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Holidays of Adventure (Closed)


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Two fatigued, bruised-up unicorns stumbled through the chilly evening-time streets of Canterlot towards the snow-covered castle which towered over the city, raising eyebrows as they passed by. One of these unicorns — the one coated in amber — wore saddlebags absolutely filled to the brim. Her taller, darker-hued partner worked even worse for wear, although that was mostly up to old visible wounds. Still, they were a most odd sight in a city in the throes of celebrating Hearth’s Warming Eve; the first one spearheaded by Princess Celestia’s successor, Twilight Sparkle.


As Hearth’s Warming was a time meant to be spent with family, Princess Twilight was of course occupied with family matters in the castle’s solar... that is to say, eating pudding and singing Hearth’s Warming carols with Mom, Dad, the BBBFF, Sis-in-Law, Niece, and even the BBBFF’s in-law. Unlike last year, this time there would be nothing standing in the way between Twilight and the perfect Hearth’s Warming.


Right up until a visibly distressed Twilight guardpony slammed open the door into the solar, admitting our two unicorns from earlier inside. Thankfully for the amber mare — Sunset Shimmer — the Twilight Guard had very explicit orders from their monarch to never deny Sunset entry to anyplace on the castle grounds. Tonight, the weakened, saddlebag-laden Sunset came bringing an important message for the Princess:


.....Happy... Hearth’s Warming... Twi….. That was all a barely-smiling Sunset managed to choke out before her exhausted body collapsed onto the floor.....

 

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Canterlot was a city that knew the darker unicorn well. Well forgiving was way of pony life few can deny seeing her marching down the street pulled back memories of the brutal weeks she held the city at the tip of the spear. Even the Canterlot Guard greeted the mare with nerves eyes and fidgeting as they remember how she and her army overran them like timberwolves let free in a hens coop. Yet such looks dropped as she passed.

 

Tempest Shadow looked as if took on Tartarus itself. Dark bags underneath eyes marking an utter lack of sleep. Her plate armor was crushed, missing and marked with bites yet her bodysuit looked even worse. It was ripped to shreds showing off the patchwork of old scaring it covered from view. Along with dozens of fresh cuts and bites. Yet she was pulling a full sized wagon overflowing with an assortment of goods. Books, gems, old papers and so on. When they reached there stop she unhitched herself and followed her friend onward.


 

The guardpony looked even more uneasy about Tempest, be it what she did or how she looked only he knew. Tempest did her best to stand tall, smiling with a few more missing teeth. “Happy… Warth… Something.” She says yawning. But at least she stayed standing. “We got… you…” She trails off, blinking as her sleep deprived mind struggled to give a name for what they got… With another big yawn her eyes shut as Tempest fell asleep standing.

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Her first Hearths Warming Eve as Princess of Alll Equestria was going as well as it could. Because of the sheer deluge of well-wishers and gifts that were given to her by the mass of citizenry she had decided to split her celebrations into three nights. The first two were public and included dances and gift openings and the sharing of warm tidings and seasonal cheer with ponies far and wide. It had been a good time but exhausting, so the third day- the actual night of Hearth's Warming Eve- was reserved for a more private audience. The castle grounds would play host to friends and family and those of her guards, since those who protected her were as family to her in this new days.

 

It had gone well bit she was a little let down that certain ponies had not attended the celebration despite invitations. They each likely had their excuses but she had to admit that it had put a small damper on the event for her. Not that she would let it show and not that it lasted long- when surrounded by so many true and honest hearts that bore with her the dreams of these heady days, how could you not feel the warmth and glow of this season? Sunset Shimmer not being here was a letdown but she had another entire world to play with. She could be forgiven! Tempest Shadow was still less than sociable. After everything she had been through how could Twilight hold it against her if she decided to not show up?

 

Speak of the devils though.


In a flash, the two mares that Twilight had on the mind were ushered in by the guards and both of them looked like they had been through the ringer. Twilight shot up and started to fly over there, her eyes looking for details when Sunset fell down and Tempest fell asleep on her hooves. Her wings seemed so slow- she teleported with a loud crack next to them, loud enough to hopefully wake a sleeping Shadow as she looked at the both of them. "What in Equestria's name happened to you two? Are you oka- Guards, help them up!"

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*15 MINUTES LATER*


Sunset Shimmer opened up her eyes, finding that she had been relocated to a world of throbbing head pain. Or to be more precise, onto a comfy sofa in Twilight Sparkle's royal study. The amber unicorn’s saddlebags had been taken off of her and placed on a side table. Not a moment passed after Sunset reawakened before a castle staffpony shoved a cup of hot herbal-smelling liquid in her face; “Drink this tea, ma’am. It will help rejuvenate you.”


Still feeling a little feeble, Sunset twitched her head at the attendant, nonverbally signaling for assistance. The other pony complied, first by sitting the unicorn up, then by gently pouring the tea into her mouth. This was a far more bitter tea than Sunset was accustomed to, but already the aches were starting to fade away, so she took one more sip for good measure.


