My Little Pony Monthly Issue 47 (February 1, 2001)
My Little Pony Monthly
Established June 1997
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Index of this issue–
1. The Lost Prince Chapters 1 & 2 (by Moonjumper and Prism)
2. Ginseng and Sassafras Tea Chapters 21 & 22 (by Sugarberry)
3. The Trip Back to England (by Baby Steamer)
4. Destiny (by Sugarberry)
5. Determined Dreams (by Shining)
6. Lamplight Legacy (by Sugarberry)
7. Dungeons & Ponies (by Clever Clover)
The Lost Prince
by Moonjumper and Prism ([email protected] and [email protected])
Dear VALUED READERS:
It has come to our attention that you were not pleased with the last installment of Lost Prince© and that there have been no more monthly installments
since October of last year. We at LEGENDS INC. express our deepest apologies and offer you this FREE GIFT. But you must act quickly, before
February first, or this FREE GIFT will expire.
Go here to receive your FREE LEGENDS INC. GIFT: http://www.notawebsite.com
We at LEGENDS INC. also would like to notify you that Lost Prince© has been brought back for your reading pleasure, fully revised to the polls' and
Kritiks' opinions. It will be released every month in two chapters for the first six chapters; then the installments will return to once a month. Again,
we urge you to take our FREE GIFT.
After the last installment of Lost Prince©, LEGENDS INC. will be releasing the LEGEND that started it all, Minty's Journey©. Minty's Journey©
release date is currently unconfirmed, but we at LEGENDS INC. will notify our VALUED READERS when the date is settled on.
Once again we express our deepest apologies and regrets, especially to Henry Horner's family. We at LEGENDS INC. do not wish to show
favoritism, but we gave the Horner family two of our FREE GIFTS. Adieu, VALUED READERS.
The *hard* working author who is the *head* LEGENDS INC.,
MarenchE VILA DY
The old tower was covered with vines, and the once white stone had turned a weathered gray. The marvelous stained-glass windows
had long been hidden by centuries of grime. In the moonlight it gave off an eerie, mystical feeling.
A cloaked figure crept to the tower. Rustling leaves made the being fall to the forest floor, and it looked around cautiously. When it
was clear no one else was about, the figure relaxed visibly. He pressed in one of the tower's stones and a small section of the wall swung in silently,
revealing a dark room lit by a small candle. He rushed in as the wall closed with a soft whoosh.
Inside, the figure pulled out a second candle from within its cloak and lit it. After placing it next to the first, he removed his cloak.
A regal-looking white tiger was revealed and he stood, searching the darkness intently.
"My Queen?" he asked the darkness.
"I am here, Blaze," a soft voice replied.
The white tiger, addressed as Blaze, knelt on the cold stone floor.
"Rise, faithful servant." The Queen stepped closer and a flash of a rainbow lock of hair was lit momentarily by the dim light.
Blaze rose. "I bring news of the princes," he started.
"Are they well?" the Queen broke in anxiously.
Blaze nodded. "And safe. You chose the perfect place to protect them from this night, and the perfect ones to find and protect
The Queen sighed. I do wish I had never trusted that witch... then I would still have my sons. But no, Flicker, I could not
see... and then, the Prophecy wouldn't come true...
"My Queen?" Blaze broke tentatively into her thoughts.
"What about Majesty?"
"She and the rest are safe for now. They cannot be affected tonight. You and I are the only ones; Dorin made sure of that."
Blaze looked troubled. "But what if I do not awake; who will guide..."
"You will," the Queen said sharply, knowing well what the rest of his question was. Then, in a very tired voice, she added, "And the
message is awaiting its time, carefully locked in the Crystal."
Blaze nodded. "I will go now..."
The Queen walked over to Blaze and gave him a grateful hug. "You will never know how invaluable you are to me..." A tear
slipped down her delicate face.
Blaze took a deep breath. "And the others will never know the price their deliverer had to pay."
Another tear then another glided down and the Queen was about to speak, but decided to just smile.
Blaze gazed at his queen one last time before slipping into the night. How she is able to carry a load such as this, he
shook his head. He listened carefully to the forest sounds, knowing the danger of being found by Marenche's spies.
In the tower, the Queen cried. Crystal tears fell as she remembered the last son she had hidden, the one that had hurt so
* * *
"Yes, Silver?" My precious son...
"Will I see you again?" Silver's voice trembles. Oh Silver...
My heart breaks upon hearing those words. Why must I place such a terrible fate upon my precious son? Because of an old
vow. "Yes, someday..." I try to sound reassuring, but I know my eyes betray the truth.
* * *
The Queen closed her eyes. She had prepared herself for this, ever since Dorin had warned her. But she did not want to give up her
third son... his destiny would be impossible. The three others, yes, but not her precious Silver.
I will try one last time...
The room suddenly burst into a blinding, pure light. Wind rushed through, extinguishing the candles. A delicate silver unicorn
knelt on the floor, begging silently to free her son from his destiny. "Please, Flicker! Another way!"
