My Little Pony Monthly Issue 101 (August 1, 2006)

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Issue 101
August 2006

From the Editor

I would like to especially thank Salaries for his patience in waiting for me to get this next issue out! It includes the next five chapters in the Wild Fire saga; there is a lot of good action, adventure, and a decent dose of history! I hope you can all sit down with this installment and enjoy a good read. And believe me, Salaries has many more intriguing new story plots on the way. So please stick in there with us; more My Little Pony Monthly is coming!

Enjoy !
Tabby, Editor

The Adventures of Wild Fire
Chapter 6: Wild Fire Meets Tabby
by Salaries ( and Tabby (

Author's acknowledgment: I would like to give special thanks to Tabby for allowing me to use her characters in my story, and I also want to thank Tabby for her invaluable help in the writing of my story.

As January was ending and February was beginning, we find all the foals in school sitting in their classroom as the principal was heard over the PA system. "To all colts and fillies, this February fourteenth is the annual Valentine's Day dance and I hope to see everyone there; so don't be shy, guys, and ask that filly of your dreams to the dance." As the principal finished his announcement, all the foals young and old began wondering who to ask and who would ask who. As the day rolled on and the lunch bell rang, all the foals gathered in the cafeteria to eat.

Paintbrush and Outback saw Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil sitting at their usual table and went to sit next to their fillyfriends. Paintbrush along with Outback asked them, "Would you two like to go to the Valentine's Day dance with us?"

The fillies acted nonchalant about their request and said in a uninterested tone, "We don't know; there are a lot of good-looking colts out there to choose from."

The two colts' eyes widened and their mouths dropped open when they heard the fillies' response to their request. Outback said to Baby Daffodil, "You are kidding, aren't you? Please say you are kidding."

Paintbrush said to Wild Fire in a possessive manner, "You can't really be serious about going to the dance with another colt, are you?"

Then Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil looked at each other and said to their coltfriends, "Well, if it means that much to you guys, then we would love to go to the dance with you."

The colts, feeling triumphant, gave a kiss to the fillies' cheeks; then Paintbrush said, "That's great, and we will be at your homes to pick you two up for the dance."

Then the fillies gave them a smile and said, "That sounds fine with us."

As the colts left and Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil were alone again, Wild Fire said with a little giggle, "Did you see the looks on their faces when they thought we were thinking of going out with other colts?"

Baby Daffodil looked at their coltfriends as they disappeared from sight and said to Wild Fire, "Weren't you afraid that they would give up and look for other fillies to go to the dance with?"

"Of course not; Paintbrush and I have a strong relationship with each other and I know that he would not give up so easily," Wild Fire said with confidence.

Then Baby Daffodil smiled at her best friend as she said, "I guess you're right; Outback did look like he was not going to take no for an answer." Then the school bell rang and the two fillies got up and went to their classrooms.

When they got to their desks and sat down, the teacher began class with an announcement. "Class, some of the teachers are very ill and will not be able to chaperone the dance this year, so the staff has asked your parents if they would do this duty. Mrs. Daffodil and Mrs. Devilin have agreed to do so, and I would like Daffodil and Wild Fire to stay in the classroom at the final bell to take some information to their parents."

When the teacher finished her announcement and began class, a puzzled Wild Fire could not understand why her mother, who hated socializing, would volunteer to be a chaperone at a dance that would be full of other adult ponies. As the day went on and the final bell rang to go home, Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil stayed behind to get the information from the teacher. As they walked home, Baby Daffodil said in a worried tone, "I hope our parents don't embarrass us at the dance."

Wild Fire only thought to herself, "I just hope my mother won't kill anyone who may get on her nerves at the dance." But she said to Baby Daffodil, "Yeah, that would be terrible."

When the fillies finally got to their homes, they parted ways with a "goodbye" and "see you tomorrow." As Wild Fire got into the house, she heard her mother yelling in the living room; she peered through the doorway as Devilin ranted, "Why is it that that mare thinks every time a good deed needs to be done that I have to be a part of it!"

"Well, my love, maybe she just sees the good in you and thinks that you would be more than willing to be a good Samaritan to the Valentine's Day dance," Salaries said, hoping to calm down his wife.

"Maybe so, but sometimes I feel that I should have ripped her tongue out at Lemon Treats' Boutique when I had the chance, instead of being Mrs. Goody-Four-Shoes." Then Devilin saw her daughter standing in the doorway and motioned her to come in. "Well, look who's home," Devilin said with a softer voice and a calmer expression.

Wild Fire, not wanting to cause her mother any more stress than she already had, kept the papers hidden in her backpack until she could show them to her father first. Instead, she gave her mother a hug while saying, "I am sorry that you are not happy, Mother."

"There is nothing that you need to be sorry about, my sweet little flame," Devilin said as she became more restful. Then she realized that since her daughter was home, it was close to dinnertime. "Well, I guess I should start dinner now. Wild Fire, sweetheart, would you like to help me in the kitchen?"

"I would love to, Mother; I just need to put my backpack upstairs and I will be right in."

"Okay, sweetheart, just don't take too long."

"I won't, Mother." Then, as Devilin disappeared into the kitchen, Wild Fire went to have a quick talk with her father. "Dad, can I talk to you for a second?"

"Of course you can; what's on your mind?"

As Salaries looked at his daughter, Wild Fire pulled out the papers that her teacher had given her and hoofed them to her father, saying, "The teacher gave me this to give to you and Mother; but after seeing how upset she was, I thought that it would be better to give them to you first so you can look at them and come up with a way to show them to Mother without her getting more upset."

As Salaries held the papers, he told his daughter, "You did the right thing by showing me these papers first; I am very proud of you for showing such concern for your mother's peace of mind. Now, get to the kitchen before she wonders where you are." So Wild Fire gave her father a hug and headed to the kitchen to help her mother.

After dinner, the family went and watched some television and as the clock struck nine o' clock, Salaries said to Wild Fire, "It is time that all little ponies go to bed."

Wild Fire looked at her father and said with a yawn, "Do I have to? I am not a bit tired."

Salaries walked over to his daughter while saying, "You know the rules, Wild Fire; on school nights, little fillies go to bed at nine." Then he picked her up from the floor and carried her to her bedroom with Devilin following, and after Wild Fire was tucked in her parents decided to retire as well.

* * *
The next morning found Devilin fixing breakfast and Wild Fire dragging her hoofs to the kitchen. Devilin looked on with concern as Wild Fire dragged herself to the breakfast table and plopped down in one of the chairs. "Did you have a bad night, little one?" Devilin asked as she sat next to her daughter.

"I had a very bizarre dream last night of a pink mortal unicorn that had very powerful ancient magic within her that could rival the spirit ponies' powers, and I could not shake the feeling that we will meet this pony someday soon and that when we do a horrible catastrophe will happen. It kept me up most of the night."

As Wild Fire finished her story, Salaries came into the kitchen and saw his daughter barely able to keep her head up with Devilin hovering over her with a troubled look on her face. He asked in a concerned voice, "Is there something wrong with Wild Fire?"

Hearing her husband's voice, Devilin got up from her seat and gestured to him to follow her to the other end of the kitchen, while still keeping an eye on Wild Fire. As they reached the other side of the room, Devilin told Salaries about the dream Wild Fire had had and suggested that their daughter should not go to school in her condition. Salaries fully agreed with his wife. They went back to where Wild Fire was sitting and Salaries picked her up to take her back to her room while telling his wife, "Why don't you call Baby Daffodil and tell her that Wild Fire will not be going to school this morning, so she will not have to make an unnecessary trip to our house?"

Devilin went to cover the food she had made and gave her husband a nod while saying, "And after I call her I will come upstairs to help you tuck her in." Devilin went to the phone to call Baby Daffodil while Salaries carried Wild Fire to her bedroom.

As he laid her down, Wild Fire's eyes opened up as she said, "Oh my gosh, I am going to be late for school!"

She started to get up, but Salaries stopped her and said, "You are in no condition to go to school today, so just lay back down and close your eyes, and when I get home this evening we will talk more about that dream you had." Hearing her father's words, Wild Fire laid back down and slowly closed her eyes.

When Wild Fire finally fell asleep, Devilin appeared in the doorway and went in to look at her sleeping little darling. She murmured, "I have never seen a dream affect her like this; do you think that it is something we need to worry about?"

"I do not know, but when I come back home this evening we will all see if we can figure out the meaning of her dream." Then Devilin and Salaries gave their daughter a kiss on the cheek and went back downstairs to the kitchen so Devilin could fix Salaries's breakfast.

When Salaries finished his meal and got ready to go to work, he remembered the papers that Wild Fire had given him and said to his wife as he got them out, "Before I forget, Wild Fire hoofed me these papers about the Valentine's Day dance that she was to give you, but when she saw how upset you were she decided to give them to me so I could give them to you when you felt better."

As Devilin took the papers she said in reply, "That's our little flame, all right, always thinking of others' feelings and doing what she can to help them."

Salaries with a loving smile on his face, "That's because she takes after her mother."

Devilin gave her husband a sarcastic look as she said, "Very funny! What pony in their right mind would ever say that about me?"

Salaries came up to his wife and said with conviction, "Your shopping partner Daffodil for one, and your daughter for another." Then, before Devilin could react to her husband's words, Salaries gave his wife a passionate kiss goodbye and went to work.

As the day progressed, a better-rested Wild Fire came downstairs to get a bite to eat. As she entered the living room, her mother, who was reading a book, began sensing another presence in the room. She looked up and saw her daughter coming toward her. "Did you have a peaceful sleep?"

"Oh yes, but now I feel awfully hungry," Wild Fire said as her stomach started rumbling.

"Well, I guess we will have to do something about that, won't we?" Then Devilin got up and headed to the kitchen with Wild Fire walking right beside her. As Devilin was making Wild Fire's breakfast, she asked her daughter, "So is that dream you had still bothering you?"

Wild Fire, not completely over the uneasiness of the dream, said with an exhausted expression, "I still feel a little drained; that dream was very intense."

Devilin said to her daughter as she brought her breakfast over and laid it on the table, "Well, when your father gets home, he will figure your dream out and put your mind at rest."

"I hope so," Wild Fire said as she began to eat.

After Wild Fire finished her meal, the two females went back to the living room to watch a little television. As they sat on the coach, Devilin held her daughter, hoping that her warm embrace would give her comfort. As the afternoon progressed into evening, a loud knock from the front door was heard, causing the two females to get up and see who it was. Devilin pulled the curtain back and looked out the window and saw Mother Daffodil with her daughter. She said with a sigh, "I was wondering when Mrs. Helpful-Hoof was going to show up."

Wild Fire giggled at her mother's words as Devilin opened the door and allowed them in while saying as pleasantly as she could, "Well, Daffodil, what brings you to our home on this fine evening?"

"My daughter asked me if she could come over to see how Wild Fire was doing and I thought that I would come, too, to see if there is anything you may need that you could not get while taking care of your daughter," Daffodil explained.

Devilin turned to her daughter and said, "Why don't you and Baby Daffodil go up to your room and play while Daffodil and I go to the living room for a friendly talk?"

"Okay, Mother; come on, Daf." Then the two fillies scurried up to Wild Fire's room and the mares went to the living room.

"Would you care for anything to drink, Daffodil?" Devilin asked as the other mare seated herself.

"Well, I would like a cup of you wonderful hot chocolate; it was a bit chilly today. If it is no trouble?"

"Of course not; one hot chocolate coming up."

Meanwhile, upstairs in Wild Fire's room, Baby Daffodil was giving Wild Fire the latest gossip at school. "And when she turned around to see what was making the noise, the volcano filled with chocolate pudding exploded all over her and everyone in the science class broke out in laughter."

Wild Fire laughed at Baby Daffodil's story, then paused to ask, "And what about Paintbrush? Did you see him at school today?"

Baby Daffodil smiled at her friend's obsession with Paintbrush as she said in a nonchalant manner, "Oh, Paintbrush... ah, let me think..."

Wild Fire, seeing her friend hesitating on purpose, said in a whiney voice, "Come on, Daffodil, spill it."

"Okay, okay! He came over to our table at lunchtime and asked me where you were and when I told him that you where feeling ill, his eyes almost fell out of his sockets and asked if I would give you a message from him."

Then Baby Daffodil suddenly stopped talking, causing Wild Fire to say in exasperation, "Well, what did he want to tell me!"

Baby Daffodil, snapping out of her trance-like state, said, "Oh yeah, he said for you to get better soon, because school is no fun when you are not there."

Wild Fire's face became flushed after hearing Paintbrush's message. Baby Daffodil looked at her friend and said with a little mischief in her voice, "Either you are getting a fever or Paintbrush's message had more meaning to you than it had for me."

"Don't be silly, Daf; it is just a little warm in here, that's all."

"If you say so, Wild Fire."

Then the fillies heard a knock on Wild Fire's bedroom door and a mare's voice was heard coming from the other side. "Wild Fire, this is your mother; could you open your door for me."

"Coming, Mother," Wild Fire said as she headed to the door to let her mother in.

When she opened the door she found her mother standing with a tray of snacks and two cups of hot chocolate in her hoofs. "I thought you two fillies would like some refreshments."

Then Baby Daffodil trotted over to Devilin while saying, "Oh, wow, hot chocolate! Mrs. Devilin, I think you make the best hot chocolate in all of Ponyland."

Devilin smiled at the filly as she put the tray down and said in reply, "Well, thank you, Daffodil; that is sweet of you to say." Then she turned and headed back downstairs, leaving the fillies to enjoy their refreshments.

When Devilin got back to the living room and took a seat across from Mother Daffodil, the other mare said, "I am glad to see that little Wild Fire is feeling better since the last time we spoke."

"Yes, keeping our daughter home has helped her regain her strength after the ordeal she went through that night."

Then Mother Daffodil had an idea. "If you feel Wild Fire is well enough, we could all go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe together and treat the little ones to one of Scoops' special sundaes tomorrow."

Devilin, feeling unsure that her daughter would feel comfortable around other ponies at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe right now, said to Mother Daffodil, "I feel that it may be too early for my daughter to go out just know."

Mother Daffodil smiled at Devilin as she took her friend's front hoofs and said, "I understand how you want to protect your daughter and I would not do anything that you feel would hurt her, so we will just forget about the sweet shop until you feel that she is ready."

Suddenly Devilin's jaw dropped to the ground as she saw Mother Daffodil give in to her, something she thought she would never see happen.

Mother Daffodil looked at the shocked mare and said in a worried voice, "Is there something wrong? I hope you are not coming down with something, too."

And as Mother Daffodil released Devilin's hoofs and leavened over to feel her forehead, Devilin said in a calm voice, "I am fine, I was just overwhelmed by your lovely sentiment."

Mother Daffodil gave a warm smile to Devilin as she said, "You know me; I would never push you into something you did not want to do."

Devilin almost choked on Mother Daffodil's words as she said to herself, "Is this mare for real? When has she not pushed me into something I did not want to do?"

As Devilin came out of her thoughts, the front door opened and her husband walked in. "Oh, Daffodil, I have a message from Ranger; he says to please tell Daffodil that her husband is going to starve if she does not get home soon."

And with that said, Mother Daffodil went and called her daughter downstairs and headed out the door. As she left, she reminded Devilin, "If you change your mind about going to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tomorrow, just give me a call."

And Devilin said in return, "Don't worry, I will."

Then Mother Daffodil was gone from sight. Salaries turned to his wife and asked, "What's this about a Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe?"

"Oh, Daffodil wanted to take us out to the place tomorrow, but I thought it would be best that Wild Fire stay home until we understand her disturbing dream and put it to rest."

"Then I guess we should go and do just that." So Devilin with Salaries went upstairs to talk to their daughter in her room. Salaries found his daughter on her bed and sat next to her while Devilin stood at a distance, waiting for a sign that she was needed. As Salaries sat there he spoke in a gentle voice, "Are you ready to find out about your dream you had last night?"

Wild Fire looked at her father and said in a unsure voice, "I am as ready as I am going to be."

Then Salaries stood up and called for his wife. "Devilin, would you come and sit at the front end of the bed, please." Hearing her husband's request, Devilin went and sat in position. Then Salaries took Wild Fire and laid her head on her mother's lap while saying, "Wild Fire, I am going to need you to lay your head on your mother's lap and when you are comfortable your mother will sing you a special lullaby that will put you into a deep sleep and allow me to guide you through the dream. Do you understand, honey?"

"Yes, Father," Wild Fire said as she snuggled her head into her mother's warm lap. As Wild Fire got comfortable, Devilin started singing the lullaby in the most enchanting voice that would make even a siren of Greek mythology envious. As Wild Fire listened to the enchanting melody, she began going deeper and deeper into a trance-like sleep. When Salaries felt that their daughter was in a deep enough sleep, he began to place his hoofs on Wild Fire's temples and closed his eyes. Within a few minutes, Salaries and Wild Fire were standing in total darkness.

"Father, where are we and why is it so dark?" asked a frightened Wild Fire.

"We are in your subconscious, where we will watch the dream that has caused you so much uneasiness, and I will help you solve the meaning of the dream so you can feel at ease again." Then Salaries knelt down to Wild Fire's level and asked her, "Now I would like you to go back through your subconscious to the time of the dream in question."

Then Wild Fire thought of her dream that still haunted her memories and it began to unfold in front of them. Salaries saw a great ancient city in all its splendor and felt a great energy within the city, an energy he had not felt in centuries; and as he watched this magnificent sight, the city suddenly collapsed and sank beneath the ocean. Then an image of a pink unicorn with red hair appeared to them and within this mare was contained the same energy that he felt when he saw the ancient city. Salaries tried to see if he could see her birth symbol on her side, but the symbol was too blurred. A building shaped to look like a slipper appeared with a pony that had ice cream cone symbols all over her body holding a cake full of small candles. Then the whole town of Dream Valley was shown as Salaries felt an ancient evil; a brilliant white light covered the town and as it faded away, a giant crater was the only thing left of Dream Valley. The dream came to an end and Salaries and Wild Fire came back to reality.

Salaries looked to his wife as he said, "Devilin, this is no dream our daughter is having, but a glimpse of the future that may mean the end of Dream Valley and perhaps Ponyland itself, unless we can find a pink unicorn mare with red hair that carries an ancient power within her that combined with ours may defeat the evil when it comes."

"But how will we find this pink, red-head unicorn? There must be dozens in Ponyland... and that's if she is even in Ponyland at all," Devilin said in disgust.

Then Salaries remembered the conversation Devilin had had with Daffodil and asked his wife, "Didn't you and Daffodil talk about a place called the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe? If it is shaped like a slipper, it may be the building we are looking for; and if it is, we will need to go there to find the unicorn."

Devilin, seeing where this was going, said in a disappointed voice, "You are not going to tell me that I have to contact Daffodil and tell her that we will be going to that Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tomorrow, are you?"

"You know deep in your heart that it is the right thing to do, my love."

So Devilin got up and went downstairs to call Daffodil; as she went, she could be heard mumbling to herself, "Unfair! Daffodil gave in to me and she still gets the upper hoof. When we meet this evil, I will show it what evil really is for doing this to me."

When Devilin was gone, Wild Fire said to her father, "I hope we find the unicorn mare at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, or Mother may do to Mother Daffodil what the evil force will do to Dream Valley."

"You may be right, sweetheart." Salaries started to worry about what his wife would do if they did not find the mare. Then the two went downstairs; as they reached the living room, they saw Devilin sitting on the coach with flames coming out her eyes. They sat on each side of her and Salaries asked his wife, "So, how did the phone call go with Daffodil?"

Devilin turned her head to face her husband as she said in a growling voice, "She's so happy that we changed our minds and she can hardly wait until tomorrow. If this mare is not at this Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, someone's going to be in a lot of pain."

Salaries, seeing how upset his wife was, put his forelegs around her and gave her a nuzzle while Wild Fire gave her mother a hug and laid her head on her lap. As the flames in Devilin's eyes died down, she said to her two pacifiers, "All right, you two, I know what you're trying to do and it won't work, so you can just stop it."

"Stop what, my angel? We just want to show you how much we appreciate the sacrifices you go through to help the mortals of Ponyland."

"Sure you are," said Devilin as she gave a mischievous grin to her husband. As Wild Fire began to yawn, she added, "We better go to bed now; we are going to have a long day ahead of us tomorrow." So they all got up and went to bed.

* * *
The next day found the three spirit ponies sitting in the living room after eating breakfast. Wild Fire asked, "Mother, Father, what if this unicorn mare does not want to help us fight the coming evil?"

Devilin looked at her daughter with a smile and said, "Then I guess I will have to grab her by her red mane and drag her to the battle."

But Salaries replied, "What I have seen of these ponies tells me that we will not have to resort to physical persuasion to get her to help."

Devilin looked at her husband and said with a disappointed voice, "Salaries, you sure know how to take the fun out of persuading someone." But all Salaries did was shake his head from side to side as Wild Fire gave a little giggle to her mother's comment.

Then the three ponies heard the front doorbell ring; as Devilin got up to answer it, she said to her family, "Well, if this mare we are looking for cannot be found in time, we can always throw Daffodil at the menace and she would just drive it to the point of insanity and it would destroy itself just to get away from her."

Wild Fire burst out in laughter while Salaries just said, "No matter how much you act like you don't like Daffodil, I know that deep inside you would do anything to protect her."

But all Devilin said in response was, "You think so, do you?" She opened the door and ushered their friends in and took them to the living room to sit down and chat for awhile.

Then Mother Daffodil spoke. "When Devilin called me and told me that you all changed your minds about going out to the sweet shop, it was a total surprise, seeing that she felt that it was too early for Wild Fire to go out."

"Well, my daughter had heard what you wanted to do and begged me to change my mind; and my husband, being such a soft touch, gave in and asked if I would call you; and with two against one, it gave me no choice but to call," Devilin explained.

Salaries and Wild Fire gave Devilin a shocked look, while Devilin just gave one of her evil smirks. Ranger said to the group, "Well, we better get going if we want to beat the lunch crowd and get a place to sit." Then the group headed to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

As they reach the ice cream parlor, Salaries saw that it was exactly the same as the vision. When they got inside, they looked around and saw that one corner of the shop was decorated with streamers and balloons with a banner that had the words "Happy Birthday" written on it. Sitting under the decorations was a group of ponies, and as Salaries looked to the counter he saw a mare with ice cream cones all over her body, exactly like the mare in the vision; he knew that they were in the right place.

Mother Daffodil said to the group, "So what would you all like to have?"

As the group was placing their orders and went to sit down, Salaries went to ask the mare behind the counter about the birthday party; as he reached the counter, he placed his hoof on top of the mare's hoof and caused her to feel a type of ecstasy that made her free to answer his questions. "Miss, may I ask who is having a birthday?"

The mare looked at Salaries with an inner peace about her and said, "This birthday is for Tabby Fairfax."

"And would you mind describing her to me?"

"Well, she's a pink unicorn with a red mane and tail and a symbol of two kittens on her side."

Then Salaries took his hoof off the mare's hoof, and as he did she began to come out of the ecstasy. As she looked at Salaries, she asked, "May I help you?"

Salaries said with an angelic smile, "You have been more than helpful, my dear." He walked back to his table, leaving a puzzled mare behind.

At the table, Mother Daffodil asked Salaries, "So what were you and Scoops talking about?"

"Oh, I was just curious about that party over there and asked Scoops who it was for," said Salaries in a nonchalant manner.

Mother Daffodil, being the curious type, asked him, "Oh, and what did she say?"

Salaries, seeing an opportunity to find out more about the mare, said to Mother Daffodil, "Well, Scoops said that the party is for a mare called Tabby Fairfax. Would you know anything about her?"

Ranger, knowing that his wife loved to gossip, started shaking his head from side to side and, thinking that they would be there for awhile, said to the group, "You all better eat slowly; when my wife starts gossiping it may be hours before we leave."

Mother Daffodil, after sticking her tongue out at her husband, turned to Salaries and said, "Oh, yes, Tabby and her husband Thomas have the local veterinary clinic in town and two lovely young fillies."

Seeing if he could get more information from Mother Daffodil, he asked her in a casual voice, "So Tabby's a wife and a mother; I guess the excitement in her life is pretty much over."

"For a normal mare, yes; but Tabby is anything but normal, and any chance she can get to go on some crazy adventure, she will."

So that no one would start getting suspicious, Salaries decided to end the conversation. "Well, Daffodil, this has been a really interesting conversation; you should had been a reporter with such knowledge."

"Well, I always say that you should always keep your ears open; you never know what you may hear," said a proud Mother Daffodil.

Then the door opened and a pink unicorn walked in. All the ponies at the party got up and yelled, "Surprise! Happy birthday, Tabby!"

