The chilling winds were blowing against the windows rattling the shutters on the store windows. Inside a small stone oven was keeping the worse of the cold from getting in into the building. The shop owner was slowly and methodically restocking the candy shelves with a stoic expression. Inside he was raging about the injustice of it all. All day ponies had been running into his store tracking dirt and snow into his nice clean store. The foals kept knocking over candy and products in their mad rush to grab as much as possible. He dreaded this time of the year, everyone kept rushing into the store and trying to grab as much as possible, as fast as possible. He had already needed to repair the door six times. He sighed as he saw another pony rush into his store and start pulling items off the shelves. Slowly walking to to the counter he watched as pony started to pile up items on the his counter before she looked up with a smile.
"Hi. Rare Find. Isn't it a great Hearth's Warming Eve?" asked the mare.
Rare Find just grunted "What's so great about it?"
"Oh come on just look around. The snow has covered the ground making everything so white, ponies go around hugging and cuddling with each other, and everypony is more friendly to everypony." said the mare.
"Bah!, it's so cold out your hooves becomes blocks of ice before you're ever halfway home and then when you do get home you got to clean up all the puddles of melted water so you get tired. Ponies keep grabbing you from behind and rubbing themselves all over you rather than just leaving you alone, no matter how many times you ask them to stop."
"What's got you in such a grumpy grumpiness Mr. Grumpy?"
"I don't want to talk about it Lily, now would you like paper or canvas for your purchases?" sighed Rare Find.
Lily just pouted "Come on, Findy you can tell me what is the problem."
Rare Find sighed "Please take your purchases and leave, I need to close up shop soon. The mayor declared a half shopping day, so I have to close up shop whether I want to or not."
Lily took her packages and quickly walked out of the store. Rare Find quickly cashed himself out and locked down the windows and doors. He tightly wrapped his scarf around his face and pulled his balaclava down as tightly as he could trying to keep the biting wind from hitting him. When he approached the town fountain two ponies in hats greeted him.
"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Find," said a large amber stallion, taking out a saddle bag, "it is more than usually usual that we should give a small bit of aid to those who are poor and unable to provide cheer at the present time."
Rare just grunted and stared at the two ponies.
The lilac pegasus smiled at him "A few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the poor souls some toys and hard candies. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when harmony and togetherness are important. What shall I put you down for?"
Rare shook his head "Nothing."
"You don't want to donate?"
"Mr. Rich, Ms. Flitter, I donate a portion of my bits every May. I make sure to plan for it months in advance and carefully store the bits for the donation. I am satisfied with what I can do" answered Rare Find.
"Don't you want to give a smile to some little children this season?" asked Filthy Rich.
"I can't afford to make merry myself at Eve and I can't certainly afford to make other ponies merry." said Rare Find. "I just want to go home with my family but they are too far away for me."
Rare Find pushed his way past the two shocked ponies towards his small humble home. The fireplace was soon stoked and with a warm meal in him, Rare took a family album from his shelf and flipped through the pages looking at the happy members of his family at their home, he wished Ponyville transit had not raised the train rates thus keeping him from visiting for the holidays, but such was the way of the world.
He was beginning to get comfortable when a loud bang and bright purple flash stunned him momentarily. In front of Rare Find was a blue earth pony with a grey mane. On the flank was a drawing of a rainbow tapped onto what appeared to be a pink star. He looked carefully and could see the purple roots at the base of the mane and tail. The pony was standing in the middle of his room dressed in a torn up cloak with green stains. The mane had been styled to look ragged and dirty. Wrapped around his body was thick iron chain connected to chests, boxes, padlocks, and heavy weights wrought in steel. The pony was levitating in a purple glow coming from his forehead.
"What do you doing here Twilight, and why are you dressed like that?"
"In life I was your partner, Rainbow Swoop."
"There are so many things wrong with that statement. Rainbow Swoop isn't dead, he is a pegasus not an earth pony, and he and I have never even worked together, we barely even know each other" said Rare Find.
"You don't believe in me." said the chained spirit.
"No I really don't, I can even see your mane's real colour. You haven't even disguised your voice."
Twilight raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with a dismal and appalling noise.
"Why are you here?" asked Rare in a dour voice.
Twilight began to float again and let out a raspy voice "I wear the chain of my life, I forged it link by link with every unkindness I showed, every harsh word I spoke."
"That one says Made in Fillydelphia and has the NAIW symbol on it" said Rare pointing to one of the chests floating in front of him.
