Guards, Wizards, and Royalty
“Did you say memory magic?” Sunburst asked, voice trembling as he made the question.
“Yes,” Statice replied honestly.
“As in magic that affects memory,” he elaborated his question as his voice increased in pitch and his eyes turned the size of pinpricks.
“Yes,” Statice replied reluctantly as he noticed that he made a mistake, yet honestly as he realized that he couldn’t take it back. Experience taught him that wizards and any other being with more magic expertise than him should not be deceived unless he was ready to suffer magical vengeance in the future.
“I…” Sunburst started speaking until Statice rose from his seat.
“Let me explain first!” Statice cried out, desperation evident in his voice. Sunburst must have heard it because his eyes softened despite his body language making it evident that he was scared of the green unicorn.
I can’t believe I’m going to tell this story. Actions speak louder than words. It’d be easier if I showed him my life by magic. But I’m sure he’s used to it. I think it’s better if it comes from the heart, from my own words.
“It all started when I was young,” Statice closed his eyes, letting himself be lost in his memories. “Hobuck was one of those multicultural places where all species of the world were supposed to be together. Although the town was founded by Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, it wasn’t long before ponies were seen as the weakest link in the food chain and they left the place.”
“That sounds awful,” Sunburst winced.
“Well, it’s not as bad as that other town that’s owned by some guy who calls himself the Storm King,” Statice shrugged his shoulders. “There’s no slavery where I live. Anyway, my family was one of the original citizens of Hobuck. Even when the other ponies left, they were one of the few that remained. That’s where my story starts.”
“I’m almost there…”
Standing outside of his house, Statice was staring at a potted plant. His family used to have one of the best businesses in Hobuck due to their ability to make any type of flowers thanks to their special talents allowing them to create any soil or weather condition for optimal plant growth. Nowadays, it was barely stable. Nopony wanted a potted plant unless it was to use it on a potion, or spell, or snack. Yesterday, a dragon customer bought seven pots of flowers for the sake of smashing them on the faces of his fellow dragons in a bar brawl!
I can’t believe he wasted my dad’s flowers like that. I need to perfect the family spell now if I want to help them.
“Just because you succeeded with our spell once doesn’t mean that you’re a master at casting it yet.”
“Hi, Dad,” Statice greeted his father without even turning around.
“I still remember the day you casted that spell. Just a few months ago, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” Statice smiled despite his efforts.
“And then your mom taught you levitation. Very few ponies are capable of learning a spell before learning how to levitate something.”
“Very few ponies have parents that teach them their family spell,” Statice smiled fondly.
“Do you know why your name is Statice, my son?”
“Is there a reason for my name?” Statice asked with a raised eyebrow, finally turned around to look at his father.
“I named you Statice in honor of the flower of remembrance,” a feminine voice entered the conversation.
“Hi, Mom,” Statice waved at her.
“How are you two doing?” she asked.
“Our son is doing the spell of our family to further help the business,” her husband replied. “He’s not doing well.”
“The first time is always the most memorable.”
“Give me some time to practice,” Statice promised. “I’ll have it completed before you know it.”
“I have a better idea,” his mother proposed. “How about we gaze at the stars? Let’s make some good memories!”
“It’s true,” his father nodded. “You won’t be able to spend much time with us once your little sibling is born, Statice. You better enjoy our moments with us as much as possible.”
“Fine,” Statice pouted.
I’ll complete the spell! Maybe I’ll even get my cutie mark in the process. I’ll bet that will be a memory worth remembering.
Two weeks of training passed before Statice finally mastered the spell. He didn’t settle with just succeeding one time by recreating the plant that his father made. He made sure to do it more than once to make sure that he got the hang of the spell.
It was sunrise. Nobody in Hobuck but him and his parents were awake at that hour of the day. It was the perfect moment for the demonstration. No outsider would interrupt his performance nor mock him should he fail.
He levitated a pair of seeds. One of them was of a rose and the other was of a sunflower. He smiled happily at the giddy way his mother waved at him as she watched him use the spell that she taught him to plant the seeds into the ground.
I’ll make you proud. Just watch me.
The vision of his desired flower came forth in his mind. Pouring magic from his horn, Statice watched as the ground glowed green. An orange flower slowly emerged from the ground, spreading the petals open to the sun.
“That’s your father’s flower!”
“Not yet,” Statice smiled as he levitated a pot and a little shovel. He grabbed the shovel with his teeth and used it to put the flower into the pot. He then levitated the potted plant into the shadow and watched with amazement as it took a bell shape.
“It is my flower!”
Statice smiled as he gave the flower to his parents, bowing to them as if he were a stage magician. He’d never felt so proud in his entire life. The way his parents smiled at him made it even better. Nothing could take this moment away from him.
“Try it again!”