The light vanished. The Queen's plea had been denied. There was no stopping; the path of the future was set.
Slowly, the Queen rose and, looking to the sky above, became as a statue, a solitary tear gracing her muzzle.
* * *
Miles away, in a volcanic cave, a slim figure watched a silver crystal with nervous anticipation. It flickered black once, then
darkened forever. A wicked laugh echoed into the night.
"The Valley is mine!!!" More laughter ensued.
"But Marenche, what of the wizard?" a slender, trollish looking creature with pointed ears asked.
Marenche turned with an evil smirk. "He is gone as well!! No one could withstand the talisman's power from out there, Trixie!"
Marenche flipped her waist-length black hair back, looking out into the night with an evil, pleased smirk.
"There you are wrong," a voice came from above, from the shadows.
Marenche whirled around, her face deathly pale. Silence descended, thick enough to be cut with a knife.
"Remember... I remember that..." Trixie swallowed, a cold band squeezing her left arm. Something dark settled about her and
caused her body to convulse. But it was all over in a second, and Trixie wore the same pale face as her mistress.
"No... it... it can't be!" Marenche gripped her glowing pendant, fingers white.
A cloak fell to the floor.
"It is! It is!!" Trixie squealed shrilly, becoming excited.
Marenche frowned hard at the small troll. Trixie instantly cowered. Stupid slave. But the trick band works well... "Dorin,
what a PLEASANT surprise," she said through clenched teeth.
Dorin appeared, and his cloak rose up and rested on his shoulders. "As always, the same to you, madam."
Marenche fumed, seeing her plan to destroy Dorin had failed. "You still cannot bring them back; they are GONE!!" she smiled
Dorin chuckled. "Really? I believe," he paused, enjoying the look on Marenche's face, "they never left. Never."
Marenche's eyes widened as she realized his implication. "You, you, you," she spluttered, not bothering to hide her hatred.
Dorin smiled sardonically. "Not all plans work perfectly," he said as he disappeared with a wave of his cloak. "Not even mine,
forgive me, sons of dawn..."
Marenche's cry of rage thundered through the still valley and Trixie hid, afraid of her mistress' voice and swift, strong hand.
"This, this cannot be... I cannot fail... this MUST not be..." Marenche swallowed, her confidence shattered. She turned to a dark
crystal ball supported by a rock hand. It was becoming a mixture of gold and white flames.
"Nooooooo!!!!!" Marenche smashed it and all went dark...
~* Several years later *~
"And no one has ever seen Dorin since that fateful night..." Paradise finished with a mysterious air.
The banquet hall converged into thunderous applause.
Majesty grinned. So far so good, she said telepathically across the room to her good friend, Twilight.
Twilight nodded, but still shifted uneasily. The Summer Solstice Festival was her responsibility– she couldn't let anything go
"Paradise, a wonderful fairy tale, as usual!" a light pink male pony with sparkly dark blue hair stood and congratulated the pegasus.
He had the royal mark: a silver gem adorned his neck.
Majesty frowned. "That's no fairy..."
Paradise bristled. "That, Prince Sapphire, was NOT a ‘fairy tale'. Every word of it truly happened." She came close to glaring at
him, but caught herself and smiled politely.
Prince Sapphire nervously tried to back up. "Well, I... I..." he looked very contrite.
Majesty's frown disappeared and she shook her head slightly. Disbelief in that particular legend was out of the question– it was all
they had of their past that they could remember, and the background of his very own birth?
Twilight saw that everyone's attention was centered on the prince. This will never do, the heir of the Crystal Castle... I can't
let that happen, even if... She stood, calling the ponies' attention to herself and allowing Paradise and Prince Sapphire a chance to sit down.
"Paradise's beautifully told story could only be complimented by Medley's voice talent. Medley?" Twilight dipped her head in Medley's
Medley rose and nodded. She loved to sing, even when impromptu. After Medley's song, clowns came out, much to the delight of
the baby ponies, and the rest of the evening passed rather quickly, without any more mishaps, much to Twilight's relief.
* * *
"Shhh!! Jinx! You want to wake everyone?" a lone pony with a dark brown hawk slipped out of Dream Castle. He hid in the
shadows and waited to make sure no one had heard his bird's calls.
"You have to be more quiet," the pony stroked the hawk's feathers gently. He placed the bird on his back where it promptly
climbed up to sit between his ears. "You'll fall off," the pony warned as he started out for the other side of Dream Valley, the volcanic side. A beam
of pale moonlight showed a covered pony with sparkly dark pink hair.
The journey was rough; no path was carved out of the rocky mountainous sides of the valley. Many times he stopped to rest. It
seemed as if he'd been traveling for years when he reached his destination– Talen's Cave.
"Well," he set Jinx down. "We made it. Now, where's the treasure Barnacle spoke of?" The pony lit a torch and walked in.
The walls were strangely light tan, and he touched one to find that they were really golden in color, just covered with dirt and grim.
He wandered along the cave walls, unknowing that it was a wide rectangle in shape.
