Rise of the Elements Part II: Return of the Avatars

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 14: Test of Fire

Chapter 14: Test of Fire

"Frost…" whispered a soft voice from the balcony.

I blinked my eyes a few times and looked over, seeing the coat of Luna in the bright moonlight. I smiled at her and gently maneuvered myself out of the bed, not waking the two sleeping mares in it and walking over to the balcony to greet the moon princess. "Good evening, fair Luna." I leaned in and gave her a kiss, causing her to blush slightly and smile. "I missed you, love."

She giggled and inclined her head to the open air outside. "Fly with me, Frost."

She hopped over the railing of the balcony and I followed her, enjoying the cool night air as it caressed the sensitive feathers of my wings. We didn't fly very far, but it was very fast, and I noticed that we were soon high above Ponyville, resting on the few cirrus clouds that were high above.

I raised an eyebrow to Luna in confusion. "Lulu, what are we doing all the way out here? I mean you know I love spending time with you, but I thought you hated the cold."

She looked at me coyly with a grin. "It is not for me, dear Frost…it is for another that wishes to speak with you." At that response, a dark cloud immediately covered her…and when it dissipated, Night stood before me.

The once-imposing figure of Nightmare Moon was without her helmet, letting the beautiful embodiment of open space that was her mane flow gently in the cool air. She stepped forward and without warning embraced me…which I returned immediately. My memories of her screamed for her touch…for her love, and I relished it. Her coat was soft and smooth, and the warmth she gave off was relaxing any and all cares away. As I held the slightly smaller form against me, I couldn't help but wonder how anypony could fear such a beautiful creature.

She pushed herself back slightly so that she could look at me, before I pressed our faces together in a kiss. She was no doubt surprised, but I knew it was a good kind of surprise when she melted into it. I had to keep from laughing into the kiss when I realized that she had wanted to talk…and yet not a word had been spoken yet.

After a few minutes, we pulled away both smiling. Night nuzzled me softly and sighed happily. "I was worried you didn't love me anymore…I was worried that you'd changed too much."

"No, Night…I'll always love you." I responded, rubbing my cheek softly against hers. "Simply because I am more than I once was does not mean that I'm different. I swore that I would always love you and watch out for you, and I meant it."

It was times like this when I would somehow find it strange to have become two beings merged into one. I was still Drew, but I also had the eons of ancient knowledge, wisdom, and memories of Winter. The way I've taken to handling it is to just go with the flow…so I follow my instincts and my heart, and they've yet to lead me astray.

I grinned at the smiling avatar of night, nuzzling her face softly. "I take it that Luna agrees with this, since she's not fighting for control or anything."

The black alicorn nodded. "Yes. It was in fact Princess Luna who pushed me to see you again." She then looked down in sadness. "I have missed you so much, Winter."

I pulled her into a full embrace, wrapping my large wings around her as tight as I could. "I missed you too, Night. I am so sorry for what I have put you though."

She shook her head, not breaking the embrace. "All is well, Winter. You are here now, and that's what matters."

I nodded softly in the embrace and just stayed in the cold reaches of the atmosphere with her.

Perspective change – Darkflight

02:27 and I'm wide awake. That's great…because I don't need sleep or anything. Still, I would be lying if I said it was a complete dick move on my brain's part, as I got to look at the beautiful orange mare that lay snuggled up against me.

I was worried about her. Not because of being in the fight – because she had proved she'd be fine as far as actual combat. No…it was about the killing. Granted we can't kill what's already dead, but she wasn't going to see it that way. The reaction that a body made when the life left it – whether real or magical – was unmistakable. The light leaving the eyes, and the body collapsing in a heap…I don't know if she's ready for that. I want her to live through this war, and since it's obvious she's adamant about fighting, I'm going to make sure that she's as prepared as possible. Still…I don't want it all to be at the cost of her sanity.

I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. These armors and weapons were all of my design, and most forged and tempered by my own hands and my own fire. That just made all of what happened after Drew's wedding all the worse. Those guards that had been slaughtered were wearing my armor. Granted, it wasn't the best I had to offer, but that armor was made by my hands. The guilt was eating me up inside lately.

Could I have worked harder on it?

I felt utterly helpless for the first time in my life. I just couldn't come to terms with the fact that ponies were going to die in this war. It was unavoidable…lives would be lost.

I'd seen the Vietnam War Memorial back on Earth, and even though I didn't personally know any of those soldiers, it had brought tears gushing out of my eyes. All those names - those were fathers and sons…brothers, cousins, friends. There were just so many of them. I was confident that we would have to build our own wall after this war…and it scared me more than anything that I might see the names of my friends upon it - or worse, my brother or Applejack. Maybe it was the magic of Equestria or maybe it was just me, but a change had happened within me. The very thought of losing any of them was unacceptable. I couldn't let it happen…I wouldn't let it happen. If those shitty-ass dragons were too damn scared to help us, I'd show the entire world exactly how dangerous a pissed-off Obsidian could be. I wanted to be the one that saw fear in Death's eyes as I stood in front of him…and I was going to make sure that happened. He'd already killed hundreds…and that was far too many.

"Dark?" whispered an angelic voice from beside me.

