• Published 17th Nov 2011
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Fallout: Equestria- The Last Sentinel - Adder1



It's hard to kill memories when you remember everything.

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Reflection Thirteen: My Greatest Gift, My Greatest Curse

Reflection Thirteen: My Greatest Gift, My Greatest Curse

“It's what my cutie-mark is telling me.”

The storyteller sighed softly, eyes vacant, distant.

Eyes are telling. Where someone is looking can tell volumes of their intentions. Are they focusing solely on you? Elsewhere? Sometimes they even betray thoughts- a glance at a holstered weapon, a longing gaze to the world outside, a voyeuristic look that plays escalator up and down a body.

What I saw in Hummingbird's eyes that morning was something I hadn't seen since I offered to sneak her into my dorm room in Canterlot four years ago. Something I never hoped to see directed at me again. Just a look.

A look of uncertainty.

* * *

We tried to... act normal about things the rest of that day. It was easy. We just had breakfast with Zoleks and Namira, then headed back to our mansion. We made idle chatter, talked about last night, how amazing she was. And once we were home, my parents welcomed me back with open forelegs. Everything was going to be okay.

Everything was going to be okay.

And everything was. We had a day, later a night on town. She made a few more bits with another breathtaking performance. Something special happened that day for her. Something incredible.

It was just after she finished playing. Always just one piece. She never had the energy for anything longer without resting in between. I couldn't blame her. But there was someone, somepony else watching. Somepony I didn't notice... until she approached Hummingbird as the small crowd began to disperse.

My stamping applause and my great smile both gave away into a quick stride and a straight expression as I approached her. “What are you doing here?” I asked in a tone treading the thin line between curious and cold.

Song Spinner, the black-furred pegasus and the mare I thought I once loved, faced me, her own smile fading away. “I just happened to pass by, Frost,” she said simply. “Look, I just wanted to talk to your marefriend, okay?” Hummingbird looked between the two of us warily, panting softly for breath.

“What for?” I questioned her.

“Frost, I'm not your enemy, okay?” She shot back at me, then sighed, “Look, it's not like I'm pulling her aside. I'm just making her an offer.”

“An offer?” the green mare asked, causing us both to look at her.

Song Spinner turned to her and replied, “I heard about your performances. Even stopped by a couple of them, just out of the way. How long have you been playing?”

“About two-and-a-half months, give or take,” Hummingbird responded with a slight shrug of her wings.

“Really?” the jet-black pegasus mare chuckled softly. “You're not pulling my leg are you?”

She shook her head in reply. “No, I'm serious.”

“She's serious,” I added, tone softening as I merely eyed Song now. I had my suspicions of where this was all headed.

“Then I got a question for you,” Song said to Hummingbird. “How would you like to play on an orchestra?”

She blinked- once, twice.

And then she fainted and flopped onto her back.

Song just gawked and quickly turned to me. “I didn't do it!”

“I know, I know,” I sighed, sprouting a pair of ice arms. “Just let me pull her out of the way. And then we talk.”

* * *

With Hummingbird safely lying down on a bench, I turned to face Song Spinner. “Why?”

“She has talent,” the jet-black mare answered. “Isn't it obvious?”

“She's been doing these performances for a little less than a month now,” I said to her. I kept my tone civil, even. “Why didn't you approach her before?”

Song opened her mouth and quickly closed it.

I tilted my head downward so that the brim of my trusty fedora slightly occluded my vision. I knew the effect from experience- making it look like I was narrowing my eyes without really doing so. And so I asked, “Why in front of me?”

Song breathed out a sigh through her nostrils. “Because I guess this is a way of saying 'I'm sorry'. This and the court case two years ago.”

“You know I nearly died, I hope,” I said coolly.

“I-I didn't know, okay?” she protested. “I didn't know!” She sighed, looking away. “You want somepony to blame? Blame Pick, alright? Not me. Okay, I... I helped him, yeah, but he bucking blackmailed me and didn't tell me what he was gonna do to you!”

