• Published 8th Aug 2012
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The Crystal War Book I: A Spark to Light the Dark - NatureSpark

A unicorn burnout, two pegasus brothers and Princess Luna's protégé, along with many other friends they meet along the way, embark on an epic journey to prevent war from consuming Equestria.

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Ch.24 Rain or Snow

~Chapter 24: Rain or Snow~

The rain was still falling as Downpour lay under the wooden lean-to, listening to the constant drone of water droplets connecting with the roof above. He had slept well enough the night before, all things considered, but every attempt at moving his limbs was met with resistance. All of the walking the pegasus had been doing was taking its toll and if he was going to make it through another day, then he was going to need some help. Downpour thought about how he could improve his situation as the repetitive noise of Draft and Ursa’s breathing sounded in unnatural contrast to the rain. He decided to check in his brother’s bags for one of Spark’s mixtures that might alleviate his current discomfort. There was bound to be something magical that could help him.

Downpour worked as quietly as possible to undo the metal latches holding the bag closed and pull out the assortment of magical mixtures, not wanting to wake the two sleeping stallions. Once he had everything set out before him, the aching pony took a few moments to consider what would help him best under the circumstance. The mushrooms were out of the question, as he would have been rendered useless all day if he’d ingested them right then. Adrenaline would only work for about five minuets, but the crystalline powder in the vials tucked at the bottom of the bag was perfect. In high doses it would cause a powerful surge of physical energy, but it also came with minor risk to your heart, if he remembered Spark’s lecture correctly. The pegasus planned to use it in small doses throughout the day to increase his stamina.

Just after Downpour had sprinkled a small amount of the powder on his tongue and returned the vial to its place in the saddlebag, he heard the sound of Ursa waking up. The pegasus latched the bag closed and stepped back over to his bedding before the earth pony even opened his eyelids. With two vials of the drug spread out, Downpour would have no problem flying for another day or two and by the time he ran out, his body would hopefully be back in shape again. The thought of how perfect his plan was caused the pegasus to grin.

“Good morning, Ursa,” he greeted the crystal pony as he packed up his blankets and pulled out some food. “Did you sleep well?”

“Ugh, I guess. How can you be such a morning pony without coffee?” Ursa asked, bringing over his own packed saddlebag. The emerald coated stallion grabbed a piece of fruit and took a bite off of it before taking a seat near the fire pit. “I’m going to make some coffee before we start walking, if you want to have a cup.”

“No, I’m fine,” Downpour replied with a smile. He sat a few yards from his newest friend and started eating his own breakfast. A few drops of water managed to leak through the branches over night and the ground had started to get muddy, so as soon as he had finished eating, Downpour decided he was going to light a fire. The rain had lessened that morning, but the cold wind had only worsened. “I’ll get a fire going in just a second though.”

“Alright, thank you,” Ursa replied. The two stallions ate in silence until Downpour finished his breakfast and walked over to the saddlebag for his flint. He dug the stone out and brought it back to the fire pit with him, while Ursa stacked the last of their dry wood into a cone shape. “We don’t have much dry wood,” Ursa informed the pegasus as he kneeled down to light the fire.

“You’re just making some coffee, so we don’t need much wood anyway,” Downpour shrugged.

“That’s an excellent point,” Ursa observed. Woosh!

“Now that’s how you light a fire!” Downpour shouted as the flames spread over the logs. He remained huddled near it, enjoying the warmth that the blaze radiated, before he heard Draft’s voice over the crackle of flames.

“G’morning,” Draft yawned as he spoke to them. “What are you two doing?” The grey pegasus stretched out every part of his body before taking a seat near Ursa. His eyes were only half opened as he yawned.

“Your brother is lighting a fire so that I can make myself some coffee,” Ursa informed the younger stallion.

“Actually, I’m done lighting a fire so that he can make coffee. It took you long enough to wake up, daylight is wasting away, so hurry and eat,” Downpour told his brother while putting away the flint. “It won’t take Ursa long to finish and then we can leave.”

“Dear Luna, what got into you today?” Draft questioned.

“Nothing. I just feel like I’m back to my old self finally,” Downpour replied. “That mishap in the mountains is over and done with, so I’m ready to do this.” Draft didn’t appear very convinced, so Downpour shot his brother a reassuring smile. He had no idea whether or not it helped, but it was worth a shot.

“Downpour is a little energetic for how early in the morning it is, but that’s probably a good thing. We have a long way to travel,” Ursa added. Downpour decided to tone down his enthusiasm before Draft caught wise and checked the bags. The younger pegasus wouldn’t have been happy knowing Downpour was using a vial of the powdered mixture by himself, so it was best to keep Draft in the dark about it for as long as he could manage.

