Magic Lessons

by Sun Aura

Chapter 3

This time, instead of the field, Sunset was waiting by the statue portal in front of Canterlot High. With her were the Pegasai Counterparts, and one Griffon Counterpart. They had a few more Crystal Prep students this time, including Indigo Zap and Sour Sweet. Though the tradeoff was that none of the Alicorns could come today due to their respective work schedules.
“What are we waiting for?” Rainbow asked, playing with the zipper on her dark blue tracksuit.
“The teacher for the day,” Sunset said. “While you’re the best flier here and could teach the basics, you are technically going mostly on instinct. You can still teach that, but I wanted a Pegasus to help you with the fine-tuning. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she sticks mostly to weather manipulation.”
“So, who is the teacher?” Flash asked.
“We were waiting for everyone to get here,” she shrugged. “She wanted to make an entrance, but considering she hasn’t been here before I don’t think it’ll work. Confidence does wonders, but it only does so much to help you figure a different body.”
With that, she stuck her arm into the portal to signal the teacher. It was weird to have only part of her in the mirror. Especially considering that the other end of her arm was now a hoof.
As soon as she took her arm out of the portal, someone came barreling through. The girl who came through had multicolored hair, and a red tracksuit. Sunset just leaned against the statue and watched her tumble over, not knowing how to work her two legs. Thankfully she came through already ‘Transformed’, so they wouldn’t have to wait for that.
“Hello, Rainbow Dash,” Sunset greeted.
“More like Rainbow Crash!” one of the students shouted.
“Shut the fuck up, Dumbell!” Rainbow shouted, scrambling up. “I can still kick your ass from here to next Hearth’s Warming!”
Sunset had prepared her for what humans look like compared to ponies, so it was easy for Rainbow to pick out the person she was yelling at and march right up to him.
“Remember, you’re here to teach them,” Sunset said, holding her back by the shoulders.
“Fine, but no more comments like that,” she huffed.
She stopped glaring at everyone long enough to look at them. There was a difference between seeing what Humans look like, and actually seeing a Human. Eventually her eyes settled on Fluttershy, Flash, Scootaloo, and her Counterpart. Said Counterpart looked particularly stunned.
“You know, I always knew I’d be awesome in any dimension!” both Rainbows laughed.
“Before we continue,” Flash asked. “Can we do something so I don’t end up in a loop of ‘this Rainbow and that Rainbow’?”
“Pinkie already decided,” Sunset said. “This World’s Rainbow will be called ‘Rainbow’, and Equestria’s Rainbow will be called ‘Dash’.”
“Lame,” Dash half-jeered. “I’d fight for my name, but honestly Pinkie started on a long rant about some kind of Universe in a Corner with its own Princess, and stars do I not want to listen to that speech again. I’m still not sure when she breathes.”
“This is so cool!” Rainbow shouted.
“Two Rainbow Dashes!” Scootaloo exclaimed, her head swiveling between the two.
“That’s right, Scoots,” Dash chuckled, ruffling Scootaloo’s hair. “Just give me a few minutes to figure out how a ‘Human’ body works in the air, and we’ll be good to go!”
“So, any questions?” Sunset asked.
“So we’ve heard how you’re qualified, but how is she qualified to teach us?” someone asked.
“Hey Gilda,” Dash greeted, easily finding the tallest in the crowd.
“You know me?” Gilda frowned, crossing her arms.
“Well, your Counterpart,” she said. “I know most of your Counterparts, actually. It’s kinda weird. I’ll try to keep you guys separate from them, but yeah I’m probably going to slip up and think of you guys as them. That’s weird to say but you know what I mean.
“As for qualifications,” she grinned, almost maniacally. “I’m probably the best flier in Equestria, and I’ve done flying lessons before, teaching my world’s Scootaloo and Princess Twilight. And I’m also Ponyville’s weather manager.”
“Is that true, or just her ego?” Someone shouted.
“It’s pretty true, actually,” Sunset answered, holding Dash’s mouth shut. “In Equestria, we have the Wonderbolts, a ‘Best of the Best’ flight team that is technically military but mostly does flight shows. Dash is one of the youngest Wonderbolts ever. She’s also the only pony to ever perform a Sonic Rainboom. Literally, they were purely theoretical before she actually pulled it off. On accident. At age eleven.”
