The Spiral That Ate the Sunlight

No pony ever noticed the alien green light coming from the pond because, for the longest time, the pond was nothing more than another benign part of Sweet Apple Acres. Although the farm mostly grew apples, it also grew other fruits and vegetables as well as provided chickens for eggs, cows for milk, and even pigs for scavenging truffles. But recently, the Apple Family had tried a hoof at growing cotton, and the plantation was right next to that pond.

After a long weekend, harvesting the cotton, running it through the cotton gin, and weaving the material into string and cloth, the Apple Family was ready to call it quits for the evening when a visitor came by the barn.

"Oh Applejack," she said as she stuck her head inside the open barn door, "are you busy?"

Applejack took her attention away from her work on a cotton cloth to find Rarity at the door.

"Come on it, Rarity, I just finished."

Rarity pranced into the barn, flinging her mane with flair for glamour. She admired the stacks of cloth and balls of string that were organized in the corner.

"Oh my, you've really got your hooves full."

"Yeah, but the extra money can really help us out," said Applejack as she wiped sweat from her brow. "So what brings you here?"

"I just came by to buy some of your cloth," said Rarity. "Cheerilee is hosting a soccer game for the foals in her class."

"That's nice of her, giving the young'uns some fresh air and exercise."

"Well, running around and getting sweaty in the sun is not my idea of fun," Rarity shuddered at the thought, "but that doesn't mean they can't look fabulous while their out there. That's why I offered to make some uniforms for the foals. I just need to buy some cloth." Rarity telekinetically picked up a bag of bits and placed them in Applejack's hoof. "Just give me as much as I can afford."

"Will do. Hey, Big Mac, get the wagon."

As promised, Applejack packed up all of the cloth Rarity needed into a wagon that Big Macintosh brought out from the garage. With help from the rest of the Apple Family, they carefully loaded the cloth into the wagon until it was full.

"There you go, Rarity," said Applejack as she dropped the last stack of cloth into the wagon.

"Oh, thank you so much," said Rarity. "This should do nicely."

"Just pay be a visit again when you need more cotton," said Applejack as she trotted off back to the barn.

"Now, I must go back to the boutique and create," said Rarity with regal enthusiasm. "Come along, Big Macintosh."

"Eeyup!" Big Macintosh strapped himself into the harness of the wagon. As he pulled the wagon along the dirt trail, a single piece of cloth was blown loose by the wind.

"Oh, it's getting away," said Rarity. She tried using her magic to catch the flying piece of fabric, but it was flying too fast for her, and the cloth landed right next to the nearby pond. "Good thing it didn't land in the water." Rarity approached the pond and lowered her head down to grab the cloth with her teeth, but as her horn hovered over the water, there was a flash of green light that caught her eye followed by a buzz of magical energy.

"What was that?" asked Rarity, looking around curiously. The water stood still and dark in the fading light of the setting sun. Whatever it was that made the bright flash of light, it was hidden in the darkness.

"Is something wrong, Rarity?" asked Big Macintosh.

"Did you see a light just now?"

"Uh, nope!"

"It must have been my imagination." She placed the cloth onto the wagon, heading back to the dress shop.

#

By the next weekend, Rarity dyed red, stitched, and fitted the uniforms for the foals. When the students came to Cheerilee's class on Monday morning, they were all wearing their new uniforms, ready to start their first soccer practice. Each of the foals stood out on the grassy field as Cheerilee directed their stretching exercises. Rarity and Applejack stood at the edge of the field to watch their little sisters practice.

"Oh my, it's such a hot day today," said Rarity, fanning herself under the shade of her sun hat. "I do hope Sweetie Belle doesn't get too sweaty."

"A little sweat won't hurt them," said Applejack. "I'm sure they'll benefit from a little exercise."

Once the foals were done with their stretches, they practiced kicking and bucking the soccer ball back and fourth between each other. It was not long into the practice did something out of the ordinary began to happen. Sweetie Belle tried to kick the ball flying toward her, but rather than return it, she suddenly froze in place, letting the ball sail passed her. Students watched Sweetie bell as she just stood there as paralyzed as a statue.

"Landsakes, what's Sweetie Belle doing?" asked Applejack.

The two mares approached Sweetie Belle who did not move from her spot or acknowledged the other foals as they approached her. She just stood there, staring off at nothing.