“Just happy to be flying around and walking properly again,” Downpour assured them. “I’ll be in an even better mood once we’re finally talking with the king though. Just wait, I’ll even do a dance when we arrive.” Downpour grinned mischievously at them.

“I think I’d rather not have to watch that. Thanks anyway,” Draft said with a slight scowl. The younger pegasus had gotten his own breakfast and was busy chewing as he spoke, his grey eyes sagging around the edges from lack of sleep. “Somehow I don’t think that’s a good idea. They’ll probably lock you up if you act that loony and they sure won’t want you speaking with the king.” Draft cracked a smile and Downpour chuckled at his little brother.

“Like I can’t break out of a cell,” Downpour said with a knowing smile. The bars in Cloudsdale hadn’t been able to hold them and no dungeon in the Crystal Empire would either. Ursa looked over with a puzzled expression, but Downpour didn’t elaborate. The green stallion shrugged his shoulders and started to brew his coffee in silence. Downpour took a seat and watched the flames licking at the pot while he waited for his companions to wake up completely.

The rain was barely more than a light mist collecting on his hide as Draft flew just under the overhanging tree branches above the trail. They had covered a pretty good distance already and if they kept up their current pace, it would be no problem for them to make the trip in three days. Downpour certainly seemed to be having no trouble keeping up with him as they flew at the same pace as Ursa’s long strides. The earth pony was moving at a slow gallop and had been all morning, but he still seemed to be breathing normally. Downpour knew that there was more than just coffee responsible for the stallion’s incredible endurance, earth ponies had a natural talent for physical prowess.

Draft dived low, narrowly avoiding a branch to his face while he wasn’t paying attention. The grey pegasus pushed his long hair from his eyes before returning to his previous speed. He made sure to keep his eyes focused on what was in front of him after that, but keeping his mind focused was another matter entirely. Draft couldn’t stop analyzing last night repeatedly; going over every detail and thinking it was a mistake. Then he’d remember how the kiss felt and thought about how much he wanted that feeling to last. Maybe even enough to stand up to his brother, he thought.

“I think the rain is actually stopping,” Downpour told him as he stared up into the grey skies. Draft looked up and smiled at the lack of rainfall.

“It’s about time,” he said.

“I wouldn’t get your hopes up so soon. It has a habit of raining off and on around here. This could go on for days even,” Ursa informed them.

“Don’t tell me that,” Draft huffed. “I’m getting sick of the rain.”

“What’s wrong, Draft? I thought pegasus ponies didn’t mind a little bit of foul weather,” Ursa replied as he smiled up at the winged stallion and ran down the damp dirt path, the sunlight glinting off of the water droplets that speckled his emerald colored hide.

“We don’t mind it that much, but after flying for so long through the rain, well, it starts to get pretty old,” Draft explained dryly. Downpour nodded his head in agreement. Too bad they had to make the journey during the winter months; it would have been much easier in the springtime, when the elements weren’t constantly assaulting their wings..

“I guess that makes sense,” Ursa admitted. His green eyes glanced back at the road ahead and he leaped over a fallen log that was stretching across the trail. The earth pony cleared it with a small grunt and resumed his steady pace. Draft watched in awe of the stallion’s physical fitness as he flew along behind him.

“When will we pass through a city?” Downpour asked their newest friend. “I wouldn’t mind sleeping at an inn for a night. I really miss that spare bed of yours.”

“Tomorrow night, maybe a little earlier if we keep going like this,” Ursa grunted, the efforts of running all morning just beginning to show through his tough exterior.

“I’m going to look around for a replacement set of wing blades while we’re there,” Draft added. “Being weaponless is a little discomforting.” He swerved around a branch and bumped into his brother. “Sorry.”

“Watch where you’re going, Draft,” Downpour snapped at him.

“I said I was sorry. Calm down,” Draft replied. His brother glared at him before speeding up and passing by, Draft didn’t even bother trying to fly up beside him. For some reason the black maned stallion seemed to be especially edgy. It was still an improvement over how depressed he had been for the last couple of days though. “When should we take a break?” he asked, casting a glance between his companions.

“I can keep going until lunch time if the two of you are up for it. You did say you were in a hurry after all,” Ursa responded.

“If he can than I can,” Downpour replied. They were in a hurry, so Draft supposed that pushing themselves would be beneficial. The grey coated pegasus gritted his teeth and focused on the beating of his graceful wings, urging his muscles to keep up their ceaseless work. They might be able to make up for the delay that they’d had while staying at Ursa’s house.

