It was a dark, cold night. In fact, it was one of the last couple nights of winter. Somewhere in the snowy mountains near the Crystal Empire, the winds blew harsh and wild, bringing with it the cold of the season, and through an open window of a dark, icy castle with cracked walls and towers and covered with spiky icicles. In fact, the castle itself almost looked like a giant monster's mouth, gaping wide open with huge, sharp fangs, ready to bite down on unsuspecting travelers.
At that moment, several shadowy figures appeared in the sky, flying towards the castle, and as they approached it, a drawbridge of ice opened, allowing them to fly inside, where they entered a grand hall, filled with ice statues of ponies, dragons, and other creatures. It was soon revealed that the figures were a small herd of Pegasi, mostly stallions, and at the head of them was a white stallion with platinum blonde mane and tail with a white streak and his cutie mark consisted of a dark cloud with a gust of wind beneath it. For some reason, he also had a scar on his muzzle and two on his left shoulder. His dark red eyes had this bitter look to them, like if the next pony or creature that something wrong to him, it would earn them a hoofprint to their face.
Soon, he and the other Pegasi bowed before another shadowy figure, who gazed upon him with red eyes that had slitted pupils.
"Your Majesty," said the lead stallion. "We have returned from our scouting mission."
"And?" the figure asked in a feminine voice.
"The ponies of Canterlot are preparing for the Springtime Celebration," said the stallion. "They won't see us coming."
"Excellent," the figure said with a wicked grin. "Well done, Frostbite."
"Of course, Your Majesty," said the stallion, known as Frostbite. "We live to serve you and only you."
"Princess Celestia may control the sun," said the figure as she stepped down from her icy throne, "but the sun cannot shine forever."
The figure was soon revealed to be an alicorn with a viridian coat, a light blue tiara on her head with a red jewel on the front, a diamond-shaped cutie mark on her flanks...and a mane and tail that seemed to be made an entirely out of a snowy wind. Her red eyes glared down at her Pegasi minions, who all bowed their heads before her.
"The time is nigh," said the alicorn. "The ponies of Equestria expect winter to end by the next day...unfortunately for them, they're going to be so wrong. For too long, the glorious season of ice and snow has been overshadowed by those ungrateful heathens. Soon...they will all feel the wrath of Queen Tundra!"
On that, she began to laugh, maniacally while her Pegasi minions all glanced each other, some of them looking concerned, while Frostbite remained completely stoic.
"Rest now, my friends," said Queen Tundra. "Come morning...we will ride the North Winds to Canterlot."
"Yes, Your Majesty," said Frostbite as he and his scouts turned and walked away.
It seemed that a dark cloud was about to fall on Equestria, once again.
A beautiful morning in Ponyville...in fact, make that a beautiful spring morning. That's right: it was officially the first day of spring, and everypony in Ponyville had just finished up cleaning up the season of winter, thanks to a certain Princess of Friendship's skills in organization. The snow and ice has melted, the animals had been woken, and the birds were just returning from their long trip south. It was certainly another job well done, and who else was to thank for all of it then Twilight Sparkle and all her friends.
Speaking of Twilight, she was just stepping out of the Castle of Friendship with Spike, Starlight Glimmer, and her younger adopted sister, Moonlight Essence, following after her. As they did, they stopped to look at all the beautiful scenery: the flowers blooming, the green grass, the sunshine...it was just so much to take in. No matter how many times had passed, spring would always be such a beautiful season.
"Wow," Starlight whispered in awe. "If I didn't know better, I'd say this is the most beautiful First Day of Spring I've ever seen."
"It really does look amazing, doesn't it?" asked Twilight.
"My first springtime in Ponyville," said Moonlight. "I love it so much, I wish this day lasts a long time so it doesn't end so quickly."
"Well, it's not over yet," Spike spoke. "We're actually headed to Canterlot today to celebrate the Springtime Celebration!"
"What's the Springtime Celebration?" asked Moonlight.
"It's a bit like the Summer Sun Celebration," Twilight answered, "only in Canterlot, we celebrate the first day of spring in style!"
"Yeah! There's a big party with lots of fun and games!" Spike added.
"Not to mention good food," Starlight added.
"Also, Rarity's selling her spring fashions in Canterlot," said Twilight. "Not to mention Fluttershy's excited to go, too. She's hoping to see the animals, again. They've really taken a shine to her and she just wants to make sure they're doing okay."
"Wow," Moonlight said. "The Springtime Celebration sounds so much fun!"
"That's not the only reason why we're going to Canterlot, though," said Starlight. "We're also going to visit Tempest and Grubber."
"Oh!" exclaimed Moonlight. "I've been wondering about her! I haven't seen her since Hearth's Warming, when baby Miracle Star was born!"
"I've been wondering about her, too," said Twilight. "I hope she's doing okay."
"Tempest is pretty tough, Twilight," Spike pointed out. "I'm sure she's just fine!"
"I know she's tough, Spike," Twilight replied, "but that's not what I'm really worried about."
"What do you mean?" asked Moonlight.
"I noticed that she still acts a little distant," Twilight said. "I mean, yeah, she reconciled with her childhood friends and almost everypony in Equestria has forgiven her for what happened when she was with the Storm King, but...I can't help thinking that something else might be wrong. Sometimes she'll act like she's in a whole different world and it's hard to get her attention until the last second."
"Well, have you asked her anything about this?" Starlight asked.
"Not really, no," Twilight answered. "I'm actually going to talk to her when I get to Canterlot."
"Good luck getting anything outta her," Spike muttered as he walked.
"What was that?" Twilight asked.
"Nothing!" Spike replied.
"Hmm..." Twilight hummed, bemused.
Not too far away, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity were also on their way to the train station, headed for Canterlot. Applejack was packing some baked goods to sell at the Springtime Celebration, such as apple pies, apple tarts, apple turnovers, etc., and Rarity was putting on her spring fashions, like a beautiful new teal sunhat that glittered a bit in the sunlight, as well as a pair of dark blue shades.
"I'm so excited to go the celebration, today," said Fluttershy. "I can't wait to go see my animal friends in Canterlot."
"And I can't wait to show off my new spring fashions!" Rarity added.
"And I just know a bunch of hungry ponies are gonna be hankerin' for some good eatin'," said Applejack. "Luckily, I'm just the pony to provide." She then grunted as she tried to put a box of apple pies in the wagon that Big McIntosh was hitched to. "As soon as I get this box up here."
"I got it!" Apple Bloom exclaimed as she took the box into her hooves and stacked it amongst some others.
"Thanks, Apple Bloom," said Applejack.
"This is gonna be so much fun!" Pinkie exclaimed. "The last Springtime Celebration was so boring...probably because I wasn't there."
"I think you're thinking about last year's Grand Gallopin' Gala," said Applejack.
"Oh, yeah!" Pinkie realized.
"Rainbow Dash, are you ready to go?" asked Fluttershy, but for some reason, Rainbow Dash didn't answer. "Rainbow Dash?"
The four ponies turned to see Rainbow Dash, looking off towards the distance.
"Hmm..." she hummed, thoughtfully.
"Rainbow Dash?" Applejack asked.
"Huh?" Rainbow Dash muttered before he looked back. "What's up?"
"What are you looking at, dear?" Rarity asked.
"Uhh...nothing," Rainbow Dash answered as she looked up at the sky, again. "Just...thinking, I guess."
"Well, put some giddy in your giddyup," said Applejack. "We gotta get to the train station in 20 minutes. Twilight, Spike, Starlight, and Moonlight are probably already there."
"Uh...yeah, I'll be there in a second," said Rainbow Dash, and soon, her friends turned and walked away, heading to the station. As they did, Rainbow Dash continued to watch the sky with curiousness, but soon decided that maybe she was just seeing things before she turned and trotted after the others. However, if she had just looked a bit longer...she would've seen some dark clouds beginning to form in the distance...followed by a cold wind. What's worse...it seemed to be following them straight to Canterlot.
All of Canterlot was abuzz with chatter and excitement as they began to gather at the square, where the Springtime Celebration would soon take place. The children frolicked about, laughing giddily as they romped around the streets, while the older ponies either trotted or galloped in their haste to get to the square. They were all ecstatic at the arrival of spring, and of course, Celestia would be the one to announce it, that is, as soon as she appeared before her subjects.
To keep them preoccupied, they were being sold cupcakes, muffins, and pies by a certain little pudgy hedgehog: Grubber, who sat behind his kiosk, handing out the treats.
"Here you go!" Grubber said as he handed Derpy Hooves a nice, fluffy banana nut muffin. "Enjoy your muffin!"
"Thank you~!" Derpy exclaimed as she trotted away with her muffin. "Mmm...muffin!"
"Next!" Grubber called out, and soon, a very familiar face approached him, causing him to gasp. "Tempest!"
"Hi, Grubber," Tempest greeted with a sweet smile. "Looks like business is going well for you."
"Oh, yeah! Everypony loves my baked goods!" Grubber replied. "Oh, would you like one?"
"I'd love one, actually," Tempest said, which prompted her former "evil sidekick" to hand the magenta unicorn a cupcake: red velvet with pink icing and sparkly blue sprinkes, which she soon paid for before taking a bite. "Mmm...it's delicious!"
"Thanks," Grubber said as Tempest kept eating. However, as she ate, the hedgehog couldn't help noticing a sort of distant look in her eyes, which naturally gave him cause for concern. After Tempest finished eating her treat, she looked over at Grubber and noticed his worried expression.
"Something wrong?" she asked.
"Well, I could ask the same about you," said Grubber, which caused Tempest to blink in surprise before she sighed.
"Wow...you noticed it, too, huh?" asked Tempest. "Princess Twilight, Crystal Cascade, and Cobalt Star said the same thing about me, these past few days."
