• Published 4th Jul 2018
  • 23,095 Views, 3,920 Comments

The Power of Freedom - Greatazuredragon

Having long grown utterly bored with the destiny the gods had decreed for him, Ganondorf decided to take matters into his own hands and escape to a new dimension where he could be free. Even if that would mean turning into a pastel colored pony.

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XXIV - The Calm Before the Storm

The Calm Before the Storm

A biting cold wind was blowing, and as he walked past row after row of his brave warriors standing at the ready at the northernmost battlements of Pegasopolis, Colonel Winter Gale felt an even colder biting fury raging inside his chest.

As Winter Gale stopped atop the very edge of the cloud wall, his cold gaze piercing the swiftly approaching blizzard that was now taking over almost the entirety of the northern horizon with rage and loathing, the colonel found himself in the position of having to acknowledge a very unpalatable truth. That he had been wrong.

Winter Gale knew perfectly well the abilities of the accursed horn heads. He had spent countless hours studying their thrice accursed magic tricks, what their heaven’s forsaken war mages could and could not do. He knew it all by heart; their powers, their weaknesses and how best to thwart and defeat them. He had made a point of knowing it all, a fact that had reflected upon his long successful career and the many victories he and his troops had claimed against the ground pounders and their cursed spell casters.

As such, as he gazed at the massive blizzard coming towards his home, his teeth gritting against each other, cold fury coursing through his veins, he could say with absolute surety that this display was beyond the ground pounders’ capabilities. Not even if they had emptied Unicornia of all their war mages would the horn heads’ pathetic tricks be able to influence the weather to such an extent. Which, in turn, left only one option available. As galling as it was to be forced to admit it, he could, for the good of his troops, do nothing but accept it for what it was.

“Sir, all the troops have been deployed and are at the ready!” one of his adjutants firmly stated as she landed by his side and promptly saluted him.

“Good, the troops are to engage fully the moment the enemy enters the striking range of our weather teams,” he clearly stated with a small nod of his head, not allowing a single trace of his fury to enter his words. He was going to kill his brother after this mess had been dealt with!

“What information we have about these creatures indicates that they can multiply if given enough time, which, alongside the worsening cold and weather conditions means that a protracted battle is not to our advantage.” He would know, bombarding an enemy with ice and hail while allowing the cold to sap their strength was a strategy that he had used to the doom of several of the accursed horn heads in the past, to great effect. To have it now turned against him and his troops was an infuriating prospect. “We will overwhelm them on the initial push.”

“Sir, yes, sir!” the adjutant said before swiftly taking wing to relay the orders.

Banishing any thoughts about Wind Shriek and the stain his incompetence had brought upon their family, Winter Gale moved towards another part of the battlements under his control, making sure his troops were at the ready. No matter how these developments affected him personally, as a pegasus of the Armada he had a duty to fulfill, and he intended to do so to the best of his capabilities.

As a freezing gust of wind washed over the battlements, only his iron-like control over himself stopped the snarl he felt coming from surfacing upon his features. It wasn’t enough that his brother’s stupidity had most likely just destroyed any chance of him ever ascending to the rank of supreme commander of the Armada. It wasn’t enough that his own actions, fueled by the faulty information provided by that pathetic stain to the family, had allowed an enemy to get so close to Pegasopolis as to threaten the great fortress itself completely unopposed! No, not only that but said enemy dared to use the pegasi’s own sky given gift, the control of the weather itself, to strike against the Armada!

“Unacceptable!” he muttered through gritted teeth as he threw another baleful glare towards the swiftly approaching storm, the barely audible sound of his voice being immediately engulfed by the blowing winds.

There would be much to be done after this was over. The remaining creatures would have to be hunted down and exterminated for the safety of the pegasi to be ensured. New patrol protocols would have to be created in order to ensure that no enemy could ever reach the heart of the Armada undetected so easily again. Pressure would have to be applied towards the horn heads in order to prevent them from seeing this development as a sign of weakness from the Armada and get any funny ideas about taking advantage of it. There would be much to do.

That is, if he even had a rank in order to ensure such things were done after all was said and done.