As Tabby got to her table, the spirit ponies could feel the ancient energy within her and knew that she was, indeed, the one they needed to fight the great evil. When Scoops brought the birthday cake to the table, the spirit ponies and their friends decided to go back home; but as they passed Tabby's table, Salaries stopped and bowed his head to Tabby as he addressed her. "I would like to wish you a most happy and fulfilling life on your day of birth and hope that all your wishes come true." Then he placed an empty hoof in front of Tabby and, before her eyes, a rose with all the colors of the rainbow appeared. As Salaries placed the rose behind Tabby's ear, he gave her a gracious bow once more and walked back to his group as they left the establishment.

Tabby turned to her husband with a confused expression on her face. "A magician? Was this something you planned ?"

All Thomas could do was shrug his shoulders in reply. "Seeing that stallion was as much of a surprise to me as it was to you, but that rose does look lovely on you."

Tabby gave a polite smile to her husband's compliment, but inside she felt uneasy over the encounter. She could not shake the feeling that the stallion would cross her path again.

* * *
As the two families got near their homes, Salaries asked their friends, "If you all do not have any plans for dinner tonight, I would like to invite you all to dine at our house."

"We wouldn't want to put everyone out," said Mother Daffodil.

"Do not worry about putting us out; it will be no problem at all."

Mother Daffodil and her family talked it over and decided to accept. "Well, if you really want us to come to your house for dinner, we accept your invitation."

"Good, then let's say seven o' clock."

Ranger added, "We will see you at seven, then."

The two families parted ways and as the spirit family neared their home, Devilin said to her husband, "What in Hades made you ask them to come over for dinner?"

As Salaries was reaching for the door, he said to his wife, "When we are inside, I will tell you my reason." When they got to the living room and sat down, Salaries cleared his throat and told his family the reason for his invitation. "I have given this a lot of thought and decided to tell Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil who we really are."

Devilin jumped out of her seat and yelled at her husband, "Are you out of your angelic mind! Do you know what would happen if others found out who we are!"

"I am only going to tell these three, and I feel deep in my soul that they would keep our secret to their graves; besides, when we go to fight this great evil, we will need someone we trust to take care of all the spirit devices we have."

"Well, I hope you are right, my love; for if you are not, we will have to leave Dream Valley and maybe even Ponyland."

"I know, my love... I know."

Wild Fire interrupted her parents. "I don't want to leave Daffodil; she is my bestest best friend in all of Ponyland, and I'm beginning to really like Paintbrush."

Salaries picked his daughter off the floor and said in a gentle tone, "Do not worry, little one; I will not let that happen, I promise you."

Devilin said to Wild Fire as she took her from Salaries' hoofs. "Come on, my little flame, and help your mother make dinner while your father thinks about how he will tell our guests about us without giving them a heart attack ."

As six-thirty came around, the spirit family heard the doorbell ring; as Devilin was still in the kitchen preparing diner, Salaries went to answer the door and found three familiar ponies standing before him. "Well, come on in and have a seat in the living room; dinner is almost ready."

The three ponies walked past Salaries and went to sit down; as they got comfortable, Baby Daffodil asked Salaries, "Do you know were Wild Fire is?"

Salaries, looking at the little filly, said in a gentle voice, "She is in the kitchen with her mother."

"May I go and see her?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way, sweetheart."

Baby Daffodil smiled at the stallion and turned toward the kitchen; as she trotted away, Salaries went and sat with Ranger and Daffodil. After a few minutes, Devilin came out of the kitchen with the fillies right behind her and announced, "Time to eat, everyone." So the ponies got up and headed to the dining room. As Salaries began to pass his wife, Devilin stopped him and asked, "So when are you going to tell them about us?"

"After dinner; I feel it is best to tell them on a full stomach." Then Salaries and Devilin went to the dining room to eat.

* * *
After dinner, the ponies went to the living room to chat awhile before their friends had to leave. Mother Daffodil said in a complementary way, "That was the most delicious dinner I have ever tasted; you must give me your recipes, Devilin."

"It is a very old family recipe and the ingredients are very hard to find, so if you still would like the recipe I will give you the ingredients that the stores do not carry."

"If it won't be a problem for you."

Devilin smiled at Daffodil and said, "Not at all; I have plenty."

Then Salaries stood up and said to his family. "Devilin, Wild Fire, will you two please stand next to me." And as the two females went to stand next to Salaries, he looked at the three other ponies that were still sitting down and said, "I have something that I need to tell all of you, and I hope all of you will take what I say in a good way." Salaries took a deep breath before continuing. "Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil, all of you know that my family and I consider all of you like family, and I think it is time that you know a secret that we have kept to ourselves since we arrived in Dream Valley. We are from a race of ponies called Spirit Ponies, and we lived in a place called the Spirit World. Our job was to keep good and evil in balance so one would not be dominant over the other."

Ranger, not truly believing Salaries, said, "You are kidding, aren't you?"

"What I tell you is no lie, Ranger."

Then Baby Daffodil said to Wild Fire, "So those outrageous toys we played with in your room, are they from this Spirit World?"

"Yes, they are our spirit devices that we used to make sure everything was in balance."

Mother Daffodil asked the spirit ponies, "Why do you keep talking about this Spirit World in the past tense?"

Salaries looked at Devilin as he held her foreleg, then looked at Mother Daffodil and said, "Because we are spirit ponies, we are forbidden to fall in love or have children; to do so means sudden death."

Mother Daffodil gasped in horror as she said, "That is a horrific thing to do to two who are in love with each other."

Ranger said in a puzzled tone, "But all of you are very much alive. Why is that?"

"We really do not understand it ourselves; all we know is that before the other spirit ponies could destroy us, the Great Creator stopped them and banished us to Ponyland."

"And who is this Great Creator?"

"The Great Creator is the father and mother of all creation; you ponies call Him God."

Mother Daffodil looked at her family and then at the spirit ponies and said as she walked over to Devilin, "Ever since the mall incidents, I have felt that there was something special about you; and I might sound selfish, but I am glad that you got banished to Ponyland."

Devilin looked at Mother Daffodil and said, "You still want to be our friends even though you know the truth about us?"

"It does not matter to us how you came to be in Dream Valley; and as far as I am concerned, all of you are still part of our family."

Ranger stood up and said, "Daffodil is right, and I see no reason why our friendship has to stop just because of your background."

Salaries said to his mortal family, "I am glad that all of you feel the way you do." Then they all gathered together and gave an emotional group hug, except for Devilin who just gave a regular hug. Being that she was created from pure evil made it difficult to show emotions of a positive nature.

Then Ranger and Daffodil decided that it was time that they went home and said their farewells to the spirit ponies. On their way out, Mother Daffodil said, "And you can be certain that my family and I will never tell another soul about your secret life that you have shared with us."

As they went out the door, Salaries added, "We are truly blessed with friend like you."

Then Devilin shut the front door when their friends were out of sight. She turned to ask her husband, "Salaries, when you told them about how we got here, you left out that one of the reasons we were banished here was because you were of pure good and I was of pure evil. Why?"

"That is because I felt that they would become nervous around you, being that mortals see evil as something to fear."

"I guess you are right." Then the spirit ponies went up to their bedrooms and went to sleep.

* * *
The next morning found the spirit ponies in the kitchen eating breakfast and discussing how they would approach Tabby and explain to her who they were and why they needed her to help them against the great evil that they would soon have to combat. "If this mare is as important to this mission as you say, why don't we just tell her that and let her vanity do the rest?" asked Devilin.

"Because when I was at their table I could sense an overwhelming protectiveness for Tabby emanating from within Thomas, so we must figure out a way to convince them both to help us," said Salaries with a grim look on his face.

"Then what are we going to do?" a frustrated Devilin asked.

Then Wild Fire jumped up and down and waved her forelegs for attention. "I have an idea that could convince them both to help us."

Salaries and Devilin both looked at their daughter as Salaries asked, "All right, sweetheart, what is your idea to convince them?"

Wild Fire cleared her throat as she said, "Remember when Mother Daffodil said that Thomas and Tabby are parents? If their children are endangered, wouldn't you think that they would do anything to keep them from harm, even help us fight this great evil?"

"Wild Fire, I think you may have the answer to our problem," said Salaries as he patted his daughter on the back. To his wife he said, "I think that if we show them what will happen to their loved ones if the great evil is triumphant in its goal, we will convince them to help us."

"And what will we use to show them?"

"We will use the Eye of Oren; with it you are able to see visions of possible events of the future." Salaries grabbed the Dream Valley residential phone book and looked up the address of Thomas and Tabby Fairfax. "All right, everyone, I've got their home address; now let us go and hope that we are successful in convincing them." The spirit ponies headed out the door and towards Thomas and Tabby's home.

As they reached the outer gates of the mansion, they could already feel the ancient energy within the mare that dwelled there. As they came to the front door, Salaries said to his family, "All right, everyone be on your very best behavior; and Devilin, my love, don't take this the wrong way, but I will need you to be especially pleasant if this is to succeed."

Devilin turned to her husband and said, "What do you mean 'especially pleasant'? I'm pleasant; Daffodil is still breathing isn't she?"

Salaries turned his head toward the sky as if praying for a miracle, while Wild Fire tried her best to hold in her laughter and not doing a successful job of it. In the end, Salaries rang the doorbell, and as the door opened a pink unicorn mare with red mane and tail stood with a little pink unicorn filly with pink mane and tail beside her.

Tabby raised her eyebrows as she recognized the stallion. "Aren't you the magician that gave me that rose yesterday at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe?"

"I am so honored that you remember me," said Salaries as he gave the mare a charming smile.

Tabby looked even more skeptical, and took in the mare and filly that were standing next to him. "I assume that there is something you want, so let's get our business with each other out on the table."

Salaries saw a little of Devilin in Tabby's attitude and proceeded carefully. "I am Salaries, and this is my wife Devilin and our daughter Wild Fire; and we would like to speak to you and your husband about a serious matter."

"And what serious matter would that be?" said Tabby guardedly.

Devilin, tired of standing outside, pushed in front of her husband and in a not-so-pleasant tone added her own thoughts. "Listen, you red-headed twerp, if you don't want to see Dream Valley destroyed, I suggest that you let us in!"

Greatly affronted, Tabby drew herself up to her full height and glared at the other mare. "No one addresses me in that tone, half-wit! Why, if you knew who I was-" And both mares stood staring at each other, each with fire coming out of their eyes.

Salaries, with a hoof over his face, stood shaking his head from side to side and said to himself, "Why didn't I see this coming?"

Unbeknownst to Tabby and the spirit ponies, Faline had run inside to complain incoherently to her father that there were crazy ponies at the door. Thomas arrived in time to find Tabby and Devilin shouting at each other. Pushing Tabby behind him, he made his presence known and demanded, "Would you please stop your bickering and tell me what is going on here!"

The mares did quiet down, and Salaries had the opportunity to speak. "This is totally our fault, and I would like to apologize for my wife's rude manners." Before Devilin could say a word, Salaries placed his hoof over her mouth to keep her quiet. "But what my wife said about Dream Valley being destroyed will indeed happen, and you two are the only ones that can save Dream Valley from its terrible fate.

Tabby and Thomas looked at each other briefly as if to divine what to do, and in the end Thomas turned back to the spirit ponies. "And how do we know that you are telling the truth?"

"And that you're not just crazy lunatics escaped from the asylum?" Tabby added unhelpfully.

"If you let us in, I will show you all the proof you need," Salaries said in an urgent tone.

"What do you think, Tabby?" Thomas asked his wife.

"I admit to being curious," Tabby acknowledged as she noted the desperation in Salaries' face. "Very well, come in and make your case. I suppose there is no harm in that." So she pulled the door open and led the spirit ponies inside.

Once they were seated in the living room, Salaries began their story. "We are spirit ponies from a place called the Spirit World, and we have come to ask for your help in fighting an evil force so powerful that it could destroy the whole universe if not stopped."

"Oh, another save-the-world mission! I get one of those every week!" Clearly, Tabby had not had a favorable first impression of the spirit ponies and their request.

"What proof do you have to these claims of yours?" Thomas added in a skeptical tone.

"I mean, I'm all about these epic adventures against evil forces," Tabby explained, "but I don't know who the heck you are and why I should trust you!"

"You wish for proof, then behold!" As he stood up to say this, Salaries lifted up his right front hoof. "Eye of Oren, come to my hoof!" A white orb of energy appeared, and when it faded away a large Egyptian-looking eye with a blue crystal imbedded in the center showed in his hoof. He turned to Tabby and Thomas. "This is the Eye of Oren, and with it we will be able to show you two what the future holds if you two decide not to help us."

"Cool!" Tabby jumped up and trotted over to Salaries to get a better view of the object. "So it's going to show us the future? Bring it on!"

Such childlike innocence in such a powerful mare, Salaries thought as he watched Tabby stare at the Eye with unbridled enthusiasm. Then he motioned everyone to stand, after which he lifted the artifact into the air and said, "Eye of Oren, show us what the future will be like without Thomas and Tabby's help in fighting the great evil."

The Eye of Oren levitated high above them and began to glow; as it did, the room around them began to fade away and a dark and dreary landscape took its place. Thomas and Tabby saw a group of ponies chained like slaves with shadowy creatures standing over them, taunting them and forcing them to do their bidding.

"So this is what Dream Valley will become if we do not help you," Thomas said thoughtfully.

"This is what Dream Valley and all of the universe will become if we fail in defeating the great evil," Salaries corrected.

Tabby held Faline close to her as she asked, "And what will become of us if we help you?"

Devilin walked up to her and said, "You would probably die a painful and horrible death; but if you don't do anything, your children, friends, and family will suffer an even worse fate than that."

"Well, I don't plan on dying that easily!" Tabby said boldly.

Thomas saw how uncomfortable Tabby was becoming even though she showed a brave front. "I think we have seen enough of this place; take us back to our home."

"As you wish. Eye of Oren, take us back from whence we came." The horrible sensory image faded as the living room reappeared. The Eye floated back down to Salaries' hoof and the spirit stallion continued, "Eye of Oren, return from whence you came." The energy orb reappeared in his hoof; and when it had faded away, so had the Eye.

They all stood there in silence for quite some time when Tabby finally broke the silence with her brash proclamation. "Well, so when do we go?"

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Thomas asked.

Tabby tossed her mane. "Are you afraid? We've faced the Ponies of the Apocalypse, so I don't see what this great evil has to show that we haven't taken care of before. Besides, I would do anything to keep that horrid future from happening to our daughters."

"I see that Queen Kaliope of Atlantis chose her successor wisely," Salaries said, standing in front of Tabby.

"And what do you know of Kaliope!" Tabby said sternly.

Salaries only smiled. "My kind is immortal and we have lived since the world was young. There has been only one mortal pony in all of history that carried within her power such as the power that dwells within you. That mortal pony was Queen Kaliope; and for you to have this power, you must be a descendent of the Queen."

Tabby smoothed her hair, preening a little over the praise of her immense power. "Yes, and that's the truth. But you won't tell anyone here about the connection, will you?"

Salaries bowed. "I will keep your secret if you tell no one who we really are."

"Then it's a deal," said Tabby as they shook hoofs.

"When do we start our journey?" Thomas asked the spirit ponies, getting back to practical matters.

"Two weeks from today," replied Salaries.

"Why so long?" Tabby complained.

"The only way to enter the underworld during the season of winter is as spirits; and even though my family and I would be able to do this, it would be fatal for you and Thomas," Salaries explained.

"But won't that give the great evil you speak of time to attack Dream Valley?" Thomas pointed out.

"No. During winter the energy of good is at its peak as you ponies and other creatures celebrate holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day. The gates of Hades are kept closed, keeping evil from getting out... but also in return not allowing us in until spring thaw. Then the energy of good is not so strong and that is when we enter the Underworld to do battle with the great evil. I would advise that for the next two weeks you two put your affairs in order so that no one will get suspicious when we leave."

Thomas, thinking ahead, asked, "What kind of supplies will we need on this journey?"

"All you need is yourselves; my family and I have everything we need at the house."

"Well, that makes it easy!" Tabby exclaimed.

Salaries hoofed Thomas a piece of paper with their address and phone number on it and explained, "When it is time for us to leave or if any of you feel the need to talk about this some more, please use the information that is on that paper."

"Do not worry; Tabby and I will be at your home when the time comes," Thomas said.

Salaries smiled once again at their new-found friends and said, "Then my family and I shall be on our way." Once they were let out and Tabby and Thomas were alone again, Tabby turned to her husband and asked, "Do you suppose this great evil is as bad as they make it out to be?"

Thomas took Tabby in his forelegs. "Yes, I feel that it will be a difficult battle; but for some strange reason I feel that we will also be triumphant against whatever it is we're going to fight." And he gently placed his lips on Tabby's as he gave her a most passionate kiss, and Tabby slowly closed the door.

* * *
While the spirit ponies were walking home, Devilin asked her husband, "So did you know this Queen Kaliope personally?"

Salaries, not wanting to sleep on the coach when they got home, said to his wife, "No, my sweet, I did not know her personally; but her courageous attempt to save her subjects from a watery grave even though it meant her own death is known and respected in the realm of the spirits of pure good."

"I see," said Devilin, thinking that her husband was not giving her the whole story.

As they reached their home, Wild Fire asked her parents, "So what do we do now?"

"We do what we normally do until it is time to go," said Salaries with a smile.

So the spirit ponies went back to their normal routines; and as the days passed and the Valentine's Day dance approached, Wild Fire went to her parents who were sitting in the living room and said, "I do not think that I should go to the dance tomorrow with us getting ready to fight that evil force."

Salaries looked at his daughter and said, "Nonsense! I know how much you have been waiting to go to this dance with Paintbrush; and I am not going to let this evil force interfere with your going, even if I have to put you over my shoulders and carry you there; besides, your mother can hardly wait to go herself."

Devilin, upon hearing that remark, said with a snort, "Oh, yes, I can hardly wait." She went over to where her sword was mounted and said as she picked it up, "Maybe I should go over to Daffodil's place and thank her personally for involving me."

Salaries looked at his wife as she swung her sword around. "I think it would be safer for Daffodil if you thanked her over the phone."

Devilin, giving her husband a mischievous look, said, "But it would also be less enjoyable."

Salaries gave his wife a disciplinary look as he said, "Devilin, don't make me have to put you in the corner for a time out."

Devilin gave her husband a flick from her tail and said in a challenging tone, "I would like to see you try." Then Salaries got up and began to chase Devilin around the living room; Wild Fire expressed amusement at her parents' tomfoolery and she forgot about the battle that they were soon to have.

* * *
As the next day came around, we find Devilin and Wild Fire finishing getting ready for the Valentine's Day dance, while downstairs in the living room Salaries was entertaining Ranger, Daffodil, Baby Daffodil, Outback, and Paintbrush who had all came from Daffodil's house to the spirit ponies' home. The ponies in the living room heard hoofsteps coming down the stairs and as they saw Devilin and Wild Fire enter the living room, Paintbrush jumped up from where he was sitting and presented Wild Fire with a corsage. "You are going to be the most beautiful filly at the dance, Wild Fire."

Wild Fire, giving Paintbrush a dazzling smile, said with a little giggle, "Thank you, my Prince Charming."

Then Salaries said to everyone, "We better get going or there won't be a dance to go to." So all the ponies headed out the door toward the school auditorium.

As they reached the auditorium and went inside, they all gazed at the pink, red, and white heart-shaped decorations that covered the place. Then the spirit ponies felt the ancient energy of an Atlantean Queen which made them turn around as they saw Thomas and Tabby walk their way.

Tabby hailed the spirit ponies. "Hey, guys, what's happening!"

The spirit ponies were completely caught by surprise as they stood there staring at the couple. Salaries finally said, "Isn't Faline a little young to come to a dance like this?"

"We were actually surprised ourselves when the school called to ask us if we would chaperone the dance," Thomas said with a little smile.

"And of course you had to bee a good Samaritan and say that we would do it," Tabby said with a bit of disgust in her voice. "I don't get it at all. I mean, sure, I went to school here once; but they couldn't get any more of the parents with foals here to chaperone? It's a conspiracy." She nodded knowingly.

"By the way you were asking about Tabby and Thomas at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, I didn't think that you knew them," Daffodil quizzed Salaries.

"At that time we did not, but between then and now our paths crossed in friendly conversation and we have gotten to know each other better." Salaries turned back to Tabby and Thomas. "But where are my manners. Tabby, Thomas, I would like you to meet our good friends and neighbors Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil.

"I am pleased to meet all of you," Tabby said politely (she could act thus when the situation called for it).

"Likewise," Thomas replied, shaking Ranger's hoof.

As the adults chitchatted, Paintbrush as well as Outback asked Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil, "Would you lovely fillies care to dance?" They held out their forelegs and Baby Daffodil took hold of Outback's, saying with delight, "I would love to."

Outback and Baby Daffodil went to the dance floor, leaving Paintbrush and Wild Fire behind. As Wild Fire took Paintbrush's foreleg, she said with a little embarrassment, "I am not that great of a dancer and may step on your hoofs, but I am willing to try if you are."

Then they went to the dance floor and as Paintbrush held Wild Fire close to him he said, "Wild Fire, I would endure anything to be close to you."

And as they were dancing, a small tear went down Wild Fire's cheek as she thought to herself, And I would do anything to be close to you, too, Paintbrush, even if I have to fight hundreds of evil creatures to do so.

To be continued in Chapter 7: The Journey to the Underworld


The Adventures of Wild Fire
Chapter 7: The Journey to the Underworld
by Salaries ( and Tabby (

"Oh, my," said Tabby as she placed her forelegs companionably around Daffodil and Devilin's necks, "it looks like your daughters have fallen in love already at their young age. Soon you'll be planning the weddings and they'll be starting their families and la la la..."

Mother Daffodil looked at her daughter on the dance floor with concern in her eyes. "Do you really think my daughter is falling in love with Outback at her age?"

Devilin, being the calm one, said, "Do not worry, Daffodil; our daughters may have affections for those colts, but the way I see it, the colts are the ones that are head-over-heels with our daughters."

"I'm not sure that that is a good thing, either," Mother Daffodil said to Devilin.

"I was thinking that as well," Tabby agreed. "They could always convince the girls of an elopement... uh, I mean..." she quickly corrected herself as she realized this wasn't helping Daffodil's mood any. "Don't you trust your daughter to do the right things, even when it comes to love?"

"Yes, I trust my daughter explicitly."

"Then lighten up and let them play at having a little romance; it is Valentine's Day," Tabby said prosaically. "I never saw the sense in it myself, but it seems to be the commonly accepted behavior."

At this point, the stallions came back to their wives with glasses of punch in their hoofs to offer the mares. Ranger asked, "So what have you mares been gossiping about?"

"Is that the only thing you think we mares do is gossip?" Mother Daffodil asked.

"What else would mares be doing?" replied Ranger.

The other adults sensed that trouble was coming with Ranger's remark and stepped back. Mother Daffodil turned to her husband and dumped the glass of punch on his head, then walked off in a huff. After the initial shock of having punch poured on him had worn off, he ran to catch up to his wife.

"That took a lot of nerve to say something like that to his wife," Thomas observed. "He'll have to do a lot of sweet-talking if he doesn't want to sleep on the couch tonight."

Tabby shrugged. "Daffodil was a bit too sensitive; he was just saying it like it was."

"They have a very strong love for each other to stay mad at each other for very long," Salaries said.

Tabby turned her attention back to the students that they were supposed to be chaperoning. "This is a really tame party so far," she complained. "I thought I'd at least get to tell-off some miscreants for my trouble of being here tonight."

As the music stopped, the foals went to get themselves glasses of punch; at that point, a group of bad-looking colts entered the auditorium. As they looked around, the leader saw Wild Fire and said to the others, "Hey, guys, I see that filly that caused my little brother trouble at school. I think we'd better teach her a lesson about messing with my family." So the group of colts went over to Wild Fire, and the leader spoke to her. "Hey, filly, when you mess with my family, you mess with me."

Wild Fire, with Paintbrush beside her, turned around and stared at the colt. "And who in your family are you talking about?"

"My brother that you stopped from picking on that purple filly over there," the colt said, pointing to Baby Daffodil.

Close to laughter, Wild Fire said with a smirk, "And you are now getting revenge; you must really take the words 'revenge is a dish best served cold' literally."

The colt, seeing that Wild Fire was only amused, started getting angry as he yelled, "What is so funny!"

Unfortunately, Tabby had disappeared into the restroom. Devilin, however, heard the commotion and saw the colts harassing her daughter. As she arrived on the scene, she said in a commanding voice, "What is going on here?"

The fearless colt said in a rude voice, "Hey, you old bat, go bother someone else; I'm busy here."

Devilin's eyes began to glow a fiery read as steam came out of her nostrils and foam started bubbling out of her mouth at this insult. Wild Fire had never seen her mother so angry and took Paintbrush's foreleg to lead him away from the colts, as did Baby Daffodil and Outback. All the colts turned to see Devilin, and as they saw the half-crazed mare, the leader announced, "This mare is crazy; let's get out of here!" The group ran out the nearest exit; once they were gone, Devilin returned to her normal appearance.

