Deal With The Draconequus

by Never2muchpinkie

Chapter 12: Magic lessons

“Are you sure about this?” asked Twilight.

Sweetie Belle nodded. She had gone to visit Twilight in the library. “I’ve made up my mind. Our world is pretty peaceful, but villains like Nightmare Moon and King Sombra had plans that could have hurt and killed a lot of ponies. I’m still scared of what will happen if we get into an actual battle, but I can’t let that fear hold me back when it could mean my sister’s death. I want to be the protector that keeps her safe. So… I accept. I’ll take up the Element of Generosity like my sister did, and play my part for a safer Equestria.”

“Thank you, Sweetie Belle. That’s a load off my shoulders.” With a red glow Twilight brought out the Element from the case, putting it around Sweetie Belle’s neck. “It looks good on you.”

Sweetie Belle grimaced, her body contracting as she let out a small sob. The thought of actually being given this much power… to be given her sister’s lofty position… it was still hard to comprehend for the filly. “I-I-I’ll do my best,” she said in a strained voice.

Twilight walked over and hugged Sweetie Belle. “You don’t have to cry. You should be proud. Not just anyone can wear that. Just because you’re sisters doesn’t make you qualified to be an Element bearer. You have to embody the Element inside of you. The fact that you can wear that just shows how powerful an inspiration Rarity was for you. You remind me of Rarity more and more every time I see you.”

Tears came down her face as she sniffed a little. Rarity appeared in her mind. Both of them. The one who taught her what she needed, and the one she was going to teach.

Taking a deep breath she said, “I came to another decision. I’ll help to release Discord again.”

Twilight looked down at the filly. “That’s great. I’ll let everyone know. Meet me back here tomorrow after school. I’ll have everything set up.”

“Okay, Twilight. I’ll see you later.”

As Sweetie Belle walked home she could feel the Element sitting on her neck. It only weighed a few pounds, but to her the weight was massive. She kept trying to wrap her head around the massive responsibility she had committed herself to, but it was still hard to believe. It was going to take some more time to get used to the idea. Once she actually used the Element it would be bonded to her until she chose to give it away.

Opening the door to her house she yelled out, “I’m home!”

She heard her parents respond with a greeting. Shortly after that she saw a blur and heard the sweetest voice call out, “Swee-Belle!”

She picked up her little sister, nuzzling her face. “Hi, Rarity!” She gave Rarity a hug, feeling all her tension melt away. Her sister’s innocent nature always put a smile on her face. It was clear the foal had taken a liking to her older sister.

The following day after school she went home to pick up the Element of Harmony, then headed to the library. As she walked inside she saw Discord’s statue sitting in the middle of the room, along with the other five Element bearers.

All of them were staring at her. Her eyes went back and forth anxiously, and she said, “What?”

Fluttershy replied, “Well… it’s just… it’s kinda weird seeing you as the new Element of Generosity. I know you’re taking after Rarity, but even so…”

Rainbow Dash smirked. “Aw, don’t listen to the worrywart over there. I think it’s awesome you’re coming into your talents so young. Just like me.” Unfurling her wings she did an aerial maneuver. “Sonic rainboom!”

“Oh!” Fluttershy said with surprise. “I wasn’t trying to say you couldn’t do it. It’s just… it reminds me of Rarity.”

Sweetie Belle looked at the ground. “Yeah. I know what you’re talking about.”

“Enough yakking!” Rainbow said with annoyance. “If we’re gonna release this bad boy let’s just get it over with.”

“Yeah,” said Applejack. “I agree with Rainbow. The sooner we get this over with the better.”

“Come here, Sweetie Belle,” said Twilight. “Just stand next to us. Focus your energy on your Element, and it’s power will resonate with the other five.”

“O-okay,” the filly responded, walking forward until she was in between Pinkie Pie and Applejack.

“Okay, everyone. You know the drill.”

“Right!” came the reply from the other four.

“Um… right!” Sweetie Belle said quickly. Twilight’s horn glowed brightly, and Sweetie Belle let out a small yelp as her Element began reacting to Twilight’s magic and she started floating in the air. Outlines of the other five Elements began pouring out.

“Wha-what is this?” Sweetie Belle said. Power. Immense power surrounded her. Power like she had never known, and it was only getting stronger and stronger. It was stifling, and it felt like it was hard to breathe. She had no idea what was happening. A rainbow began to connect the six Elements together. As it approached her she let out a small scream, unable to take the overwhelming sensation anymore, grabbing the Element and throwing it on the floor.

The power of the Elements quickly puttered out, and all six of them fell to the floor.

“What happened?” said Applejack. She turned to the sound of panting.