“Sure I will!” Statice grinned as his father gave him two new seeds. “I’ll be filling your stock with new flowers by the time you open the store.”
Statice closed his eyes and focused his magic. He felt his magic reach the ground and touch the seeds, but he didn’t see any flower. There was no inspiration, no vision that could tell him how to use his magic to help him develop the flower from the seeds.
Maybe I need more magic. I did spend a bit in the previous flower and some more practicing the night before. I just need to use even more this time and then get some rest for the next time.
He grunted, feeling a pressure on his head. Somehow, the seeds felt like boulders as he sent more magic into them. There were no visions telling him what to do with the seeds, only more pain. He sent more magic and was rewarded with more agony. He gritted his teeth in effort as sweat was pouring down his head.
He opened his eyes to see his father showing him the seeds he planted. They were two he never saw before. Closer observation allowed him to see that they were the same plant.
“You tricked me!” Statice pointed a hoof at his father.
“Yes,” he nodded his head. “I know it was a cheap move, but it was necessary. Our spell is more than just magic, son. It’s knowledge. You have to know each seed you’re using for each flower you’re creating. If you’re using two seeds of the same flower then you’re just going to create just a normal flower and the spell is nothing different than what is found in a book.”
“I see,” Statice lowered his head.
“The flower that I used is your namesake.”
“Then like my namesake, let me show you that I can at least do the spell right,” Statice took one of the seeds.
“Son, you’re tired. At least take some rest.”
“I can do it, Dad!” Statice pulled the seeds. “Trust me!”
“I do trust you! I just want you to try later rather than now!”
“Both of you stop fighting over seeds! We’re supposed to be a family! Do you want this to be one of our last memories together?”
Statice gritted his teeth. It’s not like he wanted this to happen. He just wanted to impress his family. He felt the same pain in his head that he felt when he attempted to cast the spell. It was different, bigger, and spreading to his horn.
The last thing he remembered was everything turning green because of the magic released from his horn and a strong booming sound.
“What happened next?”
Statice furrowed his brow. He didn’t want to elaborate. Granted, he knew that details were of vital importance if the wizard was to help him with his predicament, but going beyond that part was beyond his capacity at the moment.
This is more than I ever talked with anypony besides my brother. Only Discord knows about my past and that’s because I showed him my memories rather than talk them through.
“Are you okay, Statice?” Sunburst asked, his concern was more focused on the green unicorn rather than continuing with the story. “You’ve been awfully quiet for a while now.”
I can’t go on. I’ll just summarize it.
“As soon as the spell was over, I was standing outside of my house with my parents, just like before. Then, I realized that they couldn’t hear me when I spoke to them. They couldn’t feel me when I touched them. And they couldn’t see me when I stood in front of their eyes. The whole day, they didn’t even remember my name.”
Sunburst stared at Statice with horror. “That doesn’t sound like any sort of memory spell at all,” he muttered under his breath.
“It must be a memory spell,” Statice stared at him with resolve. “As soon as I got out of my house, I saw some regular customers and told them what happened. They told me my parents were probably playing a joke on me and offered to take me with them to prove that there was nothing to fear. As soon as they entered the shop, my neighbors forgot about the plan and they only remembered me once they got out the shop. Three times this happened before they realized that there was something wrong with me, my family, and my home.”
“Are you saying that the spell that affected your family is contagious?” Sunburst asked, taking notes of what he was listening, probably in an attempt to help Statice out of his problem.
“More or less,” Statice sighed. “You get close to my parents, and any memory of me disappears from your mind until you get a certain distance away from them. The town mayor explained it better.”
“What’s so special about your town mayor?” Sunburst questioned. “From the sound of it, he or she must be good with magic.”
“My town mayor is a cat witch or a former cat witch with some shady past,” Statice made a dismissive hoof gesture, never once caring about his mayor’s past. “She’s the one who determined the nature of my spell, the effects, and even gave me basic education since my parents could no longer take care of me anymore.”
Admittedly, the mayor had been a good mother for him and even Digitalis during the few times he visited her. She had taught him to dominate his levitation spell to an acceptable level when his parents could no longer supervise him. She taught Statice and Digitalis how to correctly cast each spell they learned from the magic book Digitalis obtained so that they could survive in the outside world. And she was also the one who taught Digitalis the principles of magic theory so that he could teach them from Statice in her absence during his adventures across the world.
I should go see her next time I come back home. Why is it that I always realize how important somepony is to me until I’ve grown apart from them?
“Your home is filled with lots of magical cultures,” Sunburst noticed at the mention of Catrina and how she was a witch.
“Equestria isn’t the only place that has magic in this world,” Statice shrugged his shoulders. “Sadly, for how big the world is, I couldn’t find any magic user smart or powerful enough to break the curse on my parents.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Sunburst winced as his ears drooped.