Closing his eyes for a moment, he cursed his own foolishness. He had known Wind Shriek was a disappointment to the family. He had known for years that he lacked the will, skill, and grit of a true officer. His pathetic lack of ability to climb the ranks of the Armada proved it. And yet, due to the ties of blood they shared, he had accepted the fool’s words without a second thought and acted upon them. How pathetic.

He couldn’t help but berate his own foolishness. Sure, when the half-breed and the rogue had come with the truth about what had happened, their tale had been so absurd that it had been extremely easy to dismiss it as a tall tale. After all, who was he to believe? His own flesh and blood, or a half breed alongside an unknown rogue claiming to be a mythical storm caller?

Madness, nothing but pure madness! And yet…

Truly, he had no one to blame but himself. For who was the greater fool? The fool who couldn’t help but speak gibberish, or the one who should know better and yet blindly believed the fool’s words?

Opening his eyes with a snap, Winter Gale started towards where the command center for his troops was, the tallest spire of the northern battlements, his gaze even colder than the glacial winds buffeting his body.

As the air around him grew far colder than the biting winds of the incoming blizzard could account for, Winter Gale acknowledged that, by his own actions no less, his honor and the honor of his family had been tainted. Decades of spotless conduct had now been stained and defiled. And as he threw a final hateful glare towards the approaching threat to the Armada, he vowed to the Great Winds that said stain would be purged, no matter what. That he swore.

As he entered the command center and started to bark orders to his subordinates and receive reports to what the other three colonels were doing, his mind briefly went towards the half-breed and the storm caller. Fighting off the instinctual desire to sneer at the mere thought of the stain upon Wondrous Sky family line, he couldn’t help but admit that, for all his faults, the half-breed had done his duty. And that was far more than what his own flesh and blood had accomplished.

A half-breed that, despite currently following around after Shake Spear, was still a part of his command, for all intents and purposes. Receiving a report detailing how Spring Shower and Thunderstrike weather teams were now in position, a report that had to be delivered to Shake Spear in turn, Winter Gale decided that he may as well deliver it personally. After all, there was still something to be done in regards to Wonder Bolt.

Mind made up, he trotted out of the room, sure that his officers could keep things well in hoof as he dealt with this. And so he once again ventured into the cold biting winds, his demeanor as cold as the oncoming blizzard.

He sat on a cushion next to a large table filled with gems within a house that had been… requisitioned for his efforts. Not for the first time, or the second, or the third for that matter, these last few days. Limelight couldn’t help but wonder how exactly his life had been turned into a tale without his prior input or notice.

Grabbing one of the many gems the young earth pony filly had… procured, the thought of which he swiftly banished out of his mind for the sake of what remained of his sanity, he focused upon the spell matrix Lady Zelda had taught him and engraved it into the gem. And just like that, another cold protection amulet was ready to join the wood box resting by his side filled with many, many more of the magical amulets.

Paying little mind to the slightly wide-eyed earth pony that had just come to take the nearly full box, while leaving behind a new empty one, the silver-coated unicorn instead grabbed a new gem and focused. A moment later, and his magical aura was engraving the surprisingly cost-efficient spell matrix into the new gem.

Not that he had expected anything less than the best from a war mage. But even so, he couldn’t help but marvel that he had been able to enchant so many gemstones before keeling over due to magical exhaustion. Truly, the spell Lady Zelda had gifted him was wonderfully efficient!

“You are working hard, I see,” Sure Shot said in lieu of a greeting, surprising him and breaking his train of thought, making him drop the, thankfully completed, new amulet to the table. Though, considering that the sea-green earth pony was carrying a fresh loaf of warm bread and some cheese, both of which she promptly offered him when she got closer, Limelight decided that could be forgiven.

Enchanting was hungry work, after all.

“Many thanks, lady ranger,” he politely thanked the mare, following his old father’s very sensible advice of always being polite and courteous to anypony that was armed and could probably kick his flank.

“Drop the fancy talk, I am no lady,” Sure Shot snorted with a head shake.

Limelight on his part simply made a non-committal noise as he started to eat his very well deserved lunch. It had been at least three hours since Lady Zelda had requested his aid in this task. And, while the spell was truly wonderfully efficient and took but a smidgeon of his magic to function, he was still feeling sore and tired due to the exertion. So the break was more than welcome.

