• 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 6: A Shattered Mind and Innocence Lost

Chapter 6: A Shattered Mind and Innocence Lost

The last week had been hard to say the least…for all of us, but because of me.

Being utterly alone for over a month – even though it was my own choice – had changed me. I was now terrified to be alone for some intangible reason, having panic attacks if a friend wasn't near me nearly every minute of the day. It wasn't a difficult issue to deal with at first, as I had six marefriends as well as other close friends that were more than happy to spend time with me, but this soon ended when I began to become a burden on them all. They had their own lives to attend to, and I was cutting into them all with my insecurity. Twilight had fallen behind in her studies, Rainbow Dash was slacking at work and at training, and even Pinkie Pie eventually told me she had to work to help her family at Sugarcube Corner.

Luckily the panic passed, but it instead gave way to depression. I knew they would never turn me away, but I began to feel guilty that I was keeping all my friends from living their lives normally. And so, I instead chose to limit most of my days to studying and practicing magic in the solitude of Everfree Forest – where my spell "experiments" would not endanger anyone – or training with the guard in Canterlot. My friends all noticed this change and withdrawal from them, which brings us to today…my "intervention".

We were all seated at the library that Rainbow Dash had practically dragged me to, and all my friends were gathered there as well. This in turn caused me to feel very nervous under their gaze, and I squirmed a bit as silence filled the air. Everyone was there: Applejack, Twilight, Lyra, Pinkie, Dash, Vinyl, Luna, Moonfang, Venn, my family…even Rarity, Spike, Ditzy, and Fluttershy were there. I knew I should have felt warm and cared for in their midst, but I just felt very uncomfortable. Not a word had been said yet, but I could feel their eyes upon me, and it made me even more nervous as the permeating silence enveloped me further.

Thankfully, the silence was broken by Luna clearing her throat and looking at me in earnest. "Well, I am sure you know why we have brought you here, Frost. We have all noticed you becoming increasingly distanced and reserved towards all of us…and it has everypony worried about you."

Twilight took it from there. "We're concerned, Frost. We all love and care about you a great deal…and we're worried that there's something you're hiding from all of us." She walked over and placed a hoof on my shoulder. "Frost…whatever this is that's eating away at you, you don't need to shoulder the stress of it alone. We're all here for you, so please…tell us what's wrong."

I continued to simply stare at the violet unicorn in front of me for a few moments before closing my eyes and sighing. "Well Twi, I'm afraid…I'm afraid for no reason, really. I don't know how to beat it though."

Pinkie scooted closer to me and wrapped a foreleg around my waist, nuzzling into my side. "Frostie…what are you afraid of?"

I chuckled a little half-heartedly before replying. "What I'm afraid of is easy to identify – I'm afraid of being alone. Why is something I can't identify, though."

Luna stood in front of me now, her soft cyan eyes filled with concern and love. "Frost, why if you fear being alone have you chosen to, in essence, exile yourself from us all?"

"Because dear Luna, I am allowing myself to become a burden on all of you because of my own insecurities. My will to keep myself from knowingly burdening you with my own insignificant problems far outweighs my own fear. A petty fear such as mine is unbecoming of a prince, let alone a Guardian." I finished solemnly.

My brother then stood up and growled at me, showing his razor-sharp teeth. "Dude, drop the whole martyr act, it's getting real effing old." Applejack glared at him and he shrugged. "What? I didn't curse." He then turned back to me, wearing a snarl again. "Seriously though, what's your deal? You did the same thing when that girl Ashley broke up with-"

I couldn't help but let loose a not-so-nice growl that made even the two wolves in the room shudder. I then continued with a voice that was dangerously calm and serene, like a powder keg next to a spark. "Don't you dare mention her. That topic is off limits and you damn well know it."

