Twilight Sparkle smiled as she took a deep breath of the fresh air around her. To her, and most others, the day was absolutely gorgeous. The sky was clear and blue, there was a light breeze to cool everypony off from the warm sun, and ponies of all creeds and colors were walking through the town of Ponyville, going about their usual business and having fun.
"Isn't today just lovely, Spike?" Twilight asked as she turned her head to the baby dragon on her back.
"It is pretty nice, Twilight. Perfect weather for a relaxing nap." He replied, a smile creeping on to his face.
"Well, there's no real time for napping yet, Spike. Can you go over today's checklist for today once more, just in case we missed something?"
"Sure. Let's see..." He said as he held the relatively short list of tasks for the day, "Delivered two pastry recipe books to Pinkie Pie."
"Check." The unicorn said with a smile.
"Helped Fluttershy take care of a new batch of critters and brought her some supplies to help make the job easier in the coming weeks."
"Check and check."
"Tried and failed to teach Rainbow Dash the complex mathematical formulas needed to calculate just how fast she can fly horizontally or vertically."
The purple mare giggled at that one, "Yup. Check that too."
"Alright! Other than some chores at home, that covers pretty much everything we have to do today outside of the library! And thank goodness, I'm starving."
"Oh Spike, you ate two hours ago!"
"Yeah, exactly! It's been forever and I could go for a nice snack."
Twilight Sparkle giggled at the baby dragon's eating habits, but let them slide, as he was still a growing boy, and needed the energy. "Well, I suppose that wraps up most of the day for us. It's about noon now, so... How about we take a hour off the schedule today, since we're a little ahead?" She asked, wanting to give the both of them a nice break.
"That's sounds great! How about we go to that restaurant with the great crispy hay fries?" He asked excitedly.
"Sure, why no-" She began before being interrupted by a sudden shout.
"Twilight Sparkle! There you are! Heavens you are hard to find sometimes." Rarity said, after suddenly appearing in front of her while she wasn't looking.
Twilight blinked in shock at the sudden outburst, and was most curious as to why her friend seemed a little panicked. She was panting heavily, as if she had been running, something that the white unicorn hated to do because of the possibility of getting sweaty. Her eyes seemed shaky as well, which was strange for her usually calm and collected demeanor. Most startling of all, however, was that the fabulous pony actually had a hair out of place. This must be serious.
"What's wrong, Rarity?" Twilight asked.
"I'm... actually not entirely sure. From what I gathered, Applejack is having a serious problem and is down at Redhart's Clinic right now. She managed to catch Rainbow Dash on her way there, who then passed the information on to me as she went to find the others. I was told that if I saw you, darling, I should tell you to get there immediately, just in case they need your knowledge."
"Oh my... that does sound really serious. Alright! I'll do it! Spike, do you mind traveling with Rarity for a bit? I can't run that well with you on my back." She said, already levitating Spike up off of her back.
"Sure. No problem! Don't have to ask me twice to spend some time with Rarity." Spike said, already swooning over the fabulous unicorn.
Once her companion was no longer on her back and safely on the ground, Twilight took off down the road. Her speed wasn't great by any means, but she was getting several looks from ponies wondering where she was going in such a hurry. After a few twists and turns through the streets of Ponyville, the bookworm pony finally found herself in front of the local clinic, a nice place run by Nurse Redhart.
"Where is Applejack?" Twilight called out as she ran inside, "I was told she might need my help!"
"Oh, Twilight, there you are! Please, come this way, it's quite urgent." Replied Nurse Redhart as she started to run to one of the rooms in her clinic.
"So what's the matter with Applejack." The unicorn asked just as they entered the room.
"Ain't nothin' wrong with me, Twi. It's Apple Bloom... she's sick, and Ah don't know with what." Said Applejack, who was standing by the bed with her family, tending over a very sick looking Apple Bloom.
Twilight gasped as she saw the sick little filly. She looked horrid, moaning in discomfort periodically as the breathed heavily. Worst of all, her body was completely covered head to hoof in dark green spots, something the unicorn had never seen before, "What happened to her?"
"Ah don't know! Two days ago, she was fine. Then yesterday, it seems like she had a cold, nuthin' major, so Ah told her ta stay in fer than day. Then... about an hour ago, Ah got worried when Ah didn't hear a peep from her. At first, Ah figured she was just tired from tha cold, but then Ah got worried enough ta go and check up on her, and... she was like this." She said, running a hoof over Apple Bloom's mane gently.
"I'm so sorry to hear that, Applejack, here, let me have a look."
"Please." The farmpony replied, taking a step back to stand next to her big brother, who put a large, comforting hoof on her shoulder.
With both the request and the space she needed available to her, Twilight stepped forward and started to look over the sick filly, "Nurse Redhart, have you had any luck with this?" She asked as she looked for anything that might remind her of anything she's seen in her books.
"Sadly, no. I've consulted all of my staff, my own knowledge, and my medical books, and there's no record of it anywhere! I know I don't have the most comprehensive series of literature, so hopefully you can help with that, Twilight Sparkle." Replied Nurse Redhart.
