• Published 13th Mar 2012
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Facets of the Equestrian Sky - Cirrus Sky

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Chapter Eight: Orienteering, Overdrive

Orienteering, Overdrive
~
A Quiet Chat ~ Snakes! ~ Panicked Search

“Uh, hey Applejack.” Rainbow called to her farming friend. “Is that offer for a chat still good?” She was walking into Sweet Apple Acres. That alone was enough to give Applejack pause for thought. “It sure is Ah was due a break anyhow. Come on over t’ the porch, we’ll sit an’ jaw awhile.” She led her friend to the porch; it was unusual to see her so subdued. “So what’s been eatin’ you Rainbow, Ah never seen you so glum in a long time.” She sat down and dipped her head to look the doleful pegasus in the eye. “Uh, you know that, ah, awkwardness a few months after I moved to Ponyville.” Rainbow said slowly. Applejack’s ears shot up. “Yeah sugarcube, Ah do recall that.”

“Well, two days ago I kinda sort of got a little bit kissed by Twi’...” Rainbow mumbled. Applejack’s jaw hit the floor. “Well, that’s new. How d’you feel about that?”

“Kinda good.” She blushed just a touch. “Thanks for hearing this Applejack. I think I better go. I hear a nap calling!” Rainbow was never very good at emotional stuff and her honest friend would want straight answers. Besides, it felt better just telling her.

Sat on her porch watching her rainbow haired friend fly off Applejack managed to shut her mouth. “Well I never, those two?”

*

A week passed, Twilight dug deeper into the land records, geological surveys and archaeological information on her favoured sites. She spoke to ponies like Granny Smith to find out the local history and she sought out all the amateur astronomers in town. Sure, other stuff happened in the week but Twilight was far too busy to really notice. Though Rainbow was around underhoof more often than not, Twilight was throwing herself into study, trying to forget her faux pas and confusing feelings. Rainbow hadn’t brought up their almost not exactly a kiss so she wouldn’t either.

Today, having left Spike in charge of the library, Twilight gathered up her saddle bags and set off. Floating ahead of her was a map, little silver circles marking out good potential sites for an astronomy lab and telescope. Some were quite close to town while others were high up in the mountains skirting the Everfree Forest. Deciding her itinerary Twilight began her day’s inspections.

*

It was getting to be late afternoon and Twilight was still checking sites. The first few had all been simply too low down. Great for her own hobby stargazing but not good enough for professionals. One or two sites close to Ponyville were very good, almost perfect but she still wanted to check on spot in the mountains. As she trotted up the narrow path, map to her nose, she didn’t spot the crumbling edge until she was thrown down the unforgiving cliff.

“AAAaaaAAAAaaaaAAAAA!!!” Twilight screamed maps and saddlebags forgotten as she scrabbled for grip to stop herself. She was moving too fast across a surface so teleporting was out of the question. The speed she was falling and tumbling prevented her from sighting any useful assistance from ledges, branches or helpful vines. After what seemed like way too long she hit the floor and it all went black.

*

Sleeping on a cloud high above Ponyville, Rainbow was certain she could hear someone scream. Her ear twitched to try and source the sound. It was over quickly so the pegasus went back to sleep.

*

The darkness was everywhere but soon a dim and swimming light made its way to the unicorn. “What... Happened?” She exhaled, feeling quite sick. A concussion then, leg or two felt really bad, the blossoms of pain were large and widespread so it was difficult to figure out specifics. Her hearing returned then and it was not welcome. All she could hear was a hissing sound... As she cracked open her eyes she saw dancing coloured shapes, long and thin. Beneath her she could feel writhing scales. A brief moment of clear sight was worse. She was in a snake pit. The entire area she was in was wall to wall snakes. A disturbing shadow moved belying a much larger snake. Twilight screamed and the world went white.

*

She felt the magic first, a pulse and wave flowing through the sky faster than a sonic rainboom. Then she saw the light even through closed eyes. What happened next would haunt her until the end of days. A scream. A scream full of fear and propelled by magic. Mortal fear. It entered through her ears, pierced her heart and hurried down to freeze her guts. It was Twilight. She was in danger. Rainbow Dash moved at a speed just below rainboom. No one was at the library, so it wasn’t an accident there, there was nothing obvious in Ponyville at all, but she had heard that scream. Her heart knew it was vital to find the purple unicorn as fast as possible. An idea came to her and she shot off in another direction.

Not bothering with the door Rainbow sped through the open window and right into the Boutique. “Rarity!” she shouted, looking around in a hurry, her guts unfrozen but now twisted by fear for her friend. “In... here... Rainbow...” A weak call came. Rarity was lying on the floor, hooves clutched to her horn. “Something is wrong with Twilight!” Rainbow shouted, to a wince from the prone dressmaker. “I know...” She gasped. “The magic pulse was strong, our link as friends...and elements...amplified it...” She turned around to face Rainbow. “She’s in the Everfree! Please Rainbow Dash, Save Her!” the plea was heartfelt and pained. Dash nodded and shot off, the forest was dangerous and whatever had scared Twilight must have been big.

*

It was taking too long to locate Twilight. The forest was so big, too big for one pony to look through at speed. Working herself up in fear for her friend, no, in fear for the pony she loved, Rainbow stopped stock still in the air. She closed her eyes and tried to feel the wind, not just the simple summer zephyrs or the turbulence above the magical forest but the deep throb made by powerful magic. A twitch of a wing and eyes still closed she flew against the current she had detected. It got stronger the closer she got to the source. Soon all around her she could feel the strong magic driven wind. Opening her eyes Rainbow looked around. There was a clearing with a familiar glow emanating from it.

“I’m coming Twilight! I’M COMING!” She shouted at the top of her voice and flew towards the source to find a scene of chaos. Hundreds of snakes, looking very puzzled were floating in a massive purple aura. The largest was coiled right against the edges of the rough sphere, magic crackled along the sides. At the centre, her eyes tight shut and curled in a ball was Twilight.

“Snakes, snakes, snakes...” she sobbed quietly, iridescent tears escaping down her face. Shafts of light, the same kind that came from her eyes when they used the elements, shone from under her eyelids. The shield was tough, it felt like flying against a hurricane, closer and closer the pegasus inched; her eyes watering, her hooves outstretched. “Come on Twilight, snap out of it, I’ll get you away from the snakes. The confused reptiles did their best to nod eagerly at the prospect of being freed but could barely budge. Finally making contact with the mare, she grasped her around the middle, feeling the spell trying to force her away. It didn’t work; the egghead had probably cast a scales specific spell. Rainbow the pony could grab her and fly out of the pit. Out in the clear sky the spell subsided and the glow left Twilight’s eyes. “Rainbow?” she whispered before fainting.