• Published 29th Sep 2013
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Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire - Nebula Star



Midnight Star was given a second chance to be happy without the horrors of her memories; but those memories were never truly gone. They are only the beggining of her struggles however, Equestria is about to face a new threat; The Frozen Empire

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Chapter 16: Spirits of Ice and Hatred

Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire
By Nebula Star

Part 3: Equestria at War
***
Chapter 16: Spirits of Ice and Hatred
***

Celestia looked out over the battlefield as the storm clouds drew ever closer. It wouldn't be long now. She and Luna stood side by side in full battle armor. Not the simple regalia they normally wore, nor was it the more decorative armor such as Luna had worn when she was Nightmare Moon. This was heavy plate armor, made for battle and intimidation.

They had sent an emissary with a guard into the blizzard in the hopes of discussing peace, but they had been attacked by windigos long before they'd reached the army of the Frozen Empire to negotiate. Not that Celestia had expected otherwise, but she had felt that they had to at least try.

The Pegasi were arrayed all around the princesses on the high ridge opposite the changelings. Celestia glanced across the pass to the other ridge and felt a shiver run down her spine. She was willing to give them a chance, but she definitely did not trust the changelings, least of all their queen. It was good that Midnight wished to be forgiving, just as she had been forgiven. But they had known her to be insane and she had been cleansed by the elements of harmony; two mitigating factors that Chrysalis did not have in her favor. Midnight did seem to think she had had good reason for what she'd done, but whatever those reasons were, Chrysalis wanted them kept secret.

Looking back toward the battlefield she saw the leading edge of the blizzard was just about to reach their lines. It was time to prepare their defense. Already a few snowflakes were drifting into the pass on an unnaturally cold breeze.

Lifting her head skywards she cast the imitation of the fire of friendship spell. As she had told Midnight, it wasn't as strong as the original, and would only burn for a day or two at most, but as far as appearances went, it was exactly the same. Signaled by her spell, those Unicorns that had managed to learn the spell cast their own. Soon nearly two dozen hearts of pink flame rose above the army spread evenly throughout the lines.

A cheer rose through the ranks at the display of magic, but it did little to lift Celestia's spirits. She had worked so hard to avoid another war, and she'd done well. Equestria hadn't seen this kind of battle in centuries. Even the battle with the changelings in Canterlot could hardly be called as such.

Well they started this war, she thought angrily. I suppose I'll just have to show them why the griffon empire still hasn't recovered from the war they started.

~~~

Luna was tense. There had only been one war which she had been involved in before she had fallen to Nightmare. She knew Celestia had fought in several wars during her thousand year banishment, but she had to wonder if her sister had ever seen a battle so mismatched. She knew all too well how helpless Pegasi and Earth Ponies could be before magic wielders.

Midnight's enchantments would hopefully make the difference. They truly were incredible, Luna had to admit. She wouldn't mind learning the technique herself when they had time, but that would have to wait.

She looked across the pass to the opposite ridge spotting Midnight and Chrysalis standing at the forefront much like her and Celestia. They appeared to be talking.

Truthfully she agreed with Midnight that the Changelings should be given a second chance if they were willing to take it. After sensing for herself the strength of the element of honesty in the Changeling queen, she had already been inclined to trust them. But then she'd seen something, a glimmer of regret that the mask that Chrysalis hid behind couldn't quite hide.

She'd become quite adept at seeing past such masks in the past fifteen years. Celestia hid behind masks as well. It had taken Luna almost a year to realize it, and a few years more to get her sister to drop the masks when they were alone.

Luna managed to smile as she remembered the night when she'd finally gotten through and Celestia had broken down; begging her for forgiveness. She had been stunned at the time to discover that deep down, Celestia blamed herself more than she blamed Luna for her becoming Nightmare Moon. Since then she'd assured Celestia often that there was nothing to forgive, it had been her choices that had created the nightmare and there was little Celestia could have done differently.

She had since realized that all rulers, and most nobles for that matter, wore masks for the public eye. Even she had learned to separate herself from that mask, and in private or with friends she was a different pony than what most of Equestria saw.

Chrysalis however, her entire way of life had depended on her masks for so long that she had learned many different masks that she could switch between at will. She survived by playing whatever part was needed at the time. For her mask to crack, even for a moment, was evidence of some strong emotions that she was struggling to hide. To Luna it was clear that Chrysalis truly regretted attacking Canterlot even if she did have good reasons for making that choice as she claimed.

A shadow passed over the ridge as the leading edge of the storm reached them. Even as it did however the clouds began to break up; the fires of friendship were working, dispelling the Windigo magic even as it reached them.

“Luna, you have command of the Pegasi, I will command our ground forces,” Celestia said suddenly.

Luna looked at her surprised. “Are you certain?”

She nodded. “Most of this battle will be fought on the ground, so that is where I should be.”

Luna nodded. “Very well then.”

Celestia gave her one last nod then leaped off the ledge gliding down to the command center where most the unicorn and earth pony captains were gathered.

Luna looked up into the storm again. Only the very edge had reached them so far, but when the main bulk of the storm reached their defenses and began to break up, she was certain the Frozen Empire would try to catch them off-guard and attack before their army was completely revealed. They would have to be ready.

“Captains!” She called turning back toward them to begin giving them their orders. She may not be a war strategist, but the fact that they were still traveling in the midst of a blizzard made it clear to her that the Frozen Empire wanted the element of surprise. Most of the battle may indeed be fought on the ground, but Luna had a feeling that the first attack would come from the air.

