In the aftermath of eradicating the Plunderseeds and saving the Tree of Harmony…
It was getting late. Twilight was aware of this and she knew that, after the day she had, she should be getting to bed. Despite having a small role to play in the Summer Sun Celebration, it had been a tiring day, talking with the nobles of Canterlot and the need of having to keep up appearances being even more important now that she was a princess. By the end of it, she couldn’t wait to get home to Ponyville and the comfort of home. Spike had already succumbed to the latter, heading for bed almost as soon as they stepped inside the Golden Oak Library and relocked the front door. She knew she should do the same, but instead she was sitting next to the table in the library’s foyer, finally alone with her thoughts in the comfort of her home.
Naturally, her thoughts turned to the revelations that she and her friends had made in the last… however many hours had actually passed since Discord’s Plunderseeds started sprouting and creating havoc. Despite her annoyance with the draconequus for withholding this information from her and her friends, especially from Fluttershy, and trying to pass off his enjoying the chaos that had been caused as being a part of a lesson for her to learn, that wasn’t really at the front of her mind at the moment. Instead she was thinking about the Tree of Harmony and the mysterious box it had revealed.
As she’d first learned thanks to Zecora’s potion, the Tree of Harmony was where Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had originally found the Elements of Harmony, which they used to put an end to Discord’s never-ending chaos a thousand years ago. Despite removing the Elements from it, it apparently had had enough magic in it to keep Discord’s Plunderseeds at bay until now. It was hard to say if the vines from the seeds had started choking the life out of it once they began to sprout or if running out of magic was what caused it to start dying, but whatever the real cause, they’d had to return the Elements of Harmony to it to save it, and in return, it revealed a strange crystal box from a flower that sprouted at its roots.
The box itself was a real mystery. Neither Celestia nor Luna knew anything about it, and there were six keyholes on the top of it keeping it sealed shut. “There must be something important inside of it. It came from the Tree of Harmony after all,” Twilight reminded herself. As she continued to think, her head turned to the left and her gaze fell on one row of books on the bookshelf. Remembering what was there, she stood up and walked over to it, opening the secret compartment where Spike had found the book that helped them solve the problem of too many Pinkie Pies.
Inside, just where she left it, was the tubular container that the letter from Sonic and Tails had come in. She pulled it out with her magic and took it in her hooves, using her magic to open it and looking down at the Warp Ring inside. She’d decided not to take it with her when she was called to Canterlot for the Summer Sun Celebration, figuring that she wouldn’t have a lot of time to mess around with it, and instead put it in the container inside the secret compartment to keep it safe while she and Spike were gone.
She sighed as she looked down at it. Despite not having a kingdom to rule or any major responsibilities, being a princess was cutting into her time to pursue her own projects. She’d managed to infuse more magic into the ring and thought she was close to being able to reactivate it, but she still hadn’t been able to spend as much time with it as she wanted to. And now with the Elements of Harmony being gone and the box from the Tree of Harmony…
Twilight said softly to herself, “Rainbow Dash is right. We don’t have something to fall back on if Equestria is put in peril again. The chest from the Tree of Harmony might contain something to replace the Elements, or maybe it contains something else. Either way, it should take precedence.” She looked down at the ring again, “I’m going to have to pull out all the books I can find in the library to see if there’s anything that might mention something like this. That could take me a while. I hope they’ll understand.”
With that, she used her magic to close the tube and levitate it back into the compartment. She then closed it and moved the books on the shelf back into place to hide it. She then made her way up the stairs to the second floor, heading for bed. She had a lot of research to do when Celestia’s Sun came up in the morning.
After getting the Breezies home…
“Not a chance,” Twilight replied to Rainbow.
“You sure? What about a dragon? No? It doesn’t have to shoot fire!” Rainbow wondered as everpony started making their way back to Ponyville, the cyan pegasus continuing to probe her alicorn friend about her transformation spell as they all went. Everypony except for Fluttershy.
The shy pegasus remained where she was as she thought about what her experience with the Breezies had taught her, that kindness could take many forms and that there was such a thing as being too kind. But as she thought about this lesson, it brought to mind something else.
She remembered the day her and her friends had had contact with other worlds, particularly the worlds inside of storybooks. She remembered those worlds particularly because of two individuals: Erazor Djinn, a genie from one of those stories that had become twisted and evil, and Terios, a dark doppelganger of her friend Sonic that seemed to believe he was superior to the blue hedgehog. Between the two of them, they had almost twisted the kindness out of her that day.
