• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,136 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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Unwaking Twilight - Second Verse (Part III)

The trip to the central plaza of the Crystal Empire was made mostly in silence. The streets were filled with ponies going about their days, many of which were filled with volunteering for repair efforts across the city. The rapid succession of battles between beings of immense power had leveled many homes and torn up the streets in several places, and so a lot of time and energy was being put into restoring the empire to its former glory. Ponies could be seen with bundles of supplies or chunks of crystals on their backs or chiseling away at tall slabs that would soon be made into new walls and structures. Others still could be seen bringing food and water to the various teams at each home to make sure they kept their strength up. Even the foals were pitching in where they could, albeit this usually amounted to taking tools or messages back and forth. Still, they were happy to be of help.

It was encouraging to see them all working together like this, and Rainbow couldn’t help but offer smiles to any of them she passed. Soon enough, though, the three came out of the streets and into the central plaza beneath the palace. A few guards bowed their heads and allowed them to pass without any hassle. The Crystal Heart still stood proudly in the very center, spinning steadily around and filling the air with a warm serenity that was hard to put into words. Every few seconds, it would emit a gentle pulse and hum of magical energy. Once again, just being in a close proximity to the ancient relic put Rainbow at ease, her muscles relaxing along with her mind.

She came to a stop after a few more steps and turned to Cadance, who was eyeing the Heart with a mixture of uncertainty and fascination. “Well?” Rainbow asked lightly while nodding her head towards the heart. “You gonna go up to it?”

Cadance hesitated for a few more seconds, then slowly nodded and began her approach. For a time, all of them were silent, just watching and waiting to see what would happen. The only sounds were that of the distant and muffled chattering of the crowds in the city, a gentle breeze whistling through the streets, Cadance’s hooves clopping against the plaza ground, and the Heart softly ringing with every rotation.

The silence we briefly disrupted when Cadance got within ten feet of her destination.

The heart grew in brightness; not by a lot, just a little bit. Still, the subtle change was enough to make Cadance pause while her breath hitched in her throat. Rainbow and Shining both gasped from their positions a ways back. Cadance ignored them for the moment and eyed the heart with scrutiny for several seconds before taking another step forward. The glow got brighter again. Then Cadance took a step back, and the glow got dimmer. Some of the guards stationed around the Plaza could not help but glance at the scene as it was unfolding, their eyes widening.

Finally, Cadance strode up until she was less than a foot away from the Heart. It was so bright that, as close as she was, Cadance almost had to squint. Almost. The gentle magical hum it had been making had gotten louder as well. Everypony in the plaza that heard it physically relaxed even more and a feeling passed through them. They knew it wasn’t theirs; it was from the Heart.


The Crystal Heart recognized Princess Cadance.

Smiling to herself, Cadance looked over her shoulder at the others. “I think it likes me,” she said lightly before turning around and trotting back to the group. She looked at Rainbow in thought. “Does it do that for you?”

Rainbow shook her head. “No, it doesn’t. When I was pulling it back down to the plaza to stop Sombra, it didn’t get brighter or hum any louder. It just kinda sat there in my hooves…” she replied, sounding mystified. Then she put on a big grin and lifted a hoof, which Cadance knocked her own against in a hoof bump. “I think we have a winner!”

“So… what happens now?” Shining Armor asked curiously, giving Cadance a hug and nuzzle once she finally reached him.

Rainbow paused and scratched the back of her head in response to that question. A bashful look appeared on her face, and she chuckled awkwardly. “Uh… I dunno, to be honest. I didn’t really think that far ahead…” she admitted with a small hint of shame in her voice.

Cadance just shook her head and gave Rainbow an encouraging smile. “It’s okay, Rainbow Dash. We can go through all of the processes later. Personally, I think you should stay in charge until Twilight wakes up anyway.”

Rainbow frowned and took a step back. “But… I’m not cut out for-”

“I’m not disagreeing with you,” Cadance said gently, reaching out to grip Rainbow’s shoulder with her hoof. Rainbow went quiet and listened as Cadance continued. “You’re not ready for the responsibility of a kingdom, especially not on your own. Although I do think you’re not giving yourself enough credit…” Cadance looked around and then nodded towards the city and all of the ponies working tirelessly to rebuild it. “But these ponies have been gone for a long time, and their last monarch was one who had enslaved them for a long time. You’re the one who saved them from him, coming in from beyond the frozen north and defeating Sombra. They trust you. But me? I’m a mystery to them right now. If you pass them off to me after only a few days, how will that make them feel?”

