a guest of Princess Celestia’s, and I was hoping that one of you could take me to my room.”

The guards looked at each other, then back to the brightly-colored bear as if he had suddenly sprouted a second head. “Sir, this is your room.”

“Then why is it being guarded if I’m not in it?” Another exchanged look between them began to rouse Funshine’s curiosity.

“The Princess had decided it best to accommodate you with a room that would be shared with another guest.” One guard explained, vaguely.

Eyebrows drawn together, Funshine pushed past the door to be greeted with soft, childlike laughter and the soothing fragrance of lavender. A young pony, a periwinkle colored filly, bounced with abandon around the room, clearly having more energy than he at the moment. “Hi, little one. Who are you?” he asked once having closed the door behind him.

The energetic young equine threw herself face down into a plush pink pillow, laughing all the while. Once all her gleeful giggles had been expelled out of her system, she looked up and smiled. “I’m Star Dreams! And who are you?”

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“I’m Funshine Bear! Celestia invited me to….stay with you….I guess….” he trailed off, still not understanding the Princess’ line of reasoning. If putting him in a room with someone was for security reasons, then surely this young girl couldn’t be the one to watch him. Or was he to watch her? The tired bear sighed, spotting a second bed on the other side of the room, and immediately went to it. Whatever questions he had, he was sure that he could run them by the Princess in the morning, if her – or his- schedule allowed it. “Well, time to get some shut eye. Goodnight, Star Dreams.” he allowed his eyes to close, and quickly fell into a deep sleep.

– – – – – –

“Pleasant evening, Sister.” Princess Luna spoke as she landed on the elder siblings’ balcony, just as Celestia was retiring to her room for the night.

“Welcome, Luna.” the white Alicorn sighed just as she wearily collapsed onto a plush pile of cushions, allowing her tired bones to rest.

“As you can see,” The navy blue Alicorn reported, as she hopped down from the golden banister that she had been perched upon. “The moon has been raised and thus now begins my patrol of the Everfree forest. I will patrol the dreamscape after I ascertain that the forest borders are secure.” As she stepped to Celestia, she offered her a tender nuzzle. “Sleep, my sister. May your dreams allow you a reprieve from the day’s anxieties.”

Celestia returned the affectionate gesture, offering an additional whinny of reassurance to keep Luna from worrying too much. “Before you leave,” she spoke, just as Luna turned to depart back out from her balcony. “That little one who you invited to sleep in the castle…..are you certain that she is the one?”

Luna nodded. “Make no mistake, sister. That filly is strong, though she is only beginning to come into her powers. Whatever threat may befall our lands, she will assist in protecting them. I’m certain of it.” Her wings flared out to either side and she leapt into the cool night air. “Just as I do not doubt that your guest will look out for her.” Saying nothing more, she took off into the sky, leaving Celestia to re-evaluate and reinforce her trust in her planning.

– – – – –

Funshine Bear fidgeted as he walked through an unfamiliar landscape of smoky tendrils of shadow. A chill ran through the air. There were no warm, fluffy clouds of his Care-a-Lot home, no cheerfully singing birds or joyful voices of his Care Bear family or Cousins, just a deep, dark sense of loneliness within the dreadful landscape. “Hello?” he dared to call out, though he suspected that he was truly alone. “Is anyone out there?”

As he trudged through the desolate wasteland, his footsteps appeared to grow heavy, as if he was walking through water. A hazy image, a tower of some sort, he realized, could be spotted in the distance. Just as he considered taking another step toward it, however, a familiar voice, like that of the coldest shadows, slithered in his ears.

“It is nearly time, and the preparations are underway! Your arrival will be met with terror and darkness the likes of which this world has never seen!”

There was no mistaking it! It had to be No Heart! But then, a second voice, unfamiliar to Funshine, issued an amused and confident chuckle. “I do not doubt it, heartless one. Just make sure that everything proceeds as planned, without any interference. Or else.”

The bear’s fur stood on end, and his heartbeat quickened as he overheard these nefarious plans. It was clear to him that the gravity of the situation had suddenly become far more dire! No Heart wasn’t working alone! What was worse, Funshine decided, was that he had no idea what horrible villains were capable of in this world of magical little ponies! Even so, he had been summoned here to help them. He had given his word to Princess Celestia that he would aid in protecting the lives and virtues of her subjects! Whoever No Heart was scheming with, there was no doubt that both of them had to be stopped!

It was then the ground shook and split open, throwing Funshine into a freefall to the deepest pits of the ears. “Nooooooo!” he cried out, his paws fumbling to grab hold of something, anything, that would halt his descent.

Desperately clawing the air, he awakened, wide-eyed and gasping for air. His lungs burned and his heart raced. “Ooooh.” coming to a realization where he was, in the safety of a room in Canterlot castle, he allowed his head to sink heavily into his paws. “What a horrible dream.” An unfamiliar tightness around his tummy made him peek through his paws at the young filly cuddled up close and sharing his bed with him. Last he checked, he had gone to bed alone, though…..he didn’t necessarily mind her company, tonight.

“Are you ok, Funshine?” a small, sleepy voice asked him, though partially muffled by the fur of his tummy. “Did you have a bad dream? You were yelling…..”

“Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t mean to wake you, Star Dreams. Let’s go back to bed, ok?” Not wanting to worry her even further, he said nothing more. A yellow paw lightly combed back her tri-colored mane before Funshine willed himself to lie back down and think of things more pleasant than impending doom upon this world.

“Funshine Bear, sir!” a Royal guard pony commanded attention as he thrust the door to the shared bedroom open with a hoof. “Princess Celestia has requested your presence in the western wing of the castle, immediately! Her Highness wishes to discuss your duties for the day over breakfast, and her schedule cannot be hindered!” Without waiting, he advanced to the bed, levitating the sheets off of the still snoozing bear. “Hup, hup!”

“Wh-wha-?” Funshine groaned, wincing automatically, though no harsh light had even begin to shine through the window. The sun had just barely risen over the horizon! He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and inched out of bed, noticing that Star Dreams was just beginning to rouse from sleep also. “Alright, I’m up. I’m up.” he moaned, as the burly stallion pushed him toward the door. He combed down his fur the best he could with his paws as he tried to keep pace with the guard.

“Mr Bear, you are precisely three minutes and forty-two seconds late for your arranged meeting with Princess Celestia.” An aged unicorn who worked as her royal scheduling adviser scolded the bright yellow fuzzball no sooner had he entered the room where the Princess was just finishing a healthy breakfast and demurely wiping her muzzle with a napkin.

“Funshine, good morning!” The Princess chirped merrily. “I trust that you slept well?”

The tardy and uncertain ursidae tried his best to hide a frown from his own muzzle, hoping to push the frightening dream that he had from his mind. “I suppose that I don’t sleep well in unfamiliar places….’” he trailed off, deliberately dancing around the subject.

“Oh. I’m terribly sorry.” Celestia apologized. “Well in any case, I hope that you find your day to be more enjoyable. There’s a lot to get done before the Summer Sun Celebration gets underway, here in Canterlot. Perhaps you can assist a special guest that I booked for the event? She’s situated in a suite within the east wing. My guards can take you there.” she decided.

Funshine bowed. “It would be my honor, Princess.”

“Very well, then I shall see you at the day’s end.”

– – – – – –

Funshine Bear soon found himself standing in front of a medium-sized door that led to the reserved room of a pony by the name of “The Great and Powerful Trixie”, from what he gathered from the guard that led him there. “Here goes nothing.” he sighed as he knocked on the door. No answer. He knocked once more, louder this time, and pressed an ear to the door. There was no doubt about it, he could hear her talking to someone from inside.

“Come In!” Funshine heard Trixie say, at long last, and entered the room. However, there wasn’t a pony at the door to greet him. Muzzle scrunched slightly in confusion, he wandered about until he came across the bathroom, finding the door had been left open.

“Uhm…I hope I’m not interrupting anything.” Funshine murmured as he peeked in, only to find a sky blue made soaking in a luxurious bubble back, and talking to….herself?

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“Coming soon, to your back alley little town….The Great and Powerful Trrrrrrixie’s Incredible Equestria Tour!” the boisterous pony bellowed as she fawned over her reflection in the large mirrors surrounding the bathtub.

“Excuse me, Trixie?” Funshine cleared his throat.

Startled, the stage performer shrieked and splashed about in the sudsy water. “Guards! Guards! There’s an intruder in the Great and powerful Tricie’s room!”

Funshine held out his paws. “No, I’m not! You said ‘come in’!” he insisted.

“I said ‘coming’!” the pastel pony bickered. “And I wasn’t talking to you, I was rehearsing my lines for my stage show! And just who are you, anyway?” she hissed, climbing out of the tub and grabbing a towel to wrap around her.

The bear averted his gaze, allowing the pony her privacy while she dried off. “I’m Funshine Bear, from Care-a-Lot. Princess Celestia sent me to assist you in setting up for your show for the Summer Sun Celebration.”

“I see.” Trixie hummed. “The great and Powerful Trixie does have a lot to accomplish before then. There’s a new act that the Great and Powerful Trixie has been wanting to perform, but I’ll need a few items to make it work.” she decided. A moment later, she adorned herself in a purple cape and a tall, pointed magician’s hat. “Come on, assistant!”

“Maybe you can tell me what we’re doing?” Funshine wondered as he followed Trixie to the Canterlot castle Library.

Trixie grinned, a mischievous spark lighting up in her eyes. “Alchemy. It’s a lost art that was rumored to have been practiced in the days before Equestria was ever founded. Rumor has it, it was far more spectacular and powerful than the magic that is practiced today! And seeing as how the Great and Powerful Trixie needs only the very best for The great and Powerful Trixie’s show for the Summer Sun Celebration, we have to find these artifacts!” she explained while she waltzed through the library’s door, pausing to flash her guest I.D. to the librarian and two on duty unicorn guards.

“That sounds dangerous.” Funshine fretted.

“There is no trick too dangerous for the Great and Powerful Trixie to perform and come out unscathed!” the blue braggart bellowed, only to elicit a round of strained shushes from the librarian. “Oops. Sorry.” she squeaked, tiptoeing to the ‘restricted’ shelves. A heavy, leather back book was grabbed with her magical aura, and flipped open. “Here it is.” she smiled. “The first item we need to find is the Solstice Necklace. Given its name, I’d assume that this would be in the possession of Princess Celestia.”

“You mean, we’re going to steal it?” Funshine frowned. “I don’t think I like this idea very much.”

“Not stealing,” Trixie huffed. “Borrowing! And of course we’re going to ask her for it, and give it back by the end of the Festival. There’s no way that The Great and Powerful Trixie is ending up imprisoned in some dark and dirty dungeon for stealing from Equestrian royalty!”

Funshine Bear suppressed a sigh. This pony, he soon realized, had quite the personality! Though the day had just barely begun, he could already suspect that it was going to be a long one.

Though neither of them were privy to Princess Celestia’s schedule that day, they made their way through the complex maze of castle corridors in attempt to find a pathway that led to what Trixie believed would be the royal quarters of the alabaster Alicorn. Perhaps, she figured, that rather than wearing the necklace out in public, Celestia would have it kept in her room until it came time to wear it for a special occasion, such as the Summer Sun Celebration.

Funshine studied the self-proclaimed ‘great and powerful’ magician, beginning to wonder what this pony was truly capable of. “You know,” he hummed, hoping to break the monotony of silence between them as they pressed forward. “I’ve been meaning to ask you…..do you have any idea where you’re going?”

Trixie froze, then turned to look at him in disbelief. How dare he! How dare he imply that she had no sense of direction, to have been leading them in circles! Her muzzle began to take on a shade of rose pink beneath her blue fur, and she stomped a hoof down on the carpeted floors. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is beside herself with indignation! You, a lowly assistant, dare to insult Trixie’s intelligence by having the audacity to imply-”

Funshine held up a paw, before she began a ‘great and powerful’ grand speech that would’ve kept them rooted in the spot for at least another hour. ‘It’s just,” he pointed out. “We’ve passed that same flower vase up ahead twice now.” Walking toward it, he waved a paw at the miniature golden Belly Badge symbol that he had marked the vase’s stand with.

