• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,295 Views, 989 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.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
The Heart Of An Empire

The barrier had fallen, but there was no sign of the Queen. Stinger’s eyes frantically searched the city from her place on a snow-smothered hill some few miles out, looking for any signs that her majesty was still at work. A flash of green flames, perhaps, or even just a dark speck buzzing around. Sadly, however, there was nothing of the sort. Only the towering King Sombra, his dark magic, and the flickers and flashes of blue magic that were sent against him. Stinger knew it was Princess Luna; who else could it be? Between the intensity of the spellfire and the fact that they were coming from several places in the sky, any other individuals were quickly ruled out.

The princesses had somehow escaped, and now one of them was dueling King Sombra one on one. If they had escaped, then… what about the queen? Stinger’s eyes once more fled from Sombra to scan the streets for her ruler. She cursed under her breath when a chill wind washed over her, reminding her all too well that she was well and truly alone, now. All of the other drones had either fallen to Sombra’s never-ending nightmare or fled in a panic, leaving her as the last one to stay true to her orders.

Her mind briefly wandered back to what that one drone - the one she had let Sombra claim - had said.

The drone took a few seconds to catch his breath before shaking his body to get a hold of himself. “She should have succeeded by now,” he noted before his eyes darted up to look at the impossibly strong storm around the barrier. “But between this storm and that barrier… I don’t know. What if the ponies inside found a way to stop the queen? We might be fighting a losing battle, here!”

Her blood boiled at even the mere notion, and she could not help but hiss vindictively at empty air to vent her frustration. “Of course not, don’t be stupid,” she growled to herself. “Queen Chrysalis is unbeatable. She’s led us for centuries, and never once has she let us down or failed us. Nothing could stop her… nothing…” she glanced over her shoulder in the direction the survivors had fled, back towards the hive. They’d be traveling for a few weeks before they got there, easily. “...A bunch of faithless, selfish cowards…”

She returned to observing the city, her eyes glowing. “Well… I won’t leave. If the queen did fail, somehow, then I promise, whoever is responsible will pay the ultimate price…”

With that thought in her mind, she sat and waited impatiently for Sombra to either be defeated or swallow he empire whole. Her window for revenge would come soon enough; she knew that. It was only a matter of time…

The sprint to the palace had been a tiring and dangerous one. Even with Luna doing everything in her power to stall him, Sombra came after the group hard and fast. More than once they had to duck, dodge, and weave through fresh spikes of dark crystals that his magic sent springing up out of the ground in front of them, almost goring them several times.

After a particularly close call that put a fresh scratch on Applejack’s cheek, Luna redoubled her efforts, and Sombra fell away from the group to focus on her, allowing the rest to finally reach the palace. They were all breathing heavily on arrival, but they could safely say that that was the worst of their physical ailments.

Rainbow sucked in a deep breath through her nose, then let it out through her mouth. After a few more seconds of catching her breath, she lifted her head and turned to face the others. ‘Everypony okay?” she called, getting a general mumbling of confirmation in return. Satisfied with the response, she shook herself before nodding at the rest. “Okay, all of you need to get inside! Get the crystal ponies out here and into the plaza right now! Twi, you’re with me! I might need some magical assistance in getting the heart!” she ordered in rapid succession, completely missing the look of mock offense of Celestia’s face for being ordered around. Rainbow quickly stretched her back and spread her wings, giving them a few experimental flaps to ensure they were in good working order.

Twilight nodded and flashed a hard look at the rest of the group, her gaze lingering on Celestia. The two stared at each other for a moment before Twilight smiled and began to gallop over to Rainbow. She came to a stop by her side and hopped on to her back, wrapping all four of her legs around Rainbow’s barrel to secure herself. As she got settled, her muzzle came to a rest right by Rainbow’s ear. Her breath tickled the appendage, making it flick a few times. “We’re almost there, Dash. One last push,” she whispered into it before giving Rainbow an affectionate nuzzle.

Rainbow nodded. “Yeah,” she said before giving her mother a smile. Celestia looked back at her with a wide, proud smile.