Jinx cried out suddenly and disappeared; the wind made by his wings blew the torch out, leaving his companion in the dark.
"JINX!!!" the pony called after him. "Agrrr... thanks. Now what?" he wondered. He brushed against the wall and jumped back
with a cry of surprise. Something was there. Tentatively he reached out but drew his hoof back.
A light came from the wall and blinded the pony. Hearing a grating sound, he tried to back up more, but found he was stuck.
"What's going on???" His heartbeat sped. "Barnacle... this must be some sort of joke they play on roya–"
"You have awoken me!!! I am free!!" a voice crashed into his mind.
The light dimmed and he saw a silhouette of a person. His eyes widened in horror when he saw the face; and her claws grabbed at
him, tearing away his covering.
"What's this? The mark of HER?!!!" A long thin finger reached out and touched his neck, right where a silver gem shone
Jinx rushed at the person, loyally trying to save his master. But there was a large crash and the bird became still.
The person shrieked (partly because of anger, the other part of success) and the cave went dark, just as the sun began to rise on the
eastern side of Dream Valley.
* * *
Majesty entered the darkened throne room sleepily. "Where is Twilight... I thought she'd be back from showing our guests their
rooms by now. I need to talk...so tired..." The unicorn yawned as she sat down on her throne, blinking and trying to not fall asleep.
"Majesty?" Twilight crept into the throne room to see her queen and friend asleep on the throne. Just like her, Twilight
thought as she laughed softly. She stood there for a moment, pondering whether she should wake her friend or just let her sleep. It had been a tiring
day, but... She'll get uncomfortable soon, I guess I should wake her...
But Twilight had no chance to wake her, for, as she was about to shake her gently, Majesty bolted upright with a look of shock on
"No..." the queen said hoarsely; a dark image burned into her mind, one from a nightmare of all nightmares.
Ginseng and Sassafras Tea
by Sugarberry ([email protected])
It was turning into a long night. Hood sat in the quiet cafeteria clutching a cup of strong black coffee. The fact that it tasted terrible
didn't seem to register with him as he continued to gulp the hot brew.
After Bilberry had been turned over to the medical personnel at the hospital for attention, Checker had taken Hood quietly into the
maternity ward to look briefly on his niece. With a lump in his throat and a tear in his eye, Hood looked with wonder at the delicate creature, her tiny
hooves resting lightly on the blanket. "She's gorgeous!" he whispered to Checker, who grinned widely and nodded in agreement.
Checker had returned to his duties while Hood collapsed in the lunchroom looking back over the events of the day. He shook his
head in contemplation. How had such an ordinary day turned into the adventure that ensued?
The sound of hoofsteps caused him to come alert as a nurse guided Shasta into the room. Hood stood up and pulled a chair out for
the weary filly. Shasta hesitated, but finally sat down. The nurse, a white and blue earth pony, brought a mug for her and set the carafe on the table.
"Enjoy," she said in a soft, pleasant voice; and for the first time, Hood noticed her name tag: Angel. He looked quickly at Shasta who met his eyes
briefly, then turned away.
"I'll let you know when your brother is settled in his room," Angel told Shasta before leaving. Her voice had a musical quality that
helped sooth Hood's tired psyche.
When they were alone, Hood studied Shasta's face as she absently stirred her coffee. What was she thinking? he
wondered, yet he hated to disturb her any further by asking pointless questions. He refilled his cup, and compared the exhausted, worried filly before
him with the vivacious, confident pony he had first met earlier in the evening as his benefactor in the heap of rubble at the old farmhouse.
His train of thought reminded him of his battered hip; he finally broke the silence between them. "I never thanked you for your
medical attention after my fall. You have a natural knack for easing pain."
"I learned that from my mother when I was just a foal," she said quietly without raising her gaze from the coffee.
And from his time in the meadow where Sassafras now lay, Hood knew that the mare had been a very special pony; her legacy of
healing now rested with her daughter's talent. He was sure that Shasta would prove herself to be an exemplary care giver.
Hood was about to question Shasta concerning her family when Checker and Searcher came through the doorway. Checker lost no
time in stating his business. "Shasta, you'll have to come down to headquarters for some questioning."
Hood began to complain, but Checker raised his hoof for silence. "We just need a few gaps in the story filled in."
"I'd hoped to stay here to be with Bilberry when the doctor is through with him," Shasta pleaded with the police chief as she stood
to face him. Hood quickly went to her side to lend his support.
"Couldn't this wait until morning, Checker?" Hood asked.
"Hey!" Checker responded. "I'm the good guy, remember? But there are a few questions that need answers yet, and the sooner the
better." He nodded to Searcher, who guided Shasta from the room.
Setting his hoof on Hood's foreleg, Checker softened. "She'll be back soon to see her brother, Hood. I'm not going to lock her up."
He turned to leave, then looked back. "If I were you, I'd go home and get some sleep. You look awful."
Realizing that Checker was probably right, Hood headed for the exit, only to be met by Dreamy coming in.