Rainbow winced and looked away. “Not very good, I think,” she said in resignation. “...Alright… I’ll stay in charge for now… I’m gonna need the time to look up the legal procedures for passing the throne to you anyway, so I might as well. I mean, you have a claim and I don’t, but I know there’s more to it than grabbing my stuff and walking out.”

Cadance laughed at that while giving Rainbow’s shoulder a few pats. “Yes, that’s true…” she agreed before looking over at Shining Armor. She hesitated when she saw the somber look in his eyes, and how he couldn’t quite look into hers. “Shining…?”

“So… I guess this means that you get to live here now, huh?” he asked quietly, finally managing to look at her again. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for you! This is a big step, finding out you’re the heir to this place, but… I don’t know… I don’t want to be away from you, I guess.”

Rainbow just shrugged. “You know, you could always move here,” she pointed out with a small smirk.

Shining gave a weak laugh. “Maybe someday, but it’s not that simple. I’m the captain of the Equestrian Royal Guard. I have responsibilities back in Canterlot and to the other princesses…” he sighed and looked down. “I can’t just grab my stuff and go…” After a moment, though, he looked up and gave a confident smile. “But we’ll make it work, I’m sure.”

Cadance nodded slowly before drawing him into another warm embrace. “I’m sure we will… I won’t let you slip away. You’re too special,” she whispered into his ear before pulling back and planting a quick kiss on his lips. Shining didn’t even blush as he quickly returned it, the two humming before separating with a twinkle in their eyes.

Then Shining Armor turned a hard look at Rainbow Dash. “Okay… now that all of that is out of the way… you,” he addressed her with a cold tone.

Rainbow gulped in dread. “Er… yeah?”

Shining backed out of his hug with Cadance, who just watched him with an amused smirk. He stalked a few steps closer to Rainbow before looking down at her with scrutiny. “...We’re going to Twilight’s bedside. When we get there, I’m going to ask you some questions about your relationship with my little sister, and you’re going to answer them. Understood?”

Rainbow took a step back, definitely intimidated, but she couldn’t quite help but deliver a snarky response. “You know you’re talking to a princess, right?”

“You know you’re talking to a protective older brother, right?” Shining countered without missing a beat.

Rainbow took another step back. “Uh… touche.”

“Besides, we aren’t in Equestria right now, and you’re still technically in charge of the Crystal Empire. I don’t have to follow the same rules of etiquette as I would back home.”

From behind him, Cadance got Rainbow’s attention with a vigorous shake of her head. Once they were looking at each other, she smirked and mouthed the words “Oh, yes he does,” before winking at Rainbow and giving her a few ‘shoo’ motions with her hoof. The message was clear. Just roll with it. Rainbow nodded, looked up at Shining and gave a small, crooked smile.

“O-okay, sure. Message received… let’s go…” she said, still nervous. This was Twilight’s family she was dealing with, after all. There was a moment of awkward silence before she turned and headed into the palace through one of the four doors at a brisk canter, with Shining following close behind. Cadance watched them go for a moment, then followed them inside while quietly laughing under her breath.

Twilight’s condition still hadn’t changed. Rainbow couldn’t help herself and kept looking over at her sleeping face as she recounted her story to Shining Armor. Spike sat by Rainbow’s side, his claws clasped behind his back and his eyes downturned. The questions had started off simple enough. “When did this happen?” “Are you good to her?” and the like.

But as Rainbow revealed more and more of the journey they had taken, the more probing the questions got. From that night in the hotel in Manehattan where they had watched the sunset together, to the night in Hollow Shades where Rainbow broke down and confessed how she had been feeling, to Twilight’s eventual reciprocation, and ending off with Twilight’s sacrifice, taking the shot meant for Rainbow. Shining’s questions got more direct every time. The stallion was meticulous, and some might have even wondered if he was breaching Rainbow’s privacy with some of them, but she answered his questions willingly and honestly, one and all. He had the right to know, after all. It was his little sister that Rainbow was in love with, and it was his little sister who had given her life to save her.