“Did I ever hear you or Twi say ‘Rainboom’ before I named the band?” Rainbow asked. “If so, what is it?”
“I’ll show you!” Dash grinned, breaking out of Sunset’s grip. “It’ll be a good way to test out the body differences. Watch closely, this is going to be awesome!”
Dash spread her wings and jumped into the air. As she climbed higher and higher, Sunset wondered if this was a good idea. It’d be quite visible, and could attract some unwanted attention. Then again, the Fall Formal, the Battle of the Bands, and the Friendship Games already got the attention of everyone and their oddly sapient dog, so this couldn’t hurt.
When Dash was just a speck in the sky, she flipped into a dive. She went faster and faster. A few students murmured concern, wondering if she’d remember to pull up in time. It didn’t take long for her to hit the limit.
A blast of multi-colored light radiated from the sky, quickly followed by a loud boom and shockwaves, both literal and magical. Dash was still flying, a rainbow trailing behind her. Sunset could tell that Dash was basking in the admiration before slowing down to come back around.
“And that, is a Sonic Rainboom!” Dash stated, setting down on the ground.
“Okay, screw me teaching!” Rainbow shouted. “She knows what she’s doing.”
“Are you actually admitting that someone is more ‘Awesome’ than you?” Sunset asked.
“Okay, but she is me,” she defended. “Also, she’s only more awesome because she’s had seventeen years of being magic, and I’ve had only a few months. Still, I’m totally going to catch up pretty quick!”
“It’s Dash’s call then,” she said.
“Sure,” Dash said. “We can do it in tandem, but remember you’re wingpony here.”
“Second in command,” Sunset clarified.
“Whatever,” she shrugged. “Everyone, make sure you can see me. That’s not an ego thing, either. I’m going to be explaining things about wings first, so let’s go!”
Everyone shuffled around. They ened up mostly in a semi-circle, and taller behind shorter. Sunset and Dash stayed in front.
“So, what all has Sunset told you about how your wings work?” Dash asked.
“Not much,” Sunset answered. “I figured you’d have your own methods. Besides, I can’t tell them how to work something I never had.”
“She did tell us about the wing sensitivity thing!” Cloud Chaser shouted.
“Wait, really?” Dash asked, looking back at Sunset. “I would’ve expected, like, naming all the different feathers or something. I mean, I get it, it’s something that you’ll need to say, even if it’s awkward as hell. But that’s the only thing?”
“Well I kind of had to tell them that,” Sunset defended.
“Okay, I need more of an explanation for that,” she said.
“Well, uh,” she glanced away, her face heating up. “When Flash first transformed, Rainbow and Rarity brought me in, and Pinkie appeared from nowhere. And you know how Pinkie likes to touch things, so that happened. And then the next time Rainbow Transformed, Pinkie shouted about the ‘wing trick’ in front of a bunch of students, so they were asking.”
“Kill me now!” Flash shouted, trying to sink into the ground.
Dash was doubled over in laughter. It took her a few minutes to be able to stand again.
“Okay, after learning that, how many of you went home and tested it out?” Dash asked, once she got her breath.
About half of the group tentatively raised their hands.
“Interesting,” Dash mused. “Half of you are fucking liars, but I’m the Element of Loyalty, not Honesty, so I don’t care! Let’s start the actual lesson with the boring part: different parts of the wing and different feathers. Because there’s a few. Seriously, how many of you know what an ‘Alula’ is?”
“I think there’s a freshman with that name?” Flitter said.
Dash smacked her hand to her face, as did said freshman.
Sunset droned out the lesson a bit. She remembered the different feathers from various books on both Pegasai and birds, and she had no use for how to take care of wings, so she didn’t listen. Of course, she wasn’t the only one skipping the lesson, as both Rainbow and Flash side-stepped their way over to her.
“So why me, I mean her, I mean-you know what I mean?” Rainbow asked.
“She’s qualified,” Flash added, “but I know you and Rainbow enough to tell there’s something going on.”
