Rarity was not in the best of moods.
For the last month, she has been receiving invitations to radio shows, television interviews, and tabloid columnists. They constantly clamoured to even have a chance to have tea and listen to just a few words. Of course the downside was that even being as isolated as Ponyville, they never give a lady respite.
Not only was the growing publicity getting her known across Equestria, but business was booming. Orders were coming in left and right from as far as Saddle Arabia, all because of her royal connections and her own hand in their own dress designs.
After fulfilling one of the largest orders of her career, she was looking forward to the weekly spa day with Fluttershy. The mesmerizing hoofs of Lotus Blossom, the pore cleansing power of the enchanted mud baths, and the artistic hooficures by Aloe.
Her mane was barely maintaining its magnicent curls; her pure white coat was losing the healthy shine from her products that have long run out while putting her nose to the sewing machine. The tent roof was an oasis in a desert of dirt, grime and filth. It would have been absolute heaven after a week of long hard work and constant appearances.
Alas, T'was not the case.
"There must be some mistake Aloe." Rarity said, disbelief written across her face.
"I am sorry Mez Rarity, but you do not zee appointment."
Surely she could not have forgotten our little date? Rarity thought.
Rarity resisted the urge to faint there and then. Only after arriving at the Spa, that her afternoon dream of relaxation and pampering is completely destroyed, decimated and eradicated. Fluttershy never booked them in. Tired from the week itself, Rarity gave up her pride and begun to beg.
"You must have a small empty block today don't you?" Rarity pleaded, her gem-like eyes sparkling towards the spa pony.
Aloe simply shook her head, but she did offer Rarity some of their newest additions of eyeliner from Manhattan. Rarity decided to step it up a notch. Time to see if any of those rumours are true.
"Surely there is a small opening that you can squeeze me in dar-ling." Using all the charms at her call, Rarity attempted to flirt with the "known to be curious" twin. Her full luscious lips pursed and her eyes locked onto Aloe with a dream-like look.
Aloe did not even bat an eye before saying, "I am sorry, but their iz no openings." She paused and stared at Rarity's frozen face, before adding, "Perhaps you may be interested in our latest chapstick az well? You lips look like they could uze some help, no?
Following the path to Fluttershy's cottage, Rarity was resisting the urge to scream after the humiliation at the spa. Calm down Rarity; just think now you can put those rumours to rest about Aloe. It's not as if she did not find you attractive. She continued to fume in heated silence. Many of the townsponies giving the disheveled mare a wide berth.
Going off to the path to Fluttershy's cottage to the edge of the Everfree, Rarity shuddered. How that frightful dear lives so close to that place without being afraid of the creatures just a stone's throw away from her I will never know.
Timberwolves, basilisks, and other savage creatures wait inside the forest for any unsuspecting individual to become their next lunch. All of them teeming with magical energy, sharp teeth, and poison to do away with anypony daring to resist.
Rarity was caught up in her imagination of the terrifying beasts that watched her scrumptious body from afar she did not notice the furry mass she walked into.
"Oh I am terribly sorry I was not wa-AHHH!" She stopped her apology only to scream at the manticore that had its back turned to her. Once her shrill voice met its ears it jumped back and growled at the pony, moving oddly on its paws.
The poisoned tail swayed back and forth hypnotically, preparing to strike. Rarity's instincts kicked in, it was time for fight or flight as she begins to back away slowly, and keeping a close eye on the pendulum of poison she heard a quiet voice from behind the menace.
"Rarity, can you please quiet down? You scared Manny Roar, the poor thing." Without a single thought to the danger, Fluttershy walked from behind the creature and held his head close to her chest, cooing softly as he calmed down. The awkward shifting of his legs stopped, then Rarity was able to see why it was moving so strangely. All four of his paws were wrapped in bandages.
Not only was that, but his tail, which she thought was swaying threateningly at her, actually just barely holding together by the tiniest bit of thread. The poisoned stinger precariously close to falling off the tail. "Now I need to re-stich your tail, so stay still please." He growled in response. His green eyes defiant at the thought of the little pricks of the healer's weapon.
Fluttershy did not like that.
Manny was shown one of the greatest weapons at Ponyville's call, The Stare. "Do you want it to fall off mister?"
The terrified shaking of his head became lost in a ball of red fluff from his wild unkempt mane.
Fluttershy maintained "The Look", "Then sit still so I can fix you up." Her stare softened. "Afterwards you can have a few cupcakes okay?"
A toothy grin shined back to Fluttershy while Rarity watched in awed silence at the whole confrontation. It never stopped surprising her at how well Fluttershy handled animals, especially the injured ones.
"Sorry Rarity. Manny hasn't been in the best of moods since this morning with a broken tail. Is there anything I can help you with?" She said sweetly.
