• 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 2: The Quartet

Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire
By Nebula Star

Part 1: Shadows of the Past
***
Chapter 2: The Quartet
***

The morning's sunrise heralded another beautiful day in Ponyville and soon the town was alive with activity. All around ponies were going about with their usual daily errands or working in their professions.

The town had grown a great deal in the eleven years since Midnight had come to live there, partially thanks to Twilight insisting on continuing to live in the library. Celestia had assigned her a personal guard, despite Twilight's objections that she didn't need them, and they as well as their families, had all come to live in the small town. The opening of the Ponyville branch of Celestia's school for gifted unicorns under Twilight's direction was, of course, also a contributing factor in the town's expansion.

In all, Ponyville had nearly doubled in size since Midnight was a filly. The market had expanded from just a few stalls, to two entire blocks of the main road. Many of the roads had been extended, and some of the newer homes were nearly all the way out to Sweet Apple Acres and the other farms around the town.

Midnight hardly noticed her surroundings though; she was lost in her thoughts as she walked down the market road.

What were the nightmares about? Why was there always so much suffering and why was she always the one causing it? She'd never want to cause anypony to suffer. That was really what frightened her so much about the nightmares: that she was the one causing the suffering.

With the fluttering of two pairs of wings, a couple of pegasi landed, one to either side of Midnight.

“What's got you moping about?” Wind Blade asked stepping close on her right side.

“Something wrong Midnight?” Sky Slice asked from her left.

Midnight smiled glancing at both of them. “No, I was just thinking,” she told them. Her two oldest friends, she'd known Wind and Sky since her first week of school in Ponyville. Twins, they both had icy blue coats, silver manes and tails and both were very active and athletic, but that was really the extent of their similarities.

Wind Blade was all about speed. In a straight shot he was nearly unbeatable, comparable even to Rainbow Dash. He was the second pony in history to perform a sonic rainboom. However he lacked any real agility and in any race that wasn't a straight shot, he often didn't even place in the top three.

Honest and Loyal, he was unbeatable as a friend. When he wasn't flying he spent most of his time with Midnight and the others.

His sister Sky Slice, on the other hoof was unmatched in her grace and agility and only slightly above average in speed. Rainbow Dash had often joked that if the twins were one pony with Sky's agility and Wind's speed, they might be able to compete with her.

Kind as could be, Sky always enjoyed making others happy and was always willing to help cheer somepony up.

“So what are you two up to?” Midnight asked pushing her thoughts aside.

Wind shrugged. “Just getting in a morning flight. We going out to the falls today?”

“Yeah, maybe you could get that spell to work,” Sky said smiling then gave her a wink. “I'm really looking forward to being the first pegasus in history to use my magic.”

Midnight laughed. “Well technically you already use it, just not consciously; and besides, I already got the spell to use your magic.”

“But you were still controlling it,” She objected. “That doesn't count. Come on, Midnight, you're so close I know you'll get it. So lets get out there and get to work!”

“Alright,” Midnight told her grinning. “I still don't know how to fix the spell, but maybe I can figure it out. Is Copper going to meet us?”

Sky snorted. “What does it matter?”

