Curse of the Were-Pony
Chapter 1 "Hearts are Such Fragile Things"
By Steven Little
My Little Pony © Hasbro
A mid-autumn wind caused dry and brittle leaves to tumble along the ground, landing at the base of the Ponyville Library. Growing close to the middle of town, the library itself was actually in the middle of a hollowed out tree, which through the grace of magic, was still alive and growing. At this time of year, leaves of brown and orange replaced the normally verdant canopy. Inside, the library was homely but spacious. Bookshelves had been carved into the living wood walls. The main area was for books and patrons to read or check out materials. Off to one side was a small kitchen and in the back, up a few steps was a dining come reading area. Upstairs was set-aside for the librarian's living quarters. It too was equally spacious including a second bathroom and a few rooms for the librarian and guests. Off some of these rooms were balconies that gave a commanding view of town and the surrounding countryside.
Purple scales blanketed almost every surface of the library. Spike, a baby dragon of eighteen years, rushed around the library with a broom, trying to clean up the scales that continued to drop from him. Normally, the little dragon was covered from his round head to pointed tail with purples scales. Today however, was not normal. His scales were falling off him like the fall leaves outside. Not even the smaller, light green scales that covered his underside or the emerald green vertical scales going down his back were spared. With how many scales he'd been losing, he felt exposed and was seriously considering getting Rarity to make him some pants until his new scales came in. Upstairs, his guardian Twilight Sparkle was sleeping peacefully with one such purple scale perched precariously on her nose, teetering back and forth as she breathed. The unicorn in question had been sleeping most of the day due to contracting a bad case of pony-pox. Coughing in her sleep, the scale on her nose tipped into her mouth waking her suddenly. Spitting the scale out she called for her number one assistant. "Spiiiiike!"
The young dragon ran to Twilight's room dropping scales left and right as he went. "Yes Twilight? Is there something I can get for you?" He asked, worried for his friend. Twilight was shocked at Spike's appearance. Accept for a few patched here and there, almost all of Spike's scales had fallen out.
"Spike, what happened to you?" She asked, concerned. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Fluttershy said I'm going through a growth spurt and even though it looks bad now, my scales will grow back in a week or two." Spike was excited. "I can't wait till my new scales come in. As soon as they do, I'm going to run over and show Rarity."
"I'm sure Rarity will find them quite attractive." Twilight said between coughs.
Spike became aware of Twilight's disheveled appearance. Any other day, the unicorn pony had a tidy well brushed purple mane and tail with a violet and pink strip running through them, but now they were both considerably unkempt. There were bags under her eyes, and her usually vibrant lavender coat, was covered in little white spots. Even the star shaped cutie mark gracing her flanks was duller than normal. "Since you're up, do you feel like eating anything?" Spike asked her. "Can I get you glass of apple juice or maybe some alfalfa pancakes?"
"Thanks Spike, maybe later my stomach still feels a little queasy." She thanked him. "I can't sleep right now; could you get me my copy of Ponies in Underland? It's one of my favorites." She asked.
"Sure thing Twilight." Spike scanned the bookshelves until he found the title up on the third shelf. "Little help?"
"Of course." Twilight tried to concentrate on lifting the young dragon to the shelf with her magic but nothing was happening. "I'm sorry Spike, but with this headache I can't seem to concentrate."
"That's okay, I'll see if I can climb up there. I wish we still had the ladder; too bad it won't be back from the carpenter until tomorrow." Spike said.
"No Spike, I don't want to risk you falling and getting hurt on my account." She thought for a moment then came up with a solution. "I've got an idea. If you come over here I can try to swing you up to the shelf, then you can jump down onto the bed safe and sound."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Twilight used her mouth to grab Spike by the tail and swung him up to the third shelf. Unfortunately, without the scales' to protect him, Twilight's teeth cut into his tail and caused a small wound that started to bleed.
"Owch!" He cried out as he clung to the third shelf of the bookcase
"Oh my gosh Spike. I'm so sorry! Are you all right?"