Sweetie Belle was on the floor, gasping for breath. Her already white face had gone paler still, and sweat was pouring down her. She had a look of intense fear.

Twilight walked over to the filly, lying down to be on her level. “Sweetie Belle. Are you okay?” The filly didn’t respond. She looked like she had just seen a ghost. Twilight put a hoof on her, and Sweetie Belle jumped. “Hey! Are you okay?”

Sweetie Belle looked up into Twilight’s face. “I’m… I’m sorry. I… just got so scared. I’ve never felt anything like that before.”

“Poor thing,” said Fluttershy, also walking over and gently rubbing Sweetie Belle’s back. “Twilight. I think she’s still too young for this. She can’t handle this kind of power.”

“Hmm,” murmured Twilight. “You might be right. Well… I guess Discord is going to be locked up for a while longer. I would like to try one more thing though before giving it up.

“Sweetie Belle, I’d like to take this next month to give you magic lessons. If you get a better grasp of what magical power feels like you could be more prepared for the power of the Elements. Of course I don’t want to force this on you. I told you before that you have to make this choice of your own free will. If you heart isn’t in it you won’t be able to use the Element in the first place.”

Sweetie Belle hesitated. The sensations she’d just had coursing through her were so immense she didn’t think she would ever be ready for it. Still…

She closed her eyes, picturing her older sister. Rarity had been able to handle it. Even Fluttershy could handle it. Surely she could get used to it, given more time. After that her thoughts turned to her younger sister. Rarity’s lifeless body came to her mind, and she knew that she didn’t ever want that to happen again to anyone else. If she could learn to master her power she could keep baby Rarity safe, and help to stop other ponies from dealing with what she had to.

She still felt very afraid, but she didn’t want to back down from this. She was sure her age played a factor in the intensity of the feelings, but it was also likely because it was her first time making contact with a magical object like that. If she could learn to control her own little magic, combined with the knowledge of the force involved from attempting it once, she was certain the next time she could pull it off.

Sweetie Belle opened her eyes, saying to Twilight in a shaky voice, “O-okay. I’ll learn whatever I can.”

“Spike!” Twilight called out.

“Yes, Twilight?” he said as he came running.

“Would you make Sweetie Belle some tea? I think a soothing cup is just what she needs to recover from her ordeal.”

Spike nodded. “Okay, Twilight.”

Applejack and Fluttershy helped Sweetie Belle up. She tried to walk, but her legs were shaky and she almost fell right back to the ground. With their assistance they helped her into a chair.

Twilight went into a cupboard, pulling out a plate and some chocolate cookies for the filly.

“Thank you, Twilight,” Sweetie Belle said.

“No problem.”

She tried to pick up a cookie, but her hooves were still shaking so bad she kept dropping them. Feeling bad for her Fluttershy held onto her hooves, helping to steady them.

When the tea was done Spike poured her a steaming mug. After giving it a little time to cool Fluttershy helped her again so she wouldn’t drop it all over her lap. The hot liquid pouring down her throat was helping to settle her down, and she stopped shaking. By the time she had finished her tea and cookies her distress was well past her. The memory was still there, but it wasn’t causing her any more trauma.

The rest of the gang hung around while Twilight began teaching her the basics of magic control. “As you know, magic is a skill that is inherent in all unicorns. Most unicorns have a unique magical ability, like Rarity’s gem finding spell for instance, but every unicorn has a basic skill that we all master: levitation.” Her horn began glowing red, and an aura surrounded a book on the table, floating in the air. “For most of us that’s the very first thing we discover. Rarity seems to have discovered her unique talent first, going by her cutie mark story. I myself had to struggle hard simply to turn the page of a book with magic at first, so we all learn different things at different speeds.”

Setting the book down she continued, “Magic is sometimes set off by a trigger, and sometimes by plain hard work, just like the difference between me and Rarity. I’ll set you tasks to attempt, and we’ll see if it’s enough to awaken your magic. In the meantime I’ll drill into you the basics of magic.

“Focus all your thoughts and energy on your horn. Visualization is key. Imagine your body as just a mass of energy, then picture that energy being focused into one location, into the tip of your horn.” Her horn glowing again, she grabbed a simple sheet of paper and set it on the table. “The bigger the object you’re trying to levitate the more you have to strain and focus, so this nearly weightless piece of paper is the perfect thing to start your practice on.”

Sweetie Belle closed her eyes, trying to imagine what Twilight told her. She gritted her teeth, straining to force a reaction out of her horn. Opening her eyes she glared at the paper, willing it to rise. There was a small spark from her horn, but that was all.

“Not bad for a first attempt,” said Twilight. “Keep working on it.”

She practiced for an hour, but by the end she still hadn’t managed to lift the paper. The process left her sweating and tired.

