|Ponyville Mysteries: Cursed Crusaders|
|Published||April 3, 2018|
|Previous||Canterlot High Stories: Rainbow Dash Brings the Blitz|
|Next||Canterlot High Stories: Twilight Sparkle's Science Fair Sparks|
|Allusions • Little, Brown and Company • Hachette Book Group|
My Little Pony: Ponyville Mysteries: Cursed Crusaders by "Penumbra Quill" (collective pen name of Michael Vogel and Nicole Dubuc) is the thirty-sixth book in a series of chapter books published by Little, Brown and Company and the fifth entry in the "Ponyville Mysteries" series.
|Table of contents|
Out of the shadows
Picking up where the previous book left off, the story begins with Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash waiting for the grounded Cutie Mark Crusaders to come out of school. When they do not come out, the ponies quickly deduce that they skipped class and ran away, and Applejack starts thinking of ways to worsen Apple Bloom's punishment.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders spend all night trying to find their way out of the Everfree Forest. In the middle of their walk, Apple Bloom calls a special Crusaders meeting to order so that they can make sense of everything that happened the day before: Princess Luna has entrusted them to protect the Livewood and keep Lilymoon and Ambermoon's aunt Eclipse from getting the Helm of Shadows. Scootaloo suggests telling Twilight Sparkle and her friends and letting them handle it, but Sweetie Belle reminds her that due to their matching cutie marks and the nature of the Livewood, only they can protect it.
As they wonder how to tell Lilymoon and Ambermoon about their family's sinister plot, they hear Eclipse returning to the forest—with Lilymoon and Ambermoon accompanying her. Eclipse claims to her nieces that she needs their help with a magical project and starts to cast a spell. Scootaloo wants to save Lilymoon and Ambermoon before Eclipse does something to them, but Sweetie Belle has doubts that Eclipse would harm her own nieces, and Apple Bloom says they need to follow them to find out what Eclipse is up to.
Unfortunately, the spell Eclipse cast is a beacon spell that alerts her to the Crusaders' position, and Lilymoon and Ambermoon's parents Blue Moon and Lumi Nation appear before them. As the Crusaders flee, they hear Lilymoon and Ambermoon call them back. However, as they emerge from the darkness, they have the same crooked smile that their father Blue Moon always wears. When they attack Scootaloo with magic, she reasons that they have been brainwashed by Eclipse. With the peryton unable to help them because of the sunlight, the Crusaders continue to flee, but not before Eclipse succeeds in hitting them with magic of some kind.
Cursed with bad luck
As the Crusaders flee the forest, Scootaloo trips over a tree root, stumbles into her friends, and sends them all tumbling down a steep hill. While their tumble leaves Apple Bloom with a torn bow, they end up out of the forest and on the outskirts of Ponyville. The moment they start walking toward town, rain starts to pour. They take cover from the sudden rain under an old fruit stand with Mr. Cake and Matilda, but the stand starts to collapse over their heads, and they accidentally disturb a nest of wasps. As everyone flees from the angry wasps, the Crusaders trip and fall in the mud, and the rain stops before it can wash the mud off of them.
During their walk to Ponyville, the Crusaders run into Trixie and ask for a ride to Twilight Sparkle's castle in her wagon. Trixie agrees, but only if they clean the mud off themselves. Sweetie Belle uses a blow-drying spell to clean them, but they end up with very frizzy manes. During the wagon ride, a box of smoke bombs falls off the shelf and fills the wagon with smoke, and one of the wagon's wheels breaks, forcing Trixie to cancel her magic show for that evening.
As the Crusaders wonder why they are suddenly suffering from a string of bad luck, Scootaloo remembers what Eclipse did to them on their way out of the forest. She tests her theory with a coin flip, saying if they cannot guess correctly no matter how many tries, something is wrong. Scootaloo tosses the bit into the air, but a frog catches it in its mouth. Considering the astronomical odds of such an outcome, she believes they have been cursed.
They run into Starlight Glimmer and tell her to stay away because of the curse that's been placed on them. However, when they try to demonstrate their bad luck with another coin flip, nothing happens. They explain the situation regarding Eclipse, and Starlight offers to take them to see Twilight. When the Crusaders nearly fall victim to a cow stampede and a sinkhole when Starlight is standing away from them, Starlight believes that they are cursed, but the warding spell she has around her is rendering the curse inactive. Unable to cast additional protection spells on the Crusaders, Starlight tells them to stay close to her until the curse is removed.
Lumi Nation's mementorial
In order to undo the Crusaders' curse, Starlight needs information about the magic of the pony who cast it, so the Crusaders take her to Lilymoon's house during a time at which no one would be home. There, they sneak into Eclipse's library and stay close to Starlight in order to stay protected by her warding bubble. During their search of the library, Scootaloo finds a journal, and when she tries reading it, she is suddenly transported to an old village, away from her friends and unable to interact with anyone or anything.