“Go on. I’ll take care of things here,” Celestia said softly. Rainbow nodded, then gave her wings a mighty flap. A cloud of dust was kicked up from the point of impact, sending herself and Twilight blazing up for the sky at high speeds.

Celestia watched them go for a moment, her smile only growing. “I will take care of them, my daughter…” she whispered. She then turned back to the group as a whole and nodded for the nearest entrance. “Well, you heard her! Inside!” she ordered. The assembled ponies didn’t need any more than that and immediately sprinted through the doors of the palace to spread the word.

Meanwhile, after several seconds of pushing through the air and gaining altitude, Rainbow Dash finally came a stop by the edge of the roof. Sure enough, the Crystal Heart was still there, pulsing softly and soothing her mind and muscles with its gentle glow and gentle magic. A soft gasp from Rainbow’s back told her that Twilight saw it, too, and was just as blown away by the relic’s sheer beauty as Rainbow had been the first time.

Oh, who was she kidding? She was still just as blown away now. Rainbow slowly brought them in for a landing, her hooves touching down just past the guardrail. As soon as she was on the ground, Twilight slid off of her back and took a few steps towards the heart, her eyes shimmering with wonder.

She came to a stop after a moment to just stare at it. She mouthed uselessly like a fish for a little bit before finally finding something resembling a thought. “It's… it's amazing…” she breathed, her jaw hanging open.

Rainbow snickered quietly, amused by Twilight’s wonder, and took a place by her side. “Yeah, it is. Kinda fitting, don’t you think? A beautiful thing destroys an ugly thing…” she muttered, draping a wing over Twilight’s shoulders and pulling her a little closer.

Twilight leaned into the embrace and nodded. “Yes, fitting…” she murmured in an almost dreamy voice. Her eyes hesitantly turned from the Heart to instead look at Rainbow Dash. The two stared into each other’s eyes before another howl from Sombra snapped them out of it. “Alright, let’s get to it. You said you needed my help with the magic side of things?” Twilight abruptly asked, gesturing with her horn towards the heart.

Rainbow released Twilight from the wing hug before lifting into the air to get an aerial view of the situation. “Yeah. When I came up here last time, there was some kind of dark flash in the floor below the heart. I couldn’t get past it before thanks to Sombra’s stupid treaty. I get the feeling it's a trap or an alarm or something. Anyway you can figure it out?” she asked while slowly flying around the edge of the central circle.

Twilight studied the circle for a few seconds before lighting up her horn with magic. A spotlight of lavender colors light shined from the tip and began to slowly pass back and forth over the of the circle. Wherever the purple circle of light went, dark veins were revealed under the floor as if they were bacteria under an ultraviolet light. They twitched and spasmed and attempted to shrink away from Twilight’s magic, but the sheer density of them kept them from going very far.

Twilight began chewing on her lip while her eyes narrowed analytically. After another few moments of studying the veins, she let the magic fade and looked up at Rainbow. “It’s an alarm,” she began simply, taking a few steps around the edge as well. “If I’m reading this right, whenever something enters the circle, it instantly notifies King Sombra with a mental image of the intruder.”

Rainbow let out a small exhale of relief. “Oh, well that’s not too bad. He kinda already knows we’re here,” she pointed out before drifting back a few feet, prepping to fly in.

“Maybe, but hold on,” Twilight quickly said, making Rainbow pause. Twilight turned to look at the heart again. “He already knows we’re here, but that doesn’t mean we should be reckless. Sombra is powerful, Rainbow. It wouldn’t take him much effort to cast a spell the instant one of us sets off the alarm, and I saw more than a few links back to him in that mess of veins.”

Rainbow growled in frustration and threw her forelegs wide to display discontent. “Well, counter them or something!” she snapped, her tone accentuated by the call of Sombra in the distance. She shuddered and glanced over her shoulder to see he was still battling with Luna, although it looked like he was getting more creative in his attacks. Several enormous pieces of dark crystal had been stuck together into the shape of a jagged scythe, one which he now swung at Luna alongside his spells, limited her maneuverability. What was worse, any time she got near a crystalline surface, more dark crystals would come jutting out of them at her like spears. She was on the retreat now, her dwindling power unable to keep up with everything Sombra was throwing at her.

