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    North settled down next to the fire, taking a moment to blow on his coffee.

    “Where did we leave off, then?” she asked.

    “You and your Princess literally embodied your relationship, if I recall correctly.”

    She laughed. “That we did! That we did.”

    “If I may ask… what was in that chest Princess Cadance gave Twilight?”

    “Three dumb rocks.”

    “Three dumb rocks?”

    She grinned. “That’s what Twilight called them for a while, at least.”

    They were rocks.

    No matter how much she poked, prodded, analyzed, studied, and any other otherwise related verb, Twilight had no choice but to admit to herself that the granite orb fragments she’d been studying for the past days were just that.


    The Elements of Gravel, that’s what they were.

    A groan escaped her lips, and she buried her muzzle deeper into the extraordinarily soft pony she’d forcibly dragged away from the sewing machine and into the comfortable little alcove for a much-needed session of cuddling.

    “Twilight,” murmured Rarity, a hoof lazily brushing the back of Twilight’s mane, “as lovely as this is, may I go back to my livelihood?”

    “No,” came Twilight’s muffled reply. “I need to—” She extracted her head long enough to turn towards the table and glare at the stones on the table. ”—figure out how they work.”

    Rarity sighed. “I see, I see,” she said, adjusting herself when Twilight nuzzled her once more. “And clearly lying here cuddling is the way to do so, yes?”

    “Yes,” Twilight replied. “It’s called the I-Give-Up Method.”

    Rarity laughed. “A very tried and true method. Well, seeing as I’ll be stuck here for a while, I might as well do some reading to pass the time.” She levitated a nearby book and looked it over. “I think this is Pinkie’s. ‘The Terrible Tales of Ragnar the Reaver.’” She flipped through the pages. “Ah yes, there’s nothing quite like reading about the exploits of bloodthirsty barbarians to pass the time. Let’s see what our dear Ragnar is up to.” She read a page for a moment, then frowned. “Chopping legs off, apparently.”

    Replying with a grunt, Twilight released Rarity from her comfy grip and got up, returning to the desk and the useless rocks that felt more useless the more she looked at them.

    “Why won’t you transform?” she asked the fragments, lifting them in her magic. “Tell me how to activate you!”

    “Dear, dear,” murmured Rarity, putting back the book and getting up to go to her sewing machine. “Talking to rocks now, is she? We’ve lost her, completely lost her.”

    “Ha ha.” Twilight frowned at her for a moment before going back to her dumb and clearly not magical rocks. “Can you tell me what you saw in the castle again?”

    “What I saw in the—? Twilight! I’ve told you six times already!”

    “Please, Rarity?”

    Though she whined loudly about it, Rarity relented, making a show out of turning her sewing machine on as a sign of protest. “Fine! But this is the last time, Twilight! Do you hear me? I’m not repeating it again!”

    Twilight teleported next to her, quill and parchment floating beside her. “All right, I’m ready.”

    “The girls and I went to the castle to question Denza,” Rarity said tonelessly.


    “And we found Discord and he tricked us into going inside the castle through a backdoor.”

    “You mean you completely missed all the obvious signs that something was wrong.”

    “That’s not what I said.”

    “But that’s what happened.”

    “You know what? I’m terribly tired all of a sudden, I think I should go to bed!”

    “What? But it’s eleven in the morning! Why would you be tired?”

    “Twilight, really?”

    “What? Oh.” Twilight cleared her throat at Rarity’s pointed stare. “Sorry. Uh. Please continue with your, uh, version of the story.”

    “As I said, Discord tricked us into going inside the castle, after which we found your and the princesses’ rooms, so I ventured into your room.”


    “And then I saw those rocks on your desk—”

    “—Elements of Harmony.”

    “…And then I saw The Elements of Harmony, which you yourself have multiple times referred to as dumb rocks but never mind that I suppose, and when I approached them, this white wispy thing shot into my bag, and before you ask me again, no, I do not remember what I had in my bag two years ago.”

    “Are you sure?”

    Yes, darling.”

    Twilight smiled and nodded her head. “Thank you,” she said politely before turning back to her rocks, grabbing them within her magic, and shaking them like her life depended on it. “TRANSFORM, DARN YOU!”

    “Twilight!” Rarity chastised.

    “It doesn’t make sense!” Twilight despaired. “Why aren’t they transforming?!” She levitated her crown from the table and waved it in front of Rarity. “Mine did immediately! I found the orb next to the Tree of Harmony and it transformed just like that! I don’t understand!”