“Blackmailed you how?” Again, coolly.

“Planted weed in my home and threatened to report me to the police with his evidence,” she snorted derisively. “Look, if had known what he was gonna do-”

“So if you were so against this, why the cold reception after I checked out of the hospital? And if you knew what he did, why'd you become his mare? Cut the crap, Song.”

“Frost, why are you asking all of these questions?” she sighed sharply through her nostrils, massaging her temple. “It's all done and over with.”

“Don't deflect the question, Song,” I said firmly.

“Look, he made me his, okay?” she growled, a bitter look in her eyes. “You know what the Mumei was to Pick after he got rid of you? He treated it like... like some war prize. I was his war prize. He made me his... his fucking slut and he told me to give you the cold shoulder, okay? Just... it's ov- it's finished, okay? Only reason I stopped is because I could finally get back at Pick in court that day, okay? Just... just fucking drop it, Frost! Just...” She sighed and rubbed her forehead, closing her eyes. “Just drop it.”

You could tell a lot about a pony through their eyes.

I relented, pulling my hat off. “Song... I just wanted to know. I just... wanted closure. Okay?” I walked closer and rest a hoof on her shoulder. It was the first time I'd touched her in years, and she flinched away from me. I could've sworn ponies didn't use to be that warm to the touch... I reached out again, and this time, she didn't resist. “Eyes on me.”

Her eyes on mine.

“Are you actually sorry?”

“Yes,” she said without hesitation and- more importantly- without looking away.

“Alright,” I said quietly, my tone softening. I let my hoof slip away. “This conversation never happened. Remember, the Mumei is finished.”

Song Spinner eyed me for a few seconds before nodding, looking somewhat relieved I think.

“Do you still keep in contact with the others?” I inquired. “Sunny? Blustery?”

“From time to time,” she replied, looking away. “We've, uh, more or less went our separate ways.”

“Okay. Okay.” I nodded slowly, turning away. Then back at her. “Song?”

“Yeah?” Back at me.

“Thanks. She needs this.”

Song smiled softly. “You're welcome. It's the least I can do.”

“But I'm holding you to it, understand?” I said to her, tilting my head down with both eyebrows raised.

“Heh... don't worry, I'll get it done.” She frowned. “Uh, listen... Frost... everything okay? I mean, I know it's your name and your magic and all, but... you're a little cold. Not, well, emotionally, I mean... physically.”

I looked at her, expression hardening. “How cold?”

“Like... chilly. Like you just came out of a cold shower.”

I sighed softly, turning away, silent as I worked my lips for a few seconds. I could feel my heart growing heavy, but I forced myself toward brighter thoughts. I just... smiled.

The storyteller grimaced at that.

“Song, you still play the piano, right?” I inquired. “You still have your portable keyboard?”

“Yeah, both yeah.” She nodded. “Why?”

I shrugged. “I was hoping you two could do a duet once she's back up.”

She smiled back at me.

* * *

I watched from close by as they played together. Hummingbird was having a little trouble sight-reading the notes, but once she heard the music in full, she nailed it after the third time.

And so I watched from the sidelines, reveling in the music, trying not to think about the dark clouds that were just beyond the fray.

* * *

“Whew... long day...” Hummingbird breathed out with a weary but happy smile.

“It's always a long day for you,” I chuckled huskily.

“Hey, now, don't go rubbing my frailty in,” she nickered, playfully jabbing me in the shoulder with her wing.

“Heh, don't worry,” I said to her, wrapping my forelegs around her. “I love you regardless.”

“Right back at you,” she said back with a smile, even as her bare body shivered lightly against me. She pulled away a little too quickly...

“So... ready for bed?” I asked with a soft smile.

“Yeah, sure, just... one sec,” she replied, heading over to the cupboard. My smile faded as I watched her put on her old sweatshirt, zipping it up.