It didn’t escape Miss Shimmer’s notice when Twilight burst into the room. “Heh,” her strained muscles managed to pull off a teasing grin; “I guess you’re too much of a bigshot now to play nursemaid for your friend.” Sunset’s smile swiftly took on a more apologetic demeanor; “Sorry for raining on your Hearth’s Warming Eve party, Twi. I bet you’ve got a million questions in your head right about now.....”

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Tempest let out a startled yelp as the crack of Twilight’s teleporting and flash went off next too her. Just as fast was the cracking snap of thunder with a flash of lighting leaving her horn. She missed Twilight and sent a few guards running for cover as too not be nailed by her rather know unstable magic. But no pony was hurt from her wide unarmed shot. “#@$%^.” She mutters blinking and rubbing her eyes. “Coffee. Now!” Was all she had too follow up on that.


 

*15 MINUTES LATER*

 

“-ne longer.” Tempest says as she sips on her coffee. “Just been up three days. Had to get sunny here on time, her flank can not pull a wagon at speed to save her life.” She yawns than takes down another big gulp. “Oh hay, rise and shine Sunny.” She says walking away from the medic she was chatting with. Hopping up on the sofa she lays down on her belly and stretches out to hog up all the room she can before shooting too the side to give some space to Sunset. 

 

“So, I have two broken ribs and three new missing teeth.” She says rolling her eyes as if that was no big deal. “Was the rock wolves I think… How are you fe-” She was cut off as Twilight came bursting on in to the room. Glancing at Sunset she sinkers. “Oh, we have a story for you. It's called ‘Let's save sunny's flank’ from just about everything. I am never letting her pick out some ancient ruins to go looting again…” She then leans over to Sunset and whispers. “I’m joking, I am so down to do this again I just don’t want her worrying.”

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Twilight had been pacing outside of the room for a while as Sunset was being tended to. Her state was less due to concern over Sunset's health- she had been assured in quick order that she was in no great danger- and more due to her confusion as to what had left two of the most powerful unicorns she knew in such a dire position and how it could possibly be related to her Hearths Warming! And what was so happy about it, anyway? She had eventually been forced out of the room due to her prying nature and left to wallow in a maze of her own making, distracting herself with questions that only ever went to the heart of the problem. And so did the Princess of Friendship spend her time as the mares inside were allowed their privacy to heal.

 

In what felt like fifteen hours but was only fifteen minutes, word reached her- well, mostly because she heard more animated voices inside- that they were in a better position. Refusing to heed the directions of her guards, Twilight burst into the room and trotted up to the couch as they spoke. What was being said did little to ease her concerns- if anything, they were boldly and ably inflamed! "Nursemaid? What about her?" Twilight asked as she looked at the matronly caretaker who certainly lived up to her name. "She nearly pushed me out. For my own good, but..." she shook her head looking and Tempest. "Wait, you have broken bones? Ancient ruins? Looting?" She sat down on her haunches, eyes wobbling in their sockets as she held two forelegs up in desperate curiosity. 
"WHAT HAPPENED?!"

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As much as Sunset Shimmer suffered much toil during her ordeal, she had to give credit to Tempest Shadow where it was due. Without the ex-commander’s ability to take blows like an earth pony, Sunset’s bacon would have been fried for sure, and this was from somepony ranked as one of the most gifted spellcasters of her generation. Or at least, was once considered years ago to reach that potential one day. Either way, Tempest earned the right to playfully rag on Sunset as she wished.


“Oh please,” the amber unicorn smirked as Tempest whispered a message; “You only kept saving my flank because without me around to blast everything in sight, you would’ve been a goner.”


Sunset and Tempest’s bantering did precisely nada to put Twilight Sparkle at ease. “Heh heh heh,” Sunset chuckled; “Calm down, will ya? It’s sorta a long story, but it can wait til Nursemaid’s done with me.” It go figured that the nursemaid’s actual name was Nursemaid. “How do I look, ma’am?”


Nursemaid meanwhile was pouring Tempest a cup of herbal tea. “You’ll be fine for now Miss Shimmer, just as long as you drink your tea and not move around too much. I would also advise a massage treatment to relieve any additional throbbing... but I suppose it’ll have to wait until the Princess is finished with you.”


“As for Miss Shadow here..... frankly, you should go see a doctor.”

 

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Tempest sips on her coffee, held between her front legs with a shrug at the remarks of her needing a doctor. “I have not seen a doctor for almost all my life. I am fine without seeing one now. I can look after myself and heal.” She remarked with a soft glare at both Twilight and Nursemaid to help sell the fact she was not going to see one. She then looked over at Sunny and let out a soft friendly chuckle, this outing has done wonders for letting her open up more to sunny and expressing more feelings and enjoyment. She was starting to act more like a pony in some ways. 

