Light At The End Of The Tunnel: Spark
[Linked Book Entry]
At least somepony here is lucky.
Fine, I'm happy Cromach's safe, at least for now, but this doesn't solve his problem in the long run and the real problem of Equestria being threatened by the shadow king.
There's so many small problems that need dealing with but all of them pale in comparison to Sombra. Cromach and the bounty on his head, Valiant being a threat to Chokey, survival of Guiding's hive...
...none of those are my problems. When did I start having hero complex? What makes me think I'm better at running other ponies' lives?
Maybe the fact that without me Chokey would have been broken by Valiant, Heavy would have been bullied out of the Royal Guard, Guiding would have been executed alongside her changelings as soon as they got captured by Equestrian Secret Service and Cromach would have died yesterday.
I can't help them. I have to but I can't. If there's something I've learned since I first arrived in Canterlot then it was not to rush things though. It usually makes them end up much worse. The snag is that sometimes it might be too late.
Let's just take it step by step.
Heavy is fine. He seems to have gotten over Sharp's death and apparently got himself quite the catch.
Chokey isn't a normal grunt like last time. When we first met she had a reason to take Valiant's abuse because he was much higher rank than she was. Now she's Luna's personal guard and Valiant might have been released from his border service but the order for his execution in case he gets pulled into anything still stands. He can't lie his way out of things anymore now as Chokey can just ask Luna to interrogate him and see if he's lying. No, if I think about it clearly Chokey's safer than she's ever been around me.
Her addiction is still a problem though but from what I remember it faded away when we got together after the events in the Crystal Empire and she's known me for quite a while then. What I'm getting at is that even if I somehow got closer to her it wouldn't mean anything without the past giving her the safety she used to feel around me.
I guess this time somepony else will have to become the pillar of strength she needs. As I've always said - she could find ten better ponies than me around every dumpster in Canterlot.
Cromach will have to fend for himself because I'm going to need Betty back and he wouldn't work too far from me anyway. I thought our bond would have been broken already but luckily for the young griffon it wasn't. Seeing him again sort of made me miss my cutie mark but it wouldn't fit me anymore.
No, it's not in my power to help anypony at the moment.
Fortunately, Betty's reappearance gave me a chance to continue my attempts at dealing with Sombra. With him amplifying my ability to steal magic and direct it I might be able to gather enough power by using Sombra as a power source to open a portal to the mirror world and find help there.
Now... where could I get the information how to open the dimension portal?
Guiding! She worked out Void's jumping spell made specifically for me and made it work for her changelings so she might be able to tell me how to open the gate.
I have enough bits for a train ride to Pine Hills and back to Ponyville and I won't be able to bring anything with me... no, that was true only when the worlds weren't connected. Damn! I'll need the portal to stay open otherwise I'll end up back in the Everfree as soon as it closes.
I'll take some money from Cromach just to be safe, he doesn't have to know. When I come back I'll have to apologize but my return would mean I succeeded so a bit of asskissing won't hurt.
Wings stiff, I land at the entrance to my apartment building. There still are little specks of blood on my uniform from when Betty sliced the Hunter to pieces but those are mostly unnoticeable. I pull out the keys from my pocket and and open the door to my apartment, thinking about what to say to Mistake when I see him.
I wasn't unconscious for too long, two hours at most, but Mistake is sitting there with his back pressed against the heater and reading one of the books he stole from the castle library. I had a look at one of them but the first chapter of 'Necromancy For Dummies' called 'How To Correctly Hold A Showel' didn't really pique my interest.
"You!" I fake an angry look, "That thing with queen Chrysalis was pretty dirty."
He stands up, smiles apologetically and looks at the floor.
He looks around confusedly when I pick him up in my talons. He might be some sort of an epic combat master but he's still a mare-sized unicorn whom I can easily sweep off the floor like a doll.
His pink eyes wide with questions stare straight into mine. I can see a little seed of panic grow within him.
"Nothing," I say.
"I can read you like a book. You're asking yourself what did you screw up this time. Nothing."
"Eeerm," he still hasn't reacted to me holding him under his front legs and is just hanging there like a kitten.
