The sun was high in the sky, creating a shimmer on the uneasy cyan sea.
Below the surface, there was open water, with nothing in sight in the murky blue. But below, in the abyss that appeared bottomless, a high pitched sound rose in crescendo before ending in a deep bassy pulse.
At the shore, the tides rolled across the sand before reaching a certain point and receding back. But the water began to crawl forward, enveloping the land without end.
"Come on! I know you have a few more in you! You're stronger than that!"
Rainbow Dash's eyes were squeezed shut with a face of strain, sweat trailing down her forehead as her forelegs quivered.
The cyan pegasus shakily extended her forelegs up sitting in a planked position, taking in a few rapid breaths.
Rainbow's brows furrowed in determination. She eased down, and attempted to push up, her teeth grit as she hissed. Inch by inch she rose until at the last stretch, she growled, fully extending her forelegs. She abruptly collapsed, breathing heavily.
Rainbow felt a shadow cover her head, prompting her to look up. A maroon hornless unicorn with a black poncho and purple scarf stood above her with a subtle smile, and a hoof extended down for her to grasp. Rainbow took it. "You know, you don't yell like Spitfire but you're way more commanding."
"I knew you had it in you," Tempest answered.
"So," Rainbow said, hovering above the ground, flying, "now that I've finally reached my goal, are we done?"
"I don't know. Working out outside the academy is sort of tough. But I do enjoy hangin' out."
Her eyes met Rainbow's as she gave a calm smile. "It's up to you if you want to continue training."
"I think for now I'm pretty confident in my ability," Rainbow said, tilting her head with a knowing smirk and closed eyes.
"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," Tempest replied.
"Good thing I got these bad boys," Rainbow replied, flying in a loop de loop "Hey, maybe you could teach me some of your cool moves!" Rainbow exclaimed.
"Firstly, I'd take a while. Secondly, there's not much use teaching you any of my techniques when you should be utilizing your flight."
"I guess that's true. What do you think of my technique?" Rainbow said, shadow boxing the air with her hooves for emphasis.
"I haven't really seen you fight. The only thing I've seen from you is your flight and your-" The word escaped Tempest as she attempted to remember the name she heard.
"Sonic Rainboom?" Rainbow asked with a grin and crossed forelegs.
"Heh, yeah. Pretty awesome right?"
She remembered seeing it in the distant grey sky while driving her skiff- a shockwave of rainbow energy dispersing in a circle. She would be lying if she said it wasn't visually impressive. Or 'awesome' she supposed.
Her ears flicked before she turned to look down the dirt path, seeing a purple scaled baby dragon jogging toward her with a worried expression.
He stopped just in front of them, resting his hands on his knees as his chest heaved with wisps of smoke leaving his nostrils. He raised a claw as a gesture for them to wait.
"Twilight needs you at the castle asap," he finally wheezed.
Tempest shared a glance with Rainbow.
"I guess I'll see you around?" Rainbow asked.
Tempest nodded before beginning to trot away.
She began to speculate what it could be about. Whatever it was, Spike seemed to be in a hurry to tell her. Which didn't paint a pleasant picture of possibilities.
After a few minutes on the dirt path she arrived at the Crystal Tree, which also was her temporary home.
She contemplated where else to reside, but nothing came to mind. She figured she could resume her travels as a nomad, walking through the desert once again. But she did enjoy living in Ponyville somewhat. She figured it was mostly due to her relationships with Twilight's friends. But it was mostly quiet with the occasional drama or strange occurrence. Like the few days of being stalked by three fillies. They eventually spoke to her, and except for one of them, they turned out to be sisters of Twilight's friends. In a way, they reminded her and evoked memories of her old friends as a filly.
Memories of the Gala filled her mind, causing her to frown.
Tempest pushed the giant double door open and entered. She sauntered down the spacious crystal halls, now knowing exactly how to navigate the labyrinth.
Tempest pushed the door to the Castle library open, noticing Twilight pacing with her head hung low in rumination.
"Is everything alright?" Tempest inquired while approaching with a raised brow.
"Oh, good, you're here, the princesses have sent a letter requesting our arrival at Canterlot immediately," Twilight said with a brittle smile.
"Both of us?"
"Did they say what for?" Tempest further prodded.
"No," Twilight squeaked, the anxiety leaking into her voice.
"Hopefully it's not too serious," Tempest added.
Tempest sauntered alongside Twilight down the spacious pearlescent silver-gray hall with various stained glass windows on either side, the rays of light stretching across the little water streams and touching the red carpet. Each window displayed notable events in Equestria's history, from Nightmare Moon's return and defeat, to Discord's return and defeat, and there were still plenty of windows to be filled.
At the end of the room were two Alicorns, one sitting on a throne with a circular stained window of a sun behind it, and the other sitting on a throne with a circular stained window of a moon.
Both unfurling their large wings, they left their opulent thrones, dropping to the floor below.
"So what's the problem? Is it serious?" Twilight asked.
"I'm afraid so," Celestia said calmly.
"It appears there is a massive flooding happening across Equestria," Luna informed. "And it is not because of the moon."
"Then what is it?"
