"Good, are you ready?"
Rainbow Dash groaned. "You've asked me that like five times already."
"Okay, okay. I just want to make sure. This spell is interfering with our minds. If you're not relaxed enough or not expecting it "
"And you also explained that the other five times." Dash put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. She looked the magician in the eyes and gave her an encouraging smile. "I'm ready. Let's do this."
Twilight sighed, trying to calm down. "Alright. It's best if we lie down. We wouldn't want to fall over and wake up in the middle of it."
"Sounds good." Dash stretched her legs and spread herself across the hard wood of the library floor. It was not particularly comfortable, but she had been assured that it would not matter. Twilight did the same next to her. Dash lay on her side, facing Twilight. "So, what should I do?"
Twilight turned to her, a cocky grin across her face. "I thought I'd explained it to you five times already."
" Dash pursed her lips, her eyes wandering off her friend. She was not sure if Twilight had actually explained her part in this or if she had just not paid attention. She had spent more time imagining the possibilities than trying to understand how the spell would work. Thankfully, Twilight began laughing quietly.
"It's alright." She put her hoof on one of Dash's arms. "You just relax and let me handle the spell. You will know what to do in good time."
Dash formed a smile. "Okay," she said, and closed her eyes. She took in a deep breath and let it out again. The last of her doubts slipped away, replaced by her trust in Twilight's abilities.
"Are you ready?" her friend asked one last time.
Rainbow Dash chuckled silently and gave her a nod, still grinning.
Twilight also closed her eyes and summoned up the spell. Once enough magic was concentrated in her horn she tilted it forward until its tip touched Rainbow Dash's forehead. Both ponies' minds went blank, each consciousness swept away as they fell asleep.
Dash found herself surrounded by
nothing. There was no sound, no sensation, no light, no color, no black nor white. She noticed that she was also missing a body. Twilight had told her that this was what would happen, but she had been unable to imagine it. An idea hit her that this was what blind ponies were seeing.
I don't know if it is. But that's an interesting idea.
Where did that come from? It was no sound, but also not a real thought - just pure information suddenly entering her mind.
Twilight? Is that you?
Where are we?
You did not pay attention at all, did you?
No answer from Dash.
Where does a road lead to after it ends? We are nowhere. This place does not exist yet. We have to make it something first.
How do we do that?
That is easy. I can handle the first one. Where do you want to go?
I thought you would handle the first one.
Yes, but this is your gift.
Dash thought for a moment and decided Canterlot.
An acknowledgement from Twilight and Dash started to finally see something. Her surroundings changed; a world formed around her. A street appeared under her. Houses, estates and boutiques came into existence. Ponies were busy walking down the streets, entering and leaving buildings, talking to each other. It was almost exactly like she had remembered it from her visits.
Dash looked down and saw that she had her body back. Turning her head she saw Twilight standing next to her, smiling at her. Dash looked down again and pressed her hoof against her chest. It felt exactly like in the real world. Looking back at Twilight, she prodded the other mare's shoulder, causing her to giggle. Her coat also felt the same soft and silky.
"This is awesome," Dash said, turning her head in various directions to take in her surroundings, trying to spot anything out of place, but nothing caught her eye.
Twilight realized what Dash was doing. "If you're looking for mistakes then you'll be disappointed. You won't find any, unless you want them to be there." Rainbow Dash was returning her attention to the unicorn. "Your mind expects to see Canterlot or rather how it remembers it to be. You would not notice anything out of place, because you wouldn't recognize it as such."
Dash scratched her head, slightly confused. "Uhh, okay. So
we can go anywhere and do anything we want in here?"
"Yes." Twilight beamed at her. "Isn't it amazing? I have to ask, though. Why did you pick Canterlot of all places?"
"Oh, I just wanted to see if it works." Dash saw a street vendor selling apples across the street. She walked up to his stand but raised an eyebrow in confusion as she failed at drawing his attention. He simply kept shouting his slogans to attract customers.
Twilight had followed Dash to the vendor. "Go ahead, take one. I doubt you'll have to pay for them unless you want to."
Dash took one of the biggest apples she could find deep red and shining in the sunlight. She bit into it and was surprised at its taste. Sweet, juicy and delicious, rivaling Applejack's best. "This is really good," she said to Twilight with a full mouth.
Twilight rolled her eyes at her friend's manners. "So if you didn't actually want to be here, where did you want to go?"