“Everything alright, Hummingbird?” I asked quietly, almost timidly.

“Huh?” The green pegasus mare blinked at me. “Yeah! Yeah, yeah, I'm great! Just...” She broke eye contact, “gets a little chilly at night, you know? Northern Quarter and all that.”

It was mid-summer.

“Hummingbird...”

She let out a soft sigh and bit her lip. She looked up at me, looked away, and then finally steeled herself and faced me again. I saw something new in her eyes- sorrow. “Okay, Frost, you're... you're starting to get too cold for me. I mean... you were always a little cold to begin with, and I've been able to put up with it... just... last night was...” She didn't finish.

I let it all sink in. “... how long?” I asked.

Hummingbird met my eyes only for a moment before looking away again. “Since we first slept together...” Let it all sink in... all this time. All... this... time. How could I have not known? I must have had this hurt look because she moved closer, brushing my cheek with her wing. “Look, it's no problem. I've got my hoodie this time.” She smiled an empty smile. “It's no problem now, right?”

“Yeah... shouldn't be,” I said, smiling an empty smile of my own. “Come on... let's get some rest.”

* * *

The storyteller huffed softly, sadly.

“Rest”. I didn't get a wink of sleep that night. Hummingbird did, I know. I just watched her, keeping her close to me. So many confusing, conflicting, contradicting thoughts ran through my head. My heart raced, stealing my sleep.

I just watched Hummingbird. Even with her sweatshirt on, she curled her legs up and faced away, minimizing contact with me. I knew she was doing it unconsciously, but...

I just watched. Watched and tried not to cause her any more discomfort. I knew I should have pulled away and let her rest comfortably, but I... I needed to be close to her. After being away from her for so long, I needed to be close to her. I just couldn't give her up. I wanted her close...

I just watched. Watched her and the red, digital numbers of my alarm clock. The glare seemed hostile, angry.

Hummingbird.

Clock. 3:02.

Hummingbird.

Clock. 3:02.

Hummingbird.

Clock. 3:02.

Hummingbird.

Clock. 3:02.

Hummingbird.

Clock. 3:03.

It went on like that for the entire night. My heart just kept on hammering away, way ahead and winning when there was no real race.

When it finally hit 6:00, I stole away from Hummingbird, rummaged through the dark for my phone, and stole away outside the hallway down to the living room.

* * *

“Mm? Hello, Frost. What's got you calling this early?”

“Hello, Professor. Just, uh, two things.”

“Well, okay. I'm guessing this is important.”

“Yeah. First, well, I just sent you an e-mail with my additions to the Hydronomicon attached.”

“Okay, that's great! Yeah, I saw that yesterday. I'll start looking over it later after I get back from work. What's the second thing?”

“Professor, is... have you read anything about Mancers ever reversing their elemental union?”

“Reversing their... no, I don't think I've ever read anything on that.”

Sigh. “That's what I was afraid of.”

“Why? What's going on? … oh, no. What's wrong, Frost?”

“My core temperature is dropping.” Sigh. “I-I still feel fine, just...”

“... it's too much for your marefriend, isn't it?”

“... she has to wear her sweatshirt to bed with me.”

“Oh dear... I'm sorry, Frost. There's nothing off of the top of my head about anything like that.”

“Can you look into it? If it's not too much trouble, I mean. I'll be working on my end, too, but I read through four of the Mancer spellbooks. They didn't have anything on it.”

“I'll be looking into it for sure. We'll try to get you both through this, okay, Frost?”

No answer.

“... Frost, are you there?”

“I'm sorry, I have to go now. Bye.”

Click.

* * *

I slowly lowered my ice arm and set the phone down, looking over toward the entryway into the living room.

Hummingbird was standing there, ears tucked back, eyes so sad.

She said nothing.

I said nothing.

She turned and walked away.

* * *

“There has to be a way...” I muttered aloud as if the goddesses would hear my plea and answer it. “There has to be.”

