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Ponies of the North, Book 1: Journey to the North: Chapter III: A Winter Visit

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As soon as Loki left Discord’s realm, he found himself on the top of a mountain range as a fierce blizzard raged around him. Shivering, he drew his cloak around him until it clung to his skin. He may have been an immortal deity, but even he was vulnerable to the blistering cold of the North. You’d think I’d have gotten used to it considering my past, he thought to himself as he trudged across the mountain range through the knee deep snow towards the tallest mountain peak in the distance. He grumbled to himself at having been off by a couple miles in his calculations when creating the portal.

Magic, despite what you may believe, was almost an exact science in its design, preparation, calculation, and execution, teleportation magic especially so. If the caster’s aim was off by even a few inches, then there could be life threatening consequences for the caster’s life. Loki was lucky in that he had landed on the mountain. Normally, he would create another portal, but the trips to and from the Realm of Discord had left him drained. As he marched across the mountains, he told himself that the acquisition of the item in question would be all the sweeter once he had earned it by undergoing this little adventure.

Finally, after what seemed to be an hour of marching and climbing, Loki found himself at the top of the mountain peak in front of the largest cave he had ever seen. As he straightened himself out, he caught the whiff of something displeasing to the senses. It smelled like sulfur and brimstone. He smiled to himself. This was definitely the place; No door though. As he took a single step forward, he was greeted by a loud booming voice that almost sent him flying off the mountain top back into the blizzard.

“WHY HAVE YOU COME TO MY HOME, LOKI LAUFEYJARSON? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE SUCH AN “HONOR”?”

As the voice boomed out from the mouth of the cave, the smell of sulphur and brimstone intensified to the point where Loki began to gag. He covered his mouth with his cloak and straightened himself up again. He faced the cave, eyes forward and unblinking.

“It is good to see you as well, Fafnir. I was surprised to learn you had been reborn in this new world as well. Though given the species of the dominant population, I expected you to be a pony as well.”

“THOSE THAT WERE NONHUMAN IN SPECIES AND NATURE, SUCH AS MYSELF, REMAINED IN OUR TRUE FORMS WHEN RAGNARÖK WAS FINISHED ANNIHILATING AND REBUILDING THE WORLD! I MUST ADMIT THAT I WAS SURPRISED TO FIND YOU IN THE SAME FORM AS LAST TIME!”

“I was asleep for most of it. Slept through the whole reincarnation business. Now onto current events. I have been informed by a mutual acquaintance of ours that you have a certain book of mine in your possession. I want it back. I need it for a special project.”

“WHY SHOULD I PART WITH ANY PIECE OF MY HOARD? TELL ME THAT, JÖTUNN RUNT AND I MIGHT CONSIDER YOUR OFFER!”

Loki smiled. This was where he flourished: making deals. “If you give it to me, then I will compensate you for your “sacrifice” most handsomely. Are you aware of the Unicorn fortress, the Diamond Keep?”

There was a brief pause before the reply came. “I MIGHT BE. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?”

Loki’s smile turned into a wide grin. Time to make the offer. “My plans include the great Lord Mund of the Unicorns. If you give me the book, I will make sure you are well compensated with half of the total amount of treasure hiding within the Diamond Keep. One book for half a kingdom’s worth of gold and jewels. That seems fair to me.”

For a while, there was no reply. Loki began to worry that perhaps Fafnir would reject the offer, which would greatly surprise him if he did. The reply came and it was just what Loki wanted to hear.

“THE BARGAIN IS ACCEPTABLE, LAUFEYJARSON! YOU WILL HAVE YOUR BOOK IN EXCHANGE FOR MORE TREASURE! REMEMBER: A DEAL IS A DEAL!”

Loki bowed to the mouth of the cave. “I understand that, Fafnir. Trust me. I am in no position to lie to one such as yourself. Now, my book, if you please?”

For a minute, no reply came from the mouth of the cave. Then, he heard the voice.

“ENTER MY HOME, BUT YOU MUST ONLY GO A CERTAIN DISTANCE THAT I ALLOW! NO FARTHER!”

“Of course, Fafnir,” Loki replied. He smiled and entered the cave.

As Loki entered the cave, he noticed that the cave branched off into multiple pathways. Of course, he thought to himself. Of course Fafnir would make sure to test me. As he pondered his route, he noticed that the smell of sulphur and brimstone emanated from a certain tunnel on the far right. Snapping his fingers, Loki lit a bright blue flame and held it out in front of him. For a long while, Loki trudged through the dark and dank tunnels, making sure not to veer off from the path, making sure to follow the smell. As he looked at the cylindrical shape of the tunnel, he noted that it was almost unto an esophagus of a gigantic beast. It seems that I will soon be reaching the stomach of the beast.

After what seemed like an hour, Loki realized that the smell was getting stronger until he finally came to an opening that was 5 times Loki’s six foot height. It was nothing, however, compared to the inside of the mountain itself. It was nearly black as a moonless night, but Loki could still make out a few things here and there. He thought he could make out the outlines of hills in the darkness. Hills that appeared to be metallic in structure. If there was only a little more light, Loki was certain he would see sights that would stun him.

