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IceStorm

Retracing Old Hoofsteps. (ATTN: Alvida, PM to join)

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Raven nodded, the grin fading as she started to pace. Normally, she would wait till her opponent moved, but didn't want to risk it with Ice having admitted she was more of a combat mage. So, she slowly closed the circle she had been paceing, her horn charging up for a Shadowsun burst. Her entire body was tensed, looking as if it was a spring that was under pressure.

 

With a burst of sudden movement, she lept the remaining distance towards Ice, her body twisting as she flew through the air. As she landed, she let off her spell, and tried to get by Ice so she could strike at her.

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Ice leaned back in her stance as she watched Raven begin to pace back and forth. She was watching her body movement, but more importantly her hooves. A well coordinated fighter could change directions very quickly and in doing so use it as a way to catch opponents off guard, going in for an exposed area for a disabling strike. It may not be a fatal blow, but it would usually be one that would disarm them and take them out of combat at least enough to get past them to another target. However, it's usually best to make sure the blow is at least crippling so that they can't return to the current battle. This however, is a spar, not a full force combat simulation. There was no way Ice could use to many of the methods she knew for this that wouldn't have... potentially dangerous after effects.

 

Then Raven lunged. The spell that she was cheating went offs as she landed and creating a blinding dark green flash of light. Out was a good spell. Good for disorientientation. Knowing she had something like that in her bag of truck made her wish that she would have been on her infiltration team. However, Ice had some disorientation magic of her own as she raises and then lowered her hoof as the surface of the ring was now a slick sheet of Ice. She felt the hit connect with her and she felt her armor buckle a bit. As she was hit she started to slide in the ice and shook her head a bit to regain her bearing as she slid to a halt. She held a charge of her magic waiting for Raven’s next move.

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Raven slid as she tried to get her footing on the ice that Ice had summoned. The ice was slick, and she had never really learned to skate, having lived in Canterlot all her life. Finally getting her hooves back under her, she took stock of her situation. Ice would be weary of her firing off the Shadowsun again, and with it having a long cast time if she wanted it to work at range, it was useless. She had learned some heat spells, and decided to manipulate those to destabilize Ice a bit, by affecting the ice under her hooves. 

 

Raven kept an eye on Ice even as she began to cast, weaving the energy in an unfamiliar way, the typical markers of spell casting muted or absent. She was adept at this, but it required Ice giving her enough time to basicly create a spell from scratch, which was unlikely. If it worked, however, a simple push, say a gust of air might knock her down and allow Raven to get a second blow in...

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The ice had worked exactly as Ice Storm was hoping for it to. Raven made contact with her and the armor absorbed the blow as intended, though a crack could be heard in it from the contact. Ice didn't make it full strength. She let the plate fall and remade it, increasing the density a bit as she did.

 

Raven then seemed to pause. She wasn't sure what she could be planning. She watch's and looked for clues, any indication that something might be coming. Raven told her that she had ways of weaving magic in an unconventional manner. Ice wouldn't be able to counter something like that, but depending on what it was she might be able to block it or flow with it.  Well, there is one way I could disrupt her, Ice thought as she pushed herself off with her hind leg and staying light on her hooves skating rapidly to the other mare, feeling a busy of wind hour the ground behind her and sending her forward much faster than intended.

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Raven was startled by Ice moving towards her, seeming to rocket across the ice. Either her plan to melt the ice a bit worked, or her opponent's affinity extended beyond spell work. She knew that her usual tactics wouldn't work, that having already been proven, and so she did her best to brace herself. She cancelled the spell, and ducked low, getting ready to throw Ice on the ground, utilizing Ice's own momentum against her. 

 

It kinda worked, or at least, it seemed that way to Raven, who found herself hitting the ground as she stood rapidly, the quick, jerking movement causing her to slide way away from Ice, almost to where her freezing effect had stopped. Raven struggled to get back to her hooves, resolving that she would not be defeated by this terrain that Ice had created. As she struggled, her armor began to glow, helping her to stand up before the glow faded... Too bad Raven had no clue how to activate that particular enchantment, and no time to experiment... She had to be ready for the next blow, to appear strong where she was weak, and weak where she was strong.

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Ice noticed that the mare had lowered herself to brace for the impact and like the blows grim her earlier, Raven had been sent sliding along the ice. Only it was obvious that Raven didn't have as much control on the ice as she did. The skid took her all the way to the edge of the ring. It also look that she hit the ground as she began to eighty herself and she saw the armor glow a bit. Perhaps there was something in the armor that would allow the wearer to stand up more fluently in the event that they were proned. She didn't know, but she would have to ask about that. Something like that would be nice on her own armor should she ever be in that situation. 

