• 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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Wind Whisper begrudgingly returned fully to the waking world when she felt a hoof gently nudging her shoulder. She groaned groggily and opened up one eye to look at who had disturbed her rest, and beheld Fluttershy smiling down at her with gentle eyes. “Hello, Whisper. It’s time to get up, now,” the butter-colored pegasus said in a gentle, relaxing murmur than quelled some of Wind’s irritation at being woken up.

With a very wide-mouthed yawn, Wind Whisper sat up and stretched, her little bat-like wings fanning out to their full length and shaking a little bit with the release of tension. Even at her age, her wings were notably larger than one might find on a pegasus pony of the same size. She clicked her tongue a few times and folded her wings back up against her sides while looking around the room again, taking note of the increased activity. Her expression grew a little worried when she didn’t see Thorax anywhere. “Uh… where’s my brother?” she questioned uneasily, standing up.

Applejack came up to Fluttershy’s side with the latter’s saddlebags held in her mouth. Fluttershy noticed and bent her legs a little so Applejack could help her put them on. Once the strap was out of the farmer’s mouth, she looked at Wind Whisper to answer her question. “Yer big brother is out on the edges of town, makin’ sure none of those pesky Changeling varmints get the jump on us,” she said with a reassuring smile. “He really wants to keep you safe. Yer real lucky to have him for a brother.”

Wind’s ears drooped a little at that, but she nodded in understanding and put on a small smile. “Yeah, he’s amazing…” her voice was quieter than before, and her smile wavered a little.

“And he’s asked us to keep an eye on you until he gets back. We’re going to be heading out towards the edges of town to pick some berries for a party Pinkie is going to put on in the center of the Empire,” Fluttershy explained, standing tall once Applejack was done with adjustments.

“Oh, okay. Uh…” Wind looked between the two of them, unsure. “Alright. Maybe I can help?” she finally asked, giving one of her shoulders an absent-minded shrug.

Applejack looked down at Wind with an analytical glint in her eye. “Hmm… maybe. We’ll see.”

“It’s not like we’re harvesting apples from your orchard, Applejack,” Fluttershy pointed out gently with a frown on her face. She put on another smile and looked down at Wind again. “I’m sure she’ll be just fine, and if she wants to help, I think she can.”

Applejack conceded the point with a shrug. “Alright, point taken,” she then looked at Wind questioningly. “Do ya happen to have saddlebags of yer own, Wind?”

Wind shook her head, one hoof scuffing against the floor. “No…,” she said in disappointment. She then put on a small, hopeful smile. “I can still help though, right?”

“Yes, of course, you can,” Fluttershy assured her with a nod. “You can always just add what you collect to our bags.”

“Okay,” Wind nodded, puffing up her chest a little bit in an effort to show that she was ready for the task ahead. She then glanced past Fluttershy and squinted at Rarity and Spike as they were going out the door. “Where are they going?” she asked, taking a few curious steps around Fluttershy to better watch them leave.

Applejack looked over. “Oh, Rarity and Spike have their own job their doin’. They’re gonna go get some barrels or big baskets or somethin’ so that ah can break down the berries we’re collectin’ and get some nice juice out of ‘em.”

“And the berries and baskets will be taken to the very center to the Crystal Empire, where Rainbow Dash will put on an aerial performance to impress the local ponies,” Fluttershy continued. “Pinkie Pie is going to arrange a big party, too! But, uh…” she glanced over at Pinkie, who was looking at a clipboard, her eyes burning with intent. “...How are you going to make this into a party, Pinkie? I mean, we’re not in Ponyville, and you’re far from all of your supplies…”

Pinkie flashed Fluttershy an enormous grin and gave her eyebrows a very cocky waggle. “Oh, Fluttershy, don’t you worry about that!” she said in a sing-song voice before stuffing the clipboard into her mane, where it promptly vanished, never to be seen again. “Where there’s Pink, there’s a way, and I’ve got a lot of pink to go around!”

Twilight, from across the room with Rainbow, snorted and rolled her eyes at that remark. “The sad part is, I believe it.”

“Wait didn’t you try to study her once?” Rainbow asked for clarification, glancing over at the pink mare in question. “I remember the basement being all kinds of screwed up- ouch!”

