Dusk Shine led the group of ponies up the wide dirt path. Close behind, Twilight read from the map Zecora had given them prior entering the Everfree Forest. According to the map, the forest worked like a storm; the closer to the center you became, the less danger you encountered. Behind them, the rest of the ponies had stricken up a light conversation amongst themselves, except for Rainbow Blitz, who was still pretty ticked that the girls had found a way to come along.
"And I said, "Oatmeal, are you crazy!?!" The ponies all chuckles weakly as Pinkie and Berry laughed hysterically at Pinkie's joke.
"Ok ok, Ah got one," Applejack said enthusically. "Derpy told me this one." She derped her eyes for effect.
"Two muffins are-a sittin' in an oven. The first muffin turns to the second and says, 'Boy, it sure is hot in here' then the second one screams 'Oh mah gosh, a talkin' muffin!'"
They all cracked up laughing. Dusk Shine wiped a tear from his eye as they continued up the path. The sun was barely visible behind the canopy but they could tell by the splotches of golden red sky in the canopy, the sun was beginning to set.
Dusk Shine quicken his pace. It was bad enough they had to travel in the forest during the day. He didn't even want to know what went on out here at night.
The path twisted and turned deeper into the forest. The further they walked, the thicker the canopy above them grew, making it harder to navigate through the forest. The laughter amongst the ponies dissolved into an eerie silence as Dusk Shine led them off the path, into the trees."
"Um, are y'all sure about this?" A.J. asked, hesitantly following the two librarians off the path. Dusk Shine looked back and saw that only Twilight and A.J. (somewhat) had actually came off the path. They all blinked blankly at him. Actually, in truth, they stared at the darkness behind Dusk Shine that only seemed to get darker.
"It's a shortcut," he explained. "If we go this way, we should be able to reach the campsite before sunset." The ponies looked at him warily. After what seemed like an eternity somepony finally spoke.
"B-b-but, it's dark in there..." Fluttershy whispered. The group let out a collective sigh of relief. Finally, somepony had said it. Given any OTHER circumstance, they would have marched in along side Dusk Shine. But in the Everfree forest, thing don't work like there supposed to.
The animals take care of themselves.
The plants grow wildly.
And the clouds move ALL ON THEIR OWN! *(faints)
Dusk Shine rolled his eyes. "Come ON guys, this is a man trip!" he exclaimed, puffing out his chest and deepening his voice. "By Solaris' beard, we gonna get some hair on our chest!"
The girls looked at him flatly, then at Twilight (that IS her double...) who gave them a sheepish grin. The colts, on the other hoof, gave a manly "Yarh!"
Suddenly, Dusk whirled around and charged into the darkness. In an instant, the boys all did the same, shouting "Yarh!" The girls all stared at the point where the boys had disappeared.
The stupidity was overwhelming.
"They really mean business on this here trip, huh?" Applejack chuckled.
"Silly boys!" Pinkie Pie cracked. The girls began laughing at the boys' seriousness, falling over, clutching their sides.
"Sillier than a dog in a flea shop!" Applejack continued.
"Their such dweebs!" Dash cried.
The girls all rushed to each other's side, trembling with fear. A multitude of eyes appeared out of the pitch-black forest, watching them. Their eyes grew wider as a growl arose out of the forest, shaking the earth below them.
"I-I-I think it's time we'd go." Twilight stammered. The girls all nodded in agreement. Another deafening growl came out of the forest.
It was closer.
The girls backed away quickly but before they could turn and run, a horrible roar ripped through the forest.
The white unicorn and the yellow pegasus shot off in the direction where the boys had disappeared. There was a quick exchange of glances amongst the remaining ponies before, they too, took off after Rarity and Fluttershy.
Rarity's hooves pounded against the leafy forest floor as she tore pass thick brambles and low hanging branches.
Oh, how she regretted coming to this dreadful place. She should have refused Elusive when he first asked her. She and Elusive could have spent the day snuggling on her clean featherbed. Or played with Sweepy and Sweetie belle. Or snuggling in her clean featherbed. Or other things in her featherbed, that would leave it not so clean...
'Rarity!' she thought in shock. 'A lady would never thing of such a dirty thing! This jungle has gotten you thinking like a savage. Have you no shame?!?'
But even as she scolded herself mentally, she couldn't suppress the angry red blush that overtook her face. Only Elusive could make her think such a thought.
Or make her go on a camping trip in the middle of a dangerous forest and leave her behind in a area with vicious pony-eating creatures that would just love to find her in a place like this and, surprise surprise, one of those animals DID find her, causing her to flee for her life.
Only Elusive could.
The more she thought about it, the more heated she became.
'How DARE he abandon me like this! In the middle of some Celestia forsaken forest, fleeing for MY LIFE!' Fueled with pure rage, she ran faster. Not from the unknown beast, but to her so-called beloved. She'll show him what for!
But after running at her top speed for a minute or so, she grew tired. She stopped at an old oak tree for a break. Fluttershy came running after her, gasping for air. She stopped a few feet from Rarity and collapsed.
"R-R-Rarity..." she wheezed. "Please...take...break...now?" She sighed with relief as Rarity nodded. To be perfectly honest, she had completely forgotten that Fluttershy was behind her. Their gasping went in and out of sync as they rested against the oak.
"So," Fluttershy asked timidly. "what should we do now?"
Rarity did a quick scan of the area. It was almost completely dark. In the distance, she could here twigs snapping and bushes rustling, the chirping of several crickets filled the air. The thick canopy made it impossible to see anything, including the time of day. She was exhausted, so that ruled out the option of magic. She was dirty, lost...
She began to cry.
"I don't know Fluttershy. I just don't know..." Her tears flowed freely down her cheeks and off her chin, picking up the loose packed dirt off her cheeks. She hated this place. She was dirty, exhausted, and alone. How she desperately wished for Twilight and the others were there. They could have kept them strong.