The purple dragon reached up and grabbed the book before jumping down to Twilight's bed. "Yeah, I'm fine. It hurt at first but I think it's okay now." He said as he inspected the damage to his tail. There was a small cut near the spade tip of his tail but it didn't look too deep to him. "At least I got your book." Spike handed the book to her and grabbed a small basket from the corner.
"Are you going out?" She asked him.
"When I was at Fluttershy's this morning, she told me Zecora was coming over to help her make a medicine that should clear up your pony-pox. She said it would be done tonight so I'm going to go pick it up and save Fluttershy the trip." He said. "You know how she is about traveling alone in the dark."
"Yes, I know. She tries but one of these days she's going to have to get over her fear of the dark." Twilight said.
"You've got to admit though; she's come a long way since we moved to town five years ago." Spike said
"Yeah, she has. I appreciate you putting forth the extra effort right now Spike. I'm sorry I'm too sick to help out around here." Twilight said. "You really are my number one assistant."
"Aww, you'd do the same for me if I was sick. Will you be okay while I'm gone?" Spike asked, concerned.
"I should be fine. I have my book and if I get tired I can just lie down and go back to sleep. If she's not busy, have Fluttershy take a look at that cut. I wouldn't want you to get an infection."
"Will do, and I'll clean up this mess as soon as I get back." Spike said as he walked out the door.
Night had already fallen in Ponyville and many of the shops in town were already closed up for the night. Fluttershy had been worried about Twilight ever since she became sick and Spike knew, no matter how late it got, Fluttershy would stay up working hard on Twilight's cure. The young dragon was passing between the fountain and town hall when he started to feel a little strange. Spike felt himself growing dizzy and used the edge of the Founders Fountain to prop himself up. He bent double as a sharp, stabbing pain, shot through his stomach. A full harvest moon rose above the horizon, flooding the entire town square with moonlight. As soon as the light touched Spike he felt incredibly weak. His body convulsed and he threw up the small snack he had eaten earlier. Falling to the ground, he clutched his stomach as another wave a pain coursed through him. The basket he was carrying rolled off along with a few scales disturbed by the low wind. For a moment he thought he may have caught Twilight's illness, but that was impossible since he wasn't a pony. Spike's face contorted in pain. Everything hurt, his head felt like it was going to explode and every bone in his body felt like it was breaking. His muscles burned and his joints ached. Spike was in absolute agony; he believed his body was being torn apart, and just when the pain had become too much to bear, he screamed and exploded in a puff of purple smoke and scales.
Spike slowly opened his eyes and saw Pinkie Pie standing over him. "Are you okay?" She asked, her brilliant blue eyes radiating concern.
"Is that you Pinkie Pie?" Spike asked. He looked at her through still bleary eyes. For a minute all he could see was a pink blob but as they began to clear he could see her more clearly. Pinkie was not a pony one would call svelte; she was pleasantly plump but not overly so. Spike had heard stallions around town say she had curves in all the right places. Her mane and tail were almost always curly and bouncy like pink cotton candy. At that moment however, she had a confused expression on her face. "What happened?"
"Do I know you?" She asked. The pink pony gasped in realization. "Are you new to Ponyville? You have to be new, because I know all the pony's that live her and I've never seen you before and if I've never seen you before than that means you're new and if you're new then you probably don't have friends in town yet, unless you already know a pony that lives here. Do you know anyone who lives here yet?"
"Pinkie, it's me, Spike." He said, trying to standing up.
"Is Spike your name? We have a baby dragon named Spike that lives in town with my friend Twilight. Have you met Spike and Twilight? I just I know they'd like you because I like you and I just met you!" Pinkie said, bouncing around him in a circle.
"What are you talking about Pinkie? It's me, Spike. You know, small purple dragon, breaths fire, any of this ringing a bell?"
"You can't be the same Spike that lives here, he's a cute little bitsy baby dragon. You're cute but definitely not a dragon." She said.