“Yes,” Twilight replied before jabbing her hoof firmly into Rainbow’s ribs. “And we don’t talk about that. Ever.”

“Haha, well, Y'all have fun with that,” Applejack cut in with an amused smirk before trotting over to her own saddlebags, which were resting against the wall by the door. “We should get on outta here and get to them berries. They ain’t gonna pick themselves.”

Fluttershy nodded and looked down at Wind one last time. “You ready to go, Wind?”

Wind Whisper nodded with an eager look on her face. “Yeah! Let’s do it!” she exclaimed, giving her leathery wings an adorable flap of excitement to be doing something productive.

Fluttershy giggled behind a hoof.

“Woooaaah…” Wind Whisper breathed while crouching down in front of one of the many bushes poking up out of the grass near the edge of the Empire. There were still perhaps three hundred yards separating where they were gathering and where the snow of the Frozen North began. A similar distance divided their current spot from the edges of the Empire’s construction. The grassy fields gently rolled into small hills, and with the unique flowers, bushes, and trees seasoning the region, it was a sight to behold, especially when contrasted against the Frozen North.

The bush in question was about as tall as a full-grown pony with vibrant green leaves. On the branches were numerous berries of various colors; blue, red, pink, purple, and more. The berries were, much like everything else in this place, shiny and had sharper edges than their counterparts in Equestria. Curious, Wind rolled out her tongue and stole one of the berries from the bush, giving it an experimental chew. It was interesting, to be sure. The outer skin of the berry was hard and crunchy, like a hard candy, and it was similarly sweet and sugary. Once her teeth penetrated that skin, though, her mouth was flooded by a gush of incredibly sweet and delicious juice that made her shiver in delight. Wind squealed through her sealed lips, her eyes closing as she savored the taste with her wings flapping joyfully at her sides. Quickly swallowing, she eyed the bush like a predator stalking its prey, licking her lips. “Oh, my gosh, THESE ARE AMAZING!”

“Yeah, they are!” Applejack agreed, having just popped one into her mouth as well. “The hard skin’s gonna be a bit tough to work with, but Ah think Ah can manage. Let’s get to gatherin’ Y'all.”

“Man, these things are as good as Lunaberries…” Wind muttered to herself before quickly stealing another berry off the bush, then cantering over to stand next to Fluttershy, who was trotting for one bush with a particularly dense population of Crystal Berries. Fluttershy overheard her comment and smiled warmly in agreement.

“Oh, yes, I had some juice made from lunaberries while in Hollow Shades not too long ago. It was great, too, although maybe a bit sourer than these.”

Wind grinned, fondly remembering the berries of her hometown. “Oh, yeah, lunaberries are definitely sour, but they’re so good-” she abruptly cut herself off, then looked at Fluttershy with wide eyes when she fully processed the mare’s previous statement. “Wait, you were in Hollow Shades?”

“We sure as sugar were,” Applejack stated from a little ways ahead, sitting down by a bush and sliding her saddlebags off of her back to sit directly under a dense bunch of berries. “We needed a doctor for Rainbow’s wing. Hollow Shades was the closest town, so we went there. It was a nice place if a little bleak at first glance.” she lost her smile and scrunched up her face once she realized how she had phrased that, then looked over at Wind apologetically. “Oh, uh, no offense, hon.”

“You needed a doctor?” Wind asked, her eyes lighting up a little. “Which doctor did you get, which doctor?!”

Fluttershy giggled again at Wind’s energy, then put a hoof to her chin. “I think she said her name was Moonflower Balm,” she said, frowning slightly. “I might not be remembering that right-”

“That’s my mom’s name!” Wind said happily, smiling up at Fluttershy eagerly. “How was she doing? Was she doing good? What about my sisters?!”

“Oh, uh, I didn’t know you had sisters, but Moonflower seemed to be doing just fine. She was friendly and seemed happy, and she helped start the healing process for Rainbow’s wing,” Fluttershy replied happily, taking some small satisfaction in seeing the little filly beam at the information.

“Hang on a sec,” Applejack cut in, starting on her bush. “Ya mean to tell us that you didn’t know how yer folks were doing?”

