Chapter 18: Together at Last
Perspective change – Spike
"Alright AJ, here's what's going to happen:" I started sternly, "there's a group of five guarding this guy, so as soon as we surface, we're going to be under attack." I pointed right above us. "They're breaker-class bone gryphons, along with Celestia-knows-how-many fleshies. There's no way we're going to be able to take them all out, so I'm going to handle them while you take out the leader. Once we do that, you start the gem bomb and we get the hay out of there as fast as we can. I'll collapse the passage behind us so that we can escape. Understood?"
The orange mare nodded curtly. "Ah got it, Corporal. Ya can count on me."
I smiled and patted her armored shoulder. "I know I can, AJ. Now, things are going to get hot up there pretty quick, so we need to do this really fast." I braced my legs and placed my sharp claws above me. "Alright AJ, wait until I call you." She nodded, so I uncoiled my legs and shot through the stone floor.
As I had predicted, I was completely surrounded and was attacked immediately. Thankfully because of my armor and thick hide, I barely got more than scratches before I was able to take the group of twenty-or-so out. "Alright AJ, come up."
The earth pony hopped out of the hole and looked at me with a frown. "Yer hurt."
I shook my head. "Worry about it later AJ, the clock's ticking. We got maybe another ten minutes before the entire fortress is on us. Move!"
At my words, the two of us bolted through the cavern, heading towards the room that would contain our target. We only ran across one or two patrols along the way, and before we knew it, we were overlooking our target. The intelligence that Queen Chrysalis had gathered was accurate, and he was heavily guarded by bone gryphons that were easily as large as I was, and probably just as strong too.
I turned to Applejack and nodded before jumping down and taking out two of the group at once.
"So, the pest finally shows himself." growled a deep and gravelly voice from behind me. "Well, I shall dispose of you here and Lord Death will-"
He was cut off – literally – by AJ slamming her sword onto the crown of the undead dracoknight's head, ending his prolonged life immediately. She spit on the rancid corpse and planted her sword into the dirt, then broke the gem on the end which armed the bomb. "Spike, we got maybe a minute! Le's go!"
I shoved the two remaining bone gryphons off of me and breathed fire all around us before grabbing my partner and scaling the wall again as fast as possible. I didn't pause to see if we were being followed, but I could hear the sound of their claws scratching along the ground as we ran...which just pushed me to run even faster.
"We're not gunna make it!" I heard AJ yell.
I looked back briefly and saw nearly a hundred or more dead things chasing us, some no more than five feet behind us. I looked at the path ahead, and then to AJ. "Yes...you are going to make it AJ."
We reached our exit burrow and I shoved her inside. "Run, I'll be right behind you!" She looked scared, but nodded her head and took off down my tunnel. I then stomped my foot as hard as I could, collapsing the passage on this end. I breathed a red and green flame on myself and turned to our pursuers. "Bring it!"
Perspective change – Applejack
"Spike? Spike?! Goshdarnit, don't do this ta me!" I yelled in vain. Just then, the tunnel began to collapse, which forced me to run away towards the exit. The whole way, my mind was running wild with thoughts that were making tears come to my eyes. The most painful one was what I was going to have to tell all our friends about what happened to him. What would Twi say? What would Rarity say? Would they hate me? The tunnel continued to collapse behind me, and I ended up sobbing the whole way.
I jumped out of the ground just as the last of the tunnel collapsed, leaving me facing a very confused and concerned duo of unicorns.
Trailblazer stared at me for a moment before looking to the collapsed tunnel. "Applejack, what happened to the commander?" At this point my mouth refused to work properly, so I just shook my head sadly.
Moondancer was silently staring at the mountain that had held our target. She then turned to me with a stern look. "Is the mission complete?" I nodded, at which point she turned and walked away. "Pack your things. We're going home now."
"W-wait!" the young unicorn stallion shouted. "What about the commander? We can't just leave him!"
Moondancer stopped and turned with tears in her eyes. "I've seen enough death for a lifetime, and I'm not going to just sit around until we get attacked. Now, pack up and lets go. We've done our job, so it's time to head home."