My ice arms were tapping away at the terminal's keyboard. I tried three different search engines using Bullean searches, checked the databases for the archives at MMI and Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. I spent most of the day at home for once, just trying, trying, trying. I kept my ice arms busy. If I wasn't typing, I was twirling one of my balisongs. Just... had to keep my mind occupied. Had to keep myself occupied.

I found one text excerpt from the school in Canterlot.

I quickly changed to a different page and tried, tried, tried, kept trying. That would be a last resort, I told myself. That would be a last resort.

But the deeper and deeper I dug, the longer and longer I searched, I felt my heart growing heavier and heavier.

Finally, I felt a pair of forelegs tuck around me, and I looked back to see Hummingbird hugging me tightly. It was nighttime outside. “Frost,” she whispered, “just... stop. Just stop...”

* * *

Now neither of us could sleep. We just laid in bed together, saying nothing. Again she was curled up facing away from me to minimize contact. This time, it was conscious.

She broke the silence first with a whisper. “Frost?”

“Yes?”

“Maybe we should sleep on our own sides of the bed for tonight.”

I let out a soft sigh and pulled away. It was as if I was slowly pulling off a pair of Velcrow straps. It pained me to do that. But we did it without words.

The storyteller sighed.

It bothered me- it still does- that we were both able to sleep soundly.

* * *

“Professor?”

“Hey, Frost. How are things going?”

“Well enough. How about you?”

“Can't complain.”

“...”

“...”

“Did... you find anything?”

“Well... yes, but...”

Sigh.

“I'm sorry, Frost. I've been trying to find things all week. I only found one study from Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns dating four-hundred years ago that-”

“-says that the effects of an elemental union are permanent. And that only the progression of the union and its effects can be stopped. By ceasing practice of that magic.”

“... you found it too...”

“Yes.”

“I'm sorry, Frost.”

“I know. You said that already. It's okay. Everything's going to be okay.”

* * *

I set down my phone and... and... I just couldn't stand anymore. I just slowly turned around and slowly slumped down with my back against the wall. I looked about my bedroom, my gaze finally falling to the pictures on my desk. Photos of Hummingbird and me together had long since joined the ones with my parents and Zoleks. It was a clear choice with a clear decision. But even so, it was such a hard thing to do. Yet it was an easy choice to make. How could it be like that?

It was the first time in a long time that I hated my inability to perform any other kind of magic.

But it was a clear choice with a clear decision. Taking a deep breath to steel myself, I stood and headed for the door. No ice this time. I used my hooves to open it. Before I could even turn the handle, the door opened and I found Hummingbird on the other side. We both jumped and stared at one another like deer caught in headlights. Then:

“We need to talk.”
“I think we should have a....”

Oh no...

I swallowed hard and motioned to the bed. “Uh... shall we sit?”

She nodded quickly. “Yeah. Yeah.”

We sat down together, avoiding eye contact. We were silent for... I don't know how long. Only the music and wagon horns from outside filled the void. As one, we turned toward the other, opening our mouths to speak, hesitating.

“Y... you first,” I sighed, relenting.

Hummingbird swallowed and bit her lip. Her ears tucking back, she weakly said those words, those words that I had been dreading since she came in, those words that I hoped she would never say, “Frost... I... I don't think we're going to work out...”

My heart fell, and I felt myself sink with it. “H-Hummingbird...”

“It's... it's just starting to become too much, Frost,” she sighed, shutting her eyes tight. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry...”

“No, no, we can't give up that easily!” I said with a forced... smile... I brushed her cheek, causing her to flinch but getting her to look at me. “There's a way to stop it. We can do this.”

“What... what is it?” she asked with a hint of hope to her voice, ears perking up.

“I just need to stop performing my magic,” I said with that... smile. Her ears tucked back and she looked crestfallen as she turned away. “It's okay, Hummingbird! Everything's going to be okay!”

