Disclaimer: My Little Pony is the property of Hasbro. This is a non-profit work made by an independent contractor outside of the official company's notice intended for non-profit entertainment and speculative purposes only.
By Darkryt Orbinautz
Eviler Than Thou
Of Possessions and Plans
He was dreadful. Just dreadful. That was the only word Trixie could think of for him. 'Awful' was too weak a word, while 'disgusting' was too strong.
A head like a pony's Jack-o-lantern floated over a severed neck-hole. Emerald fire ran all through and around it, forming his eyes, neck and mane. Black armor with red accents covered his body (assuming he even had one). A emblem was emblazoned upon over where his Cutie Mark would be. A black heart with red thorns crisscrossing through the tip, and a sort of...crown at the heart's bottom tip. The same emerald fire formed his tail, which, except for being made of fire, looked normal.
The Headless Horse pointed at Gilda. "Thou shalt payeth dearly for disgracing the name of the bell!"
Trixie's eyes were locked on him. "Uh-uht-uth, you're not a unicorn!"
The Headless Horse took a moment to glance briefly at her. "No. We are an Earth pony as far can be told, though we are of noble heritage."
"Why do you talk like that, dude?" Gilda asked.
The Headless Horse glared at her. "Thou is hardly in a place where thy should be questioning our speech." The Horse raised his hoof, and the green fireball Trixie had seen so often before formed on it. He threw it at Gilda, but she used her wings to lift off the floor, sending the fireball on a course for the windowsill. It dissipated before it could make contact.
That gave Trixie an idea. "Everypony get under the bell!" She and the Flim Flam Brothers rushed under the bell's lip, where the bell hung high enough off the ground for them to slide under it and into, large enough to house them in it's shell and probably at least two dozen more.
"Pfft! You bozos might be willing to run from this jerk, but I'll stay right up here in the air. He can't get me here." Gilda scoffed, woefully ignorant of the Headless Horse's power. The Horse created another fireball and threw into the air where it whizzed harmlessly past Gilda, but that was only due to the gryphon's reflex.
"Although...just because I can do something doesn't mean I should, right?" Gilda swooped in under the bell with the rest of them.
The Headless Horse laughed. "Nah ha ha ha ha! Fools! Thou thinketh thy can hide under the bell? Thinketh for a moment's notice..."
The Headless Horse ducked his head and entered the bell with them.
"W-wait!" Flim protested. "What about the bell? You can't hurt the bell, right?"
"No. We cannot." The Headless Horse confirmed. "But...We can hurt thou!" He grabbed Flim by the collar of his shirt and threw him out from under the bell and into a wall.
"FLIM!" Trixie screamed. She hadn't realized how much she care she had developed for Flim, although she was nowhere near saying she returned his crush on her, seeing him thrown aside so viciously was far too distressing.
"Now, thou!" The Headless Horse shook his hoof at Gilda. "We may be tempted makeeth thy's punishment lessen, if thou shalt submit willingly."
"Forget it!" Gilda growled.
"As thou wishes." The Headless Horse started stalking towards her.
The door swung open suddenly to reveal the minister. "Everypony get of here! I'll hold him off!"
The minister ran up under the bell and pulled out some of the green powder he had used on Flim and Flam's cider. He threw it into the Headless Horse's face.
"Nah haaarrrrggh!" The Headless Horse shrieked and covered his face with his hooves, trying to rub the power out of his eyes and face.
"Grab Flim and go!" The minister ordered.
"You get him." Trixie instructed Gilda.
"Why do I have to get him?" Gilda huffed. "I don't owe him anything!"
Trixie narrowed her eyes sharply at Gilda, offended. She grabbed the gryphon by the plumage on her chest. "You listen here, you dirty lion-eagle...thing!: Because of you, the Headless Horse is loose. Because of you, I almost died AND lost my wagon! Because of you, Pink Cloud almost died, Doctor Vaccine almost died, and the Headless Horse threw this unfortunate colt into a wall! I would say you owe SOMEPONY SOMETHING."
"I don't have to-"
Trixie shook Gilda. "You go save Flim, or Trixie swears, she will shove her hat so far up your butt it will come out of your ears!"
"Birds don't have ears, dude."
"GO!" Trixie barked, throwing Gilda aside.
The Headless Horse finally cleared his eyes of the powder and was ready to attack the minister, but the dark white Earth pony threw another clump of powder at his face.
Gilda reluncantly blazed over to Flim and snatched him up in her talons, then flew out the window with him.
Flam grabbed Trixie's hoof and started pulling her out towards the door.
The Headless Horse noticed them escaping. "Thou shalt not escapeth our wrath!"
"Oh yes they shalt!" The minister shouted. He attempted to sucker-punch the Headless Horse, but missed. (Thankfully. His hoof would've, in all likeliness, caught fire had it made contact.)
"Nah Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!" The Headless Horse laughed his blood-freezing laughed and bucked the minister in the face, the metal armor of them hitting the Earth pony elder hard enough to conk him out.
Now free of distraction, The Headless Horse gave chase after Flam and Trixie. The unicorns, having been reduced from three to two, had gotten to the broken wooden hut when The Headless Horse appeared behind them.
"Nah Haaaaarrrggh!" The Headless Horse screamed.
"What do you want with us!?" Flam screeched. "We didn't ring the bell! Gilda did!"