"Very strange... And I'm sorry, everypony, but I don't recognize it like this... Maybe if we move her to my library, I can do some more intensive research... Or find a spell that just might snap her out of it." She said, looking to everypony in the room, hoping to hear something positive.
"I'm not sure about that, Twilight, but if the patient's family says it's okay..." The nurse replied.
All eyes immediately turned to Applejack. Despite being younger than Big Macintosh, she was the voice of the family, having taken charge at an early age, thanks to a strong air of leadership when it came to her kin. The farm mare looked around nervously for a moment, not exactly enjoying being put on the spot when she was worried sick, but for her family, she had to make the decision, "Ah say... Let's head ta yer place, Twi. If it'll help give ya ideas or fix 'er faster, then we're gonna do it!"
"Alright." Twilight said with a nod. "Big Macintosh, you have a much gentler hoof than your sister; no offense Applejack."
"None taken, sugarcube."
"I'm going to be heading over to the library right away to start collecting all of my books, the ones I think might be most related to this. While I do that, can you carefully carry Apple Bloom to the library so that I can start my experiments?" The unicorn asked.
After a moment of thought, Big Macintosh nodded, "Eeyup."
"Great. I'll see you there." She replied.
Once things were set in motion, her horn began to glow, and in a flash of light, she vanished from the clinic room, teleporting away to her home.
Immediately the bookworm pony got to work, magically lifting books off of the shelf she searched for all forms of medical books and references to obscure illnesses. Her stack of books began to grow the more she searched, but so too did her frustrations as she knew that some of the tomes were missing, or at least misplaced.
"Spike!" She called out, "I need your help!"
However, the only response she got was silence.
"Oh... That's right. I left him with Rarity. I guess they just haven't gotten back yet." She said, musing to herself.
Just as she was getting back to her book collecting, the door to her library opened side, and revealed a backwards walking Applejack. "Careful now, big brother. Keep 'er steady." She said as she backed in to the main room.
Behind her, or rather, in front of her, was Big Macintosh, with the handle of a wicker basket clenched between his teeth. Inside of the basket was Apple Bloom, looking just as sick as she had been in the clinic. She was wrapped loosely in blankets, enough to keep her warm and at the same time giving her room to move and breathe.
The red stallion carefully brought his littlest sister in to the library, and set her gently in to the middle of the room. Behind him, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Granny Smith, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo filed in to the room, making the place quite crowded. Still, it gave a sense of calm and security to most everypony to be surrounded by so many caring friends.
"Oh, it's good to see that you all made it. I'm still going through my books, but they're a little messy... Hey, Rarity, where's Spike?" Twilight asked.
"Oh, well, he was needed in Canterlot. He received a message directly from the Princess. It seemed important enough to whisk him away right then and there." The white unicorn replied.
The bookworm pony sighed, "That's just great. I'll just have to make do without him." She said.
"Have ya found anythin' yet, Twi?" Asked Applejack.
"No, not yet, but, bare with me here, it shouldn't take me much longer to find something."
The orange earth pony gave her a nod before sitting back down next to her sister, brother, and grandmother, the family staying close to the sick filly. A somber air hovered around the room, one that made even Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash stay quiet and still. The only sound that could be heard was the shifting of books and the occasional moan from Apple Bloom.
The minutes ticked on as Twilight Sparkle searched through her vast repertoire of tomes both mundane and magical. Soon enough, the first step of her search was finally complete. In front of her stood a tall stack of books, two dozen in number, covering all of the healing magic and illness reference guides that she had access to. It was going to be hard to search through all of them, but she had an idea, "Okay, I think I might be missing a few, but these are all I can find right now. It's going to take me some time to get through them all."
"How long d'ya think it'll take, sugarcube?" Applejack asked, worried about what might happen if they took too long.
"I just got an idea that will hopefully make this a snap to get through. So don't worry! I'll have this solved in no time!" She said confidently, giving everypony in the room a nice boost of confidence.
With a grunt, Twilight levitated all of the two dozen books in to the air, lining them up for form a wall of books in front of her. With a flick of her horn, every book in front of her suddenly opened up to the first page, and her eyes began to scan the pages before her.
And so, she read. Taking in dozens of pages at a time, each of the books flipping their pages simultaneous with a small burst of magical energy from her horn. However, as time went on, book after book started to be tossed aside, the thinner volumes running out of pages for her to read first, while the thickest of the tomes were the last to go.
Everypony in the room waited on baited breath as Twilight flipped through the final, biggest book of them all. The unicorn's face bore a look of utter frustration as she reached the last few pages of the time. Finally, with a sigh of defeat, the purple pony fell to her flank and let the last book drop, her head hurting slightly from the small overuse of magic and heaving reading.
"I'm sorry everypony... I'm not seeing anything in these books... And with Spike away in Canterlot, I can't get him to send a message to the Princess about this. She'd know what to do, but it could take days to get a normal letter there..."