Downpour dived to the ground suddenly and informed them that he needed to use the bathroom, so Draft landed near Ursa and they waited for him to take care of his business. The tattooed stallion returned a few seconds later, raring to go once again. Draft and his brother rose back into the air and the three of them continued their tireless travel until just after the sun began to sink from its highest point in the sky.

Downpour’s heart raced for most of the time that they were on their break, the magical powder coursing through his body causing a slight tingling sensation in the back of his head. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it made the pegasus really anxious to get moving again and he fidgeted his hooves the entire time they sat there beside the trail. Neither of his companions noticed his actions however, so there were no awkward conversations for him to deal with. The edginess was annoying enough on its own however.

The small group didn’t bother building a fire, each of them were still sweating and trying to catch their breath. Instead they sat in a circle, facing the direction they were headed and eating a simple lunch. A few carrots and some bread, with good cider to wash it all down was more than enough for Downpour. Draft and Ursa both ate more than that, but he didn’t have much of an appetite after using the magical powder throughout the day.

“Great Adagio, you sure aren’t very hungry are you?” Ursa asked with genuine surprise. Downpour wasn’t sure what he had said at first.

“Did you say ‘Great Adagio’?” he asked the shaggy maned stallion.

“Yeah, it’s like how you say, uh, ‘Sweet Celestia’ I believe it was.”

“Is that the king’s name then?” Draft asked.

“Yes, Emperor Judicieux Adagio the ruler of the Crystal Empire,” Ursa elaborated. Downpour and Draft had been calling it the Crystal Kingdom the whole time and hadn’t even known the king’s name. His bluish grey face flushed in embarrassment. Draft laughed at his brother’s reaction, even though he hadn’t known any of that either. Once again, dropping out of school came back to bite them in the flank.

“So what’s your queen’s name?” Downpour asked. The pegasus figured he might as well actually learn about the alicorns that he was going to be meeting with, because his life could one day depend on it.

“Empress Mi Amore Serenade. She is a great leader, but not the best as a solo ruler, which is what she’s been forced to do for awhile now,” Ursa told them with a solemn look etched on his face. He seemed to like the empress, despite her recent shortcomings. “I know that she was trying to hold everything together, but it has been difficult for all of us since the king took ill.”

“I can imagine. I’m sure that Equestria would be in major disarray if one of the princesses was dying as well,” Draft said quietly over his food. Having actually met the princesses finally, Downpour nodded his head in simple agreement. They were glorious figures of harmony throughout the land and everypony looked to them for guidance. They had the necessary experience to lead, after all.

“I’m sure that things will get better after we meet with whoever is running the show now,” Downpour tried to reassure the earth pony, but Ursa didn’t seem convinced.

“I hope that you’re right Downpour, I really do,” the crystal pony sighed. Downpour decided it was a good time to move the conversation along, before everypony started moping.

“So, Ursa, do you, uh, have any funny stories from your past that you could tell us while we’re resting here for a bit?” he asked, in an effort to change the subject. Draft looked over with interest. Stories were the easiest way to pass the time in the brothers’ opinions and they were glad when Ursa started telling them one.

“Alright, well I remember this one time, I had barely had my cutie mark for two months, anyway…” Ursa began with a slight grin forming on his gruff features. The two pegasus sat in rapt attention in the rain soaked woods for another twenty minutes before they finally drug themselves back to their hooves. Draft seemed to really enjoy Ursa’s telling of the first time the earth pony had tried building a tree fort as a colt. It hadn’t ended well, and the story gave everypony a good laugh, but eventually they all had to resume their journey down through the forest.

Draft flew just far enough back from his brother that he could sneak glances at Ursa’s well toned flank every once in awhile. It may have been foalish to do so, but Draft didn’t care because it was very entertaining and he had a stupid grin to prove it. His visual entertainment was disrupted however, when he ran into the back of his brother, who had stopped in midair without him knowing. A hoof to the back of Draft’s head was the older pegasus’s response.

“Watch where you’re going, fool,” Downpour hissed at him in a voice barely above a whisper. The older stallion glanced up to the sky suspiciously. “Hmm, I thought I saw somepony trailing us, but maybe I was mistaken.” Downpour resumed his flight, still casting unsure peeks over his shoulder every so often. Draft surveyed their surroundings once, but seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he shrugged his shoulders and resumed following his older brother through the air. Ursa didn’t even bother stopping.

