Now that we got that out of the way.
This is a sort of final-draft for a story I'm working on. Update: writing is resumed, but don't be surprised if this clashes with the upcoming Dragon's Quest.
Many thanks to evilsoup for being a test-reader, helping me brainstorm the story and much more (including horrible mental images, but that's neither here or there)!
I occasionally use footnotes in the form of stars. Usually, in paper form, footnotes are at the bottom of the page but that's obviously unworkable on the internet. Browsing up and down just to check the footnote brake's a readers flow, so I opted for a simple solution. While leaving the footnote thing at the end of each chapter, I'll also copy it at the end of its respective paragraph. These paragraphs are marked by /+ putting them in slash-plus bracket like so +\ at the end of its respective paragraph. Not the best solution but the simplest.
Part 1: Invitation
The door of the library opened to allow the purple librarian unicorn inside.
Her name was Twilight Sparkle and she was in a good mood. She was progressing well with her studies while enjoying her own home and plenty of free time. Her mentor and teacher, the ruler of the Equestria itself (or rather, one of the co-rulers of Equestria, she corrected herself), was pleased with her recent studies and reports. Now, she arrived home with her saddle-bags* full of fresh, juicy apples that she got from her friend Applejack. She got them for helping around her friend's family farm, Sweet Apple Acres, with some renovation work and fiddling some of the magical appliances.
/+ *While MLP ponies don't have saddles (only what appears to be saddles) because they don't seem to have many riders, I could not find a better term for the bags we often see them use (that look like what I see named as saddle-bags on the internet). So unless someone has a better term, I'm calling those things saddlebags.+\
While it wasn't her first time on such the farm (and its orchards), it was her first time being so involved with various farm tools and machines that they used. The Apple family produces all sorts of things, vegetables as well as the fruits of their namesake (if in smaller numbers) keeping themselves busy all year round. They appropriately have many things that help with processing and preparing goods. She couldn't help but be fascinated and now, finally home, her very first desire was to check for the book 'Hoofbook for Farm Machine' in the library (she knew it had it because Applejack herself asked for it once).
Or she would, if the library was not filled with smoke.
"Spike! I smell something burning! Is everything alright?" yelled Twilight. In a panicked reaction, she glanced over the bookshelves. The books, as far as she could tell, stood in their place in their usual disorganized, disorderly fashion after many ponies gone trough them (despite Twilight's best efforts to keep them in order). None of them were burning or had smoke coming out of them however.
There was noise from upstairs, but no answer to her shout. In her worry, Twilight closed her eyes and took another strong sniff. Something definitely was burning, but it was not the fine, thin smoke of burnt paper. No, this was something rougher, very coarse and far, far more thick. There was also the faint, grainy smell of freshly charred wood.
"Spike! What's going on?!" she yelled and decided to drop her bags of apples she got from Applejack on the floor. She was already mentally prepared for the worst and remembered the details of the 'extinguish fire' spell she learned while still a filly.
The library itself was a hollowed-out, massive tree, hence her panic over the fire. Along what once was the trunk was the hollow space that was the insides of the building, accessed by the main entrance the library. There was a separate hollow area that was the side-room that was also the reading room. A floor above was a living space that overlooked the library floor and had access to small to smaller side-rooms, like the bathroom and the kitchen.
So she jumped up the stairs in a hurry. Upstairs, the smoke was very thick and strong. She had to cough, her eyes were tearful and her vision blurred, due to the sharp dust. She could barely see the outlines of the furniture.
Acting on long-ago taught knowledge, she galloped to the closest window and opened it. This allowed the smoke to get out and clear a little. She thought about using a wind spell to help the smoke clear out but decided against it. Until she found Spike or the fire (or both, she considered) the smoke will only get worse. However, she had no idea where to begin searching for either one.
"..ight? Is that you? I'm in the kitchen!" came a barely-audible voice that was her baby dragon's.
Dashing in, the purple mare had before her a devastated kitchen: dishes on the floor, utensils everywhere (ready to be get broken underhoof), various bits of ingredients on everything (including the ceiling), the kitchen table upturned, drawers pulled out and their contents disorganised or spilled, misshaped trays and pans on the floor with thickly-smoking charcoal mashes on them and amongst it all, a very guilty looking baby dragon holding a flagon of water.
