• Published 19th Jan 2013
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Rise of the Elements Part II: Return of the Avatars - Radiant Dawn

Ancient beings of long since past are returning, but for good or ill?

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Chapter 13: Preparation

Chapter 13: Preparation

The day was going pretty well so far, and I was happy to see that Twilight had gotten over the initial shock of such vigorous physical activity for such a long period of time. I knew it was going to be hard on her simply because of the fact that she relied on her magic so much in her day-to-day life. She was by no means fat or anything, but she was definitely out of shape. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash were the exact opposite. All three of them were very strong and had a good amount of stamina and endurance, so for them at least, I just focused on combat training.

After my visit with my brother to learn about his new weapons, I had been spending the rest of the day training myself and everyone else, along with Shining Armor and Ditzy. Now, however, was time for some lunch, so we were all in the mess hall outside the guard barracks.

Ditzy was sitting next to me talking with Rainbow Dash while Twilight was on my right. It went without saying that the violet unicorn looked very tired, but was also very determined. Hoping to add some comfort, I leaned down and nuzzled her softly with a smile.

"You did really good today, Twi. I'm proud of you." I said softly.

She looked up at me and smiled as well, albeit a little weakly. "Thanks Frost. I just can't help but think about how hard this is going to be, though. I mean, I use magic for almost everything I do every day. I wish I'd known this war was coming so I could have prepared a little better."

I nodded and took a bite of a spinach salad with tomatoes, chewing quickly and swallowing. "Well, we all wish we'd had more warning. I mean, I thought we'd have another few months at least."

She then looked at me with nervous eyes. "We're not going to Zebrica, are we?"

I shook my head. "No. Nightwing and the H.O.S. unit will be providing support there. We need to stay here to protect Canterlot and Ponyville. We all still have more training to do anyway. I want you to be in peak condition before we ever go onto the battlefield, so we're going to be training hard and fast. Thankfully because of your magical nature, your body will grow and adapt much faster than a human's body would. Whereas it would take me months to go from where you are now to peak condition back on Earth, it's only going to take you another few weeks if you work hard. I promise Twi, if you do as I say, you'll be ready."

"I'm not going to be on the front lines, am I?" she asked nervously.

I shook my head and smiled. "No, you won't. You're going to be assigned a platoon of your own to provide magical support and guidance to. More than anything though, you're going to be working with myself and the two princesses to plan and execute different strategies. You may not have been in an actual battle before, but with all those books you read on war and battle tactics, you're officially one of the most educated military intelligence officers in Equestria right now…and we're going to need your organizational skills to keep all the troops in line and working efficiently."

She smiled. "Organizing and tactics I can do." She then raised an eyebrow in confusion. "But you also said I'd be providing magical support. What did you mean by that?"

"Well Twi, you'll be providing support with defensive spells such as barriers, as well as physical enhancement spells to give your troops an extra edge in battle." I explained. Before she could question, I shook my head. "Don't worry, I'll teach those spells to you." I then sighed and closed my eyes. "There is something you need to know though, Twilight. You're going to have a lot of lives in your hooves. Like me, you have the ability to single-hoofedly turn the tide of a battle if you do your job right. Still…a lot of ponies' lives are going to depend on you. Are you ready for that kind of responsibility? If you're not, I need you to tell me now."

She looked down, obviously a little apprehensive of the idea. "Well I don't know if I'd be ready for that, Frost. I mean, I can barely handle myself."

I chuckled shook my head. "If confidence is the problem, you'll be getting a lot of that as you train and become stronger. With physical strength and fighting prowess comes confidence once you see exactly how skilled you are. What I'm asking you is that if I get you to the point where you have the capability physically and magically, would you be able to do it?"

She nodded softly. "I-I think so."

I shook my head. "An 'I think so' isn't good enough, Twi…I need to know if you can do this. I've already told you how ugly this war is going to get, so if I put you out there and you're not ready, you're going to get hundreds of ponies and possibly yourself killed. If even with my training and support you still don't think you could do it, I have to know."

She was silent for a moment before looking up at me, utterly ashamed. "I can't, Frost…I'm sorry."