I stood firm and stomped my foot in defiance. "No...Ah'm gunna go look for 'im."
Trailblazer was silent for a moment before uttering, "I'm going with her."
"Will you two wake up? He's gone! What's the point in waiting around for something that's not going to happen?" Moondancer nearly screamed, tears now freely flowing down her face.
I set my jaw and turned towards the mountain. "No one's askin' ya ta stay, sugarcube. Go on home ta yer daughter." She started to respond, but I turned toward her with a growl. "Go, Moondancer. We don' need ya, and y'all have a little filly tha's waitin' for ya."
The unicorn mare nodded softly and turned away. "I'm sorry...I just can't do this anymore."
Her fellow unicorn patted her on the side with a sad smile. "It's okay, go on home. We'll be back shortly too." The mare nodded back at us before charging her horn and disappearing in a flash of light.
"So," the stallion beside me started, "how do we start?"
"We walk straight in tha front. Ah know Spike well enough ta know tha' we don' have ta worry 'bout any enemies on tha way there. They'll be focusin' on him." I responded as we started to walk forward.
Trailblazer shook his mane out before following. "Do you think he's still alive?"
Without hesitation, I nodded. "He is. Spike's too tough ta go down that easily."
At my statement, the entire mountain collapsed in on itself, multicolored fire spewing out of the rubble that fell. My partner looked at me nervously. "H-he's fine, right?"
I sighed and continued walking. "Only one way ta find out."
We arrived at the rubble of the mountain about five minutes later, only to find it was now seeping molten lava from two vents on either side of the main foundation. I knew Spike was safe from fire and lava, but several thousand tons of rock...I wasn't sure of. It had been clear on quite a few occasions that Spike could take a hay of a lot of punishment, but let's just say I didn't want to test that...but this incident had done so for us.
I just hoped that plucky dragon didn't let us down now.
My thoughts were stopped dead when I heard a deep rumble from the mountain, followed by what sounded like explosions. I grabbed my companion and dodged behind a large boulder, just as the mountain was torn apart by a massive blowout of lava and volcanic gases. Small droplets of molten rock fell on my armor, and I watched as it hardened into stone before my eyes. The heat was intense, and I started sweating, even with the locale being as cold as it was. Fire and flaming boulders rained down around us, so I covered the smaller unicorn with my own body to protect him. After all, my armor covered my entire body...his did not. I felt my armor heat up as multiple droplets fell upon it, but I held firm and protected my teammate.
"If you two are done cuddling, I'd like to go home now." grumbled a voice from behind me.
I turned around to see the dragon we were looking for with glowing red armor.
Perspective change – Spike
"Isn't your armor usually green?" Trailblazer asked with confusion.
I nodded. "Three-thousand degree lava will do that to it...which means no hugs until we get back home."
The unicorn specialist rolled his eyes, then turned around and began casting a portal spell to take us home...but Applejack didn't take her eyes off of me. She walked closer and removed her helmet, and I could see that she had been crying. "Yer bleedin' Spike...from everywhere."
I looked down at myself and nodded. "Yeah, those bastards got me really well before I could get away." I pointed to the top of my head, which was missing a horn now. "And they made me a little uneven now too, which pisses me off." I then smiled weakly. "I'd also appreciate it if you didn't tell Twi I used such language."
"But Spike, yer bleedin' so much..." AJ stated with much concern.
I shook my head. "Dragons are a lot hardier than ponies are. They're just surface scratches...I'll be fine, I promise."
"Portal's ready you two...let's get out of here and go home." said Trailblazer from behind me.
"Thank Celestia, I'm so sick of this place." I remarked. I then reached out a cooled-down claw to the mare at my side. "Come on AJ, I'm sure Dark misses you."
Perspective change – Celestia
"...and furthermore, I believe that an increase in funds for the school would be beneficial for all the ponies of Ponyville. I truthfully believe that the young are our future, and must be provided for." the magenta schoolteacher stated.
I nodded with a practiced warm smile, effectively hiding my boredom. "I agree, Miss Cherilee. I also feel that to provide for our foals is to provide for our future. Increase in funding for the Ponyville school is granted."
