• 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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Northern Lights

“Well?” Sombra pressed after Rainbow failed to answer immediately, his eyes boring into her with a spine-chilling amount of scrutiny. She took a moment to finish catching her breath, her lungs still burning from her unexpected smothering, before steadily rising back to her full height and meeting Sombra’s gaze intently.

“My terms, eh?” she asked before pointing at Sombra firmly. “Well, mainly I want you to back off from the Crystal Empire and leave it alone,” she stated plainly, though her voice was somewhat hoarse from her gasping fit.

Sombra raised an eyebrow at that, simply staring at Rainbow for a couple of seconds. “Is that so?” he eventually questioned in a slow, even voice, the darkness around them undulating slightly and letting off a disturbing chorus that made Rainbow think of hundreds of screams muffled by stone walls and thunder before being carried away by intense winds.

She maintained her composure and nodded sharply, however, not allowing the horrifying noises around her to be a distraction. She still had a job to do, after all. “Yeah. You need to pull yourself back so that my friends and I can stop worrying about you and find a way to stop the enemy that’s gonna be following us.”

Sombra snorted and showed his teeth in a disbelieving scowl. “Oh, please! Twice have I heard of it, and already am I growing tired of hearing you speak of an enigmatic enemy. Give me details, Princess! What is it you face that could supposedly dwarf the Sisters in their power?” he demanded in an impatient roar, the shadows around them pulsating and writhing like a pit full of angry snake. Rainbow’s hoof quickly flew to the rope around her barrel, though she did not yet tug on it, meeting Sombra’s gaze with a warning look in her eyes. The shadows steadily calmed themselves down, and Rainbow relaxed with them. Sombra still eyed Rainbow skeptically and began to slowly circle the young princess. His armored hooves clanged against the jagged stone beneath them, the sound eating away at Rainbow’s nerves.

She took in a deep breath and began to circle Sombra in turn. “Alright… not like telling you will hurt anything. Have you ever heard of creatures called changelings?” she asked carefully, her eyes carefully observing his response. His brow furrowed and the impatience on his face melted away in favor of mild curiosity and skepticism.

“I have not,” he answered. “I presume you have?”

“They’re parasites,” Rainbow explained, taking some confidence in the fact that Sombra was giving her his full attention. “Bug-like creatures that infiltrate a civilization while disguised as one of the locals, usually by replacing someone. They cozy up to the population, feeding off of love and affection. It’s how they feed themselves and grow their power,” Sombra noticeably winced at the mentioning of love, his posture shifting ever so slightly to the defensive. Rainbow noticed this and capitalized on it. “We came here to the Empire hoping to find a way of countering these things. They’ve already taken Canterlot and I’m pretty sure their Queen is gonna be coming after me and my friends… and that Queen is the one in charge of the day and night right now, FYI.”

“What?” Sombra demanded, his eyes losing their caution to abject disbelief. “Preposterous. That power rests with the Sisters alone!”

“Pay attention,” Rainbow snarled in response, snapping her wings wide open. “She has that power because she has my family prisoner. A sneak attack on Canterlot caused both, Celestia and Luna to be captured. Now they’re being used like batteries to empower the Changeling Queen. Don’t believe me? Just keep an eye on the sun and moon. They’ve been off-schedule ever since you got back, right?”

Sombra grimaced, conceding the point. “I had noticed something off about that, yes… Hmmm… These Changeling creatures feed on love, you say? That means that my Empire would be a prime target for them indeed,” he mused, bringing a hoof up to his chin.

“It’s not really yours, but whatever,” Rainbow shook her head, ignoring the venomous scowl Sombra shot her way at that remark. “The point is, if you keep up this siege of yours, my friends and I are going to be too busy trying to slow you down to figure out how to get the changelings out of Canterlot. If you make us do that, you’re going to waste a lot of time and energy, leaving you open for the queen to tear you a new one when she comes flying along,” she explained before ending her pacing and facing Sombra directly. “And she will be coming, sooner or later. So back. Off.