I smiled softly and pulled her in close to kiss her forehead. "It's okay, Twilight. It's better to be honest than to tell me something you think I want to hear and getting a lot of ponies killed. You can still offer support with your organizational skills and tactics. That I know you can do."

"I'm sorry Frost…I really am. I wish I were braver…" she muttered.

I pulled her in close again and she nuzzled her head against my chest. "Not everyone in a war has the moxie to be able to stare death in the face…literally. That doesn't mean you're useless, Twi. I love you and trust you, and I know you'll make me proud no matter what. And who knows, perhaps later on you'll change your mind. When the need arises, we all have the ability to change in order to adapt, be that in body, mind, or soul. You're stronger than you could ever imagine, love…and one day soon, you'll be able to see that."

She finally smiled as she moved away from me. "Thanks Frost."

I nodded. "Alright, so what we're going to be doing after lunch is magical training, which you're going to be handling. That I know you can do as well. You're going to be overseeing the training of the new unicorn recruits along with Rainbow Dash. Like me, Dash's magic is going to be her own unlike Celestia's and Luna's. This means that she's going to need a lot of training to get stronger with it and become more proficient. As of now she doesn't know any spells, so I want you to start at the beginning…but once she gets a feel for it, I want you to transition to battle spells, mostly offensive. She's going to be on the front lines with me, so I need you to make sure she's able to control and channel her magic well. You'll be doing this every day with her and the rest of the unicorn recruits after lunch, save for the weekends. Are you up to it?"

She nodded as she swallowed a mouthful of carrots. "Yeah, I can do that. Rainbow Dash always used to make fun of me for being so obsessed with magic, but now it looks like I'll be the teacher and she'll be the student." She then bounced a little in place. "Oh, this is going to be fun!"

I chuckled and turned away to see Shining Armor talking with Nightwing, and I instantly felt a little sad. I hadn't spoken to Nightwing ever since his brother died, so I made my mind up to do so now.

I stood up and walked over to the pair, noticing the solemn yet determined expression in both of their eyes. They both looked up when they saw me and smiled, Shining Armor stepping forward first.

"Frost! By Celestia, it's good to see you. How are things going in training?" he asked.

I shrugged and smiled. "Pretty well, all things considered." I then glanced at the black pegasus before looking back to the captain. "Hey Shining, can I speak with Nightwing alone for a moment?"

He nodded. "Sure. I'll be talking to Twily if you guys need me."

I smiled at the captain as he left, then looked back to Nightwing. "So…how you holdin' up? I didn't get to talk to you after-"

"Don't, prince…just don't. I'm trying to distract myself the best I can, because if I think about it…I'm going to lose my nerve." he explained sadly.

I shook my head with a frown. "Ignoring what happened is only going to make it worse, Nightwing. Trust me…I know. I've lost two sisters and a fiancée…I know what it's like to lose love ones and family. From experience I can tell you that if you don't let yourself grieve, you're just going to do more damage than good."

He shook his head. "I…I didn't know prince…I'm sorry."

I smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "It did hurt a lot…but look at me now. I've found my smile again and even laughter. No one will ever expect you to forget about your brother, Nightwing…but you have to let yourself mourn his loss. Your brother is dead – killed by the very enemy we face now. You need to let yourself come to terms with that. If you don't, your nightmares and inner conflict is going to consume you. Trust me on this. Like I said…I know." I then sighed as I looked out on the gardens in front of us. "Dark never told you about our world, but I think there's something you should know, because it pertains to what you're feeling and going through right now. After our sisters died, I held it all in. The way I saw it, crying or mourning the loss was a waste of time, as it didn't solve anything. Besides, I was working a full-time job and going to college at the same time, so I didn't have time for touchy-feely stuff like that. A real man never cries." I sat down and breathed deeply before continuing. "The pain and depression started to build up inside me. I had night terrors and hallucinations that got so bad that I couldn't take it anymore. I…" I swallowed hard. "I tried to kill myself…twice." He gasped, but I continued. "Now I know what you're thinking, Nightwing. You're thinking that you'd never do something like that. Well, neither did I. You don't know what it's like until you've forced yourself into that position, where your heart and soul is aching, but you won't allow yourself to cry and grieve that pain away." I then looked back down at him with a sad smile. "Get together with someone you trust and care about…and let it out. Let yourself come to terms with what has happened. It will hurt at first…it'll hurt a hay of a lot, but I promise you'll feel better afterward. You'll never forget Brightwing, but that doesn't mean you have to forever feel the pain from losing him."