    “What about those sentences in Cadance’s notes? The ‘I appear when the something or other’?”

    Twilight’s eyes flickered towards the pile of books on a different table, all the assorted notes Cadance and her guards had made over a thousand years.

    She watched as Rarity levitated an old scroll over to her and scanned its contents.

    “I appear when I stand by others,” she read aloud and then glanced at Twilight. “Does that mean anything to you?”

    “No,” replied Twilight.

    How was that supposed to even make sense? What did that even mean? Why should she trust some ancient scroll found in some mountains Celestia-knows-where?


    As if summoned by her distressed noises, the door slammed open and in came Rainbow Dash, bearing no regard whatsoever for Rarity’s protest at her door being treated like that.

    “Rarity!” exclaimed the pegasus, trotting into the room and ignoring Twilight’s distress in favor of heading straight towards her target. She gestured to the emerald gemstone hanging from her neck, which Twilight immediately recognized. “Hey, we need some kind of super large chain for this thing. Do you have one?”

    “Wait a second,” said Twilight, getting up and going to Dash. “That’s Spike’s gemstone! Why do you have that?”

    Rainbow shrugged. “I’m just carryin’ it for him until we find something that fits him.” She turned back to Rarity. “So, do you have one or what?”

    “Why, yes, Rainbow Dash, I do indeed have a spare hundred foot long chain just lying in my sewing workshop.”

    “Really? Great!” exclaimed Dash. “I’ll wait here for you to get it!” Without giving Rarity time to reply, she turned towards Twilight and walked over. “What’re you up to? What’s all this junk?”

    “It’s not junk!” Twilight protested hotly, nevermind that she’d called it junk an hour ago. She levitated the stone fragments towards Rainbow and spoke matter-of-factly. “These are the remains of the Elements of Har—”

    Wanting to make their own introduction, one of the fragment stone orbs interrupted her by starting to faintly glow, and before she could even process it, she saw with her very own eyes as a white wisp shot out of it and went straight into Spike’s gemstone.

    “What?” asked Twilight.

    “That!” Rarity gasped next. “That’s exactly what happened to me!”

    “Oh, hey, cool.” Rainbow turned back to Rarity. “Anyway, so where’s that cha—argh! Princess Twilight!”

    Twilight gawked at the gemstone now in her hooves. “What?”She looked at the stone fragments. “What?” She looked at Rainbow Dash. “What?!”

    “Darling, whyever are you upset?” Rarity asked. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

    Twilight stopped.

    Silly Rarity.

    “Well. Yes. Sure. Right. Except that this still explains nothing!” she exclaimed. “In fact, it explains even less!” Her mind reeling in her head, she began to walk around in circles, her mouth trying to somehow relay her frantic thoughts. “What does this—?! Does this mean Rainbow Dash is one of the Elements of Harmony?! But why?! Or is it Spike?!”

    “What? No, no! It’s me!” Rainbow quickly interjected. “I’m one of the Elements of Whatever!”

    “Harmony, darling.”

    “Yeah, yeah.”

    “What?” asked Twilight, rushing to her. “Why?! How do you know?!”

    Rainbow shrugged. “I don’t. It just sounds cool, so I want in. Oh! Do I get a crown like yours?”

    Twilight blinked at her, trying to somehow process that statement.

    “Rainbow, really, don’t say those things! Can’t you see she’s already distressed?”

    And she was distressed, which was not at all alleviated when Pinkie Pie now poked her nose into the room, attracted by the loud voices.

    “Are you guys having a reunion?!” she asked, excitedly hopping in. “I can bring up the cupcakes I just made!” She went over to the table and looked over the stone orbs. “Ooooooh, what are the—?”


    Just like moments ago, the other stone fragments glowed and then expelled another white wisp which shot straight towards the crescent-moon pendant hanging from Pinkie’s neck.

    She gasped. “Oh, neat!”

    Twilight didn’t even know where to begin, and she wondered if she actually even wanted to begin at all now.

    “Sweet! Is Pinkie part of our club now?” asked Rainbow, turning to Rarity.

    “Rainbow, we don’t have a club.”

    While Rarity and Rainbow Dash went over whether they were a club or not, Twilight decided to invest herself in something more productive. Namely, shaking the stone fragments in her magic.

