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Late Fees [Canterlot] Attn: SteelEagle & TacoBob

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Blizzard sat at his desk. His quill was held in hesitation as he attempted to put his words onto paper. It had been one whole season since he had his run in with that other ice mage and Princess Twilight Sparkle. While he was grateful that he was aloud to leave with such ease...after all he had been granted permission long ago when he was a colt... Ice Storm, or at least that what he though her name was, made him feel like a common burglar. He took a few deep breaths, this time he would do things the right way. That was the reason he needed to write this letter after all. 

 

Spoiler

 

Dear Princess Twilight

Princess Twilight Sparkle,

I am writing you to schedule my return trip to Canterlot, and more specifically the library at the School for Gifted Unicorns. I know that we got off on the wrong hoof, and I hope to be able to avoid the confusion of our first run in. I know that your time is valuable as the ruler of Equestria, and now the head mare of the School for Gifted Unicorns as well. I enjoyed our previous magic discussion, and look forward to future ones.

 

Blizzard Blitz

The Wizard of the North

 

 

 

With a quick flash of his horn, the scroll would vanish, hopefully transported directly to the Princess of Friendship, though if not, his spell had a secondary address...Canterlot Castle itself. Now he just had to wait for a response. Magical mail delivery was not that advanced of spell, however, over such distances, it did drain a fair bit of aura. As he waited, he give his notes on the book another once over. It was something to do after all.

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Twilight found herself swamped in missives and dispatches from across Equestria and beyond, the litany of tasks in front of her seemingly endless. However, she relished it. There were diplomatic overtures and treaty negotiations galore. Approved rotations for the Guards and REA movements, and more hidden dispatches for EPIC and STAR. And that was just the boring stuff. Personal correspondence galore draped her desk in ever-growing amounts as she took her time to read and respond to as many of her citizens as possible. She loved hearing about their lives and when they sought her aid she was more than willing to do what she could. It was her pleasure and honor to do so.

 

Of course, sometimes things change. And when Blizzard's message popped in front of her, it couldn't help but change her immediate priorities. It looked as if the mysterious fellow was making his way back. Interesting! She wondered what he would be after this time. Based on their last contact and what she had discovered since she assumed he was less than a complete friend of Equestria, but that was fine. Just sending her a letter was proof enough for her that there was that spark inside that could blossom into something greater, and she was happy to see if she could be the one to help with that. She began composing her response immediately and with nary a few moments of spell-writing she was finished, and sent her letter to the exact arcanic location that the letter had been delivered from.

 

Moments after Blizzard sent his letter, Twilight's letter would appear in a flash in the same location and position down to the centimeter. It was written in Twilight's own impeccable horn-writing with the stationary of her office in full and complete detail. The words, however, were far simpler.

 

"Dear Blizzard Blitz,

I am so happy to have received your letter. You may arrive at your normal time and I will be more than happy to meet you where we met before. I will bring tea and snacks and a full and happy mind for conversing with a mage of your skill. Keep well and safe until then, and may Harmony preserve you.

Dearly,
Princess Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, Sovereign of Equestria"

 

------------------------------------
Twilight was indeed stationed correctly, with a list of titles she thought might interest him and lacked the arcanic residue that would indicate previous...unknown rentals. On the desk stood a station for tea and biscuits and a host of smaller snacks, as well as three seats. One for Twilight, one for Blizzard Blitz, and another for a friend. And employee? But mostly a friend. "Tea?" She asked her compatriot before Blizzard arrived, having already poured a cup for herself.

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Fire Walker had spent the earlier day running around and taking care of an assortment of tiny errands. While she was not asked to lead a squad of soldiers to chase away an enclave of Diamond Dog thieves, or to reunite warning neighbors to the north. Of course there was no warring neighbors anywhere at the moment. She had little jobs. Mush them all together and you might get one proper sized mission. She could at least feel useful for the moment.
 
Once she returned to the purple princess' side and dropped off some needed supply, the red mare was happy to help with troop rotations. At least for the R.E.A and the many guards who roamed the busy streets of Equestria. She knew and grew up with many, and also trained a good deal of them as well. She had a good eye on what squads should go where. She stayed away from the EPIC and STAR jibber-jabber as the whole cloak and dagger stuff made her stomach turn.
 
They had a place that they needed to go, and away they went. To the spot. Thankfully tea would be there along with little butter biscuits and scones.  "Oh, Yes, of course please..". It was very very hard not to refer to Sovereign of Equestria as 'Princess', but the purple one preferred to be called Twilight. Year of training demanded it! "Thank You Twilight.."
 
She got her leaves of choice ready. Normally it wouldn't have been her fifteenth choice, but she needed to stay away from caffeine for the next ten or so months.  They were meeting somepony, but who? Prince Blueblood? Princess Cadance? Muggo' Ale? She doubted it would be the last one, but it would be fun if it was.
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Blizzard Blitz

The lowly unicorn began his return trip to Canterlot after receiving Twilight Sparkle’s letter. He levitated the books he had checked out into his saddle bag before grabbing his cloak and throwing it over himself. It was going to be a long journey, though with it now being winter in Equestria, he found the journey to be quite a bit more in enjoyable then trips past. Perhaps it was because he no longer felt the need to seek his way through miles upon miles of land, or perhaps it was the company he soon would be joining. 
 

Blizzard had arrived in Canterlot just as the majestic city was beginning to wind down for the evening. Though he got more then a few glances, he ignored them and made his way directly to the grand library. There would be no slipping in the side door this time, after all he had an invitation from the young ruler of Equestria herself. 
 