“But... Frost...” she sighed, turning to me with a look that broke my heart, “it's your magic...”

“It's okay, Hummingbird!” I said, trying to sound as happy as possible. “I lived for almost nineteen years without my magic! I'd do it, especially for you!” I rested both my hooves on her shoulders. “It's for you, Hummingbird!”

“But I can't do that to you,” Hummingbird sighed with a pained look. “It's your cutie-mark, Frost. It's your special talent, your calling in life... I can't take that away from you, especially since you can't do any other magic...”

“Hummingbird, please... look at me,” I called to her. Our eyes met again. “It's okay, Hummingbird. Don't you want to be together?”

“... would you be happy like that?” she asked me.

I swallowed and- without thinking- glanced away for just a moment.

The storyteller shakily sprouted an ice arm and held up a single, wavering finger.

For just a moment.

She sighed softly, “This isn't going to work out, Frost...”

“Hummingbird-” I called, my voice catching in my throat, heart hammering away.

She just gave me that pained look.

“H-Hummingbird, please...” I pleaded. I choked up. I couldn't finish.

“I'm sorry, Frost...” she whispered, closing her eyes, lip quivering. “I... I had the time of my life with you, and you've helped me so much... I just can't keep taking and taking from you... I couldn't do that to you...”

“Hummingbird...” I begged. Begged. “Please, it doesn't have to end this way... please don't let it end this way...”

Her face contorted, and she couldn't hold it back. She galloped out of my room, hissing and heaving with tears streaming down her face. I tried to follow after her, but I just... I just lost all will to keep up. I just reached out after her with the most distraught look on my face.

I finally let my hoof fall.

Shut my eyes tight.

Headed back to my room.

Closed the door.

And wept quietly, feeling nothing but hatred for myself.

* * *

“... Frost?”

“Hello, Song. It's... been a while, I know. Deleted your number from my contacts. But I remembered it, just like everything else.”

“Jeez, you okay? You sound like you've been crying.”

“Look, I... I don't know if I can ask this of you, but... can you do me a favor?”

“What is it?”

“Hummingbird's moving out. There's... I can't send her to Zoleks and Namira without bringing bad memories of hers back. I... if you can, or if you know anyone-”

“I'll do it. I'll do it. Just... I'm sorry to hear that, Frost.”

“Thank you, Song. If there's anything I can do, just... just let me know.”

“Hey, the group has another recruit. That's good enough for me. Just... take care of yourself, okay?”

* * *

Zoleks opened the door, a smile on his face.

It disappeared as he looked at me, alone.

He hugged me tight.

And took me inside.

* * *

“Song?”

“Hi, Frost...”

“... hi, Hummingbird...”

“...”

“...”

“Is... everything going alright?”

“Yeah, yeah, everything's...” Sigh. “No. Frost, I'm... I'm sorry about... all this.”

“...”

“Look, I... I didn't want to do it either, but... it’s for the best.”

“...”

“It's better for the both of us, Frost. I... I know you don't believe that, and I know you don't want to hear it, just... I know you still have feelings for me. I know I still have them for you. I know you're all torn up. Me too... but... can we still be friends?”

“Friends? Of... of course. I'd-I'd never turn you away, Hummingbird...”

Sigh. “Thanks, Frost... I... I hoped I didn't hurt you too much...”

“No, no, I'm... better today. It's okay, I... I understand your reasoning, I...” Sigh. “I get it. Don't worry, we're still friends.”

“Thank you... shoot. Uh, I’m... I’m really sorry, but I have to go now, Frost. Please take care of yourself. Really. Don’t tear yourself up over this.”

“You too, Hummingbird. Stay safe. Stay healthy.”

Click.

“I love you...”

* * *

Click. Clack. Clackety-click. Cachink, clatter.