The following day she came to visit Twilight again. They continued off like before. Still she had no success.

By the fourth day she was beginning to get really frustrated at her lack of progress. She had started to develop a hatred for that little slip of paper, at how it defied her every effort. Twilight, seeing this, taught her breathing exercises. “You’ll never be able to focus properly if you’re tense and angry. Breathe in slowly, and count to three, then exhale. Do it in a pattern just like that.”

“For how long?” Sweetie Belle asked, annoyed.

“As long as it takes.”

At first she was still ticked off enough that she had trouble following directions, but the exercise started working wonders on her mood. The longer she kept at it the more relaxed she began feeling.

Twilight saw her pupil looked calmer now. “You’ll get it, Sweetie Belle. The only thing for it is practice, practice, and more practice.”

She continued her lessons, Twilight giving her tips every so often, but the magic continued to elude her. She kept feeling like she was on the edge of awakening it, like it was hovering just outside of her reach, and that frustrated her to no end.

By the end of the month she was still unsuccessful. She tried her breathing exercises, but they weren’t helping. She ran forward, and spitefully tore the paper in half. “This is pointless!” she yelled. “I can’t do it. I’m useless!”

Twilight walked over and put a hoof on Sweetie Belle’s shoulder. “You’re NOT useless, Sweetie Belle. Some unicorns just take a little more time than others. It’s the same thing for pegasi and flight. Your friend Scootaloo hasn’t begun flying yet. Do you think SHE is useless?”

“Well… no, but it’s not like Equestria is depending on Scootaloo to fly. We’re lucky we haven’t been attacked again, but that luck could run out at any time. I need to do this!” A tear came down her eye.

“Hmmm. A good teacher shouldn’t always just use the established practices. If the ordinary method won’t work let’s try another one. Do you remember why you began this in the first place?”

“Because trying to use the Element scared me?”

“That’s part of it, but isn’t there something more? A more important reason? If just regular practice isn’t enough you may need to simply strengthen your motivation.

“Close your eyes for me.” When she complied Twilight said, “Good. Now instead of just picturing your magic and trying to force a reaction out of yourself I’d like you to picture a calm meadow. You and little Rarity are frolicking through the flowers. You’re both having a fantastic time.”

A gentle smile was on Sweetie Belle’s lips. She enjoyed this scenario.

“You sit down on a log, watching her have the time of her short life.” Twilight’s voice shifted. “Then all of a sudden three ponies come out of nowhere, heading right for little Rarity. You’ve come across a group of foalnappers.”

Sweetie Belle tensed. She wasn’t liking this anymore.

“They are closing in on the defenseless foal, and you’re too far away to get to her in time.”

Sweetie Belle began panting slightly, her heart rate shooting up.

“You try running, even though you know it will be futile. Closer and closer they get to Rarity. Who knows what they’re going to do her if they get her. Maybe they’ll just hold her for ransom, but maybe they’re cruel bullies, who will hit her or starve her."

She was shaking with rage now, sparks shooting out from her horn.

“They’re only seconds away from grabbing her. You’re now the only one who can help her, but you’re still too far away. Only your magic can get her out of danger. Don’t you care what happens to your sister?”

She gritted her teeth, letting out a small roar as a glow erupted out of her horn. Her eyes opened as a magical aura surrounded her entire body. Her eyes were pure white, charged with energy. “Rarity! RARITY! No one hurts my sister!” Sweetie Belle let out a loud yell, her power exploding outward.

“Uh-oh,” said Twilight, backing up a few steps, feeling she went too far. She put up a force field around herself. She wasn’t hurt but the force of the energy threw her backwards into the wall.

Sweetie Belle began panting heavily, flopping to the floor with a sigh. She felt exhausted. The green glow faded, and her eyes returned to normal.

Twilight got up, surveying the damage. Most of the books on the bookshelves had fallen to the floor. Her table had flown into the wall and smashed into a million pieces. Papers were strewn apart everywhere and a lot of things were knocked over, but the treehouse itself was still fully intact.

Twilight lowered the force field, walking up to Sweetie Belle and letting out a big breath. She let out an awkward laugh. “That was a bit more than I imagined.”

Sweetie Belle looked up at Twilight, her eyes half-lidded. “Sorry, Twilight. I lost control.”

“It’s alright, Sweetie Belle. At least we’ve now proven that you can use magic, hmm? Not so 'useless' now, are you?”

Sweetie Belle gave her a half-smile. “I guess not.”

“We just need to work on fine-tuning your control. We’ve now found the motivator you needed. When you’re trying to access your magic focus your thoughts on your sister and how you want to protect her. Give a reason, a need, for your power, and it will respond and answer to your call.”