The white unicorn could smell the tea and snacks as he entered the grand main hall as they soon lead him to the room he had met her before. “Your highness,” he would say with a somewhat shallow bow. His eyes however were drawn towards the red pegasi in the room as well. “Captain, I presume?” He nod to her as a sign of respect. “May I?” as he motioned a hoof at a char on the side near Twilight. Undoing his cloak, he would hang it upon the back of the chair. 
 

“I must thank you for loaning he this book,” as he levitated it back onto the table. “It was very useful in fixing my magical mistake from years ago.” He would smile to both before sitting down, wondering how long it wound take the princess to notice that his coat was no longer infused with ice and snow. Blizzard himself would make a rather potent tea mixture, adding a bit of honey for flavor and stir it slowly, waiting for it to cool. He would also levitate a few briskets and snacks onto the table where he was sitting.

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She poured the tea, relieved to have Fire Walker here. Truth was that she wasn't afraid of Blizzard Blitz and knew she could handle it even if something went wrong, but having a mare as capable as Fire Walker was always wonderful. She was also friendly and intelligent and while her role as Captain of the Twilight Guard was necessary, what was even more necessary was the warmth of the love and care that radiated off of her as strongly as her name would imply. They would need to bring that same heat if they had any hope of melting the shell of ice around Blizzard in conjunction with Twilight's honest and hopeful engagement. "Thank you for being here. This should go well, but you know how everypony worries if I don't have protection," she said with a sigh right before Blizzard entered.

 

The first thing she noticed was that his coat was free and clear of the magically infused frost elements that had so artfully dictated the manner in which he was to be engaged. It was a more pleasant experience, dealing with a stallion whose heart of ice was a little less worn on his metaphysical, metaphorical sleeve. Any barrier between connection that was tossed aside was one barrier she was willing to let die, at least for now. "Captain, this is my friend, Blizzard Blitz. Blizzard, this is Fire Walker, the Captain of the Twilight Guard," she said with a smile. It was always good to expand the circle as she allowed them to get to know one another. And look at his tea game. Very strong! "Good choice. And I am happy to hear that the book helped. Knowledge used well is always good knowledge well used," she said as she offered him a scone. "You certainly look well, but how are your travels?"

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"Always happy to be of service..." Oh Oh! Her brain wanted her to stay 'Your Highness'! She must fight it! Hundreds of years of loyalty to the crown was in her blood. "Twilight."
 
Thankfully their guest was here.  And it wasn't Muggo' Ale, Dunder, Princess Luna, or even Pony Joe, it was...this guy...
 
She had no idea who he was. Did Ice Storm have a brother? If her sister-in-law from Trottingham was here, Jammy would probably say he looked a bit dodgy. Thankfully Fire Walker was a very mature pony. She at least tried not to pre-judge. It took a moment before she realized that this was probably Blizzard Blitz, a unicorn that was once part of the school of magic and vanished! He was later caught stealing spell-books. She was curious why he left the school? Maybe it wasn't challenging enough and he demanded more complex spells. The school probably did not allow him to use such spells. Maybe they were worried about his safety? So to gain such higher powered spells, he would need to swipe them! Sounded like he was a Hedge-Wizard! Twilight Sparkle had mentioned him in passing before.
 
"You assume correctly.", the mare responded with a friendly, and not at all overpowering smile. It was honest and warm. The good purple princess had sent him a book and helped? Fire wondered what that book was. As she waited to hear more about this, she fixed her tea with a bit of milk and cinnamon. Mmm.
 
 
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The white unicorn's horn would glow as a cube of ice would appear in his tea, cooling it a bit more. "My travels went well. It is always easier for me to traverse Equestria this time of year, and I don't have to be quite as careful...at least now that I've been able to tweak the 'Cold Weather Adaption Spell.' I'm sure that you both are aware...from your other friend...," there was a bit of venom in his voice when he mentioned Ice Storm indirectly, "that Ice Mages have lower body temperatures then most. It was a misinterpretation of the original spell with that fact that lead to my...how would I say it....less then friendly appearance." Taking the scone he would take a bite. "I've left a parchment with how that spell can be tweaked to adapt to other environments, with a disclaimer of course. I certainty would not attempt to use it on a trip to a desert. I don't think the flaming mane and beard would not be a good look for me," he'd say as he tried to inject a bit of humor.

 

"I presume that all is well in Equestria? Normally when something of importance happens, news dose make it up to the Frozen North." As Blizzard's tea was now cool enough for him to drink. "I was a bit surprised to say the least when I had company so quickly after our first visit, though I believe that was Ice Storm's idea..." the amount of dislike and distrust of that mare was apparent at him just saying her name. "I do trust her mission went well as we only had the opportunity to chat ever so shortly before we parted ways."

 

"Hm...Fire Walker...of the Walker family? You have really lived up to your family name," as he gave a quick, but subtle hoof salute. "I commend your achievement Captain." as he drank more tea.

 

"So then, I assume that after my last visit somepony would have done a background check on me... I can assure you that it's not as bad as it may have seemed...or as Ice Storm may have made it seem." The unicorn sighed deeply,  as he put a hoof up to his forehead. "I am the son of Spring Thaw, an instructor at the School for Gifted Unicorns, and Storm Runner. I believe Storm Runner was a Sargent under your father Captain..." Blizzard would take a bit of a biscuit before continuing his life story. "I literally grew up within these walls and was enrolled in the school when I was old enough... though I never felt truly welcomed. The other students thought I didn't earn my place here and only got it because my mother taught in the school."