"Hi Twilight!" said Spike with a nervous smile, trying to inconspicuously pour water on one of the smoking catastrophes that littered the room.
"Spike! What happened?" asked Twilight between a few coughs, undecided whether to be glad that there wasn't an actual fire or whether to be very displeased at this mess.
"Well, you see er... this is...." he glanced around himself and at the chaos he made. His expression told that he realized that it was beyond excuses or explanation. "Oh darn it, I messed things up big time," he admitted guiltily, more to himself than to Twilight. His suddenly sad, sullen expression drained most of Twilight's anger.
To further fortify her patience and to clear the air (which was a more pressing need of the two), she decided to open the kitchen's only, small window only to see that it was already open. Seeing as there was no fire, she decided to do a small air-filter spell around her muzzle that should filter out the smoke. Spike needed none, he was fireproof in this way too (at least, he didn't seem bothered by this level of smoke).
"What happened?" asked Twilight with a little trepidation.
"I messed up dinner..." Spike repeated while looking at the floor, finishing with a mumble that Twilight couldn't hear .
"I can see that, but how? You can cook, you have cooked, you are fine in the kitchen!" the purple unicorn pointed out.
"Not this time," said Spike miserably.
"Well, where is the food? Maybe its salvageable..." said Twilight, unable to help herself at Spike's sullen expression.
Spike pointed a heavily smoking area of the kitchen, at a lump of ash and twisted metal that actually burned itself into the floor.
"What is that? asked Twilight.
"The cast iron pan," replied Spike. Twilight levitated it above the floor to take a better look at it. It broke down to smaller pieces as it got into the air. Ash also poured off and out of it.
"The cast iron... Spike, how did you manage this?" asked Twilight in surprise.
"Well, the recipe said a low, long flame should be used or it would be ruined. So I used only a little fire at a time and I got tired pretty fast. After a while, I stopped paying attention, just focused on breathing more fire and I sort of... lapsed..." said Spike, looking at the very spot he mentioned. Twilight could imagine it happening, Spike often liked using his own flame rather than the little stove that came with the kitchen (he considered it too slow and weak, and to be fair it was rusty and rickety).
"What about the rest of the kitchen?" asked Twilight absently and still a bit in shock.
"I was looking for the double-sided cone-spoon and the egg-pan-beater and other stuff that the recipe mentioned. Between various steps, it mentioned quickly using things that I wasn't sure where they were and I, er... panicked..." said reluctantly the baby dragon, his hands gesturing in confusion. "I also tripped on...stuff." he added, which explained the trails of fruit peels and fruit-meshes lying around.
It was only now that Twilight noticed the books on the floor, near the overturned table. There was a picture dictionary, one or two other cooking books (one of them laid open with a bookmark showing a page with a tool she didn't know the name of) and a book about fruits. But what caught her attention was an older, hardcover book with flowing, gold-lettered title.
"'Royal Canterlot Cuisine'?" she exclaimed, levitating the book up into the air to examine it more closely. "'Offer fine foods for the famishing famous, complete with serving instructions and food aesthetics'?! Spike, I am pretty sure that this is over your head. Horseapples, from the look of it, it's over mine! Or anypony's in Ponyville for that matter. What possessed you to try something like this?"
Spike rubbed his arm, looking elsewhere, clearly uncomfortable with the answer. Twilight waited, holding him under a stern gaze until Spike relented.
"I just wanted to impress Rarity and the others," said Spike.
Twilight was confused. "But you usually manage to do so! Without setting the kitchen on fire! What's happened? "
"I visited Cherilee today for breakfast and her tea set broke. All of it and it was from her grandmother. It was awful. She cried a little. She said it was her fault and it was really, and I did try to save it and if I think about it, she was right but... Want not destroy..." said Spike with the most miserable voice, his expression more wrenched than that if possible. The phrase sent Twilight back a few years, bringing up a memory she hoped forgotten.
