After Nightmare Night things seemed to be settling down for a typical winter in Ponyville. Harvests were in for the most part. Now was a time that ponies generally spent reflecting on the accomplishments of the year, and what the new year had in store for them. And oh what year it had been. The Lord of Shadows, Discord, this would be a year that ponies would talking about for years to come, but things seemed to finally settling down again. However in one corner of Ponyville a seed of trouble planted in the Kingdom of Shadows had been germinating in the darkness, and now it was ready to come forth.
Ever since her abduction to the Kingdom of Shadows [link]
, Applebloom has withdrawn from interacting with her family and friends [link]
. Except for her initial emotional release upon being freed she has become very cold and silent. She seems to have very little interest in spending time with anyone and while her family and close friends know that she is suffering from horrible nightmares she has refused to open up and tell anyone what happened to her there in the land of the Lord of Shadows or what her recurring dreams are. She is does not like dark, unlit places and tries to avoid them. Her appetite has dropped off dramatically; enough so that the family has had to make a real effort to make certain she eats her meals at all. When she does Applebloom complains that everything tastes bitter now. As a result she has lost quite a bit of weight and often has dark bags under her eyes.
She's attending school again but that has done little to improve her personal interaction with her friends and classmates. Even Diamond Tiara's and Silver Spoon's taunts seem to have very little effect on her, and she ignores Scootaloo and Sweet Belle's attempts to cheer her up. She would just sit quietly in class and stares at the chalkboard while Cheerilee gave the lessons. What has surprised many though is that Applebloom's test scores and homework had improved dramatically since her return; although a recent piece of creative writing turned in by her bothered Cheerilee enough that she read it to both Applejack and Twilight when Applebloom was not there. The topic was to suppose to have been describing a day in your life. What Applebloom turned in was a dark, surreal piece of writing that left everypony who heard it chilled the same way hearing a good ghost/ horror story will. It was obviously Applebloom hand/ mouth writing but the writing voice and vocabulary were alien. Also the style of writing were much more sophisticated than anything she had ever written. Of particular concern to Twilight were several chants/ incantations in a language that she had never seen but she had no desire to attempt without doing lots of research first. Cheerilee attempted to recite several of them but Celestia's protege asked her to stop. It was almost as if another pony had written it. But Applebloom had written the piece while in class and had no books with her at the time.
Applebloom had resumed her chores around Sweet Apple Acres, but she does them without any the charm and spark that she is known for. Instead she goes about them with the same bored, distracted look in her eyes. That is until recently.
One evening Applejack asked Applebloom if she would go into the pantry and get a bag of flour for her. Taking a lantern with her the little filly went to retrieve the flour. She had just set the lantern down and was pulling the sack off the shelf when she heard someone whisper her name. "Applebloom". Confused she looked around and then she saw it. The shadow on wall from herself and shelf had morphed into this gigantic leering face. Then it spoke again. " There you are." It whispered. "We need to talk."
Applejack and Big Mac were standing in the kitchen when a horrifying scream burst from the pantry. Racing into the room they found Applebloom lying curled up on the floor shaking uncontrollably. Her eyes were dilated to tiny specks and she was sweating profusely. The poor filly was biting her bottom lip so hard it was bleeding. Her pulse was racing and she was breathing as if she'd just ran nonstop for an hour. She was delirious and was unable to speak. She just kept staring without blinking at the shadow on the wall which looked normal to Applejack and Big Mac.
After moving her to couch in parlor, Big Mac galloped into town and brought the doctor back with a cart. Applebloom was dropping in and out of consciousness and was running a high fever. She kept rambling on about things moving around the room. Shrieking at things that apparently only she could see. Unable to do much at the farmhouse, the doctor administered a sedative to the distraught filly to prepare her for transport to the local hospital. As they were carrying her to the cart Applebloom suddenly screamed out in a strange guttural voice. At first Applejack thought it was just another fit of feverish rambling, but as Applebloom continued to repeat the incoherent chant over and over she began to realize that it sounded sort of familiar. Like the chants in the paper Applebloom had written.
It was late evening when the doctor pulling the cart arrived at the Ponyville Hospital with Applebloom. Granny Smith had ridden in the cart with the sick filly with Applejack and Big Mac as escorts. Once Applebloom had been admitted to the hospital, Applejack left Big Mac and Granny Smith to keep watch at the hospital and made a beeline to the town library. Twilight was surprised to hear the farm pony voice and hooves hammering on her door this late in the evening. She was even more surprised and alarmed when AJ told her what had occurred at the farmhouse. Twilight had been trying to research the nature of the incantations from Applebloom's paper but had been unable to make any progress. She had made several inquiries to the Royal Canterlot Library for reference material, but had received no useful information back. Also the two Royal Sisters were not in Canterlot but were in Fillyadelphia dealing with some matter of politics. Still she agreed to send a letter immediately to them. After that all AJ could do was head back to the hospital and wait to see what happened. It was going to be a long night. To be continued.