"Bah!" The Headless Horse scoffed. "Thoust are ALL defilers to the bell's sanctity! Nah Haaaaaarrrrgh!" The Headless Horse reared up, inflaming his front hooves as he did so. He brought them down on the hut's edge, setting all the wood alight.
Trixie's eyes widened.
"Hurry!" Flam urged.
Disregarding everything the minister had taught them about being carefully on the wood, Trixie and Flam started galloping for their lives across it. Getting away from the fire was kind of...more important then being careful, though there was the slight knick in that logic that not being careful was easily likely to affect whether or not they actually managed to get away from the fire.
There was nothing better or finer to convey this point then when Trixie dropped the floor just as she was about to make it to the other end. She barely managed to grabbed the ledge of the opposing concrete with her hooves.
Trixie closed her eyes, awaiting for the end to come and snatch her to the Elysian Fields. The crackle of the flame's crisp, burning on the wood, got louder- and closer with each passing second...and closer...and closer...
"Hang on!" Flam cried, picking up Trixie's cloak in his magic. "I'll pull you up!" He then proceeded to indeed do just that, yanking on Trixie's cloak until the blue mare was completely on the concrete stairs again.
"Hoo! That was a close one." Flam exhaled.
"You're telling Trixie!?"
"Grrrrrrr!" The Headless Horse still stood on the side where the door to the bell was, seemingly frustrated at having cost himself the only way to get across. The wood, torn away by the jade fire, started collapsing into the tower levels below.
"Ha!" Trixie laughed. "What will 'thoust' do now, Headless Horse?"
The Headless Horse snorted uncaringly.
Green kindlings and embers from the fallen wood began rising up out of the pit and gathering in the air, slowly allowing a bridge of heat to be formed between the two concrete pieces. There was no way a normal pony could have crossed it. It would've been like walking on the hottest coals...but it was clear by now that the Headless Horse wasn't a normal pony.
"...Oh." Trixie said in realization. "That's what."
"RUN!" Flam screamed at her.
They resumed galloping, trying to get down the stairs and out of the bell tower. Where they would go from there was a good question. They had no set goal in mind. Except 'get away from the Horse'.
It's good to have goals.
The Headless Horse leisurely walked along the flaming bridge. It was almost like he was just having a walk in the park or stroll down to the bakery. It was like he knew that Flam and Trixie wouldn't be able to get away, no matter how far they ran.
Trixie and Flam just barely managed to make it out the bell tower's ground entrance, as they were tired and short on breath.
"Been waiting around for ya." Gilda greeted them.
"Trixie!" Flim shouted, running up to her to inspect her body. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I'm fine." Trixie assured him. "But the minister..."
"Nah Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!"
Gilda looked at the three of them. "What was that?"
The Headless Horse appeared in the door's archway, just a few steps behind
"That was US!"
"EVERYPONY RUN FOR IT!"
Trixie and Flim started galloping at the fastest pace they could muster back towards Trottinham's entrance, while Flam headed backwards for Orion's house. Gilda flew overhead and made like she was going to fly off for parts unknown.
Trixie noticed. "Oh no you don't! You did this, Gilda! Trixie will see to it that you answer for it!" Trixie grabbed her hat and threw into the air, grabbing it with her magic mid-ascent to make it fly upwards.
Flim, ignoring that he and Trixie were running for their lives from an ancient burning evil of unknown power and uncertain origin, stopped when he noticed Trixie had quit moving. "Trixie, what are you doing?"
Trixie affixed him a dubious glare. "Flim, do you think Trixie was kidding?"
Gilda was moving through the air, not caring for the ponies below, gliding more then flying, when she felt something start poking her rear.
"What?" She turned around to see a...floating hat with a star pattern, actually trying to stab her in the butt with its tip.
"Hey, stop that!" Gilda swiped at the hat with her claw. It flew out of her reach, then over and around until it was able to start poking her uncomfortably.
"I said stop that!" Gilda snarled. She swiped at it again, only for it move over and around her again. It was only now after all that turning around that Gilda noticed Trixie looking up at her dirtily.
Gilda, seeing that she wasn't getting out of this, signed and resigned herself to help. "Fine..." The gryphon spread her wings and dashed through the air to the opposite direction, where Flam was being pursued by The Headless Horse.
The Headless Horse hurled a fireball at Flam, which just narrowly missed and dispersed into harmless sparks against the concrete.
"Hey, barber!" Gilda called from above. "Hide in the trash cans!"
Flam continued galloping while at the same looking up at Gilda in bewilderment. "What?"
"It works. When gryphons get chased by something bigger then them, they find something to cover the smell. Hide in the trash!"
Flam continued looking at her, but shook his head and signed. "I hate this city." Tossing aside his reservations for the sake of survival, Flam swerved into the next alleyway that he saw and ducked behind the trash cans, placing himself so that not only was his smell covered by the rank, tossed-out junk, but also so that his coat and hat were covered by the standing cans.
The Headless Horse, seeing that his prey had disappeared, halted and slowed from a gallop to a walk. He looked around. Looking for where Flam had somehow disappeared to, perhaps? Without question. Not immediately seeing him, he looked up to gauge if the unicorn had somehow reached the rooftop, which allowed him to catch sight of Gilda flying.