While she hadn’t had much contact with Erazor Djinn, she had been shocked and horrified when Sonic had said that he’d essentially cremated the genie’s lamp with him inside of it, though it had been somewhat mitigated when she heard what he had done to Sonic’s friend Shahra beforehand. When the genie (or one in his likeness) had been resurrected by that horrible man Haman, she and Shahra had been planning to try to talk him out of his evil haze, only for Haman to interfere and leave sending him back as the group’s only option.
Terios had been a real eyeopener, though. He was the one who had nearly twisted her mind almost as bad as Discord had before he became her friend and good. Despite all the terrible things he had done to her and her friends, Fluttershy had been willing to look past all of it and give him a second chance when he pleaded for mercy, and at the time it had seemed like Sonic was going to too. She had attempted to comfort the other hedgehog and encourage him to change for the better, only to be suddenly torn away and see Sonic strike him down. She only later learned that Terios had attempted to kill her, and when that failed, a small part of him that invaded her mind tried to get her to surrender to him and give him a new body, but she had resisted and was able to purge him from her mind with the aid of the Elements of Harmony.
At the time, she thought that, despite what he was trying to do, her rejecting Terios had been a very cruel thing to do, but as she thought about what she had learned thanks to the Breezies, she realized it was in its own way an act of kindness. The same could be said for Sonic’s actions as well. Regardless of how exactly it happened, both Erazor Djinn and Terios had become utterly consumed by a lust for power. Nimue had been right back then; while Erazor Djinn might still have a chance based on what King Solomon had said, it was extremely unlikely that Terios could be changed for the better. But more than anything, she realized what had happened to them was a form of kindness as well. Not just for their respective worlds, but to them as well. If they couldn’t let go of their desires, then ending them might have been the only way to set them free from their self-destructive goals.
Fluttershy looked up at the flower Seabreeze had given her as she thought, “I think I understand now. To do the right thing, you sometimes have to do things that others might say is horrible, but just because you do the act doesn’t mean you’re bad. Sometimes an awful act really is the best thing you can do in a situation and others have to come to understand that.” As if in agreement with her thoughts, the flower shined like a rainbow for a moment.
At the end of the Equestria Games…
Spike smiled as he stood on the field watching the fireworks show that signaled the end of the Games, pleased to have finally done something right for the event that was official. It had been embarrassing for him to try and fail earlier in the day, but at least before this, he had managed to use his fire breath when it really counted. He hadn’t really wanted to let anypony down earlier, but he had to prove to himself that he could be as great as the crystal ponies thought he was.
“Oh man… I wonder if… uh… what was his name again? The blue guy! Geez, has it really been that long since the last time I thought about him? Uh… Sonic, that’s it! I wonder if he’s ever gotten caught up in the past before. For all that happened on that adventure we had, there’s probably still some things we don’t know about him. Well, guess I now know why he wasn’t that thrilled about having a statue of himself before; he didn’t think he’d earned it,” the baby dragon thought to himself.
He turned his attention back up to the fireworks. “Well, I guess I proved that I have the potential to be great too today. Maybe not the same way as him, but it could happen. After everything that happened today, I guess I should be humble about what I do. Although… it wouldn’t be too bad if I flaunted it every now and then, would it?”
The day after Tirek was returned to Tartarus…
Rainbow watched the scene quietly with the rest of her friends for a moment before she asked, “So… how long has she been out here doing this?” It was early in the afternoon and at the moment, Twilight was in the middle of what was left of the Golden Oak Library, frantically rummaging through the remains while Spike and the rest of her friends looked on from nearby.
“Since breakfast,” Spike flatly replied. He’d been watching her seemingly be on the verge of a nervous breakdown for hours and he was getting tired of it, but she hadn’t stopped looking for whatever it was she was searching for when he’d tried talking to her earlier, even lifting him up and setting him back down in the middle of his attempt.
Fluttershy looked at the baby dragon, “What is she looking for?”
Spike replied, “Beats me. She got real fascinated with the doughnuts when she came to the breakfast table before she suddenly turned into… this. At least she got outside without tearing up her new castle.”
Rarity sighed, “She must be trying to find everything that wasn’t destroyed by Tirek. That brute, completely destroying the library and her home the way he did…”
Applejack said, “Ah can understand bein’ sentimental, but this ain’t healthy fer her. We need ta get her ta stop this.”
Spike shrugged, “You can try. I didn’t have any luck snapping her out of it.”
Pinkie was the first to bounce forward, stopping at where the library’s front door used to be as she spoke, “Hiya, Twilight! Whatcha doing? Are you playing Hide-and-Seek with somepony? Can I play too?” Despite speaking in her usual bright and chipper tone, Twilight didn’t seem to hear her since she didn’t stop digging through the blackened remains around her.