I turned my head slightly and smiled at the vivid emerald eyes. "Hey there, beautiful. What are you doing up?"

She rolled eyed me with concern and hugged me tight. "Ah could ask ya tha same question, sugarcube. Y'all know ya can't hide an'thing from me. What's eatin' ya?"

I sighed in resignation. She was right, she could easily read me like a book. "It's just the upcoming war, AJ." I looked over to her and hugged her tight against me, feeling her heartbeat against my scales. "Many are going to die in this thing. I can't help but feel like I'm making a mistake for letting the rest of you and your friends join in on this."

She raised an eyebrow with skepticism and sat up a bit. "What makes y'all think that yer lettin' me do an'thing?"

I rolled my eyes and sat up as well. "I'm pretty sure we both know that if I wanted to stop you, there's nothing you can do about it." She looked really crestfallen, so I placed a hand on her cheek. "But I'd never do that, AJ. We both also know that if I did that and something happened to me, you'd blame yourself forever. This world has been your home a hell of a lot longer than it's been mine…you deserve to fight for it." I sighed and looked sadly at her. "One of the deadliest wars in history on Earth was known as the Vietnam War, where the country we lived in basically decided it would be a good idea to invade another country they knew nothing about. The war was before my time by about thirty years, but the wounds it left on our nation are probably still healing." I looked off into the distance as I closed my eyes and imagined "The Wall". "We have a memorial in our nation's capital that's dedicated to all of the soldiers that lost their lives in that war. When you walk there, all you can see are headstones as far as the eye can see. In front of it though is a long black wall with all the names of the people that were lost in the war." I could feel a sob threatening to break free, but I swallowed it down and continued. "There's tens of thousands of names on that wall, AJ…and that's only of the names we know. There were thousands more soldiers that are still missing, meaning we never found the bodies. I worry so much that by the time this war is over, we're going to have our own memorial wall…and I'm terrified that I'm going to have to one day pay my respects to a friend's name upon it." I sighed and shook my head in anger, snarling a bit. "The thing that pisses me off is that I know that we don't have a choice in the matter. If we don't fight, even more are going to die…and that wall will just get bigger."

She sat in my lap and rubbed her face against the soft scales of my chest. "But tha's why we're trainin', Dark. We gotta make sure tha' we're as ready as we can be so tha' we can protect as many as we can." She then shuddered a bit. "Ah still don' know if Ah'm ready fer it, but Ah don' have a choice. Mac 'n me are doin' it fer Applebloom…and all our friends. It's gonna be scary and sad…but if me doin' this saves Applebloom from havin' ta be hurt, Ah'll do it."

AJ was one of the only people I'd ever admired…and it was because of times like this. Like me, she wasn't doing this because she wanted to…she was doing it because she had to. And yet, she was still determined.

We lay there in my bed for a few more hours before I got up and prepared breakfast for the both of us, slapping together some pancakes and maple syrup with toast for me and a haycake for her. After we finished though, we were both startled by a loud roar coming from the distance…and even though it was far away, we could feel the deep rumbles caused by it.

We both exclaimed at the same time, "What the hay/hell was that?!"

I grabbed AJ and took off into the air, following the roars towards the guard's training grounds, and stopped dead in the air at what I saw when I arrived. It was a ridiculously massive three-headed wolf made of ice, and it was staring down a small blonde-coated unicorn. The princesses and a few hundred soldiers were standing several-hundred feet away, just watching.

What in the actual fuck.

Perspective change – Celestia: earlier that day

I was quite pleased with the way things were progressing as far as our military. Darkflight had kept surprising me with new innovations while Twilight had easily surpassed me in military strategies.

Still, I was not without my own tricks.

Today however, was Enigma Flare's final exam for induction into Luna's Night Guard…and it was to be overseen by me, Luna, and Frost. I was pleased to find that the young colt was very excited, and had been rambling off to his friend Ditzy Doo about random things as we all awaited Frost and Luna's arrival.

We did not have to wait long, as Frost and Night gracefully landed beside me not a moment later. The form of Nightmare Moon dissipated in a flash, leaving Luna winded and stumbling.

I smirked. "Will you be alright, dear sister?"

She smiled softly and nodded. "Yes, I believe so. Are we ready?"

I turned to Enigma Flare, who was wearing blacksteel armor personally made for him by Darkflight, as well as a custom-made titanium staff, which he called a bo-staff. I was well aware of the young unicorn's amazing fighting prowess…but today would push him to his limits, of that I was sure.

"Candidate Enigma Flare," I started with a soft smile, "you are here today for your final test to be inducted into the Royal Night Guard – personal bodyguards of Princess Luna herself. Only the most skilled and trusted of ponies are allowed to be a part of our personal guard. You have already proven that you are to be trusted, and you have shown talent…however, today your skill will be tested more than ever before." A duet of deep growls sounded from behind me as two wolves stepped forward, clad in full body armor and weaponry…as well as Frost himself in full magesteel armor. I looked around at the three of them, and then back at the young colt. "Your final test, is to best these three in combat…at the same time." I could see a flash of fear enter his eyes before it immediately disappeared, a look of fierce determination taking hold. "Princess Luna and I will be channeling a healing spell on you anytime you are injured, so you will not be in danger of dying. Still…you will feel pain. I recommend keeping your focus at all times, Enigma Flare…for they will not go easy on you." The four fighters stepped far away from all of us and readied themselves, checking their armor and weaponry.

