Avatar is of Ambar, a character from the comic Las Lindas by Challodillo.
90w, 6dWriting Gold
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90w, 6dDoubled Fun
92w, 2dOrganized Shipping (Most Common)
93w, 3dTwilight is Best Pony
65w, 1dTwilight Sparkle
81w, 5dF/F ships
18w, 4dTwilight Shipping
30w, 6dLong Fics
1w, 6dShips in a Bottle 32 comments · 315 views
7w, 2dGot Married 36 comments · 201 views
10w, 3dHa'Jin'Vega 4 comments · 152 views
11w, 3dCloppin 16 comments · 210 views
16w, 1dI Just Want an Opinion 15 comments · 192 views
42w, 5dI really shouldn't be writing without thinking. 10 comments · 495 views
55w, 2dThe Beginnings of Chapter 1 10 comments · 174 views
66w, 6dRead This. 12 comments · 101 views
69w, 4hGot Bored, Wrote Fic 25 comments · 76 views
70w, 16hFound a Little Fic 6 comments · 52 views
Fluttershy wasn’t entirely sure how to sympathize with Twilight at this point. Growing up, she’d had her own fair share of blows to the head that kept her uncomfortable for a while, which sometimes lead to a lack of sleep, but she could see the unicorn was only walking through the motions now, more than likely asleep on her hooves when she wasn’t trembling in pain. She’d done her best to keep her comfortable, but the doctors insisted she not wear the rags during testing.
Another cause for her discomfort was being so close to Celestia and not bowing, nor getting speeched at, nor was there any sort of special event. Standing near the worried Princess she could see just how much like every pony she truly was. Her emotions were written clearly across her face, and she sagged in an unroyal fashion as she watched through the glass window. The doctors had insisted only the patient and professionals be in the room as they ran her through x-rays and measured her horn while testing it magically and physically. It was found very quickly the unicorn did not like to have it touched, and nearly had a handful when the first yelp nearly sent the Princess through the door. Fortunately for them, one was not a proper ruling Princess unless you had restraint.
While it was only forty minutes or so of constant testing, from an outsider’s perspective it felt like it just kept dragging on. The white-coated unicorns finally put Twilight in a bed though and gave her something to help her sleep and a nurse invited them into the room from a different door. The tiny hospital room was a small, comfy cot, a window, a trashcan, a few monitoring machines, and a radio. Twilight was snuggled up in the bed, deep in sleep as a nurse used a small file to collect a few shavings, but they could see that even the slightest movement of the horn caused her to wince and squirm. The two approached the bed and the nurse bowed herself out after collecting the samples.
Celestia was quiet while she observed her student. She’d calmed down in the time she’d walked across the room, just happy to see her student at peace again. “Perhaps you should start mixing that solution again Fluttershy, she’s restless.” Celestia advised, watching Twilight’s face twitch. She did her best to make her comfortable, fluffing the pillow, straightening the blanket, making sure she was warm with a glow of her horn. Fluttershy was carefully pressing cloth to Twilight’s face to ease the pain and comfort her. While Celestia didn’t doubt it’d make Twilight feel good, seeing most of her face wrapped up wasn’t reassuring.
“Ah, Princess, glad you’re here. The results were in quickly, the labs were very curious about this case.” A doctor entered, a manilla unicorn with glasses and a braided brown mane. The woman calmly approached the bed and noted all the cloth on her face. “I’ve read about natural remedies like this, could never understand it myself. Then again, I suppose I don’t spend a lot of time in nature.”
“The reports, doctor.” Celestia urged, causing the doctor to cough and nod slowly.
“Yes, right, the reports. Let’s take a look at what we’ve found.” She took the clip board resting gently on her hind quarters and led them to a part of the room to pin up documents. The doctor floated the first paper up, an x-ray, and let them look closer. It was a profile from Twilight’s left, revealing her bone structure, and more importantly her horn. “Now, this picture was confusing at first because when we took our first look, something seemed out of the ordinary.” Fluttershy squinted her eyes. She wasn’t intimately familiar with the pony bone-structure but she could tell something was off. She stared harder at the head, and chewed her inner cheek slowly.
“It’s in her head.” Celestia spoke up. Fluttershy didn’t know what she meant at first until she looked closer: Unicorn horns were attached straight to the skull, Twilight’s horn dug into the skull and went through, stopping just in front of the brain. “What does that mean, doctor? Is it a growth?”
“That’s what we assumed, until we took a look at some of the key factors in backwards horn growth.” Fluttershy’s wings stood up straight in sympathetic pain from the name alone. “First, it wouldn’t cause blood loss around the horn. Second, the pain wouldn’t be this extreme until it was actually pressing into the brain, and even then she wouldn’t have survived this long in that case. Finally, Twilight Sparkle’s magic isn’t deterred in any way. In fact, since her last physical, she’s conducting magic at an increased rate.” She spoke in a casual tone as she pulled out the next sheet of paper.
“How much has it increased?” Celestia asked in very mild surprise.
“Does that make her horn grow backwards?” Fluttershy also asked.
“Around forty times her conductivity since before she left.”
“Oh.” Celestia’s eyes widened in less mild surprise.