She let out a yelp a few seconds later when she felt something wrap around her front followed by her hooves leaving the ground. She looked back to see it was Rainbow Dash, the cyan pegasus glaring at her as she held onto the lavender alicorn. “Twilight, that’s enough! I don’t know what you’re looking for, but you can’t ignore us like this! This has to stop!” she said.
Twilight’s hind legs flailed as she tried to get free while Rainbow dragged her backwards. As she was being dragged, her right hoof hit something in the rubble that made a distinctive *THUNK* sound. She immediately stopped struggling and stared at where her hoof had been. Rainbow stared as well, stopping due to being surprised by the sound. The rainbow-maned pegasus let out a shout before she hit the ground a moment later, Twilight suddenly dragging her down as she burst free and ran over to the spot. Rainbow let out a groan a moment later as he lifted her head up, looking up at Twilight.
The lavender alicorn was slightly turned away from her, sitting down as she picked up some sort of broken container in her hooves and held it out in front of her. As she brought it closer to her, she asked softly, “Is this it? Is it still…?” She shook it with her left hoof and a blackened object slid out onto her right hoof a moment later. She threw the container to the side to free up her left hoof, breaking it further while her left hoof brushed the object. After a few moments of this, she stopped and looked down at it for a moment before holding it to her chest, murmuring, “I found it… I found it…”
By this time, Rainbow had gotten back to her hooves and Pinkie and the others had come closer, seeing that Twilight had calmed down slightly. “Uh, Twilight?” Applejack asked as they approached her.
“I found it…” Twilight murmured again, still holding the object to her chest.
Rainbow was close enough to hear her and angrily demanded, “What? What did you find, Twilight?” The speedy flyer wasn’t exactly happy at the lavender alicorn for making her crash, some of the ashes still on her face, but it quickly faded when her friend turned around and showed the object to them.
It was a big golden ring, although it wasn’t too golden at the moment. It was mostly black, with hints of a magenta sheen being underneath the blackness. Everyone immediately recognized it. “Mah stars… Isn’t that…?” Applejack softly asked. Twilight nodded in reply, which caused Applejack to admit, “Ah completely forgot about that thing…”
Twilight looked down, “I did too, until this morning…” Spike rubbed the back of his head nervously at that. It wasn’t a rainbow that reminded her of the Warp Ring; it was the doughnuts.
Rainbow also rubbed her head as she said, “We… I thought you were trying to find everything that was in the library, Twilight. I didn’t know you were looking for something specific…”
Twilight replied, “It’s all right, Rainbow. It makes sense you’d come to that conclusion.” She looked off to the side, “I know… pretty much everything that was in the library is gone. I’ll have to see how much of it I can replace.” She looked back down at the ring, “But there are some things that definitely can’t be replaced… This is one of them…”
Spike shifted to the side a bit and felt his right foot step on something that felt different, followed by a cracking sound a moment later that caught everyone’s attention. He turned and bent down, picking up the object and blowing the ashes off of it to see what it was. It was a picture frame, or at least it was. The explosion had pretty much destroyed it, the cracking sound having come from some of bits of glass that had been on it. The picture was still inside of it though and he pulled it out of the mangled frame, looking at it for a moment before turning and walking over to Twilight. “Twilight…” he murmured as he held it out to her, the alicorn taking it with her magic and holding it up to look at it.
It was none other than the group photo that was taken at the end of Sonic’s birthday party. While the frame had been able to protect it, the photo had not escaped the flames unscathed. The picture had some brown marks as did the edges, the edges being somewhat torn. The damage wasn’t bad enough that it was impossible to see the scene and tell who was who, though. Twilight turned it around and showed it to everyone else.
“It’s been so long since we’ve seen them…” Pinkie sighed sadly.
“You had to know, didn’t you, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked.
Twilight took the photo in her left hoof and hugged it and the Warp Ring to her chest as she sniffled, “I did. I know it’s been a long time, but… I don’t want to lose them too…”
Everyone gathered around her, Rarity saying, “There, there, darling… It’s okay…” as they all came together in a hug.
A few days after the Battle of the Bands…
Twilight walked into her castle’s library, finally caught up with everything that she had come in while she was helping Sunset Shimmer and the Rainbooms free CHS and protect the other world from the Dazzlings. Now that peace had returned to the school and she and Spike were home, there was something she wanted to puzzle over. She walked over to the desk in the middle of the room and sat behind it as she pulled open one of its drawers. Inside, all by itself, was the Warp Ring. Thanks to some polish from Rarity and some grease from Applejack, they had been able to get most of the blackness off and expose the gold again. It still had some scorch marks on it that they couldn’t get out, but they had decided that they had to let that go.
