• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,221 Views, 969 Comments

Little Consequences - Skijarama

Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

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It had been perhaps half an hour since Thorax returned, and since then nopony had managed to find what they were looking for. Twilight, Rainbow, and Spike were still upstairs, deliberating on what the last city they should contact should be. Applejack had a stack of books as tall as she was that she was working through one at a time. She’d read the title on the front cover, and then nose it off of the stack when it turned out to have nothing to do with their search. Fluttershy and Rarity were working together to more carefully sift through the shelves. Pinkie Pie had bounced off deeper into the library about ten minutes ago, declaring that she ‘had a hunch.’ Thorax and Wind Whisper were also somewhere else among the shelves, while Starlight kept to the central intersection with Rarity and Fluttershy.

After getting down to the last book in her pile, Applejack cringed and looked up at everypony else. “Okay, not to be a downer, but is anypony else startin’ to think that this might be a lost cause?”

“I’d hardly say that,” Rarity countered with a roll of her eyes. “Honestly, Applejack, we’ve only been looking around for an hour and a half.”

“Ah know,” Applejack snorted before pulling another series of books off of the shelf and stacking them up. “Ah just think our time could be better spent. Ah, mean, Twilight and Starlight found the spell that sent the Empire away. Can’t they just use that same thing to find the power we need to fight off the changelin’s?”

“It’s not that simple,” Starlight cut in, trotting up to be closer to the conversation. Applejack raised an eyebrow at her in skepticism. “What we were looking for was an active spell, while I’m assuming the power of the Empire isn’t a spell, but a power source with some smaller spells woven into it. Finding the sealing spell over the Empire was only possible because it was huge and decayed from a thousand years of neglect. If we had tried the same search, I dunno, thirty years ago, we could have trotted right by and nopony would have even noticed.

“And even then, it takes an enormous spell for even a well-trained unicorn to sense it without a physically visible presence. It’s why I couldn’t, for example, track Rarity down wherever she went by just using a spell to look for the power source in her horn or look for any time she uses telekinesis.”

Rarity looked up from the tome presently floating in front of her eyes with a deadpan look. “That’s not creepy at all, darling.”

Starlight ignored her. “Look, put simply, finding the Empire was a special case. That same technique won’t work here,” she finished her explanation to Applejack. The farmer sighed and nosed another book off of her pile.

“Alright, ah understand.”

Rarity’s deadpan look gave way to an impressed smile. She put her book back on the shelf and moved towards Starlight. “You know, Starlight, I’m curious; how did you learn so much about magic? From what I’ve heard you were never formally trained.”

Starlight blinked and shuffled uneasily on her hooves. “Oh, uh, I was self-taught. When… Sunburst left Sire’s Hollow - my hometown - I thought that, maybe, I could follow him to magic school. I just had to prove that I had what it took to be enlisted. But there weren’t any prerequisite classes for magic at home, so I had to do my own research...” a small cringe appeared on her face. “But… well… focusing on that was easier said than done. I just couldn’t figure out why he didn’t stop to say goodbye or anything… I started feeling angry instead of sad or hopeful and lost focus. I started trying to justify why he left so suddenly, I started feeling bitter and-”

“Starlight,” Rarity cut her off in a firm, quiet voice, putting a hoof on her shoulder and looking her in the eyes. “I know it can be easy to ramble, especially about a passion, but…” she reached her hoof from Starlight’s shoulder to her cheek to brush away a tear that Starlight hadn’t even realized was there. “I can tell this is painful for you to talk about, so you can stop now. I know what I wanted to know.”

Starlight nodded unsteadily before wiping the back of her foreleg over her eyes. With that done, she gave a weak, broken smile. “R-right… sorry.”

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Rarity said simply before turning to glance at the shelf next to her. An uncomfortable grimace split across her face. “At any rate, though, we should probably-”

“HEY! EVERYPONY!” Pinkie Pie’s suddenly voice rang out from the complete other side of the library, cutting off Rarity’s sentiment and eliciting a wide range of responses from the other occupants. The pink spazz-ball of a mare herself came rocketing back into the intersection with a thick, leather-bound book clutched in one of her hooves, which she waved frantically around in the air. “I THINK I FOUND SOMETHING!”

Not far away, Fluttershy covered her ears and whimpered quietly in response to the sudden noise. “Um, Pinkie Pie? Could you maybe not talk quite so loud? Please?” she asked before closing her eyes and gently rubbing her ears in an effort to ease their pain.

“Oh, sorry!” Pinkie replied with an unfazed grin before waving the book around again. “But no, seriously, I found a book!”

Up on the second floor, Rainbow Dash stuck her head over the railing to shoot Pinkie an impatient scowl. “Pinkie, to paraphrase the flash we had earlier; there are plenty of those,” she said in a very sarcastic tone of voice.

“I know, but look!” Pinkie reiterated and then held her find high over her head so she could gesture to it with her other hoof. Doing this required that she very awkwardly stood up on her hind legs, swaying around like a drunk giraffe. “It’s called ‘history of the crystal empire!’ That’s what we’re looking for, right?”

“Wow. Concise,” Rarity commented under her breath, eyeing the book curiously.

