As the year draws to a close in my Equestria dreamscape, the Apple family finds themselves in an unsettled state. On one hand they are happy to have Applebloom returned after her abduction to the Kingdom of Shadows[link]
. Still everyone is certain that the little filly is either carrying within her an unwanted parasite in the form of a magical being, or that she has been physically altered by the journey to and from into a being from both worlds. She has had some rocky moments [link]
and there have been some rather alarming events [link]
that have happened around her recently. That said the Apple family have noticed that she has been much more energetic and no longer mopes around farmhouse. She is more willing to interact with other members of the family although she still spends a lot of time in her room constantly scribbling cryptic runes and equations.
News from the larger world is equally disturbing and unknown. The papers continue to report stories about the Two Sisters unending watch and negotiations on the northern border of Equestria with the Council of Dragons. Rumors of engagements between the armed forces of Equestria and the dragons were picked over and discussed at great length at Bucking Mare and other establishments in Ponyville. Speculation over the exact reason for the crisis were equally murky. Some in the press were claiming the problem was the result of conflict over mineral rights and ponies supposedly crossing the border to get them. Others speculated that the conflict was the result of a power struggle within the Dragon Council and the whole crisis was fabricated as an attempt to rally the other dragons around the new head of the council by giving them an external threat. Some whispered that a secret society within the Griffins were trying to cultivate a war to weaken both the Council and Equestria to there gain. Finally other ponies just wrote it off as just naked aggression by the Dragons.
For their part the two princesses have said very little. Only that they were committed to protecting Equestria and all ponies within it, and yet they hoped that a reasonable and peaceful solution could be reached so to avoid any further hardship or suffering on both sides. Even their letters to Twilight were vague in response to her questions. Still they asked to be continually updated about Applebloom condition and the any unusual events that happened in Ponyville.
As winter closed in on Ponyville and the surrounding countryside the roads becoming harder and harder to travel into town or visit your neighbors. This results in the outlying households turning into little islands of civilization during the winter months. Even pegasi find it harder to travel in the harsh driving winter winds and snow. Still ponies are willing to brave the cold to visit with friends, families and neighbors. So it was that early one afternoon that Rarity made the trek to Sweet Apple Acres to visit her close friend Applejack and do a favor for her. Since Applebloom had gone to the hospital she had not had chance to get her mane and tail cut or styled. Usually Applejack or Granny Smith cut the hair in the Apple household, but Rarity had asked if she could come out give the little filly a "fabulous" make over and styling. "After all nothing makes a pony feel more marvelous than to look great!" Exclaimed Rarity over tea one afternoon at her boutique.
For her part Applebloom was ambivalent to the idea of a make over. She felt her current mane and tail were just fine, and she was in the middle of crunching an equation, but she took one look at her big sister and Rarity and then sighed. "Fine." Said the filly. Resigning herself to be fussed over. "You may trim my mane and tail." With her marching orders given Rarity immediately started levitating an bewildering array of tools, jars, bottles, brushes, combs, fashion magazines and other objects from her panniers. "Oh you'll love this!" Said Ponyville's resident fashionista with an enthusiastic smile on her face. "And it won't long at all." Applebloom and even Applejack doubted that statement. When came to matters of fashion, time ran at a different speed for the white unicorn mare.
After assembling and organizing her arsenal of hair and hide products Rarity was ready to get "fashionable". However it soon became obvious that Applebloom was not interest in a new look. "Just trim to even things out." Was all the littlest of Apple family asked for. "Oh, and leave bangs the length they are. I like the way they look right now." Somewhat crestfallen Rarity began going to work. After a quick washing of the filly's mane and tail Rarity began trimming. However she found that Applebloom was very touchy about how Rarity went about handling her mane. Especially her bangs. "Do you even have to trim with them at all?" Asked the increasingly annoyed filly. "There at the length I like anyways." "Yes Applebloom dear." Said Rarity with a comb and scissors floating front of her . "If I don't at least even them out they'll just look horrid. I'll trim them as little as possible."
