“She’s there,” Ocellus whispered to a sleeping Yona with a tiny nudge. Yona snored loudly and did not wake. Ocellus gave up and left to find Silverstream’s dorm. Once inside, “She’s there,” Ocellus whispered again.
Silverstream fluttered her eyes for a moment. “Who’s where?”
“Master Rainbow Dash. She’s at the gym right now,” Ocellus said.
“Are you going to talk to her?” Silverstream asked.
Ocellus nodded. “You all told me to let you know in case you wanted to come too,” she reminded her hippogriff friend.
“Oh,” Silverstream realized. She stretched her arms and got out of bed.
The two friends tried waking the others in the other dorms too. Smolder gave a disinterested shake of her head. “Tell me how it went tomorrow,” she groaned.
Sandbar wouldn’t wake up at all.
Gallus took a few seconds, but he did wake up much the same way Silverstream did and eventually nodded that he was curious enough to join them.
When the three students arrived at the gym, they saw Rainbow Dash practicing her flying with agile angles, spins, and flips. She stopped upon hearing them enter. “Hey, look who’s here,” she greeted. “You three going to get enough sleep tonight?” she asked seriously, landing on the floor to address them.
Gallus rubbed his right eye and yawned. “We’ll manage,” he insisted.
“So, I can finally ask you some questions?” Ocellus said with obvious hope in her voice.
“Shoot,” Rainbow offered with a playful smile. She sat on her haunches, and the three students decided to follow suit.
“Do you have a pack?” Ocellus asked.
Rainbow nodded. “I do. A full pack.”
“Who are your fledglings? Is it Headmare Twilight and the other teachers? And Counselor Starlight?” Ocellus probed.
Rainbow nodded. “Yup.”
“Really? You’re going to tell us just like that?” Gallus asked in surprise to the master mev.
“Wow, fledglings really do blend in perfectly,” Ocellus uttered to herself.
Rainbow replied to address Gallus, “It’s really not that hard to piece together if you know that friendship bonds are considered best to create fledglings, which I’m sure Ocellus does know from reading the book. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna know who we are, along with certain friends and family. On top of all that,” she grinned, and Ocellus took stronger notice of her nocturnal fangs, “we have something planned in a couple of weeks.”
The three students stared at each other and then curiously at her.
“What happens in two weeks?” Silverstream asked.
“We ponies have a special night called Nightmare Night,” Rainbow began to explain.
Ocellus gasped. “Oh right! That’s a day that honors Nightmare Moon. Ponies dress up in disguise and offer up candy, so she won’t eat them, especially kids for the candy offering. Even though Princess Luna isn’t Nightmare Moon anymore, ponies in Equestria still celebrate it.”
“What’s that got to do with you being a vampire?” Gallus asked.
“That’s not all there is to the night,” Rainbow told him. “It’s a night to be scared or be scary for fun. Imagine if you all knew what my fear snare was ahead of time. I’ve actually seen it in action. A special friend of mine was actually able to play in the snare.”
“Really? How did she do that?” Silverstream asked.
“Perhaps the three of you would care for a demonstration?” Rainbow offered. “It would help test something for my own curiosity.”
The three students looked at each other.
“Does it involve that snake again?” Gallus wondered with a hint of apprehension.
Rainbow Dash grew thoughtful. “I suppose that’s something else we can test. I’ll tell you what. Yes, there is a good chance my leviathan dread, I named her Blitz, will show up. Let’s see if we can play without her. I might need her help if you find her more scary than me. There’s got to be at least a little fear in there, is my own theory. So, what do you say?”
Again, the three students looked at each other, and this time, they all nodded.
“Alright, you three spread out. I’ve never tried to cast more than one. Experimenting! Fun!” Rainbow said as she gleefully rubbed her hooves together.
The three students complied. They stood and spread to three different places on the gym floor. They looked over to the master mev. Rainbow took a deep breath and shifted into her full vampire form. She lifted into a hover with her flapping bat wings and smiled with a mischievous glint in her dazzling red eyes. That was enough despite what the three students knew of their teacher since the day she revealed this form. A small red circle appeared under each one of them. They all looked down, mouths slightly agape. They could only slightly shift their limbs but their hooves and claws felt glued onto the floor.
“Get ready,” Rainbow Dash warned them. Her eyes flashed into a glow on the red irises, and each of the three students felt themselves shifted along the ground like a magnet. It was a sharp, quick move, just enough to catch their breaths at the shock of the sudden movement. It stopped as quickly as it started.
“Heh,” Ocellus breathed in relief. The other two students did the same.
“A little longer this time; we’ll curve a bit. Try to jump inside the circle right after you sense a thrill inside,” Rainbow advised them. She moved the snares again.
Silverstream was the only one of the three who could do it. “Yes!” she proclaimed to herself with pride.
“Here’s another,” Rainbow said.
Each snare tilted itself up to be vertical to its captive’s backside, then pulled further forward. As a result, the snares surrounded the students halfway over their bodies like large red hoops, similar to the rainbow-painted ones higher up in the gym. The snare hoops lifted each student up in the air closer to the solid ones.