    Why can’t I understand you?!”

    “What’d you mean?” Pinkie asked, sitting next to Twilight and blinking at the fragments. “Do you want help? I speak rock!”

    Twilight stared at her blankly, and even Rainbow stopped listing all the benefits of Club Rainbow Dash.

    “You what?” asked Twilight.

    “I speak rock!”

    “You speak rock,” repeated a Princess who’d clearly had one too many surprises for the evening; she was barely aware of Rarity sidling up to her and intertwining their tails together.

    “Twilight, dear, the faster you learn not to question Pinkie, the better,” she advised. At Twilight’s pointed stare, she smiled patiently. “Trust me.”

    “I used to live on a rock farm in Tall Tale before coming here,” Pinkie explained, approaching the table and poking the stones. She grinned at Twilight. “That’s why I can talk rock, see?”

    “But—How—Why would that mean you know how to—? But—Rocks?”

    Without further ado, Pinkie grabbed one of the stone fragments and pressed it to her ear, gathering the attention of everyone present. She hummed loudly and creased her brow, nodding along to whatever the stone was allegedly telling her.

    After a minute or so, she finally put the rock down and stared Twilight straight in the face.

    “It says we’re not ready.”

    Twilight pondered her entire life and all the choices that led her to that very moment before asking: “The rock says what?”

    “It says we’re not ready!”

    “No, I heard that, Pinkie.”

    Pinkie shook her head good-naturedly. “Then why did you ask, silly?”

    “I don’t know why I asked,” said Twilight flatly. Many a thought swirled in her head—the majority of them related to grabbing a pillow and stuffing her face in it—but she pushed them aside in order to do what she did best: try and make sense of things. Thus, she continued. “So the rock says we’re not ready.”

    “Princess,” said Dash, “she literally just said that.”

    “Did they say anything else?” Twilight asked. “If they said anything at all, which I’m still having a difficult time believing, but pretending they did.”

    Pinkie hummed and rubbed her chin with a hoof. “Weeeeeeeell… It did also say something about liking to stand.”

    “Liking to stand?” asked Rarity, suddenly alert. “Twilight, isn’t tha—”

    She barely had time to finish her sentence before Twilight had grabbed the scroll from earlier, her heart hammering in her chest.

    “I appear when I stand by others,” she read aloud, and she found some solace in seeing Rarity now looked as shocked as she felt.

    “Pinkie!” Rarity exclaimed, gesturing to another stone fragment. “What does that one say?”

    Pinkie grabbed a larger fragment and pressed it to her ear. “Thiiiiis one says… Oh! I like this one! It wants to be like the sun!”

    Twilight scanned the scroll over and fell to her haunches as she read aloud, “I appear when I brighten your day.”

    This can’t be real.

    “What about the last one?” asked Twilight, still stunned.

    Pinkie grabbed the last large fragment and pressed it to her ear, squinting. “Hmmm… This one says… that it’s really generous!”

    For the last time, Twilight scanned the scroll over and found what she wanted. When she didn’t even bother to read it aloud, Rarity took the scroll and did so instead.

    “I appear,” she said, loud and clear, “when I’ve given all there is to give.”

    “What does that even mean?” Rainbow asked, but her voice soon faded away in Twilight’s mind.

    The bulk of the research she’d done a thousand years ago lived and died by the idea that there were four Elements of Harmony, each assigned to the four princesses of Equestria. Everything had been based on the idea that the sun, the moon, love, and magic were what defined the supernatural objects, and she thought her research had been confirmed when Cadance had found only three stone orbs.

    But now, if she really believed that Pinkie could talk to rocks, all her research had been proven wrong in a few short minutes.

    “Twilight?” asked Rarity, pulling Twilight out of her reveries. “Twilight, are you oka—?”

    “When I learned about the elements, I assumed that they were tied to alicorns because both the Elements and alicorns draw from the magical essence of the realm. I wasn’t an alicorn when I got mine, so I thought I was wrong, but then Princess Celestia ascended me. That made me think that maybe the Elements were tied to alicorns or ponies who had the magical essence necessary to be an alicorn. The entire bulk of my research was to find the Elements of the Princesses or ponies who had strong magic auras, and now…”

    She drifted off.

    “…Yes?” Rarity urged.

    “Well, I was wrong! Apparently it isn’t tied to race or magic essences, but… riddles? That you have to somehow fulfill? Cryptic requirements that explain nothing?!”