Luna leaned in close with a hint of fear in her voice. "Sister, they will tear him to shreds! Are you mad?"

I shook my head. "Do not underestimate that colt, Luna. He is far more powerful and skilled than his age or personality would suggest."

"Yes, but he is fighting three of Equestria's most dangerous and skilled beings all at once. Are you-" she whispered.

I interrupted her with a smile. "Luna, please trust me. I would not put him in a situation I knew he could not handle."

My doubting sister sighed and nodded. "Very well, Tia…I trust you know what you are doing. If he is maimed, his scars are your fault."

"I agree, princess." remarked a voice from behind me.

I turned my head to see Shining Armor approaching. "Ah, I was worried you would not make it! Welcome, captain."

He sighed and nodded. "Thank you, Princess Celestia. Wasn't Princess Rainbow Dash supposed to be here too?"

I nodded. "Originally yes, but she is currently resting in the Royal Canterlot Hospital with Cadence. It seems Frost thought it would be a good idea to do the awakening on Rainbow Dash as soon as possible."

He nodded as he looked towards the arena, then gasped. "He's fighting all of them at once? Are you crazy?" He then cleared his throat. "Erm, sorry for that outburst, princess."

I giggled and nudged the stallion softly. "Captain, we are family. You do not always need to refer to me as 'Princess Celestia', or even 'princess'. I had believed we were past that."

He chuckled and shrugged. "Force of habit."

I nodded with a smile before turning my attention back to the combatants a few hundred yards away. I amplified my voice and asked, "Combatants, are you ready?" All four of them nodded, so I did the same with a smile. "Very well…begin!"

The battle started very quickly, with the three advancing all at once, surrounding the small colt and attempting to overwhelm him. From the few times I had watched the elemental unicorn, I had seen that he had trained for this very situation, so I smiled at the thought of just how surprised Venn, Moonfang, and Frost were about to be.

The bo-staff launched around the group in a flurry of blows along with hooves, quickly knocking all three off balance or on the ground. Venn's nose was already bleeding, as was Moonfang's forehead, but Frost had been knocked on the ground. Apparently deciding to take the biggest threat out first, Enigma Flare targeted the downed alicorn first, slamming the staff onto his armored chest with a loud *CRACK* as the inner weight cylinder was forced to the end of the pole. The force knocked the wind out of Frost, leaving him temporarily gasping as he quickly got to his feet. Not wishing to give him the chance to counterattack, Enigma Flare advanced quickly, attempting to sweep the alicorn's hooves out from under him, but he failed when the large gray wolf grabbed the colt by the neck and flung him several feet back.

As the chromatically gold-maned unicorn rolled from his back to his hooves, he was met with a claw to his left leg from Venn. I focused on my spell and quickly sealed the wound to prevent scarring, but it was clear he definitely felt the pain. The staff raised against the wolf and blocked his next strike, then forced him back as it was spun around to hit him in the temple. Moonfang then sent himself into a flying pounce, pinning the small unicorn to the ground. This however was short lived, as Enigma Flare channeled his fire to surround his body, quickly causing the surprised wolf to jump off and away of what was once his worst fear in the world.

The battle progressed, though neither side gained much ground. Both were tiring quickly, however, as it was clear the three had clearly underestimated the unicorn colt. Still, three against one was taxing on both the unicorn's strength and stamina, and it was beginning to show as his movements became less refined and more sluggish. Once again he was underestimated, however, and his three adversaries were rewarded with strong strikes to the face for each.

"Enough!" shouted Frost. He turned to Venn and Moonfang and nodded, the two wolves doing the same as they jumped back to stand side-by-side with him. Frost then smirked. "Did you honestly think that was the best we had? Now the battle really begins for you. I hope you're not tired." It was at that moment that Frost began charging a spell, one that quickly overcame his entire body with a bright silvery-white glow. Icy winds began to whip around him and the two wolves, and soon the three were engulfed by a blizzard.

A minute or so passed before a trio of deep, rumbling growls were heard from the heart of the blizzard. A large icy paw stepped out from the storm, and the snow instantly dissipated as a burst of force radiated out as the beast roared. What I beheld was something that shook me to my core, and I was not the only one.

I looked to see Luna staring in shock and fear, and she was clearly fighting not to flee from the terrible sight before us. "C-C-Cerberus?"

It was true…the three-headed beast of lore had returned with the help of Frost, Venn, and Moonfang.

“Don't worry, Celly…it's just us.”

Hearing Frost's voice comforted me, so I nodded. I then looked at the captain beside me and nudged him, pointing towards the battleground. "Captain, we need a containment barrier around them. This fight is going to get very intense very quick." He nodded and placed his signature barrier spell around the entire arena, bathing the area in a soft magenta glow.

"What the hell is that?" shouted who could only be Darkflight from behind me.

