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Her face all furred

PonySamsa Jun 3rd, 2018 (edited) 189 Never
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  1. All Fluttershy remembered was the taste of blood.
  2.  
  3. It was distinct and clear in her mind and was overpowering in the worst way. The smell of it even filled her nose it was so bad. She was outside the back of her cottage with Harry and Angel. Angel was scolding Harry for something, and Harry was growling back at Angel in defense. Covering Harry and Angel both, though mostly on Harry’s muzzle, nose and claws, was the source of the offending smell: Blood.
  4.  
  5. Fluttershy pulled herself up to her hooves and glared at the both of them. Her head felt light and cottony, and she said something, but she wasn’t sure what. Her voice sounded small and indistinct, and she had meant to be scolding him as well as Angel, but she swooned and bent over, then vomited.
  6.  
  7. The two of them looked over at her. Despite their earlier disagreement, they were both intent on helping her, despite themselves. Angel came and held her up until Harry got there. Harry lifted her into his arms and lumbered back toward her cottage. Angel held the door while he carried her inside and deposited her in the bathtub. Angel turned on the tap and she sighed as warm water washed over her. It felt amazing. She forgot her earlier nausea and just gave herself up to the comfort of the bath.
  8. ________________________________________
  9. She wasn’t sure what happened, but the next thing she knew she was in her bed, waking up to the sound of birds outside her window. She lifted her head off the pillow, blinked away the sleep from her eyes, and looked down at the foot of the bed.
  10.  
  11. Harry was there, lying next to Angel. There was no longer any blood on Harry, and nothing on Angel, either. She smiled and spoke.
  12.  
  13. “Good morning, you two,” she said.
  14.  
  15.  
  16. Angel opened his eyes. He sat up straight at the sound of her voice and looked at her warily. He elbowed Harry in the side, and the bear slowly lifted his head from the bed. He looked at her two and growled happily.
  17.  
  18. “Thank you, Harry. And you, Angel. I don’t know what happened last night. I’m very sorry to have worried you both.”
  19.  
  20. Angel and Harry both came closer to sniff her. Angel’s face looked like he was expecting something to pop out of nowhere and attack him, while Harry just looked confused. Angel’s little nose twitched quickly while Harry’s beastly snout wagged at her for a moment. Fluttershy just sat there in confusion while they sniffed. They both turned to look at each other and shook their heads. Angel folded his arms and Harry followed suit.
  21.  
  22. “What? What’s wrong?” She sniffed herself, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
  23.  
  24. Angel pointed at her angrily, then out the window at the forest.
  25.  
  26. “Is it what we did last night? Is that what I don’t remember?”
  27.  
  28. Angel nodded.
  29.  
  30. Fluttershy tried to remember what happened last night, but her memory was fuzzy, with events separated into chunks of half-formed good and bad things. She remembered she was out helping a timberwolf, and then… nothing. Then there was just the blood she remembered on both Harry and Angel, then she woke up. She remembered nothing else.
  31.  
  32. Her hoof went to her head and she blinked rapidly. “I remember… blood. But I don’t seem hurt. Who got hurt?”
  33.  
  34. Angel and Harry looked at each other again, but neither one said anything. Harry lumbered away downstairs and Angel pulled the blankets away. Fluttershy tried to pull them back up, but Angel just tugged them out of her hooves and pointed downstairs. Obediently, she went.
  35.  
  36.  
  37. Harry had prepared a large bowl of fruits and vegetables at some point, and pushed it toward her on the floor with a paw. She took a piece of melon and ate it, looking between Angel and Harry. They watched her until the slice was gone, then each took some themselves and ate slowly. They all ate in silence for a few minutes, until Fluttershy broke it.
  38.  
  39. “Are you going to tell me what happened? Somepony is hurt, aren’t they?”
  40.  
  41. Angel looked at Harry, who shrugged. He looked back at Fluttershy and nodded.
  42.  
  43. Fluttershy’s hooves went to her mouth. “Oh no! Who is it?”
  44.  
  45. Angel shook his head and refused to give her a name.
  46.  
  47. “Oh, Angel, who’s hurt? Please tell me!”
  48.  
  49. Angel shook his head again.
  50.  
  51. Fluttershy looked up at Harry. “Harry, please, who’s hurt? Is it one of my friends?”
  52.  
  53. Harry shook his head and gave a quiet roar.
  54.  
  55. “I know Angel doesn’t want to talk about it, and I’m sorry, I’ll probably get emotional, but I need to know. Not knowing is worse! Please!”
  56.  
  57. Harry looked at Angel, who shook his head vehemently, but one look back at Fluttershy and Harry brayed in frustration.
  58.  
  59. Fluttershy covered her mouth with her hooves. “Royal Pin? Oh no! How did he get hurt?”
  60.  
  61. Angel and Harry both pulled a paw over their mouths in unison.
  62.  
  63. “Is it… bad?”
  64.  
  65. Angel nodded, then pointed at the bowl of food again, glaring at her.
  66.  
  67. She picked up an apple and nibbled at it. “How did he get hurt?”
  68.  
  69. Angel just pointed at the food harder.
  70.  
  71. Fluttershy dropped the questions, instead eating her fruit like Angel wanted. If he wasn’t going to tell her, he wasn’t going to tell her. Angel was a very stubborn rabbit when it came to sensitive issues.
  72.  
  73. Angel kept quiet about what had happened after that. He forced Harry to swear himself to secrecy as well, and so Harry, being so bad at keeping secrets as he was, avoided talking to Fluttershy much after that. It was awkward, on the whole, and Fluttershy couldn’t think of how to get around it. Angel was stubborn, and he commanded a lot of respect around the cottage’s residents. If he wanted something, he usually got it from everypony but her. If he wanted to keep the secret from her, however, that meant it was probably something big. Something huge, even. Fluttershy kept her piece and waited.
  74.  
  75. The following days were awkward, but not impossible. It appeared that only Harry and Angel knew what had happened that night with Royal Pin and her, and they hadn’t told any of the other animals. She tried asking the insects and birds that might have been around, but the birds had all fled during the events, and the bugs weren’t talking. Angel had gotten to them first.
  76.  
  77. She’d gone into town to try to visit Royal Pin, but when he’d heard it was her coming he had demanded that she not be allowed in. He was insistent, and the orderlies and nurses had blocked her way. Fluttershy’s quest for information had come to a halt before it had even started.
  78.  
  79. She returned home and continued with her daily tasks, trying not to worry too much about it. If it was that important it was bound to come out eventually. Even Angel wouldn’t be able to hide it forever. She contented herself with her work, taking care of her animals, and just waiting.
  80.  
  81. A month went by…
  82.  
  83.  
  84. Harry, who had been avoiding Fluttershy for the past month, suddenly paid her a lot of attention during the day. He was following her around, at Angel’s insistence he said, and was watching her carefully.
  85.  
  86. Royal Pin had rebuffed all her attempts to contact him for some reason, and Fluttershy had given up trying. She’d sent him a bouquet of flowers with an apology, but she had never gotten an explanation back from him about why he was avoiding her so much. She chalked it up to one of those unavoidable things that just didn’t make sense to anyone but the pony who was hurt and decided to give him whatever space he needed. He’d come around eventually, she was sure.
  87.  
  88. Harry urged Fluttershy along as she worked, trying to get her to hurry up. She didn’t understand, but it was nice to have him back, so she obliged him. She figured there was something he wanted to do with her and she needed to finish early so they could go do it. She finished as soon as she could and looked at him, dusting her hooves off.
  89.  
  90. “What is it you want, Harry? You’ve been pushing me along all day, but I’m done. Does your back hurt again? Why have you been so quiet all day?”
  91.  
  92. Harry snuffed at her and pointed at the house.
  93.  
  94. “You want me to go inside? But the sun isn’t even down yet.”
  95.  
  96. Harry growled quietly.
  97.  
  98. “Okay, okay. I can do that.” She went up to the house and stepped inside, leaving the door open for him. “Now, what’s—”
  99.  
  100. Fluttershy barely had a moment to squeak before ropes were thrown around her. Angel Bunny was tying her up! He had a crowd of other critters crawling all over her, tying her hooves down and gagging her mouth shut. Harry sat in the door with a paw covering his face.
  101.  
  102.  
  103. “Mmmmph!” she cried, but Angel wasn’t listening. He was giving orders to the critters around her as they fastened everything down solid. The knots were tight, the ropes were taut, and she could barely move besides some mild wiggling She tried to turn her head to look, but her head was pressed against the floor and the rope didn’t have enough give. She just grunted at Angel.
  104.  
  105. Angel hopped down in front of her so she could see him and tapped his foot. He pointed at her, then out the window. He shook his head and folded his arms. He looked angry, but that was normal. Behind that anger, however, there was a little bit of fear. She knew him well enough to notice it, and Angel being afraid of something was extremely concerning. She looked over at Harry, who had stepped inside and shut the door. The other critters all disappeared outside, leaving Angel and Harry the only ones left with her. They were waiting for something.
  106.  
  107. Harry groaned at Angel, who just tapped his foot back at him and pointed out the window. They both sat, alternately staring at her, then the window, then back at her. The sun went down.
  108.  
  109. Fluttershy opened her eyes.
  110.  
  111. The living room was a mess, and Harry was sitting on her. The couch was overturned, the bird house was broken on the floor, and some of her dishes were smashed. The ropes that she had been tied down with were ripped, and Angel was sitting on top of a chair nearby, staring down at her. He had a cut on his forehead, but that was it.
  112.  
  113. He glared at her.
  114.  
  115. “What…” she began, confused, “what happened? What’s going on?”
  116.  
  117. Angel pointed right at her and frowned harder. Harry grunted.
  118.  
  119. “I happened? What do you mean?”
  120.  
  121. Angel pointed at her, then at the cut on his forehead.
  122.  
  123. “I hurt you, as well? What’s going on? I don’t…” She thought back to last night and all the things that happened before she went to sleep. She remembered getting tied up by Angel and Harry, then… nothing. “I don’t remember. Why don’t I remember anything?”
  124.  
  125. Angel sighed. He motioned to Harry, who lifted himself off Fluttershy. She stood up, feeling sore in most of her muscles. That made her frown. If she had been tied up, she shouldn’t be so sore, but looking at the state of the house and feeling her muscles made her wonder if she truly had been the one to do all of this.
  126.  
  127. “What happened last night, Angel? Tell me,” she demanded.
  128.  
  129. It was actually Harry who explained. He went into tearful and concerned, blubbering detail of how concerned they were about Fluttershy and how she was feeling that they had to keep her safe last night for her own good. She’d been out and about and gotten an… “infection” as Harry put it, from Royal Pin.
  130.  
  131. “I… change?”
  132.  
  133. Angel motioned to the trashed living room and kitchen.
  134.  
  135. “I just… thought that was Harry, actually.” Harry looked offended.
  136.  
  137. “What do you mean? Please explain.”
  138.  
  139. Harry told her. Angel nodded in agreement.
  140.  
  141. She sat down heavily after they told her. “I… change every time there’s a full moon? Into a timberwolf?”
  142.  