“And besides, I think we should be thanking you,” the ranger continued with a slightly unbelieving laugh, which was something that the silver-coated show-pony could understand. From his interactions with the Ranger so far, the mare was apparently also struggling with making sense of when exactly the world decided to go crazy. “A unicorn actually making and giving out magical trinkets to us earth ponies isn’t exactly something that happens every day, you know? Especially for free.”

His eyes briefly took in the empty room as he considered the mare’s words. Had there been any other ponies around, Limelight may well have hammered upon this apparent selfless act of altruism, all to help bolster his heroic persona and help keep morale high in these bleak days. But they were alone right now. And Sure Shot was shaping up to be one of the only sensible ponies around.

“This isn’t actually for free,” Limelight replied after another moment as he placed both hooves upon the table and leaned forward, deciding to trust his guts and simply tell the truth to the ranger. “In fact, you could even say that I’m being overpaid for my efforts. Massively at that!”

“What?” the sea-green earth pony questioned, head tilted to the side in clear confusion, not really getting what he meant. But, then again, she wasn’t a unicorn, and so Limelight supposed that she not getting the nuances of what was happening was only to be expected. Letting out a small chuckle, the silver-coated show-pony continued his explanation.

“Upon asking me to do this task, Lady Zelda gave me the spell matrix to the weather protection enchantments. The complete spell matrix!” he firmly stated, slowly shaking his head as the surreal awe of the enormity of the gift he had been bestowed hit him again.

“Yeah, so what? How is that any kind of payment?” the ranger queried once again. Her still present lack of comprehension got a tired sigh out of the unicorn, as he proceeded to teach the earth pony mare something that all unicorns were taught at foalhood.

“Spell Matrices are jealously guarded, my dear ranger. They are treasures to be hoarded in family grimoires,” he firmly stated as he looked her straight in the eye, the sea-green mare now attentively listening to his every word. “Treasures to be protected and preserved within one’s family line, and quite commonly, even within the family itself, access to such things is limited to the head of the family and their heirs.

“Normally, the only way a unicorn would get to lay eyes upon such things would be to join said family, or, on rare occasions, as a gift from a master to a particularly gifted student!” he finished with a serious nod, imparting what a huge deal it was that Lady Zelda had given him such a thing for his efforts! The old families protected their personal grimoires fiercely and relentlessly, after all!

Sure, after such a thing he was practically honor bound to follow the white-coated war mage orders no matter what. She had basically conscripted him as her personal apprentice and subordinate. But, considering how she could’ve simply ordered him to do that anyway, and easily kept back an essential part of the spell or two, leaving him to do the drudgery work while she added the finishing touches later and in doing so denying him the spell, he really had no complaints. To serve under such a powerful and skilled war mage was far more than most nobles could ever achieve. So, even if he was by no means thrilled by the danger that would surely follow, he still felt that he had no right to complain.

And besides, there was a horde of ice-wraiths swarming the countryside. As such, oddly enough, being right next to the frightfully powerful mare was probably safer than most places.

“I see,” the ranger slowly said, looking with new eyes at the new gem that Limelight was starting to enchant as he had finished his meal. “It’s kinda a big deal, isn’t it?”

“Very much, yes,” he confirmed with a nod, finishing with the amulet and grabbing a new gem from the pile.

For a few moments, they simply stood there in companionable silence. Limelight enchanting the gems while Sure Shot observed the process with curious eyes. Then, a melodic aristocratic voice made itself heard from the entrance to the room. The sound of which made Limelight fumble with the gem he was grabbing as he immediately rose up from his seat and stood at attention.

“I see you have greatly advanced with this task, Limelight,” Lady Zelda primly said as she took in the greatly diminished pile of gems while entering the room. She proceeded to give a small nod of greeting to both himself and Sure Shot. “You have my thanks for your aid.”

“It was my pleasure, milady,” he humbly said while giving the white-coated war mage a bow. “If you are wondering, I believe I can finish enchanting all the gems before the moon rises if I put my all into it.”