Twilight’s brow twitched as she scanned the veins again. After a few minutes of thought, she let out a frustrated groan. “I can’t! It’s too complicated! We don’t have enough time for me to find the spell’s weak link!”

Rainbow turned to look at her, then at the heart. She swallowed heavily and slammed her forehooves together over her chest, creating a loud clunk sound. Her expression hardened considerably. “Well, gonna have to risk it, then!” she declared before giving her wings a powerful flap.

“Rainbow, WAIT!” Twilight shouted when she saw the pegasus shoot at the heart. She passed over the edge of the circle, and it began to rapidly flash with darkness, signaling the start of the alarm. In the distance, Sombra’s voice could be heard shouting in rage. He had felt it. At the same moment, tendrils of dark magic began to seep up from the edges of the circle.

Rainbow was quick, and her hooves wrapped around the Crystal Heart, prying it from its place in the air. An aetherial hum came from it, and it almost sounded like a thank you. She hugged it close to her chest and began to fly for the other side of the circle. Twilight could tell she wouldn’t be fast enough, though. Dark crystals were already rising from the floor, faster than Rainbow could outrun them. Their trajectory would cause them to coalesce at one point overhead, completely encasing whoever was inside. Time crawled to a near halt as Twilight’s mind went into overdrive, trying to think of a solution. She considered every angle, every spell she knew, every physical action she could take. Sadly, at that moment, there was nothing she could do that would keep them both free.

She could keep one of them free, though.

With a rush of power into her horn, she teleported into the air right next to Rainbow, and then, using a blast of raw force, she accelerated Rainbow’s speed as much she could. The princess cried out in pain and alarm as she was sent flying out of the circle along with the Crystal Heart, just in time to avoid becoming trapped as well. The dark crystals rose with a deep, echoing crack, blocking Twilight’s view and completely encasing her in a round pyramid of dark crystals. She fell to the floor, hitting it with a grunt of pain. Several moments passed in silence for her, and she stared fearfully up at the claustrophobic space in which she now found herself. She was trapped.

“TWILIGHT!” she heard Rainbow’s voice from beyond the jagged wall. She turned her head to see that Rainbow had come sprinting right back, staring at her wide-eyed from a tiny gap in her cage, the only one there was. “Twilight, what the hay were you thinking?!” she demanded again, her voice cracking.

Twilight took a deep breath and slowly rose to shaking hooves, looking around at her new confines again as she went. “I was saving you, Rainbow,” she explained before trotting for the gap. “You didn’t have enough time to get out on your own, so I gave you a push. But the only spell I had enough power left to use that would do the trick meant taking your place in here...” she placed her hoof against the wall and looked into Rainbow’s eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, get out of there! Teleport or something!” Rainbow shouted, slamming a hoof into the wall of the cage.

“Okay, I’ll try…” Twilight said with a slow nod. She then closed her eyes and focused hard on the teleportation spell. She didn’t have much energy left; enough for one more teleport. If she tried to use any energy after that, she risked going into another severe magic exhaustion fit. Praying to Celestia that this would work, she put the spell into motion. The magic flowed from her horn, swirled around her, and she vanished in a flash of light. She then re-appeared by Rainbow’s side, albeit shaking horribly and gasping for breath. She slowly and hesitantly opened her eyes and smiled in relief on seeing Rainbow looking back at her.

Sadly, their smiles of relief were premature. Something unseen reached out and tugged on Twilight. Her blood ran cold, and her heart skipped a beat in her chest as shadowy electricity crackled around her. Her fur stood on end as she felt the tell-tale tingle of magic on her skin. She saw Rainbow’s eyes fly wide open, and she saw the mare reaching out for her but it was too late. There was a rush of darkness and cold, and Twilight was unceremoniously deposited back inside the cage in a flash of shadows. Her exit from the dark teleport was violent and forceful, and it sent her stumbling to one side until her cheek slammed against the far wall. She cried in pain and fell back onto her haunches. Groaning, she lifted a hoof to rub at her now sore face.

