• 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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So Close, But...

Rainbow Dash’s eyes slowly fluttered open as she came drifting back into the waking world. She saw that the light of the morning sun was just starting to seep in through the window, lightly scattered against the far wall by the closed curtains. The glow was gentle and pleasant, adding to her already substantial relief from the fact that her sleep had been undisturbed by any nightmares. Adding to this relief and ease-of-mind were the four lavender colored hooves that were tightly wrapped around her barrel from behind, squeezing her and making her feel secure.

She shifted to glance over her shoulder to see Twilight’s peacefully sleeping face right there, mere inches from her own. She took a moment to just soak it in, nudging herself a little closer to the other mare, and Twilight reflexively tightened her grip. A quiet, drowsy hum came from behind her lips, and Rainbow had to force herself to not croon at how adorable she thought it was.

She did, however, smile and let out her own content murmer, draping her forelegs over Twilight's. The silence that followed was serene, and she thought she may just fall right back to sleep. After a few minutes of that blissful tranquility, though, Rainbow’s smile fell away. While it was true that she had not had any nightmares last night, she had, sadly, also not been contacted by Princess Luna.

Still searching blind, then.

With that grim reminder in her mind, Rainbow determined it would be pointless to try and get any more sleep. After a few minutes more of just trying to relax, she decided it was time to get up. Slowly and with great care, she managed to untangle herself from Twilight’s hooves and slip out of bed. The book-loving unicorn let out a few quiet whines of protest as Rainbow slipped away but otherwise did not wake. Once she was up, Rainbow made sure that Twilight was still tucked in, and took a moment to just appreciate the peaceful sight. Twilight’s mane was extremely messy, one of the more extreme cases of bed-head that Rainbow had ever seen on her. However, it didn’t seem to detract from her slumber, and a tiny smile was on her face. Her chest rose and fell evenly with her breaths.

Rainbow admired the sight for a good minute before realizing that she was staring. Mentally kicking herself, she turned and stepped as quietly as possible out onto the balcony. Once the glass door was shut behind her, she turned to look out over the Empire. She could see only a few Crystal Ponies up and about in the early sunlight, probably just getting in walks to wake themselves up, considering the vast majority of them were still without their memories. There were a few wild clouds on the southern horizon, working their way to the northeast.

Watching it all moving out there for a time, Rainbow pondered her next move. The Crystal Heart had to be somewhere, they just had to figure out where to look. There had to be some way to narrow down their search. Rainbow turned around, planning to wake Twilight and ask her for her opinion, but she paused with her hoof right on the glass. She saw Twilight there in the bed, still sleeping. She hadn’t stirred even slightly and was still peacefully sleeping under the covers.

Seeing that, Rainbow decided it would not be worth it to wake her up. Instead, she slowly turned back around, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. “Okay… okay, let’s think this through… Twilight style…” she whispered to herself before unfurling her wings and lifting into the air with a gentle flap. She glided lazily over the city, her eyes opening up to passively soak in a lot of details while she was thinking. “Okay, so… King Sombra hid the Crystal Heart somewhere, somewhere where the locals ‘would never see it again…’”

Her gaze loosely bounced between several of the ponies who were out and about, and those that spotted her gave respectful nods or bows. She mostly ignored the formality, for now, not having the desire to dampen whatever good mood they may have had. Instead, she came to a stop and examined her surroundings critically and carefully. “What would that mean… where could he hide it where the locals could never see it…?”

Rainbow looked down at one of the ponies, studying them. Then her eyes went to another and another. With her brow furrowing, she looked out towards the snow. “So, uh, lemme see here… ah…” she lifted a hoof to her head and gave it a few light taps, trying to knock the cobwebs off, so to speak. “He… might have hidden it out there in the snow… the arctic is pretty expansive, it’s almost always snowing. There would be plenty of places to hide it…” her brow furrowed even more after a moment of mulling this idea over. “But… on the other hoof, there are plenty of wild animals out there in the tundra that might break it by accident, and I get the feeling he’d want it close…”

Growling under her breath, she rotated in the air to look at the city itself again. “So where would he have hidden it-” her words hitched in her throat when she saw a group of four Crystal Ponies standing together and looking at an old, closed cafe. They were talking to each other, looking as if they were speculating about something. Probably about whether or not any of them lived there. What stood out about these four ponies, though, was simple: none of them had wings or horns. Come to think of it, Rainbow hadn’t seen a single Crystal Pony with wings since she had gotten here. They were all just like Earth Ponies, except sparkly and depressed all the time.

