Rise of the Elements Part II: Return of the Avatars

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 22: Meet, Greet, and Metal

Chapter 22: Meet, Greet, and Metal

Perspective change ‒ Darkflight

It took about six hours to fly back even at the speed Gilda and I cruised at, but as we passed through the cloudbank over the mountains, I could see Ponyville in the distance. Once again I began to see gryphons, dragons, and pegasi all flying about, going one place or another, and even though it was crowded, I was glad to be home.

“It really is a beautiful town.” whispered a soft voice from my back.

I chuckled and nodded. “Well good morning, sleepy-head. Get a good rest?”

“I never thought sleeping on the back of a dragon could be so relaxing.” Trixie commented.

“Depends on the dragon.” I replied with a grin. “It’s true that a lot of dragons have wings, but Obsidians like me are designed for flying. We’re agile, graceful, and powerful...and it doesn’t hurt that I’m just awesome anyway.”

“You’re just like how I imagined you, Darkflight.” she replied from my back. “Call it foalish, but ever since hearing about how you saved the survivors in Fillydelphia, I have begun to see you as a celebrity of sorts. It was only after you took off your armor that I recognized you, however.”

I chuckled again and said, “Which I find odd, because usually it’s my armor that is the most recognizable thing about me. Without it, I’m just a black dragon.”

“Perhaps,” she began with a thoughtful tone, “but it is not as if a black dragon is something ponies see every day, even in a place such as Manehattan in a time like now.”

I bobbed my head in thought before nodding. “I guess you have a point there.”

As we flew over the small town, Trixie asked, “We are not going to Ponyville?”

“Canterlot.” I responded quickly. “The pony that tasked me to find you is a soldier there, and the princesses will want to meet you as well...all of them.”

“Umm...how many is that exactly?” Trixie asked in worry.

I ran through the numbers in my head really quick before responding, “Four. And Twilight will be there too.” I then smirked. “I don’t know if you know it, but she’s actually the general of the entire military.”

“I had heard that actually, though I was unsure if it was true.” she responded. “I am actually curious as to how she attained such a high rank.”

I shrugged a bit. “Being personal friends with the princesses helps, but most of it was her organizational skills and her knowledge she got from both my brother and the like twenty-thousand books she reads. Other than my brother, she understands war even better than the princesses.” I then noticed we were fast approaching the palace, so I began to slow down and angled myself towards the landing zone. “We’re here.”

Finally!” said Gilda’s voice from beside me. “That flight always take forever.”

I chuckled as we landed. “Yeah, but being back home, I’ll say it’s worth it.”

“Why don’t you just fly directly to the throne room?” Trixie asked curiously as she unstrapped herself.

I handed her the bag I was carrying and pointed to the large glowing crystals surrounding the mountain city. “Those are barrier generators. We made and put them up after Appleloosa was attacked. They pretty much keep anything from getting in or out, without help from a spell that only a few know of, and even fewer can use effectively.” I pointed to a certain royal guard captain that was waiting for us. “He’s one of them.” I then walked with my company over to the stallion and smiled. “Hey Shining. How’s it hangin?”

“Long and proud.” he said with a chuckle. He then motioned to the group. “Who’re your friends?”

I pointed to each one and said, “Well this is Gilda...you already know her. This pegasus here is Surprise...she’s one of the survivors of the battle for Fillydelphia. And this here is my charge for the job Corporal Ditzy gave me ‒ Beatrix Starshine, known by her stage name as the Great and Powerful Trixie.”

The captain went about shaking the two others’ hand and hoof before coming upon Trixie. “So you’re the unicorn my sister told me so much about. Not gonna bring an ursa here, are you?”

She looked really uncomfortable, so I stepped in and said, “That’s a tender subject for her man, ease up. And for the record, it wasn’t her fault. Those two colts...umm Snips and Snails I think was their names...yeah, it was their fault.”

“Alright,” the captain started, “I’ll give you that one.” He then shot a spell at the large barrier and pointed inside. “The princesses are waiting.”

I nodded and followed, my company close behind.

After a few minutes of walking, the five of us arrived at the large doors that led to the throne room.

The guard captain turned around and said, “Alright, I don’t think I have to tell you, but I’ll say it anyway: bow respectfully, speak respectfully, and don’t speak unless spoken to...okay?” The group nodded and he pushed on the door. “Alright then, come on.”