Twilight pulled it out and held it in her hoof, moving it around a bit as she thought about earlier. A few days ago, she’d been able to make the portal to Sunset Shimmer’s world open ahead of time thanks to a suggestion by Pinkie Pie. With the use of some machinery and the book that once belong to Princess Celestia that Sunset used, with the book she still had, to alert her that there was trouble, she’d made it possible to pass between the two worlds as she or anypony else pleased and she promised to travel back to the other world sometime.
While it hadn’t taken her long to put that together, she felt that she was still a long way from getting the Warp Ring to do what she wanted it to. Thanks to her alicorn magic, she had been able to charge the ring completely, and it showed as it now had a magenta luster that it didn’t have before. Despite that, it seemed she was only able to use it to travel to places she’d been to in Equestria, and that wasn’t worth wasting all of its energy on. Anytime she thought of one of the places in Sonic’s world, even if it was one of the worlds in Eggman’s Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park, the portal closed. It didn’t seem like it was able to make the trip.
“Pinkie was right about using the magic in the book to open the portal, but I don’t have anything that could be used the same way from Sonic’s world. If I want to do the same with the Warp Ring, I’m going to have to find something else,” she thought. She let her mind wander back to what happened in the other world, remembering that the Dazzlings had shown up because of the Equestrian magic that had been brought over through the Element of Magic, which her friends discovered that they had retained. As she thought about this, a new thought entered her head. “When we powered up to fight the Time Eater, we were able to do so because Sonic channeled the power of the Chaos Emeralds into us the same way I channeled magic into my human friends, and the magic stayed with them this entire time. Could the same be true for the Chaos Emeralds’ power? If so, can we draw it out too? If we could…”
She sat up straight as she asked aloud, “Could it be possible to learn to use Chaos Control?” As she came back to herself, she looked around the library and sighed, “Well, I guess I really should settle into this castle and figure out what we’re supposed to do with it before I worry about that.” She placed the ring back inside the drawer and slid it closed, looking at it for a moment before standing up and exiting the library. She decided that, while Spike was taking a nap, she would bring her friends over and discuss with them what they should do next.
“…Sonic.” The blue hedgehog in question double-checked his electronic letter on his Miles Electronic before sending it on its way. Once he’d gotten his notification that the letter had been sent, he leaned back against the tree he was seated under and enjoyed the breeze blowing through the air. It was good to feel that again, especially after everything that happened on the Lost Hex.
It hadn’t been long, just a couple of hours ago in fact, since he and Tails had returned from the strange planet and the adventure was still fresh in his mind. He’d taken off on his friends a little while ago saying he was going to go look for something, and he technically hadn’t been lying. He was looking for some peace and quiet so that he could write his letter and think about everything he had included in it.
He’d been surprised when Tails accused him of not trusting him to stop Eggman’s machine. Their alliance with the doctor to stop the Deadly Six, from the start, was tentative and shaky at best. Had he really made it seem like he put so much faith in Eggman in the fox’s eyes? He just felt really stupid for jumping ahead so quickly and causing the Zeti to take complete control. And then he did it again and caused Tails to get captured by them. He sighed to himself; hadn’t he already learned to know better long ago?
“I guess it is possible to forget things without meaning to. Guess I know how Twilight felt,” he muttered. He thought about the lavender unicorn and her friends for a minute before his thoughts turned back to the Lost Hex, specifically to the Zeti. Zavok, Zazz, Zomom, Master Zik, Zeena, and Zor were the names of the Zeti that made up the Deadly Six, and they had proven to be pretty dangerous once they got loose. Each of them had been able to take quite a bit of punishment before they finally fell, though Sonic was unsure what happened to them afterwards. Still, once he and Tails had gotten past them and Eggman, who betrayed them as expected, they were able to not only stop the machine that stole the energy from their world, but send it back.
As he thought about Twilight and her friends again, he couldn’t help but smirk as he imagined what it might be like for them to go up against the Deadly Six. “Rainbows and black and white. Opposites attract! The greatest team match between two worlds. Ponies versus Zeti. Life versus Death. Keepers of Harmony versus Bringers of Destruction,” he snickered. Pushing the thought out of his mind and getting serious again, he knew that the Deadly Six actually were dangerous and was glad that they never got off of the Lost Hex as far as he could tell, but who knows what could happen next? It seemed like the threats Eggman was finding were mounting, and as a result the stakes were too.
He looked up at the sky as he wondered to himself, “Is the day going to come where the Resistance is needed again?”