 

Blizzard would finish off his cup of tea and would begin making a second. "I was a A+ student my whole life. Year after year, I would hope my grades would be good enough to have Princess Celestia notice me, to have her for at least one class. Sadly, that never happened. I felt like I was a second rate student. Most of my advanced learning I had to do on my own." Blizzard's facial expression told the story. "This is how grew in my magical prowess," as he levitated his old library card, stamped for access to advanced sections. "I guess being a teachers son had one advantage." as he chuckled as he finished making his second cup. "Oh, before I forget, here." as he levitated a jar of REA Surplus Coffee. "If I remember correctly you asked about this." as he placed it before the princess.

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It was not unusual or unexpected that the topic would turn to Ice Storm. They had not gotten off to a great start and Twilight had heavy doubts that Ice's venture up north had enamored him with her any more than could be feared. Still, it was a good sign that it had not been worse and this meeting was taking place. "Please do not hold Ice Storm's vigilance against her. She is a wonderful mare and a great friend to all of Equestria. However, her watch and seeking out of danger to the nation often leaves her seeing the darker shades of our shadows rather than the sun that we bask in that creates them. A wonderful trait to have for somepony trying to keep the nation safe, even if it sometimes leads her to unnecessary confrontations," she said with a sigh at the end. It was all true, but for all of that Twilight wouldn't trade Ice Storm for anything. 

 

Luckily, the topic at least briefly moved on. He had modified a spell for weather adaptation and was offering it. How thoughtful! "Ahh, how useful. I'll have to peruse it!" She said, her horn lit up while she allowed part of her aetheric self to find this parchment (heavy with his aura) and read it. It was a good piece of work. She didn't know how it would necessarily fit into that category- already so many fantastic spells of its nature- but few could compare to the intricacy of the aetheric web he had woven to make it work. Sometimes spellcraft wasn't about the result of the spell or the power of it. Sometimes spellcraft was about the art inherent in the design of a spell and this was certainly an attractively designed spell. That was worth ten ordinary if effective spells, at least to a discerning mage like Twilight.

 

As she did that he asked her how things were, which she was always happy to respond to. After all, every morning in Equestria was better than the last. "All is as well as it can be. Always a thousand petty matters that are boiling and a hundred more concerning ones that demand attention, but nothing that cannot be handled like those that came before," she said confidently just as she stopped admiring the spellcraft and returned in full to the table. Just in time, too, because Ice Storm came up again. "It was both of our ideas, to be fair to Ice Storm. A powerful mage in the frozen north. We had to learn more," She said bluntly but with no small amount of mirth, then shook her head with a smile.

 

He then started started running down his family history. Some of the bitterness that came with being treated differently was still present. The traumas of our youth are rarely discarded when we leave those years, and many times they carry the sour seeds of discontent that burrow deep into the soul. It came from a variety of actors. Students that looked at him askew because of his familial relationship with faculty. The former Princess Sovereign of Equestria Celestia and her laser focus on what she wanted in a personal pupil. A sense of isolation that came from competing pressures. It was a perfect setup for troubled magical development, if not in skill and practice, then in form and emotion. And that was keenly displayed in his latter history.

 

Nonetheless, she felt sorry for how his journey started and hopeful that it would get better. "Fillies and colts can be cruel as often as they can be kind, and often times in unequal measure. Celestia always kept what she was looking for in a pupil to herself- I know it had little to do with pure academic performance," she said execusatorily before she received the coffee. "Ah, thank you. Fire Walker, pop quiz. The whole, unabridged history of REA coffee, stat," she said playfully as she dropped the surplus near her Captain.

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Ice magic could be rather scary. An adult pony’s body was made up of seventy percent water. An  unicorn that specialized in ice magic, or as one would call an ‘Cryomancer’ could truly mess a fella up. Just apply all that magic to a pony's bare flesh and Walla! You got yourself a horrible way to die. Actually, most ways of dying tend to be horrible. Hopefully she'd kick the bucket while sleeping. Sleeping when she was very old.
 
She bit her tongue with the stallion mentioned Ice Storm. Fire Walker tried her very best, but she never managed to make peace with the mare. Not like they were in an never-ending feud, but the unicorn stole her colt-friend away from her! Her beloved Dunder! And this was not because the ice-wizard was able to charm him away with her icy-good-looks, but it was some sort of scheme she had and it utterly failed, leaving the officer with a broken heart.
 
"Yes, I am.", the mare responded with a tiny bit of pride. "My family has been serving the princesses since the day after they vanquished the former King Discord." Wow. What an utterly crazy world she lived in. King Discord. Discord the Cruel. Discord the Mad. The Spirit Of Chaos whose cruelty was only limited to his imagination.  During this month, she had attended at least two weddings where he was a guest. During both of those weddings, she was happy to fetch him a class of punch. This was probably Fluttershy's fault. She was the beauty that tamed the beast.
 
"Thank you good sir.", the mare replied without an single ounce of sarcasm. "I'm just a humble little ol' trainer who sometimes goes on crazy little adventures with ponies as crazy as I. And sometimes I have tea with royalty."  Her smile vanished as he spoke of his parents. More so when he mentioned his father. "Oh yes,  Sargent Storm Runner. My father had mentioned him before. Said how broken he was when you were presumed lost. Something my dad told me that he was under the impression that your father did not believe you had died, but had to have survived. Said if any pony could have conquered the frozen north, it would have been you, and he was right."  She said with a wink.
 
