• Published 5th Nov 2014
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Starcrossed - The Drunken Sailor



Flash, a young poor stallion makes a decision that will change both his life and the life of Princess Celestia's favoured student: Twilight Sparkle

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Chapter 13~ We Ride North

Chapter 13~ We Ride North


Flash let Twilight sleep soundly for several hours before he gathered her up as gently as he could and carried her to the midnight train, the trip to Vanhoover would take almost two days so he hoped she would be over the massive hangover she was bound to have. Flash laid her down on the train seat and watched her slumber peacefully for a moment before he allowed himself to close his eyes and drift off.

When he woke again it was late morning the next day and Twilight was gone, after a brief moment of panic Flash came to his senses. He got up and exited the compartment, he moved down the hall and soon enough the sound of gasping and retching could be heard. In a small cubby meant to be a washroom Twilight stood with her head almost completely in the bucket, as Flash watched she retched again and emptied her stomach's bile into the bucket.

Flash rubbed his hood along her back in sympathy, trying to sooth her but Twilight didn't seem to notice. She just retched and puked until there was nothing left and then puked some more, eventually she did pull her head up and leaned heavily on Flash, her bloodshot eyes glassy in her half-asleep state. Flash half-guided, half-carried Twilight back to the compartment and laid her down, he closed the blinds on the window and fetched a blanket out of a nearby linen closet and tucked her in. Twilight fell asleep at once, Flash hoped she could recover from her hangover before they reached Vanhoover, it wouldn't do well to meet Lord Winter post drunk. Twi didn't sleep long, she groaned awake and rubbed her temples in agony.

"How're you feeling?" Flash asked.

"Like buffalo-shit," Twilight cussed. "My head is pounding and my stomach feels like an angry viper moved in."

"You should watch your drinking from now on," Flash advised. "I didn't realize you were such a lightweight."

"Really? I really didn't think of that on my own," Twilight quipped sarcastically. "I'm so glad I have you watching over me."

Flash grinned and climbed in next to Twi, he extended his wing to encompass her and planted a kiss atop her head. Laying his head across the back of her neck and held her close, nuzzling and cuddling her.

"Feeling better?" Flash asked.

"No," Twilight lied, nuzzling in return.

They remained that way for a while, Twilight dozed off quickly enough and Flash remained awake. Keeping her comfortable and watching the landscape go by, the snow and ice increasing as they headed farther north. Twi woke a few times to eat a small breakfast and a lunch before falling asleep again, Flash joining in this time. When they woke again it the sky was darkening as Celestia pulled the sun towards the horizon, Twilight seemed a lot better, still woozy but better. They remained under the blanket still even after the moon came out and the stars shined down on them, it was then that Flash had a thought.

"Hey," he said suddenly, getting up. "I want to show you something."

Flash led an uncomplaining Twilight towards the back of the train, they exited the caboose onto a small platform on the back. Twi shivered at first before Flash kept her warm with a comforting wing, it was then that she looked up.

"Oh wow," she gasped. Above them, contrasting against the night sky were beautiful shining waves of colours, like rainbow rivers they danced across they sky. Tumbling and twirling in a great cosmic dance, like the Gods were putting on a show just for them.

"The Lights of Borea," Flash said. "We saw them almost every night at Snowhawk, I thought you might like them."

"Wow, light created from collisions between gaseous particles in the atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere that create small bursts of magic that arc between the gas particles creating bright and varying lights," Twilight rambled off, getting a laugh from Flash.

"You're such a nerd," he laughed.

"Meathead," Twilight countered, poking Flash in the ribs none too gently. "Still, thanks for this and... For yesterday too."

"What about yesterday?" Flash asked.

"I remember what happened, when I was drunk I... Came on to you right?" Twilight said. "Well after I was done flirting with Ser Sun Shine."

"Hey it ain't your fault, you just drank too much."

"Oh but it is though, I should've stopped myself earlier oh I didn't even realize what I was doing! It's just Ser Sun was being so nice! and then I wanted to make it up to you and-" Twilight's worried tirade was stopped by Flash's gentle lips on her own.

"Stop it," Flash said softly, pulling away. "It's fine, I'm fine, we're fine, and I want you to be fine okay?"

"Alright," Twilight smiled, nuzzling him. "I'm fine."

"Good, now let's go inside before you catch a cold."

They went back inside and rested in their compartment for the remainder of the day, catching up on some much-needed sleep. Flash only left at night to patrol the train, still very paranoid about Twilight's safety. He only joined her again when it was nearing sunrise, they awoke again soon afterwords as they were approaching Vanhoover. Twilight had fetched herself a heavy satin cloak with feathers that warmed her neck, it was cold this far north after all.