  143. Angel waggled his paw back and forth.
  144.  
  145. “Not quite a timberwolf? O-oh.” She went silent. Harry and Angel both just sat next to her and waited as she processed everything. She didn’t know what to think. She was sick now, and she had no idea with what. And Royal Pin had given it to her?
  146.  
  147.  
  148. “Then, the blood last month, that was you two protecting me from Royal Pin?”
  149.  
  150. They nodded.
  151.  
  152. Tearfully, she went and hugged both of them. “I’m sorry, you two. I thought you were just being overly cautious about silly things. Thank you both.” She stepped back and went to start cleaning up the mess. “But now that raises the question of how I’m going to get better. I can’t leave this as it is, obviously. I don’t… want to hurt anypony.”
  153.  
  154. She tried singing to herself while she cleaned, but her heart was pounding. She was sick with something terrible, and she had hurt her friends during a fit of uncontrollable rage and animalistic anger. Even Harry didn’t do that. He was a big, but gentle soul. She fumbled with the couch as she tried to right it, until Harry came over and helped her lift it into place. Her smile faltered while she swept up the broken dishes, and she could hear her voice cracking as she tried to pick up the mess around the rest of the room. When everything was clean, she sat on the couch and went silent, staring into space for a few minutes. Harry and Angel watched her carefully.
  155.  
  156. “I don’t… know what to do. I have a month? How do you two know?”
  157.  
  158. Angel hopped over to a bookshelf and pulled a book out. He bounded back over to her and held it up. It was a book about monsters she had been given by her brother one Nightmare Night. He thought it was funny even though she was scared. She’d kept it only because it was a gift. It looked well-used, probably by Angel himself. Angel pulled it open to the page about werewolves and pointed at it.
  159.  
  160.  
  161. The image on the page was of something that looked like a pony and a timberwolf. The pony in question had wooden parts covering their limbs and face, and glowing yellow eyes. It had sharp, pointed teeth, and a long tail that looked like branches. Its back was covered in chunks of bark, but it looked fierce, and scary. Fluttershy squeaked quietly and pushed it away.
  162.  
  163. “There’s no way I look like that, is there?”
  164.  
  165. Angel nodded. She looked to Harry. He nodded, but shrugged.
  166.  
  167. “Oh, dear.” She pursed her lips in thought. “What about Royal Pin, he was one of these things too?”
  168.  
  169. The two looked at each other and both frowned. Angel shrugged. Harry mumbled. Fluttershy nodded absentmindedly.
  170.  
  171. “I need to fix this, but I don’t know how. If it has to do with timberwolves then I know just the pony, however. I need to go see Zecora!”
  172.  
  173. Angel stood up and pointed to himself. Harry grunted and lowered his head.
  174.  
  175. “Yes, you two can come if you want to. Zecora could use the information you two have.”
  176.  
  177. Harry grunted again.
  178.  
  179. “Why don’t you want to come, Harry?” she asked.
  180.  
  181. Harry pointed at himself and rubbed at his fur, making a pained face.
  182.  
  183. “Oh, are you still hurting from last night?”
  184.  
  185. He nodded.
  186.  
  187. “Okay, you can stay here. I’m sure Angel will be enough, since the two of you have been helping me out so much. I’ll give you a bath later, okay?” She kissed him on the forehead and he smiled. “Oh, but before we go.” She flew upstairs and grabbed a bandage from her first-aid kit, then came back down and stuck it on Angel’s forehead. “There you go, my sweet little guardian. I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
  188.  
  189. Angel folded his arms and looked away.
  190.  
  191. With Angel bandaged up, Fluttershy opened the door for them. Angel hopped outside, followed by Harry, then Fluttershy. She shut the door and locked it and quickly went through her morning routine. The animals were all fed while she pondered what she had been told.
  192.  
  193. She wasn’t sure how much she believed it. Angel had been known to make problems seem larger than they were. Harry wasn’t quite as prone to exaggeration as Angel, however, which is why she believed it somewhat. She knew she had a problem, but whether she was actually afflicted with some strange curse was still up in the air. Somehow she had been hurt last month during the night, and Harry and Angel both had seen it but didn’t want to tell her what had happened. A hazy memory of Angel and Harry covered in blood came back to her, and she winced at the mental picture.
  194.  
  195. She looked down at the chickens she was feeding and smiled at them. They looked up at her and she thought they smiled back, but they weren’t afraid. Didn’t animals just “know” these sorts of things somehow? If the chickens weren’t afraid, and neither were the goats or other animals, didn’t that mean she was okay?
  196.  
  197. She dusted off her hooves and waved to Angel. He hopped up next to her and she landed, then began walking off toward the Everfree. She reached out to try to rub his head, but he flattened his ears and ducked away from her hoof.
  198.  
  199. “It’s not that bad, is it?”
  200.  
  201. He frowned harder and tapped the bandage on his forehead.
  202.  
  203. “I said I was sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”
  204.  
  205. He didn’t say anything else. She left it at that, but her earlier smile was gone. If she’d hurt him and Harry in some strange, instinctive rage, she really needed to fix this problem soon.
  206.  
  207.  
  208. They entered the Everfree and walked down the overgrown path leading to Zecora’s hut. Fluttershy knew the way, and there wasn’t much danger on the path. Zecora kept scented oils and specific plants set up on the path to deter any wandering creatures that might feel sassy enough to try to attack anypony coming to visit her.
  209.  
  210. It was on this path somewhere that Fluttershy smelled something. Something ugly and awful. It burned her nose and made her sneeze. It was acrid, smoky, and oh, did it burn! She put a hoof to her nose and flinched, backing away.
  211.  
  212. “What is that horrible smell? Angel, do you smell that?”
  213.  
  214. Angel sniffed the air and spread his paws, then shrugged.
  215.  
  216. “It’s horrible!” She tried to walk wide to get around it, but even when she did, there was more of whatever was making the smell elsewhere around the hut. She could see it in the distance, but she couldn’t find a way to get through. She even flew up above and tried to fly down, but the smell permeated the entire place.
  217.  
  218. With a hoof on her nose, Fluttershy landed and looked to Angel. “Angel, sweetie, could you go get Zecora and bring her out here? I can’t handle this stink.”
  219.  
  220. Angel sighed audibly, but he hopped into the copse with Zecora’s hut in it and pounded on the door. Fluttershy couldn’t hear what was said, but Zecora came outside and walked down the path to meet Fluttershy. She stayed just a little bit away, inside the smell. She looked out at Fluttershy, who was holding a hoof over her nose, and smiled amicably.
  221.  
  222.  
  223. “I’m sorry for the smell you hate, the woods have been unkind of late, but I need not to make you wait.”
  224.  
  225. Fluttershy put on an awkward smile. “Good afternoon, Zecora. I have a little bit of a problem and I wanted to know if you could help.”
  226.  
  227. “Your problem’s obvious to me, that smell you find so bad, you see, is meant to be protection from thee.”
  228.  
  229. “From… me?”
  230.  
  231. “The bane of wolves the scent is named, to stop the ones who’ve been untamed.”
  232.  
  233. “The ones who’ve… oh.” Fluttershy’s face fell. “So it’s true, then? I’m cursed?”
  234.  
  235. “If you find the smell so bad, it’s true a curse be what you have. But lose not hope, for there’s a cure. You take this curse and it abjure.”
  236.  
  237. “Ab—what?” fluttershy was confused, but it sounded like there was something she could do about it. “Do you mean I can get rid of it? How?”
  238.  
  239. Zecora leaned closer. Fluttershy kept her nose covered and listened intently, but Zecora’s voice got louder, booming out into the woods. Birds flew away in fright. “I’ll not let you in my home, not while so wild and free you roam. You have one month to live your life, but then on moon-filled nights of strife, the curse will rear its ugly head, and ponies ‘round you end up dead. I heard of Royal Pin and he—so injured and so hurt he be—came round my hut to ask the same, the question that brings you such shame. You’ve passed it on and cursed the next, so ask the princess with the text, of wolves and wolven-types around and ask how you may be unbound from curse and terror, somehow, sure. But as of now, I have no cure.”
  240.  
  241. It took Fluttershy a moment to parse what Zecora had said. “You mean there’s no cure?”
  242.  
  243. “I mean I have none here with me, but something at the castle may be.”
  244.  
  245. Fluttershy’s ears wilted. “Oh.”
  246.  
  247. “Do not fret, my yellow friend, we’ll find some way to make this end.”
  248.  
  249. “Okay,” Fluttershy said. “I guess I understand. Do you know how I might have gotten it?”
  250.  
  251. “This fact, to me, is hidden yet. I’m sorry, dear. I’ll make no bet.”
  252.  
  253. “Okay, thanks anyway, Zecora. I’ll come let you know what I find out, if you can help.”
  254.  
  255. “Good luck to you, and all your friends. It shan’t last long, we’ll make amends.”
  256.  
  257. “I certainly hope so, Zecora.”
  258.  
  259. Zecora waved goodbye and Fluttershy left the hut behind her. The smell lessened the further away she got until she could breathe properly without her nose burning like it was on fire. She wandered despondently along the forest trail back toward Ponyville. She could see Twilight’s castle off in the distance, and she could have made it there much quicker by flying, but she just dragged her hooves along. She didn’t know what to do about her problem, and she really didn’t want to hurt anypony. She had thirty days? What was she going to do when it all came around again? How would she handle it?
  260.  
  261. “Angel, what should I do? I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this. If I broke out of the ropes yesterday and you could barely stop me then, what are we going to do next time?” When she got no response, she turned around to look for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. “Angel?”
  262.  
  263. She looked back at the Everfree and realized he had probably gone to talk to Zecora. Either way, it wasn’t the first time he had gone off by himself. Still, she was worried. She fluttered back down the path, looking for him.
  264.  
  265.  
  266. “Angel!” she called, but there was nopony to be seen anywhere on the path. No flash of white or anything. She eventually hit the wall of stink and was repulsed. She could see Zecora’s hut inside it but couldn’t bring herself any closer than she was. Even if she held her breath and tried to fly through it, her eyes burned. She eventually gave up, hoping that he had indeed gone inside the hut with Zecora. He was probably just trying to help her out.
  267.  
  268. Once again, Fluttershy turned away from the hut and wandered slowly down the path. She made her way back into Ponyville and up to Twilight’s castle. As she passed by ponies in town, she could see and hear them talking to each other. Her mind made every hidden conversation talk about her and her problem, and how she had injured Royal Pin. To her, everypony was blaming her and her strange disease for everything. Her ears remained flattened to her head, even as she walked up to the castle she had been to so many times before.
  269.  
  270. She was so self-conscious, she found herself knocking on the castle doors, even though she was one of the elements of harmony. Spike answered it after a minute, and he almost started int a welcoming spiel before his face became confused.
  271.  
  272. “Uh… hi, Fluttershy. Can I help you? You know you can just come in whenever you want, right?”
  273.  
  274. “Oh!” she said. “Right, I’m sorry. I’m a little preoccupied at the moment.”
  275.  
  276. “It seems that way. Something wrong?”
  277.  
