Rise of the Elements Part II: Return of the Avatars

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 23: The Way Home

Chapter 23: The Way Home

“Home sweet home.” I mouthed as I approached the distant town.

Ten days had passed a lot faster than I thought they would, and what was once a corrupted and dangerous forest was now a permanent icy wasteland...which in truth was not much of a change because of the fact nothing lived there anyway.

At least now it was pretty.

Joking aside though, I was glad that I was able to wrap things up, because I had been pushed to my mental breaking point with what I had to do out there. Let it simply be said that there were some things no living thing should ever have to deal with, and leave it at that. Still, it seemed that along with the realization that things were nearing the end came the dropoff of all that stress. The eternal experience of Winter helped me cope, as did my Element’s push to do what’s right to protect my loved ones.

I’m gonna need a lot of therapy after this shit.

Still, even the realization that I was likely going to suffer from PTSD didn’t dampen my spirits. I wouldn’t let it, because I owed it to both myself and those I cared about, friends and family alike. Besides, summer was fast approaching, and so I had to make sure to keep my spirits up so I didn’t get all edgy because of the heat. Granted I’d modified a frost spell so that I could keep myself cool without freezing everyone around me, but that didn’t help the fact that summer as a whole just bothered me.

No offense to Celly, but I never liked it, and probably never will.

My return was heralded as a great victory by everypony gathered in Ponyville...which was a lot of ponies. Both civilians and soldiers alike were gathered to greet me as I landed, and both were equally happy that I had made it back, and that this conflict was nearing its end. For the first time, I saw things looking up, and while I knew there was still danger around the corner, it was a danger I knew we could overcome together.

My thoughts were interrupted as I was kissed on the cheek by a random mare as the crowd started to close in around me, and I became the unwilling recipient of hugs, praise, and even a few smooches to the cheek. Not that I didn’t enjoy the adoration my ponies felt for me, but at the moment, there was only one person I wanted to see above all else...

“Drew!” shouted a loud voice from the back of the crowd.

And there he was.

I pushed my way through the crowd to the Obsidian and immediately gave him a bear hug of epic proportions. “Mace...damn, it’s great to see ya.”

The tall dragon chuckled as he returned the hug. “Good to see you too, man.”

I released my brother and looked around, scanning the crowd. “Where is everyone?”

“At the library, waiting for you.” he answered. “C’mon, I’ll walk ya there.” As I began to follow him away from the ponies (that were thankfully dispersing), he asked, “So how did it go?”

I sighed as I fell into step beside him. “Shitty. The bastard was using little fillies and colts against me.”

“That’s fucked up, man.” he responded angrily. “Sending dead ponies against us is one thing, but killing and then raising young ones against us? That’s just dirty on a level that shouldn’t even be explored. It’s a line that should never be crossed.”

“He knows we think like that,” I started, trotting a little quicker to get out of the heat, “and that’s why he did it. He knew it would fuck with me.”

“And is it?” the dragon asked curiously.

I sighed and nodded. “Yeah...”

“You wanna talk about it?” he asked with concern.

I shook my head. “This isn’t the kind of thing that talking about is going to fix. I need to take time to assimilate into my mind that this had to be done and that it wasn’t my fault that they died in the first place.”

“And how’s that going for you?” was my response.

I sighed as we arrived at the library. “It’s going.”

My brother patted my neck and said, “Well cheer up, because everyone’s waiting for you...and I’m sure you can guess what’s going to happen when I open this door.”

I smirked and charged a spell in my horn. “Ready.” He opened the door and I stepped in, and I barely had time to shoot off my spell and levitate six ponies in the air in front of me. I stepped in, closed the door behind us, and then stepped forward to embrace them all tightly with a smile. “Hey girls.” All the ponies that attended greeted me in kind, but I looked around and asked, “Where’s Lulu and Celly?”

Dash released me and said, “They said they’d be by later. They’re handling a bit of a problem happening in Trottingham right now with a bad case of Feather Flu sweeping through the area.”

“Drag.” I responded with a hint of concern. “Are they gonna be alright?”

“Trottingham will be fine,” Twilight explained with a smile, “it’s just something that happens around this time of year, which means we all need to make sure and stay healthy so that we don’t catch it...and as far as the princesses, alicorns as a whole are near-immune to disease. It would have to be a brand new illness for any of you to get it.”

I shrugged. “Good to know. What time are they gonna be here?”

Twilight smiled and said, “Around sunset.”

