Tabby's Treasure
written by Tabby

It was nearing the end of Tabby's work day at the clinic. She tapped her hoof impatiently on the main desk. Sugarberry, the receptionist at the clinic, had had to leave a little early, so Tabby had to manage the main desk-- it really wasn't a good job to put her in charge of. There were no other scheduled appointments for her; Tabby was just hanging around to make sure no one came in.

At that moment, the doors swung open. Tabby looked up with interest as the figure entered the building-- it was a human, and they were not usually found in Ponyland. Following the man was a large St. Bernard dog.

"I'm looking for the vet here," the man said, coming up to the counter.

Tabby looked indignant. "I am the vet here!"

The man looked at her in surprise. "You don't look much like a vet; more like a receptionist."

Tabby glared at him. "Well, anyway, what's wrong with your dog?"

"He's got a cut on his back," the man said, gesturing towards the large dog. "It might need attention. We'll see if you can fix it."

Tabby's eyes gleamed with fury. "Fix it! I'll fix it, all right! Come on, just follow me." She led the two into the appointment room.

"Okay, so..." Tabby inspected the cut once the dog had been lifted up onto the counter. "I suppose I'll clean it out first." She busied herself attending to the task.

Once it was cleaned out, Tabby searched around for the special ointment for cuts. Oh, where those things kept? She glanced over at the man, who was smiling slightly. This made her anger flare up again. She wasn't about to make a fool of herself in front of this guy!

"Try the cupboard marked ‘Ointments'," the man finally suggested after Tabby failed to uncover what she was looking for.

"Right," Tabby sighed. Dejectedly, she flipped open the cupboard indicated. The cut ointment was sitting right out front.

After applying some of the ointment onto the cut, Tabby handed the tube to the man. "Here, take this," she instructed. "So, like, put it on the cut every day, and it should heal fairly quickly."

"What, no instant cures?" the man said, amused. Tabby clenched her jaw and ignored the question as she walked back out to the main desk to ring up the bill.

She pressed a few keys and cocked her head at the result on the screen. "Uhh... three jangles? No, that can't be right..." Frantically she pressed some more. "Two thousand? What's with this machine? Oh, why'd Sugarberry have to leave!"

The man burst out laughing at Tabby's confusion. "How about accepting this as payment?" He pulled out an ancient-looking rolled-up paper.

Tabby glanced at the paper and shrugged. "Sure, sounds fair." She took the paper from the man; he waved as he and his dog departed from the building.

"Tabby, you've screwed-up the computer," Thomas sighed as he came up behind her.

"The program doesn't make any sense," Tabby complained.

Thomas pressed some keys. "You should've charged twenty-five jangles."

"But I got this instead!" Tabby waved her prize in the air.

"What is it?" Thomas took the paper from Tabby and began to un-roll it.

Tabby peered over at the paper expectantly. Her eyes gleamed when she saw what it was. "That's a treasure map if I ever saw one!"

Thomas studied the paper. It did, indeed, look like a map. "Interesting..."

"And it's mine!" Without warning, Tabby snatched it back from him.

"Hey, who said that?"

"Well, I did, of course--"

"I'm the owner of this clinic, so I should get it," Thomas argued.

"But I'm the one he gave it to!" Tabby clenched her jaw defiantly and held the map protectively.

"Umm, are you open for business?" came a timid voice. Tabby and Thomas both whirled around. There was Skylark, with her pet hamster.

"Why, yes!" Tabby said brightly, not missing a beat. "Thomas can attend to you!" She pushed Skylark forward. "And I do believe I'm done for the day, so bye!" And before any more words could be spoken, Tabby trotted out the doors with a triumphant smirk on her face, and leaving a dumbfounded Thomas.

* * *

Later that evening, in the privacy of her own home, Tabby was studying the map. Amazingly, she could make sense of most of the landmarks pictures on it-- there was the Dark Forest, and perhaps the Black Mountains. It appeared that a trail through the forest led up into the mountains, and that was where a large X was drawn.

"It looks easy enough to find," Tabby said thoughtfully. She grimaced, recalling her encounter with the man earlier. Imagine, her not looking like a vet! She'd come across as looking clueless. That's how she always came across as. Everyone expected her to be lost and confused no matter what she did.

