Thankfully for Scootaloo's calmness and state of mind, it didn't take long for Xu Lin to lead the group through to the library. However, that wasn't the end of their amazement. The shelves soared upwards, seemingly into the very sky, and they stretched out in all directions beyond sight. All four girls stared around as they took it all in. "Are...are those clouds up there?" Sweetie Belle squeaked out as she stared upward.
"No, just a visual magic effect," Scootaloo corrected. "No actual moisture in them. It'd be bad for the books with that formation, anyway. If you want clouds to help in a library, they need to be white thin clouds with attraction magic embedded in them, so they'll naturally leech just the right amount of moisture out of the air to keep the books dry but not too dry. Either that or have them sapient, like Cumulo."
"But kinto un are incredibly rare and hard to find," Xu Lin pointed out.
"Guess that's why I had to get mine from Santa," Scootaloo concluded.
"I thought Santa just added magic to the cloud you already took everywhere?" Sweetie Belle asked curiously.
"I guess that is what the note suggested," Scootaloo concluded. Her eyes widened in amazement. "Say...you think that means now that I've got this divine lightning chi, I can make my own kinto un?"
"Can we focus on helpin' Xu Lin?" Apple Bloom demanded. "Ah mean, there's a lot o' scrolls here, and Ah dun' wanna spend an entire month till next full moon figuring out which scroll ta read, let alone decipherin' it ta learn how ta get around tha bindin' magic."
"Oh, we probably won't be able to help this Full Moon," Sweetie Belle allowed matter-of-factly. "But we won't be sticking around here, either."
"But...but how are we going to help Xu Lin, then?" Jade demanded angrily.
"Next month," Sweetie Belle allowed. "You're okay with waiting one more month so we can get Uncle to look at the scrolls and figure out what to do safely, right?"
Xu Lin shrugged. "I have searched and waited for five years. One more month with new hope will fly by."
"Wait...your plan is to take all this back to Uncle?" Jade gasped in shock, gesturing to the entire library at 'this'. "How?"
"This box," Sweetie explained, reaching into her saddlebags and pulling out a folded cardboard box bigger than the bags themselves.
"How..." Jade began in confusion. "How is it all going to...fit?"
"Same way the box fit in the bags," Sweetie explained as she unfolded it into a decent size box, the flaps magically affixing themselves into a closed bottom of their own accord. "It's a box of holding."
"But I thought an artifact of holding could not be placed inside another?" Xu Lin gasped worriedly. "How did you manage it?"
"The holding enchantment isn't active on the cardboard box unless it's unfolded," Sweetie explained. "Really useful for packing. Now stand back, I need to shape a couple spells. Scootaloo, help me spread the smoke? Apple Bloom, you've got the potion?"
As the three fillies gathered, Jade stepped beside Xu Lin worriedly. "So...you're going to raid the place?" she asked curiously.
"That'd probably trigger the transformation, since raiders likely qualify as intruders," Sweetie Belle corrected.
"We're usin' a duplication spell with a closed limit o' one ta make copies of every scroll and book in here!" Apple Bloom explained as she uncorked a bottle, letting a pink smoke float up out of it. "The spell will last a month."
"And we're taking the copies with us," Scootaloo explained as she wafted the smoke to flow around the entire library.
"And I'm going to energize it with an extra packing spell, so we only take the copies without having to sort them out ourselves," Sweetie Belle concluded. She stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth as she focused energy into her horn. "Now...how did this one go? Higitus...Figitus...bigitus bum...Prestedigitonium!"
As the green magic lashed through the pink smoke, copies of every scroll began to dance to unseen music, marching slowly into the box of holding and laying themselves flat on the bottom, seeming to vanish into the shadows as they did.
Jade and Xu Lin watched in awe as the magic guided all the tomes safely into their resting place. "Could I not escape through this box?" Xu Lin asked hopefully. "Holding items obey their own laws of magic, after all..."