"Your chain is much longer and much heavier than mine ever was, you must learn to make ponykind your business, must show generosity, mercy, forbearance, and kindness. You must let go of the hate that is consuming you. You will be visited tonight by three spirits who will help you to feel harmony again."
"If I say yes do you promise to leave my home right now?" sighed Rare Find.
"My time is nearly gone, Expect the first when the clock strikes ten, the third shall come when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate."
"What about the second one?" asked Rare Find smugly.
"Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!" shouted Twilight before she loudly teleported away.
Rare Find sighed before setting all the papers that had been scattered back on his table "I swear, ever since Twilight came here no pony can get a moment's rest, monsters coming in every other day, spells being casts all over the place with no regard for others. Making all of us do whatever she wants us to do, exactly how she wants it. Oh well can't fight it now; I just hope this doesn't end to painfully for me."
Rare Find looked at the clock at the minute hand began to creep closer to the top of his clock counting down to ten a clock and his first home invasion of the night.
"I wonder who it will be, Pinkie Pie always seems to be able to get in when she wants to, Rainbow Dash has a habit of breaking into a place when she wants to, and Rarity can move like a shadow if she chooses to.
The clock struck ten and a dark presence pushed open his window and slammed into the floor leaving a dents. 'GREETINGS RARE FIND I AM THE SPIRIT OF HEARTH'S WARMING PAST!"
Rare find looked at what was clearly a large dark blue alicorn wearing a bed sheet with holes cut into it, it wasn't quite long enough to over the silver shoes she wore on her hooves. "OK, not any of her friends."
"I HAVE COME TO SHOW YOU THINGS THAT ARE OF THE PAST SO THAT YOU MIGHT KNOW WHAT YOUR FUTURE WILL HOLD."
"You don't have to shout, I am right here in front of you" said Rare Find.
"COME WITH ME TO the window" said the spirit as she walked to the opened window, accidentally hitting her horn on the top of it.
Rare Find walked over to his window and looked out at the night sky, the moon and stars was clearly able to be seen in the night sky "Beautiful night out tonight, The Princess of the Night has outdone herself this time" said Rare Find with a slight smirk.
The Spirit let of a short sound of glee and a small hop, before getting herself back in control again "We shall be flying tonight."
"It might have past your notice oh great spirit of the past, whose sapphire blue tail is poking out of her costume. But I'm not a pegasus."
The tail quickly disappeared under the white sheet "Just touch my robe and you shall be lifted up. We go now."
Rare Find shrugged and plopped his hoof right on the spirit's flank, seeing the shock travel over her body before he was lifted up and pulled through the window by a blue magical aura.
Rare and pulled into the clouds and spun around before he found himself landing in a grassy field dominated by a brick school house with foals hopping around a playground.
"You took me to my primary school?" asked Rare Find.
"Look and what do you see" said the alicorn spirit pointing to an elm tree.
Rare looked and saw a younger self hauling heavily leaden saddle bags while holding a pomegranate in his mouth. "I believe this is the day that I slipped and fell in the mud while trying to get to school."
Rare watched as his younger self stumbled and feel forward sending that papers in his saddle bags out and scattering his homework across the ground. The foals in the playground began to laugh as Rare Find tried to gather all of the papers before the wind took them away.
"I never did manage to find all of them, and the ones I could were so covered in mud, you could only barely read them; destroyed my grade point average. I had to spend so many weekends doing extra credit to get back up to the top of the class. I don't suppose you could let me help myself? Now I can collect and clean them up in a snap."
"These are but shadow of that which has been," said the spirit. "It has no consciousness of us."
"What is that suppose to mean?" asked Rare Find with a raised eyebrow.
"No you can't change it, that would be bad" said the spirit "What I have you learned by this?"
Rare Find looked to see one of the foals in his class pick up a sheet and fold it into a paper airplane before throwing it away. "Umm...foals are jerks?"
"No, if you had just been willing to ask for help then you could have saved your project and gained new friends."
"I did ask them for help, they just continued to laugh at it me" said Rare find with a sigh "Can we wake up now, I don't like this nightmare."
"We have much more to see" said the spirit before the clouds once again covered the area then parted to reveal a train station."
"This is when you fled your family in the name of business" said the spirit as she pointed towards a Rare Find lifted his bags onto a waiting train.
"I don't regret my choice, It was a remarkable deal, I small town business owner selling his store and all the stock so he could move to a warm retirement. All I needed was a business loan and I was all set, managed to pay it off in three years. If only we had not suffered the recent recession I would be expanding."
"Is business all that you care about Mr. Find, what of family and friends?"
"I send letters to the family every month and visits friends at least thrice a week, I am content with what I have."
