Chapter 18 Define: Perplexing
It was one thing to have a plan, quite another to implement it. It sounded good on paper. All the two of them had to do was find the portal to the Realm of Chaos; such a thing should be simple to find, especially in Canterlot of all places. Sadly, this was not the case. After a few hours of searching Twilight was getting mad. Nothing about this was easy. They had checked every location in the palace that seemed logical and it was easy to tell Rainbow was getting bored.
"Her coming out and saying "Twi, I'm bored!" every five minutes helped too."
“For the hundredth time Rainbow, I know alright.” Twilight felt the same but she had to keep looking. “C'mon lets go back to the kitchen, I had a feeling about that place.“
“How do we even know it's in the palace? For that matter, how do we know that Tartarus even told us the truth?”
“We don’t, however, he has no reason to lie to us. He told us it was in Canterlot and we have no choice but to believe him. You're right though, I do not know for sure if it is located in the palace.”
Twilight sighed, truthfully she did not want to go searching all of Canterlot for something that may or may not be there. No that was a lie, she did not want to go out and see what had happened to her home city. Yes, she now considered Ponyville her home, but that did stop her heart from breaking whenever she thought about Canterlot being the way it was. They need to find this portal and quickly.
“So this Realm of Chaos thingy… It would be magical wouldn’t it?”
“I suppose Rainbow, what's your point?”
“Can’t you find it with your magic vision or something, I mean its gotta be putting off some magic energy or something rig-”
Rainbow never got to finish that sentence as Twilight grabbed her in a hug and started yelling, “Rainbow you’re a genius! You're right, I should totally be able to find it with my other sight! I could kiss you right now!”
Rainbow blushed at that, as did Twilight after she realized what she said. Secretly, Rainbow would have given anything for Twilight to make good on that promise, however, she did not believe that Twilight actually meant it. It did make her feel good for Twilight to give her such a compliment. Rainbow never believed herself to be a genius, but hearing this mare, this REAL genius, call her such, gave her butterflies that she could not quite explain.
“No Twi, you’re the smart one, maybe a little too smart. That’s why I can see something so simple that you might have overlooked.”
Twilight rubbed the back of her head before saying. “No Rainbow, you're smart, smarter than you give yourself credit for. Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to do half of this without your help. Thank you.”
Rainbow figured Twilight was just being kind, however, she accepted the kind words with a simple thanks.
“Ok, let’s try this out.” Twilight started concentrating, redirecting her magic sight with all her will. It was second nature to her at this point. However, Canterlot had a large concentration of unicorns in it, as such she was finding it rather difficult to find their objective. After a few minutes of trying, she had to admit defeat. “AHH, I can't find it!”
“Seriously, you sent the Titan Cronus running for his life and you can’t find a portal?” Rainbow did not believe this turn of events for a second.
“It’s not the same Rainbow, Picture trying to find one specific tree in a forest. Even if it stood out in some way, all the other trees are blocking your vision.”
Rainbow thought about that for a minute before finally commenting. “I would just take flight and find it by looking from the sky.”
Twilight kissed her.
“Rainbow you ARE a genius. C'mon, lets go!”
Twilight immediately flew out the window, she was so distracted by this new development that she did not even consider what had just occurred. Rainbow, on the other hoof, could only do the opposite. Her mind replayed that kiss a million, no a billion times. The feel of Twilight's lips on hers, the rush of sensation that ran throughout her body, the sheer UNEXPECTEDNESS of it all, it was a good thing Rainbow did not have to breath because at that minute, she was not sure if her body would have been able to. Rainbow simply stared off into the hallway, forgetting their mission, and well, everything else. Including the fact that she actually felt that kiss, something that should have been impossible.
Twilight’s voice snapped Dash out of her reminiscing, “You coming, slowpoke?”
That was all it took for Rainbow, “Oh its on, egghead.” Although, even with her competitive spirit in full control, she still could not stop thinking about that kiss. ‘Did Twilight mean to do that? Surely it was just a spur of the moment thing, not something that Twilight meant to do. However, what if it was more, what if she felt something also?’ this train of thought was costing Rainbow the race, she quickly tried to dismiss it so she could focus purely on winning. That kiss was one memory that Rainbow Dash would never forget. Not as long as she could remember it.
Twilight glanced over and once again saw the look of pure joy on Rainbow’s face. She could not help cracking a smile herself. Twilight’s grin was ecstatic; this was the first time she flew for fun in a long time. Yes, they had a mission, yes, they had something important to find, and yes, they should not be wasting time like this. Twilight considered this a good use of time though. Rainbow and Twilight were flying together for the first time in months. They were having fun together. It was more than she could have hoped for and all she had wanted for her friend in what felt like forever.
It was not long before Rainbow caught up to Twilight, she could have done it sooner, but what would have been the fun in that? In addition, it was late at night; as such, she stayed below the subsonic levels of flight that she was more than capable of. The two friends soon started laughing in the night sky as they began an elegant night-sky dance with the other. Rainbow was showing off a little but with such a dance partner as Alicorn Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Equestria, who could blame her?