“He said he'd meet us out there later,” Wind said rolling his eyes at his sister. “He's helping out at the school this morning.”

~~~

'The falls' was their own name for the small secluded clearing they'd found deep in the Everfree forest. The waterfall was of course the most noticeable feature. It wasn't large, just a small stream pouring into an equally small pool at the base of a cliff barely twenty feet high. It was a small clearing, barely large enough to create a hole in the forest canopy, but it was beautiful all the same.

They'd discovered it on one of their many ventures into the forest years before and it had become a favorite retreat for them. They had often come here over the years when they just wanted to relax and talk, or even work on whatever projects they had going at the time, if they were projects that could be moved anyway.

That was of course what they'd been doing for the past few weeks. Or rather Midnight had been working on her spell while Sky tested each variation. Most the time Copper also had some project he was working on as well, and Wind would just relax or get some exercise flying around above the forest.

Today he was just relaxing and watching as Sky tested the enchantment spell each time Midnight tried something new. So far she'd had no luck.

They had five simple necklaces that Midnight would enchant. Sky would then test the enchantment and the ones that worked best they would keep, while the rest Midnight would remove the enchantment and try again. So far though the best they'd gotten was like she'd told Twilight that morning. The spell drew magic from Sky, but it was still Midnight in control.

Midnight sighed as she removed another failed enchantment. “I just don't get it. The spell is drawing its magic from you, so why am I still in control?”

Sky shrugged. “Can't help you there, it's not like I know anything about magic.”

“Yeah... I know.” She took a deep breath. “Alright, let me try again.” She'd tried nearly a dozen variations of the spell already, but gotten no closer to getting it to work. There were nearly infinite possibilities with any spell though. The trick was finding the variation that behaved how you wanted it to.

Trying another variation of the spell she bound the magic into the necklace in front of her. It took a few moments, but before long she felt the last of the magic sink into the metal of the necklace. Finished, she levitated it up to Sky. “Alright, lets see if that works.” Midnight said though she really didn't have much hope.

Sky took the necklace and carefully put it on. Immediately the spell activated, a magical glow surrounding the necklace that was similar to the glow that surrounded a Unicorn's horn when they cast a spell. It wasn't the deep blue-purple color of Midnight's magic however, instead it was an icy blue. The spell was at least drawing its magic from Sky. Then a rock flew across the pond thrown by the levitation spell.

Midnight looked at Sky surprised. “Did you do that?”

Her eyes wide she shook her head even as a small fallen branch was launched into the air.

“You're not controlling it?” Midnight asked and then had to duck as another rock flew straight toward her head.

“No!” Sky shouted looking worried.

“Well I'm not!”

Sky's eyes widened. “Then who is!?” Another rock was thrown out into the forest.

Then Midnight jumped to the side as another branch flew through the air where she'd been. If neither she nor Sky were in control of the spell... She let out a yelp as she was lifted several feet into the air by the haywire spell. After flipping head over hooves twice she hit the ground hard, knocking the air from her lungs.

Dazed, she just laid there a moment, watching as Sky looked around in fear. Rocks and branches were flying everywhere. She caught a glimpse of Wind where he'd been relaxing near the pool, laughing as he watched the spectacle. “Sky, take it off!” She gasped finally catching her breath. “Nopony's in control of it; take it off!”

Sky finally snapped out of her panic and snatched the Necklace off, throwing it aside.

One last rock flew through the air toward the path and then everything was calm. Midnight got back to her hooves and looked over at Sky. She was looking at the Necklace breathing deeply, then she looked over at Midnight and they both grinned, then Sky began to laugh and soon both of them were laughing at the absurdity of the incident.

“I don't think almost getting my head taken off by a flying rock is really something to laugh about,” a new voice said making them both turn toward the path as Copper Wire entered the clearing.

An earth pony, Copper had a tan coat and red-brown mane and tail, both of which were fairly common. What he wore was not. Copper Wire was never without his tools, many of which were his own design. He always had a few of his own inventions on him, devices he'd made for his own convenience. Several of his tools were on a special mount around his right foreleg and could easily be moved forward for use. On his head he wore a magnifier with several lenses by his right eye though they were all up out of the way at the moment.

“Sorry about that, Copper;” Midnight said still laughing. “It was an accident.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What happened?”

“Well... I succeeded in making the enchantment so that I wasn't in control of the spell anymore...” she explained, gesturing to the necklace. “The only problem was Sky wasn't in control either.”

He glanced at the necklace. “Then who was?”