"What's going on with you, Tempest?" Grubber asked. "Is everything okay?"
"Well..." Tempest started, "I thought that things would get easier for me. I mean...I helped stopped the Storm King, I helped rebuild Canterlot, I made up with my friends...and yet...I still feel lost." She then looked up at Grubber. "I...I know that nearly everypony in Equestria has forgiven me...but I feel like there's still one pony who doesn't forgive me."
"And who's that?" Grubber asked.
"...Me," Tempest replied, almost sorrowfully. "Grubber...I thought I'd be happy after everything that's happened...but I still feel terrible about the things I've done."
"Hey, I did some bad stuff, too!" Grubber added.
"Well, you were more of a minor nuisance, at best," Tempest said. "No offense."
"None taken," Grubber said. "...Look, I'm about to close up. Maybe we can talk more at the festival?"
"...You know what?" asked Tempest. "That sounds like a good idea."
"Great!" Grubber exclaimed as he put up the "CLOSED" sign on his kiosk, got out from behind, and walked alongside Tempest, where a large crowd had gathered at the square, waiting to hear Princess Celestia's and Princess Luna's opening speech for the Spring Celebration, and among the crowd was Twilight and company. Spike, Apple Bloom, Moonlight, and even Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, who had gotten on the train in Ponyville, were sitting on the shoulders of the taller members of the group, so they could get a better view.
"Are the princesses here yet?" asked Moonlight, sitting on Starlight's shoulders.
"Not yet, Moonlight," Starlight said with a smile.
"Quite a crowd, huh?" asked Tempest as she came to join the group along with Grubber.
"Hi, Fizzie!" Pinkie greeted, which caused Tempest to chuckle in slight embarrassment.
"Pinkie, I told you," Tempest whispered, "in public, you call me 'Tempest', remember?"
"Oh, yeah," Pinkie said.
"How are you doing?" asked Twilight. "Where's Cobalt, Crystal, and baby Miracle?"
"Well...I'm hanging in there," said Tempest. "My friends are a little busy this time around with their baby, so I had to come alone...well, until Grubber decided to join me."
Grubber grinned and waved his hands at the ponies.
"How about you?" Tempest asked. "How have you been, Princess Twilight?"
"Oh, I'm fine!" Twilight answered. "Just doing the same old routine, going around Equestria, solving friendship problems..."
"Saving the world from utter annihilation," Tempest quipped, which caused everypony to laugh.
"Good one," said Rainbow Dash.
"Thank you," Tempest replied.
"You know, Tempest," Rarity began, "Twilight says she's been a bit worried about you, lately. Are you sure everything is all right?"
"Well...I guess I'm still caught in a bit of a rut," said Tempest. "I'm sure it'll pass, though."
Just then, Spike gasped as he pointed his claw at the podium.
"Here they come!" he called, causing everypony to look up and see their beloved rulers, Celestia and Luna, flying down toward them before landing upon the podium, causing the crowd to burst into cheers and stomp their hooves on the ground in applause.
"Thank you! Thank you, everypony!" Celestia exclaimed. "Thank you all so much!"
"Yes, thank you!" Luna added. "Now, it's-"
"I love you, Princess Luna!!" called Moonlight, causing the Princess of the Night to chuckle.
"Yes," Luna replied. "Thank you. Now, as you all know, today is officially the First Day of Spring."
"Yes, indeed," Celestia agreed. "Spring is a time of birth, of life, of renewal...a time where we all come together after winter's hardships...as friends...as family."
Some of the ponies in the crowd quitely nodded their heads, and some even sniffled a bit at the heartwarming speech. However, as Celestia continued to speak, Rainbow Dash kept looking up towards the sky, something that her friends and her little sister figure noticed.
"What's going on, Rainbow Dash?" asked Scootaloo.
"Yeah, how come you keep lookin' up at the sky?" asked Applejack.
"...No reason," Rainbow Dash answered.
"And now, without further ado," Luna began, "let the Springtime Celebration officially begin!"
Once again, the citizens of Canterlot broke out into a sea of cheers as flower petals began to rain down from the sky.
"Confetti time!!" Pinkie exclaimed as she fired her Confetti Cannon, which caused balls of confetti to join the flower petals. However, as everypony was beginning to celebrate, Tempest suddenly noticed something: the sky was starting to turn unusually gray, and dark gray clouds began to form, as well. Not long after...familiar flakes of white powder began to fall from them, one of which landed on Sweetie Belle's nose.
"Hey...it's snowing!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed, causing everypony to stop cheering and look up in surprise.
"Well, that's...odd," Rarity said.
"Snow?" Luna asked. "But that's impossible!"
"What's going on here?" Celestia asked.
"Uhhh...Fluttershy?" asked Twilight. "You talked to your groundhog friends, right?"
"Yes," Fluttershy said. "They didn't see their shadows. We're not supposed to be having anymore snow."
"...I got a bad feeling about this," said Tempest.
"Me, too," Grubber agreed, nervously.
"...Twilight," whispered Moonlight.
"D-don't worry, Moonlight," Twlight said. "Everything will fine! ...I hope..."
"So I wasn't just seeing things," Rainbow Dash said. "I knew these were snow clouds!"
"Wait, you saw them before?" asked Applejack.
"Well...kinda," said Rainbow Dash. "I didn't say anything before because I thought it was nothing, at first."
Suddenly, a shadowy figure descended from the clouds, along with several others, and they soon stepped forward to reveal themselves to be Queen Tundra and her Pegasi minions. As Queen Tundra walked, ice began to form on the ground beneath the alicorn's hooves. Almost immediately, the other ponies began to back away from her, except for Twilight and her friends, and even Celestia and Luna glared at her before they stepped down from the podium and confronted their mysterious visitor.
"And just who are you?" asked Celestia.
"Ah, Princess Celestia," said Queen Tundra. "How nice to meet a fellow alicorn."
"My sister asked you a question," Luna glared. "Who ARE you and why are you here? You're interrupting our Springtime Celebration!"
"Silence!!" shouted Frostbite. "You may only address Queen Tundra when she speaks to you!"
"Thank you, Frostbite," said Queen Tundra. "Now, Celestia...as for why I'm here...I've actually come to put an end to this so-called 'Springtime Celebration'."
"What?!" Rarity questioned. "But...but I just finished making my spring fashions!"
"For far too long, winter has been shunned by those who deem it 'cold' or 'meaningless'," Queen Tundra said with a hateful tone. "Well, I decided that winter has been ignored for far too long. I am putting an end to this farce you call 'spring' and giving winter the time it deserves!"
"Winter has come and gone, Queen Tundra," said Celestia. "Please, let's settle down and talk about this."
"I'm DONE talking," Queen Tundra said as her horn began to flash a cyan blue. "From this day forward, you can all consider your beloved spring dead, as well as summer and fall, because winter is now hear to stay, FOREVER!!!"
On that, she shot a magic bolt into the clouds she and her minions rode in on, which soon turned darker and began to swirl about before more snow began to fall, followed by fierce winds begin to blow around. Soon after, Queen Tundra chuckled evilly before she broke into a full blown cackle. However, while Twilight, her friends, Tempest, and all the citizens of Canterlot tried to shield themselves from the wind, Celestia and Luna both glared at the icy alicorn who glared right back at them. Then, Celestia's horn glowed before she fired a beam at Queen Tundra, who fired a beam of her own, which caused the two attacks to cancel each other out and create a large smoke cloud.
"EVERYPONY!!" Celestia called out. "EVACUATE TO THE UNDERGROUND SHELTERS!!!"
Everypony broke out in a full-blown panic as they scattered throughout the streets while Celestia and Queen Tundra continued their battle. Knowing her sister was now preoccupied with her foe, Luna realized it was up to her to make sure everyone evacuated to safety, along with the help of the Royal Guards.
"Hurry, everypony!" Luna called as she pointed to the south. "This way!!"
"You heard Princess Luna! Move it!" shouted one of the guards.
"Make sure all children are with you!!" added another.
As for the Mane 6, they were busy trying to make sure everypony didn't end up getting separated from the crowd and end up lost, including any fillies and colts. Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were especially keeping a close eye on Spike and their younger sisters.
"Starlight!" Twilight called. "Take Moonlight and hurry to the shelters!"
"Got it!" Starlight answered as she took Moonlight away using her magic and hurried off with the crowd.
"Twilight! No!!" Moonlight cried as she was whisked away, while Twilight looked up at the sky and saw Celestia and Queen Tundra, both colliding with each other with powerful magic. Celestia's horn clashed with Queen Tundra's and the two growled as they tried to force each other back, but then Queen Tundra kicked Celestia in her stomach, sending her back several feet, but the Princess of the Sun managed to stop herself using her wings. Then she fired a sunbeam at Queen Tundra, who dodged to the left before she fire a beam of ice magic at Celestia.
"Twilight, come on!" Spike called.
"I have to go help Princess Celestia!" Twilight answered. "She could be in serious trouble!"
"Forget it!" Rainbow Dash denied. "She can handle herself!!"
Twilight looked up as she heard Celestia's cry of pain and gasped upon seeing her beloved former teacher's right front hoof...frozen in ice, while Queen Tundra gave her a wicked grin.
"Damn you...!" Celestia cursed.
"What's wrong, Celestia?" Queen Tundra asked. "Getting cold hooves?" She then gave a malicious chuckle.
"...Yeah, okay, go help," said Rainbow Dash, and Twilight soon flew to the sky to help her former mentor. However, before she could get close enough, she was quickly blindsided by a white blur, causing her to crash into the ground.
"Twilight!!" Applejack cried.
