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Aftermath: A Salve for the Spirit - The Balcony

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The balcony of the Trillion Ballet Company Theatre are famous throughout the Crystal Empire. They are wide and spacious and wrap around the entirety of the second floor of the building, making them ideal for getting a breath of fresh air and escaping the stuffiness of a gathering of this multitude. Crawling vines of crystal flowers have swallowed the rails while lanterns and benches dot the otherwise empty outdoor space. Very rarely does one have to worry about braving the elements out here, thanks to the magic of the Crystal Heart, so year-round the balcony is full of crystal ponies enjoy the balmy weather of their homeland.

Tonight the view from the balcony is breathtaking. The night sky is clear and full of stars, with the northern lights dancing among them as though lost in their own revelry. The glow of the fire trapped within crystalline lanterns casts an ethereal glow of warm, multicoloured lights across the scene while the muffled sound of soothing music and chatter from below can be heard. This is the ideal place to go to catch a breath from the party and enjoy a drink. On the horizon, signs of the speedy reconstruction of the glittering metropolis are already visible, adding a note of hope to the tranquil atmosphere outside the party.

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It had been a couple days from the attacks on the Crystal Empire, and for many, all of the memories of the events that have happened still played fresh in their minds. Ice Storm was no exception. How did the caribou come so well equipped? How did they know what they were going to be up against when they got there? Were the residents of Equestria, The Crystal Empire, and her self really that predicable? Na, that couldn't have been, otherwise the Caribou would have seen right through the vault to have seen that it was a ploy. She thought back to the brainwashed guards. What type of magic were these caribou using that could affect that many guards at once? Were the caribou even capable of magic? They certainly had a lot of ways of countering the magic that they had. She wasn't sure what type of wood they had used, but the one thing she did notice. The wood itself had absorbed the magic of many of the guards that had fired at them, and the explosives that they used.... Java seemed to know a lot about them, which meant they were Equestrian make. Which brought up the question of how they got a hold of such dangerous ammunition? Sure there was the brainwashed guards, but still that doesn't explain how the guards had access to something like that. That seemed like the type of stuff only the highest of officials would be able to have access too.

All of these thoughts made there way through Ice Storm's mind as she started making her way up to the balcony of the Trillion Ballet Company Theater. She had received an invitation to come to some sort of event or party to try to help wind everypony down from what had happened only a few days before while she was still in the hospital. They had kept her overnight to watch her as they diagnosed her with a case of extreme exhaustion and kept her wound wrapped and cleaned. As long as she remained in the empire she still had to visit the hospital at least twice a day for them to change her bandages at their request, to which she was in no position to do otherwise. She had to admit that the hospital was rather dated, but she kinda liked the old rustic look that it had and it felt more natural to her and the ponies there were really nice. Even after she had verbally abused some of them when they started cleaning the wound out for the first time with medical grade antiseptics. She thought the salve that the zebra had put on her burned, but it was an itch compared to what this stuff was like. She shuddered a bit and she could feel a dull throbbing pain in the wound just thinking about it.

The bandage itself took up about half of her midsection, starting just behind her front legs and stopped almost right on where the blue splotch that ran across her hind legs started to make sure that the wound was adiquately covered and if anypony would have just glanced at her, they'd probably thing that she had some broken ribs. She'd be the first to tell you that she felt like it. She knew that she had used way too much magic during that fight and it would probably be another couple days before she could use anything other than very minor ice magic or telekinesis. Thankfully those two things she could do with somewhat ease. The ice itself was difficult to produce in any large quantities and she probably couldn't make much more than a few cubes right now without feeling a bit woozy. She knew that she wouldn't be able to open her shop for probably at least a week, which could cause some issues. she could only hope that ponies would be somewhat forgiving to her for having to take a week off, but by the time they heard what had transpired, they would probably understand.

Slowly, the steps gave way to a flat surface as she had reached the balcony of the theater that ran all along the side of the building. It wasn't the building or the balcony, however, that caught her attention. It was the view of the night sky that got her. She instantly looked up into the beautiful black canvas that was the night time sky and she could see all the constellations in their full beauty. Sure everything may not have went according to how everypony had planned it, and many ponies got hurt in what happened. She felt bad for their families and wondered what more she could have done to try to reduce the number of ones lost even further. Perhaps if she had just kept her mouth shut during the initial interaction with the leader of the carebou then things could have progressed differently. However it seemed like they wanted a fight from the get go anyway so she didn't really see that making much of a difference. In fact, it probably made her more prepared because she already had magic charged for when the doors opened that gave the defenseless a means of escape.

She did wonder how Princess Twilight was doing. When they were brought to the hospital the two of them were separated and she didn't get a chance to speak with Twilight before she had been released, and she figured that her friends would probably want to spend the first good bit with her. She didn't want to interject herself somewhere and feel like she might be interrupting something. Of course, she wasn't thinking it in a negatie light, but the last thing she wanted to do was get between friends in their time of need. She knew what that feeling was and what type of emotions were needed for it. Pressy and Moondancer had been those friends for her for a long while now and knew that she could count on them and go to them for almost any situation, although she was sure that her and Pressy both wold need a few long talks to get over this event together. Sure nothing negative happened between the two of them during the event, but it was still a very mind boggling experience and on that requires all of your friendships to be able to pull through with.

She continued to peer up towards the sky, waiting for others that had been invited to this event and still deep in thought, the rapidly changing colors in the sky for the auroras were almost an identical visual representiation of what was going on inside of Ice Storm's mind at the moment. Everything was clouded and jumbled together and she was still trying to put all of the pieced together to make everything make sense to her. Her main concern from this though, was that this was not going to be the last they heard from these things. She had heard reference to something that had been called W.R.A.I.T.H. She wanted to know more about it, and what it was. Primarily though, she wanted to know how to stop them. She wanted to know what their intentions were, and what could be done to make sure those plans never came to fruition. She would have to remember to ask Princess Luna, of Twilight the next time that she saw either of them if she could use the Royal Canterlot Library to do some research on this organization and see if she could figure anything out and any leads that she could find on them that could be useful for either tracking or flat out eradicating them. She gave a small shake of her head though. These were not thoughts for now. This was supposed to be a party after all, she might as well relax and try to enjoy it. There will be time for investigations later.

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Sunrise sighed to herself as she climbed the steps up to the balcony of the theater. This was just the sort of thing she needed after that disaster of a fair, some time for relaxation and casual conversation. She hadn't ended up using all that much energy during the battles, but she was emotionally exhausted, and this little party was something she was happy to attend.