A grin slowly spread across her face as she came up with an idea. She'd show them! She'd show them she wasn't just a weak, confused, irresponsible little pony. She'd show them all!

Yes, Tabby knew what she was going to do. She was going to find that treasure on her own if it was the last thing she did.

* * *

The next morning, Sugarberry was heading out to work. She glanced back at Tabby's house. She could see no lights on; it looked bleak and desolate. That was odd; Tabby should be getting ready for work as well.

"Maybe she went over early," Sugarberry said aloud. Then again, that didn't sound like Tabby. She preferred to be late. "Well, it's always a possibility."

Sugarberry trotted on towards the clinic with a hopeful heart. She pushed through the doors, and took her place behind the desk. She glanced around the room-- no Tabby.

Thomas appeared out of the hallway. "Hello," he greeted her.

"Has Tabby shown up yet?" Sugarberry asked anxiously.

"No." Thomas smiled grimly. "And I think I know where she is."

"What do you mean? The Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe isn't open yet--"

"One of the clients paid with a treasure map yesterday," Thomas explained. "And Tabby ended up with it."

"A treasure map? The things that happen while I'm away!" Sugarberry commented. "But do you really think she'd go off in search of treasure without telling anyone? That doesn't sound like her."

"That pony is nothing but trouble," Thomas said bitterly. "She's always late--"

"Only five minutes each day--"

"She's always skipping out--"

"Not that often--"

"The salary I pay her is outrageous--"

"It's really not that much, considering--"

"She's constantly misplacing things--"

"Well, everybody does that upon occasion--"

"And I don't see why I don't just forget about her and hire a new vet," Thomas finished.

Sugarberry's eyes opened wide with terror. "Oh, no! You couldn't do that!"

"You bet I could!" Thomas stormed off into the next room.

Sugarberry sat still in shock. Tabby was in big trouble this time, and if she didn't get back soon... oh, why had she had to run off? If Thomas hired a new vet to take Tabby's place, it wouldn't be near as much fun working here. Sugarberry was going to have to do something...

Quickly glancing around to make sure Thomas wasn't in sight, Sugarberry bolted out the door.

* * *

Meanwhile, Tabby was traveling through the Dark Forest, following the directions on the map. The previous night she had hastily packed a backpack with provisions, and early that morning had departed for her journey. The daylight emerged sunny and without a cloud in the sky-- a wonderful day for treasure hunting.

Unfortunately, none of this showed in the Dark Forest. The trees were so tall and thick, all sunlight was blocked out. Never was there a single ray of light in the forest.

So far, Tabby had been lucky and hadn't run into any monsters or others evils. But who knew what was lurking around the next tree...
She glanced down at the map she had in her hoof. Since the original copy was so tattered, she had scanned it into her computer scanner and printed it off for a stronger copy. According to the map, there was a cave somewhere on the edge of the Dark Forest. There was a path drawn next to the cave, and that led through the forest up to the Black Mountains. Tabby'd found the cave, and was trying to follow through on the path.

Tabby shrugged and bravely trotted forward. She hummed the Sea Pony Song to pass time. "Shoop bee doo shoop shoop bee doo..."

* * *

Sugarberry trotted onwards to Tabby's house. Maybe she'd be able to find something that would help her figure out where Tabby was headed-- providing she could even find a way in the house.

She cautiously turned the handle of Tabby's front door. Yep, Tabby had forgotten to lock it. Sugarberry let herself in. She felt slightly guilty about breaking into her friend's house, but it was for good reason.

"Now, where do I begin?" Sugarberry wailed. There were so many rooms to look in, and there might not be any clues anyway.

She paused and thought the problem through. Where did Tabby spend most of her time? Her computer room, probably. She spent hours making lists of things to put up on the internet.

Sugarberry trotted into the computer room, where all Tabby's really cool computer stuff was kept-- like a scanner, digital camera, and printer. She glanced around the room. Something seemed off... ah ha! The scanner lid was up, not down like it was supposed to be.

Sugarberry peered into the scanner bed. Interesting, there was a paper in it-- ancient, tattered looking paper. She picked it up, and could hardly believe her luck. It was the treasure map!

