• Published 19th Dec 2016
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The Pieces Lie Where They Fell - Evilhumour

A thousand years after the death of Mane Six, a new generation of Bearers are chosen.

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Chapter Twenty Three: Wind Breaker

Chapter Twenty Three

Wind Breaker

Wind Breaker grumbled as he stepped forwards, trying to look past Night’s rump to see where the tunnel was going as well as keep ahead of Vix-Lei’s horns.

“Hey Windy, you don’t have any room to whine,” Vix-Lei huffed from behind him, squatting low as she moved forwards, using her hands on the walls to steady herself again. “You guys can just walk all normal like; I’ve got actual legs and ΓΑΜΩ!” She swore again, sitting down on her butt as she went to pull her horns out of the ceiling again. “Wind, Δώσε μου το ποτό σου τώρα!

“Uh… Rex?” Wind slowly turned his head away from the fuming minotaur. “What did she sa-Gah!” He squawked as he was nearly pulled off his talons and paws when Vix-Lei, after freeing herself, tugged his saddle bag open, pulled out one of his bottles and started to chug it down. His wings snapped open and he had to bite back a snarl of pain as his wingtips hit the edge of the tunnel.

“I believe,” Night snarked at him, no doubt grinning on his stupid face, “She was saying that she wanted one of your drinks.”

Geeze, I would have never guessed that, Night,” Wind Breaker grumbled as he turned his head to check his bag and which bottle she took. He let out a sigh as it was just one of his lighter ones, no big loss there. “You okay Vix-Lei?”

“Yeah,” she grumbled, corking his bottle and placing it back into his bag. “Just really not a fan of all this cave walking; don’t get me wrong, I love a good maze as much as the next ’taur but I like to be able to walk.”

“Hey, do you think I like this?” Wind said to her. “I hate being underground.”

“Likewise,” Night said, fluttering his wings. “I cannot recall a single winged being that enjoys the lack of air on their wings.”

“Except for changelings,” Rex said from ahead, sniffing the way forwards. “They are quite fine with tunnels and the dark while most equines are not.”

“Huh, I didn't know that,” Xvital said as she padded her way behind Rex on all fours, with seemingly no effort at all. Wind Breaker would have killed for that in the past; being able to shift from walking on all fours like he always did to walking upright like Vix-Lei and holding it for a long time without getting a massive cramp in the back looked like a very useful ability.

“At least this is an artificial tunnel and doesn’t have any odd enchantments like some of the natural caves I’ve read about,” Page said from next to Night Blade. “Some of the stories I’ve heard tell about caves that can shift around on you when you least expect it or will try to fool you with optical illusions. And I think I heard about one that had a cursed pool that would pull you under and trap you if you touched it. But I did a scan when we first came down here, and this tunnel just has the same ambient magic as the surface - nothing dangerous to worry about.”

“That’s good to know,” Vix-Lei replied as she ducked her head again. “But I still wish they were a little taller.” She looked contemplative for a moment. “And I think I’ve heard the one about the shifting maze before. Didn’t sometaur get out of it by using a ball of enchanted string? Or was it a youngster with clear sight that could find the right path?”

“I’ve heard it both ways,” Page answered back. “Some of the older stories changed as they were retold, and nopony’s quite sure which version came first.”

Vix-Lei nodded. “That’s happened back in my home country too. I think it’s pretty much universal, actually.”

Wind Breaker smiled as the two females chatted back and forth. After everything they’d been through, their amiable talk was a breath of fresh air, and it helped keep the mood light as they continued onward.

“Say Rexy,” Vix-Lei called up from behind him, causing Wind Breaker to jump forwards a bit as she tilted her head downwards, his tail wrapping around his leg. “You’re the smart one here; do you know?”

“Sadly I do not and I have not had much inclination to research on such topics,” Rex said, tilting his head as he stopped walking. “Although discovering how the tunnel can shift on itself would be fascinating…”

“Speaking of fascinating,” Xvital began to speak before turning her head around to look at him. “Hey Wind, got any water in there?”

Wind Breaker had to blink and think about that. “Um… I’m not actually sure,” he blushed as he reached into his saddlebags to see if he actually carried the stuff. Wind Breaker did his best not to growl at Night when he heard the colt snicker something to Page and finally pulled out a sloshing canteen of what he hopped was water. “Here is some, I think…” he held it out, and Xvital quickly claimed it with her tail hand, bringing it around to drink. She wrinkled her nose, telling him it was either stale water or something else.

“Thanks Windy,” Xvital grimaced as she wiped her mouth before she moved her attention back to the diamond dog. “So Rex; care to share with the rest of us what your Element thing is?”

“Ah, yes,” Rex said, puffing his chest out a bit. Wind Breaker could tell the diamond dog was doing it due being around other griffons his entire life. “When I contacted my Virtue, the Lady, she informed me of two matters; that her real identity is Rarity Belle and that the Element we share is that of Generosity; we desire the greatest good for others, understanding and inspiring them with our selflessness.” He smiled, proud of himself. “Some of what she said actually reminds me of what your people would call agapé, Vix-Lei. The selfless love of one person for another, not born out of a desire to possess but from an open heart and desiring the best for others.”

