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The Hippogriff Festival Mess-up

by starflight360

Apple Bloom winced at the pain in her body as she stretched her aching limbs. Big Mac had been busy taking care of his and Sugar Belle’s new foal, leaving her and Applejack to do all of the applebucking without him. That meant long days with no rest, and the aftermath of such days was equally rough.

“Breakfast is ready,” came a deep voice through Apple Bloom’s door. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and rolled over in her bed. She was usually a morning pony, but it was hard dragging herself out of bed when it felt like she’d been hit by a train.

Apple Bloom stretched and looked out through her window, where the sun was rising over the hills, its light reflecting off of the countless red apples stuck in the trees. Mornings on the farm were beautiful, and she wouldn’t have them any other way, despite how draining the work could be.

“Wait,” Apple Bloom muttered, freezing mid-stretch. “Sunrise… Oh no, I’m late!” She scrambled out from under the covers and fell onto the floor, grunting as she hit the cold wood. Frantically, she grabbed her bow from off the nightstand and charged out of her room, where she slammed into a very alarmed Big Mac.

“Apple Bloom? What’s wrong?” he asked, a little worried. He put a hoof on Apple Bloom’s shoulder and helped her right herself.

“Sorry, no time!” Apple Bloom sprinted past Big Mac and down the stairs, her hooves barely touching the ground as she ran through the house and into the kitchen.

Applejack looked up from the table, where she’d just finished setting out pancakes for them all. Sugar Belle sat opposite, tiredly trying to coax her young colt to eat his own food. “Hey, sugarcube. I made your favorite-”

“Thanks! Sorry, can’t talk, bye!” Apple Bloom grabbed the pancakes from her plate, stuffed them all into her mouth, and bolted out the door.

Applejack glanced curiously at Big Mac as he entered the kitchen, looking just as perplexed as she was. “What in the hay was that all about?”

Big Mac shrugged and sat down next to Sugar Belle. “Dunno.”

~~~


Scootaloo tapped her hooves on the ground restlessly and glanced at Sweetie Belle as she strolled over to the orange pegasus. “Hey, Scootaloo! Apple Bloom isn’t here yet?”

“Nope. She suggested this trip, so why is she the last one to show up?” Scootaloo asked, slightly annoyed. They were gonna miss the train to Mount Aris if they didn’t get going soon. She found herself feeling excited to go back, and she didn’t want to miss the festival.

“Maybe she got lost?” Sweetie Belle suggested.

Scootaloo raised an eyebrow at her friend. “Lost?”

“Okay, maybe not, but I’m sure she’s on her way.” Sweetie Belle shielded her eyes with one hoof and peered at a moving shape in the far distance. “I think that’s her? I don’t know, it’s hard to tell from here. Anyway, I don’t think we’ll be able to go to the festival, anyway.”

Scootaloo glanced at Sweetie Belle, alarmed. “What?! Why?”

“Well, I saw Silverstream on my way here, and we talked a bit about the festival. Apparently there’s a ceremonial costume worn by everypony present, and they don’t make any that fit ponies,” Sweetie Belle said as she pulled out a picture and passed it to Scootaloo.

Scootaloo looked over the picture, which showed a hippogriff wearing a rather elaborate-looking costume. “So? It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Not a big deal? It’s an important part of the festival. We can’t show up looking like… that.” Sweetie Belle gestured at Scootaloo, who was comparatively unkempt with a somewhat ruffled mane.

Scootaloo sighed and rolled her eyes. “It’s pretty easy to tell who your sister is sometimes. Fine, I’ll straighten up my mane. Is that good enough?”

Sweetie Bell shook her head. “If we don’t wear the proper attire, we’re going to look like lost tourists the whole time.”

“Well, can’t you get Rarity to whip something up? She’s good at that sort of thing,” Scootaloo said. She wasn’t about to miss the festival because Sweetie Belle was getting fussy about fashion again.

“No, she’s busy on more important stuff.” Sweetie Belle tapped her nose and looked off into the distance. “Although, she did get a new apprentice recently. Maybe he could help out.”

“Well, go ask him then. I’ll wait for Apple Bloom here, and we can meet you at the train station.”

Sweetie Belle nodded and turned back toward Carousel Boutique. “Okay, I’ll see what he can do. No guarantees, though.” With that, she trotted off down the street, leaving Scootaloo alone again.

Time ticked steadily by, dragging on into what had to be ten or fifteen minutes. After what felt like an eternity to Scootaloo, she finally saw a rather messy red mane bobbing in the distance. She quickly recognized Apple Bloom, sprinting toward her with a lopsided pink bow on her head and bits of pancake and pear butter stuck to her face.

“There you are! The train is about to leave!” Scootaloo shouted as Apple Bloom ran up.

“Sorry, I’ve been working really hard on the farm lately, and I guess I’ve been more exhausted than usual so I-”

“We don’t have time for your excuses. Come on!” Scootaloo took off through the town, with Apple Bloom following close behind. From her guess, they had maybe three minutes before the train left. She prayed they’d make it on time.