 

“Fine fine, yes you did save my tail some. But what’s a DPS without the tank?” She says back with a smirk. “That can off hoof DPS… or more so do it with her hooves.” She then looked at Twi, the coffee was doing wonders but her face was still a dead giveaway for how tired she was. Three days of halling tail was hard, even on her. She was going to sleep like a dragon when she hit a bed. “Best if Sunny explains the start of this. I was just a helping hoof. She did all the reading, planning and so on… Well I did help pick out where to go. Back when I followed the Storm King he had me do a lot of hunting of magic items. Many I did not get to follow up on before… Well, you made a mess of things.” She snorts. “But using that hit list I helped aim her at some of the best places to go looking for what she wanted. Sunny, I shall give you the fun of starting this story.” With that she slipped on her coffee again. “And leave out the part where I got drunk, ok?” She added with an embarrassed whisper.

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Once Nursemaid and the guards had been sent on their way, Sunset Shimmer began to elaborate more on the story teases Tempest provided. “So anyway, I was doing my Hearth’s Warming shopping when it occurred to me that ‘Geez, everypony probably gives Twi books for presents every year, she's undoubtedly sick to DEATH of them. Let’s get her something that doesn't make her do something as BORING as reading!’” Of course, it shouldn’t take a wizard to figure out that Sunset was only trying to get a rise out of Twilight.


“Thing was, I was having trouble thinking of a super special gift for you Twi, so I wrote Tempest for advice on what I should get... and that’s where the fun began.....”

 

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Tempest picked up where sunny stopped. “Well for her, I had to dig up old maps, notes and whatever was not lost when my airship was destroyed. After some boring back and forth we came up with a plan to go to some old ruins, known as the ‘Lair of the Nameless Wizard’. Its old. Like, older than Celestia… Maybe. Not like she’s open on her age. But it was home to some powerful wizard that was crazy strong or something. So strong that his Lair is guarded to this day by his magic. Or at least it was.” She says with a smug grin and wink. “It’s… this keep found north of the sea of ruin, got to follow the northern river.” She says leaning her head to the side thinking. 

 

“It’s fair away, if you know your maps well. We got to meet up in Trottingham and got an airship ride to the Crystal City. Made me miss my airaship a lot. But when we got there we spent about two days making ready for the trip and I found us an airship willing to fly us even closer. They dropped us off west of the webwing mountains. From then on? We had to walk it. Just me, her and a wagon we lived out of. Not going to lie that was the best week of my life I think…” She grins some, looking at Sunny. She did mean it, it felt amazing to be out there with another pony to share in the wonderment. “But that far away from… Everything. Well, things can get crazy. It was not a week without danger.” Tempest says poking sunny in the side. She was not going to tell the full story herself!

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“It was not a week about danger.” Wasn’t that the understatement of the season? “Pfft,” Sunset Shimmer snorted; “You could say that, again. Like when the rock wolves ambushed us on the Mountain Pass.....”

 

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With a pained wince, Tempest Shadow recoiled from the swipe of the rock wolf’s claws, barely managing to hold it together. Blew, how typical of that brick-headed fighter! As always, she just HAD to pick a fight with the local wildlife for the sheer thrill of it, and in typical Tempest fashion, she exhausted all her fighting strength without even so much as putting a meaningful dent in the ranks of the wolf pack. Welp, it looked like it’d be up to Sunset Shimmer to dispose of these pests!


Using her quick thinking, Sunset calculated a fool-proof plan to get rid of the threat in one fell swoop. Taking aim at the mountainside above, the amber unicorn inhaled as her horn tip glowed with a reddish-rose light. Then she exhaled, releasing a beam of superheated energy that cackled in the air like firecrackers!


*Pop* *Pop* *BOOM!!!!!*


The beam exploded upon contact with the mountainside, triggering an avalanche of rock and snow that fell down upon the hapless rock wolves. As for our heroes... the falling debris was of no concern at all, naturally. If it had been, then SURELY Sunset would have remembered dodging all that rubble. But regardless, Miss Shimmer was undoubtedly the clear-cut hero of that particular encounter.

 

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“So that’s how it all went down at the Mountain Pass.....”

 

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Tempest let out a frustrated snort and gives Sunny a soft jab to the belly. “Ah yes, now let me say MY side in that.” She says with a roll of her eyes before going back and telling the events from her point of view… 

 

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With a pained scream Tempest holds back the snapping jaws of stone, her legs shaking with force as hooves slide on stone. She was outnumbered twenty to one against stone wolves. She’s never seen one before now but learned fast. Hitting them did buck all other than hurt herself… Hitting stone blows. Strong as she was for a unicorn, she was a unicorn. Pushing the stone wolfs head up she takes aim for its chest and with a thundering clap of magic it was blown apart in two haves. She did not have time to even enjoy the small victory as another one slammed in to her side. All Tempest remembered is seeing stars as she was sent flying from the blow and rolling to a stop as the monster jumped on her. Hooves on its chest, pushing it away as it snapped and went for her neck. “SOME HELP!” She screamed out looking about for sunny. “WHERE IN LUNAS FA-” A blinding beam of magic passed over head. Even the stoner wolf stopped to look at it and the mountainside. Which was exploding. 

