It was the day after Hearth's Warming in my Equestria dreamscape, and a storm was rolling in on several fronts. On the weather front a regularly scheduled storm system had accidentally picked up more energy than the weather service in Cloudsdale had intended. This resulted in the Weather Service having to reshuffle their planned scheduled snowfall for the next couple weeks to avoid excessive snowpack totals in certain parts of Equestria. Especially around Canterlot where the pegasus ponies and unicorns have to keep a watch out for avalanches conditions around the city.
Another casualty to the weather was the railroad, and due to unexpectedly heavy snowfall the rail lines into and out of Canterlot were closed until work crews could go out and clear the tracks. It was expected that it would take a couple days at least to get the trains running again. This meant that Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Spike, myself, Petina, and Carousel were stuck in Canterlot until the trains returned to service.
True. Those of us who were pegasus ponies could try to flying to Ponyville but Rainbow Dash pointed out that it would under zero visibility conditions and I had not received training in that yet. Therefore as my instructor she forbid me to try it. Besides even with pegasus ponies increased resistance to cold it still would be very dangerous with the temperatures and strong winds that were accompanying the storm. RD was grumbling that she would probably arrive home to find that her holiday vacation had been cancelled and she'd be working until New Year's Eve helping to clean up this mess.
The front page of the Canterlot Courier had just as chilling news on it as the weather outside. Apparently the political stand off in the North between Equestrian forces and members of the Council of Dragons had taken a turn for the worse. Relationships between the two nations were continuing to deteriorate. There were eyewitness accounts of dragons blatantly seizing territories within Equestrian borders. Reports of pegasus squadrons intercepting flocks of young drakes, and for the first time confirmation of Equestrian artillery batteries engaging hostile forces.
There were now even rumors of Two Sisters donning their ancient battle barding and for the first time in over a thousand years standing side by side on the field of battle. Still the paper stated that royal sisters held out hope that the current crisis would not spread into a general war. This added a coldness to the streets of Canterlot that had nothing to do with the weather. Twilight had recently sent several letters to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna but had received no reply to them yet. For the most part she spent her days in her childhood home poring over the instructions for the dream-walker spell that Luna had sent her. The rest of us just cooled our hooves and waited for the trains to start running again.
One, of the topics that was chewed over again and again was what could be done to help Applebloom. Now that we knew what we up against various theories and solutions started coming to the surface. Rainbow Dash was of the opinion they should go get the Elements of Harmony and blast it out of Applebloom. Twilight shot that idea down on two counts.
One Twilight was very uncertain what effect hitting Applebloom with the Elements of Harmony would do to her. The only two other times they had used the Elements had been on the immortal princess Luna and other being on Discord. While it is true they had succeeded in rescuing Luna, she was an immortal and not a little filly. The other case they had turned their target into a stone statue. She was pretty that the Apple family would not be thrilled with having their youngest daughter turned into a lawn ornament, or having her spread evenly over the entire county as a fine mist.
Second, the Elements of Harmony were locked away in the Grand Vault in the palace. Only Celestia or Luna could open it and at the moment they were struggling to avoid a general war with the Dragons in the North. Twilight said she'd written a couple more letters to the sisters but had received no correspondence back from either of them.
It was decided that the best course of action would be to attempt the dream walking spell to see if Twilight could learn more about Applebloom's plight. Although with what Twilight knew now of the little filly's condition she was even less thrilled at taking a walk through her mind.
At Sweet Apple Acres, the last couple days had been rather pleasant. After the stress of preparing for the Hearth's Warming Eve pageant, Applejack was enjoying some simple quiet time with her family. True the weather had turned out far worse than what the weather services had planned for, but Apple Family had dealt with many a cold winter before so they were prepared for it. It just meant they wouldn't be making any trips into town for a day or so.
Even Applebloom was enjoying the holiday and her Close Friend seemed to be in rather good spirits to although she was uncertain why. She was even helping Granny Smith in the kitchen with preparations for the big meal.
