The group had gotten settled into their suites at the castle, then joined Princess Celestia for late afternoon tea. At Celestia's insistence, Kim and Ron had spoken at length of their world and their adventures.
"—and I'll be honest, for a little bit there, I really thought it was all over," Kim said. "But then Ron stepped up. These Lorwardians were ridiculously strong, but Ron's Monkey Power put a stop to them for good!"
Princess Celestia smiled. "Goodness," she said. "You two lead quite an adventurous life."
"Yeah, we save the world," Ron said. "It's what we do."
Celestia's lips quirked as she glanced at Twilight. "I might know a few ponies who can relate to that."
Twilight laughed sheepishly. "Well, I just wish my friends and I didn't have to go on epic save-the-world adventures so often," she said. "I'd much rather spend my time having picnics and reorganizing my library."
"I'm still waiting to hear why Discord is free," Sunset said. "For that matter, why he seems to be on friendly terms with Twilight."
"Yeah, that creepy dude had kind of a..." Ron paused. "I dunno, bad juju vibe to him?"
"Discord was once the greatest threat to Equestria," Celestia said. "A mischievous spirit of chaos and disharmony with tremendous magical power, and quite malevolent in the past. Not long ago, I decided to entrust Princess Twilight and her friends with the task of reforming Discord, in the hopes he would use his magic for good."
"It's a work in progress," Twilight said. "He's mostly behaving himself these days. It's usually Fluttershy who keeps him in check."
Sunset raised an eyebrow. "Fluttershy."
"Never underestimate the power of kindness," Twilight said.
"In other words, he's whipped," Ron said with narrowed eyes.
"Pretty much!" Twilight agreed happily.
Sunset shuddered. "And that mental image will now be with me forever, thanks."
"But at least thanks to Discord, we know the problem is bigger than we thought," Twilight pointed out.
Celestia turned to her. "How so?"
"Basically there's a catastrophic magical entanglement surrounding these two," Twilight explained. "Multiple incompatible magics overlapping, and bringing them to Equestria actually made things worse. It's going to take complex magical disentanglement and purging spells I'm not even sure exist to unravel this mess, and then I'll have to make sure I don't purge them of magic they're supposed to have."
"Yeah, I vote for less purging," Ron said. "Don't wanna lose my mystical monkey mojo."
"The biggest problem is that we're dealing with a river crossing puzzle here," Twilight said with a sigh. "We'll have to send these two back where they belong from Sunset's world, but any magic from Equestria and the portal we succeed in purging here will just stick to them again when they go back through the portal."
"And then you'd need to bring them back to purge them again since you can't cast spells over there," Celestia said, "which would..." She trailed off, frowning. "I see. That is a complex problem."
"What if we could devise some sort of magic-draining device?" Sunset asked. "One that would work in my world and could be configured to remove and contain specific magical fields."
"That could work," Twilight said pensively, "but we don't have the technology here to make something like that, well...portable."
"We do in my world," Sunset said. "If we can figure out how it'd work, I could round up some whiz kids at school and work on the actual device." She frowned. "I might even have to go to Crystal Prep for assistance, and I don't know how willing they'd be to help a Wondercolt. There's a bit of a rivalry between our schools even if I don't understand it."
"Crystal Prep? Sounds snobby," Ron said.
"It's a private school in the city," Sunset explained. "Every time they win some contest or award or something, Rainbow Dash gets really mad for days."
"Anyway," Twilight said, "the main thing we need to do is untangle the Equestrian magic they collected here, the portal magic they collected by coming here in the first place, the corrupted Siren magic that entangled the portal, and the taco magic that caused all this in the first place."
Celestia raised an eyebrow. "Taco magic."
"It's a thing, apparently," Twilight said, eyes half-lidded. "Don't ask how I know. Seriously. Don't." She shrugged. "Anyway, so we have to do all that without disrupting Ron's monkey magic or whatever Kim's natural magic is."
Kim blinked. "I don't have any magic," she said.
"Oh, you have magic," Twilight said. "And it's powerful, too."
Kim shook her head. "No, seriously, I'm about as magical as buttered bread."
"KP doesn't need magic," Ron said. "Her mad cheer skills and ability to do pretty much anything are all she needs."
Celestia pursed her lips. "Do pretty much anything, you say...hmm."
"You know, now that you mention it, it's funny that she figured out how to use her wings almost immediately," Sunset said.
