Twilight closed the door behind her, the purple princess quickly sneaking a look of Rainbow Dash under the covers, ‘Good, looks like she’s out for now.’ She thought as she closed the door. Twilight slowly backed up and turned around and began to walk back to the map room only to be stopped by a yellow Pegasus right in front of her. “Oh,” She said, slightly startled, “I thought you went back Fluttershy?”
“I was just… waiting…” Fluttershy said. Her head dropping slowly off to the side, as if she were embarrassed or in shame. “Can we um… talk… about something?” She asked timidly. Her eyes moving to Twilight, but her head stayed facing away as if asking to be rejected.
“Ooooo K?” Twilight answered, “… what did you want to talk about?” Twilight asked with a hint of curiosity. Fluttershy gave silence as an answer, her eyes closing, ‘It’s not like Fluttershy to push a friend away,’ Twilight thought, ‘I should be careful, I don’t want to hurt,’ “What was it?” Twilight repeated this time her voice was filled with a caring tone.
Fluttershy kept looking away and spoke softly, “It’s just that, you girls say it wasn’t my fault,” She turned back, her voice becoming shaky and broke, “But I-i...I think it really is.” Tears began forming in her eyes again, She looked back down, ‘She’s gonna keep beating and berating herself,’ Twilight thought. Fluttershy, eyes and head still down continued, “If-”
“Fluttershy,” Twilight said, interrupting her friend, Fluttershy’s head popped up and looked at Twilight, “We’ve been over this, nopony- not me, not Rainbow, not any of us -blame you for what happened,” Twilight said reassuringly. Fluttershy whimpered, her head dropping back down, “Now, let’s go back and let Rainbow rest. It’s going to be a long day today.” Twilight finished, Fluttershy nodded. Twilight spied a look at the yellow pegasus’ face, ‘She doesn’t look convinced…’
This was affirmed when tears began dripping down her face. Twilight could hear each of the tears hit the floor. Twilight used one of her wings to wipe the tears away. “Fluttershy…” Twilight trailed off, her own head moving off to the side. “It will all be okay,”
She reached out with her wing and wrapped it around Fluttershy, her other wing soon joined in hugging the semi-sobbing mare. “It will all be okay,” Twilight said, muffled by her pink mane. The two friends stood like that for nearly a minute before Twilight pulled away, She looked down at Fluttershy, who was staring at the floor, “Fluttershy, are you okay?”
She didn’t respond, “Do you want to talk about it?” She shook her head beneath Twilight. Twilight let her grip loosen, “It’ll be ok,” Twilight reassured. She gave a light smile, “We’ve always come out on top before, haven’t we?” Fluttershy nodded, Twilight could feel the movement of her fur beneath her, “Then why should this time be any different?” Twilight let go and moved a bit away from Fluttershy, who in turn stood up straight.
Fluttershy’s breath shuddered as she breathed in and out deeply several times. She closed her eyes in concentration, continuing to breathe. Twilight noticed that the tears in her eyes were gone and only dampened streaks remained. Fluttershy opened her eyes to reveal their azure color. Then, Fluttershy talked, sounding much like herself than her now too often timid self, “I do now,” Fluttershy announced, “Thanks Twilight.”
“Anytime Fluttershy,” Twilight said. She smiled, ‘Princess Celestia taught me to do the same exact thing when I get stressed.’ Her mind drooped, but her face didn’t lose its happy appearance, ‘Celestia…’ Her mind repeated, ‘ How am I going to tell her that her sister has been gone…’ Her mind continued, ‘In possibly the most dangerous place-’ She shut down that line of thought, ‘LATER.’ She announced in her mind. ‘I don’t need to deal with Celestia right now, I’ve got two friends I need to worry about.’
The pair walked to the central map room, Twilight tentatively watching Fluttershy as they did so. Weary of her mental health and overall well-being. ‘I really have my work cut out for me, don’t I?’ Fluttershy had a slight smile on her face, but the dried up tear marks on her face immediately broke the facade.