 

The stumble didn't really seem to open up much though, the Amor starting in place as ice looked for a window. She didn't want to resort to to much magic... She didn't think it would be a fair spar though some magic had already been used against her... With a quick push to her right she took offs to the edge of the ring opposite of her in between herself and Raven before tendrils of magic shot from her orbs into her horn and a curling slide of Ice formed on the edge that she went into a skid just before hoof, launching her back towards Raven. While in the air, her horn lit up several times as she fired several razor sharp shards of Ice from her horn. However, she intentionally made them extremely brittle. They would cut exposed skin if hit, but would shatter on the armor or bone. She wasn't going for a kill shot, just a display of power. 

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Raven was still slightly disoriented by her maneuver, and so missed Ice launching into the air. She had just enough time to brace herself, and shift so the majority of the spikes launched hit her armored flanks, a hiss of pain escaping her lips as a few sliced the side of her muzzle. However, this only redoubled her resolve, and actually made her grin. She was glad to see Ice not being so defensive. The mare would never learn how to adjust to her new power by being careful.

 

A proverb that Raven's father had told her came to mind: Before the battle of the hoof, comes the battle of the mind. If she couldn't fight like normal on the icy ground, then she would try another way to distract Ice. She started to channel a circular area of heat, intending to melt the ice, but spoke while doing so. "Really Ma'am? Still with the ice? Why don't you just let it go?" She taunted, getting ready to melt the area Ice would land on.

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So far things were going well, and Ice could feel more magic welling inside of her. The maneuver had been a successful hit. One that if she had actually been fighting for would have done quite some damage. As it was, there were a few cuts on the mares muzzle now. This seemed to only drive her further, which made Ice smile. Things were likely to get a lot more interesting from here. She heard her say something, talking about still with the ice. Ice smirked.

 

The smirk was lost though when she hit the ground and she didn't slide like she was expecting to. Instead she found water where there was supposed to be a patch of ice. Her hoof caught and momentum took her over causing her to roll. She had enough time to expand her helmet to roll with the impact and shift it around her horn to keep it from possible damage. She didn't need to lose everything she had because of a sparring accident. She rolled once, the helmet shattering as it did and she resumed sliding as soon as her hooves hit the ground again. She soon came to a stop and looked to Raven with a fire in her eye. The spheres started to not only orbit her faster, but began rotating in their orbit. It was as if they had turned into small planetoids of aether and the air temperature around her started dropping.

 

At this point, all of the other guards in the area had ceased their training and were watching the event in the ring, and several ponies outside of the training grounds were starting to gather to watch what was going one. They made sure to keep their distance though as they didn't want to get caught up in a dual of magic between two unicorns. If something got deflected, somepony could get hurt. This didn't go unnoticed by Ice Storm, but as long as they stayed back she wasn't worried. If they didn't well... she did warn the guard to give them space when they arrived. "Do you really want me to let it go?" Ice said with the look of fire in her eyes. It was obvious that the mare had some elemental affinity to the flame.... "Fine, no more holding back, You want all out, You've got it," she responded before taking a step forward creating a small crack in the ice on the ground under her heading towards Raven.

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Raven smiled for again for a brief second, till she saw Ice tumble forwards. A quick look of horror passed her face, till she saw the glint of the helmet Ice had made. Frowning, since she didn't want to try that again, and also because it wouldn't work judging by how quick the water had resolidified. She was reminded of the poem Of Fire and Ice, by Snowy Roads, with how she tried to counter everything with heat based spells...

 

She thought of an idea though, to turn her heat spell on herself, enchanting her hooves with it. The only issue was she had only tried one enchantment before, and that didn't work well... Those were memories for another time. Raven drew her magic, the aura sputtering as her horseshoes glowed as well, seeming to accept the extra layer of spells thrown on them. With the spell cast, Raven sank to the hard ground underneath, and headed herself for another cast, this time a spell that when she had practiced it with Sombra, had sent him head over heels... at the cost of most of her energy. She couldn't risk that, and so quickly tried to form the projectile and toss it, though it looked very similar to her Shadowsun.

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Ice watched as Raven started to sink into the ice. She smiled. All the work and preparation going into her own spells that she seemed to completely miss the crack in the ice that was heading towards her. She kept her own focus on the spell that she was weaving and as soon as the crack got within range, the magic released. The crack jolted upwards with sharp jagged spikes, creating a circle around Raven, the sharp points almost touching her on her flank, but intentionally left enough space in front of Raven to where the next part of the maneuver wouldn't kill her.


