• Published 9th Mar 2014
  • 1,368 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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The Bard's Song

The Bard’s Song

Dash and Spitfire awoke to a rap on their door. “Miss Rainbow Dash! Wakey wakey! We have been told that breakfast will be served!” Rover’s voice called through the door, followed immediately by the sound of running towards the main room.

The pegasi looked at one another and shared a quick laugh. They crawled out of the bed and Spitfire shook her head so that her mane wasn’t so wild. She let it fall in waves, the way Rainbow liked it best. Dash grabbed her saddlebags and the two of them made their way to breakfast side by side.

They saw Soarin’ seated next to Spot and Rover at the table as the smell of burning drew their attention to the kitchen. From behind the kitchen doors they could hear Warm Fires crying out in confusion and irritation. “What exactly d’you think you’re doing? Those are for making cakes and such!” They both wandered over and Rainbow pushed the door open a crack to see Fido standing over the stove with a chef’s hat tilting to one side of his head. Smoke issued forth from what they assumed was a pan. Warm Fires was standing next to him looking on, bewilderment decorating his face.

“We know po-nees don’t have meat, so we must make do with eggs! I have made them before, no need to worry,” Fido returned in a friendly tone. It was like some comedy bit that Rainbow had seen before, and she couldn’t help but give a slight snicker, Spitfire following suit.

“Well I’m not sure, but I think they’re done! You’ve practically turned them into ash!” Fires frowned, his spectacles drooping down his muzzle.

Fido turned back to the pan and gave a deep sniff, almost choking on the smoke that flew into his nose. He nodded with a big, doofy grin and grabbed three nearby plates, scooping his blackened meal into thirds. He carried two in one of his large paws and one in another as Dash opened the door wider to let him through. “Thank you, Miss Rainbow Dash,” he said with his grin only growing. “Eggs for dogs! Soarin’, you wish to try?”

“Why not?” Soarin’ gave a shrug as Fido put the plates onto the table. Spot was sitting next to him, so he offered a bite of the plateful of black, yellow, and white. Soarin’ took a nip and paused immediately. Everybody in the room stared at him, waiting for a reaction. With a hard swallow he gave a surprised smile. “Smokey!” He then asked for another bite and Spot happily obliged.

Dash and Spitfire let loose another giggle fit. “Gee, Soarin’, you sure you belong in the sky? I could swear I’m looking at four dogs here.”

“That’s because Soarin’ here is newest member of the pack!” Rover announced. “He holds fortitude and humor on the level of the greatest of diamond dogs!”

“Griffons gotta worry about a real dogfighter now!” Soarin’ added proudly.

“Wait, what?” Rainbow Dash asked, a bit befuddled. “What did you do? I have to feed them for them to treat me that way.”

“He managed to drink Fido under the table! No dog has ever been capable of such a feat!” Spot returned.

“So long as you’re house trained,” Spitfire returned. The six of them sat around eating their breakfast with a joke flying out every now and again that would get Soarin’ and the dogs into a loud guffaw.

Rainbow found herself enjoying this time and even downed a few more mugs of cider. She kept close to Spitfire and even brought a hoof gliding up her thigh a few times, pulling a slight squeak out of her every now and again as she gradually grew more pink in the face. Then again Rainbow greatly doubted that the blush was coming from embarrassment as Spitfire’s grin only grew more and more crude as she continued.

“Keep that up and I might not let you get out of here,” she said with a tone that only forced Dash’s face to heat up in turn.

With their plates cleaned, Soarin’ and Spitfire left their bits on the table as Dash gave Fires their thanks. They all made their way to the train station together, reluctant to leave one another’s company. Before the train came to pick them up, Spitfire and Rainbow Dash took to privacy as the dogs and Soarin’ began to talk excitedly about future bonding they’d enjoy when they came to meet once again.

“As new pack mate, I offer Soarin’ his choice of dog diamond.” Rover slipped his paw into one of the pockets in his vest and produced five small gems of varying colors. “Take care of your dog diamond. It shows you are an honorary dog! Wear it around your neck with pride, pack mate!” He grabbed the orange gem around his collar to give an example as Spot and Fido tugged at their jeweled collars as well. Soarin’ nodded in understanding and plucked a sapphire from Rover’s large paw. The four of them let out a howl and gave a laugh.