“I came into Equestria to get some respite for my adventures, but I also held some hope that there may be some chance in breaking the curse,” Statice continued. “I mean, my magic is Equestrian magic so that means that it can be broken by somepony that knows a lot about the magic of Equestria.”
“That makes sense,” Sunburst laughed nervously, understanding the green unicorn’s point of view.
“I’m not going to force you, I can even pay you for your service if that’s what you want,” Statice offered as best as he could. Years of working at any shady business taught him how to bargain. “I have magic items that you can research at your disposal. I even have magic books from other cultures that I can translate for you so you’ll get two books for the price of one.”
“I can’t do it, Statice!” Sunburst screamed with his head bowed down.
Statice’s heart stopped at that moment. “What did you say?”
“Memory magic is kind of a taboo in Equestria,” Sunburst reluctantly stared at the green unicorn with regretful eyes. “It is a branch of mind magic that is considered a potential hazard to the mind of the victims. As such, any research on mind magic was stopped a long time ago, even the benign spells.”
“What are you saying then?” Statice probed slowly. “Are you telling me that you cannot break the curse?”
“I cannot,” Sunburst admitted. “Mind magic spells regarding amnesia treatment were never tested. Even then, I can’t say the same regarding your parents’ inability to perceive you, much less their capacity to transfer that inability to anypony else within their vicinity.”
“Are you saying that even if my parents remember me they won’t be able to perceive me?” Statice took a step, his voice trembling. “I’ll just be a memory for them at best and a ghost at worst?”
“I’m sorry,” Sunburst put a hoof on the green stallion’s armored soldier.
Statice felt many things. He wanted to slap Sunburst’s hoof away from him. He wanted to punch him for being so useless. He wanted to threaten the wizard into helping him out. Instead…he did something he’d never thought he’ll ever do again.
Back at the Crystal Castle, the royal couple was waiting for their guests anxiously as their dinner was getting cold. Even though Statice promised that he’d be back soon, he took almost an hour to return at least by Cadence’s estimation. Normally, Shining Armor wasn’t so privy on time, that was his sister and his father, but watching his wife keep track on how long his guest was absent was unnerving.
She’s taking her duties with Statice very seriously. Then again, the yaks were kind of harsh with us today. Maybe she’s just stressed out for today and she’ll be in better spirits tomorrow.
“He’s late,” Cadence stated, stomping her hoof on the floor. It was the third time she started a staccato of stomps on the floor out of anxiety.
“Maybe’s he’s at the infirmary,” Shining Armor tried to distract his wife.
“He’s got a Healing Spell!” Cadence countered, stomping her hoof harder.
“You did rough him up pretty hard in that jousting match,” Shining Armor winced as he recalled how he had to fight his wife off, thinking that she was some unknown opponent until he realized her identity.
“Maybe he’s mad at me then,” Cadence concluded, now feeling guilty for her actions. “I just wanted to have a little fun without being bound by my royal duties. I didn’t want to hurt Statice or Flash Sentry.”
“I don’t think either of them is mad at you,” Shining Armor hugged his wife. The pink alicorn nuzzled his throat.
“You got that right!”
The couple turned their eyes to the sound of the voice. Walking towards them was a green unicorn deprived of his armor. Statice looked the same as usual, except with one notable difference, his eyes were bloodshot.
“Were you crying?” Cadence asked, concerned evident in her voice.
Please don't let him be mad at me. Please don't let him be mad at me.
“I had some minor joint problems and I couldn’t use my Healing Spell because my Orichalcum Armor prevented me from using magic,” Statice answered immediately. “I’m not used to the pain so I cried immediately as soon as I was out of earshot.”
Shining Armor winced at that while Cadence was feeling guilty for putting Statice through that much pain.
“What’s for dinner?” Statice asked.
“Broccoli fettuccini,” Cadence replied as she bolted to Statice with her horn covered in magic. In the blink of an eye, Statice was sitting in a chair with a plate of thick flat noodles covered in a light green sauce.
Statice watched as a fork was stabbed in the pasta, spun around, and approached his mouth. “This isn’t really…” he started and stopped as he enjoyed the broccoli sauce and chewed on the pasta.
Now that I think about it, being fed a gourmet meal by a princess is not such a bad thing after all.
“So, how are the yaks?” Statice asked Cadence as she washed his mouth with a napkin.
The question was a mood killer as the pink alicorn dropped her magic on the napkin and forced the green unicorn to use his magic to prevent it from falling on the floor.
“Not very well,” Cadence sighed.
“Define how not very well please,” Statice gestured cautiosly.
Cadence gave Shining Armor a pleading look, which he took as a sign for answering in her stead.
