• Published 19th Dec 2017
  • 973 Views, 28 Comments

Ashes to Inferno - Sun Aura

Sunset Shimmer has reached her lowest point. Thankfully, there are those that would be happy to help her up.

  • ...

Everfree Part IV: Crystal Memories

The fundraiser was in full swing, and they’d already raised enough money to save the camp. And it was still early, so who knows. They might get some extra for repairs. Stars know the dock needs fixed already.

The band was taking a break, getting drinks and dancing and talking. Or in one case, trying to talk before their partner got dragged off.

“So,” Sunset grinned, elbowing Twilight in the side. “You and Timber, huh?”

“Yeah,” Twilight sighed. “You’re not upset, are you?”

“Why would I be?” she wondered, taking a drink.

“Well, you did sound like you were trying to set me up with Flash so…” she said.

“Point taken,” she gave in. “I still say you could make it work. I mean, people can have multiple partners at once.”

“You mentioned,” she nodded. “I don’t know. Even if I did like him back, I kind of feel like I’d be comparing myself to the other me. I mean, she is a Princess and all.”

“Yeah, but you’re you,” she countered. “The rest of us are your friends because you’re you, not because you’re like the other you. Trust me, I've made friends with a handful of counterparts, and they're all different enough. Jokes aside, even Pinkie has some differences. But you're all different enough that there isn't a comparison. Besides, even if you didn’t end up liking Flash, I think he’d still find a happy ending.”

To emphasize the point, she gestured to the dance floor. Flash and Thunder were at least dancing with one another, even if Sunset wasn’t sure on the exact relationship status. Though, it was a little funny to see Brawly waiting on the sideline like a concerned parent.

“Fair enough,” Twilight smiled. “Can I… can I be really honest with you for a minute?”

“About romance?” Sunset raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I, uh, just wanted you to know that for a little while there I did kinda have a minor thing for you? Like, it wasn’t big and it was at least half ‘hero crush’ and I’m past it by now and not at all in love with you. But I felt like you should know.”

“Huh,” she said. “I honestly have no idea how to feel about that. But thanks for telling me.”

“It seemed right,” she said. “But thanks, for everything. For helping me with what… with what I did back at the Games.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve heard you have a nightmare since.”

“I haven’t,” she confirmed. “The whole thing was about control, but now that I’ve realized I can control it, it’s not as bad. I still… I’m still scared of what could have happened, but I know it won’t happen again. Does that make sense?”

“Completely,” she said, putting an arm around Twilight’s shoulders. “You might still get them, but it won’t be as often. For now, we just have the Mysteries of the Universe to figure out.”

“Mysteries of the Universe?” she wondered.

“Okay, maybe not the Universe,” she laughed. “But come on, I’m wondering what’s up with the Magic Crystals in the cave. They’re obviously related to Equestria, but why so far away from the Portal?”

“I don’t know,” she mused. “It’s still new to me. But I did find something that could be a clue.”

“Lead the way, Velma,” she said.

“Wait, why am I Velma?” she demanded.

“Because while we’re both nerds, you’re the one with the glasses,” she answered, downing the rest of her drink. “And I think I can pull off ‘Daphne’ a little better.”

“You’re kind of the leader so wouldn’t you be Fred?” she said.

“Maybe,” she said. “But you’re the one who actually owns the dog so if we’re meddling kids….”

“Yeah yeah,” she sighed. “How about we compromise and say we’re both Nancy Drew? Just come on.”

Glad to see the newfound confidence, Sunset followed Twilight through the dance floor. She waved at people as they walked, trying to figure out where they were going.

The stopped eventually, finding the pedestal-like rocks that the crystals had come from. Back when they had set up the party, they’d been unsure what to do with the rock formation, and ended up setting the stage up in front of it. Sunset began to ask what to look for when she saw Twilight slip behind it.

“This,” Twilight said. “Definitely strange, right?”

The spot she was pointing was the back of the rocks. A strange pattern was carved into the stone. No, not a pattern. It was letters and symbols, eight ‘sets’, though two did not have symbols.

“That’s probably just some kids carving initials,” Sunset said. “Seems like one of those dare spots. You know, ‘go in the haunted cave and carve your initials for the next generation of brave fools’.”