"I don't know," Dash said and swallowed her bite. "Somewhere warm would be cool." Her eyes went wide and she turned to Twilight with excitement in her voice. "I've never been on a tropical island. Can we go there?"
Twilight smiled at her. "Sure, you can take us to one."
"Uh, and how do I do that?"
"Just imagine being there and the spell will do the rest."
Dash looked at the apple in her hoof and, after a moment, threw it away. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine being on a beach at an ocean. The sound of the waves breaking on the sand. The salty smell of sea water in the air. A gentle breeze was flowing through her mane. She opened her eyes again and found herself lying on her back on a towel. In front of her a light red horizon above a wide ocean, a sand beach under her stretching out to her left and right. The sun looked to be less than an hour away from setting over the ocean.
She turned her head and found Twilight lying on a towel next to hers. The unicorn had a flower sticking out of her mane on her head, right next to her ear. She turned her head to Dash and gave the pegasus a beautiful smile, the orange light from the imminent sunset accenting her soft features. Twilight held out a glass with some drink, a straw and umbrella in it. Dash took it and Twilight bumped her own glass on Dash's before lifting it to her mouth and sucking on the straw.
Rainbow Dash did the same. She lay back on her towel, one arm behind her head and crossing her hind legs, and guided the straw to her mouth. The taste was just like she had expected sweet, a little sour in the finish and the alcohol barely hidden. But she did not mind. Enjoying the subtleties of drinks was not for her. Whatever got the party started was what she preferred. After taking another sip she put the glass down and tried to enjoy the dream.
The sun was spreading pleasant warmth over her coat and skin. She stretched her body to allow more of it to warm her belly. Her breathing began matching the rhythm of the crashing waves. After just a few minutes in this place she already felt more relaxed than she ever had been. None of her muscles felt sore, the slight aches in her joints from a stressful week were replaced by a wonderful prickling from the sun. Dash let out a low hum in appreciation. It was just like she had always imagined it to be. She would have to thank Twilight thoroughly later.
Turning her head to the other side she began laughing quietly. There were palm trees further down the beach, their leaves lazily waving in the breeze. Of course there were palm trees; no tropical island could exist without them. Craning her head backwards, away from the ocean, she saw the rest of the island. A thick forest began just a few paces away from the beach, behind it in the distance were mountains, framing her view of the cerulean sky. This island was perfect, a traveller's paradise. It could have been taken right out of adventure novels and foals' books.
Dash heard a commotion next to her. Twilight was stretching and gave out a strained breath before standing up from her towel. She took a few steps towards the ocean before stopping and turning her head. She gave Dash a sly grin and shortly tilted her head towards the water, motioning for Dash to follow her.
Rainbow Dash returned the grin and stood up as well. Even if it would not be as perfect as here, she could always relax on a soft cloud when she wanted to. The chance to go swimming in the ocean with Twilight after sunbathing was a much rarer one and, after all, she was here to actually have fun.
The sand under Dash's hooves felt pleasantly warm and soft. Twilight looked back and picked up her pace, laughing, intending to outrun her. No time to admire the view of the purple mare running into the sunset, Dash began galloping as well, racing the unicorn to the water. Sand was spraying upwards behind her in her chase, the soft ground making it difficult for the athlete to get good footing and run with full speed.
Twilight's head start got her to arrive at the water first. Giggling, she threw herself into the waves. Dash followed soon afterwards. After having the sun warm her coat the sea water felt immensely refreshing. It was cool but not cold. It had just the right temperature for her to enjoy. She closed her eyes and spread her wings as she let herself fall into the waves. The water hit her face and chest, washed through her mane and tickled the feathers in her wings. Rainbow Dash was swimming in cool bliss in the shoulder high water. She ducked her head under the surface and threw it back up again, creating a spray of sparkling drops from her mane.
She turned to look for Twilight, but her mane was hanging down over her eyes, dripping wet. She tossed it aside and found the unicorn just a few steps in front of her. She, too, was wet all over, much to Dash's delight. Her light violet coat was shining in the sunlight, flat against her body and accentuating her feminine curves. Her mane was sticking to her forehead and hanging over the top half of her eyes. She was grinning at Dash, coming closer to her. Twilight's eyes were shining with an intensity Dash had rarely witnessed from her, only ever when she got to talk about her more interesting experiments and theories.
