• Published 9th Mar 2014
  • 1,370 Views, 135 Comments

Valley Of Rainbows: Seeking Solutions - Sparx

Rainbow Dash must seek out the lost Elements of harmony to aid in the potential threat of coming war, with the aid of some strange allies

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Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds

Back in Minolympus, Rainbow Dash and company had made their return. Applejack, Rover, and Fido had all split off into one group to carry the weapons and loot they had found and find a buyer; they planned to get some medical attention for the two dogs as well. Lyra and Spot were being led by Rainbow herself to ask a few questions around the city.

Rover kept a cheerful appearance despite all of the cuts and injuries he had taken from his showdown with the hobgoblin. Bits of his fur were burnt and splotched with blood, but he kept his smile and laughter seen to all. “Never was I more frightened in my life! I saw him go off like a volcano and charge me down. If not for Miss Applejack, I would be dead,” he told his story to Fido as he chuckled.

Fido laughed along with him. “We fought hard, that’s for sure. A trophy to each of us for memory’s sake,” he said as he patted at Rover’s back, holding out the bone he had torn from the bugbear’s face. He had used one of the daggers they pulled off of the goblins to scrape away the skin and tissue, leaving behind the needle shaped teeth and mandible. “I think I will get it on a chain, wear a piece of the creature I once feared, and maybe bring that fear into anything I fight later!”

“Anything with any sense will at least think twice before messin’ with you,” agreed Applejack. “Mighty impressive that you managed yer way ‘round a monster like that ‘un, you’d get some right deserved respect among the slayers.”

“Slayers?” Rover questioned.

“Right. A group o’ pest exterminators like mahself. They pay some pretty coin if’n you can manage ta bring down some of the more frightening varmints on their board,” Applejack explained.

The dogs looked to one another with interest at the mention of the group. “Do they accept dogs?” Rover inquired.

“Ah reckon they wouldn’t mind havin’ paws as capable as yers,” Applejack replied. “Thinkin’ about joinin’? Ah’d be willin’ ta put in a good word for you two.”

“We may take you up on that, Miss Applejack,” Rover answered.

They entered a weapons shop, behind the counter stood a large minotaur heifer yelling out orders to a group of goats that came in and out of various doors. When she took note of Applejack and the dogs, she let out a final order to them to make themselves scarce. With various bleats crying out, they obeyed and ran through the doors behind her.

“Welcome, travelers,” she spoke with a deep, pacifying voice, very different from her shouting tone. Her coat was a grayish blue hue, and her horns looked longer and sharper than most of the males they had seen in town. “How might Artemis help you fine folk?”

“Howdy there, Artemis,” Applejack started. “We just dropped on in to see if’n you were interested in takin’ a load off our backs. Ain’t lookin’ to fetch too much fer these, jus’ some travelin’ fare.”

Fido and Rover lifted the sacks of blades and clubs onto the counter with a heavy clunk. Artemis opened one and took a peek inside. “Well then, I think I can do something for you in that case.” She dropped the bags to either side of her and stamped twice on the marble floor. Two goats entered and began to rummage through the assortment of weapons.

“Craftsmanship seems rather shoddy, but you seem aware of that. I can sell ‘em cheap, but I hope you don’t hold it against me for trying to turn a profit. I can’t pay too much to do that,” Artemis explained.

“So long as yer bein’ upfront about it an’ treat us fair, ah won’t cause no fuss fer you,” Applejack offered. “Ah’m a business type mahself. Let’s not cause too much trouble fer one another.”

Artemis grinned. “Glad to see some reason. Honesty is a rare trait among most of the merchants I’ve seen from outside of Minos.” Applejack couldn’t help but giggle to herself at that. Artemis listened as the goats began to mutter back up to her. She nodded and looked back to Applejack and the dogs. “Well, with the amount of goblin weaponry we got here, I’ll offer you… well, first, how would you like your payment?”

“Either bits or gems will do me fine,” Applejack answered.

“More familiar with the gem value, so let’s go with that.” Artemis snapped her fingers and one of the goats left and returned with a satchel of gems. Artemis poured the stones onto the table and began selecting through them. She picked out a number of smaller ones and stashed the rest of them back into her pouch. “These twenty seem a fair amount to me, don’t you think?”

Applejack scanned over her offer as the dogs stared hungrily at the jewels. “Mighty fine offer ya got there, Artemis. If you’d be so kind to add to the deal, information as to where we can get these two cleaned up, you got yerself a deal.”

