Misty stared at the two letters she had written. It had been ten long years since she moved from Ponyville to Los Pegasus and the prospect of returning flooded her with many conflicting thoughts and emotions.
"Dear Twilight Sparkle,
I know it has been three years since my last letter but my research has finally panned out. There are now FIVE pegasi who can do magic beyond yours truly. We have kept it under our hat so to speak but I think the time is right to share this gift with the rest of the pegasi. I can think of no place I would rather share this knowledge than Ponyville.
Your Friend and Colleague
Misty Midnight, Pegasus of Insight"
Misty retreated back into thought.
"Twilight — I can still remember the night when I sat quietly in her library, concentrating for over an hour straight. At that time she thought I was a lunatic, but the literal sparkle in her eyes when she first saw my magical focus come into view is a memory I will never forget. She was always a proponent of the idea that magic should be shared and was very supportive of a magic using pegasus. Celestia on the other hand was less enthused, and when she received a friendship letter from Twilight about me, I learned that every castle does indeed have a dungeon."
"Dear Captain Rainbow Dash,
Just sending a note that I am going to be in Ponyville. I know you aren't there as often as you would like but I am going to be doing something special over the next month. It has just been too long since I have seen you and I figured I would add a reason for you to drop by.
"Rainbow Dash — I was at the time just a low level pegasus being tasked with collecting supplies for rainbows. I had not even met you yet, but your loyalty to any pegasus of Ponyville in trouble brought me to your attention. The letter you wrote to Princess Celestia, along with Twilight's and Pinkie Pie's were enough to convince her to release me. The welcoming home party was the icing on the cake."
Are you sure you want to go ahead with this? You know that Princess Celestia doesn't exactly trust you. Having hundreds of pegasi learn how to do magic will shake the social order and put her in a tough spot with the nobility. Your plans would not work out well from a cell in the Canterlot Dungeons.
Misty's eyes tracked back and forth over the letter. A shiver went up her spine from the mention of Canterlot. She felt the phantoms of the wing restraints she wore when she was on that sad train ride into Canterlot. But this was a time for action not retreat, and if the worst came at least she would see Luna again.
"Dear Twilight Sparkle,
How can I not share the gift of magic? It is the next best thing to moving clouds. Enclosed are materials for my anticipated class. Could I use the library on the 24th, 1st, 8th, and 15th? Oh, and how is Thunderlane and crew? Anything I should know?
Misty received two letters the next day.
Yes the library is free those nights and I will do as you asked. Thunderlane is handling the weather and all just fine. I doubt he will show up to your class but he wont dissuade the other pegasi from attending. Oh, and feel free to lodge here during your visit.
This was a big relief to Misty. It showed her that the last letter was more a test of conviction than a challenge to the idea. She also looked forward to staying as a guest at the library — Spike was quite the cook, and she had nothing but admiration for Twilight Sparkle.
Being awesome has its price. I am on tour for the next three weeks. Will try to drop by the week after.
Rainbow Dash (captain of the wonderbolts)"
Rainbow Dash was always very concise with her letters. The sole exception was if she was telling a story about herself — in that case it could be three pages. She was disappointed that Dash would miss the class but for Rainbow "Will try to drop by" was more certain than most mare's promises.
Misty thought to herself that all of the pieces are in play — just one last letter to write and it would be time to go.
"Dear Princess Luna,
It appears that my time in Los Pegasus has come to its end. Twilight has agreed to help with my class and a date has been set. Come the 24th I will be in Ponyville teaching Pegasi magic.
Misty swooped down in front of Twilight's Library and knocked on the door. Hearing Twilight acknowledge her arrival, she entered.
Twilight turned from the book she was reading and addressed the middle-age dark blue pegasus. "It has been way too long — how was Los Pegasus?"
Misty approached. "Not too bad. It wasn't Ponyville though. I mean we both know why I left — I was never going to be on your adventures, and it was just too close to Canterlot, and then Fluttershy..."
Twilight saddened, "you know that wasn't your fault and she did recover."
Misty responded, "true, and I know she was thankful for the experience but I never did feel comfortable experimenting on ponies that were close to me, and here I simply couldn't keep that level of detachment for my research."
Spike started setting up the slide projector, and Twilight showed Misty how to operate it. A dais was set up in the front of the room with twenty-four school desks neatly arranged in front of it.
Misty stared at the set up and told Twilight, "organized to the end I see."
With that the first pegasus entered. It was a violet mare Misty recognized as Cloudchaser. Nods were exchanged as Flitter, Blossomforth, and other various pegasi took a desk. The last to enter was Scootaloo. After she was seated Misty began the lecture.
"Hello class. My name is Misty Midnight and this is Magic for Pegasi 101."
Misty started the slide projector. "We will start this lecture with a diagram showing how magic is distributed in a typical pegasus. This is from my book 'The magical anatomy of ponies' that I published 8 years ago. As you can see, most of the magic is located in and around the wings. This enables the kind of flight that we all know an love. Without this magic we would fall like a stone barely able to glide. This is something very important to remember when using magic as a pegasus. If you should be sufficiently drained you will fall."
Misty changed the slide. "This is a diagram of a typical unicorn. Note how most of the magic is concentrated around the head. Also note how some is actually outside the unicorns body in the horn itself. This is what enables a unicorn to cast spells. Without the horn to act as a conduit the magic would be trapped within its body."
She replaced the slide. "This is a diagram of me while practicing magic. As you can see, the magic is roughly split between the wings and the head and two units of magic are used in the ghostly horn itself. If I were flying at that point I would be impaired. You may have seen this with Fluttershy."
Misty changed the slide. "As you can see here, she is unique. Her magic is focused right around her eyes. If her magic were in her wings she would be second in speed only to Rainbow Dash herself. It was actually noting this pattern that gave me the idea to be able to do this."
Misty dimmed the lights. She concentrated for a second and a ghostly horn formed on her head. Her students were shocked and awed at the sight. Misty continued, "As you can see it is NOT a physical horn. In essence it is an extension of my magic away from my body allowing me to interact magically with the rest of the world. This is something that can be learned."
She raised the lights and dropped her horn. "However, magic is a lot more complicated for a pegasus. A unicorn only has to concentrate on the magic it is performing. A pegasus has to concentrate on the horn at the same time. A unicorn has all of its magic at its command at all times. A pegasus has to meter her magic across her body as she casts spells. But most importantly a unicorn doesn't have to worry as much about winding herself magically.
Misty changed the slide. "This is a picture of me falling through a cloud."
Gasps erupted from the audience.
Misty changed the slide. "This is a picture of me plummeting to the earth. Note how my wings are fully extended and yet I am still falling. Yes you can make a landing while magically depleted, but it is difficult and nothing like you have ever experienced. Do not make the mistake of burning through most of your magic while flying. A cloud is NOT a safe platform to cast spells from either."
Misty turned off the projector. "Also, do not expect to be able to levitate objects. While unicorns generally have a specific talent and the ability to levitate objects, pegasi in general just have the specific talent. Also note that most pegasi like most unicorns have weak talents. For every pegasus that can teleport there are five that can make bubbles appear or manifest clouds or phantom rainbows. Of course just like unicorns there are rare pegasi whose talent is magic in one form or another. In unicorns this is usually pretty obvious and they tend to get their cutie marks really early. Pegasi with such a latent strong talent tend to get their cutie marks really late and have marks that do not relate to weather or flying."
"Does any pegasus here besides myself have a non-weather non-flying non-obvious as to what it means cutie mark?"
Misty looked out over the class and three hooves shot up. She brought out her horn and called on the first pony, an off-white stallion with a grey mane. Misty watched as Milky Way got up from his desk but unfortunately saw nothing special in him and quietly said, "thank you, you may sit down."
Misty recognized the second pony who has their hoof up. The dark blue stallion was the second fastest flyer in Ponyville, Star Hunter. She scanned him and then said, "Star Hunter, I will need to see you after class."
The third pony was even more famous, but all the more tragic. The brown mare with pink-purple mane stood up and rang out "Scootaloo."
Scanning Scootaloo, Misty noticed just why she couldn't fly. The magical structures that normally allowed energy to flow freely through the wings were broken. Her magic was focused more in her legs like an earth pony's, but more than that, it flowed throughout the rest of her body as well. She said, "I will also need to see you after class, Scootaloo."
The last hour of the class was practical. Misty instructed the ponies to close their eyes and concentrate on their magic. While they were doing that Misty quietly walked amongst the desks and moved small amounts of their magic around. The occasional pegasus jolted out of their meditation only to have Misty say "Good job" or "Very good, you could feel that." By the time the class was over, half could at least sense their own magic and a few were already moving some of it around in a random manner.
"Okay, that was a short ninety minutes. Thank you all for coming. Thank you Spike for helping with the slide projector. And mostly thank you Twilight Sparkle for allowing us to use your library. Remember to practice sensing your magic and if you get good enough with that, try moving it around a little. Scootaloo and Star Hunter come over here by me and Twilight."
After the rest of the class left, Misty continued, "okay, if you remember from the lecture, I said some pegasi like some unicorns have a natural talent for magic. Well from this class Star Hunter, and Scootaloo: You are it. There is a lot more to magic than I am qualified to show and Twilight has agreed to help you in the future with some of the morals, underpinnings, and control issues that come with unleashing a significant magical talent. Scootaloo, you also have a different 'problem.'"
Scootaloo spoke up, interrupting Misty's speech. "Yeah I know. I felt it today. I just don't have any magic in my wings — it is all over the rest of me but not there."
With a tear in her eyes, Misty replied, "Very good. You already see all of that then? My natural talent encompasses seeing and manipulating the magic in ponies. You would be the first I have taught who could so quickly notice things at that level. Try this then — what you want to do is carefully move a small controlled amount of energy towards your forehead."
Scootaloo visibly concentrated as time passed. Misty watched in awe as the magics flowed and coalesced. Not five minutes later a small ghostly horn contrasted against Scootaloo's brown coat.
Twilight advanced and looked into Scootaloo's eyes. She said, "I still don't believe it every time I see it. Do you know it took Misty a month before she could do that so rapidly?"
Misty grabbed a mirror and brought it before Scootaloo. "Ten years ago you would have probably said 'Cutie Mark Crusaders Unicorn'."
Scootaloo focused on the shimmering horn. "Those certainly were good times. Sweetie Belle would have probably turned green as an apple if she saw this. But then again she has her own life to lead."
Twilight replied, "You knew it had to end someday. She has a wonderful singing career and a gift that has to be shared with more than just Ponyville."
Misty turned to a surprisingly patient Star Hunter. "I didn't forget about you. Very sorry for focusing so much time on Scootaloo. You also have a surprisingly strong gift, but unlike the others it is tied more to the night. At any rate, you will have more success working magic when Orion is out."