~~~

“Well I was getting tired of the heat,” Lightning commented from where she was hovering alongside Rainbow with the rest of the Wonderbolts spread out to either side of them. They were positioned a little above and behind the rest of the pegasi. Being by far the swiftest pegasi of the guard, they had been tasked with assisting the rest of the lines wherever they were needed. The storm clouds were continuing to break up as they reached the Equestrian lines, but even so an icy wind was blowing and snowflakes drifted down around them.

“Yeah, I think we'll be glad for the colder temperature once the fighting starts,” Rainbow told her, though she couldn't honestly say she was enjoying having her wingtips half frozen. “At least the Princess's spell is working. Otherwise we'd be trying to fight in that crazy blizzard.”

“That would not have ended well,” Lightning agreed. “So Princess Luna thinks that the windigos will attack first?”

Rainbow nodded. “She thinks they'll send in the windigos for a surprise attack to soften us up before the rest of the army arrives.”

“I guess we'll just have to show them we're not that soft.”

“Yeah. We'll teach them not to mess with Equestria,” Rainbow agreed. She just hoped they could actually hurt the windigos with physical weapons. The pegasi didn't have anything else. If their weapons proved ineffective it would likely be up to the changelings to hold back the windigos since they at least had magic, even if their magic wasn't very strong.

Rainbow looked over at the changeling's who had formed lines on the other side of the pass and shivered slightly, not from the cold. Rainbow wasn't quite sure what had possessed Midnight to ally with the changelings. Even now she was over on the ridge standing alongside the changeling queen. True Midnight could likely take on Chrysalis and a good portion of the changeling army by herself, but Rainbow was still worried that Midnight was putting her trust in the wrong places.

It had been decided that it would be for the best if the changelings weren't mixed in with the rest of the forces as being in close proximity would likely be distracting for many of the Equestrian forces. As a result they were responsible for their side of the pass and the pegasi for the other. At the same time however, the changelings could assist anywhere if Midnight or the princesses deemed it necessary. Hopefully they wouldn't have to resort to that; Rainbow wasn't sure if she could stand fighting alongside changelings.

“Hey, captain?”

Rainbow looked over at Lightning hovering in formation next to her. “Yeah?”

“I never really thanked you...” Lightning said in a surprisingly somber tone for her.

“What for?” Rainbow asked curiously.

“For all you've done for me, for getting me a second chance.”