When they entered, Twilight looked around at her friends, Applejack was off in a corner, looking at the ground, Rarity looked like she was confused, her mouth open as if she were talking to somepony just moments prior, ‘Pinkie…’ Twilight mused. Twilight moved her purple eyes again and they fell upon Fluttershy, she was talking with Pinkie Pie and seemed a bit overwhelmed.
Twilight moved over to the pair, “Hey Pinkie…” Twilight said, she took a hoof around her neck and moved out of earshot of Fluttershy. “Maybe lay off for right now,” Pinkie looked back to Fluttershy, she was standing there awkwardly, Pinkie turned back, “Okay?” Twilight asked though it was more of a command.
A rare serious tone dawned on Pinkie Pie’s usually carefree face, “I understand.” She whispered back. Twilight let go of her. Pinkie moved back to Fluttershy, this time much slower and visibly as to not startle Fluttershy.
Twilight watched, with much trepidation, the Pinkie party pony converse with Fluttershy. ‘I hope Pinkie can cheer her up…’ Twilight sighed internally. Twilight moved towards Applejack, who Rarity also seemed to be moving to. She approached the orange Farmpony. Before the Princess could even open her mouth, Applejack began to talk, “Ya’know Twi, I just don’t get it,” She said.
Twilight blinked, along with Rarity who was also now standing next to her and just as confused at the statement that their friend had offered, “Get what AJ?” Twilight asked. “That is a bit of a vague statement dear.” Rarity gave.
“This situation,” She said in a serious tone, “It seems a bit...off,” Applejack brought one of her hooves to rub the back of her neck, nervously.
“Off how dear?” Rarity asked. She looked behind her, “Other than… Rainbow Dash that is.” Twilight followed Rarity’s gaze to Fluttershy, who was currently being comforted by Pinkie. Applejack continued, “Like… like there’s something mysterious going on in the background.” Applejack lowered her head, “I-I don’t know how to say it,” She fumed, “Just be careful, k?”
Rarity nodded followed by Twilight. “Now c’ mon,” Twilight said, “Fluttershy isn’t taking it well, we need to help her.” The two other ponies nodded. They began to walk over to Fluttershy and Pinkie.
Rainbow was walking through a great and wide green plain. In the distance, she saw blue mountains capped by white snow radiating. She looked up and saw the sun, radiating comfort and joy throughout the land, the sky was a bright baby-blue, clouds dotted the sky like islands in an ocean. She could feel the heat from the sun on her coat, she could feel the occasional breeze whiz by, it moving her mane, she could feel the life around her. But there was one problem, ‘Where am I?’
Rainbow began to walk in circles, trying to gain her thoughts and bearings. She looked to her hooves. She blinked, they were both there. She held up her forehoof, ‘This should be gone,’ She thought, ‘Why is it here?’ She questioned.
“Oh, you’re here!” A surprised voice said. It sounded like a young colt’s voice, one with a high pitch but obviously masculine. “A hello or something would be nice.” It added after waiting for a few seconds. ‘Where the heck is this-’ “Hello?” it came up again and asked in a condescending tone.
“Where are you?!” She yelled while looking around. A light tap on one of her back hooves brought her gaze behind her. She still didn’t see anything and got ready to yell again. There was another tap, this time on her forehooves, her gaze was brought down.
A green spider-like creature looked back at her. She immediately took flight, “What the heck are you?” The spider’s eyes’ moved around as if trying to avoid the question, “Well…” Rainbow said, trying to fish an answer out of him. ‘This thing really is stupid.’ Rainbow noted.
“I’m a… grass spider?” It asked as if it were a question. Rainbow gave a ‘Oh really’, look. “Okay,” It said in defeat, “I’m a sort-of emissary.”
“From where?” Rainbow asked, her tone growing more curious and mad at the same time. ‘And what the heck are you actually?’ She asked herself, ‘A grass-spider, really?’ Her mind refused to accept the fact.
“The grass-sword!” It proudly announced. It said it as if it had gotten a good mark on a test, or won some sort of prize at a fair. ‘The grass sword?’ Rainbow questioned. She stayed silent and in the air as she thought, her mind brought images of Finn, ‘He lifted up his sleeve… and there was a green…. Thing there?’ She questioned herself, ‘A bandage maybe?’