Artemis smiled and clacked her hoof on the floor once more, sending the goats away with the sacks of weapons. “Of course. Looks like you fellas went for a bit of the old rough and tumble then. I guess that’d explain the weapons,” she started. “If you wanna get yourselves patched up, then Shepard is who you wanna find. Kid has nimble fingers, fresh herbs, and knowledge of medical magic. You won’t find a better fixer in all of Minos.”

“Sounds like the guy we’re lookin’ fer. Where might we find ‘im?” Applejack asked.

Artemis brought her head to the side and yelled in that gruff, loud tone she had been when directing the goats. “Shepard! You got patients!”

They heard a clatter from behind Artemis rising. A mess of blond shag fell out of one of the doors before picking himself up off of the floor. “Alright, mother, sorry for the entrance. I tripped over Uncle Isaac again.” Shepard was a lithe and tall satyr, nearly the same height as Artemis. The fur that hung from his body was colored like gold with a bright luster, and two short goat horns stuck out from the front of his skull.

“It’s no worry boy; I trip over your father’s family all the time. Why do you think I keep them out of the showroom?” She looked back to Applejack’s group. “Let the dogs follow my boy here and he’ll patch ‘em up and leave ‘em feeling better than ever before.”

Fido and Rover were a bit reluctant to be left alone with a satyr again and gave a pleading look to Applejack. “Right, do ya mind if’n ah head on back with ya, Shepard?”

The satyr gave a pleased smile and bowed. “I would be enchanted to have a pony as lovely as you observe my work.”

Applejack gave a chuckle at the flattery. “That’s mighty kind of ya to say. Alright you two, head on in.” She nudged Rover and Fido along behind Shepard as he made his way through a red curtain.

Artemis took up the rear as they entered another marble room with various medical tools and medicines. There were a number of tables set for seating patients, Shepard motioned Fido and Rover to the two closest.

“Ah ah ah! Please leave your weapons away from the equipment,” Shepard interjected.

Fido and Rover grimaced, but complied, removing their weapons and leaving them at the door with Applejack. Artemis seemed to take great interest in Rover’s sword, eyeing it intensely.

“Dearest Mother, if you would be so kind as to aid me,” Shepard spoke as the dogs took their seat, calling Artemis over.

“Of course.” Artemis took note to bring her attention back to the sword when they were done.

Together, Shepard and Artemis cleaned up the dogs’ bloodied fur, washing away at it with clean water. They took disinfectant to their cuts and bandaged up the smaller ones. For the larger cuts, Artemis had to hold them down as Shepard worked a needle and thread to stitch them up. Applejack almost chuckled at how much the dogs tried to struggle, but under the palms of this mighty minotaur woman, they could barely move.

Rainbow, Lyra, and Spot were on the other side of the city, close to Pan’s Pipe. They had been asking about for information on Reject’s Garden, though it seemed that no one had any interest in giving information on the location, and those who did could only tell the legends that the group had already heard.

“This is frustrating. Why do they not speak to us?” Spot fumed from atop Lyra’s back.

“It isn’t uncommon for folk to feel that even talking about forsaken places is bad luck,” Lyra explained. “I highly doubt that they would have any new information for us anyways. Nobody would have spent too much time near the place to learn much except for scholars, and Minos doesn’t exactly provide too many of the scholarly type.”

Rainbow Dash spoke up. “Maybe there’s something at the library we can learn.”

Lyra shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt to check.”

“Not physically, but if you don’t like wasting time, I wouldn’t recommend it,” a voice said from behind them. It was the unicorn from the night before, accompanied by the dragon, griffon, and changeling. “Didn’t mean to intrude, the name is Pulse, at least, that’s what these ones call me.” He indicated to his companions. “You’ve been looking for information on Reject’s Garden?”

“Perhaps…” Rainbow looked to the group with suspicion. “Why do you ask?”

Pulse shrugged as Lyra had. “Call it curiosity. I see some fellow travelers, and I want to help them out.” Dash wasn’t buying into it, but she let him keep talking. “We’ve been in there ourselves.” His tone was grim. “It isn’t a place you want to be going; I’ll preface it with that much.”

“Well not going isn’t really an option for us right now,” replied Rainbow Dash. “We need to find something in there.”