Sombra, too, ceased his pacing and considered Rainbow’s demand for several lost seconds. After a moment, a small glint came to his eyes as he flashed Rainbow a small, snide smile. The look in his eyes… Rainbow wasn’t sure why, but it sent a shiver down her spine, one which she struggled to suppress and hide. “...You make a valid point, Rainbow Dash,” he began in an exaggerated display of thoughtfulness. “But if you are able to make such astute observations about your enemies, you must also be able to tell that, even if it isn’t in my best interest, you are still at my mercy. I am the one pinning you down behind a barrier that won’t last forever, and you cannot expect me to end my efforts without expecting something in return.”

Rainbow swallowed heavily, a horrible feeling building in her gut and the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. Whatever this creep had in mind, it couldn’t be good. That look in his eyes, the tone of his voice… she thought she could see his tongue briefly lick his teeth, revealing an unnatural fork in its tip. After a moment, she managed to find her voice again. “I… guess not,” she admitted uneasily, unable to hide the anxiety she was feeling. “Fine. What do you want?”

Sombra’s grin widened, and already Rainbow regretted saying those words. “If what you say is true, and these changelings were able to outsmart the sisters and overthrow Canterlot, then you need all the help you can get. I will remove myself from the Empire’s doorstep and keep to the tundra. If any of these ‘changelings’ come through, I will deal with them personally. You will have time to figure out your counterattack. But as soon as you are able to overcome this adversary…” his crimson eyes glowed slightly, and his grin shrank into an intimidating smirk. “...As soon as victory belongs to you, then you and your friends are to remove yourselves from the Crystal Empire and surrender it to my authority.”

“What?!” Rainbow exclaimed, her ears folding back and her eyes widening to the size of dinner plates. She took a step back, her heart rate spiking severely. No, no, this is bad! We can’t let him have the Empire! He’s a tyrant! The ponies are terrified of just the memory of him!

“That is my offer, Rainbow Dash, and it is as good as you are going to get,” Sombra stated slowly, lifting his head up high and looking down on her with superiority and confidence in his position. “If you refuse, I shall resume my siege on your barrier. Even if the beings you speak of are as powerful as you say, they have never contented with a being like me. I’m willing to take my chances. Make your decision, Princess, and make it now.”

Rainbow watched him for several seconds with horror in her eyes. Behind those eyes, she was struggling with the dilemma he had just placed before her. She couldn’t agree to these terms, could she? The Empire would suffer under this guy, and if he was in charge again, who knew what kinds of damage he would start to cause?! His usurpation of the Empire was evidence of his insane lust for power, his use of dark magic to preserve himself and throw the Empire off of the world for a thousand years was a sign of his raw determination and resourcefulness.

Of course, she didn’t have to tell the truth… as dirty a tactic as it might have been, lying to him might be a good idea, given the circumstances, and she found herself considering doing just that.

“Alright, I can agree to that,” she said with a firm nod. Sombra grinned, and his horn began to spark with poison purple and acid green magic. In front of him, a tattered and pale scroll materialized in mid-air. The scroll faced Rainbow Dash to reveal that there was writing on it outlining the terms of their truce. Rainbow felt her skin crawl, and any and all confidence in her voice was lost when she saw the almost sadistic glint in King Sombra’s eyes.

“Then all that remains is for us to sign,” he stated plainly, two black-feather quills materializing along with the scroll.

“What’s the point in that?” Rainbow asked cautiously, eyeing the quill that drifted towards her like it were a poison arrow.

Sombra’s grin grew even more sadistic. “We don’t want either side to be breaking their word, now do we?” he asked knowingly, then laughing quietly under his breath. “This treaty, when signed, will bind us to our written agreements. Neither side can break their word.”

Rainbow’s heart fell into her stomach. The sly devil, Rainbow should have known he’d pull something like this! She looked at the scroll, the quill, and Sombra, her heart rate escalating yet again. Sombra watched her, his smile twisting with villainous glee. “You seem hesitant, your highness. Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts?”

“I…” Rainbow choked out, her entire body starting to shake.

She was stuck. If she signed her name on this treaty, there would be dire consequences in the future…

But if she didn’t, she, her friends, the Empire and Equestria were all doomed…

Hesitantly, with shaking legs and a pit forming in her heart, Rainbow reached out, took the quill out of the air, and signed her name on the scroll. With every scratch of the tip on the parchment, her heart felt colder and colder.