Vanhoover came into view, a large collection of stone and wood buildings gathered around a large and imposing keep, the entire city enclosed in tall stone walls with the banner of House Winter flying from the ramparts. Two swords crossed behind a white snowflake laying on a blue field, familiar colours to Flash as he often had to travel to Vanhoover to carry messages from Snowhawk.

"Guess this is kind of a second home to you huh?" Twilight asked, cuddling up to Flash by the window.

"I guess so, I wasn't here often only when we needed to run messages or get supplies," Flash said. "Mostly I just stayed at the Fort."

"Still, do you know anything about Lord Harsh Winter?" Twilight asked.

"I've heard he's sort of... Old fashioned but not in the regular way, apparently he's a big advocate of the old religions and northern traditions, not anything too barbarous I don't think but it has sparked some rumours about him and his family."

"Lady Star Shine seemed to believe those rumours if I remember correctly," Twi commented. "Well I'm not going to judge him before I even meet him."

The train pulled itself into the station, pushing great waves of snow of of it's way before coming to a halt on the northernmost Equestrian train track there was. They stepped off onto the platform were two Winter Guards were waiting, their fur-lined leather armour and blue cloaks making them look like true Snowhawks.

"Lady Twilight," one of them acknowledged as they both bowed. "Lord Winter has eagerly awaited your arrival." As they rose one of them took notice of Flash's cloak and smiled.

"Always glad to see a fellow Snowhawk, sir," he said.

"Likewise now please lead us to the holdfast, Our Lady is cold."

The two guards nodded and lead them into Vanhoover proper, the streets were wide and coated in a fresh layer of snow. The northerners moved to and fro wrapped in furs and warm layers to fight off the cold, as Twilight passed they would stop in their tracks and bow to her until she passed. It wasn't long until they reached Lord Winter's holdfast, a tall stone structure with tall windows and the banners of House Winter flying proudly.

The Winter Guards pushed open the huge double doors and let Twilight and Flash into the hall, inside was warm and bright from large braziers that burned hotly, statues lined the alps of proud-looking stallions with forlorn faces that seemed to stare at the newcomers. At the end of the hall was supposedly Lord Winter's throne, an iron thing with a tall back and intricate carvings. It sat empty.

"Lord Winter is awaiting you in his grove, Your Grace," one of the guards said. "This way."

The guard led them past the throne and through a side door, from there it was a small walk down a hallway where it opened up to a walled off open section of the holdfast. There they stood on hard frozen dirt that was dotted with bare skeletons of trees, a clear pool was in the centre next to the largest tree in the grove. Sitting by the tree, wrapped in fine furs and leathers was Lord Harsh Winter, he was a pale white Pegasus with a thick wild black mane and full beard. He didn't seem to notice the newcomers, his eyes were closed in what appeared to be a silent reflection or prayer.

They approached him but no one said anything, it seemed disrespectful to interrupt. They only had to wait a minute or so anyway before Lord Winter opened his eyes revealing bright blue eyes, he looked up from the ground at at Twilight directly.

"Leave us," he said to the guard, the stallion bowed and left the grove. Lord Harsh Winter stood up from his position and approached Twilight, he bowed and gently raised her hood to his lips and planted a brief kiss on it before rising, Flash surprisingly found himself not caring, Lord Winter gave no indication that he was trying to woo Twilight over.

"It's an honour Your Grace," Harsh Winter said. "Welcome to Vanhoover."

"Thank you My Lord," Twilight said.

"I hope your travels were pleasant My Lady," Lord Winter said, beginning to slowly trot through the grove, Twilight and Flash followed slowly.

"It's been... Interesting," Twilight said.

"I can imagine," Lord Harsh said. "Still, I am glad you came here Your Majesty, Vanhoover is often overlooked in Equestria's game of thrones."

"Well I think your just as important as anyone," Twilight complimented. "Vanhoover has a very unique culture and you provide security in the north."

"It's good someone knows this, nevertheless we are a strong people and-"

"Father!" Interrupted a small voice interrupted, a small white Pegasus colt bounded into the grove. He was a spitting image of Lord Winter, pure white coat and messy black mane, the only difference was his dark amber eyes.

"Coldy hid my sword!" The colt exclaimed. "And he won't give it back!"

Lord Winter gave out a small tired sigh that was so similar to what her own father did when she and her brother fought that it brought a smile to Twilight's face.