Pulse looked disapprovingly to Rainbow, a look that wasn’t foreign to her when dealing with ponies his age. With a sigh he continued. “Fine, we’ll tell you what we know then.” He waved his hoof to draw the changeling forward. “Quist, if you would be so kind, might you take the form of the most common denizen of the Reject’s Garden?”

The changeling didn’t look pleased at the order, but with a sigh he stepped between the two groups and brought himself upon his back legs. From the bottom up, he changed his form. Hooves gave way to gnarled, green feet that rolled up the body and changed the into a hideous, sickly looking creature with claws and a crooked nose.

“The forest trolls are as common as insects within the garden, horrid regenerators that pursue tirelessly, even growing new heads and bodies when severed,” Pulse spoke as if he were giving a class. “If it weren’t for Cole here, we’d never have seen an end to them.” The dragon behind the group let out a proud roar.

“Right, trolls are destroyed only by fire and acid,” thought Lyra aloud.

Rainbow remembered her previous encounter with a troll, back when Twilight and the gang went after Chrysalis during the passing of the Secretariat Comet. She gave a shiver at the memory.

“Correct!” Pulse returned. “If you plan to go into the swamp without a dragon capable of spewing either, you’re going to want to stock up on things to burn. Also, beware of the water, there are things dwelling there as well. Pulse gave Quist a tap and he returned to his original form, panting hard at the effort to take on a shape so different from his own.

“That isn’t all that dwells within though,” Pulse continued. “Varieties of insect and arachnid, I’m sure you’ve heard of the worms under the mud as well.” Rainbow and Lyra gave a quick look to Spot and returned their attention to Pulse. “They are the primary source of the venoms within the forest. There are creatures that will spread the toxin into the air to take out their prey, but otherwise you’re free to breathe, unlike the stories tell. I’d still suggest some form of protection, and plenty of antitoxin, unless you wish to fall ill and die.”

He looked to Rainbow Dash. “Of course you look like you have wings as strong as Gale over here. If you’re quick enough you could force the airborne poisons away from your friends,” Pulse finished. The griffon looked almost insulted and gave a glare towards Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow only grinned back and fluttered her wings in a taunt.

“Ah, and one more thing,” said Pulse. “There are no living dragons within the ‘Dragon Bone Bog’. No living dragons…” He took a moment to let them weigh his words and let the implication sink in. “That’s what I offer you, as a fellow traveler. I still advise against seeking anything within there, but adventure is about freedom, and you will do what you wish.” He turned and walked off with his allies joining him along the way.

“Well that was a lucky break,” Lyra chuckled.

“He didn’t even charge us!” added Spot.

Rainbow Dash stood silent, reflecting on the words they were left with. “I guess we’d better start looking for supplies then.”

Lyra could see the concern in Rainbow’s eyes. She agreed. “That’d be a good idea. Come on, I know where to go.”

“Right, now get yourselves some rest,” Shepard said as he clapped his hands together. “You weren’t hurt too terribly, but working too hard will open the cuts again.”

Rover and Fido stretched themselves out, popping their knuckles and necks.

“About how long should they take it easy?” Applejack asked. “We got travelin’ ta do an’ we may be needin’ their help.”

Shepard scratched at his chin in thought. “Well. I’d say give ‘em a week, but if you take this, apply it every day, you should be good to work in two days.” He grabbed a jar of some blue colored paste off of a shelf. “But you’ll need to keep applying it for the entire week or else the wounds will open again, maybe a bit longer if you’re feeling irritated.”

Rover took hold of the jar and nodded in thanks. “How much for your help?” he asked.

Artemis was the one to answer. “Shepard isn’t recognized as an actual doctor around here. He makes his living by helping his father smith weapons in the back. It wouldn’t be right to charge you for this.”

Shepard nodded in agreement. “I don’t need pay to make folk feel better anyway.” His gaze returned to Applejack. “Especially when I’m paid with such radiant beauty.”

Applejack only gave a smile in appreciation.

As Rover and Fido claimed their weapons, Artemis stopped them. “Could I get a look at that sword?” she asked, pointing to Fido’s new blade.

Fido handed it to her. Artemis seemed to hold the weapon as if it were made of thin glass. “Incredible. What color are the flames when you hold it?”

