It all began one bright sunny morning in the merry olde town of Ponyville, as Twilight stirred from her long repose to stretch her hooves tiredly.
"Great, yet another day of marking papers, students ignoring me and cleaning up after Pinkie's party cannon to look forward to." She sighed in annoyance, wiping the thin sliver of sleep drool away from her jaw. "Spike, would you please kindly fetch me my slippers? And remember: I'll need two pairs, not one. I'm sick of my hind hooves getting cold on the way downstairs, and don't think I haven't noticed the clawmarks in the front of the slippers you 'accidentally' forgot about! Just because you burnt your own pair during that bout of sneezing you had last winter, it doesn't mean you can borrow..."
Twilight stopped mid-sentence. She blinked, took a quick stock of her surroundings, then herself. Something was wrong.
In fact, quite a few things were off. For starters, her voice seemed much more high-pitched than usual, almost like she hadn't gone through puberty yet.
Then there was the small fact she'd no idea where she was. Sure, the multitudes of books on the shelves and the wallcharts of magical formulae might indicate a place where she'd feel comfortable, but this most definitely was not her room, least of all the Castle Of Friendship. The structure was not nearly pointy or reflective enough for this to be the case.
Other 'small' things, like the complete absence of wings on her body, and the fact that everything seemed much bigger than before, were somewhat secondary to the main problem...
Spike was nowhere to be seen. That unfailingly loyal dragon had been there by her side on time first thing every morning since he'd hatched from an egg. Until today, that is.
"This is a dream. It's got to be a dream..." Twilight reasoned optimistically she was still in the land of nightmares, and maybe Luna would stroll by any second now to guide her out of it. "Let me put an end to this stupid fantasy once and for all. Here comes the pinch... ow."
As if her failed attempt at rousing herself wasn't painful enough, the following reaction seemed to spread beyond the meagre confines of this unfamiliar bedroom.
Whilst Twilight suckled on her sore spot trying to hold back the urge to cry(!), a light came on from just outside her door as a somewhat reassuringly recognisable figure burst in to lovingly embrace the bemused pony.
"Are you okay, my sweet little egghead?" Twilight Velvet tenderly kissed the forehead of her beloved daughter, and held her offspring securely in her hooves. "Did you wet the bed again? Don't worry about that, treasure. I was at least two years older than you are now, before my mother had to pack away the plastic sheets..."
"M-Mum!!" Despite finding herself in this indescribably odd situation, the smaller Twilight's first thought wasn't to ask just what the hay was going on, but to chastise her female parent for being so personal. "I did not need to know that! Besides, I was just a young filly when I stopped doing it! I'm all grown up now!"
"Well, no matter how old you get, you and your brother will always be our special little foals!" Night Light inevitably followed his wife into the room, as he observed his daughter with a wry smile a few yards away. "But seriously, don't try and grow up so fast, my darling. Even though you're so mature for your age, you still have a long time to wait 'til you become an adult, and me and Mummy intend to make the most of every second of it!"
"That's right squirt, because as long as you're so tiny, you'll never challenge me for the ultimate title of Sibling Supreme!" An eavesdropping Shining Armour poked his head around the corner too, winking amicably as he reminded his sister of his superiority. "In fact, I foresee a new contest any second now. It involves me eating my Celestia Flakes much faster than you, at the breakfast table in ten minutes flat! Be there, or be square! Oh, silly me: you already are a 'square'! Never mind, just get your rump downstairs as quick as you can... so I can kick it yet again! Buh-bye for now!"
Before a decidedly confused Twilight could ask any further questions... like, why her parents seemed so much younger, and whether her also de-aged brother had always been that obnoxious, they all left the room together (but not before Twilight Velvet had seen just cause to adoringly smooch the side of her daughter's cheek).
Hurriedly wiping the side of her face with a tiny hoof, Twilight noted the Starswirl The Bearded quilt cover with disdain, and also the neatly laid out homework on her adjacent desk which covered topics she'd mastered at least a decade and a half ago.
(The educational material there would be of college level difficulty for most other ponies... but who's counting?)
"What is going on around here?!" Twilight completely lost her cool at this point to yell out loud, as if trying to evoke her Royal Canterlot Voice there and then.
But all that emerged from her throat was the foalish tones of a filly.
A shivering, frightened filly at that.
"Yeah, I win by default! In your face, sis!!" Shining Armour mocked Twilight without mercy as she stumbled down the stairs, still trying to get accustomed to these minuscule hooves and her lack of feathery appendages. "I said ten minutes, and it's been more like... twenty-something! Usually you're up at the crack of dawn, so don't say my challenge was unfair! You're slipping, Twily!"