Diamond Tiara, hidden in some bushes behind Twilight's library, listened in on the course. It was just as her friend Prince Blueblood had feared. Misty was teaching pegasi magic. This was a tragic breach of the natural order of things and had to be stopped. She would pen a letter to that effect tomorrow.
Time passed and the pegasi left the library. She noticed that Scootaloo was not among them and continued to wait for her departure. When Scootaloo walked out with a horn, she changed her plans. She would be on the train for Canterlot tonight.
Apple Bloom pensively walked into the classroom fifteen minutes before it was supposed to start and took a seat.
Misty turned to Apple Bloom. "Now Apple Bloom, my techniques have been designed for Pegasi not Earth Ponies. And that look isn't going to sway me. Earth Ponies have their magic way back at their flanks — it would be much too — Please stop that look. It would be much harder for you to."
Apple Bloom had a look that rivaled Fluttershy when she really really wanted something. It was simply unrefusable. Misty looked at the ceiling and said, "I give up. You can stay, but I do not hold much hope for you to figure it out having missed one class and all."
Apple Bloom returned a sincere smile and said, "You don't need to worry 'bout that Misty. Scootaloo worked with me all week and I can feel my magic just fine. So I'm not behind the rest of the class."
Misty pointed at an empty chair on the opposite side of the room. "Very well then Apple Bloom. Take a seat over on the left side."
There were not enough chairs for the forty-odd pegasi that came through the door. Twilight Sparkle, shocked at the significant change in attendance had to bring in chairs from the town hall to accommodate them.
Misty looked out at the assembled ponies, gave a nod to Thunderlane which was not returned, and began speaking.
"I see we have a lot of new faces out there today. Anypony who was not here before please raise a hoof and Spike will give you a copy of the notes from last class."
Misty caught an icy look from Twilight due to her being more prepared in this case.
"With that out of the way I want to split this into three sections. Everypony who can NOT feel their magical energy yet — I want you on the right. If you know you were successful with moving any of your energy around — I want you on the left. Everypony else should be in the center."
"I am going to be working with the ponies on the right for the first half hour. Ponies on the left, what I want you to work on is finesse. You do not need to move a lot of magic to form a horn and moving too much fails worse than moving too little. Ponies in the center — work on moving your energy. You know it is there. You just want to get it in motion. Ponies on the right — You are behind and these techniques do not ALWAYS work. You really need to bear with me and try to notice your magic. I will be a little more blunt this time than last. Do not worry if you get any really odd feelings."
Misty walked up and down the right rows tweaking and prodding the magic within each pony. A few of the new ponies leaped from their seats at the magical touch. Others remained oblivious.
"Okay, ponies on the right. Anypony who still can not at all feel their magical energies and were here last week raise a hoof."
Six pegasi complied.
"Follow Twilight Sparkle and I upstairs please."
"I have done everything I consider completely safe with regard to helping you. There are a couple of things that I can do that are a little less safe. If you are not up to being on sick call for the next three or so days then please go back downstairs... All of you want to stay? I actually hoped at least a couple of you would have chickened out as with this many it is going to be almost as hard on me as it is on you but it shows the pegasus spirit."
"Remember what I said about what happens if you have no energy for your wings? Lets just say that any of you that fails is not flying home tonight. Twilight you are up first."
Twilight's horn glowed a strong blue as she passed from pegasus to pegasus and froze their energy in place.
"Now it is my turn — Flitter you are first."
Misty formed her horn and carefully moved ALL of Flitter's energy away from her wings. "That should feel REALLY weird for you."
Twilight glared at her no longer clean floor and then back at Misty. "If I knew they were going to lose their dinners I would not have agreed to do it up here." She then produced a bucket in front of the other ponies.
Misty looked sheepishly back at Twilight. "I guess I underestimated her constitution." She glanced back at the other pegasi and said, "Who wants to be next?"
After manipulating the energy in other ponies, Misty started up again.
"What you are feeling is a combination of three things. First your magical energy is frozen. It will not go back to its normal balance by itself. Only you can do that. Second your energy is completely unbalanced and in an unnatural state for a pegasus. None of it is in your wings. Really none of it is at all useful to you. Third you can't regenerate any energy naturally. These conditions will remain for three days — you will either learn to recenter your energy or you are going to have a rough time. Oh you have an opportunity few pegasi have had. Give your wings a good flap and don't worry, you won't hit the ceiling."
The pegasi all flapped their wings in unison. They look puzzled at each other and flapped again, and again.
"Yep you are all formally grounded. This is a good object lesson for what would happen if you burned up all your energy in the air. I hope to see you all next class but if you do not figure this out, unfortunately there is simply nothing more I can do. Please exit quietly so as not to scare the other students and remember — Twilight can remove the spell holding your energies in place any time. Please ask it if you get desperate."
Misty looked at Twilight, "Do you think we did the right thing? If Celestia sees them in this condition... Lets just say that 'pegasus on the run' is not my favorite song title."
Twilight thought a moment. "You said you couldn't deny them the gift of magic and it was their decision even if they didn't know exactly what they were in for."
Misty sighed, "True enough. Well I have the rest of the class to attend to now," and descended the stairs.
"The next half hour I will be spending with the ponies on the left. Anypony from the middle who thinks they have enough control — Please take a seat on the left. Anypony on the right who have successfully discerned their magical energy — Please move to the middle."
After the shuffle, there were only three ponies on the right, with the other sections practically equally divided. Misty inwardly smiled.
"This time we want the ponies in the middle to try to work on control. Essentially do what I told the left ponies to do last time. Scootaloo, I know you have been bored thus far so I am going to put you to work. If you do not mind please try and help those three ponies on the right. You can thank your efforts with Apple Bloom for giving me the idea. Now ponies on the left — This is your moment. What you want to do is take that energy you have been playing with for the past half hour and very carefully move it to your forehead. This is an exercise in patience. Do not force it. I will be walking around trying to help."
Misty wheeled a large mirror in front of the left side ponies, and watched intently. Star Hunter was the first to succeed. Cloudchaser managed a horn a few minutes later. By the halfway point there were a half dozen eerily glowing horns. It was at this time that Star Hunter cried out.
In unison Twilight and Misty asked Star Hunter what was wrong as they raced to his side.
Twilight rapidly cast a spell and said, "His optical nerve was overstressed. He should be fine now."
Star Hunter groaned. "Images. I saw everything. Canterlot, Ponyville, Trottingham, all at the same time."
Misty eased in. "Twilight will be able to teach you control. Eventually you will be able to see into anywhere Orion shines. I told you you had a strong gift. Actually do you like Canterlot? Maybe Luna...."
"Sorry for the interruption everypony. Star Hunter's was the only potentially dangerous strong talent I detected among you. It was why I took him aside last week. No fear. Please go back to what you were doing."
After the middle period was over, there were a dozen glowing horns of which one was Apple Bloom's. That did not even include Scootaloo and Star Hunter.
"Exceptional. For this last period everypony who has successfully manifested a horn has a new teacher. Please follow Twilight outside. She will try to help you figure out what you can do with that horn of yours. Scoot, any luck with those straglers?"
Scootaloo gave a quick grin and replied, "What straglers? Everypony is in the center now."
"Very good. Then you can go out with the others and see Twilight. Thank you. Now it is your turn middle section."
By the end of the class another dozen pegasi had earned their horns.
Misty peeked out the door to a scene of mild pandemonium. Clouds flew around. Rainbows danced despite it being nighttime. Eldritch lights pierced the sky.
Misty tried for a Fluttershy voice, "I see you are finding some success. Would you possibly be interested in another group?"
Twilight smiled. "Oh I do not mind. Pegasi have the most interesting magical talents. I haven't had this much fun in ages."
Misty turned to the successful pegasi. "You heard her. Have fun."
Misty then looked to the other ponies and said, "No worries. We are well ahead of the game. Keep trying to make the horn appear and if you succeed come and see Twilight. She seems to have a lot of fun helping pegasi find their talents."
With that Misty re-entered the library which was now devoid of ponies. Turning to Spike, Misty asked him to take a letter.
"Dear Princess Luna
One of the pegasi I was training has the most wonderful gift. Star Hunter actually has starsight through Orion. I know you will be excited finding such a kindred spirit of the night. Would you be interested in assisting in his training?
Spike soon coughed up a response.
I will have a chariot for Star Hunter tomorrow night I look forward to meeting him and revel in what he represents.
We thank you.
Misty re-entered the controlled pandemonium outside and asked "Is Star Hunter around?"
Strawberry Sunrise turned away from encouraging the growth of a grape-vine and pointed towards the center of town.
Misty took wing and caught up to Star Hunter just past the mayor's office. "Wait up I have some great news."
Star Hunter turned to face Misty as she continued, "Luna has agreed to take up your training personally. You will love her. She is so warm — maybe a little formal at times but at any rate there will be a chariot here for you tomorrow night."
Star Hunter gave the most confused look a pony can muster and then came back to his senses. "I guess I have packing to do then, Pinkie Pie."
Misty's entered her own state of confusion, got it, and said "I wasn't that far overboard."
Star Hunter merely chuckled as he continued on his way.
Prince Blueblood had waited outside the throne room for two hours. His servants replaced his rose with a fresh one and applied a little more powder to his cheek and forehead.
Prince Blueblood muttered "This is insufferable. They would have put all other business aside for my grandfather. What ever happened to the traditions of old?"
Finally the doors to the throne room opened. "Prince Blueblood" was announced loudly by the herald of the court.
Prince Blueblood entered the throne room with a slow and dignified walk. He did not provide one glance to the nobles on either side as he approached the princess. At roughly three-quarters of the way towards the throne, he stopped and went into a formal bow.
Princess Celestia nodded in return and Prince Blueblood stood back up.
Formalities completed, Prince Blueblood started into his prepared remarks. "Princess Celestia, I would like to bring to your attention a situation of grave importance happening in Ponyville. A pegasus named Misty Midnight has for over two weeks now been teaching magic to non-unicorns."
After pausing to allow the gasps and murmurs from some of the other nobles to cease he continued. "As I was saying, There are now at least two dozen pegasi and and least one earth pony who have broken sacred tradition by casting magic with the help of the criminal Misty Midnight. There is even one of these abomination pegasi currently studying under Princess Luna right here in Canterlot."
Blueblood paused again for effect and continued, "It has always been the sole right and duty of Unicorns amongst the ponies of Equestria to conduct magic since before Equestria was founded. The actions of Misty Midnight can not stand. Her school must be shut down and she should be imprisoned as an example to any who would follow her lead."