Her eyes fell upon the current ruler of the land the pegasus was currently standing in.  "History of the Royal Equestrian Coffee. Hmmm.", she grinned, "Shortly after Princess Celestia and Princess Luna gave Discord a good whooping, they started work on the super important parts of restoring a kingdom. Addressing borders, cleaning up crazy pockets of wild magic and trying their best to restore connections to old allies. While they were unable to create trading alliances with the dragons and griffons and other 'High' races as they were called, we did manage to keep them from murdering us in our sleep. Which was good. While the good alicorns were doing the important stuff, they gave lesser, but still very important duties to ponies who had served them during their war against Discord. My great-great-great and a buncha greats-more Grandfather helped to build the first base near the castle that is now in the Everfree." Which was now a clubhouse for some teens. How did that happen?
 
"There was one very important thing all good officers required and that was coffee. The Princess requested the help of their Head, Royal Chef to find the best coffee bean they could use, but he actually passed away shortly after the Discord-War was over. His letter was received by his daughter, the small, but brave Crema Cortado! This brave little donkey went on this epic adventure, which I really don't need to go into great detail, as they made a few movies, musicals, book-series, action-figure collection, ice show, comic books, and there's a ride over at Whinny World based off the movie..Or the comic book..I forget.. er..it was all based off her adventures. She gains new friends, defeats and befriends a cranky Ophiotaurus named Kerberos and even saves the princess Callidora. And together they discover a coffee bean so potent that we would later mass produce and use for our special suppository-strength R.E.A coffee ever since then."
 
"Oh, I forgot.", she blushed, "There was an junior-officer a few years ago who tried to change our beloved coffee to..er..", she shuddered, "Instant coffee, but we chased him up a flagpole and made him bring our old coffee back. The end.", she added with a grin. Yep. She was only a few weeks pregnant, but she was already going a little bit mad.
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Blizzard would frown when he learned that that the princess had authorized Ice's little trip...but at least she flattered him by saying his magical abilities where strong. When Fire Walker mentioned his father however, he would perk up momentarily. It had been many moons since he had seen his father, even before he left for the Frozen North, finding time to spend with him was scarce. His muzzle would try to fake a smile, though it would quickly fade. "The R.E.A. seemed to keep our family distant," he said string his some honey into his next cup of tea. "I'm sure that you remember the 'olden' days..." as he refereed to a time when Guards getting married was very rare and having a family was even rarer.

 

He would let out an annoyed sigh when Celestia's pupils where mentioned. His hoof would go to his head. "I've noticed," he said. His tone of voice somewhat sarcastic. "I wasn't expecting to become her protege or anything like that. Just one class....or to be acknowledged as something other then 'Spring's Son'...There are times I doubted she even knew my name." Blizzard would chomp down on a biscuit and take a few more sips of his cooled tea. "...But you know what the straw that broke the camels back was..." He would roll his eyes and sigh. "Graduation. The day that all students look forward two. The day that Princess Celestia acknowledges our accomplishments. I had hoped that working my flank off would at least get me the recondition I had coming." The cold unicorn's face began to show as he tried his best to hold back his tears. "Wouldn't you know... My class's graduation would be the first in almost a century that Celestia missed." by now a few tears had tricked down his cheek, freezing. "Just my luck," as he tried to brighten his somber mood. "My graduation would be the day that Sunrise Shining or whatever her name was would vanish..."

 

"You know, I think after I graduated is when my life turns south faster then a thermometer in the Frozen North. When I had my post graduation career meeting was the first time I think I've ever felt anger instead of disappointment. Imagine all of your classmates coming out of the office chatting up what their best options where and then when it's your turn, the pony on the other side of the desk straight up tells you your talent is 'Antiquated,' and maybe you could work at an ice rink or ice cream shop..." By now, the tears where falling, turning into small flakes of snow as the dropped off his cheeks. He had held onto these feeling for so long, bottled up inside. "You know... now I think I could use some of that coffee now. Even more so that I know it's history..."

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Twilight was beyond pleased at watching her captain of the Guard give her well-researched speech on the history of Guard coffee. It wasn't a matter of the subject being important that was impressive. Indeed, it didn't really matter what the subject was. twilight could have snapped quickly to Fire Walker and asked any subject of her involving the Guard and REA and she would have been able to respond sufficiently. Unknown to Fire Walker, the Military History Department had asked for her specifically as a member of its board. Twilight wanted Walker as her Captain and had thus denied the request, but no doubt she would make a fine member. She knew almost everything there was to know and if she didn't know it wasn't worth knowing. her quick wit and intelligence was an attribute rarely complimented despite it being her most fetching quality, among many. She smiled. "Captain Walker, is there anything you can't do?" She said with a laugh, recentering herself on the stallion.

 

She had to. He seemed vexed and upset in some measure, and she didn't have to wonder why.
It seemed a common theme among powerful unicorns, this one of feeling discontent at treatment. Sunset chaffed under Celestia's musings and teachings. Starlight felt rejected by the world. Tempest felt abandoned. He felt ignored. Twilight had a theory that those born with the ability to pull more aether developed a range of personality disorders as a result of aetheric overcharging of bodies barely able to come to grips with the possibilities inherent in their abilities. It would be hard to prove in its entirety, though a range of medical research existed to at least form the basis of her thesis. It made sense, did it not? Sunset Shimmer, Starlight Glimmer, Ice Storm, Blizzard Blitz, and of course herself. There was a pattern among the powerful or talented.