"Oh, don't pay any attention to your brother. He's just anxious about attending soldier training today, because they're going to be practicing with bayonets!" Night Light poked his head above the newspaper, to offer an explanation for his son's blatant rudeness. "In case you've forgotten, it's not exactly his area of expertise. Nearly skewered your instructor last time didn't you, my boy?"
"I sometimes wish you'd followed your sister's example, and stuck your head in those books instead of going for such a dangerous career." Twilight Velvet shook her head anxiously at Shining's future choice of lifestyle. "But I guess you've made your mind up, so me and your father will support you one hundred and ten percent. I've always considered you a natural born leader, anyway. Who knows, maybe one day you'll even be Captain Of The Guard..."
As fascinating as the day-to-day business of her family from days from gone by was though, Twilight kind of tuned out at this juncture. Her attempts at finding some solution upstairs to this unusual predicament had ended in failure, as every bedroom checked out where a happily married couple and a militaristic big brother might reside.
At least she was apparently old enough for her trademark cutie mark to have appeared. Crumbs of comfort, and all that.
Head-butting the wall repeatedly, and trying to cast a variety of spells to shed some light on the situation didn't seem to help much either. Maybe she was too young now to handle such advanced enchantments, or perhaps her unfamiliar voice now meant she was messing up some of the words.
Whatever. Her main concern now should be finding her best friends, and trying to discover what was behind this strange new world she'd woken into. As well as devise a swift way of escaping from it, of course.
"Are you okay, dear? Usually you're the first to correct me if I make an impossible maths equation, but you went dead quiet for a second." That was the sound of an anxious Twilight Velvet, as she trotted over from the kitchen-top to put a worried hoof around her meditative daughter's neck. "First of all, you act like you didn't even know us this morning. Then, you're the latest you've ever been getting to class. Now, you're letting me get away with absurd fractions, without even taking me to task? I'm a little concerned about you. Maybe, you should stay home today."
"That's not right! She's totally faking it!" Shining Armour stuck out his tongue, at what he considered to be his sister's unimpressive playacting. "I bet she's in the middle of another series of novels or something, and can't wait until after school is over to get to the last chapter!"
"Shining, since when has Twilight lied about anything, or even tried having a day off lessons?" This time Night Light put down all of his daily periodical, to glance at his son irritably. "Even when she had the mumps, she pretended her cheeks were puffed up because she was imitating the class hamster. Of course, when everypony else caught it at magic kindergarten, the truth was revealed. In any case, I think your mother may be right. Perhaps we should get Nurse Redheart in to give her the once-over, just to be on the safe side..."
Stay here today? I can't do that. I have to figure this out, and I can't do that while stuck in bed having my temperature taken. Still, a hot water bottle and a Daring-Do book sounds quite nice round about now... but, no. The quicker I solve this, the sooner I can return to my difficult marehood from my idyllic fillyhood. I don't want carefree days with my doting family at home! I want dangerous missions, a stableful of paperwork and the pressure of knowing I'm expected to take over Equestria in a few short months... hang on, when I put it like that...
Twilight's ongoing internal monologue came to a sudden end, when she realised how differently stacked the dual motions were between what she wanted to do and what her responsibilities were. A side-effect of whatever was causing this convincing illusion of course, designed to get her to give up and accept the delusion as reality so they'd win.
Not on her watch. "Listen everypony, this has been a fun trip down memory lane and everything, but I must find my real friends and work out what's happening. As soon as I've regained my wings and my title of Princess Of Friendship, I vow to come right down and see you in Canterlot, because it's been too long. And for your information 'big brother'... it's not you or me that holds the toy crown, it's actually both Spike and Luna, so get your facts straight! Well, see you later: I have a serious mystery to solve!"
So it was that Twilight, without waiting for a flicker of protest from her befuddled relations, decided to sprint straight out of the front door (trusting Ponyville residents always leave their houses unlocked, you see).
She left behind a trail of smoke, a bunch of small hoofprints and quite a few questions from those who witnessed her unexpected egress.
Okay, more than a few.
"Wings? Visit us in Canterlot? 'Princess Of Friendship'?! What on Equestria is that?" Twilight Velvet tried to make sense of her daughter's deranged ramblings, but failed miserably.
"Who the hay is 'Spike'? And what would Princess Luna want with a fake crown? She wears a real one every day, after all." Night Light was equally perplexed at his daughter's outburst, so much so that his dropped Ponyville Express got soaked by his porridge.
"Hmm, I'm beginning to see what you guys mean. She definitely is acting peculiar today." Shining Armour finally shed his somewhat arrogant demeanour, to act like the protective big brother he truly was. "Cadence didn't mention that anything was different about Twily yesterday before she left, did she? With neurosis as bad as that, it makes me wonder how she managed to get a scholarship alongside all those other creatures at the School Of Friendship in the first place..."