“Nopony,” Midnight answered simply, then shrugged, "Or maybe one of our subconscious was. Either way, the spell just started casting at random.”

He snorted. “That must have been fun.”

“Tell me about it. I got to go for a short flight.” Midnight laughed.

“Well that's progress at least; now you just have to figure out to give Sky control, and not subconsciously,” Copper said with a shrug, “I think I'll go over there to work though, while you do that,” he said gesturing to where Wind was still lying grinning.

“Probably a good idea,” Midnight agreed.

“You be careful, Sky,” Copper said with a smile as he walked past her.

She just huffed and looked away. Midnight almost grinned at her reaction.

“Well let's try again. But I think you better be ready to take the necklace off this time if anything starts flying around,” Midnight said to Sky and then took one of the other necklaces and removed the previous enchantment.

After several more tries she still hadn't succeeded in making it work. Sky had been ready each time though and took the necklace off again as soon as the first rock or branch was thrown through the air. Even so Midnight did gain a bruise on her left shoulder.

Copper was working on some device he'd brought with him, but most the time he and Wind watched when Sky was testing another spell; partially in case they had to dodge.

Finally though Midnight was just about ready to give up for the day. She wasn't getting anywhere. It was progress that she was no longer controlling the spell, but it still wasn't enough.

She sighed. “I can't figure it out,” she said kicking the latest failure away, then walked over to Wind and Copper, joining them by the pool. Sky soon joined them as well.

Copper looked up from his own project. “Can't get it to work still?”

“No, I still cant give Sky control of the spell,” Midnight told him frustrated.

“It's fun to watch though,” Wind said grinning.

Midnight grinned despite herself. “It's more fun if you're closer.”

“Oh no, I'm perfectly fine watching from here thanks.”

“You giving up for today then?” Copper asked and Midnight nodded. “I was thinking. If the problem us just giving the wearer control of the spell, then why don't you try it with a spell that doesn't need anypony controlling it?”

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

He shrugged. “How about a spell that does something specific and is activated by a gesture or something like that.”

“What kind of spell though? To do what?”

Sky's eyes lit up. “Oh, what if it just made a barrier spell like you use to block the rain but small ones just in front of my eyes, like magic goggles.”

Midnight thought about it a moment. It wouldn't be hard to make such a spell, and if she made it so it were triggered by a gesture like Copper suggested, then it wouldn't need anypony controlling it. “I guess we could try it. But what do you want to activate and deactivate the spell?”

“How 'bout when I open and close my wings?” She suggested, demonstrating as she did.

Midnight nodded and levitated one of the necklaces over to them. “Alright, let's see how this works.” She removed the old enchantment from the necklace, then began trying to devise the new spell. The barrier spell was easy enough, and making the spell triggered by a gesture was simple as well. The tricky part was making sure the mini barriers stayed in position in front of the wearer's eyes.

She was no stranger to complicated spells though and it wasn't long before she had devised a spell she was fairly certain would work. Her horn glowed and she cast the enchantment on the necklace. “Alright, try it.” She said levitating it to Sky.

Sky stood and put the necklace on. Nothing happened, but that was exactly as it should be. “Okay, here goes.” She opened her wings.

A blue glow surrounded the necklace and there was a shimmer in front of Sky's eyes as the barriers formed, but then there was nothing. Sky reached her wings forward and brought them up in front of her eyes. Her feathers bent slightly as they touched the invisible barriers there. “I think it worked.” She said grinning. “Let me try them out.”

Midnight smiled. “Go ahead.”

Sky took off without another moment's hesitation, clearing the treetops in a few beats of her wings; then she began to sky-dance. That was the best way to describe Sky Slice when she flew. They all watched admiring her grace, none more so than Copper who couldn't take his eyes off of her. Finally though she dove back down through the trees and landed effortlessly.

“They work perfectly!” She said grinning as she folded her wings. There was another shimmer in front of her eyes and the glow around the necklace faded as the spell deactivated.

“Great!” Midnight said grinning. “I still want to figure out how to give the wearer control of a spell, but this could definitely be useful!”

“I can think of a few ways to use spells like that,” Copper agreed thoughtfully. “Even earth ponies could use a goggle spell like that one for safety goggles. 'Course, you'd have to make something else trigger the spell, like a key word or phrase, something like that.”

Midnight's grin broadened. She could think of several other spells that would work herself. Even if she never got the spell to work so the pony wearing it could actively control the spell, her experiments would not be fruitless.

They spent the next hour coming up with ideas for enchantments. Several Midnight tested and each one worked perfectly. A couple, including the goggles, they decided to keep. Sky didn't even want to take the goggle making necklace off, and Midnight had enchanted Copper's magnifier with a directed light spell he could activate simply by saying 'light.'

