Chapter 30 Define: Choice
The Crystal Empire
Twilight looked over at the black mare, her heart leapt into her throat. “Rainbow.”
As far as Rainbow was concerned, all that existed to her was the Crystal Heart, or more precisely, the blade sticking out of it.
“I believe it is time for this to end, don’t you?”
“Tartarus, there is no need to be cruel.”
“Eros, you were always such a softy.”
“Don’t do this.”
Twilight squeaked out the last words, she had always assumed there was another way. She had been so sure of it, now, with the reality of the situation right in front of her, she realized just how naïve she had been.
“Begging now, Twilight?”
With a force of magic that Twilight had only seen when she killed the reaper, Eros blasted Tartarus off his feet. He slammed into the wall with such force that Twilight was worried the Crystal Palace would be in danger of toppling over. Glaring angrily, Eros approached her brother with a murderous look in her eyes.
“Right in front of me, you… you DARE!!! I should end you!”
Chaos teleported in between his siblings, it was the last place he wanted to be, but if they truly started in on each other than the entire world would be forever scarred, assuming it even survived.
“Calm down Eros, he's just trying to push your buttons.”
For his part, Tartarus started laughing, “Besides, you hit like a girl.”
Chaos turned around, “Tartarus, unless you want to take us both on right this second, you will shut the hell up.”
The last time Tartarus decided to challenge his bigger brother entire worlds were lost. The fight lasted well over a decade and as much as he hated to admit it, he had not won. Now? Now he was facing a two on one scenario with that very same God, and a pissed off sister. Contrary to his earlier statement, that hit caused him more pain than he ever experienced before. As such, he followed the only logical course of action available to him at that moment. He shut up.
Three Gods were practically going for each other’s throats right next to Twilight; however, at that moment, she could not care less. All her attention was on the black mare staring at the Crystal Heart. She loved that mare more than her own life. Yet she knew, as soon as Rainbow touched that blade it would be over, she would be forever lost to Twilight. ‘What will I do without you?’ the thought seemed as alien to Twilight as growing gills; she would always remember this mare, the one that had stolen her heart. Yes, she would live forever. However, it would be empty life. An eternal life spent in regret, longing for what might have been.
‘What are you waiting for Rainbow? Grab the blade and make me complete. Fulfill your destiny.’
‘This has already been decided, there is nothing left to talk over. There is nothing left to discuss and we both know you will do it. Why drag it out? Is it because of her? Don’t you know you are only hurting her more by delaying?’
Rainbow had been having this debate ever since Tartarus brought her down from the tower. It was right in front of her, the last piece and the scythe would be complete. Nothing has changed, her future is still the same, and consequences of action and inaction are still the same. She knew that she would grab it. Why was she waiting? Maybe it was just to piss off the other voice in her head. Maybe it was because of the tears her love was crying. Maybe a mixture of the two? She honestly could not put her hoof on it. Yet here she was, her objective right in front of her, all she had to do was walk forward a few steps and claim it. However, she delayed. Why?
Twilight noted that the arguing had died down, the three gods slowly returned to their spots around the heart. She noticed with some satisfaction a huge black bruise on Tartarus’s left flank, ‘He deserves more than that'. None of them truly looked happy about the situation. When they got back to their spots, Twilight broke the uncomfortable silence that permeated between the groups.
“So, when this is over, will time start back up?”
Chaos filled this question, “That will take some work on our part. In truth, we never expected you to be able to cast something quite that powerful this early on. As the God of Life and Magic itself, Gaia was always able to perform spectacular feats well beyond anything any one of us could match. Not to say we don’t all have our own special talents.” With a flick of his hoof, a small galaxy appeared in front of him. One he immediately extinguished. Eros noticed the look of horror on Twilight’s face.
“Don’t worry little one, it wasn't inhabited.”
Relief flooded Twilight as she struggled to comprehend the awfulness of what she had seen. For his part Chaos just shrugged, “Life, that was never my specialty. That always was your dominion, Gaia.”
Twilight stared down at her hooves. Her life was about to take a very different turn. No longer would she be Princess Twilight Sparkle, no longer would her life be about books, studying, friendship, and Equestria. She was now and would forever be, Twilight Sparkle, the living incarnation of Gaia, God of Life and Magic. She was sure that life would have its own unique set of duties, duties that would take her beyond her friends. It was too much for her, she could not do it, not by herself, and certainly not like this. Twilight was grateful she had not eaten in a while, she was certain that if she had, it would be coming back up now. However, that lead to another problem altogether, she was weak, weaker than she ever remembered being before. Her eyes felt heavy, her knees were shaking, and before she was aware of what was occurring, Twilight Sparkle passed out.
‘Just grab it; there is no point in delaying any longer.’
Rainbow reflected that Discord, Chaos, whatever the bucking hell she should call him, he was right. This thing would never shut the hell up. She had stopped replying to its jabs a while ago. Yes, it was correct, she would eventually complete the Occulous and claim her new destiny, and she would do this for Twilight. Somehow, delaying those events made it all the sweeter. She did not know why, but it really pissed this thing off and that made her happy. It was petty revenge, but Rainbow cherished every minute of it.
