• Published 10th Feb 2012
  • 10,849 Views, 155 Comments

Of Stars Descending - Taldaer



Human, deceiver, martial artist all these words have been used to describe me. Hi name's Stormcloud

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Ch 12. The fight, the talk, the kiss

Chapter 12 The fight, the talk, the kiss

The walls are coming down
All we need is
One to fail, one to break
One to take it all away

What if we crumble,
What if we fall
Where is the flame
That torch the soul
Truth when spoken
Dies down to nothing

My martial arts master always preached that a certain thing was the soul of our style. However the thing that was the soul would change every so often, but it was always an arbitrary concept. So in the end no one really seemed to pay much attention. It is now in the later years that I’ve come to realize that all the things that preached about, and still do, as a whole creates what could be called the soul of our martial arts. For example one could be skilled in martial arts techniques, but that alone does not make you a martial artist. If you do not have self-control over how you implement your techniques you’re not much better than someone who knows how to brawl in a fancy way. Through self-control you gain pride, pride that you are in control over when to unleash the monster that lives inside all of us, and the ability to once more shackle it so it doesn’t run rampant.

*~*

I let out an exasperated sigh as I stared up into the clear sky. This is the weirdest development yet. I thought wearily. I brought my gaze back down to the rainbow maned pony in front of me warming up her joints and muscles. Part of me was excited about this opportunity while another part felt that it was completely unnecessary.

"Say Rainbow any chance that we could just call this one off?" I asked, expecting her to deny my request in a heartbeat.

"Ooh no, not a chance Stormcloud. You’re not talking yourself out of this one, and you should be happy that the guards agreed to let my fight you as their champion instead of you having to spar with all of them." Rainbow quickly said, unknowingly proving what I had already resigned to.

I suppose I should explain exactly what the situation is here. You see yesterday, as I was cornered in that corridor and the guards and element bearers were about to let me know that I was still alive…

*~*

"Wait, wait! This ain’t fair. We can’t just all gang up on him, Ah mean Pinkie is responsible for at least half of the pranks." Applejack suddenly cried out.

"Hmm I suppose you do have a point there Applejack, what do you suggest we do then?" Rarity asked, her tone almost accusing towards AJ.

"Well how ‘bout a duel or something? Ah mean Rainbow has been on Cloud’s case about his martial arts or whatever since we first got to know him right?" Applejack continued thoughtfully.

"Hmm yes, not the most elegant solution but I suppose that would be acceptable." Rarity said.

"I can agree with that being more fair toward Cloud in this regard since he alone is not responsible for this." Twilight chimed in. Although her eyes still held a somewhat crazed quality.

"Aight, is that agreeable with ya’ll guards here too?" Applejack called out, as she turned to face the horde of guards.

A quiet murmur spread throughout the horde of guardsponies. As the murmur died down a pegasus at the front spoke up.

"We agree to let the element of Loyalty fight as a representative for the guard in this duel. But we request that the duel is held tomorrow at 0900 hours so that the majority of the guard can observe the match."

"Ok, then it’s settled Dash will fight Storm tomorrow at nine." Twilight declared.

"Hey don’t I get a say in this?!" I spoke up, not quite yet having grasped what had just transpired.

As one the guards and element bearers responded with a resounding, "NO!"

*<>*

Quick Wit trudged along the rest of the guards as they made their way back towards the barracks. He was still struggling to understand why there had been an almost unanimous vote to allow the bearer of loyalty to fight for them tomorrow. There was nothing logical about the decision at all, well nothing he could see anyway.

"What’s eating ya, rookie?" a familiar voice called out to his left.

"I just can’t seem to figure out why we would agree like that Silver, to the duel idea I mean." Quick answered his older comrade in arms.

Much too Quick’s annoyance his comrade, Silver Shield, responded by barking out a loud laugh. When the earthpony saw that his unicorn friend was glaring at him he quickly stopped though.

"I’m sorry Quick, it’s just that sometimes it amuses me that you don’t know some of these things yet. You know, since you joined the guard so recently and all. Oh don’t look at me like that. I’m old, I’m allowed to laugh at you youngsters. Well enough of that, you want to know why do we let Ms. Rainbow Dash fight as our representative, right?’ when Quick responded by nodding, Silver continued ‘First of she’s quite the distinguished martial artist here in Equestria, or at least in the immediate area around Canterlot. Second, she normally spars with the guards as part of her training before major competitions. She’s quite the sight to behold in action, so of course it was a near unanimous decision to let her fight in our name. I doubt that poor sod Storm has any idea of what he got himself into." Silver finished with a dark chuckle.