Rover took a second to think. “Last I remember… green? How did you—”

“The runes,” Artemis interrupted, “they say it all.” She scanned the magical carvings. “Flaming, invulnerable, defending…” She pointed to each rune as she named them. “And this one here is to alter the color. Mostly an aesthetic choice it seems, but it looks like it holds some sense about it. Look, watch.”

Artemis held tight to the blade’s hilt and carried it like she was ready to attack. Azure flames began to lick the edge of the blade. “Shepard, grab a hold of the weapon,” she ordered, earning a dumbfounded look from most everyone in the room.

Shepard merely shrugged and touched his fingers against the steel, forcing Applejack to cry out “No!” Shepard felt no pain however, and ran his fingers along its length.

“The blade reacts to who is seen as friend and foe by its wielder, burning anything its wielder sees as an obstacle. Allies, however, are able to come near the flame without feeling the heat.” Artemis pulled the blade back to an idle position, quenching the flames and returning the sword to Rover. “The color will vary by personality and skill. Blue, like it showed with myself, shows a defensive, yet powerful fighter,” she spoke the words with pride. “Green, as you say it shows for you, I believe means someone well balanced; quick, yet strong and cunning. If that’s what the weapon says, then I would think you hold great potential with this weapon, and it seems only appropriate that you should now wield it.”

Rover smiled and looked on his steel with admiration. A question popped into his mind. “What if the fires were the color of blood?”

Artemis’ eyes narrowed with concern. “Often a dark red signifies a creature with terrifying ambition that sees even themselves as an obstacle to overcome. They are very skilled, but house reckless rage. Why do you ask?”

Rover brought the sword onto his back once again. “The creature I retrieved the blade from carried it with crimson flames. When brought to his limit, the flames consumed him.”

With a nod, Artemis gave her understanding. “It’s fortunate that you’ve gotten ahold of it then.”

“Not ta seem rude or nothin’, but we gotta get goin’ if we’re plannin’ on meetin’ with Rainbow,” Applejack spoke up.

“Oh, no trouble at all, we’re sorry for holding you three up,” Artemis insisted in her relaxing tone. "And, Rover, was it?" The dog looked back in curiosity. "Give that sword a good name will ya?"

The companions gave their thanks once again and made their way out the door.

Applejack, Rover, and Fido found themselves in the center of the city where they had agreed to meet with Rainbow Dash’s group. It was only a few minutes before they saw them coming, carrying bags stuffed with round bobbles, flasks, bottles, rags, and stones.

“Whoa there partner, what exactly are y’all planning ta do with all o’ that?” Applejack questioned.

Rainbow grunted as she shook her saddlebags into a more comfortable position. “Trolls hate fire, forest is full of trolls, we bought flammables,” she explained. “Somepony came by and told us that we needed to stock up on fire and antitoxin if we’re planning to get through Reject’s Garden alive.”

The way Rainbow had phrased her sentence caused Rover and Fido to tremble.

“Makin’ some sense there,” Applejack replied. “Buy any medicines? There’s sickness in swamps like that ‘un.”

Lyra plucked some bottles out of one of their bags. “Plenty,” she said. “I got something for everything most common in these parts, as well as a few that are exclusive to the quagmires. If we so much as cough, I have something to make it better.”

“Plus these herbs we were given by Shepard,” Rover added.

“Seems we’re well supplied then,” spoke Rainbow Dash. “Let’s head on south to Reject’s Garden then!”

“Not so fast, Sugarcube,” Applejack started. “Ah came on up this way from that direction. If’n goin’ back is yer plan, ah’d suggest we be findin’ another way down. Large mountain range stands between us ‘n the garden. Took me a whole week of crossin’ ta get through, there’s lots o’ turnin’ an’ walkin’ around obstacles, critters an’ varmints with teeth an’ claws ya gotta avoid too. If’n we’re gonna be goin’ through the swamp, ah don’t think tacklin’ the mountains will help us.”

Rainbow Dash took a moment to think on this. “Well, then we’ll just go around,” she said.

“That’d take us even longer,” Applejack retorted.

“Not by ship,” Lyra countered. “We have a friend waiting for us in Minotown with a boat. She’d be glad to take us around. We’re the reason she still has a boat after all.”

This answer didn’t seem to please Applejack either, her face sinking and making her look ill. “Yeah, ah guess that’d work. Definitely cut the time down.”

Lyra pulled out a map she had acquired. “With the mountains the way they are, we should actually be able to sail south of them in under a day. They’re taller than they are long,” she pointed out, bringing the party’s attention to the map.

