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To There and Back Again (Attn: Steelyboo)


RainbowFoxxy
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All the supplies were packed up. She'd checked off the check list more than once. An adventure awaited...

 

They had been in the Crystal Empire for almost a week now. Cadance had requested her presence and the presence of a certain cyan pegasus that Twi never seemed to be able to get off her mind. She'd been trying to keep herself together and thus far had pretty much succeeded. Sure they had made some ground in their relationship but Twi could sense that Rainbow wasn't really into talking about it right now. In fact she hadn't really wanted to talk too much to Twilight at all as of late.

 

The alicorn chewed her lip as they made their way out of a conference between RD, Cadence and herself. It was more awkward than ever between the two of them. It made Twi sad really. She wanted things to be moving differently between them. She'd hoped maybe bringing her feelings front and center would help RD to come to grips with what might have been in her own heart. But the opposite had happened. It seemed like Rainbow had built up walls around her heart, keeping Twi more at bay than she'd ever been.

 

"Oh sweet Celestia," The bookhorse muttered under her breath as she glanced back towards the doors of the conference room. "The Webwing Mountains..." She shuddered. "Wild forest..." She groaned. "And who knows what else..." Not only had Cadance asked them to make the journey on hoof but she'd mapped out a route that included a trail into reaches of the wild that not every pony could deal with. All with the pretense of spreading friendship and making sure everycreature was on the up and up along the route. There had been rumors that all was not well in the mountain passes and the forests beyond. Who better to send than the intrepid Rainbow Dash? Candance had of course decided sending Twilight too would be the best thing for kindling Friendship and showing the strength of the empire by sending one of their won on the trip.... Cadance had not mentioned her other, and main, reasoning for sending the two of them. Whatever was going on between them, it would be good to go on an adventure together.

 

"So," She tried to tried to sound perky. "First thing tomorrow morning we head out?"

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It had been a difficult last few weeks for Rainbow. Celestia knows she was trying to be that something more that Twilight wanted but she felt like a wingless filly in a storm. She didn't know how she felt. She thought she did. She thought she shared some of those same feelings. She would love to say that it was simple and that her beat quickly against her chest when Twilight was around, and that was true. It did. But Rainbow didn't really know if it was love or an overwhelming sense of anxiety. She couldn't pinpoint why she felt this way. She couldn't explain it. She tried her best to bury it but she wasn't all that good at hiding what she was feeling, even when she really wanted to. She tried her best to be what Twilight wanted, wanted Twilight needed, what Twilight deserved. But she was failing and Rainbow wasn't certain she would ever be able to pass that test. She didn't even know why she couldn't pencil in the answer, despite her desire to.

 

That was why she was happy to have something else on her mind. Princess Cadance had asked both Rainbow and Twilight to come to the Crystal Empire for a task that seemed like it was more in line with what the Crystal Guard should be doing, but hey, she wasn't gonna complain about having something else to worry about. The mission entailed them heading through one of the more densely forested areas of the Empire and into the Webwing Mountains, one of the truly last wild places left in pony lands. They were to do the whole Princess of Friendship thing it looked like- ensure that everything was on the up and up and that harmony was secure across the entire trail. Cadance had even been kind enough to draw a map, though Rainbow didn't really need it. She had Twilight and that mare was a walking map all on her lonesome. Everything was going to be fine.

 

Well, the mission was.


"Yeah, first thing. The crack of dawn," Rainbow replied with a laugh. Who are we, Applejack?" She opined, hoping to deflect her worries away. "We got it. There may be monsters and crazies but I got the speed and guts, you got the magic and smarts. We'll be fine. We'll be fine," she said, not realizing she had repeated it. 
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Twilight retired to her room for the evening not long after their meeting with Cadance. The mare found her heart longing for Rainbow to join her in her quarters but since their last close encounter the book horse had hardly found Rainbow around much at all. She knew RD was avoiding her. It was plain and clear and it made her sad. It was not at all the reaction she'd been hoping for from the pegasus. Twilight had been ready to jump in with all four hooves, but Rainbow not so much. 

 

"Of course she's fast at everything else," Twilight muttered to herself as she leafed through a book of ancient runes she'd borrowed from the palace library. "But not this..." She sighed and turned a page absently, wishing for the mare of her heart to be snuggled at her side. 