Trixie’s face turned even redder than before, before she lifted her muzzle in the air to maintain her elaborate facade. “O-of course, the Great and Powerful Trixie would familiarize herself with the area by ensuring the same path be traveled thrice! Forward, assistant!”

Thus, after many wrong turns, and retreaded corridors, they finally came to what appeared to be the Princess’ private chambers. A lone guard stood stiff as a board beside the closed door, but turned his head the very moment he and Trixie approached. “Halt!” he barked, making them both freeze in their tracks. “No access is permitted to the public or castle guests beyond this point.”

‘So much for that plan.’ Funshine decided. Of course they wouldn’t be allowed to simply waltz in the Princess’ room and window shop for a powerful artifact that would aid Trixie in her silly magician’s tricks! What had she been thinking? Just as he was about to turn around, her hoof stopped him. Curiously, the bear watched as the conceited, yet clever magician began to engage the guard, putting on her best puppy-dog look and pout, while pitching some sad story about how they were lost- which wasn’t entirely a lie- and how Celestia had possibly left an item in her room that had been needed, although Trixie conveniently didn’t go into detail about the matter of who needed it, so that it would appear to the guard that Celestia was the one who had sent Trixie as a courier. Funshine was about to protest, but he hesitated, suddenly unsure if he should. The magician hadn’t necessarily lied, though she did use choice words in a sort of slight-of-hand way. He really wasn’t sure if he should chastise her, or commend her.

“Thank you, good sir.” Trixie tipped her oversized hat to the guard as she and Funshine were granted access to the room and began their search for the Solstice Necklace.
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To Be Continued…...
 

 

Edited by Nightmare Muffin

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Part 2- Sleeping Garden 

Princess Luna, the guardian over Equestrian nights slept as the sun hung high in the clear blue skies and ponies and creatures of every sort went about their various activities. Normally, the depths of her slumber would provide her with the energy that was needed in order to diligently carry out her nightly duties in service to the citizens of her and her sisters’ lands. Though many might scoff at what her job description entailed, settling disputes between the creatures of the feared monsters of the Everfree Forest, and boldly staving off the dreaded nightmares of hundreds of ponies, she was fearless and determined in the tasks that fell squarely upon her shoulders. It truly was a thankless job, and one that she worked from the shadows. But today, what strength she had to spare before nightfall was put into a most delicate operation.

Plumbing the very depths of her subconscious, a shapeless shadowy substance floated about, pulsing in time with the beat of her heart. Creeping octopus-like tendrils stretched out from its center, then were sucked back in on itself, like the ebb and flow of the ocean tides. Finally, the shapeless blob of dark matter settled on a more pony-like form, that of the ancient Alicorn, to mirror that of its creator, the dreamscape’s guardian.

Luna’s heart whispered a tentative request to the shared soul; like creeping mist sweetly kissing the hardened ground and allowing its cool moisture to seep into it. Though born from Luna’s will upon the basis of her past regrets, she was ever mindful of the Tantabus. Free of her command at times, the sentient soul had enough intelligence in order to develop an agenda of its own. A pact was formed between creator and creation, and in an instant, shadowed tendrils that glittered with stardust slinked out, wrapping themselves firmly around the complex network of nerves and melting like liquid into muscles; their souls resonating with each others’. A magic of untold origins began to be cast with every drumming beat of her heart, its effect sent out like DNA spirals through the streams of blood and framework of bones, bubbling up from the depths of her soul like underwater thermal vents.

The familiar navy blue plumage of feathers and fur that mirrored the nightscape that Luna had so often navigated as others slept slowly began to fade. A peaceful sigh escaped her lips as she continued to sleep and the transformation continued to take place. A luminous silvery-white sheen bled slowly into the navy pigmentation, painting the powerful pony in a visage as magnificent as the moon itself. The stars within her voluminous, gassy mane burned off their former cool hues and simultaneously exploded into supernovas in order to adopt a flaming hot white sheen as well. Glittering stardust coated her eyelashes, also white from the mystical magic that initiated the accelerated Leucism.

Once the spell had reached its conclusion, Luna’s heart pulsed, sending powerful ripples of energy that radiated out of her still form through the vast expanse of the heavens to shake the stars. No sooner had the previous spell ended, a second spun by the deepest desires of the Alicorn’s heart began to take place, completely free of the slumbering mind’s interference. The energy crept throughout the cosmos, winding and twisting around planets, meteors, and clouds of gaseous dust, all the while carefully seeking out the object of its desire. As the energy drew close to the Orion constellation, it pooled in on itself to create an ethereal image of the blazing white moon Princess floating within the pitch blackness of space.

Before her stood a translucent wall that encompassed the entirety of Orion. Its surface gently rippled like water and cast glittering spirals of stardust from the applied pressure point as she pressed at it ever-so-gently with her heart’s will. Despite her prodding, the wall stood fast, as if in defiant mockery of her authority over it as Princess of the Night and everything within its jurisdiction. No matter, she decided, she would not be deterred. For a moment, she glared at the blockade, turquoise eyes narrowing at the audacity it had to impede her progress. So be it. Her head was brought low so that her glorious silver mane pooled at her hooves, and her eyes closed in concentration. Her heart pulsed once more, casting its magic out yet again, like a cast net into the open sea of stars.

Now all that was left to do was wait.

– – – – – –

Trixie held her head high, radiating just as much, if not more confidence and pride as any elite aristocrat in Canterlot as she stepped out of Princess Celestia’s room. The guard posted nearby, who had witnessed every such display from the nobles didn’t even spare her a second glance, just as she had hoped.

Funshine Bear followed behind, holding the Solstice Necklace in his paws. Trixie had assured him that since the artifact was being borrowed and not stolen, though Celestia had still yet to be made aware of this, from what he understood, it could be carried out in plain sight. Even if this was so, he still cast a glance to the guard as an unsettling feeling began to form in his tummy.

“Something about this feels wrong.” he murmured, turning the necklace over in his paws once they rounded the corner. He could sense no vile powers from the object itself, nor from his pony companion, though her methods were of concern….

“Relax, will you?” Trixie scoffed. “If acquiring items needed to put on the greatest, most amazing performance for the esteemed Princess of Equestria during her own celebration is wrong, then may the Great and Powerful Trrrrrrrixie be banished to Tartarus at this very moment!” She declared, boldly. When nothing happened at that exact moment, the unicorn gave a nudge of reassurance to the yellow bear. “See? Everything is fine. Now onward, assistant! The Great and Powerful Trixie has other items to track down!”

Funshine followed, trusting that Trixie did know best. He was only a stranger to these lands, after all, so who was he to question anything? Perhaps he was simply worrying too much. Had he been in Care-a-Lot, he knew that things would be different. Celestia did ask for him to help Trixie, and if he couldn’t trust the Princess who ruled over these lands, then who could he trust? With his mind made up, he picked up his pace and soon found himself heading toward a train station that led out of the guarded city of Canterlot.

“Two tickets to the Crystal Empire,” Trixie told the station attendant at the ticket window. “The Great and Powerful Trrrrrrrixie and her assistant have important business to attend to. The entirety of the Summer Sun Celebration’s success hinges on the Great and Powerful Trixie’s magnificent contribution!”she boasted.

A stallion with a dusty brown coat rolled his eyes, and pushed two tickets at the performer, choosing not to engage her in conversation. “Sure lady.” he sighed. “Next!” his loud voice called out to the next pony in line to be serviced.

“And voila!” the blue unicorn beamed. Her horn alight with a glittering magenta aura of magic, she held the two train tickets before Funshine’s muzzle, as if they were a grand prize she had just won. With a cocky readjusting to her lavender magician’s hat, she strutted toward the train that was just beginning to pull into the station.

The golden ursidae only shrugged his furry shoulders. Rather than find fault in the behavior that he was beginning to see as just Trixie’s personality; every last bit of quirkiness of it, he was quickly finding that in a strange, unexpected way, he was actually beginning to enjoy her company. There were certainly no other Care Bears like quite her, back in Canterlot. And on the plus side, he was learning more about how things worked in the equine lands that he never even knew existed far below his city of clouds. But even so, he made sure to remind himself, Noble Heart had sent him here for a purpose.

He couldn’t quite see how Princess Celestia’s assignment of helping Trixie acquire these strange items would serve to combat No Heart. Perhaps, he reasoned, that this alchemy that Trixie sought to perform for the Summer Sun celebration would aid in warding him off. There was still much to learn about these ponies and their powers, and he was still only beginning to wrap his head around the Princess’ six-hour summary on Equestria’s etiquette and tradition, along with the historic roots of the different tribes and races!

There were many books, scrolls and documents that had been left in his possession from the day before. Kibitz, Celestia’s royal scheduling advisor had insisted that Funshine read them all, in order to get caught up on knowing all that the ‘short’ briefing hadn’t yet covered. But, of course, with Celestia’s new orders of the morning to occupy his time with Trixie, there was simply no time to put toward “acquainting oneself with the past in order to adequately engage the future.” as Kibitz described it. The busy bear did suppose that he had a point, but new as he was to these lands, he got the sense that the Princess’ orders should not be disobeyed. He could only hope that Star Dreams wouldn’t be too upset when she woke to find the towers of books and scrolls taking up space in their shared room.

Funshine’s eyes widened as realization hit him like the Friendship Express train that Trixie was nudging him onto before the doors closed on them. Star Dreams! His paws gripped his head in anguish, then pressed against the warm window, while he strained to watch the platform get further and further out of sight once the train took off. He was supposed to be watching that little filly, wasn’t he? Panic melted with confusion and made his insides flip-flop, as if he was on a roller coaster. Or had he been given a room with her in order for her to be keeping an eye on him? Either way, he was fairly certain that they were  supposed to be in each other’s company, judging from the guard’s words last night.

A strained sigh escaped from his lips, and his eyes shut tight once the station could no longer be seen. With his paws tied, he eventually found a seat beside Trixie and let his head thunk lightly against the back of it. “You’re stressing out too much.” he heard his comrade chastise him. A uniformed stallion walked down the aisle with a snack cart in tow, and he watched the magician fish out some form of currency that she called “bits” from a pocket sewn on the inside of her flowing cape. In wordless exchange, she traded the coins for a bag of what appeared to be brightly colored, sugary snacks. “Have a honey cake.” she smiled, as she used her magic to tear the bag open with an audible ‘pop’.

– – – – –

Star Dreams galloped down the winding and twisting paths of the hedge maze that was located within the western courtyards of the castle. It had been strictly advised by an on duty maidservant who had been tending to common castle chores that the filly take her playtime where she would not impede the working staff’s duties. It wasn’t until the child got underhoof, causing a mare to stumble over her, dropping and disorganizing a stack of signed legal documents and slipping on them, only to attempt to regain her balance by grabbing onto a marble column near her, and then toppling over an expensive decorative vase from Saddle Arabia that the head maidservant ordered Star to take her activities to the castle grounds outside.

Now the child raced with abandon past tall walls of shrubbery, lost deep in the maze and her own imagination. Her childish giggles of glee rang out through the warm afternoon air as her fictional friend chased after her, hot on her heels in their game of tag peppered with impromptu intermissions of exploration. As she and the massive, pink bunny with white feathered wings rounded the next corner, she burst through an unforeseen waterfall of sparkling silver sand that flowed from an invisible river that reached far above the top of the garden maze.

Like a freight train, fatigue hit the filly, and she began to yawn. In the haze that began to cloud her mind, she momentarily wondered whether someone was in the maze with her, having put a sleep spell onto her for some reason that she couldn’t clear her mind to comprehend. She had only just begun to play, and it took far more time than she had been active to wear her out and make her sleepy. Struggling but failing to keep herself upright on her hooves, she allowed herself to distribute her weight onto her knees and her head to fall forward. Eyelids that were far too heavy to remain open on their own became weighed down, bringing Star Dreams out of the world of bright blue skies and sunshine to one of warm, shadowy slumber.

