In The Shade of Time

by Silver Scrolls

First published

Rainbow's interruption of Twilight's spell has left all of Equestria in a temporal stasis. If time could progress for only two ponies on earth, what might happen to them?

Twilight has been playing with time again but this time Rainbow interferes and the spell goes horribly wrong. Alone in a world without time the two of the time embark on a journey to undo what's been done. Their own time continues to move on, and, as all time, it is fleeting and precious.

The experiment

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A pencil perched between her lips bobbed up and down alongside her mumblings as she read her notes. Twilight’s focus shifted from the paper to the floor then back to the paper as she rechecked her work over and over.

Around her danced a intricate seamless line of runes drawn in chalk with great care. Each rune wove into the next like strands of wool into a tapestry. And, just like a tapestry, only a few individuals truly understood how such simple lines became the great works of art they were. In the case of this circle there were only three ponies alive today who could hope to understand how everything wove together and what it created, Twilight and the two princesses.

“So teleportation matrix ties into...” She glanced at her notes and scribbled something of her notes. “No that won’t work, it would take too much energy.” With a swish of her tail she erased a spot in the circle behind her while her hoof erased what was in front of her. “Maybe if I...” The pages flipped as she scribbled a few complex formulas down and solved them as her magic grabbed a piece of chalk and began to fill in the gaps she had created in the circle.

“Okay that should work... No, this would be too unpredictable.”

With a flap of her wings Twilight cleared the circle and landed next to her bench where dozens of books lay open or bookmarked and pushed to the side. Her notes clattered onto a chair nearby out of the way as she delved into the tomes of knowledge. The books began to fly past her eyes as she grasped at the thin threads of understanding coming together in her mind. “Yes, this is it. If I take in Clover’s theorem of mana conservation and Blazing Shield’s theory of magic sentience and apply them to...”

Her voice trailed off as she got more and more excited and darted over to the circle, three books following her. Her eyes darted between the books and the runes on the floor as she began to make revisions. The tips of her wings quivered as each new rune was altered to perfection or erased and replaced completely. After several hectic minutes the books thudded back onto the desk and Twilight smiled down her new creation.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. This is it.” Her wings fluffed and she did a little hop from side to side. “All that’s left is testing.” She glanced up at the door, the lock clicking into place with a gentle push of her magic. “Door is locked, circle is completed, calendar is clear.” Her chest expand as she drew a deep calming breath. “It’s time.”

A short hop and a careful flap of her wings and she settled herself in the center of the circle but before she could clear her mind and being focusing the door slammed open. Papers flew everywhere as a blue streak burst through the door and spin in the air before dropping to the floor in a grandiose pose.

“And another perfect landing, not a hair out of place.” Rainbow smiled at Twilight as she dropped back to all fours, her tail sweeping across several chalk lines. “Ready to go Twilight?”

Twilight’s eyes twitched and she ground her teeth. “Rainbow, to the corner.” Her hoof snapped up pointing to the corner by the desk. “And don’t even think of leaving till I am done here.”


Twilight looked Rainbow in the eye and jabbed her hoof at the corner. “Rainbow, go to the corner.” Rainbow opened her mouth to retort only to be wrapped in Twilight's magic and roughly shoved into the corner. “Stay.”

Slightly admonished Rainbow sat down in the corner, blowing a raspberry in Twilight’s direction as she crossed her hooves in annoyance. Ignoring Rainbow’s antics Twilight turned back to her work and began to repair the damaged circle. Unbeknownst to her, the aforementioned pegasus noticed some chalk nearby and, with a wicked grin, carefully reached out. Two quick lines crossed two runes and the chalk was concealed under Rainbow’s wing before Twilight turned back around.

“Now I need complete silence, complete.” Twilight narrowed her eyes at Rainbow before her horn flashed and a pinkish bubble covered Rainbow. “Better safe than sorry.” She stuck her tongue out at Rainbow who looked a little confused before hopping back into the circle and settling down.

Slowly her eyes drifted closed and she took several more deep calming breaths. Breathe in and hold for three seconds, then exhale slowly, just like Celestia taught her when she was foal. Her heart slowed and mind settled, not even a ripple of a stray thought danced through the folds of her mind as she stared down at the chalk lines around her. The whole room began to take on a pinkish-magenta color as a thin line of magic traced up the spiral of her horn and gathered at the tip.

As the magic grew, the room seemed to shake and vibrate with power as the rules of reality bent and twisted to Twilight’s whims. A strong and gentle thrumming sound filled the room as the air and light began to bend around Twilight, distorting the room around her in tandem with the surging power.

A smile played at Twilight’s lips and a thin beam of magic arced from the energies gathered at the tip of her horn and struck the circle behind her.

A purple spark arced along the chalk line, erasing it as it went and leaving a bright magenta trail like a sparkler twirling in the dark. Another beam and another spark erased yet another section of chalk. In place of the chalk lines now hung a ghostly purple image of what had been erased

Twilight smiled to herself as she took another deep breath and more magic gathered at the tip of her horn.

Slowly, ever so slowly the magic gathered, swirling along the grooves of her horn at a snail's pace. Her vision swam as sweat dripped from her forehead and the dull throb of a headache formed at the base of her horn. Panting heavily, she pushed harder and harder, the lights dimming as the glow of her horn overshadowed them.

Languidly a spark fluttered free from the tip of her horn and floated towards the chalk runes. Lazily the little spark of magic landed on the last of the chalk lines and skittered along them.

Twilight bit her lip as it danced and pushed her magic a little harder. Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she watched as the little spark skipped across those two lines her mischievous friend had made. She took a deep breath and leaned back then breathed a sigh of relief only to pause mid sigh as everything started to change.

The next few seconds happened in slow motion around them. First the spark began to flicker and expand at a rapid pace, the circle quickly following suit. The lights flashed brighter, blinding the two mares. An ungodly shriek soon filled the room alongside the searing lights, tearing through their ears and digging into their heads with a vengeance.

Neither one could muster the strength to move as the assault on their sense continued for several seconds. Finally a gale force wind slammed them to the floor where they covered their heads in a desperate attempt to filter out some of the wailing that echoed throughout the room. And then, without warning, everything came to an abrupt halt.

Twilight and Rainbow both blinked a few times to clear the spots away while shakily rising to their hooves.

They glanced at each other but before Twilight could so much as sigh with relief the magic shattered. With a massive earth-shattering boom the circle broke and the world turned purple as both Twilight and Rainbow found themselves flung about like leaves on an autumn wind.

Twilight was the first to rise, having been at the center of the storm of magic.

“Ugh, what?” she groaned.

The room spun around her and she shook her head in a horrible attempt at regaining her bearings. A sudden wave of nausea dropped Twilight back to the floor. She closed her eyes tightly, waiting for the nausea to pass.

Several minutes passed before Twilight heard Rainbow groan and instantly her attention was drawn to the rainbow-maned pegasus. Her bubble of silence had broken, Rainbow had been inside, the ramifications. “Rainbow, are you okay?” Immediately she started poking and prodding with both her hooves and magic.

“Does everything sound normal? Do you have your hearing? How many feathers am I holding up?”

A purple feathered appendage was held in front of Rainbows face only to be pushed away roughly. Rainbow let out a harsh whine as she clutched her head and pushed the wing aside. “Please, not so loud, Twilight, my head is killing me.”

A happy sigh deflated Twilight. “Oh thank the fates.” She smiled at Rainbow. “I was really worried for a second.” Curiosity sated Twilight left her slightly stunned but recovering friend to focus on the massive scorch mark that had once been her spell. “Now where did I go wrong.”

Rainbow behind her rubbed her temples with her wings. The gentle tink of chalk landing on the floor made Twilight's ears perk up. Wincing with a horror stricken face Rainbow watched the little tiny piece of white chalk slowly roll across the floor. In her mind it was like the giant boulder guarding some ancient secret Daring Do was on the hunt to uncover but unlike her favorite novels there was no escape from this fate.

The small inconspicuous writing implement bumped against against a crack in the floor and balanced on the edge, hanging there precariously, as fate considered the two available options. Would the chalk roll back into the crack or keep going? Rainbow bit her lip, a hoof quivering as though she might somehow influence the ominous decision of fate somehow.

With a little clink the chalk shifted and restarted its journey towards Twilight’s hoof. Rainbow whimpered under her breath as it began rolling faster and faster until it bumped the purple wall looming up from the floor. Twilight slowly looked down at the chalk, catching site of a very nervous pegasus in the corner of her eye.

“Rainbow, why so nervous.” Like a glacier calving in reverse, the jagged pieces of Twilight's thoughts sucked pulled up from the turbulent sea of her mind and joining with a much larger and colder piece of truth. Rather than her face lighting up in understanding it cooled and the color seemed to drain from Twilight's face. “Rainbow.” The word came out more as a growl than anything else and Rainbow tried to step back away from her enraged friend.

“So um, how’d that get there?” She smiled sheepishly. “Must have been knocked off the desk.”

Twilight’s mane seemed to dance with fire as her whole body began to shake with suppressed rage. “What did you do?”

“Well, um, you see, I thought it might be funny to know.”

“Do you have any idea what could have happened!” Twilight's voice boomed and somewhere a blue alicorn smiled with pride as the young ponies voice shook her castle.

“The spell fizzles, or umm explodes like it did.”

Twilight's eye twitched and strands of her mane popped out in random directions. “Think bigger, so much bigger, so much worse.”

Rainbow shifted uncomfortably. “So blow up the castle, Ponyville.”

“If we were so lucky.” Twilight waved her hooves about. “If we were lucky it would be contained to Ponyville. It could have torn open time and space unleashing an eldritch monster. Time could have ceased to exist. You could have...have....have....” Her sentence trailed off as her nostrils flared and she collapsed into a whimpering lump on the floor.

Rainbow gulped and licked her lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would be that bad, or deadly.”

Twilight popped up onto her hooves without warning causing Rainbow to jump. “That’s not the only deadly thing in this room right now you irresponsible half-witted feather brained AIRHEAD!” Enraged, Twilight growled and bits of flame flickered up and down her mane. “You could have killed everyone on this fates forsaken continent.” More flames licked at Twilight’s body as the color seemed to fade from her coat slowly turning it white.

Rainbow glanced up and was about to chuckle nonchalantly until she saw Twilight standing just a few steps from her. Rainbow licked her lips nervously as she scooted backwards away from the mare that was literally burning with rage. Carefully she stumbled to her hooves, all while moving away from Twilight and towards the door.

“Sorry Twilight, I just remembered something...” The end of the sentence never left her mouth as her blue muzzle met a heavy wooden door, and Rainbow slid down the door to the floor with a pained yelp. Cautiously she turned around, an uncertain smile wavering on her lips.

“So um, what exactly did I screw up?” Rainbow closed her eyes hoping that this might put Twilight on one of her rants and distract her enough not murder her.

“A better use and expansion of Starswirl’s time leap spell, the one that caused me so many problems a few years ago.” Twilight’s voice was more of a growl when she spoke so she took a moment to calm herself with Celestia’s breathing technique. The flames in her mane died out and the color returned to her mane and coat after several long breaths.

“I wanted to try and stabilize and extend the range, which now I have to start over from scratch. With that said I would greatly appreciate it if you went back upstairs and waited for me.” Her smile and calm words were a poor facade, the rage easily bleeding through; adding a low growl to her words and a coldness to her gaze.

Without needing any more prompting Rainbow was gone in a streak of rainbow color that led out the door and up the stairs to the library. Rainbow figured a good stint with a Daring Do novel while she waited would help calm her nerves.

Twilight quickly set the circle back up, double and triple checking not only her notes, but the books as well. She glanced up at the clock in the room before she started. “Oh great, she broke my clock. Well no matter, I have plenty of time to finish up these tests before the party ends.”


Upstairs in the castle’s library Rainbow had found one of Twilight’s bean bags and dragged it to a nearby window where she was now curled up with one of her favorite Daring Do novels, Daring Do and The Centaur’s Stronghold. The afternoon sun shined through the thin blueish crystal window behind Rainbow. It warmed her feathers and back, helping Rainbow lose herself in the book.

Lost inside the book, Rainbow forgot about the world around her. The party, her mistake, even where she was forgotten as she absorbed herself in the world of Daring Do. This book wasn’t her favorite one, there wasn’t as much adventuring in it as the others instead it focused more puzzles.

Just as the book was reaching its peak and the big villain was about to be revealed a loud pop ripped Rainbow from the book and back to reality. Just a few feet from her stood a disheveled Twilight. A slight twitch was visible in her left eye as she mumbled to herself incoherently.

Rainbow opened her mouth to say something but the words caught in her mouth and slowly she raised the book in front of her like a shield. Within the mumbling she could have sworn she heard her name mentioned and not in a good way. Peeking around the side of it as Twilight walked right past her, completely lost in her thoughts. Gingerly Rainbow slod of the cushion and followed Twilight out of the room.

“Um, Twilight.” Rainbow spoke hesitantly, her ears laid back over her skull.

Twilight stumbled and grunted. Blinking owlishly she shook her head to bring herself back from the recesses of her thoughts and turned to look at her friend. “Oh, you’re still here Rainbow, didn’t leave for the party?”

“I wanted to but, I lost myself in a Daring Do novel and I wanted to make sure you were ok.” Rainbow smiled a little. “Are you, alright?”

It was slow, like watching Tank race across the floor to his food bowl. Unlike Tank though, it was only slow because Twilight was sifting through so much information as she looked for an answer to if she ok. Physically she only had a few minor injuries, a bruise or two and her wing might be a little sprained, mentally she was exasperated and frustrated. “No, this project has me defeated. I thought I was so close and then you came in and screwed everything up and now nothing seems to be working the way the math says it should.”

Rainbow frowned and lowered her head. “I’m sorry. I guess I screwed it up more than I thought.”

Twilight closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “Yes you did. I can’t even figure out what you did or how it affected the spell. Complex spell work like this is so sensitive that I don’t know if I’ll be able to ever unravel what you....”

