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Undome Tinwe

Power, here, failed the deep imagining: but already my desire and will were rolled, like a wheel that is turned, equally, by the Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.

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I'm Dreaming of a Purple Christmas 4: Kingdom of the Crystal Spirit · 5:27pm Dec 25th, 2020

It's that time of year again.

I cheated a little and started a few days early because this idea really grabbed me. This fic's a little rougher than my previous ones, so I'll probably make extensive edits to it before posting it sometime next year (aiming for before June like in previous years). For now, have a story about Twilight and Rarity seeking out the advice of an ancient spirit about how to deal with the whole mortal/immortal thing.

Osto Vinya nauva ustaina!

Edit: Now published as a fic!

"So exactly how many of these magical mirrors did Star Swirl create, exactly?" Rarity asked, trying to distract herself from the fear gnawing at her heart.

"You know, I asked him about that once," Twilight replied. "He said his notes listed six hundred and sixteen experiments on reflective surfaces, of varying levels of success, but all of them were actually working up to making this one mirror." Her horn glowed as she pulled off the tarp covering the object in question.

At first glance, it looked like an ordinary mirror, with minimal gilding around the wooden frame holding a round oval sheet of silver-plated glass. Rarity stared into the reflected image, seeing her herself standing next to her wife. Twilight had grown so much since she'd first taken over for Celestia, dwarfing Rarity as the unicorn's head barely reached the princess' neck. As Rarity liked to tease, it was as if she would continued to grow taller and taller with each passing year.

Just as Rarity was growing older and older.

"We don't have to do this," Twilight said softly, concern as clear on her expression as Rarity's reticence was on hers. "There's still other options we can explore."

The stripe of silver-gray in Rarity's mane seemed to lose more of its lustre before her eyes, and Rarity could have sworn that she could see her wrinkles spreading across her face. It was all just the product of an overactive imagination, she knew, but the timer that loomed above them was very real, as were the signs that Rarity's time was slowly running out.'

"It's been over a decade, dear," Rarity replied, letting her previous resolve wash over her. "Heaven knows I'm not getting any younger. If there's a way for me to not have to part with you, then we may need all the time we can possibly get to ensure it happens. And if there isn't, then I'd rather spend the remainder of my life enjoying my days with my beloved, rather than going on dreadful quests to the least-fashionable edges of Equestria searching for something impossible."

"We'll find a way." The words were automatic, spoken by Twilight a thousand times before whenever Rarity brought up the possibility of failure. "There's still so many methods we haven't tried. Daring Do's account of Shangri-Llama—"

Rarity silenced her with a kiss. "Let's just see what happens here first, shall we?"

It looked like Twilight was going to push further, but the look on Rarity's face must have stopped her. "Be careful," she said. "We have very few academic accounts of the Temporally-Decoupled Aetheric Equilibrium Singularity. Most of what I could find are embellished accounts that were more focused on telling an exciting story than providing an accurate account of the realm and the entity who resides in it."

"It's hardly the first time we've had to rely on stories rather than peer-reviewed papers." Rarity shot her wife a stern glare. "And since we're treading upon the purview of the poets, would it kill you to use the name given to it by the explorers rather than the scholars? Where's the flair in travelling to the Temporally-Decoupled... whatever you called it?"

Twilight sighed, though a small peeked through her look of disappointment. "Fine. We don't know what's going to happen when we walk through that portal to The Realm Beyond Time. Though, it really should be The Realm Beyond Time And Space, if we're being accurate, since—"

"Twilight," Rarity warned, her glare never wavering.

"I hope the answers we find will be scientifically precise, at least," Twilight muttered under her breath. Her horn glowed as she channeled magic into the mirror in a complex spell that Rarity could only grasp the generalities of. "Anyways, time and space are both malleable in that realm, so be careful. Our bodies will be locked in stasis, so even if we get stuck in there for a long time it technically won't affect your lifespan, but it probably still won't be pleasant to spend a subjective century in there. The portal's stabilization properties guarantee that we'll exit at the same time and place as we enter, so we don't have to worry about returning and finding ourselves a hundred years in the future."

