The Journey to the Cave of Wonders
written 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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