Twilight arrived in front of Dash, still grinning. She caught the pegasus off-guard when she began splashing water at her. Dash could hear her giggling and started laughing as well while shielding her eyes from the assault. She retaliated and they began attacking each other with sprays and spatters of ocean water, jumping around and laughing like fillies the whole time. This was the most fun Dash had had in a long time, just playing together and doing something as immature as splashing water in each other's face. Rainbow Dash eventually came close to enough to Twilight and decided to take her chance. Mindful of the horn she lunged forward and pressed the unicorn's head under water.
Not wanting to scare her friend, she immediately retracted her hooves, but quickly regretted that decision. Twilight resurfaced with a wicked grin and threw herself at Dash, submerging the pegasus and herself again. Dash lost her sense of direction for a moment, tangled up with the other pony under water. She took a while to find the sea bottom again to push herself up. Once out of the water she took a deep breath and looked around for Twilight. She was nowhere to be found.
Dash began searching the water underneath when she felt two hooves softly pressed on her shoulders. Rainbow Dash tensed up momentarily. The touch was sending shivers down her spine, it feeling somewhat strange with the gently flowing water surrounding them. She felt Twilight move in closer, resting her body against Dash's. The purple mare's coat was dripping wet and warm, but under water it was softer than Dash ever remembered. She closed her eyes and savored the feeling of Twilight's silky coat and soft body brushing against hers.
Twilight moved her head closer to Dash's, nuzzling the prismatic mane glistening in the orange sunlight, moving her muzzle to the side and opening her mouth slightly. Dash gasped quietly. Twilight's breath was hot, surreal against the feeling of the cool water on the rest of her body and the even cooler gusts of wind on her face. Dash's ear flicked as the unicorn's breath touched it, making the hair in the cyan coat stand up from less than a feather's breadth away. Twilight slowly moved in closer still, her breath getting hotter against Dash's skin with every inch forward until her nose was nearly touching the pegasus' ear.
"Hey, Rainbow Dash," Twilight whispered, nearly breathed out. But Dash heard it clearly, every other sound dulled out the gentle breeze in her ears and mane gone, the quiet roar of the ocean waves swept away by the sound of Twilight's voice. The librarian took another breath and deliberately released it slowly, as warm as possible and sending another company of shivers down Dash's spine and throughout her body. She took another breath. "Catch me!"
And with that the pressure of Twilight's hooves was gone, the softness of her coat and body taken away as well as the feeling of being immersed in sea water. Dash felt that she was dry, dry but cold, very, very cold. She shivered and opened her eyes, finding that the sunset was gone; in its stead was now bright daylight. She saw herself surrounded by a world covered in white. Looking down, she discovered that it was snow and that she was wearing a thick coat and boots that did but little to shield her from the harsh cold and nearly painful wind whipping in her face. She spun around to look for Twilight and found the unicorn running away from her.
Without a thought she took after Twilight. Dash was in no way used to running with boots in snow, so her top speed only rivaled her one in the sand before. The air was clean but cold, stinging in her nostrils and making her eyes water. They were running on a wide, open and flat field, covered in a white blanket with no special features to take note of. The edge of a forest on one side of their path, the green mostly hidden by snow, a steep slope upwards on the other and an impossibly far view of a landscape in the distance in front of her, Dash assumed them to be on a mountain. She did not recognize the land at the foot of the mountain, but she thought that it hardly mattered. This was merely a world Twilight had conjured up from her imagination.
Dash saw what the unicorn was running towards. A pair of snowboards was lying conveniently at the beginning of a downward slope in front of them. She vaguely remembered having used them as a foal with her parents once, hoping that she had not unlearned it. Twilight arrived at the snowboards and Dash saw her step on one of them with all four hooves. The unicorn strapped in one of her front hooves and took a glance back at Dash, who was now only a few paces away. She smiled and gave the pegasus a wink before propelling herself forward with one of her hind legs and sliding down the decline.
Dash arrived at her own board. She stepped on it and fastened the strap around one of her front boots like she had seen Twilight do it. She looked ahead, down the slope and saw Twilight already a good distance ahead of her. Using her hindleg as well, she pushed the ground behind her away and took up the chase.
The motions quickly came back to her. She traced arcs to not lose control of her speed and used her whole body to steer the board. Soon it all was as natural to her as flying and required less concentration. She began to take in her surroundings that were rushing past her in a slight blur. Trees lined up on either side of their path, their snow covers sparkling with tiny starbursts. With every turn a mass of snow sprayed in a wide arc, shining bright white in the sunlight. The wind was whistling in her ears and whipping Dash's mane from left to right. She was enjoying every second of this dream.