Princess Celestia stood up and walked three paces towards Prince Blueblood before stopping on the stairs to her throne. "Prince Bluebood -- We know of the school that Misty Midnight has founded. We understand that what Misty Midnight is doing is unorthodox, untraditional and could cause certain problems down the line. However she has broken no standing law in Equestria with her classes. So long as there is no disorder — We see no problem."
Prince Blueblood was shocked. He was about to voice his objection to this ruling but the words of Celestia rang in his mind. "So long as there is no disorder..." Was Celestia giving him a course of action?
Princess Celestia stared at the motionless Blueblood. "If you have no other business with this court..."
Prince Blueblood came to his senses and said, "No, your majesty," bowed, and retreated from the throne room.
Misty was enjoying a nice daisy and dandelion sandwich at the outdoor cafe. She mentally went over the notes she prepared for her third class. A shadow passed over her, which on observation was a pegasus she hadn't seen before. It was headed in the direction of Twilight's library.
She thought to herself, "hmm how did it get so late already. It wouldn't due to be late." Misty finished her sandwich in two big gulps and laid a couple of bits on the table as a tip. Then she took to the air in the direction of the new pegasus.
It was only a few minutes before class was supposed to start that Misty arrived at the treehouse. She saw dozens of pegasi and even more earth ponies. There were even a couple of pegasi in partial guard uniforms parking a chariot. Opening the door, she saw every desk was taken up with potential students and beyond them, a frantic Twilight Sparkle.
Upon seeing Misty enter, Twilight teleported right in front of her muzzle. She raved, "there are almost 200 ponies here. I do not have space for 200 ponies. You can't teach 200 ponies. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?"
Misty lowered her wings, blushed and tried to calm Twilight down. "Um, is there any chance I can have the library a couple more times per week? That is about the most I can handle. I will have to talk to the mayor about adding a building -- sort of convenient that she is sitting right there."
Twilight regained a little of her composure. "You are in luck for the next few weeks. Oh Celestia, what have I gotten myself into?"
Misty cringed a bit at the last statement and replied, "I guess it is time to find out."
Misty then addressed the class "Everypony outside — we have some organizational issues to address." With that she trotted out the door.
Even more ponies had arrived in the interim. Misty looked around and saw enough pegasi to make a super tornado and twice as many earth ponies. She turned to address the throng. "First off the most I can possibly teach at one time is forty students. I have talked to Twilight and she has agreed to give me use of the library for a couple more sessions per week. Despite the success with Apple Bloom I am not yet set up for earth ponies. I will set up a lesson plan for Tuesday however, and Tuesday and Thursday's classes will be dedicated to earth ponies only."
"Today's class will end up being like the first class for the new pegasi I see here today. I apologize to anypony who was expecting the third lesson. I think helping the new ponies earn their abilities takes priority and I promise to get back to you once that is accomplished. I see Flitter out there. Any others who I led upstairs here from last week?"
Several other pegasi rose over the crowd to be seen.
Misty continued, "so all but one then. If you do not mind, could you come back after the class is over? I would like to discuss your experiences. In addition, I will have some time for any pony who was partway towards success last week shortly afterwards. Spike, could you set up the projector?"
At that point Misty re-entered Twilight's library. After the seats were filled she started. "Okay, how many of you are not from Ponyville?" Having seen many hooves go up, she asked, "how many from Cloudsdale?" The answer was all of the extra pegasi except for the off-duty guards from Canterlot.
With that Misty taught lesson one again.
After the class ended and the new students left the library, Flitter and four other pegasi entered.
Flitter walked up to Misty and whacked her across the muzzle with her left wing. "That was the most agonizing two days I have ever spent."
Misty turned and replied "Well it worked didn't it? You said it wasn't the complete duration so you had to have sorted it out. And did the rest of you have equal success?"
Flitter said, "I just didn't have it in me to give up so I kept on trying. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I felt sick. But yes I did succeed."
It turned out Flitter had the hardest time of the pegasi present. The rest of them had managed it before the sun had risen that first night.
Misty apologized to Flitter and expressed hope that maybe she would earn her horn tonight.
At that point several more ponies entered the classroom.
An hour later there were another dozen pegasi who could form glowing horns.
Misty awoke the next morning to the smell of frying eggs. She got out of bed, shook out her mane, and carefully descended the stairs to the main level of the library. Twilight was already eating, levitating food to her mouth with ease while at the same time composing a checklist for her day.
Misty sat down at the table and said, "I never could get the hang of telekinesis and you know hard we tried. It always seems to be the simple things that are the most difficult. Oh, I have been meaning to ask you — How are the lessons with Scootaloo going?"
Twilight set the quill back into its inkwell, swallowed, and replied, "as you thought, she is more talented with magic than you are. Of course it will be years before we can see her true potential. She seems to share most of your abilities with the underpinnings of magic, but unlike you she can also work basic spells in a normal way — no offense intended."
Misty thought about this for a few minutes, accepted a plate of fried eggs from Spike, and replied, "do you think it would harm her progress with standard magics if she helped out with my classes? It is going to take a lot out of me working with so many students at once and if she could help Apple Bloom on her own, I have the feeling she would have no problems assisting me."
Twilight changed an entry on her checklist. "I do not see that as a problem. In fact getting a balanced approach to her magic would do her nothing but good. The final decision is up to her though of course. I had a meeting scheduled with her just a bit after breakfast. I just checked that off my checklist and will instead be doing the errands I planned to do right after sundown. Tell her about the reschedule and you can have the morning appointment."
Misty thanked Twilight, and proceeded to eat her eggs. Spike definitely had a flair for cooking. She couldn't remember one meal where Spike had prepared something inedible. She thought, "well, if I have a meeting I may as well make myself presentable."
Misty climbed back upstairs to the guest room and attached her comb to the wall. She moved her mane against the fixed comb taking out the tangles. Misty placed the comb on a lower hook and then did the same thing with her tail. Next she flexed her wings and proceeded to clean each feather. Her work done, she descended to the main floor to wait for Scootaloo.
Scootaloo knocked on the door soon afterwards. Spike opened it and Scootaloo trotted inside. She saw Misty sitting at the table and said "Hello Misty Midnight, I'm here for a lesson with Twilight Sparkle."
Misty closed her notebook, and gestured towards the empty chair at the table. "Morning Scootaloo. Unless you have an objection, I will be handling your class today. Twilight has also made time for you around sunset if you can be here. If not I will relay that information."
Scootaloo sat down in the empty chair. "If you hadn't come to town, my life would still be mostly about delivering packages. I am interested in anything you have to say."
Misty took a few moments to compose herself and implored "I actually have a favor to ask. Teaching this class takes a lot out of me, and with the increased number of students and frequency of the classes: It is just too much for one mare to handle. What I am looking for is an assistant, somepony who could handle some of the practical portions and if Luna forbid something should ever happen to me, continue the cause of instructing non-unicorns in the ways of magic. Are you that pony?"
Scootaloo stared into Misty's eyes, looked at her own flightless wings, then nodded.
The first pony to enter was Mayor Mare. She took a seat up front and motioned to Misty. After Misty approached she said, "your plan for an outbuilding has been approved by the council. I took the liberty of notifying Apple Bloom and she said construction would start tomorrow."
Misty replied, "thank you for all your help Mayor Mare. I figured these classes would be once per week which Twilight could handle, but it didn't feel right imposing on her three times as often."
Applejack was the second pony to enter. She took the seat next to the mayor and gently tipped her hat. Seeing the shock in Misty's expression she said, "ah wasn't plannin' on doing this but Apple Bloom was so happy I had'ta give it a try."
The seats were rapidly filled with more earth ponies. Misty scanned the class to see if there were any who might have dangerous or very strong talents. The element of honesty had a lot of magical energy, which was to be expected. The only other abnormality was from a small pony with a pink coat and blue-purple mane. She approached the mare and said "How did you lose your horn?"
Sea Swirl almost looked like she might cry. She said, "it was an accident about five years ago. How did you know I was a unicorn?"
Misty pointed to Sea Swirl's head with a hoof and her flank with a wing. "I wouldn't be a very good teacher of this if I couldn't tell a unicorn from an earth pony. Your energy pattern is a complete giveaway. You carry nearly no energy in your flank. It is almost all up here by your head and neck. Do not worry: This should be fairly easy for you to learn."
Misty glanced at her notes and then began the presentation.
"My name is Misty Midnight and this is Magic For Earth Ponies 101. While practically all of my research has been with Pegasi, it is my hope that I will be able to help at least some of you connect with your latent magical talents. What I can tell you is that while Unicorns carry most of their energy near their heads and horn and pegasi carry theirs mostly in their wings, earth ponies have most of their energy all the way back towards their flanks and rear legs. In practice this means that you will have to conduct your energies more than twice the distance a pegasus would to manifest a ghostly horn and create a focus for doing magic."
"To be completely honest, I did not initially intend to be working with earth ponies at this time. I figured the delicate process of moving and maintaining a small amount of magic within an earth pony all the way to the forehead while at the same time performing a magical talent would be too difficult for most to achieve. However, the success of Apple Bloom and the enthusiasm of the earth ponies of Ponyville convinced me to give it a try."
"As for what talents earth ponies may have, I only have the one example. Apple Bloom has the ability to join surfaces magically which is very useful in her work as a carpenter. It is a good thing though that she doesn't have a penchant for practical jokes. From this, I am guessing that most earth pony magic will be either related to the earth, or your primary talent."
"At any rate I want to rapidly get to the practical. The initial exercise is to try to at least be able to sense your own magical energies. I will be assisting by essentially poking around with it a little bit — this may feel odd, but if you feel anything you are one step closer to success. Once you can sense your own energies the next step will be to try to manipulate them."
With that Misty closed her notes and dimmed the lights in the classroom. She walked among the rows and moved some energy away from the flanks of each earth pony. Amazingly enough they were quite sensitive to this — significantly more so than her pegasus students.
Misty quietly climbed the stairs to the second level and gave a small knock on the door. She heard Twilight say "One moment" and then the door opened revealing the lavender unicorn, who was sipping a cup of tea and doing some "light" reading. She said, "you need something?"
Misty approached. "I think I underestimated earth ponies. They are actually much more sensitive to their magical energies than pegasi and I have the feeling even today I may have a few students who will need your help -- this includes Applejack who might need special attention. I do not know what kind of talent an element of harmony would manifest but her base magical energies are very strong. Oh, we also have a unicorn who lost her horn years ago in the class who should be regaining her powers today."
Twilight looked directly at Misty and cracked a small smile. "I actually invited Sea Swirl. She has been so sad since the accident and I figured the class would help her. As for Applejack and any others, I already had it on my checklist."