The four foals came back to Devilin, and Outback said in amazement, "Mrs. Devilin, that was truly awesome how you scared the color right out of those bullies!"

"I agree with my cousin; that was very impressive," Paintbrush added.

Devilin smiled at the two colts and said, "Well, it is nice to be appreciated for one's talents."

Salaries, Thomas, and Tabby trotted up to the group. "Is everything all right?" Salaries asked.

Devilin, with a smile, said, "Nothing that I couldn't handle."

"And I missed it!" Tabby fumed.

Baby Daffodil, not seeing her family with the others, asked, "Where did my mother and father go?"

Salaries looked down at Baby Daffodil with a smile. "Don't worry your pretty little head; they will be here soon."

As if on cue, Ranger and Mother Daffodil came over; in Daffodil's hoof was a fresh glass of punch. "Ah, reloading the ammunition?" Tabby asked with a knowing look at the other mare. Mother Daffodil giggled, but Ranger frowned at the unicorn mare as the foals exchanged puzzled looks.

The music began again and the foals returned to the dance floor. This started a conversation between the adults about the new wave of music that the foals listened to these days and the wild dances they did. As the night came to an end, all the parents came to the auditorium to pick up their foals.

As the last attendee was gone, Thomas and Tabby were the first to leave their new-found friends. "We had best be on our way; we need to pick up Faline and Nymph from their grandparents before we go home," Thomas said by way of explanation. The others waved goodbye and wished them a good night.

Salaries asked Ranger and Mother Daffodil to take their foals outside while they checked for any stragglers that might be left behind; when the other couple was gone, Salaries said to his wife, "Devilin, do you sense any foals in or around the school?"

Devilin closed her eyes and scanned the school with her spirit energy; when her eyes opened again she confirmed, "I cannot sense any more foals in the area."

"Then let us leave this place and take everyone home."

Then the two spirit ponies went outside to join the others, and they all set off to take the colts to their homes. As they reached Outback's house, the adults along with Wild Fire and Paintbrush gave the foals breathing space to say their goodnights to each other. As Outback looked at Baby Daffodil, he said, "I really enjoyed being with you at the dance."

"Yeah, I liked being with you, too, Outback."

As the two stared at each other, Outback then took Baby Daffodil's forelegs and placed his lips on her lips and gave her a romantic goodnight kiss. After the kiss, Outback said, "Goodnight, Daffodil."

A blushing Baby Daffodil stammered, "Go- goodnight, Outback."

With Outback delivered to his house, the next stop was at Paintbrush's. The parents gave Paintbrush and Wild Fire the same courtesy of allowing them space. As Paintbrush gazed at Wild Fire, he said, "Wild Fire, I enjoyed our time together and I think that you are a wonderful dancer."

"I enjoyed it as well."

Paintbrush then took Wild Fire's forelegs and placed his lips on her lips and gave her a romantic goodnight kiss. "Goodnight, my ballerina."

"Goodnight, my Prince Charming," replied Wild Fire. Paintbrush went inside his house, and Wild Fire headed back to rejoin the others. Then they returned to their own places of residence to get a good night's sleep.

* * *
Three days came and went, and then there was only one day remaining before the spirit ponies and the Fairfaxes would leave for the underworld. Salaries called his wife and daughter to the living room and announced, "We are going to have to tell Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil what we are planning to do tomorrow, so that they can help us keep any curious ponies in the dark about our whereabouts while we are gone, and they can keep a eye on the spirit devices."

"Are we going to have to give them a key to our home?" asked Devilin in a protective manner.

"Yes, my love, they will need to be able to get in the house to check on the spirit devices and make sure that they are all accounted for."

"And what if a certain mare decides to try one of the spirit devices out?"

"I will tell them that the devices are very dangerous and that they are not to touch them in any way."

Then Devilin rolled her eyes in the air and said, "Oh, yeah, that's going to stop her, all right."

Salaries walked over to his wife and gave her a gentle kiss on her nose. "Anyway, my love, they will be too busy keeping an eye on our journey to worry about using anything else."

Devilin stared up at her husband and yelled, "Keep an eye on our journey?!"

"I will explain everything when they arrive," replied Salaries, going to the phone to call their good neighbors and friends.

It was only a few minutes before the front door suddenly opened and Ranger, Mother Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil arrived and joined the spirit ponies in the living room. Ranger laid the Orb of Creation (which had been given to them as a Christmas present from the spirit ponies) on the coffee table and said, "Here is the Orb of Creation you asked us to bring." As he got comfortable in his chair he asked, "So what's the big emergency you need our help with?"

Salaries stood up as he faced his dearest friends and said with a concerned voice, "I have called you all here to tell you that my family and I, along with Thomas and Tabby, are going on a very dangerous journey, and we do not know if we will survive."

Mother Daffodil asked with a shocked look on her face, "What kind of danger, and why are Thomas and Tabby going with you?"

Salaries, sensing that Mother Daffodil's question about Thomas and Tabby was more about hurt feelings that they were not asked to help than for curiosity, said with compassion, "The danger is an evil so great that it threatens Ponyland and the universe itself; the reason we are taking the Fairfaxes with us is because it was foretold that Tabby would be the key to our success. I decided, however, that it would be wise to have a backup; and that is why I called all of you here and asked you to bring the Orb of Creation."

Then Salaries walked over to the orb and said, "The figures here that you all admired at Christmas are more than just decorations; they are spirit devices that can physically allow a pony to enter any time or place in the past or present that the pony chooses, just by taking one of the three figures off and placing it around his or her neck like an amulet." Salaries pointed at the Earth, Unicorn, and Pegasus figures.

Ranger said as he pointed to the fourth figure, "And what is the purpose of the Unipeg figure?"

"The Unipeg figure, as you call it, is the anchor for the other three figures that allows the users of the figures to return to the exact time and place in which they left." Salaries took the three figures off the base of the Orb of Creation and went over to the family. "The Earth pony figure is the symbol of wisdom and strength." Then he place the figure around Ranger's neck. "The Pegasus pony figure is the symbol of love and courage." This he placed around Mother Daffodil's neck. "And the Unicorn pony figure is the symbol of cunning and vitality." And he place the figure around Baby Daffodil's neck. Then Salaries stepped back and said, "As the Unipeg figure is the anchor for the three figures you now wear, thus you three shall be the anchor for us and the Fairfaxes as we go on our journey."

Mother Daffodil asked, "And in what way are we to be your anchor?"

Salaries smiled at the mare as he said, "You three shall use the Orb of Creation to view our journey by focusing your thoughts on my family and the Fairfaxes in the here-and-now. If I see trouble that we cannot get out of, I will call you for help by saying, 'Guardians, protect us'. With the figures you are wearing, you need only to focus on coming to where we are and the Orb will instantly transport you. You must then physically touch the ones you wish to protect while at the same time focusing on the Orb, and you and whoever your hold will be instantly transported back."

"That sounds outrageous!" Baby Daffodil said with excitement. Wild Fire smiled at her friend's burst of enthusiasm, but Mother Daffodil gave her daughter a stern look which made her close her mouth.

Ranger asked, "When is this journey beginning?"

"Tomorrow afternoon," replied Salaries.

Mother Daffodil asked, "And how long will you be gone?"

"If everything goes smoothly, about two weeks at the most." Salaries, glancing at his wife, added, "And because our house is full of spirit energy and the Orb of Creation would be its strongest here, we will need you three to stay here while we are gone; so bring whatever necessities you may need for a long stay."

Devilin went into shock as she heard her husband's words, and her heart began to race as she held in the anger she felt; she kept it reigned-in so the others would not think that they were not wanted.

Ranger said to the group, "We better get home, then, so we can get ready for tomorrow."

All the ponies got up and went to the front door; once the visitors were gone, Devilin closed the door and said to her daughter as her eyes began to flame up, "Wild Fire, would you be a dear and go play in your room?" Wild Fire, seeing her mother getting ready to blow her top, trotted obediently upstairs; and once their daughter was out of sight, Devilin turned to her husband and yelled, "It was bad enough when you said that they were coming occasionally into our house, but you had to tell them to come and live here while we are gone without discussing it with me first!"

Salaries, being a quick thinker, said to Devilin as he stood between his wife and her sword, "I know you are angry with me and wish to do bodily harm to me with your sword- and of course you have all the right to do so- but before you do, please let me explain."

Devilin, deciding to give her husband the benefit of the doubt, said with a little sarcasm, "Go ahead and explain, but it better be good."

"The reason I told them to stay at our house is because I felt at the time that the odds of our survival would be greatly increased if the Orb of Creation was in a place where the spirit energy would be the strongest; and that place happens to be in our house. If you still wish to hurt me for wanting to give you and Wild Fire the best chance of survival, I will not stop you."

The fire in Devilin's eyes began to die down as she said, "I do not wish to hurt you, my husband; I just would have preferred that you discus matters like that with me first."

Then Salaries walked to his wife and gave her a loving embrace as he said, "And I truly apologize from the depth of my heart for not discussing it with you first, my love; please forgive this impertinent stallion."

While Salaries held Devilin, Devilin looked at her husband with a half smile and said, "I will try, but if anything is out of place when we get back, someone's head will roll- and I am not talking figuratively." Then Salaries and Devilin released their hold on each other and for the rest of the day prepared for their journey beginning on the morrow.

* * *
The next morning found the three spirit ponies finishing up their preparations when the doorbell rang. "Come in; the door is unlocked," said Salaries.

Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil walked in. Mother Daffodil said, "I hope all of you had a pleasant night's sleep for your journey."

"Yes, we slept pleasantly," said Salaries.

Mother Daffodil asked Salaries, "Salaries, you and Devilin are of equal strength, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am as strong as my wife is," said a curious Salaries.

Mother Daffodil asked as she gave Salaries her puppy dog eyes, "Then would you be a dear and get a couple of things that we left in the entrance hall at the front door of our house?"

Seeing Ranger's look of disbelief at what his wife was asking, Salaries turned to Mother Daffodil and said, "It would be my pleasure." So Salaries went to his neighbor's house with Ranger going along to help.

"My wife has told me about how super-strong your wife is, but I also know how much Daffodil likes to exaggerate the truth; I think you will need my help after you see what my wife wants you to carry," Ranger explained as he opened the door.

Sitting in the hallway were two steamer trunks; as Salaries looked them over he said, "This does not look too difficult" He picked up one of the trunks and laid it on top of the other; then, finding a piece of rope, he tied the trunks together and placed them on his back. Ranger looked on in disbelief at the ease Salaries had done the job. Then Salaries, with the trunks in hoof, went back to his house. Ranger walked beside him, still in shock at seeing such a feat of strength.

As they reached the house and went inside, Salaries saw Thomas and Tabby sitting in the living room talking to his wife and Mother Daffodil. After putting the trunks down, he went to greet them. When he saw Thomas, he saw that stallion was wearing the bronze medallion of Lamachus. "I see that you are wearing your ancestral medallion," Salaries addressed him.

"You know of this medallion?" Thomas asked, touching it possessively.

"Oh yes, I know of it and the many secrets that lie within it, including the origin of its creation; and when we defeat the great evil, I will tell you everything I know."

"There! Now you have more incentive than ever to survive this mission," Tabby said.

"If you truly know more about the medallion and its powers, I hope you can share your knowledge with me at a more convenient time," Thomas said politely, hiding how excited he actually was at the prospect of learning the talisman's history.

"And where are Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil?" Salaries asked Devilin, noticing that the foals were not present.

"They are playing in Wild Fire's room until we leave," responded Devilin.

Salaries turned to the group and said, "Then let's make a final check and head out. Is my backpack packed and ready to go, my love?"

"It is ready and sitting on the entrance hall table," replied Devilin.

"Is there anything you two need to do before we leave?" Salaries asked, turning his attention back to the Fairfaxes.

"Everything is under control; Faline and Nymph are staying with my parents, and Elaine will be helping Marina at the clinic," Thomas announced.

Tabby smirked. "Thankfully my mom and dad are away on vacation, or there would have been a fight about who got the girls. Now," and Tabby pulled out her new cell phone, "I understand that there's probably going to be roaming fees when we get to the underworld, but is it going to be a problem calling the girls every night at least? I promised them I would, you see, because they didn't want us to go... or at least, not without them," Tabby prattled.

"I see no problem with your staying in contact with your daughters on our journey," Salaries said. "May I please see the device you will be using to contact them?" Tabby hoofed the phone over to him; Salaries inspected it and popped out the batteries, replacing them with crystal cylinders. "These crystals I am replacing your batteries with will allow you to stay in contact with your daughters, even if we are in the underworld itself.

Tabby took the cell phone back and looked at it in amazement. "Cool! Thanks! But how do these crystals charge?"

But Salaries had already gone over to the ponies who had been a part of his family's life every since they had arrived in Dream Valley. "Do you two have any questions on what to do when I summon for help?" he asked Ranger and Daffodil.

"No, my wife and I feel confident that when the time comes to give our support, we will be ready."

Tabby, being a curious mare, interrupted, "And what type of support are they going to give?"

Salaries turned to Tabby and explained to her and Thomas about the Orb of Creation and what was expected of Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil.

"Oh, we'll be fine. I won't need rescuing," Tabby said with a wave of her hoof. "Hey, if this Orb can take a pony back in time, why can't we just use it to go back and stop this great evil before it became a threat?"

"Remember the time that you and Merry Treat found that time machine and altered the past, thinking that nothing bad would come of it?"

"It is somewhat disturbing that you know so much about me," Tabby informed. "But yeah, that whole alternate future thing really sucked. I still can't believe you would have married Merry Treat," she said, rounding on her husband.

"I didn't do anything," Thomas defended himself. "You have only yourself to blame for any changes that happened, which is exactly why you shouldn't be playing with time travel."

While they were fighting, Salaries asked his wife, "Devilin, would you please call the foals to the living room?" So Devilin called them down, and within a few minutes the fillies followed her into the living room.

With everyone present, Salaries and Devilin went to the mantel and took their swords down. With sword in hoof, Salaries addressed them all. "All right, it is time that we five head out to meet our destiny, while you three watch over us." As they started out the front door, Salaries gave Ranger's family some last minute advice. "Even though watching us may become boring, it is very important that all of you stay vigilant."

"I promise you that we will not wave from our responsibility," Ranger said as they waved goodbye to the travelers until they were out of sight.

Baby Daffodil asked as her mother shut the door, "Do you think we will ever see them again?"

Daffodil looked at her daughter and smiled as she said, "From what I have seen of our friends, it will be the great evil that will not be seen around here again; and talking about seeing, why don't we watch them on the Orb of Creation?" And as the family assembled around the orb they began to see their friends as they journeyed to the underworld.

* * *
"My hoofs hurt!" complained Tabby. "How much further do we have to go?"

"You can't be worn out already; we've only gone two miles out of Dream Valley," Thomas pointed out. "Did you think the underworld was this close to our back door?"

"Sometimes you'd wonder," said Tabby cryptically.

"Are you sure this was the mare in Wild Fire's dream?" Devilin asked her husband.

"Queen Kaliope saw something special in Tabby to bestow her powers on her. I sense a great destiny ahead of her; we just need to be patient," Salaries said.

"Well, I am not planning on listening to her complain about her hoofs all the way to the underworld." With that said, Devilin dropped behind to walk beside Tabby; as she came face-to-face with the other mare, her eyes began to glow and Tabby was levitated into the air.

"Oh! I'm feeling quite light-headed!" Tabby protested. "What are you doing, Devilin! Put me down!" She descended on Devilin's back.

"Just lay on my back until we get to our first destination," Devilin instructed curtly.

"I can walk," said Tabby haughtily, not wanting to look weak in front of the others. "You don't have to carry me like a baby pony."

Salaries came over to the two mares and said to Tabby, "There is no shame in getting help if you are truly hurt." He inspected Tabby's right back hoof and drew our a very sharp bloody rock.

"I'm sorry, Tabby," Thomas said, instantly repentant as he saw there had actually been something behind his wife's complaints. He kissed her nose as Salaries healed her back hoof. "I thought you were joking."

"I have healed your hoof," Salaries said, stepping away, "but to play it safe, I do not want you to leave my wife's back. That is an order, not a request."

Tabby looked at Salaries and saluted. "By your command, general," she said in a military voice.

The ponies began their journey once again, and by evening they found themselves in front of a thicket of huge, sharp thorns. "We won't be able to get through that," Thomas said, inspecting the hedge. "We'll have to look for a way around."

"Do not fear, my friends; the thorns will not hurt us," Salaries said to the group. He turned to Wild Fire and Thomas and added, "At this point of the journey, I will need you two to ride on my back as Devilin and I run through the thicket."

"I was voted player of the year on my college track team, so I think I can keep up with you," Thomas challenged, feeling foolish now for baulking at the thorns when the spirit ponies were undaunted.

"We are not questioning your athletic abilities," Salaries clarified, "but to make it through the thicket, we must run at the speed of sound or the thorns will close up on us and we will die. We spirit ponies have the ability to travel at the speed of light."

"I confess I can't beat that," Thomas said in submission. He picked up Wild Fire and, holding her in his forelegs, said, "Beam us up, Scotty."

"Oh, I know this is going to be a fun adventure!" Tabby exclaimed, clapping her hoofs together in glee.

Salaries levitated the two onto his back, and once they were settled he said to his daughter, "Wild Fire, I want you to create a spirit shield like the one you used on the fireball when you were with Baby Daffodil."

Wild Fire's eyes opened wide as she wondered how her father had found out about that incident. Back at the spirit ponies' house, Mother Daffodil was also surprised at the news. "Daffodil, when your father comes to take over the watch, you and I are going to have a serious talk about that fireball."

Baby Daffodil wished she was somewhere else right then as she looked at her mother, knowing of the scolding she was going to get from withholding the incident from her parents. For now, she turned her head back to the orb.

Wild Fire was preparing to create the spirit shield; as her horn glowed, a blue orb began to engulf the ponies. Thomas and Tabby looked at it in awe as it surrounded them, but the spirit ponies were not as impressed. Salaries and Devilin galloped a mile back from the thicket to get a good start; as they were getting ready to run back right on through the thorns, Salaries cautioned, "Hang on tight; we do not want to lose anyone." Tabby wrapped her forelegs around Devilin's neck and Thomas gripped Salaries with one hoof while holding on to Wild Fire with his other.

Then Salaries and Devilin began their run; as they reached the required speed, they cracked through the thicket and went straight on through. Thomas and Tabby looked behind them as they saw the thorny vines grow back as fast as the spirit ponies ran. After thirty minutes, they reached the end of the treacherous thicket and were safe... for the time being. Wild Fire, feeling the stress of keeping the spirit shield up for so long, fell back into Thomas' forelegs, exhausted.

"Lay Wild Fire on my back and I will levitate you to the ground and then levitate Wild Fire on your back," Salaries instructed. "She is too exhausted to walk the rest of the way." With this done, Salaries turned to face the others and said, "I am going to fly ahead to set up camp for the night; my wife will guide everyone to the location." He spread his wings and took to the air, and the others went with Devilin.

After an hour of walking, Thomas asked their guide, "With the speed you and Salaries ran through the thicket, I wonder how far we've come?"

"We have come one thousand miles from where the thicket began," replied Devilin.

"Amazing!" Thomas marveled.

"I could have run that far, easy," Tabby said, tossing her mane.

Another hour passed before they finally reached the camp site. Thomas, smelling the aroma of outdoor cooking, could not believe his eyes as he saw two large tents set up and all the necessities needed for camping. "Where did all this camping gear come from?" Thomas asked of Salaries.

"Isn't it something what you can stuff in a backpack these days," Salaries smiled.

Devilin, seeing that Tabby had dozed off on her back, was about to knock the unicorn off onto the ground, but Salaries gave her a reprimanding look. Instead, Devilin used her muzzle to wake Tabby up and then said with a little sarcasm, "Time to get up, sleeping beauty." Then she levitated Tabby off her back and onto the ground.

"Oh, it's getting late! Or are we in a different time zone?" Tabby said, ready for action as she groped around for the cell phone. "I better call the girls." She excused herself and sat down on a large rock while she carried on the conversation with her family.

"Time to chow down, everyone," Salaries called out a short while later.

"Okay, Faline, we'll take care of that when we get back," Tabby chattered. "But I guess we have to go eat now. So be good girls and don't give your grandparents any problems, okay? Goodnight, sweetheart. Love you." Then she pranced over to rejoin the group at the campfire.

After being assured by his wife that everything was fine at home, Thomas turned to the matter closer at hoof. "How much further is the underworld?"

Salaries pointed his hoof out towards the wasteland before them. "It will be a three-day journey across this wasteland before we reach the entrance to the underworld."

"Why don't you carry us on your backs again and run like crazy like you did through the thicket?" Tabby asked curiously.

"In this place, evil is at its strongest and everything around us could be a deadly trap. Even with our speed, it would be too dangerous to run across blindly.

"Oh, that's just wonderful," Tabby said in a frustrated voice. After dinner, the group decided to call it a night and went to their tents to sleep.

* * *
As the sun began to rise to a new morning, Tabby slowly started to wake up. As she opened her eyes and they started to focus, she saw a small pair of eyes staring back at her. The startled Tabby let out a piercing scream which woke up Thomas and caused the spirit ponies to run out of their tent.

"Is everyone all right?" Salaries asked as they opened the flap to the couples' tent.

"There was a microscopic flutter pony in here!" a hysterical Tabby reported. "And it was looking at me! Flutter ponies don't grow that small!"

As the others listened to Tabby's wild story, Wild Fire heard movement coming from behind them. She turned around and saw a cup moving across the floor. Wild Fire gave her mother a tap on her leg to get her attention.

"Is there something you need, my little flame?" Devilin asked.

Wild Fire pointed at the cup. "See that cup, moving on its own?"

Devilin saw it and walked over to it as it headed towards the entrance of the tent. She placed her hoof on top of it and then called the others over. "I believe Tabby's flutter pony is under this cup." She lifted it up to reveal a tiny yellow flutter pony with orange mane and tail and a symbol of a glowing sun.

The tiny flutter pony, seeing herself surrounded by large ponies, said in a small voice, "Do not harm me; I have come as a friend."

"We will not harm you, Fairy Flutter, but aren't you far from Fairy Mountain?" Salaries asked kindly.

The Fairy Flutter, seeing the pegasus pony seemed to know of her kind, flew up to Salaries and landed on his muzzle. "I see that you have heard of us, so you should know why I am here."

"The only reason a Fairy Flutter would be in this Godforsaken place is that you all must have heard of the great evil that threatens to destroy all goodness in the universe," replied Salaries.

"You are very knowledgeable for a mortal," the Fairy Flutter said, seeing that the Pegasus knew a great deal of her kind.

"I am not a mortal," Salaries said, smiling at the Fairy Flutter's observation. "I am a spirit pony; my name is Salaries and the one who had her hoof on your cup is my wife Devilin; and this little darling is my daughter Wild Fire. And these are our friends, Thomas and Tabby."

"I am Sun Glow and it is a great honor to meet the two spirit ponies who dared to risk destruction to be together." Then Sun Glow glided to a table that was sitting in the tent as she added, "But I should have figured that you were no mortal, for a mere mortal could not have held me so easily in that cup." Then she looked at Tabby and Thomas. "But I do not know of any spirit ponies named Thomas or Tabby."

"That's because we're mortals!" Tabby said brightly. "We're the real deal."

Sun Glow, becoming a little confused, turned to Salaries and asked, "Why would you bring mortals to such a place?"

Salaries told Sun Glow about Wild Fire's dream and how Tabby was a key player in the success of their mission. At the end of the story, the ponies heard a low growling noise and turned towards Tabby.

"Well, it is getting late and we haven't eaten any breakfast since we got up," Tabby insisted, trying to cover up her embarrassment.

Thus reminded, the ponies went outside the tent to start preparing breakfast. After a short while they all sat at the picnic table with their meal and continued their conversation. "Now, don't take this the wrong way or anything, Sun Glow," Tabby chatted, "but you're awfully small- not saying that being small is a bad thing- and what are you going to be able to do against this great evil?"

Sun Glow did not take any offense, but said in reply, "Do you see that huge rock over to your right?" Those in the group turned to look at the boulder as Sun Glow took to the air and landed behind it. The huge rock began to tremble as it lifted off the ground and soared into the air. Tabby, Thomas, and Wild Fire were amazed, but Salaries and Devilin were not surprised. "So what do you think?" Sun Glow asked as she set the boulder down and returned to the table.

"Good show, I say!" Tabby exclaimed, wanting to pat Sun Glow on the back but not being able to due to her size and fragile-looking wings. "Welcome to the team."

As they finished eating and got ready for their continued journey, Salaries opened his backpack and faced the mouth of it to the camp site; like a vacuum cleaner, it sucked all the camping gear back inside.