The five of us walked into the large throne room, and I noticed that all four royals had been assembled in full royal garb, along with Twilight Sparkle, who was wearing her necklace and a ceremonial sword that I’d made for her.

As usual when we met the princesses formally, I bowed at the foot of the stairs, with everyone else following suit.

“Arise.” I heard Celestia request, so I did so and found myself looking at the radiant white alicorn as she smiled. “Welcome to Canterlot, and more specifically, the Celestial Palace. As I’m sure you know, I am Princess Celestia.” She then pointed to the other four who were assembled. “This is Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, Princess Luna, Princess Rainbow Dash, and General Twilight Sparkle.” She then motioned to me. “Colonel, if you would.”

I smiled and nodded. “Of course, princess.” I then pointed to the blue unicorn “I present Miss Beatrix Starshine. As I’m sure you know, I was charged with bringing her back for different reasons, so I would appreciate it if we all treated her with respect and dignity.”

“That won’t be a problem.” Twilight said, and I heard Trixie let out a sigh of relief.

“Right.” I responded warmly, gesturing to the pegasus. “Well this is Miss Surprise. She is a survivor from the incident in Fillydelphia, and upon finding out who I was and what my soldiers had done for her, she asked to return to Ponyville with me, which I accepted.” I then pointed to Gilda. “And this is Corporal Gilda Gryphon. She is one of my most trusted soldiers and friend.” At the mention of Gilda, I noticed as Rainbow Dash smiled warmly, and I smiled inwardly as well.

Luna stepped forward and said, “Well I would like to welcome all of you.” She then looked directly at Trixie. “Corporal Ditzy Doo will wish to speak with you, so I will take you to her.” She then looked to Gilda. “And after so long, I am sure you and Rainbow Dash have much to discuss. You are all dismissed.”

The group then spread out among themselves, so I walked directly up toTwilight and Celestia and asked, “So how’ve things been since I was away?”

“Pretty quiet.” the violet unicorn answered. “With Frost taking care of the last bastion before Death’s fortress, things haven’t been very exciting around here, which is actually a good thing. It gives us some time to rest before we wrap this up, because I have a feeling we’re going to need the time to get our spirits and strength up.”

I nodded with a smile. “I agree. My brother’ll be back within about a week, so I hope we can rest for a few days and then get to ending this war once and for all before that slimy avatar slips through our grasp again.”

“I concur, but our troops need rest and I want to make sure I’ve got everything set. I don’t want to go rushing in without having a plan and at least ten backup plans.” Twilight explained.

I nodded again. “That’s a good idea, actually. If he gets away again, I’m gonna rage out.”

Twilight giggled and shook her head as she placed a hoof on my knee. “We’re gonna handle this, Dark. Just relax a bit now while we wait for Frost to get back.”

I sighed and took my helmet off. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’m gonna go see AJ then, unless you all have something you need me to do.”

Celestia smiled warmly and shook her head. “Not at the moment, Darkflight. We have a surplus of armor and weaponry, and Captain Shining Armor has the training of the soldiers handled. Go and enjoy yourself.”

“Right. Thanks a lot. I’ll see all of you later then I guess.” I responded happily before dashing out of the throne room.

Perspective change ‒ Rainbow Dash

“So what have you been up to, Dash?” Gilda asked me with a smile.

I shrugged. “Not much. Getting used to the whole princess thing for the most part. It’s weird having everypony bow to me, and even weirder that I like it a little.”

Gilda chuckled as she nudged me with her elbow. “You always did like being the center of attention.”

I giggled and shrugged. “Well when you’re as awesome as me, it comes with the territory.” I halted my laughter and smiled warmly. “I missed this, Gilda.”

“Me too Dash, me too.” she replied happily.

“You know,” I started, taking a deep breath, “I never thanked you for coming back. I mean I know you didn’t have to...so thank you. I really missed you.”

She nodded. “I did have to come back actually.” She then nudged me and added, “You’re my best friend, Dash...and whether we never spoke again after that day I came back, I couldn’t leave things as they were. It had been tearing me up inside since that day I yelled at all your friends.”

