• Published 18th Oct 2013
  • 1,541 Views, 60 Comments

Wings of Friendship - DemonBrightSpirit

Rainbow Dash is seriously hurt in a competition. Now it falls to her friends to pick up the shattered pieces. Can they do the impossible and get Rainbow Dash back in the sky where she belongs?

  • ...

The Crystalline Cloth pt. 3

A cerulean unicorn carefully set a framed picture over her hearth. Her home was filled with countless gemstones and dozens of bolts of cloth—none of which mattered to her as much as this single photograph. In spite of her failures in Canterlot, her humiliation, and her self-inflicted exile in the Crystal Empire, this photo made her feel like she had truly accomplished something. There she stood in the same picture as two Princesses and a Prince. Sure she was off to the side, separated from the royalty by that orange earth pony, but this was proof that she had to have done something right in her life. Although, she wasn't entirely sure what that was. It surely wasn't that worthless, unworkable cloth she came up with.

Maybe it was just opening her door? She tore her eyes off of her prized keepsake to see Rarity working with Applejack and Twilight to form a cloth wing using a mold. These three ponies were nothing like the Canterlot elite she had grown up around. Even Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor seemed immeasurably...genuine. They were honest, playful, earnest; they were friendly. They even extended that kindness to her, a complete stranger.

In spite of her elation, Rarity had kept enthusing about her crystalline cloth the entire time. Each time she felt a pang of guilt. Rarity seemed to think a tweak or two would make that cloth workable. Silky kept telling her that she was mistaken, but she refused to listen. Even though she continued to proclaim the cloth's faults, Rarity's enthusiasm made her feel like she was deceiving her.

I have tried everything. Every combination, every weave, every gemstone... That cloth is a lost cause.

"This mold just makes it so much easier to fashion the wings," Rarity enthused as she set a complete wing aside. "Now, just how many do you think you might need, darling? I really should be getting to work with Silky here on that marvelous cloth."

"Just a few more, Rarity," Twilight urged with a smile. "I'd like to try a few, and Applejack can help me test them while you and Silky work on that cloth."

"Beats just sittin' around and listenin' to a couple of unicorns go on 'n' on about fabric and gems," Applejack agreed, earning a roll of Rarity's eyes.

Silky sighed as she looked back to the framed picture. In the hours she had spent with these bizarre ponies, she had learned the whole story. A famous flier and friend of theirs lost a wing. If their stories were true, they had tried even getting Princess Celestia and the infamous Discord to help them. There were really going all out to help their friend. Maybe that's why they were so desperate as to actually believe in her cloth.

They really...need my help, she realized as she looked to the smiling faces in the picture. Her brow furrowed as she adopted a determined expression. She would help them. Maybe that unicorn was as talented as she seemed. Maybe, just maybe, if she worked together with Rarity, she really could somehow come up with a way to make the crystalline cloth work.

"Right!" Silky announced with a newfound fire. "I'm going to go prepare the loom while you get these wings made. Let's get you that crystalline cloth!"

Several minutes later, Rarity stepped into Silky's workroom to find the cerulean unicorn dusting. "Are we ready to get started?" Rarity asked with a smile.

Silky nodded after a moment's contemplation. "I'm ready if you are, but...but I don't even know where to start," she confessed as she looked to the bolt of crystalline cloth remaining on the shelf. "I've tried everything I can think of to no avail. What ideas do you have?"

"Well..." Rarity touched a hoof to her chin as she examined the sparkling cloth. "Is it possible for you to make the filaments thinner?"

"I can, but then the cloth looses its strength and starts to become brittle," Silky explained.

"I was thinking of making them one-third the thickness so that you could braid the filaments into actual threads," Rarity proposed. "It should still be easier to cut than the current filaments and be just as strong."

"And less flexible. The cloth is already nearly as hard to work as leather!"

The two unicorns' voices could be heard back in the main room where Twilight was busy attaching a wing to each of Applejack's sides. "Think they're gonna actually get that fancy stuff to work?" Applejack queried as she felt a strange tugging on her sides.

"Whether they do or not, I'm sure Rarity will come up with something that will work," Twilight assured as her horn's aura faded. "How is it? Are they on?"

Applejack looked to either of her sides and gave her body a good shake. The wings stayed attached. "Lookin' good."

Twilight took one in her hoof and scrutinized it. "The down looks okay—" she gave the wing a good tug "—the attachment seems sturdy, too."

"Bwuhuh." Applejack shuddered. "That feels...weird."

"Oh! You have sensations of the wing!?" Twilight asked, running a hoof across the down feathers.

Applejack nodded. "It ain't like a normal feelin', though. I don't know how to explain it other than...weird."