In this vision, Scootaloo watches the love story between two unicorns. One day, the stallion falls severely ill, and the mare goes to Eclipse for help. Eclipse has the mare sign a contract before giving her a potion that would save the stallion's life. The stallion makes a full recovery, and he and the mare later get married, with Eclipse attending the wedding. Some time later, the married couple lives in a house with two foals. Scootaloo recognizes the foals as Lilymoon and Ambermoon and realizes the married ponies are Blue Moon and Lumi Nation. When Eclipse appears and reminds Lumi Nation of the contract she signed, Lumi is unable to protest as Eclipse magically gives them cutie marks that match hers. In addition, Eclipse uses her magic to bring Blue Moon under her control, much to Lumi Nation's grief.
The vision ends, and Scootaloo returns to Eclipse's library. Having watched the same vision, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle realize Eclipse has been behind everything from the start and was even using Lilymoon's parents. Starlight explains that Scootaloo found Lumi Nation's "mementorial", a magic journal that allows readers to physically experience the writer's memories instead of simply reading about them. As Apple Bloom tries to find Eclipse's mementorial, she accidentally steps outside of Starlight's magic bubble, activating the bad luck curse. The library shelves suddenly collapse, and Starlight and the Crusaders take cover under a table as they are buried under a mountain of books.
As Scootaloo laments their hopeless situation, Starlight reminds her of the time she and her friends defeated Queen Chrysalis without magic, and this gives her an idea. She tells the Crusaders to sit perfectly still while she drops her protection magic. With the bubble removed, Starlight is able to use a locating spell. However, some dust flies into Scootaloo's nose, and she sneezes, triggering the bad luck curse. The table protecting them from Eclipse's collection of books starts to break, but just before they are crushed, Starlight uses her magic to open a doorway into Discord's realm.
In the realm of chaos
Away from the danger of Eclipse's library, Starlight reactivates her protective bubble, and she and the Crusaders try to find a doorway back to Ponyville. Unfortunately, the doors that Starlight opens lead to everywhere except Ponyville, and the stress of the situation starts to get to Scootaloo. When Starlight accidentally opens a doorway to the bottom of an ocean, Discord appears to save them from drowning, though he expresses displeasure at the ponies dropping in unannounced.
When Discord asks for an explanation, Scootaloo vents her pent-up frustration and reveals how worried she is that Princess Luna trusted them to protect the Livewood. Sweetie Belle shares Scootaloo's worries, but Apple Bloom says after facing a bogle, Timberwolves, and the Olden Pony, she's certain they can handle it. When Eclipse's name is brought up, Discord reveals she has been messing with dark magic since before he was first turned to stone and even once tried to capture him.
With the cursed fillies unable to approach Twilight and her friends, they ask Discord to go tell them what's going on in their place, but Discord declines out of not wanting to "get in the way of a young filly's personal growth". He also reveals that, because the bad luck curse works using logic and logic doesn't exist in his realm, they have actually been safe from its effects the entire time. Scootaloo realizes that anyone they get close to would suffer the curse's effects and comes up with an idea to break it.
Rumble in the forest
Discord brings Starlight and the Crusaders back to the Everfree Forest, where they see Eclipse and her brainwashed family members trying to break into the Livewood again. Once Discord leaves, the four ponies enter the clearing to confront the Moon family. As Starlight fends off Lumi Nation's magic spells, the Crusaders charge toward Eclipse, the bad luck curse causing them to fall over at her hooves. With the Crusaders so close to Eclipse, she is unable to attack them without falling victim to their bad luck; one of her magic blasts ricochets and hits Blue Moon. This forces Eclipse to release them from the curse's effects.
With the curse lifted, Starlight protects the Crusaders from Eclipse's blasts with a shield spell. As the Crusaders try to run to safety, Lumi Nation captures them, but Blue Moon—now no longer under Eclipse's mind control—intervenes. An enraged Eclipse starts to unleash the full extent of her power, prompting Starlight to teleport herself, the Crusaders, and Blue Moon out of the forest.
Some time later, the ponies regroup at Twilight's castle and explain the whole situation to her and her friends. Blue Moon explains that Eclipse wants to get the Helm of Shadows and lead Equestria into an age of darkness, and that she used him to get Lumi Nation to do whatever she wanted. Without him under her control, Eclipse still has Lilymoon and Ambermoon to use as leverage against Lumi Nation. The ponies resolve to stop Eclipse before she can carry out her plans, but Starlight says only the Crusaders can do it, having been chosen by Princess Luna.
