• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,227 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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A Missing Heart

Eventually, no matter how much they all wished it were not so, the hugging had to stop. Rainbow and Starlight disengaged from their embrace and looked at each other, a newfound respect and curiosity emanating from both of them. With their animosity dissolved, maybe now they could really start to learn about each other. Spike and Twilight both looked on at the two of them with wide smiles, the weight of Rainbow’s hatred at long last lifted from all of them. It was such a pleasant feeling. They all took a moment to just bask in the peaceful moment, not yet willing to be reminded of their situation.

Sadly, though, that serenity also had to come to an end. Reluctantly, Rainbow glanced past Starlight at the book she had left on the table before gesturing at it. “So, uh, what happened with the book? Did you find anything?” she asked curiously, starting to trot around Starlight to have a closer look.

That got the attention of the others, and all of them trotted over to the table to look it over. Starlight gave a curt nod and pointed at the page she had turned to, near the back of the book. “Yeah, I did. It sounds kind of silly, but when compared to the rest of our week, it’s pretty tame,” she explained, sliding the book a little closer to herself with her magic and peering intently at the page.

“So what did you find?” Spike asked, a certain spring in his step and an eager smile on his face. “Something good?”

Starlight gave a small, noncommittal shrug. “Maybe,” she replied before lifting the book into the air and turning it around to face the others. There was a stylized depiction of an elegant looking white mare standing upon a balcony, looking down on an enormous crowd of crystal ponies with a warm, loving smile on her face. “The Crystal Empire’s first queen apparently established their most important tradition during her lifetime; a ‘Crystal Fair’ that they held every year,” Starlight explained before flipping the book back around and tapping a part of the page. “According to this, it was held every year to, and I quote, ‘renew the spirit of love and unity in the Empire so they could protect it from harm.’ Sounds like a good starting point if you ask me.”

“Yeah it does,” Spike nodded, puffing up a bit. “What would we need to pull it off?”

Twilight looked down at him with a raised eyebrow and questioning smile. “Well, aren’t you eager to be helpful?” she teased lightly, making Spike huff indignantly.

“Hey, I’m just pumped up because Rainbow’s better! She’s been a wreck for, like, a month!” he declared while throwing his arms wide for emphasis. He then stiffened when he remembered that the mare in question was right there. He turned to her sheepishly while rubbing the back of his head with a claw. “Oh! Uh, no offense…”

Rainbow didn’t reply to his apology, just looking long and hard at the book in Starlight’s magic. The others noticed her silence, and they all turned their attention fully to the pegasus. All they got from her in response was an empty, blank stare. Her eyes were wide open and completely unfocused, and a slight tremor was steadily working its way into her muscles. Starlight’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Uh… Dash? You in there?” she asked, lifting a hoof and waving it in front of her eyes.

Rainbow didn’t hear her. Her ears were filled with a loud ringing and the sound of her heart beating heavily against her ribs. Her entire body felt like it was being filled with solid lead, and any strength in her muscles was being sapped. She wasn’t able to stay standing for long, and she crumpled to the floor in a heap while a ragged gasp tore itself from her lungs. Now breathing heavily, her body numb to the world, she was only just aware of Starlight’s surprised face being obscured by the worried gaze of Twilight Sparkle. Their eyes met.

Rainbow’s vision was flooded with blinding white.

The heart of the Crystal Empire felt positively crowded now, as compared to earlier. There were hundreds of ponies moving from one established tent to another, acquiring food, knick-knacks, trinkets, taking part in games, and all in all enjoying themselves as much as they could. There was still a tension in the air felt by all of them, no doubt because they knew King Sombra was still out there, but they were able to forget that tension for now in favor of the festivities.

“Seeing all of this… I feel like I’m starting to remember. Remember things from before the king,” a mare said, her eyes turned to look at the ground and her brow furrowed in thought. She was a bright blue color with a darker blue mane and tail, although those colors were noticeably muted. From her right hoof, a string attached a lively green balloon to her, which drifted and bobbed around merrily behind her. To her left, another crystal pony mare, this one with a yellow coat and maroon mane and tail, looked at her with an equally thoughtful look.

“Me, too…” she mumbled, looking down at the corn on the cob in her hooves. Both of them paused for a moment, the sounds of the Crystal Fair all around them, ponies enjoying the attractions and displays.