The pegasus' bright green eyes were shining a little now with unwept tears, but he smiled. "Thanks prince. I needed to hear that."

I nodded and smiled back at him. "Anything I can do to help, Corporal. You should know that I'm more than just a Colonel or prince, I'm also just a pony like the rest of you. I feel pain, I feel fear, and I feel grief. I know what you're going through, and I know that you need to take time to get through it. Take the rest of the day off and rest up to prepare for tomorrow. Find time to let yourself mourn your brother, so that you can step into Zebrica tomorrow with a clear mind."

He nodded and turned away, stopping for a moment. "Thank you, Prince Frosbreaker."
I watched him go as he flew away, only to be startled by a voice within my head.


“Celestia? Jeez, couldn't you be a little gentler with the mind-speech? I just about jumped out of my skin.”

“I apologize, Frost. We have a situation, and I do not wish to cause a panic. Please come to the throne room immediately.”

“Will do, Celestia. I'm on my way.”

Feeling confident that I was close enough to teleport, I focused on the throne room and disappeared in a flash.

When I reappeared, it was to find Celestia and six guards surrounding a cage…that held a bone-gryphon.

"Celestia, how did you all catch this thing?" I asked in confusion.

She smiled. "Please, you do not truly believe that I am without my tricks, do you? I believed that we could learn from and study it so that we could better understand it. The cage is merely a secondary measure. I am at the moment holding it in place with magic."

I nodded as the four unicorn guards lifted the cage. "Alright, well first we need to know how they track us. I need you to make sure your hold on it is strong, because I'm going to connect with its essence to find out what senses it has. I trust you not to lose focus here, Celestia." She nodded and I lowered my horn to the creature's head, noticing its burning yellow orbs that were eyes were staring directly at me. As soon as I connected my mind with it, my vision changed. I saw myself, though something was different. Normal colors were gone; instead the world was shown in shades of red, with me showing up as a very dark red, and Celestia showing as bright red, almost orange. I could see her horn glowing white-hot, but other than these things, details were left out.

I disconnected from the creature and cast a strong dispel on it, causing it to drop to the ground in a heap of bones. I then looked at Celestia with a frown. "It seems to have a sort of thermal vision, which means it's going to be able to see very well at all times, even at night. Secondly, it appears that any magical spell shows up very well in its vision. I couldn't hear you or smell you, however, so I assume those senses are dulled or nonexistent. Still, we've seen how strong these things are, so we know just how dangerous they can be. With winter on the way, that means that these things are going to be able to track us easily if we're not careful. I recommend well-insulated clothes for all in the field, so that our heat signatures will be lower."

She nodded. "I understand. I'll give Rarity orders for these bits of clothing immediately." She then sighed. "Also, we need to speak about the unicorn known as Enigma Flare. It is obvious that he will be a great help to the war, but he is highly susceptible to the winter cold…so much so that it can kill him much easier than normal ponies."

I nodded. "Well on his insulation clothes we'll need to be sure they're much more insulated than the rest. I wish we could just leave him out of this, but we need him. I think I could help with some enchantments for warmth and fire-proofing, but I'll need to talk to him about it. I think he's still reluctant to join."

"Do you have an idea as to why he is so distrusting of the guard?" she asked.

I shook my head. "Not really. I mean my best guess is politics, or maybe something happened with a family member having to do with the guard. I don't really know, but I'll make sure to ask him tomorrow to find out. In the meantime, I'm thinking we need to awaken Dashie's avatar."

Celestia eyed me suspiciously. "Rainbow Dash houses an avatar? How do you know this?"

I shrugged. "Just a feeling I have. We need all the power we can get, so I'm going to get started right away. You have to remember that it takes two weeks for the adjustment, so the sooner we do this, the better."

She nodded in understanding. "Very well, I will contact the others and advise them of what you plan to do. Please do so immediately, as every moment wasted is a moment we can spend preparing for this conflict."

