Where We May Lead

by Shadowmane PX-41

Chapter 2: Rarity and Mistmane: Off to the East

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Author's Notes:

So, I did this first chapter based entirely on a little bit of a roulette. I took all six of the pairings and put them into a randomized wheel, and this was the first one that got picked. For my next chapter, I'm going to be putting all five of the other Pillars and their Spirits of Harmony into the wheel and leaving Rarity and Mistmane out of it because, well, obvs.

If there are any big and influential chapters with a Spirit and Pillar, then I'll purposely leave them out of a roulette so I can properly focus on where their chapters will come in this tale. Like, if I wanted to have Starlight, Stygian, Twilight, Starlight, and Sunburst go through the portal to the EQG world for a little bit, then I'd purposely decide to make sure they get their own chapters and their own dues. And also, it would be a little odd to have such a big arc but then immediately cut back to Pinkie and Somnambula or Fluttershy and Meadowbrook right in the middle of it.

But regardless, I hope that you enjoy this chapter and your day, and I'll be seeing you all in the next little chapter I decide to put out.

Rarity and Mistmane were climbing the fog-drenched mountains leading up to eastern Equestria. Flowers, moss, and many other wall-crawling foliage followed them on their trek up to the village; all of which captured their attention and distracted them from the howling wind and icy air that pursued them on their climb.

As the two mares got close to the gates of a village, a strange mixture of scents began to fill the air. Aromas of all sorts began to waft around their noses. Some seemed like they came from flowers, while others were warm and strong, as if they were coming from candles or some other form of hot apparatus.

Mistmane threw her hoof behind her, stopping Rarity in her tracks. "Do you smell that?"

"Why yes. Yes I do," said Rarity. "Normally, I have a decent sense of smell, but I just can't seem to put my hoof on whatever this one is meant to be..."

"The incense burners are giving off a calming scent. That must mean that the town is at peace." Mistmane continued trekking up the last few steps on the massive staircase. "You know, back in my day, it was somewhat of a tradition to burn different textures to show how you felt, and what your guests could make of you."

"Really?" Rarity lifted one of her eyebrows. "Could you give me a few examples?"

"Well I could, but the real sense of beauty comes in the form of surprise," said Mistmane. "It wouldn't have quite the impact it would have if I just told you everything here and now, would it?"

"Well..." Rarity tried to think of something to say, but words seemed to escape her.

"Beauty is a bit of an art form, really." Mistmane stopped in her tracks and lit up her horn, causing a cyan dragon to fly out and dance in the air beyond. "To the artist, beauty is simply a way of sharing your gifts with the world. Because no-one knows what to expect, it's up to the artist to capture that magnificence and show it off as best as they can. And the more effort they put into it..." She nimbly commanded her spirit dragon around the cliffs, cutting through the cloud veils like a hot knife through butter. It formed a flower, which her dragon shot straight up out of the center. "The more attention it garners."

"I see." Rarity watched as the clouds danced around and shifted back into one thick sheet smothering up the flower that Mistmane had made.

"We have arrived." Mistmane recollected her dragon and walked up to a giant gate at the end of the staircase. "Come on now, Rarity. It's not nice to keep anyone waiting."

"Indeed." Rarity nodded and galloped up the last few stairs. "As a fashion designer myself, I know how hard it can be to balance my clients."

Mistmane turned towards the giant red gates once Rarity stopped at the top. She cast a simple beam of light from her horn, pushing both of the massive doors straight open with little to no effort. She then proceeded to walk into the village, with Rarity following close behind her. Once both of the mares were in, the gates slowly closed behind them.

The village Mistmane and Rarity found themselves in was lined neatly with houses, but the front doors had no handles, nor did they have locks. Instead, the ponies came in and out by sliding the doors open with their hooves and unicorn magic. A street straight in front of the two of them was lined with stalls, with ponies selling off wares of all shapes and sizes.

By the walls of the village and around some of the houses and shrines, there were flowers, ponds, and lily pads aplenty; all of which were being tended to by many a pony. Lotuses shimmered elegantly on their buoyant platforms, the flowers were all neatly arranged and colour co-ordinated, and there were even some tiny fish with otherworldly designs swimming in the waters.

Off to the left of Rarity and Mistmane stood a massive palace, with another set of stairs leading up to a high wall. The upper levels of the fortress were visible, but the courtyard and front doors had been completely obscured by the wall that safeguarded it.

