• Published 15th Feb 2012
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Tears in the Snow - Wintergreen Diaries

Twilight sees a vision after casting a spell to see the future and ends up saving a mysterious colt.

  • ...

The Race

Chapter 7: The Race

Twilight found herself looking at the edge of Everfree forest. A crowd of ponies had gathered and were chatting excitedly. A starting line had been drawn, and she saw Rainbow Dash and Cerulean lined up behind it, each taking their position. The announcer started the countdown. Twilight watched with anticipation as Cerulean's horn began to glow, his whole body soon wrapped in blue light. Three... Two... One... and then there was a sound akin to an explosion as every pony was bowled over, and Twilight's vision went white.

Sunlight had begun to filter through the windows, filling the room with light. Twilight, refusing to move from the comfort of the warm bed, buried her face deeper into a most fantastic feather blanket and squeezed her pillow tightly, which had somehow overnight gained the characteristics of a heater as well. She was slightly surprised to hear said pillow respond with a grunt, which she saw fit to let slide due to the comfort that it provided. The pillow proceeded to amaze her further by rolling over, and she lessened her grasp and stared sleepily into Cerulean’s eyes, who was just as confused. He looked into her bleary eyes, then to her hooves still wrapped around his chest.

Most ponies run from my nightmares, but this mare actually confronted them. How long has she been here? It must have been terribly cold, but... wait, where is the snow? I’m normally half buried by morning. Was this... was that warmth from her? "...Twilight?" he started, faltering. The sudden realization that her feather blanket was no feather blanket, but was in fact his mane caused no small alarm on her part. In her haste to extract herself from him, she found herself painfully upside down on the floor, her hind legs poking up over the edge of the bed. "Twi, are you ok?" Cerulean said, poking his head out and staring down at her.

"What does it look like?" she moaned, massaging her head with both hooves. Cerulean climbed down from the bed and sat behind her, lifting her head and using his magic to generate a soft pile of snow. He gingerly laid her head back down, a soft sigh escaping her lips as the cool snow soothed the inflammation at the base of her skull. She cracked an eye open to find Cerulean gazing down at her, which she wouldn’t have minded were it not for that slightly offsetting grin he wore. "What are you looking at?"

"I wonder," he muttered. Twilight was about to ask just what he was wondering about when she felt his hoof begin to furiously rub her ribs. She burst into a fit of giggles, feebly trying to pry his hooves away. The torment was short lived, though the laughter continued well after he withdrew his hoof. He adopted a studious expression, nodding once before sticking his face close and giving her a devilish grin. "My hypothesis was quite correct; you're ticklish." Twilight jumped to her feet and backed away, trying to glare at him but failing miserably.

"Don't even think about it, Snowgleam!" He made a dash forward only to have a rather large tome inexplicably fall on his head. He rubbed the point of impact for a moment before generating a small pile of snow atop his head to soothe the rising lump, preparing to make a second attempt. To his dismay, the entire shelf emptied itself at once, burying him under a pile of dust and books. "I said not to think about it, silly." Cerulean clawed his way to the top of the pile, gasping for air and choking on the dust.

"That's fighting dirty," he said with a grin, scattering the books as he stood up, shaking out his coat.

"All is fair in love and war," Twilight quipped, brushing past him and into the kitchen.

"Oh, is that what this is?" Cerulean winced as he heard a glass break on the floor.

"D-don't be s-stupid!" Twilight stammered.

"You wear pink well, it becomes you," Cerulean said, motioning her rosy cheeks with a hoof as she stuck her head out. Replying with an exasperated groan, Twilight returned to clean up the mess in the kitchen. Cerulean examined his coat to find his fur was still damp from the snow, and the dust had formed blotches of gray mud all over his body. "I'm kind of a mess now, thanks to a certain somepony’s breach of the rules of tickle warfare. Would it be alright if I took a shower?" he called into the kitchen. Another crash.