It happened at Aunt Moonshine. She was a potion maker. Twilight was happy at first because it was one of the few days when she got to have Spike. Aunt Moonshine was always very strict and Spike, barely able to talk was always very curious at that age as well as easily bored. When her aunt was explaining something in her ingredient storage, Spike started climbing the shelves. It was probably all the smells. Aunt Moonshine began shouting at him to stop, which made Spike try to hide, which made him knock things off the shelves even more. Twilight tried to tell Moonshine that all she needs to do is stop shouting and she'll coax Spike back to her, but her aunt just shushed her to silence. Spike eventually found some pots full of various powders that he knocked to the floor, he lost his balance and landed atop of mixed powders and he was so surprised that he sneezed a few sparks.
It was one of the worst days of her life. Spike was pretty singed, his scales were not really developed yet and she could tell that they were quite sensitive. It hurt him, it really did. Having to explain how she didn't take proper care of him to Princess Celestia was awful, even though she said that it was none of her fault. But it was not the worst part. It wasn't even Aunt Moonshine (who completely lost her temper) incessant screaming of curses and horrible names at both her and the little baby dragon. It was that awful, ear-tearing sound that sometimes haunted her nightmares...
Forcing herself back to the present, Twilight understood. Spike remembered some of those names, they hurt him for a long time, even after he got over them. Names that she can see why he would suddenly remember and why he wanted to get a few extra compliments to counterbalance them. She went over to her baby dragon and gently nudged him.
"Come on, let's clean up this mess," tried to switch topics Twilight with forced cheerfulness and a smile. Spike nodded and passively started picking things up from the ground. He looked a bit relieved, but not happier. "You know, it's actually pretty impressive that you can melt metal," she added, seeing that her forgiveness didn't alter his mood much. Herself, she was using a levitated, animated broom around the room, starting with the ceiling.
"Actually... yeah. I didn't know that I could do that," he replied in a more upbeat tone after some consideration. "Could it be that I'm entering another growth sprout?" he asked with some excitement and vibrancy entering his face, much to Twilight's relief.
"It could be," hinted enthusiastically Twilight. In truth, she wasn't sure about the subject. There was preciously little about dragons in the library. She was unsure about asking Celestia or requesting a book from the library network (if she even knew what to ask for). Only Zecora knew things, but it turned out to be a mix of passed-on adages and stories. While she did learn some things and it was definitely better than nothing, but it was still not very much. So, she just winged these things, an approach that the zebra endorsed a bit.
"I wonder whether I can do it again. Fire-breathing is so tricky! There is that old pan with the hole in it, I wonder if I could..." broke off Spike, suddenly realising what he was saying. Twilight's expression was that of challenging amusement.
"Outside a library made out of a hollowed out tree, I hope?"she said with mock strictness.
"Of course Twilight!" Spike agreed with all haste.
"You know, maybe we should visit the farrier tomorrow? I am sure that he would welcome some help with the forge," suggested Twilight. "I bet there is plenty of metal for you if you want to..."
Twilight was cut short by a growing shout of "IINNNNNNNGG" and then a loud crash as terrace's doors were forced open. One could tell by the sound that the doors will have to be replaced as well the force shook trough the building, knocking off a few objects.
"Twilight! Spike!" came the loud shout of the worried Rainbow Dash. "Is anyone in here? Where are you guys? Are you alri... hey, where is the.... fire?" came the confused reaction as the blue pegasus looked around a library that contained not a raging inferno, but mostly books as usual and some smoke.
"We're in the kitchen, Dash! Don't worry, there is no fire!" shouted Twilight trough the doorway at the new arrival. Twilight moved out from the kitchen to greet Dash, Spike following. The kitchen was too small for two ponies.
"You guys OK?" asked the rainbow-haired pony, still with some worry on her face. "What happened?"
"Oh, you know: the usual kitchen accident, burned food, exploding puddings," smiled Twilight dismissively. Spike was about to say something, but Twilight surreptitiously swiped him with her tail.
"Puddings explode?" asked Rainbow Dash, clearly hung up on that, perhaps significant, detail.
"Yeah, sure! Mix the ingredients wrong, accidentally slip in something you shouldn't, the yeast , er, overgrew! Then, before you know it, boom!" she waved her front hooves about her in mimicry of the event. "It goes right to your face and up to the ceiling," continued on Twilight, nodding enthusiastically at her own reasoning. Spike was quite embarrassed, even though nopony was looking at him.