“And no to your question miss Fluttershy. Though to be honest, during the opening exam the number was merely thirty-eight times the original. In a span of forty minutes, it increased twice. And yes, we’ve checked it repeatedly. The original calculation were correct, as were the new ones. We plan to do periodic testing.” The doctor hung up the second sheet. Fluttershy and Celestia both read it, finding it to be the physical measurements of Twilight, with horn length and width highlighted. Six inches on the nose. “This was also her initial physical information. As you can see, her horn was half a foot in length, and half an inch in width on the base. Now, this is where it finally dawned on us.”
A third paper was attached to the wall and the two began to read it quickly, getting straight to the bolded horn length. “That’s-” Celestia stood rigid as she leaned in close. “This can’t be right. She’s nearly reached her full maturity.”
“We know, that’s why we had to keep her for so long. We had to dig up old pictures and measurements to make sure we were absolutely accurate. Low and behold, they were. Princess Celestia, I hate to make light of your student’s pain, but you have an incredibly interesting case here. I’ve never seen anypony’s horn grow two and a half inches in the span of sixteen hours.” It wasn’t just the length, the width had grown to eight-tenths of an inch from half.
“But what does that mean? Are you saying she’s getting hurt because her horn’s growing?” Fluttershy asked, checking back and forth between the charts. Nothing but the information on the horn changed, other than a small list of scars from her recent adventures in Ponyville.
“Precisely. Her horn is growing so rapidly it’s not giving her skull time to completely recover. It’s pushing aside skin and bone on it’s way out.” Fluttershy gasped at the thought, and instinctively covered her own forehead. The doctor chortled. “Oh I did much the same when I had that described to me. It’s small wonder her vision has been so skewered as of late. That much pain as well as having your forehead reorganized can have its side-effects. Oh, but I’m not done. Other than having a continually growing horn, we’ve discovered more.”
Fluttershy trembled as she watched the doctor put more charts on the walls, not sure if she could take any more of this painful sounding testing, but found to her minor relief she couldn’t read the charts. They were graphs filled with numbers and lines. Celestia however found them very interesting as she read each one carefully, taking them all in, but pausing the longest on the last chart. “Doctor, you’re going to have to explain this to me. It completely deviates from the other charts.”
“Well, as you can see, from her birth to her last year attending the university, her magical growth has been constant and on one path.” Fluttershy read the first few charts mapping the growth, a purple line representing the slow, upwards growth of Twilight’s magic. There were two other lines, one blue and one green. “She never had any Earth pony connections nor Pegasus qualities, so her body never had to stemmy the growth of her personal magic.” Fluttershy understood. The green and the blue lines must’ve represented the innate magics of Pegasi and Earth ponies. If she understood the charts right, the non unicorn-magics would probably be at one level once the pony reached adulthood and stay there. It would at least explain why she only had to visit a magical testing facility once in her life.
Then she read the forth chart. Twilight’s magic was already reaching pretty high, but she noticed a newer yellow line. It went from the zero point of the graph and launched straight up until it touched the purple line, and at the point the lines combined into an orange line, which breached the top of the graph and just seemed to continue.
“From what we can tell, the yellow line is some sort of outside force. Tracing it in the body it doesn’t form in the heart like unicorn magic, doesn’t begin in the stomach like Earth Pony magic, and not in the wings and legs like Pegasi magic. Whatever it is, it’s not in the body, she‘s collecting it from around her.” Celestia and Fluttershy shared a look of confusion, but for different reasons.
“The horn can only focus the magic inside of you.” Celestia stated, as if from a textbook. She stood and lifted a hoof to her chin in thought, and took a closer look. The doctor said nothing as she let the princess stare. “It collects from outside the body and gathers inside of it like regular magic?”
“As far as we can tell, no, it’s incredibly different. It intermingles with regular magic and as far as we can tell functions like it, but we can‘t measure it, it doesn‘t respond to most tests. The only way we could tell was when we tried to overload her with foreign magic to get her to force out hers.” Celestia nodded expectantly. “We couldn’t do it.” Celestia turned to face the sadly smiling doctor. “We’d have more luck trying to move the stars. No matter how much we pumped into her it was like trying to bury the ocean in sand. There was just no end to the tunnel. We got a Line-Maker in here to map out her magical pool and found it to be the exact same size as it usually was, and we kept them there while we pumped the magic in. What he saw was that the magic wasn’t filling up space or pushing out any of Twilight’s own. It was dispersing in the air around her. We then took a shot in the dark and tested the whole room and found Twilight had a cloud of magic so thick around her she could practically glow in the dark.”
“Meaning what?” Celestia prodded as a flurry of papers began to cover the walls from the doctor’s magic. “Are you saying she, well…”
“Absorbs magic. At least magic you try to put in her, the machines all worked fine. Whatever is happening to your dear student is making her very strong. The only consequences I can see in the near and far future is tampering with her horn while it grows could cause deformations, leading to migraines and an off-center horn, and the sudden shift and expansion of her skull could cause similar results. Whatever this is could also stop her from casting any sort of magic whatsoever. While our tests draw out her magic, there’s no real way to confirm she can still do the same. We will only be able to tell with time.”
Something changed in Celestia’s stance. Fluttershy looked up at her curiously, and the doctor seemed confused as a look of solid determination crossed the lord mare’s features. “You are going to make sure Twilight Sparkle can continue to use her magic.”