I sighed sadly, remembering that day. “Yeah...you don’t know how hard it was to tell you to leave.”

“I could tell.” the gryphon responded. “It just made it hurt more because I could tell that some part of you didn’t want me to leave, which just made me confused as to why you told me to.”

I sighed and leaned against my friend. “Because a part of me knew that you could be a better gryphon, Gilda...and I wanted you to be. Even before I came to Ponyville, you had never acted downright mean before. Maybe a little full of yourself, but never mean.” I smiled as I felt Gilda’s claw wrap around my shoulder. “I mean, when you yelled at Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, I had to choose a side...and because you had changed so much from how I remembered you, I had to choose them.”

I looked to see her shaking her head with a smile. “I would have done the same thing, Dash. I freaked out, and I shouldn’t have acted that way. I know I said it before, but I’m sorry.”

I leaned into her feathers and sighed happily, enjoying the warm soft feeling. “I forgive you, Gilda.” I then smiled and said, “So, what’s up with you and Darkflight?”

I’ve never seen a blush on anypony’s face come up as fast as the one that Gilda now had.

“W-what do you mean? Nothing!” the gryphon answered in denial.

I snorted and said, “You just answered my question. You like him, don’t you?”

“I...er that is...” she stuttered, unable to make a complete sentence.

I grinned and nudged her gently. “It’s okay Gilda. He’s a good guy, and honestly if Frost didn’t exist, I’d probably get a crush on him too.”

“Really?” the gryphon asked in an uncharacteristically soft voice.

I nodded. “Yeah. He’s a cool guy, and the fact he’s Frost’s brother makes him even cooler.” I then turned my head to look at her and asked, “Have you told him yet?” She shook her head slowly with a sigh. “Why not?”

“Because you know how he is.” Gilda responded sadly. “He loves your friend Applejack, and he’s more of a one-pony type of dragon.”

I brought myself away from my friend and looked at her sternly. “Have you talked to him about it? I mean, I’ve seen how he is around you...and he doesn’t act that way with just anyone. You mean a lot to him.”

“You think so?” she asked with a curious expression on her face.

I nodded and placed my hoof on her chest. “I know so. He’s proud of you, he respects you, and you make him laugh. That’s a lot of care right there if you ask me.” She still seemed unsure, so I added, “Just think about it, Gilda.” She looked at me with a smile and nodded, so I smiled back before removing my hoof and standing back. “Anyway, I’m free for the day, so I thought we could go and race like we used to.” I then leaned in close with a smirk and added, “Think you can keep up with me or are you too slow now?”

The gryphon stood and smirked right back. “Well I don’t know, do you feel like-”

And then she bolted off into the air towards the landing platform.

I grinned before giving chase, happy to have my friend back.

Perspective change ‒ Twilight Sparkle

I was waiting in the “war room” with a young servant, just talking and drinking some tea while I went through scout reports. The young mare was Nightwing’s little sister, and went by the name Quickquill. She was an off-white pegasus with a soft curly brown mane, and her talent was writing...fast. By fast I mean that she could write faster with one quill than I could with three, and with a margin of error at only 3%. Not only was she a fast writer, but come to find out she was also a talented one. Many of the novels I had in the library had been written by her under the alias “Fleetwrite”.

While I enjoyed the company I had, it was more or less to keep me calm, because in a few minutes I was going to have to speak with Trixie...and it was going to be tense. In fact, I’d already had to cast a spell to make myself relax...but the fact that my nervousness was overcoming it only made me worry more.

I wasn’t worried so much about the way Trixie would act...I was instead worried about my behavior.

I had no idea how I was going to respond to being confronted with her, or how I would go about apologizing for what I’d indirectly done to her. I mean, I hadn’t purposefully ruined her career in showponyship, but then again some of the worst things imaginable have been accidents. I had to apologize...I had to make this right. I owed it to her, and to myself.

I would fix this.

It was then that I felt the approach of both Luna and Trixie from the corridors of the palace. I was as ready as I was going to be, so I respectfully dismissed Quickquill before tidying up my workspace and waiting for my company to arrive.

I don’t know why, but I felt like I should be doing something to give to some atmosphere to the meeting, so I settled upon looking out the window over the city, hoping I looked stern and mysterious. Instead, the sun caused me to have to squint, and I ended up tripping on a rug, landing on my face with my flank in the air.

