The ice wolves could and were moving extremely fast across the tundra. Celestia flew lower so she could talk to Alfhild.
“Don’t you think you might be pushing yourselves a bit hard?” She asked.
“Better than being caught out here in a storm, we need to find shelter and fast.” Alfhild veered to the right. “We don’t have time to outrun this storm, we need to get to one of our cave shelters and hole up there until the danger passes!” Alfhild brought herself to a halt after a minute of running in the same direction. “This is it.” She said, but there was obviously no cave, it was completely flat and the horizon of snow stretched on for miles.
“Um, I hate to break it to you but-” Twilight started to say until Alfhild pushed a hidden button and the ground opened up, revealing the entrance to a cave. “Never mind then.” Twilight finished.
“Hurry! Everyone in!” A few of the wolves stayed up top to usher in the others before entering themselves. “Close the door, hurry!” Wolves quickly pulled the chains and the massive door sealed itself shut. The light was completely gone except for the glow of a crystal in the cave. Twilight walked up to Alfhild.
“What if the storm on the outside somehow triggers the button? From what I saw that device seems to rely on weight.”
“We thought about that, that’s why we have the button protected by a covering to prevent unwanted weight from being dropped on it.” Alfhild gripped a wolf’s shoulder as she turned to address him. “Can we get some lights going on here please?” The wolf nodded and rushed to complete his task. Alfhild looked back to Twilight. “Now, we’re going to be here for a while and the storm is going to hit us in about a minute so I suggest you make yourselves as comfortable as you can. Explore if you like.” Alfhild walked away to direct the rest of her pack members.
Twilight looked about her surroundings. The cave itself was almost absurdly spacious and torches were being lit to allow for better lighting. She wondered how the torches were being lit but then she saw some of the wolves using magic. She didn’t know how they were able to use magic and this lit up her curiosity.
Twilight set her horn alight to give the wolves some more light. The pink light drew the attention of all the wolves. When Twilight saw that all eyes were on her she blushed and looked to the ground. After a few seconds she looked up to see the wolves had gone back to what they were doing. She watched one of the wolves lighting the torches and decided to approach. As she got closer the ice wolf glanced at her. Twilight was unsure of the gender of the wolf but she took her best guess.
“Hello there miss…” The ice wolf turned to her and glared. “I mean sir.” Twilight sheepishly corrected. The wolf shook his head and turned back to the last torch. The torch lit with flames and the ice wolf started to leave. Twilight quickly stepped in his path and he frowned. “Um, excuse me but how can you use magic without a horn?” The wolf glanced up at Twilight’s horn and then looked her in the eye. When he finally spoke his voice was gruff.
“Probably the same way you can use magic with a horn. Magic doesn’t require a focus point, it probably helps, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Now answer my question. Where you come from do all ponies have wings?” Twilight glanced at her wings and then looked back to the wolf.
“No. Some ponies have no wings or horns, they are called earth ponies. Then there are pegasi who have wings but no horn. Finally there are unicorns with horns but no wings.”
“What are you then?”
“I’m an alicorn. There are only the four of us. We are the princesses of the land.” The ice wolf stared at her for another minute before he ‘humphed’ and walked around her. Twilight turned back to the cave to see Celestia and Luna looking around. Cadance was talking to the guard ponies and gesturing at the rest of the residents of the cave. Curious Twilight trotted over to Cadance and the guards. She just missed the meeting though because as she came up to them the guards saluted to Cadance and dispersed around the cave. When Twilight made it to Cadance she smiled at her sister in-law.
“The storm sounds really bad.” Cadance stated and looked to the door of the cave. Standing this close Twilight could hear the storm now. It sounded like the storm was being fueled by the fury of nature itself, enraged by being denied entry as it battered against the doors. Twilight winced when a particularly loud thump sounded from the door causing her to scrunch down her ears.
“Why would the weather ponies allow such a storm?” Twilight asked as she looked back to Cadance. A chuckle sounded behind Twilight and she turned to see Alfhild.
“What are you talking about?” Alfhild asked, walking up to them slowly with a grin on her face, showing her fangs. “That storm is nothing special. They pop up all the time. If you want to stop it feel free to try.” Alfhild pointed to the door with a smirk. Twilight glanced at the door with a slight look of fear before looking back to Alfhild.
“I didn’t mean stop it. I was wondering why your weather team made it in the first place.” Alfhild’s smirk vanished and she looked at Twilight seriously.
“Weather team? What are you talking about, pony?” Alfhild slowly asked with a raised eyebrow.
Twilight looked shocked and asked. “You mean you don’t have a weather team? How do you control the weather?” Alfhild scowled at something and walked a little closer to Twilight.
“No, we don’t. So you ponies are able to not only fly but control the weather?” Twilight flinched back at the slight growl in her voice.
“Well that’s a pegasus’s job. To control and maintain the weather around Equestria.” Alfhild let out a small growl and looked to Twilight’s wings. She looked to Cadance then and finally to Luna and Celestia. Without another word to Twilight Alfhild walked off muttering something to herself. Twilight looked behind her to Cadance who also looked shocked. “Is this place like the Everfree Forest then?” She asked Cadance.
Cadance looked Twilight in the eye and shrugged. “I don’t know Twilight, but whatever is going on I think they might need our help.”
Twilight nodded.“On this we agree.” Twilight walked over to Luna and Celestia who were now inspecting the crystal. Celestia saw Twilight first and when she saw the look on her face she straightened to her full height. Luna saw her just as she was almost on them and mimicked her older sister as she stood tall. Twilight reached the sisters and her face dissolved into a worried look. Celestia relaxed at that.