I picked up my balisong off of the floor of Zoleks' guest bedroom with a sigh, fanning it closed with a few rolls of my icy wrist. I didn't care anymore. I was using using my cryomancy. I didn't even really care that a light mist shot out of my mouth when I sighed like that. It didn't matter to me anymore. I was more concerned that I might have scuffed my best friend's floor- and relieved that I hadn't.

There was a knock on the door. Zoleks cracked it open shortly after and peeked his head in. “Hey, buck, you wanna hit the clubs?”

“Same answer as the last eight times, Zoleks,” I sighed out mistily again, my gaze fixed on my silvery blade as I pulled it into an Around the World, working it up and twirling it repeatedly around my index finger in a Chaplin. Silvery. Silvery... no Silver... what? I felt the odd compulsion to name her. Her? “Thank you for the offer, but... I think I'll just stick around here, if... that's okay.”

“Alright... alright,” he said softly with a shallow nod. “Hey, uh, your folks sent me a bit of mail that they got for you.” He set down an envelope on the nightstand with his mouth. “So, uh, take care, okay? Oh, and your parents wanted me to let you know that they're there to help in any way, alright? They're really worried about you, so... call 'em soon, okay?”

After he closed the door behind him, I brought out my second balisong out of its fetlock pouch and mirrored it with her sister blade. Her? Sister? What was I thinking? Nothing too flashy, I just... danced them together with simple techniques- relatively simple ones, anyway. I was starting to dabble into the intermediate skills now.

I finally made the short stride to the nightstand, pouching one blade and popping the other into an Aerial to catch it in an open position as I read the front of the envelope.

It was from the Department of Equinpology at Princess Celestia's School of Magic.

I flipped the envelope over and used my balisong to... Silver Skean. Yeah, there we go. I used Silver Skean to open the flap and read the letter.

And then I was reminded I still had my own Way to follow.

* * *

“So, guess I gotta call you Doctor Windchill now, huh?” Zoleks said, clasping me on the back as we left Manehattan terminal.

I chuckled huskily- the first time since... yeah. “Oh please, please don't. I'm just a graduate student in any case.”

“Ahhh, don't worry,” he said, giving me a light nudge with his foreleg. “You'll always be my buck, buck. Anyway, you have pretty good timing. Wanted to ask you something.”

“If it's hitting the clubs, then... sure,” I said with a smile at him.

“Well, actually, it's not about clubs,” Zoleks said.

“Holy buck, the sky is falling!”

“Good to see you got your sense of humor back, buck.” The chill zebra grinned. “Nah, I wanted to know if you wanted to see a concert this evening.” Then he added, “Hummingbird's gonna be there.”

I paused and stared at him.

“Hey, you gonna be alright, Frost?”

“Yeah,” I answered with a nod. “Yeah. Sure, I'd love to see her play.” I smiled. Nothing faked.

* * *

Namira, Zoleks, and I shimmied over to a place to sit at Carnegie Hall. It wasn't quite as posh as the halls in Canterlot, but it was just enough in my opinion. Everything had a nice trim that didn't scream, “All this could've fed starving foals, you know!” At the same time, it still gave a sense of... I wouldn't say “privilege” to be there, but it was more like it welcomed people in. I liked it.

“Look, there she is,” Zoleks pointed out as we sat. I leaned over and followed his hoof to find Hummingbird meekly setting herself up with the rest of the violin ensemble. In true Manehattan fashion, the entire orchestra was made up of all sorts of equines of all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. She was smiling and appeared to be joking with another mare, laughing a bit afterward. She was actually wearing a bow-tie, to my surprise. It reminded me of Octavia from back in Canterlot. I chuckled softly, imagining that she was trying to imitate her role model. I saw Song Spinner trot up to her and tap her shoulder. Hummingbird nodded as everyone began to take their places.

“So remind me again,” I said, leaning toward Zoleks, “this is a video game music concert?”

“I guess?” He shrugged. “Song Spinner just let me know that there was gonna be a concert with Hummingbird in it.”