I closed my eyes and linked with the sun and the moon, feeling the slight tug of Luna and Celestia’s counterparts, and then a moment later I determined the time. I opened my eyes with a smile. “Cool...we have about another four hours, so here’s what I want to do.” I pointed to Twilight first. “Twi, they’re going to be really tired when they get back, so I need you and Rarity to go borrow Aloe and Lotus’ massage beds...just tell them I requested it.” I then turned to Pinkie. “Pinks, you and Spike are on food. Something light, but tasty.” Next, I focused my gaze on Vinyl. “Vi, we need some chilled music going over some small speakers to give a little ambiance.” Lastly, I leveled my eyes with Lyra. “I need you to see if you can find some Chateau La Roux Wine...it’s their favorite. Berry punch sells some, I think.”

The named mares nodded before darting off in different directions.

“What about me and the rest?” my brother asked.

I grinned evilly and said, “You’re on flower duty, good sir.”

“Really dude? Really?” he asked with a frown.

I rolled my eyes. “Do this for me and I’ll give you a free enchanted tattoo.”

My brother’s face instantly lit up and he asked, “Perfected it, did you?”

I nodded with a smile. “I did, and if you and the others help me out, you’ll be the first one to get one.”

The dragon smirked and nodded. “Deal. What do you need?”

“I need three-dozen roses ‒ a dozen each of red, white, and black. Then I need four nightshades, and six lilies.” I explained.

The Obsidian nodded. “That all?”

I nodded. “Yep. Take Ditzy and AJ to get those for me please. Come back as soon as you can.”

“Understood.” he responded before grabbing Ditzy and the cowmare and leaving the room.

I stood there for a moment before a voice asked, “Um...what do you want me to do?”

I turned around to Fluttershy and just smiled. “I’d appreciate it if you could go get Moonfang and Venn, if you would.”

The butter-colored pegasus smiled and nodded. “Okay.”

I then sighed and turned my attention to the large library and began cleaning.

Four hours came and went much faster than I had anticipated, and by the time everything was set up the way I wanted it, the sun set beyond the horizon, giving way to the moon...so all we had to do now is wait.

As we did so, I was talking with Vi about what we were going to do when we went to Earth. We’d end up being there for quite some time (at least six months), so I was going to make sure we had a hell of a lot of fun. It went without saying that July fourth would be the best day to arrive, as we could watch the fireworks in Atlanta, but from there it was anyone’s guess. I’d iron out the details more as things got closer to that time, but for the time being I made sure to tell everyone that was going that we were going to have a hell of a lot of fun, and they were going to see things they’d never imagined.

“So what exactly do you have planned after this fireworks thing?” Vinyl asked curiously.

I shrugged. “Well, I was thinking of taking everypony to Six Flags. It’s a huge amusement park there, and I know you all will have tons of fun.”

“And an amusement park is...?” the white unicorn asked in confusion.

“Exactly what it sounds like.” I answered. “It’s a place with rides, games, and food where you go to have a hay of a time.”

Vinyl nodded and smiled. “Oh cool, so like a fair then?”

I shook my head. “You’ll see when we get there, babe. You’ll love it, I promise.”

Vinyl then led me over to a large cushion on the floor and the two of us lay down on it as we waited. For a long few minutes she was silent before whispering, “Hey Frost?”

“Yeah?” I responded gently.

“What’s wrong?” the white unicorn asked with concern.

I looked down at the blue-maned pony by my side and asked, “What do you mean? I’m fine.”

Vinyl’s face turned into a glare as she replied, “Frost, I know you well enough to be able to tell when something’s bothering you, and I know from personal experience that it’s not good to hold that stuff in. Don’t shut me out.”

I sighed and lowered my chin to rest on top of her head. “For the past week and a half, I was having to strike down little fillies and colts.” I heard a gasp and added, “They were already dead, but still...it messes with me. Pardon the language, but it’s a really fucked up thing to do, and because of how cool I am right now, I think I might actually still be in shock about it.”

“I’d consider you heartless if it didn’t affect you, Frost.” Vinyl responded lovingly.  “It’s why I didn’t join the war, Frost...because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it...but even if you can, it doesn’t mean you can expect to feel okay about it.”

I nodded a few times. “That’s actually pretty deep of you, Vi.”

The unicorn rolled her crimson eyes and shoved me lightly. “Just because I’m a DJ doesn’t make me stupid.”

I chuckled and said, “I never said you were stupid, love...I just don’t usually expect to hear something like that from you is all.”