 

It shared a look with Tempest. One Tempest can’t really explain other both of them sharing in a moment of confused shock as an avalanche of stone came crashing down. All the stone wolves and Tempest stopped there conflict and ran for it as boulders came crashing down around them. Tempest was running for her life and totally not screaming in fear as she leaped out of the way of falling stones until she felt a rush of magic. Sunny grabbed her with magic yanked her out of the way of falling stones. 

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“And then she kept holding me in her magic to fuss at me about starting fights. It was dreadful. I did not even start that fight! I did not know the rock I went behind to take a leak on was a dangerous stone wolf. OR the leader of the pack.” She says frowning. “But if I did not hold twenty of them back long as I did she’d been mauled to death. And I’d have won if given time.” She had to add the last remark in. “But we made it out alive and pushed onwards thanks to my excellent skills of navigating. Before you know it we found a river we can follow to the sea of ruin. Piece of cake. Followed it for about one day until we got to meet new friends.”


 

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“làir! leig seachad e!” A wild pony shouted, he was leading a pack of them armed in chainmail and swords. Tempest was running as fast as she can with the wagon hitched on her. “JUST BLAST THEM!” She shouted at Sunny. They were using the frozen river as a road, the spiked horseshoes temy had on letting her grip the ice better as the wagon slipped and drifted around every turn they made. “I don’t care if they are ponies! They are trying to stab us sunny! That is not friendship!” Tempest added, she felt her heart racing and legs burning but she pushed onward. Time to time she got to see behind the wagon well it was drifting, about a dozen ponies were hot on their tail. They looked as if they came out of the pages of a history book! She really had no clue what there deal was but they were armed and rushing at them. That never means ‘hay, let's be friends!’ and never will. 

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Ah yes, the new “friends”.....

 

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“YOU KNOW TEMPEST,” Sunset angrily vented in the heat of the moment; “MAYBE THEY WOULDN’T BE SO HOSTILE IF YOU DIDN’T ACT LIKE A MENACING HORSE OF THE APOCALYPSE ALL THE TIME!” In the chaos of the chase, Tempest was swiftly regressing to her base instincts; “BLAST THEM??? ARE YOU CRAZY!!???” There was no way Sunset was able to carry out that command... but there were other things the amber unicorn could do with her talents.


Sunset Shimmer halted and turned to face her primitive pursuers. Taking a page out of her foxxy buddy’s playbook, Sunset’s horn lit up in flames as she conjured a fiery apparition for a phoenix. It was “real” in the technical sense, but it looked and sounded real enough for the wild ponies, who fled in terror as the illusory phoenix screeched and swooped down.....
 

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“. . . So again, I managed to save the day without breaking a sweat. Anyway, the nights weren’t all that bad. Tempest chose our equipment well thankfully, although we might have stayed warmer if she hadn’t been SUCH a sour puss.....”

 

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Sunset was incredulous; “What do you mean you don’t want to sing?” The two adventuring unicorns were in a cave, huddling around a campfire as a freak blizzard raged outside. Tempest as always was being her difficult, miserly self. “Singing Hearth’s Warming carols was how Equestria’s founders made it through the windigos’ storm! Come on, Tempest.” She jabbed the dark-coated unicorn’s shoulder; “Live a little.....”

 

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“She says that well I was the one pulling the wagon all trip. I hitched her up one time and she almost passed on a trot.” Tempest says rolling her eyes. “You know, I’d like if you at least tossed me a bone for all I was doing for you Sunny.” She added with a small frown. She was starting to feel somewhat upset about how hard Sunny was tossing her out on all of this. “And do we have to talk about the cave? … Ug. fine.”


 

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“First, singing will make it even more easy for danger to track us down well blinding us to it sneaking up on us. Second fire keeps you warm, not singing.” Tempest says well looking at her half empty bottle of rum. She had to really make it last, she only had two for the trip. “And I am sunny. This? Us? This is more than I have done in so long. And…” She shakes her head, slamming down a full more gulps of rum before speaking again. “I don’t know how to explain it. But sitting here by this fire with some pony to just talk with me is wonderful.”

 

She looked over at Sunny, leaning her head to the side as she struggled to give words to things. “I’m not a normal pony. Maybe never will be. But I still want… This. Kinship. Friendship. In my own weird way. When we are walking and chatting I feel so alive. Showing you things you’d have never see or hear and helping you do this hunt is the happiest I have felt in a very long time Sunny. This trip is making me understand that maybe… Well, maybe I have a heart after all.” She put the bottle down, capping it and placing it deep in a bag that she shoved over to sunny to act as some guard. “And… Three. I don’t know Hearth’s Warming songs. I never really had a Hearth’s Warming Sunny. This trip is the closest I have ever had to one.” She added well closing her eyes, cleary getting more upset as she spoke. 