"At least I've managed to get actual sensations this time!" Twilight enthused. "Can you move them at all?"

Applejack closed her eyes and struggled. "Is that...doin' anythin', sugarcube?" she asked as she kept her eyes shut.

"It twitched!" Twilight exclaimed. "It's not much, but it twitched! So we have sensation and motor function!"

"I'll admit, it's a might better than last time, but I still can't fly with 'em."

Twilight smirked. "Let's find out." A burst of magic, and the wings unfurled and began to flap.

Back in the workshop, Rarity and Silky had their plan for the first piece of crystalline cloth. All that was left now was to actually make the threads. Rarity couldn't wait at all. She floated a few gemstones over to Silky. "Here," she insisted as she failed to suppress a giggle.

Silky took a ruby, sapphire, and emerald in her aura. As she concentrated a point on each gemstone gave rise to, a tiny, thin thread that stretched out, elongating.. These threads met each other and began to twist together into a multicolored string. That string wrapped around a spool as it grew. By the time the spool was full, the gemstones were only a little smaller than their original size.

"Grab me a new spool?" Silky asked as she grabbed the string in her aura. She stretched and stretched it until it snapped off. Then, she set the spool aside as Rarity handed her a new one. "Yeah, this part takes a long time," Silky joked a bit as she picked up where she left off. It didn't take long until the gemstones were exhausted, culminating in several spools.

Silky grabbed a new trio, but dropped them as a scream sounded from the other room followed by a crash. She shared a glance with Rarity a moment before a bunch of shouts sounded, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I'm sorry! I'm soooo sorry!"

The two unicorns ran in to find Twilight dunking the end of Applejack's ponytail into a glass of water. It sizzled as a wisp of smoke rose into the air. The rest of Applejack wasn't faring much better. Her mane was charred, her sides had scorch marks on them, and her signature hat was missing.

"What happened?" Rarity asked as she skidded to a stop.

Applejack gave a couple of week coughs, expelling a bit of smoke from her lungs. "I, uh...I think I learned what 'conflagrate' means."

"I'm so sorry, Applejack!" Twilight apologized again. "I really thought I had that problem figured out!"

Applejack sighed heavily. "It's all right, sugarcube. I know yer tryin' yer best," she absolved Twilight as she fished her hat from a pile of fabrics. "Silky, you got a place a gal can get washed up around here?"

"Up...upstairs on the left," Silky pointed a hoof.

"What in Equestria happened?" Rarity prodded as Applejack retreated up the stairs.

"Ohhh, it's all my fault," Twilight admitted her failure as she hung her head. "The wings started flying her around the room and I panicked and tried to dispel the enchantment and remove them at the same time and I overloaded them and-and..." she trailed off from her rant as she took several deep breaths. "I-I knew that would happen if I put too magic into it, but I...still did it. I panicked and-and I really could have hurt Applejack."

"Applejack seemed just fine to me. Nopony got hurt," Rarity assured.

Twilight breathed an exaggerated sigh. "I've got more work to do before I attempt this on a pony again," she insisted as she grabbed the two remaining wings. Twilight stuffed them in her saddlebags before attaching them. "I'm going to go back to Ponyville and work on it."

"Wait, Twilight," Rarity stepped in Twilight's way, locking eyes with her. "Now I know you didn't mean to do that, as does Applejack."

"It doesn't matter that I didn't mean to," Twilight argued. "I did it, and I put Applejack in danger by doing so."

Rarity nodded. "We understand that, darling, but you shouldn't be so hard on yourself." She stepped aside leaving Twilight an open path to the door. "I won't stop you, but at least stay long enough for me to sew you a few more wings. All right?"

Twilight flopped down on her rump as she hung her head. "I just... I can't believe I did that!" she admitted. "I just..."

"You just need to keep working at it, darling. Just like I need to keep working with Silky on this cloth," Rarity assured as she cantered over and put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Now, I need to know if you're going to stay or not."

Twilight shook her head. "I have to work on it, but I won't put my friends in danger," she vowed. "That means working on it in my laboratory until I know I have it under control."

Rarity nodded in understanding. "Silky, would you mind working on that string alone for a short while? I need to craft Twilight a few more wings to go home with."

"Of course." Silky nodded before grabbing half a dozen gems and walking back into her workshop.

"Good," Rarity said with a smile. "Now, let's get you settled before your trip home."

"Thank you, Rarity." Twilight met Rarity's smile with one of her own.

Rarity gave a small giggle. "Don't think for even a moment that you're off the hook, Twilight," she playfully chided as she grabbed dozens of fabrics in her aura. "I expect you to have all your little problems solved by the time I get back to Ponyville in a few days."

"I think I can handle that," Twilight assured with a grin.