"Sweetie Belle, what're you doing?" asked Rarity.

"I can't move," said Sweetie Belle.

"Stop playing around," said Cheerilee.

"No really, I can't move."

Applejack studied Sweetie Belle for injuries, and that was when she noticed the mark. "Rarity, what's that on Sweetie Belle's flank?"

Attached to her right flank—like a Cutie Mark—was a white spiral symbol.

"Did Sweetie Belle just earn her Cutie Mark?" asked Rarity.

"Maybe, but why does it look different on the other side?"

Rarity walked around Sweetie Belle and noticed that on the left side of her flank was a black spiral. "Well this is peculiar."

At that point, the entire class was gathering around Sweetie Belle, wondering about the strange mark on her flank. As the foals got closer, the adults noticed that Sweetie Belle was not the only one standing around. Apple Bloom was standing off to the side, also facing the same direction as Sweetie Belle and noticeably paralyzed. Identical black and white spirals were on her flank, too.

"I can't move," said Apple Bloom.

"Now, this is no time to be fooling around," said Cheerilee. "Now, move!"

"I'm trying, but I can't."

Frustrated, Cheerilee picked up Apple Bloom onto her back. As soon as she turned her around, Apple Bloom let out a cry of alarm and pain, frightening the foals. Startled, Cheerilee placed Apple Bloom down, and she snapped back into position where she was put down.

"This makes no sense," said Applejack as she approached Cheerilee. "Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle have those strange marks on their flanks."

"She's not the only one," said Rarity.

Off to the side was Scootaloo and Dinky, standing paralyzed, also looking in the same direction.

By now, the foals were beginning to get worried as they noticed several of their classmates sporting strange spirals on their flanks and standing in the middle of the field for seemingly no reason.

Fearing that there was an epidemic on their hooves, Cheerilee said, "All right every pony, go back to the classroom."

Without hesitation, the unaffected students raced back to class as if the ponies with the spirals were carrying a plague.

"What's going on here?" demanded Rarity in a panic. "What evil hex has befallen Sweetie Belle?"

"I have no idea," said Cheerilee. "I've never seen anything like this before, and what makes this even more confusing is that the spiral is only on the foals without Cutie Marks."

Surprised, Applejack looked about the afflicted students and could see that all of them were foals she remembered had not earned their Cutie Marks yet including Pipsqueak, Dinky, Cyan Skies, Firelock, Green Daze, Key Lime, Rumble, Shady Daze, and a few others she could not identify, all of them staring off in the same direction.

"Is there a doctor here?" asked Applejack.

"I'll get the school nurse," said Cheerilee.

Hours went by as Applejack and Rarity helped Cheerilee find doctors around Ponyville as well as notified the families as to what had happened to their foals. However, by late into the evening, none of the doctors could figure out what was wrong. Desperate for answers, Applejack contacted Twilight to come over.

After receiving the message, Twilight flew high over Ponyville, and she gracefully landed on the playing field where the foals still stood, now with their worried families by their side. Applejack and Rarity were still with the foals, Rarity in particular cuddling Sweetie Belle in one arm like a paranoid mother.

"I came as fast as I could," said Twilight. "What's going on here?"

"We don't know," said Applejack. "The young'uns have been standing here all day."

Twilight leaned over Sweetie Belle as she examined the strange spiral on her flank. "This is strange. Are you sure this isn't the Cutie Pox again."

"I swear, I didn't take any potions," said Apple Bloom, defensively.

"Okay, I believe you," said Twilight in an agreeable tone, "but what else could be the cause?"

Twilight interviewed each of the students. All of the foals gave similar explanations and were just as baffled. In the end, Twilight could gain no more information from the foals. Opting for a more observant approach, Twilight telekinetically pulled out a magnifying glass from her saddlebag and looked over Apple Bloom's uniform. As she studied it, she could see a faint green sparkle.

"What's this?" Twilight trotted toward the other foals, studying their shirts under a magnifying glass. She examined each one of them, working as quickly as she could since she only had a few minutes of daylight left.

"Twi, what're you doing?" asked Applejack.

"There's something on their uniforms. They look like spores of some kind, but I have no idea what they are."