 

“I was homeless almost all my life, do you think I got to have a Hearth’s Warming? No, I was trying to stay warm in some box with stolen clothing to act as bed sheets. Do you think we had it in the Storm Army? No, we did not. The only holidays we had were celebrating the Storm King. Even if you go all the way back to me as a blank flank filly at home… Well, I never remember much of that. I don’t think I saw them much even than. I don’t know if they even loved me I just don’t remember.” She lays out by the fire as she spoke, opening her eyes to look in to the flames. “But I don’t want pity… I just want you to understand this IS the closest I have ever been to having one. And I…” She trails off for a few moments, for how stone cold Temy was most the time even Sunny and pick up the flood gate of feelings being held back at the moment. “Thank you Sunny… I don’t deserve friends. But I have you as one and I am so very thankful. I know I’m not good at showing feelings. But I am. I really am.” 

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Tempest by this point in telling the story was now hiding her face underneath a pillow that she held down over her face was not not letting it move at all. It was her shield from seeing Twi or Sunny. She hated looking weak, showing feelings and most of all crying. She refused to let others see her like that and having to talk about this after feeling as if Sunny was undercutting her made it even worse. So the pillow was not going to move. “I’m fine, got something in my eye. It’s fine.” she mutters to safeguard her pillow shield.

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Sunset might have been laying on the exaggeration a bit too thickly for Tempest’s comfort. Deliberately not drawing attention towards her buddy’s physical display of emotion. the amber unicorn apologized to their one-pony audience; “Sorry if I’m getting carried away, Twi. Temy’s not actually as troublesome as I make her out to be. And well.....”

 

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“For what it’s worth;” Sunset placed a comforting foreleg around her adventuring partner; “.....I myself used to HATE Hearth’s Warming. Well, ‘hate’ is a rather strong word I suppose, but still. This... this isn’t something I can tell most people. I’m not comfortable letting others know that I have no family to go to during the holidays... and uggh, I don’t wanna be invited over to somebody else’s place just because they feel sorry for me.


Considering we’ve already nearly died TWICE on this expedition, I’d say this has a fine holiday season for me so far.” Sunset fondly sighed; “I almost forgot how much I loved questing back when I was Celestia’s lil’ sidekick... although I don’t remember the wilderness kicking me in the flank so hard before.....


Finishing her grumbling, the ex-apprentice took a swig of her own (non-alcoholic) drink; “For a mare who’s so vastly different from everyone else, you Tempest — of all ponies — are the one friend who makes me miss Equestria the most. I pretty much made my peace long ago with the fact that I’ll never be anyone AMAZING like a princess or a master of sorcery who’ll be written about in the history books.” (But has she really, though?) “Yet I can’t deny that sometimes, it just feels so good to be able to let loose and, you know, do pony things!”


Sunset wrapped her forelegs around Tempest’s neck and fondly smiled. “Thank you for taking me way out here to the middle of nowhere... Temy.....”

 

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By the end of her mini-story, Sunset Shimmer appeared apprehensive and unable to meet Twilight Sparkle’s gaze. Although Twi would always be the PFF, what Sunset just described were deeply personal thoughts and feelings that she never felt comfortable sharing with her alicorn friend. Miss Shimmer didn’t want Twi to feel betrayed having to learn these things in such a grossly roundabout way, but if Temy was emotionally putting herself on the line tonight, there was no way Sunset would let her do that alone.....

 

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Tempest was never one to show much emotion. Even her worst outbursts were fast outlets of it she choked down in a few moments. Yet she was finding it harder to keep them down this evening as a few stray tears found their way free. Even if her face held onto the same unmoving glare. “Thanks Sunny… I wish I was better with words. My feelings. I don’t even know how to express being thankful very well. Using are book has been helpful. But this is doing so much more.” She played with her hooves, inspecting them and the horseshoe nailed in. 

 

After a few moments of unspoken thinking she looked at Sunny. “In a way… Maybe we can be are own family. A family of misfits and outcasts?” She says with a small grin. “It’s not much but you… Are are different. And thanks to it we understand one another. We have no family yes but maybe it just means we make are own. That sounds nice to me.” She explained keeping her smile. “Now, if we get wings somehow… I call dibs on the moon.” She starts laughing and it felt wonderful to do so. A break from the strong feelings in the air.

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“Can we talk about round two with the rockwolves? You know, where I took on the pack leader in single combat because he was resistant to magic?” Temy asked from underneath her pillow. “Realy like to skip the rest of the cave. I know you must love it Twi, but long story short friendship things happen.” she groaned, wishing to talk about other things. It just felt really weird talking about this!

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Welp; guess it’s back to rockwolves again... which in this circumstance, was actually a welcome diversion for Sunset Shimmer..... 

