Luna huddled at the bottom of the hot air balloons basket. She couldn't go home now. Celestia would make fun of her forever. Luna sighed and sat up again. Maybe her sister would be happy that she was out and about having fun? Luna thought for a moment, hopeful. No, her sister would only make fun of her. Luna hung her head pulling her ears down. 'How embarassing,' she thought.
"Luna? Luna, are you okay in there?" Luna could hear Rainbow Dash calling her so she pulled herself to her hooves and looked around for the rainbow maned pegasus.
Dash was flying circles around the hot air balloon and in her arms, hoof to hoof, was one brightly colored earth pony with a huge grin across her face. Rainbow Dash flew in close to the balloon and practically dumped Pinkie Pie inside the basket with Luna.
"Well hello again Princess Luna!" Pinkie cheered, her landing position slightly awkward.
Luna smiled shyly and looked around the basket nervously. "So guess what princess!" the pink pony said. Luna wondered if Pinkie Pie was going to tell her outright but from the grin and expecting eyes on the pink pony Luna realized that she was going to have to guess.
"Well... uhm... I'm not exactly sure." Luna said unsure of her words. "Does it have something to do with flying?"
"That's right!" Pinkie shouted as she bounced for joy. "You're going flying!"
Luna stared at her curiously as she chuckled. "But I thought I already was flying."
"No, silly. You ARE flying but you're also GOING flying."
Luna tilted her head in confusion at the grinning pink pony who began to bounce closer to her. The bouncing sort of made Luna... nervous.
"Come on, Luna! Pinkie you need to get the balloon higher. Come up to this cloud!" Rainbow Dash yelled from somewhere above the balloon.
"Okie doki loki!" Pinkie said with a smile before pulling the cord to the heater on the balloon. Fire rocketed upwards into the balloon and heated the air within sending the contraption soaring higher.
"WHEEE!" Pinkie Pie cheered as the balloon shot upwards as Luna clutched the basket tightly with her hooves in hope that she wouldn't fall out as the pink earth pony suddenly became captain.
Having reached the cloud where Rainbow Dash hovered the balloon slowed down and came to a gentle stop. Dash landed on the edge of the basket and offered a hoof to the cowering Luna. Luna wasn't too sure about all of this but the confident gaze of the rainbow maned mare gave her strength. Taking the outstretched hoof, Luna was lift up to the edge of the basket. Dash flared her wings and gave Luna a wink. "You ready?"
Not at all... Luna thought. But she held tight to her friends hoof and together they fell from the side of the balloons basket. Luna opened her wings and managed to keep up in time with Rainbow Dash who had slowed her usual pace to make sure Luna was comfortable.
Luna took in the sensation of the cool air over her wings and through her mane as they flew. She had never really been able to enjoy it before and now for some reason she was no longer scared. Instead she felt confident in her wings for the first time. She smiled at Rainbow Dash.
"You think you can do this on your own?" Dash asked, her voice muted due to the sound of the passing wind.
Luna took in a breath then nodded. She didn't want to let Rainbow Dash down after all she had gone out of her way to help her out his much.
Her friends hoof left her own and she found herself flying solo. Her altitude dropped a bit but she pumped her wings faster and managed to maintain her path. Even with the distance and the wind rushing past her ears she could still manage to hear the cheering of Pinkie Pie from the balloon.
Rainbow Dash took off spiraling and showing off her moves a bit, clearing out the clouds as they went. Luna smiled and took in the complete sensation of flying. She was thankful that she was able to spend time with ponies that she was able to say were her friends. Luna hoped that she would be able to share many new experiences with these ponies after all, she had never been happier.
Luna's smile faded a little when she noticed Rainbow Dash hovering a few feet in front of her. She managed to stop herself and keep herself from falling. Hovering next to her friend in the same manner she smiled and looked towards her friends face. Rainbow Dash looked frightened.
"Hey... what's wrong?" Rainbow Dash only lifted a hoof and pointed out into the distance and Luna's gaze followed, her eyes growing wide at the sight of the Everfree forest set ablaze. The smoke rose high in the sky completely covering Ponyville. Pinkie Pies balloon had soon caught up and Luna could hear the gasp of the pink pony.
"Rainbow Dash..." Pinkie said with a low frightened tone. "Fluttershy is in the Everfree forest."
Rainbow Dash snapped around. "What?!"
"She said she was going there today to help Zecora out with moving some of the forest animals to a new home."
Rainbow Dash looked off into the distance again before taking off at full speed, leaving Luna and Pinkie far behind.
"Rainbow Da-!" Luna began but Pinkie Pie had put a hoof on her shoulder.
"Let her get ahead and see what she can do. Let's just worry about getting ourselves there."
Pinkie seemed very serious for once and Luna wasn't about to question her. She nodded and hopped into the balloon and together they set course for the orange blaze before them.
Rainbow Dash flew as fast as her wings would take her towards the Everfree forest. If Fluttershy was really in there right now Dash knew that she would be panicking and not be able to escape. Her wings flapped harder and she dove down under the clouds of black thick smoke towards the forest floor. All of the wildlife was in distress as they fled from the flames. Dash was the only one charging in.