"Spores?" asked Rarity. "You mean like those icky fungi? How could they get on my fabulous uniforms?"

"Well, did your uniforms come into contact with anything?" asked Twilight.

"Hmmm, let me think...Now that you mentioned it, one of the cloths fell out of the wagon as I was picking them up from Sweet Apple Acres and it landed right next to a pond. I bent down to pick it up and there was a faint light. Does that mean anything to you?"

"I don't know, I've never heard of..."

Midway through her sentence, the last of the setting sun went down, and the foals suddenly collapsed all at once. Their families cried out in alarm as they shook and prodded their children awake, fearing the worst.

"What in tarnation is happening now?" asked Applejack.

Twilight pressed her ear against Apple Bloom's chest, listening for any changes in heartbeat. "It looks like they've been sedated. I can't detect anything serious."

"Well, since they're asleep, I reckon it's safe to take them home now," said Applejack.

"You guys help the foals home while I get to the bottom of this," explained Twilight. "I'll need to take these uniforms and see what's going on here."

#

The next morning as the sun began to rise, Rarity trotted back to her parents' home wearing her best sunhat, wanting to check up on Sweetie Belle. When she turned the corner, she stopped in surprise to see Sweetie Belle standing outside her house, facing in one direction as she had done yesterday.

"Sweetie Belle, what have you been doing out here? Aren't you supposed to be in school?"

"I can't help it," said Sweetie Belle. "I woke up just as the sun began to rise, and I was just forced to stand out here in the sun. I tried to fight it, bit I couldn't resist." A tear rolled down from Sweetie Belle's eye, which she hastily wiped away. "I'm scared...It's like some pony else is controlling my body."

"Oh Sweetie Belle," said Rarity, her voice shaking with emotion, "this is all my fault. If only I had known, and now look at you, standing out here in the sun where you can get a wrinkle." She took off her sunhat and placed it on top of Sweetie Belle's head. "I hate to see you and the foals suffer like this. I promise I will do whatever it takes to save you from this dreadful hex."

Sweetie Belle looked up at Rarity underneath the wide rim of Rarity's sunhat. "Do you really promise?"

Rarity put a hoof around her sister. "I always keep my promises."

"You mean like the time you said you would give me a diamond for my birthday?" asked Sweetie Belle, sarcastically.

"Well...Spike looked so sad when he forgot to pack a desert for his lunch box that I couldn't sit there and do nothing. But in any case, I'll keep my promise this time. You can trust me." Rarity ducked under the rim of the sun hat and kissed Sweetie Belle on the cheek. "You just keep yourself from getting sunburned."

Sweetie Belle giggled. "Okay, and thanks, sis."

With one final wave goodbye to her sister, Rarity pranced off toward her second destination: Sweet Apple Acres. She went down the road toward the farm, and as she got closer, she could see Twilight and Applejack with Apple Bloom as she stood out in the sun just like Sweetie Belle had.

"Good morning, Twilight," said Rarity as she approached them. "Have you found anything?"

"No, I was up half the night looking through my books on obscure plants. It does seem to be a spore of some kind on the uniforms but what it is, how it got there, what it did to the foals, and how to get rid of it, I don't know."

"Nothing at all?"

"Nothing!"

"This is dreadful," whined Rarity. "Sweetie Belle has been standing in the sun at my parents' home. There has to be something we can do."

"I'm going to check out that pond," said Twilight. "Where is it?"

"It's right here," said Applejack. She led her friends toward the pond.

"So you think it's the pond that put those spores on the uniforms?" asked Rarity.

"I don't know," said Twilight. "I'm sure there must be something in this pond. I'm going to cast a detection spell. If it's magical or natural, I should find it." She lowered her horn into the pond, and her magic coursed through the pond in waves of coursing energy that briefly lit up the pond in its purple light.

"Well?" asked Rarity.

Twilight lifted her head and gave them a disappointed look. "I can't sense anything down there. No curses, no pollution, and no extraordinary animal, insect, or plant life. Whatever it was that infected the foals, it's not here or it was never here to begin with."

"Well that's just great," said Applejack with an irritable huff. "What're we suppose to do now?"

"We could try going to Zecora," suggested Twilight.

"Very well, I'll come along with you," said Rarity. When she noticed the look of surprise on their faces, she added, "I don't care if I have to trot through some filthy swamp, I'm going with you to see if she can cure Sweetie Belle."