“You’re half right,” Sunset said. “I was going to ask her anyway. But once she figured out that there was another Scootaloo in this Dimension, she was practically begging me.”
“What’s Scoots have to do with it?” Rainbow asked. “I mean, if it’s the family connection, Flash’s here too.”
“From what Dash’s told me,” she said, making sure she was even quieter. “Equestria’s Scootaloo has a lot of trouble flying. After what she learned about Scootaloo’s parents, she’s pretty sure it’s because she was born prematurely. Equestria’s Scootaloo was crushed by the fact that she might not ever be able to fly. How do you think this world’s Scootaloo will react to getting magic and being so excited to fly with her siblings, then learning she might not be able to?”
“Fuck,” Flash sighed, looking over to where Scootaloo stood. “Are you sure it’ll be the same here?”
“Completely,” she nodded. “She was born early because your mother died. If someone’s dead in this world, they’re dead in the other world too. I’ve already had people ask me about it. Even if I wasn’t sure about the death, the Unicorns showed skill relative to their Counterpart’s, so that should carry over.”
“Is-is Equestria’s Scootaloo able to fly at all?” Rainbow asked.
“Dash could give a more in-depth answer,” she said. “But from what she said, Scootaloo can fly somewhat. Her speed and endurance are way down, but she can make it to the skies now. Dash volunteered not just to comfort her when she’s scared she’ll never get it, but because she knows how to teach her. I fully expect that once the normal lesson’s over she’ll be spending extra time helping Scootaloo.”
“I’m going to help too,” she said. “Sure, I’m not miss ‘Sonic Rainboom’, but whenever she’s not here, I can help instead.”
“Me too,” Flash said. “After-after everyone else leaves we should tell her.”
The two of them went back to the lesson, which Dash had knowingly dragged on a little to let them catch up. It was a little strange to hear Dash talk in technical, almost scientific, terms. She had them practice a few movements first, showing them how to get off the ground without doing it yet.
“Okay, now that you know the movements, try to get in the air,” Dash commanded. “Just try and hover for a few minutes. On three, okay? One. Two. Three!”
Everyone pushed off. As what had happened with the Unicorns, some managed, others fell flat on their butts. Sunset snickered a little at them.
“Kind of expected that,” Dash sighed.
“And I expected you to laugh at us,” Indigo Zap said.
“Hey, I’m being the teacher,” she defended. “Right now, I’m Rainbow ‘Professionalism’ Dash!”
“I thought your middle name was ‘Fight Me’,” Sunset teased.
“Point taken,” she pouted. “Anyway, everyone hovering, keep hovering! Everyone else, try again! One. Two. Three!”
It took a few more tries, but eventually everyone was able to maintain a hover. Even, thankfully, Scootaloo managed. Though she seemed to be struggling a bit. Dash made sure to help her keep it up.
After that, they tried moving around in the air. Scootaloo still had trouble, but she did well enough that no one would have noticed unless they were looking for it. Some were swooping around easily, while a others clumsily made their way along. Eventually, Rainbow had them all set back down.
“Okay while I’d love to have you guys swooping around everywhere,” Dash began, “This is enough to get you guys started. You can practice more on your own and I’ll come back next week to see how you’re doing. For now, let’s move on to Weather Manipulation.”
Dash leapt into the air, climbing into the sky again. She spun around until she got quite a few clouds together. Dragging it with her, she brought the whole thing to the ground.
“Usually you’d do this in the sky,” Dash said, pulling off chunks of cloud. “But you’re all still new to flying, so it’ll be hard for you to focus on both flying and weather manipulation. Don’t want you to fall.”
“So how are we starting this?” Flash asked.
“We’ll start with grabbing the clouds,” she said. “This’ll be a bit one at a time, since I’m going to pass them out and you’ll have to grab it. Be a bit gentle here, because, you know, clouds.”
It took everyone a couple tries to touch their cloud. Some even burst their cloud, but thankfully Dash had thought of that and grabbed way more than needed.
“First, just try reshaping the cloud,” Dash instructed. “Don’t worry about making it a sculpture or anything special. It’s still a cloud. Just make it cloud shaped or something. Sunset, you want to try a cloudwalking spell?”