The last of the leaves were falling off of the trees and drifting gently to the ground as Ursa ran by, the earth pony’s weight was just enough to dislodge the last few stragglers. The dead foliage that was already on the ground got trampled into the mud with each of his heavy hoofsteps. The sun was shedding some light through the dense branch cover and it was just enough to keep the cold chill of the winter wind from bothering the trio as they raced along the well-worn trail.

Downpour stopped a couple more times throughout the day, but neither Draft nor Ursa paid him much attention, because every time he left, it gave Draft ample time to awkwardly stare at the blue maned stallion and attempt to break the uncomfortable silence that unavoidably befell the two of them. There were many things that Draft wanted to say to Ursa, but whenever the lanky pegasus opened his mouth, the words were lost to him and he would close it again with a small sigh.

“Are you sick or something?” Draft asked his brother when he finally returned from stepping off of the trail and behind the withering berry bushes. “You sure have been stopping frequently.” Downpour rose up above the ground once again and started gliding down the path, his wings moving through the air more quickly than necessary to keep him aloft.

“I’ve never been better, Draft. This is probably the best I’ve felt since we left Canterlot actually,” Downpour replied without looking back.

“Umm, good… I guess,” Draft mumbled as he flew up beside his older sibling, grey and white mane trailing behind him in the breeze. “Just let us know if you need to stop for the day.”

“Please, I feel like I could go all night if we had to,” Downpour chuckled.

“Not me,” Ursa chimed in between panting breaths. “All of this running is actually starting to take a toll. I’ll be fine until tonight, but that’s where I have to draw the line.” Draft noticed that the earth pony’s hide was coated in a layer of sweat, which was no surprise considering the large distance they had traveled in such a short time. Even though he was an accomplished flyer, Draft too was beginning to feel the burn in his wing muscles as he pumped them methodically.

“Yeah, I’m with Ursa on this one. I’m going to sleep really good tonight. I guess your day of resting worked pretty well for you though,” Draft said to his brother.

“You have no idea,” Downpour snickered. A sudden peel of thunder in the distance forced a groan from Draft’s lips. He had been hoping that Ursa’s prediction of more rain would be proven false, but it sounded as if the storm was about to worsen after all. Draft pulled the cloak from his saddle bags, flying all the while, and wrapped it around his body. When the rain finally started, Downpour turned around and asked for one of his own cloaks. Once the three stallions were somewhat shielded from the coming drizzle, they continued on their way, the sun disappearing behind large, dark grey clouds in the east.

Along with his unbridled energy, Downpour was also experiencing an unparalleled euphoria as they made there way north through the forest. It was no more than a very subtle sensation at first, but eventually the joy evolved to a point where the pegasus couldn’t help but smile. It was actually beginning to make his tattooed face a little sore. It felt as if no matter what happened, the driving rain or other unforeseen circumstances, he would continue onward with laughter in his heart. The rain continued to fall harder, as if testing him.

“Is it always raining here?” Downpour asked the earth pony below him.

“Well, there’s usually a month or two of pretty fair weather, but for the most part it rains off and on in this country, yes. Except in the winter, then it usually snows most of the time instead,” Ursa replied.

“Wow, you say that like it isn’t a terrible thing,” Draft said as accelerated to his brother’s side. “I’m pretty sure I’d get sick of that much rain before long.”

“Without the rain though, we wouldn’t have all of this beautiful foliage and our bountiful crops,” Ursa explained. “I’ve actually grown to enjoy the rain after living my life here.” It wasn’t that surprising really, after living in Dodge most of his life, Downpour had grown fond of the dry climate in that area. He supposed that almost everypony came to enjoy their homes eventually.

Thunder rolled overhead as the rain increased its intensity, beginning to sneak its way through the fibers of Downpour’s clothing. It caused some minor discomfort, but the effects of the concoction he had been ingesting all day intensified the minor irritation into a nagging itch along his back. He absentmindedly scratched at it with one hoof as he flew, making sure not to lose the tempo of his beating wings. The itching sensation migrated to a different part of his body and he continued to fidget around in an attempt to stop it. At least the water rolled right off of his weather resistant wings, he thought as he adjusted his cloak slightly.

“I was just thinking,” Draft said as he wiped the water from his muzzle, “about what you said earlier, Ursa. This duke-”

“Doré Langue?” the crystal pony interrupted.

“Right. What has he actually done to find the queen?” Draft finished his question before dropping to the ground and continuing on hoof with the large stallion, so that he could hear better over the sound of the rain, Downpour assumed.

“To be honest, I’m not really sure. I know that he’s implemented some sort of search, but aside from attending to the usual business of the government-”

“Like trying to declare war,” Downpour cut in.