 

She'd have to dig into that further, as well as the idea that somepony at the School of Magic would actually suggest some random low-key job to one of its graduated. The School of Magic was not a public institution overrun with students. It was the most well-known academic institution in the nation, perhaps the world. Just to get in required a level of talent that surpassed those of other younger unicorns. The idea that a career counselor would suggest such demeaning work for any unicorn that was graduating- itself arduous considering how many were drummed out of the school over its long years of education- struck her as wildly strange. She'd have to do more research on the exact cause of it all. Because truth was that she doubted any of this was as directly cruel as he imagined. She had a theory, but she'd wait on it for later.

 

Her horn lit up and started working on making them all a nice cup of coffee while she spoke. "I see. It can always be difficult when we do not get the recognition we deserve, and it can drive us to make rash decisions. Or it can be used as the fertile ground for success. It comes down to us, in the end. You went north. What then?" She asked as the coffee was finished for all three.

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“I guess it’s like any other ponies that are in the ‘family business’. Some families farm, some run businesses and some join the R.E.A.”, she shrugged, “Thankfully the Royal Guard is not just ponies marching around in armor, we cover a ton of different fields, from magical research, defending our borders to say my mother, who writes and updates officer guide-books.”. With the Royal Equestria Army opening its ranks to non-ponies, her poor mother had to form her own team of writers to add all the new creatures to the books.
 
“An officer’s job is never finished. Even when our family lived in the big ol’ house in Canterlot, it was rather rare for us to actually get to enjoy a meal with everypony. We were always so busy and scattered about.”, her smile vanished as the unicorn mentioned his graduation. A very old tradition had to be broken that day. Why they didn’t just reschedule it, or do a special meeting with Celestia later on? Apparently the Princess was considerably shook up over the disappearance of her special student, which lead to her not being at that particular graduation.  From the little Fire Walker knew about magic and magic school, a 'Special Student' was not necessarily the strongest spell-caster in the class, but was a unicorn with great potential that was being held back for some reason. Princess Twilight was probably Celestia's greatest student. The Princess of the Sun took a powerful, but socially awkward filly and turned her into the ruler of all of Equestria. Wow.
 
And also 'wow' to that college career advisor. What a jerk. "That's not a sort of pony I'd want advising my kids.", she huffed, "While ponies probably rushed to snatch up the common jobs, there is always going to be a need for someponies with obscure skills. Those should be celebrated, not insulted."
 

"Captain Walker, is there anything you can't do?" She said with a laugh, recentering herself on the stallion.

 

The guard glanced over a the ruler of all with a a grin, "I can't whistle.", she made an an attempt and it was all just wind being blown. "I also can't get into any of those popular, but dry fantasy series. Like the ever popular, 'Magie Du Cheval' series. Everyime they introduce a new character, they got into like a hundred years of the character's family lineage... This is Puffy Hooves, son of Clamper, who is blabby blabby...I tried to read the first novel and I can't get through a page before it puts me to sleep."
 
The red coated officer liked her coffee black. This Twilight knew. But what sort of coffee did Blizzard prefer? You could learn a good deal about a person on what they put in their Java. She sometimes liked to add a little Cinnamon to her coffee. Some ponies liked cream and sugar...Some...ugh...liked BUTTER in theirs and even worse, eggs.
 
 
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Blizzard nodded as Fire Walker spoke. "I always felt that counselor didn't care for me as I went through the grades..." he grumbled. "Antiquated talent..." he rolled his eyes. "Though if my first run in with Ice Storm taught me anything, at least the school now has an elemental magic program... a lot of benefit it had on me." He levitated a cup of coffee over, dropping an ice cube in it before adding a single cube of sugar. 

 

The unicorn would nod to the princess. "I took the only well paying job I could get, a guide as a REA contractor to take an expedition into the frozen north to attempt to locate any trace of the Crystal Empire. I guess Princess Celestia had a hunch or something along like that. She was just a few years off..." The unicorn would stifle a chuckle. "I guess it was good I asked for payment in advance, right?" as he tried to make a joke. "I did my job. Look up the mission report if you doubt me. Nopony froze to death in the few blizzards we encountered. I just simply chose not to return upon the completion of the contract." He looked to gauged Fire's expression as he continued. "I guess they just failed to mention that one fact. Must have marked me as MIA I take it? Seems like something he would do. He did leave me with all the extra supplies when it was over though. I've been living on those canned rations as well as the supplies I trade with a nearby yak settlement ever sense. You'd be surprised how long the cold can extend the shelf life of rations." Though Blizzard tried to joke, his face showed his true feelings as he shifted eye contact away from the red pegasus. He worried how he would be seen in her eyes.

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The REA did cover many fields. Almost too many. She was undergoing a military restructuring soon and she was aghast at how many roles were redundant. Not in the way a military should have redundancies, but stark inefficiencies. That would also allow a greater wealth of expertise to be used in a better manner, and even lead to officers having actual lives when not on duty. Something that was also being brought up to the forefront of her thought processes was how much work the School of Magic needed to have done to it. She had focused a lot on the School of Friendship and for good reason, but other schools needed her love and attention as well. Celestia's legacy at the School of Magic was legendary of course and she needed to respect that, but that respect could not be used as a shield against proper change.