    “Twilight…” said Rarity, her tone now very measured.

    “It’s fine,” exclaimed Twilight suddenly, jumping up and deciding that if everything she knew was going to be turned upside-down, she might as well go with it. “It’s fine. Everything is fine. Fine. I just learned that I wasted years on baseless research which is probably why I never discovered how the Elements work and why Discord managed to trap us, but it’s all great. Just gre—”

    “Twilight, please stop that.

    Twilight’s torrent of thoughts came to a crashing halt at the sound of Rarity’s strangled voice. It took her a moment to compose herself, and she was startled by realizing how fast she’d gone into a spiral.

    “I… I…”

    She turned to Rarity, hoping to apologize, but any concerns she had about herself were quickly discarded when she properly saw the unicorn.

    Pale, motionless, and looking more than uncomfortable. Was she shaking, too? Even Rainbow Dash and Pinkie were looking at her with concern.

    “Rarity,” asked Twilight. “Are you all right?”

    Realizing she was in the spotlight, Rarity quickly smiled. “Y-yes, of course! I was just concerned that you were winding yourself up, and you know how much that affects you.” She cleared her throat and smiled. “Regardless, let’s focus instead on trying to figure out what this all means, shall we?”

    Though still a bit concerned, Twilight pushed away her reservations and nodded.

    Getting to work, she cleared away the table and carefully moved the stone fragments to the side. Once that was done, she borrowed one of Rarity’s large design papers, spread it over the table and drew four orbs.

    “Right,” she said, capping the marker and looking at her handiwork. “According to the writings of the Ancient Manticore King of the West, the Elements of Harmony are magic objects that were left by four powerful ponies centuries before Princess Celestia or Luna reigned over Equestria. They hid them inside the Tree of Harmony, a magic tree in an underground cave in Dew Drop Valley.”

    “Dew Drop Valley?” asked Rainbow. “I’ve never heard of that place.”

    “You wouldn’t. Dew Drop Valley’s had a different name for a long time now,” Twilight replied, levitating a map over and pointing her hoof at the sprawling depiction of the Everfree Forest. “That’s why my library is there; I was studying the Tree of Harmony. Anyway, the Manticore King tried to acquire the Elements of Harmony, but couldn’t. So when I went there I expected to find them all, but I didn’t find anything except for the Element of Magic. I assumed the others had been stolen.”

    “By whom?” Rarity asked.

    Twilight faltered. “I don’t know.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead, trying to think. “There is one hypothesis I had that I discarded, but Pinkie might have given it some sort of legitimacy today.”

    She opened her eyes and levitated her crown.

    “When I found the tree, I saw an orb like these ones hanging from a branch. As I said, I assumed that the rest had been stolen by others.”

    Rainbow snorted. “Some good thieves if they left one just hanging there.”

    “That’s the thing, though! When I walked up to the tree, the orb fell! Just like that! And when I touched it, it transformed into my crown.” She put the crown down and took the other three orbs. “I used to think the Elements had been stolen, but after seeing what happened with you three… what if the tree gave the Elements away to creatures that met the requirements?

    “And not only that,” she continued, “but according to Cadance, these three orbs and the sentences from earlier were found in abandoned Arimaspi Territory in the Mysterious South, and, well, legends say that the Arimaspi were so in tune with the earth, they could even—” She looked at Pinkie. “—commune with it..”

    “Like me! Like me!”

    Twilight nodded. “Yes, but even if they could speak to rocks, we still don’t know if they were actually chosen by the elements, and if they were, then—”

    “They never fulfilled these supposed requirements,” Rarity finished.

    “Compatible, but not worthy,” Twilight finished. “In theory, at least.”

    “Wait, wait! Wait a sec!” exclaimed Dash. “So, you’re sayin’ that these things ponies have bonded to never figured out how to get their crowns, but then you touch it and you get it in five seconds? Come on!”

    “She’s got a point, I fear,” Rarity said next. “Fabulously talented as you are, Twilight, that seems a tad…convenient.”

    “I don’t know why that happened!” Twilight exclaimed. “And it’s not like it’s helped me. My crown can’t do anything useful on its own.” She couldn’t help sounding resentful. “That’s why I need to find the others.”

    “You mean ‘we’ need to find the others, right?” Rainbow corrected, grinning.