“It's supposed to be music from the ‘Legend of Zelda’ series,” Namira explained for us, looking at the program. “That's the first big portion of this concert. Next part is going to be a mix from all sorts of games.”

“Heh... the things we poor kids missed out on,” Zoleks chuckled softly, shaking his head.

“Video game music,” I muttered. “Well, she's playing. We'll see what happens.”

“Hey, you thought classical music was bad,” Namira chided me with a smirk. “Give it a chance, alright?”

“Fair enough, fair enough,” I nickered.

The lights dimmed, and the conductor, a gray earth pony mare with a cool-blue mane, took the stand. The audience applauded politely as she smiled and took a quick bow, turning to the orchestra and motioning for them to go through the tuning check.

And, well... heh, here's your memento, folks.

Play it, Roanoke.

And so he did.

There was a fantastic, grand opening with the strings and brass joining together in a heroic medley, swaying back and forth accompanied with the clash of cymbals. Then there was a demure stroke of the harp and the muted support of the strings. Then the strings section began to set a melody, passing it back and forth with the woodwind with tambourines sprinkled in. The remaining sections joined each other in a grand rush of sound. Then the woodwind took over, passing it between brass and percussion and back to strings. The coda came up again and again, each time with new and surprising variations. Everything had an undertone of great power from the brass and percussion, which rose to overtake the other sections on occasion. And then everything came winding down. The opening played again, now softer and as an ending.

And then the next piece began, the woodwind playing softly. It grew slowly louder, the strings section joining in. Then the mighty percussion came in as it rose, then finally the brass...

Pause for dramatic effect...

Then all sections joined in in a mighty display of heroism, setting a powerful theme that the strings echoed beautifully, majestically. Then the strings set an undertone of struggle as the brass rose above it to greatness and grandeur. Then the music died down, the brass rising slowly as if in weary triumph with all sections joining in.

Then there was a quiet, gentle tune set by the piano, soon taken over by the strings with the occasional sprinkle of trumpet. It was as if it was telling the story of a hero's return home. It had an almost nostalgic tone to it, a sense of familiarity and relief with a bit of upbeat piano trickling in, as if representing playful children running by. The strings played a very touching, mellow tune with a recurring theme underlying it, growing more powerful as if in a reunion, the climax signaled by the cymbals before it wound down.

And it wasn't over. All of the songs seemed to tell a story, a story of an expansive, breathtaking world full of adventure, full of peril, full of mystery and discovery- a world for heroes. The pieces ranged from subdued and mellow to tense and powerful, full of grandeur to full of terror. There were tunes for journeying over wide landscapes, ascending to grand heights, fighting terrible foes... it certainly fit the soundtrack of a video game, yet at the same time, it stood as tall as any orchestral work.

When the intermission finally hit, Zoleks nudged me with his elbow. “Buck, you gonna be alright?”

I turned to him and nodded. “Yeah, I'm fine. Don't worry.”

“You sure?” he asked, worried. “I mean... you sure you're over the whole thing with Hummingbird?”

“Yeah, I'm sure. Why do you ask?”

He sighed, “Frost, that was a forty-five minute orchestral arrangement. And not once did you take your eyes off of her.”

* * *

I met up with her and Song Spinner after the concert was over, catching them as they were headed back to the apartment.

“Oh... hey, Frost...” Hummingbird greeted meekly.

“Hey,” I said with a soft smile. “You did great out there, Hummingbird- and you made it through the entire performance. Just wanted to say I'm really proud of you.”

“That's what I've been telling her,” Song added with a grin. “'Course, she doesn't listen to me.”

“Heh... only because I pretty much spent all of the intermissions flopped on a sofa,” she chuckled softly. She nodded to me, smile fading. “So... how are you doing? I heard you graduated with honors. Sorry I couldn't attend...”

“Hey, it's fine,” I said, again with that soft smile. “No worries, really. I mean... I know you had this concert to prepare for, and it really paid off. You did amazing.”