"Understood, Celestia. I'll be back in a little bit." I responded before disappearing again in another flash of light.

I appeared back in the mess hall to the surprise of a young unicorn private, who I had appeared right in front of.

I looked down at him and smiled sheepishly. "Uh, sorry about that."

He smiled and shook his head. "All's well, Prince Frostbreaker. Good day." And with that he walked away.

I walked over to Dash quickly and nudged her with my muzzle, causing her to look up at me. "Oh hey, Frost. What's up?"

I motioned for her to follow me. "Well, it's time to awaken your avatar, love. Come with me."

She looked at me in confusion before following, not speaking until we were out of earshot of everypony else. "My avatar? Do I even have one? I mean, I didn't start out as an alicorn like the rest of you did."

I shrugged. "I could be wrong, but it's just a feeling I have. My hunches have never steered me wrong before, and if I'm wrong, then we can just go about training as usual. But if I'm right, we need to get this out of the way as soon as possible. You have to remember that it takes about two weeks to complete the process."

"Will you visit me when I'm out? Luna said she could hear us…so I'd like for you to visit and talk to me. You know, so I can keep from going crazy and whatnot." she mumbled.

I chuckled and nodded. "Of course I will, Dashie. Luckily for you, the time will pass really fast. For me, it seemed like I was out for only a few hours. All the same, yes, I will come and visit and talk to you."

She nodded and bumped her shoulder against me as we walked. "Thanks Frost."

We arrived at the training grounds a few minutes later, finding that it was mercifully empty. I then led Dash to the center of the crater that was now an arena and stood a bit away from her. "Okay Dash, so this is what's gotta happen. The releasing of your avatar can only happen through a powerful emotion. For Luna and me, it's anger and hatred. For Celestia, it's happiness. For you, I have a feeling it's going to be your will to protect your friends and love for them. So I need you to focus on that. Let it flow through you…consume you." I looked up at the sky in thought before smiling. "Try this out; imagine that we're in the war right now. Ponies are fighting all around us with monsters, and it's your job to watch over them. Then you look over and see Fluttershy…"

"Shy…" she mumbled.

I nodded. "One of those bone-gryphons is bearing down on her, about to tear her apart. You're the only thing standing between her and death, Dash…the only thing."

Her eyes were closed while she envisioned the scenario in her mind. Her face twisted into agony a few times and pure rage before she grit her teeth and growled. Her words were barely a whisper, but they held a power and devotion that I'd only heard once before. "No…you won't touch her…" I could feel strong energy crackling in the air as her horn started glowing a bright blue. Storm clouds began to gather overhead as lightning cracked through them, and her entire body began glowing bright white. Rain began to fall heavily, and the late afternoon sun from behind me caused a rainbow to appear in the distance behind her.

It took a few minutes, but the light began to die down even though the storm did not abate. As my vision began to clear, I looked upon a tall alicorn that looked almost nothing like Dash. It was a dark grey with piercing green eyes and green tiger-like stripes running the length of its body, looking more like lightning bolts than normal stripes. The mane and tail had become intangible, instead resembling billowing clouds rather than a normal mane and tail. Grey armor with green trim covered the head, neck, and body, with large rear-facing protrusions that gave it the illusion of speed and ferocity.

The figured looked upon me in shock, and I immediately knew who it was. As the Winter memories stirred within me, I smiled and nodded at the powerful avatar. "Spring? Is it really you?"

The tall pony looked at me in confusion. "Winter?" She then jumped a bit in shock. "W-what happened? Why am I a mare? Why are you a stallion?"

"Umm…that's probably because your host is a mare, Spring, and mine was a stallion." I responded. I then chuckled and raised an eyebrow suggestively. "You make a cute mare, if I do say so myself."

Spring looked at me with annoyance and rolled her eyes. "Don't make fun of me, Winter, or I'll strike you with a bolt of lightning."

I laughed and nodded. "Fine fine, I've had my fun."

"Yes, I believe you have." she remarked smugly. "Well then, why have I been called here?"

I took a serious expression and looked off into the distance, where our enemy was no doubt hiding somewhere. "War has come to Equestria, Spring. To be specific…Death."