Perspective change – Vinyl Scratch

The growl that Frost let out was really scary, and completely unlike him. I mean I've never seen Frost actually angry before, but still. That wasn't what scared me the most though. No, what scared me the most was the amount of magic that was radiating off of him, creating a charge in the air that made the horn of every unicorn in the room spark a little, including the princess. The only way I could describe the feeling was that it felt like somepony was massaging every inch of me – inside and out – all at once. With how afraid I was, though, I made sure to hold in an almost involuntary moan from it, but Princess Luna wasn't so lucky, as she let out a small whimper and started panting lightly. The room became very warm all of the sudden and as I continued to notice the princess of the night struggling to control herself, I noticed little arcs of what looked like electricity dancing all over her coat. I looked at Twilight, Lyra, Rarity, and then myself to notice that the same was happening to all of us. Even though every pleasure receptor on my body being prodded very gently, I still kept my eyes focused on Frost, and I noticed some weird markings on his skin start to glow. With a bright flash he suddenly collapsed on the floor, the charge leaving the air and the temperature in the room returning to normal.

"Frost!" we all yelled in unison, save for the princess.

Princess Luna stood and walked over to Frost and stood silently for a moment before sighing. "I was afraid of this." She then turned and looked at all of us before continuing. "The markings that you all have no doubt seen on Frost's body are enchantments of his own creation, designed to incapacitate him should his anger begin to cloud his mind. The reason why he has done this is because of the "trigger" he found for when Death had control over him – rage. It appears even with Death being purged from his body, he still did not trust himself enough to remove the enchantments. While I do not think he would have hurt any of us, it is clear that his month in solitude has caused far more damage than I had imagined." She sighed again before continuing. "Death is not simply the avatar of his name, but he also rules fear. Fear can do drastic things to even the strongest pony, shaping him or her into somepony we wouldn't recognize…a monster even." She looked sadly at my fallen love (ugh…never thought I'd think that) and frowned. "It appears the corruption Death wrought on dear Frostrender has left wounds that will take time to heal."

What I heard shook me to my core. What if he never got better? I couldn't lie to myself…I loved Frost a lot. I didn't know how I'd react to losing that…to losing him, to himself least of all.

Perspective change - Rainbow Dash

It's always something. Just when we get Frost back, he loses his temper and basically shuts himself down without knowing. With work becoming more and more intense and Frost first being clingy, and then completely aloof, things with him and I were strained to say the least. Out of everything, one thought had started to dominate my mind in the past few months with all that's happened.

Is it worth it? Is he worth it?

I hated myself for even thinking like this, but the thought was always there. Certainly there were more stable stallions out there to be with, stallions that I wouldn't have to worry about what crazy thing was going to happen from one week to the next. I may not be the Element of Honesty, but I couldn't lie to myself. I did love Frost...but the stress from just being with him and caring about him was becoming too much. It was coming to the point where I was seriously thinking about "downgrading" our relationship to a "just friends" level, no matter how selfish it seemed. I had thought hard about it for a long time, and even tried sometimes to believe that there wasn't anything keeping me from doing that.

That was a lie though.

Frost had reunited me with Gilda, one of my oldest and best friends in my entire life. It was a selfless act on his part. He had nothing to gain from me or Gilda, simply stating to me that he did it only because he knew it would make me happy. I remember looking into his eyes that day trying to find the smallest hint of a hidden agenda...anything that would say he had something he wanted to get out of this. Instead, I saw only love and concern for my own well being.

That was part of the reason I hated myself for thinking these things about him. I mean, he was just so great, and a part of me knew without a doubt that there would never be another stallion like him again, no matter how long I lived. Maybe that's the reason why when he put himself in harm's way or was hurt, my heart would break a little.

It bothered me that I had fallen completely head-over-hooves in love with this guy in under a year. I never fell that hard for anypony before, and the fact that it happened had me wondering if he was using a spell on me. We once got in an argument about it and he surprised me by grabbing his horn with his hooves, preparing to break it off just to prove a point. Yeah, just to prove a point, no other reason. Luckily I stopped him, but the sincerity in his eyes told me everything. He was ready to do anything to prove to me that I meant more to him than his magic - the thing that made him so special in this world. It was remembering things of that sort that kept the dilemma going. I knew for a fact after some soul-searching that I wasn't going to be happy with anypony else, but at the same time I hated worrying about him all the time. It was different for Twi and the princesses, because worrying was what they did. Luna and Celestia were rulers, and Twi was just your average worrywart. Maybe that's why they had such an easier time than me, but I never worried about anything. The reason being was because I knew that no matter what happened, I would either come out of it with flying colors or I'd die. Either way, it'd be awesome and I would be remembered for it. It wasn't the same with Frost. Most times, there wasn't anything I could do to help.

