It was a moonless night in Fillydelphia. Outside the city's most prestigious college, all was still and quiet, all except for a lone figure that snuck through the shadows.
The figure slowly approached the campus library; a repository of knowledge second only to the royal archives in Canterlot, but far less guarded. Surely the solution would be located among the tome and scrolls held within its wall.
Keeping to the shadows, the figure crept along the building's perimeter. On finding a window low enough to see through, the shadowed sneak stood tall to peer inside. The room beyond appeared empty, not a guard or late night student in sight. The figure stepped back, took a deep breath, and then channeled a familiar spell. A unicorn's horn began to glow a soft magenta, and then — *POP* —in a flash of light the figure vanished.
With a second — *POP* —the intruder reappeared inside the building.
The figure glanced about attentively to ensure the room was devoid of any other presence. After assuring herself that she was alone the trespasser decided to take a chance. Now that she was safe from the prying eyes of any passing strangers in the night, she decided to conjure a light to guide her path and so illuminated her horn.
It glowed ever so dimly from beneath the hood of her burlap cloak, but it was enough to cast herself and the area about her in a soft magenta light. She released the orb of light, allowing it to float beside her as she passed by rows upon rows of shelves, each full of countless written materials of every conceivable variety.
This wasn't her first time sneaking into a library. Even so, Twilight Sparkle wasn't a bad pony, just a curious one. She'd never used her abilities to do anything that would actually hurt somepony, not intentionally. All she ever wanted was knowledge, and in that pursuit, what was the harm in breaking a few rules? Sure, many of the tomes she had secretly read were forbidden, full of highly illegal magic, but it wasn't like she had ever intended to use those spell to any malicious end.
However, it wasn't forbidden secrets that brought Twilight to these archives tonight. No, she came instead to seek a solution to a most dreadful misfortune that had befallen her. It had been a little over a week now, but the memories still haunted her; Ponyville, the ursa, and — her. Trixie Lulamoon: personal student to Princess Luna Equestris, savior of Equestria, the supposed living embodiment of magic itself… and the most obnoxious and deceitful pony Twilight Sparkle had ever had the displeasure of meeting.
Twilight could still remember how overjoyed she had been to go to Ponyville; to meet the legend made flesh. Oh, the things she had hoped to learn from somepony that must have been the most magical unicorn since Starswirl the Bearded. What she found instead had been… disappointing, to say the least.
At first she had thought Trixie a mere fraud, but then it became clear to her. Trixie had only been putting up a front to keep away less qualified apprentices, or so Twilight had thought. Thinking back on it, marching into town with an ursa minor in an attempt to prove her own worth hadn't been her most well thought out plan. Sure it was impressive, but even if nothing had gone wrong she'd have had an awful lot of explaining to do. She had, however, learned something very valuable from the incident.
Trixie Lulamoon really was a fraud.
After all, Twilight was the one who had to do all the real work in saving the town, even if she had sort of been responsible for causing the danger in the first place. After all, how many unicorns could have single hoofedly teleported a giant star beast? All that hack had done was perform a few cheap parlor tricks to distract it. Worse still though was when Twilight figure out the whole truth.
It had taken a few days, but once she'd puzzled it out the answer was beyond clear.
Miss Lulamoon was jealous, and not just that, but also afraid. She'd seen Twilight's potential, and it was obvious who the superior unicorn was. So that… that jezebel had set her up. Sabotaged Twilight's entire life, just so Luna would keep thinking her precious student was the best. Twilight Sparkle was the true, one and only best. And tonight, she would take her first steps in proving it.
Twilight gathered a dozen books in her magic, flipping pages and turning from one to the next and then to another as she referenced and cross referenced. It was a familiar routine, one that brought her more comfort than she had since the start of her forced exile. As she proceeded about her oldest of rituals she found an odd melody filling her head. Words came shortly thereafter.
That witch will learn her lesson; I won't play her number two
I'll gather the ingredients to make some harmony
The Princess will reward me; that is a certainty
Now is the time to prove my magic; somepone true for Honesty
There's no distress just need some Kindness; to claim my destiny
Yes, this plan would work; it was perfect, her very best ever. Twilight skipped over to a filing drawer, gathering up several census ledgers. She had a list to make.
Twilight glanced down at a nearby desk where she saw a pile of newspaper clippings, probably left by some careless student. Among them was a picture of Luna at the Grand Galloping Gala, greeting various officials and dignitaries, but it wasn't the princess or any of the guests that drew her gaze. No, her eyes focused squarely on the young azure unicorn standing next to the royal alicorn.
She was dressed in an outfit even more gaudy than when Twilight had last seen her. Most infuriating of all though was that lazy grin, as though the unicorn was bored. Anger flared as the mental tune continued.
You life's been just a cake walk; but I'll take your silver spoon
Find a joke; to get some Laughs and…
Work and toil, earn the Loyal; Generosity, reciprocity
Make enticing, fate revising; plans devising, rectifying
Meanwhile, far away in Canterlot, an armor clad unicorn stared up at the star filled sky. He was the captain of the royal guard, but more importantly he was a big brother.
Legend had it that if two ponies looked upon the exact same star they could hear each other, no matter how great the distance between them. As he picked out her favorite constellation, Shining Armor hoped beyond hope that his lost sister might be looking up at that same moment.
Please don't sink to madness; I can't bear that you're alone
Alas, even were such legends true, Twilight Sparkle was well beyond such simple reason.
I've hit the books, now time to look; I'm gonna meet them all
Now is the time to prove my magic; friendship's power I won't postpone
No more an outcast, found salvation; so I can finally go home
Twilight hesitated, realization slowly sinking into her soul as she repeated…
She stood in silence, still mouthing that last word as a single tear rolled down her cheek. As she stared out a window at the star filled sky, she wondered. Was it really so simple; was that truly all she really wanted?
For a brief moment she felt as though her B.B.B.F.F stood before, eyes pleading and full of forgiveness. She wanted so desperately to rush forward, to embrace the phantom, but…
Twilight shook her head. No. It didn't matter how much she wanted it, she couldn't, not yet. Not until she cleared her name. Not until she had proven her worth. Not until Lulamoon learned the meaning of REAL MAGIC.