While her eyes never moved from the Occulous, her peripheral vision was on Twilight. Rainbow knew the pain she was in, it was her fault. However, she could see all too clearly the pain Twilight would be in if she did anything else. This pain was nothing compared to that pain.
Justifying it to herself and seeing the results of it were two very different things. She would have given her wings ten times over to be able to go over to the purple alicorn and hug her one last time. She could not, that way lead to even more pain. She briefly remembered the comment that led her to this decision. ‘Show me', that one phase led to more trouble than Rainbow had ever imagined. She hated the future she saw, or more accurately, she hated that she could see the future at all.
Suddenly Twilight began swaying back and forth. She looked as if she was about to fall on her side. The ‘Gods’ were back to arguing, they seemed to be bickering so much Rainbow could not help but think they actually enjoyed it. They truly were a family, as only families argued that much. None of them would stop Twilight from falling.
‘Just let her fall.’
That settled it, Rainbow hated that damn voice, she never should have taken its advice before and she sure as hell was not going to take it now.
Twilight awoke; she was laying on something soft. Something she had been on before, and to top it off, it was black. She did not like black; she preferred blue. However, it was nice, soft, and familiar. Twilight decided she could forgive it for being black, this time.
“You ok, egghead?”
That got her attention.
Twilight glanced up, she remembered being on her hooves, and she remembered a fight, that was about it. Yet here she was, lying on Rainbow’s body, and yet again, she was on top. This time she did not blush. She never thought she would be this close to Rainbow again. Twilight concentrated on the feeling of Rainbow's fur. If this was going to be their last time together, she wanted to remember this for all eternity. Despite her best attempts, she could not stop the tears falling down her eyes, or the sobbing in her voice, “Thank you for being by my side.”
“I will always be by your side, even if I may look different.”
“Don't do this… please.”
“I have to, you know that. If I don't, the world will come to an end. The fighting we saw back in Ponyville, it will only get worse until everyone dies.”
Twilight knew Rainbow was right, she KNEW that this had to be done. However, her heart was in control now and refused to let her brain take the wheel, a little thing like logic was not going to get in its way. “I know all that, I do, but... but I don’t want you too.”
Rainbow smiled warmly at Twilight. “Yes you do, just not right now.” She slowly started standing again, forcing the alicorn to move off her. She looked back at Twilight with that natural cocky grin of hers, “For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry how I've been acting. I thought that if I cut myself off from the world after getting that last piece it would cause you less pain to let me go. All I managed to do was waste what little time we had left and hurt you more. So for that I apologize, but this, this is something I have to do. Please tell the others I love them and I will miss them.”
She slowly started to make her way to the Crystal Heart. “And besides, Rainbow Dash always keeps her promises.” She turned her head back to look at Twilight one final time. “I promised you I would never leave your side didn't I? This is the only way we can stay together, forever. You will never die, and this way, neither will I.” A single tear fell from her eye “I've seen both heaven and hell, and if I will be around for an eternity, I want it to be one with you actually in it.” she turned back, reaching out a hoof to grab the blade from the Crystal Heart.
Tears flew in a steady steam from Twilight’s eyes, Rainbow was almost at the last piece of the Occulous, once she reached out and touched it, the transformation would be complete. Rainbow would be gone and a new reaper would be born. Rainbow would sacrifice herself, giving up everything that made her Rainbow Dash for all eternity to fix Twilight’s mistake and to prevent her from ever being alone.
“No....” Twilight’s mind could not think of anything, what was happening, she could not let it happen. However, her mind was torn as this needed to happen. There was no other way.
Twilight ran forward, her body moving of its own volition. Her heart took command and willed her to move fast. The staff tried to stop her; it got in her way and produced several shields. Twilight broke all of them with ease, with a casual dismissal with her horn, the staff was flung to the side and left imbedded in the wall; Twilight had a race to win.
For the second time in her life, Twilight beat Rainbow in a race. She bowled over the black pony and pressed their lips together.
Rainbow was about to give everything for Twilight, so she would do the same. Using her magic, Twilight poured everything she had into that kiss. Her hopes, her dreams, her very being, she gave it all to Rainbow at that moment, all the power and magic she had. In the magic plane, she saw the connection Eros had told her of. Recent events has warped and stretched it but it was not broken, not yet anyway. With this outpouring, it strengthened a hundred fold, the love the two shared transformed the bridge between them into a connection that death itself could never hope to break. Twilight’s energy flowed through that bridge into the black mare, flooding her with all the love, courage, dedication, friendship, knowledge, and everything else Twilight could give her. At that moment, their two souls were truly joined as one.
When she had given up everything, when all the layers were pulled back. Twilight found one last thing to give; it was hidden under everything else; her connection to Gaia’s power. The connection that never should have existed, it was the bridge from Avatar to God. Twilight severed it, connecting the severed end to the bridge between her and Rainbow; Twilight sent that power into her as well.
The energy rushed into Rainbow, a cacophony of sensation and feelings flooded the mare, the wind in her hair and the ground under her hooves. It was such a simple thing, yet the implications of all this and more were lost to her at that moment. As Twilight’s kiss became her whole world.