Her eyes widened in shock. "Death? He has returned? H-how, I mean…why?"

I shook my head in frustration. "I don't know why, but I do know how. It is because of me. I'm his son, Spring."

She gasped and stepped forward. "N-no, you can't be."

I nodded. "As Winter, I am not…but as Drew or Frostbreaker, I am. I am two beings in one, Spring…and the side of me that is not from Terra is related to Death as a son, as much as it pains me to say so."

"Wait…you're not from Terra? Where are you from, then?" she asked in confusion.

I sighed and frowned. "A place called Earth, where murder, theft, and evil in general runs rampant. A place where there is far more bare, dead ground than green fields. A world where care for another is rare and trust is even rarer."

Her mouth dropped open in awe, and she stayed that way for a few moments before remembering herself. "Wow…I was not expecting that at all. I am sorry for that, Winter…truly I am."

I shook my head. "It is all as well, anyway. The point is that we need your help, and so I have called you forth to help fight for Equestria, so that it does not become a wasteland overrun by Death and his power. Will you help?"

She smiled and nodded, patting me on the shoulder. "Of course I will, Winter. I made a promise to you once that I would always be there when you needed me. Millennia have passed and I was not able to live up to that promise…but I am able to now. Of course I will help you, my dear friend."

I smiled and shook her hoof. "Thanks, Spring. I knew you'd come through for me. You should know that we also have found Night, Day, and Life. I will introduce them to you after the adaptation phase is over with."

She facehooved with a grimace. "Ugh…this thing lasts for two weeks, right?"

I nodded. "Yeah. Connect minds with Rainbow Dash and get to know her. She's a good mare and I trust her deeply." I then shifted a little nervously. "Umm…there's something you should know, Spring. Rainbow Dash and I are…married."

"Oh..." she responded. "Well…this is awkward. Have you two…"

I nodded with a smirk. "Oh yeah…quite a few times."

She nodded. "I see. Well I'm certainly not going to ask you to stop simply because I'm aware now. Besides, seems these female instincts make me feel a lot less wrong about it. I'll get over it. After all, I've got two weeks to come to terms with it." She then smirked. "Besides, I've always wondered what it would be like as a mare to do…that."

I shook my head and chuckled. "Three-thousand years and you're still weird."

She giggled and nudged me, then groaned. "Ugh…I just giggled like a school filly, didn't I?"

I nodded. "Why yes, you did."

"This is going to take some getting used to. Still, you know better than any of us that time doesn't change who you are…not in any way that matters, anyway." she responded.

I rolled my eyes. "Thanks for making me feel even older." I then looked out over the horizon, noticing the sun was sinking towards it. "You probably don't have much longer, so let's get you to the hospital so that they can take care of Rainbow Dash while her body adjusts to you."

We arrived at the hospital not a moment too soon, because as soon as we walked through the door, the avatar's hold was broken and Rainbow Dash collapsed to the ground.

"F-Frost? Where are you?" the downed alicorn mumbled.

I kneeled and nuzzled her mane softly. "Right here, love. I promise I'll visit every day, okay? Now…rest." She nodded and immediately closed her eyes, her breathing regulating at a very slow rate. I looked up and nodded to Nurse Redheart. "Got another one, nurse. Can you get her a room with Cadence?"

The earth pony nodded and smiled. "Of course. You can leave her; we'll take it from here."

I nodded and leaned down to kiss the cyan alicorn's cheek before she was wheeled away to her room. I then focused and teleported myself back to the throne room.

Perspective change – Twilight Sparkle

So…now Rainbow Dash would be out of commission for two whole weeks. This put a damper on my spirits, as I was really looking forward to practicing magic with her. Still, I understood the reason for it. We would need all the help we could get, and another avatar available would always help. I would be telling a lie, however, if I said I wasn't excited about teaching a group of unicorns about magic.

It was no secret that as the Element of Magic, I commanded the single greatest magic power in Equestria, save for the princesses. I preferred humility, though, as I didn't really like all the attention. I didn't want to be known as "The Great and Powerful" Twilight Sparkle…that was Trixie's title, and we all saw how that turned out.

