Magenta sparks winked and danced along the length of Twilight’s horn. She narrowed her eyes in a grimace, tensing her muscles and imagining that her magic reservoir was completely sealed off – but try as she might, her magic continued to leak out in stray flashes or occasional bursts of light.
Rarity, whose coat had been replaced with plumage by the effect of the poison joke, sat on a chair at the other end of the kitchen, her anxious eyes never leaving her struggling marefriend. She desperately wanted to do something to help, but Twilight had warned her not to come any closer.
“I think it’s getting worse again…” said the bookworm, gritting her teeth. She let out a cry of alarm as a sizzling ray of energy discharged without warning, burning a hole in a wall cabinet.
“Darling-” The fashionista was cut off by another burst of energy that narrowly missed her, leaving the tips of her feathers singed from the heat.
Twilight had only enough time to gasp, “I’m so sorry!” before the dams broke, the magic within her bursting out in a torrent. She tried to hold it back, to reconstruct the barriers, but she was fighting a losing battle. Crackling pink energy flared from her horn, growing in intensity as it built up into a hissing and spitting orb around her. “Ru-”
She could not finish her sentence – more and more magical energy just kept flooding out, drowning the lilac unicorn in an ocean of her own power. She could no longer see; or rather, she could see everything, through the blazing white haze that her eyes had become.
If this goes on, not only Rarity, but even Ponyville might be hurt, she thought frantically. But I can’t cast a shield spell – too little control!
The fashionista had jumped to her hooves at Twilight’s magical outburst and was now staring, horrified, at the expanding orb of energy. She was torn between running for help and staying to just be with Twilight if anything happened.
Twilight racked her mind furiously for ideas as her power lifted her off her hooves and suspended her in the air. I need a solution! Think! And in a flash of inspiration, she found it. It was so glaringly simple, but also extremely risky. Unlike the shield spell, which required complete command of her talent so as to spread the magic in a thin membrane, she could still teleport – but it was highly possible that she would have no control over where she ended up.
She focused as much of the wild aura as she could and powered the teleportation spell. The glare around her grew blinding, but then collapsed and was sucked within itself, disappearing in a wink of light.
Unnoticed by her, some of the excess energy leaked out. Passersby outside would notice the flash of light illuminating the library through the windows, then fading just as quickly. But well, the librarian was always trying out new spells…
Twilight groaned, stretching her throbbing limbs before slowly getting to her hooves. As she had foreseen, she could not recognize her surroundings at all. She was on a rugged surface, mist swirling around her and partially obscuring the rest of the world.
Cautiously, she examined herself for injuries; she had some bruises due to slamming into the rocky plain upon her reappearance from the teleportation, but luckily they were not severe. Her horn wasn’t spitting sparks anymore – as she had predicted, the teleportation spell had used most of the pent-up energy.
She slowly trotted up a nearby slope, pausing at the crest to survey the environment. She looked down to where she had rematerialized, wincing as she realized that she was actually standing on the lip of a crater that had most likely been created by the blast from her rogue teleportation. She shook her head and continued on. It's great that I could get away before I did any damage to Ponyville, but I need to find out where I am.
From what she could make out, she was on an outcrop about two-thirds of the way up a mountain, one of a series of jagged peaks that were half shrouded in mist and clouds. They formed a circular fort around a basin, which was overgrown with lush plant life – but Twilight couldn’t make out any more from her current height.
Geez, I must be further away from home than I thought I’d reach, she thought. She couldn’t see any pony dwellings at all. A sound caused her to snap her head upwards - a whimper, which seemed to have come from one of the rocky ledges above her. Hmm, should I investigate? The unicorn gazed around her with narrowed eyes, trying to pinpoint the direction the sound had come from.
She tested her balance on the slanting rock then half-crawled, half-pulled herself onto the higher ledge. As she scrambled to her hooves she heard the indistinct whimpering again, which she could now discern was coming from a secluded cave further along the ridge. There must be somepony, or some animal there that’s hurt.
Reaching the lichen-encrusted mouth of the cave Twilight took a wary step in, squinting to make out anything in the darkness therein.
“Hello?” she called, her voice echoing in the darkness.
She heard a faint rustling, and then – a musical voice, like fairy bells in her ears: “Twilight?”