Well I guess that makes sense. Heh, if she is half as good as Silver makes her out to be that Storm fellow won’t stand a chance. Tomorrows duel might be fun to watch after all.

"Hey come on Quick you’re lagging behind" Silver shouted from up ahead the corridor, bringing Quick back from his thoughts.

"Alright, alright! Wait up already!" he called out after the main body of the guards that were steadily making their way back to the barracks.

*<>*

I was already in my basic stance, and it seemed that Rainbow had entered something similar for her style of martial arts. The only thing holding us back was the fact that the go signal hadn’t been given yet. For a few seconds we both stared at each other, both of us ready to burst into action as soon as the match officially started.

To someone unfamiliar with martial arts, both Rainbow and I might’ve seen to be all tensed up. Such a notion however is incredibly deceptive, for a martial artist is only truly tenses his or her muscles at the moment a technique is finished. Even then, the tension only lasts for a split second, the reason for this is quite simple. Relaxed muscles react and move faster than tensed ones, so by condensing the tension to a mere moment you retain speed. And speed is one of the major corner stones in martial arts.

So here we were, circling each other like two predators while maintaining the illusion of being tensed up. Then as soon as the sharp whistle signaling the start Rainbow shot forward, quick as a viper. Most likely to test my guard. Needless to say my body had already instinctively reacted, and I diverted her low strike with ease. A small grin formed on Rainbow’s muzzle as she jumped back, once again creating a safe distance between us.

"Don’t you dare hold back Stormcloud! I want to beat you at your best." Dash declared loudly as she slipped into a new stance. This one distinctly more aggressive in its nature.

Thoughts raced through my head. Did I really dare to go all out? In the worst case scenario I could injure her gravely. Would she able to tell if I would hold back? If I did would it really matter? Everyone would be happy right?

Before I could reach a conclusion to my contemplations Rainbow Dash burst into action, a wing rapidly growing closer to my face. My instincts kicked in and saved me from a major hit as I sidestepped the wing, the outermost feathers brushing my muzzle.

Hayfire she is fast! Was all I had time to think before she was on me again, with a relentless assault of hooves and wings. I fell into rhythm of keeping out of her reach as much as possible aiming for counters rather than to attack. For I dared not let myself fight completely on instinct. Naturally the result was slower reactions on my part as I was using my brain to fight, and it showed when Rainbow kept landing glancing blows and few real hits.

*<>*

Quick Wit watched the ponies before him as struggled back and forth across the courtyard. Silver had been telling the truth when he had praised the element of loyalty, she was amazing to behold. It was clear that she was the better fighter of the two ponies on the courtyard. However Silver had misjudged the Storm fellow, he was no novice when it came to fighting. He was definitely skilled, managing to land a few light hits with well-timed counter blows. But ultimately it looked like the rainbow maned loyalty would emerge the victor from this duel.

"Seems like the element bearer has this one in the bag huh Silver?" Quick said to his older companion standing beside him.

"Hmm, yeah…" Silver answered absentmindedly, his eyes peeled on the two combatants.

"Something has been bothering me Quick. Take a look at Ms. Rainbow Dash’s eyes and facial expression and tell me what you see."

Quick threw a confused glance at his friend, before complying with the strange request.

"She seems frustrated Silver, bordering on anger I’d say if I had to guess. Though I’m not sure why this has any significant meaning here. It’s probably the fact that her opponent is more skilled than she had anticipated." Quick spoke up after a few seconds of quiet observation.

"That’s the weird thing though, Quick. Ms. Dash doesn’t act frustrated in a fight. She normally wears a cocky smile plastered over her muzzle. Something is really weird here, this is not at all like her." Silver answered thoughtfully.

"If you say so Silver. Any thoughts on wha-" Quick began, but was interrupted by a loud shout from the element of loyalty.

"WILL YOU FIGHT ME FOR REAL TODAY?! OR DO I HAVE TO KNOCK YOUR TEETH OUT?!"

*<>*

Rainbow Dash was angry. No angry was an understatement, right now she was furious. How dared he play this off as him trying? Was this some sort of joke to him? Where was the threatening presence that had surrounded him before?

She dove in low, aiming to sweep his legs, but Storm sidestepped her at the last moment. It frustrated her that he was barely keeping up with her, it frustrated her that he refused to meet her request for a true fight. But most of all it frustrated her that she was being denied the challenge. With a growl she followed up her sweep with flurry of high strikes with her fore hooves towards his face, some roughly grazing his muzzle. He didn’t even flinch from the hits, which in turn fueled her anger further. With a powerful flap of her wings she once again created some distance between them.