I turned to see the Obsidian carrying a very shocked Applejack, so I smiled. "It is simply Enigma Flare's initiation. It is all under control, I assure you."

He pointed wildly and glared at me. "That's an initiation? He's going to get killed! Call it off! Whoever summoned that thing, get it out of here now before it kills us!"

I stood on my hind legs and shook the tall dragon with my forelegs. "Darkflight, calm yourself!" He looked at me in the eyes and nodded, so I released him and stood on all fours again. "It is simply your brother, Venn, and Moonfang. That is not the ravenous beast of lore. It is simply made to look that way."

The dragon nodded and followed my eyes as we watched what happened next. As we all viewed the battle, it now seemed much more one-sided, as Enigma Flare's staff could not penetrate or damage the thick armor that covered the beast, nor could he stop to catch his breath as shards of razor-sharp ice were constantly being thrown at him, along with swipes from the beast's massive icy claws. It appears luck was not on the colt's side, however, as he was then swatted to the ground with a grunt of pain, and he did not stand. To the outside observer, it would appear the battle was over…however, I had noticed he was charging a very powerful spell the entire time…and it was now at its apex.

In a panic, I looked at Shining Armor and pointed to the magical barrier. "Captain, you must strengthen it as much as you can! Now!" He nodded and unquestioningly poured a large amount of magic into his spell to bolster the effect, making the barrier near-impenetrable.

And not a moment too soon.

The entire area was bathed in blinding light as an explosion rocked the ground beneath us, as well as the bubble of containment. As the smoke cleared from within it, we beheld a tall unicorn's form of swirling fire. The being was twice the size of Enigma Flare and besides having the vague shape of a unicorn stallion, was completely unrecognizable. I felt another spell charging, this one even more powerful, so I lent my own magic to the barrier to bolster it further. Not a second later, a small orb of orange energy formed above the ice behemoth's head along with strange runes and markings skittering across the surface of it.

We all knew that even without visible eyes, the infernal stallion was staring directly at Cerberus. It stepped forward once and braced itself in preparation for release of power.

It then became deadly quiet, and we only heard the ragged breathing of the stallion as it stood up and pointed its horn towards the glowing ball. The being of fire then yelled, "INFERNUS!"

The entire shield wavered as the inside was completely engulfed in white-hot flames that obscured all vision. As soon as it had happened, however…it was gone. As the steam cleared from the inside, only the fiery stallion stood while three motionless figures lay on the ground in a large pool of water. The elemental then reverted to the form of Enigma Flare before collapsing as well.

The barrier was immediately dropped as everypony clambered over to the four exhausted combatants to check if they were still alive. To my relief they were all completely unharmed, save for some singed fur on the wolves and Frost.

Darkflight tended to the barely conscious unicorn, nudging him gently. "Hey, wake up man. Tell me one thing: what the hell was that?"

Enigma Flare chuckled weakly. "It's a spell I've been working on for a long time."

"Yeah...it looked like Firaja from Final Fantasy." the dragon remarked with a smirk.

The unicorn had enough energy to look utterly confused. "Final Fantasy? What's that?"

Dark smiled sheepishly and shook his head. "Nevermind...c'mon, let's get you to the hospital."

Perspective change - Frostbreaker

I woke up with a hurt everything...even my hooves hurt. All I remembered was a shitton of heat, and then blackness. The entire room smelled of burned hair (which is quite possibly the worst smell in the world), so I coughed a few times to try and clear the taste of the smell from my throat.

"Frost? Frost, are you okay?" I heard Celestia ask me.

I groaned and sat up, coughing a few more times and shaking my head quickly to try and wake myself up a bit more. "Yeah...yeah, I'm fine. What about Venn and Moonfang? Are they okay?"

"Right here, Frost." said the young and raspy voice of Venn.

I looked to see the smiling faces of the two wolves, and I sighed in relief. "Wow...that was a hell of a fight. What about Enigma Flare? First of all, is he okay? Second...did he pass the test?"

Celestia nodded and giggled. "He is perfectly fine, and yes...he definitely passed." She then looked at me quizzically. "I must ask, Frost...what was that spell you used to create the Cerberus? I've never seen anything like it...I don't think anypony has."

I chuckled and stood up, albeit a bit unsteadily at first. "You liked that, did you? I call it the 'Call of Fenrir'. Fenrir is the name of a monstrous wolf in the Norse mythology of my world, so I thought it's a fitting title. Anyway, it basically draws upon the inherent magic within me, as well as the life energy of Venn and Moonfang to create the beast you saw. They were controlling its movement, while I was hurling those shards of ice. So long as my magic holds out, I can keep channeling the spell. As you can guess, it's pretty much invincible...unless of course I'm facing somepony like Enigma Flare. Damn...that was a hell of a spell he cast."

The solar princess pursed her lips and furrowed her brow in thought, and I couldn't help but think the look was cute. "Yes, I have been wondering about that myself. During that spell he...changed somehow. It was as if he became one with the elemental plane of fire for a moment."

I raised an eyebrow curiously. "Like an avatar? Only an alicorn can house an avatar, right?"