Misty thought, "well score one for Twilight" and retreated back to her class.
Misty raised the lights and said to the class, "you have exceeded expectations in every way. Nearly all of you have managed to not only sense your own magic but have exhibited some level of control of said magic. The next part will test that control. Forming a ghost horn is mostly a matter of finesse. What you need to do is focus a small amount of your magical energy right at the edge of your forehead. If you hold it there long enough, the ghost horn should form naturally. You will know when it happens."
Misty wheeled a mirror in front of the classroom and asked them to begin. She walked among the rows and gave pointers like "that is too much energy" and helped others with the process.
When the class was complete, Misty noticed that fully half of the ponies were able to produce the glowing horns.
Misty addressed the class. "Twilight has agreed to help those who succeeded tonight find their talents and will be outside momentarily. For those who are still trying — see Twilight if you succeed and come back a week from now if you have not."
The noon train for Ponyville pulled into the Canterlot station. A group of twelve unicorns, garbed in the various fashions of the day, entered a private car near the back of the train. They started to talk amongst themselves as Canterlot faded into the distance.
A teal mare was the first to speak. "Can you believe they are teaching pegasi magic? If they take up other trades, who will move the clouds?"
A violet stallion replied, "even worse, what about the earth ponies? If they leave the farms, we could all starve."
A tan stallion thought about what was said and opined, "magic has always been the sole function of unicorns. With everypony doing magic, how will we be special? With all that extra competition, how will we make a living?"
A red mare agreed with the tan stallion. "It just shows an utter lack of respect for the traditional roles of ponies. It is an abandonment of unicorns in general."
A dark blue stallion stood up and declared, "we are NOT abandoned. Prince Blueblood has our backs — He said all we have to do is protest, and cause some trouble and Celestia will end this madness."
A general affirmation was uttered by all of the unicorns present.
The afternoon train pulled into the Ponyville station. A dozen unicorns dressed in the styles of Canterlot unloaded several large crates and departed that train. They opened the crates with a flash of magic and each unicorn collected a sign. The unicorn protest had begun.
They formed an orderly line and marched towards Ponyville. They chanted, "magic is for Unicorns. Respect the traditions. Close Misty's school." The signs had similar slogans, and a couple of them had pictures of Prince Blueblood.
Ponyville citizens parted as the protestors marched. Foals pointed and asked their Mothers, "what is this mommy?" Several graduates of Misty's class looked on in disgust. Flitter, from the rooftop of Sugarcube Corner, took action.
Her ghostly horn glowed a strong teal as clouds formed over the protestors. Moments later, it started to rain. The protestors ignored the precipitation and continued on to Twilight's library.
Despite their best efforts to block the library entrance, the next class of earth ponies charged through, and the door closed behind them.
Misty paced back and forth in front of the ponies. "I apologize for the difficulty in attending today's class. It seems some misguided unicorns have taken it upon themselves to try to put a halt to my lessons. They will not be successful."
"I believe most of you know my assistant, Scootaloo. She will be helping me tonight and is the reason why I could accommodate a few more students. I am Misty Midnight and welcome to Magic for Earth Ponies 101."
"Earth Ponies are actually kind of amazing. Fully half of the class that I taught two days ago were able to access their magic after only a single lesson. I am hoping for even better results tonight."
"I learned that most earth pony talents tend to augment their normal skills. Applebloom, a carpenter pony, can adhere surfaces magically. Mayor Mare can magically produce text on documents. While Aloe can magically dye the manes and tails of ponies."
Misty completed the rest of the lecture in a similar manner to the one two days prior.
The practical portion turned out better than Misty had dared hope. Scootaloo was subtly different in style than Misty and together they were able to help ponies better than either could alone. By the end of the class fully three-quarters were ready for Twilight.
The protesters were still milling around the entrance to the library. They made it difficult for Twilight to exit the building.
She shot a burst of light from her horn and exclaimed, "Disperse! This is my library and I have students to enlighten."
A tan unicorn stallion advanced slightly and said, "this is public land and we have every right to protest. What you are doing here is wrong, Twilight Sparkle. You are betraying your heritage."
Twilight replied by casting a dome over the protestors. She then escorted the successful students to the area behind the library, released the first dome, and cast a new dome around herself and the students. She sound-proofed the dome and helped the earth ponies cast their first spells.
Rainbow Dash was enjoying her flight home from Dodge City. While she did a lot of flying as captain of the wonderbolts, it did not allow her to just pick a direction and go. Every move was choreographed. Each detail was planned. Here in the open sky she could do whatever moves she wanted whenever she wanted or just let the air gently caress her wings in a nice glide.
She looked forward to a quiet stay in Ponyville. It was the one place where nopony asked for autographs, where the incessant flashing of cameras was absent. She was free to just find a cloud and relax. It was home.
As she neared the edge of the Everfree Forest she started to climb. The air chilled as the world below grew smaller. She reversed her climb into a dive — faster and faster she flew. Effortlessly she pierced the cone of sound creating a sonic rainboom. As she flew faster than sound she remembered just how hard it used to be. Now it was usually just the beginning of a series of tricks in her show. Still, it was uniquely hers and it did serve to alert her friends when she arrived in Ponyville.
She was so lost in thought that she did not notice the swarm of pegasi until it was too late. A three dimensional wall of pegasi surrounded the captain of the wonderbolts. The song "Nowhere to run to, nowhere to fly" played in her mind as autograph pads were shoved by her muzzle. Feeling claustrophobic and having nopony to help her part this crowd, she made her way on hoof to Twilight's Library. Twilight would know what was going on.
The scene at the library was chaotic. Dozens of unicorns were carrying picket signs and chanting. They were also blocking the door. She did the only thing that came to mind. She flew in through the window.
Misty Midnight was staring at today's mail. A pile of letters from as far away as Vanhoover were arrayed in front of her. Some asked if they could attend the class. Others simply stated they were going to show up in Ponyville. Some were in thanks for magic gained. Two were threatening letters demanding the school be shut down.
She heard a loud crash, followed by dull thud, then a few smaller thuds. Descending the stairs, she saw Rainbow Dash getting up from under a pile of books. "Why hello Rainbow Dash, Twilight said you sometimes arrived through the window but I never quite believed her."
Rainbow Dash removed a glass shard from her flank. "It wasn't my idea. What is going on with all those unicorns outside?"
Misty replied, "they are sort of protesting a class I am running."
Rainbow Dash turned and stared at Misty. "What class would this be?"
Misty beamed proudly. "I have been teaching the ponies of Ponyville how to access their magical talents."
Rainbow Dash looked confused. "Wait so you are telling me, all of my former weather pegasi are now casting spells?"
Misty enthusiastically replied, "actually, yes. Flitter can create clouds from the moisture in the air. Star Hunter is working with Luna. Scootaloo is my assistant. Thunderlane can shoot eldritch lightning bolts." Deflating a bit, she added "Pretty much everypony but Blossomforth."
Rainbow Dash angrily approached. "This was that 'something special' you wrote about?"
In surprise Misty replied, "well yes, I figured unlocking the magical talents of pegasi and earth ponies would...."
Rainbow Dash got into Misty's face. "So lets say we lose 20% of our weather pegasi to other pursuits. How do we get the water up to Cloudsdale?"
Misty considered, "well several pegasi have shown a talent for MAKING clouds right out of the atmosphere."
Rainbow Dash exclaimed, "that is even worse. So now you are saying that parts of the cloud factories might not even be needed anymore."
Misty looked Dash in the eyes. "I can't believe what I am hearing. I thought you would be happy about this."
Rainbow Dash landed and gave a sad look. "There is one worse thing. I remember you falling through the clouds. How many pegasi will get hurt because they overdo it sometime? How many will leave Cloudsdale just in case? Will there even be a Cloudsdale?"
Misty sighed. This was not at all the reaction she expected and there was nothing she could do at this time. She knew Rainbow well enough not to try. She hoped when Dash cooled down and talked to the other pegasi she would change her mind.
Rainbow Dash moved back towards the shattered window and left the library.
Misty stood the bookshelf back up and started cleaning. By the time Twilight got back from errands, the only evidence of the altercation was the broken window.
Twilight noticed the broken window upon entry. "Did the crowd start throwing rocks or something?"
Misty replied, "no, it was just an old friend."
This week's classes were dedicated to pegasi. Misty, with help from Scootaloo, performed "Magic For Pegasi 101" twice. She taught the second portion on the third session. Most of the pegasi were from Cloudsdale for these classes with others from as far as Los Pegasus and Baltimare.
Despite a gradual increase in protestors, Twilight had no further problems with her part in the classes. The vast majority of the pegasi managed to earn their talents. The one thing missing though was Rainbow Dash.
Misty looked out over the balcony. It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The birds were singing. The protestors were chanting. She thought, "well you can't have everything." She felt something hard hit the back of her head and the world went black.
It was dark. Misty felt cloth on all sides. She tried to move her wings but they were in restraints.
She was in motion. She could hear the clopping of hoofbeats and the noise of wheels grinding against a cobblestone road.
Misty moved her head towards her body so there was clearance for a horn without it extending beyond her enclosure. Misty scanned the area around her. She could sense four unicorns, two with weak talents, and two with stronger talents. More distantly, she could sense two earth ponies.
Misty thought to herself, "six against one -- I do not like those odds. If I stay, I will at least know who my captors are. There was also that chance that she could recognize the power signature of one of the stronger two unicorns. If I go, I may never know who did this and they will know I can teleport blind."
Teleportation was a complicated spell for the sole reason that it had all kinds of safeguards. You needed to see where you were going, or have a strong mental picture of your destination and know where you were. They probably did not consider a teleport because Misty did not know where she was.
The problem was that Misty didn't know standard teleportation. Standard unicorn spells were beyond her talent with the foundations of magic. However, a book she had read gave a really good description of the process of teleportation. It was easy to come up with a basic method based on that process.
Twilight had demanded that she never teleport her or any of her friends. The reason was simple. Teleportation for Misty had no safeguards. All she could control was direction and the amount and placement of the initial energy. She could teleport herself into a wall or the ground just as easily as into empty space. And now she was thinking of duplicating the mistake she made on her first attempt.
Whatever she spread the energy to would teleport and nothing else. It was necessary to extend the field out slightly because everything near the edge would be scorched. But if she did not want the restraints or her container to go with her, she would have to live with some burns.
She spread out enough energy to make for a teleport of twenty feet give or take. The formula was complicated and a little extra energy could double the distance intended. She waited until there was a long period with no turns or changes in elevation. She ignited the magic.
Misty fell several feet to the ground. She was on the road between Ponyville and Canterlot. She rolled back and forth smothering the fires that were burning her wings and left side. Knowing her wings would be impaired from both the fire and her energy loss, she galloped in the direction of Ponyville.