Slowly her words faded as her eyes fixed on a clock hanging on the wall behind Rainbow. Twilight stared at intently, past the glass and the face and the hands. Beyond the gears inside to the tiny increments of time the tool measured. The longer she looked at the clock the more horror stricken her face became. Without warning she popped out of existence and then back into existence again with a broken clock in her hoof.

“No this can’t be. It’s not possible. I accounted for...” She stopped talking and turned to look at Rainbow. “No!?”

Twilight took off at a canter down the hall, bursting through the front doors of her castle, making a beeline for Ponyville. Rainbow looked around confused for a moment before following Twilight out the door. As she left the castle the first thing she noticed was the eerie silence. Her ears swiveled as her wing beats slowed.

No chirping birds or general din of the small town as ponies went about their business.


Rainbow stood there, confusion on her face.


This was wrong. Something was wrong. She fluffed her wings and swallowed the lump in her throat as she noticed a bird. It looked frozen in the sky, wings stuck mid flap. It hung there like a stage prop. The wings curved ever so slightly in mid up-swing.

With a single flap Rainbow leaped up and hovered beside the bird, completely captivated by its utter lack of movement.

She poked it.


“What the buck?” She poked it a third time before slowly lowering to the ground, head tilted to the side in confusion.

A piercing scream echoed through the town suddenly. The familiar tone and pitch froze Rainbow’s heart with fear.


She pivoted in place, kicking up into the air with a single graceful jump, the bird all but forgotten as thousands of scenarios flashed through her mind. All of them had one thing in common, Twilight in trouble because of her.

Rainbow’s heart beat like a drum as she flapped her powerful wings, barreling down the empty street. The silence around her coupled with that single scream drove her with primal fear. If anything had happened to her friend it was her fault, no one else could take the blame but her. The top of Sugarcube Corner came into view and just as quickly she spotted Twilight sitting by the door.

She flew faster, closing the distance as quickly as she could. Several feet from Twilight she stopped flapping mid stroke. A sniffle, almost a sob turned the blood in her veins to ice. The thud of her hooves against the ground didn’t even register as she skidded to a stop beside Twilight, her breathing labored as she tried to speak,

“Twilight what’s wr...” The sight of the Twilight’s terror stricken and tear stained eyes froze the word in her throat.

Twilight’s gaze remained fixed on the interior of the bakery, oblivious to the company that had just arrived beside her. Biting her lower lip Rainbow leaned around Twilight to look inside the bakery, terrified of what she might see.

The inside Sugarcube Corner looked almost completely normal save for one single fact.

Everyone was frozen just like the bird.

Rainbow could see her friends and several other ponies gathered for the party. Most of the town was here, there was Octavia in the corner with Roseluck. The CMC were by the cider bowl with Mint Twist, their classmate. Pinkie was talking to Applejack, probably telling a joke judging by the cider the was just starting to spray from Applejack’s nose. Confetti hung in the air like the snow in a winter picture. Someone’s cake hung from the edge of their plate while they stared at it in horror while Rarity looked like she was trying to jump away from the cake as it was aiming straight for her dress.

Slowly Rainbow slid into a sitting position beside Twilight, her back legs giving out as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing.

Just what in the name of fate was going?

Why was everyone frozen?

Was the whole town like this?

Did it extend past the town, if so how far?

Her internal revelry was broken as she was suddenly lifted into the air and turned to face Twilight. Eyes livid with rage filled her vision and yet, somehow, it didn’t scare her. To much else was swimming through her mind for her to find time to be afraid of the enraged alicorn that stood before her.

“Look what you did!” Twilight shook her captive friend back and forth. “Look what you're bucking prank did!” As she screamed Twilight’s coat lost its color and her mane and tail seemed to catch fire. “Your careless, reckless, feather brained reckless prank, look at the consequences!”

Rainbow opened her mouth to respond but she couldn’t find it in her to. All of her attention was focused inside the small bakery full of statues.


Rainbow squeaked as Twilight’s grip tightened suddenly. The unexpected sound rattled Rainbow out of her stupor and her breath grew frantic and labored as it fought both panic and Twilight’s magical grip.

“You ruined my spell and now look at this, everything is frozen. YOU BROKE TIME!”

As Twilight’s scream washed over her Rainbow suddenly gasped. “I broke..” Her friends, her neighbors, Scootaloo, everyone, they were frozen in...time? “Time?”

Rainbow looked at her frozen friends and family. The realization plunging her mind into an icy grip of panic, fear and guilt. What had she done?

“But you can fix it right?” Rainbow looked back at Twilight who had calmed a little, enough for her mane and tail to turn back into hair.

“I...” Twilight looked into the small bakery and tear trailed down her cheek. “I don’t think I can.”

The Solution

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Her eyes ached and her mind felt like it was wrapped in cotton. Twilight leaned back in her chair and rubbed her temples with her wingtips, sighing heavily.

How long have I been at this?

Time was a moot point now. She needed some other way to measure time. As if on cue her stomach growled and it came to her. Measure it in meal times. That would makes this the, sixth mealtime since it had started.

She pondered it for a second and decided that didn’t work well either. Ponies didn’t get hungry on a schedule or eat on a schedule usually. Frustrated, Twilight groaned and shoved herself away from the notes. Who cared about measuring time, she was just trying to distract herself from the problem at hoof anyway. Slowly her eyes drifted towards the chalk circle sitting in the center of the room.

Twilight’s ears drooped and she closed her eyes in shame, flashbacks of the fight she’d had with Rainbow over the broken spell flashed through her head. Very little of what she had said had been wrong but, had Rainbow really deserved all that? As frustrating as it was to admit, she had gone a little too far in her rage.

Her decision made Twilight pushed herself away from the desk and stand up. After a short stretch Twilight moved towards the door. First she needed to find Rainbow then she needed to apologize, followed by not losing her temper again; that would solve nothing. Lost in thought Twilight didn’t notice the pegasus in question sleeping just outside the basement door as she opened the door and subsequently tripped over Rainbow.

Mumbling to herself, Twilight rolled over and looked back to see what she had tripped over.


Rainbow’s ear twitched, causing the mane around it to sway a little.

“Hey Rainbow.” Twilight stood up and poked Rainbow with a hoof.


“Hey.” She tried getting her attention again by drawing the word out in a sing song fashion before poking Rainbow again.

Grumbling, Rainbow swatted at her hoof. “Five more minutes, Fluttershy.” She curled up tighter and buried her face under a wing.

Twilight couldn’t help but smile and bite her lip so she wouldn’t wake Rainbow. Should she play a prank on her? Yes, yes she should; it was only fair after all of the pranks Rainbow had played. “Rainbow, dinnertime.” Twilight put on her best Fluttershy impression as she spoke.

Rainbow’s ears twitched and stood up, a groggy face emerging from under her wing. Yawning she stood up and stretched. Seemingly at random she began a wobbly walk away from Twilight, mumbling as she went. “Thanks Flutters, I’ll just...” Her words stopped in the same moment that her face met the wall. Cursing under her breath she put a hoof to her nose and rubbed it.

“Hardy har har, Twilight.” She looked back over her shoulder with an irritated glance.

“Morning, sleepy.” Twilight chuckled. “Hope you had a good nap.” She snickered again. “I haven’t quite prepared dinner yet so feel free to use the restroom.” With that said Twilight turned to walk away but paused a few steps away and scuffed her hoof on the floor. “Oh and Rainbow, sorry about earlier.”

“Hm, oh yea.” Rainbow’s ears drooped and her head dropped a little. “It’s okay, I mean, this is all my fault.”

Twilight shook her head. “No, it’s not. I have some blame, too. We can talk more about it at dinner. Go freshen up and I’ll see you in the dining room next to the kitchen. Okay?”

Twilight tried to give Rainbow a reassuring smile but it was overshadowed by her guilt. Rainbow hadn’t deserved her wrath like that for something she was so prone to doing.

“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” Rainbow matched her smile guilt for guilt.

Twilight vanished around the corner leaving Rainbow alone to find her way to the bathroom. Both lost in thought for the moment as they mulled over their situation and the brief bit of levity in it all. For a just a second they both thought that maybe it could be worse, at least they had each other.

~ ~ ~

Rainbow and Twilight sat together on the balcony, a small table between them. Dirty plates and cutlery sat on the table beside a bottle of wine and one glass. They had decided to move from the dining room to the outside about halfway through dinner. Both of them found the eternal sunset oddly comforting, like a promise that maybe, just maybe, they would be able to get out of this mess and see it set.

Neither of them knew what to say, so dinner had been eaten in relative silence, both ruminating on their plight. Rainbow finally broke the silence, her face a mask of fear and worry.

“So now what Twi?” She turned to look at Twilight, the barest tinge of hope hidden by a quivering lip.

Twilight took a small sip of her wine and took a deep breath. “I...” She paused and found her gaze drawn to Sugarcube Corner. “I don’t know.” Her glass clinked against the table as it was set down.

“Every book on the subject is in the basement. I pulled everything from every known library in the world; Star Swirl’s private library and study, the crystal empire, the Canterlot Archives, the princess's private books, even Sombra’s secret study had a book about it and they are all downstairs.” She took another drink from her wine glass, sighing heavily as she shook her head.

“As for getting help from another expert in the field, everypony or creature who could help me isn’t even aware of what’s going on. I’ve been wracking my brain all through dinner and I have nothing. No answer to this puzzle.” Gently she rested her chin on the railing of the balcony and sighed heavily, lapsing into an even heavier silence than before.

Rainbow brushed back a bit of her mane behind her ear and looked over at her house. She could almost see the rainbow falls she’d installed in her backyard. The taunting echo of Scootaloo’s laugh filled her ears. A sad smile lifted her lips and wet the corner of her eyes as she thought about how she’d never hear that laugh. Never again would Scootaloo rain accolades down on her during an afternoon flight lesson. Never again would she have dinner with the little daredevil. Never again would she bring the sleeping, tuckered out Scootaloo home to her parents and help them tuck her in. Never again.
Rainbow jumped as a wine glass suddenly flew past her head out over the edge of the balcony. It spun through the air spewing red wine in a gorgeous arc that slowed to a stop.


Slowly Rainbow looked over and saw Twilight standing by the railing now, her chest expanding. An ear-splitting wail echoed out over the town and Twilight slumped against the railing. She waited, pleading to the heavens to hear the sound of her wine glass shattering against the ground below.

How could she have been such a fool? Not even Star Swirl had been able to unravel time travel in any useful way. Starlight had been able to go back in time but only a single point in time.

A growl rumbled up from Twilight's throat and she fired several blasts from her horn at the offending wine glass that hung motionless in the air. Tears spilled from her eyes, her blasts growing frantic until she slumped against the railing.

“Why?” She punched the balcony floor. “Why did I have too, why?” Her hoof hit the crystal floor with each exclamation. Turning her face up she looked at Rainbow. “I am so sorry. I am so so sorry that I dragged you into this.”

Slowly, unsure of herself, Rainbow reached out with a wing and pulled Twilight close. “Shh. It’s okay.” She bit her lower lip and patted Twilight on the back. “It’s not that bad, at least the company is good.”

Twilight laughed a little and hiccupped halfway through and Rainbow relaxed a little.

She gripped Twilight a little more confidently. “And hey, imagine all the pranks we can set up, a final goodbye from us to everyone else.”

“Of course you’d think of pranking everyone at a time like this.” Twilight sniffled and wiped her nose. “But it’s not okay, Rainbow. We are the only ponies either of us will ever speak to again and it’s my fault.”

Rainbow shook her head and let Twilight go. “No we aren’t, you’ll fix this somehow. It’s what you do, whether it’s a friendship problem or the world ending, Twilight Sparkle will fix it.”

“But that’s just it, I don’t know what to do Rainbow. I can’t think of anything to break this curse and now all I can think about is how I damned you with me. I was so fascinated with that spell I let it blind me and now, now we are going to die alone.”

Twilight turned and looked up at the glass and the several balls of magically congealed anger left over from arcane venting spree encircling it. She squinted and slowly her mouth opened up in an ‘O’.

“Rainbow do you see that glass?”

Confused, Rainbow looked up. “Yeah, it’s still floating with all your magic ball-things. What are you getting at?”

~ ~ ~

“So what’s with all the suspense Twilight?”

“I have a plan.”

That one sentence froze Rainbow in her tracks. “A plan?”


“And that would be?”

Twilight smiled. “Do you remember the wine glass I vented on?” Rainbow nodded. “That gave me the idea. If I can tweak the time spell to interlock with other iterations of it then all I need to do is figure out how far the spell’s range is and recast is over and over until it covers the whole planet.”

Rainbow’s mouth slowly opened. “Oh...” and then morphed into a coy smile. “And you said you wouldn’t be able to fix it.”

Still grinning, Twilight stopped bouncing. “Well it’s not perfect.” Her smile faltered a little. “We need to find different points on the planet, go to those points on hoof or by wing and then cast the spell.” Her smile vanished completely. “And, well, that will take years. Maybe even a lifetime.”

“So you’re saying to fix this problem, to undo this frozen time, we have to trot the globe?” Rainbow’s smile was radiating enthusiasm and she bounced from side to side slightly. “Go places and see things I could only have ever dreamed of seeing?” She was almost squealing with delight. “I get to do something I never thought I would get to because I chose the Wonderbolts instead, and I get to do it with a friend.”

Twilight shook her head and sighed. “It sounds great when you say it like that but you don’t realize that we might finish up and come home as wizened old mares who only have a few years left.”

The bouncing pegasus slowed down to a stop over several bounces and her wings drooped with her ears but then she perked up. “I’d rather have a few years left with everyone than none at all. I say let’s do it, what’s the first step?”

Twilight smiled, Rainbow excitement was infectious, and began to explain. “First we figure out how far the spell can expand, then we calculate how many times and where we need to cast the spell. It’s mostly math but I will need to tweak the time spell as we go. The math can take me only so far, I will need to actually cast the spell to make sure I have the math right and that’s going to be the hardest part.”