“Twilight! Dang it, try again! You have to get out of there!” Rainbow shouted at her, the sound of her hooves pounding on the walls becoming audible again.

“I can’t… I don’t have any energy left. If I tried to do it again, I’d probably hurt myself before the spell even went off,” Twilight replied while slowly getting back to her hooves. She turned her tired eyes back to Rainbow Dash, whose own eyes betrayed her fear and desperation. She could also see a few new spikes of crystal growing with every punch Rainbow gave the cage, making the only gap she had smaller. Twilight stepped forward, her ears folding back. “Rainbow, please, calm down. You’re just making it worse!”

“WE NEED TO GET YOU OUT OF THERE!” Rainbow repeated in a scream before launching herself back a few dozen yards with a flap of her wings. She then came rocketing back to slam her shoulder into the cage as hard as she could. The impact sent her falling back to the floor with a cry of pain, and didn’t even put a dent in Twilight’s entrapments.

“We don’t have time!” Twilight protested while maneuvering her head so she could see Sombra through her only viewport. Luna was putting up a valiant effort, but she was starting to falter. Twilight turned her attention back to Rainbow in time to see her try to power through the cage again, and again, her efforts only served to send her back onto the ground with growing pain. When Rainbow slid to a halt, Twilight spotted the Crystal Heart by the edge of the roof not far away. “Please, just take the heart and go! You can come back for me later!”

“I can’t do that!” Rainbow shouted, punching the cage again. “I am not leaving you behind! NOT AGAIN!”

The two fell silent with those words, and Rainbow’s panicking breaths slowly quieted down to something more sorrowful. Her ears drooped and her eyes began to glisten with fresh tears. She sniffled and wiped a hoof over her eyes. “...Discord’s maze, the train, Hollow Shades, Sombra… I c-can’t… I’m n-not… it’s like you said before. I’m n-not leaving your side again, not ever again! We go down together... or not at all...”

Twilight’s eyes widened in surprise. “Rainbow, this is nothing like that…” she said in a whisper, bringing one of her hooves to rest on the wall on her side of the cage. Oh, how much she wished she could reach out and give Rainbow a hug right now… “You aren’t abandoning me, here, you’re saving an entire city, and our friends, and me. If you stay here, we will go down together. Please, just take the heart and take Sombra down.”

“But what if you get hurt?!” Rainbow asked, the tears spilling free now. “These crystals are still growing! You might get crushed! You told you would rather die than let me get hurt, and the feeling is mutual! I love you, Twilight, and I am NOT leaving you!” with those words echoing around them, Rainbow began to break down. Her eyes screwed shut and her forehead met the wall above the gap in the cage with an echoing thud. Twilight just stared at her for a moment, eyes wide and mouth slightly agape.

When another harrowing roar from Sombra reached her ears, though, she swallowed her shock. “Rainbow… look at me,” she commanded firmly in barely a whisper. Rainbow sniffled, but did as instructed, lifting her head and looking into Twilight’s solemn eyes.

To her surprise, she felt a tug on one of the long locks of her mane that usually hung over one shoulder. Her eyes looked down to see that it was being held in a soft lavender glow, and it was being gently pulled on, guiding her head, particularly her muzzle, closer to the gap in the cage.

And through that gap, Twilight kissed her.

Rainbow’s eyes flew wide open, as did her wings. But after a few seconds, she eagerly returned the kiss and closed her eyes, savoring the contact as much as she could. The moment seemed to drag on and on, the world outside ceasing to exist for both of them. Sadly, no matter how much they wished they could remain locked together like this forever, the moment had to come to an end. They were forced to break apart by more dark crystals growing between them, narrowing the gap so only one eye could see through. The two looked into each other’s eyes for several moments before Rainbow rested her forehead against the cage again. “I’m coming back for you…” she whispered quietly.

“You’d better…” Twilight answered in an equally hushed voice. “But right now, the Empire needs you more than I do. So go…” she smiled a warm, loving and assured smile that sent Rainbow’s heart fluttering in her chest. “Go and be the incredible, wonderful, awesome pony that I knew you are… and win...