There was no pursuit. By the time the carriage could stop, Misty was already hundreds of yards in the distance. She did not look back though, preferring to simply charge into Ponyville and get to the hospital as soon as possible.
The burns on her coat were superficial. They shaved a little bit of scorched hair and cleaned and disinfected her feathers. She was still flightworthy.
Her next instinct was to fetch Scootaloo. Scootaloo had an apartment on the north side of Ponyville. It was fairly close to where Misty lived when she was in Ponyville ten years prior.
When Scootaloo answered the door, she was shocked by Misty's appearance. She seemed nervous, and her coat and feathers were shaved in places "What happened to you Misty?"
Misty replied, "the unicorns decided to add a little danger to my day. At any rate I have something I want to teach you and something I need to show you."
"You know your talent with basic magic?" After pausing for a nod, Misty continued. "Well, no unicorn ever has that, at least none that I have ever encountered. That is why the discovery of pegasus magic was so long in the making. Pegasi have been taught that they could not do magic so no pony in recent history has ever discovered it on their own or if they did they never passed it on."
"Someday, since you can practice magic in both forms, you are eventually going to be taught how to teleport. There is however a second, more basic way to accomplish this. This is only to be used in extreme measures because it is not safe. You can teleport yourself into the ground or into a wall. It can save your life though, and I believe you need to learn this now."
Scootaloo was a fast study and did her first teleport without incident.
"I also think you are ready for something Twilight can help you with but pertains to basic magic. Tell her you would like to learn how to deflect spells."
Scootaloo got excited. "Wow that would really work well ag..."
Misty cut Scootaloo off and had a pained look. "I am sorry but I am literally not able to continue on that topic. You will need to work with Twilight on it."
Next stop was the library. They walked most of the way there. While they were still out of sight of the protestors, Misty insisted on flying Scootaloo up to the balcony. It was difficult to accomplish but she managed.
They walked up to the guest room. Misty showed Scootaloo where a false board was in the floor, and proceeded to remove a box.
"This box includes all of my notes and detailed instructions for you should anything happen to me. I had it specially made in Los Pegasus. Go ahead and scan the box. As you see it is magically imbalanced. So long as it is in that state it is very hard to open. If you balance the magic over the box, it will open quite easily."
Misty replaced the box and floorboard and walked Scootaloo down to the main floor.
The glow from twilight's horn faded as she recognized the two "intruders." "If you aren't going to use the door, please let me know you are here rather than just appearing out of nowhere."
Misty replied, "sorry Twilight, it has been a very long morning. I got kidnapped by four unicorns, escaped using a blind teleport, and spent the rest of the day preparing Scootaloo. Now she has something to ask of you and I seriously need a nap."
Twilight gaped as Misty climbed the stairs. She turned to Scootaloo. "Was that an accurate depiction of today's events?"
Scootaloo sighed and said, "yes, I would like to learn how to deflect spells."
About an hour later, Spike coughed up a letter. Seeing as it was addressed to Misty, Twilight ascended the stairs with Scootaloo in tow. "Misty, you have a letter from Princess Celestia."
Twilight heard a dull thud as Misty fell out of bed.
Misty collected herself, made a silent prayer to Luna, and descended to the main floor.
Spike read the letter.
We request a meeting with you to discuss recent events occurring in Ponyville. I think it would be best if you flew to Canterlot as opposed to me sending a chariot to retrieve you under the current circumstances.
Misty reviewed the letter several times. She had suspected this might happen but did not think Celestia would be so sensitive to how things looked. Maybe she could avoid Canterlot altogether.
"Spike could you take a return letter?"
I agree with your thoughts that sending a chariot would convey the wrong message. However, I also think going to Canterlot would send the same wrong message. Would it be possible to meet in Cloudsdale? A lot of their pegasi are currently in Ponyville, so the town is kind of sparse at the moment making it even easier for us to meet without undue attention.
Spike sent the letter with a gout of green flame.
Twilight offered, "maybe she is going to do something about the protestors?"
Misty replied, "yeah, somehow I don't think that is her easiest way out of this problem."
Twilight said, "well if she was going to arrest you again, wouldn't she have just sent royal guards?"
Misty considered that. "Maybe, and maybe it is just in her interest to keep things low key as well."
Twilight replied, "even if you do not have faith in Princess Celestia, I do."
Misty sighed. "I truly wish she liked me in the same way she likes you, but I have to face the facts. Any summons by Celestia is likely to be bad news."
Spike coughed up another letter.
Upon consideration of the issue, we agree that Cloudsdale would be a suitable location. Meet on the eastern side where the rainbow falls from the sky in two hours.
Misty turned to Scootaloo and whispered "If I have not returned in four hours time, open the box and follow the instructions inside."
Scootaloo sort of whimpered and moved closer to Twilight.
Misty climbed out onto the balcony and alighted into the sky. Ponyville faded into the distance as she made her way upward. The protesting unicorns became specks and eventually even the library was just a dot on the landscape. It was quiet and tranquil -- high altitude flight gave a peace that no non-pegasus could understand. Misty pondered if she should have done her class in Cloudsdale instead -- it would have solved some of the issues -- but there was no Twilight in Cloudsdale and Misty needed her support on many levels.
She touched down outside one of the local eateries in Cloudsdale. Pegasi were a hungry bunch and there were more and to her thoughts better restaurants here than just about anywhere else. Sure you could get fine cuisine in Canterlot or Manehattan but in Cloudsdale the same quality of food would fill your plate and you didn't have to use the proper spoon.
Misty entered the "Impatient Griffon" restaurant and took a table. A red mare with a yellow mane walked over. "I am Crimson Wing, can I take your order?"
Misty settled on the three bean and egg salad. She considered trying some ethnic griffon food but decided to play it safe with a dish she knew they did well.
The fastest good restaurant in town lived up to its reputation and in mere moments, Misty was enjoying her salad. It was rich and hearty -- more a meal for somepony like Rainbow Dash than herself, but she figured she needed the energy for her upcoming encounter. She left 12 bits on the table and proceeded to her meeting.
She dropped down to the lowest level of Cloudsdale and started walking. It was ominously quiet as very few pegasi came here all that often. She sank a little deeper into the clouds as she formed her horn. The falling rainbow water had a beauty unique to Cloudsdale. She watched it as she waited for Celestia to arrive.
In the direction of Canterlot she saw a small white spot in the sky. As she waited she noted that Celestia was alone. Her energy rippled and flowed along her form -- she was at full strength with no sign of fatigue.
Princess Celestia landed near Misty. "How are you enjoying your stay in Ponyville?"
Misty gave a relatively small bow. "It brings back a lot of memories. Staying with Twilight is great. The work is satisfying even though you can't please everypony."
Celestia nodded and started to walk. "I see. And is Ponyville now the same as you remember it?"
Misty followed behind. "Other than about two hundred itinerant pegasi and some troublemaking unicorns, well I'd have to say mostly."
Celestia continued. "Mhmm, and do you think the typical resident of Ponyville is happier now or was happier two months ago?"
Misty considered this line of questions. "The shopkeepers are making a lot of extra bits from the tourists. The ones that learned their talents are happier. Yes it is a bit more raucous and bustling but I think it all averages out -- and in the future I think they will be happier in general."
Celestia switched the topic. "Consider Cloudsdale. You said in your letter that a lot of the pegasi from Cloudsdale were currently in Ponyville. How has that affected Cloudsdale?"
Misty thought a bit. "Well, it is somewhat sparse. In the short term some of those bits going to Ponyville are not going here. It might also cause some short term disruption in activities. However, once those pegasi have their talents they will be able to function far better."
Celestia continued. "And once they have those talents, how many will be staying in Cloudsdale?"
Misty glared at Celestia. "You talked to Rainbow Dash didn't you?"
Celestia replied, "yes, I did get a letter from her earlier this week. I agree with some of her points but I also wanted your side. What effect will having many pegasi leave Cloudsdale have on the pegasus culture?"
Misty hesitated for a few seconds. "Well for Cloudsdale itself, I would figure Cloudsdale and Ponyville would end up more like how Los Pegasus is with more pegasi living on the ground. The only real constant to things is change. All this does is give pegasi a wider opportunity to express themselves."
Celestia then said, "'raucous, disruption, protests, cultural change' does that describe harmony or disharmony?"
Misty replied, "I admit that major advances can cause some cultural shifts and short-term disharmony. But I can not see how any individual pegasus or earth pony could be harmed by knowing how to activate their magic."
Celestia looked at Misty. "It is not the individual pegasus that can be harmed. It is all of them working together as a whole. What you have done is just too much too very fast. What you should have done was come to me at the beginning. I would have set you up with a research grant and you could have taught thirty of the most promising ponies per year. As it stood, so long as you were only teaching the pegasi of Ponyville, I was willing to let this slide hoping you would figure it out on your own."
Misty stood defiantly. "Thirty per year. I agree that from the immortal point of view that might work out just fine. But I am forty-five. In ten short years I will not be able to fly from city to city. You have every luxury of time on your side. I do not. I would like to see the results of my work in my lifetime."
Celestia turned to Misty and said, "I am very sorry Misty Midnight, but you are under arrest for spreading disharmony in Equestria."
As Misty was being hauled away by Royal Guards she said, "I am sorry Princess Celestia, but the scope of this is beyond your abilities to end. Even if you shut me down, many pegasi already have a taste for magic. Even if you lock me in a dungeon, several of those share enough of my talent to be able to teach others. Even if you outlaw spells by non-unicorns altogether you will unmake the harmony of Equestria as many will not comply. Please reconsider your decision on this matter for the good of your ponies and Equestria."
Scootaloo walked in large circles around the main floor of the library.
Twilight was busy reading in the the corner. Reading always calmed Twilight's nerves.
Scootaloo observed, "It is getting late. Would you mind if I used the powder room before I leave?"
Twilight looked up from her pile of books. She thought of Misty, but merely said, "Sure, it's upstairs."
Scootaloo climbed the stairs and walked to the guest room. She acquired one of Misty's saddlebags, carefully removed the floorboard, and put the box into one of the pouches. She replaced the floorboard and made her way to the lavatory. Once inside, she ran a little water to complete the illusion.
She quietly departed Twilight's Library. It was late enough that most of the protestors were asleep or elsewhere. The dim light of a crescent moon made it hard to see. Scootaloo could feel the weight of the box she carried. It felt much heavier than it was. She walked the streets of Ponyville to her apartment. She lit a candle and placed the box on a table.
She stared at the box. Between the teleport Misty had her do, and all of the sparring she had later done with Twilight, Scootaloo was magically winded. She was also mentally and physically stressed from worry. A wave of weariness completed the decision — she would have to address this tomorrow.