She studied it. There was a cave on the outskirts of a forest, with a path running next to it. The path led up to some mountains. "Let's see..." Sugarberry said aloud. "The forest must be the Dark Forest, and the mountains the Black Mountains. So I'll have to find that cave!"

Sugarberry remembered seeing a cave near the raspberry patch. "Well, I guess I can try it." She trotted out of the house and towards the berry patch.

When she got there, she hesitated slightly. Did she really want to go after Tabby, all on her own? Remembering that Tabby'd probably be out of a job if she wasn't found quickly, Sugarberry bravely stepped onto the path next to the cave and continued onward.

* * *

Meanwhile, Tabby was skipping along merrily on the forest path. She had to admit, though, that she was getting worn out. She had been walking for quite some time now; it must be late morning, as she'd started out early.

"La de da," Tabby hummed. "Maybe I'd better stop and rest." She sat down on a grassy patch under one of the trees and stretched. She pulled out a piece of cold chicken she had packed in her backpack and nibbled on it.

After taking a drink of grape juice from her thermos, Tabby yawned. Her eyes slowly closed and she drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Sugarberry opened her eyes wide when she saw something on the path up ahead. Why, it was... pink! A pink unicorn! It could be none other than Tabby!

Sugarberry ran up to her friend, who was still sleeping. "Tabby!" she cried as she shook the unicorn's back. "Wake up!"

Tabby slowly came to her senses and shook her head to clear her mind. "What? What do you mean? What?"

"Tabby, you've got to get back to Dream Valley!" Sugarberry urged.

Tabby sighed as she drowsily remembered what had happened. "Look, Sugarberry, I'm treasure hunting. I'm not going back until I have that treasure!"

"Thomas threatened to hire a new vet to take your place!" Sugarberry quickly explained.

Tabby's eyes opened wide. "That can't be!"

"Well, he was awfully mad, and came down pretty hard on you."

Tabby snapped her head around. "Oh, really? What'd he say?"

"Umm... that you were always late, and he paid you too much, and you skipped out, and you misplaced things..." Sugarberry stuttered.

Tabby narrowed her eyes. "Well! If that's what he thinks of me, maybe I'd rather not work there anyway."

"Tabby!" Sugarberry wailed. "You can't mean that!"

"I mean it, all right!" Tabby hissed. "That does it; I'm quitting!"

"Oh, Tabby, no!" Sugarberry moaned.

"Now I'm off to find the treasure." Tabby flicked her tail and continued down the path. "I'll prove that I'm more than just an irresponsible wimp."

Sugarberry ran after her. "I can come with you, can't I?"

Tabby whirled around. "I'm finding this treasure on my own. I don't need any help!"

"But, Tabby, it might not be safe all by yourself! This is the Dark Forest, you know," Sugarberry argued.

"I'll be fine." And before Sugarberry could do anything, Tabby was gone-- winked away.

"Oh, dear!" Sugarberry sighed. "What am I going to do now? What a mess this is!"

Sugarberry stared around at all sides of the path. She could try to catch up with Tabby again... but she was probably too far ahead. Maybe Sugarberry'd better just go back to Dream Valley to get some help.

Sugarberry dejectedly trotted back down the path to Dream Valley.

* * *

Thomas sighed. Now both Tabby and Sugarberry had run off-- Sugarberry was most likely in search of her friend. Maybe I did come down a bit hard on her, he thought regretfully. She really wasn't that bad, and he had to admit it was a bit boring without having her around. Yeah, he really wouldn't want to hire a different vet.

Luckily, it was a slow morning at the clinic and he hadn't had many patients to attend to. In fact, there wasn't another scheduled appointment for half an hour-- Thomas started thinking.

From what he had seen of the map, he remembered a cave drawn on the edge of a forest with a path running by it. Assuming the forest was the Dark Forest, he thought he'd seen the cave before.

Yep, he'd better go off in search of Tabby and Sugarberry. Who knows what dangers they might run into? Thomas stuck the "Closed" sign in the window, locked the doors, and took off.

* * *

Tabby was still walking along the path, wondering if she would ever get to the mountains. She'd been going on for what seemed like miles. Would it never end?