Spike rushed back into the library, not even bothering to close the door as he raced to the kitchen as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.
“Twilight! Rarity!” he shouted. “They don’t have it! So you have to go to Zeco-”
His expression froze, slack-jawed with disbelief. There was nopony in the kitchen. “Twilight? Rarity?” he called again.
Maybe they went to another room? He ran out the kitchen and up the stairs to Twilight’s room, and flung the door open. “Hey!”
He searched every room in the library, but there was still no sign of the two ponies.
The dragon sat down on the lowest step of the stairs, and buried his face in his claws. Where did they go?
“Rarity?” Twilight said into the darkness, not daring to light up her horn for fear that her magic might run out of control again.
A soft blue glow kindled into existence, reflecting off the gloomy walls. “Twilight? Is that you?!”
The alabaster unicorn lay on the slick cave floor, shuddering in a heap of her own feathers.
“Yeah,” said Twilight, perplexed. She crossed to Rarity’s side and lay down close to her, almost wincing at the prickly sensations of the feathers but hiding the motion. More seriously, she could tell instantly that the fashionista’s body was very cold.
Rarity nuzzled Twilight weakly. “You found me so quickly… thank you.”
“Actually, I don’t know how you got here as well. I know I teleported here, but I don’t know where we are!” The enormity, and bizarreness, of the situation sank into the bookworm’s mind. “Do you know how you got here?”
The fair unicorn shook her head. “I was picked up roughly, and reappeared in a most brutal fashion! One of my hooves is hurt… sprained, but it is not that serious.”
Twilight leaned closer in concern. “Which one?”
Rarity showed her and the bookworm nuzzled it gently. She noticed absent-mindedly when raising her head to gaze into her love’s eyes that Rarity’s face was mostly covered with fuzzy down instead of proper feathers. “Does it hurt a lot?”
“Not that much darling… but I do have a bit of trouble when moving it.”
“I’ll help you when we have to walk.” Twilight rested her chin on a hoof, thinking. “We’ll have to find the way back. And if I’m not mistaken, some of my spell must have leaked when I teleported… stupid poison joke!”
Rarity shuffled, trying to get up. Twilight let her place her injured hoof around her shoulders to brace herself. The barbs of the stiffer feathers dug into her flesh, but she felt no pain. She couldn’t, not with the fashionista’s scent in her nose and her sweet voice murmuring her thanks in her ears.
They took an unsteady step, then steadier ones, and Rarity let the light from her horn fade as they emerged into the light outside.
Twilight slid down the outcrop, then supported Rarity as she did so too, making sure that she didn’t put pressure on her sprained hoof.
They made their way gingerly down the thin ledges around the mountain, mist and cloud billowing around them and the temperature growing chillier as they met cutting winds that blinded them with their ferocity, stinging like a million knives slicing at their skin. When the fog was too dense to see anything clearly the fashionista relit her horn and they hugged closely to the steep mountain sides.
Every so often they would pause to take a brief rest, sitting down and leaning against each other to share what warmth they could. Rarity was still shivering as late afternoon came, which was effectively sunset in the bleak craggy landscape.
Twilight wrapped her hooves around the fair unicorn. “Maybe we should find a place to stay for the night,” she suggested, “It’s getting dark.” If they didn’t start looking for a cave until after the sun set it would be too late; it would be gravely perilous to navigate in the dark, even with a unicorn illumination spell.
Rarity nodded, wincing as her swollen hoof continued to throb. She was grateful that Twilight had done her best to keep it from getting more serious, letting the fashionista brace herself on her whenever possible. She was tired already, and felt a bit guilty knowing Twilight had walked the same distance with her as an added burden.
They were both hungry, and they knew it, but there was simply no source of food on the slopes; the forest in the basin when they reached the ground was their only option for that.
Twilight gave Rarity a soft kiss on the cheek, just leaning there for a while, inhaling deeply her love’s fragrance. “Rarity, can you point a light there?” she asked, indicating the walls in front of them.
In response, Rarity made the glowing orb surrounding her horn glow brighter. It was wearying, but she kept it up. She could rest later. The light glanced off the steep rock face, various layers and outcrops rising like gigantic steps before them.