She nodded. "Yes, only the alicorn body can safely house an elemental avatar. No...this was different. For a moment it was as if he became the element of fire. I...I cannot explain it. Suffice to say that our unicorn friend is very unique. I've never heard of something like him before."

"Well," I said with a smirk, "I'm glad he's on our side then." I then stood up and stretched, popping a few kinks out of my back and neck. "Well...I don't know about the rest of you, but I need a shower. The whole smelling like burnt hair and bacon thing doesn't really work for me." I then leaned forward and kissed Celestia and Luna both on the cheek. "I'd love it if the two of you could join me at the library tonight. I miss the two of you and it seems like I never get to see you anymore with this war getting ready to take off."

Celestia looked a little disappointed. "Well, I have too much work to take care of unfortunately...but Lulu is free tonight."

Luna smiled wide and nodded. "That I am, Frost. Would you have me?"

I nodded and nuzzled the dark blue alicorn lovingly. "Of course, my dear. We'll be with Pinkie, Twilight, and Lyra tonight. I'll make us some drinks and dinner at around 18:30, so we'll be ready for you."

Luna giggled and hopped a bit in excitement. "Oh joy, this will be wonderful."

I nodded before looking at the beautiful white alicorn. I brought her into a hug and sighed. "I miss you, Celly...but I understand. Don't work yourself too hard, love."

She nodded and smiled gently. "I will not, and I miss you as well. Do not forget training with the recruits tomorrow at noon. It will be the tenth of October, so do prepare them well so you can take time off this coming Friday for Lyra."

I nodded. "That's right...Lyra's birthday is this Friday. Sucks that I wasn't able to give her the birthday gift until now, but it just wouldn't have meant as much if I hadn't given it in person."

We signed me out of the hospital and I headed home to the library, quickly showering before even saying hi to anyone. When I walked back downstairs, Twilight was studying (big surprise there) and Pinkie was bouncing all around in excitement.

"Frostie! Gosh, I missed you! It's like I never get to see you anymore unless you're training." she exclaimed.

I pulled the fluffy pink pony up into a strong embrace and kissed her relentlessly, causing her to blush and giggle like a lunatic (haha...Lunatic). "I missed you too my itty-bitty-teeny-weenie-twinkie-Pinkie Pie!"

"Really?" I heard Twilight deadpan.

I looked at her and nodded with a bit of a pout. "Yes, really. Don't hate on my Pinkie-talk."

Twilight rolled her eyes with a giggle. "I'll let it go because you're cute."

I let Pinkie down and headed towards the kitchen. "Well, Luna's coming by tonight to be with us, so I'm going to start dinner so that it's ready by the time she gets here. Pinkie, can you make us some drinks ple-" No sooner had the words left my mouth then a bottle of whiskey was shoved in my face by a pink hoof. I held the bottle up and shrugged, taking a swig and shivering a bit. "Ah, that's good. You know, I don't know if it's scary or awesome that you know exactly what I want, Pinkie...but I love you for it. In fact...I could make a good sauce out of this. Thanks for the idea Pinkie, you're awesome."

The mentioned pink pony giggled and pulled out a tray of her famous cupcakes from Celestia-knows-where. "Thank you, Frostie! I even brought some cupcakes for an appetizer...or dessert! OR BOTH!"

I levitated one of the awesome baked treats over and ate it before starting what was to be dinner.

Luna arrived promptly at 18:15 with Lyra, which gave me time to finish dinner and talk to the two of them. Lyra had apparently taken up work as Vinyl's manager, handling the DJ's finances and the more boring bits of business. Still, this meant she got in free to Vinyl's shows, so she didn't mind in the least. I was glad she was doing something she enjoyed, and I couldn't help but smile when I thought of how much she was going to love her birthday gift.

Dinner was loud and fun, as it was had with good food and a few sweet drinks for the girls. In all honesty I'd been feeling a little gay drinking the mixed drinks, so I stuck to straight whiskey this time...but it was all good. As always, Twi was the first one to loosen up, which made the night just that much more fun. After dinner was cleaned up, I sat on the couch with my four girls and just talked with them about a multitude of things. Twilight was of course taking her place snuggling with Luna, while I held Lyra and Pinkie in my lap.

"So humans just do that plain, right? No lubricant or anything?" Lyra asked.

I shook my head. "Nope. If you do it right, none is needed."

Pinkie shook her head. "I don't get how that would work. I mean, how does it get all slick then?"

I chuckled and kissed the pink pony's forehead. "That's what the liquid's for, love."

Twilight still looked skeptical. "Hmm...I don't know if ponies can do it like that though. Things are different here."

I shook my head. "I'm telling you, a Slip 'n' Slide would work the same on any world...and it's quite possibly one of the best things ever. It's one of the few things I can honestly say that you aren't allowed to hate until you've tried it."

Luna giggled and shook her head. "The things humans come up with…"

I shrugged and grinned. "If only you knew, Lulu."

Luna was silent for a moment before she spoke again softly. "I would like to see Earth someday. I mean really see it."

"Well, I'd be glad to guide you. Earth's actually not such a bad place if you don't have to live there." I responded to her with a smile.

Even in her intoxicated state this caught Twilight's attention, and she quickly waved a hoof to get my attention. "Could I go too?"