“Excellent, but try to not push yourself too much, there is no need to risk your health,” Zelda added with a small smile as she approached. “But that’s not why I have come here. Limelight, it is my understanding that you have been to Unicornia recently?”

“That is correct, milady. I have been to the capital but a few moons ago,” the show-pony promptly replied, wondering what the war mage was leading to.

“Good. In your opinion, how well will Unicornia’s rulers react to the earth ponies’ exodus?”

The question actually made Limelight flinch. He knew from personal experience how most nobles tended to act towards those they considered lesser than them. And he was a fellow unicorn! And such, he knew that the answer he was about to give probably wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“If I could be perfectly honest, milady?” he slowly asked, knowing that lying to his new patron was probably a terrible idea in the long run, which was only strengthened by the fact she was a war mage, but feeling that it was better to verify first.

“Always,” was his lady’s prompt reply as she gave him a look that seemed to convey that that should’ve been a given.

Taking a deep breath, while trying to pay no mind to the very intent look Sure Shot was now giving him, he replied. “In a word, badly. Most of the nobility will not be happy with the need to allow earth ponies into the capital. Added to the fact that Princess Platinum is still fairly new to her role as our ruler, things are going to get complicated fast.

“There is a very real possibility that the earth ponies will be denied entrance until the rulers of both tribes come to an agreement on how to proceed, and that may take time,” he finished with a grimace, knowing far too well that time was quickly turning into a precious resource they had far too little of.

“Not unexpected, but still regrettable,” the unicorn mare said with a small sigh as she lightly massaged her brow with a hoof. Sure Shot’s response was far more energetic.

“That’s horseapples! So what, they will just leave hundreds of ponies out in the cold as the wraiths approach while they talk?!” the ranger fumed, angrily stomping at the ground. “We can’t let that happen!”

“Not all beings can be reasonable, especially when put under stress,” was Zelda’s calm reply, though a clear hint of distaste could be found in her words. “But nonetheless you are correct, such a situation is best not allowed to occur.”

“If I may be so bold, milady,” Limelight hesitatingly said, not sure if he was overstepping any boundaries or not, but knowing that it seemed it had been quite some time since his lady had been at the capital, and so was most likely out of touch with the current political situation. As she gave him a silent gesture to continue, with a deep breath he gave voice to his thoughts on the matter. “Considering that due to the passing of King Bullion and the rise of his daughter to the throne the political climate amidst the nobles is already tense, it is my belief that our best chance of success would be to undercut the nobility in its entirety, and bring the current crisis directly to the attention of your fellow war mages and the arch-mage himself.”

Feeling emboldened that Lady Zelda had yet to tell him to be quiet, and was instead clearly listening to him, he continued. “If the situation is brought directly to those who are truly responsible for the safety of our nation, those who have achieved their lofty posts by their skill and ability, rather than riches and heritage, it is my belief that they will be far more likely to heed your words and act instead of losing themselves to politics and its games.”

A moment of silence hung upon the room for a brief moment, as both mares looked at Limelight. The tension was broken as Zelda nodded her head once in apparent approval.

“I will keep that in mind, thank you for your words,” his lady graciously spoke, her eyes narrowed in thought as she left the room with a final goodbye to him and Sure Shot.

Ponies rushed one way and then another, carrying packets and crates, supplies and weapons, as the full evacuation of the Earth Villa proceeded at breakneck speed. Watching the organized chaos taking place, and remembering what had caused it, Forest couldn’t help but think that she really didn’t know how to feel about this new development.

On one hoof, things were well underway. The Senate was grudgingly following Old Oak’s plan with very good speed while under Ganondorf’s watchful gaze. Which was great, time was of the essence, after all! A notion that was only reinforced by the gathering storm in the northern horizon, and how it seemed to be keeping its advance south with ever-increasing speed. A repeat of the attacks that happened upon Fire Stone and her own village was the last thing she wanted to see happening to the Earth Villa.

But on the other hoof, the idea that somepony powerful enough could just show up and browbeat the Senate into doing what they wanted gave her a queasy feeling. It made a mockery of the representative system that their ancestors had so painstakingly created, and she could see so many ways that such usurpation of power could be abused that it wasn’t even funny!

