I awoke, scrambling about slightly to find that I was in a small room with instruments laying about, instruments used to play the more recent kind of music called rock. I sat up, quickly noticing that my hooves were gone. I breathed in deeply before exhaling. I read about this world when I snooped through Twilight's own notes on it, so I wasn't that surprised, but I did find the human body shocking. I swung my new legs over the side of the bed and attempted to stand on them, finding that my center of gravity had changed drastically.
"Whoa, easy there." I heard a deep feminine voice speak and I looked to my right to see who had to undoubtedly be Sunset Shimmer. She stood and grasped my right arm to help me. She definitely looked like she dressed in this music's rock style too. Sunset dressed in what seemed to be a black leather jacket and a pink skirt with high orange and lilac boots.
"I'm fine. Where are my runes?" I quickly inquired, scanning about.
"I suppose you mean these. I hope I can trust you with them," she pulled out my two runes from a pocket on her chest and handed them to me while releasing her grip on my arm once I steadied myself, "so where is Twilight? I was looking forward to seeing her again."
"She doesn't know that I am here, neither does she know about how I bribed spike." I put the runes into the front pocket of the long odd lab coat I was wearing.
It seemed that this world often gave whatever pony clothes to match their style and personality in human form. It had given me a lab coat over some kind of brown garment on my legs and a sleek white shirt that was accompanied by a tie.
"Maybe I shouldn't trust you, but you said you came to learn about the magic of friendship. And all your knowledge and assumptions seem soundly based, but we do have some magic here that we have been using lately," she showed an ornate necklace on her neck with the cutiemark that I had sketched in my records of important ponies.
"I've always wanted to meet you, of course, my duties serving Equestria quietly kept me busy and so did my research and spell crafting. I wondered how a pony with great magic potential felt when they hadn't reached their pinnacle yet. Your magical energy feels powerful, but contained very well. You are correct in there is other magic than the magic of friendship here. I came to study and research, so let's get to it, shall we?" I walked to the door before I felt Sunset's hand on my shoulder.
"Shadow Aura, I'm going to be with you all day, I explained to Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna about where you are from and why you are here, but the other students don't know. Keep this on the low, I think they'll think you're just a visiting scientist or something." She breathed out after her explanation.
"Thank you for your warning, but I shall be fine." I continued walking and opened the door after struggling for a moment to maintain control with my fingers. I turned the knob and pulled it open, seeing students who somewhat resembled ponies I've seen in Equestria.
"Whoa." I uttered in awe before I stepped out and walked down the halls, not knowing where I was headed.
"Where do you want to go?" Sunset walked beside me.
"I need to see the girls here. Twilight and them." I glanced about the halls, catching eye contact with many of the people who wandered.
"Well, that's uncanny. You woke up when they were headed to lunch. This way." Sunset waved for me to follow her down a branching hall and I did.
I would have a lot of studying to do; about this world, the humans in it, and the cultural differences. But that was also a secondary importance. I made acute observations of the very mundane coloring of everything in the halls as we walked that were filled with green tall containers that were attached to the side of the walls. Sunset leading me down another hallway before she stopped before two larger doors and opened one. I followed behind her entrance and she was quickly waved down by those six. I took a quick glance around the room and noticed four main pillars to support the structure above, most of the room was filled with tables in turn filled with students that chatted and ate. Students here appeared to all have very colorful hair and clothing choices that were quite the opposite of their environment. I walked over to Twilighta nd ehr friends.
"Sunset, nice to finally see you join us." Rainbow Dash teased her.
It was obvious to see their counterparts. Their hair was very similar to their mane styles in Equestria and so were their clothing choices. I had studied the note of this world that Twilight took and she noted that attire was often related to someone's background and their activities along with their personality. Applejack worn blue jeans, a thick threaded orange and yellow plaid shirt, and of course her hat. Rainbow Dash looked like she was in some sport outfit with a tight-fitting, white t-shirt; I wasn't able to see what was on her legs because of the table, she sat on the opposite side of Applejack. Next to her, Fluttershy sat wearing a simple yellow cream dress with a butterfly clip, she shied away from my observing eyes when I looked at her.