“Lady Celestia, I understand your concern but-”
“I’m not sure that you do, Doctor. No offense, but unlike most Unicorns, Twilight doesn’t use her magic to help with her job. Magic is her job. If she lost her magic for any reason…” Celestia sighed as she let the sentence hang in the air. Nopony had to finish it. Your passion in life created your cutie mark, what you were meant to do all along for as long as you pleased, to have it stripped away from you permanently…
“… I understand.” The doctor finally concluded, gathering her papers. “Well, you know what you need to know, Princess Celestia. We will take every precaution we can in making sure the horn grows in properly. That much we can do. We’ll have her cast her first spell once the pain subsides and she can focus. Until then, lots of bed rest.” She moved to Twilight’s cot and stared at the odd horn on her head.
“Um, doctor?” The two older ponies looked to Fluttershy, who stood at the foot of Twilight’s bed. “Is it okay if I stay in here? Until she gets better I mean. I’d be going home with her. I just want to make sure she’s comfortable.”
“You did come all this way just for her.” Celestia interrupted the woman before she could even speak. “Doctor see about getting an extra mattress in here. I want Fluttershy by her side at all times. Twilight needs her friends.” Celestia knew that better than anyone. The element of Friendship withered without the ponies they cared for being nearby.
“Of course, Princess.”
It had been a mighty long day. Applejack had spent the rest of the beautiful day letting her friends and the officials know that Twilight was in good hands. The panic the whole debacle had nearly caused made talk of death and sickness, words that didn’t rest easy on anyone’s ears, but it was a relief to hear that Celestia was just picking up her student. Town life returned to normal, but most conversations started with: “Did you see Celestia and the royal guard?”
“And the Princess honestly had no idea what was wrong with her? Oh, the horrors!” Rarity dragged her hooves down her face and shook her head. Applejack made it a point to visit her friends last, since she didn’t want to bore them by dragging them around town to hear the same story again and again.
Applejack just nodded slowly, and gave her a hopeful smile. “There’s no need to go worryin’ yer mane off though Rarity, Princess Celestia and Fluttershy are with her right now. We’re gonna see Twilight Sparkle right as rain soon enough, ya got my word.” Applejack nodded, believing her own words sure enough.
“Oh I believe you Applejack but it’s not just Twilight I’m worried about. A bleeding horn, this could ruin her as a unicorn!” Rarity stamped the wood floor beneath her feet and sighed deeply.
“Ruin her? What’re ya on about Rarity, it’s just a bit o’ blood.” Applejack followed the white unicorn upstairs to the creative part of her boutique, watching as she rolled out fabric. “… T’ain’t just a bit o’ blood, is it?” She asked, feeling worried again.
“Applejack, I know you’re not a unicorn so it’ll be difficult to understand, but bare with me while I paint you a picture. As an Earth Pony, when you stand on the dirt, how do you feel?” Rarity asked, turning to Applejack with a counseling look. Applejack didn’t like that look, it made her feel like somepony thought she was stupid.
“Y’know darn well I feel alive on the dirt. Feeling the grass under my hooves and smellin’ the air, ain’t a better feelin’.” Applejack concluded with a smart bob of her head. It was the honest truth, Rainbow Dash would give a similar answer if asked if she liked flying in the air.
“And how do you feel up here on the second story, where the ground’s not beneath your feet?” Rarity asked, measuring along a pane of cloth before taking a pair of scissors. Applejack thought about it and pawed the ground in thought, and took a deep breath.
“It feels like, well, it’s hard to describe. Like a part of me went numb, or I’m missin’ a leg or somethin’ but it ain’t really my leg. Just somethin’ feels gone down below.” She answered. Now that she thought about it, it was a dreadful feeling. She had the urge to go roll around in the grass suddenly.
“Well, a unicorn’s horn is very similar. It’s an extension of who we are, the focal point of our magic. Without a horn, we can’t do magic, and magic is what defines a unicorn. It may sound strange but taking away our magic is like taking the dirt from underneath your feet.” Applejack considered what she’d been told, and bowed her head.
“I guess I see yer point. What happens to unicorns who lose their horns? Or their magic?” Applejack asked. She hadn’t been expecting the severity of the answer.
“CatASTROPHE darling, catastrophe!” Rarity pressed her hoof against her forehead and swooned at the thought. “I’ve heard many stories or unicorns losing their horns in some accident, or on a drunken binge. Exile and death is a more merciful alternative. Without a way to let loose the magic within them, all that energy stores inside of them, urging to be released in some way, some fashion. All that creativity inside of a pony and none of it can be let out! Many of them drive themselves into incurable depression, but a couple of the ambitious, powerful ones drive themselves mad trying to find a way to let the magic out!”
“But Rarity, a unicorn like you devotes herself to dress makin’. It can’t be so bad for you, you could toil yer days away sewin’ and stitchin’ and the like.” Applejack didn’t want to believe that unicorns, known for their eccentricies, were just a close shave away from instability. Sure unicorn horns were tough, but like Rarity said, accidents and drunken binges had a tendency to disagree with what was difficult or not.
“Oh no no no no no dear Applejack, I use my magic to work. I lift the scissors, fold the cloth, but more than anything…” She approached a chest and lifted it, revealing a small mountain of gems. Applejack stared for several seconds before she realized Rarity was close to running out if all she had was one measly chest. “These. My magic lets me find and utilize these. Gems have always been my passion.” She lifted a particularly sparkly ruby and stared at it in the light. Her horn was glowing softly, and Applejack could only stare as she watched the gem begin to shine brighter and brighter until it tossed off dazzling light in all directions. “I know it seems shallow but I love these things. I see a dress and I need to compliment it with gems. Without my magic, all I’d have it a small pile of pretty rocks.”