"Nah Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!" The Headless Horse prepared a fireball and hurled it upwards, but the firecracker whistle it made alerted the gryphon, so she had the time to move out of the way. The Headless Horse continued throwing fireballs at her, until she decided to get smart and duck behind a building's rooftop.
The Headless Horse sneered at having lost his prey not once, but twice. He turned back around and started walking. From behind the trash cans, Flim could hear the awful sound of his armor, rattling as he approached.
The clinking stopped for a second. Flim risked craning his neck to see the Headless Horse had passed by yet or not. Alas, he had not.
The Headless Horse did another take of the block, then focused on the alley Flim had hidden himself in.
Oh, Celestia, he knew Flim was hiding in there! Somehow, he knew. Flim knew he knew. Perhaps being on fire and made out a pumpkin made the Headless Horse's nose harder to fool then the noses of gryphon's predators in the wild. Or maybe The Headless Horse had another way of sensing Flim. It wouldn't be the first abnormal thing about him, certainly.
The Headless Horse had gotten close enough for the light of the fire on him to start illuminating the cans.
Now he was so close that Flim could see the smoke of his breath, smell the sulfur of his undying breathing. The Headless Horse's head drew closer to the cans he was hiding behind, trying to see if Flim was actually there or not.
Then, just as he was about to swat the cans aside to reveal him, The Headless Horse stopped and looked upwards.
"The sun is about to rise." The Headless Horse, once so confident and seemingly without fear and with at least three magical abilities unknown to all unicorns but the greatest ones, turned around and just...left. He just...left!
Flam nervously poked his way out of his trash can camouflage. Sure enough, the sun was indeed rising, the lighting on all the buildings was changing from moonless to sunlit.
Gilda flapped her wings, descending downwards to check on Flam. "You okay, dude?"
"Y-yeah." Flam stuttered out. "The Headless Horse...he...he almost found me...then he said something about the sun rising and just...up and left!"
"Huh." Gilda admitted. "Weird."
"Flam!" Trixie and Flim swerved into the alleyway's entrance. "Are you okay!?"
"Yeah...A bit tired, now that you mention it, but I'm fine." Flam answered.
"Well, now that I've helped your little friend here..." Gilda attempted to dismiss them and take off, but Trixie levitated her hat into the gryphon's face.
"You're not leaving until Trixie decides you've suffered enough!" Trixie growled.
"..." Gilda looked miffed, but kept quiet.
"We should go back to Doctor Vaccine's." Flim suggested. "See if Orion can help the minister get out of the bell tower."
Everypony (gryphon not included in that) nodded their heads in agreement. They started navigating their way back to Doctor Vaccine's residence.
The Trottingham townsfolk started breaking out their morning rituals, getting up, stretching and yawning, getting a cup of coffee to help to increase their alertness at the cost of their heart health. All of them looked at the mismatched pair of miscreants with confusion, not understanding any conceivable reason for why they would be out so early. And the gryphon! Where did she come from?
Ignoring them all from the kindly ones who asked if they were okay to the rude ones who insulted them for fraternizing with non-ponies, the mismatched quartet stumbled their way back into Vaccine's house. Trixie, being the last one in, clicked the door closed behind them while the Brothers stood there anxiously in the living room and Gilda floated on air nonchalantly.
"Orion!" Flam called, cupping his muzzle with his hoof for more volume. "We found who's been ringing the bell, but we lost the minister!"
There was no response, not even an indignant snort or hateful remark. Even a hateful remark would be better then no response as far as the unicorns were concerned. Gilda continued to not care.
Vivian came down from the stairs, rubbing her eye to clear of tiredness. "Vhat iz all the velling avout!?"
"Vivian!" Flim exclaimed. "Where's Orion?"
Vivian's body visible became alert. "I-I don't know. He zang me m'ave lullaby in bed, zo I fell azleep..."
"You fell asleep?" Gilda asked dubiously. She appeared unaware that making little ponies sleep was sort of what lullabies were designed to do. What else was Vivian supposed to have done? Get up and make Orion a cup of steaming coffee?
Vivian looked at their group, unfazed by the presence of a gryphon. Given how rough around the edges Doctor Vaccine was, it wasn't surprising her filly took a hybrid so lightly. Trixie was unawares Vivian was about to ask something to make them all very uncomfortable.
"...Vhere iz the minizter?"
The unicorns all adopted worried expressionless. How to answer that? If they told her that they had lost the minister in the bell tower...in fact, it just occurred to them with the wooden hut having been burned away, the minister had no way to get down...
Vivian scanned the area. It appeared something else was on her mind as well.
Flam bravely stepped up to the plate. "She's, uh, out, sweetheart."
Vivian frowned. "That'z exactly vhat Orion zaid to me lazt night...momm've's never out for this long..." she looked around, hopped off the stairs and started heading for the paitent room...where her momm've was lying on her back in burns!
Trixie took charge to avert the calamity, quickly intercepting the filly just in front of the door. "No, no no, Vivian, you can't go in there, sweet heart."
Vivian looked at her oddly, like a huge mushroom was growing out of Trixie's back. "Vell, vhy not?"
"Because...because..." Trixie stammered, unable to think of an excuse. VIvian was apparently a smart little girl- smart enough, at least, to make tricking with the normal kiddie bag of tricks difficult.
"Because the minister said so."