"What is this some sort of twisted joke on your part Storm? Do you think that you’re being noble in your actions? Wake up you bone head, or I’m knocking your lights out!" she said, her voice trembling with anger.

Before Stormcloud had time to answer her she shot forward, using her wings to increase her momentum. A loud *thud* echoed throughout the courtyard as one of her fore hooves connected with Storm’s muzzle, causing his head to whip back.

Oh no, oh no, oh no! Why hadn’t he blocked or avoided the blow? She hadn’t meant for this one to hit! Well not hit that hard at least. Her intention had only been to rile him into attacking for real. What would hap-.

"Thank you Rainbow, and I apologize. What I have been doing has not been fair towards you as a fellow martial artist." Cloud suddenly spoke up, his neck still bent back, his face staring into the sky.

Wait did he take that hit on purpose? She had time to wonder before Cloud continued.

"It was what you said before that brought me out of it really. Somewhere down the line I had convinced myself that I would not truly fight with all I had. I was afraid to hurt you, if you can believe that. But you if anyone deserve a proper challenge. Get ready, I won’t hold back any longer." he declared, still facing the sky.

With a few quick steps she had once again established a safe distance between her and Stormcloud. And in the following moment she was glad that she had one so. As Storm brought his gaze back down from the sky she saw those cold calculating eyes again that she remembered. His muzzle was locked in a humorless grin and the air around him screamed danger. Strangely enough she didn’t feel fear the same way she had felt the first time she had observed Storm like this. No, this time she felt excited. She didn’t even register the fact that a grin of her own had formed on her muzzle. Her focus was entirely on her opponent, who had finally decided to get serious.

With a smirk she darted forward feinting high and striking low. She almost didn’t have time to dodge the whip like counter blow from Cloud. The offending hoof brushed past her cheek as she tried to retreat back from him. This side of Cloud had other thoughts on the matter almost matching her speed he followed up the counter with an array of kicks and blows of his own, the final kick hitting the side of her barrel hard before the two of them separated again. He truly was a scary opponent, while he wasn’t the fastest pony she had fought he was very fast for somepony who had only had their body for a few weeks. It was true that she wasn’t the fastest either when it came to ground bound fighting, but she had years of experience.

Her face was still locked in the determined smirk when Cloud for the first time during the fight initiated the attack. With fierce shout he darted forward, feinting high before delivering a powerful kick from the side with one of his hind legs. Rainbow could feel her eyes widen in shock as she barely managed to avoid the kick impacting the side of her head.

I could feel the wind from that one! How can he make a kick that powerful while balanced on one leg?

This was a strange turn of events for Rainbow. It was a long time since she had been forced on the defensive like this, and by the looks of things the roles had flipped completely in this fight. Now all she could do was dodge and counter the unrelenting assault of Stormcloud’s hooves.

I’m lucky that I’m still faster than him. As much as it hurts my pride to admit it, his skill as a martial artist surpasses mine. Heh, it helps that his style doesn’t incorporate… No bucking way!

Her thoughts had suddenly guided her to one glaring piece of information that she had overlooked. Storm hadn’t been using his wings at all during the fight. At first she had thought it was because of him holding back, but now it slowly became obvious that he simply didn’t know how to use them in a fight.

You’re almost keeping up with my speed in a fight without using your wings! What kind of a monster are you?! She angrily thought as Storm hoped backwards, avoiding one of her counters. No, I don’t have time to think I need to focus on the match. Yet a small thought lingered in the back of her head as she took Storm’s retreat from her counter as a chance to go on the offensive. Just how terrifying would he be if he learned to use his wings properly?

Spurred on by the cheers of the collected guards and her friends she swept in low aiming to finish the fight. There was a certain blind spot for ponies when it came from rising attacks, your muzzle would make in nigh impossible to see it. Most ponies who trained martial arts knew how to cover for this, but Storm wasn’t like most ponies.

Her hoof was only half an inch away from connecting when her eyes caught a blur of movement to her left. The next thing she knew her head was ringing, white spots where swimming in her vision and she was staring into the faces of her friends who were all wearing concerned expressions.

"Wha- Whau- What happened?" She managed to say, a dull ache staring make itself known close to left side of her head.

Her friends exchanged glances.

"Ya lost Rainbow." Applejack spoke up.