I was ecstatic to be able to see other ponies when I was out of the cellar but now that I look at the pony thanks to whom I'm still here I don't know what to say. In comparison to griffons ponies are just fluffy tubes with big heads but this one is...
...I realize I'm tearing up a little.
"Thank you," is all I manage to say. Dissatisfied with myself, I hug him and squeeze as hard as my almost broken ribs allow me, "Thank you, thank you, thankyou."
I wonder how I can explain it to him. My whole life I've been the smart and resourceful one capable of talking or fighting my way out of anything. I've always been the strong one to whom smaller friends came for help. Well, I did usually make fun of them but while I loved a bit of mischief and fun on the account of the weak ones I've always helped those who needed me. Of course I considered them owing me a favor, not doing so would be just some idealistic nonsense.
The first time I wasn't able to take care of myself a pony who didn't want anything in return helped me. He saved my life and he might not even understand the significance of what he did because he doesn't seem to value his.
I pour all that into words.
"I don't know what happened to you or what will happen but I will protect you. I swear on the name of the hero I inherited."
"Did you try to get Chrysalis to bed again and she agreed?" he pushes me away slowly.
"Idiot," I grin, hug him again and then put him back on the floor.
"What happened?" he asks.
"The Hunter drugged me when I was in the bathroom and carried me out of the castle. Thanks to you I still have all my important bits, all of the ones I usually have fun with by myself and my sanity."
"Nooot sure about the last one," he smiles widely, understanding bringing him relief, "and I don't know what was my role in all that."
"I'm choosing whether to transform into a bucket and vomit inside me or into a double-sided dildo and give you two some quality time," says a voice from the air that would be rolling its eyes if it had any.
"Betty?" Mistake puts his hoof up and the necklace with two rings appears in it.
"Been a while, buddy. You look different, did you cut your mane?"
"Nah. Fought a god, died, came back from the ashes," Mistake is now grinning like an idiot. For some weird reason I imagine Betty's voice doing the same thing.
"So, what horrible evil is trying to kill you now?"
"Same old, same old."
A mooment of silence and then both voices begin laughing maniacally.
I clear my throat, possibly even politely.
"Oops, sorry, Cromach. This is the Element of Betrayal, or Betty for short."
The necklace lengthens and turns into an unremarkable flying sword I'm slightly familiar with. It tilts a bit, mimicking a nod.
"And this guy is my bearer, Bl-"
"Mistake, Betty. I'm going by that name now."
"Hmmmm... you know what? It suits you," then Betty adds in a whisper, "And you'll never understand why."
"What is the Element of Betrayal?" I interrupt. For some reason I feel as if I should know that.
"I was born in the ancient times and-" Betty begins.
"You'll never actually be able to finish that sentence. Ever," Mistake interrupts. Betty just snickers, "Let me give you the short version. The main magical protection of Equestria lies with the Elements of Harmony, ancient artifacts possessed by those attuned enough to their aspect. There are five good ones, five bad ones and a neutral one. Betty happens to be one of the evil ones and I'm his evil Bearer."
"If you're evil then I'm a minotaur," I ruffle his mane.
"It's nice to hear somepony say that," Mistake comments gloomily.
"You know what? To me you're a hero," I smile and point at him, "I don't care what you did. You saved my life-"
"Betty did!" he objects, waving his hooves in front of his chest defensively.
"I had him thanks to you-"
"You would have thought of something else even without him!"
I pick him up again and prop him on my shoulder.
"I couldn't even move with his magic holding me-"
"You're strong enough to take care of yourself!"
I throw him on the bed.
"I'm using you as a pillow from now on," I grin and he just blinks repeatedly, "Betty, turn the lights off, please."
"On it!" Betty seems to be enjoying this as much as I am.
"You don't have to thank me this way," Mistake squirms in my embrace.
"I want to."
"I haven't just dragged a completely straight stallion into the bed, have I?"
Mistake presses one of his hind legs between mine, wraps the other around my waist, hugs me with his front ones and buries his muzzle into my chest feathers.
"I am the one who should be second-guessing himself, not you."
He might be crazy about Choking Darkness but until she's available he's my bedwarmer.
Pulling the blanket over the two of us, I drift off to the best sleep I've had since I left my and Harrison's room for the last time.