"Wow..." Rarity took a good long look at every inch of the village, smiling at everything. "I don't think I ever had the proper time to look around this place myself. It looks so much more majestic than I thought."

"Well, I'm glad you think so, Rarity." Mistmane cracked a smile herself and stepped across the cobblestone pathways. "Personally, I'm glad to see that this place hasn't changed a day since last I was here."

"The ponies living here might be a bit different than usual, though." Rarity lifted a hoof. "I'm not to sure that many of your old friends will have survived a thousand years."

"Hmm. That much is true..." Mistmane lowered her head and gazed solemnly at the ground. "A shame, really. But, everything has its' time; including ponies. Nobody here, not even the emperor or empress would have been able to stave off expiration like myself and the other Pillars."

"Best not to dwell on the past, Mistmane." Rarity gave Mistmane a gentle hug and brushed her mane down. "It all happened and it's long behind us now. Now that you and the other Pillars are back in Equestria, the future's what we've all got to look at now."

"Yes. The past is nothing more than a memory. Unable to be altered in any way, shape, or form." Mistmane looked back up into Rarity's eyes. "Though my family and friends might be long gone, I suppose that the only thing now would be to acquaint myself with their descendants." She turned back towards the shops on the street ahead. "After all, even beauty can wither away and vanish over time. But the path it leaves behind will be walked by many for years to come."

"I have a feeling that there's a lot I could learn from you about the ways of beauty, Mistmane." Rarity trotted alongside her as the two of them entered the market. "Maybe it would give me some more insight on how I should approach my dressmaking as well..."

"There will be time enough for all of that, Rarity." Mistmane nodded as the two of them went past the first sets of stalls. "First, I really do need to see how my house has held up all these years."

As Rarity walked through the town, she had noticed that with her and Mistmane's arrival, everything had become almost silent, as if everyone in the village had seen something remarkable. When she peaked at everyone's faces, her suspicions were confirmed, but everyone was gazing directly at her and Mistmane.

"By the stars..." said one of the shopkeepers. "It can't be..."

"Is that Mistmane?" another one whispered. "I thought for sure she had been lost to time!"

"Surely, this must be some strange hallucinogen from the day's incenses..." a third one added. "There's no way somepony that old could've lived for so long!"

"The ponies are in awe, Rarity," said Mistmane as Rarity's focus returned to her. "And I already know that it's not of some feat performing in the square."

"Well, how could they not be amazed by your appearance?" Rarity asked. "You have lived for over a thousand years, and the ponies here probably just imagined that you were a folktale from ages ago. The very fact that you're alive and well now is rumbling them to their very cores."

"Yes. But I thought for sure that they would be a bit more... swarming, was it?" Mistmane cocked her head to the side, then shook it, scoffing to herself. "No, that would never work. Amorous is more like it, yes."

"Strange that they're not showing it right now then..." Rarity just looked deeper into each of the eastern ponies' eyes, trying to make them out. "I mean, the other Pillars are equally revered, aren't they? I'm sure that Starswirl or Somnambula especially would be cornered by their townsfolk in a matter of seconds. But here, everyone's just holding back."

"Well, we should take this chance while we still have it. 'Strike while the iron is hot!' as Rockhoof once said." Mistmane turned a corner, leaving the market behind her. "Rarity? Are you coming?"

"Huh?" She was still concentrating on the ponies around her. Breaking out of her trance, Rarity quickly came back and followed after Mistmane. "Y-Yes. We should be on our way..."

Rarity and Mistmane finally arrived at a simple house with a pyramid-shaped roof and a large wall draping out around it. The white bricks complimented the dark blue shingles both on the roof and around the estate itself. A door made out of the same wood and paper frame stood in front of them, with two large urns sprouting flowers right next to it.

"So... do we just knock?" Rarity tilted her head to the side. "No doorbell either... How do you announce yourself?"

"We don't." Mistmane walked up to the doors and simply slid them open with her hoof. "In places like this, all you really can do is walk inside, provided that the doors haven't been locked or anything like that." She stepped inside and rubbed her hooves on a purple doormat.

"It doesn't really seem like the best method of security." Rarity gently pulled the doors back outwards, examining the paper linings and painted wooden frame. "But I do get what it's trying to emulate. For eastern Equestria, it's much more cultural than I had anticipated..." And she walked inside, closing the door behind her with her magic.