The white unicorn smirked as she leaned her head against my side. “Well maybe you should. There’s a lot more to me than just music, Frost.”

“I know babe, I know.” I answered affectionately. My ears then flicked and I felt a tingle in my horn as a familiar pair of essences approached. I cleared my throat and announced, “Alright, they’re here. Everypony, make sure it’s ready for them. I’ll greet them and walk them inside. Now we’re all going to have fun tonight and chill out, but I just want to stress that this night is focusing on them, okay?” All in attendance nodded, so I smiled as I looked down at the unicorn by my side. “Vi, start the music as soon as I walk in.” I then rolled to my hooves and stood before exiting the library.

I waited outside for about five or so minutes until I was able to hear the flaps of two pairs of wings, and I squinted my eyes in the failing light of sunset to see two familiar beloved princesses approaching. Both of them landed in front of me and embraced me without hesitation.

“Frost...we have missed you very much.” Celly whispered softly.

I wrapped my own forelegs around the two princesses and smiled. “I’ve missed the two of you as well.” I then released them and dropped to all four hooves again. “Come...let’s go inside.”

As soon as the door opened, Vinyl started the soft music playing as planned, which caused both princesses to stop in their tracks at the sights and sounds before them.

“Frost what...?” Luna asked in surprise.

I walked and stood with all our friends and family and said, “We all heard about what’s going on in Trottingham, so we knew you’d be pretty stressed out. This is our way of saying thanks for being so great. This is a day of relaxation for you, so grab a seat at the table...supper will be served momentarily.”

Both princesses were still awestruck, but complied and found places around the large table that had been brought out from the basement. Rarity and my brother went about serving drinks, while I went to the kitchen to check up on the food.

I stepped behind the dragon and pink mare and asked, “How’s everything coming along?”

“Great.” Spike answered. “The main course is just about ready,” he then pointed to a large platter that held multiple small bowls as well as a large one with salad in it, “so I want you to take the salad in so we can start off with that. Crack open the drinks too, and I’ll have dinner out when everypony’s finished with their salad.”

“Rockin’.” I replied happily before levitating the large platter out of the kitchen.

Dinner was relaxing with the music going, and everyone in attendance really enjoyed the meal, and the drinks.

About a half-hour later, my brother and I were giving Celestia and Luna a massage. It was a tad strange to have my younger brother handling Luna like he was, but I also trusted him...and he made sure to avoid groping any areas that were considered even remotely intimate, instead mostly focusing on her flight muscles, shoulders, neck, back, and hooves (yes, hooves get sore). Groans and moans of approval were our thanks as we gave both princesses a rubdown, and after almost two hours, they were both prematurely asleep. Since I was unwilling to wake either of them after such a trying day, I levitated them both upstairs to the bed before returning back downstairs for the night.

When I settled myself within the circle of dragons, wolves, and mares, we set about drinking some more and messing about for awhile. Somehow, Fluttershy ended up tickling Moonfang, and he laughed like a hyena.

Oh yeah...I’m never letting him live this down.

Speaking of Fluttershy ‒ as well as the rest ‒ I’d noticed some very peculiar changes in character when compared with when I first came here. The Element of Kindness for example, was now rather outgoing, for her at least. The pegasus was still timid of course, but she no longer hid from new ponies or friends. She had even been so bold as to meet with Queen Chrysalis once, which was an utter surprise to me.

Dash had become very intelligent. Where once she was more of an athlete than anything else, it was now not uncommon to see her just reading a book or listening to music. I guess that had something to do with the fact she’d been fighting for her life for the past year, but it was a change I definitely noticed...and didn’t disapprove of at all. Not that I ever thought that she was stupid, but let it simply be said that she never dreamed of being a college professor.

Lastly was Twilight.

Twilight...beloved Twilight. The young unicorn had surpassed all expectations of her. She rose from being the protégé of Celly all the way to being the general of the entire Equestrian Military. Where once she was unsure of herself and bookish, she was now confident and focused on the world around her. It was no secret that her tactics and organizational skills had made Equestria as a whole a much better place to live, and also made the military’s job much easier. Already her name was well-known throughout most of Equestria, so much so that she now was nearly as high-visibility as I was. And yet, even with this fame and power came modesty. On quite a few occasions she turned down awards and celebrations in her name, simply stating she was doing this for our soldiers...and that she wished for them to be praised before her.

Earth could use a few people like her.

