by Mysterious Stranger

Chapter 2: Chapter 2: Twilight Sparkle likes making slide presentations

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Black spots danced in Night Mist's vision as the lassos choked him. Out of the corner of his vision he saw more ropes restraining Frazzle Spark's legs. Evidently he had tried to jump up and save his friend. The laughter of the bandits were muffled by the roar of adrenaline in his head as Night Mist struggled uselessly against his bonds. Night Mist reflected that he had always assumed that if he were to die prematurely, it would at the hands of some criminal who didn't want to get caught. But these bandits, they could have easily gotten away. They were simply killing him of spite of his profession.

Suddenly several passengers jumped up from their seats and started beating on the ring of bandits that had surrounded Night Mist. The bandits had been so caught up in watching Night Mist choke to death they had neglected to pay enough attention to everypony else. Now relieved of the tension around his throat, Night Mist took a moment to breath freely before he reared up on his hind legs and joined the attack along with Frazzle Spark. With the advantage of numbers it only took all the passengers in the car a few minutes to defeat them.

"Stop!" Night Mist called out hoarsely as the passengers continued to trample the downed bandits. "That's enough! any more and they might die!"

It took several more painful shouts from Night Mist before all the passengers stopped beating on the now unconscious bandits. Before too long the would-be train robbers were tied up with their own ropes and bull whips and placed in the middle of the car.

"We totally just took down a bunch of crooks!" exclaimed one teenage colt as he bro-hoofed with his friend.

Night Mist tried to ask if everyone was alright but he was too busy trying to breath normally. Several of the passengers had been bruised but there were no serious injuries. After all the valuables were restored to their owners many of the ponies helped move Sharp Wing to a seat and push a giant rock off the tracks before they all returned to their places and erupted into excited chatter that lasted the rest of the trip.

When they finally arrived in Canterlot the bandits were taken into custody by the royal guard and Sharp Wing's still unconscious body was moved to a spare bedroom in the palace. Night Mist and Frazzle Spark were waiting for Sharp Wing to wake up when Twilight Sparkle entered the room.

"I heard you had a pretty rough trip up here," she smiled.

"That's a bit of an understatement. I nearly died," scoffed Night Mist.

"I nearly lost my orange saddle bags forever," added Frazzle Spark.

"I think my roughness tops yours Frazzle," said Night Mist flatly.

"I would have to agree with Night Mist." Twilight chuckled. "I take it you got my letter?"

"I did indeed. I came here as fast as I could."

"I don't think you ever told me or Sharp Wing what's going on," recalled Frazzle Spark.

"I didn't give Night Mist the whole story in my letter," apologized Twilight. "After Sharp Wing wakes up I'll get all three of you up to speed alright?"

"Sounds good," laughed Frazzle Spark. "He's going to be mad enough he missed most of what happened on the train. No need to make him made even angrier for missing the briefing."

A few hours later Night Mist, Frazzle Spark, and a miserable Sharp Wing were gathered in a dark room with Twilight working a projector.

"About one week ago Princess Luna sent me a letter saying she needed my help," began Twilight as a picture of Princess Luna appeared.

Frazzle Spark raised his hoof.

"Um, yes Frazzle?"

"Are the slides really necessary?" he asked.

"Yes they are. Trust me, it gets more complicated. Besides, I like making slide presentations."

"Just wondering. Carry on."

"In her letter Princess Luna informed me that Princess Celestia had become very sick. Many doctors and wizards had tried to heal her but they couldn't find find out what was wrong with her. My friends and I came to Canterlot right away to help."

A Picture of Twilight and her five best friends appeared. Frazzle Spark raised his hoof again.

"What is it Frazzle?" Twilight sighed.

"I thought alicorns couldn't get sick."

"They can get sick, they just can't grow old or die of age."

"Oh okay. Carry on."

"Right. Anyway, once we arrived I made a healing potion from a recipe Zecora gave me and gave the potion to Princess Celestia."

Frazzle Spark raised his hoof a third time.

"Now what Frazzle?"

"If alicorns never grow old does that mean Cadence will still look young by the time your brother is very old?"

"I don't know, I guess so. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Just curious. Carry on."

"Pay more attention Fraz, this is where things start to get tricky." Night Mist admonished his friend.

Twilight put a picture of Princess Celestia on the wall.

"Thank you, Night Mist. So I gave Princess Celestia the potion and surprise! It worked and she got better."

Frazzle Spark tried to raise his hoof again but Sharp Wing grabbed both of his front legs and pinned them down.

"At first we thought everything would be okay." Twilight Sparkle continued. "But within an hour she was even more sick then before. This became a cycle that lasted a week. She got sick, we gave her a potion, she felt better, even more sick in less then an hour. We found the only exception to this was if we gave her a potion right before she went to bed. Then she would sleep peacefully and sickness free all night long. Then in the morning she would be sick again and continue to get worse and worse."

"What are the symptoms of her illness?" asked Night Mist.

"All of them. congestion, fatigue, sore throat, vomiting, stuff like that."

"Have you checked the food she eats for poison or magical tampering?"

"I have. water and drinks too. all clean."

"Have you tried curse lifting on Princess Celestia?"

"That too. Neither the wizards, me, or Princess Luna could detect a spell on her but we tried it anyway. Same results as the potion, temporary relief. After trying all that nopony knew what to do next, so I figured it would take a pony who actually had a cutie mark for solving mysteries to solve this one and sent for you."

Twilight rapidly went through the rest of the slides, which were pictures of the symptoms, giving of the potions, and curse lifting attempts.

"And that's pretty much it," she finished.

"So where is Princess Celestia now?" asked Sharp Wing.

"She's still trying to do her royal duties. the potions take time to make, but we have wizards consistently providing relief. They won't be able to keep it up forever though."

"Well Twilight Sparkle, you've already ruled out several possibilities. With all you've done I expect it won't take long for me to find the answers we need," Night Mist predicted.

"Thank you, I trust you can do it time," Twilight Sparkle said gracefully.

"So what's our first move?" inquired Sharp Wing.

"Well for starters, I'm going to need at least thirty cups of coffee," Night Mist replied as if it were a normal request.

"What the hay are you going to need thirty cups of coffee for?" exclaimed Frazzle Spark.

Night Mist was glad the room made it too dark for the others to read his face. The best course of action he could think of would sound ridiculous, and he wasn't sure he could both look and sound professional enough to convince them to let him go through with it.

"So I can watch Princess Celestia sleep all night long of course," he responded flatly.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3: I can explain! Estimated time remaining: 35 Minutes
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