"Ah, there you are, my darling flower." Count Fetlock's smooth baritone came from the shadows at the foot of her oak.
Fluttershy sniffled, and peered out from her makeshift nest. The branches of the oak would have made an excellent hiding place if her sobbing wasn't shaking leaves loose. "What...what did you do?" Instinctively, she began to rub at the side of her neck. "This...this isn't how it was in the books!"
"Mmm. Yes. I'm afraid those novels you no doubt devour take certain...liberties. Not to mention none of them are written from a first person perspective. Though now that I think of it, that might be an amusing diversion..."
"I bit my friend!"
"Ah, yes. That tends to happen, especially at first." The Count shrugged. "If it's any consolation, your friend most likely enjoyed being bitten. You did, after all." he smiled, remembering Fluttershy's vitae upon his tongue (her blood tasted vaguely like dandelion wine, for the record).
"Um." Fluttershy said. "I guess it was kind of nice...but...not anymore!" she squinted her eyes shut, and sniffled again. "I'm...I'm just so hungry."
"That, my little darling, is the price we pay." Fetlock smiled. "But it's entirely worth it." He flapped his wings a few times, rising to look Fluttershy in the eyes. "Please, stop crying." he put one of his hooves beneath Fluttershy's chin and tilted it upwards. The yellow peagasus' sobs quieted down into faint whimpers. "I've only known you for a short time...but I am an excellent judge of character. I've met many fillies like you before...crying. Cowering. Hiding. But that...that was the old Fluttershy. But now...you're already faster. Stronger. More beautiful than you were before..."
"Quiet, dear. There's a whole new world available to just need time to learn...and someone to teach you. That is...if you'll allow me?"
"I was hoping you'd say that." Count Fetlock held one of his hooves out, and a tiny brown thing fluttered to it, as if called. "Tell me, my little blossom- how familiar are you with the common brown bat?"
It didn't take long to find Zecora's hut- Twilight Sparkle knew the way, and the night's events had given her and Rainbow Dash both ample incentive to get there as fast as their hooves (or wings, in Dash's case) could carry them.
Unsurprisingly, Rainbow Dash made it there first- at which point she immediately began pounding on Zecora's door. "HEY! STRIPEY! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!"
"Why do you knock on my door with such power?" Zecora stuck her head out the window, rubbing sleep out of her eyes, "Who calls on me at such a late hour?"
"I'm sorry," Twilight Sparkle said, "We wouldn't have come if it wasn't an emergency?"
"An emergency? Why didn't you say so? / I will do whatever I can, as you know." Zecora ducked in from her window and opened the door to let Twilight and Rainbow Dash in.
"Okay, let's not waste any time-" The unicorn said before the door had even closed behind her. "Our friend Fluttershy's been acting really strange-"
"Like, biting strange!" Rainbow Dash cut in.
"...yeah, like that. Which is really weird considering that she could barely get out of bed earlier today." Twilight scratched at her head.
Zecora considered this for a few moments, and scratched at her chin. Finally, she spoke. "Listen well, for I'm no phony. / I fear your friend may be a dhampony."
"HEY!" Rainbow Dash snarled, "That's my friend you're talking about! You watch your damn mouth!"
"Swearing is not what I said. / I just told you your friend is undead."
"Of course she's not dead. She's alive." Rainbow Dash said- very slowly, as if explaining herself to a tourist. "I mean, no dead pony can move as fast as she did!"
"Wait, undead?" Twilight Sparkle tilted her head to the side. "Like, zombies and liches and stuff?"
Zecora nodded, not bothering to waste a rhyme on a simple affirmative.
"But I thought they were just legends!"
"If anyone knows if the myths are true, / I would imagine it would be you."
"Okay, so there is usually a grain of truth behind a lot of the old stories..." Twilight Sparkle said, "I just wish I had more time to do the research- shoot! I bet Van Horseling's Noctus Equus would come in handy right now. If only Count Fetlock hadn't borrowed it!"
Zecora's jaw dropped. "Forgive me for my state of shock. / But did you just say Count Fetlock?"
"If Count Fetlock bit your friend, / Then surely she has met her end!"
