"The longest journey begins with a single step."
"Who are you really? A traitor?!? A spy??!?" came the demand from the home just ahead of them. Carrot Top was faster then she looked for such a slight thing. She had Twilight cornered, the unicorn's eyes flicked around as she tried to find a way to answer her. At least Twilight had managed to deposit Spike in his bed for sleep before being cornered. Then Bon-Bon was there with another grip on Carrot Top's tail, pulling her back.
"Calm down Carrot Top." Lyra interjected smoothly, "I don't think Twilight's a traitor, but I do think she clearly knows something about what's going on here tonight."
" Bon-bon added gently, letting Carrot's tail go to step forward, "How about you tell us what's going on?"
"A-alright." Twilight answered weakly, "I read all about the prediction of Nightmare Moon. Some mysterious objects called the Elements of Harmony are the only things that can stop her, but I don't know what they are, where to find them, I don't even know what they do!"
"Elements of Harmony: a Reference Guide." Ditzy injected, reading the spine of a book.
Twilight bumped her out of the way, having hurtled into her at a full tilt in her eagerness to get to the book, "What
How did you find that?!"
"It was under 'E'." Ditzy answered with a wide smile.
Twilight looked abashed, then pulled the book down off the shelf. Her horn glowed as she flipped the pages, casting the room in an eerie glow as she began to read directly from the book, "There are six Elements of Harmony, but only five are known: Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Honesty and Loyalty. The sixth is a complete mystery. It is said the last known location of the five elements was in the ancient castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. It is located in what is now known as
"The Everfree Forest." Ditzy shuddered at the name. Standing at the edge of it only made it worse, even as all 6 of them stood there looking in. It's one thing to SAY you're brave, but this was harder then she thought. Ditzy gathered her wits and slowly started to fly forward.
"Not so fast." Twilight stated, stopping Ditzy in mid-air, "Look, I appreciate the help, but I really rather do this on my own"
"Not a chance." Lyra stated simply.
"Do you think we're just going to abandon you like that?" Bon-Bon gushed as she trotted past Twilight. Ditzy just gave her a cross-eyed grin before flitting into forest along with the rest of the girls, and leaving Twilight to shake her head. Only Twilight's dream knew what happened next; Ditzy hadn't come here in the "original" version of events. It was, however, easier for her to focus now since in the original events she'd fallen asleep. A filly can only be panicked for so long. Maybe. She hoped. Ditzy's stomach disagreed, but she ignored it as she rushed to keep up with the group.
"So none of you have been in here before?" Twilight asked after a bit, the group of ponies now walking in a singular line as they followed the unicorn's directions.
"Can't say I have dear." Bon-Bon offered.
"It's not natural." Ditzy put in, "It just doesn't work the way the rest of Equestria does."
"Yes, the plants and trees and animals all grow on their own." Lyra pointed out.
"And the clouds move all by themselves!" Raindrops put in, seemingly awake for once.
"And then there's the monsters." Carrot Top put in.
"M-Monsters?" Ditzy couldn't help but ask. If the light had been better she might have seen the wicked gleam in Carrot Top's eye as she turned around to face them. Ditzy, Bon-Bon, and Twilight all bunched up as she stalked forward.
"Monsters. Big, scary, scaly monsters with big teeth just looking to gobble you up!!" Carrot Top stalked at them.
" Lyra interjected, rolling her eyes.
"Hiding in every bush, tree, even behind that rock
just waiting to
POUNCE!!" she jumped at them, intent on scaring them. Unfortunately it worked far FAR better then Carrot Top planned, as the entire rock face slid away in a landslide!!
Ditzy instinctively took to wing, casting about for a moment before diving forward to catch the nearest pony, Carrot Top. Lyra was working with Bon-Bon, as she levitated a branch over to them to hold onto and wedged it in a bit of rock, stopping their descent, that only left
"Raindrops! You need to catch Twilight! Raindrops?!?" Ditzy called, but the other flyer was nowhere to be seen. Did she bolt?
"I saw her fly into the woods." Carrot Top cried, "I think she panicked!" Ditzy understood the feeling, but couldn't help feel betrayed. She flew as quickly as she could to get Carrot to safe ground, but she couldn't fly fast enough. Twilight was near the edge, scrambling at it to keep from falling.
"I have you, dear!" Came the effusive voice of Bon-Bon as she slid down to grab at Twilight's hooves. Lyra was right behind her, grasping a root with her teeth and using her legs to support the heavier pony.
"Don't let go!!" the panicked unicorn moaned, but even Ditzy could see she was slipping. Ditzy finally dropped Carrot off and flapped her wings furiously, trying to catch up to the slipping trio, willing herself to fly faster then she knew she could.
"I'm coming!!" Ditzy cried out, but then something struck her square on the head, sending her head over hooves for a moment.
"You alright?" Carrot Top called up as the pegasus recovered. Ditzy gave a quick nod then looked to see what struck her. It was a vine with a rock tied at the end. It was knotted in several places, and Ditzy realized it was actually a series of vines tied in one long rope.
"Grab on!" Lyra shouted as the trio started to slip, and Ditzy came up from underneath, helping them grab the line before flitting up and over them to see what happened, only to see Raindrops standing there with a smile, the other end of the vine tied around a tree.
"Raindrops!" Ditzy pronounced happily, even as the yellow pegasus flew over her and dropped to the ground.
"Well, that was exciting." Raindrops deadpanned as everyone crowded her, "Sorry it took so long, I had to find vines strong enough." She apologized. Ditzy could only smile, warmed by her friend's detached humility. Maybe things weren't so hopeless after all, but there was still a lot to do, and amidst the ebbing adrenaline rush the group fell back in line and headed deeper into the Everfree Forest.