Rainbow Dash's hooves curled tighter towards her chest. Her wings stretched out, closed in, and stretched again. A shudder ran down her face, tensed, and collected in her mouth with a gasp. Ruby eyes flashing wide, she sat up straight, panting heavily.
She was still sitting on the mattress on the second level of the abandoned lake house. Night had completely fallen, and the stars were spilling over the sky above. The long stretch of the Milky Way glittered majestically overhead.
Slowly, Rainbow Dash's breaths calmed down. She discovered that she was shivering. It was cold—annoyingly cold. She imagined that it was because of the valley she was in; a natural wind funnel had formed and it was blowing cool moisture off the marshlands and into the open body of the house.
Rainbow Dash ran her forelimbs over each other, trying to rub her coat warm. She didn't understand why it was so freezing that night, or at least she pretended not to understand. The hollow sensation of her empty stomach did little to solace her. Desperately, she crawled across the mattress and reached for her saddlebag. She knew that there was one blanket left. The other two had been sacrificed in her infiltration of the Minotaur quarry days before.
Her hoof fished around the inside of the saddlebag. Finally, she clasped onto the blanket. Desperately, she yanked it out. A green book slid out onto the bed along with it.
Rainbow Dash sighed. She avoided the sight of the green tome. A few seconds passed, during which her shivers doubled. Biting her lip, she forced herself to look at the book.
Reaching over, she grasped it. Her forelimbs shook even more upon contact. It was difficult enough to so much as touch the binding. There was no way that Rainbow Dash would let herself open the book. Not yet.
A sniffle escaped her lips. She hugged the book to her chest and hung her face with a sigh. Several moments later, she gazed back up at the stars, at the innumerable bits of beautiful yet meaningless specks that shone across the ceiling of the earth. As gorgeous as the sight was, looking at it longer gave her little solace. Soon they all blurred together into an indiscernible gray.
She clenched her eyes shut as a hint of moisture touched her lashes. Unlike with Gold Petals, it was too cold to fly comfortably anywhere. Instead, Rainbow Dash drew the blanket over her figure, curled up in the corner of the bed, and hugged the book tightly to her—occasionally nuzzling it as the next hour ushered her into the warmth of sleep.