Rainbow Dash looked bemused, scratching her head.
"I might have used a tiny, itsy-bitsy shred of magic to... speed things up! Silly me, I probably got the spell wrong," said Twilight in an altogether non-confessional voice.
"Ooookaaayyy... Twilight, I'm a bit worried. When you usually get magic wrong, you make a big mess. Like with the doll? I don't just want to criticise but..." cut off Rainbow Dash, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
"Don't worry, it won't happen again," replied Twilight, giving a meaningful glance to Spike. Spike nodded at what Twilight meant.
"Anyway, I saw the smoke and thought the worst. Is everything OK then?" asked the pegasus, obviously past caring about the reasons for the fire, much to both Twilight's and Spike's relief.
"Yeah, I just have to clean up a... little," answered Twilight, already giving a look full of dread at the kitchen.
"Oh! Oh! Can I help with clearing out the smoke? I have this awesome stunt that's part of a routine of mine! It should air the whole house in a jiffy!" said Rainbow Dash excitedly, even making a small circle in the air as she said it.
Twilight thought of the thick, appalling smell the smoke head. "That would be helpful Rainbow, thank you," she said.
Rainbow Dash grinned excitedly and flew out like a lightning bolt. Within moments, the sound of her rapidly circling above the library was heard. A few seconds later, Twilight could feel a slight wind in her mane, meaning that RD was picking up speed. After that, the air was certainly getting cleaner and the smoke visibly being sucked out trough the windows.
However, a few seconds later, the purple librarian was smelling dust being picked up, even visibly. Then she heard the window blinds and picture frames shuttering.
"Erm, Rainbow?" said Twilight, forgetting for the moment that she didn't hear her.
The wind increased, pulling up debris and light clutter into the air. Picture frames, curtains and shutters were rattling violently, papers were gliding across the room and collecting up in a slowly-spinning pile in the centre of the house.
"Rainbow!" shouted upwards Twilight, but there was no reaction. Spike was brushing up against Twilight now, not frightened but still going to the best support he knows.
The whirlwind started to gain strength: Twilight's mane was being blown upwards, a steady clamour of objects falling down on the ground (or whatever surface was nearby) was heard, a large pile was forming up in the centre of the rooms of papers and every detritus.
"RAINBOW DASH!" she cried out again, Spike joining in as best he could. All to no effect, as they now had a small cyclone on their hands.
Now lighter objects were casually thrown around the house. Spike's basket bed was taking a tour around the library, Twilight's blanket was doings its best impression of a ghost, books were dropping out of their place in the excitement, some of the dishes and cups had enough of the cruel world and amongst all of it, scrolls, sheets, even small bundles of paper were ascending to the sky above while covering everything they were caught up in.
Then it suddenly stopped, Everything started falling unto the ground. Twilight had her hair in her face, there was not a pony-belly's worth of clean space and simply nothing was in its place. She also heard a faint whistling in her ear.
Rainbow smoothly zoomed in trough the terrace, landing smoothly, posing and declaring with satisfaction:
"There. Clear and clean."
Then Rainbow opened her eyes and realised the scope of mayhem she has caused. Twilight merely had a barely-contained expression of anger on her face.
"You said something about magic and messes?" she snapped bitterly.
"Erm, I think I might have overdone it a little," admitted apologetically Rainbow Dash with a nervous smile and giggle.
"A little?" snapped Spike. Keeping the library ,and what was also his home too, tidy was his job as well.
"Okay, maybe more than that. Look, I'm pretty much am done for today, how about I help you clean this up?" offered the blue-coated** troublemaker, which was also her way of an apology.
/+** As in, her body's fur colour. Not her "coat" as any clothing. To clarify: she's not wearing any clothing in this scene.+\
"Hmmm.... Rainbow Dash, how about you collect things into piles and I'll sort it? Papers, scroll and library things on the ground floor, everything else on the living room floor. That alone would save me a lot of time," said the organised librarian, already mostly forgetting her anger.