"Uggh..." Twilight groaned as she stood up and saw Frostbite, glowering down at her, along with several of Tundra's Pegasus minions.
"Well, well," Frostbite said. "Princess Twilight...I've actually been looking for you."
"Y...you have?" Twilight asked, nervously.
"Hey!!" Rainbow Dash shouted as she, Fluttershy, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity ran to their friend's rescue. "Leave her alone!!"
"No interferences!" Frostbite ordered, and soon, his comrades intercepted the rest of the Mane 6, 3 mares and 2 stallions, respectively.
"Get out of our way!" demanded Rainbow Dash. "Our friend needs help!!"
"Forget it!" shouted a male Pegasus stallion with a spiky navy blue mane and tail with white streaks, a teal coat, and a cutie mark that consisted of snowflakes falling from a cloud.
"Commander Frostbite's orders!" exclaimed a female Pegasus mare with a floral white coat, a curly vanilla mane and tail with peach streaks, and a cutie mark that consisted of icicles.
"You asked for it, then!!" Applejack shouted before she kicked the mare in the face, while Rainbow Dash tackled the stallion with all her might. As for Rarity, she punched a Pegasus mare with a magic mint-colored spiky mane and tail, an azure mist coat, and a cutie mark that was made up of a snowball while Pinkie Pie fired her Confetti Cannon at another mare with a Marian blue coat, an electric blue mane and tail with cyan streaks, and a cutie mark that consisted of a snowboard. Meanwhile, Fluttershy was trying her best to avoid getting into a fight, but it seemed that the other stallion, one with a pine green coat, a white mane and tail with gray streaks, and a cutie mark consisting of a snowy pine tree, growled as he had her cornered. Unfortunately for him, Fluttershy had pretty good reflexes, for when he lunged at her, she ducked down and he ended up crashing into a wall.
"Sorry," Fluttershy apologized, meekly.
However, just when it seemed that the group was free to help Twilight, their enemies got right back up to face them again.
"Uh-oh," Applejack muttered. "I think we got a problem."
"While they're busy," Frostbite said as he stamped his hoof against Twilight's body, "what's say you and I have a little chat, Princess Twilight?"
"I got a better idea!!"
Frostbite turned his head, only to get kicked in the jaw by Tempest, which sent him crashing into a wall.
"Get up!" Tempest cried as she helped Twilight to her hooves, but the Princess of Friendship looked up and watched as Princess Celestia continued to fight off Queen Tundra...with two frozen hooves.
"Princess Celestia!!" Twilight cried.
"Twilight, go!" Celestia shouted. "Hurry and get to the shelters with your friends! I'll be fine, I promise!!"
Despite her reluctance, Twilight tearfully turned and joined her friends while Frostbite and his cohorts pursued them. However, Spike soon stood in their way before he took in a deep breath and blew out a fireball, which scorched the ground enough to cause a smoke screen that blocked Frostbite and his friend's field of vision. By the time it had dissipated, Twilight and friends had vanished from their sight.
"She's gone," said one of the female Pegasi.
"...Let her go, for now," Frostbite said. "She has to come back, eventually. After all..."
THUD!!! The group turned to see Celestia...completely frozen in a block of ice, all except for her face. She grunted as she struggled to get free, to no avail. Queen Tundra chuckled as she landed before the frozen princess while her minions bowed their heads before her.
"I must say," Queen Tundra said, "the frozen look suits you, Celestia...and once I find your sister, as well as Princess Cadance and Princess Twilight Sparkle, I'll freeze them as well. You'll all make perfect ice statues for my collection."
"You won't get away with this," Celestia said. "Twilight and her friends will stop you!"
"Oh, I'd like to see them try," said Queen Tundra. "Frostbite!"
"Yes, Your Radiance," said Frostbite.
"Find where Princess Twilight and her friends have gone," Queen Tundra ordered. "Don't come back until you do."
"Yes, Your Radiance," Frostbite answered before he turned to his troop. "To the skies!"
"Yes, sir!" the Pegasi exclaimed before they all flew off.
"Now," Queen Tundra said as she took a look around Canterlot...most notably at the castle, "I think this place could use some...redecorating."
Meanwhile, deep underground the city of Canterlot, everypony sat, quietly, afraid to even make a single sound for fear of being exposed. The children all hid with their parents, feeling very frightened, while some of the older parents murmured quietly amongst themselves.
"Well, this is a fine how-do-you-do," Rarity said in annoyance. "So much for showing off my spring fashions!"
"That was really scary," said Fluttershy.
"How come everytime we're about to have fun," Pinkie Pie began, "a party pooper has to come and ruin everything?"
"Everypony remain calm," Luna told her subjects. "We won't be staying underground forever."
"I sure hope not," said Bon Bon.
"What are we gonna do?" asked Moonlight.
"I'm not sure, little one," said Luna.
"Well, we sure can't hide down here, forever," Applejack said. "That crazy alicorn and her goons are bound to find us!"
"She's right," said Rainbow Dash. "We gotta go back up there and give 'em a piece of our minds."
"Fighting is not always the answer, Rainbow Dash," said Luna.
"Maybe we can just talk to them?" Fluttershy asked.
"I don't think they're gonna be in a listening mood, Fluttershy," said Starlight.
"There's only one thing to do," Twilight said. "We'll need to go to the Tree of Harmony and get the Elements of Harmony to defeat Queen Tundra."
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" Rainbow Dash asked, excitedly. "Does this mean we get to go all rainbow, again?!"
"Looks that way," said Twilight.
"YES!!" Rainbow Dash cheered. "Whoo-hoo!!"
"Starlight," said Twilight. "Can you and Spike stay here and watch Moonlight for me?"
"Of course," said Starlight.
"Spike, make sure everypony stays safe," Twilight said.
"You got it, Twilight!" Spike saluted.
"But Twilight, I wanna go with you," Moonlight said.
"It's too dangerous Moonlight," said Twilight. "You need to stay here with everypony else...but I promise, I'll be back, okay?"
"...Yeah," Moonlight replied. "Okay."
"Good," Twilight answered before she nuzzled her younger adopted sister. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Twilight," Moonlight smiled.
"Be good, Sweetie Belle," Rarity said as she nuzzled Sweetie Belle's face, causing her to laugh.
"I will," she replied.
"I'll be back, Apple Bloom," said Applejack. "Stay with Big Macintosh until I do."
"I sure will, Applejack," said Apple Bloom.
"See ya later, Scoots," said Rainbow Dash as she ruffled Scootaloo's mane. "Try not to get into trouble while I'm gone, hear me?"
"I hear you, Rainbow Dash," Scootaloo nodded.
"Wait," Tempest spoke up. "I'm going, too."
"What?" Twilight asked. "Why?"
"In case you might some extra protection," said Tempest. "Please...let me go with you."
"Tempest, are you sure about that?" Grubber asked.
"...Yes, I'm sure," Tempest replied.
"If you really feel like you want to come," Twilight began, "then I'll allow it."
"Thank you," Tempest said before she looked to Grubber. "And as for you, Grubber...stay here with everypony and make sure they're safe...and THAT is an order."
Grubber's eyes went wide before he saluted his former commander, who smiled and nodded her head.
"Very good," she said before she turned to face Twilight and friends. "Well? What are we waiting for?"
"Right," Twilight nodded. "To the Everfree Forest!"
And with that, the friends snuck out of the underground shelter and began to make their way to the Everfree Forest. As they left, though, they didn't realize that Frostbite happened to notice them as he stood upon a roof, and he soon gave a smirk as he watched them leave.
"So that's where they're going, are they?" the Pegasus stallion asked. "Perfect."
It was hard to tell because of the cloud cover, but the group estimated that it must have been about mid-afternoon by the time they reached the Everfree Forest, and even then, they found that it was covered in a thick blanket of snow.
"Looks like Queen Tundra was here, too," said Twilight.
"You think the Tree of Harmony is okay?" Pinkie asked, genuinely worried.
"I do hope so," Rarity replied.
"We don't have any time to lose," said Tempest as she stepped forward. "Let's get moving!"
Though some, such as Rarity and Fluttershy, seemed hesitant, the group followed Tempest into the forest. However, as they did...they seemed unaware that they were being watched. As the heroes continued to make their way through the forest, Applejack stopped as she heard footsteps coming from nearby. They sounded crackly, almost like rattling sticks. At first, she thought it was simply just the wind, rustling some tree branches around...but then her nose caught a very foul scent, and that's when she felt an unsettling chill down her spine. She turned, and she gasped upon seeing a large pack of timberwolves!
"RUN!!!" Applejack shouted as she ran passed her friends, who all turned upon seeing the timberwolves before they soon shrieked and bolted themselves while the lupine-like monsters gave chase, barking, snarling, and snapping their wooden jaws.
"YIKES!!" Rainbow Dash yelped as she narrowly avoided getting her tail bitten off.
"Run faster!!" Tempest yelled as she kicked another one in the jaw, but they still continued the pursuit. That's when Pinkie yelped as she felt one bite her tail and pull her back.
"PINKIE!!" the group cried.
"Oh, no, you don't!!" Tempest shouted as she shot a blast of magic from her horn, destroying the timberwolf and freeing Pinkie, who continued to run with the others, but the beasts still continued to chase after them. That's when the group spotted a hollow tree, just big enough for all them to hide under. The timberwolves stopped before they sniffed the ground, while Twilight and company kept their mouths shut and lied low to the ground. After what felt like hours, the timberwolves soon trotted off in search of other prey, causing the group to heave a collective sigh of relief as they came out of hiding.
"That was close," Fluttershy whispered. "Too close."
"Is it me?" Rarity asked. "Or did those timberwolves seem more aggressive than they usually are?"