As the ice wall for formed, she noticed a spell heading in her direction that looked very similar too what happened before. She kept her focus though and just as the spell would have hit her, Ice disappeared from the battlefield. A small form of snow fell into a pile where she was before, and then she reappeared on the ledge of Ice. When she reappeared, she let out a loud battle cry. “No more holding back!!” she yelled releasing a pure subarctic blast of cold from her horn towards the mare in the circle of ice.

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Raven panicked as the blast of frozen air flew towards her. She didn't have time to jump out of the way, especially since she'd have to jump the spikes too. As she closed her eyes, and braced for impact, fear was plain to read on her face. She still believed, however, that Ice wouldn't truly hurt her.

 

As she waited for the impact, her horn began to spark, creating a wisp of her signature orb, though this seemed to draw out, and started to wrap around Raven. Soon, she was cacconed in an orb of fire, and could feel the cold rush over and around her. It seemed to her to take forever, but it was over in a few short seconds. When she opened her eyes, she was in a dome of ice, with nowhere to go.

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The rush of adrenaline slowly started to fade from Ice Storm as the heat of battle was winding down. The crowd that had gathered around were backing off a bit from the display of magical force. As she saw the dome of Ice though, she started to become frightened. Panting she started looking through the dome of Ice to make sure she hadn't accidentally pushed way too far with her magic and actually froze Raven. Thankfully, she was able to see her moving around inside the dome and was able to at least nullify the past of the attack that would had hit her. She was glad. She wasn't sure what would have happened if the arctic beam would have directly hit her.


Carefully she jumped down of of the ledge to land right next to the dome. Her gaze was still stern and she was still expecting possible retaliation, but of what caliber she want sure. One thing was certain, she didn't want to lose control like that again in a simple spar. She wasn't Luna. She wouldn't be able to handle too much more than what she's already hit her with. “Shield your eyes,” she warned before activating her magic and the four strands of aether from the spheres as she touched the dome of Ice and caused it to shatter. “Do you wish to continue, or should we stop, your call.”

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Raven shivered as Ice approached, though she wasn't sure if it was from fear or excitment. As Ice cracked the dome, Raven knelt. "No... no, I... I yield... it's probably best we stop now, I don't know how I would of been able to deal with the rest of your attacks... I don't even know how I survived that, I mean, I felt the magic casting, but I wasn't really directing it..." 

 

She began cleaning her armor, slowly stripping it and carefully checking both the physical structure, as well as the magical enhancements. It didn't seem to be beat up, and she put it in its case. "So, what now? I mean, I could use a shower or something... but perhaps you'd like to do something?" Raven asked, still wondering at the new spell that had almost lept unbidden to her in her panic. The last time that had happened was when she had gained the Shadowsun, and this new spell didn't seem to be too different in how it had felt to her...

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As the ice dome fell, and the rest of the ice around them shattered as well, she nodded to Raven as she spoke. Hearing her talk about how she wasn't entirely sure how she survived that pranged her. Despite trying to open up a bit more she still was trying to go easy on the mare but she still... just simply pushed too hard. If whatever had made the dome not interfered... she could have seriously hurt Raven or worse. "Magic has a mysterious way of always being in the right place at the right time in some form or another. I got my cutie mark in a very similar method. In fact, I'm not entirely sure what happened to get my cutie mark. One moment I was trapped in a blizzard, the next, I was in an igloo, and the storm was gone, and I had my cutie mark. No idea how," she commented on the randomness that magic had sometimes.

 

"That being said, I'm sorry that I let myself lost that much control. If you hadn't done what you done, I could have seriously injured you or worse. It's one of the reasons why the only pony I really spar with anymore is Princess Luna... I can go full force with her, even though we still haven't truly tapped into the power of the orbs themselves yet,"  she explained with a sigh as the armor of ice fell off of her with a few clanks and cracks before melting away like the rest of the ice. It had turned into quite the interesting day, and when Raven asked what they should do now, mentioning that she could use a shower, Ice nodded. "It probably wouldn't hurt me either. Otherwise, I'm not entirely sure what there is to do here. There's the memorial that we've already been to. I imagine there's a museum here or something that would go into a bit more of the history of the Crystal Empire. Plus there's still plenty of things we can talk about," Ice Smiled. She just hoped that she hadn't intimidated the mare too much. Raven was already somewhat intimidated before hoof, and she was sure that recent circumstances probably hadn't helped matters much.