Finally though it was getting late in the afternoon and they headed back to Ponyville together, continuing to talk about new ideas on the way.

“You don't mind if I keep this one, do you?” Sky asked gesturing to the necklace she was still wearing. The necklace itself had been Midnight's.

“Of course not,” Midnight assured her smiling. “It was your idea after all.”

She smiled in thanks.

“You should keep it, that way you never have to hide your pretty eyes.” Coppers said smiling.

Sky looked at him sharply, her eyes narrowing. “And what's that suppose to mean!?”

Copper seemed taken back that she had taken his compliment as sarcasm. “Nothing!” He exclaimed, but it was too late. With a huff, Sky took off, leaving them all behind as she headed home.

Copper stared after her a few moments more then sighed. “Well, I'd better get home too,” he said and with a wave turned down the road that led to his home.

“Later, Copper!” Midnight called after him as she and Wind waved. Then they continued together walking through the town toward Midnight's home on the far side.

“I wish those two would just admit their love for each other and get it over with.” Midnight commented when Copper was out of sight.

They both knew well that Sky had had a crush on Copper for years, though she had always denied it. Things had become awkward for her though when Copper had started to return her feelings. To everypony around them it was clear that they were in love, but no matter what, Sky refused to admit it; even to herself. Instead she'd started taking offense at every little thing Copper said or did. It was as if she were trying to convince herself that she didn't love him.

Wind laughed. “It would make life easier. At least you don't live with one of them.”

“Sky go on another rant about all Copper's supposed flaws?” Midnight asked giggling.

“Two actually,” he answered. “One was over an hour long.”

“An hour? She must be getting creative.”

“Nah, she just kept repeating herself in different ways.”

Midnight shook her head smiling. “Perhaps we should just tell Copper for her.”

“Oh he knows,” Wind said grinning. “He's being patient though and waiting for Sky to realize it herself.”

She smiled. “He's always been a smart stallion. I just hope Sky comes around before he loses patience with her. They would make a good couple.”

“Yeah they would,” Wind agreed smiling as well.

Midnight looked over at him and grinned. “Isn't the brother supposed to be overly protective of his sister?”

He laughed. “Oh I am, Copper is one of the very very few I would accept for Sky.”

“Oh, okay; just making sure,” she said grinning. Then they walked a few moments in silence.

They were passing by the Ponyville branch of Celestia's school for gifted unicorns and Midnight couldn't help but look over at the familiar campus and remember all the time she'd spent in those halls. Though it wasn't in a major city, the branch boasted nearly a third of the total students accepted to Celestia's school. Many of the students from other cities and towns chose to attend at the Ponyville branch simply for the chance of learning from Princess Twilight Sparkle herself; she often taught at the school when she could.

Midnight had graduated from the school early once it became clear that the only ponies that could still teach her anything about magic were Celestia, Luna, and of course Twilight.

“Midnight,” Wind said suddenly breaking the silence. “What was bothering you this morning when Sky and I first found you?” He asked sounding sincerely concerned.

She looked over at him trying to look innocent. “What do you mean?”

He smiled knowingly. “You weren't just thinking. I know you better than that,” he said gently. “What was bothering you?”

Midnight looked at him a moment, then finally sighed. “I've been having Nightmares, that's all.”

He glanced at her. “What about?”

“I don't know, I can't remember them when I wake, not clearly anyway.”

“What do you remember?” he persisted.

She glanced at him and sighed, it would be good to tell somepony, and in truth she wanted to tell him. “There's a lot of suffering... and I'm the one causing it. I'm the villain,” she told him softly, letting the distress the nightmares caused her show.

Suddenly she felt him put his wing around her hugging her gently to his side. “You're not a villain Midnight; you never have been, and you never will be,” He told her softly with such confidence that she felt her own doubts swept away. How could he be wrong?

She leaned her head against his neck. “Thanks, Wind.”

He held her in the gentle embrace as they walked for a time, finally though they were nearing Midnight's home.

“Well I'd better go find Sky and try to get her to calm down,” he said as they reached the path to Midnight's small house. He took his wing off of her turning to face her grinning. “She's probably going to go on another rant.”

“Probably,” Midnight said grinning as well.

He looked at her a moment then used his wing to gently lift her chin to look her in the eyes. “Hey, don't let those dreams bother you. Okay?”

She smiled and nodded. “I'll see you tomorrow?”

“Of course. And I'll have a few new ideas for you to try out.”

“Okay,” she said with a small laugh.

He stepped away then and gave her a wave with his wing. “Good night!” He said then launched himself into the air.

“Good night, Wind...” Midnight said softly though he was already far beyond hearing.