"White," Harsh Winter said slowly. "Bow to the Princess please and apologize for interrupting."

"Oh!" White Winter gasped, looking at Twilight with wide eyes before falling into a bow. "Sorry for interrupting Your Grace, it was rude of me."

"It's okay, child," Twilight laughed, ruffling the colts mane. "You said your brother took your sword?"

"That's right!" White exclaimed, rising. "I need it to train to be a knight!"

"Well you best go get your sword back, you can't be a knight without a sword."

"Thanks Your Grace!" White Winter. "I'll go get my sword and train hard! Then when I'm older I can come and be your knight!"

"I look forward to it," Twilight giggled as the lordling bounded off.

"I apologize for that," Lord Winter said. "My son gets eccentric sometimes."

"I understand," Twilight said with a smile. "You have many children?"

"Two and a third along the way," Harsh Winter answered. "White, the youngest, Cold Winter who is my heir and the unborn one is a filly we decided we are going to name Snowy Winter."

"Well I'm glad you don't let your position as Lord ruin your relationship with your family," Twilight said.

"It hasn't been easy but we manage," Lord Winter stated. "Anyway, we have much to discuss... And I would rather do so alone?"

Flash raised an eyebrow but Twilight smiled in understanding, she gestured for Flash to go.

"It's fine," she said and Flash reluctantly turned away and exited the grove, the trees seeming to watch him as he went.

Flash came out of the holdfast differently then when he entered, through a side door that lead to an enclosed courtyard that was next to the keep. In it several Winter Guards sparred with training dummies and each other, the Lord's blacksmith hammered away in his open workshop, repairing swords and crafting other necessities. Flash decided to sit down on the steps and observe the Winter's train.

They fought like true northerners, every strike full of passion and ferocity enough to break bone or cleave a stallion in half. However as Flash watched he noticed a pattern, the guards tended to tire quickly, throwing all their energy into every strike. Additionally the wild and wide-swinging technique suited individual battles sure but was ill-equipped for any sort of close formation tactic.

Flash's thoughts were interrupted as a familiar colt came bounding into the courtyard from Celestia-Knows-Where, White Winter held a shirt wooden sword in his mouth that must have been the one he had mentioned before. He looked around before his amber eyes rested on Flash and he ran over.

"Hi!" He said, planting the wooden sword tip-first into the ground.

"Hullo, White Winter isn't it?" Flash asked.

"That's right! And you're Princess Twilight's knight aren't you?"

"Knight?" Flash asked in surprise. "I'm her personal guard, I'm no knight."

"Really? But you look so much like a knight! Cape, armour, sword, everything! And you serve a Princess so that makes you a knight doesn't it?"

"Well there's a tad more to it then that, to be a knight you have to be a really good fighter, and show that you're one-hundred-percent dedicated to not just one but all three of the Princesses."

"But hasn't you done both of those?" White asked. "Your a Snowhawk so clearly your a good fighter and you are serving a princess as a protector for one princess so why don't you just serve the other two and become a knight?"

"Well I certainly would like to do that, but wether or not I actually become a knight it entirely up to the princesses."

"So couldn't Princess Twilight make you a knight?"

"Well I suppose she could-"

"Well why don't you just ask her?" White Winter said with flawless child logic. "Don't you want to become a knight?"

"Actually I've wanted to be knight since I was your age," Flash said. "But I can't just ask her to make me a knight, that would be rude and would be asking too much."

"It would?" White asked sadly. "Because I was going to ask her."

"I think it's a better idea to train hard and serve well and maybe Princess Twilight or one of the other princesses will see fit to make you a knight."

"Really? You think so?" White asked hopefully.

"Definitely," Flash said.

"Now you shouldn't give him false hope," a new voice said, Flash turned and saw a teenage Pegasus colt entering the courtyard. He dark brown coat and a chocolate mane that lay flat on his head, his eyes though we're the icy blue colour of his fathers.

"Lord Cold Winter," Flash acknowledged, giving a respectful nod.

"You must be Princess Twilight's guard yes?" Cold Winter asked.

"Correct, she is meeting with your father as we speak."

"Hm, and what can you tell me about what she plans on doing with us?"

"Doing?"

"Yes, she is a new Princess, a new southern princess," Cold said. "Long have the ponies of the north feared that these southern princesses would eventually destroy our individuality, our unique culture, I wonder if this new princess might be the final straw."

"What?" Flash asked in confusion. "No, nothing like that, the Princess is only interesting in working with your father, in fact she is fascinated by the northern culture."

"We'll see," Cold Winter. "Come along White, you have chores to do."

