• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,134 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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Exhaustion

Twilight wasn’t quite sure when Rainbow had fallen asleep in her hooves, but once she realized that the pegasus was starting to snore, she went out of her way to bring Rainbow’s makeshift pillow and blanket back to where they had been so closely embraced, resting her near the wall and tucking her in before going back to work on the book, periodically smiling at her as she slept. Hours slowly passed her by, and eventually, just outside a nearby window, the first rays of sunlight could be seen painting the sky. Songbirds were starting to sing, and if she didn’t know better, Twilight might not have realized they were in the heart of a frozen wasteland. The morning was a little earlier than if Celestia were handling it, but that didn’t matter as of now.

What was of more pressing concern was that Twilight could feel her eyes trying to force themselves closed on her more and more frequently as the time went by. The words on the page were starting to blur together and her ability to process some of the archaic writing was growing severely compromised by her exhaustion. She mentally cursed their luck, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to do anything but focus on the spell before much longer, and her search would come to a premature end likely before the day was even over.

To make matters worse, she had yet to find anything that could feasibly be used to drive out the Changelings back in Equestria. Whenever the book talked about the magic of the Crystal Empire, it was always cryptic, and what little she could surmise pointed towards purely defensive measures. Nothing mobile or transferable and, as such, nothing they could take back with them.

It was the sounds of the others talking to each other deeper in the library that finally drew Twilight’s attention from the book and roused Rainbow Dash from her slumber. The pegasus in question blinked open her eyes, which had dark rings under them, and sat upright with a dejected groan. Twilight looked her way and flashed her a small smile. “Sleep alright?” she asked quietly, drawing a snort from Dash.

“Nope,” was her only response before she stretched out her wings and forelegs. After a few seconds (and many satisfying pops coming out of her joints), Rainbow rose back to her hooves and wobble / walked her way over to Twilight, eyes focused on the book. “Any progress?” she asked through another yawn.

Twilight pursed her lips and shook her head. “Nope. Nothing concrete, at least. I have a few leads I can follow, but it might take a while to find anything usable.”

“Wow, really?” Rainbow raised an eyebrow while peeking into the book itself. “Twilight, I know you said twelve hours to a few days for our timetable, but I also know that you’re, like, the best researcher I’ve ever met,” she stated before shifting her gaze from the book to look into Twilight’s eyes. She saw the bags under them, the slightly red hue around the edges and the veins that were showing through her cornea. She leaned back slightly and cringed. “You’re… really tired,” she uttered quietly.

After a few seconds, Twilight nodded. “I am really tired,” she agreed in a despondent tone, a yawn then disrupting any further speech. She sighed and looked down into the book with a drooping frown. “But you know I can’t afford to get any sleep right now…” her eyes shot up to her horn, which let off a few tiny sparks as if to emphasize her point.

Rainbow’s eyes narrowed as she looked into that sizzling light. She then looked into Twilight’s eyes again, noticing that the pupils were fluctuating erratically as if her eyes were having a hard time focusing. “Maybe you should pass the book off to somepony else,” Rainbow offered gently, touching a hoof to Twilight’s shoulder. “You need to focus on your spell, anyway.”

Twilight looked almost offended and shook her head. ‘No, no, that’s okay,” she denied and pulled the book a little closer, stubbornly looking into its pages. “I can do this. I haven’t met a book yet that could beat me.”

Rainbow’s expression flattened. “What’s this word?” She asked in a deadpan, pointing at one of the words on the page with a hoof. Twilight blinked and scowled at Rainbow incredulously, although the pegasus just poked the word again while unrepentantly meeting Twilight’s gaze with her own.

“Ugh, fine. That word is… uhm…” Twilight narrowed her eyes as she looked it over, not wanting to admit that she couldn’t actually make it out through her blurring vision. “It’s… uh… prest… presto…. Prestidinner?” Immediately, upon hearing what she had just said, a small blush formed on her cheeks in embarrassment. She hung her head to hide her face. “Okay, fine. You got me. What is it?”

“Prestidigitation,” Rainbow said flatly, shaking her head in exasperation. “Honestly, if you can’t pronounce that right now, then you need to stop.”

Twilight gave Rainbow a smoldering glare. “Rainbow,” she tried to sound threatening, but another yawn worked its way through her, shutting her up. At the height of the yawn, a tiny squeak sound bubbled up from deep in her throat, making her blush grow just a little bit more. Without saying a word, she lightly nudged the book away from her, crossed her forelegs over her chest, looked away and pouted.

Despite the direness of their situation, Rainbow couldn’t help but snicker at the look on Twilight’s face. “Oh, don’t give me that look. You know I’m right,” she teased while lightly nudging Twilight in the ribs with her elbow.

