The ONO Club (Part 2)
Word-Count: 1,335 Content Warnings: ??? Written: November 2019 Last Edit: N/A
They had not been inside the dark and cluttered forest for long before the trees began to seem like they were twisting. The branches reached out to swat and scratch them.
"Princess Meenah is controlling the forest," said Kanaya as she ducked to avoid a lashing twig. The Skaiafree Forest had always been a place of raw magic, ripe to be manipulated by those who could control it's power.
Vriska replied with a grunt, "Obviously." A branch wrapped around her tail and yanked as hard as it could, but Feferi's magic kept Vriska in place. "Owch!" Vriska screeched.
"I'm sorry," said Feferi. "I'm too tired to try to levitate and banish... In fact, I may need to put you down for a bit to rest." Her magic faded, and Vriska unceremoniously fell onto the damp forest floor.
"We can't just sit here to rest!" said Aradia. She stamped down on an encroaching root that surely planned to ensnare Vriska.
Vriska rose shakily to her legs. She wobbled and swayed, trying to keep the weight off her missing leg. "I can walk by myself."
"Very slowly." Kanaya added.
"Here," Nepeta sighed through closed teeth. She dipped her head toward Kanaya, who grabbed hold of the bag of mysterious magical jewels. Nepeta was a smaller-than-average sabre-tooth troll-pony, but she was still much larger than Vriska the lanky unicorn. When Nepeta bowed under Vriska, it was easy for her to lift the unicorn onto her shoulders. "I can carry you."
"No!" said the unicorn. "I'm not going to be carried like your pet beast!"
"Are you serious?" Aradia scoffed. "You're not in a position to be bossy right now."
Vriska grimaced. "I'm always in a position to be bossy. Put me down, Nepeta."
Nepeta's shoulders drooped, and she began to tip over... but then she stopped. She dug her heels in firmly. "N-No, I'm not going to let you fall behind and get executed. I'll carry you to the Megido ranch. You can use your magic to keep the trees away."
Aradia, Feferi, and Kanaya looked at Nepeta with impressed expressions. Vriska grumbled. "Fine," said Vriska in a spat. "We better get going. Don't drop me."
"I won't," said Nepeta. She glowed with a sense of accomplishment and confidence from winning the argument, and the feeling made her a little over-eager. The olive-blooded troll-pony pounced forward, dashing and barreling through the trees at high speed.
"Wait up!" Feferi cried. She tip-toed over a few particularly nasty thorns before elegantly galloping after Nepeta. Aradia smirked and charged after them both.
Kanaya rolled her eyes, and lifted the bag of jewels off the ground. She took a few careful steps on their trail, but was surprised with a sweet-sounding but distant voice.
"Kanaya..." the voice whispered. "You don't have to follow them."
She kept walking.
"Bring the jewels back, Kanaya. You'll be a hero to Alterquestria."
Kanaya ignored it.
"I'll give you anything you want. You don't even know what they are. You didn't want to do this. Bring them back, Kanaya. I'll let you live."
"I don't trust you," Kanaya hissed.
"Do you trust these troll-ponies? Do you trust them to keep you safe from me?" the voice grew shrill and irritated.
"I don't know," Kanaya looked at the ground. She had been friends with Vriska as long as she could remember. Vriska was harsh, but Kanaya had seen how the princess had treated Vriska with a much worse brand of harshness. She didn't like it.
The other girls she hadn't known as long, but they seemed... not trust-worthy, maybe, but at least principled. They wouldn't sell her out for a tyrannical princess's ghost-voice promise. She wasn't going to, either.
"If you want these whatever-they-ares... you'll just have to come get them yourself." Kanaya walked with more force into the forest. The ghostly voice hissed and wailed, but she left it behind.
It did not take Kanaya very long to catch up with the other troll-ponies. "Hey," Kanaya called out to get their attention. She put the jewels on her back for a moment to talk."Princess Meenah is trying to bribe us now. The trees were talking, offering to make me a hero if I brought these back. She told me I shouldn't trust you to keep me safe. I didn't listen, obviously."
"Why didn't you?" said Vriska under her breath. She seemed to surprise to hear Kanaya answer.
"I didn't want to be the one to betray the ONO Club," said Kanaya with the slightest hint of a sheepish worry.
"That's nice. It's a good thing you didn't, though, she would have killed you like the rest of us." Aradia added frankly.
"Thanks." Kanaya retorted with an equal level of bluntness.
"What even are these things?" Nepeta asked. "Why did you take them, Vriska?"
"Well, of course, they're very magical and powerful," said Vriska. "And Princess Meenah didn't want me to have them."
"Is that it?" Feferi's mouth hung a bit agape.
"Princess Meenah is an awful ruler!" Vriska groaned. "We all know it! Come on, she has to be stopped. I know something like the magic here would be able to take her."
"You really don't even know what these are, though, do you?" Aradia growled.
"What?" Vriska said smugly. "And you do? What would an Earth troll-pony know about magical jewels?"
"They're the Elements of Harmony!" Aradia whipped around to face Vriska. She walked backwardly, nimbly still, and continued. "They're what Princess Meenah and Princess Aranea used to stop Jack Noir."
"How do you know that?" Nepeta interrupted.
"I'm a librarian." Aradia said quieter. "I used to sneak into the forbidden sections and do... research."
"You wanted to take her down too!" Vriska howled with delight. "But you didn't have the guts! I knew none of you would, that's why I took them myself!"
Aradia turned back away from Vriska, scoffing dismissively. "The Elements of Harmony are six magical stones powered by the friendship of their wielders. Friendship, Vriska. They're powered by friendship. You can't use them alone."
"Perfect!" Vriska responded. Aradia's expression flashed sour- that was not the reaction she was expecting. "Six friends.... six friendship-power stones. Look, it's destiny!"
"The Elements of Harmony..." Feferi repeated in wonder. "One for each of us... it does sound like destiny." Her eyes lit up and a toothy grin expanded across her face. "Which one is mine?"
"Kanaya should have loyatly," said Aradia. "She proved her loyalty against Meenah. Nepeta should be have Kindness. She's very kindly carrying this idiot." She gestured at Vriska.
"Loyalty and Kindness? What about you, Aradia? Is there one for being a know-it-all?" Vriska replied dryly.
"No, but there is one for Honesty." Aradia said with a smug smirk. She warmed up to the idea quickly. "Yes... Honesty for me. Terezi would get Laughter."
"She does like to make jokes," Nepeta added thoughtfully. "I think she thinks they're jokes, anyways."
"And the others?" Feferi inquired.
Aradia looked from Vriska to Feferi. "Generosity, and... and Magic."
"I want to be magic!" Vriska and Feferi both shouted in unison.
"No way, Feferi! I get first choice, I stole them. I'm magic." Vriska huffed.
Feferi pouted. "I'm a kelpie though, the most magical type of troll-pony!"
"That's just what Princess Meenah says," said Vriska.
"But-" Feferi began. She bit her bottom lip. "No, fine. You did steal them. You can be magic."
"That's a very generous thing for you to say," Kanaya added with a small smile. Feferi picked up on the hint and beamed back.
"I don't even think it works that way," Aradia shrugged. "I don't think we can choose. I think the Elements have to choose us."
"I really hope they do," Nepeta gulped. "You said they were powerful right?" She stopped walking.
The other girls turned to follow Nepeta's gaze, out of the forest's edge and down the meadow. At the bottom of the meadow, between the ONO club and the Megido Ranch, was at least a thousand troll-ponies of the royal-guard