“Thanks...” Hummingbird said gratefully. “So... what are you going to do now?”

“Follow My Way,” I answered. “I've found my calling in life, and it's equinpology and history. That's the path I lead.”

The green pegasus mare smiled softly back at me again. “Okay. Good luck, Frost. Oh! I-I still have this. I...” She removed... that hummingbird pendant I made for her three years ago... and held it to me. “I didn't know if you wanted it back... maybe as something to remember me by...”

My smile disappeared for a few seconds, so many memories rushing back as I lost myself in that pendant. I invested a so much energy to make sure it never melted. A permanent piece of me was left with it, I felt. And she had since-

“Frost?”

I shook myself out of my stupor and smiled gently to her, pushing her hoof back and then clasping it in mine. “Keep it. I'll always be able to remember you. Through here.” I tapped my forehead.

Hummingbird smiled softly and nodded, taking it back. And then she hugged me tightly. “Take care of yourself, Frost. Good luck.”

I hugged her back, letting out a shuddering, misty breath, eyes closed. “You too. Stay safe. Stay healthy.” I pulled away and smiled warmly as I could at her. “You're gonna go far, Hummingbird. I wish only the best for you.”

* * *

“Hello?”

“Hey, Frost. Everything okay?”

“Oh... hi, Professor Shinespark. How are you?”

Soft chuckle. “Hey, now, I asked first.”

Soft huff. “I'm doing... alright. Just trying to get an idea of where to go from here. Okay, now you go.”

“Doing alright myself. Just called and wanted to let you know that the new edition of the Hydronomicon is in circulation. Dunno how many will actually be interested in it, but I know academia will. I'll make sure you get your royalties, you hear?”

“Heh... thanks, professor.”

“Now, you're trying to find out what to do from here?”

“Just forming some ideas. Graduate school for both of my majors isn't too steep, but I'm not sure if it's worth the investment. Don't think I'm that great of a teacher in any case.”

“Well, just remember that MMI's always available if you ever need anything, okay?”

“Heh, I know, professor. Thanks. Be seeing you, okay?”

“I'll hold you to that. Maybe I can take you out to eat some actual Thulian fare sometime.”

* * *

“Hello! Jim Egan speaking!”

“Hello, professor. This is Frost.”

“Well hi there! What can I do for you?”

“Do you remember my term paper?”

“That I do! Could’ve used actual sources from the government sector, but it was still more than passable. What about it?”

“I think I'm going to take things a step further. Have any extra materials for buffalo?”

* * *

I opened up the drawer of my desk and took out a tiny case. I cracked it open, feeling an emptiness growing deep in me as I stared at the shining, glistening thing inside.

I closed the case, put it back into the drawer, and walked away.

I didn’t need her pendant to remember her by. I already had something else.

<===ooO Ooo===>

Footnote: Frost- Level Up! Level 13 Reached!

Perk Added: Ice Elemental Union (Rank Four)- The cold beckons. You are now 60% more resistant to colder temperatures and cryomantic spells are 20% more efficient. However, your body's core temperature is 40% lower and you are 80% weaker to sources of heat and incur a -200% penalty to fire resistance. These bonuses and penalties stack for each rank of this perk.
WARNING!- Prolonged contact with sensitive people and creatures can induce hypothermia!

Unlockables added: Soundtrack- Hummingbird and Song Spinner

Soundtrack- I'm Sorry

Soundtrack- “The Legend of Zelda” Orchestral Arrangement

Soundtrack- It's Time to Move On

Author's Note:

Definitely one of my more emotional chapters. Hopefully I managed to nail things just right. Again, my thanks to the wonderful FoE community and especially my pre-reader, Lazer726. Please leave some feedback for me- I always appreciate it, and for an installment like this, I could really use it.

Until next time.

(Also, Ask Frost Windchill tumblr! )

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