“Oh...hello Twilight.” I heard Luna’s voice say with a hint of a giggle.

By Celestia, please just give me a break.

I pushed off of the stone floor and rubbed my nose before smiling sheepishly. “Um, hi Luna.”

The princess’ face screwed up as she tried to hold in the giggles, but a second later she lost the battle, and leaned against the doorframe as she laughed loudly. I tried to be mad at her, but my heart and face betrayed me as I felt the corners of my mouth start to curl up into a smile, as well as the onset of soft giggles that started to wrack my body, and before I knew it, I fell on the floor again...in laughter.

Luna had sufficiently removed all of my nervousness and tension, so much so that when Trixie stuck her head in the room to see what was happening, I didn’t feel the least bit stressed about it.

“Umm, am I interrupting something?” the blue unicorn asked...and I can’t explain how much I was happy she was referring to herself in first-person.

I composed myself and stood, shaking my head. “Not at all, Trixie. Come in.” I then turned to Luna and said, “Thanks Princess Luna. I’ve got it from here.” The night princess smiled before leaving, closing the door behind her. I turned my attention to Trixie and my smile dropped. “So...”

“So...” she responded in kind.

My gaze faltered for a moment, but then I stepped forward towards the mare. “Trixie I’m sorry for what I did to you. I didn’t mean to mess everything up for you, I just wanted to protect the town.”

For awhile she was quiet before whispering, “I know...”

“Can you forgive me?” I asked gently.

Again silence prevailed, but after a minute she nodded with a smile. “I can...if you can forgive me for being...well, like I was.”

I smiled and nodded vigorously. “I can.”

The silver-maned unicorn let out a sigh of satisfaction as she slumped a bit. “Phew...I was so worried things were going to go horribly.”

I shrugged. “I don’t hold grudges Trixie, and neither do my friends. I can’t speak for the rest of Ponyville or Canterlot, but if you’re really different from the way you used to be, I’d be more than happy to stand behind you all the way.”

Trixie closed her eyes and smiled. “You don’t know how happy that makes me, Twilight Sparkle.”

“Just Twilight is fine.” I responded with a smile. “Using my second name just makes it sound like I’m more important than I am.”

“But you are important.” she insisted, which caught me completely off-guard. “You’re friends with both of the princesses, you’re marrying a prince, and you’re the general of the entire Equestrian MIlitary! You don’t need to be arrogant like the ‘Great and Powerful’ Trixie was, but you’re allowed to feel important...because you are.”

For some reason her words touched me. Not only because it was said, but because it was her that said it. To meet after so long, having left on bad terms, and then hear that from her...it was something, and it carried a weight with it that not many words did.

“That...that means a hay of a lot to me, Trixie. Thank you.” I gratefully replied.

The unicorn mare smiled and nodded. “The Great and Powerful Trixie welcomes you.”

The two of us giggled at the little joke before I asked, “So I was thinking...”

“Yes?” she asked in inquiry.

I sighed. “Well, with you being here, I’d like to offer you a job.”

Trixie gasped as her mouth hung open. “W-what?”

I nodded. “Yes...we could use your skills, Trixie.”

My skills?” she asked curiously. “But what about your-”

I shook my head, interrupting her. “I might be really powerful Trixie, and I think we both know I’m more powerful than you, but you have a talent for illusionary spells the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Invisibility, smoke...things like that.” I placed my hoof on her shoulder and added, “Trixie, I’ve tried to do some of the spells you used, and I just can’t get it. You have a talent, and we need it for our soldiers.”

This got the mare interested and she asked, “Hmm...what exactly were you thinking?”

I shrugged. “Well I don’t know if it’s even possible, but a few things, actually. The biggest problem we have with our troops is stealth. Most of our enemy’s forces see with a sort of thermal vision, meaning that no matter how well we blend in visually, they can still see us. We’ve tried insulation clothing, and even have spells that can counter it as well...but therein lies another problem. These enemies are drawn to magic like a moth to a flame, so any unicorn using magic is going to be a prime target. What I’m saying is that we’re looking for a way to enchant clothing to mask the body heat of the soldier wearing it.”

Trixie giggled and waved a hoof at me. “Oh, that’s easy.”