“We’ve been trying to establish diplomatic relationships with the yaks since the Crystal Empire returned, but understanding their customs is hard and trying to make them feel welcome is just as challenging because they like their culture so much that they dislike anything different. In fact, if they see something dissatisfying, they go berserk and start rampaging until they get tired.”
“Sounds like a bunch of jerks,” Statice frowned with disgust. “Who goes around breaking the stuff of somepony else just because they’re ticked off?”
Well, besides robbers, kidnappers, and any criminal that loses their temper when entering private properties.
“There are good yaks, Statice,” Cadence chided him. “Despite their…unpleasant tempers…my love magic showed me that they are capable of companionship and caring among each other. We just need to find the right way to connect with them.”
“But why does Equestria need to connect with them?” Statice inquired. “Isn’t Equestria already a utopia?”
“You can’t survive in the world if you only remain in your home,” Shining Armor recalled a lesson that he learned from one of his favorite war heroes.
“I beg to differ,” Statice intruded. “Even before gryphons were included in Equestria, ponies pretty much had all what it takes to survive as a nation.”
And frankly, if it weren't for the curse on my parents I'd stay home rather than going through that ship.
“True,” Cadence smiled. “But including the griffons increased the size of our nations, our imports and exports, and mutually benefitted both nations.”
“I never saw it that way,” Statice contemplated, now suddenly understanding why there had been gryphons in Equestria.
I always thought that there were other gryphons besides Piercing Gaze following me to Equestria. Good thing that the other gryphon in Equestria I met before Piercing was some jerk at a bar or things would have been awkward.
“Maybe we should let this to Twily after all,” Shining Armor sighed in defeat.
“No!” Cadence yelled, surprising Statice.
“But…” Shining tried to speak on his case…
“No!” Cadence yelled again, louder this time.
“Oh come on!” Shining Armor was now annoyed.
“We owe it to Twilight!” Cadence left Statice’s side to walk to her husband. “How can I call myself the Princess of Love when I can’t even help my subjects bond with their neighboring country?”
“Then let’s ask my sister, the Princess of Friendship to form the friendship that not even our predecessors could make,” Shining Armor left his seat and met his wife.
“Should I leave this place so that you can talk alone?” Statice asked the arguing couple, already feeling the tension growing between the two of them.
I never thought Cadence could have a middle age crisis at her age. I mean she looks on her twenties. Is she on her twenties or is she already on her thirties? No! Gotta get out of here before this gets out of control!
“Yes!” Shining Armor yelled, not feeling anything against Statice at the moment, but feeling that he needed to be alone with his wife to sort his out.
“No!” Cadence yelled, somewhat feeling as if there was nothing wrong between her husband and her and that all she needed was a few minutes to cool down for things to go back to normal.
“Well, I’m leaving anyway and I’m taking my plate,” Statice took his half-finished plate of broccoli fettuccini and teleported out of the room.
The white unicorn and the pink alicorn stared aghast at the empty space where the green stallion once sat. Their shocked face quickly changed into insecure stares as they finally realized that they were alone.
“So…” Shining Armor broke the silence. “What do you want to talk about?”
This is so stressing.
It had been three days since he met Statice and he had been more stressed out than anything he had ever done back at Canterlot. Coming from a former student of Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, that was a statement. Granted, when it came to magic research, there was nopony better than Sunburst. It had been his passion since he was a colt and his time at school had shown him the benefits of knowing magic theory against having just magic power.
To him, the most interesting part about the spell was memorizing the formula in order to learn how to cast the spell. Once you knew the formula to the last detail, you could cast the spell without wasting any unnecessary amount of magic in comparison to unicorns who had a rough idea on the spell but ended up casting inferior versions at higher costs of magic.
And yet there were more applications to magical theory. A single modification to the formula could result in a new variation of a spell. Two spells could be born from a single formula just by making a single change! And the process was repeatable at different checkpoints of the same formula so there were endless possibilities to be explored.
His time in Canterlot had been hard. Even though his talent had been recognized as good enough to enter the school, it didn’t change the fact that he still had to compete with other students that were on the same level as him. He missed his home, he missed his mother, and he missed his best friend. But he had to succeed, find something on which he could make it big.
The answer came out of nowhere when the Crystal Empire came out of nowhere from its millennial disappearance. Learning a new culture proved to be the stimulus Sunburst needed to start his wizard career. And he was having a good career until he said those words.
To be honest, watching that proud unicorn get on his knees and beg him to break the curse on his parents was too much for him to bear, especially after hearing his backstory. It was a stupid thing to do knowing that it was out of his capacity, but Sunburst just accepted out of reflex and he was sure that he was going to pay for it dearly.
“Me and my big mouth,” Sunburst angrily muttered at himself. “I curse myself and my stupid big mouth.”