As Twilight spoke those words, Rainbow was forced to step back as more dark crystals grew over the gap. She could only just see a small fraction of Twilight’s eye looking back at her through it, now. The crystals grew and grew, and less and less of Twilight became visible until she was completely encased.

Rainbow gulped heavily, just staring at the cage for several seconds. She sighed, then turned to gaze at the Crystal Heart. It still sat there, resting on the floor, just waiting for her to take it. It pulsed, and Rainbow couldn’t help but think it was trying to comfort her. She took a deep breath, then snapped open her wings and launched herself at it. She scooped it off the floor as she passed, then shrieked in alarm when another spear of dark crystals sprouted from where it had been and towards her. It missed skewering her belly by mere inches, only missing because she barrel-rolled at the last second. She wasn’t safe yet, though, as more of the shadowy mineral sprouted to chase her higher into the air.

She ascended in altitude by at least two hundred feet before the crystals finally lost their stability and stopped chasing her. With their own precarious weight, shape, and size, the long winding structure crumbled and broke into pieces that began to dissolve uselessly into the air. Through those shadowy wisps, Rainbow could see the central plaza, as well as most of the population of the Empire. Thousands of Crystal Ponies were all gathered, fearfully watching the distant battle between Luna and Sombra while they awaited the arrival of their beloved relic. Rainbow followed their gaze to watch the battle, seeing Luna take a blow from the butt of the scythe, sending her careening down into the streets.

Rainbow looked down at the relic in her hooves, then down at the still growing dark crystals that had entrapped Twilight. She lingered there for a moment, holding the Heart close to her own. “Alright…” she whispered to herself before closing her eyes. “...Let’s do this thing.”

She let herself tilt back until she was upside down…

And then she let herself fall.

She gained momentum quickly, the wind sending her mane and tail flying wildly in every direction while battering her closed eyes. Just as she felt herself reach the fastest speed gravity alone could bring her to, her eyes snapped open and her wings gave a powerful flap. All at once, the air around her exploded into light and colors, an enormous sonic rainboom being left in her wake. The sound that erupted from the center of the explosion reached the ears of every creature in and out of the empire for several miles, drawing their eyes skyward to behold the radiant light.

The ponies in the plaza had just enough time to see the ring of colors in the air, the same one they had come to associate with Rainbow Dash fighting to defend them, before the pony herself came to a hard landing in their midst, her legs bending to absorb some of the landing’s impact. Dust was kicked up and thrown back from her landing, and In one hoof, held high over her head, was the Crystal Heart, pulsing brightly.

The gathered locals looked on in awe, beginning to speak amongst themselves in hushed voices.

“The Crystal Heart…”

“You found it!”

“Could it be…? Are you…?”

Rainbow tuned them out, holding the Heart higher. “Listen up!” She shouted as loud as she could, sweeping her eyes over the crowd. She caught sight of her friends among the sea of faces, and her mother as well was watching with a proud smile. Taking confidence in their presence, she spoke again. “The Crystal Heart is back!” she then looked out from the crowd towards Sombra, who had caught sight of the rainboom and, by extension, her. He was now surging towards the plaza at high speeds, Luna doing her best to stall him. Rainbow grit her teeth and looked back at the crowd. “And if you don’t want Sombra ruining your lives, then now would be a real good time to be happy about that!”

With that declaration, the Crystal Heart suddenly flew out of her hooves towards the very center of the plaza, where it came to a perfectly stable hover in mid-air. Smooth spikes of pristine, sky-blue crystal appeared above and below it, looking as if they were holding the Heart in place. Then, with the ponies of the Crystal Empire starting to bow to it, the Heart began to spin.

“NOOOO!” Sombra roared, his voice uncomfortably close. Rainbow spun around to see him, and her eyes went wide as saucers. He was in the plaza, rushing right at her and the heart, reaching out for both of them. She didn’t have enough time to get out of the way of his reaching tendrils, either, as he was already on top of them. She could just see the face of Princess Luna looking back at her from behind the King of Shadows, her expression twisted with terror and regret.