"What? How?!" She exclaimed before wincing as the loud sound reverberated through her already pounding head.

"Well you see when you went after Saddles blind spot and were all like whoosh Imma get you Cloudy. He was all like nu uh, and went swoosh, snap, crack and now you’re here." Pinkie chimed in with a big smile.

Okay I’m not even going to ask why Pinkie knows about Saddles blind spot, that’s another type of headache. But I would really like to know what happened Pinkie isn’t very descriptive. Fortunately for her Twilight seemed to share that belief about Pinkie’s explanation as she was next to speak.

"I think that what Pinkie was trying to say was that after you charged in the last time Cloud waited until the very last second to counter. It was quite hard to follow his movements actually, but I think he turned away your hoof struck you in one flowing motion. Because the next thing we knew you were staggering and Cloud was already delivering a rather vicious follow up strike with the knee of one of his forelegs. That’s the attack that knocked you out by the way." Twilight finished her retelling of the end of the match.

Before she had time to answer any of her friends another familiar head appeared in her field of vision.

"How ya doin’ Ms. Dash?" the older stallion asked her with a grin.

"Take a guess Silver." She answered the old guard, who kept his grin.

"Now, now Ms. Dash, no need for that tone. To be honest most of us thought you’d win. What we didn’t expect was somepony who would fight without restraint, I guess what I’m trying to say is where the hay did you find this guy? I mean a few days ago he was a wanted criminal." Silver asked with a slight frown.

"Well it’s kind of a long story, Mr… Silver was it?" Twilight began and continued as the newly acquainted Silver nodded. "You see we first ran in to Stormcloud about…"

*<>*

I gingerly touched my aching jaw where Rainbow had landed her completely unblocked punch. Now that I didn’t have a ton of adrenalin coursing through my veins, combined with me having dropped my concentration on maintaining my mask I finally felt the damage. She really does pack a punch. I’m incredibly lucky that I don’t have a glass jaw, otherwise the match had been over when I took that hit. I turned my head over to where Rainbow lay surrounded by her friends and saw one of the guards making her way over to them. He seemed to greet the polychromatic pegasus with familiarity but I was too far away to overhear any of the words being exchanged.

Turning my head around I instead decided to observe the rest of the guards that were still present. Most had left to perform their assigned duties for the day, there were however a select few that were still present. If I would have to guess I’d say some of these had later shifts or had just gotten off the nightshift. Either way all that was beside the point, the interesting thing that I could observe was that all the anger and frustration they had harbored towards me yesterday seemed to have been washed away. The looks I was getting now ranged from indifference to slightly respectful.

The only logical conclusion I could draw was that now when the match had been finished all circumstances leading up to the event were forgiven. Returning my focus to my body I realized that I hurt from a few other locations were Rainbow had successfully landed blows except my muzzle. Both Rainbow and I had been informed before the match had started that any major damage we got during the fight could be fixed by the castle staff. So seeing how I had sustained more than a few hits, and had the luxury of actually having a medically trained pony take a look at my problem I saw no reason not to.

After asking a guard for directions I was soon walking along a castle corridor, aiming to find the barrack infirmary before I managed to get myself lost. Luckily for me it turned out that finding the correct way was a rather simple task. For soon I found myself outside the set of double doors that the guard has described to me. Taking a breath I pushed open the doors and walked inside only to freeze on the spot. Because there in front of me stood Swiftmend, there wasn’t any doubt that he had noticed me as well since his reaction mirrored mine.

As the initial shock started to leave my system I felt a grin start to form on my muzzle. Of all the places you could have gone to avoid me Swifty. You won’t leave without telling me what you’re hiding this time!

"Oh hello Swifty, fancy meeting you here." I called out to the still stunned stallion, knowing all too well about his dislike for the nickname.

His shocked appearance quickly transformed into something that managed convey extreme annoyance and at the same time say: Oh, it’s you again. Why did it have to be you again? Not wasting a second longer Swift’s face quickly adopted a frown as he answered me.

"I recall myself asking you to never use that nickname again Mr. Stormcloud, although I guess there’s only so much one can ask of somepony of your intelligence."

My grin only widened as I heard his retort. This was the kind of conversation I was missing here in Equestria. Among the ponies I had met so far, no matter how rough around the edges they were, they couldn’t quite openly insult you like Swiftmend just had. It was almost like I was holding a conversation with another human.

"Aaaw, you wound Swiftmend, and here I thought you agreed for us to be acquaintances the last time we met." I shot back, grin ever present.