Sombra’s smile grew even larger when she was done, a quiet chuckle sounding from somewhere deep in his voice. He pulled the scroll over and signed it himself, flashing her another gut-wrenching look. The chill in her chest was like ice. “Excellent…” the King of Shadows began, his physical form slowly beginning to fade and dissolve into the shadows around them. “I look forward to my Empire being returned to me, little princess. I do hope you are one to keep your promises. After all, you would hate to learn what I do to liars…

The darkness around Rainbow Dash suddenly dispelled, and the jagged rocks beneath her turned back into the smooth surface of a street in the Crystal Empire. Sombra’s towering body of smoke looked down on her, those eyes narrowing as if in warning. Then, without any other words, he began to retreat. Rainbow watched him as his large form lowered itself slowly into the snow in the distance, before vanishing out of sight completely on the horizon.

Silence. A chill breeze rushed by, and she crumpled to her knees, struggling to contain a sob of guilt. She screwed her eyes shut and stamped a hoof onto the street in frustration, hissing under her breath. I’m so sorry… I had no choice… she thought to herself. After almost a minute, she slowly stood, turned and looked at the barrier, and at the ponies on the other side. She gradually made her way back to the edge and passed through, head hung low in shame. She was immediately tackled by five other mares, all of them crying out in relief at seeing her unharmed. Of course, first and foremost was a purple unicorn who held Rainbow closer and tighter than any of the others, breathing shakily into her neck.

“Oh, Rainbow! We saw him swallow you whole! I thought you were a goner, but… Ooh! Don’t you ever scare me like that again!” Twilight scolded her in a quivering voice before leaning back and looking deep into Rainbow’s eyes. “Are you okay? You are okay, right?! Please tell me you’re okay!”

“Twilight, calm down. I’m fine. Just…” Rainbow looked away, not quite able to meet the other mare’s gaze. If she knew what I’ve done… she’d hate me. “Go ahead and take down the barrier,” she said, working her limbs through the mass of ponies to return Twilight’s embrace.

“Are ya sure?” Applejack asked, looking out to where Sombra had disappeared with uncertainty. “Are ya sure we can trust this guy to stay away?”

“I’m sure…” Rainbow said in a quiet voice, nodding her head and looking down at the ground. Twilight caught the despondency in her voice and gave her a squeeze, trying to comfort her. As she did so, the light on her horn, finally, sputtered out. All at once, the barrier over their heads faded away, letting the natural, beautiful blue of the sky shine through once again.

Rainbow smiled softly at the sky before lightly nudging the others so they could all get off of her. One by one, her friends backed away from the hug, until it was just Twilight hanging on to her, unwilling to unlatch herself. Rainbow couldn’t help but snicker under her breath while poking the bookish mare in the shoulder. “Twilight, are you, uh, ya know, gonna let me go?”

“I don’t want to…”

“And I don’t want to be rooted in place.”

Twilight pouted at her before slowly and hesitantly backing out of the hug, though she remained in very close proximity to her. Not like Rainbow minded at all; the warmth her body let off was comforting, in light of what she had just done. With her restraints lifted, Rainbow finally noticed the extremely large crowd that had gathered around them.

Crystal Ponies.

Thousands of them.

They looked on at her with wide, shocked eyes. There was an awed hush over them all, and now that the rest of Rainbow’s friends noticed the assembly, they all turned their eyes to the pegasus princess as well. Finally, from the crowd, one mare stepped forward. It was the same one they had spoken to in the plaza the previous day, who had helped to direct them to the library. “Is he… is he gone? Are we safe?” she asked in a nervous voice, just loud enough for Rainbow Dash to hear her while her eyes darted up to the sky every so often.

Rainbow glanced over her shoulder, then looked to the mare again. She put on a happy smile and pointed behind her with a hoof. “He looks pretty gone to me. Yeah, you’re safe,” she replied almost casually, causing the mare to let out a sigh of relief.

I’m so sorry… Rainbow apologized in the back of her mind. I hope you can forgive me, and I hope I can find a way to save you...

Then the mare did something that Rainbow Dash was not at all expecting. She dropped into a deep bow, closing her eyes and wearing a peaceful smile. Rainbow’s eyes widened, and she gestured uselessly towards the mare. “O-oh, uh, there’s no need for that!”

A stallion followed her into a bow of his own.

“H-hey, cut it out! I’m not your ruler or a-anything!”

Another few ponies bowed, and Rainbow’s complaints steadily lost all their force.