I shrugged. "I mean technically, I could take all of you if I wanted to. So long as you do as I say and we're in human forms, there wouldn't really be any danger. Besides, I could handle any trouble that might come along." I grinned and motioned to Luna. "I have a feeling you'd love the Independence Day fireworks display in a place called Atlanta." I then gestured to the violet unicorn. "And you, Twi, would love the NASA museum. I'll set up some time to go after this war is over, okay? Something tells me we'll need some rest and relaxation after it's done."

Twilight smiled and cocked her head in curiosity. "What's a 'NASA'?"

"It stands for the 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration'." I explained. "You see, humans can't fly on their own, they have to build machines to do it. Aeronautics is the science of flight and its mechanics. Not only do humans fly with machines all over the world, but they've even been into space and on the moon."

Luna was shocked. "Humans have been on the moon? My moon?"

I shook my head softly. "Different moon, Luna. Somehow I have a feeling that you still have power over the moon of Earth to a degree, but it's a different moon than Terra's. No human has been on your moon."

The lunar princess smiled sheepishly. "Forgive me for my panic. Still, this visit sounds like it would be quite enjoyable."

I nodded. "It is if you have someone like me who knows where to go. There are many parts of the world that are really dangerous, so if and when we go, you all have to listen to what I say and do as I say to stay safe and have fun. Understood?" All four mares nodded excitedly. "Good. Wow…never thought I'd be going back to Earth for fun…but then again there are things that you can only see and do on Earth. Just to let all of you know, however, that if we visit Earth the first thing I'm having is a giant t-bone steak."

Pinkie gasped and looked at me in horror. "Y-you eat meat?"

I shook my head. "Not now, no…but as a human I do." I lifted up my top lip and pointed to the oddly sharp canines that for some reason I still had, even in my equine form – which I now considered my "normal" body. "Don't ask me why I still have them, but all predators have teeth like these. They're made for tearing through flesh. They're not much use as a pony, but as a human they come with the desire to eat meat. Trust me…if you change to human form, you'll feel it too."

Lyra grimaced and looked away, disgusted. "I don't care how hungry I am, I don't think I could ever eat an animal."

I shrugged. "Well, there's a large group of people on Earth called vegetarians. Basically, they're humans that abstain from eating meat. I'm sure you'll get along with them just fine, Lyra."

The mint-green unicorn smiled and nodded. "Good to know that not all humans are barbaric flesh-eaters."

"Yep, that's me…Mister Carnivore." I remarked with a smirk. "In fact, I'm feeling a little hungry right now…" I proceeded to nip a few times at Lyra's throat, causing her to giggle.

She pushed me away with a grin. "You're a dork."

"Yeah, but you love it." I said with a smirk.

Luna analyzed me carefully. "Yes, and it is something I still do not quite understand. The complexities of your personality still baffle me, I must admit."

I stared at her with a blank expression. "Well there's a few explanations for that. First of all, I recently became Winter, and with that came all the avatar's memories and feelings Don't forget the fact that I died either. Also, being influenced by Death didn't help." I then smirked. "Lastly and most importantly though, I'm just weird. Always have been, always will be. I've said it once and I'll say it again – 'normal' is overrated."

For once, Pinkie actually looked confused. "But you used to be a hue-man too, right?"

I chuckled and shook my head. "That actually has nothing to do with it. I'm considered odd among humans too, and when we visit Earth, you'll see why. The way most people act, talk, look…even think – I'm nothing like them. In a lot of ways, I'm truly unique. I was unsure until recently if that was a good or bad thing, though."

"And your verdict is?" asked Twilight, slightly giggling.

I smiled and rubbed her cheek softly. "It got me here, didn't it? It's definitely a good thing. If I hadn't been as different as I am, I would never have met any of you girls…and my brother would never have met AJ. I can't remember if I've told any of you the way he used to be, but suffice to say he was a jerk…a big one. I don't know how much stronger I can put that without cursing."

"What was he like, Frost?" Luna asked in a hushed voice.

I sighed. "Not sure if you'll believe me, but I'll tell you. Let me put it this way, he was a user. He would use anyone and everyone to get what he wanted…and that included women. Oftentimes he would actually break up with a girl simply because she wouldn't have sex with him." They all gasped and I chuckled. "That's not to say I didn't have my own issues as well. I'm a far cry from how I used to be as well."

Pinkie hugged me tight with a concerned expression. "What do you mean, Frostie?"

I sighed and looked at Luna. "Luna already knows a little of it. I was bullied a lot in school when I was younger due to my eccentricities and differences." I smiled and nodded softly to myself. "That's why I feel for that little filly Scootaloo, Dashie's friend. I know what it's like to be made fun of and bothered simply because you're different." I then levitated the half-empty bottle of whiskey to my lips and took a drink before continuing. "When I was about fourteen, I started to get really violent. Basically the pressure and taunting became too much, and with the hormones that came with puberty assaulting me as well, I couldn't control it anymore. One day I snapped and ended up beating another person unconscious and bloody with his own book bag and a door." I then looked around at the shocked faces and sighed. "Are you all really sure you want to hear this? I can tell it's scaring you."