"Oh." Vivian plopped down onto her haunches. "Okay."
Trixie looked at Flam. Had he said that? Flam affirmed that he didn't with a shrug. Flam turned to Flim, who in turn turned to back to Trixie.
Everypony (plus gryphon) looked to the doorway to see Orion standing there coldly and distantly with the minister on his back.
"Orion!" Trixie exclaimed. "Where did you go?"
"Somepony heard the minister crying for help at the bell tower's top." Orion turned away his head and cleared his throat proudly. Arrogantly, really. "Naturally, they came to me for help."
Trixie was not amused at Orion's self-pride. As Flim had said to his brother earlier, takes one to know one, and Trixie was definitely getting to know Orion as one.
"But..." Flam interjected. "How did you get to the top?"
"What do you mean?"
"The- wooden hut separating the stairs from the bell room was burned away by the Headless Horse! How did you manage to get up there!?"
Orion seemed to really not understand what Flam is getting all worked up over. "I really don't know what you're talking about, Flam."
Before Flam could start outlining what was wrong with Orion's scenario, the minister grunted, coming to, and trying to crawl his way off Orion's back. "Is...everypony all right?"
"Yes, minister." chorused through the room.
The minister looked around took a headcount, seeing Trixie, Flim, Flam, Orion and Vivian. "...Where is the Headless Horse?"
Flam raised his hoof to draw attention to himself. "Um, he nearly got me in alleyway...but then he said something about the sun rising and just disappeared."
The minister and Orion exchanged looks. The minister in particular seemed to have an idea starting to edge it's way into his mind.
"He said something about...the sun rising?" The minister stroked his chin.
Orion's gaze wondered about the room, eventually noticing Gilda. "DAH! WHAT'S THAT!?"
The minister raised his head to where Orion's hoof was pointing. "That is a gryphon, Orion."
"Half eagle, half lion, and allll awesome!" Gilda described herself.
The minister looked downwards, undisturbed by the presence of a lion-eagle in the room, and started pacing around in circles. "Hmmm... "
Orion stood there with his front hooves raised defensively, trembling in fear at the sight of Gilda. Gilda seemed to catch on his fear. She landed on the floor and start walking towards him very, very slooowly...
"AH! STAY AWAY!" Orion started backing towards the wall.
"Gilda, stop that!" Trixie commanded.
Gilda turned her neck and looked at her, clearly having no intention of stopping this. Trixie took her hat off with her hoof and pounted the pointy end at Gilda. She waved it at her. Gilda signed and finally relented, floating away from Orion.
Orion visibly relaxed slightly. (Very slightly.)
Trixie, reminded of Gilda's behavior, narrowed her eyes at the gryphon. She cast another look at Vivian, the poor little filly with no idea of what happened to her mother.
"Vivian, would you please stay in here while I take Gilda to the patient room?" Trixie asked Vivian sweetly.
Vivian looked displeased. She turned to the minister and Orion. Their answers would decide her course of action in regards to Trixie's request.
Orion was still shaking too much to do anything, while the minister was pacing to the point he could have been off his own little world.
"...Fiiiiine." Vivian groaned, getting up and turning around. "I'm going to go plav'e in ma've room..." the little filly bitterly made her way up the stairs.
"Now come here..." Trixie grabbed Gilda's head with her magic and forcefully dragged her into the patient room, where Pink Cloud and Doctor Vaccine were both resting.
"Ooohf..." Gilda tssked. "What got Daring Do here?"
"The Headless Horse." Trixie answered with a snap in her voice. "Thanks to you. This-" she gestured to the beds with hoof, waving it wildly. "Is your doing, Gilda. This filly's mother is on a bed, scorched beyond belief, all because you decided to play a prank. Do you understand?"
Gilda wore an uneasy expression. "Yeah, I guess..."
"This. Filly's. Mother." Trixie snarled.
"Okay, okay!" Gilda threw her claws up into the air, admitting defeat to Trixie's point. "I'll stop ringing the bell..."
"Everypony, get in here!" the minister shouted from the other room. "I have an idea!"
Trixie and Gilda exchanged confused looks, then galloped back into the living room where everypony, bar Vivian, was starting to form a circle around the minister.
"An idea?" Orion questioned, not noticing Gilda coming back into the room.
"Yes, an idea! A plan, if you will." The minister answered cheerfully. "I want everypony to pause and think about the bell. How ringing it makes the Headless Horse go nuts." The minister paused, giving everypony a moment to think about exactly that. "Who's not to say that in the future, some ignorant pony will start ringing the bell and cause this whole mess over again?"
Everypony turned to each other for an answer, which had the side effect of making Orion see Gilda. Gilda smirked as Orion broke out in a cold sweat.
"What if we could stop the Headless Horse?" The minister questioned. Everypony gave him a disbelieving, bewildered glare each.
"Is that even possible!?"
"Maybe." The minister answered. "Flam said that the Headless Horse retreated and left him be when he sensed the sun rising. Think, my little ponies. What is the one thing in pony tales that always, always repels monsters?"
Everypony looked around, somehow even more confused then before.
The minister grinned nervously. "Well, um, actually, those are all very good answers...but what I meant was the sun. I think, if we can trick the Headless Horse into being out during the sunrise, we can put a stop to his reign of terror...forever!"