“That’s what I thought too,” she said. “But look here.”

Following to where her finger pointed, she saw two familiar symbols. She checked the letters beside them, just to be sure. ‘C.I.’ with a Sun, and three spaces over ‘L.I.’ with a Moon, and one set in between them was 'D.I.' without a symbol.

“That is weird….” Sunset agreed. “But… if they are initials, they all end in ‘I’.”

“I don’t suppose we can just ask them, can we?” Twilight pouted.

“You can always try.”

Both girls jumped. It was understandable, considering the last time someone had snuck up on them in this cave. Though thankfully, it was only Luna.

“Sorry to scare you,” Luna smiled.

“No you’re not,” Sunset muttered.

“I did have to check on you though,” she said, ignoring the comment. “Strange circumstances aside, you were two students sneaking off somewhere.”

“Ah, right,” Twilight said, suddenly interested in the floor.

“Just investigating,” Sunset defended with a cough. “So… you do know something about these carvings?”

“It’s no use pretending I don’t,” Luna said. “Canterlot High’s Senior Trip has been at Camp Everfree for many years. We already told you about the Sundial, remember?”

“So the class came in and carved a rock?” she wondered.

“Not the class,” she said, shaking her head. “Just us eight. This place felt…. Right somehow. And yes, being teens we decided to carve initials into the rock.”

“A rock that would one day hold Magic Crystals,” Twilight said.

“I do not know if this were coincidence,” she shrugged.

“Was it the same group from when you were in the Friendship Games?” Sunset asked.

“How did you…” she frowned.

“School newspaper archives,” she said. “I’ve been meaning to ask, but…. Last names aren’t something we have in Equestria. And even here they’re only used in formalities, but they’re supposed to be for family names, right?”

“Correct,” she nodded. “And I suppose you have a few more questions with that?”

“A good few,” she said. “Like, why do the eight of you share the name ‘Immortalem’?”

“And wait,” Twilight frowned. “Isn’t Principal Celestia your older sister? How were you both in the same Senior Class?”

“The answer is the same,” she said. “Not all family is made through blood. Eight children, all either abandoned, orphaned, or just seemed to appear from the ether, stuck together in the same home when they were too young to remember anything else.”

“A big group of orphans,” Sunset said. “Strange. Not the orphan bit, but that the counterparts aren’t known. I mean, I know a lot about Equestria and its legends, but I don’t think I read half of these names.”

“I guess not all of us are immortal,” she said. “I should have guessed. Our worlds are mirrored, so a death in one world is a death in another.”

“Oh,” she said. “That’s…I’m sorry. I guess it’s because your timelines are condensed here, so I can find record of people who died recently far easier than Ponies that died more than a thousand years ago.”

“That makes sense,” Twilight nodded. “Sorry for bringing it up.”

“It is alright,” Luna said, placing her hand on the carvings. “I assume you were trying to figure out why there was Magic here, so far from Canterlot High, correct?”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “I mean, while apparently the school’s been going here, there shouldn’t be Magic this far out.”

“Unless someone brought it here,” Twilight said. “Maybe there was something to that Gaia Everfree story.”

“No there wasn’t,” she sighed. “Timber made it up to cover for Gloriosa.”

“I was wondering why he changed the tale,” Luna mused.

Both teens stopped and looked at her, raising an eyebrow. Luna looked back, but her expression was clear she only paused for effect. Perhaps she should switch with Discord and be the theatre teacher instead. Then again, ‘Vice Principal Discord’ was a terrifying thought.

“Was the story different when you were here?” Twilight asked, playing into the drama.

“Just a bit,” Luna said. “The way it was told, Gaia Everfree was not a monster who threatened those on her land.”

“Knew it,” Sunset grinned. “Was she a girl who went missing from a monster attack?”

“No,” she shook her head. “One of the siblings could probably tell you better, but I remember it from having heard it. Supposedly Gaia was a Spirit of sorts, protector of the Forest. One day, a man decided to build his home in the trees, despite the warnings of its protector. The story goes on and on of their meetings. How the Spirit wouldn’t attack him before he did so first.

“However,” she continued. “Every time the man showed kindness to the forest. He used only the trees needed to build a home and keep him warm, he apologized to the game he hunted and the forest he took it from. In time, they fell in love, began a family, and word says that the decedents are spirits as well, still protecting the forest.”