"So that explains it!" Thomas exclaimed. "I'd like to get my hoofs on the magic you use, just for the convenience of camping!" Salaries just looked at Thomas with a smile as they headed on their way.

After two days of traveling across the wasteland and finding no traps, deadly or otherwise, Tabby was feeling a bit disappointed over the lack of adventure. She asked Salaries in a sarcastic tone, "I thought you said we were going to run into traps out here; so where are they?!"

As if on cue, the ground began to rumble as hordes of skeleton warriors came at them from both sides. Just as they were about to overrun the whole ragtag group, Wild Fire, out of pure instinct for survival, created her spirit shield which surrounded the group just at the moment of attack. As the skeleton warriors clawed and mashed their weapons against the shield, Wild Fire felt the strain of the continuing onslaught and began to weaken. "Someone better do something quite, for I feel that my shield is weakening and I don't know how much longer I can keep it up."

Salaries, thinking fast, said to Sun Glow, "I need you to fly high in the sky and find a skeleton warrior with a red jewel in his chest. He should be the warrior furthest from the battle. When you find him, pull the jewel out."

"How will I get out of the spirit shield?" asked Sun Glow.

"The shield will not stop you, only that which Wild Fire deems harmful."

So Sun Glow took flight and began her search. As the Fairy Flutter carried out her duty, Salaries saw that the spirit shield was beginning to flicker and Wild Fire was becoming more and more exhausted. "Wild Fire is too weak to keep the shield up any longer!" Salaries announced just as the filly began to drift into unconsciousness.

"Then we'll have to fight the skeletons head-on," Thomas said boldly.

"We must use our powers to keep these warriors at bay, and since Wild Fire is in no condition to protect herself, we must keep a tight circle around her," replied Salaries. The others circled around Wild Fire and prepared for battle.

* * *
Meanwhile, back in Dream Valley, a worried Baby Daffodil said to her parents, "We have to do something!"

Mother Daffodil put her forelegs around her daughter and said with regret, "Honey, if we transported into the battle without the others knowing we were coming, we would accomplish more harm than good. We must wait until Salaries calls for us."

"Your mother is right, Daffodil; we must trust in our friends and believe that no matter how overwhelming the odds look, our friends will always come out on top," Ranger added.

Baby Daffodil turned back to the orb and placed her front hoofs on it. "It will be hard, but I'll try."

* * *
Back at the battle, the spirit shield faded until it was completely gone. As the skeleton warriors came at the ponies, each pony yelled out the power they were going to use like a war cry.

Devilin swung her sword Hell Fire from left to right as she screamed, "Fire Blade!" The sword threw out a powerful blade of fire that ripped through a dozen or more skeleton warriors at the same time.

Salaries took his own sword, Revenging Angel, and lifted it above his head while yelling, "Fire Storm!" A light of pure energy flew out of the sword's point which in turn caused a shower of meteorites to bombard numerous skeleton warriors.

Thomas, with his ancient medallion, called out, "Tidal Wave!" He stood with the palms of his hoofs raised upwards as if pulling water out of the ground. Then, with a flick of his wrist, the power of the attack created a wall of water which towered directly over the skeleton warriors and abruptly smashed down on top of them with great force.

Tabby, with eyes aflame, screamed, "Seer Attack!" She threw back her head as waves of potent psychic flame shot out of her unicorn horn and towards the skeleton warriors. As the wave impacted the warriors, they shattered into piles of bones.

As the ponies were performing their attacks, Sun Glow was still searching for the skeleton warrior with a red jewel in his chest. She was about to give up and go back to help her friends when a red flash of light caught her attention. Flying closer to where she had spotted the red glow, she saw a well-armored skeleton warrior with the glow emanating from deep within. She was not deterred by the danger of this mission, as she knew that if she did not get the jewel her friends would surely perish. She began flying as fast as she could in a beeline towards the jewel; as she got close enough, she rolled herself into a ball. Before the warrior knew what was happening, Sun Glow pierced the armor and began to tug on the red jewel within the skeleton's chest cavity. As she was doing this, the skeleton pulled out his dagger and began to stick it through his chest at the Fairy Flutter. As Sun Glow dodged the point of the dagger, she flew up and kicked the jewel lose with her back hoofs; as it fell, she scooped it up and barely missed being impaled by the dagger. She soared out of the skeleton warrior's chest, and since their leader no longer had the jewel that gave him his power, the skeleton warriors' attacks slowed and they started falling apart. Before long, the ground was littered with lifeless piles of bones.

"The Skeleton King was more of a challenge than these boneheads," Tabby declared brashly as she kicked at the bones around her.

"I can't believe you're comparing a single Skeleton King to a horde of marauding skeleton warriors," sighed an exhausted Thomas.

"So where to now?" Tabby asked brightly, ignoring her husband's remark.

"We wait for Sun Glow to return, and then we head towards the setting sun," replied Salaries.

Within a few minutes, Sun Glow had returned with the red jewel in her hoofs. "What do we do with this thing now?" she asked Salaries.

Salaries took the jewel in his hoof and looked at his wife. "Devilin, are you ready?" He tossed it into the air while Devilin lifted up her sword and with a swish of her blade she smashed the jewel into a million pieces. "The jewel cannot be used for evil purposes again."

The grouped traveled on to the entrance to the underworld; and as day turned into night, Salaries halted the group. "We will make camp here." He faced the backpack in the direction he wished to set up camp and opened the lid of the pack; as he did, camping gear shot out and set itself up. He turned back to his companions. "After dinner, we should all go directly to bed and get a good night's sleep, for tomorrow we enter the underworld."

"Oh, that thought makes for pleasant dreams," Tabby said under her breath. But the ponies ate their meal and went to sleep as directed.

The next morning when the ponies gathered at the breakfast table, Salaries said, "My friends, before we start the journey to the underworld, I wish to say that the courage and the willingness to put yourselves in harm's way for one another has shown me that you all are a power to reckon with; and the great evil will soon know that his time is at an end."

As Salaries finished his speech, the ponies felt more confidence in themselves which gave them a more positive feeling of success. "Woohoo! He's goin' down!" Tabby cheered.

But then Salaries looked at them and said in a serious tone, "Ponies, I need your full attention, for my wife has lived in the underworld and knows what to expect from it. I have asked her to give us any information that would help in our fight with the great evil."

Devilin was about to speak, but Thomas interrupted as he was wondering about her connection to the underworld as the Fairfaxes hadn't been given the entire story of the spirit ponies' background. "If the underworld is the home of evil, how is it that you have been there?"

Devilin looked to her husband for help, and Salaries spoke again. "My wife was a slave of these evil creatures we are going to fight and was put through horrible torture so that she would do their bidding. It wasn't until I found her that she became free of this evil; and if anyone has any reason to destroy it, it is my wife."

Salaries gave Devilin the floor again. She stared silencingly at Thomas and then addressed the group, "Any more questions about my integrity before I begin?" No one responded, so she went on. "As I was saying, what I am about to tell you will make the little skirmish we had with the skeleton warriors a day in the park." She gave a dramatic pause before she told the others what horrors they would come up against in the underworld. "As we reach the entrance, there will be two rock giants which stand guard to stop anyone who is not of pure evil. Since I was a servant of the great evil and the rock giants have a brain the size of a pea, I feel that I can get us past them by having everyone pretend to be spirit slaves. Once we are inside, however, there will be many unseen dangers and you will hear horrible cries of suffering and see horrific tortures being performed. If any of you have weak constitutions, I suggest that you keep your heads down and your full attention on me. As I take you all through the underworld, you will need to follow my directions to the letter without questions or hesitation if you wish to survive." As she finished her discussion, Devilin asked the group, "And if anyone has any questions or doubts, ask them now; for when we enter the underworld, our minds must be on the mission. We will not get a second chance if we fail to succeed."

Tabby waved her foreleg in the air like a school filly and Devilin asked, "Tabby, is there something you would like to say?"

"Yes, I was wondering, how are Thomas and I going to pass as spirit slaves if we're not spirit ponies?" Tabby asked, proud of coming up with an intelligent-sounding question.

"You and Thomas carry the ancient powers of your ancestors which reacts like our spirit powers; it should fool the others long enough to get you through the gates of Hades," replied Devilin.

"And what about me?" Sun Glow asked. "Surely I can't fool anyone into believing that I'm a spirit pony!"

Devilin smiled at the tiny pony and said, "Your kind has always interfered in the evil spirits' affairs and have become a thorn in their hoofs; to have a Fairy Flutter as a slave is a treasure for any evil spirit."

Sun Glow, feeling proud that her kind had caused such trouble for the evil spirits, just smiled at Devilin in delight.

"And what should we expect to find in the interior of the underworld?" Thomas asked, curious.

"Being that all of you are supposed to be new slaves, it would be dangerous to tell any of you about the interior; it could cause you to become cautious in certain areas and make the other evil spirits suspicious," Devilin explained. "If there are no more questions, I suggest that we get ourselves ready."

So the ponies went to prepare for the last leg of their journey; and as they began their march through the wasteland, Devilin said in a low voice to Salaries, "That was quick thinking to tell them that I was a slave, but I would have never expected such a devious lie to come from you, my husband."

Salaries looked at his wife and said with a smile, "I have learned from the best, my love."

Then they began to hear ghostly wails in the air; the closer they got to the gate, the louder the unnatural cries became. Tabby was starting to get unnerved. "What is Ponyland is making all those horrible sounds?"

"They are the cries of tormented souls doomed to suffer for all eternity," replied Devilin.

"Oh. That's nice," said Tabby.

As they reached the outskirts of the entrance, just out of sight of the guards, Salaries took his backpack off and began to pull out chains, shackles, and a small cage. "I need everyone to put these shackles on their legs and necks, except for Sun Glow, who will be put in this cage." As the ponies did what Salaries asked of them, Devilin took out a black leather outfit with two red pitchfork symbols crisscrossing the chest. Putting the outfit on herself, she pulled out a long bull-whip with a small metal spiked mace at the tip.

Tabby's eyes narrowed as she saw Devilin in her new ensemble. For some reasons, stallions got googly-eyed over mares that pulled on tough-looking black leather. "Don't get any ideas," she said irritably, smacking her husband on his head.

"Any ideas about what?" Thomas protested.

"You were looking at Devilin."

"I was... and so were you."

"Well, you had better stop looking at her, that's all."

Salaries, also seeing his wife as she approached, walked over to her and hoofed his wife the cage with Sun Glow in it. "Devilin, tell me truthfully, do you have any second thoughts about entering the underworld after all these years?"

"Do not worry, my husband; it will be a piece of cake, as the mortals say," replied Devilin as she gazed into her husband's eyes.

Salaries gave his wife a kiss and went to chain himself with the others. "All right, everyone, remember what Devilin said back at the camp. When she gets us through the entrance, there will be sights and sounds that will make your skin crawl and your stomach turn. Keep your heads down and your full attention on Devilin's directions."

Devilin picked up the lead chain and began walking toward the entrance. As they arrived, two giant figures that had at first looked like statues began to move toward the group. One of the rock giants said, "Who dares to enter the realm of the damned?"

Devilin, looking fierce, said in her most evil sneer, "I am a Slave Hunter and I have some slaves for the master, so let me in, you pebble-brained idiots!"

"I wish you evil spirits would quit insulting us all the time," the other rock giant said as they opened the entrance gate to the underworld to let Devilin and the others in.

"I hope this isn't going to be a one-way trip," Tabby said in a low voice as they crossed the threshold.

To be continued in Chapter 8: Tabby's Battle with the Ultimate Evil


The Adventures of Wild Fire
Chapter 8: Tabby's Battle with the Ultimate Evil
by Salaries ( and Tabby (

Author's note: I would again like to give a very special thanks to Tabby, a most excellent story writer, for all her help in making this three-part epic the best it can be.

As the ponies walked inside the gate to the underworld, Thomas, Tabby, Wild Fire, and Sun Glow looked back towards the entrance as it slowly closed. As it shut, an ear-splitting slam was heard. As they walked father inside, they began to hear the sounds of tortured souls wailing in agonizing pain that gave the four an eerie feeling in the pits of their stomachs.

Salaries, seeing the others weakening, said to them telepathically, "My companions, try to block the sounds of these poor tormented souls from your mind by thinking of your loved ones back in Ponyland and the reason we are here; keep that love you have for them strong within you." As they heard Salaries' message, they began to think of their family and friends they had left behind and how they would do whatever it took to protect them, even venture to the underworld! Through that love, they found the inner strength needed to go on. Salaries, seeing this, smiled at his companions.

Devilin guided her companions to a ferryboat which would take them over the River Styx to the Gates of Hades. As she stood face-to-face with the ferrystallion, she said in a commanding voice, "I need you to take me and these five slaves to the master."

The ferrystallion said in a raspy voice, "You must give me two jangles or something of equal value for each soul you put in my boat."

Devilin, knowing that she would have to pay a toll to the ferrystallion, pulled out a bag of jangles from her outfit and hoofed it to him. As he took it, Devilin turned to the others and pulled on the lead chain and barked, "Get in the boat, slaves."

As they entered the boat, Tabby and Thomas glanced at the ferrystallion who wore a monk's robe with a hood over his head. As he turned his head towards the couple, they saw that his face was just skin and bone. "Don't they feed their employees down there?" Tabby complained as the "prisoners" sat two-by-two in the boat with Devilin at the head, facing the others.

Devilin cracked her whip and made Tabby jump. "No talking, you pitiful slaves!" she said rudely.

The ferrystallion pushed the boat away from the shore and headed to their next destination, the Gates of Hades. As they traveled over the River Styx, Tabby, being a curious mare, decided to look over the edge of the boat to see if there might be any crayfish in the river. What she saw instead was the lost souls of spirits that could not pay the toll and had been flung into the river. As she was staring at them, one of the spirits noticed her and rushed up out of the water, grabbing hold of Tabby's neck as it tried to pull her into the river. Thomas, seeing what was happening, took a hold of his wife to keep her from going over the edge. Devilin raised her front hoof in the air and conjured a fireball which she threw at the offending spirit, causing it to lose its grip on Tabby.

"If you do that again, I will let the spirit take you," Devilin said with an evil sneer as Thomas held his wife.

As the ferryboat reached the opposite shore, Devilin cracked her whip and said in a commanding voice, "We are here, slaves, so get your lazy carcasses out of the boat!" Salaries, being the last one in, led the others out.

"I think Devilin is enjoying her part a bit too much," Tabby whispered to Thomas. "Was she really just a slave here?"

Devilin cracked her whip again while saying, "Quiet, slaves!" Then she walked over to a demon that was sitting behind a stone podium and said, "I have five slaves for the master, so open the gates."

The demon slowly lifted his head as he said to Devilin, "Do not tell me what to do, wench, or I will use that whip on you!"

Devilin, seeing that the demon was going to be trouble, stood before her group. "I would like to see you try?"

The demon, seeing the flames in Devilin's eyes, began to laugh. "Ha ha ha, a wench with a backbone! Don't see many of your kind down here." He added in a more serious tone while gazing at the chained slaves, "But enough of this foolishness; give me your name, the names of your slaves, and how you have come by them, or you cannot go through the gates."

Before her fateful encounter with Salaries, Devilin had been one of the highest-ranking demons in the spirit world and had been given free reign to go anywhere in the underworld, so she was unprepared when the demon ordered her in such a way. But being the clever demon that she was, she said, "I am called the Huntress; the mare is called Talon and the stallion next to her is Thorn. The little one is their foal, Flame. I caught them helping mortals instead of causing mischief and mayhem. The stallion in back is called Light; he is one of those goody-four-shoes spirit ponies that I caught off guard after he battled one of our kind. Last but not least, I caught myself a Fairy Flutter called Sun Bright while she was engrossed in admiring some disgusting flowers."

The demon at the podium wrote down the information as she spoke. "You will take the three traitors to the Chamber of Pain; a couple of centuries there will teach them where their loyalties should be. The spirit pony of good can be sent to our Interrogation Chamber; if he is smart, he will cooperate. As for the Fairy Flutter, she will have her wings ripped out and placed in the arena for out enjoyment." Finally, the Gates of Hades opened. "Now go!"

Devilin bowed to the demon and took the others through the gate.

* * *
Back at the spirit ponies' house in Dream Valley, the Orb of Creation suddenly went black as the ponies went through the gate. "What happened to the image?" Mother Daffodil asked in concern.

Ranger, also confused, just shrugged his shoulders. "I am as baffled as you are, my sweet Daffodil."

Baby Daffodil grabbed hold of the orb as she said, "Wild Fire, don't leave us; please don't leave us." As she said this, a single tear rolled down her cheek and landed on the orb. It suddenly began to glow and, after a moment, the image of their friends returned. Baby Daffodil's parents looked on with amazement at what had happened, and they settled in to watch the party in the underworld again.

* * *
At the same time that Baby Daffodil's tear landed on the orb, Wild Fire suddenly felt a warm feeling all over her body. Salaries seemed to sense it, too, and gave his daughter a gentle smile.

Devilin turned around a corner and stopped to look back to see if anyone was following them. "All right, everyone, we are in the heart of the underworld, and you do not need those shackles anymore." So the ponies took their chains off while Devilin released Sun Glow from the cage and removed her own outfit.

Sun Glow flew out and hovered in front of Devilin. "How dare he order my wings to be ripped out!" she said in an irritated tone. "I should go out there and knock his stupid horn off his pea-brain head."

"Do not be foolish, Sun Glow; all that would accomplish would be jeopardizing our mission," replied Devilin.

Sun Glow, understanding how important their quest was, began to settle down. As the others finished removing their chains and hiding them so that no demons would notice the discarded objects, Devilin said in a low voice, "Follow me; I sense the great evil in this direction."

As the ponies walked along after Devilin, Tabby trotted up next to the other mare. "Devilin, can I ask you a question?"

Devilin sighed as she turned to Tabby. "What is it that you wish to know?"

"Why did that demon at the entrance think that Thomas, Wild Fire, and I were demons, too?"

"That is because demon ponies all have a single horn like unicorns, so you could say that you have a little demon in you," replied Devilin with a smile.

That made Tabby straighten up a little. "Cool! So I bet all the angel ponies like your husband have wings." Devilin nodded to the mare in agreement. "What were they going to do to us in that Chamber of Pain?"

Devilin gazed at Tabby with a small smile. "Remember how much pain you were in when that rock cut into your hoof?" Tabby nodded in the affirmative. "Well, think of that pain begin a thousand times more painful, and never finding relief from it; that is what the Chamber of Pain is."

"I'm afraid I can't think of a sarcastic comparison to make," Tabby admitted after a pause.

"Well, it exists, and we must stop the great evil from ever using it on innocent creatures." They reached another corner, and Devilin stopped and peered around it. She saw the four Ponies of the Apocalypse standing guard in front of a very huge door. "It seems that the great evil has summoned the four Ponies of the Apocalypse to guard its chamber while planning its attack on the world," Devilin reported in a low voice.

"What! You mean we have to fight them again, in addition to this 'great evil'?" Tabby complained.

"So you have come up against them before?" said an inquisitive Devilin.

"Yes, on the island of Phalanx," Thomas filled in.

"They were totally going to bring about the end of the world, but we totally showed them up," Tabby said proudly.

Devilin, hearing this, was given a devilishly good idea. "Do you think the Ponies of the Apocalypse would still remember you two?"

"Oh yeah, they'll remember us! And they'd better start running in terror when they see me!" Tabby said confidently.

"You must have a plan," Thomas said, a little more cautious. "What are you thinking?"

"Come closer, and I will tell all of you my idea," Devilin said, gesturing for the others to huddle around to hear her devious plan. "It is very simple; Thomas and Tabby will lure the Ponies of the Apocalypse to where we are right now; and when they turn the corner, we hit them quick and hard. Then we use the chains we brought and tie them up."

"Do you think that you two can confront those four again?" Salaries asked the couple.

"Oh, we can confront them again," Tabby said cheerfully. "I just don't see how chains are going to have much effect on supernatural beings."

"If these were just ordinary chains, you would be right," Salaries agreed. "But these spirit chains are infused with magical energy so that spirit beings cannot break through them."

"With the fate of the world at stake, it gives us little choice but to try," said a not-so-eager Thomas.

"Oh, Ponies of the Apocalypse! Fancy meeting you here!" called out Tabby as she waved to them from a distance. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?"

The foursome looked up at the intruders, but were nonplused. "Well, well, if it isn't our old adversaries from Phalanx Island," Aries, the demon pony of war, sneered.

"Are you surprised to see us here? You must have known that even a collapsing island could not hold us down," Hunger said smugly.

"Yeah, well, all I know is that you're in my way!" Tabby yelled.

Thanatos laughed. "A response utterly lacking in wit. I expected better from our Atlantean queen."

"I am under considerable stress right now! Give me a break!" Tabby bristled.

"We're supposed to be luring them away, remember?" Thomas reminded her, speaking softly. "Come on." He nudged her to reverse her direction.

"Oh, uh, yeah. I shouldn't have come; this is really scary stuff," Tabby said lamely, looking behind her to see if they were following. The demon ponies were just smirking at her, so she threw a final insult behind her back. "But if I see you blockheads again, you'd better believe that my friends and I are totally going to wipe you out!"

"She insults us, my siblings," Strife observed. "Shall we teach her a lesson?"

"Remember what the master told us," Hunger agreed, and the four exchanged knowing looks with one another as they started after the retreating unicorn couple.

Tabby and Thomas rejoined the other four in their group and they all stood side-by-side as they prepared their attacks. As the Ponies of the Apocalypse rounded the corner, the six heros let lose everything they had and hit the demons so hard that they temporarily lost consciousness.

"Quickly, tie them up before they awaken!" Devilin ordered. Grabbing the chains, they swiftly had the four demons shackled and immobile. "Follow me, and take these idiots along," she said, and they dragged the demon ponies as they followed Devilin to a slab of rock. The mare pulled it aside, revealing a hidden cave, and in short order the four demons were interred in the damp, cramped space.

Just before the door to the prison was closed, the Ponies of the Apocalypse began to come to. "Foolish ponies! Did you think you could really defeat us so easily?" Strife hissed, sensing the jubilation of the team.

"Well, judging from the look of you now, I don't think there's any question about who the victor is," Tabby said smugly, turning her back on them. Still, she felt uneasy. The four Ponies of the Apocalypse were a great demonic force capable of world destruction; why had they fallen so easily?

"We have delivered her into the master's hoofs," Thanatos declared in the darkness. "Our duty has been dispensed. Now, let us be gone from this place." In a flash of light, the Ponies of the Apocalypse were no more to be seen.

* * *
The group of six heroes now gathered around the unguarded door. "What plan do you have for us now?" Thomas asked the spirit ponies.

Salaries and Devilin looked at each other in puzzlement and then turned back to Thomas, saying in unison, "What plan?"

"You brought us to fight this great evil and didn't even know how we were going to do it?" replied Thomas, taken aback.

"The way you've been ordering us around this whole time, I thought you'd at least have a vague idea of how we're going to confront him!" said an irate Tabby.

Salaries walked towards Thomas and said, "It has been foreseen that Tabby would defeat the great evil; our job was to make sure that she got that chance by protecting her at any cost. You have been patient with us this far in our 'ordering' of you, as you say; but now it is your time to take center stage."

"Oh. Okay... well... I say open this door and let me at him!" Tabby exclaimed, fired-up.

Thomas looked in Salaries' eyes and saw that he was truly willing to die to protect Tabby; and Tabby herself was all keyed-up for the battle ahead. With a brave soul and a loving heart, he said, "Then let us go; destiny awaits."

Devilin tried to open the door, but it did not move. "The door is locked and protected by a strong protection spell," she announced. "We may have to find another way in."

"Let me try to open it," Sun Glow said to the others. They may have wondered how a small Fairy Flutter would be able to budge the door when Devilin had been unable, but they did not voice their doubts aloud. "Place me next to the keyhole," the small pony requested of Devilin as the spirit pony took Sun Glow in her hoof. As the Fairy Flutter got near the lock, she jumped through the keyhole opening. The others could hear the sound of tumblers clinking within the lock; and when the sound stopped, the little Fairy Flutter came out and fluttered onto Devilin's back as she said, "Go ahead and try the door again."

Devilin pushed on the door and, amazingly, it began to swing inwards. "How did you do that with a protection spell in place?" Tabby asked.

"The door may have been protected from brute force by magic, but there was no guard against picking the lock," Sun Glow said with a smile.

The ponies cautiously walked into the room and looked around, but saw only a table with papers on it. "This isn't very exciting," Tabby said, when suddenly the door slammed shut behind them.

Salaries, however, heard the sound of a sword coming down towards the unicorn; he swiftly ran towards Tabby and, with his sword, deflected the other blade directed at Tabby's head. Holding the sword at bay, he hollered at Thomas, "Take your wife and keep her safe!"