Trixie looked off into space. The Headless Horse, gone forever...nopony would ever have to be put through what she had. No pony would ever have to get their wagon burned down and nearly killed by a flung fireball. No pony would have to suffer like she, Pink Cloud, Flam, and Vaccine had.
"Trixie is all for it!" The unicorn announced. "What is this plan?"
"First, we will have Gilda ring the bell to draw him out!"
Trixie looked at the minister disbelievingly. She slammed her hat into the floor. All that talk to Gilda in the patient room to convince her not to ring the bell, ka-put!
Gilda raised a talon. "Uh, minister, dude? I was the dude who was ringing the bell in the first place...this whole mess is..." Gilda shirked, not being used to taking responsibility to her own actions. "Kinda my fault."
The revelation that Gilda had been the one to ring the bell set Orion off. His fear was replaced with anger, and he raised his front hooves in a manner that he suggested he was going to lunge for Gilda. The minister quietly suggested Gilda move just ever-so-slightly to the right, which caused Orion's lunge to miss and send the dark blue pony sprawled against the floor.
That taken care of, the minister resumed conversation where had left before the distraction had derailed it.
"All the more reason you should help us put an end to it, Gilda." The minister began outlying the basic plan he had. "First, Gilda will fly into the tower and start ringing the bell. When the Headless Horse comes for her, she'll fly out and lead him to the streets, where we'll be there on the Flim Flam brothers machine. We'll soak him with the cider from it, and then lead him out into the forest, eventually bringing him to a swamp. If we pull it off the right way, he'll rise out of the swamp just as the sun is rising. Who's in?"
Everypony and Gilda looked around.
"All for one-" Flam started, throwing his hat into the air.
"And one for all!" Flim finished, doing the same.
Gilda's shirking made a repeat performance. "I guess I do owe something to that filly's mother..."
Orion remained indignant, crossing his front legs. "Minister, you want me to work with not only outsiders, but also the-being responsible for this mess in the first place!? Absolutely not! Never! Forget it!"
"Very well..." The minister agreed drolly. "I suppose we need someone to make sure Vivian doesn't stumble on her poor mother anyhoo..."
"So, are we all agreed?" The minister questioned one more time. "After this, there's no turning back, understand?"
"I thought no turning back came after we start climbing the tower?" Flim questioned again.
Hearing no objections of any sort, the minister felt confident in the success of his mad scheme. "All righty! Flim, Flam, go get your machine ready. The Headless Horse's fire is weak to water-and cider, by extension, but only temporarily. We'll all meet at the tower around 3 A.M. That way, the sun won't have much time before it rises."
Everypony, bar Orion, but including Gilda, all placed their hooves on each others in one last act to show that they truly committing. No turning tail and fleeing, no backing down.
It was time to end this, once... and for all.
The unicorns, Gilda, and the minister all left Vaccine's home to go out and get their affairs in order. Flam, in part, wanted to see if there were any quick modification that could be done to their machine before they got ready to face the Horse again. Gilda flew off towards the bell tower, promising she wouldn't ring until it was time. The minister headed for his own house, which Trixie hadn't been to yet, in order to restock on powers he lost fighting the Horse the first time.
"Um, Trixie?" Flim said nervously as the unicorn trotted towards where the machine rested. "I...I have something to say to you."
"The Great and Powerful Trixie gives you the permission to continue, Flim." Trixie told him lazily. She was too excited- and freakin' terrified- at the idea of beating the Headless Horse to pay him much mind.
"There's...been something I've been meaning to say, but I haven't had the courage..." Flim continued.
"Uh-huh." Trixie said.
"I...I like you, Trixie."
Trixie froze up like discarded steel I-beams. Everypony could tell Flim had taken a liking to Trixie, including Flam and Trixie herself, but for him to outright admit that...carried implications, the likes of which Trixie wasn't in the right mind to deal with appropriately.
"D-do you like me back?"
OH! Oh, wow...just wow. Trixie really was not in the right mindset to deal with this right now. How was she supposed to answer this without being so blunt as to break his heart, yet not negative to suggest she wasn't completely out of his league?
Trixie's mouth hung, struggling for an answer. "I..."
Trixie looked at Flim, seeing his money-green eyes quivering in anxiety for her answer.
"I...Trixie.." Trixie shook her head. What was she doing? She was the Great and Powerful Trixie! The affections of a clean stallion like Flim should be no different then the admiration of an adoring fan!
(Pssst...hey...Except it totally was in every regard. Don't tell anypony.)
Trixie cleared her throat, getting ready for to her usual boasting and swagger. "The Great and Powerful Trixie...would require more time spent with you to decide whether or not she likes you."
Flim's face showed exactly what Trixie was trying to get. Not heartbroken, yet not completely closed off to the idea of starting something with her. Flam announced they had arrived at the Super Speedy Cider Sqeezy, and they all took up posts on it.
While Flim and Flam started busting open panels and investigating a lot of technical stuff Trixie could never hope to understand, she experimented with different ways to pass the time.
Chief amongst them was levitating all the unused cider mugs and stacking them in such a way they very vaguely resembled a pony, and even just that require her to 'cheat' and used her magic on the mugs.
It worked though, as it was very plainly nighttime when Flam walked up to her and offered some special brew of cider meant to keep them all awake and energetic longer, so nopony fell fast asleep in the middle of the upcoming confrontation.