As it turned out, mind magic had not been that forbidden a thousand years ago. It was only forbidden a few hundred years ago after the banishment of Nightmare Moon. As such, it was surprisingly easy for Sunburst to find some books on mind magic. Even better, they were some books that regarded amnesia treatment.
Well, at least if I fail, Statice won’t blame me for not trying.
“Let’s see here,” Sunburst muttered as he levitated some scrolls and feathers with ink, writing some formulas. “Maybe if I write this and try this spell with this one.” He frowned as he got another scroll. “Or maybe if try this one with that one.” He groaned as he tried a different one. “Perhaps if I try these three combinations…”
Giving a cry of despair, Sunburst slammed his head on the table. “Why did the author have a case of amnesia just when he was starting to have a breakthrough with his amnesia treatment?”
This is hopeless. Even if I get this right, I think I’m only finishing one tenth of a spell. And it will only solve one half of the curse, which is the parents’ amnesia. I still have to do something about their perception. So that means I did a twentieth of the spell.
“I hate my life,” Sunburst groaned.
As if life heard that insult, a knock on the door answered him. Sunburst yelped in panic as he hid his scrolls around his office and carefully put his books in different spots around his library. Although most of the citizens in the Crystal Empire were out of touch with the modern world, there was a chance of them getting modernized any time soon or a modern citizen of Equestria coming into his home and finding him reading about forbidden magic.
Sunburst gulped as he went to answer the door. He prayed to everything he held dear for his visitor to be anypony unbothered to even enter his home. The door creaked open, letting the light slowly reveal a silhouette.
“Good morning, Sunburst!” Statice cheered as the door was pushed open with his magic and hit Sunburst square in the nose. As the orange unicorn was groaning in pain, a panini was suspended in the air in front of him.
“Is this for me?” Sunburst asked, his hooves leaving his sore nose to look at Statice in surprise. It was the first time somepony besides his mother and his best friend had ever given him kindness.
“You’re working hard to solve the greatest blight of my life,” Statice smiled at him, true gratitude expressed in his voice. “I might as well show you how thankful I feel by giving you lunch. Have some panini.”
Sunburst ate the sandwich, overwhelmed with how good it tasted. “Oh,” he gasped, both in delight at the taste and because he had been starving because he forgot to eat dinner last night and breakfast this morning. “I can’t believe how good is the food at the palace!”
“Flash and I are going to hang out around the Crystal Empire so how about you and I meet at the library and we have some fun at a certain time,” Statice proposed, content enough to let Sunburst eat his sandwich.
“Don’t you want me to continue my research?” Sunburst asked, confused over the petition Statice was giving him.
“It’s better that you don’t overtax yourself,” Statice walked around the house and started tidying up the place. Soon enough, Sunburst started doing the same. “Research as much as you want about my curse, but take a little time off for yourself. That’s why we’ll have our library meetings.”
“You mean it will be like a book club?” Sunburst asked with a hopeful tone.
“Something like that,” Statice shrugged his shoulders. “I’m sure you’d probably have read the same books Flash and I did. See you at noon!”
Having spoken his mind, Statice turned around and left the house. Sunburst stared at the door. This was the first time somepony asked him to hang out with them. This had not happened since he was a colt playing with Starlight Glimmer.
“I’ll see you there!” Sunburst cheered at nopony in particular. His giddy smile turned into a valiant one as his research began anew.
I’m not messing this up! Not when I have a new friend on the line!
“You’re getting better at this!”
Flash Sentry was teaching Statice how to use ice arrows. To be honest, it was harder than it looked as Statice was not at all that trained in using his teeth and hooves to hold objects, especially if they worked in synchrony.
Statice was holding bow with one foreleg and the arrow with his teeth. He pulled on the string as hard as he could with his neck and let go of the arrow right when it was pointed at the target, and it never landed. The field, divided on lanes so that each shooter could have a part of it to practice their skills was erratically covered with patches of ice from all of his failed shots.
This is why I prefer to shoot things with my horn. At least I know my projectiles will always fly true rather than fall down on me. I hate physics and gravity.
“My jaw hurts,” Statice deadpanned, demonstrating his point by spinning his lower jaw in circles to lighten the pain. “How do ponies keep doing these for hours just to train for the Equestria games?”
“Some of them have more talents than others,” Flash Sentry smiled as he placed himself next to Statice. “The bow is already anchored so you need to use your hoof to select the target by moving it left and right or up and down. The arrow you hold with your teeth and you pull using your neck and back muscles for more power. It all depends on how far you want the arrow to go.”
Flash did the same movements as Statice did, except he moved the bow slightly to the left and upwards, making the arrow soar through the sky until it hit the target. As soon as the arrow hit the center, it enveloped the whole target until it turned into an ice disk. The whole demonstration elicited a round of applause from the witnesses.