Thomas, taking Tabby's foreleg, pulled her away from the clashing swords. As Tabby got her bearings again and saw Salaries fighting with a floating sword, her eyes opened wide. "What is making that sword move?"

Then they all heard a terrifying laugh that made their blood run cold. As the sword disappeared from sight, Salaries said, "The great evil has turned itself invisible, so everyone, stay alert."

Then the great evil began to speak. "You foolish, insignificant worms. How dare you think that a pair of mortals, three outcasts from the spirit world, and a Fairy Flutter could ever stop me?"

"If we are so insignificant, why are you afraid to show yourself to us!" Salaries shouted out.

"So be it!" replied the great evil and as they waited, a figure began to come out of the shadows at the back of the room. As it became visible, Tabby trembled with shock and anger as her voice rang out, "How dare you show yourself in the image of my daughter!"

The great evil, in the form of a pink baby unicorn, laughed. "Ha, ha, ha! I thought you would enjoy seeing your daughter after all this time. I know that I have been looking forward to seeing you, so that I may hold you up as an example to the rest of the world once I defeat you, queen of Atlantis!"

Tabby only became angrier at this remark but visibly hesitated from taking any further actions against the figure that looked so very much like Faline. Thomas, being the level-headed one and realizing it was only a trick, encouraged her. "Tabby, remember, our girls are safe at home with their grandparents! That creature is in no way our flesh and blood!"

At those words from her husband, Tabby's resolve hardened; seeing that his trick had been thwarted, the great evil said in a thundering roar, "Be gone, you infidel!" The image lifted its foreleg, causing an invisible force to throw Thomas across the room.

Fully roused, Tabby turned on the image of her daughter with fire in her eyes. "You may look like my daughter, but you are not her! Seer Attack!" Without further ado, Tabby threw back her head as potent psychic flames, glowing purple, shot out of her horn directly aimed at the great evil.

As the flame reached her enemy, it lifted its hoof and knocked the attack aside as if it were just some bothersome fireflies. Then he looked at Tabby and said with a chuckle, "Is that the best you can do, mare? Let me show you what a real Seer Attack can do." It threw back its head in blatant imitation of Tabby, but psychic flames five times as large as Tabby's were directed at her.

Wild Fire saw this and galloped in front of Tabby, surrounding both of them with her spirit shield. As the flame hit, the force of the blast shattered the spirit shield, throwing both females to the ground. Shaking off the effects of the attack, Tabby stood up and helped Wild Fire to her hoofs.

"You sniveling little brat; how dare you interfere in my fun!" they heard the great evil say.

Wild Fire glared in its direction and stuck her tongue out as a reply to the insult.

At the other end of the room, Salaries had helped Thomas to his hoofs and the rest of the group now joined Tabby and Wild Fire. "Six against one... now, does that sound fair?" the great evil said in a sarcastic tone. Still using the form of Faline, he gave a sinister grin. "I think we should even up the odds, don't you think?" Its eyes began to glow. "Devilin, Wild Fire, I summon you to my side."

Devilin's and Wild Fire's eyes both went blank as they moved away from the group, walking dreamlike to the side of the great evil. They stood ready to attack their friends and loved ones, much to the surprise and dismay of the others in their group as they watched the two switch sides.

Salaries became outraged as he said in an angered tone, "What have you done to my wife and daughter, you fiend!"

The great evil laughed at the stunned ponies and said in a mocking tone, "You fools, did you think that I could not control those who contain the essence of pure evil? Ha, ha, ha!" Then he addressed Devilin and Wild Fire, "Kill them!"

"Yes, master." Devilin lunged at her husband with sword raised for battle, while Wild Fire conjured a ring of fire which encircled Thomas and Tabby. While this was going, Sun Glow realized that she needed to do something fast. She headed towards the great evil and began flying around his head.

"Begone, you little insect!" the great evil shouted, swatting at her. "Dratted Fairy Flutters!"

Meanwhile, the ring of fire began to shrink in height as it got closer to Tabby and Thomas, so Thomas took the opportunity to call upon his Tidal Wave attack. He raised the palms of his hoofs upwards, mentally concentrating. With a flick of his wrist, the power of the attack created a wall of water which circled the flames and caused them to go out; so as not to hurt Wild Fire, Thomas made sure that the Tidal Wave was only large enough to cover the fire wall she had summoned.

"Go and help Sun Glow keep the great evil occupied," Tabby instructed, rising to her hoofs, "and I'll try to snap Wild Fire out of her trance."

"She could summon another attack; can you handle it on your own?" Thomas eyes Tabby with concern.

"It's risky, but she shouldn't be a mindless slave to that creature, and I think Sun Glow needs help," Tabby said briskly, rising to the occasion and taking control. "So go."

"Then good luck, my featherheaded ditzy idiot," Thomas said softly, hugging her close and kissing her. Then he quit her side and joined Sun Glow.

"We'll make it out alive, you know!" Tabby shouted after her husband. "We will!" Then she turned to confront her immediate concern. "Wild Fire, we are your friends and we have no desire to hurt you! Snap out of it!"

"You are nothing to me and I am going to destroy you," Wild Fire growled, her horn glowing as an enormous energy ball began to form.

* * *
Back at the spirit ponies' house, a very nervous Baby Daffodil said, "We can't let Wild Fire kill Tabby! Wild Fire would never forgive herself!"

Ranger and Mother Daffodil looked at each other with the same feeling of helplessness that Baby Daffodil felt. "Honey, we are just earth ponies and we don't have any unicorn magic we can use to help them."

Baby Daffodil gazed at her parents and then turned to look at Wild Fire as she was getting ready to attack Tabby. "I don't care if we don't have unicorn magic! Wild Fire needs me!" She moved to the Orb of Creation and placed her front hoofs on it. Before her parents could stop her, she had vanished. Ranger and Daffodil could only gaze fearfully into the orb to see what had become of their daughter.

* * *
Back at the battle, Wild Fire prepared to release her energy ball on Tabby; but as she did, Baby Daffodil appeared between the two warriors. The full force of the attack hit Baby Daffodil instead of Tabby; the lavender filly was thrown with tremendous force and smashed against the wall.

As Wild Fire saw her soul sister laying lifelessly on the ground, her side of pure good began to break the spell that the great evil had placed on her. As it faded away, the full import of what she had done hit Wild Fire. She galloped to Baby Daffodil's side as she screamed, "What have I done! Oh, Great Creator, what have I done!" As she stood over Baby Daffodil, her knees suddenly gave out from under her as she wept for the horrible loss of her soul sister.

Tabby quietly knelt down beside the grieving filly. "Wild Fire, do not blame yourself for this. The one who is to blame is that horrid creature who dared to take Faline's form and also took over your mind. It was not your action, but his." Wild Fire looked up at Tabby as she gave her a half smile, and then turned back to Baby Daffodil. Tabby added softly, "Wild Fire, you are in no condition to fight, so stay here with your friend. Do you understand?" Wild Fire, not looked up at Tabby, gave a nod to show that she understood.

Tabby went back to the battlefield with a stronger feeling of purpose now that she better understood the importance of destroying the thing that could cause so much pain. For a moment, she just stood and watched Thomas and Sun Glow as they deflected blows from the great evil, and Salaries and Devilin who fought each other. Her ancestral blood rose in her veins, the blood of warriors! With the inner strength of a thousand ponies, Tabby went to join the battle.

Thomas looked up to see his wife coming to help. "I've thrown everything I know at it, but it just brushes it all off!"

"Then perhaps a combination attack would have more effect," Tabby announced.

"It's worth a try," Thomas replied.

"Sun Glow, keep him occupied. We need to gather more energy," Tabby said in a low tone to the Fairy Flutter. Sun Glow acknowledged this and went back to occupying the evil being while Tabby and Thomas laid low.

* * *
Mother Daffodil fainted after seeing her daughter killed. As Ranger revived her, she cried, "Our precious little daughter is dead, Ranger!"

"I know, my darling wife, I know," replied Ranger as he held his wife close to him.

"If we had not met those spirit ponies, our daughter would be alive now!" Daffodil went on with a little anger in her voice.

Ranger, comforting his wife the best he could, said in a soft and loving voice, "My precious love, I know this hurts you dearly, but we must be strong and be there for our friends when they need us. I know that, deep inside your heart, you still care for them."

Daffodil, looking at her husband, said in a tearful voice, "I know that you are right, but it hurts so much."

Ranger, giving his wife a loving kiss, said with conviction, "I promise we will get through this. It may be hard, but we will survive."

* * *
"Sun Glow, get back!" Tabby cried out, jumping in front of the great evil. "Now you'll have to face me!" She stared long and hard into the face of her daughter.

"What do you think you'll accomplish in a staring contest!" the great evil laughed, stepping back from a lunge.

"Idiot! Petrifying Gaze!" Another of Tabby's ancestral Atlantean abilities made the great evil unable to move. Immediately following this, Thomas performed his Crustacean Clamp, which encased the being in corals and crustacean exoskeletons. As he was completely encased and immobile, Tabby stepped forward to perform a finishing blow; but she never got the chance as the floor began to shake. The great evil shattered its encasement, the shower of coral knocking the ponies to the ground.

Salaries, seeing that Tabby's ancient powers were not going to be enough to defeat the great evil, knew that he had to do something. He looked at his wife as they fought; as he got face-to-face with her, he gave her a loving kiss. "I will always love you, Devilin, always." Then he laid his sword down as Devilin thrust her blade deep within his chest, piercing his heart. As he fell to the floor, he said to Tabby, "I give you all my strength and power; use it wisely." Then Salaries' body turned to a pure white light ball of energy which circled Tabby and then seemed to be absorbed into her body.

"Well now, that's weird," Tabby said, staring down at a glowing hoof. As she stood there, she felt a great strength growing within her that she had never felt before. "Okay, there have been too many casualties! Now it's time to get down to business!" Saying that, a beam of purple psychic energy erupted from her hoof and took the form of a blade, and she lunged at the great evil with immense power behind her thrust.

The great evil, outraged by Tabby's show of power, created a humongous ball of energy that made Wild Fire's look insignificant by comparison. "Now you die, wench!" he yelled with great anger as he tossed it at the charging mare.

Tabby held the blade in front of her and blocked the energy ball from going any further. She struggled against it, but with a great shout she pushed her sword forward and sent the attack back towards its instigator.

The great evil was taken so off-guard that he did not have time to stop the energy ball; it exploded on impact and threw him clean through a six-foot-thick wall. A moment later, the great evil stumbled back into the room as it screamed out in painful anger, blood dripping from his mouth. "I will not let a mere mortal desssstroy me!" he hissed.

"Then I'm afraid you'll have to shape up your act," Tabby smirked.

"Devilin, I order you to destroy that mare," the great evil instructed his remaining minion.

"Yes, master," replied Devilin as she headed toward Tabby with her sword held high.

Surprisingly, Tabby decided to retract her psychic blade as the energy diffused back into her hoof. "Thomas, put up your Sound Sponge to protect the others," she ordered her husband while standing her ground against Devilin's advance.

"Will do, Tabby," Thomas said, trusting that she knew what she was doing. He held up his hoofs and summoned a powerful giant bubble, the purpose of which was to absorb all incoming sound, around himself, Wild Fire, and Sun Glow. This came in handy when Tabby used her High-Pitched Wail, which Thomas suspected was coming.

When Devilin was close enough, Tabby unleashed the mighty power of her High-Pitched Wail, causing a deafening shriek that suddenly filled the room! Devilin dropped her sword in shock as she reached to cover her ears, as did the great evil. "It's time to finish this!" Tabby shouted, using her Seismic Stomp and hitting her hoof down on the ground. With the added power that Salaries had given her, she cracked open the ground underneath the great evil.

As it fell hundreds of miles beneath the earth, it yelled with a hatred that knew no bounds, "I will return and destroy you all!" Then the whole room began to shake, and bits of the roof began to fall in. Soon, the entire room was collapsing around the ponies.

* * *
Ranger and Daffodil suddenly heard Salaries' voice say, "Guardians, protect us." They were startled, knowing that Salaries had died in battle; but they knew it was time for them to fulfill their promise to Salaries and get the others out of danger.

"Will you be able to do this, my love?" Ranger asked his wife.

As Mother Daffodil wiped the tears from her eyes, she said, "I will not leave our daughter's body in that horrid place." So they placed their forelegs over the orb and concentrated on the rest of the friends in the underworld.

They suddenly found themselves inside the collapsing room. Ranger went to his daughter, Wild Fire, and Tabby, while Daffodil went to get Thomas, Devilin, and Sun Glow. As they held them and thought of the Orb of Creation they began to fade away, but instead of reappearing back at the spirit ponies' house, they were deposited five miles from the entrance to the underworld. They saw the mountain that stood over it collapse on top of the evil place; as the mountain began to settle and the dust began to clear, it became apparent that the villains were buried beneath several hundred tons of stone and rock.

After the initial shock of what had just happened faded, Mother Daffodil galloped to her daughter's body as Ranger laid her down on the ground. As she held her daughter in her forelegs, Wild Fire came up to her and said as a tear fell from her eyes, "It is all my fault, and I would not blame you if you never want to see me again."

Mother Daffodil, seeing the remorse that Wild Fire was feeling, gestured for Wild Fire to come closer. She placed her foreleg around the filly in a comforting manner, and the two silently shared their grief.

Meanwhile, Devilin was coming out of her trance and started looking around for Salaries. "Do any of you know where my husband is?" she demanded.

"You don't have any memories from when you were under the great evil's control?" Thomas asked.

"Let me handle this," Tabby said softly, going to Devilin's side and turning her away from the crowd. After a whispered conversation Devilin was appraised of the events that had led up to her husband's death.

Devilin tried to hold in her tears. "He can't be dead... not Salaries, not my beloved."

Tabby placed her foreleg around Devilin's shoulder as she said, "Devilin, it is okay to cry. There's no need to act tough for us."

Devilin turned to Tabby as tears began to slide down her cheeks. "I will miss him so much, Tabby; he was my anchor that I could always count on." She fully gave in to her sorrow as Tabby did her best to comfort her.

Sun Glow, flying around above the grieving ponies, noticed a shadowy figure coming towards them. "Hey, everyone, there's someone coming!" she exclaimed, pointing to the east.

"Who are you and what do you want!" Thomas yelled out as a pony figure approached them.

Then the figure came into view and the onlookers fully observed his appearance. It was a stallion with a body that looked like he was dipped in pure gold. His mane and tail were silvery white, and on his side was a symbol of clouds with sunbeams radiating out from them. "Do not worry; I come as a friend."

Devilin, hearing the pony's voice, jumped up as she turned and faced him, then lowered her head solemnly. "You honor us, Great Creator."

The Great Creator took his foreleg and lifted up Devilin's head; as he looked at her face and saw her cheeks drenched with tears, he said, "Devilin, this is a side of you that even I would never have thought to see. What has happened to make one like you shed tears?"

"I don't know who you are or why Devilin treats you so highly, but she is grieving right now for her husband who just died in battle, so she doesn't need to be given a hard time!" Tabby said snappishly, standing defensively by Devilin.

Devilin's eyes widened to hear a mortal talk to the Great Creator in such a way, but the Great Creator just smiled at Tabby. Then he saw Mother Daffodil and Wild Fire kneeling over a small filly laying on the ground, so he walked towards them with a smile. "May I please see the foal?" Mother Daffodil felt such a loving warmth from the stallion that she allowed him to come closer. As he did, he said in a gentle voice, "This little one is not dead, but just sleeping." He placed his hoof on Baby Daffodil's chest and said in a loving way, "Baby Daffodil, it is time to awake; your mother and father miss you."

Ranger, being a protective husband, rebuked the Great Creator in much the same manner as Tabby. "Salaries and Devilin told us who you are, but I will not let you taunt my wife in such a manner, so let my family be." Suddenly, Ranger heard a small groan. As he turned, he saw his daughter beginning to move. As Baby Daffodil's eyes opened, her mother took a hold of her and began smothering her daughter with hugs and kisses.

Before Ranger could turn back to thank the Great Creator for what he had done and apologize for what he had just said, the Great Creator had already gone back to Devilin. "Now, my child, what makes you so sad?"

Devilin looked at the Great Creator with tears flowing down her cheeks. "I killed my husband, and I wish that the others had left me down in the underworld to die with him."

"And what about Wild Fire; are you willing to leave her without a father and a mother?"

Devilin looked at her sweet little flame as Wild Fire told Baby Daffodil what had happened and how they had gotten to where they were. "I do not want to leave my sweet little flame, but I miss my husband so much," she said honestly.

The Great Creator cast a look in Tabby's direction as he said to Devilin, "Devilin, your husband is not gone; he lives within Tabby and just waits for the right time to return to you."

"What do you mean, Salaries is within me?" Tabby asked in a panicky voice, getting a little worried.

Patiently, the Great Creator explained to the two mares what was going on. "You see, when Devilin thrust her sword into Salaries, he transported his living essence within Tabby, making her part mortal and part spirit pony. This enhanced her own powers a thousandfold which gave her the power to defeat the threat which you all battled. Now that the great evil is gone, I can bring Salaries back to the living."

"And how do you do that?" asked a nervous Tabby.

"It is very simple. I take Salaries' sword and thrust it into your chest and pierce your heart, which will set Salaries' living essence free for me to give a physical form to."

"I don't see how that's much better for me," Tabby squeaked, ducking behind Thomas.

"If you're truly the Great Creator, surely there must be a way to accomplish this without taking a life for a life, Thomas said defensively, guarding Tabby. "You will not touch my wife."

"There is nothing to fear; Salaries' sword is made of the energy of pure good and will not harm one whose heart is filled with compassion like that which Tabby carries in her heart," replied the Great Creator.

Devilin walked over to Tabby and humbly said, "Tabby, I know how scary this sounds; and I will understand if you wish to not do this, for you have done so much already."

Tabby was scared at the thought of having a sword stuck through her, even with the Great Creator's assurances that all would be well. After all, she passed out even at having her hoof pricked at the doctor's office! Still, she didn't wish to see Devilin go through life without her husband, especially if there was a way to bring him back. "Well, it might sound bloody and violent, but I suppose it really won't harm me if what he says is true," she said to Thomas. "And if our situations were reversed, I would hope that Devilin would make the choice to save you. So shouldn't I do it?" Then in a lowered, confidential voice, she added, "But I don't know what to make of this Great Creator. Devilin and Salaries speak of him like God, but he doesn't seem so different from any other magical being we've faced."

Thomas held Tabby in a loving embrace. "The same thought went through my mind, and I don't have an answer for you. But whoever he is, if you trust him, then do what you feel is right with my blessing."

"I'll do it," Tabby said, more confidently than before.

Thomas turned back to the Great Creator and said in a protective tone, "Tabby had better come out of this unharmed, or there will be a new Great Creator when I get through with you."

The other ponies had all gathered around by this point to see the outcome, and Wild Fire walked up to the Great Creator and asked, "Grandpa, how are you going to use Dad's sword if it is buried within the underworld?"

The Great Creator smiled after hearing Wild Fire call him "Grandpa" and thought that it would be nice after all these centuries to have a granddaughter. "Well, you see, my little granddaughter, a spirit sword cannot be destroyed even when a mountain falls on it." Then he raised his foreleg and said in a powerful voice, "Revenging Angel, come to my hoof!" A flash of brilliant white light covered the Great Creator's hoof; and as the light disappeared, they saw Salaries' sword in his hoof. He addressed Thomas and Devilin and told them, "I will need you two to hold Tabby in place so that when the sword enters her chest, she will not jerk." The two ponies stood on either side of Tabby as the Great Creator explained to her, "Tabby, when the sword enters your chest, you will feel no pain, only a sensation similar to a needle prick; and I also suggest that you close your eyes and stay as calm as possible."

"I just know that I'm going to pass out!" Tabby wailed. But she shut up, closed her eyes, and tried to keep what was happening to her out of her mind. When the Great Creator saw that Tabby was ready, he plunged his sword into her chest; as it pierced her heart, Salaries' living essence was set free to leave Tabby's body. The Great Creator pulled the sword out of Tabby's chest and as he did, the wound that had been made instantly healed. As Tabby opened her eyes, she saw Salaries' living essence fly around her, giving her a warm and loving feeling.

Then Salaries' essence circled around Devilin, gently caressing her cheek. Then it soared straight up to the sky and disappeared. Devilin, not understanding why her husband's essence had left her, said with grief, "Salaries, come back; please come back!"

"I thought you were going to restore his body!" Tabby demanded of the Great Creator.

"Salaries, hear me and claim what belongs to you!" the Great Creator shouted in reply, tossing Salaries' sword into the sky until it, too, was out of sight. Then the ponies heard the sound of flapping wings and saw a figure soaring down from the sky.

The figure became clearer and Devilin said with joy in her heart, "It's Salaries; he has come back to me!"

As Salaries landed near his wife, he said with a smile, "Miss me, my love?" But the only thing Devilin could do was to wrap her forelegs around Salaries' neck as she shed tears of joy at seeing him again.

Then the Great Creator walked up to the ponies and said, "It is time for us to leave this place." When he lifted his forelegs, the ponies saw everything around them fade away. After a few minutes, the spirit ponies' house began to appear and they found themselves in their living room back in Dream Valley. "And now," the Great Creator said solemnly, "it is time that we four headed back to the spirit world."

Wild Fire, not wanting to leave her soul sister, said anxiously, "I don't want to leave my best friend Daffodil! Can't we please stay?"

"Isn't there anything that can be done, so that we can stay with our friends?" Salaries asked.

The Great Creator thought for awhile and then said, "These ponies know that you three are spirit ponies, and our laws state that when a mortal knows our identity we must leave the planet to keep the spirit world a secret. But if you three truly wish to stay, then you must all become mortal. Are you willing to give up your spirit powers and immortality for these mortals?"

Salaries, after looking at his wife and daughter, turned to the Great Creator and said, "Even though we will miss the spirit world, we would prefer to live as mortals with these gentle loving ponies that we will always consider as family."

"I agree with my husband and will stand by his decision," replied Devilin as she stood firmly next to him.

Wild Fire, not really understanding what was happening, just said, "Yeah, what they said."

The Great Creator smiled at the family of three. "These mortals must be very special for you to give up your spirit heritage to live with them; but if that is what you wish, then so be it." The Great Creator lifted his foreleg and pointed his hoof at the three; as he did so, small orbs of white energy began to come out of the spirit ponies. As the energy left them, their birth symbols began to lose their luster.

Then the other ponies gathered around them as Mother Daffodil and Tabby asked at the same time, "Are you all okay?"

The three spirit ponies nodded their heads in a reassuring manner as they began to recover from having their spirit energy taken from them. The Great Creator said to them, "I have taken your spirit energy from you, except for the powers you have already demonstrated to the ponies of Dream Valley."

"That can't be fair!" Tabby protested in a petulant tone. "I don't see why they have to give up being spirit ponies just because they told us who they are."

"Because it has been the law of our kind since the dawn of time that when a spirit pony is revealed, they must leave the planet. Because Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire did not want to leave, the only other choice was to make them mortal," replied the Great Creator.

"Well, I think you ought to reevaluate this law, especially towards those who have risked their lives to protect the universe! Who knows if they might not need those powers again when the next big evil comes along?" Tabby said, stubbornly crossing her forelegs across her chest.

The Great Creator, never having had a mortal speak to him in such a way, said to Tabby, "You must care very much for Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire to chance my wrath for speaking to me in such a way."

"I do care, but neither do I fear your wrath," said Tabby, not budging a bit. "I know this family holds you in high regard, but forgive me if I reserve my opinion."

"Very well, I admire your honesty. I will thus consider your request and look to see if there is a way to give them back their spirit powers; but for now they must remain mortal." With that, the Great Creator turned and said to all the ponies, "All of you have performed a great service and I give you my everlasting thanks, and I guarantee that all of you will have a place in my kingdom when the time comes." Then he raised his forelegs and vanished.

The mortal ponies gave the spirit ponies their sympathy about losing their spirit heritage but told them how very happy they were about having them choose to live in Dream Valley with them. And finally, after that adventure, goodbyes were said and the families started heading back to their own homes.

"If any of you need anything, don't hesitate to call!" Mother Daffodil added.

Devilin gave the other mare a big hug as she said, "Thank you for caring so much for us."

Salaries stalled Thomas for a moment before he and Tabby left. "Thomas, I will tell you about your medallion's origin in a few weeks; I know you are very curious about it, but first I must help my family adjust to being mortal."

Thomas placed his foreleg on Salaries' shoulder as he said, "I understand, and I would like you to know that Tabby and I will always be here if you need us."

Tabby was thinking back over the day's events and gave a large sigh. "And I really liked that whole psychic sword thing I got to use, but that's only because of you, Salaries."