Rainbow and Spitfire chuckled as they saw the dogs and Soarin’ buddying up. “Looks like you’d better get those guys to come along when you return,” Spitfire said. “Soarin’ is gonna be pretty sad if you don’t.”

“No kidding,” Rainbow returned. “No need to worry though, I plan to bring them back safe.” She looked back to Spitfire and felt a sudden impulse to grab her and take her along, or to stay and spend her time here. She knew though that she couldn’t; she had to find her friends, had to help keep them and Equestria safe. “Keep Twilight safe. She’s the best hope we have nowadays.”

Spitfire nodded. “Don’t forget that you’re also a part of that hope. Gonna be more praise for you after all this is done. I’m just doing guard duty,” she laughed.

Dash shook her head. “Not in this for the glory of it. Hell, nopony is gonna know that I did this.”

“Oh yes they are. Princess set you up with a storyteller, Dash.” Spitfire grinned.


“Totally! From what I hear, folk down in Ponyville can’t get her to stop telling wild tales about strange fantasy creatures. You go on an adventure with her, you’re gonna become a legend.”

Dash thought for a moment, tapping a hoof to her chin. “Well, then I’ll have to talk about you a lot. When we return she can tell the story of how I came home and got the girl.” She smirked and brought a hoof around Spitfire’s neck, dragging her close enough to rub noses. Their eyes drooped low as their grins grew wide.

“Well then, I do hope you don’t tell too much my dear. Wouldn’t want anypony to blush too hard at the juicy bits.” Spitfire let loose a light chuckle as she traced a hoof along Rainbow’s jaw. They met once again in a kiss, their eyes shut as they sealed their goodbye.

The train pulled in, but neither let go of the other for a long while. The dogs scratched at the back of their necks with red in their cheeks as they turned to board the train, and Soarin’ tried to look for something else to catch his attention and bring his wings down.

When the two did part lips, they shared a hug. They said nothing more as Dash began to step back, waving a hoof goodbye. She boarded the train as Soarin’ came to Spitfire’s side, and the two of them turned to make their way back to the castle. “We’re not gonna let any griffons into the city! Keep a constant watch and set up a scout patrol near the border! Keep them in constant communication!” Spitfire ordered Soarin’. She had her fun, but she had a job to do now and, by Celestia, she was going to make sure she did it.

Soarin’ gave a salute as he placed his new sapphire in his wing. “You got it, Captain!”

On the train, Rainbow Dash stared out the window. She watched the mountains of Canterlot pass them by with a longing in her heart. She thought of Spitfire with a smile on her face. She would miss her, but she had friends out there who she also missed, and she hadn’t seen them in a much longer time. She was going to find them and bring them home. That thought brought the feeling of excitement back to her heart, the same feeling she felt when she first left Ponyville a year ago.

“Rainbow Dash,” Rover piped up, drawing her attention away from the window. “We were wondering what our plan is at this point. We are to fetch this other po-nee, then what? We have no information on the location of the other po-nees, and no guarantee that this unicorn will have it either.”

Rainbow waved a forehoof in front of her face as if she were swatting the idea down. “Trust Twilight. Believe me, she’s crazy, but she knows this stuff.” Rover still looked uncertain, but smiled back anyway.

He did have a point though. She had no idea where they were supposed to go after they picked up their unnamed companion. She’d have to trust Twilight’s instincts though. It had worked for her before.

They arrived in Ponyville after an hour or two and stepped off the train. Rainbow closed her eyes and took a deep breath, soaking in the feeling of being home once again. She let out a long sigh and beamed. “Good to be back.”

The dogs all stumbled out of the car after trying to push each other out of the way. They growled at one another before Dash gave a stomp and brought them to attention once again. “C’mon, I’ll show you around for a bit,” she said, motioning for them to follow.

They made their way to the streets, Rainbow actually taking her time to walk on the roads again instead of flying over them. “So we’ll go pick up our new partner, and then go get ourselves some grub and new supplies before we hit the road. Wherever it is.”