– – – – –

The moon Princess’ eyes promptly opened wide, her irises, pupils, and sclera dissolved in a searing white light that was reminiscent of a thousand superluminous supernovas that radiated from within her pale frame. Her heart fluttered like butterfly wings as the magic that she had cast far out into her sister’s waking realm pulsed once, then pulled harshly; like a captured fish tugging against a cast line. With a single, sharp tug on the line’s magic, she drew the consciousness of Star Dreams into her own.

The filly’s head turned to and fro, examining the contents of her surroundings in wide-eyed wonder. Though there was little to see, she noticed that a wide field of stars expanded in every direction, and the sky around her was pitch black. There was no grassy earth beneath her hooves, but rather, the same vacuum of space that occupied the other cardinal directions. She then turned her quizzical gaze upon the blazing white Alicorn with hair that flared out like a trailing comet’s tail that stood nearby. Her presence seemed all too familiar, and she knew without a second thought that it was none other than her friend, Princess Luna. Though, the filly decided with slight apprehension, she was unsure of how or why she had been able to alter her form in such a way. But admittedly, she was really beautiful! ‘Thou shall address this one as Lumina.’ spoke a voice as soft as moonlight in Star Dreams’ mind, causing the child to shiver.

The thoughts of both heart and mind were laid out like an open book before the Master of the Moon, and with their consciousness’ in a state of resonance, so too was hers before the child’s’, though the filly was inexperienced in power to decipher even a fraction of what was laid bare before her. Even so, she was ever mindful to lessen the overwhelming waves of her energy against her link’s consciousness. She needn’t glance at Star Dreams to know that her gaze was still intently locked on her; questions forming in her mind before they even were directed to her lips. ‘Thine name is what it is from before the world was.’ she answered, cryptically. Truthfully, it was far more complicated than what had been told by way of introduction, but its closest translation in the tongue of modern Equestrian was what she had given. ‘When this one and that one were of shared soul.’ Though she had hoped to answer her the curious child’s inquiry, she continued to be met with suspect stares.

Deciding not to waste any more time on needless explanation that the filly could not fathom due to the hindrance of her age, the star walker turned her attention to the door that stood before them, blocking access to the timeless ones of Orion. A pulse of magic once more resounded from her heart, stirring the shared string of energy between her ans Star Dreams’ consciousness.

At once, the pink pony began to glow with a silvery white light that soon encompassed her entire body. A power that was foreign to her, yet familiar; one she recognized as being her own bubbled from within her before bursting out of her own heart like violent spray out of a hose. Lumina was quick to shape that magnificent power that had yet to be harnessed by the child herself, or even yet to be ignited in a single spell. There was indeed, great potential in such raw energies. Like a skilled potter, she shaped the magic that spilled forth, crafting and carving with extreme precision and purpose. In moments, the light around the filly brightened further, engulfing her whole and burning away her summoned consciousness, only to soothe the burning sensation with something solid and cool.

Lumina appreciatively admired a large, pale pink key that hung heavy in slow rotation in the air over her head. Its neck was inscribed with intricate runes of ancient unicorns from eras that existed long before the nation of Equestria’s founding. Its bow bore a hollowed out section in its center, which was occupied by a spinning, eight-pointed, turquoise star that was reminiscent of the element of harmony’s- the bearer of magic’s destined symbol. A measured breath filled the Alicorn’s lungs, and she gently encased the object with her magic with the barest beginnings of a thought; easing it carefully into the lock on Orion’s door.

With an audible click, the lock permitted entry to the dream walker. Fevered howls of guardian dragons rang in her ears as the door began to dissipate in a rain of silvery magic. A slight nod of her head was given in respect to the ancient guardians; bearing them no ill will for merely doing their assigned duties. With fluid grace, Lumina retrieved the key, reversing the magic that she had drawn out of it in order for Star Dreams to return to her form. An appreciative nuzzle was given to the child, before she was relieved and her consciousness sent back to the waking world. What memories she had of these events would be inaccessible to her; safeguarded with the highest level spell for security purposes. Once Star Dreams had been removed from the starscape Lumina’s consciousness walked in, she advanced before Orion, and announced her authority.

– – – – –

Funshine Bear blinked, grumbling softly as he was prodded rather roughly with a few nudges. “Huh? Wha-?” he muttered, groggily, trying to take in his surroundings.

“You fell asleep.” Trixie griped, not bothering to hide the irritation in her tone. “Hurry up and get on your paws, or we’ll miss our stop!”

Funshine frowned, unable to recall at what point that he had even fallen asleep! Had the train ride truly been that long? His muzzle opened wide in a tremendous yawn, and he rubbed at his eyes. Perhaps he had one too many of those honey cakes that Trixie had offered him. He did insist that she buy two more after the initial taste of the first she had bought for him. As realization began to dawn through his sleep-laced mind, he wondered just how he’d pay her back for all the snacks he had consumed. It wasn’t like he had any of these ponies’ currency on paw. A heated blush of embarrassment began to color his cheeks as passengers behind him began to squeeze around him in effort to get off, which quickly cleared his head. “Where are we going, now?” he asked, casting a look of confusion to his traveling companion.

“Where else?” Trixie hummed, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “We’re going to find a souvenir for the Summer Sun celebration. I have a friend who just so happens to be the event organizer for the Crystal Empire’s event, so we’ll get reliable information from her.” She quickly trotted off the station platform and down a small set of stair that put her on a pathway to a towering crystal castle in the distance.

Startled, the bear broke into a jog to keep up with her. The sight of the castle left him speechless and breathless. It had to be at least thrice the size of the one back in Canterlot! How could anyone live comfortably in a castle made purely out of crystal, though, he wondered idly? What sort of magnificent and pedigreed royals lived there? He realized that he he had a whole slew of questions, but Trixie seemed like the sort who wouldn’t provide him with many answers to them, much to Funshine’s chagrin. So he simply kept his muzzle shut until he could find someone who could.

In thirty minutes time at a steady pace of jogging, they finally reached the castle doors which, none to Funshine’s surprise, were guarded with yet more uniformed stallions. These ponies really took their security measures seriously, the bear noted. Though, with the Care Bear’s old enemy, No Heart lurking about somewhere in these lands, he really couldn’t say that he blamed them. The had no idea just what they were up against, after all.

“Excuse me,” Trixie cooed convincingly. “I am the Great and Powerful Trrrrrrixie, and I have an audience with one of the castle staff this evening.” she declared. In true entertainer fashion, she reared up on her hind hooves, and pulled something out from a pocket of her flowing purple cape. With a slight of hoof display, she set off a round of small fireworks behind her, causing Funshine to yelp in amazement and jump out of the way.

The guards seemed entirely unimpressed, and arched an eyebrow at the performer pony.

Trixie coughed, taken aback by the silence from her audience. “Uh, her name is Sunny Daze?” she clarified, hoping that the guards would allow her entry after coming all this way. “She’s the Crystal Empire groundskeeper….?” she squeaked, upon receiving hardened stares from the both of them.

“It’s okay, guys,” a melodious voice chirped, smooth as silk and warm as a best friend’s hug. From behind the guards, the door pushed open, and a petite pink pony with a golden crown upon her head peeked out. “They’re allowed in.”

“Yes, Your Majesty, Princess Cadance!” The guards nodded, allowing the strangers to proceed.

“I’m so sorry if my guards gave you any trouble.” the pink Alicorn apologized as she led Funshine and Trixie down various crystal hallways, past rooms and staff of every sort. “Celestia gave me notice that you were coming, Mr. Bear, but I guess the notice didn’t make it to my guards.”

“M-Me?” Funshine stammered, suddenly feeling the need to comb down his fur with his paws before the Princess, though he was already well-groomed. In spite of not knowing much about the hierarchy in these lands, he supposed that it paid to rub shoulders with royalty; a privilege that could all too easily be abused by those with less than favorable intentions. He glanced momentarily at his companion as a jealous “hmph!” exited her scrunched muzzle.

In no time at all, they were led outside to the castle gardens. And, after apologizing once more for having no time to give them a tour and remain in their company, Cadance departed to tend to her royal duties. But no sooner had she left did an unfamiliar voice to Funshine ring in his furry ears.

“Trixie?”

Turning to her left, the blue mare opened her mouth, ready to interrogate the voice and demand why they hadn’t addressed her by her self proclaimed Great and Powerful title, but was left flabbergasted when she realized who it was.

“Sunny Daze!” she shrieked, unable to resist rearing again.

“Hey, Trix-ay!” a pony with a bright white coat and mane like rays of sunshine itself called back, beginning to frolic with her friend like fillies in the presence a very confused Funshine Bear.

“It’s so good to see you!”

“It’s been, like forever!”

Funshine stood back, watching the girls giggle and gush over one another as if they were long lost sisters. Admittedly, it was nice getting to witness this side of Trixie. A smile touched his lips as the white pony turned toward him.

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“Who’s this?”

“Oh,” Trixie preened while flipping her cape. “is just The Great and Powerful Trrrrrrixie’s humble and loyal assistant, Friendshine.”

“Funshine, actually.” the bear corrected her.

“That’s what I said.”

Unable to resist rolling his eyes, Funshine decided that Trixie was simply not worth getting upset at. In fact, he was beginning to find her personality endearing. A small smirk pulled at his lips and he followed the two deeper into the royal garden, pausing every so often to sniff appreciatively at a rose or some other brightly colored flowers.

“So why the sudden visit?” the earth pony grinned.

“Welllll,” the unicorn sighed. “I figured that I had time to drop by just before I drew up a set list for my upcoming tour. I’m booked all next week to perform at the closing ceremony for the Summer Sun celebration, so I wanted to visit you in what free time that I had before things get busy.”

“That’s so sweet of you, Trix-ay!” The two exchanged a hug, and though they were still perfect strangers, Sunny Daze pulled Funshine into a tight hug also, much to his surprise.

"There may be one other itty-bitsy, teeny, tiny thing that I need your help with.” Trixie murmured as she gestured with her hoof.

“Anything for you, Trix!” Sunny smiled, always eager to assist any pony in need.

“Is this it?” Funshine inquired, casting a glance to Trixie, some time after they had left the royal garden.

“It has to be.” The blue unicorn affirmed, her eyes alight with ambition as she gave a hefty golden gemstone her focus. “Sunny Daze wouldn’t lie, and the Great and Powerful Trixie’s sources are always reliable!” she bragged. “This has to be the Cosmic Crystal of Corona. I’m certain of it!” she was practically licking her lips, and in an instant, her oversized hat came flying off her head, and the glorious gemstone was swiftly stuffed inside.

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“Uh, Trixie?” Funshine pulled at her cape, hoping to get her attention. His gaze was fixed on the cold and clammy ceiling of the caves that they were in. No sooner had the glittering light from the crystal been extinguished behind the thick cloth of her hat, did a thousand glowing spheres begin to appear overhead. “I think we have company.” he gulped, beginning to take small steps backward toward the mouth of the cavern.

“I think you may be right.” Trixie groaned, as a knot of fear began to form in the pit of her stomach. “Last one out is a rotten dragon egg!” she yelped, suddenly turning tail and hoofing it full speed toward the entrance, as hundreds upon hundreds of bats descended from the darkness.

“Wuuuuuuaaaaaaaaah!”

After a long and exhausting run all the way back to the Crystal Empire’s square, Trixie and Funshine collapsed, struggling to catch their breath and calm their racing hearts. Funshine’s chest heaved as he lay back, panting and staring up at the bright fiery oranges mixed with pinks and purples in the sky as the sun sank below the horizon. Though his paws hurt, and his mind was spinning, he appreciated the cool evening air that chilled his sweaty, damp fur, and chilled the burning fires in his lungs.

“That was-” Trixie huffed.

“Insanely scary?” Funshine groaned, finishing her sentence for her.

Trixie could only laugh, though it came out in strained and desperate gasps. Her hooves flailed weakly in their air. “Ooh, my sides!” Twisting and finally positioning herself back rightside-up, she patted the bear on the back. “I was going to say ‘impressive’. Good job keeping up with The Great and Powerful Trixie, brave and daring assistant.” she complimented.

