Chapter 19: Fishing for Sanity
"One more! One more!" cheered the crowd of twenty or so ponies, so I grinned and nodded as I sat back down on the bench.
I took a deep breath and looked to Luna and Celestia, who were standing beside Twilight and her parents. "Alright, this one is for my mother, the strongest person I've ever known." I looked to the golden-maned blue earth pony with a smile. "Thanks mom...without you, I wouldn't be who I am today."
As my fingers touched the piano keys, I lost myself in the reverberating sound of the music. It was a song I'd written when I was seventeen, back when I still had a sliver of my innocence left...and just like when I'd created this piece, I put everything I had into it. It was a musical testament to the strength of our spirit. After losing two sisters, nearly all relatives, and going through homelessness...we never gave up. My brother, sister, mother, and I were all we had. No one helped us or even offered to, but we survived anyway. It was that time that forced us all to grow closer as a family. Alone, we would surely have fallen, but together we were invincible. The strong, passionate song told a story of this, note by note, chord by chord...and even though no words were sung, the music itself told the story and conveyed the emotions. Vinyl and Lyra were affected the most by the music, but as I opened my eyes upon finishing, I could tell that all enjoyed and appreciated it.
"Andrew...when did you learn that?" my mother asked.
I chuckled heartily and responded, "You remember that time after we moved to Virginia and our neighbor had that piano?" She nodded. "Well, it was then."
"I thought you were just smoking every time you went over there." she retorted skeptically.
I laughed louder. "I didn't just go there to blaze, I also did some constructive things too."
"I wonder if weed is legal here..." my brother mused under his breath, which earned him a hoof to the foot from our mother. She glared at him and he sighed. "Alright alright fine, I won't smoke anything."
"Dark, what're y'all talkin' about?" Applejack asked in confusion.
Before I could respond, my mother responded with, "Drugs...he's talking about drugs."
At this, everypony gasped, and I just sighed. I looked to all of them and nodded. "Yes, yes...we've done drugs before. You can't tell me that no pony's gotten high before on something."
Celestia leaned towards me and whispered, "I may have destroyed all those plants so as to prevent it."
I looked to the ivory alicorn with a nod. "Good idea, because with how happy and fun this place can be, it would have taken over. Good call."
Luna then leaned into my other ear and asked, "You truly partook of those substances?"
I chuckled and nodded. "Let's just say that I've laughed so hard my butt started to hurt, I've been so hyped that I sprinted everywhere I went, and I've danced with pink elephants on the moon with Eddie Izzard singing Kumbaya."
"That...that is quite the experience." the princess of night responded with a surprised expression.
I placed my hand against her cheek and smiled. "That life's behind me, Luna. I have everything I could ever want now, so what's the point in getting high anyway? I have you and all my other friends in a wonderful world of awesome. What more could I ask for?"
"How about a kiss?" she said with a grin.
I shrugged. "I'm still me and you're still you, so why not?" I then leaned in and kissed her softly, causing the princess to sigh happily, her wings twitching ever so slightly.
She looked at me with a happy expression when we broke apart. "I'd missed that."
"You just got plenty of it last night though." I said with a smile.
This caused Luna to pout and look at me pitifully. "But it's been hours..."
I smiled and kissed her cheek. "You'll get all you want tonight, I promise."
"But what about meee?" whined the sun princess from my other side.
I leveled an unamused stare at Celestia and answered, "You both are way too good at that."
Celly giggled and nodded. "We had parents too, Frost."
"So, can you change back yet Frost?" asked Vinyl curiously.
I shrugged. "It's been awhile now, but I'm pretty sure I don't have enough magic available at the moment. I can give it a try though. One sec." I focused on my magic and found that I couldn't even begin to cast the spell, and I quickly let the beginnings of the spell dissipate. "Nope...I got awhile yet I think."
"I pray you'll be back to normal before tonight..." Celestia added, giving me a wink.
"Princess or not, I'd prefer if you didn't do that in front of me. I don't want to imagine my son...oh God, it's too late!" my mother groaned.
I laughed and shook my head. "Please. I've walked in on you a few times. No kid wants to see their parent getting' down either." I then looked to her large crimson husband. "Especially not now."
"Let us please retreat from this subject so as to not traumatize anypony." Luna suggested.
My brother nodded with a smirk. "Agreed. I need my libido, thank you." He then glanced at Applejack. "Well...I'll need it one day."
"De-pressing." I remarked before turning to Twilight's parents. "So, how did you two like it?"
Night Shine sighed. "I suddenly find myself longing for fingers of my own."