~~~



Sweetie Belle glanced out of the train window and sighed, watching as the train began to move down the tracks. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom had made it on with seconds to spare, luckily for them. Still, this trip wasn’t off to a very great start.

“Hey, we made it,” Apple Bloom gasped out as she slid the train car door open. Scootaloo followed her in and flopped onto one of the open benches, wheezing heavily.

“There you two are. I was worried you weren’t going to make the train. Then I would have dragged him out of bed for nothing,” Sweetie Belle said, jerking her head toward a white pegasus seated a little ways down the car, a year or two younger than herself by the looks of him. A long maroon mane hung low over his sapphire eyes, and he wore a simple black jacket and crimson bandana around his neck. He was rifling urgently through the contents of a large sack, looking flustered and very tired.

“Is that Rarity’s new assistant?” Scootaloo asked.

“Yep. His name is Booker. He is definitely not a morning pony. It took an incredible amount of pleading to get him to come along.” Sweetie Belle glanced at the quiet pony. She hadn’t known him for long, but he seemed nice enough. She glanced back at Apple Bloom and reeled back in shock when she saw her friend’s face. “What in Celestia’s name happened? Did somebody throw a pie at your face?” Without waiting for a reply, she stood up and started ushering a reluctant Apple Bloom to the train’s bathrooms. Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.”

Sweetie Belle glanced back at Booker as the door slid shut behind her. The materials at Carousel Boutique had been rather limited, seeing as Rarity was working on a big project. She sincerely hoped he could make something out of what he had. If not, she was going to feel like a complete idiot at the festival.

~~~


Scootaloo stepped off of the train at Mount Aris, already donning her costume that Booker had thrown together. Strings of pearls roped across her body, covering a simple white dress. As little as she knew about that sort of thing, it was a little impressive that one pony could make three costumes in under twenty-four hours.

“Okay girls, remember what Booker said about the costumes. Don’t be too rough with them, especially the pearls. They’re only held on with water-soluble adhesive, and the protective covering over the adhesive can’t stand up to much abuse. These costumes are meant to be worn once, then thrown away,” Sweetie Belle said as she followed Scootaloo and Apple Bloom off the train.

“Yeah, yeah. We’ll be fine, Sweetie Belle,” Scootaloo said. Really, it was just a costume. They hadn’t needed to go through all the trouble in the first place.

A moving object caught Scootaloo’s eye, and she quickly recognized Terramar as he ran by, looking rather panicked. “Hi, Terramar!”

Terramar turned at hearing his name, and looked both shocked and happy at the sudden appearance of Scootaloo and her friends.

“Scootaloo! Apple Bloom! Sweetie Belle! What are you three doing here?” he asked, giving them each warm hugs in turn.

“We’re here for the festival. It’s been more than a little stressful getting here,” Sweetie Belle said.

“I’m sorry to hear that, but things aren’t much better here.” Terramar glanced behind him, where the peak of Mount Aris reached the clouds.

Apple Bloom tilted her head curiously at him. “What do you mean?”

“There’s a very special fruit involved in part of the festival called an Aris Berry. One of Queen Novo’s subjects is supposed to serve her the fruit as part of a ceremony at the end of the festival. We had one in our kitchens, but now it’s gone. We think an animal got it somehow,” Terramar said.

“Really? That sounds bad,” Scootaloo chimed in. “Is there any way we can help?”

Terramar glanced at them. “Are you sure?”

The three ponies nodded vigorously. Helping others was what they did best.

Terramar’s shoulders relaxed a little. “Great, that would be a huge help. Come with me, we have a small party going to get another fruit. It’s a dangerous journey, but incredibly important.” He led the way down the street, running at full speed.

Sweetie Belle leaned in to Scootaloo as they sprinted toward Mount Aris. “Shouldn’t we take off the costumes first? Booker said he didn’t have enough time to make them very durable.”

Scootaloo shook her head. “The ceremony is more important than our costumes. Besides, we’ll be just fine. What’s the worst that could happen?”

~~~


Apple Bloom stared at the pathway in front of them, her eyes wide with fear. “We’re supposed to cross… that?” It was a narrow path that hugged the side of the mountain. Dense forestry acted as a ceiling, though the drop below had no such safety net.