“So… uhm… Yeah, you’re not listening...” she sighed in defeat as, one by one, more and more of the crystal ponies began to bow to her. Soon, there was not a single crystal pony not bowing to her. As they did, the air around them began to shimmer with faint blue and pink light, drifting upwards towards the sky and giving the entire area an impossibly serene feeling. High in the sky above them, ribbons of colorful light began to appear, originating from the top of the palace and expanding out towards the southern horizon. Rainbow turned her gaze skyward, jaw hanging open. She then turned to look to all of her friends, hoping for the explanation.

Her eyes settled on Twilight, who was also looking on at the crowd and the lights in the heavens with a wide-eyed look of shock and amazement. “These… these are the northern lights!” she whispered in awe. “I thought they were just a legend… nopony has seen them in over a thousand years...” Then, that look of awe and wonder was replaced with a glowing smile of pride and realization. She turned that look towards Rainbow Dash. “I guess this is how the Empire’s emotions spread all across Equestria, huh?”

“Wowie!” Pinkie Pie suddenly shrieked with delight, bouncing over and over in place while looking up at the sky. ”You made so many ponies happy that the sky lit up! That’s amazing! No wonder all of them are bowing,” she spewed out before, while beaming happily, also dropping into a low bow. “Finally, some recognition for my favorite princess!”

‘Wha, Pinkie?!” Rainbow exclaimed, her wings snapping open in surprise and a blush appearing on her cheeks. “Why are you bowing!? Stop that, it’s weird!”

Pinkie shook her head and let out a cute giggle. “Nope, no way!”

“I must confess,” Rarity started, also looking up at the sky. “That in all my years, I have never seen anything quite so fabulous. It is just... awe-inspiring…” she lowered her gaze to Rainbow as well before giving a more restrained bow of her head. “I’m going to have to ignore your order for us to not bow this one time, darling. Pinkie Pie has the right of it; you’ve earned your bows this time.”

“Rarity…” Rainbow tried to protest, but the strength in her voice was quickly fading away as, nodding along to that sentiment, Applejack gave a low nod of her head as well, and Fluttershy did a low bow like Pinkie, although hers was somewhat awkward. Before Twilight could do any such thing, Rainbow pointed a hoof at her. “Don’t you dare,” she said warningly.

Twilight just rolled her eyes and did a quick, teasing little curtsey before smirking playfully at the flustered pegasus. “I dared. What are you gonna do about it?” she asked in perhaps the cheekiest voice Rainbow had ever heard from her.

“Oh, horrible things,” Rainbow replied, puffing up her cheeks indignantly before gazing back out at the crowd in front of her. As the seconds ticked by, she realized that the more she took in this scene… the more she realized that she actually felt okay with it. There was a moment of confusion before she remembered something from a long, long time ago.

“He’s a massive jerk.” Rainbow snorted through a mouthful of burger.

“He is…” Cadance looked down slightly before getting up from her seat in the booth. Rainbow glanced up and then scooted over when Cadance motioned towards her seat. “Your status is also getting to you, isn’t it?”

“I’ve been officially recognized as ‘Princess Rainbow Dash’ for only a day and already it’s worn out its welcome if you ask me…” Rainbow mumbled tiredly. “I mean, I’m all for ponies praising me when I do awesome stuff. Hay, I live for moments like that,” she took another bite from her burger. “But I haven’t done anything with this title of mine yet and already I’ve got almost every single pony I meet treating me like Celestia.”

Timidly, Rainbow reached a hoof up to touch the crown resting on her head. The barely audible ting that came from the contact sounded almost deafening in the silence around her. At that moment, holding a hoof to her crown and remembering that moment so many years ago with Cadance… it finally clicked with her.

Even if the peace she had just negotiated would be short-lived, the point was that these ponies were bowing to her not just because she was a Princess and that it was a protocol or something; but because she had just, from their perspective, saved them from a shadowy tyrant king. She had walked head-on into his darkness and, when she came trotting back out, Sombra had gone away. For the first time since she had become a princess, she had earned the praise she was being given.

Of course, if they knew the conditions of Sombra's departure, they'd probably be chasing her out of town and cursing her name by now...

Looking into the sea of faces, and looking between her friends, Rainbow made a resolution then and there. "I just need to find a way to break that contract... I can't let these ponies down now."