The dogs all cheered at the mention of food and happily followed behind. Dash pulled out the parchment that Twilight had given them and made her way to the address listed. She knocked her hoof against the door and stood back as she heard somepony approach. The door swung in and there stood a cream colored earth pony with purple and pink mane.

“Bon Bon?” Rainbow asked in surprise. “I thought that we were here to pick up a... OH!” She gave a quick knock to her head with a forehoof. “I guess we’re here for Lyra.” She held up the paper from Twilight.

Bon Bon took it and gave it a quick scan. She looked back up at Rainbow, tilting her head and giving a little frown at the sight of the diamond dogs. “Uh... wait here.” She turned and called into the house. “Lyra! Rainbow Dash and her dogs are here to see you!”

A series of excited thumps came from the upper room of the house as a mint colored mare burst through her room and tumbled down the stairs, papers and pages and various books scattering with her. She hopped up instantly with a giant smile on her face and a glow in her amber eyes. She ran over next to Bon Bon with a sheet of paper impaled on her horn. “You’re here! I was told you’d be here within the week but it’s been only about three days! Well then again, look who I’m talking to!” She chuckled loudly and spoke fast. “Come on in guys, come on. Hey, Bon Bon, could you make us some tea?”

Bon Bon grimaced as the dogs entered the door, smelling of soil and dead animals on their breath. Lyra seemed completely oblivious to this fact as she welcomed them into their home, which Bon Bon had only recently finished cleaning. “I’ll get right on that,” she said through gritted teeth, staring at the mud that flaked off the dogs’ feet. She made her way to the kitchen as Lyra offered seats to Rainbow and the dogs.

“So I guess you’re our eccentric unicorn then,” Dash chuckled. “Glad to see it’s a friend.”

“Eccentric... Yeah, I like that one. A lot nicer than most other ponies put it,” Lyra giggled back. “But yup! That’s me!” Suddenly Lyra’s attention seemed to swap as Rover and the dogs took their seats. Her eyes widened and she launched herself onto Rover, grabbing furiously at his wrist and holding his paw close to her eyes. “Fascinating! A thumb and digits! Almost like a hand,” she gasped excitedly as Rainbow, Spot, and Fido looked on, confused. Rover was on his back with a look of terror on his face and his ears pressed back against his head. She let out a mildly disappointed sigh. “Only three fingers though. Still, brilliant! I look forward to travelling with you! Very much so!”

“Uh... thank you?” Rover dared not move in fear of his admirer taking any offense.

“Sooo, Lyra, Twilight mentioned you after we came to the fact that we have no idea where our friends are. I’m assuming that you can help us with that?” Rainbow asked, trying to help Rover out by changing the topic.

Lyra stayed on top of the poor dog with his paw still clutched between her forehooves. “Oh! That’s right! Scrying!” She dropped Rover’s paw and stepped off of him. He was quick to stand and take his seat next to Spot, who couldn’t help but snicker slightly.

“Excuse me?” Rainbow didn’t understand.

“Scrying! Or magical seeing, if you prefer. Most knowledge of it has been lost through the ages, and it’s almost impossible without access to anything that has had recent contact with the creature you’re trying to see,” she continued to explain as she took her seat in a large red chair, draping her lower legs over the front and bringing her forelegs onto the rests at each side. Dash found it strange that this was Lyra’s preferred method to sit, even going so far as to own an armchair, but didn’t question it.

“About how recent?” Dash asked, growing concerned that this path was a dead end.

“About two weeks,” Lyra answered with a sigh. Dash mimicked the exhale. “However!” Lyra spoke up with renewed faith. “I know of another way! It still leaves a broad area to search, but it’s better than combing the whole planet. Here, watch.” Lyra’s horn lit up as she levitated her lyre over to her side. She cleared her throat and began to play, an unseen force tugging at the strings and producing clear, clean notes. She began to hum quietly, bringing a small mirror to her side with levitation as well. It was odd for Rainbow to see this usually energetic and excitable pony daze off into this sudden, relaxed, trance-like state. She opened her mouth and sang out “Bon Bon…” In the mirror, rings rippled out of the center and gradually transformed the reflection into a view that Rainbow knew well. They could see Ponyville from the sky—the entirety—as if they were up on a cloud and looking down. It lasted for only half a minute before a crack appeared on the mirror and the glass shattered.