As she reached the balcony itself, the fiery unicorn looked up at the sky with a faint smile. While the city itself had lost much of its beauty to the destruction, it still had this wonderful sight to enjoy. She looked away after a bit, searching the balcony for a place to rest or a familiar face to strike up a conversation with. As luck would have it, she found both in the form of one of the icy mares that had been with her at the spire. With a slight smile, Sunrise approached the mare, sitting down next to her and staring up at the sky.

"Hello. I don't believe we were ever properly introduced. My name is Sunrise Skies, nice to meet you. How are you doing since... Well, you know." She said, giving the mare a friendly smile at the beginning. The smile fell though when she brought up the mare's wound and the events of the attack.

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"Mghf!" *Crack-Pop!* The incipient conversation upon the was suddenly interrupted by a grunt and groan from a unicorn stallion concealed behind a hanging plant, neck joints popping as he stretched and emerged from his alcove, notebook and pencil hanging limply in his magical grasp. Encountering the two mares as he emerged, Earth Writer took an abashed step back. "Oh, sorry, didn't mean to interrupt." He smiled weakly as he showed the tools of his trade. "I was just... finishing up some copy."

He yawned, and rubbed his face. It was an understatement to say that it was "some" copy. More accurately, he was trying to write an entire special edition by himself. It was a way of keeping his brain occupied, so that it didn't wander back into nightmarish scenes.

Looking at Ice Storm now, he felt very self-conscious. He was a journalist and Bohemian, so images affected him powerfully. And the image of one pony without even so much as his hat knocked askew in the midst of the injured and worse just seemed excessively grotesque. He hadn't been on the front lines, at the very back, in fact, and his neat appearance showed it.

Turning his attention to the other unicorn, he offered his hoof. "Earth Writer. Uh... I won't mention the name of my paper. Not interviewing. Shouldn't be working, I guess, during a party..."

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Parties. Alistair wasn't much for parties unless they involved copious amounts of carousing, billiards, and cards. Yet here he was. Mr. Nobleheart had been kind to offer paid time off after the incident at the Spire, even snagging some complimentary tickets to the prima ballerina's s****y affair. Free was good, but this kind of free always came with a price.

The griffon marine muttered native Aquellian curses under his breath as he tugged at his tie. Look at you! This is all a load of bollocks! Suits were not Alistair's suit. With as much time spent in combat fatigues and a ghillie parka as he had, the dress shirt and tailed jacket may well have been cuffs and a straightjacket. Alistair sighed as he edged around the ponies in the main ballroom. It could not be helped.

There was, however, one means of respite for the old griff. Alistair began the slow climb up the stairs to the theater balcony, his talons remaining firmly on the ground only because it would likely have been faux pas to fly. There were already a few ponies gathered to enjoy the night air. Alistair promptly slipped past them and found himself a segment of banister to occupy. From his jacket, he produced an ivory pipe and the essentials to light it. Putting the ivory to his beak, the marine struck a match and lit the pipe, allowing the faint smell of cloves and mint to waft out around him.

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Frostlace made her way up the large stairs of the Trillion theatre’s main hall, a glass of thick, creamy stout hovering before her in the aetheric blue-gold embrace of her magic. Walking up the crystalline steps of the theatre was breathtaking, and the noblemare couldn’t help but gaze about herself in wonder. She had thought she had been seriously impressed by the Crystal Empire upon first arriving there, breathless and wide-eyed as a young filly as she lost herself roaming about the streets. Now, however, she was even more blown away. Something about seeing such a large and grand building still left so intact when so much of the Empire was left in a heap of dangerous crystal shards was...soothing. In fact, the entire setup was soothing. The hostess, whom Frost had met just a day prior to the event, had put together something special - a grand affair in the theatre of a respected ballet company that still managed to feel low-key and comfortable. Comfortable enough that the pale unicorn felt almost out of place with her empire waist, royal blue gown and her mane and tail artfully styled into cascading waterfall braids.

There was no point in dwelling on the matter, though. Even if she was a little too fancy for the occasion, Frostlace was comfortable and happy, especially now with a heady stout in her magical grip. It was easy, here, to forget the horrors of the attack. Though Frostlace herself had been fortunate enough to avoid getting seriously physically injured, the days after the attack had been so quiet for her that uncertainy and fear slipped through. The unicorn was a tough Stallian mare and a daughter of the Hoar Witch nobility, but the worst violence she had ever been exposed to typically happened between rowdy patrons at some of Stalliongrad’s seedy dives. She had never in her life expected to see what had happened in the Crystal Empire.

But it was time to leave those bitter memories in the dark and move forward. So up and away from the buzz of the banquet and the dance floor she went, seeking to grab a breath of fresh air and a view of the night’s sky before the party really got underway. Frostlace did, after all, fully intend on laughing and dancing and having a roaring good time on the dance floor later, once more ponies had arrived.

When she reached the balcony, the mare was greeted by some familiar faces. Closer to the doorway to the balcony was her new friend Blue, who was bandaged up and speaking with a stallion and the fiery mare who had been in the Spire during the attack. The pale unicorn wished to go speak with her cold comrade, but Blue was already engaged with two other ponies. So instead Frost cast the other mare a generous smile while she walked right by in order to approach the gryphon standing further away, pipe in claw. She recognized this one vaguely, as well, as he had engaged one of the tougher caribou while the Spire began the last phase of its collapse. The unicorn swore she could recall the proficient use of a crystal flugelhorn as well…

Frostlace chuckled and approached the sharply dressed gryph, taking a deep breath of the spiced and refreshing smoke whirling away from his pipe as she did.

“Dobryy vecher, good evening. My name is Frostlace,” she purred in her Stallian accent, offering a hoof forward to shake, “I remember you from Spire, tovarishch. You fought well - better than you played crystal flugelhorn!”

The mare then floated her stout to her lips and took a sip, casting a curious gaze upon the gryphon’s attire. When she moved the drink aside to speak again she was uncharacteristically oblivious to the way she looked, and thusly continued on speaking without any knowledge of the fact that the head of her beer had left an impressive foamy moustache upon her lips!

“Is funny, though. These clothes, they fit you well. Must be your own, da? Yet this look does not fit you same easy way that the weapons of fallen caribou did in battle. You are trained warrior I am guessing?”

