• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Pools

As Rainbow Dash proceeded, she saw more and more rows of jagged quartz forming along either side of her trek. Her pendant's glow formed a kaleidoscopic dance of ruby light as she strolled past the translucent materials. For a brief moment, any despair and worry about the blizzard sealing her exit had vanished. If there was something Rainbow Dash was other than daring, it was curious.

A breath escaped her lips as the ceiling produced several veins of thick crystals. Each shard was easily the thickness of an adult pony. She saw her reflection appearing dozens of times in a blink. She could barely tell from the polynumerous resemblances of herself, but her complexion appeared haggard, worn-out, and mercilessly emaciated from so many days straight of flying through frigid landscapes.

She paused for a moment after her stomach gurgled. Desperately, she reached back to her saddlebag. To her intense relief, the pouches hadn't flown open. That meant that the contents of her belongings were still there. Upon that thought, she reached in and pulled loose a preserved flower. She munched on the thing for nourishment as she trotted ahead, her ears flicking from the distant sound of whistling blizzard winds.

It occurred to Rainbow Dash that she wasn't thinking of the cold all that much. The further she moved, she realized it was because the tunnel was actually getting warmer. She flexed her wings, relieved to feel the frost melting off the feathers. Not only was it getting warmer, but the place was starting to get positively sweltering.

What was more, a green glow was emanating from the distance. Rainbow Dash rounded a corner, not sure if she was marching north or south but suddenly not caring. She came upon a misty interior, a cavern filled to the brim with steam and fumes. She gaped upon the sight of several pools formed in random ovals within the stone floor. The pegasus had stumbled upon a subterranean pit of lava springs... or at least that was Rainbow Dash's best guess.

The irregularly shaped pools shimmered from a green light deep beneath their bubbling waters. All of the frost and hint of snow was gone from that place, even though there were a few porous spots in the ceiling where the blizzard howled constantly. The rock floor and walls were slick with condensation. If Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and breathed deeply, she would have imagined she was back at Aloe and Lotus' Day Spa.

A foalish urge shot through the pegasus' body. Squirming excitedly, she stripped of her saddlebag and approached the edge of the first of many pools. She reached forward—nervously at first—and barely tapped the surface of the pool. It was warm—very warm—but hardly scalding. Courageously, she stuck her entire hoof in. She was greeted with the most luxurious feeling she had been graced with in months. With a rapturous squeak, she plunged into the pool. She bobbed for a moment, paddling about, reveling in the oozing warmth covering every inch of her pores. All of the misery and frigid anguish of the past few days turned to vapor in an instant. Rainbow Dash exhaled long and hard and kicked back, lying with her shoulders against the edge of the glowing pool. A giggle escaped her lips, and she closed her eyes as she basked in the bubbles and steam.

There was no way of putting this kind of relaxation into words. Rainbow Dash imagined brighter, warmer, more colorful days, and even still they couldn't compare. Catching her breath, she started to map out a far happier and rosier plan for the following day. The blizzard would calm down, she figured, and when the sun rose again she would fly through clear skies and find her way beyond the mountain ranges. She might even find some lower vegetation—maybe an orchard or two. She remembered the last time she ate fruit. The pears outside of the Minotaurs' compound were dry and brittle; they had only served as a means of sustaining her and Rockspot. The next time she found an orchard, she wasn't going to settle for anything less than golden delicious apples, or tangy oranges, or sweet tangerines.

Her mouth watered with the thought, and she drifted even further away into her fantasies, which was probably the reason why Rainbow Dash was deaf to the shuffling of heavy claws in the distance, and even more oblivious to the looming, scaley shape suddenly rising up behind her...

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