The mare smiled and bowed in reverence. "Thank you so much, your highness."
I waved a hoof at her and smiled a genuinely. "It is no problem at all, dear. Thank you for bringing this to my attention." The mare nodded in thanks and vacated the chamber. I then turned to my left and asked, "So what do you think of the 'royal duties'?"
The Obsidian by my side sighed and shook his head as he leaned against my throne. "It's boring me to tears. In honesty, I don't know how you do this day in and day out."
"One gets used to it, dear Darkflight. Soon enough, your brother will be doing his part in said duties." I responded with a coy smile.
He snorted a laugh and shook his head. "With Drew's short attention span, you better have a new toy or something for him to mess around with, or he'll end up embarrassing you."
I was about to deny it, but upon thinking truthfully, I realized Frost's brother was correct. "Perhaps I should look into that."
At that moment, the air in the center of the throne room began to crackle with energy, and a bright shimmering portal appeared. Out of it stepped no other than the rest of Spike's team, returning from a victory over yet another...
He was bleeding profusely from multiple wounds, and he was also missing a horn. And yet, his emerald eyes still shone with strength and determination. The young dragon had proven yet again to be far more powerful than I had believed. Seeing him grow from a hatchling into a mature dragon...it was inspiring.
"Dark!" shouted the earth pony mare, just before galloping into the waiting arms of Darkflight.
The unicorn stallion approached and bowed respectfully before standing tall with a smile. "The operation was a success, your majesty."
I nodded with a smile of my own. "Well done...all of you. Go home and rest, Trailblazer. Your family is sure to have missed you."
He smiled wide and nodded. "Thank you, Princess Celestia. I shall do so immediately." With that last word, the stallion galloped out of the throne room and presumably, home.
I then turned my attention back to Spike and gestured to him with my forelegs outstretched. "Come here for a hug, dear."
He raised his eyeridge at me. "I'm covered in soot and blood, princess. I'd hate to-"
"I can bathe, Spike. Now get over here or I'll come and get you." I said firmly.
Even in the state he was, the young dragon still made his way to me with strong, proud strides...the gait of a warrior. He embraced me strongly, and I honestly did not care that he was marring my coat. He was as a son to me in many ways, and I loved him as one. I had missed and worried about him far too much, and I was beyond happy that he was back.
After a few moments, I pulled back and held him at a short distance with a frown. "You've been injured."
He shrugged with a smile. "I'll be fine, I just really would like a bath right about now."
I nodded and gestured to the corridor. "Use my room down the hall. You know which one it is." He released me and started to walk away before I stopped him by calling his name. He turned to me and I smiled brightly. "It is good to see you home."
"It's good to be back, princess." he responded.
I nodded again. "Clean up well. Rarity is with Frostbreaker and all your friends at the library. You and Applejack can arrive as a surprise...one I am sure they will not soon forget."
The young dragon smirked and nodded. "Great idea, princess. Thanks." He then headed down the winding hallways to his room.
I turned my attention to Darkflight and his marefriend, who were currently engaged in a kiss-war. I cleared my throat with a smirk, causing the both of them to look at me. "It is all well and good that you miss each other, but perhaps you should get yourself cleaned, Applejack. Your friends are all waiting for you at the library in Ponyville." She was about to speak, but I just pointed down the hallway. "Use the guest quarters, down the corridor with the oaken doors." She nodded with a smile before extracting herself from the dragon's grasp and trotting away.
Darkflight then looked at me with a smirk. "You just love to embarrass her, don't you?"
I looked away mischievously with a coy smile. "Whatever do you mean, Darkflight?"
He simply leaned against my throne again with a grin. "I see now why you and Drew get along so well. Both of you have the same false-innocence." He then looked at me and nudged me. "Don't have too much fun here. I'm going to go ahead and head back to the library. Meet us there whenever you're done."
"I will arrive when the sun has touched the horizon. Do not tell everypony about Spike and Applejack's return. I wish for it to be a surprise to all." I responded.
The Obsidian smiled back at me with a thumbs-up. "Understood, princess." I then watched as the black dragon flew away at a speed that rivaled Rainbow Dash, and smiled.