Rainbow’s smile glowed as she looked around the map room. Sheets of paper littered the room and two sets of saddle bags sat in the corner by the door. “Judging by everything here, you already got started on the preparations.”

“I did.” Twilight looked around the room, her eyes lingering on the chandelier decorated with memories her friends and her shared. “Our first destination is Manehatten. According to my calculations the spells range should end somewhere around there.”

Both mares looked at eachother, bright smiles on their faces. Rainbow spoke up. “You think Coco Pommel will be there?”

“What are you planning Rainbow?”

“Who me, plan something.” Twilight raised an eyebrow at Twilight. “Just a little letter to Coco from Rarity, to be found when the world starts moving again.” Rainbow snickered. “Harmless really.” Twilight rolled her eyes. “Do you think we’ll have any time to sightsee while we are there.”

“I don’t see why not. I mean the actually spell casting shouldn’t take long and the math is mostly solved just need to plug in the values for the final piece.” Twilight stacked several sheets of paper and slid them into a binder. “You ready to go?”

“Do you even have to ask?” Rainbow smiled. “I get to go globetrotting with my best friend, this is gonna rock!”

The Process

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“I get it Rainbow, I really do. This is boring work but I need you to help me with this.”

Rainbow groaned and rolled over unto her back, splaying her hooves out over the sides of her cloud. “Ugh.”

“Rainbow, please.”

With a roll of her eyes Rainbow lifted the map over her head. “You already know where you’ve been. I don’t even get what you’re doing with the map.”

Groaning Twilight rubbed her temples. “For the hundredth time. Your map is just a city map but if we mark the spots where I can feel the edges of the spell from Ponyville I will know where to cast it.”


“The more you help the faster this will go.” Twilight glared at Rainbow.

Irritated Rainbow snatched the marker Twilight held out to her and marked an ex on the map. “There now we know that you felt the edge of the spell here by the opera house.”

Smiling warmly Twilight gently took the map from Rainbow and overlaid it with a topographical map of the area. Several tools Rainbow couldn’t identify were pulled from Twilight’s saddle bag as she kept scribbling on the maps, switching back and forth between them both. Rainbow rolled her eyes and flopped onto her stomach and lazily started pushing herself down the street with short flaps of her wings.

“Stupid Twilight, stupid menial task. She just wants to keep an eye on me because she thinks I’ll screw everything up again.” Rainbow moved her cloud around a corner and smiled. A donut shop was just a few doors down from her.

“Rainbow, I’ve got it.”

Her shoulders slumped and she spun the cloud around. “Coming Twilight.” Rainbow eyed the donut shop one more time before flying her cloud back the way she had come. She snatched some ponies hat from his head as she went, replacing it with a haydog from the food cart he was in front of.

Turning the corner Rainbow saw Twilight in the same spot but now she was smiling. “Aw, there you are. We are off to Liberty Island. Somewhere around her torso we need to cast the spell....I think.”

“Ok.” Rainbow swiveled her cloud to face down another street. “Let’s meet up in an hour at Rarity’s shop.”


Rainbow nodded. “You don’t need me, I’m gonna go have some fun.”

Twilight rolled her eyes and gathered up her supplies. “Fine, but you're taking all of this, except for,” She rummaged through her bag for a bit before pulling out a piece of chalk. “This.” With a smile she tossed the bags to Rainbow after stuffing the maps into it. “One hour, and for the love of fate, don’t do anything stupid.”

“I think you mean fun.”

“Whatever. One hour, Rarity’s shop. We’ll get dinner after that, don’t be late.”

“Peace out Twilight, have fun being boring.”


Twilight and Rainbow looked out over the cityscape, lights frozen in mid flicker all across the city looked like the first stars of evening coming to life as the sun dipped beneath the horizon. Here, so far from Ponyville, the sun was slightly lower on the horizon casting out red and orange hues that reflected in the glass skyscrapers. Alongside the frozen lights it created a fiery twilight sky beneath them. Between Rainbow and Twilight was a loaf of bread, some cheese and some wine. Twilight was smiling gaily while Rainbow was laughing out her loud barking laugh.

Rainbow wiped a tear from her eye and took a sip of her wine, finishing her tale.

“...And I shit you not, the teacher asked for more.” She laughed a boisterous laugh while Twilight shook her head and giggled. “So,” she continued, “what about you and Celestia? I bet you have some really embarrassing stories about her.” Rainbow’s smile was full of mischief. She wiggled her eyebrows at Twilight suggestively.

“Hmm, well her cake habit is pretty famous, but have you ever wondered why she only drinks tea?”

Rainbow cocked an eyebrow at Twilight, beckoning her to go on.

“So,” Twilight began, “this was my mistake, but after an all night study binge for one of my classes, Celestia came to visit and I served her coffee. I didn’t have any tea at the time. Not wanting to offend me she drank the coffee, and then three more cups.”

Twilight paused, chuckling into her hoof at the memory. “After the third cup she politely gets up and strips off her regalia. Needless to say I was horrified as she stood there, completely bare in front of me.”

Rainbow held out a hoof. “Wait, wait, she stripped in front of you?” Her jaw dropped as Twilight nodded. “Please tell me what I think happened next happened, please.”

Twilight shook her head and sighed wistfully. “Sadly, no. What happened next was she vanished with a teleportation spell. No one saw her for the rest of the day or most of the next day, along with several guards. None of them will speak of what happened, and she remains in complete denial of that day.”

“None of them, you don’t think?” Rainbow looked hopefully at Twilight.

Twilight swished her wine around and chewed on her lip. “Part of me has the same train of thought as you. Another part of me worships the ground she walks on, and screams in utter horror at the thought. I honestly don’t know what happened, I just know that Celestia and coffee don’t mix, and very well might be a scandal waiting to happen.”

“Most of the time I try not to think about it, but sometimes I can’t help but remember how she looked without her regalia on.” A dopey smile crossed Twilight’s face and she fell silent.

Rainbow meanwhile stared at Twilight, amusement written on her face as she watched the purple alicorn go from a dopey smile to a bashful blush as she slowly came back to reality. Twilight tried to hide her blush with a cough as Rainbow grinned coquettishly.

“Got a thing for teacher eh?”

Twilight obstinately kept her face turned away and didn’t respond.

Rainbow reached out and poked her. “Come on, you can tell me! Who else am I gonna tell?”

Twilight deflated subtly, and looked back at Rainbow. “I guess that’s true.” Her ears drooped and she looked forlornly at her wine. “If I told you a secret now who else would you tell?” She sighed and looked up at the sky. Then she halted, taking a firm stance and a deep breath. She opened her mouth, and at the top of her lungs cried:

“I think Celestia is the hottest piece of flank on this continent and I don’t care who knows it anymore!”

Her voice echoed through the silent streets below, fading out in the distance. A kind of serene look fell over Twilight and she shook her head. A frown flickered on her lips when the echo never came back, but it faded quickly, she was getting used to that.

“Wow, um, just wow.”

Rainbow stared at Twilight with surprise before she started giggling. Finally she stopped giggling. She braced herself and let out her own revelatory scream.

“I love dressing in girly dresses at home where no one can see!”

Her scream made Twilight jump a little. “Sorry, I figured if you’re gonna share a secret like finding Celestia hot, I might as well give you something equally embarrassing.”

Twilight couldn’t help herself and burst into a fit of giggles. “You in a dress. Hmmm...a little purple number. Hugs your curves as you walk.” Her giggling grew into laughter.

“No no, Rainbow in a frilly Rarity number with more frills than fabric.” The laughter devolved into straight up guffaws as Twilight rolled onto her back clutching her stomach.

“Sure laugh it up, Twily.” Rainbow smirked and Poked Twilight in the ribs. “You think Celestia, the oldest mare in Equestria is hot stuff. Like ’em a little older, do we?”

Twilight's laughter slowly came to an end as she let her limbs sprawl out to the sides. “It’s not about age, it’s about the connection we shared. Sure, I always knew she was beautiful, but it wasn’t until I joined her as a princess and alicorn that I truly realized it. It’s dumb I know, it could never happen, but hey, we all have our little fantasies.”

Rainbow just shook her head and the two fell into companionable silence for a while. It was weird to not hear the sounds of the thriving city below but somehow it was oddly comforting. They were the only ones in the world and somehow that was okay.

Rainbow was the first to break the silence. “So if this is the edge of the spell you cast in Ponyville, where to next?”

Twilight sighed. “Well, thanks to your wonderful help, I think I have the math down.”

Rainbow frowned. “I did what you asked me to.”

“And nothing else.”

Sighing heavily Rainbow rolled her eyes. “We both know I’m not good with all that egghead stuff, you make do me it anyway.”

Twilight huffed and pulled her saddlebags close. “Maybe because things are just easier with an assistant, and my usual assistant isn’t much help right now, thanks to a certain pegasus who refuses to help me out.” She glared at Rainbow with squinted eyes as she started pulling things from the saddle bag. “This pegasus knows the meaning of hard work— she managed to get into the Wonderbolts, so she must—but she just seems to avoid it at all costs.”

She lapsed into silence. Pulling a globe and a piece of paper from her saddlebag, she began scratching a few calculations, laying out their next destinations. The quiet lasted for several minutes while Twilight worked and Rainbow fidgeted uncomfortably. Slowly twelve red pins were placed into the globe at equidistant points.

“There we are, every location, or at least a rough estimate of each one.” Twilight spun the globe looking at the red pins as they passed before she stopped it on the pin that stuck out of Manehatten. “We can head north, passing near the poles, or we can head east.” She chewed her lip and spun the globe. “I think it would be best to head east from here, since we were heading that way initially. It will make the shortest distance to our next stop.”

Rainbow looked at the pin Twilight pointed to and sighed. “That’s in the middle of the ocean. We’re gonna need a compass and a few clouds.” Twilight nodded and Rainbow wrapped the bread and cheese up, leaving the empty wine bottle alone. “I can go collect some clouds if you want to grab the supplies.”

“Is that initiative I hear? I like it. You collect the clouds, I’ll go pick up some supplies from the general store..”

Rainbow opened her mouth and then closed it, biting back her retort.

Twilight stood up and stretched herself. “Meet back here when we’re done.”

Rainbow nodded and took off, while Twilight jumped over the edge and opened her wings to glide down through the streets of Manehattan.

“What’s the point of all this if we can’t live a little,” Rainbow mumbled to herself as she went off to collect the clouds they would use from the local weather factory.

The First Mistake

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Cloud bursting is a staple technique familiar to every weather pony, but certainly not to princesses. Rainbow had begun teaching it to Twilight, and now it was a way for her to pass the time on long boring flights. It wasn’t as easy as it looked, either. You needed to know the type of cloud, judge the shape and density, and hit it just hard enough with just enough pegasus magic to make it burst. Rainbow tried to show her how to ram them at top speed, but that didn’t interest Twilight much. Instead, she became enamored with the basics.

You brush the cloud gently and pull a small part with you, trying to shape it as you fly. This helps you learn how different clouds feel and look while simultaneously helping you concentrate your magic into your hoof. Twilight loved how complex the simple little action was. Rainbow could brush a cloud and take almost the whole thing with her. Even without using her hooves Twilight had once seen Rainbow shape a cloud into a bunny for Fluttershy.

It was her goal to be able to do that too. She didn’t need to master the skill but she wanted to get at least close to Rainbow’s level. So Twilight had begun using this cloud bursting and shaping to pass the time on the long flights between spell castings. So far she had progressed mostly in cloud bursting but she was getting the hang of the other part now as well.

Twisting a bit of cloud around in her hoof Twilight smiled to herself triumphantly. “Hey Rainbow, I did it. I managed to wrap it around my hoof.” Twilight turned back to look at Rainbow, the cloud covered hoof raised triumphantly and her smile vanished.


Worry filled her as she looked around, her eyes dancing frantically in their sockets as she scanned the sky around her.

Her breathing grew rapid as she started darting around the sky screaming for her friend. There, below her, falling.

Twilight tilted into a dive, her body stretched out as her wings drove her forward in a reckless charge across the sky

“Make it. Make it. Please for the love of Fate let me make it.”

Tears formed in the corners of Twilight's eyes as a scream tore free from her chest.


No she was too far, she wasn’t going to make it. She shook her head and bit her lip, there had to be a way there was no other option. She had to make.

“You can do this Twi. You can make it.”

Twilight clenched her teeth and her horn began to glow and with a pop she vanished and reappeared closer to Rainbow.

“Just a little more.”

Twilight clenched her teeth and teleported two more times. Reaching out with her hooves she grabbed onto Rainbow and pulled her against her chest. Twilight flared her wings and felt something pop as the wind filled them and her descent slowed drastically but not enough.

‘I’m not gonna make it’

Twilight scanned around and saw a lake with a small campsite beside it. The lake didn’t look like much but it was her best shot. Gritting her teeth she adjusted her wings and prayed to whoever could hear her that the lake was deep enough. She felt and heard her wing pop as she slowly shifted her fall and the lake replaced the ground beneath them.

‘At these speeds the surface is going to be like hitting stone.’

Taking a deep breath Twilight pulled Rainbow tighter and gathered power in her horn.

‘Please be deep enough. Please.’

With loud bang she vanished, switching places with an equal volume of water underneath the lake’s surface. Momentum carried both Twilight and Rainbow deeper into the lake. They bounced twice against the bottom, making Twilight wince in pain as she took the brunt of the impact. Grunting with pain Twilight forced herself to flap her wings under the water, propelling them up and towards the lake shore.

Heaving Rainbow ashore with help from her magic she dragged them both from the lake onto the small sandy beach. Fighting the pain and terror she wiggled herself underneath Rainbow and limped towards the campsite she had seen. Every step felt like torture and Twilight was certain she had broken something when she hit the lake bed.

“Hang in there Rainbow, we’re almost there.”

Tears spilled from the corners of her eyes as Twilight stumbled into the tent with Rainbow and collapsed. Rainbow rolled from her back onto the sleeping bag and Twilight passed out half in the tent and half out of it.