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Ah, what a Crystal Faire this had turned out to be for the pegasus called Snowfall. She had arrived at the call of her fillyfriend Pathfinder, mind wrapped in reflective thought about the strange meaning the Crystal Empire and its existence held for her. One date and one proposal later, she was officially engaged to be married. Staying up late that night, the two slept in and awoke on the next day of the faire only to find that the entire empire was being besieged by armies of caribou. The weirdest part to Snowfall in all of it was that her Pathfinder had called it in advance...

Even when a heart is full and shining at its brightest with love, seeing death and destruction set in around you can have a shattering effect. As happy as she was to be marrying Pathfinder, Snowfall couldn't deny that the fact of the invasion did have her in a reflective and somber mood. It had her thinking about her father and the long spread rumors that caribou were responsible for his vanishing. More than that it had her thinking about the future and safety of Equestria. Everything just seemed so fragile. It wasn't long since the creature called Tirek attacked them all and now this threat from Whitescar? For all her wealth and clout in the business world, she just felt like she was perfectly helpless before it all. There had to be more she could do, didn't there? NSI was on the very cutting edge of technology in Equestria. Surely they could do something to help ward off this threat.

Snowfall had come to the party with Pathfinder, thinking it sounded like a good place to be after all that had happened, but her increasingly reflective thoughts had seen her move toward the balcony alone for a while, just to consider it all for a while. It was a bust party, and the balcony was hardly the place of solitude she was hoping for when she arrived, but to look up at the night sky did have a calming effect on her at least. It helped her to just think peacefully as she considered it all.

She wasn't expecting to engage in much idle conversation there, but as it were, she happened to see someone she knew well. She was Frostlace, another mare from the Stalliongrad elite scene. She was the Master of the Hoar Witch Estates, and as such controlled a number of various businesses. She was one of the few mares in Stalliongrad who likely had even more money to her name than Snowfall did, and unlike Snow, who's father had built the highly successful NSI from the ground up, Frost's was all old money, a long established fixture of Stalliongrad going back generations. Growing up in the same strata of extreme wealth, Snowfall had known Frostlace for much of her life, and she had always admired her. Like Snowfall, she was a free spirit, playing by her own rules and unencumbered by the expectations of those around her. Unlike Snowfall, she was a little better at it, perhaps because she didn't have an hyper-critical mother and a contentious corporate board breathing down her neck all hours of the day.

Whatever else, Frostlace was a pony Snowfall could truly relate to. She approached her readily, even as the mare was caught in conversation with an aged and curiously dressed griffon. Snowfall herself was dressed in an elegant black dress, as was usually the case. She smiled as she walked toward Frost, giggling at the sight of the beer foam on her lip--she wasn't even going to consider telling her about that, amusing as it was.

"You were here caught up in all this mess too, Frost?" she started with a smile. "A shame. I'd have rather been spared seeing anyone I know or care about having to go through this ordeal."

So as not to be rude, she looked to the griffon and smiled. "A pleasure meeting you, sir. I am Snowfall, chief executive of Northern Storm Industries. Frostlace here is an old friend of mine," she said offering her own hoof to the griffon.
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Lost in her trance, staring up, watching the illuminescent rainbow of lights flickering and dancing though the starlit sky, Ice Storm didn't even hear anypony else come up the stairs from the floors below. In fact, she just barely heard the hoofsteps of somepony approaching her. She looked down to see that it was the same fiery unicorn that had provided her with some assistance during the fight and that she had seen kinda looking her over while she was at the party before the attacks started taking place. She gave a soft smile as the mare introduced herself as Sunrise Skies and asked how she was since the incident. It had only been a couple days so naturally she could be a lot better, but things could have been a lot worse as well. She knew well not to complain about what was given to her. She knew that were many more that were more unfortunate than she was that didn't make it out of The Spire alive before the parts of it fell. She looked over to where The Spire was, and where the top of it still lay in pieces after hitting the ground. It was going to take some time for the clean up here and she could only hope that no pony got caught in the landing zone.

As soon as she started her reply though, another stallion came from... behind one of the potted plants? what exactly was he doing back there? Instantly her suspicions were raised and she went on high alert. She had already been in one ambush this week and she was not going to for one second, have a second one blindside her out of nowhere. Her guard went up as the stallion approached, but listened as he spoke to them. Apparently he was a writer of sorts and was working on a copy of something but didn't say exactly what that copy was. Once again, triggering something inside of her that ran many bells of alarm. However, he did also state that this wasn't so much of a place to work in, and he also mentioned his name. He seemed like he was being honest enough, and behind a plant would be a good way to avoid attention if you were working on some sort of paper, but why would you do something like that at a party anyway? Many more things that a pony could be doing other than writing. A point that he later made himself. "Well, it's a..." she said wincing as she took a breath that was a little bit too deep and stretched her cut against her bandage a bit. "pleasure meeting you Earth Writer, and like wise you, yourself Sunrise," she said turning her attention back towards the mare.

"To answer your question, I'm doing, about as okay as one would probably expect. I'm still quite a bit tired, and it will probably be at least a week or two before I can use my magic efficiently again like I'd like to be able to, and probably at least a month before I can do anything like that again. I pushed myself way far beyond the natural limits of my body and I'm surprised I didn't do more damage than I did. My side is still a but sore, but will heal with time. All that truly matters though, was we got Twilight out of there, and that she is now safe. I'll admit though, I do not know of her condition. We were taken separate ways as we got to the hospital a couple days ago and I haven't seen her since. I would presume that she is okay though, less we all would have heard about it by now if she wasn't," she responded.

As she did, she did also notice Frostlace trot up the stairs with a stout in hoof. Ice Storm wasn't much of a drinker herself, but she could definitely see the benefit in some stout ale or cider at the moment. Even if she wasn't technically supposed to have it with her still suffering from her exhaustion. Frost gave her a gentle smile and a nod and Ice Storm returned the favor before seeing another mare of ice walking up the steps as well. She, unlike frost and herself though, was a pegasi, and she honestly didn't know whether the mare was one of ice or not. she just simply presumed off of her own coloration, and the coloration of frost, that there was some sort of connection between the three of them. The flowing and elegant black dress that she was wearing covered her cutie mark, so without asking her it would be impossible to know for sure. However, it would be rather rude to abandon this conversation to go speak with Frost so she turned back to Sunrise and Writer. "How about the two of you? It looks like you both made it out relatively unhurt? I am relieved. Once I found out that Princess Twilight was still alive, getting her, and the ponies that couldn't fight out." she said pointing to where they used to be. "And apparently with little time to spare."