"You look awful!" she smilingly informed him. Catching sight of his bandaged hip, she suddenly grew serious. "You've been
"Just a scratch," Hood disclosed.
"You never showed up for our date," she reproved.
"I got a little caught up in other things."
"Do I get the story?" she queried as she held up her tape recorder. "I hear that you were instrumental in catching the villain."
Hood shook his head. "Always the reporter, right, Dreamy?" He started around her for the door.
"Can't blame a mare for trying," she grinned. "At least you can give me a few facts." But Hood was already out the door, and on
his way home.
* * *
Hood thought he would sleep until noon when he had crawled into his bed after a quick shower, but he came suddenly awake at
seven and jumped out of bed. His last thought before falling asleep had been Shasta; she had looked so forlorn and friendless when he had last seen
her, and now his first thought was of her. He had to get to the hospital to see how she-- and Bilberry-- were doing.
After grabbing a stale donut and a glass of milk-- no time for coffee!-- he set off for the hospital at a brisk pace. As he walked, he
realized that he would have to buy a gift for Moonglow and the new foal, and he looked forward to holding the little filly for the first time. But his
concern for Shasta and her brother overwhelmed his thoughts, and he began formulating plans to help the siblings in whatever way he could.
Arriving at the hospital, he was pleased to see that Checker was there, too, using the phone in the main lobby. The chief motioned
Hood to wait for him as he finished the call. "Come say good morning to your sister, Hood. She can't wait to see you." As they walked down the
hall, Checker cast a sideways glance at the stallion. "Well, you look cleaner this morning, at least."
They found Moonglow just finishing breakfast; the foal was awake, entranced by the sunbeam flowing through the window. After a
hug for his sister and the explanation of his escapade at the farmstead, Hood went to the bassinet; he picked up the foal gingerly and reveled in the
beauty of the precious newborn.
Suddenly, something came to him. "What's her name?" he asked, realizing he had been too distraught during the night to even
wonder what the foal would be christened.
"Rosebud!" both parents said in unison.
"Perfect," Hood endorsed their decision. The dainty foal in his forelegs was a soft pink color, with darker pink mane and tail. Her
symbol was a pure white rose, just beginning to open, with a lone dewdrop glittering on the petals.
A soft knock at the door was followed by the entrance of Candystripe who worked at the hospital. She took the food tray from
Moonglow and advised the two stallions that Dr. Verve was coming in soon, and possibly the visitor should leave the room-- this said with eyes on
Hood who handed Rosebud to her mother and held the door for Candystripe as she left, and asked her a question once they were in the hallway. "Can
I visit the patient admitted last night-- Bilberry?"
But Checker had followed him from the room. "I knew you wouldn't be able to wait to get the latest news," he grinned. "Wait for
me in the coffee shop, and I'll give you all the details."
Hood followed the corridor until he located the cafeteria where he had sat with Shasta during the night. He picked up a cinnamon
roll and a cup of coffee and chose a table in the back corner. As he ate, he surveyed the other ponies scattered about the room: Some were nurses on
break; one mare with a worried expression on her face was probably awaiting uncertain news about a loved one; a young stallion with a circle of
relatives around him was celebrating the birth of his first foal. Hood was so absorbed in his pastime that he didn't see the stallion approaching his table
until Sparky stood in front of him.
"Waiting for the chief?" the deputy asked as he set his pancake breakfast on the table and seated himself.
"Yes, I am," Hood replied briefly.
"What a night!" Sparky continued. "You got yourself caught in the middle of a sticky situation. How are you doing? You look
kind of haggard."
"You don't look so hot yourself."
Sparky shoveled another forkful of syrup-laden pancake into his mouth. "Haven't slept yet. Waitin' to report to the chief."
Seeing his brother-in-law getting his coffee, Hood said, "He's on his way."
The electric blue stallion dropped heavily into a chair. "I'm bushed!" He took a hefty swallow of coffee, then asked Sparky, "What
did you find out?"
"It's just like you figured. The ginseng farmer over in Trevor admitted that he'd dug-up a big bed of ginseng in that area several
years ago and transplanted it onto his own farm."
"He's the biggest producer of ginseng in the area," Checker added. "That explains how he got his monopoly on the market."
"So what's with this talk of ginseng?" asked a confused Hood, looking from one to the other.
"Shasta told us her dad had planted ginseng on his place before he left. He planned on it maturing-- it takes four years before the
roots can be harvested-- and thought he and the youngsters would be back by then to reap the profits."
Sparky picked up the story at this point. "Things didn't work out as well as they'd hoped when they got settled in Shore Town, and
the dad had to stay longer at his job there."
"So you're saying someone stole the ginseng while they were gone?" Hood interjected.
"The chief sent me over to Trevor early this morning on the hunch that the biggest ginseng grower in these parts might know
something about the matter." Sparky finished off the last of the pancake. "Golden Prairie says he always added to his ginseng beds with wild plants
that grew naturally in the woods around here."
Checker raised an eyebrow. "He didn't stop to consider that this particular ginseng was planted in orderly fields?"