~ ~ ~

Twilight paced. Back and forth, over and over, slowly creating a shallow trench in front of the tent.

How could she have missed it?

Could she have done anything to prevent it?

She turned and looked at the tent, chewing on her lip as she the memory of how they got here replayed itself again.

Twilight sighed and resumed pacing. She had put Rainbow in the tent right after she woke up and then checked herself over for injuries. Luckily she had only dislocated her right wing and her left wing was only strained. The ribs she couldn’t do anything with but she’d used her magic to set her dislocated wing and now all she could do was take it easy while she cared for Rainbow.

Twilight admonished herself and stared into the tent. Who was Rainbow to make her worry this much? Sure, what they were doing wasn’t what Rainbow had envisioned, but that didn’t mean she needed to be so fates darned reckless. After pulling her out of the water, seeing all her wounds—how in Equestria had she managed to do that to herself?

Twilight plunked down on the log beside the fire and looked over at the frozen diamond dog who had made it. “What do you think Rover, will she be okay?” The diamond dog remained silent and Twilight turned back to the warm fire.

“You’re right, she’s strong , a fighter, she’ll pull through.” Twilight tossed a pinecone in the fire.It hovered midst the flame, caught in the time stasis, yet the flames licked through and slowly ate it in a mesmerizing spectacle. “She wouldn’t leave me alone here like that, no way.”

Twilight fidgeted, lost in thought. There had to be more she could, something more to help Rainbow. She chewed at her lip as she tried to think of anything else she could. Every blanket was either being used as a pillow or to keep Rainbow warm against the chilly night air.

She’d tried moving the fire closer to the tent but that had almost ended in disaster. Twilight now understood why campfires were usually built away from the tent. It had reminded her a little of the camping trips she’d gone on with Shining and her dad.

“Hey Rover, do you think I’ll ever see them again?” Silence greeted her and she felt her heart grow heavy. “Do you think I can do this without her?” Twilight’s gaze drifted over to Rainbow and a light blush warmed her cheeks as a thought strayed across her mind.

“Do you have any more blankets Rover?” Twilight knew the answer, she’d already looked. “Is there another way to warm her up?” She looked at Rover for permission to voice her thought. “It’s for her, not me, of course! She’s cold, Rover. Stop assuming things!”
The blush deepened. “She’s not sick, she’s only injured. Do you think... would she mind?” Twilight bit her lip as tapped her hoof against the log. “It would make it more comfortable for her, and me. Rover, what do you think?”

After a minute of nodding her head towards Rover Twilight stood up. “You’re right, no harm in helping keep her warm. But don’t forget this was your idea.”

Breathing deeply she moved to the tent and opened it up. “This is just to monitor you better, and keep me warm, there’s nothing else to this.” She swallowed the lump in her throat and crawled under the blanket she had put Rainbow under. “This is in no way whatsoever meant to comfort me instead of you.” She snuggled up against Rainbow, her back pressed against the pegasus’ belly and sighed as a pair of blue hooves pulled her closer and tighter.

~ ~ ~

Rainbow smacked her lips and groaned as she slowly pried her eyes open. As her eyes opened she found a sea of purple and pink clouding her vision. A bunch of it worked into her nose as blinked and shook her head.


She snorted blowing the hair from her nose and cringed as she noticed a glob of snot had gotten tangled into the hair in front of her.

“Warm, too warm.”

She tried to wiggled away from the source of the heat but her hoof was stuck. A grunt and light murmur froze any further attempts of freeing her hoof and getting away from what she now knew could only be one thing.

“Twilight? What—”

She crinkled her brow as she tried to understand what was happening. They’d just left the third spell, another successful cast, reached the beach. After that it was a little hazy though. Twilight had gotten ahead and she’d, she’d wanted to practice a trick. There was nothing after that, just a blank gap between that and waking up to Twilight snuggled up to her.

Rainbow looked at her friend’s mane and noticed her ear poking out. Smiling coyly she leaned forward and whispered into it breathily. “Twilight.” She blew on the ear again. “Twilight.” The ear flicked and Twilight groaned into Rainbow’s stomach. “Oh Twilight, it’s time for breakfast.”

“Just gimme a few more minutes Spike. I was up all night studying again.” Twilight buried herself deeper in Rainbow’s stomach and hugged tighter.

“But I made your favorite, Celestial Flank Cakes.” Rainbow held back a giggle as Twilight seemed to stiffen. “If you don’t get up I’m inviting everyone over to see the pancakes.”

It was slow but Twilight gradually loosened her grip on Rainbow and shuffled away from her. “That’s fine Spike, none of them would be able to make it except Rainbow,and she already knows.” Twilight chuckled softly to herself and then stretched, letting Rainbow stand up and stretch as well. Twilight let her gaze linger as Rainbow stretched her back legs. “Morning—Butt.” Twilight coughed as she caught herself but couldn’t help watching as Rainbow moved around the tent to work the kinks out of her legs.

“Aw, what gave it away?” Rainbow put on her best pout as she pushed her front legs forward and extended her back legs, causing her back to pop a few times.

Twilight stood up and cracked her back just like Rainbow had. “You have a horrible Spike impersonation.” Rainbow rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at Twilight. “It’s true and you know it. Now if you’d tried for Applejack you might have stood a chance.”

“Fine, I’ll get you back yet. Your prank back in Ponyville is not yet forgotten.” Together they left the tent, playfully fighting on who got to leave first.

Rainbow stopped as she left the tent, her eyes turned to the sky. Overhead the stars shone brightly lighting up the forest with their silvery glow. Off to the left was the lake Twilight had used to catch them as they fell from the sky and just a little off to the right was the edge of the forest proper. The diamond dog still sat on his log with a fish stuck on a stick he held over the fire.

Rainbow looked around the camp and up at the sky. “I just can’t get used to that.” She moved out of Twilight's way and made for the campfire. “No matter how long we sleep or don’t sleep the stars are always out. Rarity would call it romantic or something, though she would probably prefer the sunset in Manehatten.” She looked around the camp curiously. “So, where are we, Twilight?”

“Not far off the original path.” Twilight looked up at the stars and found the one she wanted. “If we keep going towards that star we should find our rough location and I can narrow it down from there.”

Rainbow nodded and took a seat on a log by the fire, smiling at the diamond dog sitting across from her. “What did you name him Twilight?”

“Huh?” She blinked and then smiled. “Oh, him? He’s Rover.”

Snorting a little Rainbow reached for some fruits in a basket Twilight had left nearby, in easy reach of either seat by the fire. “You really named him?”

Twilight rolled her eyes at Rainbow’s jab and stuck her tongue out. “Well the company wasn’t great. Just an airheaded pegasus who nearly got herself killed. Rover is a surprisingly intelligent and engaging conversationalist, unlike the other individual keeping me company.”

Rainbow stopped and lowered her head sheepishly. “Sorry.” She scratched the back of her head with a hoof, wincing a little as the bandages tugged at her mane. “I wasn’t thinking, I’m not even sure what happened to be honest.”

“You’re lucky that’s all you forgot.”

“Yea, so um...thank you.” Rainbow tried to smile but couldn’t bring herself to smile through the guilt.

“It’s fine Rainbow.” Twilight smiled warmly and passed a canteen of water to Rainbow. “You’re fine and you’re well on your way to recovery. For now eat and drink, get your strength back.”

Rainbow thanked Twilight and took the canteen. Her eyes fluttered closed as the cool liquid washed over her tongue. “That tastes so good.” Rainbow grabbed one of the fruits and took a large bite, her eyes crossing slightly as the taste took her by surprise. “Huh, that’s surprisingly sweet.” She took another bite, savoring it a little more. “So, how long have we been here and what happened?”

Twilight followed Rainbow and took a seat on the log next to the diamond dog. “I have slept five times and spent a long time gathering up supplies, so it’s been awhile. I had trouble sleeping for a while, you had me really worried.” Twilight popped a few nuts into her mouth and pulled out another canteen of water from her saddlebags that were lying nearby. “As for what happened, you screwed up. Honestly I didn’t see, I barely even noticed in time to catch you.”

The fruit in Rainbow’s hoof fell to the ground and she blinked. “You caught me?”

“You crash landed?”

She looked at the lake Twilight had motioned to then back at Twilight.

“Are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine soon. I’ve had lots of time to recover while watching over you.” Twilight smiled then frowned. “A lot of time.”

Rainbow bit her lip and slumped on the log. “Would it help if I said I was sorry?”

Twilight sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know Rainbow, you just, you don’t seem to care.” Rainbow flinched but Twilight continued. “I keep making plans and working to get this stupid spell unraveled and all you ever seem to do is goof off. Do you even care that we might never see our families, our friends, anyone at all, ever again.”

“Of course I do, but—”

With a wave of her hoof Twilight cut Rainbow off. “But nothing. I know you’re not good with all the math. I know you can’t cast the spell but there’s still things you can do.” Twilight motioned to the food around them. “You could gather food and water. Maybe even cook something, I know you know how to. You could talk to me, keep me company instead of ignoring me. Tartarus Rainbow, any sign you cared at all would be good.”

Silence fell between them. Rainbow was at a loss for words and Twilight was still simmering. Finally Rainbow couldn’t take it and stood up. “You’re wrong Twilight. I might not show it in the same way but, you’re wrong.” She rubbed her temples with a frustrated growl. “It might be easy for you Twilight but it’s not so easy for me. You have all the answer and I just, I have none of that and I am doing the best I can with that.” Rainbow turned away from Twilight and took a deep breath. “I don’t have you fancy magic, your incredible mind. All I have are these wings, and tenacity.”

Rainbow closed her eyes and moved towards the lake, praying Twilight wouldn’t follow. “I want to see everyone just as badly as you but unlike you, I can’t say we will with great conviction. I trust you, but I just can’t see what you see in all this.”

Twilight tried to speak up and interject but Rainbow shook her head. “You don’t get it, I want to help but I don’t know what I can contribute. I caused this mess and now my fate lies in your hooves. That fact, that one fact, is all that keeps me from freaking out. I keep playing around because I know I can’t do anything and that the most capable mare in the world is in charge of my fate. I’m sorry I’m not helping you more but I just don’t feel like anything I can do is enough to show you how important you and what you’re doing is to me.”

With her piece said Rainbow grabbed a few of the fruits from the basket and went over to the lake’s shore and took a seat with her back to Twilight. All Twilight could do was stare at Rainbow who looked so small right now. A tear rolled from Twilight’s eye as Rainbow’s echoed through her mind.

“I need you too Rainbow. I need you to keep me going.”

The Next Step

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Twilight and Rainbow stared at the yawning mouth of the cave. Mining tracks wandered into the inky blackness before them, carts and old tools lay scattered around them like corpses on a battlefield. Smoke hung motionless along the cliff face that traveled up from the mouth of the cave, wispy tendrils tracing from the black column towards the fleeing miners.

"Are you sure there isn't a faster way down there, Twi?" Rainbow said with a gulp as she used her wings to help a minotaur that was rolling on the ground extinguish himself. "Not that I wouldn't love to dive into a flaming pit in the ground, but...I dunno, there must be another way to get to the leyline."

Twilight nodded slowly and dumped some water on the burning contents of an overturned mining cart. “We should be fine. The fire won’t spread anymore and I can cast a spell to part the smoke.” She looked at the roiling column of smoke. “And to be frank this is just the quickest way to get to our destination. Technically the spot I need to cast the spell is roughly two and half miles southeast of one of the deeper tunnels.”

Slowly Rainbow landed next to Twilight, eyeing the tunnel cautiously. “And all the miners?”

“We save them of course.” Twilight smiled confidently but chuckled nervously. “That’s the plan at least.” Rainbow nodded and Twilight took a deep calming breath. “Well if you’re ready, so I am. I’ll warn you now, it’s going to get hot.”

As Twilight spoke a magenta bubble slowly enveloped the two mares and they began their trek into the mine.

Rainbow spoke shakily as they descended. “Hey Twi, um, are we going to put out the fire or are we just going to let it burn?”

Without slowing Twilight sighed. “I wish we could, but with a fire like this it’s almost impossible without proper training. We can put out all the fires we see, but if the fire is following a coal vein deeper into the rock or if the rock is hot enough to reignite the fires it won’t matter. I would love to put out the fire if I can, but I have no way of gauging how well I am doing while time is frozen, So rather than risk the miners thinking it’s safe when time resumes we will leave it burning.”

Rainbow nodded and watched as the smoke parted around the shield Twilight had up. It was oddly fascinating to her, like seeing a cloud split around her when she flew through it at high speed— only here it was happening in slow motion.

As they moved deeper into the smoke it got darker and soon only the gentle glow of Twilight's horn lit up the small bubble they were in. Rainbow’s wings twitched as they descended and the entrance became nothing more than a star behind them. Rainbow paused for a moment to take a shaky calming breath. Twilight kept moving and Rainbow sped up when the light began to dim.

Come on Rainbow, it’s just a like a thundercloud tunnel. Sure it’s dark but the tunnel is made of stone, far less likely to collapse than a thundercloud tunnel. I mean, sure, it’s a little bit warmer and smells different and there’s no water and I can’t fly out of here but Twilight knows what she is doing.

Lost in her thoughts Rainbow failed to see Twilight had stopped and ran into her flank. Twilight looked back, “We have four miners ahead. When the shield reaches them I want you to grab them and take them to the entrance.” Rainbow nodded. “I’ll keep going, splitting the smoke so you can follow me once they’re safe. I’ll make sure to clear the smoke around any others I find so you can bring them to the entrance too.”

Without another word Twilight began walking deeper again, Rainbow hung back a little until she saw the miners. Three diamond dogs and a zebra were collapsed against the wall together, a rope strung between them to prevent any of them from splitting off or getting left behind. Rainbow made quick work of the knot and took them to the surface one at a time in silence.