At that moment, she saw a brown, furry head sticking out of some bushes on the side of the path. Tabby held her breath. What was that?

The creature looked up at her. A smile lit Tabby's face. She knew this guy! It was Tiny the Bigfoot; she used to get her magic injections from him.

"Hey, Tiny!" she greeted the Bigfoot as he emerged from the bushes. "How ya been doing?"

"Good," Tiny grunted. "What you doing out so far?"

"I'm off in search of treasure," Tabby said. "I got a map from some human who stopped in at the clinic."

"Human? What he look like?" Tiny asked curiously.

Tabby gave a brief description of the man, and Tiny nodded wisely. "Me know him! Got recipe for magic injections from him."

"Cool!" Tabby commented. "He must wander the countryside."

"No one with you?" Tiny questioned. "That be dangerous."

"I'm going alone to prove my worth," Tabby explained.

Tiny looked skeptical. "Be careful," he warned.

"I will!" Tabby waved to him cheerfully as she continued on her way.

* * *

Sugarberry was still walking down the path, but she thought she was getting close to the raspberry patch. Now, who am I going to get to help me? she thought. How could anyone help me, anyway?

At that moment, she saw a flash of white up ahead. No other pony would be on this path, but... "Thomas?" she cried out.

Thomas appeared fully in Sugarberry's sight. "Yes, it's me," he said. "I thought you and Tabby might need my help."

Sugarberry nodded slowly. "Err... yeah... but..."

"Where is she, anyway?"

Sugarberry blinked slowly. "Well... I ran into her..."

"And?" Thomas prodded.

"I told her what you'd said about her... and that you were going to hire a new vet... and that got her pretty mad," Sugarberry said haltingly. "And then she said she was going to quit." She looked at Thomas expectantly.

"Great," Thomas moaned.

"And she's not letting anyone help her find the treasure," Sugarberry finished. She paused. "I hope she hasn't put you on her blacklist for good. That could get ugly."

"This is certainly a mess," Thomas said. "I say we'd better find her and talk some sense into her."

Sugarberry nodded. "It's not safe being alone in the Dark Forest."

"And I'm not going to have her quit her job! Come on!"

* * *

"Oh, no!" Tabby sighed as she came to an obstacle in the path. Well, not an obstacle exactly, but it was confusing. The path split off into two smaller branches. Tabby consulted the map. It didn't say anything about a branching-off path.

"Which way is right?" She cocked her head in thought. "Well, right is right, of course." She shrugged and started off on what she thought was the right-hand path, but it was actually the left one. She'd gotten sorely confused. Onward she went.

This smaller path curved around, but Tabby didn't think much of it. She just hoped that it got her to the Black Mountains.

After walking for quite some time, Tabby was getting discouraged. She was just about ready to give up on this whole treasure deal and wink back home when she saw something: the path she was on opened up onto a larger path! She excitedly skipped up to the new path. She was closer to the mountains now; she was sure of it!

Merrily Tabby skipped along. Somehow, something seemed familiar to her, but she didn't really think about it (she didn't really think about anything).

Then she saw something up ahead that made her stop dead in her tracks. She opened her eyes wide with confusion. Walking up ahead on the path were... Sugarberry and Thomas?

"This isn't right!" Tabby cried out-loud without thinking.

Sugarberry and Thomas both whirled around. "Tabby!" the both exclaimed.

Tabby trotted up to them. "I'm supposed to be ahead of you, not behind you!" she complained. "What happened?"

"Probably the path you took curled back around," Sugarberry said reasonably.

"Well, anyway, that's not important. I'm supposed to be finding this treasure on my own!" Tabby shrieked in outrage.

"Just let us come with you," Thomas prodded.

"No, no, no!" Tabby stomped her hoof on the ground. "I'm going alone, and that's it!" And with that, she winked out again.

"That pony!" Sugarberry sighed. "You can't keep up with her!"

"Hmm... but I have an idea..." Thomas, being a unicorn, winked out as well, leaving Sugarberry in the dust.

"Unicorns," Sugarberry sighed again. "Sometimes I wish I had a horn."

Sugarberry's eyes opened wide in alarm as she heard something rustling in the bushes. "It can't be a monster, now that I'm all alone!" she wailed.

