• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,621 Views, 210 Comments

Where We Belong - BlazzingInferno



Eternal night shrouds Equestria, and an even worse fate awaits Rarity. Or so she’s been led to believe.

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A Rude Awakening

Row upon row of dull green thread hung before Rarity’s scrutinizing gaze. Droplets of dye slid along the strands, coalescing into rivulets before falling into the stone basin at her hooves. The color was far from bad, but could still use some fine tuning. Perhaps she’d alter the leaf ratio again, or introduce a new kind of root. Her next dress design called for no less than three distinct colors, not including the natural white of her cotton thread. It looked to be an ambitious project, just what she needed after so many scarves and hats.

A hand ran along her her back, ruffling her knit sweater.

Giggling, she leaned towards Spike as his fingers caressed her mane and his lips met her cheek. “Good morning, Spikey.”

The thread slid back into the dye basin as she turned her attention to far more important things, like the dragon currently massaging her shoulder just the way she liked.

“How long have you been up?” he asked.

It hadn’t been more than an hour, by her admittedly lackadaisical estimation. Save for sunrise and sunset, notions of time’s passing were relics of the outside world. Perhaps a month had passed since she’d been thrown in The Pit, or perhaps a year. Such distinctions hardly mattered. “Oh, not long. I trust you slept well?”

Spike stifled a yawn. “Yeah. I still wish you’d wake me up in the mornings. I could help you with your projects.”

“I happen to like my solitary mornings just as much as our shared afternoons and evenings, thank you. Although I suppose… if you’re in an especially generous mood—” she touched a her nose to his, grinning mischievously “—we could get an early start on breakfast.”

His own grin dissolved into eye roll. “Yeah, yeah. Sure.”

Rarity rose from her place by the fire, her eyes drinking in Spike as he sauntered out into the daylight, and her mind buzzing with the various ways she could get him smiling again.

A shawl, scarf, and jacket leapt from a stone shelf in the corner, glowing with her magic. The shelf’s small complement of clothes hardly merited the title ‘wardrobe,’ just as the great mass of blankets in the alcove could only be called a bed by the loosest of definitions. Such distinctions mattered even less than time’s passing. What mattered was the smile that crossed her face whenever she looked around her modest home, or at the dragon she shared it with.

Once enough layers of cotton stood between her and the morning’s bitter cold, she stepped outside, taking care to leave all dressmaking thoughts behind. She’d return to such tasks later, when Spike ventured off to work on his own projects. Or she might follow along and help him, or he might stay behind and do the same for her.

Naked tree trunks guarded at the cave’s entrance, some in neat piles and others nearly buried by snowfall, the raw material resulting from Spike’s recent declaration to ‘build a home fit for a princess.’ He’d succeed eventually, she knew. Their whole lives stretched out before them, largely uncomplicated and yet ripe with creative possibility.

After a few minutes of trotting, when the cave lay in the distance and trees loomed overhead, Rarity came to a stop and closed her eyes. She thought of Spike, how much she cared for him, and how very happy he’d be to feast on a plate of fresh mushrooms. The idea of giving him that gift welled up inside her until her own desires melted away and her heart practically burned with generosity’s warmth. All at once the snow’s chill left her, and she knew it was time to dig.

A dozen mushrooms were waiting there, growing on a tree root a few feet beneath the surface. Rarity tucked them into the fold of her shawl, humming as she did so.

Generosity changed everything. Obtaining items that one could reasonably expect to find in a forest, like mushrooms and cotton flowers, only required a heartfelt wish on behalf of another. Other things like exotic fabrics and assorted gems remained out of reach. Not having a limitless supply of gems was probably for the best, considering how much roomier the cave was without a greed-stricken dragon consuming half of it. Granted, his physical transformation was perhaps the least significant change to come over either of them. Generosity changed everything.

She continued humming as she approached the cave, her heart floating, and her stomach anxious to know what Spike had wished into being for her own breakfast. “Spikey dearest, are you back yet?”

A thunderclap answered her. Casting a startled glance over her shoulder, Rarity saw lightning flash through the ever-present clouds, which were turning a menacing black. “W-what’s happening?”

“Rarity!” Spike’s voice cut through her rising panic like a knife. His purple form flashed between the trees, punctuated by bursts of flame as he melted his way through snow drifts.

“I’m over here! What’s hap—”

A tree exploded in the distance, the lightning’s afterglow illuminating the flaming branches now rocketing through the air. Stricken by awe as much as panic, Rarity stood her ground as the flaming debris began to rain down.

And then another lightning flash arched through the angry storm clouds, prompting panic to take over completely.

Pegasus wings.

Somepony was up there, in the lightning storm. Some pony, or some nightmare. “No. No. Not here. Please not here!”