    Twilight faltered. “I… It’s dangerous,” she said, finally. “If we find the other Elements, Discord will come after us, and I’m not going to put you in danger.” She closed the map in a final gesture. “I’m sorry, but I did that once. I’m not doing it again.”

    “What?! That’s dumb!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Rarity! Tell her that’s dumb!”

    Rarity opened her mouth to reply, but whatever she had to say was interrupted by Rainbow Dash.

    “Wait, wait, I can fix this!” She cleared her throat. “First rule of Rainbow Dash’s Element Hunting Club. Whenever Princess Twilight has a dumb idea, we’ll disregard it. All in favor raise your hoof!”

    “Hey! It’s not dumb!” Twilight protested, and was further aghast when all three of her companions raised their hooves. “Rarity!”

    “Yes, darling?” she asked innocently before turning to Rainbow Dash. “To be clear, I’m only voting because Twilight’s idea is silly, not because I condone being in a club you just made up.”

    “You’re just jealous it’s not the Rarity club.”

    Rarity looked away. “Alas! I’ve been caught! I’ll simply have to go cry in one of the rooms of the two businesses I own!” She grinned victoriously at Rainbow before turning back to Twilight. “Now that that’s settled, might I suggest we figure out how to activate these Elements before we go gallivanting around the kingdom in search of others?”

    Twilight looked back to her drawings of the orbs and pulled the cap off her marker, writing the word MAGIC inside hers.

    “How do you know it’s the Element of Magic, Princess?” asked Pinkie curiously.

    Twilight prepared her smart reply, but stopped upon realizing she didn’t actually have one. Or, well, she had one, but now that she realized she had to say it out loud, well…

    “I… I assumed it was the Element of Magic because I’m better at it than anypony I know except the Princesses,” she said very quickly. “Anyway! That’s not important! What’s important now is to figure out the others.”

    Over the drawings of the orbs, she drew the objects the wisps had associated with them: her crown, Spike’s gemstone, Pinkie’s necklace, and…

    “Rarity,” she said, looking up. “Do you really not rem—”

    “I promise you I’m trying to remember, Twilight,” she replied, toying with her necklace. “It’s not that easy!”

    Defeated, Twilight settled on drawing Rarity’s saddlebag. After that was done, she took the Arimaspi scroll and wrote down the three conditions under their respective stones.

    “So,” she began, “I thin—”

    “I already know what my Element is,” Rainbow Dash cut-off, and then struck a pose. “The Element of Awesome! …What?” she asked upon seeing their expressions. “Princess Twilight named hers after what she’s good at! I’m just doing the same!”

    “We don’t even know if it’s yours,” Twilight pointed out. “It could be Spike’s!”

    “He’s awesome too! See, it checks out!” She grabbed the marker, and despite Twilight’s protest, wrote down the word AWESOME inside the drawing of the orb.

    “Oh! I like it!” Pinkie said, nodding approvingly. She grabbed the marker from Dash and scribbled over her own element. “There! The Element of Laughter!”

    “Laughter? Why laughter?” asked Rarity.

    “Because laughing always brightens up your day!” Pinkie exclaimed, and then giggled as if to prove so. “What about you, Rarity?”

    “Well…” She grabbed the marker and looked the riddle over. “I shall be the Element of Magnanimity, since apparently I have so much to give to everypony.” She wrote it down, capped the marker and gave it to Twilight. “And now, if we’re all done, may I return to my dress?”

    “Yeah!” Rainbow said. “Spike’s still waiting for me!”

    Twilight’s first instinct was to say that no, they weren’t all done; no one had spent more than a minute actually trying to solve the riddles and had just thrown out haphazard guesses! But on second thought, she was the one best suited to researching the Elements anyway; she’d just figure it out herself.

    Ooooh! What if she asked Professor Awe to let her use his lab?

    “I’ll do more research on this and we can reconvene later,” she offered, picking up the drawings and rolling them up. “For now, the three of you should focus on activating your elements. Laughter does seem to fit the riddle, so that might be the best method to try now, Pinkie.”

    Pinkie saluted Twilight. “Yep!”

    “Rainbow, you should… protect someone, I think? Defend them?” Twilight offered. “Either that, or you literally have to stand by every pony you meet and see what happens.”

    Similarly to Pinkie, Rainbow saluted. “Yes, ma’am!”

    And finally, she turned to Rarity.

    “And you, Rarity…” She bit down on her lip, deep in thought. “Give everything you have to somepony…?” At Rarity’s expression, she quickly backtracked. “On second thought, that might be too much.”