She awoke early the next morning and walked over to the box. She placed some of her own energy into the parts of the box that had none and it sprang open.
Inside the box she saw three folders, a detailed class list, a book, a bound treatise on her methods of teaching, and roughly five-hundred bits. The folders were marked "If I am missing, If I am dead, and If I am imprisoned by Princess Celestia."
Inside the "Celestia" folder, she found several letters. The largest was addressed to herself. She started to read it.
Sometimes you have to lose your freedom to be the most free. You see, I already had an agreement with Princess Celestia. She had me take an oath to not do anything that I thought would harm Equestria, and that I would not spread knowledge of the 'Still Shadows' martial art. The first part was easy. As for the second part, I did not even know what 'Still Shadows' was at the time. In return she would release me from custody and for the most part leave me alone. She also said the deal was only offered because she received letters of support from Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie.
As I further developed my magical abilities, Princess Luna figured it out. I did not have some oral tradition or knowledge of 'Still Shadows.' I had figured out my talents on my own. She lent me a book by Lieutenant Hurricane and told me the story of what it was.
In the distant past when the pony tribes were still adversaries rather than friends, 'Still Shadows' was a martial art developed by pegasi with only one purpose — to fight unicorns. It was the sole reason pegasi did so well against them. When harmony was reached between the Pegasi and the Unicorns, Celestia decided that the martial art was better off forgotten. Over time it was removed from history.
The thing is that while 'Still Shadows' was developed for war, pegasus magic could be used in peace. The pegasi never realized it at the time, but any pegasus could access a magical talent, while only about one in fifty had the natural abilities to learn 'Still Shadows.' Had this tradition not been deleted from history, the pegasi would have figured this out many centuries ago.
Well, if I am in jail then she has broken her side of the agreement and as you can see, I no longer have a reason not to reveal the full extent of what I know.
Please make sure to get the letter out to Grey Skies as soon as possible. Twilight will be sending her own letter and the details are a little contradictory. My initial intention was for him to be collecting my effects, but that was before I got to know you. At any rate I want your letter to arrive first.
Take the letter to Rainbow Dash personally. She has been a friend to me, but she is not currently on our side on the magic issue. Stay there while she reads it. If she seems convinceable, let her borrow the copy of 'Fighting in the Shadows' by Lieutenant Hurricane. She loves pegasus history and martial arts and will be very interested in that book. Note it is quite a high crime simply possessing that book, but I had to make a copy when Princess Luna lent me the original.
Hold onto the letter addressed to Twilight Sparkle. If she seems to waver, present it to her. You will know by her reaction if she is still able to be trusted. She will be very conflicted. She is a long time friend of mine, a good friend of yours, and is a strong proponent of 'magic for all,' but she is fiercely loyal to Princess Celestia and will be exceedingly reluctant to do anything that would disappoint or anger the Princess.
Princess Luna is another strong ally. She remembers the beginning, and disagreed with her sister at the time. She will not directly defy Celestia over this however. Note Spike can send letters to Luna almost as easy as he can to Celestia.
My guess is that you will get in two or maybe three classes before you get a visit from Celestia. Do not confront her or challenge her. If you simply apologize and express loyalty to me while appealing to her ego, she will likely give you the benefit of the doubt. After that you will need to be more secretive.
Anypony marked 'Basic Magic' on the student list is a potential teacher. This includes Grey Skies who will start teaching in Los Pegasus as soon as he receives your letter.
Keep things as quiet as you can as long as you can, but prepare for anything.
I am counting on you.
Scootaloo first set off for the post office. When she requested single day air to Los Pegasus, Derpy came to the window.
Derpy approached, "Are you sure you need single day? Two day is much cheaper. It also doesn't require losing a mare to make the delivery."
Scootaloo replied, "Yes, I am sure. I need this there yesterday but tomorrow is good enough. Oh and have you seen Rainbow Dash around?"
Derpy thought about it. "Rainbow is probably still asleep. First class to Los Pegasus is 37 bits."
Scootaloo laid the bits on the counter, presented the letter, and made off for Rainbow Dash's cloud home.
Scootaloo looked up and then at her wings. She called out to Rainbow Dash, but got no answer. She brought out her horn and concentrated. In the distance she could barely sense the energy pattern of one pegasus. Rainbow Dash was indeed home.
She thought to herself, "I have come this far and I probably can't hurt myself all that much on clouds." She made calculations for the distance and performed the teleport.
She fell a short distance into the awaiting clouds. They supported her and she walked up to the door. It was not locked, so she entered, walked around a couple of passages and crept into Rainbow Dash's bedroom.
Rainbow Dash was sound asleep on her bed. Her covers were in a pile on the floor, and a Daring Do book was perched on her nightstand.
Scootaloo called out to Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow responded by flying straight up into the cloud ceiling, bouncing off said, and landing back on her bed. "Scootaloo, how did you get up here?"
Scootaloo replied, "Well, I tried calling out from outside but you didn't answer, so I teleported up and walked in."
Rainbow put a hoof up to her face. "And why did you need to startle me out of bed?"
Scootaloo produced an envelope. "You might not know it but Misty has been arrested by Celestia. She had a letter for you prepared for that contingency."
"Dear Rainbow Dash
You said that it would hurt pegasus tradition to learn magic. What I reveal here I was until recently unable to say due to an oath to the Princesses. It is something you need to know about LOST pegasus tradition. Back in the time of and before Commander Hurricane, when the pegasi were routinely adversaries of the unicorns instead of their friends, there existed an additional pegasus martial art. This art was designed specifically to counter unicorn magic. It allowed a practitioner to sense ponies at range and around corners, to deflect and dismantle spells, and to slowly drain the magical energies from unicorns. Without this martial art, the pegasi would have been easy targets for the unicorn's magic. Had this art not been erased from history, pegasi might have realized their magical talents many centuries ago."
So no, I do not think I was destroying pegasus tradition by teaching them magic. I was RESTORING pegasus tradition. We have a lost legacy that I attempted to regain.
Rainbow Dash paused for several seconds after reading the letter. "And what proof does she have about this supposed ancient art?"
Scootaloo tossed 'Fighting in the shadows' towards Rainbow's bed. She caught it in mid-air. "Keep that close, possession of that book could earn you a one way trip to the moon."
Scootaloo saluted the captain of the wonderbolts. Then she walked back out of the bedroom and to the edge of Rainbow's house. She broke off a tiny amount of cloud and stood on it. The cloud slowly descended to ground level.
A few dozen ponies milled around outside the library. They were not certain what to expect in Misty's absence but they decided it was better than returning home.
Scootaloo addressed the ponies. "In the words of a hero of mine, 'I would never leave Ponyville hanging.' Misty Midnight has provided me with enough experience and materials to perform this class. If you will follow me inside the library, I will begin."
The mixed group of mostly pegasi looked around and then filed inside in an orderly manner. Scootaloo stood in front of the desks.
"My name is Scootaloo and this is 'Magic for Ponies.' This class will be a long one because I want as many of you to earn your talents TODAY because there may be no tomorrow."
"First I must impress upon you a matter of safety. You know how I can't fly. Well in a very similar manner if a pegasus exhausts herself magically, she can't either. Similarly, a pegasus loses her ability to walk on clouds and an earth pony temporarily loses her strength, stamina, and other abilities. Always try to cast safely."
"I am not a scholar like Misty. So I will not try to pretend to be one here. What I can say is that not having access to your magic is like not having your cutie mark. It is something — missing from your life. My hope is to complete as many of you as I can tonight."
Having said her piece, Scootaloo plunged into the practical part of the course. Time passed and more and more of the ponies succeeded in forming horns. There were only three left in the room when Scootaloo finally gave up for the night, and trotted back to her apartment.
Grey Skies was watering the flowers around his front lawn when he noticed a teal pegasus flying towards him.
April Showers landed. "Are you Grey Skies?"
Grey Skies nodded.
April Showers presented a letter to Grey Skies. "This is for you then. Direct courier from Ponyville from Misty Midnight."
Grey Skies opened and read the letter.
"Dear Grey Skies,
If you are reading this then I have been arrested by Celestia, thus interrupting my teaching of "Magic for Pegasi 101" in Ponyville. I have taught many ponies already and it is my belief that this is the time for pegasi to claim their gifts of magic. I ask that you start teaching the pegasi in Los Pegasus, to keep the movement going.
You will be getting another letter from a Twilight Sparkle. This letter supersedes that one. Scootaloo is continuing to teach my techniques in Ponyville in my absence, and is the strongest pegasus I have ever discovered with regards to magic. Having multiple classes occurring in multiple areas will help convince Celestia that it is beyond her ability to control.
I have faith in you, Grey.
He thought of his mare and their three foals. He just couldn't follow through on Misty's plan. Sure he might teach the occasional pegasus if it showed promise, and he would teach his foals, but he had no will to risk his family over opening up a school.
"Sorry Misty." He watched the teal pegasus fly off into the distance.
Princess Celestia sat upon her throne. This had been one of the most trying solar court sessions in her recent memory.
The court herald trumpeted, "Apple Polish, dean of Celestia's school for gifted unicorns."
A tan unicorn with a brown mane and a painfully serious expression trotted along the red carpet. She bowed before Celestia.
"I am here because of an anomaly with the early applications for the fall session. We have fifteen pegasi and seven earth ponies who have submitted applications. How do you want us to deal with this?"
Celestia thought for an uncomfortable amount of time. She stood. "Allow the applications to proceed. Set their interview dates for the same day. I will want to talk to that assembled group personally."
Apple polish bowed. "As you wish, your highness." She turned and left the court.
The court herald trumpeted, "Northern Lights, deputy manager of the Cloudsdale weather factory."
The purple pegasus nervously walked towards Celestia and took a deep bow. "Cloudsdale is below inventory on several key weather items and is presently understaffed. We ask that we be allowed to officially request aid from Los Pegasus for both ponypower and materials."
Celestia sighed and granted the request. She then announced an end to solar court and left the throne room.
She walked down several corridors and entered a private dining hall. Luna was quietly reading while waiting for her sister. The salad course was already prepared, but Luna had not started eating.
Celestia sat at the head of the table. "Solar court was very tiring today. It also appears that Scootaloo has taken over teaching 'Magic for Pegasi' in Ponyville."
Luna put the book aside. "I told you arresting Misty would not put an end to this."
Celestia replied, "Arresting her was a last resort. I truly hoped she could be convinced that her actions were bad for Equestria on some level, thus activating her oath. But her belief in this was unwavering."
Luna swallowed some of her salad and looked at Celestia. "Ponies have grown much in the past millennia. Are thou certain that they can not handle everypony having a magical talent?"