"Well, that's pretty selfless of you, Rarity," said Applejack.

"But first, I need to grab a few things for hiking," said Rarity.

Applejack let out an annoyed sigh as she did a face-hoof. "All right, but you better not over do it like you did on our camping trip."

"Oh very well. I'll leave behind the hairdryer and the eyelash curler this time."

#

However, by the time they reached Zecora's house, it was empty with a note on the front door that read:

To any pony who is reading this communiqué,

You won't see me for I have gone away.

Fear not, for I'll be home soon

On the sixth of May at around noon.

It is my mother's birthday that I have attended,

And I will stay until the party has ended.

Applejack chuckled as she read the message. "She even writes her messages in rhyme."

Rarity let out an irritable sigh as she sprayed more mosquito repellent on herself. "Now what do we do?"

"I guess we could go to the princesses for help," said Twilight.

Applejack was about to speak, but then her nose caught whiff of something in the air. "Do y'all smell that?"

"Yeah," said Twilight as she sniffed the air, "it smells like smoke. But who would build a campfire all the way out here in the Everfree Forest?"

"Could it be a forest fire?" asked Applejack.

"We better go check it out." Twilight sniffed the air, tracking the smell in the direction it was strongest. She held her nose high as she walked deeper and deeper into the forest with Applejack and Rarity tailing behind. It was not long before they could see a visible trail of smoke hovering high overhead, providing a path directly toward the source.

"Look there," said Applejack. She pointed a hoof out at bushes where the smoke trail came from.

Nearby was a small pond. Twilight used her hydrokinesis spell to lift up a sample of water that rose up like a bubble and she dropped it upon the bush with a splash. Once the water doused the fire, there was a loud yelp of surprise. From out of the bush was a soaking wet stallion who scurried out, dripping from head to hoof.

Twilight let out a gasp of alarm. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know any pony was back there."

The stallion let out a nonchalant grunt in response. His horn glowed bright green as he cast a hydrokinesis spell, and the water was extracted off his body and was magically tossed aside against the dry dirt. Clutched between his teeth was a cigarette, which he removed with one hoof and lifted it up to the tip of his horn. With a simple pyrokinesis spell, he relit his cigarette and placed it back into his mouth.

Rarity and her friends stared at the strange stallion before them who only stood there as he inhaled a waft of smoke from his cigarette. He had a light brown coat like soymilk, which contrasted with his snow-white mane and tail. However, his eyes were a piercing emerald green that stood out with the rest of his face. He wore an unusual looking saddlebag: rather than being made of polymers or fabrics, his saddlebag consisted of two large square plastic boxes that were attached to both sides of him by two straps.

"I'm sorry to have disturbed you," said the stallion at last.

"Just who are you and what're you doing out here?" demanded Rarity.

The stallions let out a puff of smoke. "I was just passing through." As he turned to the side, they saw his Cutie Mark was a white koi fish with one green eye and another eye completely black.

"Let's just get out of here," complained Rarity. "We're wasting time, and we need to find some way of removing those weird marks on the foals."

The stallion suddenly froze in his tracks. He turned to Rarity and asked, "Marks? What do these marks look like?"

"Well, they look like black and white spirals," said Rarity.

The stallion gave her a half smile, implying he was intrigued. "Nikkou no uzumakisen?"

"What did you say?" asked Rarity.

"I think I know what you're talking about and I can help you."

Twilight looked over the stallion, curious. "Just who are you?"

The stallion smiled and said, "My name is Ginko and I'm a mushishi."

#

Ginko was brought back to the farm where he knelt over Apple Bloom, looking over her flank with a scientific eye for detail.

When Applejack noticed that Apple Bloom was coughing, she said, "Uh, could you please not smoke in front of her."

Ginko let out a sigh of irritation, but relented and snuffed out his cigarette against the ground.

"Who is this strange pony?" asked Rarity.

"I don't know," said Twilight. "He certainly doesn't look much like a doctor or a scientist."

"I'm neither," said Ginko. "I'm a mushishi."

"You keep saying that, but what is a mushishi?" asked Twilight, irritably.

"I'm an expert on the study of mushi."