Sparky nodded in agreement. "I thought that, too. But he says that the fields had grown up so in the years during which no one was
there to tend them that he thought he'd walked into the mother lode of wild ginseng."
"So why is this ginseng so important all of a sudden?" Hood wondered out loud.
"Bilberry and Shasta moved back to the home place after Bilberry finished high school this spring. Their dad had died the autumn
before. The two thought the ginseng would be there waiting for them-- get them financially started in their own plans for raising a variety of medicinal
herbs on the farm," Checker filled him in on the details.
"Shasta says her brother took it real bad that his dad's investment in the future for the two of them had been pilfered, so he began
lifting produce from the residents of Woodlawn to try to make up some of the loss," Sparky added.
Checker looked at his deputy's empty plate, and his tired eyes. "Don't you think you should go turn in for a couple hours,
Grinning, Sparky acknowledged that would be a good idea; he pushed back his chair and wished the other two a good day.
"So tell me the rest of the story," Hood prompted when they were alone.
"Bilberry would come into Woodlawn..."
"Why Woodlawn?" Hood questioned. "Why not Trevor?"
Checker enlightened him. "The farm is closer to Woodlawn than to Trevor, so he placed the blame on the residents of Woodlawn.
Plus, the hiking trails that crisscross the farm now are frequented most often by our folks. He made a logical assumption that someone from our fair
town had dug up or otherwise destroyed the inheritance left by his dad."
"So he declared himself the bearer of justice by exacting an equal value of produce from the ponies he saw as guilty?" Hood
questioned. "How'd he unload the stuff?"
"That's where Shasta came in. She took the goods he swiped over to Trevor's farmers' market; that's why no one ever saw
Bilberry. His sister says he grew up with the animals of the woods and learned their ways of stealth and cunning."
"So why the job with the lawn service?" inquired Hood. "Why did he take the chance to go public, so to speak?"
"I need more coffee, Hood," Checker interrupted. "Let me grab you a refill, too, even if it isn't as good as the brew you sell."
When the two stallions were again comfortably ensconced with their coffee, Checker went on.
"Summer was winding down, and Bilberry realized that he and Shasta were ill-prepared to face a winter at the farmstead. Their
sales hadn't brought in the jangles as quickly as he'd hoped. So he figured that a salary from the mowing job would be beneficial, and he could still
collect on his vendetta at the same time."
"I guess it would have worked if Rosy Bells and Laser hadn't noticed some discrepancies that day at your place," Hood surmised.
He sat in contemplation for awhile before asking, "And how's Shasta doing?"
"After our questioning, she wanted to come straight back to her brother. She sat up with him all night, even though he was resting
comfortably. The doctor says his leg will heal with no lasting effects."
"Can I go see them?" Hood spoke up.
"Sure. Why not? You're the closest thing to a friend they've got right now."
"So this is where the victor ends up," commented Hood as he approached the hospital bed where Bilberry-- battered, bruised, and
broken-- lay. His thigh was covered in bandages, his head sported several purplish lumps, and his leg was in a cast.
The dark and hateful eyes glared at Hood, showing no sorrow for past crimes. "I was the victor-- until those rotten stairs
gave out beneath me." His stare, however, faltered under Hood's steady gaze.
Shasta, keeping vigil at his bedside, placed a hoof protectively on Bilberry's foreleg but kept silent. Glancing in her direction, Hood
asked, "Are you okay, Shasta?" The young mare simply nodded her head.
"Your sister has told us of your plan," Hood remarked. "The house and land still belong to your family. Was there really a need for
Bilberry turned away from Hood. He would have rather had faced Hood's anger, not this calm and seemingly concerned
questioning. "My dad's ginseng patch was gone." He turned back to face Hood once more, his anger flaring. "You ponies of Woodlawn destroyed it
for us." He cast a quick glance at Shasta, searching for her support against the perceived enemy.
"The police chief has been checking that out." Hood, too, glanced at Shasta to include her in the exchange of information. "It
appears that the ginseng was dug up by a family in Trevor."
"What right did they have to it?" Bilberry spat.
"None, apparently," answered Hood honestly. "They hunted ginseng in the woods between Woodlawn and Trevor. Finding the
unattended field of it, they assumed it was fair game."
"They assumed wrong!" Bilberry tried to sit up, but the pain forced him to lie back quickly.
"We were gone for six years, Bil-Boy," Shasta rationalized in a hushed voice.
"We had to go where Dad could make more jangles," Bilberry deemed it necessary to explain. "He planned on the ginseng
maturing on its own, to be there for Shasta and I."
"He knew how much we loved the farm," Shasta recalled. "It had been his world since he was a foal; he grew up there and brought
Mom there when they were married. He wanted so much to return someday."
"Why didn't he?" softly prompted Hood, fully knowing the answer but sensing the need for the two ponies to express their feelings
to someone who would listen.
Bilberry could no longer bear up under the events of the last twenty-four hours, and silent tears rolled down his face. Almost
unheard by Hood, he whispered, "He was lost at sea."
"I'm sorry," was all Hood could think of to say.