"Yeah," said Rainbow. "Normally, when they see one of their own get shattered like that, they turn tail and run!"
"That's because timberwolves are more desperate during winter," said Applejack. "They don't care what happens to them as long as they can get somethin' to eat!"
"That actually has me thinking," Tempest said. "If we don't stop Queen Tundra, who knows what other monsters might come out? Like the windigos?"
"Or even worse," said Twilight. "What if she puts all of Equestria into a new ice age? There'd be nopony...no creature left alive in Equestria."
Everypony looked at each other, worriedly.
"...We gotta move," Applejack said before the group continued to make their way to the Tree of Harmony. However, Tempest stopped and momentarily looked back, narrowing her eyes in suspicion, before she continued to follow her friends.
"We made it!" Twilight exclaimed, after what felt like hours of walking through the thick snow, she and the others had finally reached the cave where the Tree of Harmony stood in all its glory.
"So this is the Tree of Harmony," whispered Tempest. "I heard that the Staff of Sacanas was crafted from one of its branches."
"Well, now we need to get the Elements of Harmony out of it," said Twilight as she looked to her friends with a determined expression. "Everypony ready?"
"You know it!" Rainbow Dash grinned.
"Ready whenever you are, Twilight!" Rarity nodded.
"Let's save Equestria," Fluttershy said, though not as boisterous, but just as enthusiastic as her friends.
"What are we waitin' for?" Applejack asked.
"Let's do this thing!!" Pinkie exclaimed.
Twilight nodded her head before she turned to the Tree of Harmony and shot a bolt of magic from her horn, causing the elements to float toward their respective vessels.
"Honesty," Applejack said.
"Kindness," Fluttershy uttered.
"Laughter!" Pinkie exclaimed.
"Generosity," Rarity smiled.
"Loyalty!" Rainbow Dash shouted.
"Magic," Twilight spoke as she placed the Element of Magic on her head...but when she did, she suddenly tensed up as the crown began to release sparks, which began to shock Twilight all over, making her scream in pain.
"Twilight?!" Applejack asked.
"What's happening?!" Tempest questioned.
"Get...it...OFF!!" Twilight cried as she tried to pull the crown off, and the others hurried to their friend's aid. It took a bit of effort, but the group managed to pull the Element of Magic off of Twilight's head. The purple alicorn panted heavily while Pinkie put a hoof on her shoulder in concern.
"What happened?!" Rainbow Dash asked.
"Are you okay, Twilight?!" Rarity asked.
"The...the Element of Magic...!" Twilight whispered in horror as she looked down at it. "It...it rejected me!"
Previously on My Little Pony: Friendship is Harmony, the ponies of Equestria are getting ready to celebrate the arrival of spring, when out of nowhere, an alicorn named Queen Tundra and her Pegasi minions put a halt on the festivities and declares an eternal winter. While Celestia holds her off, the ponies are forced to evacuate the capital, but their ruler is ultimately frozen in a block of ice. Twilight and friends rush to get the Elements of Harmony from the Tree of Harmony with Tempest Shadow going along with them, only to run into a pack of aggressive timberwolves, which makes the situation even more dire when the group realizes the dangers that Queen Tundra may wrought.
Just when they reach the Tree of Harmony and extract the elements, Twilight finds, to her horror, that the Element of Magic has rejected her as a vessel, which leaves only one question: how can our heroes stop Queen Tundra without the elements?
Twilight sat on the floor, gaping in shock, horror, and disbelief as she stared at her respective element while her friends stood around her, just as disbelieving as her.
"You can't use the Element of Magic?!" asked Rarity.
"But...but why?!" Pinkie questioned.
"I...I don't know!" Twilight answered, her eyes beginning to well up with tears.
"Without the Element of Magic, how are all the other elements supposed to work?!" Rainbow Dash asked.
"I...I suppose they can't," Fluttershy answered, worriedly.
"...So this is it, then," Tempest whispered in defeat. "Equestria's doomed...!"
"Now, hold up," Applejack spoke. "We managed to save Equestria without using the Elements of Harmony, before. Who's to say we can't do it again?"
"Applejack's right!" Rarity exclaimed. "I'm sure we can find a way to defeat Queen Tundra without using the Elements of Harmony!"
"...You're right," Twilight said, trying her best to regain her resolve. "We managed to save Equestria without them before...but how are we going to do it, now?"
"...So it's true, then."
The group turned to see, of all ponies, Frostbite and his entourage, entering the cave.
"It's the crazy queen's lackeys!" Rainbow Dash shouted.
"I thought that was you, tailing us!" Tempest snarled.
"Get 'em!!" Applejack shouted as she and the others, except for Twilight and Fluttershy, began to charge...but then, out of nowhere, Frostbite and his troop bowed their heads, which stopped the group in their tracks.
"Uh...what are you doing?" Rainbow Dash asked in confusion.
"Surrendering," said Frostbite.
"...Is this some kind of joke?" Tempest asked.
"Please, let me explain," Frostbite said as he stood up. "My friends and I aren't really loyal to Queen Tundra...we only followed you because..." He then heaved a heavy sigh. "...I need your help."
"Our help?" Rarity repeated.
"You're the one who helped that crazy queen freeze our home!" Applejack accused. "Why in the hay should we listen to you?!"
"Now hold on," Tempest said. "...I think we should give him the benefit of a doubt."
"What?!" Rainbow Dash questioned. "Are you serious?!"
"That's what you all did with me, right?" Tempest inquired, causing everypony to glance at each other and, after taking a few moments to contemplate on this, nodded their heads before they looked at Frostbite and his friends.
"Thank you," said Frostbite. "I was...hoping you could help me with saving somepony...somepony who's very special to me."
"Who's that?" Pinkie asked.
"...My twin sister, Velvet Snowfall," Frostbite replied, somberly. "She needs help...and I can't do anything to save her, so I was hoping you guys would, since you've saved Equestria so many times."
"Is Queen Tundra holding her captive?" Twilight asked as she approached him. "Is that why you're following her orders? Because she's using her as leverage?"
"It's...actually more complicated than that," said one of the Pegasus mares on Frostbite's side.
"I'll tell them, Winter Gales," said Frostbite before he looked at Twilight and company. "Queen Tundra isn't holding my sister hostage. Queen Tundra...is my sister."
Twilight and friends all gasped in disbelief.
"Y...your sister?!" Tempest questioned.
"Say WHAAAAAAAAT?!!" Pinkie shouted in shock and rather exaggerated.
"But...you're a Pegasus!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "And she's an alicorn!"
"There's a very logical explanation for that," said Frostbite. "Velvet wasn't always an alicorn...she used to be a Pegasus, like me." He then sighed as he looked up at the ceiling. "I guess I should start at the beginning."
"Ooh! Story time!" Pinkie exclaimed as she sat in front of Frostbite with that usual goofy grin on her face, to the stallion's confusion.
"Don't mind her," Tempest said. "She's always like that. Anyway, please continue."
"...Right," Frostbite said.
It was winter in Ponyville, once again, and everypony was out and about, despite the cold weather. However, out of everypony there, two little Pegasi foals, a colt and a filly respectively, frolicked among the snowy meadows. The colt had a platinum blonde mane and tail with white streaks and red eyes, so obviously, this was Frostbite when he was little. The filly, on the other hand, had light blue eyes, a teal coat with a wavy, pearly white mane and tail with cyan streaks. The two laughed as they chased each other through the snow until Frostbite playfully tackled her, causing them both to roll along the ground before they ended up hitting a tree, which caused them both to buried in the snow that fell from its branches...and yet, even then, they still laughed.
"Velvet and I were inseparable when we were young...we always played outside in the snow, together."
In a house, while a white Pegasus mare with a mint green mane and tail and holly berries for a cutie mark walked into the kitchen to prepare lunch for her two kids, Frostbite sat in the living room, reading a book while Velvet sat in front of the window, watching the snowflakes fall gently to the ground with a wistful smile on her face, which caused her brother to smile at her before he went back to reading.
"My sister always had a fascination for winter...she always thought it was a beautiful season. Even after winter was over, she still seemed to obsess over it."
In the Ponyville Schoolhouse, during a spring day, many young ponies sat at their desks while Velvet stood in front of them with a cooler next to her, and the words "Show and Tell" were written on the chalkboard behind her. Frostbite, who was sitting amongst his classmates, smiled at her, which caused her to smile back before she reached inside the cooler and brought out a tiny snowman, which caused the class to blink in confusion.
"Unfortunately...not everypony shared her sentiment."
That's when one earth pony colt stood up and pointed his hoof at her while laughing, mockingly.
"Stupid filly! What are you doing, bringing a snowman to school in spring?!"
"Well...I just thought that-" Velvet started, only for an apple to get thrown at her face, which caused her yelp as she dropped her snowman...which instantly melted on the floor into a puddle.
"Velvet Snowfall!" the teacher exclaimed. "You clean this mess up, this instant!"
"But it wasn't my fault!" Velvet argued, while the other children continued their cruel laughing.
"Hey!" Frostbite shouted. "Stop laughing at her! It's not funny!!"
But the class still laughed while Velvet begrudgingly mopped up her melted snowman...tears of humiliation forming in her eyes.
"Even after we started growing up, everypony else still bullied her."
Velvet, now at least in her early teens, walked along the snowy trail as she looked up at the sky in fascination as the snowflakes fell. Her flanks now carried a cutie mark that consisted of a snowflake with a heart in the middle, symbolizing her love for winter. As she walked, however, she was suddenly hit in the face with a snowball, causing her to cry out in surprise as she almost stumbled. That's when she heard laughter coming from nearby before she groaned and turned to see the same earth pony that bullied her back when she was going to school, along with 2 other ponies, a stallion and a mare respectively.