“Sure,” Sunset answered. “Don’t think I can do the other stuff though.
She cast the spell on herself and grabbed a cloud. Dash relaxed on the large pile of extra clouds. This part of the lesson was pretty self-explanitory, and soon enough everyone was making various little ‘cloud castles’.
“Now that you’ve got that down,” Dash said, sitting back up. “We can work on changing the weather. Let’s start with rain.”
“Didn’t Sunset mention a weather factory?” Rainbow asked.
“True,” she agreed. “It’s the difference between making a table yourself and having a table factory. They can make more clouds in a short amount of time, and with better accuracy.”
“What else gets made at the weather factory?” Thunderlane asked.
“Pretty much everything,” she said. “Clouds of course, in all their forms, Snow and Lightning, even rainbows. Rainbows are really cool because they start out as liquid.”
Aren’t rainbows made of light?” Alula asked. “How do you make them liquid?”
“There’s a section called the ‘Rainbow Factory’,” she said. “Do you want the real version of what goes on, or the horror story we’d tell at flight camp to scare the hell out of the newbies?”
“Real version,” Fluttershy asked, her face turning pale.
“Horror story!” Rainbow and Scootaloo shouted.
“Or both?” Flash suggested.
“Real version is ‘magic’,” Dash said. “Twilight could explain it scientifically probably. The horror story version is that if you suck at flying, they’ll kidnap you, and drain you of color in a torturous process that ends up killing you.”
“And you’re sure that it’s not real?” Flitter asked.
“Maybe I’d be skeptical,” she shrugged. “But the mare who runs the red orange and yellow sections of the factory is Flutter’s mom, Daybreak, who faints at the sight of blood. Literally. Last week we were making dinner and I caught a falling knife with my wing. It barely needed a bandage but she was out. That kind of mare couldn’t run a murder hut.”
“Are rainbows edible?” Derpy asked.
“Yeah, oddly enough,” she continued. “They’re spicy. But we’re getting off topic. It’s time to make it rain. Now, this actually uses emotional magic.”
“Really?” Sunset asked. “That never came up before. I thought it was just Dragons, Changelings, and Sirens.”
“Probably because it’s not our ‘main magic’,” she said. “Twi said you Unicorns use emotions in spells sometimes, and so do Crystal Ponies.”
“Fair enough,” she agreed.
“So, how do we make it rain?” Flash asked.
“Sadness,” she said. “Touch the cloud, feel your magic, and think sad thoughts. The sadder you get, the more rain. Once you get it raining, use Joy to turn them back to normal.”
It seemed more difficult than anything else. Some, like Fluttershy and Derpy, got their cloud to fill up with water and start a small downpour. Sour Sweet seemed to get it, but would something would derail it into a normal cloud. Rainbow seemed to be unable to change her cloud past a barely silver.
Then there was Flash. He took his time thinking. He frowned and touched the cloud. It turned black, thunder and lightning jumping everywhere, making everyone around scramble for cover.
“Don’t panic!” Dash shouted.
She leapt toward the cloud anyway. A few lightning bolts made her tracksuit start smoking, but it didn’t stop her. She put her hands on the cloud, and almost immediately the thunder stopped roaring in their ears.
She breathed a sigh of relief at the pale gray cloud. Sunset dropped the shield she didn’t know she’d made. Once everyone could breathe a bit better, Dash turned to Flash.
“What were you thinking of?” Dash asked.
“Something sad,” Flash answered.
“I know I said I’m not ‘Honesty’, but please don’t give half-truths,” she sighed.
“I-I was thinking about my dad,” he admitted crossing his arms and looking away. “Sorry.”
“Well fuck, that explains it,” she said.
She took a breath to calm herself before hopping back onto her cloud pile. Getting comfortable again, she looked over the crowd.
“So that’s two lessons there,” Dash said. “First, lightning won’t hurt you that much because of your magic. It’ll still sting like a bitch, and you’ll smell like burning for a few days, but you’ll be fine within a minute or two.
