The clouds over the town felt wrong.

For one, they weren't supposed to be there.

Rainbow couldn't remember anything in the weather schedule for today which required clouds of this thick padding to hover over a specific part of town.

Then there was the fact they were so thick that they were effectively casting an artificial night over the town below.

Rainbow had seen enough heavy rainclouds which did the same thing, it was just that there were usually more of them and they served a purpose; letting rain fall on the lands below.

These clouds did not look like your regular every day rainclouds. They were much darker and not at all moist to the touch.

And that there was the third issue with these clouds: They had no substance.

Normal clouds were fluffy bits of sky which were barely there to begin with, but they were still there! Rainbow could land on them, push them around, build a house with them.

These clouds refused to hold her when she tried landing on them, refused to move even when she threw gusts of wind at them with her strong wings, refused to be... real.

It was almost as if they weren't there at all.

Rainbow shook her head in annoyance at the ridiculous cloud cover, her rainbow mane wet with sweat from her attempts to get through to the clouds before her. "What is going on here?" she asked herself again, before looking down at the town below.

It was a small town; just a few houses surrounding a fountain in the center, with the occasional shop here or there.

It would have looked like an idyllic place to live in, if not for the clouds above casting a perpetual shadow over it, and the creepy mansion on a cliff's edge just outside of the town's borders.

Rainbow returned her attention to the mansion. From what little she had managed to get out of the fear-filled ponies below, Scootaloo had been last seen on the road leading toward it.

But nopony had seen her come back down again.

The rainbow-maned pony snorted at the thought of Scootaloo willingly entering something which looked as creepy as the mansion. Nothing about it looked right.

Proportionally it was way too big for the small town at the foot of the cliff it was built on, the shutters in front of the windows were all broken in some way or another, and the shadow was darker there than in any other part of the gloomy town.

It was like it was looking right back at you. No matter how you looked at it.

There were no eyes, of course. Who had ever seen a house with eyes? But it just felt like it was staring at you. Right into your soul.

Rainbow felt a shiver run down her spine and quickly shook the thought off again. She had tracked Scootaloo after her friends, Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, came to Rainbow for help the day before.

"We ain't seen Scootaloo fer almost two whole days now, Rainbow Dash!" Applejack's sister had proclaimed, to which Rarity's sister had nodded heavily.


"And we know you're her idol an' all," Applebloom continued. "We thought if anypony would be capable of findin' her, it'd be you!"

The worried looks on their faces was more than enough for Rainbow to promise she'd find the orange Pegasus filly.

Heck, they really didn't have to ask. The sudden fear that had risen in her heart when she learned of the kid having disappeared again, seemingly without a trace this time, was enough to have made her want to start the search right that instant.

Rainbow couldn't help it. She had a soft spot for Scootaloo. Especially after the filly had asked her to take her under her wing when they all went camping together.

The blue mare sighed and squinted her eyes at the mansion. If Scootaloo had really gone into that place, there wasn't much of a choice. Was there?

Her wings folded a little as she started a dive, unfolding them just at the right moment to land gracefully just a few hoofsteps away from the wooden porch of the building.

Rainbow shivered at the feeling of dread washing over her now she stood face to face with the building. Every part of it looked in disrepair. From the rot in the wooden planks that made up the porch, to the flaking of paint, and the creaking of the shutters hanging from only a single hinge. And usually not the top one at that.

The double front doors had some holes in them, and the locks looked like they had been forcefully destroyed in the past by somepony seeking entry in a hurry. Even with the holes, and with them hanging slightly ajar, there was no way for Rainbow Dash to see far beyond them. Everything had an unnatural darkness to it which made her more than a little uneasy.

"Scoots? Are you in there?" she called out, but lowered her ears in distress as her voice just seemed to get absorbed by the building. No echo, no response.

"Scoots?" she tried again, a bit louder this time, but all the response she got was the creaking of wood and rusted hinges moving in the chilly wind flowing around the building.

Rainbow took a deep breath, steeling herself for what she had to do. Scootaloo was in there somewhere. As the Element of Loyalty she couldn't leave any of her friends to an unknown fate. Especially when that fate looked as grim as this building did.

She slowly put one hoof in front of the other, looking up at the silhouette of the building before her as she did and feeling icy shivers running down her spine again.

"Come on, Rainbow. You can't chicken out now. This kid depends on you. Who knows what she got herself into this time? You got to be strong. Put your fears aside and get Scoots out of there," she chided herself softly, then took another deep breath before rushing in full-speed, the doors slamming open - then immediately shut again behind her.