"Well, what in tha hay are we gunna do now?" Applejack asked.
"I got it!"
Everypony in the room froze as they heard somepony shout. All at once, all eyes turned to Pinkie Pie, who was currently holding a book in her mouth. Specifically, the book entitled Super Naturals.
"What about this? Why didn't you read this one?" Pinkie asked.
"Super Naturals? Well, I've already read that book three times over, Pinkie. And quite recently too, so I know there's nothing in there that can help..." Twilight Sparkle replied, her head hanging low for a moment. However, seconds later, her eyes started to widen and her head raised as she got an idea, "But..."
All eyes were on her now, everypony looking towards her expectantly as idea ran through her head.
"But what?" Pinkie asked.
"Oh Pinkie Pie! You're amazing! You've just given me the perfect idea!"
"Well don't leave us hangin' sugarcube! What d'ya got in mind?"
"Zecora! She knows more about obscure illnesses and medicines that anypony I know! She should be able to tell us about this. We need to go and see her right away." She said, a smile filled with determination covering her face.
"Now why in the hay didn't Ah think of that? Apple Bloom and Zecora are great friends, Ah'm sure she'll help out if we tell her about this." Said Applejack, smiling for the first time since she discovered her sister feeling ill.
"Alright! Just leave it to me! I'll fly over to Zecora's in a flash and get back with whatever she gives me for Apple Bloom!" Said Rainbow Dash suddenly, already in the middle of flying towards the door.
However, just as she was leaving, she found herself unable to move. A tear welled in her eye as she felt the very distinct and very painful sensation of several of her tail hairs being pulled out. Luckily, she stopped well before she ended up with bald flank, and turned around to see that half of her tail was covered in Twilight's magical glow, holding her in place.
"What's the big idea, Twilight! That hurt! And I have to get going to see Zecora." Dash complained.
"Not without a note from me you aren't. I need to write down all of Apple Bloom's symptoms and make a little sketch of her, just so that Zecora knows for sure what's wrong with her. If you rush there now and just give her a loose description, she might give you the wrong medicine and make things worse."
At her friend's words, Rainbow Dash deflated slightly and hovered back down to the ground, her tail being freed from the magic as she did so, "Sorry..."
"It's fine, sugarcube. Don't fret about it. You were just tryin' ta help." The farmpony said, patting the blue mare on the back with a hoof.
"Don't worry Rainbow, you'll have your moment to shine here in a few minutes. Just let me get my quill and some parchment to write on."
As the others waited patiently, the purple unicorn brought out her writing tools and began to scribble everything she knew down on to the paper. Information about the symptoms, such as a fever and exhaustion dotted the page. She made sure to make special mention of the dots covering the filly as well as their specific color as well. Finally, she draw a small sketch of Apple Bloom, trying to get an accurate placement of the spots in as little time as was needed, and after nearly fifteen minutes of quick writing, the parchment was complete.
"Alright, here you go, Rainbow Dash. Take this to Zecora and explain the problem to her. You should be able to spot her hut from the sky pretty easily, so it won't be a problem for you to get there and back in no time." She said as she levitated the rolled up piece of paper over to the blue pegasus.
Dash gave a quick salute as her task was laid out before her, "You can count on me!"
With that, she grabbed on to the floating scroll with her teeth and flew off, this time unimpeded by unicorn magics. With a gust of wind and a streak of rainbows, she took to the skies, flying as fast as she could towards the Everfree forest.
"Humph. How uncouth. She should at least pick up after herself." Said Rarity, levitating up a few rainbow colored hairs off the floor and bringing them over to the garbage basket.
"Fussin' about that at a time like this, Rarity?" Applejack asked, slightly perturbed at the unicorn's actions.
"It helps to keep me calm, dear Applejack. You should find something to help you do the same." Came the rather curt reply.
Applejack sighed as she turned to the door, watching the shrinking streak of rainbow as it traveled in to the distance.
"Don't worry, Applejack... I'm sure that Zecora will be able to help." Twilight said as she placed a hoof around her friend's shoulders.
"Yeah! She'll be super fast and get back soon and Apple Bloom will be better in no time at all! And in the mean time, your friends will be here to help out as much as we can." Chimed in Pinkie Pie.
"Umm... I don't know how I can help, but I can be here for moral support, at least. If you want me to, that is..." Added Fluttershy, speaking for the first time since arriving.
"Ah shucks girls... that sure means a lot. But right now, Ah ain't tha one that needs yer help."
"We know, Applejack... But it'll be alright. Don't worry, Rainbow Dash will be back soon and then everything will be okay." Said Twilight, trying her best to comfort her friend.
"Ah hope yer right, Twilight... Ah hope yer right." Replied Applejack, her eyes turning back to the skies as her face grew more and more somber.
'Rainbow Dash... Please. Hurry...'
Completely rewritten chapter 1. It flows much better now an dis much more logical where it needs to be. Hope you like it!