Rockspot was cowering, his eyes tightly clenched shut as he squatted against the wooden floor of the courtyard. The world grew silent as a hoof tapped slowly on his little shoulder. He gazed up with moist eyes to see his father and older brother smiling at him. Slowly, the entire Turnip family stood up alongside several other ponies. The villagers of Windthrow gazed skyward as inch by inch, the mists began to dissipate.
It was a slow process at first. As the minutes piled up on one another, the fog unraveled faster and faster. Ironhoof gazed along with his wife. Fulltrot stood at Hushtail's side, holding the elder upright. Astral and his fellow unicorns started lowering their magical forcefields as the air became clearer and clearer.
Soon, the streets and alleyways of Windthrow opened completely. The multiple wooden buildings showed in their entirety. The platforms and railings became visible. Even the body of the mountain below and the forests stretching beyond revealed themselves in pristine glory.
Finally, a golden glow settled upon the loft village as a gorgeous sunrise pierced the summit of the mountains above. The dwelling was bathed in an ethereal twilight, evoking colors that had remained dormant and obscured for so long.
There was not a single monster present. As the mists disappeared, so did all ugliness and danger. Birds flocked from treetop to treetop below, occasionally peaking above the edge of the hanging township. With the advent of evening, stars were born overhead. The world felt fresh, new, and reborn. Windthrow was at the roof of it all.
When the cheers began, they emanated over the landscape like sirens through a deep gorge. Earth ponies danced and embraced each other atop the multiple platforms. Several guards tossed their armor, whooping and hollering. Loved ones held each other close and greeted the first clear night with tears.
The Turnip family was no different. Red Senior and his wife nuzzled closely while Red Junior, Rockspot, and the rest trotted in eager, chattering circles. Ironhoof and his significant other exchanged a few tender words amidst the deafening celebration within the central courtyard. Fulltrot was being congratulated by multiple peers and subordinates, many of whom stopped celebrating just long enough to give him a smile and a hoof-shake. Dazed, confused, but ultimately cheerful, Fulltrot could only smile in disbelief at the new world that had been shrouded from him for nearly a decade.
The only ponies who were anything but jubilant were Hushtail and Sladesteed. As the entire village rejoiced, they stood in a quiet slump, with several moving bodies separating them. Their eyes met, along with their dullness and shame, and they merely hung their heads.
Astral noticed this. But then he noticed something else. He gestured to his unicorn companions. The four of them watched as the crowd of ecstatic ponies parted ways. From the mineshafts, two mares were trotting up. Astral couldn't help but smirk.
Gold Petals was showing her bashful side. Her hood was long gone, and her less-than-masculine features were on display. However, nopony seemed to mind, much less pay attention, as they rushed over to congratulate her and shake her hoof. She smiled nervously, exchanging a few brief words with the likes of Ironhoof, Red Turnip Junior, and others. When she stumbled upon Fulltrot, she got a little misty-eyed, and gave the elder a tight hug. Fulltrot returned the embrace, gently nuzzling her, glancing over to smile at Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow exhaled long and hard, reeling as a wave of dizziness left her, along with the glow to her pendant. She shifted the weight of the saddlebag over her backside and gazed across the village. Astral was giving an approving smile, only for his image to be blocked by a loud and obnoxious Ironhoof who slapped Rainbow's shoulder before giving her a huge hug.
Rainbow's eyes bugged and she tried to squeeze out of his embrace. Soon, however, Ironhoof's wife dove in and started swatting him hard. He let go of Rainbow Dash and shrugged innocently as his wife dragged him into a corner for a bitter lecture. As Rainbow was free to breathe and gaze once again, she noticed Sladesteed in the distance. She was almost surprised to see that he hadn't run away. Instead, he sat solidly on his haunches and shared a lethargic gaze with her.
A deep breath ran through Rainbow's body. She turned to her side to say something to Gold Petals, but Gold Petals was gone. Blinking, Rainbow Dash gazed across the courtyard. Finally, she saw her. Gold Petals was standing at a distance besides Fulltrot. Fulltrot was speaking to a pair of familiar elders, a mare and a stallion. After gesturing, Fulltrot stepped back. Gold Petals was squaring off with the two older equines, their eyes locked. The stallion shifted nervously and the mare's eyes filled with tears. Gold Petals herself collapsed with a withheld sob, and soon the entire family was hugging each other dearly, reuniting after fate and circumstance almost shattered them completely.
Rainbow Dash stared prolongedly at the scene. Her expression was neutral, calm, serene. It wasn't until several minutes had passed that she realized that she no longer was staring at Gold Petals and her parents. Night had fallen. The moon was rising. The villagers of Windthrow were gathering in the town hall to perform a celebration. But...
Rainbow Dash was alone. She was always alone. As the coolness of the night fell across the mountaintop, Rainbow Dash found herself standing before an unimpeded world, gazing fixedly towards the east horizon.