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Sunrise looked over at some noise coming from behind one of the potted plants. She raised an eyebrow as a stallion came out, floating a pen and paper near him as he said he had just finished up some kind of copy. She took the offered hoof as the stallion introduced himself, and shook it in greeting.

"Nice to meet you, Earth, my name is Sunrise Skies." She replied, giving him a gentle smile before turning back to Ice as she spoke, saying she was doing as well as could be expected. And indeed what she went on to describe matched what she would expect from a mare that had just done as much as she had naught but a few days ago. It seemed the balcony was getting rather popular, as now there was a griffon up here as well as the other icy mare from the spire. Plus yet another mare, though this one was a pegasus. Sunrise turned her attention back to Ice as she spoke again, asking how the two of them were.

"Yes, I managed to get out with just a few scrapes and bruises, probably due mostly to you and those others, since I had been following you. I'm just emotionally exhausted from the whole ordeal, it was quite nerve-wracking. I'm very thankful for all that you had done, and I'm sure the princess would love to thank you as well, were she able to. You're right though, that she is likely just still recovering from her wounds." Sunrise said, giving the mare a thankful smile. "In fact, if you were to come visit me in Manehatten sometime, I would love to make it up to you somewhat. We can work out the details later if you wish."

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Ice Storm couldn't help but blush a bit when the fiery mare told her that it was mostly because of her and the others that she had gotten out okay. She had followed her to get out of the spire, and she mentioned that other than a few minor bruises and a lot of emotional drain, she would be fine. Ice Storm herself nodded at both of those sentiments. the entire event itself was quite nerve-wracking and it left so many puzzling questions unanswered, almost all of which brought back to the forefront. It still puzzled her about the guards. How did every guard fall under this gaze from the caribou? Now that she thought about it... Where was Luna and Celestia? If the guards were brainwashed to capture the princesses... did it affect the ones in Canterlot as well? What if they had already been captured... That couldn't be though. The sun still rose in the morning, and the moon still rose at night, which meant the two were still in charge, or at least one of them was. She shook her head once more to try o get all of the frugal thoughts out of her mind. She had to have faith that the princesses were strong enough to be able to handle anything. From what she'd heard, Twilight survived a point blank explosion. If Twilight could survive through that, then the others could as well.

She was brought back to full attention as she heard the mare also tell her that she was eternally grateful for everything that she had done that day and if she had ever come to Manehatten, she would try her very best to make sure she made it up to her. Ice Storm gave her a soft smile before approaching a bit closer. "If I ever make my way to Manehatten, I will most definitely make sure to pay a visit to you, but you have no need to make anything up to me. By standing here, breathing, and alive, you've already made up more than I could ever possibly ask for. The same with everypony else that made it out of The Spire alive. The fact that they are alive, is all the thanks that I need. I don't need any fancy ceremonies, or bits, or jewelry, or any sort of special recognition for anything. I just do the right thing and try protect those around me. The main reason I was trying to initially push the fight as hard as I did at the beginning was try to provide a distraction so that everypony else could get out," she said placing a hoof on her friends shoulder.

"I don't need any sort of special repayment or favors for doing the right thing. After all," she paused pointing down to her chest. "It's wha'ts in here that is the most important quality of any pony, and I for one couldn't even fathom of trying to take advantage of a situation like that. I'm no hero, or anypony special. Just a pony that cares about everypony. And if you absolutely insist on doing a favor for me, then the one favor that you can do is keep breathing, and be there for your family and your loved ones. It's moments like this, that we are reminded that life is too short, and the unexpected can happen at any time. It's also these moments where being there for others, and being there for your family is the most important thing to have. Of course, naturally I'll have to, as I said, take up the offer to come up and visit my new friend from time to time," she said to Sunrise with a smile.

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Sunrise smiled faintly at Ice's response, listening attentively as the mare said she didn't need any sort of reward for what she had done, and that the fact that they were both alive was good enough for her. Well, she certainly was a very nice mare, and a brave one to boot. The fiery mare listened throughout the entire time Ice talked, smiling at her in a friendly manner. This was one good thing to come from this disaster of a fair at least, a new friend.

"Well, I'm still thankful for your efforts. You're a wonderful mare, Ice Storm, and I will gladly follow those directions." Sunrise then placed a hoof on Ice's shoulder as well, being careful not to upset her wounds or anything. "A visit with my parents is likely in order. Just so you know though, don't hesitate to call on me if you ever need my help. I'll do my best to help with any problems you may experience." Sunrise said, giving her a friendly, thankful smile.

"If I ever happen to be in your area, I would love to visit you as well." She said, pausing as she realized that might be a bit hard without knowing where the mare lived. "Hmm... That might be a bit difficult without knowing where you live though, wouldn't it?" She added, giggling a bit. She still wanted to make something for the mare, but she wanted to honor her decision. Still, she could just do it as a gift for a friend.

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It was sometimes easy for Earth to forget that not everypony was as familiar as his normal circle of friends with the trade terms of a Journalist. Copy was simply the term for the words one wrote, before the editor shaped them into an article. "Right, thank you. I heard about what happened in the Spire; I was actually writing that into my article when, well, you showed up." He slotted the the pencil through the loops of his notebook, closing it and putting it into his jacket pocket. "I really shouldn't be working, I know, but I am kind of the only reporter on the spot."

The conversation got away from him rather quickly, as the two mares became busy talking to each other. The stallion rolled his neck and shoulders, trying to loosen the stiffness. Perhaps writing about the events wasn't the best way to get one's mind off them. Perhaps he should go back downstairs, maybe dance a bit?

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A splash of Stallian immediately grabbed Alistair’s attention. It was not his native tongue, but he had become sufficiently fluent from living in Stalliongrad since his discharge. He was pleasantly surprised by the shapely mare who had suddenly appeared by his side. Perhaps this evening wouldn’t be a wash after all!

"Prekrasneyshaya iz vecherov. The fairest of evenings to you, Miss Frostlace," he said as he shook her hoof. It was perhaps a bit more formal than he’d ordinarily be, but it was always worth it to make a good first impression!

He continued in Stallian. “I’m glad you enjoyed the show, in spite of my flawed performance. My band instructor back in Aquellia always said I would make a better trombonist with my sloppy technique!”