"But Coooolllldddyyy..." White Winter whined. "We were talking about becoming Knights!"

"I've told you before brother, you're not becoming some flashy knight in service to the south, you're going to stay here and train at Fort Snowhawk, you can serve beside me when I rule over Vanhoover."

"But I want to be a knight! To serve Princess Twilight! Why is that so bad?" White Winter asked.

"Because why would you want to serve some southern wench-"

"Excuse me," Flash interrupted, standing up. "But you will not talk about the Princess that way."

"And why shouldn't I?" Cold Winter said haughtily. "She is a south-born, she knows nothing of winter or the harshness of the north, why should I respect her or recognize her authority?"

"Watch it," Flash warned, taking an angry step forward. "Or else you'll see how harsh the south can really be."

"Is that a challenge?" Cold Winter answered, pushing his forehead against Flash's. They matched muscle for muscle for a few moments before they both broke it at the same time.

"Sword! Give me my sword!" The Lordling called and one of the servants came forth with a sheathed blade, Cold Winter drew the sword, a shorter heavier blade used for crushing the bones beneath the armour of the enemy.

Flash drew his longer lighter sword and the two warriors stood off against each other, White Winter watched in amazement as if the whole thing was a show. Flash knew better as Cold Winter's eyes blazed with pride and passion, clearly we was committed to this.

"Just back down," Flash said calmly. "We don't have to do this."

The lordling didn't listen, he jumped forward with a heavy overhead strike. Flash blocked it and redirected it to the side, Cold Winter recovered from it and began making rapid blows against Flash who blocked every one. He then went on the offensive and they began trading mutual blows with no one gaining any ground, they locked blades and eyes as they're strength matched out. Cold Winter disengaged unexpectedly, he aimed a wide swinging blow that would have caught Flash off guard if it wasn't for the interruption of a surprisingly authoritative voice that boomed across the courtyard.

"STOP THIS IN THE NAME OF YOUR PRINCESS!" Twilight's Royal Canterlot voice echoed through the air, it distracted Cold Winter so his strike list momentum and his sword fell uselessly into the dirt. The authority in the Princesses voice, look, and presence forced both warriors to stoop to a kneel and bow their heads as if possessed, Flash glanced over at his opponent and saw the lordling was half embarrassed half terrified.

"What is the meaning of this?" Twilight demanded with a harsh tone, as she decended the steps with a furious Lord Winter at her side. "Well? Speak up."

"Your Grace, Lord Cold Winter insulted your honour and name, he then challenged me and swung the first blow. I defended myself as well as your name My Princess," Flash reported professionally, glancing up as Twilight's disappointed face, oh there was going to be a talk later.

"And is this true boy?" Lord Winter growled at his son. "Speak!"

"...Yes, father," Cold reluctantly stated.

"By all the gods of the north... I severely apologize My Lady, knowing my son it most likely was really his fault," Harsh Winter said.

"Even so my guardspony should not have let it go this far," Twilight said pointedly. "I will assure he is made aware of his wrongdoing."

"Oh trust me My Lady, my son will be disciplined," Lord Winter said hauntingly, making his son shiver from something other than the cold. "I think we should have dinner and then call this meeting a close do you agree?"

"I do," Twilight said, then looked at Flash. "Wait at the train for me." And then she left.


~~*~~

Flash paced back and forth in the train compartment, he was still miffed about what had happened but he knew Twilight was even more. This was further confirmed when she opened the door and stepped in, she didn't speak only stared Flash down for a few moments. The train gave off two warning whistles before it hailed forward, travelling towards what would be their final city to visit.

"Flash..." Twilight began. "What happened?"

"It's like I said he insulted you, called you a southern wench."

"And did that really warrant duelling with him?"

"I couldn't just let him get away with it! We can't let these people walk over you Twi!"

"But we also can't go around hitting people we don't like," Twilight said. "If you're going to be by my side you can't throw yourself at every problem, it's going to cause trouble for the both of us."

"But I can't-" Flash stopped when he realized what Twilight had said. "Wait, by your side?" Twilight's expression softened and age smiled.

"I don't stop being Princess after this trip, there will be more to do, responsibilities, my friends have their own lives and can't always be there," she said. "I want you to serve by my side, to help me through every turn as you have done already." Flash's chest felt like it was being inflated as he realized what Twilight was saying.

"When we get back to Canterlot I'm going to talk to Celestia and Luna, and if I have my way we're going to make you the first Knight of Three."

Author's Note:

We're bringing this story in for the climax, oh I'm exited, and you should all be really scared.

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