Twilight’s muzzle scrunched, and she huffed indignantly. “Shut up…”

Rainbow just laughed some more before leaning over and nuzzling into Twilight’s shoulder and neck. “Nah, I don’t think so. Besides, I know you love it.”

Despite her annoyance, Twilight had to concede the point and gratefully returned the affectionate nuzzle. After a few seconds, she pulled away and looked back down and the book, hesitation clearly written on her face. “Who’s going to take over the research?”

Without even missing a beat, Rainbow thumped a hoof onto her chest and put on a big, cocky grin. “I can do it,” she said heartily, earning a derisive snort from Twilight. Rainbow shot her a questioning look. “What?”

Twilight just giggled under her breath and waved Rainbow’s question off. “Nothing, nothing,” she dismissed simply before moving to stand back up. As she rose, however, her posture wobbled and her words began to trail off and slur together. “I was just… jus… wha…?” without any warning, Twilight slumped forward and crumpled into a heap on the floor

“Twi?!” Rainbow blurted, Immediately by her side and checking her over for problems. It didn’t take her more than a second to see that the magical aura around Twilight’s horn flickering and sparking dangerously while her face contorted with pain and discomfort. Her eyes were screwed tightly shut, and gasps and grunts of pain slipped through her clenched teeth while her legs started to erratically twitch and kick out. Deeper in the library, Rainbow could hear Starlight letting out an alarmed shout.

Helpless to do anything, Rainbow quickly stood up and raised her head. “Somepony, help! Something’s wrong with Twilight!” she shouted as loud as she could before looking back down at Twilight with fearful eyes. For several agonizing seconds, all Rainbow could do was stand there and helplessly watch Twilight spasm on the ground, gasping in pain. This one moment seemed to drag on and on for eternity, every second making Rainbow draw closer and closer to outright panic. The sound of several pairs of hooves galloping towards their location heralded the arrival of Starlight, followed closely by Fluttershy and everypony else, minus Wind Whisper.

Starlight’s eyes locked onto Twilight before widening in surprise. “What happened?!” she demanded simply, cantering over to her.

“I don’t know!” Rainbow replied, scooting back a little bit, the echoing words and burning inside her skull forgotten for now. “She just fell over and started gasping!”

Fluttershy and Starlight were quick to go to Twilight’s aid, with Starlight examining her horn and Fluttershy doing her best to soothe Twilight’s discomfort, patting her on the back and whispering something to her. Everypony else could only watch in anxious silence from the sidelines, not sure what to do. For almost a minute this went on before, thankfully, Twilight’s ragged breaths started to calm down, and she was able to crack open her eyes. Fluttershy put a hoof on the back of her head and checked her eyes. “Twilight? Are you okay?” she asked urgently.

Twilight’s response was to let out a long, ragged groan of pain before trying to sit up. Fluttershy shifted and stopped her, nudging Starlight out of her way to do so. “No, no, Twilight. Try to hold still. Let me get a good look. That looked really painful.”

“Fluttershy, please,” Twilight tried to assuage her friend’s concern, but the weakness in her voice did very little to ease any of their tension, nor did the still errant sparks flying from her horn. With another groan, she got the flow of energy to stabilize, her breathing finally slowing back down to normal. “I just went a little dizzy, that’s all…”

Applejack scoffed the moment she heard that. “Dizzy?!” she asked quizzically in a raised voice. “Twi, Ah dunno who yer tryin’ to fool with that, but its a load of hogwash and ya know it! That was not bein’ ‘dizzy!’”

“Yeah, I’ve seen you get dizzy, Twilight,” Spike added in, stepping forward and nodding along with Applejack’s assessment. “This isn’t that.”

“Magic exhaustion,” Starlight suddenly cut in while stepping forward, her eyes losing a lot of their intensity. All eyes flew to her, and for a moment she shrunk a little bit under all of the attention. “It’s… uh... okay, when a unicorn casts a spell for too long, they start to get mentally tired, like how a runner might be tired after a longer-than-usual sprint, right? Well…” she locked eyes with Twilight, clearly uneasy. “Falling down and having spasms like that is an indication of severe magic exhaustion. It could actually be dangerous if it goes on for too long.”

Upon hearing this, Rainbow looked at Twilight with wide, worried eyes. Her ears pinned back against her head and a slight quiver worked its way into her voice. “S-so, uh… what kind of ‘dangerous’ are we talking about, here?” she asked haltingly while slowly and gingerly inching back in Twilight’s direction.