Rarity nodded. "Like poor Winking RIp. Such a heartbreaking story."

"From what I can tell, Winking Rip walked through a leyline confluence that was tuned to the Realm, so that was particularly unstable. At worst, we might end up a few minutes in the future when we exit. Assuming the Spirit doesn't mess with us."

"Right." A sigh escaped from Rarity's lips. "One of these days, we'll have to ask the wisdom of an immortal being who isn't known for cryptic clues and tests of virtue."

"We should be prepared for anything," Twilight said. "Who knows what kind of test the Unbound Spirit my throw at us. We don't know if it's even a pony, let alone how it might think, but it might know the answer of how we can grant you immortality. Maybe."

"I'll take our chances." Rarity watched as Twilight's spell completed, and the surface of the mirror rippled and shifted until it depicted a yawning black void. She gulped. "Well, no time like the present, I suppose."

"I'll be with you every step of the way." 

The promise set Rarity's heart somewhat at ease, and she put on a brave smile as she reached out to twirl her tails around Twilight's, taking comfort in their shared connection. "With you at my side, my love, what have to possibly worry about?"

Twilight laughed. "I'm sure you'll find something else in my wardrobe that absolutely needs to be reworked."

"I wouldn't have to if you wouldn't stop growing." Both of them avoided mentioning the effects of the passage of time on Rarity, but the implication hung in the air, beckoning them towards the portal and hope for their future.

"I love you," Twilight said, as they took the first step forward.

"And I you, my love," Rarity replied as they passed through the mirror and the world vanished around them.

Rarity had far more experience with portals to different realms than a fashion designer should reasonably possess, and so she was prepared for the rather unpleasant sensation of being discorporated and reassembled elsewhere, Still, she shivered as she felt herself manifest into existence once again, all of her muscles twitching as she confirmed that every part of her body still worked.

Her eyes also adjusted to their new reality, and she glanced around to find herself standing on what appeared to be a large stone disc inscribed with some sort of spell circle that was far too advanced for Rarity to even begin to understand. Beyond that was an endless darkness dotted with tiny points of light, like stars in the night sky.

Before Rarity could get lost in the patterns of these lights, she noticed an ornate wooden door with silver trim around the edges and a note pinned to the front written in elegant calligraphy.

It's rude to keep a lady waiting, especially one who might hold the key to your future.

Rarity tilted her head and confirmed that there was nothing behind the door before sharing a glance with Twilight. "I don't suppose there's much else for us to do," she said with a shrug.

"Be careful." Twilight's horn lit up and she opened it, revealing what appeared to be a tastefully-decorated sitting room in a style similar to what was in fashion in Canterlot during her first Grand Galloping Gala.

Together, they stepped through the door, and Rarity froze as she saw the figure seated on a chaise lounge on her left.

"Hello, my dears," the pony greeted them with a wave of her hoof. "Welcome to The Realm Beyond Time. I shall be your lovely host today." She was a white-coated pony with a curly purple mane, and a cutie mark of three blue diamonds. Unlike the other pony of the same description in the room, however, she had no gray stripe in her hair, and no wrinkles anywhere.

In fact, she looked exactly as Rarity had the day she'd first met Twilight.

Fortunately, Rarity's etiquette training took over while the rest of her mind reeled at this image before her, and she curtsied gracefully. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Are you the spirit who lives in this realm?"

The other Rarity nodded. "I am the Unbound Spirit, as you call her. Though, as you may have guessed, I am using a spell to hide my true form."

Indeed, once Rarity had gotten over her initial shock, it was quite clear that there was a haze of magic surrounding the other pony, and even to her untrained magical senses it was obvious that an illusion spell was being cast.

Rarity also felt magic being channelled beside her and turned to see Twilight's eyes glowing with purple light.  Those eyes widened as she shouted, "The Spirit, her true form—!"

There wasn't even a flash of magic or the sound of a teleportation spell being cast. One moment, her beloved was standing in front of her, and the next moment, she was gone, as if she had never existed, her sentence cut off without being finished.