“Great!” Rainbow Dash beamed. “Let’s go get Griz and set sail then. We’ll get Fluttershy back in no time!”

It had taken the companions a day to return to the ship, resting at the ever welcoming Power Mettle’s hut. After he fed them and spent his time welcoming Applejack back, Rainbow felt kind of bad having to leave so soon.

“I promise that we’ll come back someday, and we’ll actually stick around and talk,” Rainbow insisted.

“It’s no trouble, I’m happy to have helped you all in your journey. But I’ll hold you to that promise,” Power said with a wink.

“You got it, Mettle; best of luck to ya.” Applejack waved a hoof as the band of friends made their way down the beach.

“And to you, my friends!” Power Mettle waved back. “Your tale will not be forgotten in Minos!”

Rainbow Dash led the way to the shore, though they could all see the Gilded Rain as it rested on the waves. As they approached, they could see Grizelda overlooking the beach from up on the ship. It appeared she wasn’t wearing her hood.

“Yo, Griz! We’re back!” Rainbow called out as she flew up.

Grizelda took on a look of panic and rushed to get her hood over her face. “G-good to see you guys. I wasn’t expecting you back so soon. Find your friend?”

“Yeah we did.” Rainbow landed next to the griffon, noticing as a purple feather dropped from under her hood. Rainbow took notice of it, thinking it looked familiar. “We got a new destination to head off to.”

“And I’ve got a new crew and repairs to get you there,” Grizelda returned. “Get your guys on board; we’ll ship out when you’re ready.” The captain turned and made her way back to her room.

Rainbow looked down at the feather that had dropped, picking it up with her wing and observing it closely. She glanced back to Grizelda as she vanished behind the door to her quarters, suspicions running across her mind.

Applejack, Lyra, and the dogs made their way on board, welcomed by the crew. Lyra and the dogs spoke with their fellow survivors, earning praise from the sailors both new and old.

Applejack looked nervously at the water below, something stirring within her. “Woah… hope this goes by quick. Ah’m already missin’ the dirt under mah hooves.”

As Grizelda had said, once Rainbow was sure they were ready to go, the Gilded Rain made course to the south. They kept the shore in sight as they watched Minotown pass them by.

About an hour from the start of their voyage, Applejack was seen running for the edge of the ship, witnesses said she was looking a lot more green than orange. Rainbow Dash could verify these claims as she walked by her friend, hearing the sound of Applejack’s lunch meeting the water. She felt bad for laughing, but couldn’t help it.

Along her path, Dash also saw Lyra watching the water pass by while she wrote into her journal. It was a common sight to see in their periods of rest, a chronicler must chronicle after all. The passion in her amber eyes as she wrote, though, was always a fascinating sight for Rainbow Dash. She could almost see the return to their travels reflecting like a mirror in the unicorn’s gaze. It was fascinating to witness her smile fade away into a scowl as her quill recorded the shifting events into the pages.

Rainbow returned to her path and brought herself to the door of the captain’s quarters. She heard scratching of talons at the floor as someone approached from inside.

“What’re ya wanting?” Grizelda’s voice called from the other side.

Rainbow was about to answer, before she considered her goal, and altered her strategy. She cleared her throat and brought her voice low. “Wishin’ ta talk to ya cap’n,” she said in a gravelly voice, attempting to copy the speech of the sailors. “Bit of a personal matter though, don’ want the crew hearin’ none of it.”

It seemed to work as she heard Grizelda walk away from the door and call back, “Come on in then, but it better be quick.”

Rainbow smiled and opened the door. She saw Grizelda’s tail swishing in a calm demeanor as she made her way towards a large desk.

Dash looked around quickly before the griffon turned to see her, trying to absorb as much information as she could.

The Morningstar that Grizelda had used to battle the squid rested upon the desk, next to a feather in an inkpot, purple tipped, like the one Rainbow had found outside. Various decorations of griffon origin lined the walls and shelves of the wooden room. Books detailing the Gryphon Kingdoms and their pride were stacked together.

Dash couldn’t find what she was looking for until her gaze dropped to the desk once again. Near the center were two frames. She couldn’t see one, but the other was angled just perfectly for her to see another violet tipped feather, with a blue feather crossing in front of it, the same cyan hue as Rainbow’s own.