Spike practically crashed into her, scrambling onto her back and flattening himself into a shield against the falling debris. “Run for it!”

Her legs heard him, even if her mind didn’t. They were running now. The cave lay ahead, and behind them the forest was burning. The forest that gave them every material thing they needed to survive was burning, and whether or not it would magically grow back had been rendered irrelevant.

Spike’s arms wrapped around her, holding on tight as she galloped the last few yards to what suddenly felt like their soon-to-be-former home. “She found me.”

“What?”

In her mental haze, Rarity hadn’t felt Spike dismount or seen the rapidly growing pile of supplies forming on the floor. Her sturdiest set of saddlebags lay open, one side brimming with leaves and thread, the other with their last few gems.

“It’s over.” Rarity whispered. “Nightmare Moon found me. My… Our life is over.”

---

Rarity trotted down the exit tunnel as fast as she dared, the ragged opening behind them glowing faintly with firelight, and the path ahead steeped in darkness. Spike walked beside her with a hand against her side, his breaths rapid and his claws pressing into her coat with far more pressure than necessary. She couldn’t blame him, nor would she tell him to be more gentle; this slight discomfort merely meant he was still there, walking this unknown road alongside her. Panic and fear were afterthoughts, so long as that remained true.

“How much further do you think it is?” she whispered.

“Hours… days… I don’t know. I-I never tried coming down here, and… and no dragons ever came back.”

“They made it through without incident, then.” Rarity said with authoritative certainty. “They made it through this dark, foreboding tunnel to someplace better.”

“There’s no place better.” Spike muttered.

“On the contrary, Spikey. To the typical dragon, The Pit was a horrendous punishment. To creatures like us… I’m sure we’ll get by, wherever we emerge.”

“Even if we’re in the middle of the Dragon Lands?”

“No dragons live there anymore, if that’s what you’re worried about. Night… the Queen saw to that.”

“I guess that’s a relief, but—” his grip on her slackened, and in response she nearly lost her balance. Had she been leaning against him this whole time?

She didn’t dare ask what was wrong. What if he’d heard somepony behind them? What if this was their last moment together?

“Do you feel hot?” he asked.

An emphatic ‘never’ was on the tip of her tongue, but she bit it back. “Spikey, need I remind you how many layers of clothing I wear each and every—” and then she felt it: a current of startlingly hot air from whatever lay ahead. “What in Equestria… Could it be the end of the tunnel? How can the outside world be so scalding with no sunlight?”

“I think I see something! We made it!”

Rarity sped up, her eyes searching for any ray of hope, be it sunshine or even candle light. Instead, a faint red glow appeared ahead, cast on a rock face by an unseen source around a corner. A low, churning roar ate up the silence, and sulfurous fumes stung her nose. “Spike, I… I don’t think…”

She couldn’t finish the sentence. Whatever well of confidence she’d plumbed to make it this far was nearly dry, and the sight that greeted them next burned away its final remnants.

After a sharp turn, the tunnel ended in a wide chasm awash with fiery light and searing heat. A river of lava rushed by before them, bubbling and splashing with all the vigor of water and the heat of a furnace.

Rarity’s knees wouldn’t stop shaking. “But… the exit… this is supposed to be an exit!”

In her eyes, the harsh light turned Spike into a silhouette. He sat by the chasm’s edge, his head hung low. “I guess it is… for dragons. I could jump in there and swim downstream, no problem.”

“Then you should.” She forced the words out before she could lose her nerve. “If you can escape, then don’t let me stop you. There’s still time for you to get away, to be free of all the horribleness I’ve brought upon you.”

Spike sat there, unmoving. “No.”

“But you must! Once Nightmare Moon finds her way down here—”

“Then she’ll find us both, because I’m not leaving you behind! I wouldn’t do that even if you still hated me!”

Rarity gasped. “I-I never hated you, Spike. Never. Early on I certainly didn’t know what to make of you… or of myself, for that mater, but—”

“The point is, I’m staying. I’m staying because…”

“You don’t need to say it.” Her tone turned soft and quiet. She inched closer to him and draped a foreleg over his shoulder. Words were immaterial, if these were going to be their final moments.

Spike took a deep breath. “Rarity, just in case we don’t make it, I—”

Her hoof met his lips, and she gazed at him through wet eyes. I know.

A final kiss from her beloved was all she needed to withstand whatever horror came next. Instead, a gust of cool air and an exasperated sigh startled them both.

A blue pegasus mare touched down behind them. “There you are! Sheesh, Rarity. Couldn’t you just stay put and let us rescue you already?”

Spike tensed and, before Rarity could protest, got to his feet and stood between her and this new pony. “Who’re you?”