“He hasn’t done much else yet. Although I’m not really sure what else he can do at this point.” Downpour listened with only minor interest as their newest friend talked to his brother. His mind was more focused on not scratching all the hair off of his flank as he alleviated the itching in that area. It was really driving the pegasus crazy.

Downpour glanced behind his back again, it had become habitual while he was under the powder’s effects, and was positive that he saw something this time. There was definitely somepony flying above them or perhaps a griffon, but he couldn’t see very well through the rain coming down from the sky in a torrent.

“We have a tail,” Downpour said as he looked back to his brother and Ursa. The two other ponies didn’t seem to hear him over the sound of their own hoof beats however, so he shouted, “We’ve got a tail on us!” They heard him the second time.

“What?” Draft asked him as he whipped his head behind him, his long, waterlogged mane snapping around a moment after.

“Above the trees, flying behind us. I noticed them awhile back and they’re still there. I can’t tell who it is though,” Downpour explained as he nodded in the direction of the flying figure above.

“Shit! What should we do about it?” Draft asked him in alarm after seeing the figure for himself. Ursa spotted the stalker next as Draft lifted off the ground to fly near his brother. Both of the other stallions looked like they were pretty winded and needed to take a break, but Downpour felt fine. If they stopped and got attacked, then he might have to do most of the work to protect them.

“I’m sure it’s nothing, you two. Why are you jumping to the conclusion that they’re hostile? The Crystal Empire is a pretty safe place for ponies,” Ursa told them as he slowed his pace to a walk. He was panting heavily and his mane was plastered to his head with sweat and rain.

“So is Equestria, but ever since we left home, problems seem to have followed us,” Downpour replied. He flew slowly over head of the large earth pony as they conversed.

“I still say you have nothing to worry about. We should see what they want,” ursa replied. “It’s probably just a knight on patrol because of the empress’s disappearance. They’ve been everywhere around here for the last few weeks.”

“Really?” Downpour asked. It was only a slight relief for the pegasus when Ursa nodded his head. “Alright, I’ll take your word for it.”

“My word is all I have and it’s good,” Ursa replied with a tired smile. The constant moving had taken its toll on all of them, but not nearly as much in Downpour’s case. He was tired, but another dose of powder would fix that in a few seconds. He couldn’t remember for sure how long it ha been since his last dose, but it seemed like it had been awhile, so he decided to stop and use more.

“Let’s stop and see if they come down here,” Downpour told the other two stallions as he landed on the muddy ground. Downpour walked a few steps behind his brother’s back and reached into a pocket on his cloak. He pulled out the vile and sprinkled some on his tongue while there were no eyes on him. The expected rush came a few seconds later as he tucked away the powder once again.

“I think they’re landing, but I can’t really tell,” Ursa observed as he stared up into the sky. Downpour noticed the earth pony’s legs were covered in grime up to his knees and it was caking his shaggy tail as well, but the rain was starting to rinse the mud away now that he had stopped. Downpour was glad that he could fly and didn’t have to spend all day running in the mud.

“Yeah, I think that you’re right,” Draft agreed.

“I wish you still had your wing blades, just in case,” Downpour said as he walked back over to his brother and Ursa. The figure was headed down to them, but there was only one, so Downpour wasn’t too worried about it. The unknown stalker weaved their way down through the tree branches and landed near the three stallions. The newcomer was a white pegasus pony, wearing a lightweight armor that Downpour figured meant they were a knight after all. The armored stallion stepped forward and addressed the three of them in an authoritative voice.

“I am Sir Lumière de Etoiles, a member of the crystal knights. I flew down here to warn the three of you that there have been reports of griffons flying around in the area. It might be a good idea for the three of you to return to your homes as soon as possible,” the knight warned them.

“Yes of course, sir. Thank you for your concern. We’ll be sure to do that right away,” Ursa replied with a polite nod.

“And be careful in the storm,” the knight added as he turned away. “It looks like its going to be a pretty bad one.” The white pegasus sped back through the trees and into the sky once again as quickly as he had come, then he made a large circle above them before heading east into the pouring rain. Downpour stood there and watched the pegasus disappear into the clouds before turning around and walking down the rain slicked path with his companions.

“I told you there was nothing to worry about,” Ursa said as Downpour caught up to him. Draft walked up to the other side of the green stallion and nodded in agreement.

“Mhmm, you were right,” Downpour mumbled. The three of them continued walking for the rest of the afternoon, their energy having been exhausted from pushing themselves all day. Downpour shot one last look over his shoulder before they rounded a corner in the path. The knight had mentioned griffons and that didn’t bode well for the three of them. Griffons seemed to be the cause of most of Downpour and his brother’s troubles lately.