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Raven frowned. She knew well the struggle to control her power, though in Ice's case it was pure power level, and not like Raven. However, she didn't know how to help her... Maybe it would be best if she just dropped it for now. "Well... My hotel's close, if you want to just use the shower in there, then we could go see about a museum, or a library... I do need to find out about the crystals here, to see if they're going to work for my focus." 

 

Raven smiled as she turned back to pick up her case, trying to show Ice she was fine. "That was a good match though... I've never been pushed like that before, and after I've had some training, I would like to try again... I really did have fun." She just wanted to make sure Ice didn't retreat into herself, afraid of her power.  She impulsively decided to try something, and suddenly gave Ice a hug...

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When Ice heard about Raven talk once more about trying to find a spell focus for her similar to the ones that she had, she thought back to the previous conversation that they had before coming this way. She mentioned a mutual friend of theirs mentioning something about the crystals in the area could be used to store enchantments and the likes inside of them. She knew that she had explained what little bit she could about hers, and Ice was certain that their little spar that they had only further heightened Raven's desire for such objects. Naturally she wasn't sure if she's be able to find object as powerful as her own, but if there was anypony that would be able to help her find them, it would Swift Squall or.... Sombra... she thought to herself. Of course, a mutual friend that knows about crystals. Why didn't I think of him earlier. Perhaps he can help me figure out what weak points are on.... NO... if he truly hadn't changed, and he's only using STAR for his own personal gain then I can't risk letting him know too much. However, he did answer my call to meet with him soon... she thought silently to herself.

 

"The library would probably be a good start then. I'm sure there's plenty of information on the crystals and the arcane properties they contain. I can even help ya look if you'd like," she said before Raven continued. She stated that the match really was a good match though and that she had never been pushed that hard before. That after she's had some training, she would like to try again. Ice nodded, but was caught off guard a bit by the hug. She smiled and gently returned the hug. She then pulled back a bit and smiled.  "I can help a little bit with that. I'm not as proficient with swords as I am my magic, but I can most definitely help you improve your quickness and reaction time. At the very least help your parrying, dodging abilities, and magical defenses. Believe me, if you can stand up to me hoof for hoof, you can probably stand hoof to hoof with any other unicorn or magic wielder in Equestria that's not one of the princesses. Especially, if you can counter and out react some of the new maneuvers I'm working on with the princess. By the time I'm finished learning it, it's supposed to be fast, hard, and deadly. But... that's still a ways off yet. Princess Luna and my self only discussed the mere concept of it in my last training session," Ice concluded. "As for going back to your hotel, sure, it's way closer than mine.

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Raven smiled as she led the way, walking a little closer to Ice than she was before. "That sounds lovely, it's been a long time since I've had formal training, could probably use someone to make sure I'm doing it right, not making bad habits." She was feeling giddy, though the spell she had cast earlier was weighing on her mind. If she could figure out how to cast it, maybe it would act as a barrier. To that end though, she had to know what Ice's spell was supposed to do.

 

As they entered her hotel, she frowned a bit. "Hey, Ice... I... I'm trying to figure out what that spell was I cast, and to do that... Well, I think it would be helpful to know what that wave of cold was supposed to do..." She looked down, her voice quiet as she tried not to upset Ice. There was no way Ice didn't feel guilty at that, but Raven didn't want to heap more onto that feeling...

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Ice smiled and nodded as she heard Raven tell her that it sounded lovely. That it had been a long time since she has had any sort of formal training, and probably use somepony that was going to make sure that she was going to be doing things right and not making bad habits. "Well, I can do my best at that part. I'm still going through training with the princess myself, but I will be sure to pass down whatever training that she offers as soon as I am comfortable with my own skill level in whatever it is that she is teaching me so that I can teach it properly. Likewise I don't want to accidentally teach you bad habits because of my own," she said as they entered the hotel room. She noticed a frown then, and she asked about the spell that was directed at her. About what it was supposed to do. Ice sighed.

 

"That spell was a blast of sub-arctic cold. Pure cold arcane energy. It... freezes whatever it touches solid and is not something that I should have ever even considered using in a sparring match..." she started... "And the bad thing was... I didn't even activate my orbs to do it... I don't know how much colder I could have made it... I am legitimately afraid to push with them because I don't know at what range even the most basic of spells would start becoming lethal to others. In a fighting circumstance where I'm actually fighting an enemy that is intending to actually cause harm... That's one thing, so as long as I can limit the collateral damage. It took me more energy to disintegrate all of the ice I made on the battle field than it did to create all of it. I don't want to accidentally hurt somepony, and I came very close to doing that today," she said sitting on one of the beds. 