"Well, well," said the ringleader. "If it isn't the dumb pony who think it's winter, everyday?"
"Knock it off!" Velvet shouted.
"'Knock it off!'" the ringleader parroted, mockingly, which caused him and his friends to laugh at Velvet.
"I mean it!" the Pegasus mare barked. "Leave me alone! We're not kids in school, anymore! Can't you grow up?!"
"Us, grow up?" repeated the earth pony mare. "Says the one who thinks that it's okay to show off a snowman during spring!"
"Or make snow clouds in the summer!" added the other stallion. "Seriously, how dumb are you?!"
"I'm not dumb!" Velvet argued. "I just...like winter a lot, okay?!" She then sighed before she turned to leave, only for the ringleader to get in her way. "H-hey!"
"Where do you think you're going?" asked the ringleader. "We aren't done with you, yet."
His two lackeys chuckled in a malicious manner, which caused Velvet to whimper with nervousness before she tried to fly away, only for the earth pony mare to grab her tail and pull her to the ground. Then, the two stallions proceeded to pummel her with their hooves, which caused her to scream in pain. At that moment, Frostbite appeared, coming to look for his sister after she failed to come home.
"FROSTBITE!!!" Velvet cried as she was getting beaten. "HELP ME!!!"
Frostbite gasped as he saw his sister getting viciously stomped on before he charged at the bullies with the utmost fury.
"GET AWAY FROM MY SISTER, YOU BUNCH OF BASTARDS!!!" he yelled, causing the bullies to finally cease their attack before they turned and ran away. Frostbite panted as he glared after the trio, then looked down at his sister, who was covered in bruises and hoofprints, and she even got a black eye.
"Velvet?" Frostbite asked as he helped her to her hooves. "Are you okay?"
Velvet sniffled as she looked at her twin brother, then wrapped her hooves around him as she began to sob, which prompted Frostbite to hug her back.
"...What did I ever do to them?" she asked.
"...I'm sorry, Velvet," whispered Frostbite. "So very sorry."
And with that, Velvet continued to cry in her brother's hooves...wondering why everypony was so cruel, just because she loved one particular season more than the other three.
"Eventually, our Mom passed away...and Velvet wasn't the same, since then."
Frostbite, now at his present age, walked out of the house and looked up at a dark cloud...where he could see his sister, sitting upon it, hanging her head sullenly.
"Velvet!" Frostbite called. "Please come in the house! You've been out for four days, now!"
But Velvet didn't even look at him, which prompted Frostbite to fly up and sit on the cloud next to her. Even then, though, she still didn't acknowledge. She just sat there, her eyes void of any joy. Frostbite sighed as he gently pulled his sister into a hug and nuzzled her face, but even then, she still didn't react.
"Despite everything...despite my support...Velvet really felt like she was all alone in the world."
Pinkie sniffled as she sat on the floor...in fact, everypony else didn't look that far off from crying, either. Even Tempest seemed rather disheartened by what she had heard. As for Frostbite, he was sniffling as he retold the story of what his poor sister had gone through, while Winter Gale put a gentle woof on his wing.
"That...is the saddest thing...I ever heard!" Pinkie sobbed.
"Poor Velvet Snowfall," whispered Rarity.
"...I can't believe everypony was so cruel to her," Applejack said.
"Yeah," Rainbow Dash added while wiping her eyes. "I mean...I know she was kinda obsessed with winter and all, but that's no reason for anypony to pick on her like they did!"
"And your mother passing away was too much on her," said Fluttershy. "I'm so sorry."
"We all are," Twilight spoke, "but...how did your sister become Queen Tundra?"
"I'm getting to that part," Frostbite said. "I decided that Velvet needed some time away from home...so I took her to a place where it was always snowy."
Frostbite and Velvet flew over the snowy mountains, the latter gasping in surprise before she looked up at her brother, who smiled at her before they both dived down. Velvet opened up her wings and made a soft landing in the white powder, and she laughed with all the happiness and mirth she could muster before she and Frostbite began to frolic and romp together, throwing snowballs, making snowponies, and sledding the snowy mountainside before flying all the way back to the top again.
"That was the first in a long time I had seen my sister smile..."
Velvet and Frostbite sat in the snow, together, watching the sun slowly set beyond the horizon.
"Thank you so much for bringing me here," said Velvet. "I've never been so happy."
"I figured we both needed a vacation," said Frostbite.
"Yeah...we did," Velvet said...albeit a bit distantly.
"Something the matter?" asked Frosbite in concern.
"...Can't we just live here?" asked Velvet. "I mean...I do love Ponyville and all...but I hate having to go through everyday where other ponies pick on me, just because I love winter more than I love the other seasons!"
"They just need to learn to grow up, that's all," Frostbite replied.
"...Still," Velvet began, "sometimes...I wish winter lasted all year-round...just like here on these mountains. The snowflakes are so pretty when they fall...and the ice and snow is so sparkly in the sun..." She then sighed. "I wish other ponies would see how beautiful it is."
"Winter is beautiful," said Frostbite, "but like all the other seasons, it has its time and place." On that, he got up to leave, and his sister was about to follow, when suddenly...
"Who says winter can't last forever?"
"Huh?" Velvet muttered as she turned around. "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" Frostbite inquired. "I didn't hear anything."
"I heard a voice, just now," Velvet answered as she walked away.
"W-wait, Velvet, where are you going?" asked Frostbite. "Velvet, wait! Come back!"
When his calls fell on deaf ears, the Pegasus stallion began to follow after his sister.
"What we found next...was shocking."
After a while, the Pegasus siblings gasped silently upon entering a cave...where they found all sorts of buildings and houses...all frozen in ice.
"What happened here?!" asked Frostbite.
"I have no idea," said Velvet as she looked around. "Hello~? Anypony in here?"
"Obviously you were hearing things," said Frostbite as he turned to leave. "Let's go. This place gives me the creeps."
As Velvet turned to follow her brother, that same eerie voice from before.
Velvet turned around upon hearing that voice again...and this time, she saw a light, flashing from behind a giant icicle. Growing more curious by the second, the Pegasus mare turned and headed toward the glow, to Frostbite's surprise.
"W-wait a minute! Velvet!" he called as he followed after her. "Come back!!"
Soon, Velvet reached the bottom of the icicle...where she found a tiara with a red jewel in the middle, shaped like some sort of snowflake.
"It's...a tiara...?" Velvet asked.
"Not just any tiara, my dear," the tiara spoke, causing her to gasp.
"You...you can talk?!" asked Velvet.
"I don't believe this...!" whispered Frostbite.
"W...who are you?" asked Velvet. "What are you?!"
"I am the spirit of Queen Tundra," the tiara spoke. "I was once queen of this frozen city you see now...but through unfair means, I was sealed within my own crown."
"That's...that's terrible," said Velvet.
"Yes, it is, isn't it?" asked the tiara. "Sort of like how you are wrongfully tormented, just because you love winter more than all the other seasons..."
Velvet gasped silently.
"I couldn't help overhearing your little plight," the tiara began, "and perhaps...I could help you make your dream come true."
"My...dream?" Velvet asked.
"Velvet, wait!" Frostbite exclaimed. "Maybe we should get outta here...I don't like the sound of this crown."
"Quiet," the tiara hissed. "I'm speaking to my friend, Velvet, here...Velvet Snowfall. I have the power to make your wish come true: to make it winter all year, every year!"
"...Every year?" Velvet repeated.
"Winter has always been a hated season," the tiara said. "Ponies from all Equestria have scorned it since time immemorial...but I can remedy that. Think of it, Velvet Snowfall...imagine an age of never-ending winter, where everypony can appreciate its beauty!"
"N-now wait a minute!" Frostbite shouted. "Velvet, don't listen to this...whatever-it-is! It's obviously crazy! We've been over this, winter has its time and place! You don't need to make it winter all year long! Now let's go!"
On that, he turned to leave...but Velvet didn't follow. Instead, she stared down at the crown with morbid interest.
"...No," Velvet whispered as she approached the tiara...then picked it up with her hooves. "This is my chance...the chance to show everypony that they were wrong." She then placed the tiara upon her head. "I'm going to show them...I'm going to show them all!"
On that, there was a white flash of light, forcing Frostbite to shield his eyes as a powerful, cold wind blew throughout the cave. As the light subsided, Frostbite looked up and gasped in shock upon seeing a familiar, viridian-coated alicorn, towering over him.
"V...Velvet...?!" Frostbite whispered...which caused the alicorn to smirk.
"Not anymore," she said with a sinister tone in her voice before she snickered, evilly, to Frostbite's horror.
"And that was how Queen Tundra came to be..."
Twilight and friends gaped in utter disbelief at what they had just heard while Frostbite hung his head in sadness and despair while Winter Gales put her hoof on his shoulder.
"I...I don't believe it," whispered Twilight.
"Sometime after," Winter Gales started, "Queen Tundra found us and began to make us her little army so that she begin her campaign to freeze all of Equestria, starting with Canterlot."
"I thought that if I stayed by Queen Tundra's side," Frostbite started, "somehow, I could reach my sister again...but nothing I do is working." He then looked up at the Elements of Harmony, then to their respective vessels. "But there could be a chance to save my sister, yet! You can use the Elements of Harmony to purge Queen Tundra's spirit from Velvet and save her, as well as all of Equestria!"
"...Uh...that's gonna be a bit of a problem, there," Applejack said.
"Why?" Frostbite asked.
"We can't use the Elements of Harmony," Rarity answered, regrettably.
"W-what?!" Frostbite questioned in shock. "You're joking, right?!"
"I'm afraid we're not," said Twilight. "The Element of Magic rejected me...and if I can't make my representative element work, then the other elements won't work, either, and we need all of them if we're going to banish Queen Tundra's spirit from your sister."