  278. “Well… yes, but—” Fluttershy stopped herself. If she told Spike and Twilight, they might start treating her differently as well. Zecora had something at her hut to keep her out, would Twilight do that too?
  279.  
  280.  
  281. “Yes, but…?” Spike said, urging her on.
  282.  
  283. “Can I look at your library? I need to find something out about some animals, and I don’t think I have the books myself.”
  284.  
  285. “Oh, sure. What animals?” Spike stepped aside and motioned her in. She walked along down the halls toward the library, Spike jogging to keep up.
  286.  
  287. “Well…” Fluttershy hadn’t thought this far ahead. “Bears?”
  288.  
  289. “Bears? Can’t Harry answer that for you?”
  290.  
  291. “Harry… won’t talk to me about it. I think it’s a… sensitive issue? I’m trying to figure out what it is,” she lied. She knew everything about bears, but she had started the lie, she was going to run with it.
  292.  
  293. “Oh, well I wouldn’t know, but I know where the bears’ books are at. Come with me.”
  294.  
  295. He led her into the library and down the crystal shelves of books. He held out a claw, muttering the titles to himself as they went until he came to the letter B. “Here we go! Bears! All you might want to know about bears in Equestria, right here.”
  296.  
  297. “Thank you, Spike. I’ll let you know when I’m done.”
  298.  
  299. “No problem. Are you looking for something about bears that can tell you about their hygiene, their fur, their claws, their paws, their eyes? Is his nose runny?” Spike pulled a couple of books off the shelves and began flipping through them.
  300.  
  301. “Spike, please. I can’t talk to you about it because I said it’s sensitive. I’ll find it myself. Can I just have time to look alone?”
  302.  
  303. “Oh! Okay. No problem.” He put the book he had been flipping through back on the shelf and trotted away. “Just call me if you need anything.”
  304.  
  305. “Thank you, Spike.”
  306.  
  307. Left alone, Fluttershy went searching through the books. She pulled the one he had first offered her off the shelf and looked through it, just for a quick smile. It was about bear’s hygiene habits in the wild, and it had cute illustrations. She smiled at the look of the bear inside, but eventually put it back. She had come here for a reason, and she needed to take care of that before her friends found out about her little problem. She didn’t want them to all hear about it and then make every house smell like that awful thing Zecora had done.
  308.  
  309. She hunted about for the books about wolves. They weren’t kept too far away from the bears, thankfully, but there were significantly fewer of them than the other. The books covered a range of topics such as timberwolves—the most obvious—to wolverines and maned wolves. There weren’t a lot, and not one of them had a focus on werewolves, so she picked out the one about timberwolves and flipped through it.
  310.  
  311. It appeared to have been written a very long time ago, as the language used in the book was archaic and more than a little boring. It appeared to have been penned by Starswirl, at least in part, as his name appeared in the credits at the start of the book. Unfortunately, despite going into detailed speculation of how the timberwolves came to be, there was nothing describing how they might pass their unusual curse on to a pony. In fact, it seemed as though Starswirl and the others decided it wasn’t a curse that could be applied to a pony at all. It was more of an animation spell that caused the deadwood of the forest to come alive. Curious in and of itself, but not useful for Fluttershy.
  312.  
  313.  
  314. Unable to find what she was looking for in that book, Fluttershy dropped it and moved on to one of the others, but both other books were just biological texts talking about the life of wolverines and other things. Normal, and boring, and completely unhelpful to Fluttershy. She wandered in circles, looking at the other books, trying to think of what she could do.
  315.  
  316. “If I can’t find anything about their biology, then I should look at unbiological things!”
  317.  
  318. Starswirl’s theories gave her an idea. It wasn’t a normal effect that caused her to become a werewolf, it was a curse! She hunted through the stacks for books about curses and began reading. Unfortunately, there were a lot of curses, and many of them were as calm and painless as a little bit of dry skin, to things as bad as something called the “creeping doom of Mephistopheles”. That one she avoided reading about. Just the name scared her. She hadn’t found her problem yet when she heard a voice behind her.
  319.  
  320. “Fluttershy? I heard from Spike you were here about something sensitive and since I had a spare moment I thought I’d come ask if I could help. Harry having fur trouble again?” She looked at the section Fluttershy was in and frowned. “Is everything all right? This section has nothing to do with bears.”
  321.  
  322. “Oh! Um… I was trying not to bother him or you about it.”
  323.  
  324. “If he’s cursed, I can help you out better than a book can. Can you describe what he’s got?”
  325.  
  326. Fluttershy looked at the floor, the ceiling, the walls, and even a spider in one corner of the vaulted crystal ceiling. Anything to avoid looking at Twilight, but she eventually squeaked, “He’s got a problem that comes only on the full moon.”
  327.  
  328.  
  329. Twilight brightened. “Oh, a full moon curse? Those are rather simple, honestly. You see, since the moon has such a regular pattern, we can attribute mathematical properties to the curse itself, which would make sense given that the spell should be cast with properly aligned energies in order to ensure…”
  330.  
  331. Fluttershy stopped fully listening and looked back at her book. It didn’t have any useful information, but Twilight was smart, and knew all about magicks. She didn’t understand what Twilight was talking about, but as the books came flying at her through the air, Fluttershy smiled at how willing her friend was to help.  Maybe it would be okay to bring it up with her? Surely she’d be more sensible and helpful than Zecora would?
  332.  
  333. “…except lycanthropy, which follows the regular patterns, but induces a very unpony rage upon the subject, transforming them into a wolfish form, complete with the anger associated with timberwolves. That’s—”
  334.  
  335. “Wait, what was that?” Fluttershy interrupted.
  336.  
  337. “Timberwolves?”
  338.  
  339. “No, that other word you used?”
  340.  
  341. “Lycanthropy?”
  342.  
  343. “Yes, that’s associated with timberwolves?”
  344.  
  345. “It’s the word used to describe a pony that’s been afflicted with lycanthropy, which is when, during a full moon, the pony transforms into a horrible beast.”
  346.  
  347. “A… werewolf?”
  348.  
  349. “Yes, exactly! I should have known you’d know the term, Fluttershy. It’s unique among moon-related curses in that it’s transmitted more like a disease.”
  350.  
  351. “Transmitted?”
  352.  
  353. “Oh, yes. A bite will infect the one bitten with lycanthropy if they don’t follow the proper steps to clean the wounds within twenty-four hours, and then you’ll have yet another werewolf on your hooves.”
  354.  
  355. “Oh… that… that sound t-terrible.” Fluttershy was swaying where she stood. Royal Pin might be a werewolf too! What had she done? “How do you… cure it?”
  356.  
  357. “Cure it?” Twilight looked away in thought. “You know, I’m not sure. I should look that up.”
  358.  
  359. “O-oh. Well…” Fluttershy’s heart was racing. There was no cure? Even Twilight didn’t know? What was she supposed to do with herself now that she would become a danger to everypony around her every month? She’d hoped that somepony as smart as Twilight or as wise as Zecora would have something to fix this… lycanthropy. She’d thought it just a disease that could be fixed like a cold or something. This was getting worse by the minute!
  360.  
  361. Twilight kept talking while she picked up several of the books Fluttershy had already been through. “You know, Fluttershy, I never took you for being so interested in something like this. Is whatever is affecting your friend causing him or her temperament problems? If it’s a full moon-related problem, it might very well be lycanthropy.”
  362.  
  363. “Oh! No!” she answered too quickly, “It’s just… something else. It’s a bit embarrassing. I don’t know if he’d be okay with me sharing it.”
  364.  
  365. “Okay, well it could be lycanthropy, though I’ve never heard of a bear suffering from the disease. It’s something that can really only affect ponies, as far as I’m aware. But! There’s a first time for everything,” Twilight said cheerfully. “Have you watched him during the full moon?”
  366.  
  367. Fluttershy shook her head and swallowed heavily. She’d been to busy with her own problem to worry about what Harry was doing. He’d certainly been bit and injured by her, however. Could he contract it?
  368.  
  369. “Well,” said Twilight, “if you haven’t been able to keep an eye on him, you’ll want to do so next full moon. From a safe distance, of course. You’re a pegasus, so you can just fly above him and see what he does. Perfectly safe.”
  370.  
  371.  
  372. “Oh, no. I don’t… I mean… I don’t know…” Fluttershy stammered.
  373.  
  374. “If you want, I can come help you watch him. We have a full month, so we can plan for it. I can keep him under control if it turns out to be true.”
  375.  
  376. “No!” Fluttershy shouted.
  377.  
  378. Twilight recoiled in shock.
  379.  
  380. “I mean… no, thank you. It’s embarrassing enough as it is. It’s not lycanthropy. It’s something else. I’m sorry, Twilight. You don’t have what I was looking for.” She made to leave, and Twilight just watched her go. She turned around at the exit from the library. “But… please do find out what fixes lycanthropy. I am curious,” she said. “…for unrelated reasons, of course!” She galloped out of the building. Twilight didn’t try to stop her.
  381.  
  382. She ran back home, ignored all the hoots, chirps, and clucks from her friends outside, threw open the door and rushed upstairs. She tossed herself onto her bed and lay there, eyes burning, but not crying. She didn’t know if she even felt like crying. She had a problem she didn’t know how to fix, and she could potentially end up hurting her friends. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse than this.
  383.  
  384. Fluttershy didn’t know how long she laid there for, but soon night came. She heard the lumbering footsteps of Harry moving about downstairs, along with the quick pitter-patter of Angels tiny paws. She could smell them, both of them. The heavy, musky scent of Harry, his commanding but gentle presence, and Angel’s hard, acrid smell that didn’t feel anything like any other rabbit she had ever smelled. Angel had always been different, but his smell just drove that point home a little harder. For that matter, why could she smell them so clearly? Her drowsy mind didn’t quite grasp the significance of that.
  385.  
  386.  
  387. The footsteps started up the stairs, and Fluttershy groaned inwardly. She didn’t know that she wanted to see them right now. She growled into the pillow, then heaved herself up off the bed and went to her window. She pulled it open and jumped out of it, wings picking her up and off into the twilit sky. She heard Angel running up after her, and Harry growling behind her as she left, but neither one caught her before she was gone.
  388.  
  389. Out in the night sky, Fluttershy felt a lot more at ease than she had inside her house. The air was crisp and clean, the moon gave her just enough light, and the smell—oh! The smells!—she’d never noticed it before, but the smell of Ponyville told her a lot about the place. She could smell Sugarcube Corner off in the distance. Sweet, yet welcoming. She could smell the apples from Sweet Apple Acres, and she could smell the unnatural, mineral smells from Twilight’s castle, tinged with magic.
  390.  
  391. She rubbed her nose. She could even smell the awful stench coming from Zecora’s hut in the Everfree. It was just a touch of it, but it was present, and she didn’t like it.
  392.  
  393. Fluttershy looked up at the moon. It was waning gibbous, having just passed its full phase. Looking at it filled her with a sense of strength unlike anything she’d ever felt, save for that brief time after having taken Iron Will’s class when she was forceful, and very much in control. Deep down, however, she knew that wasn’t right. That wasn’t her.
  394.  