After they all had a sufficient sip of it, the Flim Flam brothers worked their magic on the machine. Its wheels made sure it didn't take long for them to arrive just outside the bell tower, where the minister was already waiting with satchels full of powder slung over his haunches and Gilda perched atop the tower's roof, waiting for the A-O.K to start ringing.
"Before we continue, do you three have your affairs in order?"
"As much as they can be..." Flim muttered.
The minister looked at Trixie and Flam, giving them each their own chance for an individual objection. Getting nothing of the sort, the minister pulled some power- black power- and threw against the ground, where a cloud of black smoke rose from it.
That must have been the signal, since Gilda spread her wings flew into the bell tower proper.
Everypony tensed, waiting for the Headless Horse. Gilda flew out of the tower and join them in their wait. It didn't last long after that.
"NAH HAAAAARRGH! How long does it take thoust little ponies to learn thine lesson?"
Everypony immediately starting frantically searching around for where the Headless Horse was coming from. They saw him stalking towards, his armor clink clink clink clinking, in the street just in front of him.
...The street that lead into the swamp they had meaning to lead him into!
"NAH HAAARG!" The Headless Horse began preparing his fireballs once more.
"What do we do!?" Flam yelped at the minister. The Headless Horse was blocking their way out of the city!
"Stick with the plan." The minister coolly informed him, climbing up onto the Cider machine. Trixie and Flim were confused, but Flam quickly caught on. With his magic, Flam aimed the cider machine's spout at the Headless Horse and squirted out a torrent of cider, causing smoke to rise from the Headless Horse's body as his temperatures adjusted for the liquid.
"Bah! Agggh! Pfff! Ptooie! Dost thoust really thinketh that we would fall to cider so easily!?"
Flam cranked the machine's controls. "Nope, but-"
Everypony clung onto dear life as the machine began roaring down the hallway with it's light blinking.
The Headless Horse, seeing the machine was about to steamroll him over, turned and attempted to scramble out of the way, but didn't make in time. The machine knocked to him his side and roll right over him. Miraculous, his flaming hairs didn't catch the machine on fire.
As the rear wheels crunched their over the Horse, the minister dash to the rear end of the vehicle and ready some powder. Once the Horse was visible again, the minister flung the power at him, blinding for the third time in total, but only the first tonight.
As the Headless Horse lied in street, grunting, moaning, and trying to regain his composure (and dignity) Trixie yelled at Flam.
"I'M BOOKING IT AS FAST AS I CAN!"
"Oi!" Flim attempted to wedge his way between them and added his magic to Flam's, allowing the machine to pick up more velocity. Just in time too, as a fireball arched right over their heads and exploded in front of them. The twins were just barely able to get the machine to swerve to avoid the resulting pothole.
Just in after that, they finally made their into the forest, where, for Trixie at least, this whole horrid venue had began. Fitting it should end here as well, is it not?
"NAH HAAAAARRGH!" The Headless Horse's scream tore it's way through the forest, making Trixie panic and think the Horse was even closer then he actually was.
As Flim and Flam swerved the machine to avoid the many low-hung branching and bulging tree roots, Trixie noticed something...they were going the same way she had gone when she had first encountered the Headless Horse. She started shivering. She didn't think for a second that the swamp the minister had been referring to was the same one she had nearly drowned in!
Despite the Flim Flam Brothers best efforts, the machine smashed into a tree trunk, sending it upright, which catapulted all of them off it. Gilda did a nice save and spread her wings in mid-air to keep from falling face-first into the not so pleasant forest floor. Trixie was...not so lucky.
"NAH HAAAARRGH!" The Headless Horse screamed, climbing onto the trunk which caused the collision.
Trixie's eyes widen in panic. So this was it then...the end. The absolute end, for better or for worse.
"Hey, ugly!" Gilda taunted. "Here I am!"
"Defiler!" The Horse shouted, preparing to hurl another fireball. "DEFILER!" He threw it at her, the firecracker whistle piercing everypony's hearing. Gilda dodged the spell and continued taunting him.
"Is that all you can do? Come on, ugly! Fly up here and put 'em up!" Gilda curled her talons into fists for emphasis.
"Thou hath no idea the power thine tempts!" The Headless Horse's entire body exploded into green fire and launched upwards at Gilda in a flaming bolt. Gilda, once again, dodged out of the way, causing the flaming bolt to land into...
Not just a swamp, the swamp. THE swamp. The swamp where Trixie had almost drowned...
Trixie breathed a sign of relief, thinking the worst was over now.
"FOOLS!" The Headless Horse yelled, splashing his way out of the swamp. "THOU STILL THINKETH WATER CAN DEFEAT US!?"
"No..." Gilda replied. "But we do think the sun can!"
The Headless Horse got A worried look on his face. It was extremely satisfying to see to Trixie to see him so...concerned. vulnerable, after all the times he nearly set her luxurious mane on fire.
"Nooooooooo!" The headless Horse screamed. The entire swamp burst into flame as the sun's penetrating rays swept their revealing light over the area. Not The horse's emerald flame, but regular, normal, red like bloodstone fire.