 

"So. Frozen North. Rations. Alone. What did you use your time on?" She asked before backtracking slightly. "And just for your own edification, the records were clear on your conduct, Blizzard. I wasn't worried you would lie about it since you had nothing to lie about," she said, having already perused the reports. "They didn't mark you down as Missing in Action. The actual report was clear. It just seemed no one really paid too much attention to it since it was inconceivable to many that a stallion of such potential would choose to live up there," she said softly, though she ended with a smirk. "I know I couldn't decide to live on rations myself, but I was plenty happy to sequester myself with books and a baby dragon. I know all too well how such power can make what one chooses to do appear odd, even if it is not so. Not truly, anyway. There is indeed a correlation between the magically gifted and those who make life choices that are out of the ordinary," she turned to her Captain. "Give me your perspective. Why do you think that is?" She asked as she continued to drink.

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“A guidance counselor should only guide all the students or none at all.", the mare responded by shaking her head.  "And nothing ever stays antiquated...Take the old 'Vodka Buck' or 'Mule'. It's  just  vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a wedge of lime in a copper mug.  It was really popular when our grandparents were hoofing it up at the pubs back in the days, and then it just fell out out of popularity. It became antiquated. That was until recently some bartender found it in an old cocktail book and Walla! It's back to being popular again."
 
The mare bit her tounge when the unicorn mentioned Ice Storm. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. She was still blessed that Dunder remained a close friend even after the icy mare snagged her colt-friend. Just hearing the unicorn's name gave her heart-burn. Thankfully Blizzard Blitz moved into a far more interesting topic.
 
"Wow, you too!?", she gasped, "About a year before the Kingdom returned, somepony found some U.M.R's, or 'Unusual Magical Residue' where the lost Kingdom would eventually pop up, so they built some train tracks and connected to what the time was the military only rail. Every few months, they would send a squad of officers and magical investigators to check out the spot. We also had to make sure the tracks were clear and ready to be used when the Crystal Empire did return, and sure enough, as we know it did. Wonder if I rode along with you?". 
 
She smiled as he made his joke. "Oh yeah, I know all about the 'MRE's. Those things are made to last forever. And we did try to trade them when we could, but Yaks? You must have a stomach of steel to eat their food." Not like the MRE's ' bean and rice burritos' or 'Chili-Macs' were even better.
 
She turned to the good princess who had a question. "Erm. Sometimes you find a spot in your life that you feel really comfortable and you just stay there. Even if you are gifted, you worry that if you step out of your comfort zone, you might feel the stinging sting of failure. And instead of allowing that to be a lesson, you retreat back to that old spot. Never to try again.", the mare took a quick sip from her drink before adding, "And then there's the opposite, those who are constantly challenging themselves and pushing their limits. I guess it's like any gamble you face in life, which I can only guess it based off how well you know your own skills."                                                                                               
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He let out a small laugh at Fire Walkers commit. "I was part of the very first expedition. No train tracks existed nor did for many moons after. We where searching by lay of the land. The Crystal Empire is unique in that it was a complete circle and flat. It's former location would stick out like a sore hoof...if it hadn't been for those snow dunes." Leaning back in his chair, Blizzard would grin when Fire mentioned the yaks. "Oh, they have a few good things to snack on occasionally, though they kept trying to offload these self heating rations to me. Bean Chili and Corn Chowder seemed to be the most unwanted for some odd reason." 

 

Blizzard would let out a heavy sigh before chugging his cup of coffee. There it was, the million bit question. "If I am to be completely honest, I stayed in the Frozen North to hone my skills and try new spells. It is the perfect testing ground for ice and snow magic all year." He would stifle a chuckle. "Nopony to get mad at you for dropping a foot of snow on their freshly planted field or freezing the lake they wanted to go swimming in. I'm pretty sure I'd have Cloudsdale and the REA after me for a sheet of snow in the summer. Other then the books I had borrowed, I have transcribed copies of many books from this library as well a few rarer books that had found their way to the yak trading post. For more recent books or chapters I didn't think I needed at the time, I would make one of my little book runs...and to leave my mother a note and a Frost Lilly. Oh, and to pick up the 'newest' Daring Do book as well...after mom had read it."

 

The unicorn would look to Twilight with a slight grin. "May ask you a rather blunt question? If you had the opportunity to go somewhere where you could test your full magical ability without fear of hurting anypony or anything for that matter, would you?" The snow colored unicorn would turn his gaze to Fire Walker. "Same question Captain, assuming in this scenario you where a 'gifted' unicorn..."

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The pedantic part of Twilight's brain had to be reigned in before she started to correct them all. It was a meaningless distinction to most but to her, important. The Crystal Empire was not just the City, but a large landmass. It hadn't been just the city that returned, but enough land to be comparable to the Saddleveil Plains. Being somepony who had not been on these expeditions, it answered so many questions. Why the Princess had forbade the use of the water and islands that made up the territory that was now the Empire. Not that one would- as anypony knew, the area was caught in perpetual, terrible storms that made utilization of the area impossible, pegasi completely incapable of affecting it. The first sign that something was strange was when the storms started to dial back in severity before stopping. It was pedantic on her part so she ate her proverbial whistle rather than correct them. Instead, she just enjoyed listening to stories about Equestria's most exciting expedition in some time.

 

In time, he told Twilight why he had stayed there. She could understand it. Even at her worst she was never somepony who would abandon society to improve her magic. Not because she did not value her magic possibly as much as she valued herself, but because as Celestia's student she had always considered Equestria something she needed to hold dear to her. It was only her ignorance that made her miss the fact that harmony and friendship were the foundations, not the decorations, of the nation. Before she could reply to her captain or to open up another path with Blizzard, he asked her a question. One that made her think and for no small part of it, a good question as well. Perhaps not now, but that was easy enough to explain before she got to the meat of it.