Twilight's mind temporarily took a hiatus from rationality and drifted into the realm of dreams. Cerulean emerged from the shower, clouds of steam billowing up behind him as he slowly strode towards her, his alluring teal eyes fixed solely upon her. Twilight traced the droplets of water as they ran down his tone, muscular...

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" Twilight suddenly screamed, causing Cerulean to come rushing to investigate. His presence merely compounded the hallucinations, which continued despite Twilight's best efforts to stop them. Her cheeks were well passed pink, a deep crimson overtaking most of her face, which was now covered by her hooves.

"Uh..." he started to speak, but Twilight shooed him away as the Cerulean in her mind bid her join him for some steamy fun.

"It's upstairs, just go!" Cerulean, seeing the color of her face, put two and two together and left without a word, beaming as he ascended the stairs. He found the shower easily enough, and the warming cascade soon emptied his mind. Twilight, her heart rate nearly back to normal, was nervously trying to reconstruct the broken glasses that she had dropped. A short dose of magic and the cups were good as new, which she filled with water. She then pulled out two plates and set an apple, carrot, and stalk of celery on each. Satisfied things were ready, she set out to begin organizing the main room, which by now was an absolute disaster.

Twilight soon became engrossed in a tome she had forgotten about, the cleaning abandoned for the sake of knowledge. She lay on her stomach, hind legs kicking up and down as she absorbed all the book had to offer. She didn't hear Cerulean descend the stairs and walk up behind her, now clean and well groomed. He silently leaned over her shoulder and read along with her. It seemed to be detailing the intricacies of a spell made by an ancient unicorn, powerful enough to move mountains.

"This spell sounds quite interesting," he mumbled to himself. Twilight nodded, too entranced to be surprised at her friend's sudden return. Twilight began to explain at length the concept and theories regarding the spell, her love of knowledge in clear display. Cerulean listened quietly, asking the occasional question and grinning as Twilight seemed to come alive, making dramatic motions to illustrate her points and jumping from theory to theory without pause. Twilight stopped as she noticed his grin and drew silent.

"I'm sorry, you probably didn't need to know any of that. It's just so easy to get carried away. Nobody else here really knows a lot about magic, so..." she sighed, shooting him an apologetic glance. Cerulean's expression grew gentle.

"I recall telling you," he said quietly, "to just be yourself. You should never betray that, not for anypony." Twilight could tell from his face that he was speaking from experience. "Besides, I was kind of an egghead myself, for a while," he continued, smiling. "I studied at Canterlot Magic Academy, remember? I got my cutie mark because of magic and a love for the snow, or at least what’s left of it. So don't feel afraid to geek out on me, ok?" Twilight hesitated a moment before launching into a lecture on the finer points of the many adventures of Daring Do as a test. Having read most of the series himself, he made a point of completing any quotations she attempted to make, eliciting squeals of glee each time he did so, and making a mental note of the ones he didn't recognize. While he had been homeless, he shelved his studies on magic for the the most part, but occasionally visited libraries to read the thrilling adventure tales as an escape from everything his life had become. It wasn't long before the time for the race drew near, and with some reluctance he bid the library farewell, turning his mind to the task at hoof.

There was a great crowd of ponies already gathered by the time Cerulean and Twilight made it to fringe of the forest. They were still discussing Daring Do when Rainbow Dash overheard and swooped in.

"Twilight, I just finished 'Daring Do and the Gryphon's Goblet!’ It was beyond awesome!" she exclaimed, eyes shining with admiration as she recalled her fictional hero's exploits. Rainbow Dash's jaw dropped as Cerulean proceeded to quote the closing paragraph, line for line.

"One of my favorites of the series, read it more times than I can count," he said, grinning at her. Rainbow Dash regarded Twilight with a coy smile.

"You nabbed yourself a fellow egghead, didn’t ya?" she said, laughing.

"You do realize you fall in that category as well, right?" Twilight replied, her tone flat. Rainbow Dash immediately covered Twilight's mouth with a hoof.