 

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*Pop* *Pop* *BOOM!!!!!*


BLAST that confounded alpha wolf!!! Sunset hit that thing with everything she had, but when the smoke cleared from the furious explosion, the canine rock elemental remained standing... completely unharmed, in fact! It seemed quite unimpressed with the unicorn’s awesome display of magic, responding only by dusting itself off.


“Uhhhhh, Tempest?” Sunset expressed her profound fear; Got any ideas?

 

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Tempest was extremely happy to hear they were changing topics, was so much more fun and easy to tell stories about THIS part of the trip. They did not even make it to the keep yet! With a few deep breaths she sits up, removing the pillow and starts to speak…


 

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They were pretty close now, reaching the big lake itself they have been moving around it to get to the river they needed to follow. But it was just about noon when the pack found them again and they seemed to be even MORE upset than last time. 

 

Tempest was standing next to sunny watching the alpha just walk closer to them, its face showing nothing but rage. The rest of the pack was holding off now, letting their leader take lead. “Well…” She took a few steps ahead of sunny. “I am going to rush him. Well the pack is ripping me apart you run for the keep, just follow the river up steam.” She says with nothing more than a flic of her tail. She did not fear what she was planning for what was her life for saving sunny? That mare was worth a lot more. Not that Tempest believed she was going to die of course! She knew she was going to win! Don’t worry! It was all part of the plan, her self esteem is fine! MOVING ON.

 

Her hooves dug in to snow, kicking it up as she took off in a full speed sprint as Sunny screamed something about her not doing this. She really did not remember what sunny was yelling. But Tempest can’t really stop now as the alpha did the same, the two rushing at one another as the pack watched on in shock. One. Two. three. Tempest drops low as a stone paw swings overhead as she rushed past the big stone dog, swung to the side and bucked it on the side of the face hard as she can. It hurt her more than it hurt him. You ever bucked stone? Don’t. The very upset wolf grabbed her by the tail, shaking her about like a toy. Honestly it looked pretty bad, but she had full faith in her skill and was not at all scared.

 

Grabbing her tail with magic she spent a spell flying, cutting her tail in half she went flying free and landed on her hooves. Looking over her shoulder she saw Sunny was still standing there. “RUN! I AM DOING THIS FO-” She never got to say the rest of that as a big stone paw nailed her in the side. That’s when she got the broken ribs. She’s pretty sure of it. It hurt a lot and sent her flying to the side. The alpha walked over to her, for a stone mutt he looked so smug. She did not hurt him one time yet and he was kicking her flank. But she DID have a plan! Rolling on her back she just offered herself up. Neck wide open, belly unguarded. A showing of defeat that stuped mutt can understand. The alpha walked until he was standing over her, eyeing the mare up. Probably thinking of how he was going to eat her. But the foolish mutt put himself where she wanted him. She kicked her rear legs up as hard as she can. Pain did not matter as she gave it all she had. And she stuck home. The alpha cried out and backpedaled away as he jumped about in pain. Males, they all have the same week spot it seems. 

 

Leaping up she runs for the frozen lake as the even more angry alpha rushed after her. Now this was her real plan. The one she was planning all along. The pack was moving in after her and she just had to hope sunny was RUNNING AWAY! But she was not. Sunny was running after her and the wolves. What made this more hard. Blowing up the ice on the lake with her on it will just put them all in a worse spot. “WHAT PART OF RUN AWAY YOU YOU NOT GETTING!?” She screamed as sunny yelled back something about not letting her die like this. What was silly. She was not planning to die and never was! Stop giving me that look twilight! With all of the pack now out on the ice and far away from the shoreline Tempest digs her spiked horseshoes in to the ice and slides to a stop. She dumped more magic in to her horn as she became an one mare thunderstorm. All of the pack was sliding to a stop as well watching her. Even the alpha stopped, looking at her as his magic brain worked out what was going on. He was the first to run the other way but it was far to late. Aiming her head down she gave it everything she had as the thick ice exploded underneath her hooves and blasted outwards in a chain reaction. The last thing she remembered before blacking out was Sunny. That blasted mare was ablaze with magic and screaming Tempest's name. 

 

And that’s all she can remember. She had a magic black out. When she woke up they were in the shadow of a giant, towering keep by a fire. Oh, and her everything hurt. She was pretty much out of duty for a full 24hrs after that. But the plan did work, all the pack fell into the lake… And well, Sunny did save her life. She was not planning on blacking out! If not for that she’d made it out fine. But well… She did. 

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“And that was the end of the pack. Never want to see stone wolves again. I prefer Timberwolves fully.” She says with a shake of her head. “And if you want to know. Sunny did fuss at me. a lot. And seeing as I was in no shape to get off the bed I was stuck to hear all of it.” She says franwing. “Just horrible.”

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“You know Tempest,” Sunset Shimmer grumbled venomously; “For somepony who says she can live by herself in the wilderness just fine, you sure did need a lot of nursing while you were lying there. Did I also remember to mention how heavy you are?”