“I had my suspicions, but I had to see the proof,” Dash chuckled in her own voice. Grizelda’s head turned sharply in surprise. “So you leave in a huff, never to return, and you take to the sea? Seems like a strange hobby for you to take up.”

The griffon let out a sigh of defeat. Realizing that she’d been found, she grabbed the hem of her hood and pulled it back, revealing the face of Rainbow’s old friend, Gilda. “No point in hiding it if you’ve found out. Was kinda hoping you’d discover me anyway to tell you the truth,” Gilda’s true voice replied.

“And your reason for hiding yourself from me in the first place?” Rainbow pressed.

Gilda scoffed. “After the way I left? I was pretty sure you didn’t want to see me. When I collected myself and looked back on my actions, I realized that I acted quite the fool,” she spoke with a sigh as she hung her head and scratched the back of her neck. “I was pretty ashamed, but I guess that, since its happening, it’s not as humiliating as I thought it would be.”

“‘Course not, you’re still my friend,” Rainbow replied. “You were stupid, so what? We all act stupid every now and again. Fact is that you realized it was stupid though.” The pegasus smiled and bumped a hoof into Gilda’s shoulder.

Gilda smiled back. “Years have changed me, but you’re still the same pal you’ve always been.”

Rainbow Dash shrugged. “It’s all about being loyal. But seriously, what are you doing captaining a ship?” Her sudden shift brought a laugh from Gilda.

“When I flew off from Ponyville, I hadn’t been planning to leave so soon, so I took to sightseeing around Equestria. Found myself in Vanhoover and I heard about somepony looking around for a new crew,” Gilda began to explain. She took a seat behind her desk and paused, searching her mind on how to continue. “I figured I’d ship out on one trip and come back, get a bit of extra pay, see some sights… ‘course I was never expecting what happened.”

Dash’s face contorted with confusion as Gilda took another moment to herself. “Sorry, just trying to figure out how to word this without sounding like a fucking lunatic.” Gilda gave a nervous chuckle. “Well… Pretty much anything that could have gone to shit, short of the ship sinking, happened. We hit a storm, a magical one, brought about by a kraken, a real one, not some squid. It wasn’t trying to slaughter everyone, just fuck with us real good and claim a few kills to his name. The captain was an old fart of an earth pony and he, of course, got hit with the first bolt of lightning. Everyone else was panicking, but I figured if the guy was alive then he’d need some help. Soon as I swooped down to check on him, he was givin’ some crap about junk and stuff, next thing I knew he said I was captain.”

Dash stared hard at Gilda. “You know that thing you said? About trying to not sound like a lunatic? … You’re not doing such a good job at that.”

“Fuckin’ swear to you!” Gilda laughed. “It sounds like crazy bullshit, I know, but it really happened! The fucker was off his rocker and dying, I think he thought I was his first mate or somethin’!”

Rainbow found it difficult to believe, but saw no reason for Gilda to lie. She also knew that Gilda wasn’t exactly this creative when she lied. “Alright… and how did you guys get out of there?”

“That’s the freaky part, right? Everyone came to me since some of them had heard I was the new captain, so I was expected to find a way out of the mess we were in,” Gilda continued her story with renewed zeal. “I couldn’t take the pressure, pissed me off. Only thing I could think at the moment was that if it weren’t for the fuckin’ kraken shitting on our journey, I wouldn’t be having these stupid ponies yelling down my throat. I went motherfuckin’ berserk! Blacked right out, and next thing I remembered, I was soaked with saltwater and blood with a massive fucking eye in my beak, coughing and gagging as the rest of the crew stared at me in amazement and holding me up.”

“Okay, now you’re fucking with me,” Rainbow Dash retorted, though she doubted her own words as they came out.

Gilda only shook her head. “I dunno if it was some sort of divine intervention or shit like that, but from what the crew told me, in my panic and anger, I called the kraken out, he surfaced, and I flew right for his eye, clawing and biting. Scared the ink out of him and he went jetting off. Never gotten that angry in my life before or after and I have no idea what it was.”

Dash looked amazed as Gilda told her story.

Gilda gave a shrug as she spoke her next words. “I brought us back to shore and the crew kinda looked up to me. We’d made a lot more than I was making with my previous job, so… I kinda just stayed.”

“Kinda just stayed?” Dash mocked.

“Shut up,” Gilda retorted. “You know what I mean.” She looked back to Dash, half-expecting laughter. When it didn’t come, she smiled.