As Frostlace raised her drink glass, Alistair took another long drag on his pipe. The griffon marine clicked his tongue, blowing a single smoke ring that lingered in front of the two before dispersing in a wash of smoky mist. He almost burst out laughing at the foamy head that had decided to settle upon her muzzle. It took military discipline to constrain his amusement to a mere smile.

“How’d you ever guess?” He replied to Frostlace. “Though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Not exactly hard to pick out an Aquellian Marine these days! I’m more used to a dirty uniform than a suit jacket. Of course, it would be poor form to say no when my boss offers me one.”

“But look at you! You look right at home in all the frills and finery here. Do I sense a hint of Ostrov in you?” Flattery, perhaps. But what was night out without a bit of fun?

When the second mare arrived, Alistair was caught off-guard. The new arrival seemed to know Frostlace already, though how well was difficult to establish. Those in the high-class circles were always difficult to get a read on. To her credit, she did have the common courtesy to greet all parties present, including Alistair.

Northern Storm? Well then. While Alistair had never met her personally -- he was unsure if even Nobleheart had met her personally -- there was much in the press about her and the shipments that he was tasked with escorting out of Stalliongrad were often branded with NSI markings. He shook her hoof firmly.

“Prekrasneyshaya iz vecherov to you as well. It is an honor, Ms. Snowfall. My employer speaks very highly of both you and your company. It appears that you were just in time for me to formally introduce myself! I am Sergeant Alistair Goldmane, Aquellian Marines, retired of course. I trust your evening has been pleasant in spite of all the goings on in the north?”

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Well, what a lovely surprise! For the first time since she had entered the Crystal Empire, Frostlace was free to speak in her native Stallian tongue. The moment the gryphon opened his beak to chat she knew she had done the right thing in approaching him. The unicorn couldn’t help but offer him a wide, foamy smile (as a second pull at her drink only made her stout moustache larger).

The trombone, truly?the icy mare quipped in Stallian, When your embouchure is so...beaky?”

Frost chuckled at her own joke heartily, then offered a showy little spin in her deep blue gown.

Ostrov?she laughed before pouting playfully, And here I was aiming for a look more akin to the blue lips of a stallion locked out in the cold because he forgot his anniversary plans while he was at the pub with his friends!

But no, my feathered friend, though the Hoar Witch offices are mostly to be found in Ostrov, I am a Chenya girl. Though there is a great deal of Kuznitza to be found as well.”

The last bit she emphasized with a flirtatious smirk just as a familiar and very welcome face entered into the conversation. Snowfall, the CEO of Northern Storm Industries, was one of the few elite ponies of the world that Frostlace would call friend. She lacked the spoiled and self-important attitude that usually stunk up the room at any socialite gathering, and instead had qualities that the Hoar Witch mare could only admire. Snowfall was intelligent, business-savvy, had an appreciation for all of Stalliongrad’s citizens large and small, and had nothing but pride for their sturdy, snowy home. This alone could curry Frost’s favour, but the winged mare was as reliable and solid in character as her Northern Storm machinery. Many of her company’s pieces were installed in Hoar Witch ships, and the unicorn often joked that Snowfall had taught her how to fly.

Snowfall,” Frostlace purred in Stallian, hugging her friend as she would no other ‘elite,’ How I wish you, too, had been spared this nightmare. Still, I am happy to see you are well and whole. I was in the Spire during the attack, as was the handsome Sergeant here. He is a strong soldier, and quite resourceful. I swear it’s the Stallian he’s picked up!

Another wave of chiming laughter, another sip of stout: Frostlace now sported a moustache to make any stallion jealous, though this time she finally noticed it and wiped it away with a wash of magic. She was eager to find things to smile at, ready to be the butt end of any joke should it chase away the darkness that still lingered in her heart. The Hoar Witch mare was never very good at dealing with dark matters, so her plan was to laugh it all away!

Ah, see! What an enviable moustache that was! I am a strong Stallian mare, so strong that I could grow a whole beard!

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The soft, happy expression that was already present on Ice Storm's face continued as Sunrise told her that she would happily follow the directions that she had provided for her. Of course, they were simple enough to do. She also smiled a bit wider as she told her that she was still thankful for everything that she had done and that she was a wonderful mare. Naturally, she didn't think that she was really anything that special, but she wasn't going to continuously downplay everything. That could have an adverse reaction as well, making others think that she was above such types of sentiments or that it was something that she expected everypony else to be able to do as well. Neither of those were the case and she would never in her life try to paint herself in that light.

Sunrise also mentioned that a trip to see her parents would also be in order at some point if, although it was more of a when at this point, that Ice Storm would visit Manehatten. It was an idea that she was quickly growing fond of and she had always head good things about the place. She also mentioned that she would do the same if she were ever in the same city that she was in, although promptly followed that statement that it was actually quite hard to do though considering she didn't know where she lived. Ice let out a small giggle as she felt Sun's hoof on her shoulder. It was obvious she was being as gentle as she could and it was well above where her wound was so the contact didn't really hurt. It did however make her smile a bit larger. "I would love to visit them sometime. As for myself, I actually live in Canterlot. I run a frozen treat store there during the day, and I have a pending job offer from Princess Luna to be one of her stewardesses at night. Although I'm still awaiting Luna's reply as to what I'm actually supposed to be doing," she her new friend smiling before turning back to the writer as to not make him feel left out of the conversation either.

"Not everything needs to be reported, and there are a lot of things that happened today that could spread mass panic and rumors that we don't want floating around. Such an event like this can cause distrust between ponies, other species, guards, and even each other. The consequences of making something like this spread across Equestria could be far worse than you may anticipate them being. I understand that things need to be documented, and things need to be covered so that it can be best determined how to avoid situations like this again. Of course, word is going to reach ponies anyways from the ones that were here, but if you're going to report on the attack, then you need to report on the band of Caribou that showed up after the attack to help clean up and rebuild what had fallen. Otherwise, ponies all over are going to be needlessly violent to other caribou in Equestria for no reason other than because of what happened here today, even ones that had no idea about what happened. However, I presume that you're a professional editor, so I don't really need to go through all the risks of publishing a story like that could have," she told him as she looked around to the rest of the balcony. It seemed that Frost and the Griffon were hitting off pretty well themselves.