As she burst from the tunnel with the first miner she dropped the diamond dog unceremoniously and angled into the sky. A heavy sigh escaped her lips as she felt the wind washing over her wings, the sun warming her back gently. The sweat that had built up in her coat helped chill her body and calm her nerves.

She hit a few clouds as she circled the mining camp, throwing herself into them as hard as she could, relishing in the feeling of them bursting apart. After a few minutes she landed in front of the mine and grabbed onto the Diamond Dog’s vest, pulling him further from the entrance. As she looked up at the smoking mine entrance she shivered and bit her lip.

She needs me, they need me. I can do this, it’s just a tunnel. You’ve done caves before, this one is just on fire. What would Daring Do do?

She smacked her cheeks a few times and shook her head. You can do this, just dive in there and get it done. With a guttural scream she charged back into the tunnel with her eyes closed. She quickly slowed to a safer trot and opened her eyes, her feathers twitching at her sides as her wings tried to open up and help pull her from the tunnel.

It wasn’t long before she had pulled almost a dozen miners to safety. Coated in soot and sweat Rainbow wiped away her sweat and stared at the entrance. She had know idea how much deeper Twilight had gone but it was about time for her to take a break. She rubbed her rumbling stomach with one hoof as she glanced around the camp. Three possible choices, only one of them would be the mess hall.

Choosing at random she made for the central building, the one with the most ponies running from it towards the mine. Inside she found exactly what she hoped to find, a mess hall. Giant pots of oatmeal sat on warmers underneath glass awnings, bowls of chopped fruit sat in ice. A barrel of apples sat beside the counter of assorted fruits and past that a bucket of ice and barrel of water.

Around her miners were frozen mid scramble. Some diving over tables others flying over the heads of their earthbound friends. The scene was almost comical but it made Rainbow think of the mine and she started to shake a little. After a few moments of deep breathing Rainbow wove through the chaos towards the buffet lines and filled herself up a tray of food and found an empty seat.

Overall the meal wasn’t bad but the ash clinging to her lips and throat sullied the taste a little for her, though the water tasted divine. It didn’t take her long to polish off the meal and she made a second trip up to gather some for Twilight. She carefully balanced it on her back and covered it with a relatively clean looking towel before weaving her way out of the mess hall and making for the mine again. On her way out of the mess hall she snagged a lantern from one of the panicked workers.

After going back into the mine Rainbow quickly lit the lantern and tried to keep herself calm as she went. She wasn’t sure how deep Twilight had gone but she couldn’t be that much further, could she? Finally after what felt like an eternity Rainbow caught site of a familiar mulberry flank and she breathed a sigh of relief, no more miners no more facing her fear.

“Hey Twi, I brought you some food I scrounged from their mess hall.” She slipped the tray from her back and placed it on the ground before whipping the towel off dramatically. “We have for her highness today boiled oats seasoned lightly with cinnamon and just a hint of ash. On the side we have two apples and some fresh spring water.”

Despite everything Rainbow managed to get a smile out of Twilight as she stopped whatever she had been doing and turned to look at Rainbow. “Thanks Rainbow, I was just thinking about calling it quits for awhile and heading back to the surface for a meal and some rest.” Gratefully Twilight pulled the oatmeal close and dove into it muzzle first.

Chuckling Rainbow pulled out a canteen of water and took a sip. “How much further do you think we need to go?” Twilight chose oatmeal over answering. “Fine I’ll wait till you finish your oatmeal.” Rainbow wiped some sweat from her brow, looking around the cave nervously.

“You okay Rainbow?” Twilight wiped the excess oatmeal from her muzzle.

“Hmm. Oh, yea...I’m fine.” Rainbow forced a smiled. “You weren’t lying about the heat, geeze, it’s hotter than your temper down here.”

Twilight rolled her eyes and grabbed one of the apples. “I think we might be getting close to the main fire that’s why it’s so hot.” The crisp crunch of an apple echoed around the empty halls. Twilight's mouth hung open slightly, juices dribbling down her chin as she moaned in ecstasy.

“By the fates, this apple is divine.”

Rainbow blinked a few times and then started laughing as she watched Twilight tear into the apple violently. “It’s just an apple Twi.”

Wiping the juices from her chin and licking them from her foreleg Twilight smacked her lips and sighed. “Lies and slander, that apple tasted as fine as a Sweet Apple Acres apple.” She stuck her tongue out and Rainbow rolled her eyes.

“Thank you, that hit the spot Rainbow. I didn’t realize how hungry I was.” Twilight grabbed the second apple and savored it a bit more than the first. “Are you sure these aren’t from Applejack’s farm?”

“No clue, the barrel was unmarked. Maybe.”

Twilight shrugged. “Maybe I was just that hungry, anyway, you asked how much farther. I’m afraid we are going to have to pass through the fire. I cast the divining spell a couple of minutes ago and the spot we need to dig from should be somewhere around the center of the fire.”

“So we will have to put out the fire as best we can.” Rainbow smiled. “When I was a filly I used to wonder what it would be like to be a firefighter. I always wanted to be a Wonderbolt but firefighter seemed like a good back up, until one of my neighbors went to fight a fire and never came back though. Poor Ms. Nimbus wasn’t quite the same after that.” Rainbow sighed and shook her head, the face of her distraught neighbor coming back.

“Wow really. That’s, well it’s rare, especially in Cloudsdale.” Twilight started on the second bowl of oatmeal, this time with a bit more civility. “Was it a factory fire or a warehouse?”

Rainbow thought for moment, she’d been pretty young when it happened and even though it had left a lasting impression she hadn’t thought about it in a long time. “I think it was a warehouse fire but I was pretty young at the time so I can’t say for sure.” Rainbow passed Twilight the canteen and let her take a few good gulps of water. “So should I try and bring a raincloud down into the tunnels and you can use magic to direct the water around?”

Twilight smacked her lips as she emptied the canteen. “That’s not a bad idea, we’ll need a pretty big one though so I’ll probably need to help out. It should be easier than using their fire suppressant system at least. Actually, it might be the only way unless we want to trek in and out carrying buckets.”

Rainbow jumped on the chance and was on her hooves before Twilight had finished her explanation. “Alright, you keep clearing the smoke, I’ll go roundup a few clouds, or a big one if I can find it.” She moved to take off and paused. The heat of the fire washed over her wings and she looked back at Twilight. “Be careful, I heard that mining tunnels get unstable around fires. I know time is frozen and all but...just be careful.”

A purple bubble encircled Twilight and she smiled. “I’ll be careful, I won’t even try to combat the fire with magic. I’ll wait for you and your cloud to fight the fire.” Rainbow hesitated slightly before taking off up the tunnel towards the surface, chewing on her lip the entire time.

~ ~ ~

The water hadn’t evaporated completely, instead it sat somewhere between the two states of liquid and gas. It clung to the floor like a thick bed of fog making the footing treacherous. Twilight stood next to the wall, her horn pulsing gently as she tapped on different spots with her hoof. Behind her Rainbow pulled at the fog around their hooves creating little sculptures out of the wispy steam like a bored child.

From time to time Twilight would mumble something and knock a piece of stone loose with a pick she had salvaged from the flames. Most of the samples were discarded with a frustrated grunt or shout. After a few dozen the discarded pieces started to act like little bullets, zinging around so fast they buzzed through the air like angry hornets.

About this time Rainbow had given up on her sculptures and hunkered down behind an overturned, and severely dented, cart. Every time she heard the sharp ding of a new dent forming she flinched and called out to Twilight, usually resulting in another ping of stone on metal.

“Twilight, calm down, please.” A puff of dust rose up from the ground by her hoof and Rainbow yelped.

She flipped the mining cart over and buried her head under her wing

~ ~ ~

It was sudden and cacophonous. The cave shook and rumbled like an angry dragon, the sounds tinny and even louder under her protective cart. Rainbow jumped straight up as the cave rumbled, her head smashing into the roof of the cart.

“Buck me, what in tartarus is Twilight doing now.” She rubbed the rapidly growing goose egg on her head as she turned the cart on it’s side to free herself.

A few feet down the tunnel from her was brand new hole. Roughly five feet around the sides were perfectly smooth and still glowed with a slight reddish hue. Carefully Rainbow moved up to the new tunnel, stumbling around in the fog as what she assumed where hundreds of samples Twilight had taken tripped her up.

Inside the tunnel was a thick sheet of dust hanging motionless in the air, illuminated from behind by an eerie purple glow. Every time the cave rumbled the glow pulsed slightly. She could almost make out through the dust a purple tail swishing back and forth.

From within the dust Rainbow faintly heard Twilight call out a warning and quickly stepped away from the hole in the wall. As soon as she was clear the dust started to shift and like a wave washing up on the beach it rolled out from the tunnel a dusty, muddy, panting Twilight following close behind.

Twilight rolled up the dust into a large ball and pulled the mining cart Rainbow had used as shelter back onto it’s track before dropping the dust into it. She smiled wearily before falling over onto her side.

“You okay Twi?” Rainbow shuffled up and poke Twilight’s heaving side tentatively and worriedly. Her hoof squelched against the layer of mud that had formed over Twilight's sweat soaked fur. “Twilight?”

“I’ll...” Twilight coughed some dust up after a few moments causing Rainbow to jump. “Be...” She paused to breath deeply. “Fine...” A cough shook her chest and interrupted her. “Just need....water.”

“Oh right, yea, that makes sense.” Rainbow took off then came right back. “I’ll be right back, don’t try and move or anything, seriously stay right there.”

Rainbow took off towards the surface again, barely finishing her sentence before she had taken off. It took only a moment for her to return and she sat down by Twilight's head. “Here we go, take it easy.” Rainbow gently lifted Twilight's head and poured some into Twilight's mouth. Twilight swished it around before spitting and opening her mouth for more.

Rainbow sat quietly, holding Twilight's head as she helped her drink. Worry wrinkled her brow and made her wings twitch as she watched her exhausted partner slowly recover. “Why didn’t you take any breaks Twi?”

Twilight leaned her head back against Rainbow’s leg. “I got wrapped up in the work, and I was frustrated with the rocks.” They both glanced at the pockmarked walls and the dented mine cart. “I didn’t realize how badly I was overdoing it until my vision started to tunnel.”

“Right, just like your study binges only with physical labor.” Rainbow chuckled and ran a hoof through Twilight’s sweat soaked mane. “I’ll need to keep a better eye on you if you’re going to keep doing this.”

Twilight chuckled weakly and rolled onto her stomach. “I’ll take a break then, let you do the next part.” An almost predatory smile spread across Twilight’s muzzle. “You see, all this dirt and stone I am ripping from the wall, someone needs to bring it up to the surface and toss it somewhere.” Rainbow stopped smiling and her face turned pale. “Now I was thinking I might do it but I don’t want to stress you out too much.” Rainbow gulped and looked at the heap of dirt in the minecart. “Of course, this shouldn’t be a problem for a strong mare with a well toned athletic body full of lithe muscle now should it.”

Sweat formed on Rainbow’s brow as she stared at the dirt and looked back at the short tunnel that Twilight had dug. “Um, how much of this is there going to be?” Rainbow gulped, afraid of the answer.

Twilight shrugged and wiped sweat from her brow and flicked the ensuing muddy concoction of sweat and dirt on the floor. “Let’s say I can dig six feet every hour, that means I can dig one mile in roughly eight hundred and eighty hours. Or one mile in just over a month. I have two and half miles of tunnel to dig, minimum.” Her head fell a little and she squeaked out the last part with dread a second time. “Two and half miles of tunneling through solid stone at six feet and hour.” She looked at Rainbow.

“I think I might die.”

Rainbow could already feel her muscles getting sore and tense as she thought about how many trips she would have to make while shoving a fully loaded mining cart...uphill. This next site was going to take them over two months to complete. Two months of ceaseless labor, endless shoving of stone uphill, it suddenly felt like a massively daunting task.

“Wait how far are you already?”

“About six feet.” Twilight looked at the tunnel and coughed before taking a gulp of water from the canteen Rainbow had brought. “Six feet out of ten thousand.” Her face turned pale, even through the layer of grime clinging to it. “This is going to be a lot harder than I thought it would even though I am digging with a softer vein of rock in the center.” She looked up at Rainbow. “At least you can use a mining cart and get breaks while I dig.”

Rainbow looked at Twilight with dread written all over her face. “Yea, breaks, not going to be worrying about you at all.” She chuckled nervously and looked at the mining cart. “So easy.”

“You okay Rainbow?”

“Sorry Twi, I guess it’s just kind of overwhelming.” Rainbow sighed heavily. “The other spots where so easy. Under the ocean off the coast of Fillypines. The basement of the old factory in that abandoned city. The canopy of that forest.” Rainbow kicked the dirt ball indignantly. “And suddenly you have to dig a massive tunnel and I get to push dirt around for two months.”

Twilight walked up to Rainbow and pulled her into a hug. “It’s not all bad, I have you here and we can always take a break from time to time.” She pulled away smiling. “We knew this wouldn’t be easy when we started, and it’s only a small setback. It’ll be over before you know it.”

~ ~ ~

They stood side by side staring at the rock wall in front of them. Twilight had her eyes closed and was breathing in a deep steady fashion while Rainbow licked her lips and shifted her weight from side to side.

“Just beyond this wall is the end of the tunnel.” Twilight reached out with her hoof and put it on the smooth stone she was getting ready to carve the final pieces of her tunnel from. “Four months of work, four long months.”

Rainbow bumped her hip against Twilight’s. “Come on do it already, rip open that wall and lets get this spell cast already. You said it wouldn’t take more than three months a month and a half ago.” Twilight rolled her eyes and her horn lit up as she stuck her tongue out at Rainbow. “Yea yea, how can I possibly mark of months when there is no time, well I am doing it the same way you did. You dug and I made tally marks at the entrance for each ball of dirt, hours into days into weeks into months.”

The cave shook and rumbled as dust exploded from the wall, washing over them in a wave, and Twilight carved away a large of the wall. “That’s really clever Rainbow, I am proud of you.” She smiled and dumped the rubble into the mining cart Rainbow had brought down the tunnel. More rumblings vibrated up through Rainbow’s hooves as Twilight sheared more stone away.