Salaries smiled. "I may have lent you my power, but the blade you summoned is your own. My extra power may have helped to awaken it; but now that its power is unlocked, it is for you to use."

Devilin also came up to Tabby and gave her a big hug. "I would like to thank you for being there for me during the time when Salaries was dead, and know that you will always be welcome in my house.

"Oh, don't mention it," Tabby said flippantly, growing uncomfortable at being thanked in such a manner. "I only did what I had to."

When the spirit ponies were finally alone, Devilin said to her husband, "I do not know if I can handle being a mortal." Seeing her husband grin, she said, "And what is so humorous about that?"

"Before the Great Creator left, he sent me a psychic message," Salaries said.

"And what did he say?" asked Devilin.

"That we will stay mortals only until the others lose their suspicions about us; and then we will be spirit ponies again."

"Well, I hope they lose those suspicions soon!"

Salaries smiled at his wife's frustrations as he held her close. "With our friends' support, I think we will be able to handle a little mortal discomfort." Then he gave his wife a loving kiss as they started their mortal life for the time being.

The Adventures of Wild Fire
Chapter 9: The Origin of Thomas' Ancestral Medallion
by Salaries ( and Tabby (

Author's note: In this chapter you will read about three new characters; here are the pronunciations of their names:

(Thomicus pronounced Thom/mic/us)

(Tabbathia pronounced Tabba/the/a)

(Elainya pronounced Elaine/yea)

Two weeks had passed since the battle with the Great Evil, and during those weeks the spirit ponies learned to adjust to mortal life with the help of six very good friends, namely, Ranger, Mother Daffodil, Baby Daffodil, Thomas, Tabby, and Sun Glow. The latter had decided to stay in Dream Valley to help the spirit ponies and lived in secret at their home. No one outside this circle of ponies knew of the existence of the Fairy Flutter.

As morning came, Devilin came downstairs with Sun Glow on her back as they headed to the kitchen to fix breakfast for the others. As Devilin was walking, she said to her friend, "I think that I would have gone insane if you and the others weren't here to help me and my family adjust to this mortal life."

As they reached the kitchen, Sun Glow fluttered to the breakfast table and said to Devilin, "It is my honor to help such noble ponies as yourselves." Devilin just smiled at the little Fairy Flutter as she started breakfast.

Then the sounds of little hoofsteps were heard as Wild Fire appeared in the kitchen doorway and smelled the delicious food her mother was preparing. She said with a smile, "The food smells so delicious I can hardly wait to eat it."

"If your father will get his lazy tail to the kitchen, we can start," replied Devilin in a sweet and gentle tone.

Then the females heard the sounds of hoofs scurrying to the kitchen as they saw Salaries with a fire extinguisher in his hoofs. He said in jest as he held it up, "I heard that my wife was cooking, so I brought back-up just in case."

Wild Fire and Sun Glow giggled with delight, but Devilin gave her husband a dirty look as she said to him, "I do not think that your little joke is all that funny."

Salaries walked over to his wife as he laid the fire extinguisher down and began to tickle her. "Well, I will just have to fix that, won't I?"

While she was being tickled, Devilin burst into laughter. "You are not playing fair!"

"All is fair in love and war," Salaries said.

Devilin, after composing herself, said to the others, "Breakfast is ready. Everyone to the table." As they ate, Devilin commented to her husband, "Ever since the Great Creator took our spirit energy away from us, my evil nature has suddenly become dormant within me. Every time something happens, I end up saying sweet and nice things instead of my usual sarcasm, and it is beginning to get on my nerves."

Salaries gently rubbed his wife's back. "Do not fret, my love. It is just that your inner self has not yet fully adjusted to the change, but it will pass and you will become that mare that I fell in love with those many years ago."

"I hope that you are right, my love, or I will without a doubt lose my mind."

As they finished eating, they heard a knock at the door. As Wild Fire got up to answer it, she said to the others, "I'll get it; it's probably Daf coming to walk to school with me." When she opened the door, the filly found Baby Daffodil with Mother Daffodil standing next to her.

"Where can I find your mother, Wild Fire?" Mother Daffodil asked as they came inside.

"She is in the kitchen with Father and Sun Glow," replied Wild Fire as she pointed to the kitchen, and then she and Baby Daffodil headed off to school.

When Mother Daffodil got to the kitchen she saw the three still sitting at the table. She looked toward Salaries and Devilin and said, "I hope that mortal life hasn't been giving you two any trouble."

Devilin looked up at Mother Daffodil as she said in a sarcastic voice, "Oh, no, being mortal has been such a piece of cake."

"You see, my sweet, it just takes a good friend to bring out the real you," Salaries said as he looked at his wife.

Devilin gave her husband another dirty look. "Isn't it time that you headed to work?"

Salaries, looking at the clock, said to his wife, "So it is." Then he got up while giving his wife a loving kiss. As he walked passed Mother Daffodil he asked, "Would it be okay with you and your husband if I borrowed the Orb of Creation next week?"

"I don't see any problem with that," Mother Daffodil said.

Salaries took her foreleg and said, "You are just an angel, Daffodil." Then he kissed her hoof, causing the mare to blush.

Once Salaries had left and the three mares were alone, Mother Daffodil said, still flushed from Salaries' kiss, "Your husband sure knows how to make a mare's heart skip a beat."

"Yes, he does have his moments," replied Devilin. "So what brings you here, Daffodil?"

"I just came to see how you are doing and if there is anything you need," said Mother Daffodil as she sat in one of the chairs.

"I am fine and do not need anything right now," replied Devilin.

"Then why don't we three go outside and stretch our legs for awhile?" suggested Mother Daffodil to both her friends. Devilin tried to think up an excuse to stay home, but Mother Daffodil beat her to the punch. "And I do not want to hear any excuses! You have kept yourself locked in this house for two weeks, and I think it is time for you to let the rest of Ponyland know that you still exist in our little part of the world."

Devilin, looking at Sun Glow, thought that she may have found a loophole she could use. "But how are we going to explain Sun Glow? You know that her race likes to stay in secret," she pointed out.

But all Mother Daffodil did was smile at Devilin's lame excuse as she got up and went to the living room. She returned with a basket with a mirror in the center of the lid around her neck. "I had this basket especially made for Sun Glow so she could see the sights without others seeing her," she explained to the other two. She laid the basket on the table and opened up the top as she said to the Fairy Flutter, "Sun Glow, why don't you fly inside and see how you like it?"

So Sun Glow fluttered inside; and as she went, she saw that the mirror was a two-way mirror, allowing her to look out without anyone being able to look in. She also found Fairy Flutter-sized furniture for her comfort. As she came back out she said to Daffodil, "The basket is so wonderful; thank you!"

Then Daffodil added, "And my husband gave me these miniature walkie-talkies that Devilin and I can hide in our ears, with a third one in the basket, so we can both communicate with you, Sun Glow, when you're in there."

Seeing that Daffodil had everything covered, Devilin gave up fighting and took one of the miniature walkie-talkies, placing it in her ear. Then she picked up the basket and placed it around her neck. "Well, what are you two waiting for? Let's get going?" Daffodil put on the other walkie-talkie as Devilin lifted the basket lid for Sun Glow to get back inside. Devilin shut the lid and they headed to the door. With a sigh, Devilin said, "It's starting to feel like old times again."

As they walked around Dream Valley, Sun Glow said to Devilin, "Devilin, thanks for deciding to go out. It is so beautiful here in Dream Valley!"

"I am glad that you are enjoying yourself, Sun Glow," replied Devilin in a sincere tone.

They came to the Dream Valley park and sat down on a bench to rest. "It is getting close to lunchtime; is anyone getting hungry?" Daffodil asked.

Sun Glow heard her little stomach growl. "I am a little hungry, but how am I going to eat without showing myself to anyone?"

"Leave that little problem to me; you just think about what you would like to eat," said Daffodil in a confident tone. So the mares got up from the park bench and looked around for a restaurant; as they were walking, they bumped into Thomas and Tabby, who were also heading for a place to eat.

"Devilin!" Tabby squealed upon seeing her friend. "You've finally decided to venture out into the world with the rest of us mortals!"

"It wasn't by choice," replied Devilin as Daffodil just smiled at the remark.

"And where were you lovely mares headed to?" Thomas asked gallantly.

"Sun Glow is a bit hungry, so we are going to get something to eat," replied Devilin.

"Where is Sun Glow?" asked a curious Tabby. Devilin opened the top of the basket and gestured for Thomas and Tabby to look inside, so they were able to see Sun Glow in her nicely laid-out basket.

"Tabby and I are heading to the Café Carousel for lunch, so you three would be welcome to join us," Thomas invited.

"I'll have to keep an eye on you; you're allying yourself with entirely too many other mares," Tabby said cheerfully and completely without malice. She knew he was too much of a gentleman to let them pass without an invitation to join them.

"We would love to have lunch with the two of you," Daffodil said after a quick conversation with Devilin and Sun Glow, "but when we get there could we find a secluded place so Sun Glow can eat without being seen?"

"Of course, we can't leave Sun Glow out of it," Thomas agreed. So the group of five headed to the Café Carousel, and Thomas searched for the most secluded area in the restaurant. He found that a table in the corner was surrounded by plants, so he suggested that to the mares and they agreed that it was perfect. They all sat down and as the waitress gave them menus, Devilin made sure to keep hers low enough so that Sun Glow could read it.

After placing their orders and sending the waitress on her way, Thomas asked Devilin, "How is the mortal life treating you, Devilin? We haven't heard from you lately."

"I do not see how you mortals can do what you do every day of your life without totally losing your minds," replied Devilin as she put her foreleg over her head like she had a headache.

"Don't worry, Devilin; you'll get used to it and we'll be here to support you if you need it," replied Thomas as he tried to comfort Devilin, not knowing that he would make her feel so miserable by bringing that up.

Devilin looked at Thomas with a smile and said, "And I thank the Great Creator every day that he has blessed me and my family with such caring friends as all of you have shown time after time." As Devilin finished her praise, the others all felt a warm feeling inside. Then Devilin heard Sun Glow make a sigh of sadness, causing the mare to look inside the basket to see what was wrong. "Why are you so sad, Sun Glow?"

"Hearing what you told your friends just made me feel a little left out," replied Sun Glow as she tried to keep her tears from falling.

"You silly Fairy Flutter!" Devilin said in a caring tone. "Don't you know that you are as much of a blessing to me as the others, and I consider you as my little guardian angel?"

Sun Glow, hearing Devilin's praise, looked up and gazed at the mare. "You really mean that, Devilin?"

"Of course I mean it, and I want you to never forget that you are a very important part of my family."

Sun Glow smiled as she began to feel better about herself, and Devilin closed the basket as the waitress came back to their table with their order. After the waitress was gone, Devilin tipped the basket on its side to let Sun Glow come out and eat the food she had ordered.

"And how is Salaries doing?" Thomas asked casually as they started eating.

Devilin looked at Thomas with a devilish smile. "Do not worry, Thomas; my husband has not forgotten his promise to you."

Thomas looked abashed. "I admit to being a little curious about my medallion, but I didn't know it was that obvious."

"It does not take spirit powers to know how anxious you are to learn the history of your heirloom," replied Devilin as she gave Thomas a little smirk.

" 'A little curious'!" Tabby echoed sarcastically. "It's been the only thing on your mind since Salaries told you he knew its story, and I for one will be glad when it's been told so you can get on with your life! If I didn't know better I'd say it was starting to possess you again. It seems that you spend a lot more time thinking about that than about me!" And at the end of that little outburst, which had been building up in her for some time and just needed an outlet, Tabby turned away from her husband and stuck her nose in the air.

The other mares began to giggle at Thomas' discomfort as he tried to appease his wife with protestations against an undue occupation with his ancestral medallion. By the end of the meal Tabby was partially appeased, but still acted miffed as she and Thomas took their leave of the party to get back to the vet clinic.

As Daffodil, Devilin, and Sun Glow headed back to Devilin's house, Daffodil said to the other two, "That Thomas sure has a one track mind if all he can think of is that medallion of his! Tabby wasn't at all happy with him!"

"Well, you know stallions. If they find something they think is worth their attention, they will stay at it to the end," replied Devilin.
"Isn't that the truth?" Sun Glow said. "Just so long as he doesn't forget that Tabby is worth his attention." And all three gave out a hearty laugh at Thomas' expense.

When the mares reached the house, they went in and Devilin opened the basket lid. Sun Glow fluttered out and landed on the living room coffee table and the other two mares sat down and talked more about Thomas and to explore Sun Glow's thoughts on Dream Valley and its inhabitants. The afternoon turned to evening, and the front door opened, admitting Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil.

Mother Daffodil, seeing her daughter, got up while saying, "Well, I see our daughters are back from school, so I better be getting home to start cooking before my husband gets home and wonders where his dinner is."

Devilin got up and walked Mother and Baby Daffodil to the door; after waving goodbye to their good friends, Devilin shut the door and headed to the kitchen with Wild Fire and Sun Glow by her side. "I guess we should start dinner as well."

Awhile later the door opened again and Salaries walked in to the living room. "My beloved, are you home?"

"I am in the kitchen and dinner will be ready in thirty minutes, and I better not hear any jokes about my cooking!"

Salaries gave a big grin at his wife's last statement, and then went to the phone to call Thomas. After dialing the number and waiting for a few rings, the receiver was picked up and Tabby's voice was heard. "Hello, this is Tabby!"

"Hello, Tabby; this is Salaries. Is Thomas home?" replied Salaries.

"Oooh, I see! I hope this is about the medallion finally. Let me go get him," Tabby said as she laid down the receiver.

A few minutes later Thomas was on the line. "Salaries? It's Thomas; did you need to talk to me?"

"Do you think that you can get your sister to come to your house this coming Saturday?" asked Salaries.

"You want Elaine over? I don't think that's a problem, but why do you need her?"

"Because the history of your medallion affects you, Tabby, and Elaine; and it would be best that all three of you heard the story at the same time," explained Salaries.

"I think we can arrange that," Thomas said, a bit puzzled. "What time should we expect you over?" After finalizing arrangements, the two stallions hung up.

As Salaries released his hoof from the receiver, he heard his wife announce, "Time for dinner; everyone to the dining room table!"

So Salaries went to have dinner with his family (and to make it clear to everyone, when I say dinner with his family, that also included Sun Glow, as she is now considered part of the family).

* * *
Before he left for the Fairfaxes' house, Salaries began collecting everything he thought he would need. As it came time to leave, Salaries put on his backpack and told his wife, "My lovely angel, I am leaving now."

"And how long until your return, my beloved?" replied Devilin.

"It should not take more than three hours." And Salaries gave his wife a long, passionate kiss. As he saw his daughter and Sun Glow coming downstairs, he said to them both, "Come here, you two." As they came up to him, he picked his daughter up and gave her a fatherly kiss. Then he turned to Sun Glow and bestowed the same upon her, as he felt that she was more like a daughter than a guest.

Salaries then headed out to Thomas and Tabby's mansion and knocked on the door as he arrived. He heard hoofsteps inside coming towards the door, and it opened to reveal Thomas on the other side. "Welcome, Salaries. Do you have anything special planned for explaining the origin of my medallion?"

"You will see; but first, where are the two lovely mares?" replied Salaries with a smile.

"We're in here! Come on!" Tabby said, popping her head out a doorway down the hall and waving a foreleg.

As the two stallions joined the mares in the den, Salaries asked Elaine, "And how are you at keeping secrets, Elaine?"

Elaine directed a puzzled glance at Tabby, and Tabby in turn looked at Salaries. Salaries gave his approval with a nod and a smile, so Tabby proceeded to tell Elaine who Salaries and his family were and how they had come to meet them.

Meanwhile, Salaries began taking things out of his backpack and placing them on the table. As Tabby finished the story, a wide-eyed Elaine turned to stare at Salaries and then asked her sister-in-law, "You're kidding, aren't you?"

"Oh, Elaine, you know my lifestyle, so it shouldn't surprise you too much," Tabby reassured her. "I assure you it's all true. They're magic ponies, that's all, with powers a bit stronger than the average unicorn. And we fought with them in the underworld. It's nothing that out-of-the-ordinary."

"And he's just here to tell us about Thomas' medallion that has magic powers?" Elaine said, trying to digest and sort all this new information.

"Yes, so hopefully he'll stop obsessing over it!" Tabby enthused. "So let's get on with it!"

Then Salaries gestured for Elaine to join him at the table where he had set up his items. Salaries pulled forward the Orb of Creation as Elaine stood at his side with Tabby and Thomas next to her. "Elaine, this is the Orb of Creation," he explained, "and with it you are able to see anything from the past to the present, anywhere in the known universe." He guided her closer to the Orb. "Just look into it and think of a time and place, past or present, you would like to see."

Elaine, not really allowing herself to believe that the Orb could really show her anything, decided to humor the others anyway. She gazed into the orb and thought about how she would have loved to see her parents' wedding. As the thought occurred to her, the orb suddenly began to glow; and as she concentrated on it, images began to appear. As the images got clearer, her eyes began to widen as she saw her parents, younger versions that how she knew them, at the chapel they had eloped to so that they could be together against the wishes of their families. As she watched it, she suddenly turned to Salaries. "It's true; everything Tabby said about you is really true!" she finally admitted.

Salaries, looking at the wide-eyed unicorn mare, just smiled as he turned back to the table that held his props. He stood over them and gestured his friends to come closer. "My friends, the items you see on the table are for our journey back in time."

"A journey back in time?" Thomas asked. "Is that necessary?"

Salaries paused for a few seconds, then began to talk. "I have been giving it a great deal of thought these past weeks and decided that the best way to tell you about the medallion is to take the three of you to the time in which the medallion first existed."

"Oh, wonderful! I love time travel!" Tabby exclaimed, hugging Thomas. "This is going to be fun!"

Thomas looked at the excitement in Tabby's face, but then saw the foreboding and distrustful look of his sister. "I'm sure Tabby and I would be pleased to go back in time as you say," he said carefully, "but I can't force my sister to come if she doesn't want to."

Salaries turned back to Elaine. "Elaine, I will understand if you do not wish to go; but not unlike your brother, I can feel the spirit within you that urges you to go onwards. So before you make your decision, look within yourself."

Elaine paused in silence for a moment and thought about what Salaries had just said. She had always been a timid mare, and even as a foal had been afraid to try new things. Her friends may have been thrilled to try out for the cheerleading squad or acting club, but Elaine had hung back and tried not to get involved. The unknown frightened her. Even now, her loving husband still kept her shielded from doing anything she was uncertain of. Her brother and his wife were so different from that, though. And she had just gotten used to accepting the fact that she would stay in the background of any adventure and not get involved. But now, at Salaries' proposition of an adventure in time, she searched deep in her soul and heard a voice within her say: "Who you will become in the future is waiting for you in the past."

"Elaine? Elaine? Are you okay?" Elaine was suddenly aware of Tabby peering anxiously into her face.

"What?" Elaine shook her head to clear out the cobwebs. "Yes, I'm fine."

"Well, you totally spaced out there," Tabby said. "You can just tell Salaries to leave you alone, can't she, Salaries?" She sent the stallion a piercing glance. "Don't get stressed out over it."

Elaine shook her head. "No, I've decided he's right. I want to go with you."

"Are you sure, Elaine?" Thomas asked in a brotherly tone.

"Yes," said Elaine firmly. "I feel that it's something I need to do. I've never been on an adventure like you two, but maybe it's something I have to do for my own good." Turning to Salaries, she said, "Please continue with what you were saying."

Salaries smiled at the young mare, and then began to tell them about the items on the table. "These artifacts laid out on the table are what the ponies of the time we are going to wear and use." He picked up a rein and said to the mares, "This is a slave rein, which is worn by the mares of the time. Both of you will have to wear one of these."

Tabby eyed the dirty old leather strand with distaste. "And if we don't wear it?"

"Then any stallion will have the right to claim you as his own," Salaries said.

Tabby wrinkled her nose, but picked up the rein as if it was diseased. "If those are my only two options, I suppose I'll have to."

Next, Salaries selected a four-hoof-length wooden rod and placed it in Thomas' hoof as Thomas asked him, "What is this for? A walking stick?"

"This is called the punishment rod; it is used by the stallion when he thinks a mare needs some disciplinary action done on her."

Tabby took the rod from Salaries and waved it menacingly at Thomas. "And you'd better not even think about using it on either of us," she warned, "or I will take it and smack the living daylights out of you!"

Thomas bowed humbly and made Tabby set the rod aside. "Of course not. I don't know what kind of a brutal time period we're going to, but nothing would make me abuse you in any way."

"My brother will always be the gentleman," Elaine giggled.

"There is only one more thing to point out," Salaries said, gesturing at the remaining items on the table. "I have decided that we will be going as upper-class citizens, so I brought what the ponies of the time consider high-class apparel."

Tabby and Elaine looked at the beautifully colored ribbons, lovely necklaces, and fancy headwear. "Well, that's a lot better than the slave reins!"

"All right, everybody, time to get yourselves dressed up for the journey," Salaries said in an upbeat tone. So the ponies began putting on their attire.

"Now, Tabby," Salaries said when they were ready, "before we go, I will need you to use your changeling power to transform the four of us into earth ponies; and we must not have birth symbols and our colorings must be drab."

Tabby looked around skeptically at the three other ponies. "I can't change four of us! It's hard enough keeping a transformation going on two!"

Salaries, giving Tabby a smile, said, "You are no longer the pony you were those many years past; you will find that your abilities are greatly heightened since our essence was merged during the battle with the Great Evil. So you should not have any difficulties in being able to change us."

Tabby, with the reassurance of Salaries, closed her eyes as she concentrated on changing the four of them to earth ponies, per Salaries' instructions. The horns on the top of Tabby, Thomas, and Elaine's heads slowly started to disappear, as well as Salaries' wings. Then their symbols began to fade away and their body and hair color began to bleach out. Tabby finally opened her eyes and looked around her. "I did it; I really did it!" she squealed. "I am powerful! Mwahaha!"

"And Tabby, this is just the tip of what you will discover about yourself," Salaries said before going back to the Orb of Creation. He took the three pony sculptures from the base and turned to the others. "These three figures that I hold in my hooves are what will help us travel back in time." He went to each of them in turn. "The Earth pony is the symbol of wisdom and strength." This figure he placed on Thomas. "The Pegasus pony is the symbol of love and courage." This was given to Elaine. "And the Unicorn pony is the symbol of cunning and vitality." And this was Tabby's. "With them, you will be able to go anywhere in the past or present. And now, Thomas, may I see your medallion?"

Thomas didn't see any reason to refuse, so he excused himself and went to his and his wife's bedroom to extract his medallion from a drawer in a side table. When he returned, he hoofed it to Salaries.

Salaries went back to the orb and placed the chain of the medallion over the top with the medallion lying at the base. Salaries placed his front hoofs on top of the orb while saying, "Medallion of Light, hear my wish and show us the time you exist!" Then the medallion began to glow, followed by the orb, with an image appearing and becoming slowly clearer. Salaries gestured for the others to join him. "Let us all hold hoofs." As they held hoofs with each other, Salaries instructed, "Now, I would like the three of you to gaze at the image in the orb and think of yourselves being there." So everyone stared, and as they concentrated the room they were in began to fade away. Within a few minutes, they found themselves in a scene foreign to them except what they had seen through the orb.

Elaine looked around and asked Salaries, "Where are we now?"

"We are where pony society first began, when places like Dream Valley, Atlantis, and even Ponyland itself had not yet become a reality."

"And where do we go from here?" Thomas asked.

Salaries pointed to a small town just visible in the distance. "That is where our journey begins."

So the four pony time travelers started to walk to town; and as they arrived at the bustling little metropolis, Tabby looked around at the ponies. Mares were being treated like pack mules while the stallions enjoyed themselves. Her stomach turned with disgust. Is this what her ancestors had been like?

Thomas, feeling a little thirsty from the long walk, pointed toward a pub right ahead of them. "Why don't we stop and get a drink before we're completely dehydrated?"

"I am dying of thirst!" Tabby said, cheerfully skipping ahead.

The four travelers headed for the establishment; but when they started to go through the door, a stallion stopped them and said, "The mares stay outside."

Thomas turned to his wife and sister. "Just wait out here for a second and stay inconspicuous; Salaries and I will bring drinks out for you."

As Tabby and Elaine stood outside, too awed at looking at their surroundings to talk much, they heard a loud crash behind them. Turning around, they saw a mare who had fallen in the dusty track with parcels scattered all around her. The stallion that owned her started to yell, "You clumsy wench! Look at the mess you made!" Raising his punishment rod, he prepared to direct a blow at the mare; but as Tabby saw this, she bolted towards him and knocked the rod out of his hoof. Quickly turning around, she kicked him square in the chest with her back hoofs, causing him to crash into the stands a few hoofs behind him.

Tabby turned her back on the stallion and went to the mare to help her up. "Are you all right?" she asked.