“Are you sure having the sharp eyes of a pegasus and guard training is not helping you out on this one, Flash?” Statice teased with a nudging elbow.
“A little bit,” Flash chuckled. “But most of it is practiced. That being said, I can’t say the same thing about our fellow competitor.”
Statice focused his eyes at where Flash was looking. He was surprised, and a little bit intimidated, to see Princess Cadence having rented five lanes to practice shooting. Not only that, but she was flying between each lane and scoring perfect shots per lane. From the frantic gleam in her eye, he assumed that she had a pretty bad day with the yaks.
“You wanna go to the library to hang out with Sunburst?” Statice asked, not willing to deal with the unstable alicorn.
“Sure,” Flash Sentry nodded a little too frantically to his liking.
“Mind if I tag along, my friends?” Shining Armor got in between the two of them. From the frantic messy mane and his desperate visage, Statice could tell that he really needed the timeout from his wife.
“Sure,” Statice shrugged his shoulders. “I’m sure Sunburst will love it.”
Sunburst had never felt so alive. Granted, he was getting nowhere with the investigation, but he was making friends. He already had three of them sitting at the same table with him. One of them was even Prince Shining Armor!
He’s not as attractive as they made him out to be. I guess working hard to protect Equestria must be hard for your physical appearance.
“This is Sunburst,” Statice curtly pointed at him. “Sunburst this is Flash Sentry. And you probably know who’s Shining Armor.”
“Glad to meet you, Sunburst,” Flash Sentry offered his hoof to bump, which Sunburst gladly did.
“A pleasure to meet you as well,” Shining Armor also offered the same gesture, but he couldn’t bother to establish eye contact as he was on the lookout for his wife. Sunburst didn’t mind though as he was happy to have the company.
“I don’t need introductions since everypony already knows who I am,” Statice stated, earning himself a round of laughs from the stallions sans the ever worried Shining Armor. “I wasn’t joking though, I was being literal.”
“There’s so many ponies to meet,” Sunburst smiled. “I’m not sure how to go with this meeting.”
“How about you tell us something about you?” Statice proposed. “You’re a wizard so you probably got some good stories on you.”
“That’s true,” Flash Sentry smiled. “The greatest unicorn heroes have always been great wizards. I’m sure you have something great in store for us.”
“Maybe you can tell Twily something good about magic,” Shining Armor smiled, finally forgetting about his wife for a few seconds.
Sunburst gulped. All of his new friends were staring at him. What could he tell them about himself that won’t make him sound uncool to them?
Think, Sunburst! You can’t let this opportunity slip from your hooves now that you got it! What’s so important from your days at that school that could impress these three stallions in front of you?
“Lay off, Shining Armor,” Statice joked. “Maybe he has a mare waiting for him at home. There’s no way a wizard like him would be single if he were not that powerful.”
“Hey, I’m not offering Twily to him!” Shining Armor snapped, offended at the notion. “I was suggesting a meeting between those two as friends that are mutually interested in magic.”
As Statice and Flash laughed at Shining Armor’s outburst, Sunburst remembered a single pony from his childhood. She was the one who helped him in the early days of his career and the first friend he ever made.
“I once had a friend named Starlight Glimmer,” Sunburst started with a tone similar to that of a storyteller. “We both loved magic, but in different ways. Starlight loved to see what she could do with her magic while I wished to research it. We always explored with our talents, testing our limits to the very end. Back when we were foals, Starlight was always the best one there was at magic, until one night when I had a magic surge that got me my cutie mark. After that, I went to Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns to continue my education as a wizard and then I ended up here after I heard of the return of the Crystal Empire.”
Sunburst finished his tale nostalgically. He snapped out of it when he saw his friends staring at him and then at each other. With a nod, the three stallions clapped their hooves on silent applause, praising Sunburst while still respecting the library rules.
They liked my tale! They loved my tale! Starlight, they loved our story!
“Good story,” Statice praised. “It has humble origins and realistic expectations. Granted, it’s a little too summarized for my taste, but it’s still a good story.”
“Maybe there is a lesson in your story that I can use with my wife to solve our problems with the yaks,” Shining Armor stood up from his chair, looking younger and stronger than ever. “I have to find Cadence.”
“She’s probably still demolishing the shooting course,” Statice deadpanned.
“Then I’ll meet her at the table!” Shining Armor declared still heroically, but obviously still scared enough of his wife to meet her when she was insane and holding a weapon in his vicinity.
Having given his declaration, Shining Armor left as fast, and as silently, as possible from the library. Realizing that there were fewer members and that Statice probably told Sunburst a little about his past, Flash Sentry decided to speak up this time.