Gallus flapped his wings in place, finding himself stuck. “I can’t get out. So that part’s still working,” he offered with a nervous half-smile, casually resting a cheek in one of his clawed hands.
“Okay, I’ve never tried this before. You’re going for a short ride, like at an amusement park,” Rainbow told them. Each of the students felt their snare hoops move them quickly forward in a jolt.
“Woo!” Silverstream said, immediately after her moment of sensing a thrill, and she was able to twirl herself out from the snare.
“Haha, look at you, Silverstream, my first escapee ever,” Rainbow said, beaming with fascination.
“Yeah, go me!” Silverstream declared.
“No fear, huh?” Rainbow asked.
Silverstream nodded. “That’s right!”
“As for you other two, each of you can fly, so I’m letting you go,” Rainbow alerted them.
The snares disappeared.
Gallus and Ocellus caught themselves in place thanks to her warning.
Rainbow descended to the floor and reverted to her pegasus form, except for her preferred fangs.
“That was kind of fun,” Ocellus admitted as she descended to stand near the mev.
Gallus followed and once he landed, he scratched the back of his neck. “I’m not really a fan of feeling trapped, but it helped to know it was a setup. And that I could jump or fly out if I ever do catch that moment.”
“I liked it,” Silverstream said pleasantly, still hovering. She flew down to join the rest. “So you’re going to cast a giant snare for Nightmare Night?” she asked.
“Heh heh,” Rainbow said. “We’ll see. We’re coming up with a plan, but I guess since the three of you saw her before anyone else, I will warn you that Blitz will be there. She will be much more scary this time around. That’s part of the fun.” The mev grinned eagerly, her gritted teeth baring emphasis to her vampire fangs.
“We’re not supposed to be scared if she smiles at us like that, right?” Gallus asked. “It’s nocturnivlair?”
“Actually…maybe?” Ocellus said. “But she’s not going to hurt us beyond trying to scare us. And yes, it must be nocturnivlair.”
“Oh, you most certainly should,” Rainbow said deliciously. “Childish fears are scrumptious,” she teased with a friendly chomp at the air.
The other three did find that amusing and chuckled.
“So, I still don’t get what that has to do with us knowing who’s in your pack,” Gallus pointed out.
“We’re putting on a show to reveal ourselves for fun this Nightmare Night,” Rainbow proudly announced, raising herself into her standard pegasus hover near them. “Don’t tell the other students yet, besides the others who know I’m a mev. They’ll find out soon enough.”
“You’re not scared of how the other ponies will react?” Silverstream wondered.
“That’s part of the challenge, and I do like myself a good challenge,” Rainbow told her. “The idea is for it to not matter if they believe us or not, but that they’ll have seen something amazing. I want it to be awesome you know.” She smiled knowingly.
The other three smiled at that and nodded, all thinking of their field trip the day before.
“So, would you think it appropriate to describe master mevs as ‘showy’ creatures?” Ocellus asked.
“Oh definitely,” Rainbow agreed as she descended back into a stand. “I mean, I only know myself, but yes, that’s totally me. Before and after becoming a master mev. It might be part of why I was picked.”
“Have you eaten magic from anyone besides Headmare Twilight and your flexchanges?” Ocellus continued her questioning.
“That’s classified,” Rainbow said with a slight tilt of her head.
Ocellus nodded in understanding. “What kind of business do you have to do for managing magic?”
“Hmm.” Rainbow rubbed a hoof to her chin and sat on her haunches once more. The students decided to sit again too. The master mev continued, “Well, I’ve introduced myself formally to two other kingdoms. In fact, Gallus, I’ll be heading to Griffonstone on Sunday for such a thing.”
“Really? Who are you announcing yourself to? We don’t have a king,” he reminded her.
“I was thinking of Grampa Gruff or Gilda,” Rainbow admitted.
“Well, say ‘hi’ for me I guess,” Gallus said.
“You know, now that I think about it,” Silverstream said, “I did get a letter from my brother saying he met you and Headmare Twilight in Mount Aris. He said he’d rather talk to me griff to griff on that since he had some questions instead of going into much detail. I did wonder if it was about you being a master mev. Is my home one of the kingdoms you formally visited?”
Rainbow replied with a slight nod, “It is; your family was very hospitable, thank you.”
Silverstream smiled pleasantly.
“What else for business?” Ocellus said in hope for more.
Rainbow Dash thought for a moment. “Research on flight magic. Relic um…well, I’ve worked with a relic. I can’t tell you too much. I do need to protect my clients.”
Ocellus nodded. “There’s no way to make an exception for that?”
“Do you wish to bind yourself in servitude to me?” Rainbow asked.
Ocellus shook her head.
“Then no, there isn’t,” Rainbow answered simply.
Gallus cocked his head and asked, “Has someone done that?”
“Yes, someone did, and she is more than I could have ever hoped for,” the master mev replied.
“Do we know her?” Silverstream asked.
“I don’t know,” Rainbow admitted. “Does the name ‘Sweetie Belle’ sound familiar?”