"Sunset, who is this? Is this the researcher we've heard of that was visiting our science department?" Twilight questioned. She worn a plain, somewhat baggy purple t-shirt and a purple tight skirt. Pinkie Pie was next to her and wore a low cut shirt with a frilly pink skirt, she lit up with a huge smile when she caught my eyes looking at her, I caught her sickness and smiled too.
"Hey," Sunset hit my arm with her elbow, "it's rude to stare. At least introduce yourself." She smiled teasingly at me.
I turned back to them and decided to take the seat next to Pinkie Pie. I noticed Rarity across from her who was wearing some kind of puffy light blue shirt, her hair in a perfect style without a single strand out of place. I couldn't see what else she was wearing below because of the table.
"Hello, you six, I am Shadow Aura. I come from Equestria. I am here to do research on the magic of friendship. I am a powerful wizard in Equestria, supposedly the best according to the ponies." I smiled a little, glancing over at all their faces.
"Boy, Rainbow Dash. I think I just found your match, he brags just like you." Applejack laughed after seeing Rainbow huff.
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Shadow Aura. I'm-." Twilight began.
"I know all your names, you have good counterparts in Equestria after all. I glanced about the room, catching the eye of some of the students here that were staring at me.
"Don't let them bother you. the students here just might be a little jumpy from all the weird stuff happening because of ponies from Equestria." Sunset sat down across from me and next to Rarity.
"I'm used to getting stared at back home. It's one of the bad perks of being so magically adept. I will let you six know now," I turned to face the group again, "I did bring some major Equestrian magic here with me in the form of a rune. And-" I was cut off from a loud stomach rumble originating from me.
"Well, silly, it seems you need food first!" Pinkie laughed, followed by everyone else.
"I suppose so. I haven't ate in almost three days. This challenge is keeping me very busy."
"I'll go get you something. I suppose you still have Equestrian tastes." Sunset stood and walked to the cafeteria line.
"Thank you, Sunset Shimmer." I nodded to her and she waved lazily with one hand.
"What day is it here?" I asked flat out.
"It's Thursday, Darling." Rarity answered. It would be like her to remain punctual.]
Sunset returned with a plate full of fruit, mainly bananas and apples.
"I'll contact you all once your school day ends, I'll meet you at the entrance to the high school once all the other students have left. What time would that be?" I looked to Sunset.
"About 3:30pm. That would be best." She replied.
"Noted." I immediately dug in, eating cleanly, but very quickly. The others chatted normally, sensing that I didn't want to be bothered. I paid no heed to their conversation.
They don't have the elements of harmony here, so that complicates things further. I hope they have some form or a way to bring out that magic in them. Twilight did say something about them 'ponying up' which is definitely something to ask about. I finished eating soon after my thoughts completed.
"Shadow Aura, you wouldn't happen to have news from Equestria, would you?" Applejack looked to me.
"I think we'd all like to know how Twilight is doing." Fluttershy added.
"Well, I don't really dabble in the affairs of Equestria much. Well, I used to be like that. She was preparing for a Friendship Festival last I heard. Everypony was making it out to be some huge event. She was so worried about it, but that pony can do almost anything." I stood after my words.
"Is she doing okay?" Rarity asked.
"Yes, but my sudden appearance from my normal seclusion definitely hasn't helped."
"I heard that, Aura. I like this world, it could use some of my touches as well. Thanks for bringing me here." I heard Sombra in my head once more. He reminds me that he is there every time I begin to forget.
"Like I said, don't make yourself comfortable you pile of griffin shit." I whispered to myself.
"What did you say, Shadow Aura?" Sunset looked at me with a scowl.
"What did you say? Haha." Sombra taunted again.
"I'll explain that later. It wasn't directed to any of you. Twilight has been doing just fine, she got to meet Starswirl in person and the rest of the Pillars. Equestria is a weird place now." I smiled, remembering my own personal visit with him.
"That's so good to hear!" Pinkie jumped up out of her seat.
"I'm glad to relay the news. Perhaps you can see her soon again." I began to walk to the door, waving at them.
"Where are you going?" Sunset asked, trailing behind me.
"To adventure on my own. I know how to stay out of trouble and my rune can protect me." I continued to the door, leaving Sunset behind.