The cogs in Rainbow’s brain began to turn at a rapidly increasing rate, her eyes widening. “Where they could never find it… Sombra had total control, and he probably made his home in the Palace…” she looked up at the palace itself, a grin slowly appearing on her face. “And… none of the locals can fly, and there are only four small entrances on the ground floor of the palace. He’d probably keep those entrances locked and guarded by slaves if what Luna said about mind control is real, so…” her eyes then began to trace up along the side of the palace, towards the tip. “So… oh, oh, OH!” she began to rise higher into the air, her heart rate accelerating with excitement at the possibility that maybe, just maybe, she was right about this.

Once she was at the same height at the roof of the palace, she looked at it. A gigantic, cocky smirk appeared on her face. “So… he’d hide it where nopony could go! The top of the palace! Without wings, none of the locals would be able to reach it!” she declared, shooting forward towards her goal with such excitement that she came close to breaking the sound barrier then and there. She managed to maintain her composure just long enough get to the roof itself and examine it more closely.

It had a surprisingly open design, with the top of the Palace being a perfectly flat platform. On one side, the top of a descending stairwell could be seen leading back into the Palace. Around the edges of the roof, a rail predictably made up of crystals, encircled the entire platform, at about the same height as a typical pony’s shoulders. Several thick pillars rose out at even intervals around the edge, gracefully providing support for a smoothly sloped roof that came to a sharp tip, creating a sheltered observation platform of sorts. It was all several shades of a very lively, rich blue color.

And, sure enough, floating in the air just above the very center of the platform, was the Crystal Heart. It was fairly large, easily the size of Rainbow’s upper torso. It’s immaculately carved surface was a brighter blue than any of the other crystals Rainbow had seen, and the whole relic emitted a gentle blue glow. Whatever magic was making that light, it put a feeling of complete tranquility into Rainbow’s heart, relaxing her muscles and softening her excitement into something more serene.

She slowly touched her hooves down on the very edge of the platform, gazing at the Heart with wide eyes and a gaping jaw. “Wow… this thing looks awesome…” she whispered to herself, starting to trot towards it. The light within seemed to be calling out to her, begging her to claim it and use it, to spread love and light over the Empire once again.

She took another step. “Finally. I can save mom, aunt Luna, and everypony else,” she said, her excitement once again mounting. Another step forward. “I can get rid of Chrysalis! YES!” she took one last step and prepared to leap for the heart, to grab it and rush it to the plaza at the bottom of the palace. But just as she was about to kick off, her legs locked in place, and her will to move any closer to the heart died all at once.

Rainbow Dash blinked, confused. “Wha… what?” she questioned, glancing down at her hooves. She noticed then that she was standing partway inside of a circle on the surface of the roof where the crystals were a different shade of blue, and that circle was pulsing with shadows. Was it a trap?! She scrambled backward and away from the Heart with an exclamation of fear, half-expecting something to spring forth from the darkness and maul her. But, to her relief, nothing came. The pulsing shadows faded away, and she was left completely unharmed.

There was a moment of silence. Shaking her head, Rainbow straightened her posture and tried to approach the heart again, this time from the air with the help of her wings. Sadly, it seemed that it didn’t matter how she approached it. She found that she could not bring herself to move any closer than she had before, even in the air. Those pulsing shadows serving as a reminder of her failing efforts. Growling with frustration, she touched back down onto the floor a few feet away and glared at the Heart. “What’s the big idea, huh?!” she demanded, snorting angrily. “Why can’t I grab you?!”

“Is it really so hard to understand?”