Draft stood impatiently in the middle of the trail as he waited for his brother to respond to the question he’d asked. He had caught Downpour using one of the vials of powder that Spark had given to them and, judging by the nearly depleted bottle, it seemed as if it had been going on for awhile.

“Well what the hay do you think you’re doing? You know this stuff isn’t good for you if you use too much,” Draft told his brother with a disappointed frown.

“Calm yourself, Draft. I’ve just been using a little to keep up with you two. It’s not going to kill me,” Downpour replied. “We’re in a hurry you know.”

“That doesn’t mean you need to keep sneaking off to snort Spark’s crazy magical mixtures. That stuff can be dangerous, even for him and he’s the one who makes it.” Downpour just rolled his eyes in response. “I’m keeping my eye on you from now on.”

“Fine. Can we go now, mom?” Downpour asked sarcastically as he turned away.

“Yeah,” Draft huffed as he followed behind his irresponsible brother and cast a quick glance in Ursa’s direction. The green stallion hadn’t said anything during their conversation, but that was most likely because he considered it a family affair. Ursa had probably gone through the same thing with his own brother growing up, Draft guessed. Though the pegasus realized that their new friend hadn’t even mentioned his brother to them yet. “So what was your family like growing up?” Draft asked the earth pony, hoping to pass the time with a little conversation and maybe learn something interesting as they walked.

“My family? Well my mother was as sweet as can be. She used to make pies and sell them in town on the weekends. Everypony in Equonton used to buy pies from her,” Ursa replied. He smiled warmly as he recalled the memory. “My father was more reserved than her, but I never doubted that he loved me. He taught me everything I know about timber and building with wood. He actually built the house I live in with his own two hooves. I moved back in when they moved out west with the rest of our family, right near the coast. I’d like to join them eventually, but I know that I’d miss the old house too much.”

“What about your brother?” Draft asked after a few moments of silence had passed. “What was he like?”

“I don’t have a brother,” Ursa responded, fixing the pegasus with a puzzled look.

“Oh, I just saw that painting in your living room and I assumed…” Draft replied.

“That painting? Oh, he was just a pony that used to be very special to me, but not anymore,” Ursa explained. His voice grew quiet and his expression became one of sorrowful remembrance for some reason.

“What, was he you coltfriend?” Downpour chimed in mockingly from the other side of the green stallion.

“Yes, he was actually, but that was awhile ago,” Ursa sighed wistfully. Draft’s eyes grew wide and Downpour stopped in his tracks with a look of surprise. Ursa turned around in confusion and met Downpour’s unhappy glare.

“You rut stallions? What they hay is wrong with you?” The shorter pegasus asked with a sickened tone. “Why the hay didn’t you let me know you were like that?”

“I didn’t realize it would be a problem for you,” Ursa replied.

“Yes it’s a problem. That’s just wrong,” Downpour replied with disgust. He took a step forward and glared up at the larger stallion. Ursa glared back, his usually easygoing demeanor replaced by mild aggression.

“And why is that so wrong?” Ursa questioned. “It’s who I am and none of your concern.”

“It’s my concern when you’re traveling with me and my brother,” Downpour replied angrily. Draft watched in silent horror as the two stallions started shouting at each other. It escalated to a point where his brother finally took a swing at the green stallion, connecting a hoof with the side of Ursa’s head and dazing the larger pony momentarily.

“Downpour! What the hay is your problem!?” Draft shouted the question as he stepped between the two of them. “Get a hold of yourself.” Downpour’s eye twitched as he tried to sidestep Draft and get to Ursa.

“Get out of my bucking way, Draft. This is between me and that colt lover,” Downpour shouted as he pointed a wingtip at the blue maned pony.

“Let him through, Draft. I want to hear what he has to say,” Ursa replied in a slightly angrier tone. “I’ve had ponies talk down to me about my choices before. If he has a problem with me then so be it.” Draft forced his brother back one more time when the bluish pegasus attempted to fly over his head.

“We don’t have time for this shit right now, so knock it off,” Draft shouted at them, but they didn’t pay his words any attention. Downpour forced his way past Draft and got into the earth ponies face, hovering above the ground so he could look the stallion in his dark green eyes as he yelled.

“My problem is that you have something wrong with you and I don’t want you traveling with us anymore! We’ll find out own way from here on out!” Downpour shouted at Ursa’s face. The angry pegasus narrowly avoided the hoof that Ursa sent towards his chin. Downpour dodged back and sent a kick into Ursa’s face. “You’ll have to be quicker than that if you want to hit me, you cock lover.” Draft had heard enough of his brother’s ignorant talk and he slammed unexpectedly into his sibling’s side, knocking Downpour to the ground in a heap.