"...So...there's nothing we can do?" Frostbite asked in horror. "My sister's going to be possesed by Queen Tundra forever? And Equestria will face an eternal winter?!"
"Now hold on a second!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. "We've saved Equestria without using the elements before, and we can do it again!"
"But how?" Frostbite asked.
"...Wait," Tempest said. "Frostbite, none of this started until after your sister put on that tiara, right?"
"Well, yes," Frostbite replied.
"Then we have our solution, right there," Tempest said. "We need to get that tiara off of her, then Queen Tundra will turn back into Velvet Snowfall!"
"You make it sound like it's easy," said one of Frostbite's stallion subordinates.
"I know it's a risk," Tempest began, "but it's our only chance we've got."
"What do you think, Twilight?" asked Pinkie.
"Should we go for it?" inquired Fluttershy.
"...It might sound like a long shot," Twilight began, "but it does sound like our best bet."
"In that case," Frostbite began, "I'm going to put my faith in all of you."
"That's good," Tempest said, "because we need you as part of our plan." She then gave everypony a confident smirk. "Now huddle up, everypony...because here's what we're going to do."
"Ooh! I love discussing plans!" Pinkie exclaimed in delight before the group all huddled up together to discuss the plan.
Back in Canterlot's underground shelters, Luna was trying her best to keep her subjects calm as she waited for Twilight and the others to return. As she waited, some ponies were shivering from the cold air and were doing their best to stave off the cold. Grubber was going around, offering hot bowls of soup to lift everypony's spirits, while Spike managed to make a fire.
"Here you guys go," Grubber said as he put down a bowl of soup for each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
"Thank you," Scootaloo said.
"Thanks," Apple Bloom spoke.
"Thank you," Sweetie Belle added before they began to eat.
"Here's yours," Grubber said as he gave a bowl to Starlight, who smiled and nodded her head in gratitude, while Spike sat with Moonlight, who watched the fire with a look of worry on her face.
"Spike?" Moonlight asked. "Twilight's gonna come back, right? Because she and the others have been gone for a while."
"It's okay, Moonlight," Spike reassured. "If I know Twilight- and I do- I know that she and the others will be back with the Elements of Harmony to boot!"
"Yeah, and Tempest is pretty tough," Grubber added. "She can pull through pretty much anything!"
"Trust me, Moonlight," Starlight said. "Twilight and the others will be back before you know it."
"...I sure hope so," Moonlight whispered, worriedly as everypony looked up as they heard the howling of the wind.
At Canterlot Castle...the whole castle itself was completely covered in icicles. All around the castle's courtyard, the Royal Guards were all frozen in blocks of ice, set up like decorative statues. Even the garden was covered in nothing but snow and frost, wilting the once beautiful flowers and completely burying the grass while forcing the animals that dwelled to hide from the cold.
Inside the throne room, Queen Tundra chuckled to herself as she used her magic to create a chandelier made of icicles. Nearby, Celestia grunted as she remained inside her icy prison, struggling to break free.
"Oh, give it up, Celestia," said Queen Tundra as she cupped the Sun Princess's chin in her hoof. "You've lost."
"Maybe I have," Celestia started, "but Twilight and her friends will definitely stop you."
"Bah!" Queen Tundra scoffed. "You really believe that? Frostbite and his troop are already tracking them down as we speak. I'm sure he's captured them by now."
"I wouldn't count them out, just yet," said Celestia.
"Keep talking, Celestia," said Queen Tundra as she kept encasing the walls with ice. "It won't get you anywhere...but it will at least keep me from getting bored while I redecorate my castle."
Celestia sneered at the ice alicorn before she glanced out the stained glass window with worry.
'...Where are you, Twilight?' she thought.
Back down in the underground shelters, Luna stared up at the ceiling, worried about the fate of her sister. She could only sigh as she turned to check back on her subjects, who all looked quite cold and miserable. Some of them had even begun to cough a bit as the air grew a little colder. Spike tried to make a fire for everypony, but being such a little dragon, there was only so much fire he could produce at one time, and right now, he was running a bit low. Grubber was doing his best to keep the ponies fed and warm with bowls of hot soup, but the rations were starting to run out, as well.
Just when it seemed that hope was starting to dwindle, Starlight looked up and gasped upon seeing Twilight and the others return.
"Twilight!" exclaimed Starlight.
"Guys! You're back!" Spike said, joyfully.
"Twilight! Everypony!" Moonlight cheered as she ran up and nuzzled Twilight, who nuzzled her back in return...but almost instantly, Moonlight noticed that the affectionate touch wasn't really as enthusiastic as it normally was, causing her to back away from her adoptive sister and see the dismal look in her eyes. Not just hers, but the rest of the Mane 6, as well. Even Tempest had a distant look on her face.
That's when Luna immediately recognized the problem.
"Where are the Elements of Harmony?" asked Luna.
"We...we couldn't get them," said Rarity. "We tried, but-"
"The Element of Magic rejected me as a vessel," said Twilight, causing Luna, Spike, Starlight, and Moonlight to gasp.
"So...so what does that mean?!" asked Starlight.
"It means that for the time being," Twilight began, "we can't use them...any of them!"
"...This can't be...!" Luna whispered in disbelief.
"So...what do we now, then?" asked Moonlight.
"Now hold on," Tempest said. "We already have a plan in mind." She then turned around. "Right, Frostbite?"
Soon, Frostbite and his troop appeared, much to everypony's shock.
"What are they doing here?!" asked Holly Daze.
"Yeah, they're the reason we're in this mess!!" exclaimed Berry Punch.
"Wait!" Frostbite called. "I'm...very sorry. We all are. We never wanted to do this, believe me...but we had no choice."
"Queen Tundra is actually a Pegasus named Velvet Snowfall, who is Frostbite's sister," said Twilight. "She's under a curse by the spirit of the real Queen Tundra, and that's why Frostbite has been following her orders."
"I thought that maybe I could get through to my sister, somehow," said Frostbite, "but nothing I do is working." He then looked up at Princess Luna. "My sister really doesn't mean any harm...Princess Luna, surely you can understand, can't you?"
A pause...but then Luna sighed.
"I suppose your sister is not too different from me," she said. "Still...it does not change the fact that she has frozen my sister in ice, and if we don't stop her soon, she could put all of Equestria into an eternal winter."
"That's why we need to stop her," said Frostbite.
"We just need to destroy the tiara that Velvet is wearing," said Tempest. "Once it's gone, she'll go back to normal."
"Are you sure that will work?" asked Luna.
"It's our best bet," Tempest answered.
"...Very well," said Luna. "I trust you, Fizzlepop."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Tempest bowed her head. "I promise you, Princess Celestia will be freed." She then looked back at Twilight and the others. "So...are you ready?"
"Yes," answered Twilight.
"Let's do this thing!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.
"Be careful," Luna said. "We're all counting on you."
"...We know," Tempest nodded.
KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK!! Queen Tundra looked up upon hearing that noise before she smirked at Celestia.
"Well," the ice alicorn said, "I wonder who that might be." She then went to open the doors to the throne room...and there, standing before her, was Frostbite and his small troop...along with Twilight, Tempest, and the others, all of them locked up in chains with dismal, defeated looks on their faces.
"We brought you the fugitives, Your Radiance," said Frostbite.
"Excellent," Queen Tundra said as she looked to Celestia, who gaped in disbelief. "See, Celestia? Your little champions have failed you."
Celestia looked to Twilight, who looked up at her in seeming shame...but what Queen Tundra didn't realize was that the young alicorn grinned before she winked at her former mentor, who blinked in surprise, but then put on a serious expression.
"Now then," Queen Tundra said as she approached the heroes, "let's get down to business..." Her eyes then fell upon Tempest, who glared up at her in defiance. "Ah...Tempest Shadow...I've heard a great deal about you."
"...You have...?" Tempest asked in confusion and slight surprise.
"Take those chains off of her," said Queen Tundra. "I wish to have a little chat with our friend here."
Frostbite nodded his head before he unlocked the chains that held Tempest, who looked up at Queen Tundra, suspiciously.
"You want to talk to me?" she asked. "Why?"
"It's quite simple, really," said Queen Tundra. "You and I both have something in common, you see. We have both been scorned by our fellow ponies...ponies whom we were expected to trust and fall back on when we need them most, and yet they turn our backs on us."
"...I know what you're trying to do," Tempest sneered. "I'm not buying it for one second!"
"Oh, really?" asked Queen Tundra. "I could make you great, Tempest...I could even give you something that the Storm King could never promise you."
Tempest, as well as Twilight and friends, all stared in suspicion...but then, Queen Tundra's horn began to glow before she lightly tapped it against the stub of Tempest's horn...and soon after, a spike of ice began to emerge from it, causing Tempest to gasp.
"She...she made a new horn for her!!" Twilight exclaimed.
"That's right," Queen Tundra said. "It's a prosthetic, at best, but with my powers, it won't so easily shatter. Think of it, Tempest...you could finally have what you lost, all that time ago. I can make you whole...and all you have to do...is join me."
"Tempest, no!!" cried Twilight. "Don't do this!! Don't ruin everything you've worked so hard for!!!"
"Silence!" Queen Tundra shouted before she looked down at Tempest. "Well, Tempest Shadow? What do you say?"
Tempest stared at her ice horn as tears stung at the corners of her eyes, her breath caught in her chest. In just the span of a mere 3 seconds, the ice alicorn had given her what she had been missing since her foalhood. She could actually see it now: her magic, now easier to control and able to lift objects. She could perform even the most basic unicorn spells. She might even be able to enroll in that magic school she always wanted to go to! Everything she could ever want and more...except...