Speaking of Trixie, I'd heard that Enigma Flare and Ditzy had been looking for her, for whatever reason. While I did wonder about the intention behind finding her, it did offer a great opportunity for me. For a long time, I'd felt very guilty about the entire incident with the Ursa Minor. The only reason I'd taken care of it was because I was the only pony who could. I didn't want to ruin Trixie's career, and I felt guilt every time I even thought about her.

Hopefully they'd find her…so I could apologize.

At the moment, however, I had more pressing matters to attend to.

A loud clattering caused me to stare at a young unicorn mare, just a year or so younger than me. She was a cyan unicorn with sea-blue eyes. Her mane was two-toned white and blue, and she had an hourglass for a cutie mark…the exact same as Doctor Whooves', which I found odd. Maybe they were related? I couldn't think of any ponies that had the exact same cutie mark, even in family. Whatever…thoughts for another time.

"Colgate," I said softly as I stepped forward to the mare, "that's the third time you've dropped your staff. Are you sure you're ready for this?"

She snorted and smirked. "I'm a unicorn, Miss Sparkle. Magic is in my blood."

I shook my head. "Not magic, the war." The staff dropped again. "I thought so. Go sit down, Private Colgate."

She attempted to retort, "But I-"

I snapped a glare at her. "I said sit down, private. I'll be over in a moment." The mare instantly complied and sat down a ways away from the other recruits. I then turned back to the group. "Alright colts and fillies, you are to rotate your staves on two planes at once. If you drop it, you have to pick it up and start all over again. I'll be tracking all of your progress, so don't stop until you've reached two-hundred cycles, got it?" They all nodded and got started, so I headed over to the mare I'd sent away. She was sitting near a window looking pitiful while staring out at the city of Canterlot. I sat next to her, causing her to look at me. I smiled softly and nudged her. "Tell me why you're here…really. It's pretty obvious that the very idea of war scares the hay out of you."

She sighed and deflated a bit. "Because I want to do something to help…to be something." She looked up at me with fire in her eyes. "Do you know what I do for a living? What 'Colgate' does? I'm the Doctor's assistant…nothing else. No pony cares what I do, because they never hear about me. Well this is my home now too, and I want to do something – anything – to help it. Is that so wrong?"

I sighed and shook my head in frustration. "No, that's not wrong…but maybe you're going about this the wrong way." I heard a staff drop on the floor, and immediately knew who it was. "Start over, Private Shine."

A gasp was heard from behind me, since I hadn't even turned around. "How did you know it was me?"

"I know a lot of things. Now start over." I retorted.

Colgate looked at me in confusion. "How do you do that? It's like you have eyes in the back of your head."

I smirked and pointed to my horn. "I've been using a spell to track them the whole time, feeling the movements through the air. With practice, I can kind of get a sort of vision with my spell, 'seeing' even without my eyes."

She smiled at me and nodded. "That's very interesting. Could you teach me?"

"Maybe…but first you need to make a decision, Colgate. Is fighting in this war what you really want to do?" I asked in a serious voice.

She immediately shook her head. "No…I don't. I don't want to feel useless either, though."

I giggled and shook my head softly in response. "There are more than enough things you can do to help with a war without actually fighting. Fluttershy, for example, will be tending to any wounded that may come our way. Rarity is helping with winter clothing for the soldiers, and Lyra Heartstrings and Vinyl Scratch will help keep morale up here in Canterlot and Ponyville. You see, just because you aren't actually fighting in a war doesn't mean you're useless. No pony is useless…ever." I glanced at the mark on her flank, then back up to her eyes. "So, what are you passionate about? I'm not really sure what your cutie mark means."

She suddenly looked a little nervous. "Umm…I don't know what it means either. I was…um…born with it."

I couldn't help but gasp in shock. "Born with a cutie mark?"

She nodded softly. "Y-yes. Can we please not talk about it?"

I composed myself and nodded as well. "O-okay. But anyway, what do you like to do? I mean, there has to be something that you love to do that is useful. Cutie mark or not, everypony is good at something."

She thought for a moment before responding. "W-well I'm pretty good at freeze-drying food with magic."

"Freeze-drying? What's that?" I asked, utterly confused.