"NO! NO! NOOOOOOO-AAOooOooeeeeh!" The Headless Horse's panicked wailing's could be heard, just barely, over the roar of crackling flame. The swamp's fire dissipated, and a specter, a black horse's skeleton with no hind lings, consumed in jade flames, rocketed out of the swamp and into the sky, quite possibly into outer space, even.
"HA!" Gilda cheered, pumping her fist. "We did it! We totally did it!"
Everypony let out deep breaths they didn't even know they were holding. It was over now. Completely, totally, utterly over. Where the headless Horse hellish heat was burning in the mucky lake moments ago was nothing except-
"HELP!" The dark blue earth pony screamed, hooves splashing in the water. "I CAN'T SWIM!"
Gilda came soaring to the rescue, swooping down to pick Orion up in her talons and bringing out of the water, dumping mere inches away from Trixie and the others.
"Orion?" Trixie questioned. "What-how did- huh?"
Orion took in a deep breath. "I..." he scuffed his hoof, further attempting to avoid conversation. "I have a confession to make, I guess...I am the Headless Horse." Orion looked skyward where the flaming skeleton had disappeared. "Or, I guess I was..."
Trixie and the Flim Flam brothers all exchanged confused looks.
Orion signed while the minister got off the ground and attempted to offer a comforting hoof on his shoulder.
"I was the one that set Trixie's wagon on fire...I felt bad, so i went into the forest cleaned it up and dumped it in front of her hotel room." Orion looked away ashamedly, hoping Trixie and the brothers would figure out the rest for themselves so he wouldn't have to embarrass himself further.
Trixie slid her hooves across the ground so she could get up. "That's how you knew the minister was in trouble...you were the Headless Horse..."
Orion nodded. "I-I can't thank the five of you enough. I've been possessed by him for...oh, It's been so long I lost count of the years. I'm sorry I accused you of being the bell-ringers when you first came into town."
Flam adjusted his hat. "And now that we know who really did it..."
Everypony looked up, only to see Gilda had flown off.
Trixie rolled her eyes at the gryphon's cowardice. Some ponies just can't stand the thought of facing justice.
"If there's anything I can do for you three..." Orion offered. "Just ask. I am forever in your debt."
"Duly noted!" Flam exclaimed.
"Perhaps you can go around town advertising our cider." Flim joked.
"I'll get right on that!" Orion took off for town, galloping so fast he left a zip-line blur behind him.
Flim's mouth drooped. "...I was joking."
The minister laughed jovially. "Hahaha!...Apparently he doesn't know that. Orion never was one to make a joke. So, my little ponies, now that the Headless Horse is gone, what do you think you'll do?"
Flam, Flim and Trixie exchanged looks.
"Eeh, continuing selling our cider, of course!" Flim exclaimed. "What about you, Trixie?"
Trixie looked up, where the Headless Horse's spirit flown moments ago. She recalled all the close encounters, the drowning, the collapsing hut, the wagon Orion cleaned up. "The Great and Powerful Trixie...thinks she'll start traveling. She needs to get away from anything to do with the Horse for awhile."
Flim looked at the ground. Trixie caught wind of it and cupped his chin with her hoof.
"Buuut...she supposes she make a return trip to see her stallion every now and then." She winked at Flim, which made him blush. Of course, Trixie, being the over-the-top showmare she was, couldn't just stop there. She gave him a little smooch on the cheek. Flim moaned and fell onto his back, hooves in the air.
Trixie, Flam, and the minister all looked at the toppled over unicorn, then shared a good laugh at his expense.
Orion clicked the door to Vaccine's house closed behind him, as he was the last one in. He was tired after a whole day of advertising the Brothers excellent cider for to the whole town, which, after having sip himself, he couldn't genuinely bring himself to call it 'bad'. But, he wanted to see Vaccine and make sure she was okay.
He daintily made his way into the patient room, where Vaccine was up walking on crutches, giving Pink Cloud one last check-up before she could leave the doctor's house.
"Zay 'ahhh'" Vaccine instructed, putting a Popsicle stick on Pink Cloud's tongue.
"No, no, not 'Aaaaah', 'ahhh'."
"Excellent." Vaccine removed the stick. "Voo are good to go, Pink Kloud...vut I recommend voo eat zome more grazz every now and then, oka've?"
"Whatever you say, doc!" Pink Cloud saluted. "I'm just happy to be alive!" with Vaccine's blessing, Pink Cloud flapped her wings and flew over Orion and left.
After making sure she had left, Orion approached Vaccine. "So, how you feeling, doctor?"
"Fine." Vaccine replied in normal tone of voice. "Juzt fine."
"Good!" Orion perked up at the news. The sound of Vaccine's crutch being the only noise in the room, he felt confident in starting to ask... "So, Vaccine, maybe you and I could go out to dinner-?"
There was an audible, attention-grabbing clunk from Vaccine's clipboard as she tossed onto a drawer.
"I'm not fine, Orion."
Orion's jaw dropped in horror. That his little Daring Do replica would not be fine was practically his worst nightmare. "Well, what is it? What can I do? Whatever needs to be done, Vaccine, I'll do it!"
Vaccine turned around to face him, and Orion could see, written in her face, there was nothing that could be done. "I have a dizeaze, Orion. Non-containgouz, of courze, vut ztill a dizeaze nonethelezz. In a very short time from now, I'm going to die. I need someponv'e to look after Vivian when that happens."