In the end, it had been their luck that Ganondorf had been the one wielding such power. She shuddered to think what a more unsavory pony would do in such a situation while wielding such strength. At least her hero was trustworthy and she knew they didn’t have to fear him temporarily taking control in an emergency. But sadly the truth was that not all ponies were as great and upstanding as the large stallion, and as such it was probably best they keep this fault in mind so that they could fix it after the crisis was over.

And on the subject of said large stallion. Forest’s ears perked up as she heard her hero’s loud voice approaching her location. Turning around, she saw the brown-coated stallion being followed by a slightly bemused-looking Old Oak, and several openly fretting representatives of the Senate.

“This is an outrage! You cannot empty all the granaries and storerooms of all their foodstuffs!” a fat senator loudly complained, his outrage overcoming his common sense for a moment as he shouted at the very large earth pony in front of him.

“Can and will!” was Ganondorf’s gruff reply as he glowered at the now shrinking senator, his brief bout of bravery now nowhere to be seen. “I will not repeat myself again, you are to pack up all the supplies. All of them, do you understand? And that’s final!”

“But-“ another pony attempted to interject, only for Ganondorf to silence him with a sharp gesture of his hoof and another glower.

“But nothing!” he sharply replied, his thunderous voice echoing through the air and reaching every single pony in sight. Who, one and all, had stopped to see what was happening. The tale of what had happened in the Senate chambers had long since spread like wildfire throughout the population. “The dead have no need for supplies, and rest assured, all those who do not leave with us will be dead in short order! Pack everything, on the double! And tell those who are dragging their hooves to start moving before I decide to go and motivate them personally!”

The fact that Ganondorf chose to punctuate his statement with a hoof stomp strong enough to cause the ground to quake slightly was apparently more than enough to put an end to the argument. After gulping a couple of times, the senator swiftly nodded his head and muttered his understanding before rushing away to comply with the large stallion’s orders, an action that was swiftly followed by his fellows. All the while, the preparations all around them seemed to double in speed.

“I hate politics,” Ganondorf grumbled while glaring at the back of the departing senators’ heads.

“When you have lived as long as I’ve lived you come to find out that most sensible ponies share that sentiment,” the old stallion easily replied, silver mane fluttering against the wind. His tone of voice was every bit as bemused as his appearance. The elder gave Ganondorf an assessing look, before shaking his head lightly as if to clear his head. “At the very least things are progressing far more swiftly than I had dared to hope. If things continue at this pace we will be able to leave by tomorrow’s first light.”

“That is very good news,” Zelda replied to Old Oak’s words as she swiftly approached their group. The white-coated unicorn’s eyes narrowed despite the warmth of her words.

“Princess,” Ganondorf replied in greeting, using the strange title he insisted was appropriate to use for Zelda for some reason. Nodding in greeting to the mare herself, and getting her own greeting in return, Forest couldn’t help but wonder why that was the case.

“So, wanna bet that the pegasi are being every bit as obstinate?” Ganondorf grumbled in a half-joking tone of voice as he gestured with his head towards the departing senators.

“That’s a sucker’s bet and you know it,” was Zelda’s prompt reply as she let out an aggravated huff.

“Very true!” Ganondorf agreed with a loud barked laugh before his golden eyes narrowed and he gave Zelda a serious look. “But that will delay the Kid quite a bit, you know that right?

“He never had much of a head for the political game and how to play it,” he grumbled with a head shake, his crimson mane swaying wildly as he did so. “It will probably take some time before the winged-ponies chip down the green wonder’s patience enough to force his hoof and make him act.”

“A regrettable, but unfortunately accurate summarization,” the white-coated mare said with a sigh, as she briefly closed her eyes before opening them once again with a sharp snap, her fierce blue eyes staring at Ganondorf’s golden orbs with equal intensity. “As such, we must plan accordingly and act as if any aid from that direction will be delayed, which is why I have come here.”

“Oh?” the large stallion questioned, giving voice to Forest’s own curiosity.