‘No,’ She brought back the repressed memory, ‘It came down his arm, it shaped itself into a sword…’ Rainbow nearly stopped flying as she remembered. “GRASS SWORD!” She yelled, “You mean Finn’s green weird sometimes a sword, sometimes bandage, sometimes a whip?” Rainbow asked in a questioning manner.
After a few seconds of silence, it replied, “Yep,” in a quiet voice, “That was… ummm… oddly specific.”
“How are you here?” She questioned, “Wait a sec, This is a dream!” She said, “You’re not real, none of this is!” She felt relieved like a weight was lifted off of her back, “I’ll just wake up in the morning and not remember any of this…” She trailed off.
“Umm…” The spider began. Rainbow turned to face the thing, “Sorry to burst your bubble Rainbow, but, this isn’t a dream,” It explained, “Well, I mean it is,” It said as it gestured to everything around them, “But me, no, I’m not.”
“Then what are you?” Rainbow asked, “Cause I’ve never seen you before in my life.” Rainbow began combing her thoughts, trying to see if it was just one of Twilight’s experiments gone wrong.
“I’m, well, as a said, an emissary of a sort, from the grass sword,” Rainbow Dash cocked her head in confusion, “You see, when you got cut by the grass sword, I got sort of, implanted in your blood.” It explained.
“So, you’re like, an alien?” Rainbow asked, “Like an infection?”
“Oh no, I don’t really spread, like an infection, I just sort of persist in life.” It offered, ‘That seems wrong somehow, but, I’ll just ask Twilight later.’
Rainbow facehoofed and flew down. She took a few steps toward the grass-spider, “So,” Rainbow began, “Where are we?” Rainbow looked around again, “Cause, I’ve never seen this place before.”
The spider thing looked around, “Oh that’s an easy one!” it proclaimed. Rainbow looked at it and it looked back at Rainbow. “...” ‘What is up with this thing?!’ The spider fixed its eyes on Rainbow and looked at absent-mindedly, ‘Creepy.’
“Well?” Rainbow said, “Are you gonna tell me?” Rainbow began getting frustrated at his silence. It nodded, “We’re in Ooo!” It looked around again, “Well, before the Lich attacked.” It said it with more trepidation and sorrow.
“Finn didn’t really tell me much about this,” She brought her hooves up in quotation marks, “Ooo or his home,” She put her hooves back down. “Just that he was some sort of hero before… the Lich I guess.”
“Yeah,” The weird spider thing nodded, “He didn’t, he felt like telling you would be scarred somehow.”
Rainbow reeled back, “How do you…?” “The sword is part of Finn, I am a part of him,” It paused, “Heck, I’d probably reckon I knew more about Finn than Finn did himself.” It squinted at her, “I bet you have some questions.”
“Yeah… I do,” She replied. A thousand questions shot through her minds, ‘What is the Lich?’, ‘What is the Finn sword’, ‘What exactly did Finn do’, ‘He said some-’ “Well, shoot!” The spider replied.
Rainbow looked around, seeming to have no question that shot through her mind coming to her lips. Rainbow hoped that when she opened her mouth, a question would come out, “How old is Finn?” Rainbow immediately regretted her question, ‘Really RD? Age? That is so not awesome.’
“Age? Huh, well he’s seventeen years old. Does that satisfy you?” It asked back. “Yes!” She quickly said, “Uhh, next question… next… question…” Rainbow dropped her head, trying to find a question.
“Do you want some more time?” It asked condescendingly.
Rainbow’s head shot up, “What is the Lich?”
Finn leaned against Luna’s back for support, taking slow steps forward throughout the ruins of the Candy Kingdom’s central castle. “Where are we going?” She asked, her voice showing off signs of strain from supporting a nearly fully grown human. “Because, it better be an infirmary or hospital, or so help me-” “It’s the castle infirmary Luna.” She huffed at the informal use of her name.
“Despite our predicament, I am still royalty, you should address me as such,” Luna said, a hint of both seriousness and lack of caring in her voice. ‘The situation we’re in, and you care about how I call you?’ Finn thought, ‘Really?’