Rarity immediately shifted into a defensive stance as she faced the Spirit. "What have you done to her?" she demanded, ready to resort to violence to save Twilight if necessary, even if she was woefully unprepared to fight in this realm.

The Spirit waved a hoof dismissively. "There's no need to worry, dear. I've simply moved her forward in time from our perspective. She'll return to our timeline once we finish our little chat. Wouldn't want her ruining my fun early now with her magic, would we?" She gestured towards a chair across from her. "Now, why don't you get comfortable and we can begin."

Rarity eyed her doppelganger warily but did as instructed. At the end of the day, she had no choice but to trust her word, and she needed the Spirit's answers if she had them.

"I must say, I've been quite looking forward to your arrival," the Spirit said, leaning back in a relaxed but still elegant pose.

"I get that quite often," Rarity replied airily, trying to channel her usual confidence.

"I imagine you do." Again, without any indication of magic, a porcelain tea set appeared on the table between them. The Spirit's horn lit up as she poured a steaming cup for each of them and offered one to Rarity. "Orange Pekoe?"

"Thank you." The tea was perfectly steeped and Rarity took a moment to enjoy the subtle notes in the flavour as it washed over her tongue. "Oh, this is lovely! I must admit, though, that I was not expecting to have a pleasant chat over tea when I first entered this realm."

The Spirit rolled her eyes. "Not every trial needs to be straight out of a Daring Do book," she said as she sipped at her own tea. "If Rainbow Dash had come through the portal, then perhaps she would have found riddles and perilous feats of athletics waiting for her, but you're not the type of mare whose true nature shines in those sorts of predicaments, are you?"

"I suppose not," Rarity allowed. "So my trial is to be a conversation with myself, is it?"

"You've always been an introspective mare," the Spirit replied. "So I can't think of a better form to test you with." She twirled her purple mane around a hoof as she titled her head up and struck a pose. "Besides, a spirit likes to feel beautiful every so often, especially in the presence of one who can appreciate it."

Despite the situation, Rarity couldn't help but giggle. "Well, I cannot fault you there. I do hope this isn't going to be a trial of my modesty."

"I'm not in the business of giving out impossible trials," the Spirit replied. "Though, tempting you with what you desire most is always a good for a fun test of character."

"i was going to comment on that," Rarity said softly. "It's rather cruel, isn't it, to show a dying mare a vision of herself from her youth? That is, unless you really do hold the answers I came to this realm for." She hid her expression behind her teacup, trying not to show how hard her heart was hammering away in her chest as she waited for the Spirit's answer.

"I have an answer to your predicament," the Spirit replied. "But, as you may imagine, it comes at a cost."

"Of course it does." Rarity couldn't help the wry smile. "Nothing is ever so simple with you immortals, is it?"

"Considering the fact that you married one," the Spirit replied with a mirrored grin, "you really have no one else to blame but yourself. You chose to bind your fate to that of someone much more long-lived than you, and now you're trying to escape the consequences of your actions. The question, of course, is why? Why do you fear death?"

Rarity weighed her answers before replying simply, "I don't imagine anypony wants to die."

"Very few do, it's true," the Spirit allowed. "But everypony has a different reason for wanting to live. Perhaps I should ask a different question. Why do you seek immortality?"

"Twilight," Rarity replied without hesitation. That was why she was here, after all. "I can't in good conscience allow her to live through an eternity of grief without me, not if it is within my power to prevent such a terrible fate."

The Spirit raised an eyebrow. "If your wife was here, she'd probably point out that living entirely for another pony is not a healthy mindset to posess."

"Ah, but you asked me why I want to live forever," Rarity pointed out. "Not what I would do with that eternal life. I know I would get bored in time of doing nothing but doting over my darling dearest, though it would take quite some time before I reached that point."

The Spirit's smile returned. "A very long time, perhaps."

Rarity acknowledged that statement with a nod before continuing. "Art is a pursuit without end, and as princess consort, I will always have the ponies of Equestria to look over." She paused. "I've discussed this with Twilight before, you know. If you're asking if I'll go mad from living as long as an alicorn, I can't rightly tell the future, but I do believe I'll have plenty to occupy myself with."