Meanwhile, back in the forest, Eclipse uses Lumi Nation, Lilymoon, and Ambermoon's cutie marks to break the peryton's seal. Although Lumi Nation goes along with Eclipse's plans for the sake of her daughters, she has hope that the Cutie Mark Crusaders will finally stop her. With Lumi Nation, Lilymoon, and Ambermoon placed at the seal's three-pointed lock, the dense vines unravel, and the Livewood opens.
- Rarity: I simply cannot believe this.
- Rainbow Dash: We shoulda seen it coming. We woulda done the same thing.
- Applejack: Y'all thought it was bad when Celestia banished Luna to the moon? Just wait till ya see what I do to my little sister.
- Scootaloo: Lubby Mom and Amble Mrrr?
- Apple Bloom: Lilymoon and Ambermoon. It's kinda hard to write usin' tree sap.
- Trixie: Who hails the Grrrrreat and Powerful Trixie?
- Apple Bloom: It's us, the Cutie Mark Crusaders!
- Trixie: Really? You look more like mud trolls.
- Starlight Glimmer: It's just a protection bubble against dark magic I keep around myself. Former villain. Old habits die hard. Can't be too careful.
- Scootaloo: What exactly are we doing here?
- Starlight Glimmer: Escaping. Our objective is still the same: get rid of this curse and get you to Twilight. This is just a... detour.
- Scootaloo: Why didn't you just teleport us all to the castle? Wouldn't that have been easier?
- Starlight Glimmer: Not with your curse. Teleporting four ponies across Ponyville? That could have been bad.
- Scootaloo: How is this any better?
- Discord: You know... it really is rude to rip a hole into somecreature's realm and sneak in without at least sending a letter first.
- Starlight Glimmer: Discord, seriously—
- Discord: Hold that thought; I want to speak with the main characters in this story. Now, why are the mini Mane Three wandering around in my backyard?
- Scootaloo: We've been attacked by Timberwolves, our friends are pony zombies, and we have this curse on us, so we can't even get to our families and friends for help. Anypony besides Starlight who gets close to us gets hurt. And without Starlight we wouldn't even have made it this far! Princess Luna says we're supposed to be the Defenders of the Livewood, but I don't think we can do it on our own. I don't wanna let down all of Equestria!
- Apple Bloom: I didn't know you felt that way.
- Scootaloo: You're always so confident. I felt as if I'd be letting you down if I told you how worried about all this I was.
- Sweetie Belle: You think I'm not worried? I have no idea how we're supposed to protect the Livewood. I was sure Luna made a mistake!
- Scootaloo: I thought the same thing!
- Apple Bloom: I don't think that. But that's 'cause I got the two of you standin' next to me.
- Scootaloo: But, Apple Bloom—
- Apple Bloom: We got that bogle outta the Schoolhouse. Sweetie Belle faced off against Timberwolves twice. You stood up to your biggest fear. We've fought all kindsa crazy, and we're still standin'. So if Princess Luna says we got what it takes, I believe her.
- Scootaloo: You guys are the best friends a pony could ever ask for.
- Discord: Auntie Eclipse? Now, there's a name I haven't heard in a while.
- Sweetie Belle: You know her?
- Discord: Frizzy mane? Laugh like a cragadile? Oh, we are well acquainted. She actually thought she could capture me and force me to do her bidding. Spoiler alert: She didn't.
- Starlight Glimmer: Why are you just telling us this now?
- Discord: Because this isn't a Starlight Glimmer saves the day story. This is a Cutie Mark Crusaders put the clues together and solve the mystery story. Obviously.
- Discord: Need to keep it safe. Convention exclusive, you know.
- Twilight Sparkle: A compulsion spell takes lots of magic. Holding power over even one pony for that long is a challenge.
- Starlight Glimmer: But controlling one pony in order to make another pony do your bidding is clever. Half the magic, twice the result.
- Starlight Glimmer: Oh, come on! I'm not saying it's a good idea. Just effective.
- Twilight Sparkle: We have to stop her, right now!
- Starlight Glimmer: No. We don't have to stop her. They do.
- Rarity: Darling, what are you saying? Of course they're brave, and they've done so much already. But one doesn't send fillies against an ancient sorceress!
- Starlight Glimmer: Princess Luna chose them to be Defenders of the Livewood. We can help them... but this is their story.
- Apple Bloom: We know it won't be easy.
- Sweetie Belle: And we're scared.
- Scootaloo: But together, we're stronger than anypony
- Twilight Sparkle: I know you are. We don't have a lot of time. I'm sure Auntie Eclipse is attempting to open the Livewood as we speak. Let's do what we can to get you three ready to save Equestria.
- Applejack: [whispering] But after you save Equestria... y'all are still grounded.