"You had better go before the guards come," the mare whispered urgently, staring at Tabby.

Tabby saw the worry in the mare's eyes and worried about what the guards would do to her, seeing how mares were treated in this world. She nodded briefly and stepped back to join Elaine; then she looked across the way towards the stands she had kicked the stallion into. He was still there, but now he was talking to five more muscular stallions and pointing in her direction. Before Tabby knew it, the five intimidating guards were heading in her direction.

"You are under arrest, slave!" one of them announced, grabbed Tabby by the foreleg.

"Stop it!" Elaine cried out, lashing out ineffectually at the stallion who had a hold on Tabby. But two of the other guards came up from behind and took Elaine into custody as well.

When Thomas and Salaries came out of the pub, they saw Tabby and Elaine being dragged away by strange stallions. Before Salaries could stop him, Thomas was running after them. "Let them go!"

The leader of the five, who was holding Tabby, turned around to face Thomas. "And who are you, who dares to order the captain of the guards?"

"I am the owner of these two slaves," Thomas declared emotionally, "and I demand that you release them."

But all the guards did was laugh at Thomas, and the head stallion explained, "These mares are now the property of the city and will be auctioned off at the slave auction. If you interfere, you will be put in chains and sent to the auction as well."

"I protest and wish to speak to your superior," Thomas snapped, standing his ground, not about to have his wife and sister put up for auction, at least not while he was still standing. But snapping his hoof, the head guard summoned two more stallions to restrain Thomas.

Salaries, seeing what was happening, went over to the captain and got close enough to place his front hoof on the stallion's chest. He spoke calmly and simply, "You do not wish to take the two mares and stallion to the slave auction, but instead you will release them to my custody."

Surprisingly, the captain released his hold on Tabby, and told the other stallions to release Thomas and Elaine. They did as they were told. Thomas, Tabby, and Elaine joined Salaries as he addressed the leader again. "Now, go back to your duties and forget about this conversation." So the captain and the four stallions under his command turned around and left.

As the guards disappeared into the crowd, Tabby congratulated Salaries. "Your Jedi mind trick is amazing, but I thought the Great Creator took away your spirit powers!"

"The reason my spirit powers have returned to me is because in this time, the Great Creator had not yet taken them from me; thus, they are at my disposal to use," Salaries explained.

"What about our unicorn powers, if unicorns don't exist at this time?" Thomas asked.

"I am afraid that you three no longer possess unicorn magic; and, Tabby, that also includes the ones you inherited from Queen Kaliope," replied Salaries.

"Darn!" said Tabby. "But why are we able to keep these forms that I transformed us into with my unicorn magic?"

"The Orb of Creation is not like a normal time device; when it transported us here it also scanned our bodies so it can retrieve us when it is time to return to the present. The forms we are in now are permanent until we are back in our own time."

"My, you have an explanation for everything, don't you?" Tabby said dryly.

Salaries just smiled at the mare as he said in a more up-beat tone, "But we should go now; there is something I need to show you three that you will find very interesting." He guided his friends through the marketplace until they reached a large stage area. "We are here."

Thomas saw a crowd of ponies milling around, but nothing of extreme interest. "And what are we supposed to see here that is so interesting?"

Salaries pointed to the stage and said, "What I want you three to see will be coming on that stage in a few minutes."

As the ponies waited, a stallion walked onto the platform and hollered out to the audience, "Are you stallions ready to feast your eyes on the most astonishing slaves on the market?!" Cheering broke out.

At hearing this, the three mortals all turned to look at Salaries. "I was hoping that we would learn about my medallion on this trip, not attend a slave auction," Thomas hinted.

"Just be patient and you shall see," Salaries said. So the three decided to give him a chance and resisted their complaining for the time. As the auctioneer sold slave after slave, everyone's patience was tried and they still didn't know what in the slave market could interest them.

Elaine shuddered. "I really don't like being here; haven't we seen enough? Let's go."

Tabby put her hoof on her sister-in-law's shoulder, becoming agitated as well. "I agree with Elaine; I've had enough of this."

"They're right; it's time we leave this place," Thomas said, becoming a little angry at Salaries for making them watch such a shameful debacle. As the trio was turning to leave, Elaine gazed back at the stage one last time and suddenly cried out. "Oh, oh! Look who's on the stage!" The others turned around as well, and Tabby and Thomas stared in surprise.

The mare being dragged on stage could have been Tabby's twin sister. Spellbound, the time travelers watched as the auctioneer said, "Here we have an Amazon Princess that would be a prize for any stallion; now, what is my bid for such a fine mare?"

As the stallions began to bet on the Amazon, a large stallion with a scar on his right cheek hollered out, "Five hundred janglers!" The other stallions, seeing who had made the bid, all stopped their clamoring over the mare, knowing that if they bid over the scar-faced stallion they would find themselves dead the next day. "Going once, going twice..." the auctioneer rambled on as he heard no more bidding.

A voice suddenly yelled out, "I will give seven hundred janglers for the Amazon Princess!"

The scarred stallion yelled, "Who dares to over bid me!"

A stallion with a mare by his side walked right up to the other stallion. "It is I who dares to bid against you, and my bid stays at seven hundred janglers," the white stallion said, staring the scarred one in the face.

The auctioneer stared at the scar-faced stallion as he backed down and walked away. "Going once, going twice, SOLD for seven hundred janglers!" As the bidding stallion and the mare walked up to the stage to collect the Amazon Princess, Thomas, Tabby, and Elaine stared with unbelieving eyes.

"Thomas, it's us," Elaine said in wonder. "How can this be?"

"I don't know, but I think Salaries here does." And all three of them turned to stare at Salaries.

"So, what's going on? How can we be here in two incarnations at once?" Tabby demanded to know.

Then Salaries said to them, "Haven't you three ever wondered why all of you are so close to each other, that even when all of you first met you felt more like a family than strangers to each other?"

"We have a common heritage involved with Atlantis, but does there need to be more of an explanation than that?" Thomas asked.

"Atlantis is just one piece of the puzzle; there are many more sections that you three have not found yet, but will in time." Salaries looked up at the stage and said to his friends, "Now, let's watch as you three truly meet for the first time."

The others turned toward the stage and listened to the three ponies as they talked. "You may have bought me, but you will never possess me," said the Amazon Princess as the gazed at the stallion with hatred.

"I may not be able to possess you, but who said that was the reason I bought you?" replied the stallion as he paid off the auctioneer. Then he said to the mare beside him, "Elainya, take this mare to our home and I will be with your shortly after my other business is conducted."

The group split up then, with Elainya taking the Amazon Princess and the stallion going deeper into the marketplace. "Now, we must follow their progress as the origin of the medallion unfolds," Salaries said to his companions.

"But how can we watch without being seen?" asked Elaine.

"Since I have my spirit powers, it will be as easy as walking on air is to a Pegasus pony." With that said, Salaries lifted his hoofs and said, "Let us be off." Then the four ponies faded away, but in the blink of an eye they were standing in Elainya's brother's house, invisible to everyone but to each other.

Elainya and the Amazon Princess walked through the doorway, and once they were inside Elainya took off her own slave rein. "Would you like me to take that horrid thing off your head?" she asked the Princess.

The Amazon looked at the young mare coolly. "I do not need help from you, nor am I planning on spending the rest of my life as a slave to a stallion."

Elainya, seeing that the mare was agitated and irritated at what had happened to her, tried to think of what to say to make her more relaxed. "My brother is a wonderful stallion, completely unlike the others you have seen, and he treats every mare with respect."

"It did not look that way at the auction," replied the Amazon Princess with a little anger. "He bought me, didn't he?"

Elainya tried to explain to the Amazon Princess. "My brother only acts that way in public to fool the other stallions. He is in reality a gentle and caring stallion at heart."

While Elainya was explaining this, the Amazon Princess stared into the young mare's eyes to see if she was telling the truth; seeing that the mare did not turn her eyes away from her, the Amazon was convinced. Just then, the door opened as Elainya's brother returned.

He came over to the Amazon and gave a gracious bow while saying, "My name is Thomicus and I am greatly honored to have such a lovely princess at my house."

"As if I had a choice to be here!" the Amazon snapped.

"You may come and go as you wish; I do not keep anyone at my house against their will," Thomicus explained. "But before you decide to leave, may I please know your name?"

The Amazon Princess, seeing the sincerity in his eyes, said in a more pleasant tone, "I am called Tabbathia."

Thomicus said as graciously as he could, "And would the Princess Tabbathia wish to freshen herself with a relaxing bath and food before she leaves?"

Tabbathia thought it would be nice to wash the stench of stallion off her body, so she nodded to Thomicus and gave her approval to the plan. 'Would you mind helping Princess Tabbathia to her bath?" Thomicus politely asked Elainya.

"Not at all, my brother," replied Elainya as she guided Tabbathia to the bathing room.

As Tabbathia's bath was being prepared, the Amazon commented to Elainya, "You have spoken the truth; your brother is not at all like the other stallions I have met."

"I am glad you believe me, and your bath is now ready." So Tabbathia entered the pool and Elainya stood by helping the princess clean herself.

* * *
Back in town, the scar-faced stallion called one of his henchstallions to his side. "I am tired of Thomicus making me look like a fool and buying all the decent mares! I want you and some of your stallions to go to his house," he commanded, "and as he sleeps, kill him. Then bring me back the Amazon as well as his sister."

"As you wish, master," replied the henchstallion. The scar-faced stallion laughed a most evil laugh as his henchstallion left the room.

* * *
Back at Thomicus' house, Tabbathia was finishing her bath and automatically went to put back on the rags that the enslavers had forced her to wear. But instead of finding the rags, she found a most beautiful outfit befitting an upper-class mare. Normally she would refuse such a gift from a stallion, but for some reason she did not as she put it in. Then she walked into the main hall of the house where Thomicus was still waiting for her. As she approached him, she said in a harsh manner befitting her warrior heritage, "You may dress me in this feminine outfit, but I am no dainty mare. I am an Amazon warrior, and I would advise you not to forget that!"

Thomicus stood and looked her in the eyes as he said, "I did not mean to disrespect your Amazon heritage, but I thought that you would be more comfortable in this outfit than your slave uniform; I give you my deepest apology for any offense I have given you."

Tabbathia, not expecting such humbleness from a stallion, stood in speechlessness. Elainya walked in and found the two standing in silence. "Dinner is ready and being served in the dining room," she announced graciously.

As the two heard Elainya's call, Thomicus asked Tabbathia, "Shall we eat, Princess?"

"After you," replied Tabbathia.

As the two left the room for their meal, Tabby said to Salaries, "Don't we get to eat, too? We may be invisible but I still have an appetite!"

"Then let us go and eat along with Thomicus and the other servants," replied Salaries.

"Even if they can't see us, won't they notice us if we take their food?" asked Thomas.

"We will become visible for the meal, but there will be many ponies sitting at the dinner table, and we will be only a few out of many."

As Tabbathia and Thomicus sat down at the table, Tabbathia gazed over all the food on the table. "You have enough food here to feed the entire Amazonian army."

"Of course," said Thomicus. "There is enough here for all my servants, as I believe that everyone in my home should eat well."

As he said that, Tabbathia started to notice the other ponies (including the time travelers), some with foals, coming to the table; and not one of them look sad or mistreated. Tabbathia was intrigued, thinking that there was something about the stallion she had not realized before.

After dinner, everyone gravitated to their chambers to prepare for bed. The time travelers went along with the others to keep from being discovered; but once they were out of sight, Salaries waved his forelegs, causing them to go invisible again so that they could return to Thomicus and Tabbathia.

"As it is becoming late, Tabbathia, and knowing the rough time you must have had with the enslavers, why don't you stay for the night?" Thomicus was saying to the princess. "In the morning, I would be more than happy to guide you out of this region."

Tabbathia, feeling a bit tired after feasting, said to Thomicus, "I shall take you up on your offer, but do not think that I have softened up to you!"

"Never, Princess," replied Thomicus as he guided her to her room, a most beautiful bed chamber with cushy sheets and embroidered wall hangings. Tabbathia had wondered what kind of sleeping quarters this stallion gave his slaves, but could not believe that this was typical. "I insist that I sleep like all the other slaves kept here!" she announced, turning to him with a stubborn look in her eye.

"My slaves, as you call them, sleep in rooms similar to this one," replied Thomicus as he smiled at Tabbathia, gesturing for her to come into the room. Closing the door on her, he murmured, "I wish you a good night's sleep."

Then Thomicus headed to his own chamber to retire for the night, with the time travelers following close behind him. Thomicus was not only unaware of the time travelers, but also of the intruders just outside his house as he lay in bed.

The leader of the group outside said to the others, "Wait out here while I do away with Thomicus; after he is dead, we will raid the house and take his slaves for our own." So the leader snuck inside and crept through the house, eventually reaching the master's chamber. Gently opening the door, he stood over the sleeping Thomicus and smiled as he slipped a dagger out of its holster and placed it over Thomicus' heart.

Tabby, seeing what was happening, began to move toward the henchstallion out of instinct; but Salaries held out his forelegs to keep Tabby or the others from interfering. "Do not worry about Thomicus' safety; everything will be as it should." His companions looked on with horror as the henchstallion lifted the dagger high into the air and plummeted it towards Thomicus' heart. Suddenly, a flashing sword appeared over Thomas which reflected the dagger and prevented it from piercing Thomicus' chest.

The henchstallion staggered back from the unexpected shock of hitting the steel of the sword. Thomicus woke at the sound of clashing metal over him, and as his eyes focused he saw the rough-looking stallion tumbling backwards in a bewildered state. Then Thomicus felt a presence next to him, and turned to see a winged pony appearing at the side of his bed.

"Be gone, you filthy creature, before I send you to the next dimension!" the winged pony's voice rang out.

The henchstallion, seeing the winged pony prepared to defend Thomicus, dropped his dagger as he ran out the room and jumped through an open window. He landed in the middle of the other stallions as the house began to glow with a brilliant white light. The other stallions began to run off in fear as their leader yelled after them, "Come back here, you cowards!" But none of them listened as they disappeared into the dark of the night, leaving the henchstallion by himself. Only his fear of what the scar-faced stallion would do to him if he came back empty-hoofed caused him to stay to see if he could still get anything that would please his master.

Back at the house, Tabby, Thomas, and Elaine could see who the mysterious winged pony was- Salaries himself! They turned to Salaries, and he smiled and said, "I did say that I know the history of the medallion, but I didn't say how I know."

Their attention was distracted as they heard many hoofsteps coming their way. The other ponies in the household, having heard the commotion of metal and hoofbeats, came running in. As they stood in their master's room, they gazed at the winged pony as he stood over Thomicus. Elainya and Tabbathia, at the front of the group, saw the sword in the winged pony's hoof, and instantly assumed that he was the aggressor. Both mares jumped between the stallion and Thomicus, making their own bodies shields to protect him.

As the winged stallion saw this he said to the other stallion, "Your slaves are very loyal to you, Thomicus."

"They are not my slaves," Thomicus replied, "but my family."

The winged stallion bowed his head as he said to the two mares, "Forgive me for my mistake." He holstered his sword as he continued, "I am not here to harm Thomicus, but to give him a message and a map to a wondrous power."

Thomicus hoisted himself off the mattress and stood face-to-face with the winged stallion. "And what kind of wondrous power would this be?"

"All I can tell you is that it is a medallion which was made of the five elements of the planet and forged deep within its heart," replied the winged stallion.

"But there are only four elements of the planet: earth, wind, fire, and water," Elainya pointed out.

"You are right, young one; but there is also a fifth element that a very rare few know of. This element connects the other four into one great power, and this element is called the soul." Then the winged stallion hoofed Thomicus the map as he said, "This is the map that will take you to the medallion, and it can only be read by the one sent on this quest. To anyone else, it will only look like gibberish."

Thomicus looked at the map and then back at the winged stallion. "And do I go on this quest alone?"

The winged stallion look around at the other ponies and said, "You will only be allowed to take two companions, so choose them carefully."

Thomicus gazed over the ponies he called his family and as his glance settled on his two protectors, he said in a confident tone, "The choice is simple; I choose the two who put themselves in harm's way to protect me." And he gave a short pause before he said, "Tabbathia and Elainya."

The winged stallion smiled at his decision and said to Thomicus, "You have one week to prepare for the journey ahead."

"But what about the rest of my family? If I leave for a long period of time, the enslavers will raid my house and take them away to sell."

"Do not fear; one of my kind will be here to guard your house and family from any harm that could happen while you are gone." And with that, the winged stallion vanished in a flash of light.

From outside, the henchstallion laughed an evil laugh; he felt that with the information he had collected, he would please his master and make up for not succeeding in his task of killing Thomicus.

Back at the house, the rest of the household returned to their respective rooms, leaving Thomicus, Elainya, and Tabbathia alone. Thomicus turned to his two protectors and said, "Tabbathia, Elainya, I know you two did not ask to go on this journey; but I felt that if there was anyone I could truly trust, it would be the two of you."

Elainya, who loved her brother deeply, went up and gave him a loving embrace as she said, "My brother, I will follow you to the ends of the world if you ask it of me."

As Thomicus held his sister, he said, "Elainya, I am very proud to call you my sister." Then he looked at Tabbathia. "Tabbathia, I know you wanted to return to your Amazon sisters and I am truly sorry that I dragged you into this, but I truly felt that if my life or my sister's life was ever in danger, then we could count on you to always be there; so I hope that you will come with my sister and me on this quest."

Tabbathia walked toward Thomicus she said in her proud Amazon nature, "An Amazon does not shy away from a quest, especially if there is danger involved. My sisters have been without me this far; a few more days will make little difference." And as everyone was content in their decision, they also returned to their rooms and went back to sleep.

As dawn approached, the henchstallion reached his master's house. As he came in without the mares, the scar-faced stallion took his sword and placed the point over the henchstallion's heart. "Do you have anything to say for your pitiful failure? I see no mares!"

The henchstallion, fearing for his life, said quickly, "Yes, master, I know of a power that can make you master of the world."

The stallion, curious, took off his sword. "Tell me more about this power."

So the henchstallion told his master everything he had heard at Thomicus' house, making the scar-faced stallion grin with delight. "We will let Thomicus go through the trouble of getting this medallion and then take it from him, as well as his two mares." And the two stallions laughed at their evil plan.

Continued in Chapter 10: The Journey to the Cave of Wonders


The Adventures of Wild Fire
Chapter 10: The Journey to the Cave of Wonders
by Salaries ( and Tabby (

(Sugarberrius pronounced Sugarberry/us)

As Tabby heard that their ancient ancestors were not going to search for the medallion until an entire week had passed, she sighed and said to Salaries, "Do we really have to wait around here a whole week before we see the medallion?"

"As long as you three wear the figures of the Orb of Creation, we will be able to manipulate time and send ourselves forward a week to the time when Thomicus, Tabbathia, and Elainya will be heading to the Cave of Wonders where they will find the Medallion of Light," replied Salaries as he held his hoofs out. "Now we must hold hoofs and think about where we want to go." As they held hoofs and concentrated, they slowly began to fade away in time and space.

* * *
Meanwhile, back in normal time, Thomicus awoke and sat up in bed, thinking about all that had happened the night before and wondering if it was just a dream. Then he felt the crinkling of parchment underneath him, and he looked down to see the map that the winged stallion had given him.

Then Elainya and Tabbathia rushed into his room. "Was it a dream, or did we really see the stallion with wings?" Elainya asked.

"At first I thought it was a dream myself, until I found this on my mattress." And he lifted the parchment up to show the two mares.

"Then it is all true," Tabbathia said.

"It looks that way," replied Thomicus. Then he jumped out of bed and walked toward the two mares as he said, "Since we have one week to prepare for the journey, we had best start getting ready."

As the week progressed, the ponies gathered food, water, blankets, and other essentials that they might need on their quest. The four time travelers faded back to normal time as the time of Thomicus, Tabbathia, and Elainya's departure finally came.

Thomicus went up to the mares with parcels in his hoofs. "There may be dangers on our journey, so I have some things that I wish you two to carry for your own protection." As he gave Elainya a dagger and short sword he said to her, "I had these made especially for you, my sister, for such a time as this."

Elainya took them but looked doubtfully at her brother. "I do not wish to carry weapons."

"My sister, these blades are for your safety and are to be used only in self-defense. I know that you are capable of using them, as I have trained you for years on swordsmanship," replied Thomicus as he kissed Elainya on the forehead.

Next, Thomicus turned to Tabbathia. "As a weapon is an extension of a warrior, I felt that there would be no sword or spear I could give you that would take the place of your own; so I give you this." He gave her a double-edged sword and a quarter staff.

Tabbathia looked at them and could not believe her eyes. "These are truly my own weapons! How did you find them, since the enslavers took them from me?"

"After I purchased you from the slave market, I went to the market where slave articles were being sold off and purchased these, planning to return them to you when I felt that it would be safe for me to do so."

Tabbathia took her sword and staff and began to feel more complete. Then a small orb of light appeared in front of the ponies and began to grow and became the size of a pony. The light vanished and revealed the winged stallion from a week ago. He looked at the chosen one and said, "I see that the three of you are ready to start your quest."

"Yes, we are prepared for the journey, and I have also given the rest of my family my word that no harm will come to them while I am away. I hope that you will not make me out to be a liar," replied Thomicus to the winged stallion.

The winged stallion gestured toward the veranda, just as two other winged stallions swooped down towards them. "Behold, mortal, I have kept my word and summoned two protectors to guard your home from any intruders that may come while you are gone."

As Thomicus beheld the two powerful stallions, he bowed down in respect. "I am eternally grateful to you for being here to protect my family while I am away."

The two winged stallions smiled at Thomicus as they thought how honorable and humble this mortal was. "It is our honor to help such a noble stallion as yourself," said one of them.

"I thank you for such an honor which you have bestowed upon me," replied Thomicus as he raised his head to face the two stallions.

Both of them walked passed Thomas and went to the first winged stallion. "The Great Creator has chosen well," said one of the newcomers.

"Yes, he does seem to be the one; but until he possesses the medallion, we cannot know for sure."

Tabbathia, listening in on their conversation, said sharply, "Who is this Great Creator, and what does he have to do with our quest?"

The winged stallions turned to Tabbathia as the first one told her, "When you and the others reach the end of this quest, all your questions will be answered."

"Then we best get started, but before I go I would like to give some final words to my family," replied Thomicus.

"I see no problem in your giving comfort to your family before you go," one of the stallions said in return.

Then Thomicus gathered every pony in his care and stood at the top of the main staircase, waiting to address them. "My family, I will be leaving you for a few days, but do not fear. These winged stallions are here to protect you while I am away. I trust that you will respect them in my stead."

Thomicus' household turned to gaze at the stallions, and one of them asked, "How do we know that these strange stallions will remain with us once you have gone?"

Thomicus realized the ponies' uncertainty about their safety and that of their foals. "My family, do you trust me?" As he looked out over the assembly, every single one nodded their heads in the positive. "Then believe me when I say that if I had just an inkling of a doubt that these stallions were not going to protect you, I would not be going on this quest." As the ponies heard Thomicus' certainty, they all became less uneasy about this change in their household, as they trusted Thomicus with their very lives.

Next, Thomicus went to the fireplace where his father's long sword hung. He took it down and placed it around his waist; and with Tabbathia and Elainya standing on either side of him, they headed out on their quest as the other ponies waved their farewells.

Unknown to anyone else was the evil stallion with a scarred cheek that had an unsavory-looking group of stallions with them. This entourage was following Thomicus and his companions, waiting for the chance to take the medallion and mares from him.

Back at Thomicus' house, Salaries said to his three friends, "Now, let us follow these three on their quest; but because it will take days before they reach their destination, I suggest that we travel on the wings of time and stop at key points which will allow everyone to understand more about the medallion and yourselves." So they held hoofs once again and faded away.

Meanwhile, Thomicus was looking at the map as they walked along and read off the names of places and objects that he had never heard of before, but which they had to pass to reach the place that held the medallion. As they reached the edge of their region, Thomicus turned to the two mares and said, "This is it; from this point on, we will be in unknown territory, so keep alert." They traveled on into the unknown lands before them with only the map to guide them.

After they had walked for many miles, Thomicus began to see his sister Elainya beginning to tire so he said to the mares, "Let us head to that grove of trees over there and take a small rest and nourishment before going on."

As they reached the trees, Tabbathia and Elainya went to sit as Thomicus took out food and water from his backpack and passed them out, then went back to get sustenance for himself. As the three ate, they suddenly heard a mare screaming for help.

"Did you two hear that?" asked Elainya.