At the same time they all placed at least one hoof on me, and I found myself looking at the bright teal eyes of Luna. "Frost, we all care about and love you. We are afraid for you…not of you. Please tell us…it is not good to hold this in. We want to know everything." This was followed by a chorus of agreement from the other four mares.

I took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay…if you all insist." I took another drink of the tart whiskey and cleared my throat. "Anyway, after that day I assaulted a student, I was suspended for two weeks from school, as well as sent to counseling for my 'issues'. I joined a martial arts program known as taekwondo to give myself an outlet for my anger issues. While this worked for awhile, all of it crumbled down when my fiancée died."

Lyra gasped in surprise. "Y-you were married before?"

I shook my head. "Engaged. She died in an accident about two months from the day we had set for the wedding." I took one last swig of the bottle of alcohol before levitating the empty bottle to the waste bin and dropping it. "After that, I got really heavy into drugs and general self-destruction." I then quickly looked up at all of them. "My mother doesn't know about this, and I'd prefer it if you all didn't tell her. It'd break her heart…and she's suffered enough heartache without knowing this." They all nodded in assent, so I continued. "It got bad…real bad for me. It got to the point where I was missing entire years from my memory because I was high more often than not. I was homeless for over a year and a half because of it." I then looked out the window, imagining the tall black dragon standing there, watching over me. "My brother found me…and he brought me back. It was one of the few decent things he'd done before coming here. After that, I got clean and moved in with my mother again, becoming a full-time college student." I chuckled a bit as I looked at Luna. "It's kind of funny actually, Lulu. I was about two months away from completing my fourth year and getting my degree that night you came to get me. It doesn't matter though…I prefer my life here by far. On Earth I was simply going to be a hospital administrator. Here in Equestria, I'm a prince, a warrior, a husband, and perhaps one day, a father. Here I'm not just some weird guy from Kansas…I'm special. On Earth there's a saying that 'everyone is special…everyone is unique'. That's not true, however. Perhaps in the genetic sense we all are unique…but in truth I just blended in with everyone else." I then looked lovingly at the four mares. "Here though, I truly am unique…and you all noticed. Right now Dash would probably be making fun of me for being sappy or something, but I don't care. It's nice to know that I'm not like every other stallion…and that me previously being a human isn't the reason why."

Luna had a face of shock, and it took a minute before she could find her words. "W-well, Frost…I had no idea just how complex your life was."

I rolled my eyes and tickled her with a wingtip. "Please, Luna…I'm only twenty-six. You've got just a few years on me as far as life, so I'm sure you have a lot more stories to tell than I do."

She shook her head with a sad smile. "The most interesting things to happen to me before you arrived were the incident with Nightmare Moon, my banishment, my return, and my first Nightmare Night."

Twilight giggled and nodded. "I remember that night…Pinkie was dressed as a chicken!"

All the mares laughed loudly as Pinkie squawked like a chicken, bobbing her head. Luna then looked lovingly at the unicorn in her forelegs and smiled. "Yes, but that night turned out to be lovely. You were my first friend, Twilight. If not for you, I may not be the mare I am today."

The two continued to stare into each other's eyes until Lyra started making kissing noises. "Come on, just kiss already! The suspense is killing me!"

This of course caused Pinkie to burst into giggles, while the princess and her cuddle-buddy blushed a deep crimson. I just chuckled and shook my head before gazing at the two blushing mares. "You could always just kiss and say it was the alcohol. Alcohol makes you do crazy things, you know."

The alicorn princess and unicorn stared at each other for a moment before tentatively leaning in and touching their lips together. Immediately, both of them closed their eyes and sighed before slowly embracing tighter and continuing the kiss.

"It's about time. Those two have been dancing around it for months." Lyra whispered. She then looked up at me. "Isn't this a little weird for you?"

I chuckled and smirked at the green unicorn. "I caught you and Dash in the shower together, remember?" She blushed, so I kissed her on the forehead. "Pony society seems pretty open about things compared to Earth, so unless it causes problems, I'm not going to stop them." I gestured to the two kissing mares. "I know they both love me and I love both of them back…but they were friends long before I ever came to Earth…and during my time back there after I died, they were often the only comfort each other had. I'm certainly not going to be a jackass and be like 'no, I'm not comfortable with this'. I mean, do you even realize how many guys on Earth dream about something like this?" I then grinned evilly. "Going back to that place with you girls is gonna be fun…I can tell already. I have a few people I want to introduce you all to that are going to be jealous as hell."

The giggling pink mare in my right foreleg stopped giggling, and looked a little concerned. "Wait Frostie, I thought you said a stallion can only have one mare on Earth."

I laughed before responding. "What are they gonna do, arrest me? Technically it's only illegal in that country to be married to more than one girl. There is no law saying that I can't have as many girlfriends as I want. I mean sure, it's frowned upon, but only because it usually ends in trouble because of jealousy and such. You all don't get jealous, do you?" Lyra and Pinkie both shook their heads. "Well, that's why there's not a problem. That and the fact that I don't really care what they think…it's not like I live on Earth anymore…I'll just be visiting." I then smirked. "You know, I'm actually curious as to how you girls look as humans." I then grinned madly. "Dude! We could go to Bronycon!"