Celestia refilled her wine glass. "In a controlled manner over time, sure. During a single generation, doubtful. Many ponies still live in relative segregation. The nobility is mostly unicorns. This upsets a lot of anthills."
"Additionally, consider those with a talent for 'Still Shadows.' You know as well as I that it is at best grey magic. What if such a pegasus who had other talents decided to drain other ponies for extra power? Worse, what if such a pegasus decided to disable the spell holding Discord? The spellset is just too dangerous unless tightly controlled."
The kitchen door opened. Two unicorns in chef outfits brought gleaming covered dishes over to the table. One was placed in front of each alicorn and the old dishes removed. With a deft burst of telekinesis the covers floated behind the retreating kitchen staff.
Celestia started into her chestnut and mushroom risotto.
Luna toyed with her blueberry pancakes. "So, what is your next move then?"
Celestia swallowed. "Well, when I shut Misty down there were about two hundred ponies she had taught. About two should be capable of 'Still Shadows' but from what Misty's bravado when I confronted her I am guessing it is closer to four. My plan is to head over to Ponyville and see if Scootaloo will listen to reason."
Scootaloo watched as pegasi and earth ponies entered the library. She smiled widely when her childhood hero — one of the ponies she most respected entered the building.
Rainbow Dash took a front row seat. "Okay Scoots, you've got my attention."
Scootaloo gave Rainbow a quick nod and waited for the rest of the seats to be filled. She looked Rainbow straight in the eyes. "I dedicate this class to the legacy of our past and a future never realized — to Commander Hurricane and the pegasi of olde, their true history forgotten."
She looked back over the rest of the class. "I am Scootaloo and this is Magic for Ponies. It is my hope that tonight, the vast majority of you will earn your magical talents. I do this today because there may be no tomorrow."
She lectured on her safety warning, and a few tips on what was to come. She then started the practical portion of the class.
The ponies progressed through the various stages. Rainbow Dash was the first to form a glowing horn. Other ponies followed.
When about half of the ponies had succeeded, the door burst open.
Princess Celestia entered the library and started walking towards the front of the class.
Scootaloo called out to the class. "It appears we will be ending this one early. Congratulations to those who succeeded. Really any unicorn can eventually help with your next step. Please leave in an orderly fashion."
Students who had their eyes shut were shocked to see Celestia. The students were not exactly orderly in their attempts to leave the classroom.
When only Rainbow, Twilight, and Scootaloo remained, Celestia turned to Scootaloo. "I have some things to discuss with you in private."
Scootaloo turned to Celestia. "I think your highness would understand that I would prefer my friends to stick around — under the circumstances."
Celestia examined Rainbow Dash and noted her tenacity. She turned to Twilight who shivered under her gaze. She looked back at Scootaloo. "Very well — I would first like to say that I understand that you may have strong loyalties to Misty, but what she has presented you with is dangerously one-sided."
"Misty was never one to fully appreciate the consequences of her actions. Beyond all of the social uproar that universal magic use would cause, there are very good reasons why Misty's talents and your own have been lost to time. Beyond the rift it could make between unicorns and pegasi, think of the dangers. A pegasus like Misty could potentially even free Discord."
On hearing the name Discord, Scootaloo retreated into memory.
"It was thirteen years ago. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and I were on a field trip with Cheerilee in Canterlot. We were arguing about the most inane things. I remember saying 'chaos' and then it turned into a fight. We almost never came to blows and never over something so silly. I did not feel in control of myself. Looking back, I remember now. There was this surge of energy during the fight, followed by maniacal laughter. Then Cheerilee broke us up. After that I felt normal."
Celestia had long since finished talking. Rainbow Dash flew in front of Scootaloo. "Equestria to Scootaloo. Is anypony in there?"
Scootaloo felt scared, then ashamed, then used, and finally settled on angry. She turned to Celestia. "Maybe things would be safer if you trusted your ponies instead of trying to hide what they are from them."
Three pairs of eyes focused on Scootaloo.
Realizing her mistake she continued. "What I mean is that your ponies are very trustworthy. It is not worth losing one's heritage and one's destiny just to keep unpleasant truths of the past hidden from pegasi. We are strong enough to deal with the truth and peaceful and loyal enough to handle the abilities."
Celestia sighed. "Change on this scale takes time, and some truths are better off forgotten. Everypony has a role. Is unlocking other ponies' talents today so very important to you?"
Scootaloo looked at her wings. "Magic is my talent and my destiny. Before I met Misty I never had a role. I was the pegasus who would never fly. Every fiber of my being knew something was missing. My cutie mark knew. When I discovered magic I discovered me. This could have happened fifteen years ago. No, I will not deny other ponies their talents."
Celestia replied, "You leave me no choice. Scootaloo, you are under arrest. Guards, take Scootaloo into custody."
Rainbow Dash was momentarily stunned. When Scootaloo was almost to the door she attempted to fly after them.
Rainbow Dash was stopped from following by Twilight's hoof on her tail. "Why are you stopping me? She can't arrest Scootaloo."
Twilight looked directly at Rainbow. "Because it would do no good right now. This is not the time. We have to work out our positions and have a discreet plan."
After Celestia was safely out of listening distance, Twilight started. "I think the first thing we need to do is to get the class records. The night Misty was taken into custody, Scootaloo made a pretense of going to the powder room. She instead went to Misty's room and removed something. You know where Scootaloo lives right?"
Rainbow started moving towards the door. "It is one of the apartments in North Ponyville. I know it well."
They made their way through Ponyville to Scootaloo's apartment. Rainbow Dash observed that it was locked, but opening a normal lock was no problem for Twilight Sparkle.
Twilight and Dash walked into the apartment. They closed the door behind them. Misty's box was sitting out on a table in the middle of the room.
Rainbow Dash beamed upon seeing the box. "Is that what I think it is?"
Twilight tried to unlock the box with magic and failed.
Rainbow continued, "Back in the days of Commander Hurricane, boxes like this were used to transport important documents on the battlefield. They called it an unbalanced box. It was specifically designed so unicorns could not open them."
Rainbow paused and tried to bring out the glowing horn. A couple of minutes later she succeeded. She scanned the box and attempted to add some energy to the parts that had none. The lid sprang open.
Twilight glared at Rainbow Dash. "And how did you do that when you just learned how to form a horn?"
Rainbow Dash produced "Fighting in the Shadows" and said, "I was kind of winging it but I at least knew what I needed to do."
Twilight's eyes focused on the book. She squealed upon seeing the author and topic and reverently opened it with magic. She scanned a few pages. "I wonder why neither Misty nor Scootaloo said anything about this."
Rainbow Dash replied, "Well, it is a matter of Pegasus heritage and Misty had been under oath to Celestia not to reveal the information."
Twilight collected the contents of the box. "I think I am coming up with the basics of a plan. Can I borrow this?"
Rainbow Dash glanced at the book and nodded solemnly.
It had been three years since the 'retirement' of her father as tribe leader of her band of griffons — three years since the leadership had been thrust upon her. She was frankly amazed that she had lasted this long and needed any edge she could get to maintain her position.
She was distracted from her flight by a rumble and a circle of colors in the distance. She knowingly banked and flew towards Whitetail Woods. She landed on a large cloud and watched as Rainbow Dash performed aerial stunts. She saw familiar ones like the high-speed strut and more recent additions like the corkscrew death drop.
When it seemed Rainbow was finished she called out. "So that is what the captain of the wonderbolts considers a workout these days. Looks like they have relaxed their standards."
Rainbow Dash flew down towards the griffon. "Gilda, what brings you to Ponyville? I thought you had it with Equestria."
Gilda raised a claw. "We don't need to get all sentimental. I came because I thought you could get me into Misty Midnight's 'Magic for Pegasi' class."
Rainbow shuddered. "Oh that, um Gilda, Misty is currently in jail for teaching that class along with a good friend of mine." She landed on the cloud next to Gilda. "Plus who knows if griffon even have talents? For old times sake..." She concentrated, forming a ghostly horn and scanned Gilda. "Well, you do have enough energy."
Gilda contemplated Rainbow Dash with great intensity and pointed a claw in her direction. "You could teach me."
Rainbow gulped. "Now now wait Gilda. I am not what you would call a teacher and I only just learned myself."
Gilda, tasting Rainbow's uncertainty, started to purr. "Remember back in Cloudsdale when we —"
Rainbow inwardly smiled as she got a brilliant idea. "Okay, Gilda. We have to land first though."
The pegasus and griffon touched down on the grass below. "The first thing you need to learn is how to move your own magic around."
Rainbow brought the ghostly horn back out and moved all of Gilda's magical energy away from her wings. She then flew back up into the clouds, and turned around quickly to watch.
Gilda took a huge leap into the air, flapped her wings, and crashed back into the ground. Rainbow erupted into peals of laughter.
Gilda roared, "What did you do to me Rainbow Miriam Dash?"
Rainbow thought, "Best prank ever," and said, "Exactly what you asked me to do, only in the most awesome way possible. Wings — no magic, no flight. Catch up to you later, G."
Gilda chased after Rainbow Dash but it only took her seconds to fly out of range of the grounded griffon.
Spike collected the breakfast plates from the table and moved them into the kitchen. After cleaning them he returned to the main room and ticked off a box on his checklist. "Hearty breakfast, check. I guess that means the next step is 'collect Rainbow Dash' and then off to Carousel Boutique."
Twilight placed a couple of books in her saddlebag along with Misty's class list. She opened the door, yawned, and started off towards Rainbow Dash's cloud house. Spike closed the library door and followed behind.
She saw a brown and white form ahead. Upon closer observation she noted it was an all too familiar griffon. Twilight had planned to shout up to Rainbow Dash but decided maybe it would be better not to awaken Gilda. She cast a cloudwalking spell upon Spike and herself, then teleported the pair up to Rainbow's bedroom.
Rainbow Dash was sound asleep. Light snoring noises issued from her peaceful form. Twilight lightly prodded her foreleg.
Rainbow awoke with a start, and proceeded to fall out of bed. She stood up and glared at Twilight. "What is it lately with ponies and my bedroom? I'm awake. What are you two doing here?"
Twilight observed, "you know there is a griffon under your house?"
Rainbow suppressed a smirk. "That would be Gilda. She tried to get me to unlock her magic talent. I remembered what Flitter told me about what you and Misty did to her, and decided to have some fun with G. I guess you could call her Gilda the grounded griffon."
Twilight failed to hold in a chuckle. "When I saw her asleep down there I decided it would be better to teleport up than yell out for you. It appears that was the right choice."
Rainbow looked out the window. "You got that one right. You never saw her truly mad."