"On it! I can probably sort the mess in ten se..." the rainbow-maned pegasus looked around. "...er in a jiffy!" She was soon buzzing around the room, collecting papers and other delirious.
Soon, she was gaining speed, apparently treating the task as a game. Already, she was using the walls to rebound herself. As she gained speed, she was stirring up the air again, making the papers fly. The piles she was making were quickly destroyed by her wake and the haphazard way she added things to them (often just dropping them when she was over them). Needless to say, her "work", was impressively counter-productive.
Twilight sat down and rolled her eyes. She knew that Dash was doing this because she wanted to get it done as fast as possible, before she would get bored.
"Dash? Dash? Rainbow Dash?" she called out, with a hint of impatience that Spike recognised. It was the kind when things were really getting on Twilight's nerves.
"DASH!" exclaimed Twilight, grabbing the excited pegasus through magic.
"This not something you can do in ten seconds flat! Please, slow down! Buzzing around will only make everything fly around all over again and then we have to start over. We have to do this slowly to get it done quickly!" snapped at her Twilight, holding Rainbow by her tail.
"Gosh, Twilight you are a bit grouchy today," remarked the upside-down pegasus, her rainbow hair flailing around as she swung from her tail.
Twilight was quite annoyed. She let go of Rainbow, who fallen to the floor in surprise. The purple librarian, with her ears flat, she pointed down towards the entrance.
"Somewhere, down there, is lunch for both me and Spike. I've woken up early and spent all morning at Sweet Apple Acres helping Applejack renovate the farm. I ache all over and exhausted from using a lot of magic. For my trouble, I got some delicious food from the Apple family. Now I have to literarily dig it out of this... this mess!" Then Twilight pointed around the library, especially at the books that fallen from their shelves. "I also just had re-shelving day a while ago and now, just as I came back home, hoping for a quiet afternoon of reading..." started to lament the librarian before she restrained herself. "I'm sorry, you're right Rainbow, I am being grouchy. It's just that everything got so... disorganised," admitted the purple unicorn, who laid down on the floor, looking tired and exasperated. Rainbow looked obviously sorry and a little crestfallen. Spike decided that this is was a good opportunity to hug her. Twilight welcomed the gesture and hugged Spike back.
Then he started to make noises, almost like a belch. Twilight was about to make a reproachful remark when she noticed that Spike backtracked, with his mouth forced closed by his claws. Finally, he burped out a scroll.
This did not surprise Twilight, nor did it surprise Dash. What surprised Twilight was that instead of a red ribbon, there was a deep blue ribbon around the scroll. The seal was the Royal Seal, rather than Celestia's quick-and-simple (if still royal) horseshoe. Without missing a beat, Spike opened the letter. Inside the scroll was a parchment. Spike quickly placed it atop a mountain of clutter nearby, readied the letter, cleared his throat and began reading out loud.
"Ahem, 'Loyal student Twilight Sparkle: We, the Royal Princesses of Equestria, write to you to inform you of your appointment with an old, respected friend to Equestria that has decided to resume contact with us. The appointment is to be held after five (5) full days from now, on the night of the full moon. We have attached a suitable map of the nearby area, made out of fine cotton vellum, that displays the location of your appointment. The location is a large disk, made out of bronze and covered with a layer of gold, about five pony-length*** in diameter and is elevated above the ground. The appropriate symbol for it on your map is copied into the letter. No diplomatic protocol is required for this meeting beyond basic courtesy. However, you may bring any item or anypony you may deem necessary or suitable. Proper documents of our past diplomatic meetings will be sent once they have been found and retrieved from the Royal Archives. We expect a full report on your meeting once it has completed, detailing any results or conclusions reached and written at your earliest opportunity to properly do so. We wish you the best of fortune in this and future endeavours. Signed, your beloved ruler: Princess Luna. Sent with the permission of ,and by, co-ruler, Princess Celestia. PS: You must bring Spike with you!"
/+***Refers to length as an unit of measurement of a stretched out horse at a gallop. Apprx 8-9 feet, I just round it to 2.5 meters (hopefully, that's a galloping pony's stretched-out length). +\
Spike neatly rolled up the letter as usual and then took the included parchment, to be ready with either.