 

A few hours passed and Twilight finally found the comfort of sleep. Tomorrow would be a big day and she'd need her wits about her.

 

---

 

The next morning dawned crisp and clear. The alicorn rose from her bed and readied herself for the journey. She'd packed her saddle bags to excess as usual. It felt odd not to have Spike with her, but he'd been needed to attend to royal duties back home. She was on her own, with Rainbow Dash, for this one. 

 

Her mind worked furiously as it always did to come up with ways to get RD to open up to her. So far nothing had worked and all of it had felt unnatural. She figured it would be more of the same and she found a bit of resentment starting to creep into her heart towards the pegasus. How long was she going to drag her hooves? Did she really think Twilight, the Princess of Friendship, would just wait around forever for her? Did she really think she was that special? Twilight knew she would wait, as long as it took and then some. But really? Thoughts such as these constantly went through Twi's mind, and she feared they would continue to do so until she couldn't take it any more!

 

The Princess trotted down the steps towards the great hall. She smiled and accepted the hospitality of the the ponies who had been charged to care for her needs while at the Crystal Palace. It wasn't long before she was seated in front of a bowl of fruits with honey and a glass of orange juice. She levitated the fork with her magic and brought a strawberry to her muzzle. She chewed, glancing about for her adventure companion... 

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Rainbow Dash had slept restlessly if at all. It had been another one of those nights and another one where she woke up feeling like trash. She so desperately wanted her dreams to stop working against her but it was as if Luna was taking a break from doing her damn job. Her dreams only seemed to repeat to herself all the worries and fears that she lived with on a day to day basis. Inadequacy in affairs she was a rookie in. Failing a pony that meant a lot to her. And not even being able to accurately place her feelings. In her dreams one moment it was pure love, then it was confusion, then it was fear. Mostly fear. She didn't know what the fear was but she knew she was overwhelmed with it. She woke up once, twice, maybe a third time- just as the light of the sun started to peak over the distant mountains. The last time she decided to just stay awake and stare at the landscape as it woke in front of her. She could probably appreciate it more if she were Applejack. All she wished instead was that she could have slept and not have her sleep be troubled as it was by the many ways she was confused by and failing Twilight.

 

She got an early morning fly around the spire, psyching herself up for the adventure ahead. This was just like something they would have done before so she knew she could do it. She knew Twilight could do it. She knew they could do it, unless they made it harder than it needed to be. When she was done she landed in one of the open balconies and started a trot to the dining room, where she knew there would be some food. With only the barest starts of a sweat on her brow and a yawn firmly stifled under athletic activity she found herself in the dining room. She saw Twilight and smiled, even if it was a plastered on one. She knew she wasn't the prize that Twilight had desired, but that didn't mean she couldn't do her best to play at it for at least a little while. "Hey Twi. You know that strawberry has cream and its on your muzzle, right?" She asked expectantly and then laughed. "I'm pretty sure its for eating, not decoration," she added as she sat down opposite Twilight and started snogging some fruits.

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  • 1 month later...

Vector #397 - Twilight Sparkle #22 by DashieSparkle.deviantart.com ...

 

Well! That was nice and dorkalicious! Twilight reached up and dabbed the cream away with her hoof. She blew her forelocks out of her face and eyed RD cramming fruits. "Thanks for that...uh, you have strawberry," She giggled. "Pretty much everywhere!"

 

She gulped some tea to clear her mind and lay out the plan. "So, the plan is to leave here right after breakfast. I hope you're packed. I took care of mine when I woke up this morning." Un-needed info a Twilight specialty. "We'll take the northern trail toward the mountain pass. By my calculations we can cove the trail to the pass in a day if we move our tails. Well, to a certain extent. Candance suggested we take it fairly slowly in case there's anypony or anycreature around that seems like they could use a greeting." She raised a brow. "This is a diplomatic venture after all."

 

Twilight knew RD could have made it to the Changling Empire within the hour if she had her way buuuuut, she wasn't going to get her way. Plus! Twi was going to get RD warmed up to her if it killed her!

 

She ate another mouthful of strawberries and cream and dabbed her muzzle of a napkin. "Any questions oh travelling companion of mine?"

 

Even though it was gonna be a little awkward sometimes Twi was looking forward to this! It was going to be an adventure and who knew what valuable information she could gather along the way!