Vix-Lei let out a low whistle. “Wow. That is a good one.”

“It sure is,” Wind Breaker said in awe. “Though, wouldn’t anything to do with love fall under the purview of Mi Amore Cadenza?”

“There may be some overlap of the two,” Rex acknowledged. “But as I recall, her purview was primarily that of romantic love, or eros.” He contemplated. “Oh - that reminds me. Wind Breaker, I asked Rarity about Applejack’s brother for you, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a name. She did promise we would find out before this was all over though. She also mentioned that she had a younger sister, whom she cared about quite dearly. And from what she said, I suspect that others of the Virtues also had siblings we will learn about at some point.”

“Really?” Vix-Lei’s ears perked up. “Cool.”

“Wait, was her name Belle?” Page asked, causing everypony to look at her. “I know of a noble family called the Belles; they helped me start my children reading project at the Great Library with their donation… and the priests of the Lady endorsed it...” Page trailed off, deep in thought.

“And the inn where Xvital, Wind Breaker, Vix-Lei and I were staying at was called the Carousel Boutique,” Rex said in awed tone. The diamond dog then blinked when he noticed everypony was staring at him. “That was the establishment that Rarity owned back a thousand years ago.”

“Okay, everyone stop for a moment,” Xvital said, settling down on the ground, causing everypony to do the same, with Vix-Lei grumbling behind him again and no doubt rubbing her odd legs. “What are the odds that we four would stay at an inn that has the same name as one of the businesses run by one of the Virtues all those years ago?”

“And that I would meet one of their descendants so many years ago?” Page said, nuzzling against Night.

“Two, actually,” Night said, wrapping a wing around her. “There is Polished Apple as well, didn’t yours say that her descendants pissed her off?” Night turned his head toward Wind Breaker, who nodded his head.

“That’s really odd; I mean, what are the odds Rex?” Xvital asked, rolling her head.

“Not great, I would imagine.” Rex said, rubbing his chin. “The Apples are quite numerous, I know, but I am not sure how great the chances are with the Belles as I don’t know anything of them.”

“Quite low,” Night said, shifting on his hooves. “The Belles are an incredibly small and minor noble family; they exist in a very small enclave in the West. And there are a lot of minor noble families in the West; my family is one of only a hoofful of major families that actually live in that area of Canterlot.”

“Perhaps there is a Spirit of Fate that has been nudging things,” Vix-Lei suggested. “Given a spirit of Balance exists…” she shrugged, doing her best not to overdo it. “It’s a possibility.”

“Perhaps it is Balance that’s doing it?” Wind Breaker suggested.

“But that would mean it would have been aiding the foe for some time,” Rex said, causing everypony to frown.

“If it has, then we’ll just have to be even more careful than before,” Xvital said firmly before forcing a smile onto her face. “But going back to what you were saying about family members…”

Vix-Lei raised a hand before grumbling as she grazed the ceiling of the tunnel again. “Now I’m wondering if any of us might have met some of their other relatives without knowing it,” she commented. “I’ll have to keep an eye out for anytaur with the Pie name - if they’re anything like Pinkie, they’re probably a real hoot.”

“And these Elements; they only really popped up when you guys did something related to it,” Xvital said. “Page spoke to that changeling mare we saved, Vix-Lei got us all to laugh, Wind…”

“I told the truth to Fair Scales about what I wanted,” Wind Breaker said before nodding his head at Rex. “And you got yours by giving your shop up.”

“Kindness, Laughter, Honesty and Generosity,” Page said. “That means your Element or Night’s is next when you do something related to your Element, something really meaningful.”

That’s why Applejack wouldn’t tell me anything,” Wind Breaker snapped his talons. “What we do has to have some sort of deep purpose on our end, or it won’t count.”

“That’s incredibly important information Wind,” Night said in his sharp noble voice. “Anything else you neglected to tell us?”

Wind Breaker scratched his chin. “Not that I can think of. I already told you what she warned me about - that thing that’s even worse than what we’re dealing with now, that Balance would have to let out if she gave me too much information right then. But that’s it, really.”

“Right, thanks for bringing that up Night,” Xvital snorted, rolling her eyes. “Really helps me at night to know what we’re dealing with is not the worst thing out there and it could End the world.”

Wind Breaker saw the batpony’s coat bristle at that comment but instead of biting back, he simply glared at her.

“Look guys,” Vix-Lei said from behind them in a soft voice. “I have no idea what the last two are, but considering how easily it took us to get ours, it should be child’s play for you two to get your Elements. You just need to be yourselves and we’ll defeat this baddie before the week is over.”