What of her friends? It was true that they were reason she lost her horn to begin with...but they apologized for their folly and they forgave each other. She even found new friends in Twilight and the rest of the Mane 6. If she couldn't have that...then...
"Well?" Queen Tundra asked, the tone in her voice sounding impatient. "I'm waiting."
A pause...but then Tempest glared at the ice queen and said "You can take your offer...and blow it your rear end!!"
"AAAAAAAGH!!!" Queen Tundra roared, enraged as her horn flared, which caused the icicle on Tempest's horn to shatter. "You ungrateful little...!! I offer you everything you could ever want and you throw it all away?!"
"I have everything I've ever wanted," Tempest answered. "I have my friends...and I have my home! I wouldn't be where I am, now, without them!"
Twilight and the others all smiled at Tempest, who smiled back at them before she continued to glare at Queen Tundra.
"You can keep your offer, Queen Tundra," said Tempest. "Or should I say...Velvet Snowfall?"
Queen Tundra gasped as that name hit her ears, but then she growled at the unicorn as her horn flared.
"How dare you call me that name," she said. "That pony is dead!"
"No she's not," said Twilight as she stepped forward. "She's right here...trapped in an icy shell of loneliness."
"Back off!!" Queen Tundra yelled. "I'm warning you all!! Back off, right now!!!"
"Come on, Velvet," said Frostbite as he approached the alicorn, who backed away from him. "Even you know this isn't the real you..." He then looked at her with these sad, sincere eyes. "Please...come back to me."
A pause...but then Queen Tundra growled as her eyes glowed white and her horn flared, even more, causing everypony in the room to gasp.
"I told you...!" she hissed. "Don't call me by that name...AGAIN!!!"
She then unleashed a powerful blast of icy wind, forcing the group back, some of them crashing into walls and shattering their chains, but only Tempest and Twilight managed to keep themselves grounded. They both glared up at the icy alicorn with fierce determination while she glared right back. She fired an ice beam at the two, but they quickly jumped out of the way. Twilight fired a beam of her own, but Queen Tundra jumped out of the way of the attack before she fired another, but a blast from Tempest's horn canceled out the attack. Rainbow Dash roared as she tried to tackle the alicorn, who kicked her away before she could get too close, then fired a beam at Rainbow Dash, causing her to get frozen in ice!
"Rainbow Dash!!" cried Twilight.
"Rrrgh...ugh!!" Rainbow Dash grunted as she tried to pull herself out of the ice block. "I'm stuck!!"
Queen Tundra chuckled sinisterly, but then she gasped as she saw her Pegasus minions flying all around her in different directions. She growled as she tried to pick a target, but then her horn began to glow a bright light. Then, she unleashed a powerful burst of ice magic, freezing her minions in blocks of ice with just their heads free. Applejack attempted to drag the villainous alicorn down using her lasso, the rope snagging one of Queen Tundra's hooves, but then the alicorn flew up, causing Applejack to yelp as she found herself being carried upward, then Queen Tundra whirled around, sending Applejack spinning around as well before she dropped to the floor, dazed and hurt. Before she could regain her bearings, Queen Tundra soon froze her in ice, as well!
"Applejack!!" Twilight shouted.
"Who's next?" asked Queen Tundra as she looked around, catching Fluttershy in her sights as the yellow Pegasus attempted to fly up behind her and take off the ice tiara, but before she could away, Queen Tundra soon shot Fluttershy with her ice magic, causing her to be frozen against the wall.
"Agh!!" Fluttershy cried.
"Fluttershy!!" Twilight yelled, causing Queen Tundra to set her sights on her, which caused her to gasp before she flew out of the way of one of her ice beams.
"Hold still!!" Queen Tundra shouted as she fired another beam at Twilight, who fired a beam of her own back at her, which caused the two attacks to cancel each other and explode in a cloud of smoke. Queen Tundra growled as she looked around, trying to find Twilight in the smokescreen. Then, out of the corner, she caught a flash of light before she dived down, narrowly avoiding a bolt of magic.
"Nice try," Queen Tundra grinned before she prepared to fire another beam, only for what looked like a large diamond-shaped projectile to be hurled at her, forcing her to move out of the way before she fired another beam, and this time, she heard a shriek that followed. As the smoke cleared, she saw that it was Rarity.
"Rarity!!" Twilight cried out.
"I'm sorry! I was trying to distract her!" Rarity apologized.
"Anyone else?" asked Queen Tundra.
"Anyone else?" asked Queen Tundra.
"Hey! Over here!"
Queen Tundra turned to see Pinkie Pie waving at her.
"Bet you can't hit me~!" she called in a teasing voice, prompting the alicorn to fire several beams at her, only for Pinkie to jump out of the way and pop out in different locations.
"Missed me!" she called.
"Missed me, again!"
"Missed me, again!!"
"Missed me, missed me, missed me~!"
"AAAAARRGH!!!" Queen Tundra roared before she fired a blast of ice, and this time, Pinkie didn't jump out of the way in time, resulting in her getting frozen in ice with just her head free!
"Uh...oopsie," Pinkie said, sheepishly.
"Pinkie Pie!!" Twilight cried.
Queen Tundra chuckled, seeming unaware that Fluttershy was trying to quietly fly up and grab her tiara...but the alicorn turned and glared at her.
"Fluttershy, look out!!" Tempest cried, but the yellow Pegasus was soon frozen, too!
"No! Fluttershy!!" Twilight shouted.
"Rgh...ugh!!" Fluttershy cried. "Twilight!!"
"And now for you three," said Queen Tundra as she glared at Twilight, Tempest, and Frostbite, who all backed away as she began to advance, leaving large ice crystals in her wake with every step she took. "You really thought you had a chance. You're more pathetic than I thought you were." Her horn began to flare. "Well, it seems your little plan didn't work...Celestia and all your friends are frozen...and winter will never end."
Twilight gasped before she looked at Tempest, who glared at Queen Tundra in defiance...and as for Frostbite, he looked ready to give up hope.
"So...any last words?" asked Queen Tundra.
A pause...but then, Frostbite sighed as he stepped forward.
"...I'm sorry, Velvet," he said. "I'm sorry that...I never realized that you were in so much pain, that you were willing to do this."
Queen Tundra's eyes went wide for a moment.
"I should have been a better brother to you," Frostbite said before he bowed his head. "I should have done better by you...and now...I'll probably never get you back, again." He sniffled as tears began to sting at the corners of his eyes. "I'm...I'm so sorry, Velvet...!"
"Frostbite..." Twilight whispered, sadly, while Queen Tundra scoffed.
"Cute," she said. "Too bad it's time to end this."
Before she could, though...Twilight and Tempest both gasped in disbelief, causing Frostbite to look up and gasp, as well.
Queen Tundra's eyes...were overflowing with tears.
"W...what...?!" she whispered. "What's going-RRGH!!" She suddenly grunted and threw her head about, then opened her eyes...revealing them to be light blue.
"F...Frostbite...!!" a voice that was unlike Queen Tundra's spoke.
"Huh?" the other ponies questioned.
"How'd she do that?!" Pinkie asked.
"...Velvet...?!" Frostbite asked. "Velvet, is that you?!"
"Help me, Frostbite!" cried Velvet Snowfall's voice from Queen Tundra's mouth. "I've been trying to fight back her control!" Suddenly, she grunted as her eyes turned red again.
"Quiet!!" Queen Tundra yelled in her regular voice, again. "You've had your chance!!" She then yelled as her eyes went back to being light blue, again.
"I never meant for any of this to happen!!" cried Velvet. "I can't do this on my own!! AGH!!"
"I said silence!!" Queen Tundra roared, only to scream as Velvet took control, once again.
"HELP ME~!!!" she cried with tears falling from her eyes.
As Queen Tundra and Velvet struggled for control, Twilight gasped before she looked over at Tempest, who blinked in disbelief.
"Tempest! Frostbite!" Twilight called, prompting the unicorn and Pegasus to look at her. "I have an idea, but you have to trust me!"
Tempest and Frostbite blinked in surprise, but then they both nodded their heads with serious expressions.
"Frostbite, you're with me!" Twilight exclaimed, and soon, they flew toward the struggling alicorn and tackled her against the wall at full force, pinning her front legs and her wings.
"ARGH! Release me!!" Queen Tundra yelled.
"Tempest!! SHOOT!!!" Twilight cried, and soon, Tempest fired off a bolt of magic from her broken horn. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as the bolt flew across the room...then, it finally hit its target: Queen Tundra's tiara. The headwear flew off the alicorn's head before it landed on the floor with a clink!
"No!!" Queen Tundra cried before her eyes began to glow a hot white. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"
A wisp of icy wind suddenly burst from her body and into the tiara...and not long after, the alicorn shrank, her coat began to turn from dark teal to a regular teal, and her wispy mane and tail turned into a pearly white mane and tail with cyan streaks. Her horn disappeared and her wings shrunk...revealing a tired Pegasus.
As for Frostbite, he glared down hatefully at the tiara...before he raised his front hooves and stomped on it, smashing it to bits! Not long after...all the ice in the room melted, freeing Celestia, the rest of the Mane 6, and Frostbite's friends. Not only that, but outside, the swirling snow clouds soon began to fade away, revealing the shining sun!
By pure determination and luck...Queen Tundra had been defeated and Equestria had been saved from her wintry wrath!
"WHOO-HOO!! WE DID IT, AGAIN!!!" Pinkie cheered.
"Yes, you did," said Celestia. "Well done, all of you!"
"We couldn't have done it without Tempest," Twilight said, causing Tempest to blush slightly, but then she looked up at Celestia before bowing her head.
"Your Highness," she said.