"Shhhh, don't blow my cover! I'm sorry, all right?" Twilight smirked as Rainbow Dash removed her hoof slowly to make sure Twilight didn't try to say anything more on the subject.

"Attention, may I have your attention please! Will the contestants please make their way to the starting line!" The announcer's voice boomed over the megaphone.

"Looks like it's time for the fun to begin!" Rainbow Dash said, excitedly stretching her wings. Cerulean turned to follow when Twilight stopped him. She briefly explained her dream, asking if he had any idea what it would mean, or what could cause the explosion. Cerulean sat in thought for a moment, then gave her a nod.

"I'm glad you mentioned something. My take off will likely be pretty violent, so I will ask to start a good distance away from anypony," he said, his face serious. Twilight asked what he meant, to which he mouthed the words "You'll see," and made his way towards the announcer to explain his request. The announcer agreed, and a separate starting line a good twenty feet from everypony was drawn. Rainbow Dash, already enthusiastically trotting in place at the starting line, called out to Cerulean as he passed.

"You ready to get smoked, Snowgleam?" she said, grinning widely and spreading her wings. Cerulean whispered something in her ear as he passed, leaving an indignant Rainbow Dash glaring after him. "I'm not an egghead," she muttered, scoring the ground with a hoof. Rarity, Spike, and Fluttershy called out support from the sidelines as passed by, and he acknowledged them with a nod. Cerulean made it to the starting position and closed his eyes, clearing his mind. The spell which he was about to attempt had only worked once, and drained an incredible amount of magic. The slightest distraction could be catastrophic, not just for him but for everypony nearby, as it mixed a spell he had crafted for flight with a spell made to create a shockwave.

Cerulean regulated his breathing, barely hearing the announcer explain the rules, which were simple to begin with; first one to town hall wins, no tricks or playing dirty. His entire body began to glow, radiating a brilliant blue light.

"3!" came to voice of the announcer. He focused the magic in his mind, tightening it. "2!" A drop of sweat ran down his muzzle, as the magic evenly distributed itself, converging into two foci just above his shoulders. "1!" He snapped his eyes open, completing the transformation. A cry of surprise and awe sounded from the crowd as enormous blue skeletal wings formed on his back in a shower of snow. He drew them full spread, waiting for the final mark. "Go!" With one massive flap of his wings, there was a concussive blast akin to thunder, and Cerulean was gone from sight. The crowd watched with gaping mouths, unaware of the snow that had sprayed in a forty foot radius of where Cerulean had been standing just a second before.

Rainbow Dash had been fast enough starting to escape the blast, but to her dismay she saw Cerulean leading her by a good amount, even given that he was flying at a forty five degree angle. She gritted her teeth and pushed harder, determined not to be dethroned by a newcomer, and a unicorn at that! She didn't know where those wings had come from, but she wasn't gonna just lay down and let him win. Cerulean, unbeknownst to her, had almost reached his limit, each flap of the mighty wings draining a little more feeling from his limbs. It was only two days ago that his body had nearly been emptied of magic entirely, and most of the magic he had was borrowed.

"If I can just... Get a little higher..." he said through gritted teeth, straining to keep his limbs from hanging loosely at his sides. "Closer... Closer!.." And then, with nearly no strength left, he gave one last flap, curling the wings to his side and dive bombing straight towards the finish line, barely visible from his height. The world began to rush by as he steadily picked up speed. A rainbow streak below was making a good effort catching up to him, but he allowed himself a weary smile at the distance she would have to close to win.

“Ah have t’ admit, what that unicorn’s doin’ with magic is impressive,” Applejack murmured, watching Cerulean soar toward where she and Pinkie Pie were waiting at the finish line.

“I know! I never expected Cerulean to be able to fly like that, and to beat Rainbow Dash too!”

“He ain’t won yet, Pinkie. Rainbow won’t let go o’ victory that easily.” A lavender flash behind her caused her to turn away momentarily as she nodded to Twilight, who had teleported to the city hall for a front row seat to the finish. “Twilight, your friend sure knows how t’ show off.”