Rainbow Dash, not far away and nibbling on her own piece of corn on the cob, listened in out of curiosity. “Keep the crystal ponies happy,” she thought to herself in reminder, watching the two mares interact out of the corner of her eye.

Suddenly, both mares lit up in a flash of light, their colors becoming significantly more vibrant as delighted smiles appeared on their face. Together, they beamed at each other and loudly exclaimed “The Crystal Heart!”

That got Rainbow’s complete, and undivided attention.

“Do you think they really have it?” The yellow mare asked her friend with a hopeful tone of voice and an enormous smile.

Rainbow wasted no time in answering for her, remembering the carving Twilight had put together. She shot over and wrapped a foreleg over the mare’s shoulders while gesturing towards the palace. “Of course we have it! Can’t have a crystal fair without the crystal heart, right?” she said in a voice that implied it was obvious.

Another voice cut through the little moment, then. “Of course you can’t,” it said, drawing the attention of the three mares. Rainbow instantly recognized the mare they had met in the library earlier, who had also been remarkably unhelpful. She, too, was smiling. “The whole point of the Crystal Fair is to lift the spirits of the crystal ponies, so that the light within them can power the Crystal Heart, so that the Empire can be protected!” as she spoke, her voice gained volume and enthusiasm, until she, too, was engulfed in a flash of light, and her dulled colors became vibrant again. “Ha! I do work at the library!”

Applejack, not far away, seemed to overhear them from her stand and made her way over, a look of unease on her face that mirrored Rainbow’s. The pegasus swallowed heavily, discomfort seeping into her posture. “Uh, what’s that about ‘powering the heart’?” she asked slowly and carefully.

The mare, oblivious to Rainbow’s sudden nervousness, continued. “I just can’t believe you found it! King Sombra said he had hidden it away where we would never see it again!” she explained before looking up fondly into the sky, a dreamy look on her face. “I just hope it will be just as beautiful after all these years…” her eyes fell from the heavens to look at something behind Rainbow and Applejack. “Hmmm~! Funnel cake!” she noted before trotting off towards the food item in question.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack shared horrified looks.

The vision shattered.

Rainbow gasped heavily as she returned to reality, her head now throbbing with dull pain and her sense of balance severely compromised. Having her brain effectively drilled into twice before a flash was a recipe for a severe headache, she noted while taking a moment to catch her breath. After a moment, she began to slowly sit back up, feeling Twilight’s hooves on her back and shoulder. The mare in question re-entered Rainbow’s field of view with a worried look in her eyes. “Are you okay?” she asked quickly, looking deeply into Rainbow’s eyes intently.

“I’m alright,” Rainbow dismissed her gently and gave her a small smile. She then glanced past Twilight to look at the only other unicorn in the room. Starlight looked unsure of how to react, just kind of awkwardly standing to one side and anxiously rubbing one foreleg with a hoof.

“What did you see?” Spike questioned, drawing Rainbow’s attention temporarily away from Starlight. He put a claw on Rainbow’s back and helped Twilight ease her back up into a stable sitting position, earning an appreciative nod from both of them. Rainbow ignored his question for the moment and looked towards the book on the table.

She then lifted a hoof and pointed at it. “Starlight- ow!” her sentence was cut off by a sharp spike of pain in her head, making her groan in discomfort before it died down again. “Ow, my head… you guys did a number on me,” she weakly joked, earning some bashful looks from the two unicorns. Rainbow then focused her attention and pointed at the book again. “The book. What’s it book say about the Crystal Heart?” she asked while slowly getting back to her hooves.

Starlight blinked in surprise, looking between the book and Rainbow with a raised eyebrow. “The crystal heart? How did you know about that? I didn’t say anything,” she asked, bewildered.

Rainbow tapped a hoof to her head. “Heard about it in the Flash I had just now. So what's the book say?” she explained simply.

Starlight blinked and looked at the book again, seemingly satisfied with that response. “Oh, well, uhm… that it’s the centerpiece for the fair, is supposed to be set up at the center of the plaza under the Palace, and…” she turned the page and grimaced. “...Oh… And there’s a page missing.”

Rainbow groaned heavily with frustration. “Ugh! Go figure,” she growled before letting out a small sigh. She brought a hoof up to run over her face, thinking this new bit of information over carefully.