"Thank you for your help, Tempest Shadow," said Celestia. "We are forever in your debt."
The group turned to see Velvet Snowfall, who was being gently nudged by her brother. As Frostbite stood by his sister's side, Celestia, Tempest, the Mane 6, and Queen Tundra's former minions approached them. Velvet gasped silently as she looked up at the group...Celestia in particular, causing her to look down at the floor.
"...I'm so sorry," she said. "There's no excuse for what I did."
"Queen Tundra is the one who committed this heinous crime, Velvet Snowfall," said Celestia. "As for you...you are hereby pardoned."
"...Thank you, Princess Celestia," said Velvet, "but...still...I didn't mean for things to turn out like this. I just...I just wanted everypony to see how beautiful winter could be."
"Winter is a beautiful season," Celestia replied, "but like all the seasons, it's not meant to last forever."
"She's right," said Twilight. "Winter is a time of rest and a time for looking back on the year we left behind...and give us the chance to prepare for the season of spring...and spring is a time when things grow anew."
"Yes," Rarity agreed, "such as new spring fashions."
"And great weather for flying!" Rainbow Dash added.
"The animals can come out and play," Fluttershy pointed out.
"And the flowers can grow," Applejack spoke up.
"And not to mention you get to party with all your friends!" Pinkie exclaimed.
"...I...I don't have any friends," Velvet answered.
"What are you talking about?" asked Frostbite. "Of course, you do!"
"Really?" Velvet asked as she looked up at her brother.
"You've got me, for starters," Frostbite said, putting a hoof on his chest for emphasis.
"And you have us, too!" added Winter Gales and she and the other Pegasus stepped forward.
"And don't forget us," Twilight spoke up as she, Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Tempest, and even Celestia stepped forward, as well. "We'll be your friends, Velvet...now and forevermore."
Velvet's eyes began to well up with tears as she stared at the group...then she smiled warmly at them.
"Thank you..." she whispered. "Thank you, all!"
"Yay, new friends!" Pinkie cheered as everypony soon came in for a group hug.
"...Okay, not to be a wet blanket or anything," Rainbow Dash began, "but don't we have a festival to get back to?"
"I couldn't agree more, Rainbow Dash," Celestia smiled before she turned and headed out. "Well, we better deliver the good news, then!"
As everypony followed their ruler and clamored in agreement...Tempest remained behind and momentarily looked down at the floor.
"...Friends, huh?" she asked before she looked out the window...remembering all the other creatures out there beyond Equestria. "Come to think of it..."
Tempest turned to see Twilight walked up to her.
"Aren't you coming?" asked Twilight.
"Uh...yeah, I'm coming," Tempest answered as she walked after the Princess of Friendship.
Over the course of the day, the ponies of Canterlot emerged from the underground shelters. Celestia and Luna both stood before their subjects as the crowd gathered around, along with Twilight, who explained to everyone what had happened to Queen Tundra. Velvet Snowfall stood back with her brother, nervously as she watched Twilight speak. She feared that despite everything, she would be punished for her actions.
"I know it will take time for you all to forgive her," Twilight replied, "but please know that what Velvet Snowfall was not of her own free will. As the Princess of Friendship...I ask that you all give her another chance."
The crowd murmured amongst themselves while Velvet stepped forward.
"I really am sorry for all the trouble I caused, everypony," she said. "I was convinced that everypony hated winter...but now I realize that like all seasons, winter has its time and place. It's not meant to last forever. I can't force it to stay...and I can't force others to enjoy it, either." She then heaved a sigh. "I wish I realized that a long time ago."
"...You're not entirely to blame."
Velvet looked up to see three familiar earth ponies; two stallions, one bigger than the other, and a mare.
"It's you three," said Velvet. "The ponies that bullied me."
"Yeah, it's us," answered the smaller stallion, the ringleader. "Listen...we never should've picked on you."
"Yeah, we went too far," the mare said, "and...we're really, really sorry for all the trouble we caused you...beating you up and calling you names."
"You didn't deserve that," said the second, bigger stallion. "We should have tried to understand you, instead."
"...So...do you forgive us?" asked the ringleader.
"...What do you think, Velvet?" asked Frostbite as he looked to his sister, who blinked at her former bullies...before she smiled at them.
"Of course, I do," she said, causing the trio to smile back at her, and everypony else to smile as well.
"Friendship wins, again!!" Moonlight called from the crowd, causing everypony to cheer.
"Now that that's settled," Luna began, "let the Springtime Celebration...continue!"
With that said, everypony headed off to celebrate the arrival of spring. Rainbow Dash played a bean bag tossing game with Scootaloo, Applejack was selling her baked apple goods along with the help of her siblings, as well as Grubber, who was eating one of Applejack's delicious apple pies, Rarity showed off her springtime fashions, Fluttershy was playing with the animals in the Canterlot Castle garden, Pinkie Pie was doing party tricks to entertain everypony attending, and Spike, Starlight, and Moonlight were getting their faces painted. Even Velvet Snowfall, Frostbites, and their news friends were off chatting together and laughing. Twilight smiled proudly as she watched while Tempest stood beside her, watching everypony celebrating.
"I don't know how you do it," Tempest began, "but you still manage to surprise me, Twilight."
"Well...you know," Twilight replied, "just doing my job."
"Well done, Twilight," said Celestia. "Another friendship made and another crisis averted."
"Thank you, Princess Celestia," Twilight replied...although, her smile soon fell, something that her former teacher noticed.
"Twilight?" she asked as she gently cupped the purple alicorn's face with her wing. "Something troubles you?"
"...Princess Celestia?" Twilight asked. "I need to talk to you...urgently."
Celestia blinked at Twilight in surprise before she turned to look at Luna, who looked just as concerned.
Sometime later, while the Springtime Celebration was still ongoing, Twilight stood before her fellow princesses in the throne room.
"The Element of Magic rejected you?!" Luna asked.
"Yes," Twilight replied. "That's why we weren't able to use the Elements of Harmony, this time." She looked up at Celestia and Luna. "What could have happened?"
Celestia and Luna both glanced at each other, the former knitting her brow with seriousness and worry.
"...Twilight," Celestia replied, "I think I know why the Element of Magic rejected you."
"You do?" asked Twilight.
"Yes," Celestia answered. "Twilight...do you remember the last time you used the Element of Magic?"
"Yes, I do," Twilight replied. "It was when Warfang..." She trailed off as she recalled her battle with the former Wolf King. "...It was when Warfang invaded Canterlot with his wolves...and Moonlight was...killed...and I transformed and..."
"Exactly," Celestia replied. "Not just that, Twilight, but you also made a very unscrupulous decision back when we were being invaded by the Storm King's forces. You attempted to steal Queen Novo's pearl...and not just that, but you renounced your friends."
"But...I was desperate!" Twilight cried. "And my friends weren't taking everything seriously until...well, we did make up after that, but-"
"Twilight," Luna interjected. "It seems that the reason why the Element of Magic rejected you is because you gave in to the darkness inside your heart."
"...I can't believe it..." Twilight whispered in disbelief. "But...it was just for a few moments."
"Regardless," Celestia continued, "the last time you used the Element of Magic, you used it out of hatred. That's why it rejected you."
"...What are you trying to say?" Twilight asked.
"Twilight Sparkle," Celestia said, "until you learn to tame the darkness within you...you can never use the Elements of Harmony, again."
"...No...!" Twilight whispered in shock.
"I'm sorry, Twilight," Celestia said, sadly. "I'm just as upset about this as you are."
"But...what if something happens again?" Twilight asked. "What if I don't learn to control the darkness within me?!"
"You have to figure out something," Luna said, causing Twilight to sigh before she stood up and walked out with her head hanging.
"...Will she be all right, sister?" asked Luna.
"...I hope so," Celestia replied. "This could possibly be Twilight's greatest challenge, yet."
"...Are you afraid that she might fail?" asked Luna.
"No, Luna," Celestial answered. "My greatest fear...is that I might lose her."
As Twilight headed outside to the entrance hall of the castle, she looked up to see her friends waiting for her.
"So?" Spike asked. "What did Princess Celestia say?"
"It's...not good news, is it?" asked Fluttershy.
"...No," Twilight replied. "The reason why the Element of Magic rejected me is because I let the darkness inside me take over...not to mention what happened in Seaquestria." She looked down at the floor in shame. "And what happened after that when I..."
"Oh..." the others muttered as they cast their eyes downward, especially Pinkie Pie, remembering the argument that happened after the incident in Seaquestria.
"So, you made some bad choices," Rainbow Dash replied. "Everypony does!"
"That's right, darling," Rarity added. "It's not something to beat yourself up over."
"But that's just it," Twilight replied. "What if something like this happens, again? What if I end up getting so angry, I end up transforming again? And even worse...what if I can't go back to the pony I used to be?"
The rest of the Mane 6, plus Spike and Starlight, glanced at each other, worriedly, but then Applejack went up and put her hoof on Twilight's shoulder.
"Now, don't get your tail in a twist, Twi," she said. "I'm sure we'll figure out somethin'...and I say 'we' because we'll figure it out, together."
"Just like we always have," Rarity replied.
"Absolutely!" Starlight added as she walked up to Twilight, as well. "That's what friends do, right, Twilight?"
"We'll find a way to help you, Twilight!" Spike added. "No matter what comes!"
"You don't even have to ask!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "We'll always help you, just like you've done for us!"
"We got your back," Rainbow Dash grinned.
"Yay," Fluttershy cheered, softly.
Twilight's eyes softened and a smile appeared on her face. She often forgot just how amazing her friends were, always willing to stand by her side, come what may.
"I love you guys," she said as she approached her friends, who all pulled her in a group hug.
"We love you, too, Twilight," her friends replied.