- You look up out of the window beyond the desk you're sitting at. Outside, the city of Cloudsdale is slowly drifting across the firmament.
- Somewhere underneath your hooves, a great many miles at that, the world of Equestria lies in the shadow of this city built on the clouds. A large number of Earthponies and Unicorns, some Pegasi who migrated down to the lands below, and even some Alicorns all subject to the weather patterns controlled from up here.
- "Don't tell me you're still landsick?", Windcatcher pries, and you shake your head at her.
- "That thunder storm on the day we met," you start, and Windcatcher humms thoughtfully.
- "What about it?"
- You look at your writing, then slide a new empty page to the center of the desk. "When's the last time we went down and just experienced something like that?"
- Windcatcher ponders that for a moment. "What about when we were released from hospital?"
- "We spent about a full week in hospital before we were released, but my left wing still felt very weak without the bandages holding it in place. I could barely keep it folded up to my side without it feeling like a chore. Windcatcher insisted I preened it as good as I could once it was out of the bandages, and we spent about an hour with me painstakingly tugging feathers into place until they lined up as they should.
- Granted, it did feel better to have them like that, but I got bored about five minutes in, and her constant corrections of my movements quickly got on my nerves.
- She backed off as she noticed my temper rising, and once I got a hang of it without her meddling I found it to be surprisingly easy: Most of it was just putting one half of a feather under the previous one, with the next underneath that feather.
- Occasionally I would come across a feather that had broken in half or otherwise stuck out at an odd angle, and I was forced to pull it out so a new feather could grow in its place. It only hurt for a moment as I pulled them; after the initial sting the pain receded to just a little bit of an awkward feeling of knowing there should be a feather there.
- The feeling would linger for only a brief moment while I rearranged the other feathers in a way that would cover the otherwise empty spot a little, but I barely noticed the missing feathers by the time I was done preening.
- The weather ponies had been moving clouds into place all day, and it had started to rain by the time I left the hospital building. I stared up at the few Pegasi up there rearranging some clouds to better spread the rain around and felt a sting of jealousy at seeing them fly around like that.
- "Give it a few weeks and you'll be ready to soar through the sky again as if nothing had happened," the doctor had said.
- I sighed and walked down the path in front of the hospital leading toward the nearby town. It wasn't Ponyville. This place was called Breezy Vales, according to a sign near the main road.
- "It's a few miles to the North of Seaddle," Windcatcher explained. "A lot of Pegasi come here to train in the valleys between the mountains to the west, see?"
- I turned my head to the west and was faced with a row of imposing mountains, with snow-tipped peaks, and with lower hills leading off in front of them. There was a forest of pine trees leading down from the high slopes, disappearing behind some of the hills farther away, and behind the few buildings on the outskirts of town.
- One of those buildings had a large sign beside it, with names and numbers on it. "What's that for?", I asked Windcatcher, and she chuckled.
- "It's for competitive runs. Those are the fastest times for a particular lap through the vales, and the ponies who made those times."
- I cantered over toward it while the rain changed from a drizzle to a proper downpour, but I couldn't be bothered by it. It felt kind of nice to have the raindrops impact with my furry body. It had been a hot day, and the rain had been just what I needed to cool down.
- I blinked my eyes to get the water out of them as I neared the sign and looked at the board. I knew it was written in the Equestrian alphabet, if only because of the strange way in which the letters curved, but I had no difficulty reading it. Probably because of Windcatcher and myself sharing our mind.
- First place, with a mere 41 minutes and 03 seconds; Rainbow Dash. Underneath it read Lightning Dust with 41 minutes and 06 seconds. The board continued to show Sea Striker, Cloudchaser, and Deep Gust as the follow-ups, with times not even coming close to Dash's or Dust's.
- "Have you ever..," I started, but Windcatcher interrupted me before I could finish my sentence.
- "Those runs are dangerous!", she exclaimed with a tinge of panic in her voice. "I always thought about doing one, just to try it out, but they're so close to the cliffs and there are frequent rock slides and things.. I don't think I'm cut out for it. I get scared at the thought alone."
- I looked back at our weak wing, then over at the mountains in the distance. "Don't be scared," I told the pony in my head, "It's not like it's going to matter for the next couple of weeks anyway. We need to get our strength back first, and find that.. feeble lightning friend of yours."
- "Triple Lightning," Windcatcher corrected, "but you're right. I wonder why she hasn't come to visit."
- I shrugged and turned away from the board, looking over toward the town. "Maybe she got busy. Back on Earth humans often get busy. Like we'd make plans, and then school dumps a bunch of homework on us, or we'd go someplace to hang out and lose track of time."
- I set in motion toward the town and looked around me at the different style of buildings as opposed to those back on earth. "You know I was planning to go to a party the weekend after you took me here? I wonder if they missed me," I mused.
- "If they were your friends, I'm sure they did," Windcatcher replied, and then nudged into my right side. "Turn left here."