They both lapsed into silence as Twilight worked. Inch after inch of stone was carved away, turning into feet that slowly became a small cavern at the end of the tunnel. Finally the shaking subsided and the rumbling came to an end and Twilight stood sweaty and covered in dust. The cavern she had made was large enough for her and Rainbow to stand side by side and the floor was completely smooth.

Without a word Rainbow passed Twilight her chalk and Twilight got down to work. First she drew a simple circle and then without lifting the chalk she began to weave together complex runes. Rainbow watched enraptured as Twilight seemed to dance around the small cave, her magic leaving a short trail like a sparkler during the Summer Sun Celebration.

Finally Twilight stopped, a confident smile on her lips as she reviewed her work. “I’m really getting good at this circle I think Rainbow.” She looked over and found Rainbow staring at her with a dopey grin. “Hey Rainbow?” Twilight waved her hoof in front of Rainbow.

“Huh, what?” Rainbow shook her head and sat back, distancing herself from the flailing hoof in front of her.

“You okay Rainbow, you spaced out?”

Rainbow blinked and coughed into her hoof, turning to hide the light blush on her cheeks. “Yea, sorry. I was just...excited about us finishing and seeing the circle really drove it home.” She gave a strained smile and avoided making eye contact with Twilight.

“If you say so.” Twilight turned away with a worried shrug and plopped herself down in the middle of the circle. Her breathing slowed as her horn grew brighter and brighter. At first it was one beam of magic then three then six then twelve strings of magic branched from Twilight’s horn to the circle. From the points of contact the magic slowly spread along the lines of the chalk, a few centimeters off the stone. As they all connected the circle began to blink faster and faster until with a woosh it flared white and vanished.

Twilight stood up once the magic was gone and dusted herself off as best she could. “There we go, spell number four. Eight more and we get to see everyone again.” The smile on Twilight's face put a child’s to shame as she thought about seeing everyone again.

Twilight’s smile was infectious and Rainbow felt herself smiling along with her. “You think any of them would ever believe we dug a two and half mile tunnel through solid rock?” Rainbow slide up beside Twilight as she left the tunnel and bumped her with her wing. “The great and studious Twilight sheared out a two and half mile tunnel from a stone wall.”

Twilight shook her head and bumped Rainbow with her butt. “What about poor Rarity if she ever learned about that diamond we found?”

Rainbow let out a short barking laugh. “Or the look on Pinkie’s face when we tell her about that underground party store we found on that little back road outside of her hometown.”

The two leaned against each other as they laughed and reminisced about their journey as they left the mines. They paused to look at the hashmarks Rainbow had left and Twilight added one final mark at the bottom. A mischievous smirk played across her lips as she suddenly grabbed Rainbow by her front hooves and lifted her into a happy dance.

“We’re done atlast, one more spell cast and one more closer to seeing them again.” Twilight let out a bubbly laugh as she twirled with Rainbow. She spread her wings and they lifted into the air a little and Rainbow guided them down into a nearby stream where they splashed down, their bodies shaking with unrestrained mirth.

Rainbow rolled unto her back and floated in the water staring at the sky and Twilight drifted up against her and they floated together for a while. Finally they left the brook together and curled up under a tree and drifted off, visions of their friends playing through their dreams.

The Return

View Online

Griffonstone, a small little village long since fallen to ruin which now stood a testament to a fallen king’s greed and fall from grace because of it. Wooden shacks crumbling with neglect dotted the city between ancient crumbling airies where the citizens had once live high above the ground. There was little left in this town beyond the most stubborn or proud griffon’s who stayed only because their ancestors had been born there. The village itself was almost forgotten and so where it’s secrets and one of those secrets are what had brought Twilight there to visit.

The village of Griffonstone sat nestled in a valley between two large peaks along the Griffonstone Mountains and high up above the village on the slopes of the southern peak was a valley. Long ago in a time before ponies, before griffons, before anyone called these mountains home a great glacier had carved away the side of the mountain and melted as it dug closer and closer to an ancient magma chamber.

The magma had long since cooled but the shoots that had fed it still brought up heat from beneath the surface and warmed this small valley. So amongst the frigid peaks, hidden beneath the deadly ever shifting winds sat a picturesque valley few dared even try and reach. History says the kings of Griffonstone in its peak used the valley as a personal retreat and the griffon mages had created the winds to guard the king while they were there.

This is what brought Twilight to Griffonstone this day. She felt she was in desperate need of a vacation and because she was so close to Griffonstone she decided it was high time she visited the city. Two of her friends had gone and she had missed out because of her duties but those weren’t an issue now. She had arrived two days ago and after searching the village and coming up empty she had decided to brave it herself based on what she knew.

Twilight had taken a parka and some other cold weather gear from a shop in town and was now trekking up the mountain. The blizzard presented only a small issue as she used her magic to scop large swathes of it out of the way like she had with the dust back in the mine. Scoop, walk, scoop again. It was methodical and monotonous work that left her mind to wander.

A glint from the snow caught her eyes and a deep sense of loneliness filled her heart causing her to pause. “Why can’t everything be as simple as climbing this mountain Spike?” She shook her head and finished moving the snow. “I wasn’t even asking that much, it didn’t have to, well, it didn’t have to go like that. Don’t you agree?”

She continued on for a few moments before freezing wrinkling her brow then laughing. “Of course not Spike, that’s just silly. Pinkie would....” Slowly her words came to a halt and she started cursing under her breath and stomping her hoof in the snow. “No Twilight, don’t do this. It’s okay to be alone. You don’t need her, them, him....” She threw her head back and screamed in frustration.

“I am me. I am Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, Bearer of the Element of Magic. My mind is my weapon, my strength is my own. A tear fell down her cheek. “My pillars are gone but I am still Twilight Sparkle. I am Twilight Sparkle.”

Each breath she took was slow and deep as she gathered herself again, each exhale she said something about herself. After a long while she stopped shaking and the tears stopped flowing and she took a few shaky steps. “I am alone, she left me, I left her. Together we were....together we were...what were we Applejack?”

Twilight stumbled and caught herself again. “I’ll be fine. Yea, I am just fine without her. I am Twilight Sparkle and I don’t need her.” Her eyes seemed to focus again and her steps grew more confident as she started moving up the mountain again. Slowly her mind started to wander again and she found herself daydreaming.

“Tartarus.” Twilight managed to catch herself by snapping her wings open just as her hoof went over the edge. She stared down into the deep crag and breathed a sigh of relief. “I need to focus that was way to close. Moving away from the edge she took a moment to collect herself before she started again.

As she made the next scoop it happened. Stark line along the ground. One side white powdery snow and on the other vibrant green grass. Along the walls sparkled crystal clear eyes that brought in the light from outside the valley. Warmth radiated up from the lush ground beneath her hooves as she stepped into the valley and shed her coat and scarf. Along the eastern side she could a bubbling brook probably from the runoff of the melting ice. Great big willow trees dotted the embankments of the brook and flowers of every color dotted the valley floor. It was more beautiful than she could have ever imagined.

As she moved deeper into the valley the crisp air filled her lungs and tall grass tickled her knees inviting her to break out into a trot that slowly turned into a gallop. She whooped and hollered as she galloped through the valley. The beating of her hooves drowning out all her worries until she was completely carefree as she ran.

Like a child she romped through the lush valley. Her eyes closed in bliss and she imagined the gentle breeze that she was certain would be tickling her mane if time wasn’t frozen. “Oh you would love this.” Her smile spread wider as she went, all worries forgotten. “If you hadn’t been so stubborn we would be seeing this together, like we should have been.”

Her gallop slowed to a trot as she approached the brook and stepped across the smooth pebbles into the frigid water and let it caress her ankles. “It’s so amazing, just like I thought you were.” Her smile faded a little and she splashed in the water with her hoof. “But what’s past is past, I’ll solve this problem and then, then it’ll be over.”

Twilight made her way to the beach, exhaustion slowly catching up with her as she moved. Beneath one of the large willow trees she spied a small hovel made by two roots. Smiling with exhaustion she languidly made her way over and nestled into it. “Oh how I wish you could be here to see all this. You might be the only thing that can outmatch the beauty of this valley, only you.” Her eyes started to drift closed, exhaustion setting in.


Without warning Twilight felt her world violently shake and pain lanced through her side and over her wing. Groaning she tried to move her hoof and was greeted with agonizing pain.


No she was fine she needed to rest. She was under the willow tree, resting in—pain, oh the pain. It interrupted her thoughts again and she tried to voice her pain but it hurt to much. This was wrong, she was warm under the tree so why was it so cold. Why did everything hurt?

“Please Twilight answer me. Say something, anything.”

The voice needed a response, some sign she was okay. The voice, the voice was really important and it cut through the fog and oh she needed to say something to it, anything. Why was the voice important, why did it make her chest hurt, what was going on?

“Oh Fate, please hang on Twilight and I’m sorry for this.”

Twilight’s world seemed to shift violently and she felt the comfort of her resting place leave her. Groaning in pain she tried to open her eyes but she couldn’t. There was too much pain and squeezing her eyes closed was the only thing that kept her from passing out.

“No, no, no. Hang in there Twilight, we’re almost there.”

The pain, she need to think of something else, anything else. Why did it hurt so much? The voice, her answer. Focus on it, not the pain. Listen for the sound of the voice, tell the voice you’re ok. Her lips cracked and it felt like her chest was on fire. She squeaked out a groan.

“That’s it, hold on, fight it. Stay awake.”

Slowly the pain faded enough to loosen its grips on her and she cracked one eye open just a little. A familiar shape was above her. Familiar colors, familiar mane, same gravelly voice. “You came, you really came.” Twilight coughed and she saw little droplets of a crimson fluid spray out in front of her. “What, is that mine?”

Rainbow’s wings slowed but the tension didn’t leave her body. “Twilight, please. You fell from the mountain, please hang on. Please.”

“I don’t remember falling.” Twilight barely managed to whisper, breathing deeper to talk louder hurt too much. “I was...the valley, it was so pretty, so warm. You would have loved it, it was almost as pretty as you.”

Rainbow’s wing faltered for a second but she caught herself and bit her lip as a tear threatened to escape her eye. “Yea Twi, I bet it was wonderful. Maybe, maybe once you’re better you can show it to me, take me there.”

“Hey Rainbow?”

“Yeah.” She angled down without Twilight noticing as she coughed again.

“I...I want to say...I’m sorry.”

Rainbow’s flying grew frantic as she tried to both pick up speed and slow down for landing. “No,no,no,not yet. You can be sorry soon, but please not right now, please hang on to that thought.” She alighted on the front stoop of a small, sturdy cabin. With her landing gust, she blew the front door open and glided inside with the grace of a feather.

The cabin looked larger on the inside than it did from outside, with a fireplace and a kitchen in one room and a door leading to a bedroom. Just inside the bedroom door there was a door to the lavatory. The owner was relatively clean and a baker judging by the dozens of bread loaves in the kitchen. Rainbow was pretty sure she knew the owner, but it didn’t matter, she had more important concerns. “Hang on for second Twilight, I’ll get you some more blankets.” She gingerly laid Twilight in front of a warm fire and darted for the other room, returning a moment later with several blankets.

Twilight smiled and stared at her savior as she worked. “Hey Rainbow, thank you. Thank you for everything.”

Rainbow looked up while she was cocooning Twilight in blankets. She caught Twilight’s eye and bit her lip bashfully. “It’s nothing Twi. Hey, you can rest now. I’ll be back in a little bit with some supplies and we’ll take care of your wounds right away.” Rainbow hesitantly planted a gentle kiss on Twilight’s forehead as she left. The warmth and love in the kiss lingered as Rainbow vanished from sight. Murmuring to herself and smiling happily Twilight drifted off before she had a chance to say anything about the kiss but in her dreams she played it over and over.

~ ~ ~

There was a fuzzy quality to the pain, enveloping her limbs, her wings, head, everything, yet it remained indistinct and uniform, as though she were slipping into a hug that embraced every part of her body at once. Beyond the pain was something else. Warmth.

How long had it been since she’d felt something so nostalgic? It felt like the warmth you found by the fireplace with a friend on a cold winter evening. A feeling she had all but forgotten in the long years she’d spent in the timeless place she was trapped. It begged her to stay asleep but she slowly rose from her slumber despite the comforting warmth that wrapped around her.

“How did I get here?”

Twilight blinked the sleep from her eyes and yawned as she tried to get her bearings.

“Where is here?”

Her whole body felt stiff but to know where she was she’d need to move. She grit her teeth and tried to stand up. The instant she started standing her whole body seemed to catch fire and she gasped in pain, slumping back to the floor with a whimper. “Okay, not getting up, definitely not getting up.” Slowly she tried lifting only her head to get a better look around .

“Okay, I’m in a cabin. That’s something at least.” Gingerly she dropped her head back down with a huff. “But how? Think Twilight, think.” Twilight chewed at her lip and closed her eyes in thought. “I was hiking through the blizzard. Spike was being....Spike wasn’t there but I was talking to him and....then what?”

“You fell. Down a ravine.”

“Right right right. Why don’t I remember that?” Twilight pursed her lips and furrowed her brow. “And how did I get to this cabin if I fell?”

“I brought you here. I...I saw you going up the mountain and I followed you”

“Well of course you did, you’re just one of the voices.” Twilight rolled her eyes. “Great now my voices are getting even weird—Tartarus. Why am I indulging myself, I need to stop talking to myself and figure out how I got here.”

A sniffling sound gave Twilight pause and she felt something rest across her back.

“I’m so sorry, Twilight.”

Twilight tried to jump up, fear gripping her. “No, no, no, no. This isn’t real. I must have hit my head and this is all a dream. That’s it, I’m finally dying.” The pain made her vision swim and she felt the grip across her back tighten as it tried to keep her in place.

Her mind raced as she tried to understand. On the one hoof, she’s been hearing voices for a while but on the other; she’d never felt something before. Auditory hallucinations where one thing but physical was something completely new.