    “I’m sure I will figure it out, Twilight,” she said politely, finally moving back to her sewing machine, turning it on and then promptly levitating three protesting ponies outside. “Now! Everypony out! You’ve distracted me enough!”

    “H-Hey!” called out Rainbow Dash when the door shut. “What about my chain, though?!”

    “Wait! I need my papers!” exclaimed Twilight, rushing forward, unceremoniously slamming herself against the door nose-first and tumbling backwards.

    Rainbow’s delighted laughter came first. “Did you just try going through the door?! You’re still doing that?!”

    No,” blurted out Twilight.

    Not a moment later, the door swung open and revealed Rarity. “What in Equestria was that?!” She looked down and saw Twilight on the floor. “Twilight! Why are you on the—” Her expression shifted from concern to restrained amusement. “Did you just—”

    “Don’t say it.”



    Having been kicked out of Rarity’s workroom, Twilight set out to find another place to do her research, which was considerably more difficult when every room except for the bedrooms and Rarity’s workshop were swarming with small foals, including one who kept asking her if she could pleeeeeease fly her to the top of the Dreamland and back.

    It’s just one filly, she’d thought. What could go wrong?

    She soon learned never to ask herself that again.

    “Okay!” she said when the fifteenth giggling foal jumped off her back. “That was the last one!”

    “Awwwwwwww,” chorused the dozen foals standing in line.

    “But the sign says it’s until three!” a colt whined, pointing towards a sign announcing that “Princess Twilight’s Fly-Around” would be open until three in the afternoon.

    “What? Who made that?!” she asked, and was only met with Pinkie and Incantation pointing hooves at each other. “Pinkie! I can’t do this until three! Are you crazy? I need to work on the Elements, and then I need to go to sleep so I can see the Princess!”

    “But Princess, you are working on the Elements! Look at how many foals are laughing! I’m gonna get my element super soon because of you!”

    “Pinkie! You’re the one supposed to be making them laugh, not me!” Twilight pointed out. “This doesn’t count!”


    Despite the line of foals, Twilight decided she needed to put her hoof down. She was pretty sure that five more foals had lined up in the three seconds she’d been scolding Pinkie, and ten more would line up in the minutes it would take for her to fly another foal around.

    “I’m sorry, children,” she said firmly. “I have to go now.”

    And again, the collective youth of Hollow Shades stared at her as if she’d done nothing less than destroy all their hopes and dreams, holding on to each other through this awful news, their little eyes tearing up and—

    “Okay, fine,” she relented, rubbing her muzzle. “Those who didn’t get to fly today will fly tomorrow.”

    Though still disappointed, the majority of the foals were satisfied with the promise and rushed off, either into the Dreamland proper or into Hollow Shades. Now that they were gone, she walked back towards the Dreamland, finally able to find a place to work on the Elements for a few hours.

    “Hello, all!”

    Or not.

    Twilight turned back around and saw Elder Moonshine making her way towards Pinkie and Incantation. Despite having work to do, curiosity overpowered and she decided to linger a little longer.

    “Elder!” greeted Pinkie Pie. “What’re you doing here? Are you coming to get your dozen cupcakes for the week?”

    The Elder laughed. “Oh no. I’ve had too many of those already.” Her eyes briefly flickered towards Twilight before continuing. “I’m here to speak to Rarity. Is she home?”

    Pinkie nodded. “Yep! Princess Twilight was with her earlier, right, Princess?”

    “Yes,” Twilight replied. “Though she was busy working on a dress. She didn’t want to be interrupted.”

    “Why don’t you come tonight or tomorrow, Elder?” Pinkie suggested. “Or I can tell her to go see you when she’s done?”

    The Elder shook her head. “It can’t wait, little one. Please let her know that I need to speak to her,” she insisted.

    “Oki-doki-loki!” Pinkie turned to Ink. “Inky, can you please get the elder some cupcakes while I get Rarity?”

    “Sure thing, Chief!”

    The two rushed into the building, leaving Twilight alone with the elderly mare.

    “Oh, er, well…” Twilight said awkwardly, still unsure of how to feel towards a pony who was cursed to believe she wasn’t who she claimed to be. “Uhm. Right.”

    “Are you busy, Princess?” the elder asked, and Twilight wasn’t able to tell if she was using her title seriously or not. “I’d like you to be there when I talk to Rarity, if you are able.”