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Raven frowned again, but this time it was in thought. She really wanted to help Ice, wanted Ice to notice her... but she didn't really remember much about casting normally, so she had no idea how to help her. "That sucks... I mean, it almost sounds like a magic surge, but you were in control..." She said, more thinking out loud. 

 

After a bit, she realized she was just standing there, and blushed with embarrassment. "I'm sorry, I got lost in thought... If you'd like, you can go first. I need to make sure about my armor... I didn't even know that it could act way it did. I just thought it had some housekeeping type enchantments on it..." She absent mindedly sat down next to Ice, and began pulling bits of the armor out of the case and double checking it, going very slowly as she probed the magic layered on it...

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As Raven described the explanation as almost like a magic surge, Ice thought. She wasn't really sure what she could compare something like that too. A pause filled the air as Raven too was silent. That wasn't a magical surge. If it had been... she didn't want to think of the damage that it could have caused. Like she had told her. She didn't even use her orbs. She never got a chance to. That was just her natural level of what she could do. She then apologized as she said that she had gotten lost in her train of thought. That she could take the first shower if she wanted. Ice nodded and she unclipped the necklace from her, the spheres immediately orbiting her as she did so. She really wished she could find a way to leave them in the necklace, but at the same time, that would make them to easily stolen from her and she probably wouldn't remove them too often anyway. Though... she thought about perhaps if they got a certain distance from her, they would instantly break from the necklace... Yes, that would work. She'd talk to Luna about seeing if the enchantments on the necklace could be altered at all.

 

When she made her way into the washroom, she turned the water on and stepped into the shower still deep in thought herself about many things. The biggest thing on her mind... Could she really handle this much power? At what cost would she have to pay in order to maximize it and was the cost worth it? She knew that the side effects for their destruction would be... and she didn't know if she could truthfully be okay with that. If something happened, so many innocents would get hurt... or worse... Still... the benefits of what she was doing far outweighed any risks... And once The Shadow of Ice was operational... Nothing... would dare oppose them or Equestria again. She tabled the thoughts though as she stood in the shower, letting the water sink into her coat, lightly steaming off of her. Showers were the one thing that she liked hot. Of course, her definition of hot was askew because of her natural body temperature, but still... it was always a sight to see when she opened a door after a shower and a small cloud left the room. She finished up in the shower making sure to leave some hot water for Raven as she grabbed a towel and stepped back out into the room, her mane flowing and clinging to her shoulders from it's wetness.

 

"Find anything out?" she asked Raven. She had mentioned before that she was trying to make sure about something with her armor. that she never knew that it could act that way and thought that it just had some housekeeping enchantments on it. "If not, I can always ask the princess if she could take a look at it and see if she could understand the enchantments on it and what it could do. I can promise nothing though. I don't know what the princess's schedule is like, but I can presume that diplomatic stuff takes up a lot of her time. If Luna can't, or doesn't have any answers, I'm sure you could always ask Twilight. In fact, it might be better to start with her, Twilight knows a lot about magic, so if there's anypony that can figure out what's on them, it would be her."

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Raven nodded as she started to put the armor back. "It would seem that the enchantments actually draw magic from the user... They won't ever need refreshing or anything to keep them from unraveling. Other than that, nothing. I have no idea how to trigger them." She spoke softly as she put the case back with her other belongings. When she finally looked up at Ice, her mouth ran dry. Between the way her mane simmered when the water caught the light and the light mist that clung to her, Raven was floored. "I... I'll just... I'll just go take... take my shower now..." She managed to stammer out before rushing into the bathroom.

 

Get a Grip! She is your CO, and your friend! You can't be thinking how cute she looks! Raven internally yelled at herself as she sat behind the door, taking deep, steadying breaths. Finally, she calmed down, thinking it had to just be the water that had made Ice cause Raven's heart to hammer in her chest... She realized she had been in the bathroom for a while without even turning on the shower, so she quickly started the shower and got in...