“The second lesson,” she continued, “is that while Sadness makes Rain, Anger makes Thunderstorms. I probably should’ve been more specific. But yeah, you thinking of your assmunch of a dad isnt’ the best for ‘Sadness’.”
“I’ll try something else then,” Flash said.
“Take a minute to cool off first,” she said. “Then think of, I don’t know, a sad book maybe?”
She sat back and let them go back to making rain clouds. Dash frowned, her own cloud turning a bit grayer. Sunset took the chance and climbed up next to her. Clouds were always a bit unstable, sort of like walking on jello, but she sat down and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Hey, you okay?” Sunset asked.
“Yeah, fine,” Dash grumbled.
“Dash, your cloud is turning gray,” she said. “What’d you say? ‘I’m not ‘Honesty’ but don’t give me half-truths’.”
“Fair enough,” she said. “But I’m Loyalty. And Flash and Scoots’ dad was the least Loyal pony I’ve ever met. Like maybe Tirek or Chrysalis are worse, but he’s up there on the list of Ponies I want to punch.”
“I probably would’ve,” she said. “Usually I’d suggest we talk this out, but for the next little bit you need to be teaching. I promise we can do this later.”
“Thanks,” she said.
Dash took a calming breath and ran her hand over the cloud. It turned back to fluffy white. She hopped off once more.
“Okay, you seem to have rain down,” Dash announced. “Now we’re going to purposely make storms. This is tricky. Sunset, do you think you could make a shield that lets things in but not out?”
“Yeah,” Sunset answered.
She lit her horn and created a sphere of energy in the air between them. Shields were usually easy, as all you were doing was making a wall. It was harder to make it so one side of the ‘wall’ would let ponies through it, and even harder to keep things in instead of out. Still, she managed. The shield expanded into a good size ball of energy.
“Okay, I don’t want you guys getting zapped,” Dash said. “So once you’ve made your Storm start up, shove it into the shield. Remember, Stormclouds are anger, and the angrier you get, the worse the storm will be. Try not to overdo it. You ready Sunset?”
“I’ve got it,” Sunset replied, keeping her focus on the shield.
“Alright, then go!” she exclaimed.
Flash and Scootaloo were first, having already picked what to draw the emotion from. Next were Rainbow and Sour Sweet. Oddly enough, Derpy was fifth to turn her could an inky black, but she had trouble getting the cloud to go where she wanted.
Luckily Dash was faster, taking the lightning for her as the cloud all but exploded. She calmed it and let her try again. She did the same for another a few other students, but unfortunately, she wasn’t quick enough to notice Indigo Zap.
Indigo let out a scream and a string of swears as a bolt hit her. She fell backwards to the ground. Everyone stopped their clouds, but Dash was the first there. She calmed the cloud before kneeling beside her.
“Stars are you okay?” Dash asked, helping her sit up a bit.
“I thought you said lightning wouldn’t hurt?” Indigo croaked out.
“I said it wouldn’t hurt as much,” she said. “It still hurts a lot though. It’s magic lightning, but it’s still lightning.”
“Dash,” Sunset frowned. “How many bolts did you take today?”
“Uh, just a couple?” she answered quickly.
“Dash,” she warned.
“Five or six,” she muttered under her breath. “Maybe seven. I lost count. ”
“You’re more badass than I thought,” Indigo said. “I wouldn’t want to jump into one more of those, let alone five or seven.”
“You guys might not be ‘my friends’ but you’re still my friends, you know?” she said. “I’m not going to let you guys get zapped if you don’t have to. Which is why I’ll leave directing lightning to next week’s lesson instead. It makes a really cool effect for Nightmare Night if you do it right.”
“Halloween,” Sunset corrected. “And Dash, no more taking lightning for others.”
“Do you want them to get zapped?” she frowned.
“No, but you taking any more bolts is still a bad idea,” she said. “You don’t have to be the self-sacrificing type.”
“I know,” she sighed. “But hey, I’m fine. It hurts a bit, okay quite a bit, but I’m fine. Twi compared it to a spell backfire, so it’s not too bad. But yeah, once everyone’s done with making a Stormcloud we can wait until next week before working with lightning again.”