Rare watched as his parents and sister hugged him goodbye, he felt tears in his eyes as he reached out to touch them but found that he could not.
"Can we go now, seeing my family only to know that I can not hug them is not raising my spirits" sighed Rare Find turning to the bed sheet spirit.
"I told you these are shadows of the things that have been." said the spirit. "THAT THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE, DO NOT BLAME ME!"
"You reach into my dream, pulling out my private memories and broadcast them at me knowing how I will react, how is that not something I can blame you for? You're the guardian of dreams, you're supposed to protect me from things like this" said Rare firmly pointing towards the vision of his family waving goodbye to him as the train departed.
Clouds began to spin around and blind him before he found himself back in his room, laying on the floor. His window the locked and locked, but he could still see the dents that Luna had left when she had landed.
Rare looked down to see there was a puddle of drool on the floor. "She could have at least made sure my body landed in a dignified manner" grunted Rare Find as he wiped his mouth at stood up.
"And to think I thought of her as best Princess." whispered Rare Find before he shook his head to get rid of any remaining sleepiness.
As the clock struck eleven, Rare Find waited and soon heard a noise coming from downstairs. He walked cautiously into his dining room and slowly opened his kitchen door. Sitting at his kitchen table eating his last lemon cake was Princess Celestia. She was wearing a green robe and had a wreath of mistletoe and icicles on the top of her head. Her mane appeared to be tied under her chin to give her the appearance of a flowing beard. Laying on the table was a burning torch made of iron and forged in the shape of a drinking horn.
Rare Find narrowed his eyes "I'm going to be billing the castle for the cost of that cake and my table if you don't take your torch up before it starts to burn the top" he said simply.
"Come over!" explain the Celestia spirit "Come here and know me, stallion."
Rare Find rolled his eyes and walked over to the table he tried to get a piece of cake but it was levitated out of his hoof and into Celestia mouth.
"I am the spirit of Hearth's Warming present. You have never seen the like of me before!" exclaimed the spirit."
I saw you at the Grand Equestria Pony Summit just a few weeks ago, you waved to me and I waved back. At least the other two had disguises, your just wearing a funny hat."
Celestia dropped her cake and turned to Rare Find "Touch my robe."
Rare Find bit down on the back of the robe and almost had his teeth rip out when Celestia flew off through another open window. Rare found himself being taken to the south west before landing on a rock farm.
"Look" said spirit as she pointed to a window.
Rare find looked through the window and saw Applejack and Pinkie Pie and their families sitting in front of the fire, drinking rock soup.
"These two families are very different, one farms produce and makes merry during the night and the others are farmers of the earth and keep very calm. Yet they are able to set aside their differences and come together in love."
I am well aware of the Apples and the Pies, I live in the same town as them, I talk to them on a weekly basis. They also might be distant relatives so of course they can come together in love, they all love each other."
"There are ones who love you, you need not be alone" said the spirit resting a hoof in his shoulder.
"I know there are ponies who love me, there are a lot all over the place, I wish I could visit them but I can't afford it."
Rare Find found himself being pulled off the ground again as he was pulled to the east until he eventually saw the lights of the city of Baltimare. He and the spirit landed on the lawn of a modest home.
"This is my childhood home" said Rare Find as he looked through the window to see his family splicing twine together to make weave on a loom.
"Yes look at them they are so happy together. Lets listen." said the spirit.
"I wish Rare was here, He said he would try to come but I don't think he was very hopeful" said his older brother as he weaved a little blue into the sky.
"I am sorry for him; I couldn't be angry with him if I tried." said his mother.
Rare's eyes began to water 'It's the Family Tapestry, every year we come together and make a reminder of the how things have changed, last time I was able to come we made one of me founding my shop, I remember helping little Search make my hair. This year it was her getting accepted in the rescue corps, I remember her writing to me after she got her license. Such good times for all."
"And yet you sit alone in your home, relying only on your books."
"I didn't come because I couldn't afford to come, who was it that rose transit rates despite promising that she would not? Princess Celestia, who was it that cancelled the business incentives in favour of education reforms? Princess Twilight. Now while I totally agree with both of those, since they really helped the most number of ponies, together they meant that I could not afford to close shop and cross the country, not if I want a store to come back to."
The spirit just turned to stare back at the family who was now working the loom.
"You know if you really want to help me, you could just leave me here. I could spend the night with the family and get back in two days. I might have to tighten my purse strings, but I think the store could handle it."
"We cannot tarry, we are only visitors here" said the Spirit as she turned to leave.