 

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It all felt like a blur to Sunset: Tempest Shadow taking on the pack leader alone, Sunset being all concerned for the other mare’s safety, Temy going for the dirty hit, and then that business out on the ice lake. Ah yes, the ice lake... Tempest would have joined the other stone wolves beneath the ice had Sunset not swooped in there in time and teleported the two unicorns to the opposite shore a mere split-second before the ice crumbled beneath their hooves.

 

With much of her own magic having been depleted, Sunset had no choice but to physically drag Tempest’s sorry carcass to a relative place of safety. And lemme’ tell you; Tempest Shadow was one big hunk of a unicorn, making the dragging along all the more excruciating. The amber unicorn ended up having to use the last of her spellcasting strength to hover Tempest onto her own back to ensure they’d both make it, leaving the ex-apprentice with an unbearable load upon her back.


Sunset was just about ready to slay her companion by the time she reached the towering keep... which, of course, was perched on a steep hilltop with access granted only by a winding stair hewn into the rock. Unceremoniously throwing the unconscious Tempest onto the ground, Sunset next worked on applying one of their stashed poultices on the site where Temy got hit hard; it was all Sunny would be able to do for the moment, until her mana sufficiently recharged.


Oh yeah, you know what also sucks? Having to start a fire WITHOUT being able to use your magic. About half an hour passed before Sunset finally figured out how to get a campfire started by using a dumb flint and steel. By this point, her language had devolved into uncivilized profanities and curses; many of them aimed at Tempest.


When night came, and it came especially swift this up North (only less than one quarter of a 24-hour cycle was just barely daylight, actually), Sunset finally felt recharged enough to use a Growth Spurt spell on Tempest’s ribs, which would further help with the healing process. She’d still feel immense pain for several days afterward, but her bones would more or less be fine... mostly. Only then could Sunset allow herself some sleep, cuddling up against Tempest for warmth.....


.......................


Tempest Shadow took her sweet time awakening. When she did, Sunset was already up keeping a watch over the surroundings. Hearing her friend stir, Sunny didn’t bother looking back as she said in a half-scolding, half-congratulatory manner; “...That was a ballsy move you pulled off back there.....

 

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“Let’s see how much nursing you’d need after taking a beating like that pillow flank! At least mine is all muscle mass.” Tempest shot back. “And let's not forget how much I had to teach about living out there Mis I almost ate poison leaf three times.” She sinkers and giggles, ducking away from whatever blow may come her way from Sunny. 

 

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Let it not be untold how happy she was to wake up and see Sunny. Even her voice, no matter the tone. It was soul lifting to see the mare alive and made all the pain worth it. It felt amazing and made taking the verbal beating more easy. “Ya… #%#@$. Sorry. Aw…” She mutters well trying to sit up but gave up fast as pain flaired all over her body, most of all her chest.  “No Valhalla for me yet it seems.” She added laying out by the fire. Looking up she saw the keep. They made it! The end is in reach! … Than a long trip back home. They had no airship to cut off half of it. If they keep good time they make it back in three to four weeks. Maybe. The far north is never nice on travel time.  

 

Looking over at Sunny, shimmering in the fire she let a beaten snort and lays her head down. “I had to do something, get them away from you. What if they killed you? I don’t think I’d live with that. I have never traveled like this with some pony in so very long. Most of all one I… Care about. I just… Had to do SOMETHING.” She says trying to explain herself. “Anything to give you a window to get away. That's what friends do ya? They’d give a life for each other. So I was ready to punch out if that was the price for letting you live.” That was not plan one of course! JUST SAYING! “But… Thank you. For saving me. I don’t know how to really… say what I feel about that. I don’t know how to be saved. How to react to it. From… Twi to you. Just… Thanks for thinking I’m worth that.” She says feeling ashamed by how bad she was at being thankful. It was still a strange feeling to have. But she was getting better at it.

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.....It was not easy for Sunset Shimmer taking in these sorts of heart-felt confessions. Perhaps the only thing in the Multiverse that could have been even more awkward would be if Twilight Sparkle for some nonsensical reason revealed out of the blue she was desperately in love with the amber unicorn. Because for all the friendships she was blessed with today, a subconscious yet fundamental part of Sunset still believed herself not worth somepony sacrificing their life over. After all, it wasn’t like the Equestrian girl was a princess or anything like that.


After a few moments however, Miss Shimmer’s unsure gulps transformed back into a warm smile as she buried her uneasiness away. “Friendship involves sacrifice in some instances,” Sunset sagaciously said; “...But it’s also about sticking with your pal til’ the end of the line. There’s no way I was EVER going to abandon you, Temy.” That was a creed the amber unicorn could comfortably live by.


Sunset Shimmer offered her resting friend an eager hoof. “Come on girl; we’re almost to the end. Let’s grab what we came here for and head home!” Giving Tempest Shadow the time she needed to pull herself up (with help), Sunset eventually coughed up an afterthought as she smirked; “Oh just to let you know Tempest... if I lose you now, I won’t have the wilderness skills to make it back to Equestria. Not that I wanna’ put too much pressure on you staying in one piece or anything.....”