“The best-case scenario would be that she would pass out from the exertion and wake up in a few hours. That’s the most common occurrence… But the worst case…?” Starlight bit her lip and looked down, her ears also going flat. “The worst case scenarios could be… fatal… if we didn’t treat it right away…”

As a whole, the entire group let out a gasp of shock and horror at this revelation. Pinkie Pie’s hooves shot up to her chest. “What?! We can’t let that happen!” she exclaimed anxiously, her hooves fidgeting nervously.

“But what can we do?” Rarity asked, no small amount of dread in her voice. “If she drops her spell to hold off the exhaustion, King Sombra will get in, and then we’re all done for.”

“And if the exhaustion gets too bad, her spell will drop anyway,” Thorax added in a trembling voice, looking over his shoulder to look deeper into the library. “We’re stuck…” his words became choked with despair.

“Everypony…” Twilight began, but her words caught in her throat when another spear of pain ran through her skull, making her cringe. Slowly, she turned to look over at Rainbow Dash. The pegasus was looking back at her with wide, horrified eyes. Carefully, trying not to move too quickly, Twilight shifted around to look at Rainbow more directly. Fluttershy followed her gaze and wilted somewhat.

“Twi…” Rainbow started in barely a whisper. “This could… k-kill you?” she managed to choke out before looking at Starlight. The horror in her eyes slowly faded away, replaced by skepticism “And what about you. huh? Why aren’t you getting this magic exhaustion thing?!” her words dripped with venom and sounded almost accusatory.

Starlight’s ears went even farther back, and she took several nervous steps backward, though her own eyes narrowed in warning. “I’m tired, too. I’ll probably start having spasms before very long myself.”

Make her pay.

Rainbow’s face began heating up with rage, and try as she might, she couldn’t force down the anger that was steadily building up in her cranium. She took a threatening step in the lilac mare’s direction while flaring out her wings and baring her teeth. “Why didn’t it happen to you first?! I know you used more energy than Twilight yesterday! You did the fancy light show when I put on my aerial performance, you helped fight Sombra, and you’re casting the barrier spell with Twilight! so why aren’t you the one writhing on the ground?!”

“Rainbow, please…” Fluttershy ventured but immediately shrank back when Rainbow let off an angry snarl.

Starlight took another step back, sweat starting to form on her brow. “I’m not the one c-casting the spell, Rainbow! I’m lending power to it, but that’s not the same thing!” Starlight explained in a frightened and trembling voice, looking about ready to turn tail and bolt.

“MAYBE YOU SHOULD GIVE SOME MORE!” Rainbow screamed, her words echoing far away into the library. “At least then it wouldn’t be Twilight in pain!” her pupils dilated and her teeth ground together. She gave her wings a preparatory flap, about ready to launch herself at the other mare. Before she could act out in any way, however, a pair of deep purple eyes filled her vision, giving her pause. She went rigid, looking into Twilight’s eyes for several long seconds. A dreadful and tense silence fell over the entire assembly of ponies.

Twilight slowly reached out with one of her hooves. “Rainbow… stop. Please…” she whispered, touching the hoof to Rainbow’s cheek. “Don’t do this. Not again…” Twilight continued in what she hopes was a soothing tone, advancing just a little closer. Stiffly, with the anger slowly fading from her eyes and posture, Rainbow lifted up one of her hooves to touch Twilight’s. Her eyes flicked past the unicorn to look at Starlight again, then widened with horrified realization.

“What was I about to…” she choked out before, without another word, she shoved Twilight’s hoof off of her face, turned and galloped as fast as she could into the rows of shelves, leaving all of the others behind.

Silence.

Nopony dared move.

Several seconds went by.

Finally, Twilight shifted her eyes to look down at her hoof, and her entire body began shaking. She looked into the shelves where Rainbow had disappeared, her eyes glistening with fresh tears. “W-wait! Rainbow!” she cried weakly, then went to follow her, but Fluttershy quickly put herself in Twilight’s path.

“Wait, Twilight. You need rest… and, um, no offense, but… I don’t think she’d react very well to seeing you right now… let me talk to her,” Fluttershy offered weakly while giving a small, reassuring smile.

Struggling to contain a sob, Twilight could only give a shaky nod and weak murmur of agreement before sitting heavily on her haunches and bowing her head. After a moment, Spike gingerly approached her and hugged her from the side, offering her whatever comfort he could. He looked over at Fluttershy with pleading eyes, silently begging her to make sure Rainbow Dash would be alright. Nodding slowly, the yellow pegasus took a deep breath and followed her fillyhood friend deeper into the library.

Author's Note:

Fun fact: The start of this chapter was really hard to write. But once I got it started, things worked out alright, I think.

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