“Lyra! I told you to stop doing that!” Bon Bon called from the kitchen. “We can’t replace a mirror every time you bust one with that silly trick!”

“Sorry, Bon Bon! It was important to our adventure! I promise! I’ll buy you all the mirrors you want when I come back a famous hero!” Lyra called, standing on the cushion of the chair and peeking her head over. “I love you!”

Dash looked down at the pieces, a little confused. “But, hold on, it didn’t show us Bon Bon.”

“I know, like I said, that’s impossible at the moment unless we have something they were in contact with at least two weeks prior. I was showing you what we have to work with now!” Lyra gave a smile. “And it showed us that Bon Bon is in Ponyville! And she’s right over there! In Ponyville!”

“But it broke,” Spot added. “Is the spell defective?”

“No, that’s just a component of the spell. All scrying spells need a reflective surface. This is one of the few left to unicorns anymore though… and it breaks the surface. Spying with scrying used to be a big problem way back when.” Lyra gave a little shrug.

“So this will tell us where Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Applejack are?” Rainbow asked to be sure, excitement returning to her voice. “Not exactly, but their general location?”

“You got it!” Lyra smiled.

“That’s perfect! We’ll know where to go and where to look! Lyra, you’re amazing!” Rainbow grinned wide.

Lyra chuckled and rubbed her hoof against her chest. “I know.”

“Well then let’s find them!” Rainbow urged. “Let’s get more mirrors and find out where they all are.”

“NO MORE MIRRORS!” Bon Bon screeched from the kitchen once more.

“Alright love! No mirrors, I promise!” Lyra called back. “Sorry Rainbow, no mirrors.”

“Well, you said we could do it with any reflective surface right? Do you think it would work with water?”

“Of course it would!” Lyra returned. “Haven’t tried it myself of course, but water was often used as the surface in the past.”

“So could we head over to a lake or something and do the spell a few times?” Rainbow Dash began thinking of nearby bodies of water they could visit.

“Not really. The spell only works once a day for one reflective surface. I’d also recommend we only use it to locate them one at a time. It’s a lot easier to focus that way: on where we’re going and what we’re doing, and the spell can actually be kind of tiring if used in succession.” Lyra frowned as she thought back to her first attempts with the spell. “So, if you could think of the one that we should find first, we can cast the spell and head off looking for her first.”

Rainbow paused. ‘The one we should find first.’ She thought about that. She didn’t know their situations, nor the reasons why they left. She could only think of who would be most useful to them on their journey, as she had no intention of returning until she had found and gathered all her friends. When she thought of it from that angle, it became almost obvious to her. “I know who we should look for.”

Lyra nodded. Bon Bon entered the room with a pitcher and five cups, all full of tea sitting atop a silver tray she had balanced on her back. “Perfect!” Lyra levitated a cup in front of her and raised her lyre once more.

Bon Bon wasn’t amused. “You’d better not break that cup Lyra. It’s worth more than the mirrors you’ve broken.”

“No worries, Bon Bon,” Lyra insisted. Bon Bon’s expression remained unchanged as she carefully made her way through the broken glass to serve their guests their tea. “So just say their name after ten seconds when I begin the spell, then focus on them and gaze into the cup.” Lyra floated the cup over to Rainbow as she gave a nod.

The dogs accepted their own cups as Bon Bon left the tray holding the pitcher and Dash’s cup on a small table and left the room. Lyra began plucking at the strings of her lyre once again and hummed. After ten seconds Rainbow spoke. “Applejack…” The tea began to ripple as the mirror had, and eventually gave way to an image of mountains, flourishing with green grasses and scattered trees. There were no landmarks she could make out, but looking at the clouds and sunny weather, she could tell that it was experiencing that region’s late spring.

The image faded and the tea in the cup turned clear, causing Lyra to pout. “Well I guess that’s how you ‘break’ tea ‘eh?” she whined, levitating the pitcher over so that she could pour herself more.

“She’s in the highlands to the north,” Dash spoke excitedly. “We know where she is!”

Rover interrupted for a moment. “Uh, I’m not exactly sure, but I think that the north only has ice and snow. No highlands.”