“Not much of a ghost story,” Sunset said.

“Pretty much the opposite,” Twilight said. "A supernatural romance novel."

“Well, I did not give into the theatrics,” Luna said. “When Terra, Timber and Gloriosa’s mother, told it back then, she was great at the theatrics of campfire stories. And while it’s not ‘scary’, it still tells of the supernatural in the forest that set plenty of campers on edge and made them respect the trees. Or sent some of them on an adventure to find said spirits only to find a cool cave and carve their initials in the rock.”

“At least we didn’t do that,” Sunset said.

“We should probably get back to the party,” she smiled. “I’m sure your friends are looking for you.

Both nodded, and everyone headed back. Sunset had made it a few feet before she felt something crunch under her foot. It was probably just a stray rock, or maybe a discarded drink cup that had made its way backstage. Even so, she stopped and looked.

The item was half-buried in dirt. Not unusual, since as much as they had tried to clean the place it was still a cave. However, as she picked it up, she found a bracelet with a blue, heart-shaped charm made of crystal. The chain was broken, once at the clasp where her heel had crushed it, and once in the links, most likely why it was dropped on the cave floor.

“Twilight, I think you dropped this,” Sunset said. “I think I broke it more, but I can fix it with a little Magic.”

“It’s not mine,” Twilight frowned, looking to the item in her hand.

“Really?” she said. “I thought maybe you’d borrowed it from Cadence.”

“Why Cadence?” she wondered.

“The Charm,” she pointed. “It’s like her Counterpart’s Cutie Mark. I figured that since everyone here wears items like their Counterpart’s Cutie Marks….”

“Okay, I can see it,” she frowned. “Well, I’ve never seen a ‘Cutie Mark’, but that heart she wears is similar. But if it was Cadence’s it would have those little gold things on it.”

Luna had come back, to see why they had stopped. The sight of the bracelet had frozen her, eyes going wide. Sunset didn’t dare to speak, to ask why.

With a shaking hand, she took the bracelet from Sunset’s grip. As she did, Sunset felt a shock of emotion. Sadness and loss, but also a sort of nostalgic acceptance.

“You two are good at finding the forgotten,” Luna said, giving a sad smile.

“It was from one of them, wasn’t it?” Sunset asked.

“Yes,” she nodded. “This was Azura’s. She lost it, back when we came here for our trip. We searched for an hour, but we had no idea if it was here or in the forest.”

She smiled at the bracelet, running her hand over the crystal charm, trying to clean off some of the dirt. Closing it in her fist, she took a deep breath and handed it back to Sunset.

“What?” Sunset asked, pushing the bracelet back. “You just said-“

“I know,” Luna said.

“But it’s important to you,” she insisted. “I could feel it. Sorry about that, by the way. I’m getting better at not reading the emotions of everyone I touch, but if it’s strong enough I can still get it. And everything you just-“

“Trust me,” she smiled. “While I’d love to have another token, Azura would rather you have it. When we couldn’t find it, she rambled on and on of the idea of someone eventually finding it and taking it on adventure after adventure, all around the world. And then one day running into this person, seeing the bracelet, and learning where they’ve been. Perhaps she was just tired, as it was around four in the morning by then, but I feel that she would be glad that it found its way to the one who could take it farther than she ever could.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give it back to her,” she said.

“Maybe not,” she shrugged. “But I still believe that she would agree that you should have it.”

Sunset hesitated to agree. This was another time she weighted logic and heart. Reluctantly, Sunset took the bracelet.

“I’ll make sure it sees some interesting places,” Sunset smiled. “I can think of a whole world of adventures.”

“Thank you,” Luna sighed. “And as a favor, I’ll turn a blind eye to the fact that Mr. Sentry has managed to somehow get his hands on a magical sword.”

“Well, it was at least a useful Christmas present,” she chuckled nervously.

Author's Note:

You know, I didn't mean to get into my conspiracy theory stuff, but here we are.
As for this story, unlike the previous chapters, I don't have the next ones completely written yet. That will come as it gets written, so we won't have the 'a chapter a day' updates we've been having lately. But this isn't the end! I know where/how I want to end this, but I need to 1. write that and 2. write some inbetween stuff.

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