"Look, I've read several books on the study of magical creatures and unusual diseases, and I've never heard of a mushi."

"I'm not surprised, mushi are actually quite rare in Equestria."

"If mushi are rare in Equestria, then I guess mushishi are also rare, so what are you doing here and where did you come from?"

Ginko habitually tried to take a whiff from his cigarette, which he forgot was not there anymore. "In regard toward the former, I'm not sure why I came here. I think something drew me here. As for where I came from, I came from a far away island called Nipponi. That's all you need to know."

"Nipponi?" asked Rarity. "I've never heard of such a place."

"And what about these mushi?" asked Twilight. "What're they?"

"Mushi are..." Ginko paused as he tried to think of a simple way of explaining the concept, "they're living creatures...primitive and less evolved than ponies or animals. In fact, their simple physiology transcend the physical shape and design of even the lowliest plants and insects and live as spiritual manifestations of our world."

Rarity and Applejack stared at him with utter confusion.

"Soooo...they're bugs?" asked Applejack.

Ginko rolled his eyes. "Fine, call them whatever you want."

Apple Bloom spun around, looking off in the opposite direction.

"Interesting," said Ginko. "What time is it?"

"Umm, it's noon, I think," said Applejack.

"It's just as I thought. This is certainly the work of a nikkou no uzumakisen."

"You've said that word earlier," said Twilight, "but what is it?"

"It's a spiral shaped mushi that thrives on sunlight. Some times, to absorb more light, they release spores that can attach themselves onto the flank of a pony and force them to stand outside. The black spiral absorbs sunlight while the white one merely stores it. The reason why the foals keep turning with the sun is so that the black mushi is always pointed toward the sun. During the mornings, they always face south so the black spiral is facing the morning sun, and in the afternoons, they always face north so the black spiral will point toward the evening sun."

"Is there a way of removing the spores?" asked Rarity.

"Yes, but first, we need to find the nikkou no uzumakisen. How did this all happen?"

"Well, it all started with that pond. Follow me, I'll show you." Rarity led Ginko toward the pond, explaining as she talked. "I came to Sweet Apple Acres a few days ago to pick up some material for some fabulous new soccer uniforms I was designing for the foals."

"Soccer?" asked Ginko. "Oh, you must mean hoofball."

"Uh, well...whatever you call it...Big Macintosh was nice enough to carry my cloth to the boutique when a piece blew away and I chased it toward the pond. I knelt down to pick it up, and then I saw this flash of green light. I think whatever it was that put the spores on the cloth must have done so at the pond."

"But I did a search spell," said Twilight, "and couldn't find any living thing in the pond or on any of the uniforms aside from the spores."

"Is this the pond?" asked Ginko, as they approached it.

"It was right here when I saw the light."

Ginko lowered his horn toward the pond and sent out a green magical haze as he cast a search spell into the water. "You're right, there's no mushi in this pond and it can't be on the uniforms."

"But where could it have gone?" asked Rarity.

"Hmm, I have one theory as to where it could be. Tell me...uh, Rarity was it?"

"You can call me Miss Rarity if you like."

"Right...well, can you demonstrate your exact position when you knelt down to pick up the cloth?"

"I just knelt down like this." Rarity lowered her head down so that her horn was nearly touching the water's surface.

"I knew it," said Ginko. "That explains everything." He opened his saddlebag and pulled out a handkerchief. "Rarity, I need you to use your magic to keep this handkerchief off the ground."

"Uh, okay..." Rarity telekinetically lifted the handkerchief off the ground as was instructed and held it there.

Once the minute was up, Ginko picked up the handkerchief with one hoof. "Twilight, cast your search spell on the handkerchief and tell me if there's anything on it."

"I'm not sure where you're going with this."

"Trust me."

Twilight lowered her head and cast the spell on the handkerchief and gasped. "This handkerchief has spores on it."

"I know, and since I knew that this handkerchief didn't have spores before, this proves that the mushi is not in the pond or on the cloth."

"Then where is it?" asked Rarity.

Ginko turned to Rarity and said, "It's inside your horn."

"What? What nonsense are you talking about?"

"When you knelt down to grab the cloth, the mushi in the pond attached itself to your horn. Every time you used your magic on those uniforms, it has been leaving behind its spores."

"But why me?"