Twilight still had a head start, so Dash decided that she was comfortable enough with her board to pick up more speed. Tracing sharper curves was more of a strain on her legs, but the trained muscles and bones were more than fit enough to endure it. She was gradually coming closer to the unicorn, until she saw where the both of them were headed. Their free and clear path ended at a collection of trees with no way to avoid them. Twilight seemed to make no attempt to slow down, so Dash assumed she wanted to go through them. She saw her friend enter the group of trees and taking a turn, vanishing shortly from her sight.
Confident in her abilities, Dash sped up again. She passed the first tree and made a sharp turn around the next one. The higher speed and obstructions were more to her liking, having to evade trees at every turn, challenging her reflexes and sending rushes of adrenaline through her body. Every now and then she caught a glimpse of a lavender pony or dark purple tail through the trees to her side. Those sights were getting closer, meaning that soon Dash would have caught up to Twilight.
Through her somewhat bleary vision she saw bright whites through the tree stumps on the path in front of her. A clearing was coming up. In a few seconds Dash would be able to evaluate her progress. She passed the last tree and was out in the open. She caught Twilight off to her side, not directly in front of her. She now was only a few paces behind her friend. It had worked. She had expertly avoided numerous collisions on something she only had little experience with. Dash looked back at the group of trees behind her with a smug smile.
The way in front of them was free of any obstruction and the slope assumed a lower angle, so they kept their pace on a steady level. However, Dash could make out the edge of a cliff in the distance. Their little chase would have to come to an end in a few moments. She looked over to Twilight. The unicorn appeared to be studying the edge and what lay behind it with some concentration.
Twilight's face lit up and she turned to Dash with a wide, playful grin.
"Last one gets to cook dinner," she shouted back at Dash.
She knew how little her athletic friend thought of cooking meals more complex than waffles for breakfast. She watched Dash, waiting for comprehension to show on her face. She should have learned by now that falling off a cliff in this dreamworld would not be an end but only the beginning of whatever they desired next. The pegasus' brows lowered and she thinned her eyes, smirking. This was all the confirmation Twilight needed.
She faced forward again lowered herself on her board, picking up as much speed as possible at the lower angle of the slope, not bothering with any arcs or turns in her descend. The edge was now only seconds away. The wind was whipping through her mane and she was grateful to her herself for having thought of coats earlier. The exposed parts of her face felt almost unbearably cold, but she knew it would be over soon. Not sparing a look back, she ducked her head in, increasing her velocity still. Through watery eyes she saw the edge coming closer and closer. Just when she was sure that she had made it she saw a blue figure shooting past her, leaving a rainbow trail in its wake. Rainbow Dash used the edge as a ramp, propelling herself up into the air, and so did Twilight, upwards, out of this world and into the next.
Twilight had had a general idea for this part of their adventure, but she lacked the experiences to create the scenario. She wanted to fly, but did not know how. So she cheated. Just a little. The spell she had cast allowed them to share experiences, conscious and subconscious. Twilight sent Dash and herself into another void, closing her eyes and using the pegasus' memories to understand the feeling of having wings. She became aware of new appendages at the side of her body, feeling wind brush over and through them. She could move muscles she had never had before, feathers and limbs she was never supposed to have. Smiling, Twilight opened her eyes and spread her wings.
She was flying, sailing high through the air. The sky was dark; it was nighttime. The stars overhead were clearly visible, the moon hanging above her and illuminating the land underneath. Twilight looked to her side. Rainbow Dash was flying a few feet next to her, looking at her. The pegasus wore an expression of pure amazement, which slowly broke into a wide smile. She did a screw in the air, ducked under Twilight and came back up on the other side. Twilight wondered if she could do that, too.
Until now she had only been gliding and the feeling of the air carrying her on her feathers was unlike any other she had experienced. She decided to use her wings properly. She gave them a strong flap and closed her eyes, overwhelmed by the new sensation. It felt amazing. The short flap gave her some more speed for a short moment. Wind was rushing over her wings and body, through her mane and coat. She felt it in every one of her feathers, a tickling of a sort she could have never imagined. It was no wonder her friend loved flying so much. She did it again and again, closing her eyes and letting the currents in the air carry her through the night sky.