Twilight was giving too much, Rainbow began feeding some back to the alicorn, two more bridges formed out of nowhere, Rainbow took advantage of them to send more power back to Twilight.
The three gods watched as the magic released by this simple act of pure love washed over the two mares. The energy flooded over them, surrounding Rainbow and restoring her coat to its original cyan-blue coloring, her mane took back its rainbow hue, and her cutie mark reappeared on her flank. The magic flooded around the area where her wings used to be, a new set of huge shining golden wings shot from her side, wrapping around the two lovers. Despite all these changes, there was still way too much for any one pony to take in. Twilight’s body was created to hold Gaia and Twilight severed her connection with the source, it could no longer return to Gaia. Rainbow’s body was a mortals’, it took what it could, but it had its limits. Having no place to go, it sought to equalize between the two ponies. This proved near impossible as more power continued to flood in.
The magic of a God, especially the God of Life and Magic was too much for the two. Right now, it was flowing full stream straight into Rainbow. There was no way to reverse that flow. Instinctually Twilight severed the connection from Gaia to Rainbow, cutting them both off forevermore from that wellspring of power.
Even after all the changes wrought upon Rainbow it was still too much, she still had too much of Gaia’s power in her, it needed somewhere to go. It needed somewhere it could exhaust itself. Twilight was not an option, subconsciously Rainbow refused to let that much leave; she would never let Twilight get hurt. It eventually found a place it could exhaust itself, deep inside Rainbow Dash.
All this was consciously lost on the two. While subconsciously, their bodies reacted swiftly to this chain of events in order to save themselves. Physically, they never looked around, each had their eyes closed and concentrated on the one feeling that meant more than anything else did in the entire world. The kiss they shared.
Eros smiled; truly, this was a glorious day. She was so happy for her sister.
Chaos could not contain his excitement, jumping up and down he screamed, “I can't believe you did it! You expert magic loving purple hair pony, I love it, you managed to defy the will of the Gods and found a way to win!”
Tartarus started moving in on the two; he would put a stop to this himself. Chaos teleported in his way. “Now now Tartarus, vow two, remember? We cannot directly interfere with the lives of mortals. You know better than that.” Chaos was smirking, as much as his brother loved to toss those rules in his face, this vengeance was sweet.
Tartarus snarled at Chaos, “They are not mortals and you know it!”
“Really? Look again, dear brother.”
One glance over told Tartarus that Chaos was right; the immoral life energy of Twilight flowed through to Rainbow restoring her own life force. A balance formed between the two, the immortal life energy of one balanced out the absence of life in the other. Twilight had made her choice, the two were now, once again, part of the realm of mortals. They would each hold a lifespan that would put an alicorn's to shame, but they would, eventually, die. Tartarus could not interfere and more importantly, Rainbow no longer qualified as a candidate who could carry the scythe.
“They may be mortals now but they will outlive any pony that ever came before or will ever come after. Even I cannot see when they will pass on. Are you ok with this turn of events, Eros?”
“Are you kidding? Had I known this was possible I would have made my dear sister do it years ago! I'm not worried; she will, one day depart from Twilight’s soul and return to us. The tales she will have…” Eros lost herself, staring dreamily at the two mares on the ground before them. “Anyway, she made her choice and I cannot be more proud.”
Tartarus laughed at this development, he had forced this turn of events the best he could. However, he had failed. One look over at his dear brother’s smug face told him that he had played a hoof in this development, perhaps, in the end; it had been Chaos who outplayed him. “So it seems I have no choice, bound by vow one and with no current candidate, I will carry the scythe for the time being. Come dear brother, let us leave these mortals in peace.”
Tartarus vanished in a puff of red smoke, taking the staff and blade with him. Chaos reverted to his Occulous and took one more look at the two lovebirds in the center of the group. He noticed something there, something inside Rainbow that caused him to smile. ‘Just think what fun we can have now, I knew forcing the scythe in three different directions was the right move', with a snap of his fingers and a bright white light, he was gone.
Eros’s smile never left her face. She reflected on this lesson provided by Rainbow and Twilight, that even with the odds stacked against them love could find a way. ‘Perhaps, maybe, another finally deserves to know such pleasure.’ With a puff of pink smoke, she was gone, returned to her Avatar, ready to welcome her new foal into the world. A world where the type of pure magic and love existed just like what Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash shared.
After an eternity, Twilight and Rainbow broke apart. Their stamina spent, each felt more exhausted then they had in their entire lives, Rainbow looked up, she noticed that once again, Twilight was on top. With a supreme force of will, she raised a hoof and gently moved a stray hair from Twilight’s mane out of her eyes. As Twilight opened her eyes to look at Rainbow, Rainbow lost herself in Twilight's eyes.
“You always did have the most beautiful purple eyes, Twi.”
Twilight smiled. “Did I ever tell you blue is my favorite color?”
By itself, their love was enough to supercharge the Crystal Heart; it released the power into the sky, restarting the flow of time and spreading light and love all across the world.