She dodged around trees and fallen branches towards Zecora's house that lay deep in the forest. A flock of sprites clouded her vision for a moment as they flew past and that distracting second led Dash to slam right into a fallen branch. She hit the floor hard and slid a few feet but was back up in the air almost instantly. Her wings ached but she had already caught the first glimpse of the strangely decorated house that was completely encased in flames.
Rainbow Dash rushed to the door which looked as if it had been broken down and made her way inside. Everything was overturned and in dismay and the walls were slowly being licked by the orange glow.
"FLUTTERSHY! ZECORA!" She yelled out even though no pony was to be seen inside the house. She ran back outside and looked around. "FLUTTERSHY! ZECORA!"
The only reply was the sound of the forest burning around her. Hoofprints caught her gaze that led off on a small path that seemed to follow the flames. It was her only lead. Because of the heat distorting the air and how close the flames were Rainbow Dash couldn't risk burning the feathers upon her wings and so she took completely to her quickest hoofed pace.
The path that was engulfed by flames opened up into the forests bog. Many of the animals had come to take refuge here but no pony or zebra was to be seen. Rainbow Dash looked around frantically. The flames had passed through here scorching the small pieces of land scattering the bog. It seemed as if where she followed the trail a trail of flames followed. She decided to leave it to chance and ran off in pursuit of the flames and scorched earth.
The balloon slowly hovered over the burning forest, its two passengers riding in silence. Their eyes were trained on the blaze in hopes of spotting their blue coated friend or perhaps, their yellow one. Pinkie tapped the shoulder of the alicorn and pointed off towards where the flames seemed to part in the forest giving enough room for a landing. Luna nodded and they began to make their descent. The balloon cautiously avoided the flames and touched town upon soft mud within the Everfree forest bog. Luna couldn't believe how many animals there were surrounding her, most of them sitting within the water for safety.
Pinkie was already out of the balloon as soon as it touched down frantically trying to see if any of the animals had seen a pony.
"Have you seen a pegasus pony around here? She's yellow or well she could also be blue and we need to find either of them! Has anyone seen them?" Pinkie was rushing around asking the birds and rabbits and the squirrels, any animal she could find. They all ran from her as she approached, already frightened from the blaze. Pinkie was about to give in but suddenly she felt a small tap on her leg. Looking down she was greeted by a familiar white rabbit.
"ANGEL!" The rabbit began to jump around making motions and gestures to Pinkie.
"Whoa whoa slow down there a minute. Uhuh... Okay.... Oh I see... Got it." She turned towards Luna as the white rabbit jumped up onto her back. "I know where they went!"
"That's great, let's go." Luna said, ready to aid her friends.
"Well... there's a problem. A BIG problem..." Pinkie Pie exchanged a glance with Angel before lowering her head almost as if she was fearful before returning her gaze to Luna.
Rainbow Dash stopped cold in her tracks. Upon the hill high above the ground before her she could see Zecora standing her ground with Fluttershy's limp form laying across her back as she faced the beast down eye to eye as there was no where left to run. The large dragon reared its head up again and let loose a stream of flames across the earth around where Zecora stood.
"Horrid beast, cease your attack! These critters are not your snack!" Zacora was trying to reason with the dragon but its rage seemed to great. Another spout of flames poured from its jaws across the land. Rainbow quickly took to the skies and up to where Zecora was. The zebra seemed a bit relieved that she was no longer alone. Fluttershy lay unconscious upon her back with bruising along her own as if she had been smacked away by the huge beast.
"We must form a plan for fear that those dragons attacks may land." Zecora's words were only vaguely understood by Rainbow Dash but she seemed like she got the basic idea. Suddenly, from the forest emerged two familiar mares. Spotting Pinkie Pie below she thought of something.
"Pinkie!" She yelled. "Quick, be a distraction!" The pink pony seemed caught off guard for a moment before jumping up and down causing all sorts of noise to hopefully pull the gaze of the dragon away from her friends.
"HEY! LOOK OVER HERE! HEY YOU BIG DRAGON LOOK THIS WAY! DO YOU LIKE CUPCAKES? YOU SHOULD COME AND TRY THEM AND LEAVE MY FRIENDS ALONE!"
Luna looked upon the massive red dragon with awe and fright. It's large blue spines travelled completely down its back to its tail. Its wings were folded in against its back but there was no doubt that the dragon could take flight with grace and power. It wasn't too long after Pinkie began to yell at the dragon all sorts of things that it turned its large head to face them. Pinkies antics stopped and she gulped unsure of what to do now. The dragon reared up in preparation for another stream of fire.
"RUN!" They heard Rainbow Dash yell and Pinkie and Luna both managed to dodge out of the way of the flames. The heat blew past them, ruffling their coats and sending a chill up their spines.