"I think you've been eating way too much cake again Pinkie Pie; of course I'm a dragon." Pinkie pulled him over to the nearby fountain and pointed towards the water. Reflected in the water was a strong looking purple pony. While his coat was an intense purple color, his eyes, mane, and tail were all deep emerald green. He had a chiseled jaw line with a strong chin. Poking out from under his top lip was two small, sharp looking fangs set at the front corners of his mouth. His hair looked a little spiky between his ears but swept down into a flowing mane that draped around his left shoulder and his tail flowed behind him like green silk.
"See? Not a dragon." Pinkie said decidedly.
Spike was shocked and stumbled back from the fountain. He fell on his rump looking at his front hooves trying to put it all together. "What, what happened to me? Why am I a pony? I'm supposed to be a dragon!" He asked in a panic.
"Are you sure you're all right? You didn't hit your head or something did you?" She asked.
"Pinkie, how can I convince you that I'm Spike?" He asked, looking at himself in the fountain again.
"If you're Spike, than tell me something only Spike would know." She said with a suspicious look in her eyes.
"Remember that time I caught you in Applejack's cider cellar?" Spike whispered into her ear. "And to this day Applejack still doesn't know who did it."
"Don't know who did what?" Applejack commented as she rounded the corner. The light orange farm pony was a lot like Pinkie in the respect that she carried more weight on her frame than some ponies. The thin layer of fat she had softened her toned, muscular body. Her blond mane and tail were always kept bound at the end to keep them from blowing wildly while she worked.
Pinkie jumped into the air in surprise. "Applejack! What are you doing out here so late?"
"I was comin' to check on Twilight, now what don't I know about my apple cellar?"
"Uh, uh I have no idea. Hey! Look! Something happened to Spike!"
"Nice try Pinkie but I don't see Spike anywhere." The light orange farm pony said.
"I'm not joking; I was closing up the store for the night when I heard a weird noise. I came outside and I found Spike like this." She said, trying her hardest to appear genuine.
"That's a good one Pinkie Pie but all I see here is this good-looking pony next to you." Applejack said smiling. "What's your name handsome? I've never seen you round these parts before, you new to town?"
"My name's Spike."
"Well aint' that a coincidence, we got a baby dragon what lives in town here by the same name." She leaned close to Spike. "You ever gone apple-buckin'?" She asked fluttering her eyelashes at him.
Pinkie put her left hoof up to her forehead. "Applejack, this is Spike, our Spike." She said.
"Uh, hi AJ, I know it doesn't sound like me, but yeah, it is." Spike said slowly waving a hoof.
Applejack jumped back in surprise. "Spike, is that really you?" Her face, freckles and all, turned as red as the three apples on her flank. Applejack pulled down the stetson hat that always seemed shade her green eyes; only now it covered her face.
"Apparently, yeah." He said.
The light orange farm pony composed herself quickly. "What happened to y'all sugar cube?" The light orange mare asked, pulling on his ears, half expecting it to be a costume of some kind.
"Oww, I don't know." He confessed, wincing as Applejack pulled on his mane. "I was just going to Fluttershy's to get medicine for Twilight when I started feeling bad. Everything started to hurt and then I guess I passed out. When I woke up Pinkie was here and I looked like this."
"That's it? Nuthin' else happened?" She asked, prodding his shoulder with her light orange hoof.
"Well I got bit by on my tail by Twilight. It wasn't her fault though, my scales have been shedding and she didn't know she'd cut me when she swung me up on the bookshelf.
"I don't know what a bite would have to do with it but we best get over to Fluttershy's. She might know what's goin' on." Applejack said, looking at the bottom of one of Spike's hooves.
Spike took his hoof back and walked back to the fountain. Looking down into the water he admire the way he looked now. "You guys go ahead; I think I'm going to drop in on Rarity. Now that I look like this, I've got a fighting chance with her again."
"Whoa there lover boy, the first thing you need to do is get checked out. Who knows what changing into a pony has done to you." Applejack told him.
"Yeah, you might be really sick, and if you're really sick then something bad might happen, and if something bad happens then we'd all be really sad. You don't want to make us all sad do you?" Pinkie asked.