Rarity took a breath and adjusted her mane before saying "Did you forget anything today darling?" As soon as the words left her mouth, she hated herself for it as soon as she saw Fluttershy's face. Utter horror and embarrassment crossed her features.
"Oh my IamterriblysorryRarity-"
"It's fine Fluttershy, looking at "Mr. Roar" here I am sure you have been quite busy. Though I wish you let me know that you couldn't book a time."
"I forgot all about our spa date. I have been helping animals left and right for the last few days." Fluttershy looked away while shuffling lightly on her hooves; Rarity could not help but think there was more to it than that.
Fluttershy motioned for Rarity to follow her to closer to the cottage. "All my little friends have left so they won't tempt my patients."
Rarity could only gasp once more as she took in the sight of a pack of timberwolves, two cockatrices, and another manticore. Every single one of them was hurt, badly. The pain-filled howls of the eldritch wolves drew her eyes first, watching the once ferocious natural predators licking their wounds over wooden band-aids.
The wolves' cracked hides were singed and the sweet smell of burning wood wafted through the wooden patchwork. The natural band-aids made by Fluttershy covered the burnt pieces while speeding up the regeneration.
The cockatrices were losing feathers and scales, said items sticking throughout the hay beds set up for them in the chicken pen. The once shining lustre in the scales has degraded into a moldy green as each piece falls off into the pile of hay, speckling the yellow strands. Underneath the feathers and scales, the poor "things" were sickly pale. The snake-like tongues hanging out of their becks, swollen and red.
Comparing Manny Roar to the other manticore was like comparing Princess Luna to Chyrsallis. He looked absolutely terrible. Rarity could not help but to run right up to the dear and give him a hug. Unlike Manny, he did not even try to toughen up in front of the pony.
He leaned his head down on the smaller creature, taking comfort in the feeling of another's body. A purple bruise covered its entire under body and was easily seen through the thick fur. Deep gashes were spread over his legs, bleeding through the bandages.
Rarity had to resist the urge to cry at the state of the poor creatures. Any other day, she would be screaming and running in the other direction away from these dangerous beasts. Viscous meat-eaters they may be, but whoever did this to them certainly did not pull any punches. Especially this big pussy cat in my arms right now. Low rumbling could be heard from deep within the manticore's throat as Rarity continued to stroke his wild mane. Awww, he is even purring!
While enjoying the unsuspected softness of his hair, Rarity's mind wandered thinking of how his mane became so. Groomed by nature and the hardships of life. The grasping branches ever reaching towards you while in flight away from danger. Using the abundant life around them as both a weapon and a shield for the hunted and for the prey.
"Idea!" She pulled her hooves free from the manticore's mane, to his great displeasure from the amount of soft growls coming from him. Rarity jumped up from the patch of grass where she unwittingly lost herself in thought. "This wonderful darling gave me an idea for new line clothing." She begins to murmur to herself as she begins to walk home in an artistic fervor. "I need to get started right away special order some silks the southern towns…"
A soft mew interrupted her rambling drawing Rarity back to the present yet again. The manticore once cradled in her legs looking at her like Opalescence on a stormy night. Wide open eyes, showing you the fears deep inside of them. Soft mewing, barely heard over even the quiet world that was Fluttershy's cottage on the edge of town. Such a thing was never meant for a prey's ears, showing the fashionesta once more that he is more than just wild animal. He is alone, hurt and afraid.
He just wants someone to give him some love.
"I can draw the designs up later. Do you need a hand tending to this kitty Fluttershy? I would be happy to give you a hoof tending to all the poor dears." She trotted back up to the now much happier manticore, while she took a careful tending on the now sullied bandages around his legs.
"Thank you Rarity that would be a great help."
Instead of spending her afternoon of being pampered and beautified, she had her hooves and magic working tirelessly aiding the overworked animal lover with tending to some of the most dangerous creatures in all of Equestria. The sun began to set, as both ponies wiped the sweat off their brow as many of the predators nod off to sleep along with the sun. No longer whining in pain or as much discomfort as before. Rarity thought it was a good of time as any to ask what has been bothering Fluttershy. Before she could even say a word, the Everfree seemed to be cackling like a madman into the dusk.
A grand thundering could be heard as the sound of full grown trees snapping like twigs as a stampede made its way toward them. Some of the more able bodied critters woke up tried to run, while the weak lied down and accepted whatever fate was reigning over their way.
Towering over the unearthed woods was a hydra, its heads high above no soul able to see the final faces before the end. Its orange scales gleamed as each clawed foot dug into the ground, crushing bushes and small trees.
It collapsed just at the edge of the Everfree, its long necks stretched out towards the cottage. Fluttershy wasted no time in racing towards the fallen serpent. After inspecting all four of the heads, Fluttershy looked back to the barely conscious Rarity and asked a question that finally pushed the poor mare's stamina to the breaking point.
"How on Equestria did a creature give a hydra eight black eyes?"