  395. “I’m not… like that.” She fluttered slowly down to the grass, just on the edge of the Everfree. It felt… homey, to her. Like there was a place she could belong inside there. She knew that was wrong, too.
  396.  
  397. She stared into the woods, her eyes piercing the darkness of the forest unlike anything she had ever experienced. There was darkness in there, but there was something more as well. Something that knew her, just as she knew it, and it scared her. She backed away from the forest, carefully taking one step at a time as she looked into the darkness, her eyes showing her things she never would have noticed otherwise.
  398.  
  399. Animals scurrying about in the dark. Falling branches and leaves, knocked loose by a bird or one of the animals yet hidden. Rustling bushes and loose dirt, kicked up by something hurrying past, eager to get past the wide-open space and back into the comfort of the underbrush.
  400.  
  401. Suddenly, there was a howl. It tore her out of her reverie and she jumped in fright. The pony side of her was fearful, but she also felt another part of her that was pleased that company was near. She felt something inside her want to join them in their call, but her fear overruled it. She turned and ran, galloping back to her warm, safe cottage, with its walls and doors and windows that kept the outside world away.
  402.  
  403. She was too scared to fly, and she struggled with the door when she got back. When she fell into the house, Angel and Harry were both there waiting on the couch. Angle folded his arms and frowned, while Harry just twiddled his thumbs and looked contrite. Angel pointed to the table, where a bowl of food had been placed. Neither Angel nor Harry said anything, but just watched her, waiting, expecting her to do something or say something. She sobbed then, and burst into tears.
  404.  
  405.  
  406. “I don’t want to be cur-hur-hurrrrsed!” she cried. Harry came over and picked her up. Angel stood on the couch, frowning harder, but his eyes weren’t into it as much as they had been. He looked concerned instead of upset.
  407.  
  408. Harry growled kindly at her and rocked her back and forth in his big, strong arms.
  409.  
  410. “I’m sorry I went outside. I was scared of you two and what you’d say,” she said, “but it’s even worse out there! I can smell everything, and see everything, and hear everything, and I got close to the forest and there were timberwolves, and they howled, and I wanted to howl and… and…” she threw up her hooves and sobbed even harder. “I don’t want to be like this!”
  411.  
  412. Harry growled softly and patted her on the head.
  413.  
  414. “I know you’ll help keep me safe, but I already bit Royal Pin, didn’t I? What if he’s cursed too, and then he’ll bite other ponies, and I’ve ruined everything! Ohhhh!”
  415.  
  416. Angel thumped a foot and pointed to the table, where the bowl of food sat untouched.
  417.  
  418. “I know, I know. I should eat. It’s better for me, okay. I’ll eat, then get some sleep, and try to… figure this out.”
  419.  
  420. Harry gently lowered her to the floor and she walked over to the table. She sat down and listlessly stared at her bowl and the vegetables inside it. It even had a sprinkling of oats on top, with her favorite dressing. Her eyes welled up at how thoughtful the two of them were, despite Angel’s scary face, and she started crying again.
  421.  
  422. She eventually finished her food and went upstairs. She bathed, groomed her mane and tail, and dried off as she prepared for bed, then crawled under the covers. Harry and Angel watched her as she got ready to sleep, and Harry kindly shut the window when howling floated up from the Everfree.
  423.  
  424. “Thank you both,” she said with a smile, and fell asleep.
  425.  
  426.  
  427. Elsewhere in Ponyville, Royal Pin was struggling to pull himself together. He had woken up in the morning near the woods covered in blood. He’d returned to town only to find out that somepony had been murdered; utterly torn apart. He’d gotten to his own home before most of the town had woken up and bathed, cleaning himself off, and was trying to piece together the events of the night before.
  428.  
  429. He wasn’t injured, his horn was fine and working properly, and nopony was mentioning him as part of the list of suspects, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was somewhat at fault for all this.
  430.  
  431. He went through the motions of his day as best he could, but he made mistakes, was absent-minded, and destroyed more things with his horn than was normal. He made some filly cry when he wandered through her cuteceneara and accidentally destroyed her piñata, but he only offered a half-hearted apology. Something was wrong, and he couldn’t quite put his hoof on it.
  432.  
  433. He worried so much about the murder, he didn’t realize it when he found himself wandering out of Ponyville, past Sweet Apple Acres, and into the Everfree forest. When he finally looked up and realized where he was, contrary to the feeling of fear he would normally feel, he actually felt sort of at home. There was a powerful stench coming from the direction of the local witch doctor’s hut, so he avoided that, but he felt something calling him. He followed it, only to find himself outside a cave. Yellow, glowing eyes looked at him.
  434.  
  435. He felt calm.
  436.  
  437. Fluttershy’s days were eased in the following weeks by Angel and Harry’s presence. She rarely went anywhere without either one of them watching over her, and she was grateful for that. Anytime she was alone she ended up thinking about what happened with Royal Pin, then Zecora, then Twilight. Each one of them represented something she hated about herself, and that made her unhappy.
  438.  
  439. She hadn’t seen Royal Pin, despite having tried twice after her visit to Twilight, when she’d learned she could transform other ponies into werewolves just by biting them. She wanted to talk to him, find out if he’d been having any… black-out moments recently, but unfortunately, he had disappeared. She hoped it was just a coincidence, but somepony had died during the last full moon, and she couldn’t help but think the two events connected in the worst way. She’d asked Pinkie to stop telling the story when she’d gone into terrible detail, and had excused herself. They’d never caught the culprit, and that worried her.
  440.  
  441. Zecora, on the other hand, had come by frequently. They’d talked about her condition and what steps she was taking to secure herself during the next full moon. She’d asked Zecora to keep it a secret, and she had obliged. That was a weight off her withers, but Zecora still had no cure. She asked about the bites, and what could be done immediately after being attacked (assuming one survived), and Zecora had cures for that which involved that rancid-smelling flower called wolfsbane she was using to protect her hut. It was too late for Fluttershy and possibly Royal Pin, but if anypony else got attacked, Zecora was going to be ready.
  442.  
  443. Twilight had been of no help at all, unfortunately. She looked through her books and hadn’t found anything. They’d only met once before she’d run off to Canterlot, eager to find out more from the library there. They hadn’t spoken since.
  444.  
  445.  
  446. Angel tapped Fluttershy on the leg, pulling her from her thoughts. She looked down at him and he pointed at a nearby stall selling cherries. He really had a taste for them. She bought a few, then checked her grocery list. She needed apples, and she knew exactly where to get them.
  447.  
  448. She led Angel out of the market and down the road toward Sweet Apple Acres. She could have just bought some from Applejack’s stall, but she had some medicine for Winona’s fleas she brought to drop off. She could get two errands done at once.
  449.  
  450. She inhaled the smell of apples and picked up extra smells at the same time. It was queer, being able to find Big Macintosh out in the apple grove. He was off to the left side of the road, several rows of trees deep. He was sweating something fierce, and had recently tossed some hay around, or had been napping in it. She didn’t know which, but it really wasn’t any of her business.
  451.  
  452. She sniffed harder, trying to use her new and strange gift to find Applejack, and smelled her off in the distance to the right of the road, past the barn. She trotted into the trees, weaving her way. Angel bapped her on the hoof and she looked down. He shook his head at her.
  453.  
  454. “Oh, Angel, don’t worry so much. I just used my sense of smell to find Applejack and make our trip easier. That’s not so wrong, is it?”
  455.  
  456. He nodded adamantly, frowning even harder. He poked himself in the nose and plugged it, shaking his head fiercely. He bared his teeth and shook his head even harder.
  457.  
  458.  
  459. “I’m not enjoying my problem, I’m just using it to make life easier until I can find a way to fix it. Is that wrong?”
  460.  
  461. He nodded, and she sighed. He flapped his arms and pointed at her back, scowling even harder.
  462.  
  463. “Oh… I guess you’re right. I could have just flown over the orchard.” She picked him up and put him on her back with her saddlebags, then flew up above the trees. She easily found Applejack (with the help of her nose) and flew down beside her. Applejack waved as she landed.
  464.  
  465. “Well howdy there, Fluttershy. What brings you here? The medicine for Winona?”
  466.  
  467. “Oh, yes. I’ve also come to buy apples.”
  468.  
  469. “Y’all know Granny’s in town with the cart, right?”
  470.  
  471. “Well… yes, but I thought I could get some straight from the tree, since I was here.”
  472.  
  473. Applejack grinned. “Y’all don’t even have to ask. Just pick your fill and we’ll call it square for the medicine.”
  474.  
  475. “Thank you, Applejack,” she said, and held out a small bottle. Applejack took it and went back to bucking, while Fluttershy watched.
  476.  
  477. She picked out a few of the fallen apples she liked the look of, then bid Applejack farewell. She started on her way back home, walking back along the road, when she picked up a smell.
  478.  
  479. This smell wasn’t like the other smells.
  480.  
  481. This one smelled… friendly. That, more than anything, made Fluttershy uncomfortable. How did something smell friendly? She didn’t know how she knew it was friendly, but she did. It was a friendly smell that beckoned her in toward it, promising to be nice. She stopped and shivered in place. Angel put a comforting paw on her hoof, but she was still scared.
  482.  
  483. “I… smell something, Angel. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it.”
  484.  
  485. It was coming from the direction of the Everfree. It was strong and insistent, like it was a command more than a suggestion. That she only had two choices: obey it or die. Still, she didn’t obey. She was frozen to the spot, afraid of the smell’s promise, and afraid of how friendly it was, despite its dangerous promise. She looked around, trying to find the exact source, peering through the orchard toward the crooked trees lining the edge of the Everfree.
  486.  
  487. “Angel… I’m afraid.”
  488.  
  489. Angel flicked his thumb across his nose and leaned back, looking at her. He cocked his head and his ears twitched.
  490.  
  491. “No, I don’t know what it is. I can smell it, but I can’t see it.”
  492.  
  493. He followed her gaze, looking toward the forest with her, but despite the light neither of them saw anything. There was just a line of trees and their calm, rustling leaves. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, dangerous, or even questionable. There was just apples and trees.
  494.  
  495. Fluttershy tried to pull her eyes away, but the smell and its implicit order wasn’t going to let her. It drew her onward, insistent. She found herself lifting a hoof, and panic set in.
  496.  
  497. “Angel! Take me home!” she said, voice edging on hysterical.
  498.  
  499. Angel looked up at her, confused.
  500.  
  501. She repeated herself, “Force me to go home, now!”
  502.  
  503. Angel shrugged and grabbed her by the hoof. He yanked her along the path leading back toward Ponyville and her cottage. The moment her hoof started moving, however, she felt her body turning toward the Everfree. The feeling of implied obedience given to her by that scent was powerful, and her body wanted to obey, even if her mind railed against it. Angel was strong, however, and corralled her along, forcing her back to the cottage. Not stopping until she was inside and the doors were shut.
  504.  
  505.  
  506. Harry was there with the two of them immediately, he and Angel exchanging quick conversation as Angel related what was going on; that she had smelled something and gotten scared, then wanted to come home. At the end of the conversation Harry looked at her and tapped his face with a claw.
  507.  