The blood drained from Rainbow’s face, rendering her pale. At the same moment, her muscles went rigid and her blood went cold. She knew that voice… “King Sombra…” she choked out. In the corner of her eye, she saw the King of Shadows step into reality, a sinister look in his eyes. She whipped around to face him, ready to tackle him and defend herself against him. She hesitated when she saw that it was merely a projection, his body flickering and distorting with magical shimmers. He glanced at her from the side, a grimace on his face.

“Princess,” he greeted coldly before looking at the Crystal Heart. “I do not know how it is that you found out about the Crystal Heart or discovered it’s location, but I will save you from wasting your time and energy on it; you will not move the Crystal Heart from this spot, and you will not inform any of the population where it is.”

Rainbow blinked, his voice sending chills down her spine. While his projection walked closer to the Heart as if to admire it, she flared out her wings. “Oh yeah? And how can you be so sure of that?!” she demanded, circling the heart to keep herself in his line of sight.

Sombra openly laughed at that, a rumbling and spine-tingling noise. He leveled his crimson eyes at Rainbow while a grin grew on his muzzle. “Do you remember the terms of our treaty? You and your friends are not to resist my claim to the Empire in any way, remember?”

“How does that even apply here?!” Rainbow shouted, incredulous. “For one thing, Chrysalis isn’t defeated yet, and we aren’t allowed to resist you after that! And if we want to beat her, we need this thing!

Rainbow Dash’s ire only served to increase the size of Sombra’s grin. “You must have forgotten to read it all the way through, Princess… allow me to educate you,” he drawled out in the most condescending way possible, making Dash’s coat bristle. “If you were to move the Crystal Heart and use it to destroy Chrysalis, then she would need to be within the Empire’s boundaries. This would imply that I allow her entrance to the Empire in the first place. Furthermore, using the Heart would…” he gave his next words some thought, narrowing his eyes. “...be severely detrimental to my claim. And that, I like to think, is a pristine example of offering resistance.”

Rainbow’s ears slowly fell flat against her head, her rage, and anger being replaced with dread and despair. “But… But...” she stuttered out, her entire body shaking. “You said that…”

Sombra looked at her almost as if he pitied her, but the delighted flicker in his eyes made it clear he was loving every moment of her horror. “I said that you and your friends could not stop me, Rainbow Dash. If you had bothered to read through the fine print, you would know that the Crystal Heart is off limits to you. So, Princess Rainbow Dash, you may not remove it, utilize it, or reveal it to the population. The same limitation applies to your friends, as you signed on their behalf as their ruling monarch.”

Rainbow fell to her haunches, her eyes leaving Sombra’s projection to gaze at the Heart in longing. All of the hope drained from her eyes, and her once rigid wings fell limply to her sides. Satisfied that the message was received, Sombra merely chuckled under his breath. “Do not worry, your highness,” he continued mockingly. “You do not need the Heart to destroy Chrysalis… You just need me.”

With those words echoing in the air around her and burrowing into Rainbow’s skull, Sombra vanished into thin air, leaving her all alone. Rainbow barely even noticed his departure, her mind racing at a million miles an hour, the anguish of what she had done settling in all over again. “I… what have I done…?” she asked herself hollowly, lowering her face and looking at her reflection in the smooth surface beneath her hooves. She felt her heart twist with guilt, her stomach churn with disgust, and the back of her head began to burn as she looked at herself.

She had been so close! The Crystal Heart was right there! She could almost touch it, and she could feel the love and light it held washing over her, trying to ease her pain. It was because of that love and light that she was able to keep herself from screaming her lungs out.

No matter how hard she tried, she was powerless to grab the Crystal Heart, to use it to save her friends, her family or herself. They were done for… They were going to be utterly powerless when Chrysalis descended upon them...

And it was all her fault.

Author's Note:

Fun Fact: Rainbow Dash working out where Sombra hid the Crystal Heart by sheer deduction was supposed to happen two or three chapters ago, but I wound up pushing it to now so that I could do a few things; give the cast some downtime (it's been mostly doom and gloom for them for a while now) and bring Stinger back into the fold. That supremely loyal changeling is going to be very important later, just so you know.

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