“What is the matter, Twilight?” Celestia looked down at her student with concern in her eyes. Luna did not relax all the way though.
“What can we do for thou young princess?”
Twilight looked at the sisters. “I think the ice wolves really need our help.” She finished with a sigh.
“What makes thou say this?” Luna asked as concern creeped onto her face.
“They don’t have any weather ponies here.” Twilight pointed to the side towards the door. “That storm out there happened on its own and they can’t do anything about it.” Celestia looked around at the ice wolves then back at Twilight.
“That is quite concerning.” Celestia said and then looked to her sister. Luna nodded to Celestia as if they shared a mental connection. Celestia gave a small nod in reply and looked back to Twilight. “Would you like to help these wolves with their problems?” Twilight looked taken aback for a second but nodded.
“Of course I would.” Twilight said with conviction.
“That’s good, because I would like for you to remember there are duties for all of us to attend back home. That’s why I’m sending you and Cadance back.”
“What? Why?” Surprisingly, the question came from Cadance. Though, Twilight also had a look of disbelief on her face as well.
“Please understand, both of you. There are certain affairs of the state that we need to take care of. I’m trusting the both of you to handle things while Luna and I are here for a little while.”
“But, an entire sentient race that we know nothing about!” Twilight said. “We could learn so much from each other!”
Celestia smiled and wrapped a wing around the younger princess. “I know you want to study them and their culture Twilight, but please trust me on this. It’ll only be for a short while. Besides, what about your friends back in Ponyville? Won’t they miss you?”
Twilight gasped, her eyes wide in realization. In her excitement to study another sentient species she had completely forgotten about her friends. “You’re right, Princess Celestia!” Twilight got a determined look on her face. “I’ll do it.”
“The reasoning makes perfect sense to me, as well.” Cadance added.
“Thank you, both of you.” Celestia released Twilight from the embrace of her wings and looked around the cave until her gaze settled on who she was looking for. “I will need to talk to Alfhild and tell her of our plans. Hopefully this storm will not last much longer.”
The other princesses nodded as Celestia walked up to the large wolf. In the heat of the moment, ironic considering how cold the weather was, Celestia took the time to take in the detail of Alfhild. The wolf was larger than the others, of course. Her coat was shaggy and gray but had a streak of red running from the snout all the way to her tail. “Excuse me, Alfhild, may I have a word with you for a few moments?”
The wolf in question, who had been giving directions, waved another wolf away with her paw and turned to face Celestia. “Yes, I suppose so.”
“Two of us shall be heading back to Equestria. My sister and I shall remain here to learn more about you and your people.”
“That is acceptable, I suppose. But I have never heard of Equestria. I’m assuming that that is where you’re all from?”
“It is… huh, funny how that didn’t come up.”
“Fighting ursas and running from a snowstorm has a habit of making you think of your immediate survival.”
Celestia giggled. “Yes, I suppose it does.”
“We shall speak again later. I will need some time to get this cave explored. I’m required to know the locations of all our shelters but we haven’t used this one in an extremely long time so I want to make sure it’s still safe. Who knows what may or may not lurk in here.” Alfhild looked at the door, sensing that the storm was starting to die down slightly. “If there’s one good thing about the storms it’s that while they may be dangerous at least they’re short. I wouldn’t give this one more than a few more minutes. Now, if there’s nothing else?…”
Celestia took the hint that Alfhild wanted to work in peace, or at least, try to concentrate on her task. “No. Nothing else. Thank you for your time and understanding.” Celestia said. Alfhild shrugged and idly waved her off.
When Celestia made it back to the others Twilight was the first to speak. “Well, how’d it go?”
“Alfhild was perfectly fine with Luna and I staying behind and the two of you going back. She also said that she wouldn’t give this storm more than few minutes before it’s safe to go outside. I would make sure you are all ready to depart by that time.” Everyone nodded in compliance.
Sure enough the storm did eventually pass. But the two minutes that led up to it were boring… very boring. The cave was safe, at least, or so Alfhild had assured Celestia when they left.
With everyone outside Twilight was the first to approach Celestia. “Princess, Cadance and I shall keep in touch with you via letter…. Have a good time here.” Twilight finished with a brief nuzzle before taking off, Cadance and two guards following right behind her.
After watching the four of them depart, Celestia turned back to Alfhild, who seemed to be a little impatient. Seemed being the key word here, as Celestia was unable to tell if she was impatient or not, having not had enough time to study their facial expressions and other mannerisms. “Well, I trust everything is in order then?” Celestia asked.
“Yes. I am eager to head back to Wolf Bleak.” She happily said. Ah, eagerness then. Not impatience. Celestia idly thought as the pack took off and the rest of the ponies followed after them.
It was a good hour before they got close to the city. The ponies knew they were close because they could see it in the distance since they had a bird’s-eye view, the wolves because of years of experience.
The frequency of the storms on the journey there, however, was disconcerting to the two alicorns. Celestia and Luna were unsure if it would’ve been easier to have made it here simply by going forward and casting spells to ignore any of the elements. Indeed, Alfhild had made them give seemingly wide berths in an area while she was leading them only for a storm to be seen in the far distance minutes later. However, they did not want to offend the wolves, those that had lived in these in lands for who knew how long? They knew the land better than anyone.
And so it was that they came upon the city that the entire party stopped as Alfhild turned to the princesses. Celestia and Luna landed gently in front of the wolf. “You will need to wait here for a few minutes while I go make some preparations.” Alfhild said as she turned to head into the city. “Until then, welcome to Wolf Bleak, the capital of the Lupine Nation.”