"Something I’m beginning to regret. I guess shouldn’t be all too surprised that it was you the guards were referring to when I heard the name Stormcloud from the guards though. Stormcloud is after all a common pegasus name, so I had my hopes up that it wouldn’t be you. But you had to go and ruin that, didn’t you?" Swiftmend threw accusingly at me.

"Well I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t started to consider ruining stuff to be part of my skillset." I said calmly to the medical pony in front of me.

Swiftmend seemed to consider if he would continue to banter for a second before exhaling loudly.

"First let’s take care of why you’re here then we’ll talk, but not here. We’ll go into Canterlot for that." He finally said in a resigned voice.

"Now go over to that bed and sit down so that I cast a quick scanning spell on you." Swift ordered.

Naturally I complied and was soon seated upon one of the beds of the infirmary. How strange that this infirmary isn’t subject to the same pun as in Ponyville. I thought as Swiftmend used his spell to scan me. Then again I suppose when the city is one of the biggest puns in this universe there’s little room for more.

"Well then, the scans show no broken or fractured bones, nor any internal bleedings. You’ll have some bruising yes, but nothing life threatening. While it may be uncomfortable there’s really nothing I can do about it." Swiftmend declared as his scans came to a halt.

"Okay so where did you want to talk?" I asked the pony in front of me.

"Just shut up and follow me you annoying featherhead. But I will have you tell me you secrets too once this is over." Swiftmend growled, his tail flicking irritably.

"That was the deal we settled on wasn’t it? Even if we both are skilled in the art deception, the trade I offered you back then was sincere." I said as I raised a hoof in a calming manner.

Swiftmend snorted out a short humph before starting to walk towards the doors. He pushed one of them open before turning his head to me.

"Well are you coming today? We’ll have to leave now or I might get more work to attend to." He said.

"Yeah sure, but is it okay to just leave like that?" I asked him, wondering if he as medical staff could just leave.

"I suggest you keep your comments to yourself if you want to know my secrets, now get a move on!" He barked, clearly getting agitated again.

Deciding that it would be best to just be quiet for the time being I simply followed after Swift as he led me out of Canterlot castle and into the city itself. While we walked I pondered how this would go down. Should I really tell him anything? No, that’s a stupid thought. I need to be completely honest here, it may not be the wisest choice but I simply don’t care right now. If anything I’ll owe Swift the same courtesy I hope he’ll show me.

Before long we stopped outside a small tavern like building and Swift ushered me inside. The inside décor went completely against the pompous façade the building had. Instead the interior held a more rustic vibe. I had not been mistaken when I had identified the building as a tavern though, as it seemed to serve just that purpose.

Swiftmend however wasted no time and went straight towards a corridor leading further into the building. Having little choice but to follow once more, I moved after him in no particular hurry. Swift led me to a room not much unlike the one I had rented back in Ponyville, except that this room seemed to be slightly larger. I briefly wondered if Sunset Meadow had managed to escape from her inn safely, but pushed the thought aside as I sat down on the floor in front of Swiftmend.

"Okay." he began before pausing. "Give me a second to collect my thoughts, I’ve only told the entire story twice before, and it’s not something I enjoy doing. So I’d like to get through this without you ending up with any questions toward the end. Oh, and to preemptively answer why I’ll go through this again. The recent developments concerning you interest me, and I’d like to know just what the hay is going on."

"Take your time. I think I’ll survive waiting a bit longer." I replied, causing the stallion in front of me to look at me with an unreadable expression.

With a slightly weary voice Swiftmend spoke once more.

"It all started 11 years ago…"

*<>*

Swiftmend calmly trotted down the street of Fillydelphia, humming a small tune to himself. He was heading over to meet up with a couple of friends to celebrate that him and the others had been accepted to attend Fillydelphia’s Institute of medical science and application. One of the finest schools relating to medicinal magic in all of Equestria. To say that he was happy would be an understatement, in just two weeks him and his friends would be pursuing their goals in helping ponies in need.

He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t notice a door to a café in front of him, nor did he notice the light purple pegasus mare that stepped out of it.

A collision and large amount of embarrassed apologies later young Swift had learned that the mare’s name was Wild Breeze. And while it might’ve not have been love at first sight something about the mare that was still glaring at him spoke to him. At the time he wasn’t sure if it was her looks or her temper, but there was something there. Eventually Wild Breeze accepted Swift’s apologies and he was once more on his merry way to the party.