She facehooved. "Right, I forgot most ponies don't know what that is. Well, it's a way of preserving food. Take hay fries, for example. Basically what freeze-drying does is force most or all of the moisture out of the food. While it's true that it doesn't necessarily taste all that great compared to the fresh food, it lasts a lot longer than normal and is lighter, and thus easier to carry. Most of the nutrients are left in it, so it's just as healthy as it always was."

It took less than a second for me to come up with an idea. "Rations!"

"What?" she questioned.

I giggled and smiled. "Sorry. What I meant was it could be used to make military rations. Part of the problem with rations is that they're heavy and don't last very long, so we usually end up having to use a lot of magic to preserve them. If we were to freeze-dry them, we could cut down on the amount of weight each soldier would be forced to carry, as well as allow platoons to safely travel for weeks on their own as opposed to days. Colgate, you're a genius!"

She blushed a bit. "I-I am? I mean, I am! Of course I am!"

I giggled and patted her softly on the back. "See? I told you there was something you could do to help. Come by the palace tomorrow and I'll set up a meeting with the princesses. They'll want to get started on this technology immediately, as it'll help with the war and so many other things."

She stared at me and smiled. "Really? Wow…I thought it was a rather useless spell, actually."

Perspective change – Frostbreaker

I'd finished preparations for everything in case some other surprise attack should come up. I was greatly fearing that the next message that would come in would be that Ponyville was under attack, so I had my weapons and battle enchantments on standby just in case. Still, I had promised Dash I would be by her side, so I was currently sitting next to her bed in the hospital. I knew that she would be just fine, of course, but I hated simply sitting there, feeling helpless.

Hours must have passed, as by the time I'd realized that there was even a clock in the room, the moon was ascending into the sky. Just as I was about to get up to leave, the door opened…to reveal a familiar gryphon.

"Gilda…" I breathed softly.

The young gryphon smiled softly and placed a vase of flowers on a table near Dash, then sat down next to me on the floor. She was silent for the longest time before speaking.

She looked at me with tired, frightened eyes. "Will she be alright?"

I smiled and nodded. "She'll be fine Gilda, I promise." I then motioned to the small pink alicorn next to her. "Princess Cadence will be as well. We all went through this little coma-thing and came out just fine."

She sighed and looked at her friend upon the bed. "Okay…if you say so."

I grinned at her. "I do. You have nothing to worry about…this much I promise you."

She let a tear slip before glaring at me. "You better not tell Dash I was crying."

I shook my head and ran my hoof across my lips. "Not a word."

"I just," she started, before swallowing a lump in her throat, "I worry about her a lot, prince. She's not as strong as she acts."

I looked at the gryphon and smiled softly. "I'm married to her, Gilda. Believe me, I know. Dash has always been trying to prove herself…to herself, and to everypony else." I then looked back at the cyan figure on the bed, the moonlight dancing off of her sparkling mane. "She's a lot stronger than you give her credit for, though. She may not be as strong as you or I physically, but stronger in heart than any of us. She has the heart of a giant…and at the same time, it is a heart of gold."

Gilda sighed dreamily and nodded. "Yeah…she does."

I held a blank face as I looked at the two slumbering alicorns. "You still love her, don't you?"

"Yeah," she gryphon answered sadly, "I do…but she doesn't love me back. Not anymore. I'll always love her, I think."

I nodded in agreement and sighed. "You know, I was in love about seven years ago, back on Earth. I almost got married too…until an accident took her away from me." I focused hard, hoping the spell I was casting would work…and it did. Floating in front of us was a yellowed picture that was left behind on Earth. The spell had taken a lot out of me – and in all honesty I was a little dizzy – but it had been worth it.

I levitated the photo over to Gilda and she gently took it with a claw, staring at it in confusion. "What are these?"