Funshine blushed, realizing that this was his first compliment received from the flamboyant mare. “Wow, thanks.” he smiled. “That means a lot, Trixie.”

The magician tut-tutted and dismissed it with an exaggerated flip of her cape. “Just don’t get used to it, ok?” she teased, finally able to rise to her feet.

“I’ll try not to.”

“Ready for our next mission?” she winked.

– – – – – –

Lumina’s glorious white form strode with focused determination along a glittering pathway of stardust formed by Orion’s lesser subjects. Her wings quivering with anticipation in their folded state at her sides. With every step, the path she walked dissipated behind her, crumbling into waterfalls of silver sheen before gravitating toward her ever-flowing, gravity-defying mane and tail. When she arrived at the belt of Orion, she paused, sensing the presence of what she was seeking nearby. Her massive wings flared out to full length, and her eyes fell shut in concentration. Invoking the most ancient art of summoning, she opened her mouth and began to sing a slow, serene melody in words that were far removed from the Equestrian tongue.

“Felicitas cum amicis comunicata est”

From the waking world, Princess Celestia’s own wings flared, as if of their own accord, and a blazing white light illuminated her eyes from the inside out. The invoked spell caused her mouth to open and lend her voice to the next verse, in harmony with her sisters’.

“Tristitia est communis dolor”

In unison, Star Dreams, in the midst of her hypnagogia, stood at attention, her untapped power overwhelming her and lifting her small frame into the air. The churning energies manifested and summoned a cocoon of soft pinkish purple wings around her, before drawing her into a trance-like state. She felt the song spell deep within her, urging her to lend her voice to the third verse as a support to the two sisters’ own.

“cum omnibus amicis”

So too, did the children of Orion begin to sing, vibrating as the heavens themselves shook, and casting their energies out in magnificent waves to the powerful Alicorn Princess. Before long, the cosmos as a whole joined in lending their unfathomable power, rippling into Lumina like tidal waves.

“Per aspera vita beata

Causa vivendi”

An invisible but tangible resonance link formed between the three, pulsing with the power of the ancients between realms and ripping the very fabric of time and space apart.

“Ivenire credere magni momenti”

Clouds of aquamarine and silver colored stardust swirled around Lumina, creating powerful vortexes of winds within the vacuum of space.

“Amoris aperiendi”

As the winds churned and whipped frantically, the space before her distorted, being stretched and pulled like chewing gum, before collapsing in on itself and becoming a rotating black hole that situated itself among the stars in its own containment field.

“Fores aperiendi

“Tempus est”

As the spell neared its climax, a spectacular rainbow light poured out of depths of the spiraling suction, materializing into the visage of a living prism phoenix. With a silent cry, it spread its glorious wings, craned its elongated neck, and rose into the heavens above. Its trailing tail feathers spiraled like DNA strands, pressing in on themselves and melding until they manifested a radiant blade in their wake. Molten metal that glittered and sparkled like stars made up its blade, while its hilt seemed wrapped in the light of a thousand suns. Sweeping waves extended from in between and transitioned into glorious light and dark wings- one on either side of the blade.

“Certe”

The spell, having concluded, returned space, Lumina, Celestia, and Star Dreams as they originally were, just as the sun’s last rays fell below the horizon in the waking world. Princess Luna opened her eyes, finding that the summoned tool had arrived with her from the dreamscape. ‘Thank you, my sister, for your aid.’ she thought, though the link between their shared consciousness’ had since dissipated. Rising to her hooves, she stored the sword away until it needed to be used, and stepped out of her room to begin her nightly duties.

– – – – –

Funshine Bear yawned as he followed Trixie and idly wondered if Celestia was expecting him to be back at the castle that night. She did task him with assisting Trixie for the Summer Sun festival, but did the Princess even know how long Trixie would be keeping him in her company? Did Trixie, herself even know? He stifled another yawn with his paw and shook his head, hoping to ward off sleep. “What’s our last object?” he hummed, beginning to feel his eyelids getting heavy.

“This.” Trixie gestured with her hoof as she came upon a stone heart that levitated in its own magnetic field upon a pedestal in sight of the Crystal Empire’s castle.

“What is it?” the bear frowned.

Overhearing him, spectators who had been straggling in the square before turning in for the night trotted up to him. “This, my friend, is none other than the Prism Heart!” a white pony with a purple tail and mane explained.

A second white pony flipped her teal colored mane over her shoulder as she approached. “We know everything there is to know about the Heart! Did you know that it’s totally not the Crystal Heart that protects the entire empire?”

“It’s totally not.” The purple-maned pony confirmed.

“But!” The teal-haired one added. “It was discovered by Spike, the Brave and Glorious, the dragon who found the Crystal Heart and saved the Empire on three occasions!”

“Aw, it was nothing.” A third voice joined in the conversation. “All in a day’s work.”

Funshine Bear blinked, finding himself staring at some sort of bipedal reptile with purple and green scales. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I’m Spike, the Brave and Glorious!” The reptile preened as he puffed out his chest. “And these are my friends, Periwinkle and Wondermint.” he gestured to the blue-maned pony, and then the purple-maned mare. “We were just about to head in for the night. Care to join us?”

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Funshine was about to accept the invitation, until a nudge from Trixie reminded him of their objective. No thanks. We have business to attend to.” Trixie spoke for him.

Spike shrugged a scaly shoulder. “Suit yourself.” he decided. “We’ll be staying in the Grand Crystal Hotel, if you change your mind.” he called out, before he, Wondermint, and Periwinkle left them to their own devices.

Trixie waited until they were gone and the square was completely empty before she snatched the Prism Heart off of its pedestal and tucked it under her hat, along with the Solstice Necklace and Cosmic Crystal of Corona.

Taking the last train back to Canterlot from the Crystal Empire, the two headed back for their rooms in the castle. Funshine was nearly asleep on his feet as he trudged through the halls, occasionally leaning against the wall for support. After a time, he began to wonder if he was lost. These castles were far too massive to navigate without a guide who knew the ins and outs of the formidable structure. Just as he was about to attempt to hunt down an on duty guard, the sound of a familiar voice tickled his ears from just outside the window. Peering out, Funshine noticed his filly friend, Star Dreams, romping merrily through the castle gardens with another filly who appeared to be around her own age. What in Care-a-Lot was that silly filly doing outside so late, past what he could only assume would be her bedtime? Determined to scold her, since he was no adults present to monitor her and the other child, he found a door, thankfully no too far from where they had been playing, that led to the outside gardens. “Young filly, what are you doing?” he demanded. “Do you have any idea what time it is?”

Innocently, the pink little pony peered up at him, as if she wasn’t aware of the hour. “I was playing with Bellaluna.” a chldish peal of laughter rang out from behind her as the pony in question leapt out from behind a statue and ran circles around Star Dreams and Funshine. Star giggled and joined in. “Come play with us, Funshine!”

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Doubling down on his efforts, the bear put his paw down. “Little filly, I’m exhausted, and we need to get back to our room!” his words, however, fell on deaf ears as the children continued their game, running around decorative and precisely manicured shrubs, and frolicking about as if time were of no concern. He could only sigh as he followed the two through a tunnel of bushes that they had discovered. “Star, Bella, this isn’t funny anymore,” he groaned, hoping to get a hold of the two sooner rather than later, and bring them back inside the castle. However, when he was the girls come to a standstill at the end of the tunnel, he hurried his pace, fearing that something- or someone- perhaps No Heart, was just on the other side, waiting in the darkness for them. When he poked his head out, what he saw before him made his mouth drop open.

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Part 3- Silent Moon

Funshine Bear gasped, drawing back into the tunnel of bushes so as not to be seen, and gesturing for Star Dreams and Bellaluna to remain quiet. Before the trio, a circle of ponies of stood in the garden. The dim light of hundreds of floating fireflies speckled their multi-colored coats, while the pale silver moonlight bathed them in its spotlight. Though the ponies gathered all seemed to be talking at once with concerned looks on their faces, an immediate hush fell upon them as a navy blue Alicorn with a darkened crown approached from the deepest shadows of the garden to stand in their midst.

“Princess Luna!” the ponies announced in hushed whispers of reverence and awe.

Star Dreams’ eyes went wide at the familiar face of her friend, and she moved forward to scamper out into the open to greet the Princess properly, but a yellow paw from Funshine was held out, blocking her path and giving her a gentle nudge backward. A brief glance was given to the extended limb with mild disdain, but she obeyed, remaining in the safety of the tunnel.

“My dearest friends,” Luna spoke, her voice bereft of warmth though her words implied familiarity. Her shoulders were squared and she held her high in effort to support the weight of the crown atop it. Her tone commanded authority. “I do hope that you forgive me for not wishing you a pleasant night, but as I’m sure you all are aware, a dire crisis now looms on our hooves.” she addressed those before her, studying the wary glances between the ponies before continuing, though it was far from her intention to assuage their concerns.

“Members of the High Mare Frigoris Council. I, Princess Luna of Equestria, present to you on this night, credible evidence that the fabled Lost City of Tambelon’s resurgence is, indeed, on the horizon. I have reason to believe that it will manifest at the pinnacle of the upcoming Summer Sun Celebration.” she announced. As one who worked in the darkness and knew its ins and outs like the back of her hoof, Luna had become highly attuned to just how deep and murky the shadows felt over her co-ruled lands each night. She alone knew her element best. It had been a pressing concern for some time now; long before Princess Cadence of the Crystal Empire had put Celestia on alert, in fact. But like steam slipping through the tiniest cracks of a closed door, she had felt far more venomous clouds of darkness seeping into the air from an unknown location and had remained silent on the matter up until now. Rather than incite fear and panic, she had simply opted to keep to her element, preparing as necessary in preparation for Tambelon’s return. And if her predictions were correct, there would be no greater time for Tambelon to emerge from its realm other than when it was the least expected; on a day when the land was awash in light and the sun was venerated…yet also cast the darkest shadows.

The smaller ponies around the Princess stiffened, and a chorus of concerned murmurs stirred the cool night air.

A small, purple pegasus pony with a magenta mane and a plethora of stars on her flank moved forward to lay her concerns on the table. “A thousand pardons, Princess Luna,” she pleaded, bowing her head low on behalf of the Council, as befitting of the one who held the lowest seat among them. “But I feel it necessary to inquire what Princess Celestia knows of this.” Though the Mare Frigoris rarely had dealings with the ruler of the day or her select private Council of Corona, given the circumstances of an unforeseen threat targeting the solar festival, it was a reasonable request.

An aged unicorn with a fading pink coat and white mane surveyed Luna with but a glance; a faint light behind her eyes twinkled knowingly. Opting to remain silent, the elder of the assembled council stood back and trusted that all would be right in due time. She had seen many things in her lifetime, unlike the younger mares of the High Frigoris who simply wished to put their fears to rest, but she had always had the privilege of living through what terrors may come having gone as well; vanquished by the light of dutiful ponies like the royal Alicorn sisters, who were determined that their precious values, ideals and way of life live on for generations.

“Council members, please~! There is no cause for alarm!” Luna whinnied, hoping to quiet them in order to proceed. “I believe that if appropriate preventative measures are taken before the celebration occurs, then there will be less of a chance that Tambelon will materialize from the realm of shadows and overtake Equestria.”

A rather bold white unicorn with a purple and blue streaked mane stepped forward, as if challenging the Princess. “Starsong’s concerns are valid. You mean to say that even with preventative measures in place, there’s still a significant chance that Tambelon will threaten our way of life?”

Luna’s features promptly shifted to display her utter indignation at the audacity the unicorn had approached her with. “Councilmare Glory!” she huffed. “Need I remind you just who it is that you are addressing with such a tone?” she held her head a bit higher and flared her royal blue wings to their full span.