“What do I know? I know I fell, I know I seem to be in a cabin, I know I was asleep. None of that helps me.”

“Twilight, it’s real.”

“No, this is, this a dream. I am still dreaming.” Twilight refused to turn her head to the voice. “I just need to dream something else.”

“Please look at me Twilight.”

Twilight took a deep breath. “No, you’re not real. None of this is real. It’s just a very real dream.”

The feeling on her back faded and she felt something shift. A gust of wind ruffled her mane and she heard a stomping sound.

“Tartarus Twilight, stop being a fool.”

The sound of hoofsteps circled around her and she watched as four blue legs entered her vision. They bent at the knees and Twilight watched in awe as Rainbow’s face came into view. Tears fell from her magenta eyes and a soft smile curved the corners of her lips slightly upward.

“It’s me Twilight. I’m back.”

Twilight’s mind froze as it frantically scrabbled to understand what it was seeing. This wasn’t possible, this had to be a dream, but he'd never dreamed of Rainbow looking so much older. Dreams didn’t hurt this much. Carefully she lifted one hoof, ignoring the pain of the motion, and cupped Rainbow’s cheek with her hoof.

It was warm, and a little wet from the tears. Twilight’s breath hitched as Rainbow nuzzled her hoof and she felt the coolness of her Rainbow’s breath tease the hair on her leg.

“But this, you, how?”

Rainbow grabbed Twilight's hoof tightly. “It’s real Twilight. I’m back.”

Tears streamed from Twilight’s eyes as the words filled her. She lurched forward, wrapping both forhooves around Rainbow’s neck and burying her face in Rainbow’s shoulder.

“Woah careful Twi, you took a pretty nasty fall.” Rainbow patted Twilight on her back. “I’m not going anywhere so just take it easy.” Twilight’s grip tightened and she shook her head and she mumbled into Rainbow’s neck. “It’s real Twilight, I’m real”

It took Twilight awhile to calm down enough for Rainbow to pull free from her grasp. Her smile was warm as she looked Twilight in the eyes. “How do you feel right now?”

After taking a few deep breaths Twilight had composed herself enough to respond. “Everything hurts, or tingles, or both.”

“Understandably, that was one heck of a fall you took.” Rainbow stood up and gingerly pulled the blanket covering Twilight back. “I...if I hadn’t seen you leave Griffonstone for the mountain I don’t think...I don’t think...” Rainbow left her sentence hanging and busied herself checking over Twilight’s injuries.

What Twilight saw when the blanket was pulled away froze her thoughts. One wing was in a splint the other bound to her side, the swelling of the joint visible even through the bandages. Large patches of gauze covered dozens of wounds all across her sides. The leg she hadn’t moved was also splinted from her fetlock to her knee while the other was wrapped in bandages that were stained red in several spots.

Every now and then Twilight hissed in pain as Rainbow prodded something or moved something that clearly didn’t want to be moved. Twilight ignored all the pain and instead felt her eyes drift closed as she focused on the feeling of Rainbow’s caring hooves moving across her body. Each time a hoof trailed across her fur it left a warm tingly sensation in its wake that made all the pain fade into the background.

“All done, everything looks like it’s still good. I don’t think I need to change any of the bandages right now.” Rainbow laid herself back down next to Twilight and sighed. “I missed you, I missed you so much.” She looked over with a smile. “Oh Twilight.” Chuckling to herself she pulled the blanket back up with her wing and snuggled up against Twilight’s side. “Sleep well Princess, we can talk later.”

~ ~ ~

Twilight couldn’t help but smile as she watched Rainbow move around the kitchen. Ever since she’d first seen Rainbow lying beside her the smile refused to fade. It was more than she could have ever hoped for. She didn’t much care for the dull ache that covered most of her body—but the doting, she could live with that.

Heaped beside her was a pile of bandages, stained with her blood and sweat. Next to that was bucket and sponge, the water in the bucket was surprisingly clear but all Twilight had been doing lately was sweating. She could move her wings again though, that made both of them happy.

“Hey Rainbow, how long till we can take the splint off my leg?”

Rainbow trotted back from the kitchen, a tray of food balanced on her back. “Well from my experience, another week or so.” She slid the tray from her back and onto the floor in front of Twilight. A small salad and some roasted fish was tonight’s dinner. “Which would be a lot easier to measure if we had some way to keep track. Are you in rush to get moving again?”

Smiling, Twilight shifted and laid herself against Rainbow’s side with a sigh. “I don’t know if I ever want to move again. You make a great maid.”

“Laugh it up Princess but this won’t last forever.” Rainbow stuck her tongue out and wrapped her wing over Twilight like a blanket. “And I expect you to repay me for all this kindness.”

Twilight smiled mischievously. “You’ll hafta wait till I’m all better for full payment, in the meantime-” Twilight tilted her head back and gave Rainbow a peck on the chin. “You’ll hafta settle for small installments.”

Both of them laughed and settled into a comfortable silence as Twilight ate her meal. The atmosphere between them was serene and full of loving warmth. Twilight’s eyes kept flicking back to Rainbow every now and then until Rainbow started humming a song. She couldn’t place the tune but it settled Twilight’s unease.

“Hey Twilight?”

“Yea Rainbow?”

“I’m sorry.”

Twilight stiffened up momentarily and pressed up against Rainbow as though she was trying to prove she was still there. “It’s not your fault Rainbow. I...I was being pig-headed and obsessive. Part of me still thinks I’m right but, but you are too. You might be more right than me honestly.” Her fork landed on the plate with a clink as she lowered her head. “I should have listened to you more.”

Silence hung between them for a moment before Rainbow leaned down and kissed the top of Twilight’s head. “I still feel like it was my fault. You needed me to be there for you and I ran away because I was scared. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and, I wish I’d been more level-headed about it.”

Twilight reached out with her magic to her saddlebags that Rainbow had gone back for. The flap flipped open and a faded brown journal floated out. The cutie mark on the front was cracked and so worn as to be unidentifiable but the interior was remarkably well preserved. The inside cover simply read ‘Clover the Clever’, Starswirl’s missing student.

Twilight opened the book to one of the later pages and stared at the words.

I tried everything. Nothing works, no matter what angle I approach the problem from I can’t find a solution. I went back to my original notes, the basis of the spell and tore it down as far as I possibly could. There was nothing, no possible way to counteract the spell. I’ve lost count of how many years have passed but I know it’s been at least a lifetime. I’ve built a cabin, started a garden—though I realized shortly after I planted everything, it’s never going to be more than seeds. Old age seems to be creeping up on my bit by bit, nowadays my bones creak when I walk and I can see the wrinkles in my reflection and little details keep slipping past me. If my family could see me now, would they recognise me?

Twilight shook her head “I remember how scared I was that that would be our fate. It terrified me, the idea that I would never see the others again.” She sighed heavily and Rainbow wiped the tear from her eye and pulled the book from Twilight’s grasp.

She flipped several pages further into the book and read it aloud.

I thought of something else I could have tried today. I reviewed it a few times and at least in theory it seems possible. If only I had thought of it sooner I might have been able to put it into practice.

Who am I kidding, I would never be foolish enough to try this method. The laws of energy conservation make it suicidal. Only a fool would ever consider this kind of option, a desperate suicidal fool. Even now after all these years I don’t find myself that desperate, but I do miss them all so much. I just want to see them one more time, one last time before the end.

“Then you found this passage and it gave you hope. I didn’t understand it but it scared me.” A smile wormed its way onto Rainbow’s face. “It wasn’t till after I left that I understood why this passage scared me.”

Twilight shifted and pulled Rainbow’s head down close with her magic. She pressed her forehead against Rainbow’s with a warm smile. “And I think I know exactly why, something I didn’t discover until I had you in my life again.” Twilight fidgeted, her cheeks felt warm. “Hey Rainbow, why did you come back? I know you followed me from Griffonstone but, why?”

Rainbow pulled away from Twilight a little, her cheeks flushed. “I...I was worried.”

“Why were you in Griffonstone?”

The blush on Rainbow’s cheeks deepened. “Coincidence.”


“No.” Rainbow sighed and looked at Twilight, her heart racing. “I remembered that one of the places you needed to cast the spell was near here and I was hoping that you might pass through Griffonstone.”

Twilight smiled and her blush deepened. “You were waiting for me?” Rainbow nodded and rubbed her hoof against her leg. “Why didn’t you say something before I left to climb the mountain.”

“I was afraid.”

“Afraid?” Twilight shifted a little to get a better look at Rainbow. “Afraid of what?”

“How you would react to seeing me again? Afraid you were still angry.” Rainbow shook her head. “It was silly I know, but... I missed you.”

Twilight bit her lip and looked from side to side. “Rainbow, I stopped being angry a long time ago. I missed you and everyone else so much I was hearing you even when you weren’t there.” Twilight lowered her head and blushed deeply. “I used to dream of seeing you again, of holding you in my hooves. Of so many things, things I forgot I dreamed about until I saw you again and it made the hurt rise up again. Rainbow, I stopped being mad at you the day I realized I’d fallen in love with you and that I’d lost every chance I had with you.”

Silence fell between them for a moment before Rainbow pulled Twilight’s head and locked eyes with her. Slowly the leaned forward and their lips locked. It wasn’t passionate and full of fire like so the first kisses Rarity loved to dream about, no it was gentle and warm. It was full of love and hope and longing.

When the kiss finally broke both of them felt like a weight had been lifted from their chest. The fires they had both tried to smother roared to life and the rest of the world burned away. All the worries, the sorrows, none of it mattered now.

Twilight snuggled up against Rainbow and smiled as she became wrapped in Rainbow’s wing once more. If she tried, she could almost forget what it had been like when she was alone, almost.

“Rainbow, can you promise me something?”

The smile on Rainbow’s face faded just a little and she held Twilight a little tighter. “Please don't make me promise something that would make me lose you again.”

“Nothing like that, I want you to promise you won’t leave again. I don’t think I would survive if you left me again.”

“I promise Twilight. I promise never to leave you alone again as long as I live. I swear to stay by your side in sickness and in health. Until the day I die I will never leave you again.”

Twilight felt herself drifting off but just before she fell asleep she smiled. “And I promise that I will never leave you again.”

~ ~ ~

For the second time Twilight had convinced Rainbow to take her out of the cabin and onto the front porch. It hadn’t been long since Rainbow had taken the splint off and Twilight felt confident enough to start moving again. Together with Rainbow Twilight limped back and forth across the porch, from one end to the other. Her movements were stiff and she tired easily but without fail Rainbow caught her whenever she stumbled.

“I think that’s enough now, Twilight.” Rainbow smiled warmly and helped Twilight into one of two chairs on the porch. “We don’t want to push it too hard without a professional around.”

“Well, look who’s talking about not pushing it!” Twilight rolled her eyes and leaned back in the chair. “I get it Rainbow, you’ve been saying that since before you even took the splint off.” She smiled at Rainbow. “I’ll take it easy and follow your orders. Now sit down and let's relax out here a little, I was starting to get cabin fever and this change of scenery is amazing.”

Around the cabin was a pristine field of untouched snow, not a single hoof or foot print as far as the eye could see. A few trees dotted one corner just a little ways from the cabin. The peak of the neighboring mountain loomed up overhead to the right, reflecting the sunlight in a beautiful display or rainbows. Twilight sighed happily as she looked around the field, relishing the feel of the cold air in her lungs and the lack of walls.

“Hey Twilight.” Twilight opened one eye and looked at Rainbow. “I’ve been wondering for a while now, how is it that some things still seem to work and others don’t? Like, we can move things around, but we can’t seem to start a fire. That seems really weird, doesn’t it?”

Twilight hummed to herself in thought for a minute before she shrugged. “It’s magic, Rainbow.” A coy smile lit up her face as she watched Rainbow gasp. “Yes Rainbow, I the great Twilight proclaim that it is simply magic.”

Rainbow laughed lightly and shook her head. “Finally it seems there is something not even the Great Princess Twilight understands! Will the wonders of this world never cease.”

Both of them broke into a fit of giggles that slowly became full-bellied laughs. Finally Twilight wiped a happy tear from her eye and took a deep breath. “Ow.” She took another deep breath and leaned back. “I can’t remember the last time I laughed like that.”

“Neither can I.”

Twilight let out a deep breath slowly, composing herself and settling back into her chair. “Honestly though, I tried to figure it out at one point. I figured out it was a feature of the spell, probably from how I applied magic sentience. Unfortunately, the nature of the spell makes it difficult to perform experiments with accurate results. I think the selective movement is somehow related to the safety factors I initially integrated with the spell.”
“So you tried but until the spell is broken you can’t solve that riddle.” Twilight frowned and huffed. “For what it’s worth I think if anyone could have solved it, you could have.

Twilight tapped her hoof impatiently on the chair as she thought about it. “I know but it, it’s another one of those reminders I don’t want.”

Rainbow laid her hoof over Twilights to stop it from tapping. “Hey, we still have time to undo the spell.”

Twilight squeezed Rainbow’s hoof and smiled. “I know we do, and I think, maybe, I should but I don’t think it’s what I want now. I miss everyone so much that it feels like my heart is being torn apart, but even if we went back we aren’t the same mares who left. They won’t have changed at all while we lived an entire life inside this frozen world.” A tear rolled down Twilight’s cheek and she sniffled. “I don’t think I could handle that and I also found something else worth living for.” She smiled at Rainbow with a little blush on her cheeks.

“I know exactly what you mean Twilight.” Rainbow traced the tip of her wing on Twilight’s cheek and squeezed her hoof back. “Our friends will always be our friends but we’ve change so much, so so much since the accident. They are still our friends, but we haven’t seen them in a lifetime. Picking up where we left off might not be possible anymore.”

Rainbow leaned forward and used her wing to pull Twilight forward into a kiss. They held it for a moment before parting. Twilight wrapped a wing around Rainbow’s back and Rainbow did the same for Twilight as they settled into a comfortable silence together. They played good memories in their heads as they held each other comfortingly. There on the porch time felt more precious than ever with all the time they could ever want.