  508. He growled at her.
  509.  
  510. “I-I’m sorry. It smelled… good. Kind, even. Sort of friendly, which is what I was the most afraid of. It wanted me to come but… but I didn’t want to at the same time,” she said.
  511.  
  512. Harry whined and snorted.
  513.  
  514. “No, we didn’t see anything. I feel like it was close, but we didn’t see anypony or anything out of the ordinary.”
  515.  
  516. Angel stomped a foot.
  517.  
  518. “You’re… probably right, Angel. It was probably a timberwolf or something. But why would they want me for anything other than… to eat.” Her face went pale. “I’m… just a pony.” Angel gave her a flat look. She sighed. “Okay, now I’m not just a pony anymore.”
  519.  
  520. Angel went to a window and looked out at the Everfree forest. It used to be so calm, but now, hidden in the trees, there were dangerous things. He was intent on keeping Fluttershy safe, but he was just a bunny. He’d need a big friend. He pointed at the forest and looked at Harry. Harry grunted in response.
  521.  
  522. They both came back to stand in front of Fluttershy. Angel stomped and pointed at her, then the floor. Harry whined. The two of them went around the house, closing all the windows and latching them. They stopped in front of her one more time, and Angel stomped even harder, pointing at the floor.
  523.  
  524. “I get it, I’ll stay. Be safe you two, okay?’
  525.  
  526.  
  527. Angel huffed and swiped a thumb across his nose, then folded his arms. She smiled at him and leaned down to peck him on the forehead. Harry leaned in and swiped a claw across his nose too. The effect was bigger and his claws more dangerous, but he only came across as goofy and adorable. Fluttershy giggled, then kissed him on the forehead as well. The two of them stepped outside the door of the cottage and looked back in one more time. Angel pointed at her, then the floor once more, then they were gone.
  528.  
  529. Fluttershy couldn’t smell the smell anymore, but the memory of it tickled at her mind. She wandered in circles around the house for a while, but she felt restless. She really wanted to go for a walk outside, but she knew if she did, she’d smell that smell, and then she might be gone. She couldn’t do it. She had to stay put. She wandered in circles inside her cottage for a while, then retreated to bed. She pulled the blankets over her head and closed her eyes, trying to forget everything.
  530. ________________________________________
  531. Angel and Harry approached the forest. They knew something was in there, something that would threaten their poor Fluttershy, and they were ready to take it on, no matter how big or how dangerous. As they approached the treeline, Angel led the way with Harry close behind him. He hopped right up to the trees, glared at them, then kicked one. It shook, but that was it. He looked back at Harry and shrugged. Harry just whined in response. He was only there to help Fluttershy, he had no idea how to find something that smelled funny in the Everfree forest.
  532.  
  533. Angel slapped one paw into the other, grinding it in as he looked back at Harry. Harry nodded, looking a little uneasy himself at the prospect of entering the Everfree Forest looking for… something. He whined, but stayed right behind Angel. Angel grinned and wandered into the woods.
  534.  
  535. He was silent, as rabbits are wont to be, but it was all ruined by Harry’s heavy bumbling and crashing. Still, despite the noise, there was something else out there. Someone or something else that was scurrying about in the darkness. Angel held up a paw and put a claw to his lips. Harry stopped.
  536.  
  537. As they stood, listening quietly, a sound could be heard.
  538.  
  539. It was a rustling sound. That of leaves brushing against one another and a swiftly-moving body, combined with the snapping of twigs. Movement in the shade and dark.
  540.  
  541. Angel pointed at the ground and winked at Harry, then disappeared into the darkness. Harry opened his mouth to whine after Angel, but obediently stayed put, waiting for his friend to return.
  542.  
  543. Angel’s wide eyes led him along through the underbrush. He passed under branches, leaves, and twigs, skittering carefully beneath fallen logs and mossy stones as he hunted for the source of the sound. He made his way through the darkness as stealthily as he could, following the sound until it stopped. When it stopped, he halted immediately. He kept himself ducked underneath a rotten log and waited, ears held high, rotating back and forth.
  544.  
  545. There was silence for a time, broken only by the night calls of the birds and insects. Neither party seemed willing to move, but Angel was patient. Fluttershy’s well-being was on the line, and there was nothing more important to him than her. He didn’t care for many things in life, but food and Fluttershy were at the top of his otherwise short list.
  546.  
  547.  
  548. When the sound came again, Angel was off after it. The crashing, lumbering thing had been at the edge of the woods was going deeper into the Everfree. Angel kept a mental map in his head of his distance from Harry, and kept an ear out for the thing in the darkness. He was getting dangerously far away, but he trusted his own sneaking skills more than he trusted the lumbering form of Harry to be brave. It was this self-same cockiness that got him into trouble, however, as he scuttled underneath what he thought was a bush, only for the bush to open its eyes, looking right at him.
  549.  
  550. Glowing yellow eyes lit up all around him. He heard a growling start up and a low laugh from somepony up ahead. Angel saw Royal Pin, covered in bark and leaves. His mane was tangled and filled with dirt and sticks, and he was looking back at Angel with timberwolves gathering up around him.
  551.  
  552. “Downwind, little one. You wanted to stay downwind,” Royal Pin said, poking his nose with a hoof.
  553.  
  554. Angel struck.
  555.  
  556. His paw whipped out and down at the muzzle of the timberwolf next to him. The creature’s jaw splintered, shattering into chunks of wood. It reared up and yelped through its destroyed mouth, leaving room for another one to charge at Angel.
  557.  
  558. Angel coiled up and leaped into the air as a timberwolf charged him. He landed on its back and clung to it as it skidded to a stop. He crawled up its back as it whipped about, trying to reach him. Its companions bayed loudly and converged, and Angel heard the telltale lumbering crash of Harry coming to help.
  559.  
  560.  
  561. Angel grabbed the timberwolf’s ear twigs and yanked on them. They tore out of the timberwolf’s head and he stabbed them into its eye-holes. He jabbed them in again and again and again until the creature fell to the ground, inanimate once again. His head rang, and Angel suddenly found himself sprawled on the ground. He staggered quickly to his feet, trying to get his bearings. He felt a trickling down the side of his head and looked to his right to see four timberwolves all bearing down on him. He tried to run, but his legs weren’t listening to him. Jagged wooden teeth sank into his torso as a timberwolf caught up to him, and he was shaken rapidly back and forth.
  562.  
  563. He felt himself flying through the air again and rolled to a stop. Sticks rained down around him and there was a loud roar, followed by laughter.
  564.  
  565. “You can’t stop us! She’ll be ours eventually! It’s only a matter of time until the master’s call becomes too strong! There’s nothing you can do!” Royal Pin laughed and disappeared from the clearing. The remaining timberwolves barked and howled as they attacked Harry, but Harry tore them apart, huge claws shredding and splintering their bodies to pieces, until the last set of glowing eyes faded.
  566.  
  567. When he was satisfied they were all gone, Harry rushed over to Angel. He lifted him up in his giant claws with surprising care after the vicious mess he had made. Angel gave him a thumbs-up and smiled. He lifted a paw and held up two claws, nodding. Harry gave him a weak smile and held up one claw, whining. Angel coughed lightly and shrugged. He breathed on a paw and rubbed it on his chest, smirking. Harry growled and began the slow trek home, careful to keep Angel steady.
  568.  
  569. Upon arriving back at Fluttershy’s cottage, Harry brought Angel up to the door, but Angel tapped him on the paw and shook his head. Unwilling to wake up Fluttershy or make her worry any further, Angel insisted on dragging himself inside through one of the pet doors. He found the first-aid kit and brought it back outside, then instructed Harry on exactly how he should be bandaging him up. He was soon a small stained-red pile of anti-septic, bandages, and sticking plaster. When he was satisfied, he limped back inside and put it all away, checking the floor for any drops of blood that might betray his nighttime excursion.
  570.  
  571. When he came back outside, he pointed at the forest and mussed his fur up into a mohawk. Harry nodded and picked him up, then lumbered off into the woods, carrying Angel to Zecora’s hut. When they arrived they scratched at her door until she opened it, eyes bleary from sleep. She saw Angel’s condition and gasped.
  572.  
  573. “Why, Angel dear, you look so pale, come inside, and tell your tale.”
  574.  
  575. Angel pantomimed out the story of his gallant, solo fight against the timberwolves, evoking every amazing backflip and powerful strike to beat them off (Harry was there, too). When he was done, he pointed out the presence of Royal Pin, and how he was working with the timberwolves and got away from them.
  576.  
  577. Zecora nodded to indicate she was listening, but she scratched at her chin in confusion at much of his mimed actions. “You say that Royal Pin is there, but you’ve failed to convey just why I should care.”
  578.  
  579. Angel made the sign for Royal Pin, then made a timberwolf face.
  580.  
  581. “You say that Pin has gone bad, but what is it that makes you so sad?”
  582.  
  583.  
  584. Angel made a Fluttershy face, and indicated that Royal Pin was after her.
  585.  
  586. “You’re worried he’ll take away dear Fluttershy, I can’t imagine why she would go with that guy.” Zecora stood up and paced around the room, thinking. “The problem as you have explained it, is that Fluttershy’s falling to wolf bits. Her sense of smell is so good, she’s being called to the wood. You want me to wolfsbane the forest?”
  587.  
  588. Angel nodded.
  589.  
  590. “I have not enough flowers to do what you ask, you’re asking for hundreds at least. But what I can do is make tea for you, to help mute the voice of the beast.” She went to a shelf and pulled items off it, jars and pots of different ingredients. She started mixing them together into a pouch. A strange smell wafted out, tickling Angel’s nose. “Put some of this into her tea. It will calm her and help her, you’ll see.” She held the pouch out to Angel, who took it and held it tight against his chest. “Fluttershy will be fine, though her sense of smell is divine. This tea will keep it weak, that way she won’t find what she doesn’t know she seeks.”
  591.  
  592. Angel nodded again and gave her a small bow. He stepped outside of the hut where Harry sat waiting. He picked Angel up and they slowly lumbered away. Zecora waved to them as they went, and they both waved back until they were out of sight. Angel mimed to Harry and Harry growled back as Angel explained what he had and what they were going to need to do. Harry nodded, listening carefully to the plan.
  593.  
  594.  
  595. When they got back to the cottage, they were relieved to see the windows and doors were all shut and locked just as they had left them. On the outside, however, they could see all the chickens gathered in one corner of their pen. They were clucking wildly in panic and concern. Angel jumped down from Harry’s paws and approached, asking them what had happened. They screeched and clucked in fear and pointed their wings at the forest, trying to explain.
  596.  
  597. A pony had come out of the woods. He had seemed pony-like enough, and harmless, besides, but when he got close, he changed. His hooves grew wood and his teeth became sharper and deadlier. He grabbed one of them (Named Belina) and snapped her neck, then dragged her off into the woods. They had all come out of the pen to keep an eye on the woods, just in case he came back. Fluttershy hadn’t woken up, despite their screeching, and without Angel and Harry there to protect them, there was nothing they could do.
  598.  