 

"Before I became Princess?" She pondered. "When I was younger, perhaps. I believed then that magic was my most important skill and that honing that was paramount. Then I made some friends and realized that personal magical capability was entirely pointless," she shrugged. "Now it's easy. I just create dimensional fold pockets so I can practice any spell I want, from space-time defragging to anti-factual reality-based slackings, without it interfering in my schedule," she said as her horn lit up, revealing an oblivion space directly above them that was devoid of all known laws of reality. She then closed it and continued. "Gives me time to focus on more important matters, like friends and family. What about you, Fire?"

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“Oh.” Fire Walker was a little spoiled with the train. While it was far from fancy, it had a well heated cabin with comfortable cots and a full sized bathroom. And they provided everypony with warm clothing to wear along with the armor. But still even with that, the red mare was still cold! Cold weather was the best when you were admiring it from inside a warm home by a fireplace and drinking coco. Or snuggling with a loved one. Swift was a A plus snuggler. He might not admit it.
 
“Oh, I’m sure your magic is at the peek of its core in the winter, but did they ever have you practice magic in a desert? During summer, during the midday when it’s the hottest?”, she cringed. And, yes, the usual effects of cold based magic would be less annoying when there was a bunch of it already laying about. Still, she would avoid getting annoying an well skilled Cryomancer. They just need to touch your skin and in moments, they could turn your blood into ice! Ouch! And also Bleh! As you would be dead.
 
She smiled as the stallion mentioned his little book-runs. "My mother is a writer, so she attends these Writer and Publisher conventions they have...The Las Pegasus Writers Conference The old LPWC. And for me, and my siblings, it was the best day ever when she would return, as she would be pushing a big box into the house and it would be filled with upcoming books they would just hoof out during the convention. These weren't even first editions, but better, as they were early critic review copies..". she added, "I have a friend who used to own a bookstore and he had book signings every so often. Got to meet Miss Yearling and had our books signed. She was a little on the frumpy side, but she quickly warmed up." The good writer appeared to be somepony who probably rarely left her home, but still had such an amazing imagination and was able to come with all kinds of crazy plots.
 
And there was his question to the ruler of all the land. Does she have a safe-place for her magic? Thankfully now, but the red mare had been part of a few 'whoopsie' spells over the last few years. Thankfully none were scaring or harmful, and all ended rather nicely. She, along with a few others had been hit by an foal-spell that turned almost all into kids. Fire got to experience being a foal without all the issues she had the first time around. And she also befriended the heroic farmer, Applejack. There was also the time she was accidentally turned into a Crystal Pony, which being rather odd, made the holiday night more interesting.
 
Yes, there was Twilight's little pocket dimensions. The officer had been in a rather large one of the unicorn's little magical hidey-holes. Ulp! It was her turn to answer the magic question. Both of the other answers were perfect, but she could not just copy theirs. She needed to remember those goofy little comic strip stories they had in that foal's magazine they would have in the hospital. The one with 'Galton the Gold Medallion Stallion', who was perfect and good, and made sure to practice and use his magic properly and wisely. And then there was his counterpoint, Oczy Mlody the Wyrd Wizard who loved her magic over others and did not care what it would do to others. Usually in the 1st panel, Oczy would do some sort of mischief magic and the in the next panel, Galton would reverse the magic and show what the Chaos Magic unicorn should have done.  So, what would Galton do?
 
"Normally when an R.E.A. unicorn needs to practice on the fields, they set up these little pads around in a circle, like a fighter's ring. This makes sure no magic can get past the pads. 'Neither up or down, or all around' as they would say. You can't just wander out into an open field as magic as way of effecting anything anyway, from poisoning the plants or turning the local critters into weird hybrid half-fruit, half-animals." She was not sure who did that awhile back, but her bits were on the purple princess, as it was Ponyville.
 
 
 
Spoiler

 

This is still probably the cutest freaking thing ever on this site
 
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Blizzard stiffled a chuckle when when Fire Walker mentioned practicing Ice Magic outside of the Frozen North. "Oh, I do have some experience with my skills during hot Canterlot days. The summer snow day incident may come to mind," he said winking to the purple alicorn. He knew that she must have seen that little chestnut in his file. "Nothing like coating Canterlot in a few inches of snow on finals day. Lets just say it was a good thing my mother was...is....the captain of Canterlot's winter cleanup team. Though I didn't really get in too much trouble from the 'powers that be,' a mother's silence can be just as bad."

 

As Twilight spoke, he'd look up at the dimensional fold. "Now that's a spell I need to learn." When the topic changed to friendship, Blizzard's face sank as well as his heart. "Oh..." as he trailed off. She was the Princess of Friendship after all, of course that was going to come up. This was going to be a deep wound to open. Everything else is on the table so, what the hay. "I see our early lives where quite in reverse," he'd say as he kept his gaze away from the princess, instead focusing his attention on a biscuit he was buttering. "It seemed my obsession with Princess Celestia's acknowledgment cost me quite a few friendships over the years. When I was just a colt, my friends and I would check class assignments. We had a close group. When one of my friends....well...jealousy is a powerful emotion to say the least. One by one our little group fell apart as each of them eventually got at least one class this schools first namesake...all but me. I felt sub par I guess. I was....afraid. Afraid of how I would be seen in their eyes. I know that a true friend would look past a petty thing like that, but I had my pride darn it. I doubled..no, tripped my studies. I was going to be top student and get Celestia's recognition. That was my only goal from then on. I HAD to have something to hold over them. It turned into HAVING to be something more then just Spring Thaw's son." Another tear would roll down his cheek and freeze at is hit the table. it was funny how things when full circle back to that one obsession. His need to be just more then a good student. More then a teachers son. Now he saw the friendships It cost him. Hindsight is 20/20 after all as he could feel his heart sink. "I guess the final straw when I gave up was when that magical dud...Sun Ray...was that his name? Got his one class and even flunked out of the school." By now, Blizzard's biscuit has three times the normal amount of butter. He'd give a quick, fake smile before downing it.