Sunset frowned. She knelt down beside her and moved her magic over Dash. She’d barely started a spell before Dash jumped up and moved further.
“Come back here,” Sunset ordered, flinching from the magic disruption.
“No way!” Dash shouted from a good couple feet away. “Twi told me about healing spells too. If I’m not allowed to be self-sacrificing then neither are you!”
“I was just checking you over to see if you needed anything,” she said. “I’m not going to use up my magic while still holding a pile of clouds in a shield.”
“Well then, let’s finish up with everyone else’s storms so I can fix them,” she said.
She gave a nod to the last few people who hadn’t yet made their Stormclouds. With quite a bit of hesitation, they eventually all put their clouds into the shield. Dash went in from the top, calming all the clouds at once.
“Okay, now for something calmer,” Dash said, giving everyone clouds again. “Literally. You’re going to make snow clouds now, which means you need calm. This is tricky, but if you screw it up you won’t have as bad reactions. The worst you can do is mix up Calm and Joy, which would make a normal cloud.”
“Would that even work?” Flitter asked. “I mean, it’s like, spring?”
“Magic,” Dash shrugged. “The snow’ll melt pretty quickly on the ground, but we can still get it to fall. Just think calm. You know, ‘chill out’?”
Everyone groaned at the joke. Still, once their annoyance stopped, very few of them had trouble making snowclouds. Despite the pun, slowly falling snow was quite calming to watch. Even if it only fell a few feet.
Sunset used the distraction to check Dash over with her magic, but thankfully found only some singed hair and blackened patches of her tracksuit. After that, they had a bit of fun bursting the clouds.
“There’s one more thing I want to teach you guys,” Dash announced as the last few clouds burst.
“You didn’t mention anything,” Sunset said, tilting her head.
“Yeah, but I didn’t notice it until I got here,” she said. “What you need to learn is body language. Specifically, what you’re doing with your ears and wings.”
“What we’re doing with ears and wings?” Scootaloo said.
“Perfect example,” she said, pointing to her. “Everyone see how Scoot’s ears go lopsided like that? When combined with a frown and head tilt, it’s confusion or thinking. A smile instead would be a teasing playfulness.”
“Huh,” Rainbow said, her own ears tilting to match. “That oddly makes sense.”
“Yeah, it’s like a whole ‘nother language altogether,” she said. “It shouldn’t be too hard, since the wings and ears are part of the overall body language. But you’re new to it, so you should be aware of it if you want to read someone or even control your own body language. Can’t play poker if your ears tell your cards.”
“We could probably go over basics,” she continued. “Excitement and joy will be ears at attention, and wings flapping in short bursts.”
She happily demonstrated, her ears straight up and wings moving enough to make a few breezes, but not enough to get liftoff. After that, she quickly dropped it, letting her ears lay back and her wings fall slightly lower than a resting position.
“This one is ‘sad’,” she said, before lightly shuffling her wings. “And the small wing movements movements mean ‘awkwardness’ or ‘embarassment’.
Dash switched again. Her ears were still back, but they weren’t ‘laying’ so much as purposely turned. Her wings were flared forward, a little in front of her.
“This is for anger,” she said. “See how my wings are forward? I’m ready to fight or defend myself from something with them. Speaking of…”
She shifted again. Her ears were straight up, and her wings flared out fully. As she stood there, she looked almost frozen, except for her ears twitching with every sound.
“Fear,” she explained. “Your ears are scanning for sounds to know where the ‘attack’ is coming from, and your wings are ready for the ‘flight’ response of ‘fight or flight’. But there is one more thing, which isn’t really a ‘body language’ thing, since it’s a motion you chose to do.
“So your wings are have a good amount of dexterity,” she continued. “More than bird wings. You can use them similar to another hand, apparently, so some gestures will follow over.”
“Dash if you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, you’d better not be,” Sunset warned, despite smiling.
Dash didn’t answer. Instead she brought her wing forward and in front of her. She adjusted her primaries so that only the second one was still fully up. Without thinking, everyone followed.
“Congratulations!” Dash laughed. “You have successfully learned how a Pegasus will ‘flip the bird’!”