  599. Angel nodded in understanding. He motioned to Harry and asked him to stay outside, watching for anything untoward to come out of the woods. Angel would go inside and rest, ready to take care of Fluttershy when she woke up. Harry nodded and planted himself next to the chicken coop, staring out at the woods with them. The chickens all gathered underneath, laying down in and around Harry’s lap.
  600.  
  601. Angel left them and went inside. He crept through the pet door and slipped into the kitchen. He prepared the kettle, teapot, and a cup for the morning when he’d give her the tea, then crawled upstairs, favoring his injured leg as he went. He climbed up onto Fluttershy’s bed and looked at her. She was sleeping soundly, but where the moonlight hit her face, he couldn’t help but see the slightly-pointed ears and sharp teeth that hid underneath her calm façade. It worried him, but he was ready. He’d do whatever it took. He rested, and waited for morning.
  602.  
  603. Fluttershy was shocked to see Angel in such a sorry state the next morning. She fussed and took care of him as much as possible while he insisted on breakfast. When she went into the kitchen to make it he shook his head and stomped his foot, pointing at her, then himself. She eventually got the idea and let him make it, and he put together the tea and a plate of mediocre pancakes. Fluttershy and he ate it side-by-side, with him staring at her while she drank and ate. She saw him watching and smiled.
  604.  
  605. “This is… interesting tea. What did you put in it?”
  606.  
  607. Angel just shrugged and pointed at the kettle.
  608.  
  609. “Hot water? Well it’s… not bad.” She coughed.
  610.  
  611. Fluttershy knew something was up. Angel wouldn’t have gotten himself hurt over nothing, but she wasn’t going to bother him too much about it. He and Harry often went out a got into fights. Some club or something. The problem was that he was worse off than normal, and now that she’d drunk the tea, the smell of it was filling her nostrils. It was uncomfortable and she didn’t like it. When she put the cup down, though, Angel got uppity and pointed at it, insisting she finish it. He did the same with the pancakes when she avoided the charred parts. She ate it all and drank it all, just to appease him. He’d gotten hurt trying to help her, she could eat some bad food.
  612.  
  613. When they were all done, Fluttershy went outside to feed the animals. Angel and Harry followed her. When she stepped outside, the difference was obvious: She couldn’t smell anything.
  614.  
  615.  
  616. “Oh! I smell… nothing at all!” She smiled. “Angel, did you fix it?” She looked down at him.
  617.  
  618. Angel shook his head sadly and pointed at his nose.
  619.  
  620. “Oh, just my sense of smell?”
  621.  
  622. He nodded.
  623.  
  624. “Oh… well that’s okay for now. I don’t have to smell the scary thing.” She picked him up and hugged him. “I’m sorry I doubted you.”
  625.  
  626. Angel just waved a paw dismissively.
  627.  
  628. “You may think it’s nothing, but it means a lot to me that you’d go to all this trouble. Thank you.”
  629.  
  630. Harry growled.
  631.  
  632. “And thank you, too, Harry.”
  633.  
  634. Fluttershy was all smiles and cheer as she worked. She fed the animals, went out shopping, and talked with her friends. Everything felt wonderful and she was pleased to go about her day. Though Angel followed her everywhere she went, riding on her back or hopping along beside her, she didn’t frown or complain once. She was genuinely pleased to have no sense of smell, and that made him happy.
  635.  
  636. The tea even lasted up until night fell, and she crawled into bed. He watched her as she slept for a while, until she started tossing and turning. Her nostrils flared when a breeze blew in the window, and she shifted restlessly. Angel hopped over and closed the window, staring out at the trees. He swore he saw something moving, but he was in no condition to fight it.
  637.  
  638. Angel went downstairs and stepped outside to find Harry just beyond the door. He sat down and pointed at the forest, then slapped a fist into a paw. He patted Harry on the leg and nodded. Harry growled back. They sat in silence for a while, just watching the woods, until Angel slipped back inside to sleep on Fluttershy’s bed.
  639.  
  640.  
  641. All was well until the full moon. Fluttershy had no sense of smell and no desire to follow a strange voice into the forest, but every day she woke up more and more tired. The tea was beginning to take a toll on her, and she didn’t want to drink any more of it.
  642.  
  643. “I can’t sleep well, Angel. I dream of things. Things I don’t want and don’t like, but things I don’t know I can avoid,” she said.
  644.  
  645. Angel never left her side.
  646.  
  647. When the day went dark and the full moon rose, Fluttershy changed. Her mane and tail grew long, covering her in thin, damp branches coming out of her head. Through them it was hard to see her legs, which grew thick bark, and dangerous claws that jutted out of her hooves. Her teeth became large fangs, and her ears sprouted leaves. Her eyes changed from a soft, beautiful blue to a deadly yellow, glowing brightly in the darkness of her room.
  648.  
  649. She growled and tried to jump out of her bed, but Harry and Angel had tied her down. They both stood at the foot of the bed, Angel with his healed paws ready and Harry down low to receive any attack she might make.
  650.  
  651. Fluttershy wasn’t having it this time, though. Her razor-sharp teeth snapped at the rope and tore it in twain immediately. Her claws severed the other ones, and the rest just snapped as she pulled herself up. She glared at both of them, twin pools of livid yellow beaming out of the darkness at them both. Angel’s brow furrowed. He stomped a foot. She ignored him.
  652.  
  653. She stalked off the bed on the far side of the room. Her wings unfolded, made of leaves instead of feathers. Thick branches stuck out in place of her bones. Angel shuddered.
  654.  
  655. Harry whimpered, looking to Angel for direction. Angel shook his head and stared at the feral Fluttershy on the other side of the room. She was eyeing him and Harry one after the other. She was looking at him like he was a morsel, but she seemed afraid of Harry. Angel folded his arms and smiled. He could use that.
  656.  
  657. Angel looked at Harry and pointed at Fluttershy, then made a grabbing motion. Harry whimpered and shook his head, but Angel pointed again, firmer this time. Harry stepped forward and lumbered slowly at her, but Fluttershy jumped at him. He flinched.
  658.  
  659. Fluttershy’s claws dug into the floor and her wings tilted. She spun through the air, whipping past Harry. He groped at the air, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t want to hurt her. She landed next to Angel and snapped at him. Angel jumped backward and socked her jaw. She was stunned for a second, in which time he bopped her on the nose again, then motioned at her in a “come on” sort of way. She growled and swiped at him, but he deftly dodged each blow. That was enough time for Harry to make a grab at her again, but she swiped in his direction and he flinched again, recoiling. Angel slapped his forehead and stomped a foot.
  660.  
  661. Fluttershy still didn’t want anything to do with Harry, though. She jumped past Angel, headed for the stairs. Angel grabbed her leg and held on as she scurried down them. Her wings helped her glide down the stairs, brushing each side of the stairwell. Angel held on and climbed up her leg. He struggled to reach her back and yanked on the wings when he was up. Her wings folded, and she stumbled down the last few steps.
  662.  
  663.  
  664. Fluttershy went into a frenzy trying to get Angel off her back. She jumped back and forth, spun in circles, and rolled trying to dislodge him from her back. Her wings snapped shut and open repeatedly as she tried to get him off. Angel held on tightly. He’d done this enough with the chickens, pigs, goats, and other ponies that came around Fluttershy’s cottage. He was no stranger to rodeo, he just wished he had a rope.
  665.  
  666. Harry followed them to the bottom steps, but he stood there staring and braying in concern at the furious Fluttershy and Angel clinging to her back. Angel couldn’t spare a paw to give him directions, so Harry was just getting close, reaching out and pulling back, waiting for a good opportunity.
  667.  
  668. Angel, frustrated at his lack of help, clambered up her back and grabbed onto her neck. He tried twisting and pulling, but her werewolf muscles were far too strong. She was neither made of wood like the timberwolves, nor was she a normal pony. She was augmented too much in either way, and that was a problem. He climbed up further but had to stop a moment as she did a backflip. His hind legs dangled off her, his paws the only thing holding him on as he clung to her fur. When she landed he clambered up the rest of the way and pulled on her ears. Fluttershy screeched in pain and anger at the attack and threw her head around wildly. Her thick, plant-like mane pushing against him and getting tangled in his limbs. Angel held on for dear life, trying to be enough of a distraction for Harry to grab her.
  669.  
  670.  
  671. Fluttershy wasn’t putting up with it any longer. Harry grabbed her with a single paw and she bit it. Her sharp teeth sank into his limb and he roared and pulled back. She slammed her head into a wall, dislodging Angel’s paws from her ears, then jumped out a window. The glass broke and the wood slammed open as her body hit it. She felt something snag her mane as she dove outside, but although it tugged, she ignored it and spread her wings. The leaves covering her fluttered in the cool night air as she flew outside triumphantly. She took off into the air and flew out and over Ponyville. She stared down at the sleepy town and howled. She was answered by the howl of other, distant timberwolves.
  672.  
  673. Fluttershy soared over the city, staring down at the tightly-closed houses below. She saw movement in one portion of it and flew in that direction. Down below she saw a pegasus pony walking through the streets. Without having a horn, this was a pony she could take on her own. She dove at them, mouth open and claws extended.
  674.  
  675. At the last second, something grabbed her wings and pulled on the right one. It threw her off her dive and she howled at she slammed into the ground just in front of the pony. She snarled and snapped, turning in vicious circles as she tried to find the offending thing that had dared ruin her dive. She spun and scratched at her back until she hit something and threw the white Angel, now with a bloody gash across his forehead into a nearby wall. He hopped to his feet and air-boxed at her. The pony who had nearly been attacked stood staring, dumbfounded at the sight. Fluttershy glared at the pegasus mare and Angel, confused.
  676.  
  677. She stalked around both of them, growling and gnashing her teeth. The pegasus pony stood stock-still, unsure what was happening and if he was in danger or not. Angel tried to shoo the pegasus away, and mocked Fluttershy to get her to attack him. He flicked a thumb across his nose and waved his paws at her, sticking out his tongue. Fluttershy stared at them both for a moment, then a howl came from somewhere nearby.
  678.  
  679. Fluttershy howled back, and the howling continued in both directions. The howls from outside were getting closer. Angel looked down the different streets. His ears went flat when he saw timberwolves barreling into town. Up behind Fluttershy came a blue unicorn, with a scrub-like mane and tail, and a long, wooden horn coming out of his head. He raced up next to Fluttershy and smiled at her. The two of them grinned, then turned to look at Angel. Royal Pin’s horn glowed that ugly timberwolf yellow and he fired a beam at Angel. Angel leaped to the side and threw a pebble. It bounced off Royal Pin’s horn, disrupting his magic. He shook his head and growled. Angel made a rude gesture.
  680.  
  681. A deep, baying cry sounded from outside the village. Royal Pin and Fluttershy looked at each other. The timberwolves all spread out, disappearing into the town. Royal Pin smiled at Fluttershy once more, then disappeared along with them, leaving just her and Angel, staring each other down. Angel tapped his foot and folded his arms. He pointed at her and to the ground, angry. She shook her head and took off into he night sky, hovering high above Ponyville, the only sign she was there her silhouetted in front of the moon. Angel stamped a foot rapidly and ran off, headed for the cottage again.