Funshine Bear frowned as he eavesdropped on Luna’s speech. An uneasy feeling bean to settle in the pit of his stomach, his mind racing to comprehend what was being laid out before him- or technically the council members. He got the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to be made privy to such information, but then again, Noble Heart Horse and Princess Celestia had both entrusted him to assist in aiding these lands, whether from No Heart or this Tambelon threat. It was then that his heart skipped a beat, realization dawning no sooner had his buzzing mind somehow pieced everything together. The concern from Care-a-Lot’s own co-founder over No Heart coming to inhabit the lands of the little ponies, the concern of Princess Luna and Celestia over Tambelon- it had to only mean one thing.

Shakily, the bear leaned against the flora wall, ignoring the few uncomfortably poking twigs that bore into his fur. He didn’t quite know what Tambelon was, but if there was one thing that he did know, it was that No Heart meant business. He had to give away his, Star Dreams, and Bellaluna’s positions. He had to go forward before Luna and her high council to tell them what he did know! But before he could even will himself to take a shaky step forward, Luna’s voice called out.

“Heaven forbid the Princess of the Night not know all who trespass in her garden!” the lunar mare’s voice boomed as if spoken through a microphone, hooked up to an amp, and the volume dialed all the way up. “Reveal yourselves!” came the order of the Alicorn.

Left with no choice, Funshine advanced forward, wary of all the eyes of the council upon him, most notably, the tallest of the ponies who appeared to be as dark as the night sky itself, yet twinkling with mirrored starlight in her fur, mane, and tail. Star Dreams galloped by him and squeezed past the gathered council, to stand before Princess. Noting that Bellalna had somehow slipped away from behind him, even before Star Dreams, Funshine had to wonder how the little filly had suddenly moved to stand at the dark mare’s side.

“You have something you wish to say, do you not, child of the Ursa?” the dreamwalker inquired, as her starry wings spread out to full on either side of her.

If the body language served as an intimidating tactic in effort for her to appear larger than she already was, Funshine noted, then it was indeed working. This as a gesture that he and his fellow Care Bear family were rather well-versed in, themselves, but in spite of being mammals on a higher rung of the food chain compared to these little ponies, he still felt slightly weak at the knees at the awe-inspiring majesty of the Princess before him. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he took a step forward to stand in the midst of what she had called her High Mare Frigoris Council. “I happened to overhear, and what I can say is that a well-respected leader from my home of Care-a-Lot sent me here to work with the rulers of these lands to stop a serious threat named No Heart. I think that he just might be in hiding somewhere, trying to bring this lost city out of the shadow lands-” he paused, looking to Luna, who had a stone-cold glare carved into her face.

“Grogar.” The mare spat, pure toxic acidity dripping from her tone. It appeared that she wished to say more, but quickly became aware that her desired choice of words would not be befitting of neither the younger ponies’ ears nor her dignified composure and status of a Princess of Equestria. She opted for holding her tongue and clearing her throat in effort to stall and allow herself more time to choose her next words carefully. “Your ‘No Heart’ may be in alliance with him, if that is, in fact, the case.”

“My liege,” the aged council mare finally interjected, looking from Funshine to Luna, and then prostrating herself before the crowned royal. “I mean no disrespect, Princess, but the Council is aware of your…ahem…history, along with what your job description entails as guardian of the night, and your duties are most certainly appreciated by the Council and Equestria’s citizens as a whole, but as I hold the highest seat upon your private council, I simply cannot permit you to put yourself in harm’s way to-”

“You will be silent!” Luna boomed with such intensity that it blew Funshine, the Council and the Star Dreams backward a few feet. “Thy Princess has not yet concluded speaking!”

A hush fell over the garden as Luna lowered her voice and began to pace. “Star Dreams, please come forth.” she summoned, dropping into a crouching position on her belly to make herself less intimidating to the filly. “It’s alright, little one. Come to me.” she whinnied in a motherly tone that would serve to mimic her sister’s.

Slowly, hesitantly, the pink pony drew forth and stood nearly muzzle to muzzle with the Princess.

“Do you know why I invited you to stay in the castle, Star Dreams?” the ancient pony hummed as she locked eyes with mirroring aquamarine pools.

“N-no.”

Luna smiled, reaching out to tenderly stroke the child’s cheek with her hoof, her heart fluttering as the filly leaned lovingly into the touch. “I see a lot of myself in you, little one.” she swallowed the tremor in her own voice. It was almost frightening just how much of a watery reflection this young child was to her own self, but that made her all the more firm in her convictions. Water was an element meant to be ruled by the moon and held many forms, like her namesake. It bore the potential for beginnings of life, and destruction of it through erosion. A ripple that branched out and effected the still surfaces around it held unlimited potential for the biggest changes.

Luna lifted her head to catch sight of her beloved sister, Celestia, standing out on the balcony of her chambers, then turned her attention once more to the filly before her. “Someone very dear to me suggested that I follow in her hoofsteps….that taking somepony under my wing would prove beneficial; to aid in teaching….and in learning from.” she hinted, a warm blush barely evident beneath her dark fur. In spite of being over a thousand years old, she knew that she would not; no- could not shy away from lessons in humility. “You’ve taught me so much about yourself…about myself, Star Dreams, in the time that you’ve been here….”

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She cast a look to Funshine Bear, a shadow of concern passing behind her eyes for a fraction of a second, before turning her gaze back to the pink filly. “And what I’ve come to notice most prominently about you is that you isolate yourself. You create imaginary friends to keep you company, and your dreams are bereft of the joys of the magic of friendship. I was once like you when I thought that I was being overshadowed my sister, Celestia. I turned to the darkness and was overpowered by it.” Her eyes closed against the memories of her past that clawed their way to the surface of her mind.

The golden bear tilted his head as confusion pounded over him like the waves of the sea. Hadn’t he just witnessed Star Dreams playing with Bellaluna mere moments ago? How could Luna speak of the little filly isolating herself?

Luna allowed the tiniest of smiles to pull at her lips, quite easily reading the cub’s body language before she turned her attention toward him. “You know not the extent of the nature of the moon, child of the Ursa.” she spoke as-a-matter-of-factly. “For it bears many forms.” she added. Spirals of turquoise light began to orbit around the base of her horn before twisting to the tip in a dizzying dance that created a signature aura that pulsed around the whole of her elongated limb. Not breaking eye contact with Funshine, she commanded the magic to leave her horn and set it on a path toward Bellaluna. The air shimmered as the magic disturbed it and branched off into two separate rings that radiated around the light blue filly. In an instant of time, the silver-haired pony in the center of the lunar magic melted into shadow, retreating along the ground toward Luna before becoming stationary at her hooves. The rings of magic dissipated into the air, once having done what the spell commanded.

Funshine gasped, jaw dropping in amazement at the very concept that these ponies had such abilities at their disposal! But, he supposed, if just one of them could succeed in raising the sun over these lands, how much less effort it took in order to manipulate one’s own shadow and give it a physical form? Nonetheless, it was truly astonishing!

He quivered at the mare’s words to Star left lingering in his mind, his blood running cold at as he filled in the blanks of Luna’s explanation that the child was too young to understand. The thought of No Heart or anyone else with despicable intentions using these ponies, especially one such as young as Star Dreams, for their own devious purposes upset his stomach!

Luna refocused her gaze onto Star Dreams once her demonstration had concluded. “Take courage, little Star.” Luna hummed into her ear. “You need no longer fear feeling out of place among real friends for your lack of power. You are growing into your abilities, and I assure you, they will be beautiful.” came the warm commendation. She would do everything in her power to prevent this young pony’s latent abilities to be misused by the creepers in the darkness, for their own end!

Funshine Bear nodded, his face set with determination and gusto after the encouraging speech. His gaze then turned heavenward as soon as he spotted three shadows snake silently across the garden’s grounds.

Luna reached out a hoof to tilt Star Dream’s chin up to meet her solemn stare. She felt her stars stirring something within her that cast its ripples to her very core. The cool night breeze rustled through the treetops, crickets chirping, and royal flags on high castle towers flapping against the wind to provide a harmonic orchestra of nature and its elements to effortlessly draw out words to accompany them. “Have you ever felt like nobody was there?

Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?

Have you ever felt like you could disappear?

Like you could fall, and no one would hear?”

A pastel pink pony with a loosely curled pink, purple, and yellow mane that Funshine Bear recognized as Princess Cadence from the Crystal Empire landed on the ground behind them, smiling at the group before joining in song. “Well, let that lonely feeling wash away.” sang the motherly voice of countless bedtime lullabies to her own little one. In two and a half steps on her long, slender legs, she circled around to face the little filly. “Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay.”

Princess Celestia, standing a head or two above Luna and Cadence, respectively, floated down as light as a feather and lent her voice while pointedly glancing at her sister. “Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand,” her hoof grabbed firm hold of one of Luna’s. “You can reach- reach out your hand.” She watched Luna’s own hoof extend to Star Dreams.

Funshine sang, beginning to feel the song stirring in the depths of his heart, that provided the words for him before he could do so much as think of them. “And ohhhhh, someone will come runnin’. And I knoooooow they’ll take you home.”

Following up, Luna felt a twinge of lingering guilt that she had yet to completely let go of, yet she pressed on. “Even when the dark comes crashing through,” her gentle baritones guided the lyrics that rolled off her tongue and floated upon the cool night breeze.

“When you need a friend to carry you.” Princess Twilight sang with the utmost conviction, having had the light of friendship effect her life in the most positive ways. A gentle nudge of encouragement was given to Luna before she turned her attention to Star Dreams.

“When you’re broken on the ground,” Princess Cadance once more joined her voice to the other Princess’. “You will be found.” she assured, touching the young filly’s chest over her heart.

“So let the sun come streamin’ in” Celestia sang in her warm, honey tones.

Twilight spread her lavender wings, feeling the magic within her bubbling, compelling her to take to the skies as it threatened to overflow in her significantly smaller frame. “Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again”

“Lift your head and look around.” Cadance came to face the pink filly once more, gingerly guiding Star Dream’s gaze to her with a hoof, and staring into those shimmering turquoise pools.

Luna once more contributed. “You will be found”

“You will be found.” Twilight sang.

“You will be found.” Celestia’s voice weaved expertly between theirs.

“You will be found.” Cadence’s sweet, serene voice rose, matching the harmonies of her Aunts’.

“You will be found.” Funshine affirmed.

Star Dreams cast her look to the ground, hesitant. There was no reason not to put her trust in the Princess’, but she had opted to be alone and in the shadows for so long, of fear of others and what they might think of a filly who hadn’t yet come into her powers at her age; in fear of herself and what unseen paths lie ahead for her with one who had not yet manifested her true talents, her potential….her destiny. She had known nothing but uncertainty, confusion, fear, and isolation- it was scary, but so was the thought of leaving that nightmarish familiarity for something new?

“There’s a place where we don’t have to feel unknown,” Twilight threw her head back and belted out into the sky, unable to bear being grounded for much longer. Her heart threatened to burst! She flapped her wings hard and took to the air. “and every time that you call out, you’re a little less alone.”

“If you only say the word,” Luna attuned her voice to her siblings’ as they shared a short duet with the next lyric of the song.

“From across the silence, your voice is heard!” the royal sisters sang in familiar harmony that showcased their natural musical abilities.

The garden pulsed with luminescent turquoises and soft white lights of magic that lit up the vast amounts of flora from the inside out to make the garden appear otherworldly.

The remaining Alicorn Princess’, having showed restraint thus far to the magic that threatened to overtake and consume them as it now reached its boiling point, took to the air one at a time after and joined Twilight in the night sky, in slow formation above Star Dreams. Their joined voices resonated. Their individual cutie marks that were positioned on their flanks began to glisten and glitter faintly as their song continued. “Even when the dark comes crashing through,

When you need a friend to carry you.

When you’re broken on the ground,

You will be found!

So let the sun come streamin’ in

‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again

If you only look around,

You will be found. (you will be found)

You will be found! (you will be found)”

Star Dreams stared at them in wide-eyed wonder. A fluttery feeling beginning to form within her chest as the magic of their song pooled around her and rippled through the vicinity of the moonlit gardens.

“Out of the shadows, the morning is breaking

and all is new, all is new!