“There are no longer any injured that would require my personal assistance. There is already a considerable stockpile of weather-protection gems ready, and I have instructed Limelight in how to produce more, a task he is diligently undertaking,” the mare explained, slightly nodding her head with each item she spoke as if she was reading them from a list. “Despite your… questionable methods you seem to have things well under control here. And considering the estimates given to us by Fierce Breeze’s scouts of how far the storm is from the Villa, I believe that there is little risk of an attack in the following day or two.”

“Just say what you want to say already,” Ganondorf grumbled with an eye-roll, causing Zelda to let out another aggravated huff. But nonetheless, the unicorn soon complied.

“I wished to warn you all that I’ll be heading towards Unicornia before the preparations here are ready,” she bluntly said, giving Ganondorf a serious look. “We cannot risk there being some kind of delay that could bar the earth ponies from entering the city, which could be a very likely reaction if the unicorns were to panic at the size of the exodus coming towards them without any warning.”

“And so you are going first to establish the pecking order?” Ganondorf asked with a large fanged grin, amusement clear in his voice.

“If it proves to be necessary, yes,” was the mare’s immediate reply, her shining blue eyes narrowed and focused, an aura of authority and purpose briefly flaring around the mare before disappearing so fast that Forest wondered if she had actually felt it.

Zelda’s blunt reply apparently catching him off guard, Ganondorf simply blinked in apparent surprise for a moment. Then a large fanged smile slowly surfaced upon his features, his eyes glinting in silent approval.

As the cold winds blew all around them, Forest had to admit, if not for the fact that she knew him so well, the deep booming laugh Ganondorf was now letting out would’ve been slightly intimidating.

“Good, that’s very good soldier, keep it up!” Colonel Shake Spear happily thanked the pegasus who had brought him the report about the state of readiness of his troops.

As he took in the full might of the western barracks fully armed and armored, waiting at the battlements and ready for the coming fight, Wonder Bolt could somewhat understand the colonel’s enthusiasm. Unfortunately for the azure-coated pegasus, the ever-growing biting wind and the sight of the massive blizzard that was now almost upon them, robbed him of said feelings. He remembered far too well what those two things heralded.

The fact that Link had disappeared from sight when he had taken his eyes off the green-coated pegasus for a single moment also wasn’t exactly helping his nerves. Though, like Colonel Shake Spear himself had said upon noticing the storm caller’s disappearance a few minutes after they had left the council room, with the way the female officers of the weather teams under Spring Shower’s lead had been looking at him, it was no wonder Link had decided that discretion was the better part of valor for the moment.

Closing his eyes, Bolt tried to calm his nerves and prepare himself for the fight that would soon come. He had already explained every single detail he and his flight mates had obtained about the wraiths to his fellow pegasus. Everypony was now aware that weather magic was the only way they could hit the accursed beasts, be it by infusing their weapons with it, or unleashing heaven’s wrath upon the beasts directly. The full might of the Armada was ready to rebuff their attack!

And yet, he couldn’t help but worry. The memories of the bitter cold and the haunting shrieks echoing inside his mind stoked his fear. Until a far more normal worry made itself known, bringing Bolt’s mind back to the present.

“Colonel Shake Spear, I see that your troops are at the ready,” Winter Gale said in a cold emotionless voice as he approached their group, the ice-blue colonel briefly passing his eyes over Bolt before focusing on his fellow colonel. “Colonel Thunderstrike’s teams have already assembled several thunderclouds and are ready to be deployed, likewise Colonel Spring Shower’s weather teams are also in position and ready to negate as much of our foes’ ability to influence the weather as possible.

“My own troops are also ready and waiting to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Once the creatures reach Pegasopolis, they shall be promptly met by the full fury of the Armada,” he continued in the same emotionless tone of voice, not showing any sign that the biting cold wind battering them all and making his bone-white mane sway around was bothering him in the slightest.

“That’s very good. We cannot allow these creatures time to entrench themselves! If their ability to increase their numbers is even half as effective as our reports say, that would be disastrous!” the cream-coated colonel firmly stated, a hoof resting upon his spear as he turned his steely gaze towards the storm that was quickly approaching. “Time will be of the essence in this coming fight!”

“My thoughts exactly,” Winter Gale simply agreed with a shallow nod, before his cold eyes moved towards Wonder Bolt, causing the azure-coated corporal to all but freeze in place.