With the dragons gaze separated from them Rainbow Dash and Zacora began to quickly move to a safer location. Rainbow grasped Fluttershy in her hooves and was lowering her down the cliff through the air. Zecora wasn't too far behind, leaping from ledge to ledge with ease.
Luna quickly made her way over to Rainbow Dash as Pinkie Pie decided to continue to be a distraction with Angel trying to help her out as well.
Rainbow Dash carefully lay Fluttershy upon the ground and landed beside her trying to wake her up.
"Come on Fluttershy, now's not the time to be sleeping!"
"Please wake up," Luna said, trying to be helpful. After a few moments of encouragement from both of them Fluttershy began to open her eyes. "Oh dear..." she said lightly.
"What happened?" The yellow pony asked quietly as she moved into a sitting position.
"That's what we'd like to know Fluttershy. Is your back okay? It looks like you're hurt." Rainbow observed.
"Huh?" The yellow mare looked at her back for a moment. "Oh no, that's just dirt. I must have fallen into some mud when I got hit with the potion."
"Potion?" Both Luna and Dash asked simultaneously.
"Oh yes, see there was this dragon and Zecora tried to put it to sleep with some of her home made potions but I accidentally got hit with it too and before I knew it I was asleep."
"But why was Zecora trying to put the dragon to sleep in the first place?" Dash asked.
"Well because the dragon was scaring all the animals and burning down parts of the forest to make a nest. I fear that the dragon is upset that we tried to stop him from making his home."
"You think?" Rainbow Dash said before turning Fluttershy's head to view the dragon spitting flames around the dancing distracting pink pony.
"Oh no..." Fluttershy gasped quietly. "Rainbow we need to stop him from destroying the forest or else none of the animals will have homes anymore."
"I think our first concern should be OURSELVES!"
The ponies and Zecora dodged out of the way of an onslaught of flames as Pinkie ran past them.
They grouped together once they could. "We must form a plan, save the land while we still can." The zebra recommended.
"Zecora's right." Fluttershy said. "We can't just let the dragon destroy it."
"Watch out!" Pinkie Pie yelled but it was already too late as the dragon swung its tail and landed a blow upon the unsuspecting Rainbow Dash, sending the mare flying. The pegasus hit the ground hard and the other ponies gasped before quickly rushing over to surround and protect their friend.
The ponies quickly began to discuss their options as Zecora checked over Rainbow Dash as Pinkie Pie kept an eye on the raging dragon. Luna was in dismay. Her friend was injured and her other friends were in danger. She felt like she should do something to help. But what...? She looked down upon the battered form of her rainbow maned friend and she could feel the tears building up within her eyes. This was her land and these were her friends. She wasn't going to stand by any longer and let anyone take those things from her.
She faced the dragon with a new bout of courage. These were her friends behind her. Rainbow Dash, the pony that first gave her the hope of being able to make her wish come true. Pinkie Pie, a fun loving pony who helped out along the way to help her fly and risked her own life to distract the dragon. Fluttershy, the pony that was worried more about everypony else and all of the animals than herself. Luna too was worried not just about her friends but about the flames and the threat of them reaching Ponyville, the town that she ruled over with her sister and the town that she loved to stare down upon every night. There was so much at risk and Luna decided that she would have to use it.
Her breath slowed and her eyes focused as her horn began to glow. The air around her shifted and her wings opened to steady herself. Her magic began to condense and grow and as it did her royal cutie mark began to glow as did her eyes themselves. The mutters and chatter of her friends behind her had ceased as they all watched on in awe. The dragon sneered and reared up again firing another blast but Luna was ready, sending out a magical pulse that ripped through the flames like butter.
The rocks and leaves upon the ground around Luna began to fly up into the air as the currents around her swirled due to her concentrated magic. The dragon aimed and fired once more and Luna again countered it. The red dragon scoffed and roared, bearing its fangs at Luna. It's massive leathery wings opened up wide and took the massive creature to the sky. It had met its match and its experience let it know it had been defeated. It disappeared off into the distance but not before another howling roar struck the ponies ears.
The ponies began to cheer but Luna wasn't done yet. She couldn't let the flames reach Ponyville. She wouldn't. Her magic withdrew into her body and then exploded sending off rings of magical energy of unimaginable proportions across the forest dousing the flames as it went. The purple cloud of almost smoke like rings were like droplets on water. Ring after ring was created and they expanded quickly outwards at the tree top level. Luna stood focusing in the center of the blasts, the air around her and her friends swirled around them as if they stood within an impressive storm. The crackling sound of the heated wood and the hissing sound of quelled flames filled the air as the orange glow disapated and disappeared.
Luna's body trembled as the magic left her and she fell to a knee as she cut off her magical ability.
The forest was quiet as her friends behind her were too in awe to say a word.
Even the crackling of the forest has silenced.
The only sounds that remained were the sounds of Luna's staggered breath as she caught it before pulling herself back up onto her hooves. She turned and faced her friends with a tired gaze and as they gave her their smiles and smiled lightly back before the darkness overcame her and she was lost to it, her body falling to the ground completely exhausted.
"Luna, are you okay?"