"Nikkou no uzumakisen are attracted to other spirals. Lower your head and I'll show you." Once Rarity did as she was told, Ginko gently wrapped a hoof around her neck and showed the tip of the horn to Twilight and Applejack. "As you can see, when you look directly down the top of a unicorn horn, the curves around the edge of the horn look like a spiral."

Rarity pulled free from Ginko's grip, shaking with distress. "What are we going to do?"

Ginko magically relit his cigarette and took a long draft of it before answering. "Removing the spores from the foals should be easy. Removing the nikkou no uzumakisen from your horn will be a little harder."

#

Before the sunrise, while the foals were asleep, they were all brought back to the school soccer field. As predicted, once the sun came up, the foals woke up, looking about in confusion but resuming their stances with the morning sun.

"All right, young'uns," said Applejack as soothingly as possible. "If y'all would just relax, we're here to help you."

"But who's that strange stallion?" asked Dinky, pointing a hoof toward Ginko.

"He's a...doctor here to help you. Uh...you can call him Uncle Ginko."

"Uncle?" said Ginko, taking another inhale of his cigarette. "I'm not that old."

"Look, I'm just trying to keep them calm...and would you put out that cigarette. I told you not to smoke in front of the foals."

Ginko irritably groaned but snuffed out the cigarette anyway.

"So how does this work?" asked Twilight.

"The spores have been collecting and storing sunlight for the nikkou no uzumakisen. Once it comes into contact with its creator, the spores will be easy to extract. Rarity, if you please..."

Rarity whined nervously. The prospect of having a creature living in her horn kept her on edge and nervous all night. She let Ginko direct her toward Sweetie Belle's flank.

"Now, lower your horn and press it against the white spiral," said Ginko.

Rarity did what she was told, and pressed the tip of her horn against Sweetie Belle's flank.

"Hey, that tickles," said Sweetie Belle. As soon as Rarity's horn made contact with the white spiral, both the horn and the spiral glowed a green light. With a quiet hiss, both the black and white spirals slowly dissolved away, and when it was gone, it left Rarity's horn glowing green.

Sweetie Belle twitched her legs experimentally. "Hey, I can move again." She skipped around merrily around the foals, giggling with joy. "I'm finally able to walk around again."

Rarity put a hoof to her glowing horn experimentally.

"How do you feel?" asked Twilight as she looked over the glowing horn.

"This feels strange," said Rarity. "It's like I got a lantern on my head."

"The heat is from the sunlight the spore absorbed," said Ginko. "Now, you must collect the other spores."

Rarity reluctantly went to each foal, absorbing the spirals one by one and freeing each foal from them. By the time Rarity was done, the foals were skipping around, relieved that they can finally move again. As for Rarity, her horn was glowing a bright light by the end of it all. It was so bright, she had to put on sunglasses just so she could see passed the glow of her horn.

Once all the foals were cured, Cheerilee came by to escort them home to their families. Before going with the foals, Sweetie Belle trotted up to Rarity and gave her a hug. "Thanks, sis."

Rarity gave her a loving stroke of her head with one hoof. "Anytime, Sweetie Belle."

As the foals went home, Ginko shouted out to Cheerilee, "Be sure to tell their parents to wash their uniforms thoroughly to get the spores out." Once all the foals were gone, he picked up a cigarette and lit it.

"Rarity could flag down ships in a fog with that horn," said Applejack with a laugh.

"Oh very funny," said Rarity. "Now, what am I going to do about this horn?"

"That's the tricky part," said Ginko, letting out a puff of smoke. "The only way of removing the nikkou no uzumakisen is to show it another spiral to attract. However, if the spiral doesn't provide anything for it to live in, it will immediately retreat back into Rarity's horn or not leave at all. We also can't leave it in her horn because every time she uses her magic, she'd just spread more spores into all the cloths she makes, putting more foals at risk."

"Then what else can we do?" asked Twilight.

"The only other option I can think of is to cut off her horn and throw it in a pond out of town," said Ginko.

"Landsakes," said Applejack. "I know unicorn horns can grow back, but do we really have to go that far?"

Ginko put a hoof to his chin in thought. "I suppose I could get the nikkou no uzumakisen to enter my horn and—"

"No!" said Rarity in a firm but dignified tone of voice. "I don't want any more foals to suffer like Sweetie Belle did. I may be a lady, but I will give myself for them. I don't want to hear any objections. My mind is made up."