"Yes, let us see who is in distress!" exclaimed Thomicus. So the three travelers jumped up and ran toward the sound of the mare in distress. As they reached the edge of a seemingly bottomless gorge, the time travelers reappeared and watched the drama unfold as Thomicus began looking around for the mare they had heard. He finally saw a partially collapsed bridge and headed towards it; as he reached it and looked out over the expanse, he saw a mare dangling from it. Without thinking, he grabbed hold of the railing that was still latched to both sides of the gorge and began to shimmy himself toward the mare. Tabbathia and Elainya could only watch and pray that Thomicus returned safely, along with the mare.

As Thomicus got closer to the mare, he said, "Here, take a hold of my hoof."

The mare, seeing Thomicus reach out his hoof to help her, said to him, "Why are you, a stallion, risking your life for a mere mare like me?"

"Your life has as much importance in this world as my life has and is worth risking myself for, so please hoof me your hoof so we can get out of here."

So the mare took Thomicus' hoof, and he pulled her up in front of him. "Now, put your forelegs around my neck and hold on tight," he instructed. The mare did what he said, and the two scuttled back to the two mares that were waiting for them. Tabbathia and Elainya took the new mare from around Thomicus' neck and pulled her to safety, then went back and helped Thomicus get back on terra firma.

With everyone now safe, Tabby let out the breath she had been holding and exclaimed, "I don't believe it! The mare Thomicus saved is Sugarberry!"

Thomas looked at his wife and asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, she may not have the twice-as-fancy strawberry pattern, but I know Sugarberry when I see her... and that is most definitely Sugarberry!" Tabby replied stubbornly.

"And what does Sugarberry have to do with the medallion?" Thomas asked Salaries.

"Be patient; that you will find out further down the time-line," replied Salaries as they continued to watch the scene before them.

The mare who Thomicus had rescued approached him and said, "As I can never repay you for saving my life, I now belong to you as your slave."

Thomicus looked at the mare and said to her in a kind voice, "You owe me nothing but to know your name."

The mare, surprised to hear a stallion refusing a willing slave, said to him, "My name is Sugarberrius, and why is that a stallion refuses a willing slave?"

"Sugarberrius, I do not believe in possessing anyone as a slave, and I hope that someday all ponies feel the same as I."

"Then why do you possess these two mares?" asked Sugarberrius.

Elainya, hearing Sugarberrius, held her head up high and said proudly, "We are not Thomicus' slaves; we chose to follow him, not out of fear but of love for him."

Sugarberrius looked at Tabbathia and said, "And do you feel the same as this mare does?"

"I follow Thomicus as an equal and a friend, no more," replied Tabbathia in an Amazonian manner.

Sugarberrius, seeing the loyalty that only free ponies can give to each other, turned to Thomicus and said, "Then allow me to be your guide through these parts, for I have traveled these lands all my life."

"I accept your offer and welcome you into our family," said Thomicus graciously.

Then Sugarberrius asked Thomicus, "And where is it that you three are going?"

"The map calls our destination the Cave of Wonders; do you know where it may be?" questioned Thomicus.

"I have heard of this cave, but have not seen it for myself." Sugarberrius gazed at the map that Thomicus was holding. "But I do know of the landmarks that the map shows."

Thomicus recalled what the winged stallion had said about only the one being sent on the quest could read the map and said to Sugarberrius, "You can read the scriptures that are on this map; how can this be, as I was told that I was the only one who could decipher them?"

"I have studied the old scriptures of our ancestors; and even though I am a little rusty in my translations of the ancient writing, I can still piece together enough information to understand the landmarks the map shows," explained Sugarberrius.

Thomicus thought that it would not be a bad thing having Sugarberrius able to read the map, knowing that she was more familiar with the area than they were. He announced to the group, "Well, then, I guess that we had best be on our way."

So the ponies collected their things and started toward the Cave of Wonders with Sugarberrius and Thomicus leading the way. As they left, the four time travelers slowly faded away again.

As the daylight slowly faded, Thomicus stopped the group's progress as he turned to the mares and said, "It is beginning to get dark, so I suggest that we camp here for the night and restart our quest first thing in the morning." The group pulled out their camping blankets, but as Thomicus saw that Sugarberrius did not have a covering, turned to her and said, "Sugarberrius, please take my blanket so you will have something to lay on."

"But what about you? What will you use?" asked Sugarberrius.

"I will be fine; the cold does not bother me, and I will feel much better if I know that all my family is comfortable." Thomicus placed the blanket in Sugarberrius' forelegs and went to lay next to a tree.

As the night went on and Elainya woke from her sleep, she saw her brother shivering from the cool night air, so she went to him and placed her body close to him to keep him warm. With all the shuffling, Tabbathia also woke up and saw what Elainya was doing; thinking that two bodies would be better than one, she also got up and snuggled next to Thomicus to keep him warm.

As the new day broke, Sugarberrius was the first to awaken to the morning light. She saw the two mares huddled around Thomicus and said to herself, "This stallion is truly blessed to have such mares that care for him so."

After a short time, the others began to awaken and as Thomicus' eyes opened to see his sister and Tabbathia laying near him, he said in a gentle voice, "Tabbathia, Elainya, it is time to awake."

As Elainya began to wake up, she said in a caring voice, "Good morning, brother, I hope you slept well."

"Yes, sister, I did; and thank you for caring so much."

Elainya, giving a small blush, said to Thomicus with a smile on her face, "It was my pleasure to be here for you."

Then Tabbathia began to open her eyes, only to see Thomicus staring at her as he said, "Princess, I did not know that you cared so much."

Tabbathia, jumping immediately to her hooves, said to Thomicus sternly, "Do not put too much into it; I only did what I did for our survival, and that is all."

Thomicus stood up and walked over to Tabbathia as he said, "Just keep telling yourself that, and one day you may believe it." Then he gave Tabbathia a gentle kiss on the cheek which made the Amazon blush, and he added, "Be careful, Princess; you are letting your feminine side show." Elainya giggled at the Amazon's discomfort.

Sugarberrius came over to Thomicus and said, "We had best eat a quick breakfast so we can start our quest and get to the Cave of Wonders before nightfall."

Thomicus set to work preparing breakfast for himself and the mares, and when they finished they all set out for the Cave of Wonders. While they walked, the ground beneath their hoofs suddenly began to shake and break apart as deep chasms formed in the earth. Thomicus and Sugarberrius were separated from Tabbathia and Elainya, and by the time they were able to get their bearings the chasm had become too large to jump over.

Thomicus looked at Sugarberrius and asked her, "Are you okay?"

"I am unharmed," she replied staunchly.

Then he turned toward the chasm and called out to the mares on the other side, "Are you two all right?!"

"We are a little shaken up, but unharmed!" Tabbathia called back.

Thomicus started looking around to see if there was a way to get the other two mares over to their side of the chasm, but he saw that the chasm went on for miles in both directions. "It looks like we will have to walk a distance down the side of this chasm before we can find a place for you two to get across!" he called out.

"But that may take hours or even days before there is such a place!" called back Elainya.

"And you may not be able to find your way back to the right trail," Tabbathia pointed out.

"I will not leave you two here, even if it means that I will never find the Cave of Wonders!" Thomicus called to them.

Sugarberrius, seeing Thomicus show such loyalty toward the mares, smiled as she thought to herself, This stallion is truly a caring pony to choose his companions over that which lies in the Cave of Wonders.

And as Thomicus turned to Sugarberrius to tell her that they would be giving up on their quest for now, the ground began to shake again and it started to close the chasm that separated the ponies from each other. When the ground had finally resealed, the mares returned to Thomicus' side.

"That was very strange, how the chasm suddenly closed up when you decided to give up your quest to stay with Elainya and me!" Tabbathia said in surprise.

"Yes, it was at that; I wonder why it happened," Elainya said in a puzzled tone.

"It may be a puzzle that we will never solve, but the important thing is that we are back together," Thomicus replied.

Then Sugarberrius said to the other three, "And we had best hurry to the Cave of Wonders before the sun has set." So they started back on track to the cave.

They walked for hours, taking only small breaks to rest and feed their stomachs. Then Thomicus stopped walked as he looked up at the sun, which was slowly setting, and said to the others, "The sun is about to set for the night and I do not see any cave for miles; it seems that we will have to camp for another night and start fresh tomorrow."

At that moment, the time travelers reappeared just behind Thomicus and the others. Sugarberrius turned to her companions and said, "That will not be necessary, for we are here."

The three ponies, as well as the time travelers, looked around, but did not see anything but flat land. Thomicus asked Sugarberrius, "I do not see a cave of any type anywhere near here."

"That is because it is hidden," replied Sugarberrius as she turned westward and announced, "Behold, the Cave of Wonders." And with those words, the ground began to shake as it split open in front of them to reveal a humongous mountain that rose high above them. When the mountain stopped rising, the base opened to reveal a rocky cave.

Sugarberrius walked toward the cave entrance and turned to face the others. "If you have not guessed by now, I am the guardian of the Cave of Wonders; and Thomicus, you have proven that you are worthy to enter the cave and retrieve the Medallion of Light."

Thomicus walked toward the cave, but as he reached the entrance he turned to face Sugarberrius. "What will I find in this cavern?"

"When you enter the cave, you will see a path that you must follow to find the Medallion," Sugarberrius explained. "But be warned... if you leave the path for any reason, it will disappear and you will lose any chance of possessing the Medallion."

Thomicus bowed down to Sugarberrius as he said, "I will not disappoint you, Sugarberrius, I promise you that." Then he turned back to the cave and disappeared inside.

As he vanished into the dark, Salaries told the others, "Come, let us see what waits for Thomicus inside."

The time travelers followed Thomicus into the Cave of Wonders; as they followed the stallion through the interior of the cave, they saw treasures of great wealth and other artifacts of powers sitting off the path that would tempt any stallion, but Thomicus stayed on the path to the Medallion of Light. As he got near the back of the cave he saw the glimmer of the medallion, but as he got near it he heard a faint moan. He turned to see a mare hanging on a cross, many abrasions and scars on her body. A thick circling of thorns grew on the ground directly beneath her back legs.

Tabby would have gone forward herself to help the mare in distress, but Salaries stopped her and said, "Wait and watch." So Tabby sat back and watched along with the others.

Thomicus was thinking of what Sugarberrius had said about not leaving the path or he would lose his only chance of possessing the medallion, but seeing the mare in such dire distress told him what he needed to do. So he stepped off the path, and it instantly vanished, taking the medallion along with it. But Thomicus did not care about the medallion as he took out his sword and began hacking a path through the thorns. As he reached the mare and gently cut her down from the cross, he said to her, "Let me get you out of this cave."

But the mare, placing a hoof on his cheek, said, "You could have possessed a great power, but instead chose to help me; you are truly a blessed stallion." As she smiled at Thomicus, she began to vanish as the wall in front of him opened to reveal the Medallion of Light.

Thomicus stood up straight as he realized that the imprisoned mare and the path were just another test of his worthiness. He walked into the chamber and stood looking at the medallion; as he reached out for it, four pillars that he had not noticed before began to glow and shot bolts of mystical energy into Thomicus' body.

As the time travelers watched the pillars transfer their energy into Thomicus, the scar-faced stallion with his unsavory looking group snuck up on the three mares outside the cave and tied their forelegs behind their backs. The scar-faced stallion sneered, "When I take possession of the medallion that Thomicus is unknowingly bringing me, I will have you three as my personal slaves and will personally kill Thomicus in the most painful way I can imagine."

Tabbathia snarled at the scar-faced stallion as she fought against the rope that held her, "If you harm one hair on Thomicus' body, I will kill you where you stand!"

The scarred stallion just laughed at her as he walked over to her and held her chin. "You will make me a fine mate, Amazon."

Tabbathia, pulling her chin away from the stallion, said in disgust, "I would kill myself before I would mate with the likes of you."

"I will just have to make sure that doesn't happen, then, won't I?" replied the stallion as he walked away.

Meanwhile, back in the cave, Thomicus was still being bombarded with the four elements. Finally it stopped, and Thomicus felt more energized than he ever had before. The Medallion of Light floated over to him off its pedestal and rested around his neck. The path reappeared to show him the way out, and into the ambush that was set for him.

As Thomicus walked back outside, two stallions jumped him and the scar-faced one walked up to him, taking the medallion from around his neck. "I believe that you have something that belongs to me," he said in a disrespectful tone.

"I know, I know," Tabby sighed, looking sideways at Salaries. "No interference." Still, she would have dearly loved to get in on the fight and knock some of those stallions around!

The scar-faced stallion took out a dagger and placed the point near Thomicus' stomach. "I am going to slit your gut open and see your intestines slowly come out of you as you die," he announced, rather inelegantly.

"That is typical of a stallion with no imagination," mocked Sugarberrius.

The scarred stallion turned towards Sugarberrius with anger in his eyes. "And what does a puny-minded mare know!"

"I know that you hold in your hoof a power that can slowly tear Thomicus apart while you sit back and enjoy the show," replied Sugarberrius as she smiled at the stallion.

"And why should I believe anything you say?" the stallion asked, walking over to Sugarberrius.

Sugarberrius said in return as she stared the stallion in the eye, "I have no loyalty to Thomicus; if I show you a more enjoyable way of destroying him, then maybe you will choose me as your favorite instead of that Amazon."

The scar-faced stallion looked closely at the mare and could read no emotion for Thomicus, making him laugh with delight to see that Thomicus could be so easily betrayed by one that he trusted. "All right, mare, tell me how to use this medallion to tear my enemy apart, and you shall be my number one slave."

Sugarberrius said in a most devilish tone, "It is very simple; just place the medallion around your neck and think of what you want it to do to Thomicus, and it will perform the task."

Tabbathia, hearing the traitorous mare help the scar-faced stallion, said with a venom-laced tongue, "You nag, how can you betray one who has been so kind to you! To all of us!"

"I do what I do to survive," replied Sugarberrius with a snort.

So the stallion placed the medallion around his neck and began to think of seeing Thomicus turned inside out; as the medallion began to glow, however, be felt a sharp pain inside his body. "What is happening to me?!"

Sugarberrius replied with a smile, "Oh, didn't I tell you? Only the one that the medallion chooses as its owner can control its power. And you are not the one."

"You filthy wench!" yelled the stallion as he fell to the ground in agony.

Sugarberrius then broke her bonds and tossed the two stallions off of her as if they were nothing but bothersome insects. She turned to the other stallions in league with the scar-faced one. "Unless the rest of you wish the same fate as this one, I advise you all to leave!" The others, fearing Sugarberrius' wrath, released their prisoners and fled.

Thomicus, seeing the evil stallion rolling on the ground in agony, walked to Sugarberrius and asked, "What is happening to him?"

"He is becoming the one thing he hates the most. Behold his new body." So the ponies watched the stallion as he slowly changed; and when the transformation was complete, a mare lay where a stallion once stood. Sugarberrius walked to the once-stallion and took the medallion from around her neck. Returning to Thomicus, Sugarberrius placed it around his neck. "Now it is in its proper place."

"And what will become of Scar here?" Thomicus asked as he looked at the now-mare still lying on the ground.

"As this world still considers mares as possessions instead of equals, I would say that she is yours to do with as you wish," Sugarberrius replied, turning to the mare and then back to Thomicus.

As Thomicus turned to Scar the mare, Tabbathia turned to Sugarberrius. "I was wrong to judge you so harshly; please forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive, when one speaks from the heart for the sake of another," replied Sugarberrius with a smile, making Tabbathia's cheeks turn a bright red.

Meanwhile, Thomicus addressed the mare. "Scar, I give you a choice. You can come with me and live without fear or prosecution... or take your own chances out there with stallions who would abuse you just for being a mare. What is your decision?"

Scar looked at Thomicus with hatred in her eyes as she said, "Why do you care what happens to me, as it was I who wanted you dead? What makes you think that I would not still kill you if I got the chance?"

"You are alone now and no longer carry the power you once held; and as I am not one who keeps grudges and is willing to give you a second chance in life without the humiliation other stallions would put you through, I see no reason why you would take such a chance to kill me just to end up the slave of another stallion who may treat you very harshly. Would you, just for the sake of revenge?" Thomicus asked as he held out his hoof to Scar.

Scar, knowing that Thomicus was right, extended her foreleg and placed her hoof in Thomicus' hoof. "If I am to survive, my only choice would be to be your slave."

As their hooves still touched, the medallion began to glow and the scar that was on her face slowly began to vanish. "It seems that you will need to change your name," Thomicus observed.

Scar gazed at him with a puzzled look on her face, and Thomicus held out a shiny metal disk that Scar could see herself in like a mirror; and she realized that the scar she had had for so long as a stallion was now gone. She looked up at Thomicus. "What has happened to my face!"

"It would seem that Scar is no more," Thomicus replied, turning around. "Come and let us join the others."

As the group reunited, Thomicus stood next to Tabbathia with Scar close behind. "Are you sure that she can be trusted now?" Tabbathia asked him.

"The one thing I know for sure about Scar is that she will do what is best for herself; and for now, that is staying with us," replied Thomicus as he smiled at Tabbathia.

"But I do not see why it would be in our best interest to help this self-centered mare," Elainya pointed out.

"It does if you go by a saying I once heard, which was, 'Keep your friends close but keep your enemies even closer,' " remarked Thomicus.

Then the winged stallion suddenly appeared in front of the ponies and approached Sugarberrius. "Sister, the Great Creator wishes your presence in the spirit world."

"Tell the Great Creator that I will be there shortly," replied Sugarberrius.

The winged stallion bowed to the mare and then took to the sky. As he disappeared from sight, Thomicus asked Sugarberrius, "Why did that winged stallion call you Sister, and who is this Great Creator he speaks of?"

Sugarberrius, giving the stallion a motherly smile, said in a gentle voice, "As you have shown me time after time the loyalty, trust, and kindness that very few ponies possess, I will allow you to see why he called me Sister." At these words, she began to glow and the others could see wings growing from her back and a red horn coming from her forehead. The other ponies' eyes widened in amazement as she stood in all her glory. "I, like the stallion you just saw, am a spirit pony. We live in a place of great wonder along with the Great Creator and watch over His children."

"And who are these children you watch over?" asked Elainya.

"His children are the inhabitants of this world; and sometimes when a special colt or filly is born, we take a more hoof-on look to see if this foal has the gift to be more than he or she can ever imagine."

"And is that why my brother was picked to go on this quest to the Cave of Wonders?" asked Elainya curiously.

"Your brother has a special gift that no other pony has ever possessed, a pure heart untainted by the evils of the world. We watched his kindness and generosity grow as he grew from colt to stallion, and knew that he was the one to possess the Medallion of Light. Now, it is time for Thomicus and you three mares to make the future of your world a brighter place to live in."

Scar looked up at Sugarberrius, wondering why she had mentioned three mares instead of two. "You think I will make the future a brighter place?"

"Yes, Scar, even you play a part in bringing in a new age for ponykind. As do you all." Then Sugarberrius turned to the cave, raising her hooves and then lowering them to the ground. This action, in turn, caused the mountain to suddenly go back beneath the ground that they were standing on. Turning back to the ponies, she said, "I must leave you all now and return home, as you four must go and fulfill your destinies."

"But how do I use the medallion?" asked Thomicus with a lost look on his face.

As Sugarberrius talked to Thomicus, she began to fade away. "Just use the purity within your heart, and the forces of nature and the creatures that dwell within her will beckon to your call. But beware that if the holder of the medallion ever gives it freely to one of evil nature, nothing good will come of it."

As Sugarberrius vanished, Thomicus turned to the others and said, "We should go, my family; our new destiny awaits." So they walked back towards their civilization to create a better world for both stallions and mares.

"Now it is time that we return to our home," Salaries said to his companions as Thomicus and his group left. With that said, the four time travelers faded away and returned to the present time in Thomas and Tabby's house.

Thomas, just as curious about his medallion as Thomicus had been, asked Salaries, "If my medallion has all the powers of nature, then why am I only able to control water and aquatic creatures with it?"

"That is because that is all you thought you could control," Salaries replied. "The medallion gave you those abilities, but now that you know more about the medallion yourself you can train yourself to use the other elements."

"And what became of Thomicus, Tabbathia, Elainya, and Scar?" asked Elaine.

"Well, Thomicus went and freed the slaves and brought equality for both stallions and mares with the help of the three mares and the Medallion of Light."

"And did Thomicus and Tabbathia become husband and wife?" Elaine went on.

"Yes, Tabbathia left her Amazon sisters to become Thomicus' wife," Salaries confirmed.

"You mean... we're related?" Tabby said, looking sideways at her husband. Her eyebrows started twitching in consternation.

"And what about Elainya and Scar; did they find good husbands?" Elaine was all curiosity.

"Yes, they also eventually found happiness; Scar stayed a mare to her dying day and found more happiness as a mare than he ever did as a stallion," responded Salaries.

"Excuse me, but does anybody care that I am immensely disturbed by the fact that I am related to my husband?" Tabby demanded.

"Tabby, calm down!" Thomas said, trying to placate her. "It was thousands and thousands of years ago when this connection was formed, and the family would have branched out so much by then with so many generations between that there would be little, if any, level of relatedness between us."

"But it's like we're cousins or something," Tabby insisted.

"Maybe, but cousins removed a thousand times or more!" Thomas exclaimed, getting exasperated. "It's not unheard of for second or even first cousins to get married, you know; and our relatedness would be infinitely smaller than in those unions! What do you think you're going to do, file for an annulment???"

Tabby was still glaring into space, looking skeptical, when Thomas came up to her and placed a hoof on her shoulder. "It's okay," he said softly, kissing her. "Do you believe me now?"

"What? Oh, yes," Tabby said absentmindedly. "But I was thinking about something else now."

"That's a relief," said Thomas. "What is it? Do you want to talk about it now?"

As if on cue, Salaries and Elaine, who had been conducting their own conversation, turned their attention back to Tabby and Thomas. Tabby, taking a deep breath, addressed Salaries. "I need to know... what is the connection between Sugarberry and Sugarberrius?"

Salaries did not speak for several moments, but finally turned to Tabby and said, "Indeed, there is a connection, for Sugarberry's guardian angel, as you call them, is Sugarberrius herself. Sugarberrius, knowing the great destinies that would fall upon the ancestors of Thomicus, Tabbathia, and Elainya, wanted to be close to Tabbathia to help if needed. A spirit pony had already been assigned to you, Tabby, when Sugarberrius approached the Great Creator; but he suggested making her the guide to the foal that would become your best friend, and that was Sugarberry."

"What, did she think I needed more guidance than Thomas or Elaine?" Tabby demanded, feeling greatly put upon.

"I can't think of a reason why that would be," Thomas said dryly. Elaine giggled.

"And besides," Tabby said, tossing her mane, "I don't let anyone influence my destiny. It's my own and no one else can touch it!"

"All of us need help in certain situations," Salaries pointed out. "You'd be surprised by what Sugarberrius and your spirit pony have done for both you and Sugarberry down through the years, Tabby."

"Why don't I get to meet my guardian angel spirit pony?" Tabby complained.

"Yes! And mine, too!" Elaine chirped.

"I wonder what mine is like..." Thomas mused.

Salaries shook his head. "What have I gotten myself into..." he murmured softly, but avoided a direct comment. "Tabby, I know you have many questions on your mind now, but do you think that you could turn us back into our true forms?"

"My goodness, I'd forgotten!" Tabby exclaimed. So she closed her eyes and concentrated on turning them all back, and when she opened her eyes she was relieved to see that they were all back to normal and strange things hadn't happened because they had been sent back in time.

Then Salaries went to the table where the Orb of Creation sat; and as the other ponies followed him over, Salaries took the three pony figures from around their necks and placed them back on the orb. He took the Medallion of Light in his hoof and placed it around Thomas' neck as he said, "There, now the medallion is in its proper place."

"Thank you," said Thomas simply.

Next, Salaries reached into his backpack and pulled out Thomicus' long sword and handed it to Thomas, saying, "I know that Thomicus would want you to have this." He turned to Tabby and Elaine, adding, "And there is something that belongs to each of you, as well." He handed Tabby Tabbathia's double-edged sword and quarter staff, and to Elaine he bestowed Elainya's dagger and short sword. "Now the three of you are truly complete." He placed the Orb of Creation in his backpack as he said to his three friends, "It is time that I head back to my own home, but there is a favor I would like to ask of Tabby."

"Sure, bring it on!" Tabby said, all game.

Salaries pulled a medium-sized chest out of his bag and handed it to her. "The Great Creator gave me this to give to Sugarberry when the time was right; and I thought that for one who is as close to her as a sister, who would know better when that time would come?"

"And how will I know when that time is?" Tabby asked.

"Tabby, you and Sugarberry are more connected to each other than any blood relatives could ever be, and that connection will give you a sense of knowing when the time is right. This I promise you." And with that said, Salaries headed out.

* * *
When Salaries got home and laid down his backpack, Devilin approached him and asked, "So, did you tell Thomas what he wanted to hear?"

"That, and a little more, my beautiful angel," replied Salaries as he placed his forelegs around his wife and gave her a passionate kiss.


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