“My name is Flash Sentry. I moved in from the Royal Guard in order to improve the relationship between Equestria and the Crystal Empire and to help the Crystal Guard with the millennial gap of their disappearance.”
As Flash Sentry kept on speaking, Statice and Sunburst exchanged glances. The way Sunburst paid attention to Flash’s story while still paying attention to anything Statice was going to signal him told Statice everything he need to know.
I’m having fun. Thank you, Statice.
Meanwhile, as Flash was telling his story and Sunburst was listening intently, Statice was lost in thought. Something was amiss with the story Sunburst told him.
Starlight Glimmer...where did I hear your name before?
The last few weeks were a delight for everypony involved. Statice had been on his best behavior. He rarely insulted anypony or got into fights. He also had much fun hanging out with Flash Sentry as they often competed in many sports or talked about heroic tales and legends. Whatever marital problems that plagued Shining Armor and Cadence vanished altogether as they were in a cheerier mood, even if they still had to deal with the yaks and their temper tantrums. The book meetings with Sunburst were also entertaining as his magic research helped Statice prepare himself for his magical education once he returned back to Canterlot.
“I must say that he’s showing much progress for a former criminal,” Shining Armor admitted, far more awed at the change of personality. “We usually need the Elements of Harmony, an eye-opening catastrophe, or some friendship speech to get ponies to change for the better.”
“And yet Statice chose to make himself a better pony,” Cadence observed. “I couldn’t feel any prouder of him. Check this letter I received from Luna.”
Shining Armor got close as he watched a letter levitated in light blue magic. He recognized Luna’s magic and was glad by what he was reading.
I am pleased to inform you that I am starting to make progress in Statice’s dreamscape. Granted, there is still much to learn from here, but I am starting to get an idea of what is going on and how to proceed. With the way things are, I think we’ll be able to find out what is plaguing Statice’s mind.
“This is good,” Shining Armor smiled. “Statice is happy. Luna will solve his dream issues. Everypony will be satisfied with having their issues solved.”
He nuzzled his wife and she nuzzled him back. Despite the smile on her face, something was troubling her. Why did she have the feeling that even if the dream problem was solved, Statice’s problems were deeper than any of that? And speaking of Statice, why did she suddenly have a bad feeling about him?
“What do you mean by that?”
Statice was back at Sunburst’s house. He was sitting on a chair facing the orange unicorn. The green unicorn blanched, trying to contain as many emotions as possible, all of them negative and pointing at the bearer of bad news.
Sunburst sighed in shame and defeat. “I’m afraid that for all my research there is nothing I can do to solve your curse. I read every book about mind magic in these last few weeks…”
“Then I’ll give you every book about magic in Canterlot and possibly in Equestria…” Statice proposed, undeterred by Sunburst’s defeatist attitude. “I don’t mind waiting months or even years. I endured since I was a foal. I can wait some more.”
“I made formulas of spells and then ran simulations against the curse,” Sunburst levitated papers that had hypotheses and magical calculations. “If you were to use these spells, they wouldn’t work because your parent’s can’t perceive you. Even if you got somepony to use them for you, they’ll forget about the formula as soon as they forget about you.”
“What would happen if my brother Meadow Tails uses these spells?” Statice asked, hopeful that his younger brother could break the curse on his stead.
“He doesn’t have the magic power to do it nor does he have the full mechanics to do it." Sunburst explained with a little more conviction, not wanting to involve a colt into the mess if possible. "You also have to understand that what you have here are guesses to solve parts of the curse.”
“It’s a start anyway!” Statice slammed his hooves on the table. “It’s more than what I or anypony else have ever done in my life. If you study more…!”
In a fluid motion, Sunburst slammed his hooves on the table, staring at Statice with tears in his eyes. His face showed rage and sorrow, not at the green unicorn but at himself.
“I’m not a real wizard!”
“What…did…you say?” Statice asked, shocked by the reveal.
“I’m not…a real wizard,” Sunburst sniffled. “I was supposed to become one. I left my home, my family, and my best friend to become one. But I couldn’t keep up with the best students at school. I was only good at reading about magic. I didn’t have the power to do the best spells, at least not without backup.”
“But... you went to the Crystal Empire,” Statice spoke, trying to find an excuse.
“I was interested in researching an ancient society that was gone a thousand years ago, not to mention that I was too ashamed to return home as a failure,” Sunburst admitted as he avoided gazing at Statice.
“You lied to me…” Statice said blankly.
“I said so because I didn’t want to admit the truth to myself,” Sunburst was now staring at the ground, wishing that the crystal turned into soil so that it could swallow him whole. “I didn’t want to face the realization that I abandoned my home, my family, and my best friend for…nothing.”
“You told me that you could break the curse,” Statice kept on with the same emotionless voice.