View Online

Twice a week, and always on Saturday, Ponyville town square became the market place. The place were the local farmers and gardeners could sell the fruits of their labor to the rest of Ponyville. Over the years the products had expanded to include just about everything you could need, from home knit sweaters in the winter to lawn services offered by young ponies looking for a little spending money.

Rainbow stood on a side street, watching the hustle and bustle of the market. From where she stood Rainbow she watched several familiar ponies browsing the weekend agora, appraising goods and chatting pleasantly. Roseluck was selling her trademark roses with the twins who filled the booth with every flower but roses. Across from them was Time Turner selling watches he’d made himself. A little further down were three foals advertising lawn care and pet sitting.

This was the Ponyville Rainbow remembered even if it didn’t recognize her anymore. Her faded, grey mane had no place here. The loss of the youthful twinkle in her eye, now replaced by crows feet crinkling the corners of them; so much had changed since she’d last been in Ponyville. There’d been no reason to believe anyone would recognize her, yet it weighed on her heart a little to know that all she was worth to them now was a polite hello and warm smiles.

“That’ll be two bits Ma’am.”

The familiar husky voice of one of her oldest friends rang out clearly through the market. The old country warmth filled Applejack’s words as she thanked the customer for their business, flooding Rainbow’s mind with memories. Sleeping in the orchard trees, competitions between friends. So many old memories, it made her heart ache.

“You okay?”

A young foal tilted his head to the side as Rainbow wiped the tear from her cheek and smiled at him. “I’m fine, just remembering another lifetime.”

The foal looked a little confused but accepted her answer with a smile. “You sound like my grandma, she says funny things like that sometimes too.” A voice pierced through the market and the colt stiffened. “That’s my mom, I need to go. You have a nice day Ma’am.” With that the little foal scampered of towards the voice calling to him leaving.

Rainbow turned her eyes back to the market. Applejack was serving another customer, the same warm smile on her face as thanked them for their business. Rainbow lifted her hoof, ready to go greet one of her oldest friends and froze midstep. Her hoof shook as she lowered it back down next to the other one without taking a step.

“What am I doing, she’s my friend. One of my oldest friends.”

A bubbly voice reached Rainbow her head snapped up to see Pinkie bouncing across the market towards Applejacks stall. Behind her rolled a cart of apple themed confections that still steamed freshly from the oven, the smell filling the market and making Rainbow’s heart flutter. Apple Bloom broke from her conversation with Big Mac as she started helping Pinkie set the pastries on Applejack’s stall.

Rainbow licked her lips and lifted her hoof again. “It’s easy Rainbow, just put one hoof in front of the other. All you need to do is walk over there.” She reached a purple feather she wore on a chain around her neck with the hoof she had lifted to take a step. “So what’s stopping me Twilight?”

She played with the purple feather absentmindedly as she watched the market.

“You can do it, just put one hoof in front of—”

Rainbow’s sentence was cut off with a soft squeak as someone ran into her causing her to stumble and fall over.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t....” A cream colored pegasus with a long pink mane and tail shook her head and stood. She reached out, offering a hoof to help Rainbow up. Their eyes met and mare froze, confusion etching into her face. “Do I know you?”

A lump formed in Rainbow’s throat as she gazed into Fluttershy’s eyes. She wanted to call out, to cry, something, but all she could do was cry. Every plan she’d had to meet them again went out the window and she dove forward, wrapping Fluttershy in a tight hug.

“Oh, um....there there?” Fluttershy hesitantly patted Rainbow on the back in confusion. “Are you, okay?”

After a few minutes Rainbow managed to find her voice again. “I’ve missed you so much Fluttershy.” She pulled away and looked Fluttershy in the eyes again. “So much.”

The sound of her raspy voice rang bells in Fluttershy’s ears and her eyes widened slowly. “Rainbow?”

Rainbow nodded with a smile, tears still streaming down her cheeks. With a happy squeak Fluttershy wrapped Rainbow in a tight hug and started sobbing with joy.

Soon their crying had attracted everyone’s attention. Most of the ponies were confused, a few curious. Applejack was one of the aforementioned ponies. Confused by Fluttershy’s crying over the old mare who had been watching the market for a while. Finally curiosity won over and she motioned for Big Mac to tend the stall as she made to go find out what was happening.

While Applejack was trying to understand what was going on Pinkie Pie had been putting two and two together. All morning her Pinkie Sense had been going crazy, giving her a very confusing message. It kept telling her that a new friend was arriving while also saying it was an old friend, an old new friend. She saw Fluttershy crying with an old mare who was somehow vaguely familiar. It all fell into place and she was halfway across the market before Applejack had even started to move.

Rarity remained frozen.Her plans for a spa date with Fluttershy had been interrupted by the impossible. Rainbow, who had disappeared quite some time ago, seemed to have returned. Her mane was quite faded and her face was quite wrinkled and yet Rarity knew without a doubt that it was Rainbow.

Rarity, ever the drama queen, cried the hardest and was last to move but she forget all decorum as she descended upon Rainbow and her friends with tearful joy. The town watched in wonder for a bit as its most recognized citizens greeted their missing friend in what was one the happiest dog piles they had ever scene. It wasn’t long before the small town’s rumor mill had spread the news to every corner of Ponyville and everyone knew Rainbow was back. There was one question that hung on everyone’s mind in light of the joyous news though, where was Twilight?

~ ~ ~

Rainbow smiled gently as her eyes drifted closed. The calm and gentle spring breeze tousled her mane, bringing in the scents and memories of Ponyville. A tangy scent of apples ripe on their branches, ready to be harvested. It would be Autumn soon, she could almost taste the sweet golden nectar those apples would make, feel the fizzing on her tongue with that first sip.

Nothing went better with that first sip than one of Pinkie Pie’s apple fritters. Faintly under the apples she could smell the tangy sweetness of Sugarcube corner baking loaves of bread and cakes. There wasn’t a creature alive who could out bake Pinkie. How she’d missed those cupcakes and Pinkie’s parties.

Without warning a group of foals barreled past her bench, their innocent laughter bringing tears to Rainbow’s eyes. She watched her favorite young pegasus darting across the grass with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom after the foals. The sound of Scootaloo’s laughter filled her heart with warmth, a sound straight from her memories now teasing her ears from outside her dreams. It was sweeter than the sweetest chorus she had ever heard.

Rainbow closed her eyes with a smile and sighed happily. Everything was almost perfect, there was only one thing missing. Her hoof caressed the purple feather around her neck sadly, tears forming in her eyes.

“I’m home Twilight, I’m home.” The tears spilled freely from her eyes as the edges of the feather brushed against her hoof. “It hasn’t changed at all Twilight. Neither have the girls. It’s like I stepped back in time.”

Rainbow opened her eyes and watched the foals as they played their game of tag. She could see Lyra and Bon Bon entering the park with a picnic basket. A shadow flitted over the park and Derpy landed near the foals. Dinky scampered down from her perch and gave Derpy a hug before she darted to join in the game of tag. It was an iconic afternoon in every sense of the word, that small town Sunday afternoon in the park. If only she could had shared it with Twilight.

“I never thought, it’s so much sweeter Twilight. Oh Twilight, I missed this place so much, if only...”

Rainbow trailed off, the feather clutched tightly in her hoof as she hung her head for moment before looking up. Scootaloo rolled in the grass with Snips, her prey had been caught and now he was it. All the foals laughed, Scootaloo’s laugh easily picked out.

“To hear that sound again, it’s better than it ever was in my dreams.”

Rainbow turned her eyes to the sky and let the breeze dance over her muzzle. The breeze carried everything with it, the smells, the sounds, the memories of her youth. For a moment Rainbow felt it again, that spark of youthful rebelliousness that she used to be so well known for.

The feeling of the wind under her wings as she danced through the clouds with a joyous holler. Rainbow could feel that familiar sensation of her wings straining against physics to pull her through her latest trick Lost in her memories her wings twitched, remembering the motions and positions she had drilled into herself repeatedly as a younger mare.

Rainbow sighed and opened her eyes, rejoining with the present. A nostalgic smile pulled at her lips as the feelings faded away and she was once again her old and faded self. Rose Luck waved at her with a warm smile and polite ‘Good afternoon’ as she passed by. Rainbow waved back, returning the smile and greeting.

A sense of peace fell over Rainbow as she lay there, watching the ponies as they went about their day in the park. Parents watched their foals play with content smiles, lovers snuggled and kissed in the shade of trees; others simply enjoyed the park and its scenery while some enjoyed a good book under the afternoon sun.

Rainbow fought the sense of peace as it lulled her to sleep. She had one more promise to keep and she didn’t want to miss the picnic with her friends. Her gaze drifted down to her saddlebags where four letter sat bound together, each addressed to a different mare. She felt so tired, but she had one last promise to Twilight she had to fulfill.

Her eyes snapped open suddenly. She could hear Pinkie Pie laughing about something, probably a joke between her and the girls. Slowly and carefully Rainbow slipped off the bench to greet her friends. Her heart swelled as they rounded the corner. They all waved and she smiled as they approached.

Pinkie bounced up and gave her a hug. “Hi Rainbow.”

“Afternoon Pinkie.” Rainbow returned the hug with a warm smile. “I’m glad you guys could make it.”

“Oh we wouldn’t have missed it for the world dear.” The smell of warm sandwiches and cupcakes wafted from Rarity’s picnic basic as she walked gave Rainbow a hug.
Winona barked and licked Rainbow’s hoof when Applejack let go of her leash to lay out the blanket. “Rarity is right, it’s been too long since we’ve all had lunch together.”

Carefully Fluttershy helped Rainbow over to the blanket where she had put a cushion down. Her smile said everything she wanted it to without any words. Rainbow thanked her and settled into the cushion with a sigh and waited as Rarity emptied the picnic basket.

Daisy sandwiches with steaming bread and fresh picked daisies and special cupcakes from Pinkie were pulled from the basket. Several bottles of soda were underneath the food and those too were taken out and passed around. The cupcakes were decorated with little purple candy stars perched on top with twinkling star like sprinkles dusted around them in the lavender frosting. Overall the meal wasn’t overly fancy but it all smelled delicious. Rainbow’s eyes glossed over most of the fare and settled on the cupcaked where they lingered as tears collected in her eyes.

“You miss her, don’t you?”

Rainbow wiped her eyes and looked over at Applejack. “It’s been almost five years and I still think about her every day. The time we spent together, up in the cabin, I never would have imagined a life like that for myself. I made so many mistakes and yet she still gave me the greatest years of my life.”

Everyone fell silent as they all remembered Twilight and all the good times they’d had with her. Finally Fluttershy laid a wing over Rainbow’s. Rainbow looked over at Fluttershy with a grateful smile and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Thanks Flutters but I’m ok, sort of. I wish I could have done more for her but what I did do was made her the happiest mare in the world. If she had any regrets when she died, it was that she didn’t get to see all of you again.”

Everyone smiled and they started the picnic in earnest. They shared memories, mostly Rainbow talking about the things she and Twilight did and the places they visited. The girls talked about what they had been up to during the years Rainbow had spent traveling home from where she had been. It was almost like the old times again for them again, with one piece missing.

Rainbow sighed happily as she sipped her third soda and watched the park again. Pinkie and Fluttershy where nearby under a tree feeding a squirrel crumbs from the lunch. Rarity sat next to Rainbow, lost in her notebook of dress designs and Applejack was using Rainbow’s otherside as a pillow while she napped with her hat pulled down over her eyes. Scootaloo had dropped by for a little while and was back with Applebloom and Sweetie on the playground.

Rarity looked up and noticed a small tear in Rainbow’s eye. “Is everything alright Rainbow?”

“It feels, surreal almost Rarity. The town, you girls, Scootaloo, it feels almost like a dream.”

Rarity put down her notebook and smiled at Rainbow. “But it’s not, I promise.”

A tear trailed down Rainbow’s cheek and she wiped it away. “I know, I would never dream of a world without Twilight. I tried that once. At first it was liberating, but after a long time apart my life grew grey. I knew I’d messed up, messed up big time. After I realized it I went to find her again. I waited for what felt like a lifetime before she came back. After we reunited it started the greatest time of my life. I found something with Twilight I never could have imagined for myself—and now? Now it’s over and I’m left without her.”

“We all miss her, Rainbow.” Rarity looked down at Twilight’s feather that Rainbow wore. “But she’s still here, in spirit. In our memories and hearts.” Carefully Rarity picked up Twilight’s feather with her magic and moved it closer to her. “We all carry her with us in some way or another.”

Rainbow looked at the feather as Rarity twirled it in her magic before letting it fall back down. “Hey Rarity, do you blame me for what happened?”

“Oh, well, that’s—” Rarity paused, she hadn’t thought about it that much. “Well I haven’t really given it much thought. Plenty of your pranks have gone overboard before and that one was definitely your most foolish, but no, I suppose I don’t. You were younger then, and you made a mistake. It was unfortunate what happened because of it, but it was just that, a mistake.”

Silence fell between them and Rarity picked up her notebook again, humming to herself as she started drawing again. Rainbow found herself thinking about the past again, something she found herself doing more and more often as time went on. She thought about how far she’d come since Twilight’s death and the shock of seeing time move again without her. The poor owner of the cabin had been terrified when he got home and found her crying over Twilight’s body. He’d helped bring her into town and pay for her cremation so Rainbow could bring her back to Equestria.

Almost silently Fluttershy slid up next to Rainbow, being careful not to wake Applejack, and laid down. “What are you thinking about?”

Rainbow glanced over and smiled. “Just the past, I do that a lot now.”


“Yea. I guess there’s just a lot more of it than there is of the future for me. A lot happened and now, now it’s all I have.” Rainbow looked over at Pinkie Pie as she snuggled up against Rarity and watched her draw. “My life is behind me now Fluttershy, and what little is left, I’m glad to be spending it here with all of you.”