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It surprised Snowfall that the griffon responded to her in Stallian, especially since he spoke it likely better than she did. Snowfall was born in Stalliongrad, but she hadn't learned the traditional language of her native city until much later in life, and largely from text books. This owed to her upbringing. Though her father was Stallian through and through and spoke with a thick accent, he had always been standoffish toward her and she had never in her youth had an interest in emulating him. Her mother, meanwhile, was a Cloudsdale mare who had taught herself to speak like Canterlot elite; even now she still didn't speak more than a few common phrases of Stallian. More than anything, Snowfall had been brought up by a series of private tutors hired by her father from all across Equestria. Those from elsewhere claimed she spoke with a slight accent of her home city, but within Stalliongrad she was more often said to speak like a pony from the Equestrian Heartland.

She smiled as he introduced himself to her and responded in Equestrian. "It's an honor, Sergeant Goldmane," she said as she shook his talon. "I am very pleased with the relationships my company has been able to forge in Aquellia these past few years. Since opening our Talonopolis office, I've found nothing but firm friends among griffons. But if you don't mind me asking, who is this employer of yours who speaks well of me?"

Snow looked to Frost as she spoke to her, laughing at her good-natured jokes. "Perhaps it is so. My father always did use to say that the Stallian spirit and drive is second to none," she said. Though Frost spoke in Stallian too, she chose not to, mostly out of fear that her rustiness at it would have her mangle something important and embarrass her.

She gave a small sigh as she dwell on the rest of what Frost had said. "You were in the Spire as it collapsed?" She started in surprise. Sure, this only followed. The Spire was where the more cultured fairegoers would gravitate. Likely Snow herself would have gone to scope it out had she not slept in. "That must have been a frightful experience for you. You weren't harmed in any way, were you?"

She thought of her own eventful day and shook her head. "For me, the Faire was more for romantic escape than call of society. I had stayed up until early morning hours the night before, and was still sleeping in my hotel room when all the madness started. I was safe and indoors for most of it, but beset with frantic worry begging my fiancee not to rush out headlong at one of the axe-wielding caribou warriors right outside our window," she explained sighing. Referring to Pathfinder as her fiancee came natural, even as the proposal had only come the night before the attack. She didn't even realize that she said it, or that in fact it was not known news yet to anyone.

"But, after all that, I'm just glad to see the Empire persevered. I guess we owe that all to our brave protectors like the Sergeant here," she said, nodding back in the direction of Allistair.
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Sunrise smiled again at the mention that she lived in Canterlot and even ran a little shop there. Well, that was yet another thing she could do when she next visited that city. And she was working with Princess Luna? Well, apparently not, but it was apparently in the works. Either way, that was exciting to think that her friend got a chance to work so closely with royalty. She gave the mare a warm smile before removing her hoof and responding.

"I would love to check out your shop the next time I am in the area, it sounds delightful. Also, I wish you the best of luck with the Princess Luna situation, it sounds to be a good opportunity." Sunrise said before Ice turned to the writer, which directed her attention over to him as well.

"Yes, I have to agree with my friend here. Ponies need to know what happened here, but you need to include the good with the bad. Certainly the caribou that attacked us were ruffians, but not all of them are like that." She said, adding her own opinion into the mix, agreeing with what she got out of her new friend's words.

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Earth Writer could only shrug at the two mares. "I don't have the final say over what gets printed; the editor does. If he wants to fill the Op-Ed pages with speciest balderdash, there's not much I can do, short of sabotaging the presses. Fortunately, I don't think he's the sort to." For journalists, it was a problem similar to what most members of larger organizations faced: the confounding of the lower and higher responsibilities in the minds of the public. Not that he felt it worth getting worked up over. He chuckled softly, taking off his hat and shaking his mane out. "Whew, that's better. And believe me, I've been hunting up every scrap of good news I can. Heck, I'd even ferret out society gossip, just to lighten the tone of what I've got to send home."

It was small talk, but such little talk had done the reporter more good than any amount of feverish work to restore his mental balance. Even his Bohemian impishness came out of hiding, and with a cheeky grin, he waved his hat to the other group on the balcony. "Well, how about it, then? Any of you got anything less depressing I can write home about?"

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The smile continued to expand along Ice's face as she heard Sunrise tell her that she would love to check out her shop the next time that she was in the area. That it sounded delightful. A small giggle escaped from her because of the fact that the mare made a pun on her store's name without even knowing it. "I would hope so, I did name the store Frozen Delights after all," she said with a small laugh trying to further lighten the mood, although stopping the laugh quick as it twinged at her cut a bit making it sore, and a small quick inhale making it apparent she was still hurting a bit. Instead of laughing she just resorted to a hearty smile. She'll admit though, it was rather hard for her to not be able to laugh when she thought about the play on words. She also wished her luck on whatever was happening with the Princess. "Thank you. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to be doing, but I'm sure it will be important," she said turning to the writer.

Earth Writer told them that it ultimately wasn't his decision as to what got published and what didn't. That was all up to his editor, and if his editor wanted to portray the caribou as beasts that are nothing but monstrous figures, then short of sabotaging the presses there wasn't much that he himself would be able to do about it. "I supposed that is a fair point, but I would hope that your editor understands the consequences of publishing something that isn't entirely accurate. But alas, that's not really a discussion for now. As far as something less depressing to write about. I'm not really sure. I'm just a Canterlot mare that runs a snow cone shop, so nothing really special about me. I don't know much about Sunrise here though, other than she helped us out in the Spire, and that she's from Manehatten," she told the writer.

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Sunrise giggled a bit as Ice revealed a play on words that she hadn't even known she had made. Well then, wasn't that just a funny little coincidence? Her laughter died though once she saw that Ice's laughter caused her a bit of pain. Sunrise was no medical pony, she wasn't really sure if she should be doing something, or even what that something would be unless it was just simple tasks.

Her little bit of worry seemed unfounded as Ice appeared to be fine after the apparent twinge of pain. And with that, the conversation turned back to the writer, who said he really didn't have control over what was and was not printed. That was a shame, but she knew the feeling of somepony over you choosing what parts of your work would make it through and what parts would be denied. There was something to be said there for independent workers who simply produced what they felt they should.

"I understand, it's alright." She said simply to Earth Writer before continuing. "I am a designer, and I tend to go to various high-society parties, but I don't tend to pay much attention to gossip. So sorry."

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Ice Storm found herself nodding in agreement with Sunrise, or was Sunrise nodding in agreement with her? She couldn't really tell at this point, but one thing she did tell was that they both agreed that this was something that while needed to be mentioned was going to be a very touchy subject for many years to come. She also realized that despite how much she told this one reporter, there were going to be many more that didn't understand, or didn't care about the consequences of their actions and could create a level of distrust that no pony could pull Equestria from. Not for a while anyway. Even if the princesses themselves came out and said that they had faith in the caribou, the damage would have already been done by though with the quills. At that point she feared that ponies would start doubting the princesses which was something that should never be.