“So Xvital will get hers for her leadership and Night for his…” Wind Breaker trailed off, the joke in his mouth dying as soon as he saw the glare, realizing he might be overdoing it for the touchy colt. “Whatever the Element is; we’ve seen them being off from what the Virtues were known for. The Stern Warden was known for being, well you know, stern not kind. The Wise Oracle was known for her master planning due to ability to see the future but Pinkie was a real jokester from what Vix-Lei is saying. The Stallion of Dedication was known for being dedicated to a single task, not being a honest pony… as well as a mare,” Wind said, scratching his head. “And the Lady, the whole generosity thing is just a thing tacked on for nobles to ease their guilt when they see poor.” Wind couldn’t help himself but glare at Night, remembering how every six weeks the priests of the Lady would give their donation to the Hatchery that was more or less just the basics and no real thought was put into it. “So while the Warrior was known for leading her thunder warriors into battle and the Magi of Stars was known for being close to goddess Celestia and being the most powerful unicorn in history, I’d be really surprise if their Elements were for Fighting and Magic.”

“So something twisted off of fighting and… Leadership?” Xvital ventured. “It can’t be magic because I don’t have magic and Night’s a bat pony.”

“I do have magic, but it’s subtle compared to unicorn magic,” Night said at her, his fangs poking out before he gulped and looked away. “But you’re no doubt correct; if magic were an Element it would have been either Page or Rex who are magically talented… and I have to admit, you’re going to be the Magi of Stars’ heir because in all the stories, and this is with the scrolls of the Magi of Stars always having her as the leader of her group which I am not.”

“Geeze, couldn’t say that a bit nicer, eh?” Xvital said with a huff and a roll of her eyes. “But yeah, I guess if things are going to line up like that, it doesn’t leave much room to imagine which ones we’re going to be heirs of Night. But whatever yours is, I guess your sword fighting won’t be worth much to getting your Element.”

Night seemed that he was about to say something when Rex spoke first, “Definitely not as the spark to gain your Element, Night. Whatever the Warrior was like in life must be something other than fighting and you have to be capable of acting like her, just on a greater scale.”

“And I feel safe knowing that I’ve got you watching my back,” Page said, nuzzling him which seemed to calm him down again.

“Yeah, if we need someone taken care of, we’ll just shove them in front of you Night,” Xvital chuckled as they began to move again, with Night’s face dropping again, his tail flickering angrily. “How much further do you think Rex?”

“I am not sure but I do believe I see a bend up ahead and Vix-Lei should appreciate this as it seems to slope downwards,” Rex said with Vix-Lei letting out a sigh of relief.

“Thank the gods,” she groaned. “Next time, we’re going through something makes you guys walk all funny like for a while."

“And how are you going to do that, Vix-Lei,” Xvital called from the front. “Make us dance? ‘Cause that would only hit Page, NIght and Wind as me and Rex can easily shift back and forth.”

“Shuddup and let a girl dream, okay?” Vix-Lei pouted playfully. “I’ll think of something to make you all suffer the agony of cramped legs.”

That got everypony laughing, Wind covering his beak with his right wing to hold back his guffawing.

After Page got her laughter under control, she turned to face the minotaur. “If it is that bad, we can take a longer break.”

“Nah, I’m okay and the slope should make things easier on me,” she said, shaking her head and letting out a yelp of pain as she hit her head again. “Damn it…”

Wind Breaker just rolled his eyes and focused on walking forwards, doing his best not to stumble as they walked on the downward slope as the last thing he wanted to do was crash into Night and knock everypony over into a big mess.

Finally Rex called out a halt after a period of time of walking, with everypony crowding around him. The diamond dog then waved them back and pointed upwards to a dangling cord and placed a finger to his lips.

He then tapped Xvital to come forwards as the cord was just tall enough to be out his reach. Xvital rolled her eyes and used her tail hoof to pull it down with a staircase extending downwards, almost on top of them. Everypony squawked out in surprise as Page backed into Night, which caused the batpony to crash into him and caused Wind to smack his head into Vix-Lei’s lower region.

“Hey, watch it Windy,” Vix-Lei growled, trying to shove everypony off of her but finding no purchase. “We just met and all, but buy a girl a drink first… and I expect a good one from you considering how much you’ve got in your pack.”

“Again, aren’t you trying to stop drinking?” Night grumbled from his chest, trying to push himself off. Then he paused. “Wow, these feathers are really comfortable.”

“Thank you,” Wind Breaker grumbled back as he tried to struggle to his talons, Night and Page heavier than what he expected. “I use an imported shampoo from the Windy Whistles line, based in Cloudsdale mountains.”

“Once this is over I might just mention this to Mother; she is always looking for new business expansions,” Night said as Page hopped off the batpony and Night extended his wings to push himself forwards. Which was a lot better than the other option to push his hooves downward to give him a lift, considering where Night’s hooves were…

“Off you go,” Vix-Lei said as she shoved Wind Breaker off of her, with him nearly crashing into Night’s plot, his beak grazing the colt’s tail with Night jumping in surprise. “Rex, Xvital, want to move upwards so we can get out of the blasted tunnel already?”

With a nod of his head, Rex began to climb up the stairs, with the ahuizotless following behind the diamond dog. Page and Night came behind them, with Wind Breaker next and heading up the steps as fast he could. At the very back of the line, Vix-Lei muttered how happy she was that she could now stand upright.

Wind Breaker had no idea where they were, but by how much Rex’s tail was wagging, it could only mean good things.

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