"No, I guess not." Spike said, a little defeated.
"Well okay then, it off to Fluttershy's we go! We can get the others later." The hyperactive pony shouted. Spike and Applejack followed Pinkie Pie as she bounced down the road toward Fluttershy's cottage.
From behind the curtains of the Carousel Boutique, Rarity's vibrant blue eyes had been watching the town square. The svelte, white unicorn mare had heard yelling outside, and when she looked out the window she saw Pinkie and Applejack talking with a gorgeous purple stallion, his green mane shining in the moonlight. She watched as they walked down the path towards Fluttershy's cottage. Rarity walked away from the window and paced her room tensely. Her expertly styled royal purple mane and tail bounced of its own accord every time she moved. The fashinista had a cutie mark of three diamonds on her flanks that suited her well since she incorporated gems into most of her deigns. "Who is he?" She wondered aloud. "More importantly why wouldn't they introduce him to me? It's not like Pinkie Pie to take an interest in anything but cakes and parties but then she's a mare, I suppose even she has needs. Knowing Applejack, she'll try to get him to work on her farm. I can't let a stallion the looks as fabulous as him, soil himself by bucking trees. Whatever the reason, I'm getting to the bottom of this."
Rarity grabbed a black cloak emblazoned with the same, three-diamond design as the cutie mark on her flank. Wrapping herself in the cloak, she left the Carousel Boutique and set out into the night. The white unicorn galloped after Applejack and Pinkie Pie but was careful not to be seen. As soon as they came into view, she began to trail them darting from bush to tree. Rarity could see the hem of her cloak getting dirty from the off road travel but it was more important for her to stay out of sight of the others.
Fluttershy's cottage was quaint and simple. With the heavily moss covered roof, it appeared that the home of the yellow pegasus had been carved out of the side of a hill rather than constructed on top of it. Birdhouses were perched and built into every nook and cranny that would support one. Under the bridge that led up to her home was a den for river otters. Everything about the shy pegasi's home was centered around the multitudes of small forest animals the frequented her cottage and even though her cutie mark was three butterflies she had no particular favorite animal other than her pet bunny Angel. Inside the home was simple, nothing overly fancy or outlandish. The shy pony's residence reflected her personality, reserved. Her living room was comprised of a sofa, a small table and a bookcase holding books on animal care. A single throw rug sat in the middle of the wooden floor. Fluttershy was not one for unnecessary furniture; she preferred to keep her home as open as possible for her animal friends. Around the inside of her home, like the outside, birdhouses and other homes for various animals could be found hanging from the exposed rafters or built directly into the cottages structure. The kitchen of the small house, much like the rest of the home, was mostly empty except for the necessary cooking implants to prepare simple meals.
This evening in particular, Fluttershy's kitchen was being used for something more than preparing a simple meal. Zecora, the town's local zebra apothecary, and Fluttershy were just putting the finishing touches on a cure for Twilight's pony-pox. The yellow pegasi's normally shy; quite personality was temporarily suppressed while helping Zecora make medicine for one of her best friends. She was used to making medicine for the animals she looked after but making medicine for a pony was new. "Thank you very much Zecora. I don't know how I could have made this medicine without you." Fluttershy said. Her bouncy pink mane fluttered beside her as she rushed to get a bottle to store the medicine and even though her mane always seemed to cover one of here deep blue eyes, she didn't appear to have any problems seeing where she was going.
"It's not a problem as you well know; it's off to Twilight's I must go." Zecora said in her singsong way. The black and white striped zebra pony started walking toward the door; her ample frame disguised her nimbleness and agility as she had been found on more than one occasion meditating while standing on her head atop a thin staff.
"Oh, thank you but I couldn't possibly ask you to do more. I can take it to her, even though it's really dark out there, I can do it." Before Zecora could protest there was a loud knock at the door. Fluttershy walked over, opened the door, and found herself nose to nose with a purple pony she had never seen before. Frightened by the sudden contact, she slammed the door in his face. There was another knock at the door and Fluttershy opened it slowly to find the purple stallion sitting their rubbing his nose with a hoof. She looked into his emerald eyes and couldn't help but blush and hide her face behind her pink mane "Oh, uhm I'm sorry, are you okay? Are you lost? Is there anything I can do for you?" She asked; her voice barely above a whisper.