Spike pointed at his checklist and Twilight shifted gears. "Here I am rambling on when there are important things to discuss. I did a lot of thinking on how we might be able to help Scootaloo and Misty."
"I considered setting up a meeting with Celestia and discussing this over tea. Thing is though, they both tried talking to Celestia and rather than swaying her opinion, they just got arrested. I think it will take a demonstration of will to get Celestia to change her mind and anything I could say would weaken what you could do."
It had taken Gilda two days but she finally figured out how to move the magic back into her wings. She flexed her claws in anticipation. Her wings gleamed in the rays of the rising sun as she flew up to Rainbow's cloud house. She pushed open the door and quietly padded her way to Rainbow's bedroom.
Rainbow Dash slept fitfully in her bed. Her movements had long since pushed her covers onto the floor. Gilda slowly approached the sleeping Rainbow. She extended one claw and drew a line right down Dash's spine.
Rainbow Dash shrieked and flew straight up into the ceiling. She clung to the cloud upside-down like a cat. Rainbow scowled down at Gilda. "That is it! I am putting a LOCK on that door."
Gilda padded around the bed. "Your little prank was not funny."
Rainbow Dash replied, "But it really was funny Gilda, and it served a real purpose. You can move your energy around now, right G?
Gilda watched as Rainbow landed softly on the far side of the bed. "Yes I can."
Rainbow Dash looked mournfully at Gilda. "The next part requires patience and subtlety — two qualities you have in so much abundance. You have to move a small amount of energy to your forehead. At least for pegasi, a ghostly horn should naturally form."
Gilda growled then settled in and concentrated.
Rainbow Dash burst into laughter. "Oh Gilda, griffons look utterly ridiculous with a horn."
Gilda opened her eyes and looked across the room into a mirror. "For being this stupid, it has to be worth it somehow. What can I do with it?"
Rainbow Dash replied, "I didn't think you would get this far G. Usually a unicorn helps out at this point. I think you just have to try stuff while using some magic. My talent doesn't even work that way."
Gilda concentrated on a cloud, then her claws, then the bed. She angrily turned to Rainbow Dash. "THIS IS UTTERLY USELESS."
Rainbow nodded. "Or maybe it could be voice amplification. Good going G."
Gilda let out a huge amplified roar. She considered her great luck. She got to name the nature of the contest when challenged and now no griffon could beat her at roaring. Barring foul-play her position as tribe leader was secure.
Gilda pranced across the room. "You are still awesome Dash." With that she exited the bedroom, and flew into the horizon.
Princess Celestia walked up to her throne. Things had quieted down considerably in the month since she closed Misty's school. She looked forward to a nice easy day of solar court. The court steward handed her the list of ponies to appear today and retreated behind her. She looked down at the list, then she cast about for her steward. He was nowhere to be seen.
The court herald trumpeted, "Captain Rainbow Dash, Element of Loyalty, Captain of the Wonderbolts."
The reflected sunlight gleamed off Rainbow Dash's armor. She marched in full "Still Shadows" regalia at the head of a group of at least two hundred pegasi. They also wore period garb and marched in neat lines, five to a row. Rainbow Dash and the pegasi to the outside of each row sported glowing horns.
The entire company of pegasi bowed as one.
Rainbow Dash addressed Celestia. "On behalf of the pegasi of Equestria we request the release of Misty Midnight and Scootaloo and the restoration of our heritage."
Celestia walked down the stairs and quietly spoke to Rainbow Dash. "I sense Rarity's design in your garb."
Rainbow said, "she has worked on this for quite some time."
Celestia continued to admire Rarity's uniforms. She had so vividly recreated the period dress that it evoked memories of that time. "So she supports you in this?"
Rainbow replied, "The elements are united."
Celestia looked straight into Rainbow Dash's eyes. "And if I refuse?"
Rainbow sadly returned Celestia's glance. "Then I will know that I tried my best to help my friends. It is your decision after all."
Celestia returned to her throne. "Your request is noted and will be considered."
The pegasi bowed and left the court in an orderly manner.
The court herald trumpeted, "Applejack, Element of Honesty."
Applejack walked the length of red carpet with well over a hundred earth ponies behind her. About half of them maintained glowing horns. They bowed before their princess.
Applejack addressed Celestia. "On behalf of the earth ponies of Equestria we request the release of Misty Midnight and Scootaloo and the right to unlock our talents."
Celestia replied, "The earth pony support of the pegasi petition is noted."
The earth ponies bowed and left the throne room.
The court herald trumpeted, "Sea Swirl, unicorn of Ponyville."
A small pony with a pink coat and blue-purple mane slowly walked along the carpet. She stopped and bowed before Celestia.
"I am here to ask for clemency in the case of Misty Midnight. She did not simply teach pegasi and earth ponies. She gave injured unicorns a second chance at life. My horn — my talent was lost in an accident and I would have never recovered it if it were not for Misty."
Celestia stood up from her throne. "Solar court is over for today."
She rapidly worked her way towards the exit. An invisible Luna followed her out of the throne room. As soon as they were clear of other ponies, Luna dropped her spell. "Hello Tia."
Celestia replied, "I sensed you sneak behind me as I was leaving the throne room. My steward's reactions make a lot more sense now."
Luna trotted alongside Celestia. "Don't be too hard on him. I made some — last minute changes to his schedule."
Celestia halted and looked at Luna. After a few long seconds she went down a side passage.
She went down some stairs, passed a few guards, and came to a stop before a cell in the dungeon. "You seem to have made quite an impression on some ponies."
Misty Midnight yawned and got up from her cot. "Friendship is magic. Of course that magic is not restricted."
Celestia replied, "Misty, why do you always have to make things so difficult? I came down here to tell you I reconsidered the ban on teaching pegasi and earth ponies magic.
Misty looked at Celestia. "Can you repeat that?"
Celestia pondered. "Okay Misty, how about — I have decided to banish you to the moon. Is that better?"
Misty blanched. "Um no, I think I preferred the tenor and the meaning of your first statement."
Celestia nodded. "Good — there are a few conditions on your release. Yes you can have your school in Ponyville, but I would like to know of any ponies with strong talents and especially any pegasus whose talent is 'Still Shadows.' I would also strongly request that you keep me apprised of anything else you think I should know. I also want notice if you should decide to leave the greater Canterlot area. You will receive a stipend of 200 bits per month from the treasury and will comport yourself in a proper manner."
Misty looked around the small room then agreed to the terms.
Celestia opened the door and informed the guards about her and Scootaloo's release. She then continued onward to another cell.
Celestia looked at Scootaloo. "Did you hear my chat with Misty Midnight?"
Celestia asked Scootaloo if she would agree to the same terms. When Scootaloo complied, Celestia started to cast a spell.
Scootaloo rose as a blue aura of energy wrapped her form. When it ended, gossamer butterfly wings overlaid Scootaloo's stunted pegasus wings. "If you hurry you can still catch Misty. Knowing her, she will be flying off to Ponyville as fast as her hooves can leave Canterlot soil. I figured a taste of flight was the least I could do."
Scootaloo thanked Celestia and sped off out of the dungeon.
Luna watched as the two pegasi ascended together into the sky.
Scootaloo and Misty Midnight were escorted by four royal guards out of their cells and into the courtyard of the castle.
Princess Celestia stood in judgement on a field version of her throne near the center. Numerous pegasi including Rainbow Dash, still in their regalia stood to the left, and over a hundred earth ponies stood to the right. Several unicorn nobles, who had a more direct view in the center, cheered as the pair were escorted to a position several feet in front of Celestia and forced to kneel.
"It is the finding of this court that Misty Midnight and Scootaloo are guilty of willfully, intractably, and unrepentantly spreading disharmony in Equestria," started Celestia. "The penalty for this is banishment. Sentence to be carried out immediately by this court."
The pegasi and earth ponies groaned, looking mainly at the defendants. The sole exception was Rainbow Dash who angrily glared at the princess.
"Do you have anything to say before sentence is carried out?" asked Celestia.
In response both ponies called upon their magic, ghostly horns forming on their heads, but they said nothing.
"So be it," replied Celestia as she charged up her own magic.
One short blast of white energy later, and the two were gone, a small singed area on the field being the only evidence that they were ever there. Celestia bowed her head, while the onlookers gasped.
Misty Midnight watched in horror as Celestia passed judgement. She had always feared it could come to this, all the way back to her first meetings with Celestia so many years ago. Possibly defending against it was the main reason she had learned teleportation in the first place. She only hoped that Scootaloo had taken her lessons from Twilight seriously.
Celestia asked if Misty had anything to say before banishment. She had plenty to say but the plan took precedence. She sent some of her magic to her forehead, the ghostly horn rapidly forming. She was pleased that Scootaloo had done the same. She concentrated on the area in front of her. Celestia's magic was far too powerful to counter, but she had learned in her many sparring sessions with Twilight that it could be diverted.
She concentrated on deflecting magic directed at her to either side. She could "see" that Scootaloo was doing the same. She also brought energy to the rest of her body in preparation for a teleport. This had to be timed perfectly or it would all be in vain.
Time seemingly slowed under the intense concentration. Princess Celestia charged her horn. Her whole body tingled as the massive surge of power broke harmlessly to both sides of her. She ignited her magic instigating the teleport.
She quietly and deliberately changed her facing. Celestia was moving forward towards the charred spot on the ground. As one, Misty and Scootaloo started to drain off Celestia's magic.
Celestia felt cold as the twin siphons hit her from behind. She angrily turned about to face the pair of traitorous ponies when two more pegasi started using Still Shadows against her.
She glanced over at the pegasi to see that one was Rainbow Dash and another a red pegasus she did not recognize. A shadow passed overhead as Luna came to a landing near Celestia.
Celestia's features eased as she turned back towards the traitors. She fired a wide bolt of energy at Misty Midnight which harmlessly bounced off a formerly invisible midnight blue shield.
Celestia's look of relief drained from her face as she looked into the unyielding eyes of her younger sister. "Why?" she asked.
"What you were doing was wrong," answered Luna. "You can't force the ponies into a steady state forever. Change comes, sister. It is time for the ponies to grow up, and you would never allow that to happen."
Celestia's flowing mane shifted to a solid pink color. "I only wanted what was best for my little ponies."
Luna's eyes softened as she drew nearer to her sister. "I know. But it is their time now. Do you understand?"
Celestia nodded. She looked pleadingly at Misty Midnight and asked, "Can you forgive me?"
In a gesture of respect the four pegasi dropped their siphons.
"I formally step down as diarch of Equestria," said Celestia. "I wish you well in your future and if you have need of me, feel free to seek me out."
She started walking towards the exit and no pony stopped her.