 

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  • 11 months later...

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It was true. She did have strawberry everywhere. She was a messy eater by trade and habit and she had never really tried to change it. Her parents had more or less supported her no matter what and so she had more than a few habits that she knew were probably not the best that she, nonetheless, was almost too hard-wired and pig-headed to change. "Yeah, that I do. Maybe I can use them for snacks while we're out?" She replied with a laugh, though she did try and make herself a wee bit more presentable. It wouldn't do for Twilight to be seen with not only somepony beneath her station, but a messy mare at that. "Not sure how well the strawberry would hold up under the pressure, but I'm always willing to find out," she said wink a bright, blue smile.

 

Twilight went over the who and what of the mission. Rainbow would rather just fly but it made sense why they were gonna be taking a slower pace. Rainbow Dash had been flying her whole life and could observe the world around her flawlessly, but Twi couldn't. It was one of the few things she couldn't do. That and this was more of a morale boosting adventure. Sure there was bound to be some flank kicking, but it was flank kicking in service of something other than the flank kicking itself. Made the flank kicking a little less cool but a lot more useful, and she was in. "Yup. All packed up and ready to go," she said confidently. "Don't worry. We've got this thing licked and we haven't even started. Between your brains and my brawn, there is nothing we can't handle out there," she said, lying through her teeth. Because she clearly couldn't really handle her feelings for Twi, but that was for another time. "Hmm," she said, tapping her chin. "The only thing I could think of is, who even lives in the Webwing Mountains?"
 

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  • 1 month later...

Vector #397 - Twilight Sparkle #22 by DashieSparkle.deviantart.com ...

 

Twilight blushed a bit at that cheeky nature and that grin. Dang it! She really wanted some Rainbow time. Walking with her, exploring with her, all the things she had planned. They would be fun but she hoped it would lead to something more at some point... The alicorn shook her head to clear it. She had to keep focused. She'd get close to RD on this venture, one way or another. 

 

"Hmmmm," She thought for a moment. "You know, I'm not sure who we'll run across out there. Could be bat ponies, maybe even diamond dogs. Whoever we run across they'll most likely be recluses. We'll have to be very diplomatic!" She grinned a little herself. If there was one thing she was good at, it was making an impression! Well, with everyone except her intents on Rainbow it seemed.

 

A few minutes later they were wearing tightly packed saddle bags and trotting out over the castle threshold. It was a rather nice day. Sunshine with a bit of breeze. Twilight trotted out, focusing as best she could on the task ahead. There was however, another 'task' she just couldn't shake the thought of. 

 

"Perfect day for it huh?" She asked in a cheery tone to the pegasus near here. 

 

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Yeah, diplomacy. That sounded fun. She wasn't good at the whole diplomacy thing. She wasn't some action-addicted foal who'd get them in trouble or anything but she'd rather not spend all their time on tea parties with diamond dogs or solving a knitting problem with some old maid in a mountain hold. Then again, she knew they were there mostly as ambassadors of good will. The boring part is what Twilight was good at. She was smart and could think her way out of problems. and more importantly she liked all that diplomatic stuff. Rainbow Dash was more than willing to make a friend or help a creature out but she was all about that action. Adventure, excitement, flying around, ignoring her true feelings, fighting monsters. That was her jam. Smaller jams abound though.

 

"Hah! Well, you can handle all the diplomacy. You know, all that Princess of Friendship stuff," she said as she ruffled Twilight's mane. "As for me?" She puffed her chest out, then started shadowboxing. "Just let me handle the monsters. Gonna give 'em a left, right, kick, uppercut, pow!" She ended with a roundhouse in the air, hovering away as they started their exit and the start of their journey. It wouldn't be long before it got really intense and cool, hopefully. "Yeah, it's a pretty good day. And we're due for some really perfect weather for the next few weeks. You didn't use your Princess Authority to get perfect smooching weather, did you?"

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Smooching weather?! What the hay? Twi did a double take, her cheeks blushing pink. She looked away and giggled awkwardly. "Heh heh," she sighed. "Well, I did mention to Luna that I was hoping for clear skied for our journey."

 

They moved away from the castle, onto a gravely trail that lead away towards the mountains. There didn't seem to be too many creatures around. That was fine, she was sure they would run into some sooner or later. She did hope they were pleasant but knowing she had RD's brawn to protect her made her feel safe.