"Are you saying that Count Fetlock is some kind of...vampony?"
Zecora looked grim. Well, grimmer than usual. "Once Fluttershy has a taste of blood, / She will be a dhampony for good!"
"Hey! That didn't rhyme. Laaaaaame." Rainbow Dash said.
"Before you call my verses lame, / Remember the words are spelled the same."
"She's got a point." Twilight said. "But...is there any way to stop a vampony?"
"Garlic is one thing you should take. / Or perhaps a pointed stake."
"Steak?" Rainbow Dash said. "But Fluttershy's vegetarian! Oh, wait, now I get it! We wave a piece of bloody meat at her, and she gets so scared and grossed out that she, uh...I dunno. Barfs or something?" She scratched at her head.
"I think she meant one of these." Twilight Sparkle levitated a stout, pointed length of wood off of one of Zecora's shelves. "...why do you have this, anyway?"
"I don't believe in being scared. / Instead, I like to be prepared."
"Whoa, what're we supposed to do with that?" Rainbow Dash said. "It's just a pointy stick!"
"I do believe the first part, / Is to stick the stake through their heart."
"I'm not doing that to Fluttershy!" Rainbow Dash looked horrified.
"Calm down, Rainbow Dash! Nobody's sticking anything into anyone! We don't even know what's going on here...the first thing we need to do is find Fluttershy."
"At least we don't have to wonder where. / Seems your friend is over there."
"Um. Hi guys." Fluttershy said, tapping upon the window. "I was just wondering if it might be okay if, uh, maybe I could come in? You know. To talk."
"Fluttershy!" Rainbow Dash, well, dashed to the window, "It's so good to see you! Of course, you can- MMPH!" Zecora punced upon Rainbow Dash before she could finish.
"Wait now, don't get excited! / She can't come in unless invited!"
"Really?" Twilight Sparkle said.
"Um. I think so, yeah." Fluttershy tapped at the window, as if there were a pane of glass there. "So I'm just stuck out here, I guess. Unless you'd like to invite me in? Please?"
"Fluttershy...what's happened to you?" Twilight Sparkle's voice cracked.
"I'm, um...I'm not entirely sure yet. I mean, I just have the teensy-weensiest urge to give you juuuust a little bit of a nibble, because I'm sooooo hungry...but other than that, it's not so bad! I can hear and see everything a lot better now, for some reason. And there's all the nocturnal animals! There's owls, and racoons, and wolves, and bats, and more! Oh, listen to them!" Fluttershy smiled (which would've been adorable were it not for the elongated fangs she was now sporting). "The children of the night! What music they make!"
"At least she still sounds like Fluttershy." Rainbow Dash pushed Zecora off of her.
"Fluttershy," Twilight Sparkle said, "Just stay there...and, uh, we'll stay in here, okay? We can help you! I'm sure there's a way we can help- we just need to find the right spell, or the right potion, or the right ritual...and if there's anypony who can find it, it's gonna be me."
"Oh no," Fluttershy shrank back, just peeking over the edge of the windowsill, "you don't have to do all that for me. I mean, Count Fetlock keeps saying it gets better after the first few decades."
"I dunno who this Count Fetlock guy is," Rainbow Dash said, "but I don't like him already! I mean, he just sounds kinda skeevy to me. If I ever meet the guy, I'll just knock some sense into him, and he'll de-fangify you, and then we're all good!"
"Even if that were possible," said a familliar, smooth baritone, "I'd like to see you try to...knock some sense into me. Could be entertaining." Count Fetlock trotted out of the shadows.
"See!" Rainbow Dash pointed, "Look at that mustache! Totally skeevy!"
"I like mustaches." Fluttershy squeaked. "They tickle."
"Wait, what?" Twilight said.
"Ah, let's not share the sordid details, dear." Count Fetlock patted Fluttershy on the shoulders. "I'm sure your friends have enough to take in as is."
"Psh! The only thing I have to take is you!" Rainbow Dash said, "As, in, uh, taking you out! In the face!" before Zecora could spring again, Rainbow Dash streaked out the window. She spiraled around Count Fetlock, relying on her multicolored wake to confuse the Vampony. Rainbow Dash swung up into a climb- only to twist around into a dive. Dash thrust one hoof ahead of her, lining it up to smash into Fetlock's jaw at the angle that'd be the most painful and satisfying.