Luna will be most pleased.
Perspective change – Frostbreaker
Did I ever say just how good of a dancer Pinkie was? Well I'll say it now: Pinkie's a great dancer.
That wasn't the highlight of the day so far though. I got to meet Twilight's parents, Night Shine and Dreamsinger. Needless to say Twilight's mother was gushing over not only her daughter getting married, but to a prince...while Night Shine just shared a drink with me and smiled. Rarity was gushing too of course, but more so because of the opportunity to make yet another wedding dress for a friend.
Twilight was getting swarmed with questions by all her friends, as well as a few ponies that I didn't recognize at first. One turned out to be Colgate, and another was Berry Punch (how Twilight met her, I'm not sure I want to know).
The last pony I did recognize, but had never met...it was Derpy Hooves.
The mare was happily chatting away with Fluttershy, who was oddly not the least bit shy with the googly-eyed pegasus. Her daughter Dinky Doo was playing with my sister and her friends somewhere while everyone else talked.
I on the other hoof was sitting against the wall, enjoying a drink with Night Shiner and Big Macintosh.
"Eeyup." the crimson stallion remarked.
I took a swig of the hard cider and nodded. "Yep."
"Mmhmm." Night Shine added from beside me.
"Are you colts going to dance or do we have to make you?" Twilight's voice rang from in front of me.
I looked up to see Dreamsinger, Twilight, and my mother standing in front of me. I downed the
last of my cider and shrugged. "Sure, why not? It's been awhile since I've had a good dance with my lady."
Twilight blushed and extended her hoof, as the other two mares did the same to their partners. "Might I have this dance, prince?"
I chuckled and nodded. "You may, my soon-to-be princess."
Twilight blushed again, but took my hoof in her own and pulled me to the dance floor. I followed and was pleased that Vinyl had apparently anticipated this, changing the music to something slower and easier for me to dance to. After all, I wasn't going to be dancing to any rave music with nine drinks in me.
A large circle was created for the six of us as we approached, and we all went about embracing our partner and enjoying the slow, sensual dance. Twilight leaned her head against my chest and sighed deeply.
"You know, my mother fainted when I told her." the violet unicorn whispered with a grin.
I grinned right back as I held her against me. "In all honesty Twi, I'm actually surprised you didn't."
She nuzzled into me and sighed. "I almost did. That's why I got out of here so fast this morning." I then felt her head turn to the left, and followed her gaze to a lonely-looking Rarity. "She really misses him...and I do too."
"Truth be told, I miss the guy t-" I started to say, before I was cut off by the front door opening again.
"Started a party without us, huh? Some ponies..." said a very familiar voice.
"Ah know. We're workin' our tails off and they're jus' havin' a good ol' time" remarked an unmistakable accented voice.
I turned around and saw a battle-worn Spike and Applejack standing by the front door, smirking.
"SPIIIIIKE!" screamed not only the mare in my grasp, but also the alabaster unicorn the two of us had been talking about.
Both tackled said dragon in a dual hug, and he just chuckled as he stroked their manes with his fingers. "Hey Twi and Rarity. Miss be a bit, did you?"
The heartfelt reunion was broke up when Rarity gasped loudly. "Spike...dear, you are injured! And by Celestia, your horn!"
"Spike, what happened to you?" Twilight asked with a very concerned expression.
He embraced the two mares and smiled. "Just a little fighting and whatnot. My horn and scales will grow back." He stood up while still embracing the two ponies. "And before you say anything, I'm not stopping until this war is over with. We're almost done, and I want to see this through to the end."
Twilight and Rarity both looked at me and I nodded. "He'll be safe. Spike's A/O was the last one before the end, so now I'll be able to watch over him personally. We'll all be together this time, and Rainbow Dash and the rest will be returning after I go back the day after tomorrow."
"You're letting the rest of them come home?" Spike asked worriedly.
I nodded. "There's just a few more things to clean up in the Forbidden Forest, and it's something I can handle on my own. Besides, I can't use most of my spells right now for fear of hurting my troops. If I'm on my own, I can really loose myself. After I go back, you can expect to see me about a week later, if that. I know Dash, Ditzy, and the others all want to come home, and they deserve to."