- I looked to my right with a frown, but only saw an old mare trotting along with a small wicker basket in her mouth as she hurried home through the beating rain. I quickly looked away from her again and turned into a side-road between buildings, muttering under my breath. "I wish you didn't do that."
- "Do what?", Windcatcher wondered, and I looked around to make sure nopony else was around to see me talking to myself.
- "Poke me in the sides. I keep expecting to see you standing beside me," I started, then frowned as I realized, "And it's not like I can poke you back."
- A giggle was my only reply, and I reluctantly continued my trot down the road. The buildings on my left were sparse, and had plenty of room in-between them to see the forest and hills, while those on my right were closer together and other buildings could be seen beyond them. Every so often the pathway would branch off toward those buildings, while I had yet to see a single road leading into the trees on my left.
- I just kept trotting along while Windcatcher calmed down from her giggling, looking at the various ways in which the ponies living here had decorated their homes. There were the normal things you'd expect to see even on Earth; Plants, blinds of various styles, and the occasional garden gnome (or garden diamond dog, as the case may be).
- But then there were the things unique to Equestria; one of the houses, occupied by a Pegasus family I would imagine, had a cloud hanging around its first floor, obscuring it from sight. A young colt was resting atop it, playing with some figurines I couldn't quite make out.
- Another house was glowing with magical energy, and I was just about to trot along before Windcatcher spoke up; "This is where Triple's family lives. We can ask them why she hasn't come to visit us."
- I stared at the building as I turned toward it, raising my right eyebrow while feeling my left ear flop down. The energy coming from it was enough to make even my wet coat static and I felt my hairs rise up along my body. My feathers were largely remaining in place, but I could feel them tremble from the magic washing out from it.
- Other than the magic coming from it, it was a normal style house for Equestrian standards. It was made of wood, with large windows and comfortable pastel coloring. Beige walls, purple beams, and the odd accent of brown here and there.
- It had three floors with two windows per floor, with the top floor's space limited by a slanted roof. A lightning rod stuck out the top of it from the apex of said roof, with the cable from it leading into one of the half-open windows underneath.
- As I was standing in front of the house pondering whether to go in or not, the door slammed open and a bulky unicorn stallion with a pair of copper-looking goggles on his head came galloping out. Only his right eye was fully covered by the goggles, the left lens raised up above his eye as the elastic band went up over his ear rather than underneath it. If it wasn't for his spiky mane and horn holding it in place, the goggles would have slipped off to the right side of his head long ago.
- I watched with amazement, and a small sense of amusement, as the stallion slowed to a trot and turned back to face his house, his short tail flicking in excitement. "Three," he said expectantly, following with a, "two," and then a, "one!", at which point he ducked down flat on the wet grass.
- "Get down!", Windcatcher screamed in my ears, and I flopped down as well as a surge of magic burst from the house in front! It exploded as a wave of bright yellow expanding outward much like a sonic rainboom, taking with it half the house's windows and some shards of pottery which rained down around us as the energy dissipated.
- I blinked my eyes in confusion as the muscular stallion started to dance in his yard, exclaiming "It worked! It finally worked!" to himself as he did.
- As I was picking myself up from the ground again, shaking off the debris from my coat, Windcatcher idly offered; "That's Bright Spark. He's Triple Lightning's dad. He invents things."
- "Are you sure it's safe to be here?", I wondered of her. "I mean, he just exploded his house.."
- "That's normal," Windcatcher shrugged, and I shivered in response.
- Bright Spark, in the meantime, was idly plucking shards of glass from his white coat, his horn glowing with a similar yellow as the energy wave as well as his mane and tail. I took a moment to steel myself, but then I trotted up to him.
- "Was that supposed to happen?", I asked, trying to go from the assumption Windcatcher had met the stallion before. Considering I looked like her, and effectively was her, I should act as she might in this situation. Right?
- "Right," Windcatcher agreed. "Although you could just fake amnesia. I wouldn't have asked that."
- I shrugged, but meeped immediately afterwards as the large stallion wrapped his left forehoof around my neck and pulled me closer. "Windcatcher! You should have seen it! For ten whole seconds I had a ball of energy trapped within a glass sphere! I'm FINALLY making progress!", he exclaimed to me, hugging me to himself as if I was a part of his family and only letting go when I emitted some soft whimpering as his hoof leaned into my hurt wing.
- "Oh, sorry. You were in the hospital, right?", he apologized, backing away a little and looking me over. "How are you feeling? You look famished. Come on in and I'll make you some pancakes!"
- I flicked my right ear in confusion as he made his way into the house, and felt another shudder run through me as I watched shards of glass fall out of the ceiling as he passed underneath them.
- "Are you sure it's safe to follow him?", I asked of Windcatcher, and she took my twitching ear in her mouth and hummed approvingly.
- With some trepidation still remaining, I slowly set myself in motion toward the house, half expecting it to fall apart as I put my hoof on the first step of the small staircase leading up to the door.
- It didn't, but the creaking it emitted did nothing to help relax me.
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