“There’s Neighagra Falls,” Lyra offered. “Pretty big mountain range there.”

Dash shook her head. “No. I’ve been there, and this wasn’t the falls.”

“So, what you’re saying is…” Fido started.

“She’s not in Equestria?” Lyra finished.

Dash nodded. “She’s gotta be somewhere else. Where would we find highlands to the north?” The group all paused and pondered for a moment. The dogs scratched at their chins while Rainbow and Lyra sipped absently at their tea.

Bon Bon entered the room once again and began picking up the books and pages on the floor. “Eye shwear Ryra, yer alwaysh aking shush a esh aroun’ ‘ere.”

Lyra turned her attention back to Bon Bon and got up to go help her. She lifted a few of the papers and stacked them into a pile with her magic before the book in Bon Bon’s mouth caught her eye. She let out a wide smile and the papers she held scattered once again in an explosion. “Bon Bon, you’re amazing!” She gave Bon Bon a large hug and tugged the book out of her mouth with her levitation, running back to Dash and the dogs.

“You’re welcome!” Bon Bon called out, obviously annoyed. She returned to mumbling as she tried to tidy up the papers that Lyra had only scattered further.

Lyra slammed the book down on the table. The title read ‘Bipeds of the West’ and had an illustration of a minotaur on it. “She’s in Minos, the minotaur lands! To the west! They got mountains and hills and highlands everywhere over there!”

Dash and the dogs looked over the book. Dash grinned. “Twilight really knew what she was doing when she picked you.”

Lyra bowed her head. “Go west young mare! There we will find your friend and ally!”

“Great! Let’s head out!” Rainbow brought herself to her hooves and the dogs mimicked the action.

“Well we’re gonna need gear aren’t we?” Lyra smiled. “Lots of danger and thrills on adventures ain’t there? Wait right here!” She made her way back upstairs, kicking up some of the papers into the air and causing them to land on Bon Bon’s head, making her groan. Dash and the dogs heard various clanging and ringing coming from upstairs, making them wonder what in Equestria she was up to. She came rushing back downstairs with various metal objects floating above her head and stuffed saddlebags on her back. “I come bearing gifts!” She carefully set the metallic tools on the table.

“Pointy gifts!” Dash said excitedly, examining what could now be identified as blades and weapons.

“Yeah! Take your pick!” Lyra offered. The four of them began to eagerly observe the arsenal sprawled out before them.

Fido took notice of a large axe, lifting it with both of his paws and admiring the weapon for its weight and potential. The blade was finely crafted, with elegant black curves and swirls that spread from the center to the edges of the weapon. He gave a satisfied smile and picked up a leather strap nearby. He fastened the weapon into the strap and wrapped it around his shoulder, leaving the axe comfortably on his back next to his currently empty travel sack.

Spot grabbed a hold of two daggers by the handle, testing their weight in his paws by thrusting and jabbing into the air. When he was satisfied, he smiled and grabbed up a strap, much like Fido had, and tied it round his waist. He picked up the daggers with their nearby sheaths and slipped them under the strap. He also took notice of a small mechanism with a small pouch of sticks lying next to it.

Lyra noticed him eying it. “It’s a crossbow. Something that creatures with hands made to fight from a distance more efficiently. You pull the trigger and the bolt goes flying at whatever you point it at.” She pointed out the trigger and Spot beamed. He eagerly snatched up the device and the package of bolts next to it. He tied them together and slung them around his back.

Rover took an interest in a rather large weapon. A sword that was only slightly shorter than himself. While he was able to hold it with one arm, he found it much easier to do so with two. He gave a knowing smile and found a way to strap it to his back like Fido and his axe. The other thing that caught his eye was a curved piece of wood with a string tied at both ends.

Lyra took her turn to explain once again. “A bow. A bit more classic than the crossbow, even unicorns were able to use it with their telekinetic abilities. The arrows are longer and you need strength as well as aim to pull it back. Bit of practice with it and you should make do pretty well.” Rover smiled and brought this around his back as well, grabbing the quiver along with it.

Rainbow looked eagerly at the weapons before her, pondering which one she should pick, before a sword even larger than Rover’s caught her eye. It must have been as big as Fido. As she reached down to grasp the hilt in her mouth, however, Lyra put a hoof in front of her face. “Hold on! These aren’t for you!”