I held my hand up and flexed my digits a few times. "I have to admit, I do miss having hands and fingers from time to time. Still...I find it much more advantageous to be what I am now."
"Could you teach me that spell?" asked Lyra, which I should have expected.
I nodded with a smile. "I will. You'll have to know it for when we go to Earth."
"Who all is going?" my brother asked, suddenly interested.
I placed my hand on my chin (which frankly, needed a good shave) and rubbed it as I thought. "Well, I think it's going to be all six Elements, both princesses, Ditzy, Vinyl, you, Moonfang, Venn, and Spike."
"Well we wouldn't want to take everyone, now would we?" the black dragon remarked smugly.
Twilight looked worried though. "I don't think it would be safe to remove all the Elements from Equestria, as the Elements' power is all that's keeping Discord from breaking free."
Celestia nodded with a smile. "This is true dear Twilight, but so long as the Element bearers continue to exist, so too do the Elements. Their power transcends time and space, and so this means that so long as all of you are alive and well, Discord's prison will remain strong."
"How do you know so much about the Elements, princess?" Twilight asked her mentor.
The solar princess smiled that familiar warm smile before responding in a kind tone. "My sister and I were the wielders of the Elements for nearly four centuries, Twilight. I held Magic, Loyalty, and Kindness, while Luna held Honesty, Generosity, and Laughter."
"Luna held laughter?" I asked, which prompted a nod from the mentioned dark alicorn. I chuckled and shook my head. "I'm sorry Luna, but I can't picture you acting like Pinkie Pie."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" the pink mare asked, slightly offended.
I stroked her mane softly with a smile. "Nothing bad, dear. Just imagine Luna acting like you."
Pinkie Pie thought for a moment before nodding with a look of realization. "You're right, I can't picture that. I know I don't make sense sometimes, but that really doesn't make sense. It's all crazy-wayzie like that time I tried to make rainbow cupcakes with real rainbows. Now those were some baked bads!"
I chuckled at the pink mare's rambling and looked to Luna. "I guess you don't have to be Pinkie Pie to be the Element of Laughter."
"Age has calmed me, Frostbreaker. In my filly years, I was quite the giggly pony." Luna answered. The guests gasped in surprise, causing Luna to scoff. "I am not always serious, my ponies. I can have fun too."
"I can vouch for that." I added.
The conversation lulled, and Dreamsinger stepped forward and eyed me with concern. "Please look after our daughter when you make your journey to this 'Earth'."
My brother stepped up beside me with a smile. "We both know how the planet works, as well as all the dangers, both obvious and hidden. Your daughter and all the others will be fine, of that I can promise you."
"Mah hunky dragon. Mmm..." Applejack whispered seductively into the Obsidian's ear canal.
I watched as my brother shivered a bit, then I looked to the group. "Well, I've got one more thing I want to show you that only humans can do, and this is going to be fun."
My brother leaned in as I looked up at the roof and asked, "You aren't going to do what I think you are, are you?"
I whispered, "If you mean some freerunning with your girlfriend chasing me, yes...I am."
"You do realize it has in fact been four years since you've last done this, right?" he asked with just a hint of concern.
I nodded with a grin. "Which means I should be just fine against Applejack."
"That makes literally no sense, you know that right?" the dragon responded, still whispering. He pointed at the orange mare and said, "She's at least twice as fast as you, and stronger."
"Then this should be pretty fun to watch then." I retorted with a smirk. I then turned my attention to the cowmare. "Alright AJ, here's what I want you to do. I want you to catch me."
Applejack took a step forward and raised an eyebrow. "Tha's all?"
"That's all." I answered.
The farm mare smirked and nodded. "Alraht then, le's git goin' then!"
I smirked right back and took off running.
Perspective change – Venn
"Ugh...it's so boring!" I groaned.
My companion wolf nudged me as we sat in the hot springs and smiled. "Come now Venn, some peace and quiet is a good thing. You can't tell me you'd rather be risking your life on the battlefield all of the time."
I sighed and slumped against the side of the rock behind me. "Maybe for you old guy, but I need something to do or I get bored."
"What do you mean 'old'? I am only a year older than you!" the tan wolf responded with a growl.
I laughed and shoved him lightly. "I'm just joking, Moonfang." I then sighed. "Not about the bored part though."
"You two are always just lounging around. Must be nice." said a voice from behind us.
I turned to see Princess Rainbow Dash and Corporal Ditzy Doo standing there, smirking. I looked at the both of them and shrugged, answering, "Well if you've got something more fun or more relaxing to do, I'm all ears."