I then heard Luna's voice beside me. "What is ‘Bronycon’?"

I chuckled and nudged her softly. "Finally decided to take a breath, eh?" She blushed and I just snorted a laugh. "Well, Bronycon is basically a convention that centers around you girls…all of you. You remember how I told all of you that Equestria is just a TV show on Earth?" They all nodded. "Well…your fanbase is huge. You wouldn't believe how many people find you the coolest things in the world."

Twilight was panting a bit from her recent activity, but recovered enough to join the conversation. "But wouldn't we all stick out a little?"

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "No…not at all. Adults and children dress up as you girls all the time, so you'll all fit right in. It's called cosplay or 'costume-play', and basically people dress up as their favorite characters. It goes without saying that all of you would easily be the best looking ones there, though. Luna for example is going to get a ton of compliments on her hair. We'll have to find a way to keep it from floating around though. Human hair doesn't do that." I then smiled at a thought. "Character interviews are going to be fun too, because the people who voice you on Earth are going to be surprised to hear their made-up voice actually come from a real person…and do it better than them. Do you all think Fluttershy, Applejack, and Rarity would want to go too?"

Luna shook her head. "It may not be a good idea to remove so many of the Element bearers from Equestria. After all, the only thing keeping Discord imprisoned is the Elements' power."

"Well," I started with a smile, "I actually wanted to talk to you about that, Lulu. I've been thinking of enlisting Discord's support in the war."

"Absolutely not!" Luna suddenly shouted. She quickly composed herself and sighed. "This is the God of Chaos you are speaking about, Frost. You cannot simply release him on a whim and hope that he will see things our way."

I caressed her softly with a hoof and smiled. "Do you trust me, Luna?" After a moment of thought, she nodded. "Then please, trust me now. I can get his support."

Luna sighed in defeat and nodded. "Very well, Frost. Against my better judgment, I will trust you. If Equestria descends into chaos, however…I blame you. If anyone could do this though, it would be you. Because of the chaotic and dangerous world you come from, it is likely you understand him much better than any of us."

I nodded. "Exactly. And if by some outlandishly small chance I fail, you can simply use the Elements' power to imprison him again. I mean the only reason he caused so much trouble the last time was because he caught you all by surprise. If we purposefully release him, we all know that he's coming and can be prepared."

Luna sighed again in resignation. "I find no fault in your logic so far, Frost. Very well, I will speak with Tia about this tomorrow and see what she thinks. I warn you, you may have to convince her yourself, however."

"That's fine. If it comes to that, I'll present my case to her the same way. I'm pretty sure if I need to do any convincing, I can do it." I responded.

The rest of the night was great, and now I was excited about showing my girls just how popular they were sometime in the future…and I'd be lying if I claimed I didn't want to meet Discord.
Eventually we all made our way upstairs to the bedroom, for the first time in a long time choosing not to sleep on the observation deck. Pinkie of course was just as excited as I was about the concept of Ponycon, and I spent time unwinding by talking to her. Before I knew it, however, I had fallen asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night again to see that all but Luna were asleep, so I rose out of bed gently and she followed me. I stood by the window, admiring Luna's beautiful celestial form that lit up the night sky, and I smiled.

"I always did love the night, Lulu…and even more so now that I get to personally thank the moon princess herself." I whispered as she stood beside me.

I felt a form at my side and wrapped my wing around it. She sighed and leaned against me. "Luna says thank you, Winter."

I looked to see Night standing next to me instead of Luna. I smirked and kissed the black alicorn with fervor. "Ah, my beautiful Night. As always, it is good to have you at my side."

Contrary to Luna's sweet, innocent, and easily embarrassed personality, Night was strong, confident, and bold. The self-proclaimed Queen of the Night kissed me forcefully, letting the naturally long canines of her smile show, which for some reason turned me on. "Would you have me make an appearance when you visit Earth?"

I smiled and nodded. "If you want to. You wouldn't believe how many people love you, Night. It's amazing really…especially since you're often portrayed as a major antagonist."

For the first time since I'd known her, Night actually looked a little worried. "You don't think that will be held against me, do you?"

I shook my head with a smile, leaning against her and enjoying the feeling of her soft coat against mine. "Not at all. You're beautiful, intelligent, and very wise. Just be yourself. I can guarantee that you're going to be very popular, so be prepared for a lot of people wanting to talk to you."

"I don't know if I'd be comfortable with that." she responded with a nervous frown.

I leaned my cheek against hers, and our horns just barely touched, sending a shock of pleasurable energy through both of our bodies. "Night, I will be right beside you the entire time. You will be in no danger, and I will always be there if you start to panic or anything. On Earth, you will simply be seen as a beautiful woman with a really awesome humanoid Nightmare Moon costume."

The night avatar nodded and smiled. "That makes me feel better."

I then made my way back to the bed and Night followed me…but then she surprised me by embracing the violet unicorn in her hooves as Luna would before dissipating her form, leaving a sleeping Luna in her place. I scooted over and lay my head on top of hers as I draped my wings over all four and fell asleep.