Before I laid my hand on the green door, it opened and there were two taller figures; one looked exactly like Celestia and wore a white dress shirt and beige pants, the other looked identical to Luna and wore a blue blouse and a long blue skirt.
"Are you this researcher we've heard about?" Celestia asked, looking annoyed as she stared down at me.
"Yes, I am." I answered.
"Come with us, we need to speak to you." Luna continued and both of them filed out of the room, waiting for me. I was stunned for a moment.
"Principal Celestia, I can explain why he's here." Sunset's voice woke me back up from my zoning out. I began to walk out after them.
"We'd like to speak with him ourselves, Sunset. Thank you for your input." Luna starkly said.
I followed them down the halls in silence, entering the office of Celestia after going down the corridors I took to get to the Cafeteria and passing through the large, open circular foyer and entering into her office.
Celestia's office was lit up from her large window, covered by a thin white curtain. Her desk was made of polished dark oak and filing cabinets lined most of the walls. A picture of her, Luna, and Cadance rested on her desk next to next piles of documents. Celestia and Luna both took seats behind the desk and invited me with an open palm. I took a seat in the cushioned red chair.
I heard the bell for class change ring outside of the office.
"So, what is your name, sir?" Celestia asked first.
"I'm just gonna go ahead and get this over quickly. I am Shadow Aura, I come from Equestria. I am here to do research on the magic here and you have my word that I won't cause trouble," I spoke.
They stayed silent for many moments, taking in and processing what I had just said. I heard the bell for class change ring outside of the office.
"Shadow Aura, I don't know what kind of authority you hold in Equestria, but remember you are just a normal person here," Luna stated.
"You have my word I won't cause trouble. You can trust the most magic adept pony of Equestria," I smiled back at them before walking out of Celestia's office, being met right with Sunset Shimmer in my face. Students were just arriving at the large circular room to chat and get to their next class.
"Sunset, have you been listening?" Celestia questioned.
"Yes," Sunset Shimmer hid her hands behind her back and stepped backwards away before taking down one of the halls.
"Regardless of what she heard, Shadow Aura, you will obey our rules here," Luna sternly said.
"You won't have any problem from me."
"Or will they?" I heard Sombra's haunting laughter again.
I growled deep in my throat out of annoyance.
"Then I trust your world, Equestria has never sent anybody bad," Celestia smiled.
"Well, almost," Luna added. I heard the class bell chime again.
"I will see you two around," I nodded to each of them before I walked out of the school.
I trekked about the outside of the campus until I found what I was searching for, the soccer field. It was just as empty as I had hoped, not even a Rainbow Dash was here practicing. The only interruption to the peace was the occasional metallic machine passing by. I stood in the very center of the very green playing field and pulled out the rune I poured my magic in.
"I guess it's time to test you."
I held the glowing rune up and began to go through the steps of casting a simple defensive shield. I spoke to the rune itself, telling it what I wanted it to do. A second later, a large gray shield enveloped the enter field, swirling with darker shades in it. I might have made the rune a bit too powerful. I told the rune to stop casting and the shield faded away. I then had the rune cast a simple offensive bolt of magic aimed at the side of the school. A small ball of gray shot out at a fast speed and hit the bricks, pushing some in just a little bit.
"Whoa! Shadow Aura, you never said you could do that!" Rainbow ran out of the side door and immediately ran up to me.
"Shouldn't you be in class?" I questioned.
"I told them I'd check it out. You just hit my classroom with that magic bolt. That's so coooool!" She threw her arms up.
"I was only seeing if my magic was still valid and it seems like it is," I commented.
"You have to show all the rest of us some time!" She smiled.
"Go back to class, Rainbow Dash," I pocketed the rune and reentered the school through the side door that Rainbow Dash used. She followed me in and entered her classroom again while I walked down the empty halls, creating a mental map of the high school.
I wandered the halls for what seemed like hours until I saw all that there was to see in the school, except the classrooms, I would never interrupt academia. The bell rang and the halls were quickly filled with cheering students fleeing the building in joy, there were some slow ones that chatted with friends, had extracurricular activities, or enjoyed learning and talked with the teachers. I began a slow walk to the front of the school, arriving after a few minutes from the count in my head. It wasn't long until those seven showed up, they came through the front doors of the school.