I hated feeling helpless.

Once I was honest with myself, that's what really bothered me about this constant trouble with Frost. It wasn't so much that he was constantly under attack by something or other, it was the fact that I haven't been able to do anything about it. Was it really fair for me to want to leave simply because of a problem I had with myself? More truth...no, it wasn't. It wouldn't be fair to him, and in all honesty not to me either.

Even with therapy to help me get over the murder of my parents and...some other things, I was still not good with showing or wanting to feel emotions. I was not as bad as I once was, at least with certain ponies, but as a whole I hated feeling. Emotions could cloud your mind and make you lose focus, make you sloppy...make you weak.

But, at the same time...they could give me a strength I never knew I had.

The drive to do anything that needed doing if the situation called for it. There was no doubt in my mind that like Frost, I would be ready to put my own life on the line to protect him, or anypony else I cared about.

Even with this torrent of different feelings, I knew one thing above all else once I really thought about it with a clear, calm head (which was a rare thing):

He was worth it.

Perspective change - Princess Celestia

I sighed as I sat next to the sleeping form of Frost, focusing to try and decipher from his thoughts what has changed. As our minds connected, I picked up a few of his mannerisms and phrases from Earth, and the best way I could explain how it was trying to sift through his mind was dismantling a hydrogen bomb while skydiving with an angry monkey on your back and a self-righteous bureaucrat screaming in your ear.

I had time to study humans before bringing Frost to our world, but I never understood until this moment exactly how infinitely complex and vast the human mind was. However, I was unsure of whether it was all humans that were like this or simply him, but nonetheless I was intrigued greatly.

What I found was nothing like I expected at all.

Beneath the calm and often playful exterior of Frost was a battlefield within his own psyche, where the very best and the very worst parts of him were vying for control. I realized at that moment that this is what Death must have changed before we purged him from Frost. Where once these negative and dangerous emotions could be suppressed and controlled, they were now completely out of control, as they would be with myself or Luna. The damage was extensive, but with time and some luck I could repair it.

I only hoped my tampering would not cause further damage. 'Father, watch over me...'

As I began to touch his mind again, I was forced to link mine with his...in essence becoming one being in a way. The repair of his damaged mind was like a minefield. Every time I would come upon a painful memory or experience, I felt it...as if I was the pony it happened to. As I went further and further into his mind, I began to get an even better sense of who he was, and even though most of it was painful, I felt infinitely closer with him because of it. Frost had never hidden anything from us, so most of these experiences I already knew of, but it was an entirely different feeling to actually feel what he felt, and see what he saw.

As I repaired the last of the damage I had found, I left his mind and opened my eyes. It must have been hours later, as my sun was already heading towards the western horizon, and in a few hours it would need to be lowered. I was, however, very thankful that none of the guards or even Luna was present at the moment. Feeling all of those emotions and memories of Frost's firsthoof had left a lasting impression on me, and for the longest time all I could do was cry.

Fate, it seems, decided to introduce Luna at the moment my sobs were at their most intense.

The door opened slightly and then closed quickly, the sound of hooves hurrying towards me. Before I could look up, I was wrapped in the warm and strong embrace of my younger sister. It irked me to no end that the younger was having to comfort the elder, but at the moment I pushed the thoughts aside and simply lay my head against her chest, listening to the soothing and strong beating of her heart. As much as I hated to admit it, the very act of surrendering myself to being taken care of felt very good. It was a pleasure I rarely allowed myself to indulge in, mostly because of personal pride and the lack of somepony who would not judge their ruler in her time of weakness. Family and friends were different, it seems. They understood that while a deity of sorts, I still became stressed, became sad, and became angry. I would tire, I would worry, and I would sometimes utterly break under the pressure. My sister, however, would never judge, and even after my moments of weakness she would still admire me as an awestruck filly for my strength and conviction. Even though the both of us were some of the oldest living beings on Terra, things were exactly the same for us, even after all these years. I knew that no matter what, Luna "had my back", as Frost put it.