“Terramar mentioned her in the same letter he said he met you, yes,” Silverstream said. Then she grew a little shocked with a gasp. “She’s your servant? Isn’t she kinda young?”
“My dear student, I am a master vampire,” Rainbow reminded her.
Silverstream blushed at being addressed in such a way with a bashful smile.
“Yes, she is young, young enough that I cannot bite her any more than I can bite you. She is well aware. In fact, she’s the one I just told you all was able to play in the snare. Sweetie was very sure of her offer and is old enough to know what she wanted out of it. I made my binding term quite clear,” Rainbow said.
“How does that work if your pack is full, and she’s a child?” Ocellus asked.
“You really want to know?” Rainbow asked back with a serious tone.
Ocellus nodded with the same serious air in turn.
Rainbow Dash lifted her right forehoof to gesture, holding its bottom up to indicate it as the starting platform for her description. “You take a physical object, preferably one that’s already hosted magic or has a magical connection to you, and by that I mean, me.
“If there’s any magic already in it, you take that out. I’ve got fledglings who can do that.” She took her left forehoof and gestured it to indicate the pull away from the right forehoof. “Then the other creature puts their magic in that object.”
She used a wing to flap it a little to indicate the explained transfer. “They might need help, so a connection to me or a fledgling already through a family or friendship bond might do just that. This all has to be done with the creature’s consent. They need to know what they’ve signed up for.”
Ocellus nodded again as she followed along. The other two listened as well.
Using her left forehoof again, Rainbow Dash gestured another pull from the right. “Then a fledgling takes the magic that was put in the object. Then I eat the magic from my fledgling.” She mock bit at her left forehoof for the would-be fledgling.
The three students flinched but kept listening.
Rainbow smiled and licked her lips at the reaction. She then respectfully went back to her explanation as she gestured her right forehoof at her chest. “That’s from the creature to me. Now they need me to get to them.” She pulled the right hoof away and spun it in place. “We’re doing an exchange,” she explained.
“Ohhh,” Ocellus realized.
“So I send that creature’s magic that I ate into the object in question,” the master mev blew a small breath of air at her right forehoof with no magic, “the same one that they used and my fledgling ate from.
“Then, somehow, that other creature needs take their magic back from the object.” She gestured the hoof in the direction of her listening audience. “It will have master mev magic with it at that point. The creature is then not a fledgling but someone new and special altogether.” She connected her right forehoof to her left and pulled them apart. “Servant to master.” She connected her left forehoof to her right and pulled them apart. “Master to servant.” She connected both hooves closing in together at the same time. “Voila. Mev bond.”
“Wow,” Ocellus replied with a deep, fascinated breath.
“I believe you can call the object used a ‘transmitter’ to help channel the magic. Fledgling too, I suppose,” Rainbow added.
“Do you think anyone else will try that?” Silverstream asked her.
“There’s one special pony to me who is definitely thinking about it,” Rainbow explained, “but the decision is not as easy to make for them as it was for Sweetie Belle. I do not accept such offered service lightly. I bind my servants to me. There’s no trial run, no halfway point. They must be sure. A servant gives themselves to me.” Her eyes turned red and shimmered. “They are mine. I am a master.”
“Yeah, you’re definitely scary,” Gallus surmised, pointing at her with his right index claw.
“Why thank you.” Rainbow graciously tilted her head as a slight bow to indicate she took it as a compliment. Her eyes were already magenta once more. “For whatever it may be worth to you, I do try to be a worthy master.”
“Do you really think this binding would work with creatures who aren’t ponies?” Ocellus asked. “I noticed you kept using that particular word, ‘creature’, even though I’m pretty sure this Sweetie Belle is a pony. It seems fledglings have to be ponies.”
“I guess I’ll find out if you ever change your mind,” Rainbow winked in jest. “More seriously, yeah, I’m pretty sure. Blitz serves me, and I never even asked her. She just showed up.”
“It was just like you said back then,” Ocellus said sympathetically, “there’s nothing in that book about fear snares or a leviathan dread. It only mentions that you can sense and feed off fear.”
“Right,” Rainbow agreed. “Well, I think I’ve kept the three of you from sleeping long enough. If I hear about any of you sleeping in other classes tomorrow, we won’t be able to keep chatting like this. So do your part, alright?”
The three students nodded.
“For Nightmare Night, is there anything we could do to help?” Gallus wondered.
Rainbow Dash pondered for a moment and replied, “If you all can get up the nerve, come to the show and don’t panic. Have a good time. If others in the audience see that, it will help them not panic and join in on the fun. Blitz is going to be very large and very real. I’m going to be laughing it up, super nocturnivlair, but we’re not going to harm anyone. Thrills and chills my friends!” She cackled.
The three students collectively flinched in response to that cackle.
“Hmm, that sounds kinda hard,” Silverstream said with a mildly nervous tone.
“We can do it if we all go together,” Gallus decided aloud.
“I agree,” Ocellus said. “And it does help that we are friends with the Master Mev herself.”
Rainbow Dash gave them an amiable salute and sent them on their way.