“It makes no sense, and seems very unlikely, but it’s so ridiculous I can’t simply put it aside,” Rainbow said as she shook her head. “One thing is for sure, I feel a lot better knowing you could take out a kraken.”

“I think it was a child, but still,” Gilda returned.

“That’d make a little more sense.” Rainbow let out a sigh and looked back to their framed feathers. “So you’re just not going back home?”

“Definitely not fuckin’ now,” Gilda returned. There was a painful edge in her voice. “What with Gallows acting like a damned idiot, threatening Equestria and shit.”

Dash took concern to see her old friend coming off like she was at a loss. Gilda wasn’t acting as her usual confident self, something bothered her about the words she spoke.

“You don’t want to go home,” Dash answered her own question.

“No, I do… but you’re also right, I don’t,” Gilda sighed. “I don’t hate Equestria, like I’m sure most back in the kingdoms do nowadays, but I don’t belong here either.”

“It can’t be that bad back there, can it?”

“You really don’t know how eagerly griffons will work conflict and power,” Gilda snapped, possibly a bit more angrily than intended. “Gallows has been a very hungry king since his coronation, from what I hear only having allied with Canterlot and Equestria to strengthen his own power. With what you told me last time you were on the ship, sounds like the little political rumor is true. I don’t want any part of it,” she groaned. “But I’m not gonna stay in pony lands while my own kind duke it out and see fit to put me to the blade as well. So I’ll stay on this ship when the fighting starts, keep clear of all that bullshit.”

Dash gave a nod. “You never did take well to conflict you weren’t personally involved in.”

“Fuck the politics, I’ll just throw a punch instead,” Gilda added. “If I can’t do anything about it, then I don’t want it to be considered my problem.”

“Seems like becoming a sailor would work pretty well for you then.”

Gilda shrugged again. “I hear what I want and deal with my own shit, it’s been pretty good to me so far.” Despite the lack of care in her body language, her eyes continued to reflect her melancholy.

“You know, if we successfully dissuade this war, you’d be welcome in Ponyville,” Rainbow offered and held her hoof out to her old friend.

Gilda looked to the offering. She shook her head with a sigh. “If you can manage something that big…” She clasped her talon around Dash’s hoof and shook it, “then I guess you’d bring me around at some point, why the fuck not?”

The two of them exchanged a grin as their friendship was rekindled. “Givin’ me only more initiative to finish this thing,” Dash said triumphantly.

“Know what? I’ll help you out myself! After all, I was just saying how I take care of my own problems, wouldn’t be living up to that very well if I sat back while you solved all this,” Gilda laughed with pride. “So, where’s your next destination? I’ll follow you anywhere!”

Rainbow Dash grinned with the thought of her old friend fighting at her side. “We’re heading into Reject’s Garden!” she said with renewed vigor.

Gilda’s smile dropped instantly. “Except there…”

Not long after Rainbow and her party departed from Minotown, Power Mettle looked to the sky after hearing a rumbling noise. He saw dark clouds approaching with blue electricity surging throughout them.

“A storm? Today?” It didn’t really make much sense when the sky had been so blue and bright earlier. Power squinted and brought a hand over his brow to get a better look. “Or perhaps rogue clouds?”

The folk from Minotown had all begun pouring out of their houses as they heard the thunder intensify. As the clouds flew overhead, it became near deafening in volume, and many minotaurs had to cover their ears.

Among all this though, only Power Mettle noticed the sound of something more, hiding behind all the thunder; a bellowing roar, speaking ancient words that he had never heard. It shook him, and brought fear through his veins, and looking around he saw that he was not alone in his fright. The words lasted only a moment, but they managed to force everyone around into a tremble.

“Powerful magic…that is no ordinary storm,” Power whispered to himself. As he watched, he paid attention to its direction. “Towards Minolympus, the highland. What in Tartarus is going on?”

Many children were ushered back into their homes as the waves on the shore began crashing hard, making swimming and fishing unwise as the clouds passed. Eventually Power Mettle stood alone on the sands, and he witnessed the beach itself come alive, swirling the flecks of earth into a twister, much akin to a sandstorm. Eventually he was forced to retreat back into his own hut, locking the door behind him, and seeking shelter.

Author's Note:

Hooray! Gilda's in! For those of you who guessed it was her, GOOD JOB! ...It was probably really easy.