My eyes widened in shock from her response. “R-really?”

The showmare giggled again and nodded. “Sure. I’ve been working on enchantments most of my life. For example, making a cloak that doesn’t tear or fade, or making a hat that won’t fall off. Enchantments as a whole are easy to do, it’s just that depending on the spell you’re using, it could take a lot more magic to embed it.”

“And you could come up with something like we need?” I asked with growing excitement.

Trixie smiled with pride and nodded. “You have to remember, I’m ‘Great and Powerful’ after all.” She giggled a bit at her joke and continued with, “It’ll just take a little trial and error for me to get it right, as well as a piece of armor to try it on and see if it works.”

I thought for a moment before answering, “Well if we go to the steelworks, I’m sure Darkflight will let us borrow a helmet or something to experiment on. I can come up with a spell to change our vision so we can see in infrared while you work on your spell, and we’ll give it a try tomorrow. How does that sound?”

“It sounds great, Twilight. Thank you.” Trixie replied happily.

I nodded with a satisfied smile. “Great. Well I’ll walk you to your guest room and we’ll give it a try tomorrow morning, say at around 10:00. I’m sure you could use a good sleep after that long flight.”

“I slept a little on the way, but let it just be said that the back of a dragon is not my bed of choice.” she responded with a bit of a grin.

I giggled softly and nodded. “I assume so. Well your bag has already been put there, so let’s go.”

Perspective change ‒ Vinyl Scratch

Today was an off-day for me, so Lyra, Tavi, and I were chilling out at my place, listening to some tunes from Frost’s iPod thing and talking.

It was something I’d been neglecting...just relaxing and spending time with friends and enjoying the good times. Besides, I’d neglected Tavi a bit in the past week, so I made sure she knew I still cared about her.

She was one of my best friends, after all.

“So Vinyl, what about this trip to Frost’s homeworld that you’ve been telling me about?” Tavi asked, breaking me out of my thoughts.

I looked up at her lavender eyes and grinned. “Well I don’t know much about it, really. I only know for sure that we’re going to a few definite places, namely Germany, France, England, the United States, and Alaska. There might be more places too, but I don’t know what they are and frankly, I don’t even know what we’re going to be doing, except for watching a fireworks show in a place called Atlanta.”

“Sounds mysterious.” Lyra quipped.

I shrugged. “Frost is fun already, and Dark’s going too, so I’m sure we’re gonna have a blast. Besides, I’m more interested in learning how to be a human.”

“Well Frost said that he’ll teach us the spell once this war is over, and then he’ll give us about a week to get used to the changes before we actually go.” Lyra stated with a grin.

I chuckled softly. “I bet I look hot!”

The mint-green unicorn scooted over to me before laying down against my flank. “Who says you’re not already, Vi?”

I just laughed louder before saying, “I knew it, you want me.”

“I’ll never understand the way you two act when you’re together.” Tavi responded with a soft smile.

I hopped over to my earth pony friend and hugged her tight. “Aww, you know I love you too, Tavi.”

She smiled before embracing me too and saying, “You’re lucky you’re my best friend.”

Lyra just giggled before adding, “Aww! It’s so cute!”

“Hnnngg!” said a voice from the doorway, and I looked to see a tall dragon standing there. “Too many feels!”

I rolled my eyes as I released Tavi and hopped off the couch. “Dork. Get over here and give me a hug.”

The dragon closed the door and walked to meet me, and picked me up in a tight hug. “It’s great to see ya, Vi.” He then set me down with a smile. “Make any good music lately?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I have...but I think Tavi has something cooler she’d like to show you.”

Perspective change ‒ Darkflight

“Really now?” I asked with a raised eyeridge. I then looked to the earth pony and smiled. “Well then, let’s see it.”

“Follow me to the studio, please.” Octavia responded with a smile.

I followed the three ponies to Vinyl’s studio, which was probably one of my favorite places in all of Equestria. I mean, she had more equipment than I’d ever seen before, and even better, she actually liked it when I played around on it.

Can you say awesome?

Anyway, when we arrived, I saw Drew’s Flying V in the corner, and was surprised when Octavia walked over and picked it up.

“No...” I whispered.

Vinyl nodded as she walked towards the soundbooth. “Oh yeah. C’mon.”