I nodded towards the photo. "Those are what're known as humans, and they're from Earth. That's a picture of me…and her." Gilda gasped and I nodded. "That's her on the left…and me on the right. Her name was Natalie Reese." I swallowed hard before continuing. "On Earth we have something called cars. They are basically carriages that run on machinery and fuel…they aren't pulled by ponies. Well, the car she was driving hit a patch of ice on the road during winter." I felt a tear start to slide down my cheek, but I continued. "Her car slammed into a tree, and she died instantly upon impact…at least I hope she did. I can't bear to think if she suffered." I leaned over and looked at the picture, and I noticed that Gilda was crying too. Remembering the happy memories I'd had with her, I smiled at the picture. "I'll always love her, Gilda. Even coming to a different world and falling in love again hasn't changed that…but that's the great thing about love. You see, when you fall in love, your heart grows to make room for that person. Just because you still love someone doesn't mean you can't love someone else." I then placed a hoof softly on Gilda's shoulder and motioned to the picture. "You keep that. Keep it as a reminder of what I told you."

She sniffled a bit before leaning against me. "I'm glad, prince…" She breathed a sigh of relief and smiled, still looking at the picture as another tear dropped out of her eye. "I'm glad it's you and not somepony else. I know you'll always take good care of her."

"Always, Gilda. Forever and ever until my dying breath, if and when that should come." I responded. I then looked outside, noting that the moon was high in the sky, which meant it was at least midnight, if not later. I stood up and motioned towards the door. "Come on, we should get going before someone finds that we're still here. Visiting hours ended a long time ago."

Gilda nodded and stepped over to the door with me, but paused. She then turned around and approached her friend's bed. Placing her claws on it, she pulled herself up to stand on her hind legs, looking down at the sleeping pony beneath her. She then leaned down hugged her tightly, burying her face into the cyan alicorn’s chest. I just watched as she did this, knowing that it was not my place to interfere, husband or not. Gilda had lost a love…to me no less. Though it was Dashie's choice, Gilda deserved her own form of closure…and I'd like to think that what I said helped her.

After a few minutes, Gilda pulled away from her best friend and smiled, whispering a simple "I love you".

With her final word of closure said, she left with me into the night, not noticing a small smile now gracing the lips of her lost love.

After escorting Gilda home for the night, I was on my way back to the library for some much-needed rest. Today had been intense, to say the least, and my mind and body were both fried. And while that beating from Dash had been healed with magic, the soreness was still there. With all that being the case, I was looking forward to sleep. It would just be Twilight Vinyl and myself tonight, as everypony else was busy with different things. I was fine with this, as so long as I had at least one bedmate, I was a happy camper…or sleeper, or something.
When I arrived at the library, I just teleported to the top floor, enjoying the fresh air that flowed throughout the observation deck. The shield was already open, and when I looked around I saw why.

"Vi, Twi. Good to see the two of you got started without me." I said with a smirk.

The two giggling and slightly inebriated mares put down their glasses and smiled. Vinyl attacked me with a tackle-hug and giggled. "Frost! Ah, it's great to see you. Feels like forever since I've been able to be with you."

I hugged the unicorn tightly and smiled. "I missed you too, Vinyl." I then released her and stood up, leaning down briefly to kiss the cheek of the violet unicorn. "Good evening, Twilight. Miss me?"

She giggled and nodded. "Always, Frost. How was Rainbow?"

I shrugged. "Napping."

She giggled madly and hopped up, walking over to the bed. "Come on, Frost. We were waiting for you."

I raised an eyebrow as I followed the blushing violet mare. "And why is that?"

I was answered with a tackle from behind, causing me to fall down onto the bed. As soon as I rolled over onto my side, I was ambushed with hugs from the both of them, which I gladly returned.

Vinyl released me and grinned. "I have to make sure to make every time I spend with you worth it, because I don't know when I'll get another chance. My career's picking up, and with this pain-in-the-flank war coming on, you're going to be training." She then snuggled herself right against my chest and smiled. "Besides…you make the best pillow, and I haven't slept in two days." I looked at her confused and she just rolled her eyes. "Tavi. Don't ask."

I shrugged and turned to Twilight, who was right near my head. She didn't say anything, but just kissed my cheek as she lay down, to which I followed suit. I then focused to close the shield to close out the cold night air before shutting down the lights. Sleep was coming quickly for me, but for some reason I could have sworn I heard Rainbow Dash's voice whisper an "I love you."

Not wanting to disappoint if it was indeed her, I returned the favor with Spellspeech…and settled into my comfortable bed of two mares.

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