Rainbow smiled. “Well, to be honest, Spitfire didn't take much convincing. She was already considering giving you a second chance. I think she kind of blamed herself for not paying enough attention and not telling you to reign it back a bit.”

She shrugged. “Even so, you stood up for me even after I put your friends in danger. Because of that I was able to succeed at my dream, so thanks.”

Rainbow flitted over to her and gave her a friendly tap on the shoulder. “Hey, I was glad to do it, so don't get all sentimental on me.”

Lightning smiled. “Not really like me, huh...”

Rainbow shrugged. “Well, we're not exactly in our element here.”

“Yeah,” She agreed then grinned. “But we'll teach them not to mess with Equestria, right, Captain?”

“You got that right!”

~~~

Wind saw Sky glance down at the lower ridge out of the corner of his eye for the seventh time since the first ranks of Pegasi had taken up positions. Being civilians, they were still on the ridge awaiting the battle. He smiled slightly at the worried look on Sky's face as she looked one more time down toward the lower ridge where the siege weapons were set up. It was easy enough for him to guess what, or rather who she was looking at.

“You know, Sky, you're not fooling anypony but yourself,” he told her, still smiling.

She looked at him sharply. “What do you mean?”

“Everypony knows how you feel about Copper, you might as well admit it.”

“I don't... I, I don't like... He's not...” She stammered. “I don't like him!”

He grinned. “I never said you did like him, I just said everypony knows how you feel about him.”

She blushed furiously. “I...” She started only to be cut off when her brother put his wing around her.

“It's okay Sky. To tell you the truth, we've all been hoping you'd realize it yourself, but as your brother, I'm more than willing to help you out.”

“Realize what?” She demanded, her eyes narrowing.

“That you're crazy about him,” Wind told her giving her a squeeze. “You're the only one that doesn't seem to see it.”

“I'm not!” She exclaimed though she didn't sound entirely sure.

“See, you're the only one who doesn't realize it,” He told her. “But if you really don't care about him, then why do you keep looking down at him every couple seconds. I can see the worry in your eyes.”

“Well... well he's still a friend. Just a friend...” She said weakly.

He gave her a look as if to say 'do you really believe that?' “Sky, the sooner you admit to yourself how crazy you are about him, the happier you'll be. You already can't stop thinking about him.”

“But... I...” She trailed off and then looked down at the lower ridge again, her eyes quickly locating Copper and Wind saw it was as if she was seeing him for the first time. “I'm such a foolish filly.”

He laughed. “You've got that right. He's crazy about you too you know.”

“He is?”

Wind laughed. “Yeah, he's just been waiting for you to come around. When this is all over, you should tell him how you feel.”

She looked down at him one more time. “I hope that I'll be able to...”

“Hey, we're going to be in more danger than he will.”

“Still.” She sighed and looked up at the blizzard that was continuing to break up as it reached the equestrian lines. “I hope we all get through this.”

Wind nodded in agreement. “So do I.”

~~~

Midnight paced impatiently along the ridge, glaring at the storm cloud as she did.

“You should learn patience, Midnight Star.” Chrysalis said standing calmly a few paces behind her. “This is a war, you shouldn't be so eager for it to begin.”

Midnight sighed. “I've never had to wait for a battle to start before. I was always the one that started it...”

“Well they're getting close now, so it won't be too much longer.”

Midnight looked at her sharply. “You can sense them?”

She nodded. “The aura of their hatred is easily detected even if their magic is not.”

“Why didn't you say something!?”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “I didn't need to,” she said and gestured toward the pegasi already in defensive positions over the canyon opposite her own changelings. “The princesses have already prepared their defense.”

“Well, can you tell how long it will be?”

“Not long,” she said looking toward the storm. “I think the windigos may be gathering. They'll probably be the first to attack.

“Do you think you could give us a warning when they're about to attack?” Midnight asked.

She thought about it a moment. “Probably. I won't make any promises, but if I can I will.”

Midnight nodded, opening her wings. “That's better than nothing. Let me tell the Princesses. When you think they're about to attack, use a basic flare spell to signal.”