She began to sob at the thought of Elusive. She wanted to wrap herself in his hooves. To smell his cologne, sweet but subtle. For him to stroke her back and whisper kind things in her ear. Instead, she was here, sobbing uncontrollably in her hooves, rolling in self-pity.
Until a pair of hooves wrapped around her. She lifted her head, half expecting to see Elusive. But instead, she found herself looking back at Fluttershy, who was on the verge of tears herself.
"Please, don't cry, Rarity," she sniffed. "we'll find a way out. Just please, don't cry... because when I see other's cry, I feel like crying too..."
Rarity blinked. Fluttershy pulled her in for another hug, resting her head on Rarity's shoulders. Slowly, she returned the hug, wrapping her own hooves around the shivering Fluttershy. With a smile slowly creeping on her face, she squeezed her friend lovingly.
At least, she had one good friend by her side.
"Thank you, Fluttershy. I'm alright now." They pulled away from each other's embrace.
"Oh good." Fluttershy smiled. But her smile soon dropped, re-realizing their situation.
"So, what now?" Rarity though carefully. "I could try and use my magic," she said enthusiastically. "Oh but all that light might draw unwanted attention... How long have we been out here?
"About seven minutes..."
"They're bound to come looking for-" Rarity was interrupted by a inaudible yelling from the forest.
"Savages!" Rarity whispered fearfully. She grabbed Fluttershy and the both hid behind the oak tree. The yelling continued to grow louder and louder until there was a huge crash amongst the bushed.
She knew that voice!
"Elusive?" she called hopefully, poking her head out from behind the tree. He turned to her. Quickly realizing it was her, he galloped gleefully to her, stumbling a few times.
Rarity leapt out from behind the tree and ran toward him.
In a matter of seconds, they were entangled with one another, kissing and hugging their fears away.
"I'm so glad your alive!"
"I thought I would have never seen you again!"
"I'm so glad your Ok!"
Rarity pulled back out of his hug, but not out of his embrace. Looking him over, she saw he was a mess. His hair, frizzed out, had twigs and leaves caught in it. His coat was covered in dirt, with a few mud accents. His eyes were a light shade of pink and dark bags hung below them.
She had only gone missing for 7 minutes...
"You have no idea how worried I was!" He pulled her in again. "If something were to have happened to you..." He squeezed her gently, refusing to finish. She felt safe in his arms. She nuzzled deep into his chest, cherishing every moment with him.
"I was really scared, Elusive..." she said softly, allowing a few tears to fall.
"Rarity, I was so distraught by your disappearance. When Twilight told us what happened, I felt nothing but guilt and disloyalty. If you were hurt, or WORSE, I would never forgive myself." He rested his head atop her's.
"Please forgive me..." he whispered. "and my stupidity," he spat out with disgust, cursing himself silently. She watched silently as he continued to beat himself up mentally, awaiting her answer.
She wrapped her hooves around his neck.
"Elusive, there is no need to apologize," she cooed just before she pulled him in for a long and meaningful kiss. She had forgotten all of her anger. Her fear. She let herself get sucked into bliss as he lifted her shin and kiss the nape of her neck.
"Oh Elusive..." she moaned.
"As Solaris as my witness, I will never abandon you again," he growl lowly.
Thing were becoming very... heated.
The two lovers found themselves looking at a red faced Fluttershy. Rarity and Elusive awkwardly untangled themselves.
"We should get going..." she said timidly.
"Y-y-yes," Elusive coughed. "we should. Which reminds me," he turned to the hole in the bush were he'd first entered. "Butterscotch!"
Just then, a yellow pegasus crashed through the bushes, looking quite frightened. He trembled with fear as his eyes darted around, looking for Elusive. But instead, his eyes landed on Fluttershy.
"You found her!" he exclaimed happily. He darted toward her, hugging her affectionately. "You're ok!"
Fluttershy blushed once again. Butterscotch was...hugging her. Her wings flapped involuntarily. Butterscotch noticed her reaction, confused by it.
"What's wrong Fluttershy?"
She looked up from his chest, blushing.
His wings began to beat as he slowly realized what he was doing. The pegasi remained motionless (except their wings), frozen by the wonderful feeling of unconditional love the hug had laid upon them.
Elusive and Rarity, the love EXPERTS, snickered from the sidelines.
"How adorable!" Rarity squealed.
"Oh young love, how I remember you so." Elusive chuckled. He swept Rarity of her seat, dipping her slowly. "A knock at the door. How I foolishly thought it was another customer." His face nearing her's.
"Oh Elusive..."Rarity swooned.
"Opening that door, I saw... I saw..."
"'Saw' what, my love?" Rarity begged, her breath quickening. Like a child to an adventure story, she waited with excitement. She knew the answer, but just to hear him say it would make her lose it. He leaned into her ear and whispered:
"I saw the most-"
"the UGLIEST MARE in Equestria!"
The two snapped out of their moment. With another rustling of the bushes, Rainbow Blitz emerged from the hole, smiling mischievously .
"Even when you're missing, you two manage to find time to suck face..." he said disgust. "And what's up with these two?!" he exclaimed, pointing at Fluttershy and Butterscotch.
Their wings continued to flap against their will.
"How DARE interrupt a moment between me and my beloved!" Elusive boomed, lifting Rarity out of swooning position.
"You finally found the girls and you figured a make out session out here would be ok?"
"We were just leaving." Elusive scoffed. He pointed his horn toward the frozen pegasi and they began to glow a brilliant shade of blue, lifting off the ground.
"Let's go Rarity." he said, politely gesturing toward the hole in the bush. "I have a surprise for you at the camp."
End of Day 0: part 1