They all seemed to accept this and nodded before Vinyl spoke up. "Well now that we're all here, let's get this party jumpin' again!" At that, she turned the volume on the speakers up and started pounding out the beats, to which everypony started dancing.
I watched the party progress on my own, sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. My brother was catching up with Spike while Rarity stood diligently by his side. I could tell she was very happy he had come home, but was not pleased by the cosmetic cost. I honestly couldn't help but look at the bright side – that he was alive. Still, I knew how the unicorn could be, so I let it go.
As I sat and observed while continuing to drink, I noticed when Pinkie sat next to me and hugged me tightly. With all the noise, I decided to use magic to speak to her, as otherwise I wouldn't be able to hear her.
“Hey Pinks, how are you?”
“Wow, I forgot you knew this spell! I'm doing just super-duperriffic, Frostie!”
“I'm glad you are. In a few days here, you're going to get to see Rainbo-”
“Dashie! Gosh, it's been forever since I've seen her. I miss her so much.”
"Excuse me Prince Frostbreaker." stated a voice in front of me. I looked up to see Twilight's parents standing in front of me. The father looked to me with concern and motioned his head to the back door. "Can we have a word outside?"
I kissed the pink mare beside me on the forehead and nodded. "Sure. Let's go."
The three of us arrived outside, where it was relatively quiet save for the sound of the bass that could be heard through the library's walls. I looked to the couple and raised an eyebrow. "So what's this about?"
"You seem like a no-nonsense kind of stallion, so I'll get right to the point." Night Shine stated. He then stepped closer to me with an inquisitive eye. "Our Twilight tells us that you're very different from the other stallions, and not because you're a royal." He cleared his throat and tried to look as intimidating as possible. "What exactly does she mean by that?"
I sighed and shrugged. "Well I guess I'd have to tell you all sooner or later. I'm not of this world...that's about as simple as I can put it. Do you need me to elaborate?" Both nodded, so I sat down and sighed again. "The two of you might want to take a seat, this is going to take awhile."
At the end of my explanation, the two of them sat completely silent for the longest time. Night Shine's left eye was twitching a bit, and Dreamsinger's mouth was hanging open as she struggled to compose herself and speak.
The mare finally gained some semblance of control and asked, "And how do we know that you're being truthful? That is after all, a very tall tale."
I shrugged. "You can always ask either one of the princesses. They're the ones that brought me and my family here."
"Frost, are you speaking of us again? You know how flattering that is..." sang a powerful and loving voice from above us.
I raised my head to see Luna and Celestia floating in slowly, with wide smiles on their faces. Luna landed beside me and nuzzled my face affectionately. "Apologies for arriving late, Frost. We had a few things to take care of before we could allow time away from the palace."
"P-princesses!" Night Shine squeaked out, just before bowing low as his wife followed suit.
Celestia stepped forward with her brilliant smile and bowed her head softly. "It is so good to see the two of you again. Please rise." As the two unicorns stood again, Celestia looked to me. "What were the three of you speaking about?"
"I just told them about what I am and where I come from. As I assumed, they didn't believe me." I responded as I nuzzled Luna in return.
Celestia knew my story well by now, so she simply stated, "Everything he's told you is true. We brought him here from another world, and he was not always a pony."
I looked at the two rulers and smiled. "Well I've actually been practicing the spell I'll need for when we visit Earth. I can show them if you think it would help."
"Show us what?" Night Shine asked in confusion.
I grinned and stepped away from everypony. "I sure hope I got this spell right, or else things are about to get really awkward." I then focused on the spell I had created and let the change take place. I had to close my eyes as a glow encompassed my entire body, and then I felt a tingling feeling as the magic took effect. I felt my limbs changing, and I could feel fingers and toes again, along with the loss of my tail and wings (which felt really weird to be without). After a few minutes, I heard gasps and I opened my eyes and looked down to see that I had indeed reverted to my human body...but luckily with clothing on.
I looked at the group and smiled. "So, how do I look?"
Luna stepped over to me with a grin. "Still handsome. It has been quite some time since I have seen this body."