Celestia went to open her mouth but the bursting of the throne room doors stopped her.
Flying toward them was a light pearl pink hippogriff with a mulberry mane and magenta eyes and on her head were three large cyan feathers, alluding to her matriarchal status.
She stopped just behind Twilight and Tempest, her eyes displaying a glint of worry as she looked to Celestia and Luna. "It has awakened."
"Are you certain?" Celestia asked.
"I wish I wasn't."
Celestia raised her chin as she furrowed her brows. "Then our worst fears have come to fruition."
"What? What is it!" Twilight begged.
"I'm not sure about you ponies, but we've had a prophecy and story that's lasted for a millennia," the hippogriff said reluctantly.
"It is said," Celestia began, "a sea monster that has been present since primordial creation will awaken, and with it, a massive flood will envelop the land. Again."
"Again? This has happened before?!" Twilight exclaimed.
"Then it has been defeated before," Tempest noted.
"Yes. But with the erosion of time, some details are unknown and blurry. Like how it came to be. And who defeated it. But it is said an object was left behind. An ancient artifact."
"Well, isn't that convenient," an older male voice said.
Levitating in the air was the chimeric serpent known as a draconequus, who was called the Spirit of Chaos or formerly known as Discord.
"There's always a mcguffin isn't there?" Discord said, examining his talons. "So, who's the big bad villain this time?"
"The leviathan has awakened," Luna informed.
Discord's lackadaisical snaggletooth smirk fell as his eyes widened. He put a finger to his single protruding fang. "That explains the shiver I got earlier today," he mumbled.
"What's the artifact called?" Twilight asked.
"From what I recall," Celestia said, "it was called the Pneuma Flute. But it's unknown whether it truly exists, let alone where it resides."
"There has to be another way to defeat it!" Twilight exclaimed.
"Honey, I wish I knew," the hippogriff said.
"My memory is fuzzy," Discord said, stroking his beard." I remember hearing that it may have been created by Grogar himself long ago and that its mouth is a portal to Tartarus, and its essence is of primordial chaos, like me…"
"What if we use Queen Novo's Pearl Of Transformation?" Twilight asked.
"Unfortunately," Novo began, "I split its essence into thousands of pieces, all so my subjects can move between the land and sea with ease."
"We could use the Elements of Harmony but only Starswirl knows the spell to release them," Twilight said, counterpointing her own suggestion.
"Even if we found Starswirl, I'm skeptical that even they have the power to defeat it," Celestia informed.
"I may know where this artifact is," Discord said, gaining everyone's attention.
"Please tell me you're not lying," Twilight pleaded.
"I'm not," Discord reaffirmed. "But it requires all of you except Ms. Shadow, and Novo. And it may take time to acquire."
"Time is something we're lacking," Luna informed.
"It always is, isn't it?" Discord replied.
"Is there any way we could stall it or distract it?" Twilight asked.
"A storm is said to follow it wherever it goes," Celestia informed. "And it is said the second battle will unleash the storm's true potential."
Tempest felt something deep inside her twinkle. It was small and unseen. It called to her. "I'll fight it."
All eyes fell on her.
"How?" Twilight asked.
"I have an idea."
A half a dozen royal guards maneuvered on the sky skiff, placing crates and various supplies on board. The skiff itself was made of ash wood with golden metal highlights and embellishments at the front like roots of a tree, and decorations surrounding the blimp that had a sun insignia on it.
Twilight looked on with a worried frown.
Tempest walked down the ramp, similar to how she did long ago. "Are you certain it's in the east?"
"Discord can detect magical imbalances and he said he felt it in the Celestial Sea," Twilight informed.
"Then I guess this is goodbye."
Twilight's eyes searched through Tempest's.
Seeing her expression, Tempest stepped forward before wrapping a foreleg around her.
Twilight reciprocated the hug. "Just… don't let it be the last, okay?"
Tempest continued the embrace, with
Twilight giving a tighter squeeze.
After an unknown amount of time, they separated, with Tempest walking up the ramp and back into the shade of the skiff. The ramp lifted up, receding into the ship at a crawl, before the door finally shut, leaving Twilight standing below with a gentle smile.
Tempest glanced around making sure no one was left on board. She glanced at the large metal hollow splayed cup, satisfied that her request was met.
Above deck, she sauntered to the side of a broadside cannon. She examined its condition, determining it was brand new and had not been used unsurprisingly.
Equestria hadn't seen a war in a long time, and the diarchy did a good job of keeping relative peace. Which allowed them to use resources for parties or celebrations. Which to Tempest before was a waste of time. But she'd come to understand why they existed and their appeal. But there was such a thing as too many parties and bad ones. And Pinkie surprisingly may actually agree with her.
She sauntered up the stairs before standing behind the steering wheel. She pulled a lever, the ship whirring to life, slowly leaving the ground.
Above the edge of Canterlot, she looked to the compass, turning her steering wheel to align properly. Facing the east, she pushed another lever forward, causing the ship to accelerate.
The warmth of the sun bathed her face and chest, as her mane rustled and scarf undulated with the wind as she began toward the sunset.