The creatures in the bushes were not to be feared, however. Two Furbobs (first cousins of the Bushwoolies) emerged: one aqua, and the other lavender.

"Furbobs!" Sugarberry exclaimed with delight. "I haven't seen any of you for ages."

"We've been busy," the aqua one said.

"No we haven't," contradicted the lavender one.

"I could really use some help," Sugarberry said.

"What with?" said the aqua.

"It's probably nothing," said the lavender.

"I'm looking for two friends of mine who've winked ahead. They're headed to the Black Mountains," Sugarberry explained.

"The Black Mountains? We know those!"

"We do not."

"Do you think you could help get me there?" Sugarberry pleaded.


"We can't do it."

"Umm, okay," Sugarberry said uncertainly.

"We know a secret path that will get us there in no time."

"There's no such thing."

Shrugging, Sugarberry followed after the aqua Furbob. The lavender one grudgingly came after.

* * *

"You forget that I'm a unicorn as well," Thomas said as he winked in beside Tabby.

Tabby sighed. "Won't you listen? I'm off to find this by myself."

"Come on, Tabby! You just can't go treasure hunting on your own."

"I'm surprised you're even talking to me, after what Sugarberry said you said about me back at the clinic." Tabby stopped and glared at him.

"Okay, I apologize for that. I was annoyed and wasn't thinking straight."

Tabby was silent for several moments as she kept walking. "All right, all right," she sighed grudgingly. "I'll forgive you."

"And you won't quit?"

"Probably not," was all Tabby said in reply. "And hey, how many times do I have to tell you? I'm finding this treasure on my own. So don't follow me, would you?"

Thomas looked at her disapprovingly, but kept trailing after her.

Tabby shrugged and continued on.

* * *

"Here's the Black Mountains!" the aqua Furbob announced. Sugarberry stared up in awe at the awesome mountains.

"These aren't the right ones," said the lavender Furbob.

"Now, where are Tabby and Thomas?" Sugarberry said worriedly.

"I'm sure they'll get here soon."

"No they won't. They'll be late."

Sugarberry was supremely confused after having to listen to those two talk. She sat down on a rock and rested.

After about ten minutes, Sugarberry was jerked out of her daydreams by a familiar voice. "And I don't skip out that often... there was only that once..."

"Three times," Thomas reminded Tabby.

"Whatever. Anyway--" Tabby suddenly looked up and saw Sugarberry and the Furbobs. "Sugarberry! Really, can't I get away from you guys?"

"Tabby, how many times do we have to tell you? You can't go treasure hunting all by yourself!" Sugarberry said in exasperation.

"Oh yeah?" Tabby challenged.

Their conversation was cut short when they all heard the rumbling of rocks. There was a cascade of various-sized rocks tumbling down the mountainside, coming in the group's direction.

"Oh, dear," Tabby said as she looked up in dismay at the falling rocks. The rest of them had already scurried out of range of tumbling rocks.

"Tabby! Don't you think you should move?" Thomas said in exasperation as he pulled her back to safety.

Tabby blinked slowly. "Oh! Yeah!"

"Close call," said the aqua Furbob.

"It wasn't that close," said the lavender.

Tabby cocked her head. "Wonder what caused that."

"I'm sure some creature did it." Sugarberry shuddered. "He's guarding the treasure."

"See, Tabby? You can't face monsters all by yourself," Thomas said wisely.

"Yes she could."

"No she couldn't."

"Nope." Tabby shook her head. "I'm going up there by myself, and that's final."

"Well, we could just leave you here," Sugarberry said.

"Fine with me," Tabby said cheerfully. "Just what I've wanted all along."

"Okay," Thomas said skeptically. So, the Furbobs, Sugarberry, and Thomas turned around.

"I'll be back with the treasure!" Tabby called after them as she started the ascent up the mountain.

She felt a twinge of uneasiness. It was kind of scary... she climbed higher. The path got rockier, and she struggled to keep moving up. Tabby gasped in terror when a small rock started to roll down the slope, and nearly hit her on the leg.

All in an instant it hit her: she was a wimp, and there was no changing that. She fled down the mountain in terror to join back up with the group. "Hey! Hey, come back! No! Don't leave me here! Noooo!"

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