 

He'd get his out, looking to Fire Walker. He was trying to hide the tears in his eyes. "Oh...those pads sound quite interesting. Are they a relatively new invention?" To an untrained ear, it would sound like he was genuinely interested in how they worked. To the trained ear, he was trying to change the subject, and fast.

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The discussion of Daring Do was one she was happy to indulge in. Twilight was a mare of science who loved to read texts that many would consider dry, but she had a deep love for fiction of all kinds. Well, except for maybe romance, that was far more of a Rarity topic. The fact that the Daring Do series was actually non-fiction only made it all the sweeter, since it was a secret well kept. "I need to have some of my copies re-signed. I lost many of them when Tirek destroyed my house," she said with a sigh. "I had the tenth copy of Sacred Stone. My mom isn't an established author but she does make some money on the side with it. It was enough to meet Yearling and get a copy as a thank you. Huh, I never asked what that was for..." she trailed off. That was something she would have to ask Daring Do at another time.

 

As she pondered that, now began Blizzard's recounting of the loss of friendship he had endured. It was a story that started off like many others- a group of friends, slowly torn apart by jealousy and misunderstanding during the years of their indiscreet youth. The tumult of those years was richly felt by every creature who experienced it, but few at that age had the pressure of of a magic student. Add to that his own abilities and the fact he was the son of faculty, no doubt the emotions became so raw and remained that way even now. She wanted to reassure him when he allowed himself to tear up that the past was irrelevant, but that would be a lie. It still held him powerfully, and to say otherwise at this moment risked instability in his emotions.

 

She'd have to tread carefully. "Too much butter is bad for you. Moderation, I'd say," she began before taking a drink. She'd examine it for a moment, looking at the ripples. Amidst the eternal waves of time/From a ripple of change shall the storm rise. She looked up as she took another drink. "You have always been a very driven individual, Blizzard. It is sad though that the pursuit of knowledge cost you so much, when knowledge itself is not what gives a pony true strength. Your qualities are similar to the way I take my biscuits- plain to see, rich in its own way. You are bright, inquisitive, and very charming. You have so much more to offer than magic," she said before deciding she would not push forward. Indeed, it was just the start but she didn't want to make him defensive. Forgiveness and acceptance were marathons, not sprints.

 

Besides, he wanted to change the subject. How awful a host would she be if she denied him this! She turned once more to her Captain. "How do these pads work, exactly?"

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“Hot days, eh.”, she shrugged, “I’m thinking really nasty days in a really hot area like the San Palomino Desert, where you only have a teeny tiny bit of moisture to work with. You’d have to be really creative to get things done.", she smiled as he mentioned his finals day prank. "I guess that's a little more creative than the usual soap in the water fountains."
 
She listened as the ice-casting unicorn went on a little bit of a rant. He had a slight obsession. He wanted to please the ol' sun-queen. She understood. She was an incredibly impressive pony and to gain her favor, would be a dream to most. Her brother Moon had a friend who was also a guard. He tried his very best not to stare, but could not help himself when he spotted the former ruler as she enjoyed a glass of orange juice. He watched in stunned silence as she slowly drank, and even more so, as a little bit missed her mouth and slowly rolled down her chin and neck.
 
She finally noticed the extra butter. Normally this would be very bad for a pony, but he was a really skinny stallion and a few extra pounds would do some good.
 
"Considering how many variations of her books they have out, I wouldn't be surprised.", Phooey! She was pregnant! She could have a little extra butter on her biscuit as well! "There's the usual international editions with the weird art, the anniversary editions. The limited edition Cantermart editions. The odd one where she's called, 'Daring Do Dazzle'. There's also the special convention versions with the special covers.  I have the one edition of the 'Marked Thief of Marapore' where the cover animates when you tilt it.", she added with a ever-so-pleased look on her face.
 
The pair had a question of their own. One Fire Walker was probably beyond under-qualified to answer. This never stopped her from trying. "I believe they're similar to those little sticky tab things they put on foal's horns, before they can properly control their magic. But bigger. They place these pads around the spell-caster and if a spell goes a certain distance and hits the er, pads, they simply absorb the magic so it doesn't hit anypony." She felt like an pony with arithmophobia trying to explain an complex equation to a pair of mathmagicians!
 
Oh, she liked that little treehouse library. It was incredibly cozy, and she really wished she could have visited more before it was reduced to ashes. Still one thing bothered her. "Whatever happened to the previous librarian?" Maybe she could get her mother to write a mystery book. 'Mystery Of The Golden Oak Library" or maybe "The Closed Book: The Secret of The Long Lost Librarian?"
 
 
Spoiler

 

OOC:
 
Yeah, I'd probably stare as well.
 
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This artist did a couple of Fire Walker pics
 
Also, when I was trying to find a title for a Daring Do book, I ran into Amazon who was selling the entire Daring Do collection with the little figurine for dirt cheap. I got that and the awesome book I had read in digital form..The Chocolate Wars, which is a really fun book about not just Chocolate but how our workforce slowly became less horrible and slave-y

 

 

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