    “O-Of course.”

    Disconcerted, Twilight followed the mare into the building, already trying to figure out what exactly she’d done to necessitate a talk from the Elder. Rarity entered the room just as Twilight was closing the front doors.

    “Elder!” she exclaimed, smiling brilliantly as she descended the stairs. “How nice to see you! Pinkie tells me you have an urgent matter to discuss with me?”

    “And the Princess, too,” added the Elder, and when Rarity threw Twilight a questioning look, the alicorn couldn’t do much anything but shrug.

    “I see.” Rarity stood next to Twilight and cleared her throat. “Well, here we are, then! What can we do to help you?”

    The Elder regarded them both for a moment before clearing her throat. “I heard a very interesting story about the two of you,” she began. “Something you did a little while ago.”

    “Something we did?” asked Twilight, carefully.

    “You mean be fabulously dazzling?” Rarity offered playfully.

    “Yes,” said the Elder quite bluntly. “That’s exactly it.”

    “…What?” asked Twilight and Rarity in unison.

    “I was visiting the school for my niece’s show-and-tell, and my poor niece couldn’t speak over all the little foals talking non-stop about the incredible Princess Twilight Sparkle and her mind-reading spell.”

    Twilight’s grin matched Rarity’s.

    “Oh, really, now?” asked Rarity. “My, my, my.”

    “Yes,” said the elder with a smile. “And then they started talking about how much they love coming here after school.”

    “Well, thank you for telling me this, Elder,” Rarity said genuinely. “I’m delighted to hear that.”

    The elder’s smile vanished. “That’s not what I’m here to say.” She fell silent after that, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly as they went back and forth between Twilight and Rarity, and then she spoke. “Seeking Night is almost here, as you know.”

    At that, Rarity went very still.

    “Yes, I do,” she said, cautiously enough to draw a raised eyebrow from Twilight. “What of it?”

    The elder’s severity vanished and she offered a smile.

    “It is true, Rarity, that this town is very set in its ways, but… maybe it is time for a change.”

    Rarity’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean to suggest that…”

    “Yes, I do,” said the elder. “You are now in charge of Hollow Shades’ Seeking Night festivities.”

    Oh, right! thought Twilight. Rarity mentioned wanting to organize Seeking Night?

    “I see,” said Rarity, smiling with much more restraint than Twilight had expected after she’d basically gotten what she wanted. “Elder, I promise you will not regret this!”

    The elder laughed. “I hope not, child.” She furrowed her brow and gave Rarity a stern look. “But you can’t do anything without letting me see it first, understand?”

    “I wouldn’t dream about it!” she said, and was now very subtly guiding the elder towards the exit. “In fact, if that’s all you needed from us, why don’t you let me start today and I’ll swing by your house tomorrow with some ideas, perhaps?”

    “All right,” the Elder replied. “I’ll be waiting.” She then swatted Rarity away good-naturedly. “And stop leading me away like the old mare that I am, child!” When an abashed Rarity quickly stepped away, the elder turned to Twilight. “Goodbye, Twilight.”

    “Goodbye, Elder Moonshine!” Twilight exclaimed, now liking the elderly mare much more than before.

    “Have a good afternoon, Elder!” Rarity said next, holding the door open for the mare and then waving her off. She lingered there for a second or so, slowly closed the door, and the moment it clicked shut, she whipped around and screamed like a batpony. “Pinkie Pie!”

    “Mmmyeeeees?” Pinkie said, poking her head out of the bakery room.

    Rarity’s expression was almost machiavellian.

    “Seeking Night is on.”

    What?!” Pinkie gasped before looking towards the room on the opposite side of the hallway. “Incantation!”

    Twilight was only somewhat shocked to see a three-horned Luna poke her head out, along with several children.


    “Seeking Night is on!”

    Really?!” Ink turned to Rarity. “Boss?!”

    “Yes, indeed,” Rarity replied with a grin Twilight would have admired if she actually knew what was going on.

    She raised a hoof. “Can somepony expla—?”

    “Pinkie!” Rarity cut off. “Write to Red Lining immediately and let him know we’ll be needing every book he’ll give us!”


    “But I have books to give you!” Twilight interjected, and was promptly ignored.

    “Incantation! Please, go to the professor and let him know immediately that we’ll be needing his contraptions! And for Denza’s sake, you know you’re forbidden from taking Luna’s shape after what happened last time!”