“Alright.”

Midnight leaped off of the ridge then, taking wing and quickly crossing the canyon to where Luna stood. She'd seen Celestia join the ground forces some time before.

“Midnight, why have you abandoned your post?” Luna asked as Midnight landed.

“Chrysalis thinks she might be able to sense when they're about to attack,” Midnight explained. “If she does, she's going to send up a flare in warning.”

“I see, very well then, we will watch for it.”

“She said no promises though, so keep everypony alert.”

Luna nodded. “Of course.”

“In any case, it's going to be soon, she thinks the windigos are gathering.”

“Yes, I suspect they will be first,” Luna said looking toward the storm. “Warn Celestia, then return to your post, General Midnight.”

Midnight gave her a quick salute and quickly dove off the ledge to deliver the warning to Celestia.

~~~

The warning barely came before the attack. Chrysalis's flare went up, and then it was like the storm cloud exploded as hundreds of ghostly equine forms erupted from its depths. The pegasi had their weapons drawn as they prepared to fight, while the Changelings began casting their spells immediately.

Rainbow and the Wonderbolts watched from their position as the windigos reached the first ranks of the pegasi defenders. Almost immediately it became clear that the pegasi were in trouble. The windigos tore through the lines; several pegasi screamed in pain, a few began to plummet toward the ground below. Some were caught by their wingponies, but some weren't so lucky.

Rainbow saw one part of the line failing and imediately responded, leading the Wonderbolts to reinforce the line, drawing her sword as she did. Swift as they were, they managed to catch the windigos off guard. Half the team went strait in for the attack, while the other half tried to defend those who had already been injured.

Picking one of the spirit beast out of the group, Rainbow dove in for the attack, Lightning right by her side. They struck together, their swords slashing through either side of the windigo.

The windigo howled in pain as they continued past. Rainbow glanced over her shoulder with a smirk to see the damage they'd done. Her smirk turned to wide eyed horror as she saw the windigos ghostly flesh flow back together as if it hadn't been nearly sliced in half.

Looking around, she saw the same thing repeating again and again. The pegasi's weapons weren't causing any lasting damage.

“Well that's not good...” Lightning said having seen as well.

“Let's make another pass, aim for the necks this time!” Rainbow shouted to the other wonderbolts as they swept back around, coming at the windigos from below. Rainbow and Lightning struck together again, their swords nearly crossed as they passed through the windigos neck. They both heard the howl of pain and Rainbow looked back to see if it had worked.

The windigos neck was practically severed, the wounds appearing almost like disturbed smoke. Then as Rainbow watched the wounds flowed back together again and solidified, completely healed.

“Our weapons aren't doing anything to them! It's like they don't even feal it!” Lightning exclaimed.

Rainbow shook her head in disbelief. “No, they feel it. It's just not leaving any lasting damage!”

“Either way we're bucked!”

As if to emphasize Lightning's exclamation, a group of Windigos suddenly swept up toward them.

“We've got incoming!” Rainbow shouted, turning back toward the main bulk of the pegasi; the rest of the Wonderbolts following. Then there was a flash of green light from the side and suddenly a dozen changeling were there, directly in their path, their horns glowing with magic.

~~~

“The pegasi's weapons aren't causing any lasting damage,” Chrysalis told Midnight as they watched from the ridge.

“I was afraid of that.” Even as she watched two more pegasi fell injured. Luckily they were caught by magic before they crashed into the lines below. “What about your changelings?”

“Certain spells seem to be more effective. They don't seem to like our love fueled magic.”

“Do you think your changelings could hold against the windigos?”

She shook her head. “Not by ourselves. Magic seems more effective, but my changelings are still struggling to take them down. They've gotten three or four windigos to retreat, that's all.”

Midnight watched a moment more trying desperately to think of something that could work against the spirit beasts. Then she looked down at the fires of friendship that the unicorns had cast. The fire of friendship spell was able to drive them away in ancient times. They live off of hate, and positive emotions like love and friendship seem to be all that really hurts them. Wish I knew a spell that could turn emotions into a weapon.