The wind was messing up her mane and whipping her tail from side to side. She looked down, realizing for the first time how high she was above the ground. Twilight tried to recognize the lands, but quickly decided that it did not matter. All that was important now was happening in the air. She looked behind herself. Rainbow Dash was gliding through the air, her eyes closed with a peaceful smile, her wild mane dancing around her head. Twilight finally understood her friend's obsession with flight.
She felt free, more so than she ever had. In the sky there were no limits, no borders. She could go anywhere she wanted, fly as fast as she wanted and no one would stop her. A wide, open space, a whole world for her to explore. However, the sky seemed empty somehow. Too much for just one pony. She looked at her friend again, smiling, glad that she got to share it with someone else.
Time seemed to stretch indefinitely, becoming meaningless. Twilight could not tell how long they had spent flying side by side. This journey through dreams, this adventure was as much a gift to Rainbow Dash as it was to herself. She enjoyed every moment, every beat with her wings, every laugh and every maneuver the athlete performed for her and she tried to repeat. Even though this was a dream Twilight's body began to feel tired, her mind yearning for some rest. She spotted a patch of clouds in the distance ahead, shining dimly in the moonlight. She glanced over to Dash, pointing at the clouds with her eyes. The pegasus nodded and slowed down, letting Twilight take the lead.
The flight to the clouds took several minutes, but to Twilight's tired mind it felt like mere seconds in retrospect. The cloud she decided to land on was not a big one, barely larger than the ones Rainbow Dash preferred for her naps. She flapped her wings forward, slowing down, and came to a halt on the cloud. She remembered what it felt like to walk on clouds from their trip to Cloudsdale and this was exactly the same. They felt almost like cotton candy. She lightly bounced up and down, giggling quietly to herself until Dash arrived.
The cloud they were on had a depression in it, more than enough for two ponies. Twilight sat down on the cloud, as did Dash next to her. Only now did she realize how cold it was at these heights. Dash scooted closer to her, pressing her shoulder into hers. Twilight turned her head and saw Dash smiling at her. The pegasus lifted a hoof up to Twilight's chest and pulled them both down, laughing and wrapping their arms around each other. They were lying chest to chest, sharing their warmth. Twilight felt like she could have fallen asleep right there in the other mare's arms, had she not known that she was already sleeping.
Twilight shifted a little closer to Dash, trying to catch more of her warmth. Their noses were now only inches apart from each other. Twilight felt the warm breath on her muzzle, the slow stroking on her back by the hooves wrapped gently around her body. Rainbow Dash smiled brightly at her, magenta eyes shining with an intensity that Twilight had always admired. So filled with life, so innocent, so beautiful. A lock of the pegasus' wild mane was obscuring one of her eyes. Twilight brushed it aside, gently with one hoof. Rainbow Dash giggled in response. Not laughed in her usual, brash way, but giggled.
In her time together with Dash Twilight had come to learn a secret side of the pegasus, once the headstrong mare had felt secure enough around her. A gentle and caring side that she only seemed to show around her. It was a whole side of Dash's personality, kept secret, only for her.
Rainbow Dash's eyes flickered. Twilight understood and she was not about to resist. She lifted her hoof and ran it through the pegasus' silky, shining mane before she rested it on the back of the sky blue neck. She gave Dash a wide smile, Dash still holding her own. She saw the other mare move in for the kiss and closed her eyes in anticipation. Their lips touched and Twilight lost herself in it. Dash's soft lips were gently working against her own. The pit in her stomach sank and she lost control of her spell.
The kiss ended and Twilight opened her eyes. She found herself back on the library's floor but now in the same position with Dash they had left the dream in. Rainbow Dash also slowly opened her eyes and gave her a sleepy smile before letting out a long yawn. She gave Twilight another short kiss.
" Dash said, her eyes sparkling with admiration. "I don't think 'awesome' even comes close. It was amazing. Best present ever."
Twilight giggled shortly. "You're welcome. I'm glad you liked it."
"Liked it? I loved it. We should totally do that again some time. We have to."
Twilight smiled in return. She was tired. The spell had worn her out and the thought of having to prepare dinner still was even more tiring. She leaned forward, nuzzling Dash's neck. "Sure we can. Whenever you want." She pulled the pegasus closer and rested her muzzle under Dash's. Twilight felt again like the luckiest mare alive. Dreams. She did not need dreams, had not needed them for many months now.