Night had fallen, but I didn’t wish for Luna and Celly to have to wake up, and so with the two spells that they had taught me, I focused on the two celestial bodies in the sky. It was so strange being able to feel the moon and sun within me, as if they were old friends that I knew well...which since they were in fact Luna and Celestia, it was rather accurate that way. It was by no means easy to lower the sun and raise the moon ‒ and neither would the stars be ‒ but I felt that for tonight at least, the two hard-working princesses deserved a break...so I could afford to feel exhausted for them.

Once the moon was on its course and the stars winked into existence, I released my hold on the two bodies and felt both dizzy and a tired, but I didn’t care. As I thought about the two loves of mine that were sleeping upstairs, I thought that it was worth it.

“Did you just...?” I heard Twilight ask as she looked outside the window.

I shakily stood up and nodded. “Yeah. Luna and Celestia taught me the spells to do it, just in case something were to happen to them...and they said that when you become a princess, they’ll teach you as well. It’s always good to have more than two ponies know how to do it, in case gods-forbid something happen to either of them.”

“To be prepared.” Twilight mumbled.

I nodded. “Mmhmm. The moon and sun will always be theirs, but should something happen to them, the entire world shouldn’t suffer because of it.”

Twilight’s frowned at this and said, “That’s a bad thought, Frost.”

“But no less possible, love.” I responded as I hugged her tight. “Unfathomable...but still possible.” I then turned her face to look at me and I kissed her forehead. “But with the gods as my witness, I would go to Tartarus itself to keep that from ever happening.”

The lavender unicorn smiled softly and nodded. “I know Frost.”

“It’s almost done.” said a voice from behind us, and I watched as two large cyan wings enclosed around us. I turned my head to see Rainbow Dash, and she smiled. “Soon, this war will be a thing of the past...and we can work on making Equestria happy and beautiful again.”

The mood overall had taken a rather somber tone, and so I began to think of a way to calm the tempest that seemed to have taken hold...and suddenly, I thought of a song from my childhood. Simple, elegant, and relaxing...and it was the first song I heard in my life...

“I've had enough of danger
And people on the streets
I'm looking out for angels
Just trying to find some peace
Now I think it's time
That you let me know
So if you love me
Say you love me
But if you don't just let me go...

'Cause teacher
There are things that I don't want to learn
And the last one I had
Made me cry
So I don't want to learn to
Hold you, touch you
Think that you're mine
Because it ain't no joy
For an uptown boy
Whose teacher has told him goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

When you were just a stranger
And I was at your feet
I didn't feel the danger
Now I feel the heat
That look in your eyes
Telling me no
So you think that you love me
Know that you need me
I wrote the song, I know it's wrong
Just let me go...

And teacher
There are things
That I don't want to learn
Oh the last one I had
Made me cry
So I don't want to learn to
Hold you, touch you
Think that you're mine
Because it ain't no joy
For an uptown boy
Whose teacher has told him goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

So when you say that you need me
That you'll never leave me
I know you're wrong, you're not that strong
Let me go

And teacher
There are things
That I still have to learn
But the one thing I have is my pride
Oh so I don't want to
Hold you, touch you
Think that you're mine
Because there ain't no joy
For an uptown boy
Who just isn't willing to try

I'm so cold

Maybe just one more try...”

When the beautiful song finished, I found myself uplifted and smiling, and the entire room seemed brighter and warmer, and when I looked at everyone else gathered, I knew they felt the same.

“Darling...that was beautiful.” Rarity commented.

I smiled warmly as I looked at the moon outside the window. “Thank you, Rarity...it’s one of my favorite songs.”

“Um...do you have any more Frost?” I heard Fluttershy’s soft voice ask.

I smiled and nodded as I turned my head to look at my brother. “Mace...get Stella.” My brother nodded before hopping up from the couch and dashing downstairs to the basement...and then returning a few minutes later with a beautiful Gibson SG, with a custom finish depicting an undefined alien planetary system with binary stars (yes, I’m a space geek), and silver stars on the fretboard. He handed it to me and I thanked him before plugging it into the amp he brought, and then quickly tuning it. I then cleared my throat and said, “Alright everypony, this is a ridiculously famous song from Earth, and I only hope I can do it right.” I then looked to Dash with a smile. “I want you to sing it, Dashie.”

“What? Me? B-but I can’t sing, I mean I don’t-” she stuttered.

I grinned as I looked at the rainbow-maned beauty and replied, “Dash, you have the voice for it...and I’ve heard you sing before. Please?”