 

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“That sounds like a death pact Sunny.” Tempest says back as she took the help standing up. She felt awful, hurting and cold. But they were close now and she’d have time to rest… some weeks away. And yet she did not dread it. She welcomed it. The challenge was screaming at her face, fanged out claws ready. And she was going to meet it head on… with some help. Much as she did not want to admit it at the time. Her and Sunny were a team. One without the other will die. And that feeling of kinship opened her up in ways nothing has before. And honestly that was a gift in itself. 

 

Standing on shaking legs she stretched some, leaning on sunny. “We need to get out of this cold. We need to get inside.” She remarked looking up at the old keep. It was… Big. Huge. How did they even make something like this so long ago? Magic? Did the mage make it? What stuck out the most in her mind even now about it was the stone statues. Most were buried deep in snow, but some were peeking out. Up the steps one can see more and more. As if a full army of stone was trying to invade the keep. Something about them was unsettling. “They look so life like.” Tempest whimpered to Sunny. She had… A deep fear of being turned to stone.  So this was hardly something she liked seeing. But soon they were at the gates. Locked and unopened. Not one soul has stepped hoof in this place from the last day they shut. 

 

“Well… This is it. I don’t think I got the magic to blow them open alone…” She says looking at Sunny. “Maybe together we will have the magic left to open them?” She asked. “That or you can just teleport us inside… And hope we don’t go in a wall. Tabel… Box. You know, let's NOT try that.” She says shaking her head looking at the gates as herhorn sparks to life. “You take one side, I take the other?”

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Tempest rubs her horn some. “Can I get more coffee? I feel like I’m going to drop cold soon.” She says yawning. “After this story can I crash somewhere? At this rate I’m going to use Sunny as a makeshift bed. I’d recommend it Twi, she can be pretty warm.” She says with a foxy grin. Oh she was going to mess with sunny and enjoy every moment of it.

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The implanted mental image of Twilight Sparkle using her body as a pillow made Sunset Shimmer blush furiously. Loathe as she was to admit it, similar thoughts along those lines surfaced in the unicorn mare’s mind from time to time... which she chalked up to hormones acting up, and nothing more. After all, everybody possessed a silly fantasy of their own to daydream about. The wielder of Empathy knew this for a fact.


Nonetheless, the fact that Tempest Shadow managed to pinpoint this weak spot of Sunset’s was... disconcerting. “Ugggggh,” the grumbling mare rolled her eyes; “You’re just lucky we needed each other’s bodily warmth to survive out there.....”

 

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Ignoring Tempest’s talent at finding morbidity in any sort of sentimental moment, Sunset could smell the spirit of teamwork brewing in the air! Following her partner’s example, the amber unicorn let magic surge from her horn and she focused her efforts on opening her half of the gate.....
 

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Tempest arched an eyebrow at sunny. “Luck? You make it sound so shocking it was cold or something. But if it makes you feel less embarrassed.” She smirks and gets back on the story. 


 

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Tempest shout her eyes, focusing on the door as her unstable magic took over her half of the door. Old iron heated up as ice melted in to steam as the door shifted and rocked. As more and more ice fell off the two can feel it move. With one last flair of magic Tempest gave the doors all she had alongside sunny and wit a scream of old rusted iron moving the doors pushed inward ever more until the old rust locked hinges gave away and the door fell, crashing down into the keep with a thundering bang as accent air rushed out into the cold. 

 

Tempest painted, rocking on her hooves. She was still felt as if she was running low on mana and just tired… along with hurting. “We did it!” She says looking at Sunny, they were so close now. “Come on, how hard can it be to find the library?” She asked trotting over the fallen door. “Not like this pla-” With the sound of grinding gears she looked down the hall and dropped down. Just in time as a ballista bolt thicker than her leg went over her back before impaling itself in the old door. Tempest looked at sunny, than at the ballista bolt that just missed her. “Of course… Forgive me for believing some old place did not have traps still working.” She groaned looking down the long hallway. It looked untouched… paintings, rugs… dozens of doors. And slots in the walls. Must be where the ballista bolt came from. 

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“SHHHHHHH, NOT OUT LOUD!!!” Sunset hastily interrupted Tempest’s tale just as she was just about to speak about finding the Nameless Wizard’s L_____y-word; You’re gonna ruin the SURPRISE for Twilight!

 

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It took a ton of magical effort, but Sunset Shimmer did her part to open the gate. And no sooner had they trotted inside that the Tower was already trying to kill them! Thankfully, the ballista bolt had been aimed at somepony with the instinct to duck down, because Sunset basically stood there gasping in shock when she first heard those gears grind.


The amber unicorn dared not move a leg. “Okaaaay,” Sunset gathered her wits as she looked impatiently towards Tempest; “You’re our resident tomb raider here Tempest... so HOW do we get through this booby-trapped dungeon?”
 

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