The very thought on its own could put a smile on my face on my worst days.

It still amazed me that even after having banished her to the moon for a thousand years, Luna forgave me without hesitation. When I once asked her why she was so quick to forgive, she simply stated, "It is in the past. What is done is done and neither of us are able to change it. The fact remains unchanged that you are Our sister, and We love you more than the moon and stars. Nothing will ever change that."

'Father...you would be so proud of her.'

Perspective change - Applejack

It was another hard-working day on the farm, but with Dark helping me on his off days - like today - the whole thing went a lot faster and was more fun. Even during work, he would crack jokes and have me laughing the whole time. Normally after work, I would want nothing more than to just take a shower, eat supper, and then head off to bed, but somehow having Dark around didn't leave me with the same exhausted feeling, and I knew it wasn't just because he was doing the heavy lifting for me.

He was a little rough around the edges when I first met him, and it was pretty clear to me that he knew how to talk to a mare, which meant he had a lot of practice. Still, something about him changed after his brother died. Dark became a lot more gentle, kind, and loving than I ever thought possible. I guess that's when I really noticed that I loved him as more than just a passing fancy. Unlike Frost though, Dark was perfectly happy with just me as his only marefriend. When I asked him why, he - being the sweet-talker that he is - told me that I was worth twenty of any other mare around Ponyville...even the princesses. I knew it was a lie, but I could see in his eyes that he believed it with all of his heart, and that made me fall for him even harder. I remember RD used to make fun of me for how attached I was to the black dragon, but she coincidentally shut up once I started talking about Frost.


Still, I loved having Dark around. I'd never had a colt in my life before, because I'd always focused on the farm. However, after Granny Smith passed on, Dark had taken the spot that Frost would usually fill, making sure I was okay and that I didn't feel too alone.

But then that's what confused me.

Recently while getting to know Frost even better, I began to wonder what it was like to be with him...to be loved by him in that way, the way that my rainbow-maned friend was. I knew in my heart that I would never be unfaithful to Dark, but I still wondered. Even so, with me being the Element of Honesty I had guilt in my heart just from the wondering. Somehow it felt like cheating, and it bothered me. Of course with my honesty, I was a lousy liar and an even worse pony for hiding when something bothered me. Needless to say, Dark noticed right away and reluctantly, I told him everything and feared the worst. However, instead of yelling or complete silence, he simply wrapped me in a warm hug and kissed me like he always did.

"AJ, I don't care about any of that. You think my mind doesn't wander? It does...a lot. But what counts is that no matter where my mind goes, it always finds its way back to you." he had said.

It was corny, but I could tell he meant it. It was all I needed to hear to put my mind at ease. He still loved me...and that's all that mattered between us. Lately though, I was worrying about Frost a lot. He'd been through a whole lot, and in all honesty I didn't know how much more he could take before he just...broke. That and the fact nopony knew what happened to that Death guy, which scared me. Even with my recent thoughts about him, Frost was more like what Dark called "the gay friend" to me (which didn't really make sense to me since he was clearly not, but I guess it meant something different on Earth). I cared about him a lot, which is why I worried so much...but I was with Dark, so it stopped at "close friend". Still, my mind wouldn't let me stop worrying about the alicorn prince.

Something told me he wasn't as strong as he pretended to be.

Perspective change - Frostbreaker

"Ugh...why does my head always hurt?" I said, sick of waking up with headaches recently. My thoughts to anything else were immediately drowned out by the sound of crying close by, as well as a soft voice I recognized reciting "it's okay" over and over again.


I opened my eyes and looked around the room, noticing I was in my room in Canterlot. Venn was sitting in the corner reading a book, merely nodding to me before going back to reading...but I then noticed Luna holding Celestia in a loving embrace as the older sister sobbed against the dark blue coat of her younger sister. Neither of them noticed me walking over to them, so I simply spread my massive wings and draped them over the two in a light hug. Celestia immediately shot up in surprise, nearly gouging me with her horn, but settled down when she saw it was me.

She was silent for a long time before she spoke with tears in her eyes. "I know everything, Frost. I'm so sorry..."