Dash looked offended. “What the hell, Lyra?”

“No, I mean you’re gonna break your neck if you try carrying that thing with your mouth! Weapons like these were made for creatures that can grip or levitate. It’d be completely impractical for you to use one of these,” Lyra explained.

“Well that’s how they did it before. Hell, we’re still using spears for the guard!” Dash insisted.

“Yeah, but is it before or now? You’ll be blind if you try to fight with a weapon in your mouth!”

“Then what do you expect me to do, fight with my hooves? I can’t carry this thing and walk you know.” Dash wasn’t convinced.

“Well, actually... yeah. I do expect that.” Lyra gave a knowing grin, hinting that she had something planned. Dash simply looked on curiously. From behind her, Lyra levitated two blades with metallic hoops attached to the sides. “Slip these on and be careful.”

Dash held a hoof out and Lyra put one of the blades around it, the blade pointing towards Dash’s chest. It ended a few inches above where her elbow was. The hoop fit comfortably above her hoof, and she was able to bend and move without stabbing or cutting herself. She was genuinely impressed and gave a smile, letting Lyra slip the other on. She looked down and smiled. “Awesome! Lyra these are brilliant! Now I can just smack someone and they’ll get hit with a nasty cut?”

“Sure,” Lyra answered with an unimpressed shrug. “When you’re not fighting. However, if you’ll hit that little latch on the hoop there…” She pointed to a small latch on the weapon.

Dash raised her hoof and brought a wing around to unhook it. She was shocked to see the blade spring out and point beyond her hoof. “No way! Lyra I could kiss you! This is incredible!”

Lyra gave a laugh. “Yeah, I know! It’s one of the few designs that take hooves into account. Earth and pegasus ponies just slap something like this on and find themselves ready for a fight at any point. Just spring the latch and stab your target, and when you’re done, just switch it back!”

Dash admired the blade. It was obviously very sharp, giving off a brilliant white shine with gold decorating the middle of the weapon. A question arose in her mind. “Why do you have all of these?”

Lyra shrugged as she lifted a rather elegant sword into the air. “I used to travel a lot, and picked these up from places all around. Those are the only pony-made weapons I have though. I took much more interest in the weapons that creatures with grip could wield.” She gave the sword a few mild swings in the air. “This one is my favorite. It’s name is Emerald. I found it back in griffon territory, some of their finest work.”

The blade was curved inward at the lower center of the blade. It was a beautifully white steel with a rough black stone that climbed up the center of the blade with tiny emeralds showing through. “Wanted to get it enchanted at some point. Maybe I’ll get that chance along the way,” she continued. She slipped the blade underneath the straps of her saddlebag.

Dash looked over and noticed what looked to be a cleaver sticking out of Lyra’s bag. “Hey, Lyra, do we really need that?” She pointed towards the tool.

Lyra was quick to stuff it deeper into the bag. “Oh that’s nothing, just a little trinket I like to carry with me,” she giggled nervously and cleared her throat. “Well, I guess we should resupply and head off then?”

Dash nodded and the five of them began to make their way to the door. Bon Bon stood in front though and gave a frown. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Lyra brought herself to stand on her hind legs. Her face dropped as she locked eyes with Bon Bon. In a very serious tone, she began to speak. “To a land we barely know, my love. We seek fortune, freedom, fame, and friends. There will be danger, and tragedy, but there will also be laughter and joy as well. I may not return. If I do, I will not be the same. But please know that no matter how far I am, no matter what may occur... I love you. I know I’m a mess, that I’m... eccentric, and honestly, I’ve no idea how you put up with me. I will miss you, and will think of you every night my darling, longing for your warm hoof in mine as we kiss by the fire once more. You will give me the drive I need to continue on in this quest... and hopefully that will be enough to bring me back home and into your loving embrace once more.” Dash and the dogs looked on, amazed. This was not the Lyra that was geeking out about weapons and paws just a few seconds ago.