For her part; Twilight simply copied Rainbow’s moves in the sky, she was cheating of course. However, Rainbow did not need to know that. Twilight had gotten so used to Rainbow’s magic signature that she did not need to even look at the pegasus to be able to read her. Reading Rainbow’s moves ahead of time she was able to pump extra magic energy into her wings and perform the inverse of the stunts Rainbow was pulling off.
To an outside observer it was a sight that would put any Wonderbolt’s performance to shame. Rainbow’s wings left a golden trail behind them, visible for miles around. Due to the magic energy Twilight was using, she left a purple trail that was just as bright. Before long, their ‘dance in the night' had the attention of half of Canterlot. Many ponies were inspired by it. Several new designs of clothing and fashion were created by that night. Entire ballads and operas inspired by that night soon played for sold out crowds all around Equestria. Many lovers who had simply not had the courage to admit it to their special somepony soon found themselves wrapped in each other arms. Other ponies simply cried. The sight was too emotional for words. Twilight had decreed that the Wonderbolts come to Canterlot to inspire the ponies to help each other through this crisis, they would not be needed for weeks after that night.
Twilight wanted to stay up there forever, sadly she did not have the stamina for that. She had copied Rainbow for as long as she could, but all good things must eventually end. Gasping for breath, she landed on a cloud. Her wing muscles screaming at her in protest, Twilight felt exhausted, utterly drained, however, she could not remember the last time she had that much fun or had a smile that big. Rainbow soon joined her, taking her permanent spot right next to the young princess. Rainbow’s golden wing wrapped around the purple mare; as far as Twilight was concerned, that wing could solve all the world’s problems.
“Twilight that was amazing! You kept up with every move I did!”
Twilight blushed at that, she did not have the heart to tell Rainbow ‘how’ she had kept up with her the entire time.
“Thanks Rainbow, you were amazing too.”
“Yes, but that just me, I am the epitome of awesome after all.”
“But not of modesty it seems.” Twilight playfully jabbed at Rainbow’s flank.
“Who needs modesty when you got the skills to pay the bills!”
Twilight started laughing at that. Before long, Rainbow joined in, the two friends enjoying the giggling fit. Twilight was the first one to speak.
“Thank you Rainbow, I needed that, you truly are a good friend.”
Rainbow’s heart sank. ‘Friend’, the word was a dagger in her heart. ‘Friend’ that’s what Twilight thought she was, was she anything more? ‘Of course said I'm a friend. The kiss, what was that? A heat of the moment thing; nothing more, Twilight had not meant anything by it. It was nothing to her.'
“Rainbow, are you alright?”
Twilight’s words snapped Rainbow out of her funk. She looked over at the Alicorn nestled snugly under her wing. Twilight’s face was full of worry for her friend. Rainbow slightly cursed herself for getting distracted enough to worry her ‘friend’. “Oh I'm fine," Rainbow lied. "So, can you see the portal from here?”
Twilight was momentarily taken aback by that, Rainbow was anything but ‘fine’ at that moment, well physically maybe, but not mentally. Twilight gathered herself, putting aside the worry she had for Dash; they did have a job to do. “Ok, let me check,” she began scanning the town. Twilight noted pockets of energy all over the place. Canterlot truly did have a large population of unicorns, of course, it was a common misconception to say earth ponies and pegasus did not have their own magic power. From her viewpoint, Twilight could see the location of every pony in Canterlot. She noted with some distain that each group of ponies seemed to stick with their own kind. Indeed the earth ponies were all pocketed together at several different locations, the same could be said for the pegasus. However few of the two groups there might be.
It was when her gaze went back to the palace that Twilight finally saw it. In the far east corner of the palace was an energy source unlike any other, it was literally changing color as she looked at it, going from blue, pink, violet, orange, to some color that was both purple and orange at the same time, she could only call it plurange. It was as if the concept of staying one color was alien to it.
“Ah ha!” Twilight shouted, causing the black pegasus to fall of the cloud. “Dammit Twilight, don’t do that!”
“Sorry.” Twilight said sheepishly, “I found it though and I was right. It’s in the palace!”
“Ok egghead, you were right. So where exactly in the palace can we find the entrance to the Realm of Chaos?”
Twilight looked again, fixing the spot of the energy with her magic vision and then switching to her normal vision. “Son of a…” Twilight turned to Rainbow, a VERY annoyed look on her face. “Rainbow, it's in the library,” she said with a look of defeatism.
The two quickly arrived at the library, yes, Twilight’s sight had led them here, but it would not do them any good now. Whatever this energy was, it was radiating out, causing the entire area to light up with magic. Twilight turned off her magic vision with a sigh, “Well Rainbow, wherever it is, I cannot pinpoint it any further. It's somewhere in this area.”
She smirked at her friend, “Well, lets get started then.”
Rainbow began heading off to one end of the library when Twilight shouted, “Rainbow, wait!”
She turned around and looked at her friend, “Yes, what Twi?”
“That’s the non-fiction section.”
“Do you really think the entrance to the Realm of Chaos would be in non-fiction?”
Rainbow shrugged, truly, she had no idea about where it could be, but she knew better than to try to argue with Twilight, especially about library stuff. “Ok Twi, lets check the fiction section first then.”