AJ at one point came into the dining room to find Applebloom busily polishing the family silver. She just stopped behind her and stared. Applejack was so proud of her little sister. In spite of all the obstacles [link]
and setbacks, little Applebloom seemed to be really trying make the best of the situation. Instinctively Applejack reached out and gave her little sister a big hug. Then things went terrible wrong.
Applebloom suddenly felt her who whole world explode. Pain like she'd never felt before coursed through every part of her body and she let out a horrifying scream. Applebloom's Close Friend was screaming as well in her mind. It felt like someone had tried to tear something out her.
Applejack let go of her immediately and sprang to her hooves and backed away from Applebloom. She was uncertain what had just happened, but for a second it had felt like that she had been hugging a complete stranger instead of her little sister. She looked down at little sister who was now lying on the floor curled up and trembling. Utter terror and fear filled the little filly's eyes.
"Applebloom. Sugar Cube." Said Applejack slowly. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm your big sister. What's the matter? Talk to your big sister here." She reached out a hoof to her little sister.
"DON"T TOUCH ME! STAY AWAY!" Screamed the little filly as she frantically scrambled under the dining room table to stay away from her big sister. "DON'T COME NEAR ME!" Applebloom was crying uncontrollably now.
Of course these events had resulted in Big Mac and Granny Smith frantically galloping into the dining room. Applebloom initially would not come out from under the large walnut table but eventually Big Mac was able to coax her out and she collapsed into a sobbing wreck in his embrace. Granny Smith softly cooed and stroked the terrified filly's red mane. AJ slowly approached her little sister.
"Sugar Cube." Said Applebloom's big sister." I don't know what happened back there but I want you to know I never meant to hurt you. You know that right? Can you tell me what happened there? Please."
Curling in a fetal position the little yellow filly tried to hide in her big brother's hug.
"Please! Big Brother! Don't let her touch me! Please! Please! I am begging you!" She was looking at Applejack like she was horrible monster from the Everfree Forest. The big red stallion looked down at his little sister and smiled gently.
"Hey squirt. that is your big sister there. She's family and will never hurt you on purpose. Now can you tell your big brother what's got you all riled up? Please."
"She touched me! She hugged me! I never want her to touch me again! It was horrible! Awful! Big Mac I'm scared." Sobbed the filly.
Eventually it was decided that the best thing to do would be for Big Mac to take Applebloom up to bedroom and help her into bed. Poor AJ was still down in the dining room and was now crying herself while Granny Smith tried to comfort her.
Meanwhile in corner of Applebloom's mind her Close Friend was confronting something it had never experienced before. Pain.Terror. Fear. It knew how to use fear and pain manipulate others, but not even the Lord of Shadows had ever made it experience the kind pain and horror it had just endured. How? How could some stupid earth pony, not even a unicorn, have wielded such powerful magic to have so rendered it so helpless? Besides Applebloom's big sister had held the little filly several times since their return to this world. Why now should simple touch be so devastating? Applebloom's Close Friend was stronger now than it had ever been in this realm. It's magic was growing more powerful everyday and its link to this world was better than ever. So how could this be happening.
Applebloom was also very disturbed.
"What just happened Teacher?! What was that horrible pain I felt? Why would just being hugged by my big sis hurt me so much? What's go on? I'm scared."
"I DON'T KNOW! NOW BE QUIET FOR A MOMENT!" Applebloom's Close Friend bellowed.
The Close Friend calmed itself, before continuing.
"I don't know what has just happened, but it is absolutely critical we stay away from your big sister until I understand what we are dealing with. Okay."
Applebloom grudgingly accepted her Close Friend's advice.
"You should try and get some sleep." It said
She laid her head down on the pillow. Stimulating parts of her brain her Teacher had here drifting off to sleep in couple of minutes. Meanwhile in a corner of her mind her Teacher was scrambling for an answer.
This was completely unexpected and potentially could disrupt it's long term plans. "Damn it was so close!" It needed to get away from this farm and the horror that was this dumb filly's big sister. For an instant entertained the idea of killing the one called Applejack, but recoiled from the idea of getting close enough to do it. Besides it was uncertain what kind of terror that mare might unleash on it if it tried. For the rest of the evening it worked on crafting a radically different and very deadly new plan of attack. To be continued.