- Written by Rob Anderson, Drawn by Amy Mebberson, Colored by Heather Breckel.
Twilight is preparing to visit Shining Armor in the Crystal Empire, reminiscing about their youth and how they would play "monster hunters". When she arrives there, she finds Shining struggling to keep up with the endless discussions Lexicon and other advisers have brought to him with Princess Cadance currently away from the castle, and Shining apologizes to Twilight that he can't spend much time at the moment. That evening, one of Twilight's books is taken, and she finds from Lexicon that this has been happening frequently and the rest of the staff believes a ghost in the castle is at work. When Shining finds out what is going on, he and Twilight agree to find out the truth behind this "ghost", reliving their "monster hunter" game of the past.
Finding a secret passage in the castle, the two explore an old cave system under the castle, with several traps that Shining presumes were placed by King Sombra. They eventually come across the "ghost", a crystal bard creature crying to itself and surrounded by the stolen books. The two find the creature is far from dangerous, and the crystal bard explains that it had been captured by King Sombra during his reign, forcing the bard to read out of the books. One day, the bard had been able to escape into the caves, and Sombra had set up the various traps they saw to try to recapture the creature, but the creature figured out how to sidestep these traps to go and obtain books to read. Twilight and Shining tell the creature that Sombra has long since been defeated and it has nothing to fear now, and realizing that the creature is well versed with the books, offer it a position as the castle's librarian. Shining and Twilight happily finish off her visit in peace.
This issue provides examples of:
- Achievements in Ignorance: Lexicon manages to walk through a trap filled cave unharmed while his glasses are broken, thinking he's heading to his room.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Twilight and Shining Armor memorized their "Monster-pedia" to the point that they can remember the precise page numbers of the various entries.
- Blind Without 'Em: Lexicon is near blind without his glasses, and manages to wander through a trap-filled cave thinking he's heading to his bedroom when they're broken.
- Even with his glasses, his eyesight isn't very good. Heck, he thought Twilight was Celestia! Besides both being alicorns, they don't look even remotely similar (Celestia being white as opposed to Twilight's purple, as well as being a lot taller). Shining lampshades this, asking Lex if he'd gotten his eyes checked again like he promised.
- Character Development: We learn a bit more about King Sombra from this story in the short flashbacks than we did in the two-parter featuring him, in that he was egotistical and a well-educated tyrant. And that he was a bit stinky...
- The Chains of Commanding: Shining is definitely feeling the chains.
- Continuity Nod: As noted by the solicitation, this is the first comic of any of the series to take place in the Crystal Empire.
- Shining Armor frequently refers to Twilight as "Twylie!"
- Sombra's attention to setting traps as he did to protect the Crystal Heart is re-enforced by his attempts to trap the Crystal Bard.
- Covers Always Lie: The staircase featured on the special subscription cover is filled with fire and frickin' laser beams; in the comic proper, it's the only part of the secret passage that doesn't have traps in it.
- Greater-Scope Villain: King Sombra. He drove the Crystal Bard into hiding to begin with, and the traps Twilight, Shining, and co. encounter are leftovers from his attempts to recapture the Bard.
- Mooks: A flashback confirms the fanon that Sombra had pony soldiers.
- More Hero Than Thou/Who Will Bell the Cat?: Twilight and Shining in a flashback, trying to decide which of the "brave monster hunters" be the first to enter the damp, dark cave deep in the forest. Later, in the present day, they laugh it off and step inside together.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The crystal bard is only called a ghost.
- Quip to Black:Twilight (to Lexicon): You aren't scared of ghosts?Lexicon: Scared or not, something is stealing books...(next panel)Lexicon (with sudden turn of head): And they're overdue.
- Sadly Mythtaken: In-universe, the crystal bard is referred to as a crystal ghost in the Monster-pedia.
- Skewed Priorities: One of the ponies at Shining's meeting is really focused on flugelhorns, despite there being more serious issues.
- Villainous Legacy: The entire conflict is Sombra's fault, but he's too busy being dead to participate.