Applejack could swear Rarity was having a moment of crazy. The way she waxed poetic about the gems, but she recalled Rarity was magically attuned to them. She could find them with a point of her horn after all, and no matter the number of gems in a stack she could lift them all with ease whereas a small suitcase of clothes could strain her. Then again, Applejack liked her farm and her apples. “Rarity, I can’t say I understand you Unicorns any, but if it means so much to ya I can’t really argue.”
“I didn’t expect you to Applejack, I’m just worried for our friend. Such drama always makes me feel so talkative.” Rarity put her gems back and returns to the cloth she was managing, and soon had it cut into the proper shape to flatter a pony’s flank.
“Well, like I said sugarcube, Twilight ain’t in any trouble. ‘Sides, I’ve seen her take blows to the head before, she’ll pull through with more magic bristling’ at the tip of her horn in no time.” Applejack smiled triumphantly.
“That’s it Twilight, just a few more sips and you’ll be all full.” Fluttershy didn’t like to admit she took excessive pleasure in being a caretaker, but there was no greater feeling in her heart than watching something needy and weak grow strong again. Just knowing somepony or something needed her help gave her the warm and fuzzies. “There, all full. How do you feel?” Fluttershy set the empty bowl aside as she watched Twilight. Her horn was wrapped with a new rag, and Twilight’s eyes looked a lot less empty.
“… Trashcan.” Twilight whimpered as a growl came from her stomach. Fluttershy squeaked and turned her head away as she held up the small wastebasket. The sound of Twilight retching was still awful enough to make her stomach clench. “Uughh…”
“That’s the third bowl today, Twilight. You have to be able to keep something down…” Fluttershy gave her friend a cup of water, which was drained with relish. Anything to relieve the vile taste in her mouth.
“Maybe some dry bread.” Twilight groaned as the bucket was taken from her and the rag was tightened around her horn again, causing her to wince. “Or maybe I can learn to photosynthesize before I die of starvation. I bet there’s a spell for that…”
“No Twilight, no spell work. Not until your horn is fully grown again. If you stress it out before it’s fully healed it may never work the same again.” Fluttershy went to the intercom and placed an order for a plate of plain bread before coming back to the bedridden unicorn. “Oh it’s just like the birds I take care of. They want to go and fly so early but I keep having to say no until finally it’s all fixed, and they spread their wings and fly, free and beautiful and unharmed.” Fluttershy turned on the radio before opening the window blinds and staring out at the beautiful orange sky.
“Weather ponies are calling in a light rain for the next few days to make up for week-long drown. They’re assuring us there will still be sun between the showers, but to stick to the main roads to not muddy up anyone’s hooves. Sports news has been scarce lately but the Manehatten Hotrods have-” Fluttershy watched as Twilight stretched a hoof out to click the radio to a different station. Soft classical began to play, and Twilight laid back with a tiny sigh.
“How do you feel after, well, eating?” Fluttershy stood alongside the bed again, watching Twilight’s face. She’d slept for eight hours straight, waking up only because the smell of hot soup had disturbed her from her dreams. Fluttershy had ordered a second bowl for Twilight, but it turned out to be too thick for her and right back out. The same story for the second, and now the third bowl. It could have been worse Fluttershy supposed. If she’d ordered the baked and breaded celery sticks on onions and Twilight had wanted a bite, she’d bet it would have come out even faster, if possible.
“… Got a tummy ache.” Twilight answered meekly. The strain on her stomach from trying to hold the food down was understandable. She just felt so oddly vulnerable under Fluttershy’s oh so careful watch. She could see why the animals trusted her so much, Fluttershy had taken every precaution to keep her patient comfortable, even refusing a few curious interns at the door who had been wanting a strange case to crack. She’d been cautiously insistent at first, but after a few minutes of begging and then threatening, she’d turned the stare on. She herself had permission from Celestia to take care of Twilight, she’d show them what security threats could be answered with.
“I understand. Don’t you worry a thing, some light, fresh bread will clear that up.” Fluttershy smiled. There was plenty of innocence in it. It was part of what made Fluttershy so approachable, despite her beauty. She was fantastic looking, yet she was not selective about the friends she made and she never treated them wrong. Twilight just felt plain lucky to have become this mare’s friend.
“Fluttershy?” The pink-maned pony looked to Twilight curiously. “Anypony ever tell you you’re gorgeous?” The unicorn asked, looking up at the ceiling casually.
Fluttershy giggled quietly to herself. Twilight was sweet when she was drugged. She ran a hoof down the unicorn’s side and sighed. “Thank you Twilight, and yes.” She paused, and thought about how many times Rarity had used the word to describe a new look she’d put on Fluttershy. “But not that sincerely. Thank you. Maybe you should catch some sleep until the bread gets here?”
“No, I mean it. I mean, you look good. Well…” Twilight paused and stared at Fluttershy for a few seconds. “As far as I know. I guess I haven’t been everywhere to judge. I mean, really, the standards of beauty change with each passing culture, Zecora’s little cut may be the height of beauty where she comes from where we prefer long and flowing manes. In her culture you may even be the ugliest girl ever!” Fluttershy bit her lip. Twilight didn’t notice as she just kept rambling through her own cloudied head. Twilight paused when she heard a whimper from the Pegasus. “Hey, Fluts, you alright?” She asked, and Fluttershy finally burst out laughing.