“How big of an ass can you be, Downpour? Did you forget that Ursa saved our lives and helped us out!? He let us stay at his house for two nights in a row for Celestia’s sake, not to mention offering to lead us all of the way to the Crystal Castle,” Draft shouted at his older brother as the stocky pegasus got back up to his hooves. Mud coated one side of Downpour’s bluish-grey body and he looked pissed, but Draft ignored his brother’s expression and continued lecturing him. “Just because he’s attracted to stallions you’re going to treat him like shit. Well go buck yourself Downpour, you pretentious asshole! You want to know something?”

“Draft, you don’t-” Ursa started to cut him off, but Draft continued unhindered, now that he had started letting out his emotions.

“I’m in love with Ursa. Yeah, that’s right. I like stallions. Are you going to take a swing at me now?” Draft asked as his cheeks began to flush. Downpour’s eyes widened in surprise and he took a step back in shock. Then he glared at both of them with unrepressed malice.

“Give me my stuff,” Downpour told his brother flatly as he stretched one hoof out towards him. “I’m going to the capitol by myself. I can’t even look at you,” he added before turning away. Draft couldn’t believe how immature his older brother was being. It was unbelievable that Downpour would even think about acting this way at his age.

“Fine! Take your shit and go if you’re going to be like that. I’d rather not have to listen to your stupid arguing anyway. If you wanted to have a problem with me too, well, congratulations, because you have one now,” Draft replied as he pulled Downpour’s things out of his saddlebag and piled them on the muddy ground at his hooves. There were tears in Draft’s eyes, but the rain made them indistinguishable on his grey face. Downpour grabbed his blankets and threw them across his back. Then he picked up his bag of bits and one of the healing potions and shoved them into the pockets of his cloak with a look of hate fixed on Ursa.

Downpour flew off without another word, leaving Draft staring after his ignorant brother as he flew away through the rain. Tears of anger fell from the younger pegasus’s grey eyes and splashed on the muddy ground, becoming a part of the water collecting at his hooves. Draft was shaking with a mixture of rage and cold as lightning flashed somewhere over his head, thunder sounding out loudly soon after. His brother was so infuriating sometimes that Draft wanted to hit him for it, but he took a few deep breaths and calmed his nerves instead. Soon his shaking had stopped for the most part.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Ursa said from behind him. Draft didn’t respond as he took a few more breaths, his heart still hammering in his chest. The grey pegasus stared up at the darkening sky and cleared his throat, the cool rain on his face was calming. After a few seconds he was ready to talk.

“Done what?” he asked the green stallion.

“Told him that you love me,” Ursa replied.

“I was pissed,” Draft sighed and glanced up at his taller friend.

“Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Do you actually love me?” Ursa asked with a note of dismissal evident in his deep voice. “You’ve only known me for a few days.”

“No, I don’t love you,” Draft admitted, “but I do like you and maybe given some time I could love you.” The pegasus took another slow breath. “I’m not making any promises though and I need to have a calm discussion with my brother before I’ll talk about this anymore,” Draft replied as he started walking down the path through the freezing rain.

“I can live with that answer,” Ursa said. He walked beside Draft slowly as they conversed. “We should probably go ahead and find a place to spend the night soon. It’s pretty dark and with this storm getting so bad, you won’t be able to see your hoof in front of your face pretty soon. Is your brother going to be alright out there?” the earth pony asked as they rounded another corner.

“Downpour? Uh, I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine out there for a night,” Draft replied. “Besides, he deserves it for the way he acted. What an ass.” The rain kept coming down as the stallions made their way down the trail and searched for a place to set up camp for the night. Lighting flashed again, lighting up everything around them in stark contrast before flickering out and leaving them more blinded than before. Thunder sounded immediately afterward.

Downpour stared at his makeshift tent with disdain as the cold rain pelted his hide ceaselessly. He had draped a blanket across a low hanging branch and fastened it down, but the result was barely enough for him to fit under. The thick built stallion squeezed inside with a sigh and wrapped a cloak around himself. He was dirty, wet and pissed off.

“Ugh, there is no way I’m staying here all night. I’m just going to keep flying until the rain stops,” Downpour told himself. The pegasus ripped down his blanket and tossed the soaking fabric over his back. He fumbled around in the pocket of his cloak for a few moments and pulled out the vial of crystalline powder that he had nearly used up. Downpour stuck it up to his nose and snorted half of the remaining substance before replacing the stopper and putting it away. He felt a flush of heat radiating out to his extremities and took off into the sky quickly, heedless of the worsening storm around him.