  682.  
  683.  
  684. Harry was surrounded by all the other animals when Angel arrived. They were huddled under, on, and around him, hiding in his fur and under his paws. Harry growled questioningly at Angel, but Angel ignored him and dashed inside. He grabbed a backpack and filled it with a pile of herbs from the kitchen, then dashed back out. He looked at Harry, pointed at the ground, then ran back into Ponyville.
  685.  
  686. Angel smelled something coming from the Everfree and was glad he didn’t have to do all this alone. Zecora must have heard it and was coming to help. She and he had the same idea, though she might have been better equipped for it. Angel still followed that silhouetted in the moon. The other ponies in town could fend for themselves, he had one target, and one target only: Fluttershy. If anypony else got in his way, or a timberwolf tried to stop him, they’d get beat down, werewolf pony or no.
  687.  
  688. As he thought that, a timberwolf jumped in from of him, snapping its jaws. Angel did a front flip and landed on its mouth, then ran across its back. He stopped in the middle of it as it curved its body, trying to bite him. He reached down and grabbed the branch making up its spine. He put a foot on it and yanked, snapping the branch in half. The timberwolf yelped and crumpled to the ground, dragging itself about by its front paws. He ignored it and jumped down, running further into Ponyville.
  689.  
  690. He was attacked again, and that one he ripped its head off, then punted it into a fountain. He scraped sparks onto another and watched in grim satisfaction as it burned, but they were all just getting in the way. He needed to find Fluttershy, or the werewolf that started this whole mess. He was angry at that pony most of all.
  691.  
  692.  
  693. Unfortunately, he found neither Fluttershy, nor the pony that seemed to be the master of them all. What he found instead, or what found him, was Royal Pin.
  694.  
  695. Angel’s paws left the ground and he was held up in the air. He swung at it, but he couldn’t punch air at all. He could only watch as Royal Pin turned his body slowly to look him in the eye. Angel scowled. He hated this guy. He looked too smug. His fist clenched, but he waited. Royal Pin hadn’t killed him yet, so that was a plus.
  696.  
  697. “You’re Fluttershy’s little rabbit, aren’t you? She didn’t get the good end of the transformation. She’s fighting it. If she’d just accept it, then maybe she’d be able to be a little bit more… intelligent, like me, don’t you think?”
  698.  
  699. Angel rolled his eyes. Great. A gloater. This was going to be easy.
  700.  
  701. Royal Pin dragged Angel closer to him and pointed Angel’s head up at the sky. Fluttershy was wheeling about in dark circles, howling and calling out to the timberwolves and that deep, baying voice somewhere in the distance. Nopony had come outside yet, which was strange enough, but Angel knew it wasn’t safe in the village.
  702.  
  703. Angel tilted his eyes toward Royal Pin, then reached into his bag and tossed a pawful of powder into the gloating asshole’s mouth. Royal Pin coughed and choked on it, and his wooden bits shrank. They weren’t gone, but he wasn’t as feral-looking as before. He looked like a pony someone had slapped wood onto. It would have been hilarious if he hadn’t started snapping and blasting magic all around him. That got ponie’s attention.
  704.  
  705. A few ponies came outside to see what all the fuss was about. The noise and the magic and the howling was starting to disturb everypony enough to get their attention. The few who did come outside were nearby, and they caught Angel and Royal Pin fighting in the street. Royal Pin was firing magic all around, coughing and choking, and Angel was holding on for dear life.
  706.  
  707. “What the devil is going on here?” somepony asked.
  708.  
  709. Royal Pin’s eyes watery eyes focused on the stallion, and he leaped at him, jaws wide. Angel fell to the ground, forgotten.
  710.  
  711. Angel stumbled to his feet. Royal Pin had forgotten about him, and he didn’t care what happened to anypony else. Not even that stallion that had saved him. Fluttershy’s howl sounded in the distance, and he made to leave, but when Royal Pin started snapping and biting at the earth pony, Angel sighed. Fluttershy would never forgive him if he left somepony behind.
  712.  
  713. Angel sighed and turned to look. Royal Pin was snapping at the pony. The stallion put up a good fight, but Royal Pin was using his magic to slowly pull the stallion’s hooves away to give him access to the pony’s neck. It was only a matter of time before his neck was torn out.
  714.  
  715. Angel jumped onto Royal Pin’s back, climbed up to his head, and walloped him right in the temple. Royal Pin screamed and released the stallion. His hind hoof came up to scratch at his head, trying to dislodge Angel. Angel just held on with his hind legs, gripping royal Pin’s ear, then put both paws together and slammed them into the side of his head. Again and again and again he pounded against Royal Pin’s skull until he fell to the ground, unconscious. He twitched. Angel hit him once more for good measure. Then he kicked dirt on him.
  716.  
  717.  
  718. The stallion looked at Angel and nodded. There was howling all around them and more screams picked up in Ponyville. It sounded to Angel like the timberwolves were making their move. That deep baying was the cause of all of this, and it was getting closer. Images of some big, huge timberwolf filled Angel’s mind and he looked up at the sky. Fluttershy was high overhead, barking and howling in different tones, swooping first one way over Ponyville, then another way. She was looking for something, it seemed. Angel needed some way to get up there.
  719.  
  720. Angel hurried through town. He ran up to Sugarcube Corner and pounded on the door. There was no answer, but when he pressed his ear up to the door he could hear crying. He put his paws on his hips and climbed the walls, then broke a window upstairs and fell into the building. The noise woke up the pony he was looking for.
  721.  
  722. “Angel, you could have just knocked! What are you doing here?” Pinkie Pie asked.
  723.  
  724. Angel pointed to the window he had fallen through.
  725.  
  726. “You… came here to break my window? That’s kind of mean.”
  727.  
  728. Angel shook his head and facepalmed. He hated dealing with Pinkie Pie. He went and opened the window, then jabbed a finger up to the sky. Pinkie Pie came over to look outside. Fluttershy’s silhouette was hovering in front of the moon, she was howling still.
  729.  
  730. Pinkie Pie squinted at the sight. “Fluttershy’s turned into a werewolf and is terrorizing the townsponies with her timberwolf helpers and there’s something even bigger coming and you want my help?”
  731.  
  732. Angel sighed and nodded. He hated dealing with Pinkie Pie.
  733.  
  734. “Well, golly gosh gee, I can help! What do you need?”
  735.  
  736.  
  737. Angel pointed at the party cannon she kept in the corner, then at Fluttershy out the window. Pinkie looked at him, then at Fluttershy, then a smile crept across her face. “Are you implying what I think you’re implying, Angel bunny?”
  738.  
  739. Angel nodded.
  740.  
  741. Pinkie Pie whooped and grabbed her party cannon, then pointed it out the window. “Okay, Angel. This is going to require some pinpoint accuracy, and some on-the-wing adjustments. Are you ready for this?”
  742.  
  743. Angel nodded and climbed inside the cannon. He fitted some goggles on and stuck a paw out, giving her a thumbs-up.
  744.  
  745. “Wait! Wait wait wait!” She went and rummaged under her bed for something and pulled out a tiny parachute. She shoved it into the mouth of the cannon and aimed. “Ready?”
  746.  
  747. Angel stuck out a thumb.
  748.  
  749. “Aim!” She tilted the cannon, pointing it above the the dark figure of Fluttershy in the night sky. Fluttershy’s long mane and tail waved gently in the darkness. Angel focused his eyes on her and furrowed his brow, tuning out Pinkie’s voice. The only thing that mattered was Fluttershy.
  750.  
  751. He didn’t hear her say “fire”, but the next thing Angel knew he was flying through the air. The party cannon went off and confetti flew with him a short distance before dropping away, sprinkling down onto the timberwolves filling Ponyville. He saw Pinkie Pie pop her head out the door and assault them with a rolling pin and baked goods, but then his eyes flicked back up to Fluttershy. He was almost there, flying full-tilt toward her. He reached out for her wings. She threw her head back and howled. He hit her back, knocking the wind out of her. Her howl was cut short. She snarled. He held tight.
  752.  
  753. Angel struggled to cling to Fluttershy as she twisted and contorted in the air. His paws gripped and tugged at her mane and tail while she tried to dislodge him. Paw over paw he climbed up the long, tangling vines of her hair until he was next to her ears. She shook her head violently back and forth, trying to dislodge him. When he wouldn’t let go she dropped out of the sky, twisting upside-down. He hung on for dear life, waiting for her to get right-side up again.
  754.  
  755. When she did he swung down, grabbed on to her muzzle, then filled a paw with tea leaves and shoved it at her mouth. She closed her lips and his paw smacked uselessly against her face. He tried to force it in, but she growled and scraped at him with a hoof. He lost that handful of leaves as he clambered away onto her muzzle, then he grabbed a new handful of leaves, glared at her, and shoved his whole paw, leaves and all, up her nose.
  756.  
  757. Fluttershy snorted and coughed. Her mane shrank and the bark on her legs retreated. Her claws became smaller and her eyes turned green instead of full yellow. Her wings fluttered awkwardly as she changed back slightly, but none of it went away completely. She coughed, sneezed, then her eyes focused on Angel.
  758.  
  759. “Angel?”
  760.  
  761. Angel breathed a sigh of relief. It had worked somewhat, though not completely. She was still a little wolfed out and covered in tree bits, but she might like that. At least she wasn’t being all bitey anymore. He patted her on the head and climbed back up her face to her mane where he hung on.
  762.  
  763. “Oh, okay. What are we… where are we…? Oh, dear.”
  764.  
  765.  
  766. Fluttershy heard the howling from below and looked down to see the swarms of timberwolves attacking Ponyville. Her hooves flew up to her mouth in shock and she twisted, staring at the mess that was the city. Ponies were in the streets fighting swarms of timberwolves, magic flying every which way. Pinkie’s party cannon could be heard squeaking and exploding down in the town square. Pegasi were flying to and fro, carrying earth ponies and foals to safety, which an impromptu militia of earth ponies marched through the streets, carrying the odd spear and farm implements to fight back.
  767.  
  768. “Did I do this?’
  769.  
  770. Angel shook his head, then grabbed her by the ear and pointed at the Everfree. The low baying sound, similar to the roar of a tractor, hove out of the woods. I great tree-like head burst from the undergrowth. It tore up trees and dirt, but instead of throwing the plants and soil to the side, it subsumed them. It left a trail of overturned earth and an eclectic mix of freshly-planted trees in its wake as it hove toward Ponyville. Its tail remained firmly fixed to the ground and its head whipped to and fro. It would bay, then it would wait for a response.
  771.  
  772. “It’s blind,” Fluttershy said. She was right. Where most timberwolves had glowing yellow eyes, this beast had none. It had great ears, created from the stumps and trunks of trees that it tilted back and forth, listening for the timberwolve’s howls.
  773.  
  774. The beast drew a giant paw across the grassy plain separating Ponyville from the Everfree, and howled a long, deep howl. Fluttershy plugged her ears, but Angel could see her mane and tail growing longer again. Her eyes glowed from the call, and the raucous response from Ponyville below made her flinch.
  775.  
  776.  