I was now shorter than her, so I was just barely able to kiss her cheek as she stood next to me. I looked at Twilight's parents and nodded. "Well, this is what I used to look like before coming here. I hope this clears up any questions you might have."
"It's cleared up some...but brought up an entire load of new ones." Dreamsinger responded. The mare then shrugged. "I suppose those can wait until tomorrow though."
I sighed and nodded. "Cool. I'm sorry that I had all of you so worried. Anyway, we should head back inside." I then turned to Luna and Celestia. "I need the two of you to go inside and get my brother to bring me in, as no one else besides the two of you have seen me like this besides my family. I figure it'll be a lot easier to explain if he escorts me."
Luna nodded and followed her sister inside. "Very well, Frost. Wait here."
I sat down on the ground as the other four ponies walked inside, only to be joined by my brother a minute later. He looked down at me and smirked. "Hey there little white man." I chuckled and he looked me over with confusion. "Why don't you change back?"
"Because the only one who can reverse the spell is me...and I need time for my magic to build back up. It's going to take a few hours before I'm ready to cast again." I responded with a sigh.
"That sucks." the Obsidian said with a grin.
I nodded. "Tell me about it. It feels so weird to not have wings or a tail anymore." I then sighed. "Come on, let's go back inside and enjoy this party. Besides, I want everyone to see what I look like so that when we go back to Earth, they don't freak out as much."
He grinned and nodded. "This is going to be fun."
As we walked back inside, the entire library was completely silent as I entered. I turned to all of them and rolled my eyes. "Yes I look different, but it's still me." I then donned my ice armor. "See? I'm still Prince Frostbreaker...just in a different body." I then dissipated the armor, and was left with wet clothes. I grumbled, "That probably wasn't one of my smarter ideas."
"Frost?" I heard Twilght's voice call from the crowd, and I looked into her eyes as she held a very confused look. "Frost, what's happened to you?"
I shrugged. "Your parents didn't believe me when I told them my story...so I had to show them." I then pointed to my clothes. "Could you lend me a hoof Twi? I'd really appreciate it."
"Oh, sure. One second, Frost." she responded as her horn began to glow. I felt her magic encompass me, and felt as the dampness from my skin and clothes began to disappear, until I was completely dry. "There...that should do it." She then looked at me with a smirk. "You know, you're still pretty handsome as a human. A little scrawny by comparison though."
I shrugged. "Well I weigh about four hundred pounds less, so that's probably why." I then looked around the room nervously, as all eyes were upon me. "Well come on, let's keep this party going!" Vinyl got the music going again, and everypony soon began dancing and enjoying the atmosphere, effectively forgetting about what had happened, thankfully.
I sat down on the sofa in my old/new body and sighed heavily as both Pinkie and Twilight sat next to me on either side. Pinkie poked me with a grin and snuggled closer to me. "Am I going to look like you when I change?"
I looked at the pink mare and shook my head. "Males and females look very different as far as humans are concerned. After I change back to my pony form, I'll show you what I mean if you want."
"How long are you going to be like this?" Twilight asked.
I sighed. "Well unfortunately, I have to be the one to undo the spell, so I have to wait for my magic to regenerate. That's going to take a few hours at least." I held up my hands and let my magic flow over my fingers in little wisps. "I can feel already that this body generates magic at a much slower rate than an alicorn does. Thankfully for Celestia and Luna, they won't have to worry about that on Earth, as they draw their power directly from Terra."
"They can do that all the way from Earth though?" Pinkie asked with a dazed expression at all the information.
I shrugged. "When we went to Earth to pick up your present, Luna didn't have any problem at all."
The pink mare giggled. "This is going to be so much fun when we go!"
"Yes...yes I think it will be." I responded as I wrapped my arm around her and hugged her tight against me. I then gestured to Rarity and Spike as he held the white unicorn's hoof in his hand. "Come on, let's grab the two of them. I have something I want to show all of you outside." They looked confused, but complied with my request.
My brother then came up beside me with Applejack. "So, you're going to show them then?"
I nodded with a maniacal grin. "Oh yeah, and it's gonna be fun."