One thing that she did notice though was how everything was beginning to take shape here. Yes, this was a tragic event, but she looked around and saw how this event pulled everypony, and everything together. She looked around and she saw Caribou, albeit not many, most were probably just stragglers from the clan that came in to help with the clean up process. She wasn't sure if they had actually left yet or not. Not to mention the four pony races that were here, and the griffons, and everypony had been pulled together in this time of need to be there for each other. It was heartwarming, but also kind of sad that it took something of this magnitude to draw everypony so close. Sure the Crystal Faire could have done that on it's on, but it hardly went as anypony planned. She looked back over to frost and the griffon on the other side of the balcony. "Hey Sunrise, Why don't we go over there and see how Frost and the Griffon are doing? They were in the midst of all of the fighting covering us so that we could get everypony out. Would probably be a good idea to make sure they are okay and thank them as well for covering our flanks while we made the get-a-way," she said as she started making her way over to where Frost and the other ponies were, although waiting for Sunrise as well not to make her think she was just leaving her new friend behind.

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Alistair’s comeback to Frostlace was instant, spoken with a wink and a grin, “‘Beaky’ doesn’t mean not supple, take that as you will!”

“Chenya?" he responded in Stallian, "You didn’t seem like the schoolgirl type to me! You’re full of surprises tonight, Miss Frostlace. And that moustache! It matched your dress so well. I thought it was all part of the evening attire!”

She smiled as he introduced himself to her and responded in Equestrian. "It's an honor, Sergeant Goldmane," she said as she shook his talon. "I am very pleased with the relationships my company has been able to forge in Aquellia these past few years. Since opening our Talonopolis office, I've found nothing but firm friends among griffons. But if you don't mind me asking, who is this employer of yours who speaks well of me?"

“Well I’m certainly glad to see that I won’t ever be recalled to fight a border war!” Alistair laughed in response to Snowfall. “You may know my employer by his company. Mr. Lev Nobleheart is the head of Kalinka Shipping. I run security for his airships out of Stalliongrad.”

She gave a small sigh as she dwell on the rest of what Frost had said. "You were in the Spire as it collapsed?" She started in surprise. Sure, this only followed. The Spire was where the more cultured fairegoers would gravitate. Likely Snow herself would have gone to scope it out had she not slept in. "That must have been a frightful experience for you. You weren't harmed in any way, were you?"

“I’m sure Miss Frostlace is all right. She’s certainly very chipper tonight, after all!” Alistair said in jest.

Capitalizing on the moment, he puffed a smoke ring from his beak in just a manner that it settled above Frostlace’s head like a tiny halo. It was all in good fun, of course. Stuffy formal affairs, Alistair was not fond of. Conversation and carousing, on the other hand, was his bread and butter while socializing. Getting away from the formalities of the ballroom was a welcome change, even more so with the company of two lovely and interesting mares! This was much more in his comfort zone.

"But, after all that, I'm just glad to see the Empire persevered. I guess we owe that all to our brave protectors like the Sergeant here," she said, nodding back in the direction of Allistair.

“You give me too much credit, Ms. Snowfall,” Alistair said with a smirk. “That wasn’t bravery or heroism. That was just training kicking in when the chips were down. I’m sure every royal guard, Aquellian Marine, Stallian Ranger, or caribou jeger would have done the same”

“Congratulations on your engagement, by the way,” he finished, not forgetting Snowfall’s mention of fiancee. “However late I may be in delivering it!”

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Sunrise sighed a bit to herself as she looked out over the city. She had been helping to rebuild it earlier, and it was great that all the races present seemed to be coming together to rebuild what was destroyed. Aside from some initial distrust of the new caribou, of which she was somewhat ashamed to have taken part in, everyone came together to help the crystal ponies. It was quite nice, seeing the cooperation between different races.

The designer looked over at Ice as she spoke again, suggesting they head over to a unicorn mare and a male griffon who had helped in their escape from the Spire. She recognized the unicorn all right, as she was the one to knock out that brainwashed guard and eventually bring him aboard the airship. She didn't remember seeing the griffon, but she would take her friend's word for it. She nodded, walking over to the two with Ice. She arrived just in time to hear something about an engagement, and she smiled widely at the thought. Weddings were wonderful things to attend. Pushing the thought out of her head for the moment, she turned to the two Ice had pointed out.

"Hello miss, sir." She said, nodding to Frost and the griffon in greeting. "My name is Sunrise Skies. I wish to thank you for your efforts in the Spire that helped to allow the evacuation of Princess Twilight and a group of non-combatants." She said, smiling at the two.

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Frostlace flashed Alistair a wicked grin, her face a mask of flirtatious devilry. “Hmm, does not mean not supple you say?” she came back just as quick as the gryphon himself had, “Perhaps before night is done I test that personally. Add one more surprise to list, da?”

Boisterous laughter rolled out of the mare easily, and she took yet another long swallow of stout (this time careful to avoid sprouting another frothy moustache) before continuing.

I am a Hoar Witch mare, my handsome friend. I live in Chenya, always breathing that dusty academic air. I may not be a scholar but I do love my books, especially partnered with wine or whiskey. And you were half-right, the moustache is part of my wardrobe, though it belongs to my Academia ensemble, not my casual we-just-saved-and-empire-from-certain-doom ensemble!

When Snowfall spoke again, Frostlace was reminded with a mental cringe that her winged friend did not, in fact, speak Stallian where she could avoid it. The unicorn found it easy to forget this if they went too long without seeing each other. The CEO of Northern Storm Industries was one of Stalliongrad’s most brilliant gems, after all, and she was Stallian through and through. It was just so easy for Frost to slip into her native tongue around the mare! She offered her friend an apologetic smile before waving off her concerns.

“Just small scratch on flank and dark memories,” she replied nonchalantly in her heavily-accented Equestrian. Her expression softened before she continued, addressing Snowfall and Alistair both, “I am so happy, dear friend, that you avoided most of attack and are well. What happened in spire will be hard to forget. I saw things, did things that are like great weight on heart. But my dedushka taught me that in time of turmoil I must make laughter loudly and smile broadly. I do not wait for light to find me in darkness. I make own light, share it with others. Wear moustache at butt end of joke if need be! Hah! Perhaps try for Fu Manechu next time!”