They peered into the folds of the mountain, trying to find a sheltered eave that could offer them protection from the elements.
“Hmm, how about there?” Twilight asked, pointing somewhere below them. “I think I saw something there.”
They trotted forward for a better viewing angle and Rarity obligingly aimed the light again, allowing them to discern a small shadowy indentation down below them.
“Let’s go see if that one’s okay,” said Twilight, frowning as she tried to plan the easiest way to get to the cave. This ledge or that ledge? Which one would be easier to get a purchase on? The slope?
When she was satisfied with a route, she turned her head, gazing into Rarity’s eyes. The alabaster unicorn smiled and nuzzled her. She felt weak from the day of exertion, but knowing that a brief respite awaited gave her some more energy. Twilight hefted Rarity’s foreleg back around her shoulder and they trotted over to the designated step in the rocks.
Twilight clambered down then reached out to help Rarity. She led the fashionista down to another ledge, which was wide enough for them to stand comfortably on. In this laborious fashion they made it down slowly, one level at a time, to the small eave.
It was much like the one in which Rarity had been teleported into in appearance, but now it was darker outside, even the outer lip of this cave was pitch black. Still, Rarity’s spell let them make out the major features of the fairly spacious cave.
Twilight found a spot on the floor that wasn’t too rough and cleared it of its light coating of dirt with her hoof. She grimaced; the stone surface was bound to be freezing if the temperature kept dropping with the onset of night, as it was already beginning to do. They had nothing to spread on the ground… Rarity was shivering enough as it was and Twilight was feeling the cold spread in her body as well.
“Um, can you heat this up with a warmth spell?” she asked, gesturing to the patch of ground she had cleaned. The spell was one that converted energy into heat, which was useful in many situations, but there was a major drawback – the spell caster would have to use up a significant amount of energy to power the process. She gazed at Rarity, worried that she might be too fatigued.
The designer nodded weakly, her eyelids heavy. She lowered her head and sent a pulse into the ground; almost all the remaining magic that she could muster. While the spell was only temporary, Twilight hoped that it would suffice; maybe Rarity could renew it every few hours after she got her rest. She cursed herself for not being able to use magic – but the risk that it would run amok again was too great.
They lay down on the warmed surface, Rarity adjusting her injured hoof so that she wasn’t resting on it. She felt miserable, lying on the bare ground, but she was too tired to care. And Twilight was beside her; there was nothing that sensation couldn’t make up for.
“Thank you…” she breathed, leaning into the bookworm. “I must have been such a burden…”
Later, Twilight couldn’t say why she didn’t answer with words but instead with actions: wrapping her forelegs around Rarity and pulling her into a deeper, more aggressive kiss than they had ever shared before. She pressed the fair unicorn to her chest as if reassuring herself that they would never separate, all the while kissing Rarity again and again, her mouth opening slightly, letting their breaths mingle, the heat from it forming small clouds of mist; night had fallen rapidly, and with it the temperature.
She closed her mouth around the fashionista’s lower lip, sucking it gently. Rarity moaned in her throat, and they forgot the cold, the fact that they were stranded, in danger of freezing and hungry. Twilight ran a hoof down her beloved’s back, the feathers smoothing along the trail she brushed.
She slowly pushed forward with her tongue and Rarity let her inside, licking at her tongue, then sucking it lovingly. Twilight’s tongue curved to the roof of Rarity’s mouth and tickled it, stroking gently. Rarity met the intruder with her own and the red-hot muscles entwined as they danced and swirled around each other.
Both ponies slowly pulled away from the kiss, their breaths ragged. “That's a nice way to warm ourselves…” Rarity giggled.
“We should keep on doing it, it’s getting really cold here,” Twilight replied, already moving in for another round.
“You’re really eager, aren’t you…?”
“Maybe.” Twilight smirked. Then it occurred to her that Rarity was acting a bit differently; usually the alabaster unicorn would take the lead in their more … physical interaction, but this time it was mostly her, Rarity not really doing anything but lying back.
She’s probably too tired to do anything, thought Twilight. But she hadn’t missed that her beloved was also doing something she normally despised – lying on the ground, in the dirt. Also, Rarity was covered in feathers, and had been hiking for a long distance – but she hadn’t complained about it at all. She’s still self-conscious about her looks, but she’s holding that all in… for me.