To her surprise, the Spirit laughed gently. "Oh, I've already decided on my own course of action," she said afterwards. "I simply want to make sure you've thought your own situation through entirely before I continue."

"I see," Rarity replied as eyed the Spirit warily, unable to tell if this was a good development or not.

"This shan't take long, I promise," the Spirit. "You can probably already guess the next question I am about to ask. It's cliche enough that I can't imagine you haven't discussed at length with your beloved. Still, it's quite the romantic question, if phrased correctly."

"Let me guess: what would I be willing to give up for an eternity with Twilight?"

Another chuckle from the Spirit. "Oh, this is much more fun than my usual encounters with adventurers. The same old script does get dull after a while. Yes, the price of immortality can be quite high: are you prepared to pay it?"

"It depends on what exactly that price is," Rarity replied. "Twilight and I agreed from the start we wouldn't allow anyone else to be hurt. Obviously, we could have used dark magic to prolong my existence, but I wouldn't be much of an Element of Generosity if I had to take life to sustain my own, would I?"

"Of course," the Spirit said. "And if the price was more personal?"

"Then we shall see." Rarity gestured towars the spirit and her current appearance. "Really, though, what mare wouldn't be willing to make sacrifices to look like that. I do miss being that youthful, I must admit."

The Spirit threw her head back, allowing her curled mane to sway back and forth as she stared her own white hoof. "Yes, it would be quite nice to look this fabulous all the time. Did it ever occur to you that your beloved will be forever seen as a beautiful mare in her prime, no matter what your ultimate fate is?"

"It has, and I would be jealous," Rarity said, "but it really couldn't happen to a more deserving mare."

"True enough. And you would be right there by her side, up until the end." The levity faded from the Spirit's tone. "Would you be willing to give thati up? The chance to rule Equestria by her side?"

Rarity paused. "Well, as you may recall, the main reason for me to seek out immortality is so that Twilight wouldn't have to lose me."

"I didn't say she would lose you, only that you wouldn't be able to stand by her side. You wouldn't be able to step foot in Equestria again."

"Ah, I see." Rarity let the Spirit's words sink in. "So the price of immortality is exile, then?"

"Exile and service." The Spirit paused. "Well, technically, the service is optional, but things can get quite dull after a while, and helping others is a good way to pass the time."

"I suppose if I can still help ponies, then whatever the path to immortality is can't that that bad." Rarity set down her teacup, focusing her full attention on her conversational partner. "And Twilight would still be able to see me?"

"As often as she wished," the Spirit replied.

"Very well, then." Rarity smiled. "I'm not the type of mare to sign a contract without reading the fine print, but I think I might be willing to pay your price for an eternity with my beloved."

The Spirit returned her smile. It was so much like looking at a mirror into the past, and Rarity felt a sense of unease in her stomach grow as the conversation seemed to reach its end. "In that case, I think it's time I showed you my true form."

Her horn glowed with the same blue magic as Rarity's, and a moment later, the illusion spell around her form was dispelled.

Rarity gasped.

"You know, as much as I enjoyed taking on our younger form, I have to admit that there's a certain grace that one can only obtain with age." The Spirit said, looking exactly the same except with a few more wrinkles and a stripe of silver-gray running through her mane that made her look far more distinguished.

Rarity was dimly aware that her mouth was open, but she couldn't form any words. The implications of the sight before her were still coursing through her mind, flooding her with far too many emotions to process.

"I often have that effect on people," the other Rarity said smugly, "though this is the first time I've stunned myself into silence. Really, darling, you should be used to such fabulosity by now, no?"

"I— You—" Rarity shook her head, forcing her mind to get a grip on itself. Twilight had told her to prepare for anything, and years of adventuring had given her the resolve to keep a clear head even when faced with the impossible. "I do believe I have some questions, Spirit."

"Twilight told you that this realm exists beyond time, yes?" The Spirit replied. "One of the effects of that is that one does not age in here. Thus, so long as one does not leave..."

"One would essentially be immortal," Rarity murmured. "At the cost of exile. Quite the double-edged sword."