Orion's jaw hung down even further before he snapped it shut with a jerk of his head. "You can't die, Vivian! I-I- I love you!"
Vivian smiled. The most beautiful smile ever. Well, really, it wasn't any prettier then any average-Joe ponies' smile, but infatuations like Orion's had made colts not see worse. "Vhich iz vhv'e I know voo vill do it for me."
Orion shed a tear before biting down on his own jaw. "Yes...yes, I will."
Vaccine looked away. "I...must confezz zomething. I knew voo vere the Headlezz Horze. I took count of vhen the bell rung each night-" Vivian swung her hoof at the air like a musical composition. "I had veen hopinh voo vould've turned into the Horze and kill me, so that I wouldn't die on m've vezide zurrounded by family memverz...I kouldn't stand the idea that I vould just lie there and let them vatch me die."
"That won't happen, Vaccine." Orion told her. "I promise."
"No..." Vaccine shook her head in agreement. "No, it won't." Vaccine coughed.
"I will take good care of Vivian." Orion said. "I promise that, too."
"Thank voo, Orion..." Vaccine said sweetly. She looked at him with the unflinching gaze of an old crone who been 'round the world and seen it all. "Kome here." Vaccine beckoned Orion over with her hoof.
Orion scurried into leg's reach of Vaccine. Vaccine tossed the crutch aside, showing a callus disregard for everything she had learned as a medical professional, and swept Orion into her front legs and kissed him passionately.
"Mmm!" Orion moaned, fully enjoying the sensation. "Mmm! MMMMPH!"
After a few blissful moments of finally having his long-sought after love returned...air rushed into Orion's mouth.
"..mmhp?" He made a confused noise. Some more air rushed in. Then, without a minute break in between, something...splashed into his mouth and onto his face!
"Bleck!" Orion pulled away from Vaccine, something he would no doubt regret later, but he wanted to know what was getting all over his face. "Sorry about that, Vaccine, but something-"
Oh dear heavens! That was blood that gotten into his face and mouth! Vaccine's blood! Vaccine was coughing! Vaccine was coughing blood!
"VACCINE!" Orion screamed, grabbing Vaccine's shoulders. "Vaccine, what's wrong? Is- this the disease?"
Vaccine confirmed this with a nod, eyes shut in pain and muzzle dripping with hacked out blood. AHEECK-HIC-AAACCK.
"Vaccine...Vaccine..." Orion desperately muttered, praying to Celestia a miracle would happen. Vaccine's hoof gestured at him. Orion leaned in closer to see what she wanted. She wrapped her legs around his neck and resumed the kiss they had been sharing. Orion was so sad, so depressed, so broken and devastated that he didn't even care anymore about Vaccine's blood being coughed into his mouth. Vaccine's disease may not have been contagious, but there was no way he wasn't going to catch something nasty from that. The two's passionate moaning altering in a twisted mocking symphony with the coughs, their tongues wrestling with each other through the blood, with tears streaming down both their faces.
All too quickly. Far, far, far too quickly, Orion could feel Vaccine's tongue stop moving. He opened his waterstained eyes and looked at her, at the splashed blood covering both their muzzles. He delicately got mouth off Vaccine's tongue and let her drop to the floor.
Orion's tears resumed. He would give anything, anything, life and limb, body and soul, for just a minute more, just one minuter more with her- thirty seconds. Twenty, ten even! Just-just some amount of time more.
"Ah-heeen...heeeen...hee-aahhhh!" Orion cried.
Orion took his hooves eyes, going against the gods themselves and wishing for something even more then he been wishing for Vaccine a moment ago. He didn't want to look...but he had to. He had to look...to see Vivian, standing in the doorway with a look of plain confusion on her face.
Vivian's head tilted confusedly.
"Vhat did voo do to mommv'e?"
Outside in the dark of the night, just on the edge of the forest and outside Trottingham, a chariot pulled up. An incredibly intimidating chariot, with black spikes on the wheels and dark shadows of beautiful, but sharp-faced ponies painted on it's walls. The chariot's sole passenger stepped down from it, their hooves wreathed in invisible magic power.
The passenger was wearing a black cloak, which would be presumed to conceal the identify of it's wearing...had said wearer not flicked the hood of it off, revealing a powerful, beautiful face with larger-then-most ponies muzzle. A blackish blue horn rested between their ears, and the stars themselves seemed integrated into her mane.
The passenger was Princess Luna.
Luna looked up, as if expecting somepony...or something.
A green flame descend down from the sky and came to rest in front of her. Inside the flame was a coal-black skeleton of a horse.
"We told thou Orion would not host thee for long." Luna said to the flame imperiously. "What hath thou learnt from 'tis venture?"
The black skeleton signed.
"Mother knows best..."
"Quite right." Luna said smugly, smirking. "Come along, our son. We have met a pony who will host thou...and we expect he will do so with much enthusiasm."
The Headless Horse seemed dubious at this prospect. "Oh? Who, pray tell, mother, would be enthusiastic about hosting us?"
"A delightful little colt." Luna answered as she climbed back into the chariot, motioning for her son to get in.
"What is this colt's name?"
"Pipsqueak. In fact, he lived here once, but he does no longer..."
Author's Notes for 'Of Plans and Possessions'
The Headless Horse's cutie mark is the Heartless Emblem. Yes, really. I have no idea why I made that design choice.