While spelunking in the middle of the apple orchard, Apple Bloom and her friends unearth a small, magical shard. Twilight quickly identifies this as the Thief's Crystal, a dangerous, long-lost artifact rumored to be capable of stealing the magic of others. In order to learn more about it, the Mane Six decide to take a trip to the Crystal Empire.
Before leaving, however, AJ tries to comfort her little sister, who's still frustrated by her lacking a cutie mark. But when Apple Bloom asks what her cutie mark means, AJ isn't entirely certain how to answer. And things just snowball from there.
Intended to have three parts, Three Apples has finished Part I: Core Issues and is currently in the middle of Part II: Seeds of Destruction.
This Fan Comic contains examples of:
- Armor-Piercing Question: "So what's three apples? Your three apples. What does that make you- ripe?"
- In Part II, she throws her another one: "Does anybody like you, Applejack?"
- Dramatic Thunder: When Twilight announces that the CMC found something potentially dangerous, a thunderbolt cracks right outside her window.
- Dumb Muscle: Twilight describes her brother as "more of an athlete than a thinker."
- Fascist, but Inefficient: After the Cutie Mark Crusaders totally take over Ponyville, everyone is given a new job every day to prove they're no longer restricted by their cutie marks. However this means that someone who has a talent for absolutely destroying flowers might be made gardener, someone totally untrained made a dentist or optometrist, and a baby might be put in charge of a store. The place is in shambles after only two weeks.
- Fastball Special: Turns out this runs in the family — Twilight and Shining Armor's family line has been Canterlot's Pony-Toss Champions for three generations.Shining Armor: It's In the Blood.
Twilight: And sometimes there's a lot of blood.
- Foreshadowing: Apple Bloom's whole rant about how life should be fair.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Sombra was once an ordinary earth pony who worked as a blacksmith. He created the Thief's Crystal in order to steal all the magic of the Crystal Empire and take over, becoming a total tyrant.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: All the failed attempts at figuring out her special talent have seriously started to wear Apple Bloom down, to the point where she's starting to resent the idea that not having a cutie mark yet isn't 'normal'.
- I Just Want to Be Special: She also feels like the Apple Family has 'lame Cutie Marks', and is starting to wonder if hers will even be worth the wait.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: After a frustrating turn of events, AJ heads to Sugarcube Corner wanting a malt.
- Just a Kid: Twilight doesn't take the CMC very seriously due to this, to the point of considering them to not be very much of a threat even with three shards.
- Liquid Assets: The Thief's Crystal can steal the magic of others and transfer it to the user.
- Literal-Minded: All three Crusaders. When AJ tries to explain what cutie marks mean, Apple Bloom responds by trying to analyze them literally.
- Meaningful Rename: The Cutie Mark Crusaders decide to start calling themselves 'the Community Mangement Curators' instead.
- Misery Builds Character: Twilight tells a disgruntled Rainbow Dash to think of the time they wasted in the Crystal Empire as a 'team-building exercise'.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: As Twilight realizes in Part II, Celestia's Mayoral-binding spell is the whole reason why the CMC were able to take over Ponyville.
- OOC Is Serious Business: The other girls react with horror when AJ declares that she HATES apples.
- Permanent Elected Official: Princess Celestia used magic to bind Mayor Mare to her office so that she could never be unseated.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Sweetie Belle wears a flared skirt and matching headpiece after ascending to office.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Seeds of Destruction, Applejack gets one from Apple Bloom, outlining the difference between being actively hated and being liked.
- Running Gag:
- Offhand references to hands followed up by "What's a hand?"
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Sombra gets sealed into Shining Armor's horn.
- Serious Business: Pony Toss.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Pinkie Pie's response to Sombra's Wall of Text is to demand "How did you get EVEN MORE BORING" and kick him in the face.
- Sixth Ranger: Shining Armor during the first arc.
- Title Drop: "So, what's Three Apples?" Lampshaded by the bottom of the panel reading 'It's the title.'
- Visionary Villain: Apple Bloom becomes one, specifically wanting to use the powers of the Thief's Crystal to 'make things better' via bucking the Cutie Mark system.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Twilight's assumption that the other pieces of the Thief's Crystal are scattered across Equestria turns out to be a little off the mark.