"Bad idea," Jade spoke up quickly. "If it didn't work, you'd be ripped out of said pocket space as we carried it out of the Temple. I don't know how much damage tearing a Holding space open would do, but I really don't want to find out."
"Oh..." Xu Lin concluded sadly as the copies finished filing into the box, allowing it to seal itself up on top as the music came to an end. "I...suppose you are done for tonight then?" she asked morosely. "And it...is time for goodbyes..."
"Don't be silly!" Scootaloo insisted firmly. "It's several hours before sunrise. I'm sure you didn't spend the entire five years just searching for answers. I bet you know a few places around here to have a ton of fun!"
"The least we can do is give you some company!" Sweetie Belle agreed.
"At least until Uncle Jackie comes and finds us," Apple Bloom allowed playfully.
"And you never know," Jade pointed out wickedly. "We might stumble on the way to get you out completely by accident!"
"Or by asking me," a soft voice asked from behind them, tone warring between amusement and annoyance.
"Or we could-WAUGH!" Jade screamed out as all five girls leaped in the air in fear, spinning towards the source of the voice.
The young woman who stood leaning against a bookcase could almost pass for human, at least in shape. However, her coloration definitely painted her as magical. She had pale blue skin, purple hair, crimson irises, pale red corneas, and a blue-green mask marking on her face. Two thin arms ending in clawed hands extended through the short sleeves of her top, the higher arms with fingerless gloves on the hands, which ended in four fingers, while the lower arms ended in three-fingered hands. She wore a uniform that seemed achingly familiar to Scootaloo...except she was pretty certain the one she saw all those years ago was yellow, not red and purple(1). "Considering this is my library you're raiding, I feel like I should be the one screaming," she pointed out dryly.
"Your library?" Jade demanded in shock. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, not originally," the woman explained. "It originally belonged to He Xiangu, but the Veil Council left it in my care 200 years ago as thanks for helping create and maintain the Balance of the world. It was a big project, after all." She glanced at the five with a frown. "The name probably doesn't mean anything to you, but I'm Luna, daughter of Tso Lan-"
"One of Shendu's brothers?" Sweetie Belle gasped in shock. "Are you helping Valmont free them?"
Luna's eyes narrowed. "Oh, is that what's going on?" She rubbed her forehead. "Look, I honestly don't care if someone's messing with that side of the Balance. I did my part, so I just want to be left alone to follow my own project, making sure no one tries tapping a hell dimension on a massive scale. That's what I have this Temple for now, to focus my studies and not be disturbed." She turned to Xu Lin. "Normally I don't interfere with the Guardian aspect of things here, but I'm not about to keep a little girl prisoner when she just wants to go home. Just inside the Temple entrance are suits of armor, meant to be worn by the Soldiers of the Moon when they go off to battle. For those who lack their own means of warping in and out of this Temple, donning a suit will let you leave."
Xu Lin smiled happily. "My thanks for telling me! I look forward to seeing my family again!"
"Why didn't you tell her sooner?" Jade demanded irritably.
"I didn't know she was even here," Luna countered dryly. "Like I said, I leave the Temple to more or less take care of itself unless I need something. I only even came out here because your little musical packing spell disturbed my concentration."
Sweetie Belle's ears went flat against her skull. "...sorry about that..."
Luna shrugged. "No big deal. Been a while since a Qi Lin got this close to me." Leaning forward, she gently stroked Sweetie's mane. To the girls' surprise, neither Sweetie nor Luna showed signs of pain. "And in case you're wondering, I'm half-human...which means as long as I'm not actively doing evil, Good Magic doesn't automatically hurt me."
"Good to know," Apple Bloom spoke up happily as she lifted the box onto her back. "We won't bug ya no more."
"If you can find someone who might make a better Guardian, please send them my way," Luna called out as the group left. "Having one around is...useful."
(1) This refers back to the chapter "Crazy Customers"...specifically, the first customer to visit that chapter.