"Hey, Shadow Aura!" Sunset waved, other students looking at me. They probably did think it was weird for a researcher to be visiting their school.
I waved back, walking to meet them halfway. I turned to Applejack.
"You have a farm here, do you not?" I asked. I wanted to hurry this along so I could return to Equestria as quick as I could.
"H-how did you know?" She blinked in shock.
"The resemblance of this world and Equestria is uncanny. I only guessed that you did from that observation," I stated, fiddling with the empty rune in my pocket.
"Why are you asking about the farm in the first place?" Rainbow asked out of curiosity. Rainbow Dash may not have been an intelligence driven pony, but there were some things that still did get her attention.
"Because it is secluded, it'll offer us the perfect space for this what I need to do. I hope all of you have your geodes and while we are here, get your instruments. Applejack," I approached her once I finished my instructions, the other staring at us.
"Yea?" She asked, leaning away from me.
"Just remain calm, nothing bad is going to happen," I pulled the magic filled rune out of my pocket and pressed her hand to it while I still held it.
"What are you-," I cut Applejack short as her eyes and mine lit up to a bright white.
I casted a memory spell, watching the events of her life yesterday, particularly viewing how she got home and the way to her farm. I watched one more time just to make sure I could find it. I let go of her hand and stuffed the rune back into my pocket. Applejack grabbed her head.
"What happened?" She inquired.
"I only used a memory spell to see the way to your farm. Your head will just feel a little light for a while. I will meet all of you there," I turned around and grabbed the rune out of my pocket again.
"Wait!" Twilight shouted after me.
"I'll see you there, I need to survey the farm for the best spot," with that I casted an advanced speed spell and took off at the a speed Rainbow Dash could achieve.
I flew down the main road, heading into more rural areas,abundant with tress and other flora, where the pavement looked old and weathered; in some spots it was chipping away into holes and a smaller road. I eventually reached a dirt road and kept my run down it until I ran through Applejack's family orchards. I stopped in front of their house, pocketing the rune once again.
It took them about thirty minutes before they drove down the road in one of the mechanical machines, this one having some kind of cargo area in the back that Rainbow, Pinkie, Twilight, Sunset, and Spike sat in. Fluttershy, Applejack, and Rarity were all in the front of it. Their instruments sat in the back of it with them.
Applejack stopped the truck in front of her farmhouse.
"Set up your instruments quickly. And after today, I'll be shadowing each and every one of you so I can see this 'ponying up' thing Twilight wrote about," I walked off into the orchard in a random direction.
"I sure hope he isn't always this bossy," Sunset commented.
I heard the sound of their chatter as they took the instruments out of the machine. I looked back and saw them setting them up in the shed. I knew it would take a bit for them to become ready. I transmuted some apples from the orchard trees into sheets of parchment with my rune, forming an ink pot and quill along with it. I levitated them before me and began to scribble down the events that were taking place and future hopes. I planned to be out of here by Saturday and back in Equestria. I know Twilight would definitely miss my presence. Last I heard before I began this intensive research is that she was going to be hosting some sort of friendship festival. Twilight always fretted about everything and had made many of her checklists in preparation for the celebration.
"Shadow Aura! We're ready!" I heard Applejack yell out into the air. I began my walk back since she interrupted my thoughts.
It wasn't long until I reached them again from my fast walk and I took out the empty rune in preparation.
"So are you ready to be blown away or what?!" Rainbow Dash yelled in my face while her guitar hung form her neck.
"I'm not one for music, I like simple sounds of nature more. The rain falling on my roof. The birds chirping outside," I answered her rather typical question, "but I am ready to see this thing that you seven do."
I wanted to get this done quickly and get back to Equestria before anypony ever noticed my disappearance.
I saw Sunset smirk and whisper to the other seven of them, glancing back at me with her eyes. I raised one of my eyebrows in curiosity and looked back down at the rune in my hand. Whatever they were planning, it is probably directed to me and it would be very good for the rune. I smiled back to Sunset when she stared with a determined expression smothering all of other hints of different emotions in her face.
"You have my rapt attention now," I kept my smile and glanced at my rune.