"Not really. We were just wondering if we could join you two." the corporal asked.
I rolled my eyes. "No, this is our hot spring." I then gestured to the spring with a grin. "Of course you can join us. Like I'm going to say no to a princess anyway."
The alicorn chuckled before rounding the pool. "You guys both know I'm not the 'high-and-mighty' type. I wouldn't use my status as a push for anything."
I chuckled back and nodded. "I know, I'm just busting your chops."
I couldn't help but stare as the two mares walked around the pool to where it was shallow. Both of them were extraordinarily beautiful. The very thought was something I never thought I'd think about a pony. I mean, ponies would normally be food for me...but here I was ogling them. Forget the fact I was originally a hunter, trained and raised to track, kill, and eat things like them. No...this went even deeper than that. Originally there was nothing deeper than simple instincts – hunt, eat, survive...that was it.
Now, I had and understood true feelings and emotions.
I could think rationally before, but things changed upon being able to know anger, sadness, and fear. It opened a whole new world to me that I never knew existed...and lately this world was a lonely one. I had friends and family, but not a mate. As a wolf, having a mate is simply a way to make more wolves. It's an instinctual drive as strong and as old as time itself...never-ending and relentless. Now, I longed for the connection of having a female by my side. A companion I could truly confide in...someone to love.
Love...this was also a new concept for me. I understood it well already, but actually feeling it put a whole new perspective on the connection. There were a lot of times when I would notice myself being jealous of Frost or his brother...even my fellow wolf. I was jealous of the connection they shared with these amazing females.
I mean, where was mine?
"Yoo-hoo, you alright there Venn?" Rainbow Dash's voice cut through my thoughts.
I looked at the cyan alicorn and nodded quickly. "Yeah...yeah, I'm fine."
The gray pegasus giggled and shook her head. "Spill it, Venn. We all know something's bothering you."
I realized it would be pointless to try and argue that fact, as both the mares were masters at seeing through any falsehood. I just sighed and looked to both of them pleadingly. "Promise you won't laugh?"
"Only if it isn't funny." Rainbow Dash remarked with a grin.
I shrugged. "Fair enough." I then took a deep breath in nervousness and looked to Moonfang before turning my gaze back to the two mares sitting in front of me. "Well...I'm kinda lonely."
"What do you mean you're lonely?" Ditzy asked. Rainbow Dash then whispered in her ear and the gray mare looked back to me, inclining her head slightly. "Oh...I see."
I nodded. "Yeah."
"Well," Moonfang started with a smile, "I recommend speaking with Frost when this is all over. He could help you out, I'm sure."
"Who all is left though? I mean is there anypony that's not already accounted for?" I asked desperately.
"Hmmm..." the cyan alicorn hummed in thought, "well there's Aloe and Lotus, the spa twins. There's also Berry Punch, Colgate, Carrot Top, and Crimson Comet, among others."
I furrowed my brow at the princess. "Okay the rest I can see, but Crimson Comet is Frost's little sister."
"So...?" Rainbow Dash asked.
I sighed. "Do you even remember how protective he is? I'd never get within twenty feet of her."
"That might be true for a stranger Venn," Ditzy assured with a smile, "but you are no stranger. You are one of Frost's closest friends."
"I don't know..." I mumbled. "I'd prefer to try the others first."
"Oh wait, what about Octavia?" Moonfang asked with excitement.
The pegasus nodded. "Yeah! She's a good friend of Vinyl Scratch and Frost. She's kind, if a little uppity at times...but she's a good mare. She's single."
I nodded a few times slowly before smiling. "She sounds pretty nice too, from what Frost has told me. I guess I'll go see her when we get back."
"Good boy." Rainbow Dash responded with a smirk.
I growled, "Watch it."
Perspective change – Rainbow Dash
As I lay down to bed that night, I couldn't help but think about Frost and the coming end to this war. He'd told me through Spellspeech tonight that he'd be sending all of us home while he finished up here in the Forsaken Forest. While I was glad I'd get to see all my friends again, I was worried about what was going to happen next.
After all, a cornered beast is at its most dangerous.
What was going to be the final body count? How much damage had been done that we didn't know about? Most of all, what was going to happen after it was all over? Those of us that were a part of the war couldn't just turn a blind eye to what we'd seen and experienced and pretend it didn't happen. All the death and violence...it was something that was going to be with all of us for the rest of our lives. For ponies like Frost and I, that meant possibly forever.
How do you deal with that?
I didn't usually think this much. Maybe it was just the fact that I missed my friends and missed Frost. Yeah...tomorrow when Frost came back and we got to go home, everything would be better...