*~*

The two weeks after the party had passed in a blur for Swift, he had hardly thought that there could be so many things to be done before the classes actually started. Not to mention that a certain pegasus mare held a portion of his thoughts captive. He could for the love of Celestia not figure out why though, except that she was a pretty mare. Well his first term started tomorrow at 8 am sharp so there wouldn’t be any room for him to pursue whatever his fascination with Wild Breeze was.

*~*

The blaring of the alarm clock woke the groggy and slightly confused Swift from his slumber. For a second he just stared dumbly into space, it felt as if he was forgetting something important but he could not put his hoof on what. He looked over to his left where the bedroom mirror stood, his bed mane as horrible as ever. Finally he gathered enough thoughts to realize that alarm was still going off and he reached to whack it with a hoof. As his eyes glanced at the time though he froze. The red numbers read 7.45 am, and a moment later Swift was moving faster than he ever had before as he threw himself out of bed while frantically running around his apartment to gather his books and quills.

"Late, late, late, late, late, late!" he chanted as he rushed down the stairs and into the streets of morning Fillydelphia.

The now very stressed Swiftmend rushed through the throng of ponies currently heading to work or the like. However what he didn’t account for was the door of a certain café swinging open, effectively smashing his muzzle. With a loud groan Swift sat down on his haunches, a hoof gingerly prodding the muzzle for anything broken.

"Oh my, I’m so sorry I was late for…" a mare’s voice called out, before trailing off.

Confused Swift looked up from his position of self-pity only to find Wild Breeze staring at him a look of recognition plastered across her face.

"You’re that young stallion from a few weeks back!" she exclaimed, a smile slowly working its way onto her muzzle.

Swiftmend wasn’t quite sure how the respond to the mare’s quick switching between moods. One second she was apologizing the next she was talking to him as if they were discussing the weather. As if on cue her facial expression changed once again this time into a concerned one.

"Hey are you okay? I didn’t scramble your head or anything right?"

Shaking his head to clear it Swiftmend spoke up.

"No I do not have a concussion or anything as you so eloquently put it."

"Oh hey he’s back on Equestria, good timing to because I really gotta run. But hey I’ll buy you a coffee sometime to make up for this accident. Well see ya around!" she said before starting to trot away.

"Oh and I live in the big apartment building on Limestone Street, if you were wondering!" she called over her shoulder before disappearing into the mass of ponies flooding by on the street.

For a moment Swift just sat there dazed, his mind not comprehending what had just occurred. Then a small warning in the back of his started going off; he was still late.

With a yelp he threw himself into motion, galloping down the sidewalks of Fillydelphia in a vain attempt to at least only be five minutes late.

*~*

After the whole new Wild Breeze incident the first day, and the first week went by rather quickly. The studies were already every bit as demanding that Swiftmend had envisioned them to be. So before he knew it, it was already Friday afternoon and his first weekend was just about to start.

I think I deserve a small break, before I start to work on my assignments for next week. He idly thought to himself. Hey, it couldn’t hurt to take that mare Wild Breeze up on her offer could it? The sooner I get her out my system I can focus on my studies.

With his mind set he started to head for the address he had been given at the beginning of the very same week. And before long his hooves had lead him to Limestone Street, what Wild Breeze had failed to mention however was the fact that the entire street consisted of apartment buildings. For a second he contemplated just turning around right there and forget the fact that he even had come here. But he had come this far and wasn’t going let this deter him from sorting everything out.

Luckily for him he only had to ask for a light purple Pegasus named Wild Breeze a few times before he found somepony that could point him in the right direction.

Soon he found himself outside an unremarkable door, so without wasting another second he brought his hoof up and knocked.

"It’s open, you’re free to stand there or let yourself in!" a familiar voice called from the other side of the door.

Swiftmend paused to blink. Had she just… With a sigh he relented to the fact that he would probably never understand this mare, before pushing the door open and stepping inside.

"Oh hey it’s you… Swift End was it?" Wild Breeze exclaimed happily as she leaned out from a room further in the medium sized apartment.

"Yes it’s me and it’s Swiftmend, m-e-n-d." He corrected her.

"Whatever you say Swifty. It’s a pity though, Swift End would’ve been an awesome name."

He fidgeted slightly at the new nickname. Swifty?! His thoughts questioned.

"Ah, are you uncomfortable with nicknames Swifty?" Wild questioned, as she joined him at the door.

"No, no, not at all." he quickly tried to reassure her, but she just snorted a short laugh.

"You’re a terrible liar Swifty. Now come on let’s go grab that coffee!"