The unicorn stared at the laughing Pegasus, not sure what was so funny but she began to join in just for the kick of it. It hurt to laugh, but it didn‘t hurt bad enough to make her stop. Fluttershy‘s gentle giggles finally died down, prompting Twilight to stop abruptly and stare at her friend. “Twilight, you’re so strange when you’re taking medicine. Please get some sleep, and don’t…” She snickered a little, “Don’t call me Fluts. It makes me sound… Manly.”
Twilight didn’t say anything, but suddenly a broad smile crossed her face, as if the most brilliant idea entered her head. “Flutterguy!” She began to giggle to herself, and Fluttershy groaned at the pun.
“Now I know you need sleep for sure. Lay down and get some rest. Maybe the medicine will work its way out and we can have a real conversation.” Twilight laid her head down and did as she was told, oddly enough, and turned over, away from Fluttershy. The unicorn smiled to herself. She’d made her laugh.
She still regretted joining in though; ow.
It was only through a combination of Fluttershy’s tender care and a lot of sleeping medicine Twilight managed to push through the last of it. Periodic testing with the doctors had revealed only a trace amount of her horn was left to grow. It was her third day in the hospital, and by this time the horn was getting thicker and harder to bare the growth. Even with the solution-soaked rags and the medication she was still in immense pain.
Fluttershy was glad that Twilight was under such heavy amounts of pain reliever because, watching her restlessly roll around, whimpering in agony while the Pegasus calmly stroked her head and whispered words of encouragement as Twilight worked through the pain was growing unbearable. She hadn’t noticed earlier due to not paying it much attention, but her horn was definitely longer. Her rag no longer wrapped around the full horn, exposing a near deathly sharpened tip that would cause quite a prick if rubbed wrong. On top of that, her hair didn’t even hide the base anymore.
“The doctors told me she’s in the final stages of growth.” Fluttershy turned quickly and spotted Celestia approaching from the doorway. She’d never noticed before but the Princess had incredibly quiet hoof-steps. “Is she doing okay?” Celestia leaned down to Fluttershy. The two had grown accustomed to each other over the days, but Fluttershy still insisted on bowing whenever she entered. But, when they spoke, they spoke as friends, not as royalty and their subjects.
“It doesn’t seem like it, no matter what I do I can’t stop her from being in pain anymore. She does this even in her sleep, so I can’t tell if whether she’s awake or not.” Celestia nodded quietly and nuzzled her student’s neck for a moment. “You two are very close.” Fluttershy finally pointed out after days of watching Celestia care for young Twilight.
“I’ve been lonely for hundreds of years.” Celestia spoke freely, not hiding the exhaustion in her voice. “When I’d seen Twilight’s true magical prowess, I’d felt inclined to take her as my personal student more out of worry of what she’d do without proper training, but over time, she came to be a bright spot in my day. She was so eager to learn she often forgot my position, and treated me more and more like a teacher, then a friend. Honestly,” the Princess chuckled, “until Luna came back, Twilight’s been the only pony I think I’d consider a friend. The guards are nice and grow used to me but never stop treating me like a Princess.” Celestia smiled at that.
Fluttershy did recall that Twilight, upon seeing Celestia after Nightmare Moon’s defeat, rather than respectfully bow went in to greet the Princess and shared a small snuggle. “I never thought a Princess could get lonely.” Fluttershy admitted, a bit embarrassed.
“It’s one thing to have ponies around you. It’s another to have somepony who considers you, well, not really an equal but considers you as a pony rather than a Princess.” They both turned when they heard a gasping noise, and watched with slowly deepening frowns as Twilight, in her bed, began to kick and squirm, thrusting her head forward in a bucking motion. Fluttershy and Celestia pressed against her to keep her still, trying to ignore the frightened and pained gasps, until finally it subsided.
Fluttershy didn’t let go for what felt like a long time, worried that if she wasn’t there, Twilight would go back to kicking and squirming. She let go only reluctantly when the Princess did so and they took a close look at the Unicorn. She was no longer whimpering, and seemed to have finally settled down enough to take a long needed nap. Fluttershy removed the cloth, replacing it quickly to mop up a sudden gush of blood, and the two took a close look.
“As far as horns go, hers is quite magnificent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like it.” The Princess admitted. It was several inches short of two solid feet, and it looked awkward on Twilight’s smaller body. “At least not on a unicorn. This is definitely strange. Fluttershy, go get a doctor, I think the horn may have finally reached its full growth.”
Fluttershy nodded and stepped out of the room. In minutes it had four doctors of varying jobs carefully measuring and studying the sleeping girl’s horn. Fluttershy went almost unnoticed but the Princess was given a wide berth as they moved around the room. Fluttershy kept getting bumped up against until she moved to the back of the room.
“Well, we’ve done what we can.” The lead doctor finally concluded, scanning his clipboard. “From six inches to a foot and nine inches, half an inch in width to a full inch and a half.” The doctor reported to the Princess, who nodded while looking through the rest of the papers for her magic charts.
“The magic scans we got were interesting. They’re no longer measurable by conventional means so we had to compare them to your’s and Luna’s charts. We’ve found her levels are at least a sixteenth of Luna’s, and an eighteenth of yours Princess Celestia.” The Princess did not hide the surprise in her eyes, yet Fluttershy simply needed to ask.