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Ice listened and nodded as Raven explained that it seemed that the enchantments that were on the armor seemed to dray the magic from the user. They won't ever need refreshing or anything to prevent them from unraveling. Honestly Ice Storm didn't even know enchantments like that could unravel. That made her slightly more worried about the artifacts that she had now, but considering that they were literally bound to her, and directly connected into her magic, that they probably wouldn't need refreshing either. She would have to remember though to push herself from time to time though to make sure that they never got slouched on. Even if it meant that she had to go into her oasis the frozen north. An absolute haven for any ice mage. She didn't even have to make the ice there, she could just do. In fact, she wandered just what exactly she could do with these now. She could probably make an Ice Fortress in the Frozen North if she wanted to... In fact... that didn't really sound like a bad idea. Have it as a hidden second headquarters and command post in the event that the primary headquarters was ever compromised.

 

When Raven looked at her though, she instantly lost all train of thought and immediately rushed into the shower. Ice looked around briefly trying to see if something was wrong. She wasn't entirely sure what the issue was but Raven was... flustered about something. What she wasn't sure of though. She wondered if she should ask about it when she got out of the shower. For now though she started looking through one of the brochures that was in the hotel room about what things were in the Crystal Empire to do. She found a list of parks and different sights as well as some museums of history and the like. Otherwise, there really wasn't a whole lot for those of the adventurous type to do here. She knew there were some caves not too far into the Frozen North from here. She had went on an expedition here not to long ago, but didn't get to spend much time in the caves. She wondered what they could be hiding in their deepest parts.

 

There was also the library. The library would likely have more information on what Raven was looking for, and would probably have a better map of what was in the area and such than the hotel rooms would have here. Which is kind of surprising actually. You would thing that the hotels would keep very well updated maps and event guides to that ponies knew what was going on in the area while they were here. She then looked at the back of the brochure to check for any special events going on. It looked like a few concerts, but not ponies she'd ever heard of, and a few sports competitions. "Oh, the jousting matches might be fun to watch," she said to herself. Jousting was a big thing up here, and she wondered what it would be like. However, she doubted that she'd want to participate in such a thing, but going to watch and learn about it. That would definitely be interesting.

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The shower turned out to be exactly what Raven needed, the hot water loosening tight muscles in a pleasant way. It took her mind off of Ice, and once she was done, she carefully dried off. She didn't know what had come over her, but it had passed.

 

She walked out, and noticed Ice looking at a brochure. "Find something interesting to do? I'm up for almost anything... I'm actually waiting for approval to set up a research foundation, so I got time to kill." Raven said with a smile. She found herself feeling fuzzy when near Ice, and didn't want it to stop...

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"There's a couple of interesting things. They have the history museum here, and when I was looking on the back of the brochure I found a listing for some jousting matches. I've personally always been interested in going to one since I was up her for..." she started before trailing off again as the memories flooded back to her, again. "For the the faire.... and then everything else that happened," she said with a sigh hanging her head. No matter how much time would pass, that would still be a weight on her. So many what ifs always went through her mind, and the questions that Raven asked her earlier that was trying to help her... really only made things worse because she was now actually trying to think of things that she could have done better with the resources that she had.

 

When she heard about a research foundation, Ice looked over to Raven, whom had a warm smile on her, making Ice smile as well. "What is it that you're planning on researching with this foundation? Is it anything that I might be able to help with? Financially or otherwise?" she asked. True she couldn't stretch herself too much thinner or she would start getting into non-disposable assets. However, once the casino started to get going more, she would be able to put more help and resources to helping where she could.

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Raven's stomach started to feel weird, as if there was something fluttering in it as Ice smiled at her. It wasn't unpleasant, just odd feeling. In fact, Raven could see her coming to like it a lot. It took her a second to collect her thoughts out of the haze into which they had seemed to descend while thinking of these odd feelings. "Um... Right, research! Well, I'm thinking that there needs to be more known about how the Crystal Empire crystals function, magically speaking. I'm actually making them the basis of the spell focus I'm working on, if they can function properly. Only thing I would ask of you to contribute would be knowledge, if you have any. With you so gracefully refusing the Dupone assets, I can fund this project pretty much by myself, though I still will set up ways of donating to it..." She spoke, trailing off as she noticed that even with Ice smiling, there was still some pain. Wordlessly, Raven hugged Ice, pulling them close together, side by side.

 

"So, what's this about jousting? I'm afraid I've not heard of that. Though, I think it would be selfish of me to beg for a sparing match, and not do something you wanted to do, and the last thing you'll ever be able to call me is selfish." She said, with an almost childish tone, plainly joking, even sticking out her tongue. As she sat there holding Ice close, she noticed how Ice seemed cooler than other ponies, and yet, the places where their flanks touched were warm. It reminded Raven of when one would snuggle into a soft bed right after waking up on a lazy day...

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