Wind Whisper immediately lost her smile to a small frown, and she idly kicked a stray pebble with her hoof. “Oh, uh, I haven’t seen mom in…” she hesitated, what was left of her smile swiftly fading away. “...in… um… at least a year?”

“Say what?” Applejack asked incredulously. She kept speaking even as she continued to pluck berries from the bush and drop them into her saddlebags. “Ya haven’t seen yer mom in a year?”

“But why?” Fluttershy asked in surprise, wide-eyed. “Did you two not get along? Was she, um… not good to you?”

“N-no, we got along! I love mom, she’s wonderful!” Wind replied quickly before scuffing the ground with a hoof again. “I just… live with my big brother in Canterlot. I went with him when he left to go join the new lunar guard.”

“And yer folks let that happen?” Applejack asked skeptically, raising an eyebrow. “That doesn’t seem like the best place for somepony yer age, sugarcube.”

Wind Whisper flinched away and shook her head, almost looking like she was ashamed of something. “I may have kinda, sorta… stowed away in my brother’s moving wagon… without telling my parents? A little bit?”

“Whatever for?” Fluttershy gently pressed, lowering herself down to be closer to Wind’s eye level.

“And why didn’t Squall send you back?” Applejack furthered, her brow furrowed in confusion. “With how much he seems to care for ya, it seems weird that he wouldn’t send you back to your parents. They must’ve been worried sick!”

“Um… he didn’t send me back because I... begged him not to. I told him why I went with him, and… he said he'd talk to our parents. They gave him permission after a little while of talking through letters. I didn’t want to go home, because… you said it earlier. I’m lucky to have him, and… when he ran off to join the guard… I didn’t want him to go away... I didn't want to be away from him...” As she spoke, Wind Whisper gradually shrunk down more and more, looking more and more upset as she spoke. Finally, Fluttershy decided that enough was enough, and put a hoof to Wind’s shoulder.

“Oh, uh, you don’t have to say anymore,” She stated to the filly with a warm, sympathetic smile. “I can see this is upsetting you. I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have brought it up. Maybe we can talk about something else, instead?”

Wind nodded and looked at the berry bush that she and Fluttershy were now standing in front of. “Sure…” she mumbled before quickly snatching a berry off of it and chewing. Her features lit up a little from the sweet treat, and she managed to put on a smile. “So, uh… how many of these things do we need?”

There were a few seconds of awkward silence before Applejack decided to answer Wind’s question. “Dunno,” she said bluntly while looking over everypony’s saddlebags. “Two sets of saddlebags worth won’t be enough for a Pinkie Party, even if she’s working with limited supplies. We might have to make multiple trips.”

“Alright,” Fluttershy nodded at Applejack, then looked down at Wind Whisper, who still looked rather somber. “Come on, Wind. Help me fill these up,” she said while sliding her own Saddlebags off and popping open the flaps.

Wind gave a weak nod and sat down in front of Fluttershy. “Okay.”

“She was a stowaway?” The unassuming, small green lizard thought to himself as he scurried away back towards the snow through the grass. Once he was sure he was far enough away, the lizard was consumed in a swirl of green fire that quickly grew in size until the visage of Squall Dreamer stepped out of the embers, a thoughtful, distant look on his face. Thorax looked down at one of his disguised hooves and grimaces. “...I really don’t know her, do I?” he muttered under his breath before looking back over his shoulder to spot the three ponies still working at gathering berries. From this far away, they were little more than colorful dots among the hills. “I’m sorry, Wind…”

Shaking his head, and resolving to fix this mistake at a later time, Thorax snapped his wings back out and took to the air, resuming his patrol around the southern edge of the Empire, his eyes glued on the frozen wasteland beyond. “I won’t let anypony hurt you, though,” he growled under his breath, trying to build some determination and resolve, though he still felt his heart withering at the thought of trying to stand against the swarm that would inevitably come after them. Growling more at himself and his own cowardice, Thorax stopped in mid-air and slapped himself across the face. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes so he could clear his thoughts. When his eyes opened again, the dark slits that were his pupils dilated slightly.

“I promised you that I’ll protect you until you have your brother back, even if you never heard me make that promise. I won’t go back on my word..."

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