Sunset put her microphone close to her mouth and pointed at me.
"You're never gonna bring me down," the first lyric of the song caught me off guard and I quickly began to feel a magic coming from them.
I touched the rune that contained my own magic and I transmuted some of the leaves of the trees around me into paper, ink, and a quill. I frantically titled and began my notes.
"You're never gonna break this part of me!" Sunset smirked at me again.
Stubborn, but in a rather good way. I suppose she intended to prove to me that music is a much better thing than what I thought it to be, admirable of her.
"My friends are here to bring me round'!" She took hold of Twilight's hand. Pinkie Pie began to give a beat with her drums now, smiling very eagerly, more so than she usually does for herself.
The feeling of magic was growing and I laid the rune out in front of them, walking closer only to walk back and record the happenings of their song.
"Not singing for popularity. We're here to let you know," Twilight joined in, singing along with Sunset while Rainbow began to play her guitar.
I began to feel a surge of magic enter me, the same one that I felt when I fought Sombra and the other moments with my friends back in Equestria.
As the song went on, I recorded their every lyric and felt more and more magic enter my body, to the point I began to feel sore all over and experienced a slight headache. Each one of them did what I assumed was this 'ponying-up' and pony ears grew from their heads. Based on who they were and their counterparts in Equestria, they also received wings and all of their hair styles grew out longer as if to be tails of my race.
As the song came to a close, I continued to write my notes. I was in more pain from my growing headache and soreness.
"Still think music isn't all that great?" Sunset walked up to me and smirked.
"That piece was particularly golden, enjoyable. There was something intoxicating about it and it made it very hard to focus on writing my notes.
"Glad we proved you wrong!" Rainbow pumped her fists in the air.
"I thank you all for-," my words were interrupted as I fell to my knees, and began grunting in agony.
"Shadow Aura, what's the matter?" Twilight knelt next to me.
"I have...no idea. But I don't advise standing near me," I mustered out and felt the magic inside of me begging to be released from my body from somewhere.
Whenever a unicorn was holding more magic energy than they were capable of, it usually burst out of their horn a bit violently. This was different, given I didn't have any kind of catalyst to send my magic out of.
"That's crazy, you're in pain. Let us help you," Sunset hauled me to my feet and I opened my eyes. The moment I opened them I saw a look of fear and concern in her face.
"Buuuuuuuck!" I yelled out and felt the magic explode out of me from everywhere in a much more violent way than was normal for unicorns or normal magic. This was the kind of magic I sourced from to defeat Sombra.
Sunset and Twilight were sent into the air and onto their backs. I collapsed to my knees again, breathing heavily.
"Holy moley!" Pinkie commented, "that's one of the weirdest things I've ever seen."
"Shadow Aura, ya alright?" Applejack jogged over and helped me up with Rarity and Rainbow helped Sunset and Twilight back to their feet.
"Other than being in a lot of pain with a headache birthed from Tartarus' womb, I'll be fine. I have a lot to work over, so consider this an early break," I stumbled over to the rune I laid down and clutched my head.
I picked it up and found there was not any magic in it at all, nothing I could feel at all, "ponyfeathers," I cursed under my breath and started to walk away.
"Shadow Aura, what's wrong?" Sunset stopped me.
"Nothing," I continued my walk away.
"Your face tells the truth for me," I stopped in my tracks, the other six staring at me along with Spike.
I turned around and huffed a breathe in, "these aren't the results I was hoping to get from this. My rune lays without magic and I just hurt two of you. I have little idea of what's going on right now. And I'm not in control of my magic," I said in a very strained tone as I grit my teeth and continued to walk away through the orchard. They let me leave and walk away, I suppose they sensed I didn't want to be reconciled.
After I walked away a good distance, I sat down and leaned my back against one of the many trees, "Oh Equestria, what did I do to bring upon the entire world's ire?" I sighed out and stared at the empty rune in my hand.
It still had a magic absorbing spell on it, so it could be enchanted. But why had it not absorbed their magic, and when it came out in such a huge volume? I looked over my notes, reading them a second time, a third, a fourth. I wasn't seeing anything else in them, nothing to point out an important observation. I began to tap my fingers along the roots of the tree, annoyed.