It’s fillin’ up the empty, and suddenly I see

that all is new. All is new!”

Funshine looked down at his Belly Badge as it began to tingle with a strange, yet satisfying sensation. The golden rays that stretched out from around his smiling sun symbol were tinged with specks of faint red hues that shifted to orange and then back to yellow.

Having felt compelled by the magic that now hung like a thick fog over the gardens, the ponies of the High Council of Mare Frigoris joined in song. “You are not alone.” Starsong sang, stepping and singing in perfect sync with the others in counterclockwise rotation to that of the Princess’ around the confused, but excited little filly.

“You are not alone.” voiced Glory.

“You are not alone.” followed Galaxy.

“You are not alone.” The three sang in unison

The four Princess’ added their voices as they moved in clockwise rotation overhead of the others. “You are not alone. (you are not alone)

You are not alone. (you are not alone)

You are not, you are not alone!”

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Luna descended to the ground in front of Star Dreams, running her hoof through the child’s mane in a gesture of comfort. “Even when the dark comes crashing through,”

Swooping down, Twilight lifted a startled Star right of her hooves and brought her into the air with her. “When you need someone to carry you.” the youngest Princess sang, and transferred her to Cadance’s hooves in mid-flight. Cadance playfully tossed the girl higher into the air to Celestia, who caught her with expert precision before placing her safe and sound back on the ground beside Funshine Bear.

“When you’re broken on the ground!” Funshine cried out as a jolt of fear and excitement coursed down his spine. His Belly Badge grew brighter and brighter still, until he had to close his own eyes against the luminosity. Bright white beams of light flared and spiraled from his midsection, and in an instant, a miniature sun flew out of his tummy symbol! It shot high into the air, joined by flecks of multicolored magic from each of the Princess’ that bore the shape of their individual cutie marks.

In a dizzying dance of intertwined talents, the magic merged and the sphere of light brightened further. It pulsed once, calling to it the materialized blade from Orion that Luna had summoned. Like magnets, the sphere of light fused with the shimmering celestial sword. Warm rays of rainbow colored light radiated across its entire surface.

“You will be found!” the harmonized voices rose an octave in celebration of the magnificent marriage and spectacular light show from the union of yin and yang. Excitement coursed through their veins, and the Princess’ reared on their hind legs, followed by the High Council of Mare Frigoris.

Awestruck, Funshine and Star Dreams stood fixed in place as glittery magic from the sight showered down on them.

“So let the sun come streamin’ in

‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again

If you only look around,

You will be found. (Even when the dark comes crashing through)

You will be found! (When you need someone to carry you)

You will be found!

You will be found!”

The hoofsteps of the crowned barely made a sound as they bent and broke tender blades of grass beneath their weight as they drew back to give the magnificent structure its berth. Rainbow colored fractures of light danced along the curved arcs of their crowns like a disco ball.

“You will be found.” Luna’s words drifted into the air as the clock struck midnight, signaling the dawn of a new day.

– – – – –

After a pleasant morning’s sleep that had been long overdue and suggested by Celestia, Funshine woke with many questions on his mind. He was refreshed, energized, and hoping to have an audience with one of the royals during what little time they might have in between their royal duties and lunchtime. A paw groped around the sheets for Star Dreams, then he cast a glance to the twin bed on the opposite side of the room, wondering if she had chosen to sleep in her own bed for once. However, the bed had been made, which seemed quite odd, and more notably, the pink filly wasn’t occupying it. “Star?” he called out, wondering if the child was in the washcloset. No reply. He scratched his head in confusion and threw a bleary-eyed glance to the clock on the bedside table. Well, he figured, of course she would be up, it was already noon!

“Yipes!” Funshine yelped, throwing the sheets back quickly and making a beeline out of his room. How on earth could the guards let him sleep in?! He was normally an early riser, but the events of last night, late into the night, and the strange power that he had cast from his tummy symbol had exhausted him. Pausing, he doubled back and snatched a note that Celestia had left for him on the bedside table. There was no doubt that since he had arrived in these lands, he had been kept busy in assisting with the preparations for the Summer Sun event. How much moreso would each of the Princesses be during such a time, he wondered? It seemed like an audience with anyone sooner rather than later, would be out of the question. Sighing, he looked at Celestia’s note with assigned tasks for him to carry out. Today, it seemed like she wanted him to assist with setting up for a famous artist who would be lending their talents to the festival.

Scouring Canterlot for the pony in question took surprisingly less effort than Funshine initially thought, given the fact that posters of the celebrity lined just about every street. He advanced toward a large stage where two turquoise colored unicorns were unpacking various cables and other objects from boxes. “Excuse me,” he cleared his throat, hoping to get their attention. “Hi, I’m Funshine Bear and I was told that I needed to assist you guys….what exactly are you doing?”

“We’re setting up for DJ Pon-3’s concert.” the unicorn mare with a white and minty green streaked mane replied. “I’m Lyra, by the way; one of his friends.” she smiled.

“I’m her brother, Neon Lights.” a same colored stallion with spiky black hair said, pushing his designer shades up to rest over his horn. “And I’m performing with Pon-3 the closing night of the event. We’re real tight.” he smirked confidently at the bear.

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Lyra glanced around the stage, then pointed a hoof at Funshine. “You can work over there setting up-”

“There you are!” a sassy voice that dripped with self-entitlement interrupted. Before Funshine could do so much as blink, the gravity around him was made lighter, practically nonexistent, and his fur stood on end as a field of magic contained him, lifting him up into the air and delivering him in closer proximity to a familiar azure pony. “Do you have any idea just how long the Great and Powerful Trixie has been looking for you?” she barked, stomping a hoof down on the ground in frustration. “Time is of the issue, assistant! Let’s go!” she decided, picking the bear up with her magic once more and carrying him with her.

“But-” Funshine began, glancing back and watching the unicorn siblings shrug off his departure and continue working. “Trixie, where are we going?” he folded his arms and made himself comfortable, soon realizing that there really wasn’t much to do while trapped in the bubble of energy.

Abruptly, the pony stopped in her proud stride and canceled the magic from her horn, which resulted in Funshine being dropped onto the ground. “You’re quite heavy, you know that?” she frowned, dodging the question. “You know, I thought bears were light, since they were made up of stars and you know, space gas and stuff-” she waved a hoof dismissively. “But come to think of it, you don’t really look like any of the Ursa Minor I’ve seen.” Granted, her knowledge of the species was lacking, and her only eyewitness of them was limited to a sighting that had brought one to the backwater town of Ponyville in the shadow of Canterlot, during her first performance there, many years ago. She reached out and poked Funshine’s shoulder with her hoof, which earned her a frustrated and offended glare.

“I’m made of mass, Trixie! Stars are made of mass.” Funshine frowned while stating the facts, and lightly slapped her hoof away. “And I’m a Care Bear, not an Ursa Minor.” he clarified. True, Princess Luna and Celestia’s habits of addressing him, or rather, his Care Bear kind in general, as a “child of the Ursa” wasn’t wrong, but there was a distinct difference between Care Bears and their ancestors.

“Well, whatever.” Trixie once more dismissed the fact and trotted forward. “Come on, assistant. We’ve got work to do!”

The bear, having his mood soured, stood fixed in place. “No.” he said curtly.

Trixie froze. “Excuse me?”

“I said no.” he repeated. “You’ve been dragging me around without any concern for how I feel, in spite of my putting my all into helping you get these mystical items. You’ve put me in dangerous situations! We didn’t even stop for lunch yesterday! And to top it off, this whole time, I’ve been stressing because it just feels like we’re stealing these things for….whatever you plan on doing with them!” he huffed, gesturing wildly as he paced. “Princess Celestia told me to help you with whatever you need, but- aargh!” his vented frustrations soon became bear-like grumbles and growls.

“Whoa there, relax.” Trixie neighed. “We’re not stealing. I told you- everything will be returned to where they came from once the Summer Sun Celebration is over. I promise. No one said we couldn’t borrow anything, did they?”

“Well, no.”

“Great. And even Celestia gave the go-ahead, so it’s settled. Everything’s fine” she decided. “Now then, I guess we can stop for lunch before we find the next item I need for my act.” she shrugged. “How do Daffodil and daisy sandwiches with hay fries sound to you?”

Funshine grimaced. “Not appetizing in the least.”

After a satisfying lunch that filled up their tummies, they boarded the Friendship Express to a location called Hollow Shades. Though comments from Funshine were wary, given the name of such a place, Trixie pressed ahead and they found themselves in a shadowy wasteland that looked far removed from anyplace else in Equestria that Funshine had seen.

“This,” the eager blue pony excitedly whispered to her comrade. “is where a grand battle of epic proportions was fought between Twilight Sparkle and her friends, along with the pillars of Equestria, against a terrible, terrifying monster called the Pony of Shadows!” her voice sunk to a menacing and dramatic growl for greater emphasis, as befitting of a stageshow pony. “Rainbow Dash told me all about it. The battle lasted for weeks, with neither side giving an inch!”

Funshine Bear listened to what sounded like a severely exaggerated tale, as he’d come to expect from Trixie. He no longer wondered about what parts were truths and which were fibs, but enjoyed the retold story nonetheless- it certainly kept things interesting, to say the least. He followed alongside through a dank and dingy cave, hanging on the mare’s every word. “So what happened after Pinkie Pie blasted the shadow pony with her party canon?” he asked, having to squint through the onset darkness to keep track of his companion.

Trixie’s horn lit up, providing a small glow of light to see by. A smirk touched her lips as she turned to face Funshine. “You really wanna know?” she cooed, coyly.

Funshine gulped, then nodded.

Creeping closer and crouching low, Trixie peered up at the bear. “The Pony of Shadows confronted Pinkie and roared, rearing on his hind hooves, and hollered- I’m going to gobble you up!” She too, reared, waving her forehooves in the air above her head. “And in the very the moment he was distracted, then WHAM! Twilight, her friends, and the Pillars blasted him with the Rainbow of Light, and cast him into the deepest, darkest pits of Tartarus!”

Funshine shivered. “Wow, that does sound epic!”

“What’d I tell ya?” Trixie preened. “Of course, the Great and Powerful Trrrrrixie has had adventures far greater than tha-AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” a scream ripped from her muzzle as the cavern floor gave way and crumbled beneath her weight, pitching the mare and bear into a freefall.

“Trixie!” Funshine Bear yelped as he fell further and further. His paws clawed the air in futility, and he felt his ear get grazed with a wildly flailing hoof. Then, all too soon, the wind was knocked out of his lungs as they crash landed on something solid and cold.

The mare groaned wearily, wincing as she sat up; having landed on her back. “Oooh, ouch.” Her head pounded and throbbed, and she slowly but surely hobbled to her hooves. A hoof patted at her fur in effort to brush off clods if dirt and dust. “That was one wicked trap door, huh?” she finally laughed.

“How are we supposed to get back up there?” the bear noted.

“The Great-” Trixie coughed from the debris, promptly clearing her throat. “The Great and Powerful Trixie always has a trick of two up her sleeve. Worry not, assistant!” she boasted. A quick glance around was taken of her surroundings, but all that could be seen was darkness. She couldn’t even see her hoof in front her face. Figured, from a place called Hollow Shades, she supposed. She lit her horn once more, and gasped as an ancient artifact glimmered right in front of her, awaiting her upon a silver platform and beneath a protective glass dome. “It’s the Black Sun Bracelet!” her cheers reverberated throughout the cave, but then were quickly silenced. Stepping back a pace and pouring more light to the tip of her horn, she found that there were two sets of stairs on either side of the platform. “It looks like this is an artifact that we have to work together to acquire.” she deduced. “Ready, Funshine?”

The bear nodded. “Ready!”

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– – – – –

With an impatient flick of her star-streaked tail, that was befitting of a younger sibling, Luna counted down the minutes in her mind since there was no clock on the wall that served as a painful reminder of how utterly boring the duties of Night Court tended to be. Her shoulders sagged, composure slipping as the remaining ponies who insisted an audience with her were escorted out by the guards, once having their case resolved. Finally! With the stomp of a hoof, she drew the attention of her bodyguards on either side of her throne. “I advised the Child of the Ursa to be present at the conclusion of the Court. One of you fetch Funshine Bear and bring him to me!” she demanded.