  777. The creature lumbered forward without a care. Its tail carried with it shrubs and bushes that planted themselves in the churned soil below its feet and it careened into the buildings of Ponyville. Upon hitting one it struck out with a giant root-like paw and tore the building to pieces. It drooled on the remains of it and seedlings sprouted. The straw that covered the roof became green and fertile once again and drew itself up in a small patch of fresh seed.
  778.  
  779. “What is it doing?” Fluttershy said, confused. “Is it trying to make a forest again?”
  780.  
  781. Screams from below drew Fluttershy’s gaze, and somepony down underneath her was torn to pieces by the angry plant monsters. Elsewhere, a unicorn was crawling away from them, injured and bleeding. She could see with her enhanced eyesight that he was slowly growing more plant-like himself, cursed much as she was.
  782.  
  783. An acrid smell hit her nose that she recognized and Fluttershy looked about. Zecora was somewhere near! She tried to see the zebra somewhere in the tangle of buildings, but couldn’t find her in the hubbub. She instead had to follow her nose. She flew down, going to where the smell was strongest. Her eyes watered and her nose burned, but she forced herself into it.
  784.  
  785. “Zecora! Where are you!” Fluttershy called. Her voice was guttural and strange, affected by her transformation. She passed by some whimpering timberwolves as she passed through an alley. They didn’t care about her and were more interested in getting away from the smell than chasing Angel, who stuck out his tongue at them from her back. She eventually found the zebra, standing over the bloody form of an earth pony. The pony’s guts were strung out across the dirt. Zecora was trying to feed them a potion of some kind.
  786.  
  787. “Oh! Zecora, thank goodness I found you. I need your help to get rid of the giant timber…beast? They’re all attacking Ponyville, and I think it’s because of the big one!”
  788.  
  789. Zecora looked away from the dying pony and stared at Fluttershy with a bemused expression. She didn’t look surprised, but she wasn’t expecting what she was looking at. “Fluttershy, I see you’re here, but with plants all growing off your ears.”
  790.  
  791. She looked at herself, then turned back to Zecora. “Yes, I’m sorry, but the smell here is terrible. Can you help? We need to get rid of the giant.”
  792.  
  793. “A giant timberbeast has come, it’s huge and dangerous to some, but not to me, not to my smell, but I can’t stop it with any of my spells. Your help has brought it to the town, your help is all that can bring it down.”
  794.  
  795. “My help? But I’m not prepared for this. I can’t fight something that big!”
  796.  
  797. “You needn’t fight, it goes to you. A unicorn would also do.”
  798.  
  799. Fluttershy looked at Zecora in confusion. Angel shrugged on top of her head. Zecora looked at both of them with that infuriating small smile she always had on her face, like she knew something everypony else didn’t. “I’m… still not understanding.”
  800.  
  801. Zecora sighed patiently. “Animals go to where Fluttershy is, because you are the best in the biz. If maybe that creature has come here for you, then maybe you ought to not be here, you two.”
  802.  
  803. “We two? You mean Royal Pin?” Fluttershy asked. Zecora nodded. “Oh! I should find him and try to talk some sense into him! Thank you Zecora!” Zecora waved as Fluttershy flew away. She finally removed her hoof from her nose and gagged on the smell. She turned to Angel. “Angel, you said you fought Royal Pin? Where is he?”
  804.  
  805.  
  806. Angel patted her on the ear and pointed over her head. She followed his direction as she flew until he pointed down. She followed his paw, but there was nopony there. Angel made a frustrated motion and looked around, then jabbed his paw in another direction. Fluttershy followed and saw the blue body of Royal Pin running through the streets. He was headed toward the giant timberbeast, horn aglow. Fluttershy bolted down to land near him. He jumped in surprise, then narrowed his eyes.
  807.  
  808. “What do you want, rabbit?”
  809.  
  810. “Angel wants to be left alone, Pin. It’s me who wants something now.”
  811.  
  812. “And what’s that?”
  813.  
  814. “I want you to help me get the timberbeast out of town.”
  815.  
  816. He barked a laugh at her. “Help you get it out? I just helped you bring it in! We wanted it here.”
  817.  
  818. “You wanted it here. I wanted nothing of the sort! It’s dangerous, and I don’t want ponies to get hurt!”
  819.  
  820. “Then maybe you shouldn’t have sung it over here. You smelled it, you wanted it, and now it’s here. I’m not going to help you get rid of—”
  821.  
  822. Fluttershy shoved her face up against Royal Pin’s. Her eyes bored into his, flashing yellow and blue. She pressed her nose against his and forced him to back up. She followed until he bumped into a building. “I did not want ponies to get hurt! I was not in my right mind at the time, and I will not stand idly by while my friends get hurt! Now you are going to tell me how to get rid of it, even if you aren’t going to help me do so. I’ll come back for you when I’m done, but you can be sure you’re not getting out of this so easily!”
  823.  
  824.  
  825. Royal Pin stammered and tried to scoot away, but Fluttershy just followed him with her nose against his. He growled at her and bared his teeth, but Fluttershy’s eyes flashed yellow when he did, and she bared her own teeth back. Her lips drew back much further than his, showing a line of angry, jagged teeth far back in her mouth. They were not pony teeth.
  826.  
  827. “Okay! Okay! Calm down!”
  828.  
  829. Her eyes went back to blue, then she sneezed. A glob of wet powder splatted onto the ground. Her eyes went straight yellow again.
  830.  
  831. “Just, sing to it, okay? Your howling brought it here. It’s following you and me. Me with magic, and you with song.”
  832.  
  833. “Then you’re coming with me. I don’t need you fighting against me for its direction,” fluttershy’s voice had gone deep and gravelly. Her brow furrowed and her mane and tail were growing out. Her ears were long and studded with leaves. Angel was fumbling in his bag for more powder. He reached down, but Fluttershy’s wings reached up and batted him off her back.
  834.  
  835. “Uh…” Royal Pin said, worried. Where he was studded with plant bits, Fluttershy was covered in them. She snarled at him and lunged. He brought up a shield and her teeth bounced off it. Out of strange and alien instinct, he rolled onto his back and stretched out his neck. Fluttershy clamped onto his neck, but didn’t rip it out. She held still, waiting. He breathed, frightened and alarmed. His shield went down.
  836.  
  837. “Yo’ah gonga hep meh,” Fluttershy said, with her teeth on his neck. He nodded. She released him and he stood up, then, wordlessly, she flew up into the sky. Royal Pin ran along the ground as she flew away, following.
  838.  
  839. Angel picked himself up out of the dirt, looking concerned.
  840.  
  841. Fluttershy was angry. Royal Pin made her angry, the memory of the dying and dead ponies in the town made her angry, and the constant howling made her angry. She knew she was responsible, and somewhere deep down she knew it was partially her fault. She could see other ponies, afflicted by the same curse that afflicted her, running, howling, snapping, and biting. The timberwolves were making it worse, and she was sure the presence of the large timberbeast was the cause. It wanted her there to help, and it was depending on her for help. Her and the other ponies, all howling for it to come. It had followed them, wading into town, leaving a swath of destruction and forested growth in its wake. It didn’t bite or snap or even attack anything except buildings, but it was coming, and it was following her and the others.
  842.  
  843. Fluttershy stopped above it. She looked down at the timberbeast, then howled.
  844.  
  845. It was a long, high, angry note. She forced it out over the other, scattered howls around town. Royal Pin, somewhere below, joined her, and the two of them shut down the other ponies and wolves howling for attention. They held the notes as long as they could, and when they stopped, there was silence.
  846.  
  847. The timberbeast, towering below her, turned around. Its tail dragged through the street, uprooting houses and overturning cobbles, but it turned, seemed to look with its blind eyes down at Royal Pin, then up at Fluttershy. It let out a slow, mournful cry; short, and seemingly confused. She flew down stopped in front of it. It sniffed, great gusts of wind coming from its dirty nostrils.
  848.  
  849.  
  850. “You’re going to come with me, then, okay?” She started singing to it. It was a sad song, wordless, but carrying with it the concern Fluttershy had for Ponyville and the ponies within it. She didn’t know if it meant anything to the timberbeast, but she wanted to help it, almost as much as she wanted to help her friends. She was angry at Royal Pin and the other timberwolves for using the timberbeast to attack Ponyville, and she sang of that, as well. Royal Pin remained silent, subdued by Fluttershy’s effect on the beast, and he wandered silently along beside it.
  851.  
  852. Fluttershy moved backward, singing and howling in equal measure, her strange, timberwolf song gathering the other creatures in a swarm as she led them slowly back along the timberbeast’s trail of destruction. Other werewolves gathered up with Royal Pin and they began to howl and sing harmony with her, quiet and following her lead. Emboldened by their obedience, Fluttershy began to dance, flying in small circles through the air as she sang, and the timberbeast followed.
  853.  
  854. She sang her way out of town. The timberbeast dragged itself over the new growth it had left behind, and shifted its way through the trees. The plants parted to allow it through as it made its way out onto the fields leading to the Everfree Forest. Fluttershy saw Zecora standing at the edge of Ponyville, and she saw Angel, following at a respectful distance, just behind the timberbeast’s tail. She wanted to stop singing. She wanted to go say goodbye. She wanted to bid them farewell, but she knew the moment she did, she would lose control of the crowd, and she didn’t know if she could ever get them to stop again. So she didn’t. She waved, and hoped Angel knew it was for him, and disappeared into the forest.
  855.  
  856. The timberbeast followed.
  857.  
  858.  
  859. A month later, Angel sat at the edge of the Everfree forest. The trees left in the beast’s wake had been cut down and used to make new houses to replace the ones that were destroyed. The afflicted ponies that hadn’t transformed had been captured and cured by Zecora before they could change into werewolves themselves, and Ponyville had slowly rebuilt itself. The population was smaller than it had been, but they finally felt safe again. Zecora had come by to take care of the animals, but Angel couldn’t talk to her. She never said anything about Fluttershy, and Angel couldn’t ask. So he sat. And he waited.
  860.  
  861. The sun went down and the full moon rose, and, like every night, a sad howl erupted from the Everfree. Angel knew it was Fluttershy. He’d know that voice anywhere. He sat, and he waited, like he did every night, but she never came out.
  862.  
  863. He knew why. Because if Fluttershy left, the timberbeast might be used by whatever malevolent force had introduced the curse and woken it for sleep for malevolent purposes once again, and Fluttershy had the other werewolves and timberwolves under a spell of sorts.
  864.  
  865. But she was all alone. She was taking care of them alone, and had given herself to the forest to keep Ponyville safe. To keep Angel safe.
  866.  
  867. He couldn’t abide that. He owed her. Like he always did.
  868.  
  869. Harry lumbered over and growled at Angel, and Angel said nothing. He stared at the forest, then finally looked at Harry. He nodded.
  870.  
  871. Harry picked him up and hugged him, then dropped him again. He waved his claws, and Angel disappeared into the forest.
  872.  
  873. He hadn’t gone very far before a pair of smiling yellow-and-blue eyes greeted him
  874.  
  875. Angel smiled and reached out for a hug.
  876.  
  877. The End.
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