"It's not so bad," the Spirit waved a hood and the room faded away, replaced by what appeared to be a crossroad. "In time, it's possible to bend this realm to your will, so that you can travel to any time and place you wish, and Twilight was kind enough to help me create an artifact that let me observe Equestria." A mirror appeared in front of her, and Rarity saw herself meeting Twilight for the first time at the town hall.

"So you're me from the future, then?" In a realm where apparently anything could happen, that fact was definitely worth confirming.

"As I said, time is odd in this realm," the Spirit said. "I've met and advised ponies from before Equestria's founding, and I've spoken with those who won't be born until ponies travel among the stars. I must say, in about five hundred years after you entered that portal, there are going to be some very interesting upheavals in the world of fashion, and I'm still not sure I how I feel about them, but the invention of new synthetic fabrics is very much a boon to all of us."

Five hundred years. Rarity had come to this realm seeking the ability to see what the world held for them hundreds of years int he future, and now she was finally on the cusp of getting what she desired at a very high cost. "So that's it, then? I'm going to stay in this place forever and become the Unbound Spirit of legend?"

"Perhaps," the Spirit replied. "You have a choice to make, Rarity. You can stay here, and I can teach you all I know of weaving the fabric of space and time in this world so that you travel where and when you wish, and become advisor to countless ponies. Or you can leave, and try to find another way to get what you want."

Rarity frowned. "You already know what answer I'm going to give," she said, gesturing towards herself from the future. "After all, you're me, are you not?"

"Am I?" the Spirit replied? "Time and space are funny things. Perhaps I'm you from another timeline — you already know that multiple worlds exist. Or perhaps I'm you from the future, but if you choose to reject my offer, I will fade away and history will rewrite itself so that the Unbound Spirit never existed in the first place. You might even leave now and return in a week or a month, still looking as you do now, and accept." As she spoke, a different path in the crossroad lit up.

And then, the world faded away again, and it was just Rarity, the Spirit, and an endless void. "The point being, you have a choice to make right now, and I want you to make it with full knowledge of what you would gain and lose. If you have any more questions, I will answer what I can."

It was obvious what th first question to ask was. "What of Twilight? From your perspective, you've seen her again, yes?"

"Quite often, actually," the Spirit replied. "Twilight possesses the mirror, and visits me once a week from her perspective when she can. I'm careful to weave her visits into my timeline so that they happen sequentially from my perspective. It's not enough, but then again, is there any such thing as enough time with one's true love?"

"No, there really isn't," Rarity said faintly. It was all too much for a mere mortal such as herself to process. But, at the end of the day, the Spirit seemed happy, and she was still with Twilight. That was all she wanted, right? "I take it you have plenty of time to perfect your craft as well."

"Outside of pony watching, there isn't much else to do here," the other Rarity said. "And with my control over time, I can spend as much time as I wish working on a piece, with no worries about deadlines or staying current. Twilight still wears my designs when she can."

There were a million other considerations to think on.  A thousand more questions to ask. Rarity's mind blanked as she struggled to determine which to ask next.

The Spirit seemed to notice her dithering, and added, "of course, much of my time is spent looking to see how I can best help those who come into my realm. Being a guiding spirit is hard work, you know."

And there it was. With that, Rarity felt most of her greatest concerns fade away as she thought of all of the stories of all of the ponies who had sought the Unbound Spirit for aid. Those ponies needed her, and she couldn't let them down. "In that case, I'd be happy to begin my eternity with Twilight here. Though, I'll likely need a few weeks to get my affairs in order." Saying goodbye would be difficult, though Rarity supposed that the others could visit her as well. It was something to keep in mind, at least, to make the existence she was about to choose less lonely.

"We have all the time in the world," the future Rarity said with a smirk. "Now then, shall we share the good news with our beloved?"

At Rarity's nod, her future self turned her head to stare at a spot next to them. A moment later, Twilight reappeared with just as little fanfare as when she'd disappeared, her expression still shocked and the rest of hr sentence still spilling out.

"—looks exactly like you!" Twilight blinked as she looked around, taking in the sight of the Spirit without her glamour. "Wait, what happened?"