Suddenly her eyes widened. She did know a spell! Sombra's spell to create crystals of fear and hatred. Fear and hatred would only strengthen the Windigos, but if they could be condensed into a crystal form, then couldn't the same be done with other emotions? Midnight didn't hesitate.

Holding up a hoof, she began to cast the spell. As she did she concentrated on it, really paying attention to the casting and drawing on the love and hope emanating from the equestrian forces instead of the fear and hatred she'd always used in the past. Before long a crystal formed in her hoof. She looked down at it, seeing the bright translucent gem that seemed to shimmer with a rainbow of colors as it caught the light. Midnight smiled. She could feel the love and hope within the crystal.

Satisfied it would work she cast the spell again, this time drawing in considerably more of the positive emotions and focusing on shaping the crystal into a simple sword. When she was done she levitated the sword to her side and turned to the changeling queen.

“Chrysalis, I think I have something that could help the pegasi, but I need to make sure. Could your changelings hold them for a few minutes?”

Chrysalis eyed the crystal sword at Midnight's side curiously. “We could hold them for a time but not forever. Don't take long.”

Midnight nodded. “Send some changelings to take over the pegasi lines then, I'll make this as quick as I can.” With that she leaped off of the ridge once more, taking flight and quickly climbing toward the battle lines, bringing her new sword forward to a ready position as she did.

Occupied as they were with the changelings on this side of the canyon, the windigos didn't see Midnight coming. She struck the first she passed across its exposed belly. She felt hardly any resistance on the sword and for an instant she worried that it wasn't any more effective than the steel weapons. Then the windigo howled.

It was a howl that echoed all through the canyon and caused nearly everypony to stop and look as the windigo exploded into a cloud of mist and quickly retreat back toward the storm. Midnight grinned to herself. He didn't like that! She thought then dove toward another Windigo. It saw her coming but wasn't able to escape. Her sword sliced through it's side and like the first, it howled in excruciating pain as its body exploded into a misty cloud, retreating toward the storm as the other one had.

Perfect! Midnight thought with a satisfied grin and quickly made her way to the pegasi lines. Already changelings were taking up positions to hold the lines. “Pegasi of Equestria, fall back to the ridge!” She shouted as she flew along just behind the lines. “Fall back to the ridge!”

Many of the pegasi looked conflicted at first; seeming unwilling to leave their defense to the changelings. But then Rainbow Dash led the Wonderbolts to follow Midnight down to the ridge.

“I trust you have a reason for calling off the pegasi?” Luna asked, clearly wanting an explanation. “Do the changelings think they can fight off the windigos on their own?”

Midnight shook her head as she heard the pegasi landing nearby. “No, they're just holding them for a moment so I can rearm the pegasi. The physical weapons aren't working.”

“I had noticed, unfortunately they're staying to high to be in range of our unicorns,” Luna told her. “The pegasi are our only defense against them.”

“I know, that's why I'm going to make them weapons that will work,” Midnight said then turned toward the pegasi that had all landed by then. Setting her sword in the ground so she could focus. Midnight cast her spell again but on a much larger scale, focusing to give the crystals the shapes she desired. The ground in front of her suddenly erupted with dozens of shimmering crystal swords and spears. They were simple; the swords little more than long flat crystals with sharpened edges, and the spears just a long crystal with a sharpened triangle at the tip, but they would do.

Breathing deeply from the strain of creating so many crystal weapons at once, Midnight gestured toward them. “Use these, they will be more effective against the windigos.”

Rainbow was the first to draw one of the swords with her levitation headband. “What are these crystals made of?” Midnight knew that she was one of the few there that had seen her create crystals of fear and hatred on the night she'd tried to take over Equestria. But while Rainbow seemed to recognize the spell, she could tell that there was something different about these crystals.

Midnight grinned. “They're crystallized love and hope. But they're pure pain to the windigos.”