Shasta explained further, her attention focused on a memory. "When we moved to Shore Town, Dad worked on the waterfront. He
got interested in boats and loved to go out on the water. He said it made him feel free." She sat in silence for a minute, and Hood respected her
grieving. When she could continue, she went on with her story. "One day in late autumn, he went out by himself just to get away from the city for
"He asked me to join him," Bilberry said quietly, "but I told him I wanted to catch a movie that afternoon."
Shasta reached for Bilberry's nearest hoof, and cradled it in her own. "A freak storm came up while he was out on the water-- the
temperature plummeted and the wind blew viciously and snow fell-- it was like a tempest out of place and out of time," she recalled.
"Dad never came back," ended Bilberry. "He never had a chance."
The three ponies in the room sat in silence. Hood's heart went out to this brother and sister who had suffered such sadness; and
when trying to pick up the pieces, they had found their world shattered even further. He searched for the right words to say. He knew they were too
proud for charity, but the pair definitely needed help. "I'm sorry about your dad and losing your mother, too; and that your homecoming to the farm
wasn't what you expected. But don't lose hope. We'll work together to figure something out."
Shasta raised her tired eyes to his. "Will Bilberry be put in jail?" she asked.
"I can't answer that, but I do know that Chief Checker will do all he can to straighten things out."
Bilberry's voice was the next one heard. "Hood," he said almost unwillingly. He took a deep breath and gulped. "Hood... make
sure Shasta's looked out for... okay?"
Hood walked closer to his bedside, and laid a hoof on his shoulder. "I'll make sure you are both looked out for," he promised. He
smiled at Shasta and turned and left the room.
He met Checker as he exited the hospital, the police chief returning to his office after one more look in on his wife and daughter.
"Checker," Hood began," if Bilberry or Shasta need any kind of help, I'm here for them. Keep me informed on any new developments."
"The main concern at this point is a place for Shasta to stay-- Bilberry, too, after a couple days in the hospital," Checker
Hood flashed a quick glance at him. "You mean it? Shasta will be glad to hear that; she's worried that you are going to lock him
up away from her."
"It appears to me that those two just need someone to help get their lives on track."
"I'm going over to talk to Stardrift. Maybe she could put up Shasta for a few days anyway. Bilberry could stay with me."
Checker grinned. "Looks like you got it all figured out."
"Maybe not all, but I'm working on it," Hood admitted.
"If it helps any," Checker confided, "I'm going to suggest to Golden Prairie that he make full reparation for the amount of ginseng
he helped himself to off Meadow Minder's land-- if he replaces the ginseng beds, Bilberry and Shasta will at least have come back to their starting
"And a share of the profits he's made off that ginseng would be appropriate, too," Hood recommended.
"I'll keep that in mind," assured Checker. "I've got to be off now; tell Stardrift to keep those foals of mine in line." With a wave of
his hoof, he parted from Hood.
* * *
It was several weeks later at Hood's Place. William was at the counter with his sassafras tea, debating Hood on the merits of the
newly automated library system. Drumstick's replacement, a forest green stallion with a purple butterfly symbol and a cast on his right back leg, was
waiting on a table at which Dreamy and Marquee sat. All eyes went to the door as Shasta and Angel came in like a breath of fresh air and approached
the counter, each slipping onto a stool on either side of William.
"How's your work at the hospital going?" William asked of Shasta. He had immediately adopted Shasta and Bilberry as his
honorary grandchildren when he had heard their story from Hood.
Angel replied for Shasta. "She's a true ‘Angel of Mercy'; every patient in the hospital wants her for their nurse."
Bilberry came behind the counter to prepare the lunches Dreamy and Marquee had ordered. "Hi, sis!" he brandished a brotherly
smile at Shasta. "Hi, Angel." This last salutation was accompanied by a shy grin.
Hood stood back as the young ponies bantered with William and each other. It's amazing how things work out over time,
he contemplated silently. Feeling content and pleased with his life, he looked out over his domain; what more could he want to make his world
His eyes inadvertently rested on Dreamy; for a moment, their eyes locked. And with one simple wink from her, Hood realized that
life could never be uncomplicated. And would he really want it completely devoid of problems to solve and bridges to build?
That thought needed only a moment's deliberation; some things were worth striving for. With his most enticing smile, Hood winked
The Adventures of Baby North Star and Baby Brother Bright Bouquet
Chapter 6: The Trip Back to England
by Baby Steamer ([email protected])
One evening after dinner, Steamer got up to speak. "Baby North Star," he started, "do you remember the trip we took to
"Yes!" exclaimed Baby North Star. "It was fun."
"Well, Mommy and I don't think we did enough there, so we have decided to go back for a couple of weeks." A loud cheer from
Baby North Star met this. Steamer turned to his wife who was sitting across from Baby North Star. "I don't think she wants to go," he said,
North Star laughed. "No, I don't think she wants to, either," she said.
Baby North Star then asked, "Can I invite Baby Brother Bright Bouquet?"