But before Rainbow Dash could land her blow, Count Fetlock ducked down- impossibly fast, leaving only his cape fluttering behind him. As the pegasus zoomed past, he neatly caught her tail, and with a flick of his neck, sent Rainbow Dash careening into a sturdy oak.
"Ah, good." Fetlock said, fluttering his wings, "I like to get the physical confrontations out of the way first, to prove how futile they are."
"Rainbow Dash!" Fluttershy squeaked.
"Oh, she's fine." Fetlock said, and patronizingly stroked at Fluttershy's pink mane. "I know she's your friend, so I played nice. She's mildly concussed, at worst. Something tells me she's used to it."
"Hey!" Fluttershy glared, "That wasn't very nice!"
"I'm an unnatural predator kept alive through the darkest of the dark magics." Count Fetlock made the statement a boast. "I'm not supposed to be nice."
"Can we have this argument later? I knew it'd be coming, but not so early. I've got to attend to your friends, first."
"You stay away from my-"
"One moment." Count Fetlock said, and turned his shoulder, bringing his wing up to deflect a bolt of concentrated magical energy. The glowing beam ricochet off his feathers and splintered the branches of a nearby ash. Despite the dismissive flick of his feathers, even the glancing blow was enough to make Count Fetlock stagger, if a bit. "Ah," he said, "that was impressive."
"I've got more where that came from." Twilght Sparkle said. She panted from the effort of the spell. Steam rose from the tip of her horn, and residual magical energy crackled around her.
"Mmm. I'm sure you do." Count Fetlock said, "After all, you are Princess Celestia's favorite student, no? Good thing I took...precautions." and with that, he grabbed Fluttershy around the neck and pulled her very, very close. "So, by all means...hit me with the best you've got. Prismatic Spray? The Death of Obsidian Butterflies? Luminaire? I'm sure you've got all sorts of nasty tricks...but are you precise enough with your spells? I imagine you'd hate to accidentally immolate your friend."
"Eep." Fluttershy said. Quietly.
"Let her go!" Twilight said.
"Oh, I shall...eventually." Count Fetlock smiled a fangy smile. "But first, I'll ask you to be so kind as to oblige me with a few...requests. To start, you can dispel whatever hex you're no doubt preparing."
"Fine." Twilight Sparkle said, and her horn stopped glinting with otherworldly energy.
"Ah, good, good. Now..." Fetlock ran his tongue over his fangs in anticipation, "Just walk over here...slowly, and turn your neck juuuuust so?" Twilight narrowed her eyes, but complied. Count Fetlock sucked in a quick breath, equal parts hunger and lust. "How positively...tempting. Wouldn't you say so, my little moon-blossom?" Unable to help himself, Fetlock licked Fluttershy's cheek.
Fluttershy frowned, "Hey! You're not going to-"
"Hush, darling. I'm going to share, of course. But you must promise not to kill her. I'm going to need the unicorn for my plan."
"Plan?" Fluttershy squeaked.
"Oh, yes! I've been trying to get a hoof in the door at Canterlot for centuries now...only it's proved damnably inconvenient, what, with a sun goddess running the place. But if once I sink my fangs into Twilight Sparkle...the rest just falls into place. If the teacher's anything like the student...well, just look at how easy it was to get your friend to surrender once I sunk my fangs into you."
"So...that's what it was?" Fluttershy said. She narrowed her eyes, then shoved her way free of Fetlock's grasp. "You were just using me?"
"Well, yes." The gray vampony blinked, and cradled his hoof.
Fluttershy wheeled around. "And that's why you bit me?" The corner of her eye began to twitch.
"Fluttershy!" Twilight Sparkle said, stepping forward. "Quick, get clear, and I can-"
"STAY OUT OF THIS." Fluttershy hissed.
"If it's any consolation, I didn't bite you just to get at your friend." Count Fetlock said, "For one, you had been reading the Noctis Equus- the only remaining copy I'm aware of, I might add. I couldn't have somepony running around with that kind of knowledge, hm? That, and I was hungry. You were delicious, dear."