Once inside, Rarity and Mistmane could see another set of sliding doors. But these ones were already open, and showcased a bright garden with flowers, trimmed bushes, and smoothly flowing water features all around it. There were a couple of birdhouses hanging from the trees, with food hangers right next to them.

"I... I can't believe it..." Mistmane's jaw hung wide open as she stumbled forward towards the garden. "I didn't think that this garden would've lasted that long." She rubbed her eyes to make sure that it wasn't all a delusion from her time in limbo. "How did all of this survive?"

"Well... let's just say that I might have made a little trip up here to find you and the other Pillars' artefacts." Rarity stepped forward and beamed at the garden. "Regal, isn't it? A touch of modern-day with just enough localized plants to make it really feel like home."

"It seems that you and your friends went to great lengths to bring us all back." Mistmane took some deep breaths and gave Rarity a gentle smile. "For someone to go all the way from Ponyville all the way to my home and spruce it up like this; even if it was just for a tiny little relic, is a marvel indeed."

"Oh well, it wasn't anything too big." Rarity just batted a hoof and gave a little chuckle. "Just a little bit of home improvement. Nothing more, nothing less."

"Don't be so modest, Rarity. You restored something that didn't even belong to you for the sake of my family's descendants." Mistmane patted Rarity on the back. "If the fate of the world hadn't been at stake, I'm sure that they would've invited you for some tea."

"M... Mistmane?! Is that... really you?!"

Rarity and Mistmane turned towards a pony with a grey skin and a pink mane tied up into a bow. She had been carrying a trowel and watering can in her magic, but both tumbled to the ground as her jaw hung wide open.

"Yes. It's me." Mistmane stepped out onto the garden and approached the newcomer, who was still unable to say a word. "I know that this might come as a bit of a shock, but—"

"It's been over a thousand years, Mistmane." The mare walked towards both of them. "How have you survived this long?"

"Well, it'll take a lot more than a few hundred years to keep me down, let's just put it like that." Mistmane gave a little grin as she pulled the mare into a small hug. "It's been so long since I've seen one of my family since I left."

"Tell me about it," said the mare. "You must be a thousand years old by now! I don't even know how I'd be able to fit all of those candles onto a birthday cake, let alone one for the legendary Mistmane herself!"

"Well, I'm sure you could try." Mistmane broke out of the hug at last. "If I can live this long, then I'm sure that you can put all those candles on a simple cake."

The mare turned towards Rarity and her eyes widened again. "Did... you bring her back to us?"

"Yes. That's why I needed the flower from your garden." Rarity stepped down and approached Mistmane and the other mare. "It's a bit of a long story, but one I would be happy to tell you if you wanted, miss, uh..."

"Oh, where are my manners? I hadn't even introduced myself," said the mare. "My name is Tree Sprout. It's nice to meet you, miss..."

"Rarity," she replied. "I'm glad I could help you and your family. Uh, again."

"So, how have you been, Tree?" Mistmane asked, walking with her towards the house. "I trust that the family has been keeping well since I left?"

"Yes. We have gone through a number of generations, and your family tree's grown exponentially since you last left." Tree nodded as she led both Rarity and Mistmane inside. "I heard some good tales about your mother and father from my grandparents. Tales of how you were a bit of a rascal as a young one, I hear."

Mistmane just laughed. "Aren't all children?" She brushed her hooves on the mat once again. "But yes, I will admit that I was a bit of a little troublemaker as a young one."

"I never even thought about asking you of your childhood, Mistmane." Rarity was the last one back in the house. "Gosh, I'm sure that I'm going to be hearing a lot about you and your ways on this little adventure of ours..."

"Well, it's like I said. All in due time, my friend." Mistmane smiled at Rarity and lead her through the house. "Now, I believe a bit of some traditional eastern tea would be lovely. A great way to not only welcome me back but also show our guest a good time."

"Oh yes. I just had a delivery of teas today, as a matter of fact. Doejeeling and Earl Neigh, with a little bit of Camelmile for if we can't have a good night's sleep." Tree Sprout nodded. "I'm sure that miss Rarity would love a little taste."

"That sounds divine, Tree." Rarity nodded gracefully. "Lead the way."

"Here we go." Tree Sprout opened a door, which lead to a room with a floor pattern resembling four rectangles circling around a square in the center. There were cabinets by the walls with pictures either on or hanging around them. A table sat in the middle of the room, but the legs were significantly shorter than normal and there were cushions where there should normally be chairs or stools. "Take a seat and I'll put the kettle on."