"I thought only Princess Celestia sent you letters," remarked Rainbow Dash sceptically.
"She usually does. Spike, could I have a look at that letter?" asked Twilight. Dash looked confused at this request, unaware that Spike took his duties of burping letters seriously and that he found the idea of his readings to be inaccurate insulting. Spike held out the letter and Twilight levitated it out into the air. Rainbow Dash couldn't help herself being curious and nuzzled her way to see. Spike joined them by Twilight's other side.
The first thing Twilight noticed was that the ink was different. It reminded of the richly textured, golden letters she saw her teacher Celestia use occasionally on official documents, the way how they seemed to gently glow out of the very paper itself. Here, the letters were velvet black, sinking into the paper as if they were holes into the night sky, complete with an occasional glitter of a star or a faint, passing silver shine by the edges of the letters. The hoofwriting was indeed different, sharper and thinner.
Except the last line, the postscript. That was Celestia's hoofwriting, in regular ink (that she used most often).
"I don't get it. Why did Princess Luna send you the letter? I thought only Princess Celestia sent you letters," asked Rainbow Dash.
Twilight was just staring at the letter, with an expression of profound puzzlement on her face. Spike answered instead of her: "I don't know. The way I get and send letters is only between Celestia and me. I think it was her that sent the letter, Princess Luna only written it," said Spike speculatively.
"That makes sense, I guess. It's pretty cool to get a job from royalty, but I can't shake the feeling that something is off. What do you think Twilight? Erm, Twilight?" asked Rainbow Dash, only now realizing that Twilight appears to have frozen into place. The pegasus even hesitantly waved her hoof in front of her eyes, but there was no reaction.
"Er, Twilight? Twilight Sparkle?" repeated Spike, with a tone of dread. Twilight's eyes darted right unto Spike.
"Do you know what this means?" finally said the purple unicorn in a sudden, low, rushed speech.
Before either Spike or Dash could answer, Twilight shouted "It means we're now bureaucrats!"
"We're what now?" asked Rainbow Dash and Spike in confused unison.
"Me and Spike! Ponies that serve her royal majesty's government! Ponies that do things for all ponykind, for all of Equestria!" elaborated Twilight, getting much into the personal space of Rainbow Dash, who was slowly backtracking. The pegasus slipped on the papers that were on the floor and balanced herself by sitting down, only for Twilight to get right up to her nose. "We now have a massive responsibility that we never could imagine! All of Equestria depends on us!"
"Doesn't it already sometimes? I mean, with the Elements of Harmony and the dragon and stuff..." said Rainbow Dash, a bit confused by this particular reasoning. She was also trying to gently escape Twilight's invasion of her personal space.
"Yes, but now it's official! As in we have to do paperwork! Following protocols! Filling forms and..." she gasped "Learning regulations! My studies!" said Twilight, nervously rubbing the side of her head.
Both Spike and Rainbow Dash exchanged a glance that told of worry and an annoyance. Spike even mouthed the words "she's doing it again".
"What if we are behind schedule? The full moon is five days away... ohmygosh, I have to check my lunar calendar! My regular calendar too! My study schedule as well! Do we even have a book on diplomatic protocols?! What if..." said the panicked unicorn before she was suddenly interrupted.
The interruption was in the form of a splash of water, provided by Spike from a jug.
"TWILIGHT, SNAP OUT OF IT! You are winding yourself up on assumptions again! Like the time with your letter to Princess Celestia," said Spike, shaking Twilight a bit. It did manage to get Twilight to stop and blink, clearly cut off from her line of reasoning.
"Yeah Twi, I mean what if we just have to meet and escort this guy? That and the letter said that you don't need anything special," said Rainbow Dash, trying to be reassuring.
"Rainbow's right and besides, Celestia wouldn't let Princess Luna give you a chore that you couldn't handle," added Spike, joining in with Dash.
Twilight shook the water out of her mane and took a deep breath.
"You're both right. I was acting silly. It's just that this sounds so important! I don't want to disappoint the Princesses and we never got a letter from Princess Luna before," she paced around a bit and then decided to levitate the map out. "Let's have a look at the map, shall we?"