Rarity wanted to know that as well, but her mind still hadn’t gotten past the word ‘rescue’. “Did… Did you say—”

The pony rolled her eyes. “The name’s Rainbow Dash. Look, dragon, I’m just here for Rarity, so stand aside and nobody gets—”

Rarity gasped. “Rainbow Dash! From the palace! I didn’t recognize you without your armor. I must say, having a longer mane suits you.” She couldn’t help smiling; she’d had no idea how much she missed seeing other ponies. Perhaps this was the pegasus she’d glimpsed in the skies before.

Rainbow offered a half-hearted salute without breaking her stare-down with Spike. “That’s me. So can we go already, before fire-breath here gets any ideas?”

Before Spike could so much as clench his fists, Rarity’s forelegs were around him, holding him close. “Please, Rainbow. There’s no need to be rude. This is Spike, and I have no intention of going anywhere without him.”

She could feel Spike relax at her touch. Clearly this was going to be a long road, acclimating him to ponies and ponies to him. No matter.

Spike cleared his throat and held out a hand to shake. “Um… Hi, Rainbow Dash. I’m Spike.”

Rainbow stared at them, eyebrows up and mouth agape. Rarity could feel her gaze traveling from her, to Spike, to the forelegs she’d pressed against him. Finally she bumped Spike’s hand with her hoof. “Hi… So… Spike, mind if we get moving? We’ve kind of got some ponies waiting for us.”

Spike sighed. “Okay. Sure. But… I hate to break it to you, but this—” he gestured to the river of lava “—this is the only way out of The Pit. We’re all stuck here now.”

Rarity squeezed Spike a little tighter as her spirits sank. Certainly she and Spike had made a home of this place, and a comfortable one at that, but that impossible word, rescue, still made her heart flutter. How many of these new ponies where there? Where were they all going to sleep? She couldn't let them all freeze.

Rainbow turned and led the way back through the tunnel. “We’ve got that covered, don’t worry.”

Rarity surged forward, pulling Spike along with her. “What? How?”

“Twilight can fill you in, right after she covers saving Equestria.”

---

“What do you mean, saving Equestria?” Spike asked, long before Rarity could work up the nerve, let alone contemplate such an impossibility.

Spike hadn't seen Nightmare Moon for himself, or witnessed her terrible power. No amount of her relating the dire state of the world beyond The Pit could properly convey just how hopeless a fight that was. Or so she assumed. Rarity recalled Rainbow being brash and headstrong, but not stupid. Surely she had some sort of plan, something to pledge her loyalty to.

“I mean we’re gonna kick the Queen back to the moon and stop the eternal night!” Rainbow replied. Despite the tunnel’s low ceiling, Rainbow seemed incapable of staying on the ground for whole seconds at a time. She hovered alongside Spike, gesturing enthusiastically with her forelegs while Rarity brought up the rear of the procession.

This wasn’t the gruff, all-business Rainbow Dash Rarity remembered. They’d last crossed paths just before the final purge, when all the palace guards were led away in chains and she did her best to be somewhere else, not wishing to lock eyes with the condemned. How foolish and arrogant she’d been, to consider herself immune to Nightmare Moon’s suspicions and wrath.

“What about Celestia? We’re going to rescue her, right?” Spike’s enthusiasm turned the question into a near shout.

Rainbow pumped a hoof in the air. “Heck yeah we are! Twilight’s totally obsessed with making sure we get Celestia back.”

At last Rarity cleared her throat. “And who is this Twilight you keep mentioning?”

“Some egghead. We’ve stuck with her for a while now. She’s not exactly fun, but she gets stuff done.”

“We?” Rarity asked. “Just how many of you are there?”

Another pony stepped into the light at the end of the tunnel, the silhouette of their head obscured by some sort of hat. “Rainbow? That you? Did ya find anypony?”

The voice’s deep-throated twang froze Rarity in place. That couldn’t be who it sounded like, not unless she was walking backward through time, first running into a pony from the palace and now one from her school days. Doing such a thing couldn’t be possible, and on the off chance it was she’d go no further. Primary school was as far into Ponyville as she dared to tread. “Don’t tell me that’s—”

“I’ve got her, Applejack!” Rainbow shouted.

Rarity’s hooves were stone, solid and immovable. Rainbow surged forward, oblivious to her plight. She’d never gotten an answer to her question. How many ponies were up there? Were there any more surprise ponies from her past? What was she supposed to say to them after all this time?

Spike paused long enough to look back. “Come on, Rarity, let’s go! We’re safe after all! We’re going to rescue Celestia!”

She nodded. “Yes, of course, dear. I’m just a little… overwhelmed by it all.”

He ran back and clasped her foreleg, leading her onward. “It’ll be okay. I know they keep saying ‘rescue,’ but who cares? We can help fix Equestria, and then come right back home.”

“Do you really think so?” It wasn’t really a question, but Spike’s continued tugging on her suggested he hadn’t noticed.

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