Rare eyes dropped and began to water "This is literally the solution to my problem. I am sad at this time of year because I could not visit my family, now I can. All you need do is leave, nothing else would be required of you. It is actually more difficult to not help me then it is to continue this production. So if you and the rest truly want me to be filled with the holiday feelings, just leave me now and I can go spend time with the family I sorely miss."
The spirits looked up "Hark the time draws near" and Rare found himself being pulled once again back to his home as a voice began to ring our "Are there no prisons are there no workhouses?"
"I never said anything about any of those things, if you are going to do this at least try to make sense!" shouted Rare over the passing wind before he blacked out.
Rare Find was awoken by the chimes of the clock on to find himself back in his bed with the covers pulled over his head. He stood up and kicked the blankets off of his legs. Rare looked around and saw nothing. when the sound stopped a dark figure suddenly appeared in his room.
Rare gave a jump of fright and was filled with terror, he had seen this figure before when he lost a bunch of oranges after being attacked by Tirek. After getting a close look he could tell that this was a different being. For one thing this figure had an overly perfumed auroma permeating the area.
"I'm betting you are supposed to be the the spirit of Hearth's Warming future right? and given everypony else who has come here to bug me you have got to be Princess Cadance. By the way dressing up like the last supervillain who tried to destroy everypony, not a really loving thing to do."
The spirit took a step forward only to trip on the hem of her robe and landed flat on her face showing the fuchsia tail and blue heart cutie mark of Cadance. She said nothing but emitted a pink glow and both of them were teleported out of the house and into his store, standing behind the counter was a large stallion with a large fungus cigar in his mouth. For some reason instead of consumer goods and produce, the store shelves was covered in knives, axes and spiked balls. Rare watched as ponies as young as six would come over to buy the weapons wrapped in brown paper and sneak away, clearly trying to remain inconspicuous.
"And what is this supposed to me, that stallion doesn't look anything like me, looks like a red stallion with weird eyes. Oh let me guess I sold my store to this dude and some how it is my fault that he is selling things that I would not agree with selling, that I should only sell to ponies who I personally agree with. Let me tell you something cloak spirit not only is it not my responsibility to ensure that the building I used to own is used properly, but under Ponyville laws that your sister-in-law decreed, It is illegal for me to refuse to perform business with a pony just because I don't like them, that includes selling property. Legally even if I knew that this guy was going to sell raw meat I couldn't refuse to sell him the store as long as he is offering what I am requesting. So why did I sell?"
The dark spirit said nothing, she just let out another pink magic blast of magic and they appearing in a graveyard. right in front of Him was a gravestone.
"Ah right, I guess that made sense" said Rare Find as he kneeled down to look,
BORN: EPO 17, 1753 AD
DIED BAS 12, 1836 AD
Died from a broken heart in the defence of Ponyville
he will be missed and mourned
Survived by nopony
"What so I died? You're blaming me because my shop was sold to somepony after I died, in what was apparently an act of heroism? One that saved foals from their deaths? How is this a bad thing? I died saving the ponies I love and they cared enough to give me a dignified burial with the rest of my family, I may have lost them but now I will be with them forever. This is great!"
Rare Find turned to the dark spirit only to find himself alone.
"So now you're abandoning in the graveyard to try and get me to change my ways. Is that your plan? Well it's not going to happen, if this is my future then I am fine with it. So if you don't mind I would like to go home and live the life that has been promised to me."
Rare Find waited a little while but nothing happened.
"Seriously, just send me home, I'm not going to change, if you don't then you are guilty of kidnapping. Well technically you are still guilty of kidnapping since you took me from my home without asking but if you just send me back I can get on with my life."
This time there was a bright pink flash and Rare find found himself back in his home. He slowly got into his bed and went to sleep, hoping that he woke up in the morning this would all seem like a bad dream.
Rare Find woke up and got out of bed to look around, he saw the dent and the burn marks was still on his floor meaning whatever had happened last night had happened. Letting out a sigh he walked into his kitchen to see the remains of his cake had gone stale over the night. He was about to take out some left overs when he heard a knock on the door. He slowly walked over and opened the door.
Standing on his front step was his mother and father, along with his brother and sister.
"Mom, Dad, Sissy, Clockwork! What are you doing here?" asked Rare as he wrapped them all in a tight hug before pulling them into his house.
"I think the question we should be asking it why were you and Celestia standing outside of the window last night and why didn't you come in?" asked his father.
Rare Find let out a laugh "Let me tell you something, it is some kind of story. It all started when Princess Twilight broke into my house..."