Up above, Rainbow glanced over her shoulder at Spike, who was clutching the last of the letters in his claws with Twilight by his side. “Go ahead and send that,” she urged him before hopping over the rail and gliding down to the lower floor with her wings. Spike gave a salute, stood tall and breathed green flames over the scroll, sending it and the spell rolled up inside of it off to its destination. Twilight smiled at him approvingly, patted him on the head and then teleport down to stand maybe fifteen feet away from Pinkie Pie.

“Nice job, Pinkie! Let’s have a look,” She praised before calling the book out of Pinkie’s hooves with her magic. It came to a stop in front of her face, where she flipped it open to the table of contents and started reading. Rainbow touched down on her right, while Starlight, Rarity, and Fluttershy came from the left. Pinkie stayed where she was, and Applejack came to stand next to her.

“Okay, let’s see here…” Twilight muttered under her breath, lifting a hoof to the page as she went along the list of sections. After a few moments, she lowered her hoof and inhaled through her teeth in realization. “Ooh, yeah. Okay, there’s a lot to cover, here. I’ll need to skim each of the sections and see if I can find any leads. It’s probably going to take a while.”

Rainbow didn’t look pleased to hear this. “This is a thick book,” she pointed out, craning her neck down to look at it from the side. She cringed when she realized it was at least three inches thick. “How long will it take, exactly?”

“I don’t know,” Twilight replied with her posture deflating. She turned to the next page and wilted even more. “The writing here is more than a little out-of-date, and it’s in a style I’m not very familiar with, which could throw me off a little bit. At best… maybe twelve hours.”

“And at worst?” Starlight hesitantly asked, glancing past Twilight at Rainbow Dash, who was thankfully focusing solely on the book and the mare holding it.

“At worst…” Twilight sighed and closed the book with a heavy thump, some dust scattering from the pages. “A few days,” she said heavily, glancing over her shoulder at Starlight.

Rainbow grit her teeth in agitation upon hearing this. “A few days? We can’t afford to wait that long!” she growled while taking a step to the side and looking at Twilight more directly. “The changelings might find us before then! And what are we even supposed to do for a few days while we wait for you?”

Twilight turned to Rainbow regretfully, not quite able to meet her gaze. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, Rainbow, but this is the best I can do right now… I’m sorry,” she apologized quietly, her ears lowering and her posture growing timid.

Rarity chose this moment to insert herself back into the conversation. “It’s better than nothing, Rainbow,” she was quick to point out, circling around towards Rainbow Dash. “And while she’s working on that, maybe we can keep scouring the library. It is possible that there are more history books then this one, or maybe something on the magic of the empire itself. If that fails, we can also ask around the Empire some more. Maybe the local's memories will come back with time.”

Her words did the trick, and the frustration in Rainbow’s eyes faded somewhat, though she still didn’t look particularly happy. “Okay… alright, you got a point on me there, Rares. Pinkie, where did you find this one?” she asked, pointing at the book in Twilight’s aura while looking towards Pinkie.

“Oh, I found it right over-” She began in a chipper voice, pivoting to point somewhere in the library. However, then went silent and rigid, her eyes widening a bit while her foreleg began to twitch back and forth at the knee. She glanced down at the limb, then back up to her friends with a puzzled look. “Huh. My knee’s pinchy,” she said matter of factly before sitting down and reaching her other hoof down to massage the knee joint.

“Uh… what?” Starlight raised an eyebrow while looking Pinkie Pie up and down. “Your knee is pinchy? What does that even mean?” she asked incredulously, gesturing vaguely at Pinkie.

“That something scary is about to happen,” was the all-too-casual response from the party planner, who smiled happily as she spoke. A second ticked by. That smile slowly faded away when she saw the unnerved and frightened looks on everypony’s faces, and it dawned on her that they really didn’t want something scary right now. For several tense seconds, a heavy silence blanketed the room. The air felt like it was getting cold.

Starlight was the only one not looking nervous. With her brow furrowed in confusion, she glanced at each of the ponies and one baby dragon. “Uh… what?” was all she could really think to say.

“Pinkie sense,” Twilight answered simply, looking up towards one of the windows anxiously, worrying that a Changeling might come rocketing through at any moment. Was the sky getting darker? No, no, of course not... “It’s a long story. Ask me later.”

The sound of galloping hooves on echoing throughout the library caught everypony’s attention. “Uh, guys?!” the voice of Thorax called in an uneasy voice from one of the rows of shelves as he came out at full speed, Wind Whisper curled up on his back and looking around fearfully. “Don’t the rest of you feel that?”

“Feel what?” Applejack asked, no small amount of trepidation in her voice.

“That…” he paused and put a hoof to his chin, coming to a stop a few paces away from the farmer. He pondered for a few seconds, trying to find the right words to describe it. “I don’t know how to describe it… It’s like the air’s getting hard to breathe.”

“I haven’t noticed anything like that…” Fluttershy whimpered, shrinking down and moving to press into Rainbow’s side for protection. The other pegasus reacted by draping a wing over her on instinct. “Is it bad?”

A muffled scream from outside cut Thorax off before he could open his mouth. All eyes turned to the doors of the library. Now that they were listening, more such screams could be heard from outside, and they were growing in number. Thunder boomed in the distance, and a low, harrowing howl rolled over them. Rainbow felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, and her mouth began to go dry.

Thorax slowly looked back towards Fluttershy and shakily answered her question. “It’s usually pretty bad, yeah.”

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