 

"So, this is basically the trail for a large part of the journey. It gets a little patchy later on but pretty much smooth sailing for now."

 

After a while they came upon a bridge. A rather impressive one with golden gilded support cables and oiled soild planking. It was sturdy and as Twilight set hoof to it she could tell it was finely made.

 

"Halt!" A voice called from up ahead. "Who goes there?"

 

Twilight chuckled nervously to RD. "Did we just walk into a filly's fairytale?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

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Rainbow breathed a sigh of relief when Twilight blushed. Truth be told she had thrown that out there to try and break the tension that had developed between them and she was happy that Twilight didn't jump on her, literally or figuratively. She rubbed the back of her neck and smiled, flying lazily ahead of the two pony touring committee. It started off well enough. Very few ponies in sight and those that were didn't much care to involve themselves in the business of a Princess and her...guard? Friend? Something of the sort? It was a nice, leisurely stroll through the cold air.

 

For a while, anyway. The trail turned to gravel, though she didn't care much about that. The winds grew heavier. Not faster, heavier- air pressure went up and the air was thick with weighted cold, like the feeling of a winter storm but with no winter to release the sky's tension. it kept her on edge. A pegasus was used to releasing that tention but it felt like the sky here hadn't been tended to. Or if it had been tended to, it had not been very gentle.

It was then that the voice shook her out of it, and Twilight's joke about it being a fairly tale? A smile to her face. "Good, I guess," she said with a laugh, then looked around for trouble, or where the voice came from. No dice. "Though if we are, I'm not gonna wear the damsel in distress dress. I'll go check it out," she said as she flew out over the bridge.

Only to slam into some sort of wall and fall back down near Twilight.
"Oww! What is that-"

"Answer my questions three, or someplace else you will be!"

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  • 1 month later...

Vector #397 - Twilight Sparkle #22 by DashieSparkle.deviantart.com ...

 

Twilight watched as Rainbow's attempt to defy the 'orders' of whoever was apparently guarding the bridge fell flat. Well, at least her nose was flat now, from running into some sort of invisible barrier. Well this was certainly an odd turn of events. Whoever it was must have some sort of magical ability! Twilight perked up at the thought. She could engage most creatures in  some sort of discourse about magic if they as well could wield it!

 

"Hello there!" She called out while trotting to RD's side. "We just want to cross the bridge to continue our friendship mission!" 

 

Twilight glanced at Rainbow as the pegasus recovered from running into the force field. She spoke softly to the mare. "You alright Dash? That was a nasty encounter!"

 

"Friendship mission?" The voice lightened up. "Why didn't you say so!"

 

An old and wrinkled unicorn appeared on the bridge seemingly from nowhere! 

 

"Teleportation!" Twilight spoke in recognition. "He does have a good handle on magic then. That and conjuring force fields?"

 

The mare moved towards the unicorn on the bridge. "I'm Princess Twilight Sparkle and this is my uh," She glanced at the pegasus, wishing she could say they were more than they currently were. "This is my good friend, Rainbow Dash. Perhaps you've heard of us?"

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Rainbow allowed herself back up with Twilight's help begrudgingly, mostly out of incessant embarrassment more so than any actual pain. "I'm fine. Well, except for my pride, heh," Rainbow responded as she was helped up, rubbing the back of her wings where a small pain had shot through her. She didn't know who would do this or why they would, she just knew that it frustrated her to no end to feel so humiliated by some magical barrier. Sometimes, and only sometimes, she hated Equestrian magic. Unless it was Twi, Dash was usually just awed there. Plus Twilight had very good reasons for doing anything she did. Rainbow, rather cruelly, did not ascribe such qualities to this newer, friendlier victimizer of pegasi.

 

The stallion responsible for the barrier stepped forward. It was not a cool monster or villain but rather just an older stallion, a wizard, who should have known better than to put force fields where athletic pegasi were trying to impress very special ponies. "Yeah, nice force field or whatever. It stopped me so you know it's good," Rainbow laughed, though the mirth was inconstant and fake. Her eyes were still set hard. She didn't like being made to look the fool or weak and she had been made to look both. He better have damn good cause. "But why is it up in the first place? Other ponies do live close by and this could hurt them if they aren't as experienced in being awesome like we are!"
 

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