Applejack and Pinkie poked their heads out from behind Spike. "Fluttershy! We need your help! Spike here's been turned into a pony and I'm pretty sure Twilight's gonna need that medicine y'all been brewin' up pretty soon." Applejack said as they walked by her, into the cottage.
"Yeah! And if she doesn't get it soon she's gonna get all itchy and there's nothing worse than being itchy and not being able to scratch!" Pinkie said and she scratched her flank against the side of the fireplace in the living room.
Zecora placed the medicine in her satchel and walked toward the door. "Stay here and help your friend, Twilight's house is around the bend. I'll get their fast and you will see, she'll soon be healthy as she can be." Excusing herself, she left the cottage and galloped down the road and into town. Rarity saw the zebra gallop down the road but quickly turned her attention to the task at hoof, finding a window where she could look in on her friends and the mysterious new stallion.
"Spike, how can this be Spike?" Fluttershy asked in disbelief.
"Trust us, it's him." Applejack and Pinkie said in unison. Spike filled her in on what happened while Fluttershy sat patiently taking it all in.
"Are you sure that's everything?" Fluttershy asked him. Spiked nodded. "I've never heard about anything like this before. Animals don't change into other animals. Have you asked Twilight?"
"Well, Twilight's been really sick and I didn't want to bother her. I was coming here anyway to get her medicine. While listening, Fluttershy noticed a hooded figure looking in her window and screamed in fright.
"What is it Fluttershy?" Spike asked, worried.
"There was somepony at the window." She said.
The other three looked in the direction she was pointing to find the window with nothing in it but a view of the small stream in front of her house. "You sure you saw somthin' sugar cube?" Applejack asked.
"Yes, I'm sure of it." She confirmed.
Pinkie was already out the door and in the bushes around the house. Without warning she popped up next to the white unicorn. "Hiya Rarity, what's with the hood?"
"Pinkie, don't scare me like that!" She shouted.
"Why are you sneaking around in the bushes? Come inside, there's somepony I want you to meet." The two ponies walked into the cottage. Rarity hung up her cloak before addressing the others.
"Hello all, and what are we up to this evening?" Rarity said, slowly walking toward Spike.
"Uh, Rarity." Applejack interrupted.
"Is this the pony you wanted to introduce to me Pinkie?" She asked. "More importantly, I'm wondering why you didn't introduce this marvelous hunk of pony to me earlier, when you were talking next to the founder's fountain?"
"But Rarity," Pinkie said trying to get a word in.
"I don't blame you wanting to keep him all to yourself, who wouldn't? You could have at least brought him by to say hello." Rarity said fluttering her eyelashes, her nose almost touching his. Spike was blushing so hard; his purple coat was turning red, a silly grin on his face. Never before had Rarity shown this much interest in him.
"But Rarity, this is Spike; we're trying to figure out how he got turned into a pony." Fluttershy informed her.
Rarity laughed. "You must be joking, how could this amazing specimen of pony be that lovesick little reptile?" Spike couldn't believe his new pony ears.
"Rarity!" Applejack shouted. "That's no way to talk about Spike; he's done so much for you. You should be nicer to him."
Rarity waved her off with her hoof. "Spike's just a friend. Well, more like an acquaintance. Truth be told, he's just a silly little dragon with a crush." She told the purple stallion. "Oh don't get me wrong, he's excellent when it comes to lift and tote work or when just about any type of manual labor needs to be done. That's reason enough to keep him around. But honestly, having that little dragon follow me around all day does get sort of bothersome. I'd really wish he'd understand that I'm not interested in him the way he's obviously interested in me. Not that I can really blame him." She said.