With that thought firmly lodged in her mind, Rainbow let a small smile spread on her face before she stepped forward and cleared her throat. “You can rise, now, everypony,” she announced to the crowd in a far less flustered tone. Gradually, the crowd did indeed stand, each one looking on at her with huge smiles and untold amounts of gratitude and respect. Her friends rose back to standing positions as well, their own faces reflecting their happiness and pride for their friend, and how far she had come.

Meanwhile, many miles to the south, in a remote portion of the Equestrian Heartlands, Queen Chrysalis looked down on the small town of Sire’s Hollow from the surrounding hills. Her teeth showed in a pleased grin as she watched her drones at work rooting out what few remaining ponies there were that had managed to escaped being cocooned in their opening assault. “Stupid ponies,” she chuckled heartily under her breath when she saw an orange mare being dragged out of a house alongside a purple stallion, both of them kicking and screaming even as one of her drones started covering them in the quickly hardening green slime that would become their new permanent home. “They never realize that they’ve been infiltrated until it’s far too late to do anything to stop us. This is almost too easy…”

She would have spoken more, but her smile dropped away when an odd smell tickled her nose. Curious, she sniffed at the air, her eyes narrowing with focus and concentration as she tried to nail down the source of the smell. It was coming from over her head… odd. She lifted her nose to the sky and sniffed again. She felt her mouth water and her eyes instinctively widen when her nostrils were assaulted with an impossibly strong whiff of pure, uncorrupted love, far more than this puny village could ever hope to generate in a lifetime. She instinctively snarled at the air, trying to pull some of it in, only to realize that the energy was not actually there. She was merely smelling it. But for such a strong scent, but the energy to not actually be there…

Her eyes refocused, and she spotted ribbons of blue and pink light stretching across the sky, slowly weaving their way farther south. As she scanned the heavens, she saw many more such ribbons branching over other parts of Equestria far in the distance, hard to make out against the midday sky, but if one looked hard enough, they could see them coming from the north.

“The north…” she hummed to herself before an amused chuckle slipped out of her. Of course. It just made so much sense. It was that runaway princess, Rainbow Dash, and her friends; she just knew it. They must have found something quite special indeed to create such a spectacular light show.

Such a shame for them that the beautiful display would lead her right to them.

She couldn’t contain the jubilant laughter that burst out of her at the thought, the sound ringing out across the captured town and the surrounding countryside and capturing the attention of her drones. They all turned their gazes up at her in curiosity, watching as she lifted into the air high above them on her wings.

“Changelings! Hear the words of your Queen and listen!” she declared before turning and pointing to the sky. “Do you see that? Do you smell that?!”

The only response she received was the uncontrollable, instinctual snarls and hisses of starving changelings far below as they realized what she had discovered. A wicked grin spread across her lips. “That, my subjects, is the purest and most unfiltered love I have ever seen! And it comes from the north! Gather up the cocoons and return to Canterlot to regroup at once! Once the new crops are secured, make ready to depart for the frozen north! We will find the source of this love, and we shall make it our own! If it is even half as strong as the smell and light suggest, then we can feed upon it until the end of time! Our eternal hunger may at long last be satisfied!”

The cheers of her drones and their complete lack of hesitation in abandoning the poor town to its fate was music to her ears. Anypony already cocooned was hoisted up and carried along by the swarm, and anypony else was left in the almost ghost town to fend for themselves. Chrysalis let out a manic cackle before looking once more to the north, and those beautiful, delicious lights. As she did so, however, the scar on her cheek gave a small twinge of pain, making her smile turn crooked. One of her hooves drifted up to the wound, and her joy gained a sadistic edge.

“Food for my hive… and a chance to get revenge on that purple pest…” she whispered bitterly, green fire momentarily flickering across her horn and behind her eyes. “Oh… oh, how she will scream… she will pay for how she humiliated me…” her smile faded away, and she moved to lead her swarm back to Canterlot.

She will pay dearly...

Author's Note:

A friend of mine who reads this story has been bugging me to give Chrysalis some screentime. That's why she showed up at the end of this chapter and not somewhere earlier; she is one of the main antagonists, but she has kinda been only mentioned in this story so far. There ya go.

Also, for the scene where Rainbow Dash was being bowed to:

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