I cocked my head in confusion. "I don't follow, what do you mean you know everything?"

"Your mind was damaged by Death, which is why you reacted as you did. I had to repair all the damage, but in doing so I felt everything and experienced everything you ever have. Everything..." the alabaster alicorn explained softly.

I now completely understood why she was in the state she was. I never wanted her to know any of what happened back on Earth...it wouldn't be right. But instead she lived it, which was ten times worse. Not only that but instead of it being spread out over twenty-five years, she experienced it all at once. I could only imagine how she was going to cope.

She must have sensed what I was thinking because she kissed me softly, smiling when she pulled back. "Frost, I am not some delicate flower who is going to break. I will admit, it is very surprising and in all honesty I still do not understand how you lived through it sometimes...but I will be fine with time." She then kissed me on my nose with a concerned look. "Just please promise me that you will not hold so much pain inside of you...it isn't healthy."

I chuckled. "Yeah...says you and every shrink I've ever spoken to. I'll be okay, love...I promise."

She seemed a little discontented, but nodded. "I can't make you do anything you don't want to do, Frost. Just please promise me that you will talk to us if you need to, then."

I kissed her back on the nose affectionately, and she blushed. "I will. I promise, Celly."

"Hey, I am here too!" said Luna with a pout.

I surprised the midnight-blue alicorn with a strong kiss and a brush of the tongue, making her shiver. "Better?"

She nodded and giggled. "Much."

Celestia was exhausted from the work she had to do to fix me, so she simply lay on my bed and instantly fell asleep after lowering the sun. Luna raised the moon and stood with me as I gazed at the late summer sky.

She nuzzled my neck affectionately with a concerned whimper. "What troubles you, dear Frost?"

"It's just," I started, my voice catching for a moment, "I feel like this is all too much…for any of you. I mean things were calm before I came here…but now all of you have experienced my breakdown, my death, and now my fury. I just feel like it's not fair to you all…like I'm holding you back or putting you all under unnecessary stress." I explained sadly.

She interrupted me from continuing with a kiss on my neck, making me shiver. "Frost, do not blame yourself for any of this. It was not your doing, nor did you ask for it. I know better than anypony that things happen that we simply cannot control. Whether it involves you or not, it is not your fault." She then stretched a wing over my back, warming me. "Do not blame yourself…I do not, and neither do any of the others."

Her care warmed my heart, but I still felt guilty. "I know you don't, Lulu. Still…I just feel like me being here has become more of a burden than a pleasure lately."

She sighed in annoyance and used a hoof to pull my face to look at her. "Do you know what was thinking the whole time you were back on Earth?" I shook my head. "I was thinking about how much I missed you. I knew without a doubt that you were coming back to us, and so I did not worry about that...but it hurt to be away from you, Frost." She took a deep breath before continuing. "Whatever happens, I will not leave your side…ever. When I told you I would always be here for you, I meant it. I do not intend to take back that vow." She sighed and closed her eyes for a moment before gazing at me again with those beautiful blue eyes of hers. "I cannot say how the rest of them will feel or what they will do, but I will always be here. You will never be alone, and no amount of little problems like this will change my mind."

In truth I still felt guilty about the whole thing, but knowing that this beautiful mare beside me loved me this much was very comforting. Maybe it was because she had never loved before or maybe it was because I just really was that great. Call me negative, but I believed the former. Still, I enjoyed knowing that someone cared about me that much, and it gave me hope for the future again.

The night was beautiful under Luna's crescent moon, but the stress of the day was taking its toll, and I was finding it harder and harder to keep my eyes open. Luna noticed this and nudged me towards the bed, giggling softly the whole way. As soon as I lay down, two radiant white hooves wrapped around me, holding me in a tight embrace while the lovely sun princess buried her muzzle into my neck while mumbling my name.

'If this were any sweeter, I'd have diabetes.'

Luna then proceeded to kiss me on my cheek softly and stroked it with her wingtip, tickling me. "I am going to night court, and so I cannot join you Frost. However, I will return before you wake." I nodded and she left without another word.

No matter how much I fought it, sleep soon began to take over, but thankfully for the first time in a week, I fell asleep at peace.

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