"It's okay with me," said Steamer, looking at his wife, who nodded. "One of us will probably have to talk to Mama or Daddy
Bright Bouquet, though."
"When are we going?" asked Baby North Star.
"We're thinking of leaving Sunday night," said North Star.
"May I go call Baby Brother Bright Bouquet?" asked Baby North Star.
"Sure, I'll come with you," said North Star.
While they did that, Steamer went to the family computer to see if Taffeta was online, and if so, see if they could meet up again and
maybe do some more touring. Taffeta wasn't online, so Steamer e-mailed her and told her that they were planning another trip to England, and said
when they were leaving and when he thought they'd like to meet up.
By the time he was done, North Star and Baby North Star had talked to Mama and Daddy Bright Bouquet, and Baby North Star
returned smiling. "Hmmm, something tells me Baby Brother Bright Bouquet is coming with us," said Steamer.
"Oh, Daddy, you're so silly," said Baby North Star, giggling.
Baby North Star could hardly wait until Sunday; it was like she was waiting for Christmas or her birthday. It seemed to take forever
to arrive, but finally it did. The family picked up Baby Brother Bright Bouquet on the way to the airport. When they got to the airport, they found
that their flight was leaving on time. They gave their tickets to the agent, and waited while they were processed and received their gate info. Soon they
were at the gate waiting for the plane to start loading.
When they presented their tickets to the gate agent, the pony gave Baby North Star and her sister Sparkle Baby Firefly their very
own wings. They thanked her and went with their parents to the plane. It was a long flight and everyone slept most of the way. When they got to
England, they went to their hotel and slept for a few hours.
When they awoke, Steamer said, "Okay, as you know, we're staying here two weeks, and we'll be seeing Taffeta twice, so hopefully
we'll all see what we want to see." After that, they had lunch in the hotel restaurant. After lunch they all went back up to their room.
Baby North Star, Baby Brother Bright Bouquet, and Sparkle Baby Firefly watched TV while the adults discussed what they wanted
to do while there. North Star said, "I hear they have castles here; I'd like to see some of them."
"And I'd like to go to Wales and see the little trains they have there," said Steamer.
"Okay, why don't we do this– one day we'll see what we want to see; the next we'll see what the children want to see?" suggested
"That's a good idea," said Steamer. "That way we can all see what we want."
That night, at dinner, Steamer and North Star told the children what the plan was; they, too, thought it was a good idea. Taffeta was
coming to the hotel on Wednesday, so Steamer and his family spent the time beforehand getting accustomed to the five-hour time change.
Taffeta came over about ten o'clock on Wednesday morning, and Steamer told her what the plan was and what he and North Star
wanted to do that day. Taffeta took them up to Wales first so that Steamer could see the little railways; he especially liked the steam engines. After
that they went to see some castles. North Star loved how they had been restored to look like they had traveled back to the turn of the century. The
baby ponies loved firing off the air guns at some of them.
At one of the castles they saw a gentleman outside painting portraits of people with the castle in the background. Steamer paid him
some money and they all posed, and tried to hold still so the man could paint them. When the painting was done, Steamer liked it so much he asked
the man if he could copy it, which he could! Steamer gave one of the paintings to Taffeta, and they would take the other one home.
Soon it was time to go back to the hotel and for Taffeta to go home. They had dinner in their room and turned in early. The next
morning they had a breakfast of eggs, tomato, and fried toast and spent the day sightseeing on their own. They had lunch at a nice little restaurant
around the corner from their hotel, and spent the rest of the day doing some more sightseeing.
"When Taffeta takes us sightseeing again, what do you three want to see?" Steamer asked the babies.
"I don't know," said Baby North Star.
"Okay, we'll ask Taffeta what there is that you kids might like."
"Okay, Daddy," said Baby North Star.
The next day Taffeta came over again. "Today we'd like to do what the babies want to do, but we don't really know what there is
that they might like. Do you have any suggestions?" Steamer asked her when she arrived.
"Well, there's a funpark with lots of rides and such up by where the trains that I took you to the other day are. There's also a teddy
bear museum," said Taffeta.
When Taffeta mentioned teddy bears, Baby North Star jumped up and down. "Goody, goody," she said. "I love teddy
"Then teddy bears it is," said Steamer. "Then later we can go to the funpark."
So Taffeta took them to the teddy bear museum, and pointed into another section. "If you two want you can see a Shakespeare play
in there; I'd be happy to stay with the kids."
"That would be great," said North Star. So she and Steamer went to see the play, and Taffeta and the baby ponies went around the
museum. Then they spent the rest of the day at the funpark, where Baby North Star won a plush Pikachu which she gave to Taffeta, knowing she
loved Pokemon; but soon it was time for them to go back to the hotel, and Taffeta to go home again.
The rest of the trip went by pretty quickly and soon they were packing up for their trip back to the States. "I will definitely
remember this trip," said Baby North Star.
"Yes, I think the rest of us will, too," said Steamer. And with that they finished packing and went to bed early.