“Is that a lot of magic?” Fluttershy asked the Princess, who nodded down to the pink-maned mare.
“Your average Unicorn at the height of their power would be around maybe a five-hundredth of me. Twilight was closer to a four-hundred and fiftieth when her magic was unrestrained. This increase in power, do you have any idea why, doctor?”
The doctor could only shake his head, and let out a throaty sigh. “If I did we’d have a stack of papers on it being written already, but as far as we can tell other than the foreign magic we got nothing. Until we can find a test that can detect the magic clinging to her we have little reason to keep her once she wakes up. If I may suggest, Princess, spend a few hours having her cast spells as she would normally when she does, provided she still can and isn’t too weak from the medicine. If she can’t control her strength, I’ll have to insist she stays in Canterlot.”
Fluttershy’s eyes widened, and she looked to Celestia with a large, disagreeing frown. Celestia didn’t look down at her. “I have to agree. But if she can control it, I’m sending her back to Ponyville.” The doctor didn’t dispute this.
Fluttershy took a moment to press her nose to Twilight’s neck, sincerely hoping Twilight would have the willpower to control whatever newfound strength she had.
“Ow.” Twilight squeezed her eyes shut. She tried to open them again but was met with much of the same reaction. She was going to have a word with whoever set up this room and demand to know why they thought it would be intelligent to put the bed directly beneath the light. It was also really quiet. Wasn’t there a radio in the room? She could barely remember. The past few days had been hazy and all she remembered was being sick and dazed.
Oh and there was Fluttershy. She vaguely recalled Fluttershy was there. She also thought of a funny new nickname for her but something told her that Fluttershy wouldn’t like it. Pity.
“Nng, my head feels so heavy!” She groaned, not wanting to open her eyes again or risk facing the blinding light. She heard a soft gasp of surprise, and soon felt a hoof rubbing her side. “Is that you Fluttershy?” She asked, turning her head to the side and opening one eye. It was still really bright, but that’s because she wasn’t looking at the yellow coat of her softest friend.
“How do feel my student?” Princess Celestia asked, smiling kindly down on Twilight. Twilight finally opened her eyes fully, feeling awfully lazy. She yawned loudly, maybe she’d go loafing around a bit. Grab a nice book, curl up in front of a fire… Oh but she wasn’t home.
“Dang…” She mumbled, getting off her back and onto her stomach, legs tucked underneath her body. “I feel tired. And hungry. And thirsty. I wanna go home.” Something was pushed under her nose and she leaned down to eat. It was plain old bread, and she couldn’t have been more grateful. Well, a carrot sounded good right now but beggars can’t be choosers. Celestia took care while floating a glass of water to Twilight’s lips and after she’d drained it and finished the bread, she curled up tighter and yawned.
“You can’t go back to sleep Twilight, we need to send you home first.” Twilight could hear Celestia’s smile. She snuggled into herself tighter. “Oh don’t be difficult Twilight, we just need to test a few things and we can send you back to your library, and your nice warm bed and Spike and all your books…” Twilight muttered something she couldn’t hear and stretched out, standing up slowly on her bed.
“Okay okay, you win. That sounds so good right now.” Twilight blinked lazily at Celestia, before she noticed something odd. Something just out of sight above her head. She looked up, and blinked. It was still there! She twisted her neck and rolled her eyes and tried her best to see what was there, but never managed to get a good look. Celestia chuckled at her student.
“Here.” A mirror pane popped into existence just in front of Twilight for her to get a good look at herself. She only needed a few seconds to see what had happened. Celestia watched her student’s jaw drop. “Impressive, isn’t it? That’s what’s been causing you so much trouble these past few days.”
“My horn!” Twilight widened her eyes, blinked rapidly, and then rubbed them before she finally accepted this was no illusion. “My little horn is so… Big now! What happened!?”
“We’re not sure.” Celestia answered, her voice losing a bit of its energy. “All we know is that it’s connected somehow to the sudden increase of magic inside of you. And around you for that matter.” She was staring at Twilight now with the spell the Line-Mappers used. It was like she was surrounded by an orange cloud, or highlighted by it. It did not obscure Twilight no matter which angle you looked at her from, and as Twilight grew more and more confused, the cloud seemed to match her emotion. It grew fuzzier, more ecstatic, roiling around her as Twilight was consumed with emotion. Twilight turned her head away, and the orange cloud lightly tapped the mirror, dismissing it. “Did you dismiss my mirror?” Twilight’s horn hadn’t even glowed.
The little unicorn shook her head. “No, why, didn’t you?” Celestia stared at her for a few moments.
“No. Come, we need to test your magical abilities. The doctors need to know if the change affected your control at all.” Celestia turned and heard Twilight leap off the bed to follow her. The two walked side-by-side out of the hospital and straight into the castle.
“You mentioned something about my,” she paused, thinking about what she’d been told, “magic increasing?” She finally asked as they navigated the white-washed hospital walls.
“Yes Twilight. Do you feel any different? Stronger?” Celestia asked her as they headed for the door separating the castle from the hospital.
“No, not really. I don’t feel any different at all. Actually I feel kind of weak but I did just recover.” Celestia nodded and didn’t add anything, so Twilight didn’t push it. She searched deep within herself, and felt no different magically than she could remember. When they pushed through the doors, her idle thoughts were interrupted by a wave of nostalgia.