"Besides, what would ponies say if they thought I was romantically involved with a dragon of all things? You can understand that, can't you?" She asked the purple stallion. "Why, I'd be ruined; my dreams of being the greatest fashinista in Equestria would go up in proverbial flames. No, it simply cannot be and I wish he'd realize that sooner rather than later."
The sound of Spike's heart shattering was almost audible. He was devastated. 'Is this how Rarity really feels about me?' He thought to himself. Spike could feel a pain in his chest, growing with every moment. The former little dragon could not help the tears welling up in his emerald eyes.
Rarity saw the expression on the ponies face. "Darling, are you okay? Whatever is the matter?" Trying to keep himself from crying, Spike ran out of the cottage as fast as he could, toward town, not really caring where he ended up.
"Nice job there Rarity." Applejack said, reprimanding her.
"What are you talking about? Pinkie, you agree with me right? Right? Pinkie?" Pinkie was already gone, chasing after Spike. "Where did she go?"
"She probably ran after him but I don't know if she's gonna be able to catch up with Spike, he's pretty fast as a pony." Applejack said, scowling at Rarity before leaving the cottage to chase after Pinkie and Spike.
"But, I don't understand." Rarity turned to where Fluttershy was standing and received a slap across the face.
"How could you?" The slap didn't hurt but the point was driven home. What did hurt was the tearful look she got from Fluttershy before she ran out the door after Applejack.
'Oh my dear Celestia, It was Spike!' She thought to herself. 'I know Applejack and Pinkie are prone to having a good joke at somepony's expense but Fluttershy would never.' Rarity felt her cheek where Fluttershy had struck her. 'What have I done?' Rarity ran out of the cottage, tears streaming from her eyes. 'Oh Spike, I didn't really mean it! What's wrong with me? Why did I say those things?' She chastised herself.
Spike could indeed outrun them, even Applejack. Many times he considered going back to the library but with Twilight being sick, he didn't want to cause her any more problems. Mile after mile passed and he found himself on the outskirts of Canterlot. Spike was tired but didn't feel like stopping at the moment. He walked a familiar rout through the city almost on automatic. He didn't stop until he found himself at the overlook where he and Twilight used to stargaze. Spike collapse from near exhaustion; tears coursed down his cheeks. Unable and unwilling to stop weeping, Spike cried out the pain in his broken heart.
Lost in his remorse, didn't notice that a shadow had fallen over him. "Hello Spike."
"Who's there?" He said, breathing rapidly. A tall and slender, dark purple alicorn stepped out of the shadows. Her almost translucent, blue violet mane fluttered and waved in a nonexistent wind. The black crown atop her head was almost hidden in her mane, but her gilded silver shoes shone brightly in the moonlight. "Princes Luna, how do you know who I really am?"
Luna smiled down on him. "Oh Spike." She said compassionately. "Just like my sister knows about most things that go on beneath the sun in our kingdom, I see quite a bit of what happens under the moon." Luna placed a hoof on his shoulder. "Everything that's happening right now must be terribly confusing but come, you must be tired." Luna beckoned him to follow her back to the palace. Spike struggled a bit to get to his hooves but Princess Luna leaned against him allowing Spike to stabilize himself. "Are you okay to walk? Spike?"
Spike had walked to the edge of the overlook. Hundreds of hooves below him was the valley floor. Looking down he could almost make out the road that winds through the White Tail Woods. "After all I've done, all I've given. It wasn't enough; it was never going to be enough."
"Spike?" Princess Luna asked, unfolding her wings.
A small rock had tipped over the edge. Spike watched it as it fell into open space. "It would be so easy wouldn't it?" Spike said to nopony in particular. The tears had sprung anew from the purple stallions eyes, each drop falling over the edge into oblivion. "What's the point anymore? She doesn't love me, she doesn't even like me, and she never did. It would be better to just..."
"Spike, come talk to me please?" She asked. "Please Spike."
The purple earth pony looked back at the Princess and saw the concern and worry written on her face. Slowly, he turned around and stepped away from the edge. "I'll be fine Princess." Spike said as he fell to the ground worn out and exhausted.