I did feel a surge of power while they were playing and it caused that out burst earlier, but I still had little idea.
"What in the hay would Starswirl do?" I asked myself.
"He wouldn't give up and he surely wouldn't be this mad over what he observed," I heard from my right and saw Sunset there.
"What do you want?" I asked, standing up.
"I wanted to check on you. You seemed super frustrated with how things went," she said and walked closer to me.
"I don't expect you to know as much about magic as me, but what happened there was very contradictory to what should have happened. My rune didn't absorb your magic, instead it caused me to react negatively," I sighed out, "it gets me no where!" I shouted to the skies in anger.
"We could try again," Sunset commented.
"I suppose that would be best. Any research experiment needs consistency in its trials," I said and walked back with her.
"That's the spirit!" She playfully punched me in the arm. I decided not to comment on her statement.
We reached back to the shed where the other six were and an idea hit me. I pulled my empty rune out of my pocket and smiled at it.
"Whenever you seven are ready, I think I know what Starswirl meant by his exact words now," it was a blessing that he always encrypted something into his words, whether anypony knew it or not. Harness the power of friendship he said, here we go now.
"We've got the day to get ready," Twilight started them off this time.
I quickly felt the magic coming off them as their instruments came to life, it began to come into me and I felt more soreness and the ehadache from earlier returning. My talent, my very talent was active even here and to the magic of friendship.
I pointed the rune up into the air and intended to use it as a catalyst. I continued to feel more magic enter me and the pain growing more.
"Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight!" The seven of them shouted and continued their song.
I felt a large increase as they hit the lyric, they began to harmonize and interact friendly with each other, smiling and expressing their friendship visibly.
A large rainbow colored beam came out of the run and blasted skyward, the entire color spectra was mixed around randomly as it went.
They immediately slowly stopped playing, Pinkie being the last to catch on.
"Shadow Aura, what was that?" Sunset questioned and six of them hurried to me while Pinkie remained bummed at the drums.
"I think I know," I stared at the rune in front of me. I knew that magic came from me and not it, so it was very astonishing to me. I've seen the Elements of Harmony used to manifest the magic of friendship into a physical form that could then be used to battle evil. I must have done something similar.
"Come on, darling. You have us all at the edge of our seats!" Rarity pipped.
I looked up and I saw each of their large smiles and eager faces, Pinkie had joined them at some point.
"Do you remember how you united and hit Sunset with a rainbow like beam to turn her back to normal?" I asked and Sunset hung her head when she remembered the event.
"Of course, who could forget something as awesome as that?!" Rainbow yelled, "sorry, Sunset," she patted Sunset's back and scratched behind her own head a bit embarrassed to have said something like that without taking the feelings of her friends into consideration.
"Your beam was rainbow colored. That was the magic of friendship manifested into a physical form. I believe I just did the same thing."
"Wait, I'm lost now. Is the me or the other Twilight with you guys that he's talking about?" Twilight asked, staring blankly at me.
"The other one. We'll fill you in later," Applejack commented.
"So what does this mean for you?" Sunset spoke up now.
"I think when I get back to Equestria, I'll be an alicorn," I sighed out. I didn't want to have to deal with ponies more than what I already do, or ahve responsibilities. Tartarus, what would I be the prince of? And if I was a prince in Equestria, a real one unlike Blueblood, what did that mean to Equestria?
"That's great!" Sunset chirped.
"I don't want to though, but I may as well return now and face the music as they say," I turned around and touched my filled rune.
"Wait, you owe us," Sunset stopped me and I turned around.
"For having you help me with my research? I suppose I do, what would you like? I can arrange for Twilight to make a visit here again," I suggested with a smile. I wanted them to choose something that wouldn't require much from me.
"That sounds-!" Pinkie began but was silenced by Applejack.
"Uuh, give us just a moment," Applejack said and gathered the girls around them with Spike. They began to whisper.
I decided to leave their decision as a surprise and not cast a spell so I would be able to hear them. That wouldn't seem right to do morally anyway. After a minute or two they all turned around and Twilight and Sunset approached me.
"We want you to stay here until the sun goes down on Saturday," they both said and smiled.