“You were begging me to do it!” Sunburst cried out, feeling ashamed at remembering that night. “You were crying despite showing me many amazing things that night. I panicked and I said something that I shouldn’t have said. I thought that maybe all I needed to do was research and then you’ll do the rest. I wasn’t thinking about proving that I was a wizard… I was thinking that you were a pony in need…I’m so sorry.”
Statice raised his head and Sunburst was sent flying in a green glow against a wall as a levitation spell pinned him there with as much pressure as possible. All of the books that Sunburst had shelved that morning fell out of their shelves just like his glasses and hat. The poor disheveled fake wizard could only stare as the green unicorn stared at him with murder in his eyes.
“YOU LIED TO ME!” Statice growled with venom that made Sunburst hiss more than the pain in his body. “YOU GAVE ME FALSE HOPE! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS I FELT THAT I HAD A CHANCE TO BE TRULY HAPPY AND YOU TOOK THAT AWAY FROM ME!”
“Statice…” Sunburst gagged, trying to find the right words. “Even… even if I were a true wizard, the result would have been the same. I’m only a fake… wizard because I don’t have the magic to cast most powerful spells of Equestria. So you have to believe me when I say…that curse is… unbreakable!”
Statice stood there breathing heavily. The radiation of his horn increased in radius as he prepared a new spell. Sunburst closed his eyes and prepared for the inevitable.
Sweet Celestia, please let this be over in an instant.
It never came. The pressure that surrounded Sunburst disappeared as he fell on his bottom to the floor. There was a banging sound that followed his landing, but it wasn’t made by him. Sunburst opened his eyes and realized that Statice was gone.
“Where did he go?” Sunburst asked aloud, more confused than scared as he stood up and wandered around his house. All of the books that Statice knocked down during the assault were suddenly back in their shelves, assuming the green unicorn didn’t misarrange them when he left in a hurry. As he kept moving around, he noticed two major differences in his home.
The first difference was that the spells that he made for the curse were gone. The second difference was that there was a note written for him.
I’d like to thank you for everything even if it amounted to nothing. Truth of the matter is that you are one of the few who learned about my true past and actually tried to help. I’m sorry for my behavior back there. I know you like antiques from the time we hung out with each other so I brought you this one from one of my previous adventures. It’s not cursed or anything and it’s from a different land outside of Equestria. Keep it for the cultural value.
A green light emanated from the note, revealing a pendant with some characters written on it. Sunburst stared at the gift awed at the beauty before remembering who gave it to him and feeling bad for how he obtained it. He didn’t remove the curse. Even worse, he lied to Statice after he had been so open with him. He felt like he didn’t deserve this antique after the way things ended.
“I hope you’re okay, Statice,” Sunburst said as he stared at the door.
Why did he expect things to be better than usual? They never were back then so they shouldn’t have been back now.
Statice was running across the Crystal Empire. The crystal ponies were so busy enjoying their own happiness that they didn’t seem to realize his own distress. A pang of envy and rage bit at him, but he suppressed it.
It’s not like you didn’t have your suspicions. You’re the one at fault for letting yourself get tricked.
He knew that. Anypony could pose as an expert as long as they knew slightly more than their victims. He just didn’t expect Sunburst to know just as much as any master magic user or that he cared enough about trying to help him. He even went as far as to make him two spell formulas for his trouble.
And he’d probably do more if he was a real wizard. Then again, if what he said is true then you’d be just as doomed as you are now.
Statice used his magic to teleport to the stadium, hoping that ponies seeing him running around at an area designed for sports and competition would bring less suspicion to him.
And that’s not taking into account the fact that you were ready to fight Sunburst if he turned out to be a wizard. Were you really that desperate to see mommy and daddy that you were going to get his help by force?
This time Statice vanished from the stadium by the time he finished his second lap, unable to deal with the voice on his head. With all the runners by his side, it'd be impossible for them to not see him crying his out if he kept going at it.
He was back on his room, out of air, not from all the running he did but from all the emotional stress he had endured this morning.
“I…can’t…stay…here…anymore…” Statice breathed out. Breaths came in and out as he opened the Archive and selected one of the marks he put around the map. With the target selected, Statice activated his horn and teleported to his destination.
He reappeared in a dirty wooden office. It was covered in dust and spider webs. There was a cauldron with a liquids standing behind him. Under his hooves, there was a mark that resembled a green horseshoe that was surrounded by a red rose, the checkpoint he used to teleport there. From the foul smell that came out of it, Statice guessed that it was some sort of potion. His weary eyes focused forward to a desk, which focused on a feminine silhouette.
“Look what the cat dragged into the mayor’s office.”
Statice stood tall, trying his best not to cry. Even if this was the closest female he had to a mother this was not the time for such things.
“Hello, Catrina. It’s been awhile.”