Downpour’s mind was racing and every thought was focused on what his brother and that freak, Ursa, had told him. It made the pegasus a little nauseous as he thought about it, although that may have been because he hadn’t eaten much all day. Downpour and his brother had been told by their mother that it was wrong for somepony to be attracted to their own sex and he had always believed her. It just wasn’t natural to be gay, but here was his brother, saying that he chose to be with a stallion loving earth pony.

A flash of lightening arced through the clouds as Downpour wiped the rain from his face. He could hear the quick beat of his heart, throbbing in his head and his eyes darted around blindly for a moment as thunder rumbled. That powder had made him a little jumpy, but he felt like flying all night would be no problem and he picked up the pace of his beating wings. It wouldn’t take long for the pegasus to get to the next town at his current speed.

The storm never let up as Downpour flew on and the wind ripped across his twitching body, whipping his blue striped tail behind him, along with his wet cloak. No matter how bad the weather got though, Downpour kept his body focused on flying, even if his mind was elsewhere. The rhythm of the pegasus’s beating wings was drowned out in the storm as the darkness grew deeper around him. He felt as if he could keep soaring forever.

Draft lay down on his blanket next to Ursa, safe from the rain under another of the talented earth pony’s improvised shelters. The torrential rain was making constant noise as it fell harmlessly to the branches overhead. The ground was a bit damp, but nothing that the pegasus couldn’t handle and there was even a small fire going. Downpour had forgotten his flint and, while Draft felt a little bad for him, it was his own fault.

“Thanks for setting this up,” Draft said to the stallion beside him.

“It was my pleasure, Draft.” A sweet smile accompanied Ursa’s reply. He scooted a little closer to Draft and the pegasus looked him in the eyes and grinned back. “Thank you for lighting a fire.”

“No problem,” Draft replied. After he had been laying there for a few minutes Draft’s stomach growled in hunger. He needed to get some food and go to bed soon.

“Was that your stomach?” Ursa cuckled.

“Mhmm, I have to eat some dinner,” Draft replied as he got to his hooves and walked over to their saddle bags. He dug around for a bit before pulling out a couple carrots and a flask of cider. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“Yes, but I’m also very comfortable right now, so it’s hard to get up,” Ursa told him with a smile. Draft snickered and launched a couple carrots in the crystal pony’s direction with a flick of his slender wing. Ursa snatched them out of the air and took a large bite from one. Draft grabbed a couple more things from his bags and walked back to his place on the ground. “Thanks again,” the green stallion said to him as he lay back down.

“Well, I was already over there and I thought ‘why not?’” Draft explained with a grin as he began chewing on his own carrot. “It’s not like it was any extra work.” He swallowed his food and coughed a few times. The pegasus picked up the flask of cider and took a long swig off of it before offering it to his companion. “Are you thirsty?”

“Yes, cider sounds very good right now,” Ursa answered as he took the container from Draft’s outstretched hoof. The earth pony took a long drink from it before replacing the cap and passing it back. “Nothing like a little cider to warm the belly, huh?”

“Mhmm,” Draft agreed. They continued eating in silence, to busy chewing food to make any more conversation at the moment. Draft would have liked a hot meal, but he hadn’t wanted to wait for one. He briefly wondered if his brother had eaten anything for dinner, but then dismissed the worries from his head. Downpour was capable of taking care of himself for a night or two. When he had finally finished eating, Draft fell onto his bedding with a satisfied sigh. “Wow, I was really hungry. I guess flying all day does that to me though.”

“Ugh, me too,” Ursa agreed as he patted his full stomach with a hoof. “Although I think a hot meal would have been better.”

“I was just thinking that same thing,” Draft told him with a chuckle. “I was also thinking about my brother.”

“I’m sure he’ll be just fine,” Ursa assured him with a comforting smile. They laid in silence for awhile after that, Draft snuggling up closer to the earth pony as the temperature continued to drop and the rain began turning into snow. They were huddled in their shelter next to the dying flames of the campfire, wrapped in each other’s legs for a few minutes before Draft heard Ursa start snoring softly. He glanced in the direction his brother had flown off once in worry, before closing his grey eyes and falling asleep next to the larger stallion beside him, relishing in the warmth that Ursa’s shaggier coat provided.

Author's Note:

Don't do drugs and if you ignore that warning, at least remember to use moderation. That being said, it's kind of funny when someone doesn't remeber that rule. More friction between brother's in this chapter, which isn't that unexpected considering Downbpour's personality and Draft's little revelation. There's plenty more disfunction to come.

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