The parchment was grey-brown and unrolled stiffly. Twilight could not escape the impression of a pirate treasure map: the parchment was worn, the edges were ragged, the ink faded, the material flaking and discoloured in spots. The north-arrow looked nothing like she seen on any other map, recognising it simply because it could not be anything else. There was a legend (for the map's symbols), but the words and grammar were.... old.
"Where's Ponyville? I can see Canterlot, but I think Cloudsdale is in the wrong place. Then again,it does moves around so that's no surprise. Still, that shouldn't be over there. Hey, these symbols are all wrong too, the only ones I recognise are all outdated," said Rainbow Dash, who was a little familiar with maps due to her job.
"Yes and look: Fillydelphia is shown as a village. A lot of settlements are missing and I see a few that I haven't seen before. Here!" Twilight pointed to a spot where there was a half-black and half-empty circle overlapping each other. "Based on the river and the mountains, that is where the old royal castle of the pony sisters is. Reckoning by that, Ponyville should be in this valley, here," Twilight now pointed at an empty spot on the map.
"And the place we are looking for!" said Spike, pointing to a symbol that was on the letter too. Both ponies looked at each other with worry.
"That will take me through the Everfree forest!" said Twilight with some worry. Ever since the cockatrice incident, she was more wary of that place.
"Yeah and let me tell you one thing: you're not going alone! I'm not letting you go there by yourself again. Who knows what you could run into!" said Rainbow Dash, her voice full of assurance, her tone suggesting that she won't take any argument.
"Ahem, she's not going alone," remarked Spike with a mock-cough.
"No offence Spike, but you're still only a baby dragon," said Rainbow Dash, in a more gentle tone. Spike didn't say anything in response, but still crossed his hands and grumbled a bit.
"She's right. Safety in numbers. Besides, the letter did say I can bring anypony I think I should. If this is important, I can't think of a better support than having my friends at my back," said Twilight earnestly. "That and my number one assistant of course," she added when she noticed Spike's expression.
"We should try to find the map we used when we went up the mountain. You know, the one we dragged Fluttershy up for the snoring dragon? Maybe we can make a route through, so we avoid going to the deeper parts of the forest?" suggested Rainbow Dash.
"That's a great idea! That map should be right... errr" said Twilight and then looked around. The map could be anywhere, as the library just had a small tornado run trough it from the inside. "Let's focus on cleaning this mess up first," said Twilight, realizing she was quite quickly caught up in the excitement.
Twilight looked at Rainbow Dash and Spike, then at the letter and map, then finally the library. She rolled the scroll and parchment up. She closed her eyes, then there was some noise from downstairs and a wooden cylinder with a strap levitated up. She placed the rolled-up letter and map into that.
"There. It's an old oak cylinder that messengers used when carrying important letters. I'll place this above the mantle. Now, Rainbow Dash? Gather up things into piles, everything made out of paper on the ground floor and the rest upstairs. I'll sort them out and put them into the proper place. Spike, you handle the kitchen," concluded Twilight, happily organising things into efficiency.
"Why should Spike clean up? You made the mess!" remarked the blue pegasus. Twilight and Spike exchanged a look and both smiled.
"I don't mind. Anything to help," said Spike, exchanging a conspiratorial glance with Twilight, who then shared a small giggle.
*While MLP ponies don't have saddles (only the clothing equivalent) because they don't seem to allow people to ride them, I could not find a better term for the bags we often see them use (that look like what I see named as saddle-bags in horse-related webshops online). So unless someone has a better term, I'm calling those things saddlebags.
** As in, her body's fur colour. Not her "coat" as any clothing. She's not wearing any clothing in this scene.
***Refers to length as an unit of measurement of a stretched out horse at a gallop. Apprx 8-9 feet, I just round it to 2.5 meters (hopefully, that's a galloping pony's stretched-out length).
Critiques and comments are welcome.
EDIT: Fixed the issues maddoctor pointed out (I may give it another read-trough, perhaps a loud one, later if I have the time). Also, the story is up on FimFiction.
It's easier to keep track of updates there (if you have an account). I'll post the story both here and there whenever I manage to mop up another chapter.