Suddenly, one of the great mounds shifted slightly. If Loki hadn’t been staring at the treasure piles, he probably would have missed it. More of the “mounds” shifted, moving more of the piles about, the clinking and clattering of objects being thrown echoed about the great mountain hall. One of the “mounds” extended up towards the ceiling, as if it was on the end of an enormous and flexible telescope. It twisted back and forth before turning towards the entrance, appearing to stare directly at Loki, a pair of bright yellow yellows with slitted pupils glaring at him.

“SO, YOU HAVE MADE IT TO MY LAIR, JÖTUNN RUNT!”, the smell of nearly suffocating Loki. As the shadowy form adjusted itself in the hall it reached down into its hoard. It picked up something, gingerly holding it between two long claws. The claws hovered over Loki, the fire light reflecting off the jet black scales. The claws dropped their cargo into Loki’s waiting hands. It was as Discord said it would be: Wrapped in a black oil skin.

As Loki traced his hand over the oil skin, he could swear that he felt something akin to a heartbeat beneath the skin. He smiled. Still has power after all these years. Perfect. Just… perfect. He looked up at the pair of bright yellow eyes that stared back at him, unblinking, unmoving, unwavering.

“We are done here, Fafnir.”

“REMEMBER OUR DEAL, LOKI!”

Loki nodded. “I will honor our agreement. It will take time, but your hoard will grow exponentially. Trust me.”

Turning away, Loki pulled his hood over his head in anticipation of the cold winds of the outside world. He held his prize close to him and he trudged through the tunnels, a thin smile on his lips. Soon. Soon, even Fafnir will bow before me. As will all these pathetic mortals.

A few months after Loki’s visit to the mountain, during what would be March in our universe on the day that would officially mark the beginning of Spring for us, far, far to the south of the Frozen North, beyond the ring of mountains that surrounded it, was the peaceful kingdom of Equestria, home of the descendants of the Ponies that had chosen to follow the three tribe leaders to a better future, much to the cheerful cries of “Good riddance!” and “Bugger off and don’t come back, ya tossers!” from those that had decided to stay behind rather than risk dying due to managerial incompetence. However, this particular bit of knowledge, specifically the part about Ponies actually choosing to stay behind in the never-ending winter, had been lost to time and the attempts of history scholars to make their founders seem less incompetent. This had not worked out in the end, but the slurs had managed to be censored in the end. What was left behind had been formed into a story about a holiday called Hearth’s Warming Eve. A holiday that is not unlike your Christmas.

In the story, the three rulers had managed to make it to the South and after a few arguments coupled with being frozen solid by wind spirits called Windigos, thawed out by the magic of their advisors’ newly formed friendship (that part is most definitely true), the three tribes formed the nation of Equestria.

To describe Equestria in one word would be: impossible. It was a temperate land where magic reigned supreme wielded by magical talking ponies that one would normally find in a child’s coloring book. Over the centuries, the ponies had spread across the land into multiple cities, including the capital of Canterlot, Fillydelphia, Manehattan, and Ponyville, the hometown of our heroine of this story: Twilight Sparkle.

As the moon began to set over the town of Ponyville, as dictated by Princess Celestia, one of the original twin princess Alicorns of Equestria, the rays of moonlight entered the bed chamber of Princess Twilight Sparkle above the Ponyville Library which lay inside of a large hollowed-out tree. For the literary inclined, the sight of the tree-trunkful of books would drive a pony mad with glee at the thought of the endless hours of reading that could be accomplished.

If a pony looked at Twilight’s room, they would get a pretty good idea about Twilight’s personality: Completely orderly to a capital “T”. Nothing was out of place. All was where it was meant to be. The books were in alphabetical order by subject, author, and title. The flowers in the vase by the window were balanced and didn’t lean to one side or the other. Even when the violet Alicorn was sleeping under the covers, they didn’t become uneven or unkempt. They were completely in order, just like their owner. In the corner, in a small basket underneath a blanket, slept a tiny purple dragon with bright green spikes across his spine. This was Twilight’s semi-pet/assistant/dearest friend Spike.

Spike was probably Twilight’s first true friend and had actually been essential in gaining her cutie-mark, a violet colored star with a dark pink center. When Twilight was being admitted into “Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns” her entrance test was to hatch a dragon. However, a rainbow shockwave, later revealed to be caused by her future best friend Rainbow Dash, awakened something powerful within Twilight. This not only caused the egg to hatch, but also caused Spike to temporarily grow to full size. Naturally, this was most unorthodox, but thanks to the timely arrival of Princess Celestia, Twilight’s then future/now former mentor and fellow Princess, everything was put right and Twilight was made her apprentice.

It was thanks to Celestia that Twilight excelled at her magic. It was also thanks to her orders to make friends when she arrived in Ponyville that Twilight met her five best friends: Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy. The six of them banded together to free Celestia’s sister, Luna, from her persona as Nightmare Moon and discovered their destinies as the keepers of the six elements of Harmony: Loyalty, Honesty, Laughter, Generosity, Kindness, and Magic. Since that day, the six ponies had many adventures that ranged from the everyday, such as preparing to attend the Grand Galloping Gala, to the Epics, such as their first battle against Discord, the Spirit of Chaos. Twilight had done it all, even rising to the rank of princess after completing the only spell that Starswirl the Bearded, Equestria’s greatest wizard, had not finished before his passing. This spell had been her final test as student and now she was an equal to Celestia and Luna.