“Keyword, should,” Was Finn’s stoic reply. The pair continued in silence, walking through the streets and then entering the castle itself, it was a wreck. The windows were all either cracked to the point where it was impossible to see through or shattered entirely. There was the occasional spear or sword on the ground, bent or broken like the castle. Finn looked around the castle, seeing if there was anything useful.
Luna looked at the human, noticing that he was looking around, “Is there anything of note?” her voice showed signs of tiredness and the tone of the voice was much more somber than before.
“No,” Finn replied, his voice mimicking the tone and tiredness of the Lunar Princess. Raspy, full of tiredness and reeked of somberness. Finn looked forward, “They must’ve taken everything of value…” Finn said.
Luna continued to study the back of Finn’s head. After the breakdown, Luna questioned his mental state, and after he attempted to ‘walk it off’, he collapsed. ‘He really does blame himself.’ Luna thought, He also, for some reason, refused to put his white hat back on, showing off his short, dirty, blonde hair. ‘Maybe he feels like it’s keeping him in the past?’
“Is your leg… feeling any better?” She asked, really wanting to get the human off of her aching and sore back. She swore she could feel the bones grinding against each other, causing pain to herself.
Finn let go of Luna’s back and limped forward, “I… think I can stand on my own now.” Luna just nodded. They began walking again, and with each step, Luna could hear the clang of his things in the backpack and the eventual metal chime of his ‘Finn-Sword’ against another metal of glass object.
The sound began to assault Luna’s ears with an unprecedented volume. Her teeth ground against each other, trying to distract her ears from the pain. ‘Stallions,’ She thought, ‘Always so considerate of Mares…’
“Sorry about the noise, princess…” Luna heard Finn say, “But there really isn’t anything I can do about it.” Luna opened her mouth to retort or insult the human who was obviously chastising her, but got cut off, “We’re here.”
“Finally,” Luna said with relief, ‘No more clanking or metal scraping-’ She looked at Finn, he was stuck in the door. ‘No,’ Luna thought, ‘He was, scared in the door? Frozen in fear?’ Finn backed up slowly, pushing Luna with him.
“Hey,” Luna said, “Watch where you’re going!” She said to the human. Finn ignored Luna, instead opting to back up. A few words sputtered out of Finn’s mouth. “I… He…. can’t…” Luna pushed past the frozen human to see what was the matter. She too stopped at what she saw.
In one of the beds, there was a form, one she remembered quite well, despite the partition between them, Luna could still see it. Luna’s mouth went agape at the sight of Finn’s adopted brother. ‘From what I remember, they practically grew up together,’ Luna thought, ‘Raised each other.’ Luna tentatively took a step forward. Finn absentmindedly followed her.
With each step, Luna could feel the tension rise in the room, both in her and in Finn. The pair crossed the cloth partition between them and the form. In the bed, was Jake, but not the vision Luna saw with Twilight, ‘That…’ Luna’s mind could barely comprehend what had happened to the dog.
The dog was covered completely in the ink-black substance. On the surface of what was once yellow-like dog fur, there was something more akin to dragon scales, but black. There were pores on the surface of the scale-like skin, secreting some sort of black ooze. Jake’s eyes were unnaturally green and bloodshot. They seemed like they haven’t closed to blink in weeks.
Luna turned her head away from the sight, ‘What kind of monster could do this?’ she questioned. Her eyes landed on Finn, who had not only not turned away but seemed to move closer. “Finn stay away from him!” Luna warned, “He… he’s not your brother anymore.” Finn stopped.
Luna immediately went stiff, ‘Okay, poor choice of words,’ Luna thought before continuing, “I erm… I probably-” “Should shut up before I shut you up.” Finn finished, “I don’t care what you think,” Finn said, he pointed to Jake on the bed, “He will always be my brother.” Finns said, looking back to Jake.
Luna closed her mouth and nodded. ‘Maybe hit too close to a nerve there Luna…’ “Now,” Finn said, Luna looked at Finn, “Can you… leave…” Finn paused, “There is something I have to do.” Luna somberly nodded.
Luna didn’t ask what Finn did exactly to Jake, but Finn had given her a good impression. ‘She really needs to stop sticking her err… muzzle where it doesn’t belong.’ Finn thought. The pony and human continued to walk throughout the castle until Finn reached a familiar door and stopped.
