Parcly Taxel: We had chosen the Hedistar Hotel because of its airport shuttle service, which would take about twenty minutes. We were effectively using the hotel as a bed-and-breakfast, like many other ponies who found one day to spare in Japan.
I woke up at 7:00 with the only curtains to the outside world drawn, thus creating a timeless and intimate environment often used by Saddle Arabian genies in their homes to encourage wishes. In reality, a dense fog was hugging the ground outside, limiting visibility to 100 m at most. Breakfast buffet was running downstairs with the usual assortment of local and foreign foods – luggage piled up in the adjacent concourse, liable to confusion, while ponies mostly speaking Thai ate away.
Spindle: The bed and the breakfast completed, we returned to our room to pack up one last time, squeezing everything we bought for Parcly's and Twilight's friends and my fellow windigos into whatever physical storage we had (most unicorns have a pocket dimension to carry items, but rummaging through many disjoint items can be a hassle). Parcly breathed deep on the shuttle bus, looking forward to her flight.
Parcly: My last views of Japan from the ground were a bridge followed by some toll-free roadways, blades of grass poking into thinly marked asphalt. Morning winds had dispersed the fog by now, leaving very clear skies of the sort seen in classic paintings of Mount Fuji and other natural wonders of the country. At the airport I bought some last-minute gifts for Hearth's Warming, including the Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人) biscuits from Hokkaido.
Spindle: Because we were now flying into stratospheric winds exceeding 300 km/h, seven hours separated us from our stop in Bangkok. Thailand's relationship with Japan has a sordid history: during the last great war, Japanese commanders forced prisoners from several conquered lands to build a railway through Thailand for transporting raw materials and weapons south into the Malay Peninsula. Thailand itself remained neutral, but tolerated the presence of those foreigners, something later generations would express a certain regret over.
Post-war, as Thais warmed up to tourism abroad, they found a rebuilt Japan fascinating and travelled there in droves, resulting in some shops supplying Thai guides in spite of the language's complexity. Past troubles have since been left behind, and ponies of one country visit the other freely.
Parcly: I had my lunch mid-flight, cooked by Pinkie and served up by Luna who teleported bite-size chunks straight into my mouth. During my meal I mulled over the Heisei Emperor's last birthday speech in which he spoke of the end of his era, an era literally meaning "achievement of stability", and a volatile world. He expressed optimism and hope for the future of his nation, through thick and thin.
I had much similar feelings about Japan too. The Emperor is, by definition, above the opinions of his subjects, so provides valuable, independent advice. Disasters and threats of all kinds had befallen the country over the past year, with great loss of life and property – the kanji of the year, 災, meant "disaster". Yet in all cases the ponies managed to pull through, sometimes in interesting ways.
Spindle: Resilience! That is the quality needed to thrive under adversity, not loyalty. The windigos, after retreating to frozen mountains when the pony tribes discovered their mutual friendship, devoted time to purer pursuits like temperature magic and astronomy, finding a place among the ponies as "sponges" for hatred and channelling that energy into useful or artistic work.
As we descended through the latitudes, those hurricane-force headwinds petered out, dissipating in Bangkok. No dilly-dallying with Kwankao this time around; we only spent one hour on the ground having dinner before departing for Canterlot.
Parcly: While the Bangkok/Tokyo trip time depended on a prevailing northeasterly wind helping or hindering with speed, this last section of my journey was rather unaffected by any wind. I proceeded without event, even falling into dreamspace for a few seconds at a time, but found my final destination to be louder and brighter than normal.
"Are they cheering my return? Is it… is it for me?"
Princess Luna: I assembled a full delegation of winter ponies and creatures to welcome her back to Canterlot. Bori the reindeer, Yona and Silverstream, as well as the windigo who inducted Spindle into their herd, Corannulene. Two night guards, Prince Pharynx, Princess Ember (for lighting a hearth), Rain Shine and even Whirlwind the Glaceon. Several ponies had gathered below out of curiosity.
When her hooves landed on the castle's balcony facing the Crystal Empire, Spindle darted to Corannulene and the two shared a hug in high spirits. Parcly knew her master was waiting, cantered towards me and bowed like a Japanese pony.
"I am your faithful genie, Luna, what is your wish?" she asked.
"I wish you, and all the creatures in Equestria, a very happy Hearth's Warming!"