Finally, Rainbow wrapped up her answer to his most recent query and looked down, waiting for the next one. A few moments passed where Shining Armor was completely quiet. Rainbow felt his eyes boring into her, and she could just make out the sound of his slow, even breaths. He finally cut through the quiet by leaning back and letting out a sigh. “Alright… one more question,” he began in a much more gentle voice then he had been using so far. “I need to know… if you and Twilight are ever in a situation like what happened on the roof again, but your roles are reversed… would you take the shot for her?”

Rainbow looked up at him, taken off guard by the question. Seeing the look in his eyes, though, she did not hesitate to answer truthfully and with a nod of conviction. ”Of course. Any day,” she stated firmly as a matter of fact.

Shining studied her face for a moment, analyzing her answer, before smiling and nodding. “Well… then I just hope you never have to prove it,” he said gently before finally looking down at Twilight, sadness in his eyes. When he spoke again, it was to Twilight. “I think you made a good choice, little sis… she isn’t perfect, but…” he then gave Rainbow a small smile. “Well, nopony is.”

Rainbow let out a relieved sigh and lifted a hoof as if she were holding a cider mug. “Yeah, I’m with you there, bud,” she nodded in agreement before letting her hoof fall back to the floor. She turned her own eyes to Twilight and sighed. “...Do you think she can hear us in there?”

“I don’t know… it’s possible…” Shining Armor replied quietly. He reached out and took one of Twilight’s hooves in his own to give it a gentle squeeze. “Twilight, if you can hear us… Then let me just say that I am so, so proud of you. I’m sure that mom and dad will be up here in the near future to visit you, too. So stay strong, okay? We’re all waiting for you to come home.”

Twilight, of course, did not offer anything in the way of a response. Shining withdrew his hooves and leaned back again. He looked at Rainbow and gave her a small nod. “If you don’t mind, Rainbow, Spike… can I have some time alone with her? I haven’t really spent any time with her in way too long...”

Rainbow looked down at Spike, who only offered a meek nod. She then stood up from her sitting position and nodded. “Sure thing. I know she’s safe with you…” she said in a quiet voice before turning and slowly trotting for the door, Spike following closely behind.

They left the infirmary and gradually made their way back to Rainbow’s personal room, the same one she had once shared with Twilight before the assassination attempt. As they passed through the halls, Rainbow noticed that they felt different, somehow. Like something was gone, or out of place. Like it was… empty. Even with guards on patrol and castle staff going about their work, there was just something missing, something important...

It occurred to her when they passed by what was once Pinkie Pie’s room, and she saw the door wide open. A castle maid was inside tidying up, humming pleasantly to herself. The sight went as quickly as it had come, though, and Rainbow hung her head in realization. Her friends were what was missing. They hadn’t even been gone for half a day and she already missed them. Shaking her head and trying to ignore the heavy feeling in her chest, she picked up the pace until she finally reached her destination. She pushed open the doors to her room and stepped in with Spike close at her heels. As soon as the doors were shut, Rainbow let herself rather ungracefully flop down onto the bed with a loud, tired groan.

Several moments passed in silence where she just lay there, covering her eyes with her hooves, lost in thought. She could hear Spike walking around the room for a little while, his clawed feet clicking against the floor. When the noises stopped, though, she opened her eyes and looked around. Spike had hopped up onto the edge of the bed and was now looking at her with worry in his eyes. “Rainbow?” he ventured quietly, taking a few ginger steps forward. “Are you okay?”

Rainbow nodded and let her head flop back down. “...Can I be honest with you?” she asked without taking her eyes from the roof.

“Well, yeah,” Spike nodded and took a few more steps forward, his concern for one of his oldest and dearest friends evident on his face. “What’s wrong?”

Rainbow closed her eyes and sighed. “I’m not okay. I’m homesick, our friends are gone and I’m already missing them, and... I miss Twilight…” she admitted before opening her eyes again. The ceiling was slightly blurred, and she quickly realized a few tears had gathered in her eyes. With a humorless laugh, she sat upright and wiped the back of a hoof over them to dispel the unwanted liquid. “Oh, c-come on! Crying? Right now? Ugh… so not cool…” she protested weakly, sniffling afterwords.