Rainbow grinned then as well. “Sounds good to me,” She said and gestured for her Wonderbolts to arm themselves.

“Everypony, grab a weapon,” Midnight called to the rest of the pegasi. “Keep your normal weapons with you though; I don't know how well these will hold up under normal fighting conditions.”

“Gotcha,” Rainbow said with a nod, then she and her Wonderbolts took to the air again to get out of the way while the rest of the pegasi armed themselves with the crystal weapons. Midnight waited to make sure she'd made enough.

Once she was certain all the pegasi currently fighting were armed with crystallized love, she looked up at the waiting pegasi.

“Now, reform the lines and relieve the changelings!” She shouted. Almost as one the pegasi saluted then flew to rejoin the fighting above.

Midnight turned to Luna then. “Sorry to interfere.”

She waved her hoof in a dismissive gesture. “You needn't worry, Midnight. I didn't object to leaving you in place as general for a reason.”

Midnight smile in thanks. “Here...” She said and cast her spell once more, creating two crystal swords just in front of Luna. “Just in case any windigos get through; I know you prefer fighting with dual blades.”

Luna smiled and nodded. “Hopefully I won't need them.”

“Hopefully,” Midnight agreed with a nod, then gave her a quick salute before taking off and heading back across the canyon to where Chrysalis waited.

“You're solution seems to be working,” she said as Midnight landed, gesturing to where the pegasi had rejoined the battle. Already several windigos had been wounded and forced to retreat with unearthly howls of pain.

Midnight looked up at the battle and smiled as it seemed to be going far more in their favor.

“What are those weapons made of?” Chrysalis asked. “They're far more effective than even my changelings' magic.”

“They're crystallized love and hope,” Midnight told her still watching the battle.

“You can crystallize emotions!?”

“It's a spell I actually learned from Sombra...”

“Sombra!?” Chrysalis exclaimed.

Midnight nodded. “Yes. His spell used fear and hatred. I just modified it to use love and hope.”

“But when did you meet Sombra? You didn't appear until after his defeat.”

“He showed up again with the crystal empire in my world as well,” Midnight told her and smiled. “He actually wanted me to be his submissive queen...”

Chrysalis looked at her a moment. “I take it you didn't take kindly to that.”

Midnight smirked, that was one stallion she felt no guilt in killing. “I showed him how 'submissive' I was.”

Chrysalis shook her head and decided to get back to the original topic. “But those crystal weapons, can you make more?”

Midnight nodded and looked over at her. “Are you changelings trained with physical weapons?”

“Of course.”

“Alright, might as well let them save their magic then,” Midnight said. As she had done for the pegasi, she cast the spell again, creating dozens of crystal weapons at once, both simple swords and spears. When she was done she looked up breathing deeply again. “Call down a few at a time to arm themselves.”