Several hours later Rainbow could not help but feel she had been right about going to the non-fiction section first. They had searched through every book in the fiction section, the search made worse by Twilight’s initial instance that every book be returned to its proper place. Thankfully, Twilight gave up on that demand after the second hour. Soon the library was quite the mess, books strung out all over the place. None damaged, not even Twilight was willing to go that far, but still a mess. Rainbow chuckled to herself as Twilight attempted to justify her actions to nopony in particular.
“They need to be reorganized anyway. Too many books are out of order.”
That brought a smile to the pegasus, even being a Princess of Equestria, Twilight still could not, not, be a librarian. Dash thought about it ‘ Those quirks were one of the many things I love about her.... Wait, do I love Twilight?’ she paused in her work. This was big, bigger than big, bigger then when she joined the Wonderbolts. ‘Do I love Twilight? Like, love-love?’
Dash’s thoughts where soon interrupted by the familiar yell of frustration coming from Twilight. “UGH, it's not here!” Twilight had finished the fiction section of the library. “Dash! Where are you!”
Dash flew over to her friend’s side.
“C'mon, lets go check non-fiction, and no, I don’t want to hear it!”
Dash smirked a little, ‘regardless, that’s one dash and a million Twilight’ she would rub it in later, right now they had another side of the library to check over.
The non-fiction side proved to be a lot more fun; Dash loitered a bit in the Daring-do section recently changed from fiction to non-fiction once a journalist found out who A. K. Yearling actually was. Wonderbolts performances left little time for her to read up on what Daring had been up to lately. Admitting, she had hidden her passion for the novelist/adventurist around the other Wonderbolts. Not for any worry of ridicule, but simply due to the fact that she did not really have any free time to read. Rainbow pulled aside some books to read for later.
‘Uh oh, busted.’
Rainbow turned around to see her friend starting at her, surprisingly it was not a look of hatred but more one of understanding. “C'mon Dash, you know I have the whole collection, when we get done we can read them together, for now though I need your help.”
Rainbow smiled a little, partly at the thought of reading with Twilight again, and partly for feeling somewhat silly. “Ok Twilight, where did we leave off?”
“I will take the one-hundreds, philosophy section, why don’t you start with three-hundreds, social sciences.
Rainbow groaned a little on the inside, “Okay Twi.”
After some quick directions from Twilight on exactly where the three hundreds were, Rainbow quickly made her way there and started pulling books off the shelves, flipping through the pages, and dropping them unceremoniously on the ground. ‘Laws of quantum physics, no, laws of thermodynamics, no, laws of exponents, no, laws of foal care, no', Rainbow reached up for the next book. “OUCH!”
Twilight ran over, concerned for her friend.
“That book bit me!” Rainbow pointed at the next book in line.
Twilight stared in disbelief, “Rainbow, a book can't bite you, and even if one magically did, you wouldn’t be able to feel it.”
Rainbow held up her hoof. “Then explain this then!”
Twilight examined the extended appendage, there was indeed bite marks on Rainbow’s hoof, looking with her magic vision she ‘saw’ that the bite contained magic energy that was coursing up Rainbow’s arm to her brain. With a quick wave of her horn, the energy was gone. Rainbow rubbed her hoof, “Thanks Twi.”
“No problem, now what book bit you?”
Rainbow pointed back at the book that bit her. ‘Law 101, A Novice’s Guide to Celestia’s Rules.’
"I… I … there are no words.” Twilight said, dumbstruck.
Rainbow laughed at that, it took a lot for the egghead to be speechless.
Twilight levitated the book down, carefully setting it on one of the nearby tables, the book looked normal. The cover showed Celestia in a warm, yet stern pose. The title unimposing to any that looked at it. It even had a thin layer of dust spread upon the cover.
“Careful Twi, that book is nasty.”
Twilight simply sighed, she wouldn’t get close enough to let this book bite her. Opening the book with her magic she found....
Nothing, it was a normal book. She paused, that was the last thing she was expecting. “Rainbow, are you sure this is the book?”
“Oh yes, Twi,” Rainbow was eyeballing the book, not letting it out of her sight.
Twilight quickly scanned over the book, checking it cover to cover, it was nothing more than a normal book, nothing special about it.
“Rainbow this is just a norm- OW!” Twilight had put her hoof on the book.
Upon hearing her friend’s cry of pain Rainbow jumped into action, she bucked the offending book across the room. Twilight looked at her hoof, indeed those were the same bite marks that Rainbow had.
“Huh…” Twilight looked across the room with her magic vision. The book was radiating with magic power, examining it in detail, this WAS where all the power was originating.
“Rainbow, it seems to only respond to physical contact.”
Rainbow huffed; one of them would have to touch the book again. It would hurt, a lot. Twilight levitated the book back to the table.
“I'll open it.”
Rainbow’s heart sank, she did not want to touch that thing, nor did she want to be near that thing. Yet, Rainbow would not let Twilight hurt herself. At the last second Rainbow grabbed Twilight’s hoof.
“No, let me.”
Rainbow reached out and opened the book, preparing for the oncoming pain as it grew yet another mouth and tried to stop her from opening it.