Terramar nodded. “The plants are carnivorous, so we can’t fly across, either.”

“Carnivorous plants? I’m starting to think we’re in way over our heads,” Sweetie Belle said nervously.

“You’ll be fine. No hippogriff has ever died during this trip, and if one of you fall, another hippogriff can fly down and catch you,” Terramar said. “Now let’s go. We’re almost out of time.”

Terramar led the other hippogriffs carefully along the ledge. Apple Bloom followed closely behind, with Scootaloo and Sweetie Bell in tow. The walk over started off fairly safe, and Apple Bloom had begun to think they’d all make it across safely when the screaming started and one of the hippogriff slipped off of the ledge, numerous small bugs crawling all over his body.

“Star spiders!” Terramar shouted. Apple Bloom glanced ahead and was horrified to see countless black and blue spiders swarming out of a crack in the mountain. Hippogriffs leapt from the ledge to avoid the spiders, while others slipped off in an attempt to get away. Within seconds, all of the hippogriffs were flying down the mountain, trailing spiders after them. This left Apple Bloom directly in the spiders’ wake, frozen in terror.

Before the spiders could reach Apple Bloom, however, a green translucent barrier went up between her and the creatures, blocking their path. She turned around to see Sweetie Belle’s horn glowing, using her magic to keep them safe inside a small bubble. “It’s okay, keep going. I’ll hold them back.”

Apple Bloom nodded at her friend before turning back to the path in front of her. As she took a step forward, the bubble followed, pushing the spiders back and clearing the way. Confident in her friend’s abilities, she lead the way to the end of the ledge, where a path could be seen spiraling up the mountain. Carnivorous plants still lined the ceiling and walls, but Sweetie Belle’s shield gave her the peace of mind to not be scared of them anymore. Now they simply had to pick another Aris Fruit, and the ceremony could be held.”

~~~


Sweetie Belle walked into the hippogriff village flanked by her friends. Together, they carried a large branch, on which was held a purple spherical fruit the size of a buckball. Hippogriffs lined the road in front of them, all cheering and applauding as the ceremony began.

“Okay, do you remember your jobs?” Terramar asked.

Sweetie Belle nodded. “We carry the branch to Queen Novo’s throne, pick the fruit in front of her, cut out a slice, and give it to her to eat, symbolizing the loyalty of her citizens,” she recited. “Simple enough.”

Terramar nodded. “Very good.” He motioned down the road. “Now go on. It’s time.”

Sweetie Belle faced forward again and took a deep breath before stepping off. It felt weird to be performing such an important role in a ceremony not meant for them, but at the very least, they looked decent in the costumes Booker had made, despite being a little banged up from their trip up and down the mountain.

“Hey, why are we doing this, again?” Scootaloo whispered as they continued down the path.

“Because Queen Novo wanted to honor us for getting the fruit, remember?” Apple Bloom replied.

“Yeah, but it feels weird. Shouldn’t one of her citizens do this? If it signifies the loyalty of the hippogriff, why are we doing it?”

Sweetie Belle shrugged. “It’s meant to be a ‘thank you,’ so just accept it. And stop talking, we’re almost to the throne.”

Sweetie Belle glanced at the throne, where Queen Novo sat regally. It was situated above a lagoon, five meters or so above the water. Seaponies swam below, cheering just like the hippogriffs on dry land. They splashed the water excitedly, and it rained back down onto the pathway. Sweetie Belle flinched as one of the drops narrowly missed her eye, while more rained down on her and her friends.

Suddenly, Sweetie Belle felt something on her costume shift. Remembering the water-soluble adhesive and Booker’s instructions to be careful with the costumes, she mentally facehoofed herself. The protective coating must have rubbed off on their trip to get the Aris Fruit, allowing the water splashing on them to dissolve the adhesive. “Oops,” she mumbled as the pearls on her costume fell to the ground and rolled everywhere.

Scootaloo tripped on the pearls and pulled her friends with her, nearly falling off the pathway. The branch fell from their grasp, plummeting to the water below. The fruit smashed open on a outcropping, spilling purple juice everywhere.

"Uh oh," Scootaloo muttered. She glanced up at Queen Novo as she opened her mouth, expecting the Queen to be upset, but before the hippogriff could speak, Terramar called out from the crowd. "It's okay, I found the original fruit!"

Sweetie Belle breathed a sigh of relief. The whole trip had been stressful. They'd learned a great deal about listening to others, but thankfully, it had all ended okay somehow. She smiled and looked at her friends. Despite their flaws, she wouldn't trade them for anything.