"Temporal displacement relative to the timeline your wife and myself are sharing at the moment," the older Rarity explained. "From our perspective, you've been gone less than fifteen minutes."

it took Twilight a moment to process that, and then she said, "I see." Her eyes narrowed. "So you're the Unbound Spirit?"

"She is," Rarity said, cutting in. "And she's also myself from the future. It seems we found an answer to my little mortality problem after all."

To her credit, Twilight put together the pieces rather quickly. "The stasis effect of this realm," she said by way of explanation, looking at both of them for confirmation. "It would stop you from aging so long as you never left."

The Spirit nodded. "Your wife has just agreed to become my pupil in exchange for an eternity with you. I'll let the two of you sort our the logistics in your own time."

That got a raised eyebrow from Rarity. "You aren't going to tell us what we'll decide? This is your past, after all."

"Oh, heavens no," her older self said, placing a dramatic hoof over her heart. "Where would be the fun in that? No, you must live through the excitement, the drama, the trials and tribulations of becoming the Unbound Spirit. I'm not going to tell you what to say to any of the visitors to this realm. After all, would you go back in time given the opportunity and show yourself all the dresses she has yet to make?"

"Of course not," Rarity replied instantly. "It would ruin any sense of accomplishment and destroy my confidence in my own abilities and— oh." She paused. "I see."

"Exactly." The Spirit grinned. "Oh, I do look forward to this. I already know you'll be a very sharp student, and it will be nice to spend some time with a good conversationalist."

"You do realize that you're just complimenting yourself, right?" Twilight said dryly before turning to the younger Rarity. "She really is you from the future, huh? Good to know that some things never change."

"That they do not," the older Rarity said, her smile turning warm as she faced Twilight. "You remain ridiculously easy to tease and fluster even after all these years, and I have no qualms about taking advantage of your future self's weaknesses to turn her into a stammering mess when she comes to visit. Rarity is going to have so much fun learning how to do that."

Twilight blushed. "Oh stars," she whispered, the most adorably embarrassed expression on her face.

Rarity glanced at the Unbound Spirit. A being from the very beginning of pony history, the center of so many legends, who had seen more than she thought she could ever imagine. And yet, right now, she saw herself in this eternal mentor's mirthful eyes, and she smiled.

There would be so much more to do. Questions that needed to be answered, and soon the pain of separating herself from all she knew would come. But right now, in this moment, the future had never looked brighter.

Rarity held out a hoof towards her wife. "So, my love, how do you feel about being married to an immortal being of legend?"

Twilight smiled back. "I always knew you were going to make history, Rarity. And I'll be here to support you every step of the way, in whatever way you need me to."

Comments ( 7 )

A bit like the setting of IE but less drama and heartbreak, huh. Loved all the hints to the spirit's identity.

I wonder why there aren't infinitely many spirits. Does the older one leave the realm after teaching the younger one?

What a fabulous work-around - love it!

Thank you for sharing!

This was amazing!

Exquisite bit of meta-fabulosity. It has me wondering what lengths Twilight will go to preserve her other friends. (Though with Dash, that's a real challenge. The biggest risk to her continued existence is Dash herself.)

Thank you for a lovely present.

More like she unkinks her personal timeline and gets back to business. If you imagine Rarity's personal experience as a winding, occasionally overlapping path relative to time as Equestria experiences it, it's a bit easier to process.

I loved this so much.

In terms of future Rarity helping younger Rarity learn how to manipulate the realm this brings up an interesting question. How did Rarity actually learn how to manipulate the realm? If what is presented is true then the future Rarity learned it from her future self when she origionally went to seek the same very answer herself when she was younger. It creates a paradox of her always having learned it from herself. This very moment is a moment the current Rarity is going to have to do in the future from the other perspective too. Basically, if Rarity doesn't commit to doing this then the Unbound Spirit doesn't ever become a thing and pursuing the option of talking to the Unbound Spirit isn't ever an option that comes up.

Nice. :)

Absolutely lovely! Wish I could add it to my favorites list.

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