Then before the little filly could protest Rarity quickly levitated Applebloom's bangs up to trim them. And then stopped and stared in horror at what she'd discovered. In the middle of Applebloom's forehead, just above her eyes was a nasty looking scar that ran vertically like a slit in the little filly's head. It was about one and half inches long and while showed no signs of blood or infection but it was obviously deep and very recent. "Ah! Applebloom sweetie! Whatever happened to you? How and when did you get such a horrific scar?" Applejack who was lying nearby reading the Happy Mare's Home Journal looked up and saw the scar to. "What the hay! Applebloom! When did you go and get that?!" The farm pony wasn't a doctor, but having worked on a farm long enough she had seen her share of injuries. What she saw alarmed her. "With one hoof Applebloom quickly pushed her bangs back down to cover the scar. "It happened at the hospital when Twilight tried her "little experiment" and it failed." [link]
Growled the filly. "Now hold on just one minute!" Said Applejack. "I am certain that the doctor would've mentioned something like that when he spoke to Big Mac and I afterwards, and I don't recall him saying your melon had been cracked open like that!" "Well I guess he forgot to mention it to you, and considering how many other injuries Twilight's science project caused me I can see how it could've been overlooked in the conservation." Applebloom voice took on a particular cold quality as she said that. "That or the staff was just incompetent and missed it altogether when they were putting me back together again." "But sugar cube if they missed it why didn't you tell them later?" Applejack eyes were filled with concern for her little sister. "That thing must of hurt heaps?! Probably still does" Applebloom rolled her eyes to the ceiling then replied. "Sis considering how many painkillers they gave me for my dislocated leg and all the sedatives they had me loaded up on you could've driven a spike into my head and I wouldn't have noticed or cared." The little filly continued. "It wasn't till I was back home that realized it was there. By then it had already started healing, and I did not feel like going back to those quacks again if I could avoid it. I've kept it clean and it can't be that horrible if no one has noticed until now. Right?"
Applejack and Rarity exchanged looks for a moment. They were uncertain what to make of Applebloom casual dismissal of her injury. True she had been through a lot in the last few months and maybe that gave the filly a different sense of priority of what was important and what was not. "I still think we should mention it to the doctor." Said Applejack. "I could go into town tomorrow and try and schedule an appointment." "But sis what about your rehearsals for Hearth's Warming Eve pageant?" Asked Applebloom. "Besides its not infected and it doesn't hurt much anymore so I don't see the rush. Especially with the holidays and all the preparations that you have to make. No need to pile one more thing one on your full plate. " The little filly smiled sweetly at her big sister. "If it starts bugging me I'll let you know right away okay. Does that sound fair?" Applejack stared hard at her little sister for several seconds and then sighed. "Okay sugar cube but if that thing starts getting any worse you let one us know right away, and no matter what were going to mention it at your next appointment in a couple weeks anyways. Agreed?" Applebloom nodded "Agreed, but I do have a request to make of you and Rarity." "What's that?" Asked Applejack. Rarity just stared quietly. Applebloom looked down at the ground and scuffed her left hoof on the wood floor. "I would ask that you both don't talk about this with everyone. I know that I am already enough of a source for gossip and rumors and I really don't need one more thing for ponies to whisper behind my back about me. So could you both please not talk about it." Applebloom looked with pleading eyes at the two mares. "Please." She finally said.
The two mares looked at each other for several seconds then looked back at Applebloom. "I for one completely understand a lady's need for privacy!" Said Rarity. "I will keep your secret safe." Applejack looked for a moment longer at her little sis and then sighed. "Oh shoot! Okay sis, my lips are sealed, but if that thing gives you the slightest bit of trouble you're going back to hospital right away. Understood?" Applebloom smiled. "Understood. Now why don't we get back to my trim, okay." With that Rarity resumed her work and Applejack went to fetch hot chocolate for everyone.
Applebloom just sat there quietly while Rarity continued her work but inside she was having a frantic conversation. "What do we do!" she asked her close friend within her. "The next time we go to doctor they'll know I was lying! They are already keeping an eye on me. What do we do now!?" The being in her replied softly. "It's okay. Eventually they would've discovered our true secret. However this will accelerate certain things, so we will have move quicker than I originally planned. I am going to need your full support Applebloom for this to work. Can I count on you?" Once again Applebloom felt a warm, pleasant feeling course through her as the being inside her secretly tinkered with the chemistry in her brain. "Yes." Said the little filly. "You can count on me." The being in her mind purred. "Thank you Applebloom. I knew I could." To be continued.