While Twilight had passed all her tests as a student and a few as a Princess, such as the Dark Vine Incident a few months back, she knew that she still had a long way to go before she could truly call herself a monarch. For now, she slept on and dreamed.

In her dreams, she stood on a snowy field within a blizzard, which was understandable given that Winter was still in effect, despite it’s nearing end. However, this blizzard was different from normal Equestrian blizzards in one aspect: It lacked control. Normally, the Pegasi saw to it that the weather followed a set path. The sun would shine as long as they willed it. The rain would fall when they wanted it to fall. The blizzards would be as strong as they wanted them. However, this blizzard fluctuated in strength, ferocity and frequency, as if it had a mind of its own. Twilight began to shiver and she rubbed her chest to stimulate warmth while covering herself with her wings creating a makeshift coat. It didn’t really do any good in the long run.

Twilight looked around for her friends, thinking that perhaps they could do something to help her out. She saw nothing. The storm was so thick that Twilight had trouble seeing anything that was directly in front of her. The only colors that she could see were black and white.

“Rainbow Dash! Applejack! Pinkie Pie! Rarity! Fluttershy!” she called out. “Where are you? Anypony?” Nothing. No response. She was all alone in the cold. As Twilight sank deeper into the snow, flakes began to pepper her mane, covering the rose streaks in it. She was about to bury her face in the snow and wait out the storm when she heard a deep voice to her right.

“You do realize that this is all a dream?”

Twilight stood up with a start and turned to see an old Earth Pony stallion staring at her. The stallion’s coat was cloud gray, his mane was almost snow white with flecks of gray here and there. He had a short beard complete with a mustache and goatee ensemble. Upon his back he wore a black cloak with animal trimmings. Twilight could swear that the cloak was made from Raven feathers. However, what struck Twilight the most about this pony were his eyes. Or, to be more specific: His eye. His right eye was covered by an eye patch while his left eye, blue like the sky, stared at Twilight, unblinking, unwavering.

“I said, you realize that this is all a dream, right?” the old stallion asked again. “Think about it. You are not really cold. The snow is not really beneath your hooves. It’s all in your mind.”

Twilight stood up and tried pawing at the snow and realized that her hooves were not making any imprints. The snow didn’t even feel cold. It felt warm and soft like bed covers. She looked up at the stallion and asked a question. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

The old stallion trotted over to Twilight and stared her directly in the eye. “I am somepony you will soon meet. Somepony who needs your help. You will be waking up soon. Just remember: Return to the North. It’s time for the denizens of Equestria to return home.”

Knock, Knock, Knock!

Twilight woke with a start as three loud knocks sounded on her front door. Sunlight poured through the window and into her face causing her to squint. Spike was still snoring in his bed. As she rubbed her eyes, she realized what day it was: Winter Wrap Up.

Every year on the last day of Winter, all the ponies in the cities of Equestria would band together to clean up the last bits of snow and prepare for the animals to wake up from hibernation. While the snow would start to melt on its own as Spring drew closer, it was the duty of the Unicorns, Pegasi, and Earth Ponies to make sure that Spring would arrive on time and without trouble. Before becoming a princess, Twilight had been made the Ponyville coordinator, utilizing all the talents of the town to the best of their advantages to make sure that Ponyville would meet the schedule. Even now, she still made sure to work the Ponyville Winter Wrap Up into her time.

As she opened the front door, Twilight was greeted by a surprising sight. Not the sight of Fluttershy standing at her front door, but at the scene behind her. Behind the bright yellow pegasus mare were piles upon piles upon piles of snow covering the town of Ponyville. The streets were covered. The buildings were covered. Even a couple of ponies were covered to the point where they were living snowponies.

Fluttershy looked at Twilight and gave a weak smile. “Umm, I’m sorry to bother you so early, but we appear to have a problem. The snow seems to have piled up a bit more than we expected.”

As Twilight looked at the town wide snow pile, she thought to herself, “A bit more” is an understatement. An understatement indeed.

At the same time, far, far to the North, in the dead center of the Frozen North, in the center of a much smaller ring of mountains, in a large stone fortress surrounded by a field of snow, an old gray, one-eyed stallion awoke with a cry. As he pulled himself from under the fur blankets, a bright green Unicorn mare burst in and trotted over to the old stallion’s side. She put a gentle hoof on his shoulder.

“Father, what is the matter?”

The old stallion took a couple deep breaths before looking at the mare. “Kelda, get your brother and sister immediately. Tell them it is urgent that I speak to them immediately.” Kelda nodded and departed from her father’s bed chamber. The old stallion got out of bed and walked over to the window and gazed out at the mountain ring surrounding the fortress. The second time he had that dream about the violet Alicorn and he was sure this time it was about to come true. I pray that it is not too late to find her. If it is our future may be in jeopardy.