She felt a claw gently rest on her shoulder, and she looked down to see Spike offering her a gentle, encouraging smile. “Well, at least you’re crying in here where nopony can see, right?”

“But I’m Rainbow Dash!” She protested, putting her hooves on her chest and flaring her wings out slightly in exasperation. “I’m supposed to be the cool and awesome speedster of the group! Not… not a crybaby!”

Spike shook his head, his hold on her shoulder getting tighter. “Cool ponies can cry too,” he said softly. “I mean, you’ve cried more times than I care to count over the last month… but if anything, that just makes you even cooler to me.”

Rainbow blinked and tilted her head, confused. “Huh? Why?”

Spike’s smile grew. “Because it means you care. You care a lot. I mean, sure, you let your feelings drag you down and control you more than you probably should, but…” he gave her an encouraging smack on the back before sitting down next to her and leaning against her side. “I’d rather have a friend who admits when she’s wrong by crying then one who never takes responsibility for herself.”

Rainbow sniffled and wiped her eyes again before taking a few deep breaths. She eventually managed to collect herself before pulling Spike in for a side-hug with her wing. He eagerly returned the embrace, smiling up at her. She gave him a small smile back. “Yeah… I guess you got a point… it still makes me feel like garbage, though.”

“And you look like garbage,” Spike jabbed with a teasing grin, making Rainbow chuckle. “I mean, have you even looked in a mirror lately? If Rarity wasn’t so desensitized to you looking like a horrifyingly mutated rat’s nest, she would have had a conniption, a heart attack, and developed PTSD all at once this morning.”

“Ouch, harsh,” Rainbow said with a roll of her eyes before nudging Spike back with her hoof and hopping off of the bed.

“Maybe, but it’s true!”

“Uh huh,” Rainbow dismissed him, before shaking her head and slowly trotting over to the new vanity mirror that rested in the corner. She stood in front of it and looked at herself, taking in every little detail that she saw. And seeing herself like this, with a lot of her fears and worries no longer distracting her mind, she had to come to one conclusion.

Spike wasn’t wrong; she looked terrible.

Her mane had grown about an inch since they had left Ponyville for Manehattan, and her lack of effort to try and keep it neat or clean had led to it becoming wild and messy even by her rather low standards. Stray strands stuck out at odd angles, and there were a few places deeper in her mane that had become matted down with a disgusting combination of sweat, dirt, and… blood. Rainbow winced as she saw a few specks of dried crimson in her mane, probably from when Chrysalis had bit her hoof.

Her eyes were in fairly bad shape too. If she looked, she could see dark rings under them to go with puffy bags, advertising her exhaustion to the world at large. Curious, she lifted a foreleg and sniffed at her armpit.

She almost fainted.

Suppressing the need to vomit, Rainbow quickly set her foreleg back down and looked at herself some more. She rotated in place then to get a good look at herself from the side and was only somewhat relieved to find that, while smelly and unruly, her coat and body at large were more or less fine compared to the rest of her. There were several spots along her chest and belly where her fur had been displaced and rendered a mess, especially around where her ribs had been broken.

Cringing, she then turned to look back and spied her crown sitting on her nightstand next to the box that held the Elements of Harmony, the various magical accessories having been retrieved from Sombra’s remains in the aftermath of the battle. With her brow furrowing, Rainbow trotted over, retrieved her crown and Element and put them on. She then looked at herself in the mirror again and sized herself up.

After a few moments, she started laughing. It was a strange laugh, Spike noted. It could have been out of amusement or ironic distaste, or both. Spike tilted his head as Rainbow took both of them off and smiled back at him. “You’re right, Spike… I look awful,” she said with a chuckle before returning the accessories to her nightstand. She then started heading for the door.

“Uh, Rainbow?” Spike called in confusion when she opened the door. She paused and looked back at him. “Where are you going?”

Rainbow just smiled. “To a washroom. I’m gonna tidy myself up a bit,” she looked up at a stray lock of her hair that hung in front of her eyes and blew at it, making it drift in the air. She gave Spike a smile. Then, with a wave, she slipped out of the room, closing the door behind her.

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