    Twilight turned to Rarity. “What happened las—”

    “Oh, and Ink! Send a letter to the Princess and let her know, as well! And I’m serious about Princess Luna’s sha—”

    Rarity!” interrupted Twilight.


    Twilight pursed her lips. “Can you please tell me what’s going on?!”

    Rarity stared at her for a second before reacting.

    “Darling, did you know I love you?” she asked.

    “I… Yes? I love you, too? But what does this have to do with Seeking Night?”

    Rarity fluttered her eyelashes. “Absolutely nothing at all, dear. I just wanted to remind you. As for your question, follow me!”

    Without another word, she rushed away, and Twilight followed her up to the second floor. Foals were walking around, some playing and others drawing on the walls, and without explaining why, Rarity very politely told them that she needed them to go down to the first floor for a little while.

    Once the floor had been evacuated, Twilight blinked at Rarity.

    “… I still don’t understand.”

    “Patience, dearest. We have to hide the room from them lest they draw all over what we’ve done.”

    “Hide the room?”

    Rarity walked towards a nearby bookcase. Twilight watched as her horn lit up, and slowly but surely, she levitated the bookcase to the side, revealing a large door bearing the cutie marks of all four princesses. When the door was completely clear, she opened it and turned to Twilight.

    “After you, Princess.”

    With no small amount of excitement, Twilight walked past her and into the room, finding herself inside what could only be described as a war room. Charts, graphics, designs, checklists, maps and all manner of things were plastered over the walls and on the large round table in the middle of the room; every single one somehow related to Twilight and the other three princesses. She could see a map pointing out possible locations for Celestia and Luna, as well as several designs for what seemed to be foal attractions, going from foals exploring Princess Twilight’s Book-Maze to foals splashing around in Princess Celestia’s Waterfall, followed by them playing in Princess Cadance’s Castle.

    The most prominent of them all, however, was a massive design of what seemed to be mares and stallions eating at a café while watching over their sleeping children inside a room dubbed Princess Luna’s Dream Spectacular.

    “Rarity, did you do all this?” Twilight asked, stunned to see the amount of work that had seemingly gone into everything in the room.

    “Yes, I did!” Rarity replied, walking into the room and picking some items up. “Well, not all of it. The Professor helped me with some of the charts, and Pinkie did some other things, but the core concepts and the attractions were all my idea. I admittedly never told you about all this as I didn’t ever think we’d be able to implement it soon, but…”

    She opened a closet and levitated out four miniature mock-ups of the designs on the wall, including little clay ponies.

    “This, Twilight, is what I have been doing for the past two years,” she said. “And this…”

    She levitated something else from the closet and put down on the table what seemed to be a completely ordinary, if custom-made, smiling brown teddy bear.

    “This precious little bear is how we are going to rescue Princess Luna.”

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    1. A Deer
      May 9, '23 at 3:34 am

      Don’t worry, Twilight. Being wrong means you’re closer to being right.

      It’ll be interesting to see them discover the elements and what they do. The way the elements are written into the story is very interesting. Another mystery to look forward to being developed at the story goes. It also gives the story another nice layer. It’s now a seven layer marble cake made with five different chocolates and I’m a bit hungry while typing this out.

      Pretty cool that Rainbow is the element of kicking ass or being awesome or what she said. I’d sign up for her element hunting club. I could always do with a bit more element of surprise in my life.

    2. Zanna Zannolin
      Oct 20, '22 at 8:52 pm

      one of my favorite things about this series is you turn so many of the aspects of original canon on their heads while retaining elements (ha) of the familiar. the mane six being divided up geographically in this specific way in TEL was fantastic, and now twilight’s struggle with the elements that is so similar to and yet so different from in canon…i love it. like i ammm bad at articulating this right now i’m hardly coherent honestly but i love that she didn’t (still doesn’t?) even know how many elements there WERE much less have any idea what they are. seeing her so frustrated trying to figure them out is, well i feel mean saying this, but it’s really fun. i am very entertained and fascinated!!

      also wh. rarity. rarity what do you MEAN teddy bears. RARITY IM VERY CONFUSED.

    3. AFanaticRabbit (Ashley)
      Apr 8, '22 at 3:18 am

      “This precious little bear is how we are going to rescue Princess Luna.” (Link)

      Oh my goooosh it is kicking off.