With that revelation, Twilight held Rarity even tighter, the warmth of the other unicorn filling her heart. “I love you,” she said, not really thinking about it; it came so naturally from her mouth, as naturally as breathing and exhaling.
“I love you, Twilight… I love you too, so much,” Rarity breathed, her eyes almost brimming up with tears of happiness. She snuggled into the lilac mare, her eyes half-lidded, content. It didn’t matter that they didn’t know where they were, or that they were spending the night in a cave in the mountains.
And there was no other pony around… so why not?
Rarity rolled Twilight onto her back. The adorable lavender mare let out a surprised squeak before the fashionista pounced on her.
Twilight felt her hooves scrabbling down Rarity’s back, rumpling her feathers – she risked it though. On a whim, she slapped Rarity’s flank.
Time seemed to stand still for the two of them, the only indication of its passing the steady reddening of their faces.
Twilight said, lamely, the first thing that floated up in her mind. “Uh… I’m thinking about when I should tell Princess Celestia and my parents.”
“Yes, that…” said Rarity, unfazed by the sudden change in their conversation, murmuring into Twilight’s shoulder. “And my parents as well, and our friends.”
“Only Pinkie knows now, right?” Twilight absent-mindedly drew a hoof up and down the torso of the feathered unicorn. “So yeah, we’ll have to find a chance to tell the others. I’m thinking of paying a visit to Canterlot… you should come and meet my parents – they don’t know… yet,” she said, trailing off.
“I don’t know how my parents will take it either, Twilight…”
“We’ll work this out, after we get back…”
There was no response; the fair unicorn had fallen asleep in Twilight’s forelegs. The bookworm smiled, gave her love a gentle kiss, then closed her eyes.
Twilight stretched, trying not to jostle the sleeping form of Rarity in her embrace. It was morning, the entrance of the cave bright, almost beckoning to her. The previous night they had woken once, shivering; Rarity had warmed the floor again with considerable effort.
The lavender unicorn gave Rarity a kiss on the cheek, causing her eyelids to flicker open, blinking and a bit disoriented.
“Good morning, Rarity,” said Twilight, brushing her love’s cheek with a tender hoof.
“Oof…” The fashionista stretched as well, and responded by pressing her lips to Twilight’s. They both had slight morning breath, but neither of them cared. The second time sleeping with Twilight… who’d have thought it would be in a cave? she thought drily.
Twilight’s stomach growled loudly, causing her to grin sheepishly. “So I guess we’d better get down this mountain quickly… is your hoof feeling better?”
Rarity examined her hoof; it was still a bit swollen, but when she moved it experimentally it didn’t hurt like the previous day, rather it was reduced to a duller throbbing. “It’s much better now, darling, and yes, we must hurry today.”
They got to their hooves, limbs a bit stiff from resting on the solid ground, and ambled to the mouth of the cave. The weather was much more pleasant, the brisk air of the early morning refreshing, but without the strong winds that they had experienced the previous day.
Rays of Celestia’s sunlight filtered through the mist, the golden particles dancing and swirling almost ethereally around the couple.
The basin looked closer than it had the previous night and they smiled in relief at each other, a bit weak from fasting but hopeful nonetheless. They trotted along the mountain, their going easier – or it was, at first.
Twilight felt it first, the subtle shifting of the foundation beneath her hooves. She frowned, and then continued, Rarity following her lead. Without warning the shift became more pronounced – it was like the very earth had been torn from under them, the rocks sliding and giving way, their hooves coming loose and unable to find anymore purchase.
Twilight and Rarity, the rocks collapsing far below them, felt their hooves scrabbling in thin air. They screamed out as gravity grasped them in its iron embrace, dragging them off the cliff edge and into free fall.
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Whew! As you can see, I've made some edits to the previous chapters. While it's not a re-write, I've smoothed some lines and paragraph indents etc., so it should be easier to read now. And here's a sleazy bonus that is Rarity's dream mentioned in Feel for Good Measure. The comments don't correlate because I shifted the chapter text around when doing the edits... sorry if it confuses you :) And hoof stomp as always, to awesome awesome proof-reader Starfall!