Bon Bon’s eyes grew teary before Lyra placed both her hooves onto her cheeks and pulled her in, kissing her deeply and with great passion. When she pulled away she gave a loving smile. “Goodbye for now, my dearest Bon Bon. Pray for my safe return, and hope that the gods above will grant me a peaceful path back to you. I leave to do great things for the good of us all,” Lyra finished. Bon Bon nodded in understanding, moving to the side as Lyra made it through the door.

Outside, Rainbow pulled Lyra aside. “Hey, Lyra. What was that? Back there?”

“Oh, that? Bon Bon gets all mushy and really happy when I start talking to her like that. She wasn’t going to let me leave until we cleaned up, so I decided to turn on the charm so we could get going.” Lyra grinned that wide grin that Rainbow recognized. “You got anypony special, Dash?”

Dash thought back to that morning, waking up with Spitfire and smiled. “Yeah... you could say that.”

Lyra smiled back. “Always good to have something to fight for and return to isn’t it?” The five of them then made their way into town to resupply, ready to head out and begin their mission. The sooner they left, the sooner they could come back to their loved ones after all.

Back at the desert sands, the rats let word of their failure spread. They spoke legends of the rainbow pony and her dog companions. Eventually the word spread to the sand rat known as Nickel. He heard what the other rats said and immediately felt a deep pain. The master will not be happy about this, no, not at all. He sought out their translator, Unub. He told him the story that he had heard from the other rats, and explained that they wouldn’t be able to provide the gold and jewels they had promised this week. Unub swallowed hard as he rubbed his hands nervously. He regretted being the only sand rat to speak their master’s language, but if he was aware that Nickel had learned the tongue, he would have easily swapped places with him.

Nickel followed Unub as they went into the dark chamber where their master resided. Their fur stood on end, electricity sparked through the air. Unub was reluctant as he cleared his throat, causing something unseen to stir in the shadows. He spoke in the tongue of his master, showing nothing but respect and fear. “Great one, I come to bear troubling news.” He almost dared to not say anymore, but a voice like thunder replied. Nickel put on his facade that he had no idea what was being said.

“Speak this ill news my servant, but know the risks of delivery.” Blue sparks of electricity crackled in the direction of the voice’s origin, lighting up the various jewels and gold and weapons and other treasures that scattered the ground.

Nickel watched as Unub swallowed and attempted to continue. “W-w-we were unsuccessful this week in our plunder. Very f-f-f-few travelers made their way through your desert, oh great king.”

“Did you not attack any? Strip them of their belongings? I’d accept even their corpses as gifts before I accept nothing!” The sparks flew a bit more viciously, a few even landing at Unub’s feet and forcing him back.

“We tried, my lord! Please know that we tried! We would n-n-never displease you!” Unub was nearly begging by this point, and Nickel couldn’t help but feel pain to look at his comrade struggling to get his message across. “They outskilled us and many good rats were injured. A rainbow maned mare and her dogs. She wielded magic my lord, but bore no horn. An artifact that possessed great power blocked our attack.”

Nickel knew that mention of this was Unub’s final error. The master would never accept failure if such an object was involved. “You fool! I don’t care if many of your rats were killed! You should have brought me this artifact!” The voice of the master sparked and boomed like a storm, many stray sparks lashing onto Unub’s body and burning him. The chamber began to quake and rumble as stones fell from the ceiling. “No more Unub! You rats have done nothing of worth for too long! I am now forced into finding my own treasures, my contract is now over and I am no longer to keep you alive!” The words of the ancient tongue paralyzed the poor Unub as a massive blue claw reached out and grasped him. Nickel looked on in horror as his friend was dragged into the darkness and the chamber fell apart. He heard a violent crunching noise, followed almost immediately by a sickening squeak cut short. Through the blue sparks of his master’s breath, he could see splashes of blood fly from the master’s direction as he seemed to ascend. For the first time in his life, Nickel saw one of the eyes of his master. An electric blue portal to a land of terror beyond which Nickel had known, with one long slit for the pupil staring straight at him.

Nickel could only run as the chamber fell apart and his former master crashed through its ceiling. He didn’t stop however, and kept running, even when he heard the terrified screams of his friends and family, and even when he heard the crunch of their bones. Nickel could only run, never looking back for the fear that he would accept this as a pointless endeavor. He didn’t know where to go, but the desert wasn’t safe for him anymore.