But just as Sombra’s shadows were about to reach Rainbow, a dome of golden light flared into life in front of her face, ending Sombra’s advance. The dome then began to move against him, making his growl and scream with anger and pain while forcing him out from under the palace. Confused, Rainbow looked behind her and saw Princess Celestia slowly trudging forward, her horn glowing with what little energy she had left to push the barrier forwards.

“Mom!’ Rainbow cried in concern when Celestia’s legs gave out, and she fell to her knees.

The solar princess ignored her for just a moment, opening one of her eyes and smiling victoriously at Sombra. “Stay… away… from her… you monster!” she bellowed before the magic on her horn flared, pushing Sombra back out of the plaza entirely. That light then flickered and her barrier faded, and with it, her consciousness. Celestia collapsed to the ground in a twitching, gasping heap, her legs spasming and kicking out in pain.

“MOM!” Rainbow screamed, rushing to her side. Magic exhaustion; she recognized the state from when Twilight had collapsed in the library. But her efforts had paid off. Rainbow looked over her shoulder and caught sight of the Heart still spinning away in its place. Its speed reached a climax and, with a blinding flash of light, a sphere of pure and unconditional love and light came pouring out. It washed over her and Celestia, stilling the latter’s spasms and easing her pain to nothing. The light washed over everypony in the Plaza, their coats brightening up and sparkling, all of them getting warm, happy grins on their faces. The light then washed over Sombra.

The shadowy smoke-form he so loved to use immediately evaporated, leaving just the unicorn in its wake standing defiantly on the street. His hooves dug into the ground, cracks appearing along his body to let blue light bleed out. He lifted his eyes to look at Rainbow Dash in disgust, hatred, and fear. His horn glowed with dark magic, as did his eyes, and Rainbow snapped open her wings, ready to dodge.

Whatever spell Sombra was preparing, however, never got to go off. The light of the Heart washed over him again, and his mouth opened to let out one last roar of pain and defiance before his entire body was shattered, crumbling into dust and fading away. All that remained of him was his cape, his armor, and his horn, all of which were blown away into the frozen north by the still expanding sphere of magical energy.

Everywhere the light touched, the darkness that Sombra had left behind was erased. His dark crystals crumbled into dust and faded into nothingness. Any corruptions or spells he had left in place were undone. The purity of the Empire was, at long last, after over a thousand years, fully restored. A beam of light erupted from the tip of the palace’s central spire, piercing the heavens. From that point, the colorful ribbons of light and love that were the northern lights began to spread out in all directions, flowing freely for hundreds of miles and allowing a sense of calm and tranquility to fall over the whole world.

In the snowy wastelands outside the city, thousands of confused changeling drones were starting to awaken from their nightmares. One by one, they slowly and rigidly rose from the snow shaking themselves and checking their bodies for wounds. Murmurs began to be passed among them, asking questions, wondering what had happened, trying to find the queen. Their efforts were for nothing, they soon discovered.

As fear and chaos began to set into their ranks, though, a blissful calm fell over the entire swarm. Small spheres of light came drifting down from the heavens, carrying with them the trails of the pink haze that was raw, unconditional love. Looking up to where the lights were coming from, they saw the northern lights, slowly and majestically bending across the sky. They could taste the love in the air hitting their tongues, and none were willing to deny the meal. Thousands and thousands of changelings ate well at that moment, their hunger fading if only for a little while.

With they ate and felt the pain in their bellies decrease for the first time in their lives, however, a warning came drifting into their mind. The swarm saw the image of a black-barked tree with dark teal hair hanging from the branches. They knew what it meant.

Queen Chrysalis was no more.

Wordlessly, the swarm began to flee from the Frozen North, all of the changelings making their way back towards the hive.

All but one...

Author's Note:

Fun Fact: This entire chapter has pretty much been planned since day one; especially Rainbow and Twilight's interaction at the crystal cage ontop the palace. Interestingly enough, I was originally planning on that being when Twilight finally caved and admitted to loving Rainbow Dash in return, giving Rainbow the surge of motivation she needed to not hesitate and win. But it didn't exactly go that way, now did it?

Meh, oh well...

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
PreviousChapters Next
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!