"How dare you!" Fluttershy prodded Count Fetlock in the chest, hard enough to make him flinch. The emotional dam that usually held Fluttershy back began break- the proverbial cracks came all the faster with the added lusts of the hungry dead behind it. "I don't mind if you bite me, but I'm not going to let you bite my friends!" She jabbed Fetlock again, and again, forcing him to retreat backwards.
"You never wanted the love of a good filly at all, did you!"
"Ugh. BOYS." Fluttershy said. "You're all alike! Just thinking with your fangs, or something else that isn't your brain. If you ever, ever try to hurt any of my friends, or try to conquer Equestria, or do any of that other mean stuff, I will personally make you wish you'd never been born! Or died! Or however your stupid vampony stuff works! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!"
Count Fetlock, for all his centuries of undeath, had never faced anything quite like a dark-magic-empowered Stare, and so he shrunk back, stammering and stalling. "Well, ah...my flower, I hadn't considered this, but, um, you see, I- HURK!"
Count Fetlock's stalling could only work up to a certain point. That point just happened to be the jagged end of an ash branch. Twilight's earlier magical bolt had sent it tumbling to the ground, where it rested at just the right angle for a pony to backpedal over it...and drive the impromptu stake right into his heart. Coincidence, yes, but a happy one.
"Oh." Count Fetlock looked down at himself. "Damn." and with that, he burst into dust. Pomf.
"WHOA!" Rainbow Dash poked her head out of the oak she'd crashed into. "Did Fluttershy just explode that guy? AWESOME!"
"Okay, I...wasn't expecting that." Twilight Sparkle hesitantly stepped forward.
"Sometimes the cause of a riot, / is the one who is the most quiet."
"Are you okay, Fluttershy?" Rainbow Dash dropped out of the tree and flew over to Fluttershy's side.
"I don't know." Fluttershy said. She blinked a few times and stared at the pile of dust that used to be Count Fetlock. "I...I just got so angry...but now..." she shivered...and then ran her tongue over her elongated fangs, which wobbled a bit before they dropped out of her mouth. "Hey, I don't want to bite Rainbow Dash anymore!" Fluttershy squeaked.
"You did before?" Rainbow Dash blinked.
"Of course!" Twilight Sparkle said, trotting forward. "Fluttershy wasn't completely turned yet...so when Count Fetlock, er, exploded, it broke his hold on Fluttershy. I think. I'll have to do some research to be entirely certain..."
"I think it might be best, / if we ran a little test." Zecora leaned in- and then thrust a bulb of garlic into Fluttershy's mouth. The yellow pegasus blinked, tensing up.
"Oh, I get it!" Rainbow Dash said, "We give her really bad breath so anybody she tries to bite will be totally grossed out!"
"That's not how it works, Rainbow Dash." Twilight Sparkle said. "...I think." she turned towards Zecora.
The Zebra just shrugged. "According to my study and learning, / If she were a dhampony, there'd be more burning."
"Yay!" Rainbow Dash pulled Fluttershy into a happy hug. "Everything's back to normal!"
"Do I have to keep the garlic in my mouth?" Fluttershy said, somewhat muffled.
"Er, no." Twilight Sparkle said.
"Oh, thanks." Fluttershy said. "And thank you guys for helping me so much! I...I really don't think I'd like to be a vampony, now that I've seen what Count Fetlock was really like."
"Really, we should be thanking you, Fluttershy." Twilight said, and joined in the hug. "You were the one who beat him, remember!"
"Oh...I guess I did, didn't I?"
"C'mon, let's go back to Ponyville. You guys can stay at my place 'til morning." Twilight Sparkle grinned, and waved goodbye to Zecora as they began to make their way home. "Remind me to write a friendship report for Princess Celestia. Something about standing up for yourself, or maybe how you shouldn't romanticize nasty stuff based on your casual reading..."
"Don't forget to put in the part where Fluttershy made the dude explode!"
"Oh, and Twilight?" Fluttershy said, "I, um...I have a quiiiick question."
"Do you have any books on marewolves?"