Finn wasn’t talking, shooting down any of the conversations and questions Luna tried to ask him. ‘Being alone is not where you want to be right now Finn.’ She thought as she studied him. She sighed, ‘I know what it feels like…’
The walk throughout the castle dragged on, feeling as if there was no end to the halls, corridors and actually doors, ‘Feels like Canterlot,’ Luna thought, ‘When I returned.’ The minutes of silence was seeming to have a prolonged effect on Luna. ‘I’m going to go crazy if I don’t break the silence.’
Finn stopped at a door and stared at it. “Where does this lead?” Luna asked quite hastily as she stopped behind Finn. Finn looked at the door.
“This…” Finn began, “Is where Princess Bubblegum coordinated the war effort.” Finn said.
Luna quickly replied, “You don’t have to go up if you don’t want to!” she said, trying to preserve Finn’s mental state.
“I need to know Princess Luna,” He turned to her, “I need to know.” Finn looked to the door and began walking.
“Are you sure?” Luna asked, “Are you sure you want to know? You just lost somepo-one close to you.” Luna attempted to play off her mixing up of grammar.
Finn stopped and nodded. He opened the door and walked inside. Luna hesitantly followed behind her, wary of what lay inside. Her eyes moved around and spied what was inside. ‘A desk, window, balcony, something akin to my sister’s and my room…’ The only thing that showed there was a fight here was the black mass on the ground, which Luna assumed to be Bubblegum.
Finn was already there, standing over the form, unmoving. Luna walked up next to him and looked at his face. She could tell he was on the verge of tears. ‘Learning of first your brother’s demise and one’s closest friend’s demise within the hour would break anypony…’ She thought. Luna looked to the black mass on the ground, there was a crown on the floor nearby, three red crystals adorned it. Luna took it in her magic.
She heard Finn say something, “We should leave.” Luna turned to Finn, about to say something when Finn turned and began to walk out. ‘Alright then.’ Luna thought, ‘That was… quick…’ Luna followed him.
After a few more minutes of walking, Luna noticed that they were heading to a familiar section of the castle, the exit. “Where are we off to now?” Luna asked, “There isn’t much left to do here.”
Luna looked down to Luna before continuing to look forward. “We’re heading to the Flame Kingdom,” He replied, “As far as I know, that’s the last place with life in this world.” Luna nodded.
“You said something about a Flame Princess?” Luna asked, “Who was she to you?”
He looked down smiled, “A good friend.” He said in a certain tone before his smile left his face. He popped up and turned to Luna as if he knew what was going to happen.
“Mhm,” Luna grunted in acknowledgment, “And… Only friends?” She again inquired.
“Yes,” Finn replied, “ONLY friends.” He emphasized while slightly blushing. Luna gave a wry smile. “Mmmhm.” She affirmed with a somewhat knowing tone. Finn only looked away, but Luna could feel him trying not to blush.
“Drop it, Luna,” Finn demanded, “Love for me is a sore topic…” She rolled her eyes, “Alright, alright.” Luna relented. Finn glanced back at her, then turned around completely. “What’s that in your Magic?” Luna stopped, “My magic?” She turned around and saw that there was a blue hue around a floating crown behind her.
Luan double checked her magic. ‘It’s shouldn’t be…’ she felt her magical pool not being tapped, “Hmm…” She took the crown in her magic again. “Do you know what this is Finn?” He turned away, “It was my sometime enemies crown. The Ice King’s…” Finn paused, “He actually stayed…”
Finn shook his head. “It doesn’t matter…” He turned back to Luna, “Why is just… I don’t know… floating behind you? Is it like… following us?”
“You should tell me that, Finn,” Luna said, “Whoever this… Ice King was… he was your friend.” She again tried to dispell the blue magic around the crown. Finn turned away and looked into the distance.
“We should be getting close to the Flame Kingdom, but…” Finn said then trailed off. “But what Finn?” Luna asked. Luna turned, giving a huff, to face Finn. “It’s not going to be good, isn’t it?” Finn shook his head. “There should be smoke rising from just beyond the ridge.” He paused, But there isn’t any…”