And with that they were off.

*~*

He couldn’t believe it. The time he had spent with Wild yesterday had been rather enjoyable, she had seemed to think so as well. They even scheduled another get together next week. But for now he had to study, there was a lot of work to be done.

Soon the next week had passed and for the second time Swift found himself trotting down Limestone Street. And as the pendulum swung two meet ups turned to three and so on. Before either of them knew it was no longer just discussions over coffee, no it had flourished into something much more sweet than just a friendship.

But for Swiftmend his newfound love came at a prize, no matter how hard he tried to balance out his studies, Wild always seemed end up at the top of list. He didn’t care though, for he had his soul mate. Like a lock could not function properly without a key, Wild and Swift balanced each other out perfectly. And as the months passed Swiftmend grew more and more confident that he had made the correct choice in spending his time with Wild Breeze.

He could hardly believe that it had been a year already since they had first met on that fateful day.

*~*

"Come on we need to hurry back before the storm hits!" Wild called down to Swiftmend as she soared over him.

"Well who was it that promised me that we would only stay out for an hour?" he shot back to his marefriend.

"I have no idea what you’re talking about Swifty." she purred as glided down and landed beside him.

He fidgeted slightly at the nickname, now for an entirely different reason than he had the first time he had been called by it. His reaction did not slip by Wild Breeze though.

"Heh, nice to see that I can still bother you with that nickname." she said with a smirk.

"It doesn’t bother me at all." Swiftmend proclaimed quickly.

"Haha, you’re still a terrible liar Swifty. Now come on the wind is starting to pick up."

*~*

The wind was howling now and the rain that had started falling long ago had forced them to seek cover under the trees. They weren’t far from Fillydelphia, in fact the trees should clear up in another hundred yards or so. That was if they could figure out which way was the correct one in the storm.

"I can’t take it anymore, I’ll head up ahead above the trees to check which way to go Swifty." Wild suddenly declared, spreading her wings.

"No stay down Wild, flying with this much wind is just an unnecessary risk." he pleaded.

"Aw, I’ll be fine Swifty you know I’m a good flyer."

Before he was able to voice his objections again, Wild Breeze had already thrown herself into a seemingly fierce battle with the wind and rain. Slowly but surely though she rose higher until she was just above the treetops. Swift watched as she carefully scanned for the correct heading.

"I think I see the lights from Fillydelphia form that direction!" Wild shouted over the wind, after turning to look down at Swift.

A terrible creaking sound caused the Pegasus to whirl around in the air just seconds before a large branch, torn from its tree by the strong gales, slammed into her.

Swiftmend could only watch in horror as the branch hit his marefriend and caused her to spiral out of control. The sound of snapping branches was barely heard through the storm as Wild’s body plummeted towards the ground.

"Wild!" he cried out as he rushed towards the unmoving form of Wild Breeze.

Upon reaching her he was met with a gruesome sight. Wild was lying on her left side and was breathing shallowly, her right wing had almost been ripped off and was hanging on by a small strip of flesh. In desperation Swiftmend started to cast all sorts of scanning magic that he knew, but he had no idea where to start. The wounded wing was damaged beyond what he could possibly repair. Not to mention the fact that it was still bleeding profusely darkening the already wet coat further. She also had multiple lacerations beside the obvious big wound, there would be nothing short of a miracle if she didn’t have internal injuries as well.

No he had to stay focused, he would save her! With newfound resolution he tried to stop the massive blood loss first, that was surely the largest danger here. But to his dismay he simply couldn’t stop all of it.

Wild Breeze’s eyes slowly flickered open as Swift poured his very being into saving the one mare that meant the world to him.

"Hey…" she said weakly.

"Don’t talk Wild everything’s going to fine." Swift said trying to sound calm.

"Hehehe…" she chuckled weakly before breaking down into a weak coughing fit. Flecks of blood appeared on the hoof she used to cover her muzzle before they were washed away in the pouring rain. When she recovered she continued.

"You- you’re still a terrible liar S-Swifty…"

"Please don’t say anymore, you’re going to be fine." he pleaded.

"N-no this might be my l-last chance to say this." Wild continued relentlessly, before pausing to cough weakly again.

"Please, don’t say anymore." Swift said, actively trying to fight back tears.

"I- I love you Swifty. I a-always will."

His vision was blurry with barely suppressed tears now, but he refused to stop trying to save her.

"S- Swifty I’m s- scared." Wild said barely a louder than a whisper in the still howling storm.