A brief moment of silence descended upon the group, as Winter Gale stared at Wonder Bolt with hard, undecipherable eyes. Before, with the barest of nods, he spoke. “Colonel Shake Spear, am I to assume by his presence here that you have use of this pegasus?”

“You assume correctly, colonel,” Shake Spear replied in a faux nonchalant tone. Though, for all the levity that the flamboyant colonel had spoken, Bolt couldn’t help but notice that he was now holding his spear with a proper grip, as if ready to use it at a moment’s notice.

Winter Gale completely ignored Shake Spear’s actions as he gave Wonder Bolt a long assessing look, his cold hard eyes taking in the azure-coated pegasus’ entire form, from his battered and dented armor to his ready wing-blades already safely secured upon his wings, before he turned his gaze back towards his fellow colonel.

“Very well, then I am transferring Corporal Wonder Bolt from his position in the forty-second patrol squad under my command to your direct command, effective immediately,” he calmly intoned without a trace of emotion in his voice. Bolt, for his part, had to fight to stay at attention and not do a double-take, as Winter Gale in one single move confirmed the azure-coated pegasus’ field promotion and placed him safely under Shake Spear’s command. “May he serve you and the Armada well.”

Despite how his eyes widened slightly in surprise, Colonel Shake Spear gave his fellow colonel a single firm nod. His face still a mask carved out of ice, the ice-blue colonel simply turned to leave, not giving any of the pegasi around him so much as a glance.

A few steps after passing Wonder Bolt’s highly surprised and incredulous form, Winter Gale briefly stopped. And, while keeping his head pointing straight forward, simply spoke in a cold and collected tone of voice.

“Colonel Shake Spear seems to place a great deal of trust in your potential, Corporal. Do not betray that trust.” With those words, Winter Gale moved on, walking away without so much as a glance backwards.

Wonder Bolt simply stared at the retreating colonel, inwardly wondering if what he had just seen had indeed happened before Shake Spear broke him out of his surprised stupor.

“Well, that went much better than expected,” the cream-coated pegasus mused in a wondering tone of voice. “I sincerely half-expected him to try and impale you with an icicle or something like that for all the trouble this will cause him in the long run!”

“What?!” Bolt screeched, all but jumping in place, wide eyes snapping towards his new superior officer.

“I’m merely jesting, my boy! Merely jesting!” Shake Spear said with a laugh while dismissively waving a wing. Though the barely muttered ‘I think’ that he added afterwards wasn’t exactly comforting to Bolt’s peace of mind. “Don’t worry about it! Now, chin up, my boy, and enjoy the moment! That’s the closest I have ever seen that old piece of ice come to apologizing to anypony, after all!”

Before Wonder Bolt could react to that little bit of information, a loud shout from a returning group of scouts cut through the night air, a shouted warning of the immediate incoming of several ghostly equine creatures galloping upon the frozen winds, banishing all thoughts but what had to be done from the azure-coated pony’s mind.

“Now then lads, let’s go greet them, shall we?” Shake Spear simply stated, all traces of levity disappearing from his voice as he twirled his spear and gazed to the north with hard steely eyes. “After all, to leave our guests waiting would be terribly impolite!”

Mustering his resolve and courage as the pegasi all around him shouted their agreement to the colonel’s words, Bolt banished his worries and fears to the back of his mind and firmly nodded. Checking his wing blades and armor one last time, he followed Shake Spear and his troops as they took wing.

Even as the haunting shrieks of the wraiths rent the cold air, he did not falter. He had a duty to fulfill, and he would not fail.

Author's Note:

So here we have the next installment of TPoF.

The situation with the pegasi is swiftly approaching its climax, the evacuation of the Earth Villa is now underway due to Ganondorf’s superb ‘diplomatic’ skills, and Zelda has decided that giving the unicorns an advance warning that they are about to have guests is a good idea, so why not do it in person? :raritywink:

On a side note, I have a new canon-compliant Omake ready! A Marked Question. So, if you want to see Singing getting her answer to what the Triforce Trio’s cutie marks mean, go give it a look!

Hope you all enjoyed the chapter.