Mistmane walked into the room and stepped around the table, sitting down on one of the cushions. She folded her legs as she looked up at Rarity, who was still gobsmacked at the sight of it all.

"Well, Rarity? Why don't you sit down?" Mistmane invited her in with a wave of her hoof. "You've had an awful long journey. And with the Pony of Shadows business you and your friends have been through, you deserve a bit of rest and relaxation."

"I'm just a little bit confused with all of this." Rarity slowly walked in and sat down, sliding her back hooves underneath the table. "How in the world did you ever manage to get comfortable in this state? With no backrest, it's easy to end up in a slump. And with the distance between me and the table, I feel lucky to be a unicorn. I don't know how a pegasus or earth pony would deal with all of this."

"Eastern Equestria works a lot differently to what you're used to." Mistmane stood upright and used her magic to gently move a flower to the side. "You'll get used to it eventually." She nodded and brushed a hoof on her horn. "But you are right. We are lucky to be unicorns."

As time passed, Rarity and Mistmane ended up looking at the room around them. Now, they could see all of the different knick-knacks and other trinkets as well as the photographs of Mistmane's family and their friends. As they shared their opinions on each different piece of furniture and every different memory captured in photography, they hardly even noticed Tree Sprout come back in with a kettle, some teabag boxes, and a pair of teacups.

"Well, Mistmane, I know that it's been a long time, but I feel like you deserve something a little special," said Tree Sprout as she made all the preparations. "What would you like, dear?"

"I think I'd like to try some of that Doejeeling you were talking about." Mistmane pointed to one of the boxes of teabags. "What about you, Rarity?"

"Oh! I hadn't even thought about that yet..." Rarity eyed up the boxes and read the labels carefully, mumbling to herself for a few seconds. "I think I'd like some of that Earl Neigh, please."

"Alright then." Tree Sprout put the Doejeeling teabag into Mistmane's cup and the Earl Neigh one into Rarity's. She then proceeded to pour them both some hot water and supply them with some tiny teaspoons. "Would you like some sugar with that? It comes all the way from farms."

"Oh yes. Two cubes, please." Mistmane nodded and plucked the sugar from the nearby container. "Wonderful."

"I'm fine as it is." Rarity shook her hoof and watched as Tree Sprout sat down and poured her own brew. "I always have a little bit of a rule with tea. I don't have anything with it until I've tried it properly." She lifted the teacup up and brought it to her lips and nursed it gently. "And I must say, it's not like any tea that I've ever tasted before..."

"You don't like it?" Tree Sprout asked.

"Oh, no, no, no. I'm just saying that I've never had this particular type of tea before." Rarity shook her head and took another sip. "But I must say, it's simply heavenly!"

"That's good to hear." Tree Sprout mixed in some of the sugar with her tea, watching as the cube broke up and disappeared underneath the light brown waters. "I don't get many visitors outside of this part of the world these days. So to have someone come all the way from central Equestria and say that they like my tea is a marvelous thing indeed."

"You're welcome." Rarity took another drink and put her cup down so that her stomach had time to process all this tea. "You know, the reason I came today was to re-integrate Mistmane back into her home. It has been an awful long time since she left to face the forces of evil, so I'm sure that a little check-up on the village wouldn't be too much harm, right?"

"It would be no trouble at all." Tree nodded and smiled. "Myself and the other townsponies would be glad to fill you in once you have the time."

"I just hope that the new emperor or empress is doing well." Mistmane looked deep into her drink, slowly stirring sugar into it. "If it is still the Spirit family that runs this village, then I look forward to meeting the mare or stallion on the throne. Sable was a good friend of mine, and I'm sure that she had many a good heir since my departure."

"Well, I'm sure you'll have all of your questions answered soon, Mistmane," said Tree. "But for now, we shouldn't leave our drinks to get cold. Cold tea is just as bad as a cold night with no heat."

"I agree." Rarity took her cup and gently clapped her front hooves together. "Bottoms up, everypony!" And with that, another gulp of Earl Neigh went down her throat. I wonder how my friends and the rest of the Pillars are getting along... she thought to herself as the drink landed in her belly.

Next Chapter: Fluttershy and Meadowbrook: Back to the Bayou Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 11 Minutes
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