I followed Vi and Lyra into the soundbooth and watched as she did a quick soundcheck, with the earth pony playing a few chords on the guitar, using the tip of her right hoof to strum the strings.

“How does she do that?” I asked curiously.

The white unicorn shrugged. “String instruments seem to be her specialty. I have no idea, honestly, but I can’t deny that it’s awesome.” She then leaned forward and pressed the button on the mic. “Alright Tavi, we’re all set. You gonna play a song or you just gonna jam?”

“I believe I will improvise, Vinyl. I wish for full distortion.” Octavia responded with a grin.

“Oh boy...this is gonna be bad.” I said under my breath.

”Never in my life have I been so glad to be wrong!” I exclaimed, praising the mare in front of me.

Octavia blushed but nodded gracefully. “Well I thank you, Darkflight.”

I sighed and closed my eyes. “How...just how? You shredded like nothing I’ve ever seen before...and with hooves! How did you even do that? You shouldn’t be able to!” I opened my eyes and grinned maniacally. “You are an incredible, awesome, amazing freak of nature, do you know that?”

Thankfully the earth pony understood what I meant and smiled gratefully. “Thank you again, Darkflight. It was nothing, really. Your brother is a better player than I am.”

I shrugged. “Maybe, but he also uses magic. I know for a fact there is no way he could play that good with just hooves.”

The gray mare’s smile got bigger and she nodded. “Perhaps you are right. I am a strings master, after all.”

I chuckled and nodded. “Yeah you are.” I then stood and stretched a bit. “Well it was really great to see you all, but I’ve gotta head back to see AJ. I promised I’d take her out tonight, since it’s been like five months.”

The DJ chuckled and nudged me playfully. “Get ‘er, Dark!”

I smirked before waving goodbye and taking flight.

Perspective change ‒ Luna

The night was brought forth once more, and as Tia stood beside me, I felt the waning crescent with the stars of late spring would be a good end to the day.

“Beautiful as always, Luna.” sister commented from beside me.

I leaned into the warm body of my elder sibling and smiled. “Thank you, Tia. It always means so much to hear that, especially from you.”

“Perhaps you will not believe this, but I’ve always enjoyed your nights.” she responded firmly. “It is one of the things that always helped me sleep, knowing that your beautiful moon and stars were watching over me...protecting me.” At this declaration, her head lowered a bit. “For a thousand years I slept uneasily...” she then raised her head and looked at me lovingly, “but with you returned, and your night yours again, I sleep peacefully.”

I looked up at the taller princess with a pleading expression and asked, “Tia? Twilight is away tonight. Might I slumber in your quarters...like I used to?”

It was a thing that we had not shared since before I was banished. Just the two of us, talking to each other softly until we both fell asleep...it was something I had missed ever so much. With Frost and the others it was different somehow, though no less special.

Before I could think on the matter longer, Tia responded, “Of course, Luna.”

As the two of us lay down on the large circular bed that was my sister’s, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic in the sensation. In the past, I would rush to Tia’s room whenever I had a nightmare, or was lonely, or was scared for any other reason...or if I just missed her. Perhaps I was needy, but it was part of who I was as a pony. I craved that interaction between us...needed it. The bond I shared with my sister was something I shared with no other. It went without saying that she was the most important pony in my life to me...and I had a feeling she felt the same way.

The two of us lay in the bed on our stomachs, simply enjoying the feeling of each other being close after such a long time.

“Luna?” sister’s voice came from the darkness.

I rolled my head to the side to meet her eyes and answered, “Yes Tia?”

Even in the dark of night, I could see my elder sibling’s magenta eyes scanning me worriedly. “What do you think is going to happen...when this is all over?”

“We will move on.” I said simply.

Her eyes closed and she sighed. “How?”

I extended my wing to cover her larger body as I scooted closer. “It will be difficult for a number of years, but we can and will prevail, sister. You and I both have powerful and determined friends...and with their help, we can do anything.”

I felt as she nestled her head atop mine and said, “Thank you, Luna...thank you for being strong.” She let out a soft breath and looped her foreleg around mine. “Goodnight, dear sister.”

I smiled warmly as her words of praise and love washed over me. “Goodnight, Tia.”