She stared at me for a second before sighing with a soft smile. “Alright Frost...I got it.”

I nodded with a grin. “Alright then...just feel the music, and the words will come to you.”

She nodded in return and closed her eyes as I began to play the first notes of the song. As I did so, I quickly cast a soundproof “bubble” around us, and with each note played, I could Dashie’s wings twitch ever so slightly, as if each tone was filled with power, and I was giving it to her. Soft flutes could be heard from seemingly nowhere, and a few seconds later, she began to sing...

“There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.

When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.

Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.

There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.

In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There's a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.

In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who stand looking.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on.

And it makes me wonder.

Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know,
The piper's calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.”

As the solo began, Rainbow Dash’s horn began to blow, and we were treated to a light show that her passion brought on, giving us our own little concert right in the lobby of the library. I had to refrain from yelling out, “Ah got blistahs on mah hooves!”

“And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all is one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

And she's buying a stairway to heaven.”

When the song ended, I was happy I had put the soundproofing around our group, as everyone was clapping loudly, even the two wolves.

“Wow Frostie! That was amazing!” Pinkie squealed in happiness. She then looked to Dash and embraced the alicorn in a tight hug. “And Dashie, your singing was so pretty!”

The cyan mare blushed a bit at the praise of her voice, but returned her friend’s hug and muttered a thank you.

I stretched a bit and handed my guitar to the Obsidian with a smile. “Alright, it’s about that time to go to sleep now. I’ve got surprise plans tomorrow for us, so-”

“What kinds of plans, Frost?” Ditzy asked curiously.

I shrugged. “Whatever I can think of that I won’t tell you anyway. Hence why I said ‘surprise’.”

The mare slumped a little. “Fine...be like that.” I stuck out my wing and tickled her a bit, which caused her to giggle a bit and smirk. “Alright, alright fine, you got me...I’m not really mad. I know you’ll make it fun.”

“Darn right.” I responded with a smile. I then turned to Rarity and Spike as they walked towards the front door. “Will you two be able to make it to the central park at around noon?”

The couple looked at each other before Rarity nodded. “I believe so, dear.”

I then focused my gaze on Fluttershy and the two wolves. “What about you all?”

Fluttershy nodded meekly with a smile “Umm, yes I think so. Do you mind if I bring Angel?”

“Not at all.” I said with a shake of my head.

“Ah can’t make it.” AJ voiced a little sadly.

I looked to see a pink pony standing next to her that also sighed. “I can’t make it either, Frostie. There’s a big order for the Cakes, and I don’t wanna miss it.”

I smiled at the two earth ponies and nodded. “It’s cool.” I then hugged the both of them tightly. “You two take care of yourselves until we meet again.” I then looked to everypony else and asked, “I take it the rest of you can be there?”

Vinyl and Lyra walked up to me as the white unicorn said, “I can make it, but we’re not gonna be able to stay tonight, Frost. I have a show tonight starting at 22:00, so I gotta get going...which means I need Lyra to come with.”

I leaned down and gave each unicorn a soft kiss before smiling. “It’s all good. I’ll see you two tomorrow then.”

Dash and Ditzy stepped up next with frowns, and the alicorn stated, "I got work to do tomorrow. I'm still lead weather manager, after all, and these lazies have been slacking without me. I'll be by later tomorrow though, around suppertime."

"And I have something back in Canterlot I need to take care of, so I'll be busy for the next few days." Ditzy replied sadly.

I shrugged. "It's alright girls. I'll miss you, but I know work is important." I then hugged the both of them and kissed each on the nose gently. "Fly safely, and I'll see you both soon." Both speedy fliers nodded before bolting out the door and into the sky.

The three of us that were left cleaned up the bottom floor before locking down the building and saying goodnight, and I soon found myself wrapped up in the hooves of a sleeping Celestia as she buried her nose in my mane, and Luna of course had her hooves wrapped around Twilight from behind, playing the role of “big spoon” as the two mares lay on their sides.

As usual, Luna fell asleep pretty quickly, which just left Twilight and I to look into each other’s eyes deeply with love and affection. Her vivid violet irises seemed to twinkle in the moonlight that was flooding the room, and I couldn't help but lean forward and give her a soft kiss goodnight.

We pulled away and I simply gazed at her for a few more moments before murmuring, “I love you, Twilight.”

The lavender unicorn smiled happily and responded, “I love you too, Frost.”

Not another word was said, and within seconds, my eyes slid shut as Twilight snuggled up beside me.