Kim blushed. "Oh, I don't know about that," she said. "I mean, having them feels weird, I just—"
A saucer wrapped in a teal aura shot straight up in the air, spinning on its edge, then fell straight toward Kim. Without thinking, Kim took off vertically, catching the saucer in her mouth and somersaulting before gliding down to a graceful landing on her own chair.
"Whoa," Ron said. "Go KP!"
Twilight shot Sunset a cross look. "What was that all about?"
"Just testing something," Sunset said. "Kim, do things usually just...go your way?"
Kim blinked. "Well, not always," she said. "I mean, I have to work pretty hard at everything I do. School, cheerleading, martial arts..."
"Yeah, but you're a natural at almost everything, KP," Ron pointed out.
"I'm not just talking about your skills," Sunset said. "I mean, life in general. Do things have a habit of working out in your favor?"
"Boy do they ever," Ron said. "I wish I had even half of Kim's luck."
"Hey, I'm not always lucky!" Kim protested. "Sometimes things go wrong for me!"
"And when things go wrong for you, they go really wrong, right?" Sunset pressed.
"Well..." Kim thought about it for a few seconds. "Yeah, actually."
"I think I see where you're going with this," Celestia said.
"What, you think KP has some kind of luck magic?" Ron snorted. After a brief pause, his eyes shot open wide. "KP, you totally have some kind of luck magic!"
Kim frowned thoughtfully. "Huh. I...guess that'd make sense." She tilted her head. "Wait, does that mean everything I can do is all just...luck?"
"Not at all," Celestia said. "Your skills, your experience, your confidence, that's all you. Luck magic would simply...hmm..." She paused thoughtfully. "Enhance your abilities."
"Yeah, you know," Ron said. "Like how there's always a ride available for us when we need one, or how Drakken's lair exploding never, y'know, kills anybody."
Twilight frowned. "Okay, that makes sense, but how does your little stunt with the saucer relate?"
"Well, I figured if I sent a saucer falling right for her head, either she'd fly up and catch it—which shouldn't be possible since she's only had wings for a few hours and they're completely alien to her anatomy—or it'd hit her on the head." Sunset paused. "Or one of you would've stopped it and yelled at me, but—"
"—for this to be a true magical probability field based on best possible or worst possible outcome, there were only two ways it could've gone," Twilight said, nodding.
"That's the theory, anyway," Sunset said.
"Kind of a messed-up way to test a theory," Ron muttered.
"Gotta agree with Ron," Kim said. "How does dropping a plate on my head prove whether or not I'm magically lucky?"
"You were able to fly up and catch the plate without even thinking about it," Sunset pointed out. "Like it was something you'd done a million times. Your boyfriend can't even figure out how to sit down. Don't you think it's lucky that your natural skills and reflexes carried over to your pegasus body without you having to relearn everything?"
Kim's jaw dropped. "...wow," she said.
Twilight gave Sunset a flat stare. "You realize that's a pretty loose application of probability," she said.
"You know," Ron said thoughtfully, "remember when we needed to find Sweet Apple Acres and had no idea where it was, and then AJ and Big Mac just happened to drive by right then?"
"That was an awfully big coincidence," Kim said. "Huh."
"I caution you not to think too deeply about this luck magic you apparently have," Celestia said. "Nor to rely on it too heavily. Simply being aware of it is likely to do you more harm than good."
"Yeah, if you start expecting things to just go right, your luck will probably turn sour," Sunset said. She folded her ears back. "Crap, now I wish I'd kept my big mouth shut."
"Nah, it's cool," Kim said. "I don't worry about luck. I worry about what I know I can do. And I can do anything."
"It's true, she really can. Including turn into a flying purple horse," Ron said. He glanced at Twilight, and his ears folded back. "Don't get me wrong, flying purple horses are cool."
Celestia stood. "Well, it seems you four have quite a bit of work ahead of you," she said. "Given the hour, I suggest you retire to your suites and rest for the evening, then begin your research early tomorrow after a good night's sleep." She paused, then added, "Sunset Shimmer, I'll be waiting for you in my royal suite whenever you're ready to talk." She smiled fondly. "We have so much catching up to do..."
Sunset nodded, smiling. "I'll be there in just a bit."
"I might get started early," Twilight said. "I can never sit still when there's research to be done." She looked at Kim and Ron. "You two should definitely go rest up."
"Will do," Kim said. "Come on, Ron."
As they headed for the door, the princesses and Sunset heard Ron's trailing voice say:
"Who knew horses could bake cakes? Heck, who knew horses even eat cake?"
"Ponies, Ron," Kim replied in an exasperated tone. "But yeah, that was good cake..."