“Yes, your Highness!” a Pegasus guard obeyed, ready to leap off of the decorated platform and fly at frenzied pace to the guests’ room. He had been eager to stretch his stiffening wings all day, and now was the perfect opportunity! But just as he maneuvered into a crouching position, did the double doors of the court slam wide open; the bear in question running through and panting.

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Luna’s eyes narrowed at the unsightly and tardy entrance. “Child of the Ursa-” she began, only to be cut off by the bear.

“Too…many…doors! Castle. Too big!” he huffed. “I’m sorry, Princess!”

“You. Are. Late!” the dreamwalker punctuated. “You may be accustomed to being on a loose reign with my sister, Princess Celestia, but do not dare to assume that you are to be given the same leeway by me. I an entrusted with keeping the nightmares of both the waking world and that of dreams at bay. Punctuality is of the utmost importance. Do I make myself clear, child of the Ursa?”

“Crystal.” Funshine nodded.

Luna hummed. “Very well.” So with a wave of her hoof, she dismissed her guards and called Funshine closer to her throne. “Tomorrow begins the Summer Sun Celebration, as I’m sure you are aware. You have concerns that plague you, do you not?” it was all too easy to read the anxiety in the bear’s posture and eyes. “You wish to ascertain the happenings of last night.” she deduced.

“Well-” Funshine began. “You guys sent me and Star off to bed so fast afterward that I didn’t really get to…I mean-” he looked down at his Belly Badge while his mind flooded with the many events and adventures that he had been thrown into while he had been in Equestria. Everything was moving so quickly! He still was on edge from No Heart having infiltrated these bright and happy lands that the ponies called home, but during the course of his time here, he hadn’t seen nor heard hide nor hair of the threat, save for in his nightmares the very first day he had been sent here. “To be honest, Princess, there’s just so much to wrap my head around.” he said, at last. “For starters, wh-what was that? The singing and the glowing, and-” the golden bear inquired, realizing that he sounded foolish. His paws touched the sun symbol on his tummy in disbelief. He had never had his Belly Badge do something like that before!

Luna nodded, knowingly. “That is to be expected. However, I’m afraid that the time to divulge the information that you seek to understand is not yet.” She stood, descending from on high from her throne. “Rest assured, child of the Ursa. The time will come for you to know.”

“Celestia said the same thing.” he muttered, wryly. These Princesses were treating him like a child! Granted, they did have a thousand years or so on him, but even so!

Luna laughed. “Good thing come those who wait,” she assured him. “And I suspect you need not wait very long.” she glided past him on her long, slender legs. “Take rest, Funshine. I will guard your dreams tonight.”

The Care Bear sighed as he returned to his room. Truth be told, he was utterly exhausted after having being put on a practically nonstop assignment and schedule by the various Princesses and Trixie since the very day he had arrived in these equine inhabited lands. He flopped onto his bed and allowed his limbs to turn to liquid. A wide yawn stretched his muzzle, and just as his maw snapped shut, a lightbulb in his head went on. The room that the guards had said was meant to be that of his and Star Dreams had been occupied by him alone, he realized. He hadn’t even seen a glimpse of her since the events in the garden last night! Reluctantly, he pushed himself upright and poked his head out of the door to glance at the guards situated on either side of the door. “Excuse me, sirs, but I was just wondering what happened to my roommate? Goes by the name of Star Dreams?”

“We are not at liberty to divulge that information.” one of the stallions on duty answered curtly, without even giving him so much as a glance, which immediately drew a troubled frown from the curious Care Bear.

There was definitely something going on, but what that was, Funshine very clearly wasn’t privy to. Though the little filly’s sudden disappearance weighed on his heart, Luna’s words rang in his mind. Another drawn out sigh was expelled, and he withdrew once more into his room, softly closing the door and leaning against it.

Funshine awoke the next day to find himself curled up on the floor, rather than in the warm, comfortable bed that the Princess had provided for him. Stifling a groan, he rose and stretched his limbs in order to loosen up. New days bore new beginnings, he told himself. And today was the day he would get his concerns addressed! Determined, the golden bear threw the bedroom door open, ready to face the day, and nearly jumped back as he came face to face with an off white-colored muzzle and wide violet eyes peering back at him.

“Um, good morning?” Funshine offered a confused smile and tilt of his head.

“Mr. Bear, Princess Celestia of Equestria has summoned you and requires your presence on stage, as her guest of honor, for the raising of the sun immediately!”

“Really? She didn’t tell me anything about that.” the royally befuddled Care Bear mumbled. Nonetheless, he kept in measured stride with the mare until they reached wide double doors that led them outside.

“Hold on.” the guard spoke.

“Wha-?” Funshine didn’t have even a moment to think before the scruff of his neck was gathered between the mare's teeth, and he was flung effortlessly into the air to land on the back of the petit pony with expert precision. Muscles flexed and hooves pawed the ground, and in the blink of an eye, she took off running at full speed toward Canterlot Square. “Whoaaaaaa!” Funshine cried, his paws clutching the short white fur of the pony in order to keep from falling off.

“Good morning, Funshine.” Celestia chirped, suppressing a laugh as her Care Bear package was delivered to her so swiftly. She watched as he clumsily fumbled to get off of her guard, and moved to assist him to stand on his paws. “I’ve a truly special assignment for you today, if you don’t mind offering your assistance.” she spoke, her voice light as a bell in spite of the sun not even being up yet.

What choice did he truly have? He reminded himself of his objective; of Noble Heart Horse’s expectations of him, of the other Care Bears’, of the Princess’ and every little pony of Equestria that they ruled over. “Of course, Princess.” he nodded. ‘Where are you, No Heart, you fiend?’ he wondered in the back of his mind. If he knew that crazed psychopath, and he did- much to his chagrin, he knew that No Heart wasn’t the type for dramatic entrances. Yet still, there was no sign of him anywhere. Even so, Funshine knew that he couldn’t let his guard down.

“Come, Funshine.” Celestia beckoned as she gracefully ascended a staircase that let onto a stage. Luna followed close behind her.

The Care Bear took his place behind Luna and climbed the stage. Two guards flanked him, then moved to stand on either side of the Princess’ as Funshine quickly moved to stand alongside Celestia. A great crowd of ponies was gathered in front the stage in anticipation, chattering among themselves until the daybringer spoke.

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“Beloved citizens of Equestria, I- Princess Celestia- welcome you all to this year’s Summer Sun Celebration!” she announced in a crystal clear voice so that the masses would hear. A whoop of excitement from the crowd filled the air, and she patiently waited until the clamor died down before continuing on. “This morning bears witness to a most remarkable honor. My little ponies, may I proudly present our esteemed guest of honor from afar, Funshine Bear!” again, the crowd cheered although Funshine noticed a look of two of confusion and apprehension on some of their faces. “Now,” Celestia flared her massive wings as a hush settled over her subjects. As graceful as a ballerina dancer, the slender Alicorn Princess leapt into the sky, a golden aura twirling around her horn and calling forth the sun from over the horizon. Higher and higher she flew, lifting the magnificent celestial body with the greatest of ease. Every pony in Canterlot seemed to lose their minds! Cheers rang out from the square to the city’s limits. She returned the appreciative smile that Funshine Bear and Luna both gave her as she fluttered back down to the stage.

“And nooooooow-” a dramatic voice called out. Plumes of smoke filled the stage as Celestia, Luna, Funshine, and the royal guards stepped down. From a hidden platform that had been built into the stage, a panel opened and Trixie emerged from upon a gradually rising platform. “Behold sights that will amaze and astound you; the likes of which nopony has ever seen!” she bellowed. A round of fireworks and dazzling explosions shot off high into clear blue skies the very moment that she reared on her hind legs, struck a pose, and flared her over-sized cape out behind her. “Witness here and now- the lost art of alchemy!” With a slight of hoof, she summoned the artifacts that she and Funshine had taken great pains to collect. “I have here before me the fabled artifacts of Equestria, the Solstice Necklace, the Cosmic Crystal of Corona, the Prism Heart, and the Black Sun! I will now combine them to bring forth the legendary-”

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Celestia froze in her tracks, eyes widening as she turned to look back at the performer. Unbeknownst to the majority, the art of alchemy had been taboo for millennia! Not only that, but that pony had her hooves on her necklace and a sister item that ensured the protection of the Crystal Empire! “Guards! Detain that pony, quickly!” she ordered, restraining herself from leaping into action to get the job done herself.

Their bodyguards pounced, igniting their horns in unison and racing up the stage stairs to put a stop to the show.

“Rainbow of light!” Trixie wailed, setting off more fireworks behind her, unknowingly barring the guards access to her. Her horn lit up with her signature aura, and the objects levitated in its containment field, swirling them around each other so quickly that they blurred into each other.

Before Celestia could do so much as lift a hoof, she watched Luna scowl and take the stage stairs three at a time, then leap clear over the little pony’s head to land in front of her. “I command you, cease this senseless display at once!” Her own magic ignited her horn; readying a spell that would snatch the artifacts away from Trixie, but no sooner had she done so, the very items she desired to protect vanished before her eyes!

“No!” Celestia mouthed, her heart sinking into her hooves.

Trixie frowned at the Princess, readying a snide comment for the interruption of her show that was already on the tip of her tongue. Her mouth opened, but no words came. Instead a bone-chilling voice like nails on a chalkboard resonated from everywhere.

“Muahahaha! Foolish ponies!”

Funshine growled. “No Heart!” He watched helplessly as vicious winds whipped the crowd of ponies into a panic. From the center of the maelstrom, a black cloud of miasma began to form, surging with snakes of purple lightning and expanding outward until it filled the entire sky.

If we’re not moving forward

What are we moving for?

Feels like we’re losing order

Fighting a losing war

“Sister!” Luna cried out, taking to the air and riding the whipping currents to soar over Celestia’s head and climb up to the emerging city.

We need to work this out

Can’t do this by myself

How did we let it go this far?

“Quickly, Funshine!” rather than waiting for him to mount, she lifted him off of his paws with her golden aura and carried him with her as she raced to trail her sibling. Her luminescent mane lashed against her face, thrown by the howling winds. Her expression set with determination, she suppressed the fear in her heart and navigated the whirling currents for less drag in order to gain momentum.

Hey, you know it’s not too late for us to make a change

You gotta listen to your heart what does it say?

No matter how much we might bend we will not break

‘Cause we got what it takes to stay

As Tambelon materialized from the realm of shadows, the Alicorn sisters and Funshine charged toward it, letting themselves be sucked up into the thick, suffocating gloom and mire until their hooves and paws found solid footing among the icy ground of the beaten and battered slums of the city. “Stay close.” Celestia urged Funshine Bear as she deposited him onto his paws.

Menacing laughter rippled from the shadows. “How kind of you to grace us with your presence, Care Bear.” No Heart hissed, his words dripping with poisonous contempt. “You may have allied yourself with these ponies, but all the same, their lands and yours will fall this day! You are powerless…..”

“Don’t let him get to you.” Luna advised. She had faced darkness of this sort before, but of her own creation. She would not allow herself, nor any other to fall victim to it, if it could be helped.

Initiating conversation in order to tune the chilling voice out, or so he had hoped, Funshine looked to the younger Princess, hoping now would be as good a time as any to get a sliver of information out of her. “I know why we’re here, but how did this-” he gestured to the crumbling buildings of the shadow city. “Come out of nowhere?”

“I apologize if I have not been frank with you, child of the Ursa.” The dreamwalker spoke as she flanked Celestia in traversing the ruins. “As guardians of peace and protectors of our kind, we strictly classify any information from being accessed by those not under oath of the crown. Given that Canterlot is a not only the Equestrian capital, but highly values the class system, the ones privy to such highly confidential matters such as potential attacks on our lands that would threaten our way of life and values would be those of the royal family of the Genesis era. Namely, Celestia and me.” she explained.