And before he had time to respond her already shallow breathing finally ceased.

When the search and rescue patrols from Fillydelphia found Swiftmend the following morning he was still trying to use his magic to keep the long gone Wild Breeze alive.

*<>*

I sat stunned in the silence that had followed with Swift ending his tale. I hadn’t detected a single instance where I felt him straying from the truth. My reasons for creating my masks seemed trivial at best when compared to the circumstances surrounding Swiftmends. But perhaps I should’ve expected something drastic like this. He is by far one of the more human ponies I’ve encountered. The cause might be that he has experienced the crap we get spoon fed on a daily basis from various news outlets.

"I’m not going to tell you that you need to move on nor am I going to judge you Swiftmend. That is entirely your decision to make. I understand now just how different the triggers for our changes were. So I’m not going to pretend that I understand what you’re dealing with." I finally said, breaking the silence.

"Yeah…" Swiftmend said slowly, it was clear that his memories were still effecting him.

Well it was my turn now wasn’t it? My time to reveal my secrets and repay the sense of debt I currently felt. A part of me questioned the wisdom in what I was about to do, but before it could manifest into something larger I crushed that small voice ruthlessly. The pony in front of me had bared his darkest secret, the thing that had ruled his life from that point on. It seemed like today was a day of obligation, and I wasn’t going to repeat the same mistake I had made in the fight against Rainbow by leaving anything out of my own tale. No I would honor the resolve he had shown by telling the complete version of my journey, the version that only one other soul new about.

"Aight, I’ve heard your truth Swiftmend. Now I will tell you mine, and bear with me for while it might sound absurd I could get Celestia to vouch for me."

Swiftmend looked up at me from his memories, and a small glint of curiosity seemed light his eyes with life again. As I saw his reaction I launched into my own tale starting back at a rainy night, almost two months ago. Holding nothing back I spoke of my arrival in the Everfree, how I ended up getting injured enough to meet Swiftmend for the first time, my scuffle with the three moronic pegasi and so on. When I finally finished my tale it was already late in the afternoon, and Swiftmend held a contemplative expression.

"That’s one crazy story, I’ll give you that. Hadn’t been for the fact that I’d seen you directly interact with the element bearers I wouldn’t have believed you." Swiftmend said.

And so with a final nod between us we went separate paths, for now. Both of us now understood fully our respective reasons for how we acted and interfaced with our surroundings.

My stomach growled reminding me that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast as trotted through the streets of Canterlot in the afternoon sun. I had a lot of thinking to do, but I would not do so on an empty stomach.

*~*

Much later I found myself on one of the flatter roofs of Canterlot castle, observing the slowly setting sun that painted the city in vibrant colors. My mind filled with the tale I had been told hours earlier. I had been so sure that I would be able to help him in some kind of way, and instead I had gotten a harsh reminder that no one is capable of helping everyone.

Slow wing beats signaled the arrival of another pony beside me on the rooftop. But I had no need to turn my head around to see who it was, somehow I knew it was her.

"Have you ever felt powerless to act Tia? Sorry that came out wrong. What I meant to say was have you ever felt that you can help, but in the end it turns out that you truly couldn’t do anything?"

"More times than I’d like to count." She responded in a tired voice, as she walked up and sat down beside me.

I turned my head slightly so that I could clearly see her. In the light of the sun her coat seemed to glow with a soft inner radiance and her currently pink mane beautifully matched the hue that the sky was slowly taking on.

Suddenly everything felt so silly. Why was I afraid of Celestia liking me? So what if there were repercussions? When had I abandoned my life style of not worrying about past or present when had I started to allow such notions to dictate my actions? With this realization in mind I extended my wing and laid it across her back.

Her response was to turn her head from the sunset and toward me her facial expression a mix of curiosity and surprise. Her mouth opened to speak, but before she had time to utter a single syllable my muzzle met hers as I stole a kiss. At first her eyes widened in shock before she pushed back into the kiss with the same passion I had put into it.

When we broke apart, a silent agreement passed between us. For now there would be no more words.

And so until the sun had reached the end of its journey and had disappeared over the edge of the horizon, the two of us just sat there. For a time we weren’t a princess and a dimensional traveler, but instead just two souls who had found solace in each other’s company.

Author's Note:

Well there you have it folks. My Christmas present to you! Now as usual I'm going to blame everything around for not focusing on writing this story. Things I blame include: Work, Planetside 2, Battlefield 4, The start of season 4 and of course this and that. Anyway I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter so until next time have a happy new year and happy holidays!