The author would like to thank his friend, Taffeta for the idea for this story.
by Sugarberry ([email protected])
"I'm having second thoughts about this," muttered Vanguard as he and Wigwam prepared to go on a winter trek into the Dark
"Come on; you'll be glad you did."
Vanguard frowned down at the snowshoes he was fastening to his hooves. "I've only been on these things once before," he
complained. "And now you expect me to hike all the way to Butch's cabin?"
"Manitou needs the exercise. Besides, with all the snow we've been getting, it's a perfect time to do this." Wigwam stood up,
snowshoes in place, and called for Manitou. The big grey wolf came bounding across the snowy landscape, stopping at Wigwam's side and raising a
shower of the newest snowflakes that had fallen overnight.
Admiring the striking animal, Vanguard smiled. "He's a beauty. Sugarberry says he's always on his best behavior when he comes
into the vet clinic."
"I suppose she wouldn't say that about me."
Vanguard grinned. "I believe she said Elaine feels safer turning her back to Manitou than to you."
"Ha!" Wigwam scoffed. "Elaine doesn't trust any stallion! And besides, she has nothing to fear from me... I'm not getting involved
with any mares after getting dumped by Chocolate Chip."
"I'm sorry that happened."
"Not nearly as sorry as I am." Wigwam glanced at Vanguard. "Are you all set?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Vanguard stated uncertainly, trying to keep himself balanced as he took the first few steps. He was
concentrating so hard on getting the feel of the unaccustomed hoofwear that he didn't notice Manitou playfully loping toward him; when the wolf was
nearly upon him, Vanguard looked up to see the wild furry beast headed straight for him and tried to sidestep him which caused the stallion to topple
over in a jumbled mix of hooves and snowshoes. Manitou swerved at the last second, always in full control of his movements. He stopped several
yards from Vanguard and looked at the downed pony with a gleeful expression on his face.
Laughing, Wigwam came to lend his friend a helping hoof. "Come on, Van. This is no time to be sittin' around!"
Once righted and with his shoed hooves firmly planted on the sparkling snow, Vanguard was finally ready to follow Wigwam away
from the city across the covered land; large amounts of snow had fallen this winter-- more than normal-- and the white flakes had piled themselves into
undulating drifts of brightness that spread as far as one could see until they met the barrier of trees that signaled the start of the Dark Forest.
The two stallions crossed the pristine miles with Manitou bounding like a playful pup, taking himself in carefree abandon wherever
his whim directed him. Sometimes he would circle his traveling companions; other times he would run away so far that he would become only a dark
spot against the never-ending whiteness, only to turn and come charging back to touch base with his equine comrades.
Breathing deeply of the cold, fresh air, Wigwam pointed to an opening at the fringe of the forest. "Butch's place is just beyond those
tall evergreens; think you can make it?"
"I've got the hang of it now," Vanguard replied. "No problem." They soon covered the distance and entered the relatively sheltered
forest. Here the snow had been held back by the spreading branches of majestic evergreens and the bare shoots of innumerable lower-growing bushes
of various kinds.
They found Butch hard at work splitting firewood; he stopped when he saw his visitors and came forward to greet them. "Just what
I need... wood haulers."
Vanguard took note of the stack of neatly placed firewood already looming next to the cabin. "How much of this stuff do you go
"Lots, when the winter is as cold and blustery as this one," Butch replied.
Just then, all three stallions stopped to watch a confrontation between Manitou and Butch's high-strung pet duck, the mallard-like
rouen named Quackers. The drake had taken offence at the appearance of the wolf, and had lowered his feathered head in its drab winter plumage
aggressively while quacking loudly.
Manitou, enjoying the challenge from the feisty little creature, dropped his front end low to the ground as if mimicking the duck, his
nose resting in the snow between his huge paws, his tail waving high in the air.
The posture only seemed to infuriate the duck, who charged the wolf. This made the episode more entertaining than ever for
Manitou; he jumped to a new position, his tail verifying his amusement.
"Doesn't that duck realize that Manitou could swallow him whole?" Wigwam asked in disbelief.
"That duck is spunky," Butch admitted. "There's nothing he won't take on."
Quackers, either realizing the futility of his endeavor or growing tired of the energetic wolf, waddled his webbed way over to where
the ponies stood and began shuffling his bill through the snow searching for something to eat; bits of wood chips seemed to please him, and he lost all
interest in Manitou who, in turn, went on to explore the sights and smells of Butch's homestead.
"You guys help me stack what I've got cut, and I'll warm up some apple cider for ya'." Butch bargained.
"It's a deal," Vanguard replied, looking forward to a chance to sit down for awhile.
After the wood stacking, all three ponies were ready for a break. The interior of Butch's cabin was simple, but warm and snug.
Butch heated the spicy cider over his log fire, and offered them some applesauce bars topped with creamy frosting.
"You're becoming quite a baker, Butch. I thought you stuck to the bare essentials," Wigwam observed.
"Sparkler made these," Butch admitted. "She seems to think I'd starve out here without her donations."
"Sounds like Sugarberry," Vanguard and Wigwam stated simultaneously.