It was everything Twilight remembered about her old home. The sun décor on the tapestries and streamers had been changed to show a moon as well, and the walls had no windows, preferring instead open archways and balconies to let the sun shine in. Guards were everywhere but not just to guard. They straightened rugs, gave directions to other servants, watered plants, dusted corners and book shelves. Only a few were ever actually guarding anything such as the dungeon where old, forbidden books that only the Archivists could see, the throne room, the bedrooms. When Twilight passed by an open balcony, she could spy the gardens below. She saw with some excitement that Princess Luna was out and about, sniffing flowers and tending one section of the garden.
“Does it feel good to be back in the castle?” Princess Celestia asked her, and Twilight just smiled sheepishly. She hadn’t been aware how much she’d been swinging her head around, not noticing how many ponies had to leap out of the way to avoid the vicious horn she was now sporting.
“I haven’t been here in so long. I forgot how peaceful it could be when there weren’t any guests.” Twilight noted. She saw a few guards she recognized, and they seemed to recognize her back. A few nodded their heads in recognition and one even openly waved and smiled.
“It’s one of the few peaceful times of the day. I was lucky that you decided to wake up now rather than later. We should hurry, Fluttershy’s expecting us in the training hall.” Celestia urged her quietly and picked up the pace.
“The training hall? The old training hall?” Since Twilight had been under the direct tutelage of Celestia she did not use the training hall since Celestia granted her access to a place a little more private. The Princess nodded as they walked through several long hallways before reaching the magical academy. Celestia led her to a large pair of open double doors, which opened into a massive gymnasium. Many students and teachers were inside, giving lectures over the nature of magic and urging their students to lift and change their surroundings. Fluttershy was watching with interest in a corner of the room, two guards sitting by her side. They bowed their greetings to Princess Celestia, Fluttershy doing so with a little less show and a big smile.
“You’re finally awake.” Fluttershy said with deep relief, moving forward towards Twilight. The two nestled against one another. “We’ve been worried about you. I’m glad to see you’re alright.”
“Agreed.” One of the guards grunted, his younger partner turning to him in surprise. “We have a small course set up, basic spells only. The area’s restricted advanced spells until sundown for Princess Luna’s demonstration. We don‘t need any more misfires.”
“Thank you sirs.” Twilight bowed her head honestly, and Fluttershy skipped away before the horn could touch her, and Twilight smiled apologetically. “Thank you so much Fluttershy. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through this without you. Is there any way I can repay you?” They stepped past the guards, although Celestia stayed behind with them.
“Well, if you could pay a little more attention to where you swung your horn that would be nice.” Fluttershy’s smile was a bit joking, but Twilight nodded her head. “Well, okay, so, how do you usually start practicing?”
“You go by steps. You stack the weights,” she pointed to a small pile of five metallic gray cubes and one pyramid “turn them a different color and then fit them into the other pile.” She pointed to another stack of weight that were in a pyramid shape, with five blocks missing, as well as a pointed top. “It’s pretty easy but it won’t hurt to humor everypony.”
Fluttershy sat back as Twilight stacked the cubes. She was fast about it, not bothering with just one at a time, getting them all stacked with the pyramid on top within the span of a few seconds. She then leaned forward to tap the tip of her horn against the stack but didn’t compensate for the new length of her horn. The stack tipped over and fell apart, much to Twilight’s annoyance. “You really need to keep an eye on your new horn.” Fluttershy pressed her body to Twilight’s and then leaned over to look at the pyramid weight in front of her. “Oh, oh dear. Looks like the fall chipped a side.” Twilight looked over and yes, one of the pointed ends had been broken off. Twilight rolled her front legs in a shrug, and this time made sure she knew where the tip of her horn was before leaning down and tapping the broken point. The sides around it stretched and slowly formed another sharp end, and Twilight continued to complete the exercise.
Celestia turned to the older guard by her side. “You said Advanced spell work had been restricted?” The guard nodded, a suspicious look on his face. Repair work wasn’t too powerful but it still was qualified as advanced. Twilight completed the pyramid with her magic and smiled cheekily at the Princess.
“All done!” The unicorn announced. Celestia hid her suspicion and smiled at her student.
“Very well. We’ll have a sky chariot prepared for you soon enough. Until then, why don’t we-” A guard entered the room from behind the Princess and cleared his throat.
“Princess Celestia, Candlejack is requesting an early meeting. He‘s insisting his supply of rope has been-” He leapt backwards to avoid a net that had been tossed a bit too far by a younger student, who tried to make up for it with an embarrassed smile. Celestia hung her head as she turned to Twilight.
“I can’t keep my subjects waiting, but I promise you Twilight I’ll be in touch soon. If you have any problems, never hesitate to seek me out.” Celestia pressed herself to Twilight only briefly and walked away, pulling herself up royally. It was time to work.
“Miss Sparkle, if you’ll follow us we can get you and your friend in a sky carriage in short time. Come along.” Twilight watched her mentor leave with a sad look, and Fluttershy bowed her head as she followed along.
“Poor Princess Celestia. She needs a break from being a Princess someday.” The yellow-coated Pegasus looked around the castle in all its finery. No wonder the Princess felt lonely despite the company, it was so big and empty looking when it wasn’t in the midst of a party. Twilight nodded her agreement and sighed loudly at the missed opportunity.