The pale mare’s gaze drifted up, then, and she realized that the gryphon had blown yet another smoke ring, this one hovering above her head like a halo just as she began her little spiel. What fun this gentlemen was! She wiggled into a holier-than-thou posture, creating her best imitation of an angelic countenance and failing miserably before laughing at herself. “I make not-so-good angel, I think. Snowfall could tell you thing or two about trouble I have got up to with foundry crew at Kuznitza pubs.”

Frostlace smirked up at the catbird, the blue-gold glow around her horn flaring up briefly and sending little balls of aether over to tickle either side of Alistair’s head. When the light whispered away, two devil horns made of ice were left in its place. The mare beamed.

“There. Now I am not-so-good angel and you are handsome devil. We will go to war or have great tragic romance like Poneo and Juliette!”

At her own mention of romance, the Hoar Witch mare felt something tickle in the back of her mind. She screwed up her face in thought, trying to figure out what it was that felt out of place during ther conversation, for that was was the tickle was. Something just felt...different. Then Alistair spoke and it hit her over the head like a viking caribou’s hammer. Snowfall had said fiancé.

“Engagement!” she gasped after the gryphon offered his congratulations, “You said fiancé! Snowfall, you are engaged!”

An unintelligible stream of Stallian flowed forth from the white mare, peppered with surprised curses and exclamations of joy. Happy tears stung her eyes and she pulled her old friend into a tight hug.

“I am happiest of happy for you! Pozdravlyayu! Pozdravlyayu! Pozdravlyayu! When will you be married?”

As the two were mid-hug Blue and her conversational companion came over, the latter mare offering gratitude for Alistair and Frost’s efforts in the spire. The unicorn gave her old friend another squeeze before she separated and addressed the two.

Privet, friends, Privet!she nearly sung, “I thank both pretty mares for their efforts too! Blue was especialvery valiant, but must learn to use magics less rashly. Be more clever with ice, use less magics, not come so close to death, yes? But nyet, no more talking battle and blood. My dear Snowfall is getting married! Is time for to be happy! Za lyubov! To love!”

With her toast, Frostlace finished her pint and set her glass down on the rail of the balcony, the magic finally leaving her horn. She never was one to nurse a drink!

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“Well I’m certainly glad to see that I won’t ever be recalled to fight a border war! You may know my employer by his company. Mr. Lev Nobleheart is the head of Kalinka Shipping. I run security for his airships out of Stalliongrad.”

"Ah, you work for Lev then! Considering that, I'm surprised we haven't met sooner," Snowfall said, with a cheerful smile and laugh as the griffon answered her question. "NSI does so much wonderful business with Kalinka. It is a partnership we are quite proud to be a part of." She nodded several times. "I trust my dear Mr. Nobleheart is doing well?"

“I’m sure Miss Frostlace is all right. She’s certainly very chipper tonight, after all!”

“Just small scratch on flank and dark memories, I am so happy, dear friend, that you avoided most of attack and are well. What happened in spire will be hard to forget. I saw things, did things that are like great weight on heart. But my dedushka taught me that in time of turmoil I must make laughter loudly and smile broadly. I do not wait for light to find me in darkness. I make own light, share it with others. Wear moustache at butt end of joke if need be! Hah! Perhaps try for Fu Manechu next time!”

"It sounds like you've truly been through a lot, Frost. It's remarkable that you're still in such fine spirits," she said with a smile. She gave a bright giggle and looked toward Alistair. "Though I suppose it would take quite a lot to fully sour that one's mood," she said, shaking her head. "I've always been the one of us more inclined to worry."

She watched in amusement as the griffon blew his smoke, creating a little halo over Frost's head. She giggled at the other mare's comments about the foundry crew; that had been quite the evening to observe.

"Indeed, this one is rather far from innocent," Snow said, shaking her head once more. "I've long envied the liberty allowed to her. Whenever in the past I had a more mischievous hair, I would invariably end up hearing about it from important investors, the board, my mother and the press. The Hoar Witch name, however, I suppose excuses much trouble," she added teasingly.

“You give me too much credit, Ms. Snowfall, That wasn’t bravery or heroism. That was just training kicking in when the chips were down. I’m sure every royal guard, Aquellian Marine, Stallian Ranger, or caribou jeger would have done the same”

When Alistair made his comments about his part in the fighting, Snowfall shook her head. "And you, sir, I believe are being overly modest. Compared to us helpless civilians, what you all can do is more than deserving of any praise I can muster."

“Congratulations on your engagement, by the way. However late I may be in delivering it!”

"Thank you kindly, Sergeant," Snowfall said with a polite nod and smile toward the griffon as he went on to give his congratulations. So, her mention of a fiancee hadn't gone unnoticed? Well, it's not like she was hiding anything here. "And do not worry, you are not late at--"

“Engagement! You said fiancé! Snowfall, you are engaged! I am happiest of happy for you! Pozdravlyayu! Pozdravlyayu! Pozdravlyayu! When will you be married?”

Before Snow could finish her words to the griffon, she was being hugged and effused over by Frostlace. It was a warming thing to see how happy it had her. Frost truly was a good friend.

"The date isn't quite set," Snowfall said, as she was finally let free of the other mare's hug. "It's a quite recent development, and there's still a lot to think about. My fiancée... It was actually on the night before all this madness happened that she proposed..."

Snowfall smiled, Frostlace's happiness reminding her of how happy she should feel. "Pathfinder... she's really excited and eager to invite everypony she's ever met, so it seems like it will be a rather big wedding. Even were it not, however, you would be one of the first I asked to come, Frostlace, so I'm glad you are one of the first to know."

She looked to Alistair. "And you, Sergeant Goldmane, and all our friends with Kalinka will be invited as well. Do let Lev know that his invitation will soon be in the mail."

She blushed a little as Frostlace went on and effusively proposed a toast to tow unicorn mares Snowfall didn't even know, others from the ordeal in the Spire she had went through. She chuckled warmly as she looked to the two new mares.

"Indeed," she said. "A pleasure meeting you both," she said. "I am Snowfall, chief executive of Northern Storm Industries and a very dear friend of this enthusiastic mare." She smiled Frost's way before looking back towards the other mares. "Thank you both dearly for your part in fighting to keep both her and the empire safe." She nodded to the blue one. "You must have been especially impressive, Miss Blue, to attract such deep praise from Frost."

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