Starlight looked at her in confusion, her other eyebrow flying up to be hidden by her mane. “Why do you ask? Is it important?” she inquired curiously, taking note of the grim look on the pegasus’ face.

Rainbow managed to remove herself from Twilight and Spike’s collective grip and trotted forwards. “Yeah, it’s important. The Crystal Heart is actually a relic of some kind for the Crystal Empire, and King Sombra hid it somewhere,” she explained before scrutinizing the book. “He hid it pretty well, I’m guessing. Enough to gloat about it to the locals while he was in power.”

Twilight’s expression also darkened, trotting up to Rainbow’s side. “If King Sombra decided to hide it, that means it’s probably a threat to him. Maybe this is the magic of the Empire that Luna sent us here to find.”

Rainbows gave an agreeing nod. “It totally is. The Crystal Heart is, from what I can tell, powered by the locals having their spirits lifted. It’s what keeps the Empire safe.”

“So if we want Princess Luna’s trap to work, we have to find the Crystal Heart,” Twilight surmised stoically, putting a hoof on the table and eyeing the book.

Spike looked around for a moment before his facial expression morphed into one of concern. “But, uh, how are we going to do that, though? This place is gigantic!” he pointed out while gesturing at the room they were in. “The palace alone would be a nightmare to search, much less the city outside. It’d take days!”

Starlight winced at Spile’s assessment and nodded. “Spike has a good point, there. If we want to find this thing as quickly as possible, then we’d need to start looking right now. We don’t have a lot of time to cover every inch of this place, either. Chrysalis is on her way,” she reminded, her ears folding back against her head.

Rainbow frowned and bit her lip, then let out a puff of air while running over the situation in her mind a few times. “Right… okay. Twilight, Starlight, you two can do a quick search of the inside of the palace. Don’t be too meticulous at first; just a quick sweep.”

Starlight gave a sharp nod and looked over at Twilight, an expectant look on her face. “I’m guessing you have a search pattern in mind already?” she asked, getting a sideways glance from Twilight.

A search pattern? Please,” the bookworm replied with a wry grin. “I have several.”

Spike crossed his arms and gave Twilight a look. “I’d guess four or five,” he commented cheekily. “Knowing you.”

This was enough to draw a snort from her, although Rainbow was quick to cut in. “Girls focus!” she said quickly, getting their attention again. “Jeesh. Now, while you’re looking around in here, I’ll take a fly over the Empire and see what I can see from the sky. Spike!” she turned to the dragon in question.

In response to being addressed, Spike stood to attention and puffed up his chest while throwing a salute. “Yes, your highness?” he asked dutifully as if he were a guard.

Rainbow’s expression flattened. “First of all, don’t do that,” she said in a deadpan.

“Do what?”

Rainbow blinked. “...I want you to wait here for Thorax, Fluttershy and Wind Whisper. When they get back, tell them to wait for me in the entrance lobby. I’ll talk to them when I get back,” she ordered simply before flaring open her wings and giving them a good stretch. “Let’s move out. Like Starlight said, we don’t have all day!”

“What about Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie?” Twilight asked, glancing out the door they had left through. “We could use their help with this.”

Rainbow paused, thinking it over for a second. She then went back to stretching her wings. “Good point. I’ll send them back to help you two out if they haven’t found anything useful yet,” she replied before straightening her posture and heading for the door. She paused as she was passing by Twilight, though, and looked at the other mare intently.

The two just looked at each other for a second, with Starlight and Spike backing up a bit to give the two their space. After a time, Twilight decided that staring at each other was getting old and decided to break the newfound silence by leaning over and planting a quick kiss on Rainbow’s lips. Their separation was signaled by an audible smack, and Rainbow visibly blushed from the contact. After a second of being seemingly dumbstruck, she shook her head and put on a wide, crooked smile. When Rainbow waggled her eyebrows, Twilight just rolled her eyes and playfully smacked Rainbow on the back of her head. “Stop ogling me and get going. Fly safe, okay?”

Rainbow, chuckling under her breath, gave a firm nod. “Alright. You two stay safe yourselves, alright?” she replied before resuming her journey for the door. Once she was passed the threshold, she broke into a gallop, gave her wings a hard flap, and shot down the hall incredibly quickly, vanishing from sight and leaving a rainbow-colored trail in her wake.

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