"That's very brave of you, Rarity," said Twilight. "All right, I'll go and find a lake in the Everfree Forest. I'll be back in a few minutes." She opened her wings and took off into the shy, flying up into the air and heading straight for the forest.

"Good," said Ginko, "and Applejack will fetch a saw."

"Do be a dear and find one that's clean," said Rarity with a polite smile.

"Oh, all right," said Applejack, wondering where she could get a clean saw.

#

With a bird's eye view of the land below, Twilight easily found a lake not too far into the forest. She came back to Sweet Apple Acres, finding Rarity and Ginko waiting patiently by the barn while Applejack held a bow saw in her teeth and a chopping block inside a saddlebag. With Twilight's guidance, she led the three of them into the forest, stopping next to a lake. Around the lake, the sounds were noticeably muted, leaving them with a sense of solitude, alone with the trees and the olive green water before them.

"I need the chopping block placed beside the lake," said Ginko.

Applejack did as she was told and placed the chopping block right at the dry edge overlooking the water.

Rarity calmly placed her horn against the chopping block like a fearless soldier facing execution. "Do be careful not to harm my mane. I just had it conditioned."

Ginko telekinetically picked up the bow saw from Applejack and carefully placed it over Rarity's glowing horn. He knew that he had to be careful not to cut too close to the base because that was where all the blood and nerves were located, much like the claws on a dog. He pressed one hoof against the horn to keep it steady as he slowly cut through it. Rarity did not flinch as she heard the sound of metal cutting through keratin like it was made of wood. Within seconds, the horn easily came off with an audible crack as the saw cut clean through it. Once the horn was removed, its glow slowly faded but rather than quietly disappear, the air began to prickle with magical energy. From out of the severed end of the horn, a large green spiral of light reached out. Rarity let out a cry of alarm as the mushi grabbed a hold of her neck.

Ginko grabbed a hold of the horn with his teeth, but the mushi let go of Rarity and coiled back toward him instead. Ginko grappled against the mushi as it wrapped around his neck. He bucked the mushi with his fore hoof, pushing against it as it's tendrils wrapped around his face, knocking out the cigarette from his mouth. Applejack leaped in and gripped the mushi with her teeth, pulling with all her strength. Twilight grabbed another side of the mushi, the two ripping the writhing creature from Ginko. Once the mushi's hold was released, Ginko threw the horn into the lake. The mushi squirmed out of the horn just as it hit the water and swirled around in a meter wide spiral at the surface before vanishing into the water's murky depths.

Applejack let out a sigh of relief. "Woooweee! That was unexpected."

"Well, at least that was over with," said Rarity, taking off her sunglasses. "I should probably wear a hat until my horn grows back. Perhaps my new sun hat will do."

Ginko pulled out another cigarette from his saddleback, and lit it. After inhaling a whiff from the cigarette, he slung his saddlebag onto his back and turned around to leave.

"Hey, where are y'all going?" asked Applejack. "My family could fix you up some dinner to thank you for your help."

"No thank you," said Ginko. "I can't stay in one place for too long."

"Don't you have friends back home?" asked Rarity.

"I don't have a home, but I do have friends back in Nipponi, and I should go back to them. It's been fun meeting you all but I must go. Sayoonara!"

Before Twilight and her friends could ask questions, Ginko's horn glowed with magic and in a flash, he teleported out of sight.

"We didn't get a chance to thank him," said Rarity. "How rude."

"I'm sure he just needed to go in a hurry," said Twilight.

"Speaking of which, we're alone in the Everfree Forest," said Applejack. "Perhaps we should be going too."

The howl of a timber wolf echoed throughout the forest, startling the three mares.

"I think AJ has a point," said Twilight, and with that, the three raced out of the forest.

#

With the nikkou no uzumakisen gone, life returned to normal in Ponyville. Rarity resumed her work at the shop and Cheerilee's soccer team continued their practices like usual.

However, thanks to the sunlight collected by the spores, the nikkou no uzumakisen finally had enough food to feed its offspring as well as a new home for them. That is why, late at night, the animals in the Everfree Forest will see several glowing spirals deep in the murky lake.

The End