“Applejack, why do you sound so... I don’t know, agitated? Is everything ok?”

“Ah just hope he knows what he’s doin’. Ah don’t... Pinkie, is that what I think it is?” Applejack inquired, pointing towards the mare’s tail which was quivering violently.

“Twitcha twitch, twitcha twitch!”

A searing pain lanced through Cerulean’s horn as his vision began to fade to black, having drained his magic reserves in a woeful miscalculation of his abilities. He tried to re-focus his magic but another wave of pain caused him to cry out, holding both hooves to his head. His wings shattered, leaving him hurtling headlong towards the ground below, his inner castigation being the final thoughts before losing consciousness. I really am an idiot, to think that I could pull something like this off so soon after that night... But, I just... I just wanted to prove myself, Twilight. But now, I’ll never have that chance.

Rainbow Dash chanced a glance at her opponent and watched in horror, her competitive spirit being overwritten by one overwhelming conclusion; that unicorn was going to kill himself. The speed he was pulling and the angle of his descent would make it impossible to stop in time unless he started slowing his dive in the next few seconds, even with wings that large. Rainbow Dash was debating what to she could do when she saw his wings burst, the sunlight refracting and shooting rainbows in all directions as the shards of ice caught the sunlight. Without hesitation, she put on a burst of speed, pushing to her limits in an attempt to get ahead of him. It was no good; even at the speed of sound, he had made it too far ahead to catch up.

Twilight had teleported to the finish line, eager to see who would win. As the last rainbows danced off the remnants of Cerulean's wings and faded from sight, an overwhelming, consuming fear gripped Twilight. She couldn't think of anything that could help; all her spells were being repelled by her terror. All the memories from the last two days flashed before her in a moment, and her mind went blank as she yelled out his name.

"Ceruleaaan!" Her magic started flowing wildly, coating her in a dancing lavender aura. Applejack was about to place a hoof on her shoulder to calm her down when she disappeared, her hoof falling through the air and dropping to her side. Applejack snapped her head back as her worst fears were confirmed; a tiny purple dot had joined the fast closing blue speck in the sky.

"That girl is gonna git herself killed!" Applejack whispered to herself, backing slowly. She looked at the other ponies gathered around who sat stunned. "C'mon y'all, clear out! They're headed this way! Pinkie Pie, where n' tarnation is yer trampoline?" Applejack turned to Pinkie Pie, who up to this point had been gaping open mouthed, not breathing. Still not breaking eye contact with the pair, she pulled out an oversized trampoline seemingly out of thin air, slamming it to the ground. "Pinkie, snap out o' it an’ help me aim this thing!" Applejack said, taking a side. Pinkie shook her head vigorously and grabbed the other side, together moving it towards the assumed point of impact.

Cerulean found himself falling, the raging blizzard whipping him violently. He clenched the blue flame to his chest as he saw the ground come into view below. A single tear ran down his face and accepted his fate as the world unraveled around him, the sky turning crimson. He felt an intense heat and opened his eyes to see his body wrapped in a purple inferno. Everything froze as a voice penetrated through his subconscious and into the nightmare.

"Cerulean, wake up!" Cerulean snapped his eyes open. He was hurtling at a terrifying speed towards the ground, wrapped in Twilight's arms as they fell headlong. Twilight looked up into his face in time to see him mouth the words "Thank you," before he closed his eyes. I can’t let this mare die, not after giving me life. I was foolish, I was desperate, and I could accept death as a punishment for that. But now, it’s not just me who is going to suffer.

"Twilight, please lend me your strength," he whispered, touching his horn to hers. Twilight squeezed tighter poured out as much magic as she could into his horn, covering them in a shimmering light that was constantly shifting between purple and blue. There was a blinding flash as they were encased in a sphere of ice, the continued flow of magic reinforcing it again and again. Cerulean held Twilight close, and for a moment, it seemed like everything was going to be all right. There was a deafening crash as they hit the ground, and every building in Ponyville trembled from the reverberations of the impact.