Chrysalis nodded then looked up toward where her changelings were contending with the windigos. Soon a small group broke off from the rest. Midnight glanced at Chrysalis wondering when and how she'd given them orders, but decided she'd worry about it later; for now she needed to focus on the battle.

~~~

Rainbow couldn't help but grin in satisfaction as her crystal sword passed through another windigo, causing it to howl in agony as she sped past into the sky. Lightning soon joined her having dispatched another windigo herself. It only took a single slash with the crystal weapons to send the spirits of ice and hatred running.

“Ready for another pass?” Rainbow asked as she scanned the battle below. Even some of the changelings were wielding the crystal weapons, she saw from the high altitude.

“You bet I am!” Lightning shouted over the cold wind. “Let's keep moving so my wings don't freeze!”

The weather had turned colder and snow was continuing to drift down past them as the battle continued. Most of the pegasi of the guard were keeping the windigos occupied while the wonderbolts and a few other more agile pegasi were picking them off with swift sudden strikes both from above and below. It was working well, and the windigos numbers were steadily decreasing.

It was clear that the windigos had not expected such resistance; they likely hadn't believe the pegasi could harm them. Rainbow grinned bringing her sword around to a ready position as the rest of the wonderbolts joined them in formation, then signaled another strike.

They all knew what to do. They picked their targets, keeping track of each other as well so they wouldn't cross paths. Then, they would strike.

Rainbow picked out a small group of windigos that were charging the pegasi lines below. She aimed for the leader and Lightning for the first windigo to the right. Wind rushed past as they folded their wings back, letting gravity accelerate them. They brought their swords forward ready to strike. Then the lead windigo looked up.

Rainbow knew it saw them but she also knew it was too late for the windigo. It opened its mouth and let out a terrifying whinny like nothing Rainbow had ever heard and a wave of white mist erupted from its throat. Rainbow snapped her wings open attempting to evade the wave but wasn't able to avoid it completely. The strange mist washed over her right wing and she let out a yelp as her wing was enveloped in such cold that it was painful. Then that wing stopped working.

The windigo was close. With a snarl, Rainbow lashed out with her crystal sword, taking instant revenge on the windigo as the blade sliced through its side. Then she continued to fall.

Icy pain still filling her wing, Rainbow looked to see what the mist had done to her. It wasn't good. The wing seemed intact, but the entire thing was encased in a shell of ice and was quickly going numb from the cold. She was still falling. The ground seemed awfully close all the sudden.

Spiraling out of control she tried desperately to flex her wing, to break it free of the ice. For a moment she considered using her sword, but if she were to hit too hard, the weapon could easily do her more harm than good. She didn't have much choice though, she'd have to use the flat of the blade and hope she didn't hurt herself.

Before she could however, Lightning was suddenly at her side. Wrapping one foreleg around Rainbow's shoulders to steady her, she gave the ice three quick hits with her other fore-hoof. The ice shattered and Rainbow flexed her wing quickly, shaking off the rest. Then she snapped her wings open again, pulling out of the dive only a few seconds from slamming into the ground.

“Thanks, Lightning,” Rainbow said, sincerely relieved as they fell back to regroup with the rest of the Wonderbolts.

“You alright captain!?” One of them called as they fell into formation.

“My wing is feels like a popsicle and is probably bruised, but otherwise I'm fine. They seem to be catching on though, so watch yourselves. Don't get hit by their frost breath. Stay alert and stay close to your wing-ponies,” Rainbow told them as they circled around for another pass. “We still have them outclassed in speed and agility, but don't get careless.”

~~~

Midnight watched, her wings twitching, as the battle against the windigos continued. So far there had been no sign of the frozen empire unicorns and Midnight was beginning to worry that they had something big planned. Though the storm was breaking up as it reached the equestrian lines, the open flat-lands at the base of the pass were still completely enshrouded in heavy snowfall.

It was growing colder.

Midnight itched to join the battle, to fight. She'd seen several pegasi fall and she wanted nothing more than to punish the windigos for hurting them. She didn't want to see more ponies die, she'd seen too many die in her younger years. But she knew she had responsibilities; though Celestia and Luna were leading the battle, they were counting on her to help coordinate with the changelings.

“They're retreating!” Chrysalis announced suddenly and Midnight looked up to see that indeed, the windigos had broken off their attack against the pegasi and were fleeing back into the storm. A cheer erupted through the pegasi as they watched the spirit beasts disappear back into the blizzard.

Midnight didn't join the cheer. She'd was listening to something else. A sound coming from the depths of the storm. There was something there. It was faint, but definitely there. The sound of thousands of marching hooves.

Midnight watched as the sound grew louder. Soon the rest of the army fell silent as they heard the sound as well. Then she saw them, a faint line of shadows in the edge of the storm stretching from one side of the flat-lands to the other.

“Now the real battle begins.” Chrysalis said softly.

Author's Note:

So here it is finally, sorry about the long delay.

Good news is; all remaining chapters are already finished in first draft form. I will be making a pass to touch up the chapters before posting each one. But as that won't take me long at all, I will be posting chapters at fairly regular intervals from here on out.

And for those that have also been reading my side story After Midnight; there's a little surprise in the next chapter.