Two guards especially made to retrieve and deliver ponies of importance were already harnessed and waiting patiently for Fluttershy and Twilight out on the extended platform near the top of the castle. Fluttershy entered first and sat on the cushion as Twilight stepped in so the back of the chariot could be closed and locked up. The guards that had escorted them before spoke shortly to the carriers before the two Pegasi up front announced they’d be leaving. They spread their wings and lifted up and flew in the direction of Ponyville.
Twilight said nothing as she watched the passing country down below, but Fluttershy began to twitch in nervousness as the Pegasus continued to rise until they were passing through the massing clouds. They were white and fluffy, but as a Pegasus Fluttershy could smell the coming storm. She understood why they were being taken above the clouds but it still made her nervous. She didn’t like not being able to see the ground. “Um, sirs, the rain shower won’t be for a little while longer, perhaps we could stay-”
“Sorry ma’am, but regulations require us to remain above the clouds until descent in the event of a coming shower. I’m very sorry.” He said in a gruff tone, but he did sound like he meant it. Fluttershy sighed a little.
“Why go beneath the clouds anyways? We’ll miss this fantastic sunset!” Twilight was staring out the back of the chariot and Fluttershy turned to watch. The sun was slowly setting below the cloudline. It would be down quickly, and Fluttershy, despite being unable to see the ground, was sighing softly at the beauty of it. She was a romantic at heart, not the lovesick sort like Rarity but all the fantastic sights and settings that just opened her heart. “To think, when I first came to Ponyville, I never really noticed the simple, pretty things in life.” The unicorn admitted with a sad smile.
“Really?” Fluttershy looked to Twilight, who nodded. She knew she was self-sheltered but didn’t know the extent. Twilight didn’t talk about before Ponyville much, said there wasn’t much to say about it.
“Yeah. It’s kinda sad now that I think about it. I’m glad I can appreciate real beauty right now.” Twilight eagerly watched the sun slowly get swallowed from view by the clouds, turning the sky a fantastic orange.
Something occurred to Fluttershy, something she remembered from just a day before. “Twilight, I know you were kind of out of it when you told me this but do you really think I’m…” She blushed at the thought and pawed the cushion of their chariot, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Pretty?”
“Yes Fluttershy, you’re very pretty.” Fluttershy peeked up. Twilight wasn’t even looking at her. She sighed. Maybe it was a pipe dream, but Twilight had called her gorgeous once and pretty now. Maybe that was a good thing and she shouldn’t get her hopes up.
“I think you’re pretty too.” She tried anyways, tilting her head to hide her face with her cotton candy mane.
“Thanks.” Fluttershy deflated at Twilight’s response. Twilight hadn’t taken her eyes off the sunset. Well, she tried. She watched the sunset until the sun fell beneath the clouds, and things began to turn dark. It was quickly replaced with moonlight as a full moon rose from the front of the Chariot and slowly turned the world around them dark and silver. It was also quiet.
That was why they noticed the other Pegasi. A dark, winged-shape rose from the clouds slowly, level with them, matching their speed to their left. “Who do you think that is?” Fluttershy asked, turning her head to the right to notice a second, no third, wait four dark pony shapes behind them. Two to the back left and right, and two almost directly behind them, flying at a far enough distance they looked like shadows in the night sky.
“Maybe a friendly passing group? I read that some Pegasi take it on themselves to escort night travelers and protect them from bandits.” Twilight pointed out, and the two heard an uneasy snort from the front. The two guards were watching four more pony shapes warily out in front of them, each in a similar position as the four from behind.
“Twilight…” Fluttershy turned in a slow circle. There were eight dark figures keeping perfect speed and position around them. “What if these are the bandits?” She whispered low.
“I didn’t want to consider that…” Twilight whispered back.
“By order of Princess Celestia!” One of the guards finally called. “I demand you identify yourselves to her royal guard! Speak!” He shouted. The four ponies in the middle of the shadows’ circle were tense. The guards began to slow down to let them pass, but they merely slowed down with them. The guards tried to lower into the clouds, but the ponies flew in closer, almost visible through the moonlight. Fluttershy and Twilight stared at the nearest one. The Pegasus was a dark gray, while the one on the other side was plain black. The guards snorted in agitation as they rose again, playing their game for now, well aware of the precious cargo they were carrying.
“Girls. Stay alert. We may have to do something drastic if they attack.” One of the guards told them, his eyes shifting back and forth between their eight “escorts”. The girls just nodded slowly.
Seconds crawled by like minutes, tense as could be. Any move the carriage made, the eight Pegasi matched. The moon was now above the clouds, barely. The light cast a disturbing image, as the silvered clouds contrasted with the dark shapes more sharply. Fluttershy let out a tiny, scared whimper.
“Twilight, can’t you telepo-” Then the Pegasi, as one raised their heads and gave a powerful, piercing whiny that sent chills down both girls’ spines, and the guards made a move to dive into the clouds. Then the sound of rolling thunder filled their ears, sending both girls to dive to the cushions, screaming as they covered their ears, and the world turned white.
When Fluttershy opened her eyes again, her body was one giant sore, like she’d been hit by lightning. Splinters surrounded her, and it took her a moment to realize she was falling. She gasped softly and looked to her left and spied Twilight, eyes closed and falling limply.
And the dark shapes dove inwards.
TWO OF TWENTY-FOUR COMPLETE
COMMENCING SUSPENSE MODE