Celestia chimed in, allowing herself to break protocol and enlighten the curious Care Bear that she had decided was completely trustworthy. “According to legend, the city of Tambelon has frequently posed as a threat to generations of ponies before us. It would emerge from the realm of shadows every 500 years. For some reason, it has never made its existence known during the time of my reign, which has lasted over a thousand years.”

Funshine listened intently and focused on the bright yellow sun symbol in the alabaster Alicorn’s flank. “Your reign?” he parroted.

Celestia opened her mouth, then closed it, deciding that she’d best choose her words carefully for the sake of the sibling who she so loved, having fallen behind in her pace to bring up the rear. “Perhaps that is a question best left for another time.” she hinted, giving a brief glance behind her to Luna. “As it bears no relation to the circumstances we now find ourselves in.” The question was dodged with demure and tact, as befitting of one who was Equestria’s highest authority figure.

The Care Bear sighed, deciding not to press the issue any further. He could easily sense that something had triggered a very awkward silence in the air, and it was best overlooked. “So, uh….” he scratched the back of his head. “Alchemy?”

“A taboo that had been long lost.” Luna answered sternly. “It was Celestia’s idea to task you with overseeing the activities of Trixie. Our sources informed us that she has had dealings with dark magic in the past.” she paused, recalling a rather unsavory event that she had been forced to experience due to a certain unicorn that Trixie had begun to keep company with. “And rather unpleasant associations.” she added, dryly.

Funshine stiffened. “So you knew?” he asked the elder sister.

“I had a hunch.” Celestia answered, truthfully. “I had booked her to perform at the celebration under the assumption that she would attempt to pull off something spectacular, given the occasion. Even with knowledge of her past deeds, I couldn’t have foreseen that she would be capable of something of this magnitude.”

“You mean to say that Trixie summoned Tambelon? Not No Heart?” the Care Bear clarified.

“Not quite.” Luna interjected. “I assume that the one you call No Heart had been manifesting his influence through the darkness of Trixie’s heart as she worked to gather items that weren’t hers and perform an ancient arcane. The summoning that she had performed brought the darkness of Tambelon through use of the Black Sun in her possession tuning itself to her inner darkness. Another name for the relic-” she paused, taking a moment to beat down her inner demons with all the willpower that she had, before continuing. “Is the eclipse.”

The words clicked in Funshine Bear’s head, like a light switch turned on to illuminate the darkness. “O-oh.”

I know we got the power

Masters of our own fate

Together we are stronger

As long as we got faith

Celestia halted her stride for Luna to catch up to her. “Listen to me, Luna. You are not the pony you once were. I have seen great change in you, my sister. You have matured outstandingly, which is why I had faith in you to choose an apprentice for yourself to take under your wing.” she cooed, lovingly. Her hoof extended, reaching under the midnight blue mare’s chin and tilting her gaze upwards. “We will save her, I promise.”

Funshine struggled to keep up with the Princess’ being so cryptic more often than not. “I get the feeling you’re not talking about Trixie…..” he deciphered as the pieces began to fall into place. He fought to swallow the lump that had lodged in his throat as he recalled last night’s events. The guard’s vague and frustrating answer in response to his question; Luna’s elusive answers and having sidestepped his concerns during his summons….“I haven’t seen Star Dreams since the day before yesterday. What happened to her?” he demanded.

We need to work this out

A second voice, gravelly and deep, arose from the cold shadows. “What concern is a little pony to a Care Bear?” it laughed.

Before he could remember not to allow the ones who hid in the shadows to get to him, Funshine allowed his emotions to get the better of him. “She’s my friend! Give her back!”

Can’t do this by myself

The cold, cruel laughter of No Heart churned the air. “Oh, but she was quite useful to us. I would venture to say that she’s our friend now.” he mocked, stepping out from the cover of darkness to finally reveal himself in his hooded and cloaked glory from a crumbling platform above. His blood red eyes narrowed at the three who dared to intervene in his plans! “But,” he added. “I should let her tell you for herself.”

From out of the shadows upon a higher ledge opposite No Heart, heavy hoofsteps that shook the ground alerted them to a second presence. A menacing goat with crimson eyes and curved horns leered down at them, as if they were mere ants awaiting to be exterminated. “But I don’t think she has anything to say to the likes of you.”

“Grogar.” Luna snarled with fierce loathing. She spotted the small pink filly standing as still as a statue beside the massive hoof of her captor, and every bone in her body wanted to go to her. Her quivering wings desired to wrap themselves around the child, to assure her that she was safe.

How did we let it go this far?

Celestia displayed a calm demeanor that had taken centuries to perfect, though her heart was racing in her chest. Without even sparing a glance in his direction, she sent a spell to her horn that would direct her thoughts to the bear’s mind, lest the shadows overhear. “Funshine, listen to me-”

“Hey Grogar!” the Care Bear called out to the menacing monstrosity, hoping to get his attention. “It’s pretty easy to kidnap a filly, isn’t it? How about a tough guy like you try me on for size? Tell you what- let’s make a bet. If you or No Heart can get your grimy hooves or hands on me, then I agree to be your slave, and my friends come with, but the little pony you’ve got with you goes free. Fair and square. If you can’t, then we get the kid and we all go free. Deal?” he wagered, knowing that a three-for-one deal consisting of two powerful pony sisters and a formidable Care Bear in exchange for a powerless little filly would be too tempting to pass up for them.

“Deal.” the grinning goat accepted, greedily. “No Heart! Get them!”

Leaping into action, the cloaked man commanded the shadows to take on solid form, like that of beastly claws to capture his prey.

Funshine narrowly dodged the shadowy hands, but wasn’t unscathed as they managed to slice bits of yellow fuzz from his back. “Is that all you got?” he taunted.

“You imbecile!” Grogar groaned. “You missed him!”

“Shut up, you old goat. I got this.” No Heart insisted, beginning to channel stronger spells to his command. Vortexes of fire began to manifest and rain down upon the trio.

With a glance to her sister, Luna got the sense of what she was thinking, and moved into action, flying in one direction while Celestia and Funshine took off in another.

Hey, you know it’s not too late for us to make a change

You gotta listen to your heart what does it say?

No matter how much we might bend we will not break

‘Cause we got what it takes to stay

Funshine Bear ran as fast as his paws could carry him. He felt the heat of blackened fireballs nipping at his heels, but he was filled with confidence and trust in his friends. Leaping forward and relying on his athletic abilities, he somersaulted onto his front paws, hurriedly summoning a shining miniature sun into existence from his Belly Badge. Flipping his furry body around and cartwheeling out of the way of an incoming fireball, he maneuvered himself back onto his feet and swiped at the sun with a hind paw, kicking it ahead of him like a soccer ball.

Stay with me now

And how you like it now?

Just stay with me now

Celestia sped through the air, maneuvering through the city with some difficulty due to her extended wing size and larger frame. Her wingtips clipped the sides of crumbling ruins as she rounded a corner; forging her to flap hard and gain higher ground where the unsound structures wouldn’t hinder her as much. This, however, worked to her advantage, as she now put herself in the line of sight of Grogar and No Heart. As an easy target, they’d be less likely to bother with her friends, in spite of Funshine’s challenge that required focus to be on him.

We’re looking out

We’re looking out, we’re looking out now

Luna’s expertise in the dwelling of shadows, smaller frame, and design of her wings allowed her to maneuver through the maze of Tambelon silently. She glided close to the floor, allowing her inherent magic to flow through her horn and play No Heart’s own game. Billowing clouds of shadow were made tangible, allowing her to melt seamlessly into the thick shroud. Veering left and coming up from behind Funshine, she kept the veil around her while pulling her body backward and spilling the air from her wings in a tremendous flap. An invisible cyclone of air shot forward at the bear, and she gave another flap to regain her balance.

Funshine leapt, expertly kicking his sun into the air and allowing the gust from Luna’s wings to carry him a few feet off of the ground in order to somersault and kick the orb higher still.

An assisted gust from Celestia who was quick to reposition herself after just narrowly dodging a fireball aimed at her boosted the bear higher and allowed Luna time to recover from below and offer another flap her wings.

Stay with me now, with me, with me now, stay

We’re looking out, looking out, looking out, looking out

Funshine smirked, unable to resist performing a backflip in midair in order to gain momentum. “Hey horn head!” he called to Grogar, grinning down at him from above. “Catch!” his paw connected with the ball, kicking it down hard at an angle where it smashed into Grogar’s skull and ricocheted across the distance to beam No Heart in the face as well. A cheeky grin was given to the two Princesses as Funshine began to fall. Luna gave one final flap of her wings to boost the furry cub once again, and Celestia pulled upward speedily in order to catch the cub by his hind paws and carry him toward Star Dreams while Grogar was still left howling from being clobbered. He extended his front paws as he got closer, grabbing the distant filly tightly. “Gotcha!” he smiled, watching the dullness begin to fade from her eyes, and a spark of light shine through.

Hey, you know it’s not too late for us to make a change

You gotta listen to your heart what does it say?

No matter how much we might bend we will not break

‘Cause we got what it takes to stay

The Princess deposited the bear and filly onto a tower that housed a massive bell in the central square of the city. “Game over, Grogar.” Funshine frowned. “You too, No Heart.” he declared, knowing that even though he had won the bet and snatched Star dreams back, they wouldn’t keep their word in letting him and his friends go free. Luckily, Luna had already concocted a plan for that, he realized.

Stay with me now

And how you like it now?

Just stay with me now

He looked to Star Dreams, radiating trust and confidence in the filly. “Grogar said that the darkness in your heart what what brought you here, to be used by him and No Heart.” he announced boldly. “Luna told you that she sensed that the darkness that you buried inside of you was from loneliness; that you were afraid of being abandoned because of your lack of power. Look around and see, Star, the ponies- and me, who cared enough about you to come to Tambelon to get you back!”

The pink pony hesitantly looked down to the Princesses, then to Funshine.

“You have power, young filly, and it’s truly amazing. It’s a power all your own.” The sunny bear smiled. “Do you care to allow it to manifest and show these goons what you’ve got?” he leaned in close, pressing his forehead to her horn as it and his Belly badge began to glow.

We’re looking out

We’re looking out, we’re looking out now

“Hatsya.” Luna breathed in awe, as the familiar sight of Orion’s sword, infused with the combined complimentary powers of sun and star manifested and pulsed with light. She couldn’t have picked a better, brighter candidate for her apprentice, she realized.

With a powerful swing, the sword took on a shared will of Star Dreams and Funshine, slicing through the air with precision and dispelling the shadows. With ease, it cut through No Heart and Grogar like warm butter. Its blade pulsed as their anguished cries reverberated through the entire city of Tambelon.

Stay with me now

With me, with me now, stay

Celestia glided up to the two once the deed was done, gathering them both onto her back. “Will you do the honors, little sister?” she smiled to Luna.

Luna nodded. “Absolutely.” She flew to the tower where the bell resided and bucked it hard with her back hooves, casing it to ring its joyful tune of freedom across the city.

We’re looking out, looking out

As Tambelon dissipated from whence it came, depositing the four friends back in Canterlot, they shared sighs of relief and warm hugs. This year’s Summer Sun Celebration was most definitely one to remember!

Stay

After taking a moment to adjust the crown atop her head, Celestia offered a cheeky grin of her own. “I think that it’s time we got the real festivities underway.” she hummed, offering a playful wink to her companions. “Shall we?”

“Indeed we shall!” Luna agreed, with a chorus of agreements from her dear Star Dreams and Funshine. The lunar guardian strolled up onto the stage that sat in the city square, and gave a playful nudge to the DJ at the turntables with an elbow.

DJ Pon-3 glanced up, momentarily confused before the message sunk in. She adjusted her shades, pulled a vinyl record from beneath the booth and slapped it onto the turntables in one fluid motion, allowing the music to play for the crowd’s satisfaction. Her buddy, Neon Lights picked up a mic and began to sing.

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Luna and Celestia exchanged glances and lent their voices to the song, wrapping their wings around each other.

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