“I’ll do my best,” she said in a tired voice. She forced herself up on shaky hooves. “I… I’ll help you clean up.” She went to take a step, and almost collapsed back to the floor until Twilight caught her with her magic. Levitating the filly she set Sweetie Belle in her bed. “There’s no need for that. I can get this room cleaned up in a jiffy. It was almost reshelving day anyway. You take a little nap and just relax for now. We’ll start things over from the top tomorrow.”

Sweetie Belle was too wiped out to argue. “Okay,” she said in a tired voice, closing her eyes.

The following day Twilight explained to her about what had happened the day before. “What you did is called a magic surge. If you remember my cutie mark story I had to hatch an egg for my entrance exam. I was good with magic. That was why I was applying to a school for gifted unicorns in the first place. But I got major performance anxiety. I tried my hardest but I couldn’t feel my magic at all because I was so nervous. I was so amped up with nerves that I couldn’t focus. When Rainbow Dash did her sonic rainboom and the sonic boom shook the room the shock of it let loose all the emotions that were beneath the surface, and my magic spiraled out of control.

“A magic surge is usually caused by a build-up of tensions pushed to the breaking point. All it’s waiting for is that last little push, a stimulus to push it over the edge. Think of it like a volcano. The pressure in a volcano builds up slowly, getting stronger and stronger, and then in one single burst breaks through the crust and causes a massive eruption.

“It can be a defense mechanism, allowing a unicorn to defend themselves in a state of danger. As you saw, even as a filly your surging magic was quite powerful. If I hadn’t put up a shield I probably would have broken a few bones. So it’s clear that you CAN use magic. You just need to refine your control. Believe in yourself, Sweetie Belle, and you power will respond.

“We’ve seen how effective your protective thoughts can be, but you don’t want to RELY on a magic surge. It can be useful in a dangerous situation, but without fine control you could wind up doing far more damage than you prevent. For example, if the scenario I was describing yesterday actually WAS happening, and you responded the way you did here, you would have sent Rarity flying along with the bullies. And given her young age she would suffer far worse injuries than the bullies would. So you need to refine your power, so that you only use it on what you WANT to use it on, and avoid harming those you care for in the process of protecting them. Do you understand, Sweetie Belle?”

Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah. It wouldn’t be good to hurt my friends along with the bullies.”

“So I want you to focus on two ponies to help hone your magic.”

“Focus on two ponies?”

“Yes. Your magic can be used both offensively and defensively. Most of the time you should try to make due with being defensive but there are times you might have to get aggressive. For offense I want you to imagine a tough pony. The toughest one you know.”

“So… the princess?” Sweetie Belle responded, a little annoyed that she only had one choice thrust on her.

Twilight shook her head. “Not at all. Strength comes in different forms to different ponies, and each one has their own opinion on what categorizes strength. For instance: Rainbow Dash considers herself the toughest around. There are very few things she’s afraid of. She tried to attack Discord head-on despite his great magical power. True enough she’s strong. Now let’s take a look at Fluttershy, her polar opposite. Would you say Fluttershy is stronger than Rainbow Dash?”

Sweetie Belle licked her lips and slowly rolled her eyes, sure that there was some kind of trick to the question. She couldn’t think of it, but she finally said, “Yes?”

Twilight’s eye’s looked towards the corner, an amused smile on her lips. “Is that a question or a response?”

“Um… both?”

She giggled now. “Come on. Give me your honest answer.”

Sweetie Belle’s face scrunched up a little. “I know the answer is yes, because you wouldn’t bring her up if she wasn’t. I just can’t figure out how she’s stronger.”

“The answer isn’t yes.”

“So then it’s no?”


Sweetie Belle threw up her hooves in frustration. “That makes no sense! You said it’s not yes, and it’s not no. So what’s the answer?”

“I can’t give you the answer. As I said before this is all about opinions. I can say Rainbow is stronger than Fluttershy, but you may see it the opposite.”

“But I don’t! Fluttershy is…” She got a light blush on her face. She didn’t want to say anything insulting. “Well… um… she’s not that brave. She gets scared really easily.”

“It is true that she gets scared easily, but my personal opinion is that Fluttershy is braver than any one of us.”


“It’s easy for a strong and courageous pony to be strong and courageous. It’s a lot harder to throw away your usual character and act the opposite way. When we were tasked to wake up a sleeping dragon so that the smoke from its snoring wouldn’t cover Ponyville Fluttershy didn’t want to go. We had to basically force her to come. She slowed us down immensely because her wings locked up out of fear and she kept lagging behind. While all of us tried our own methods of convincing the dragon to leave Fluttershy hid behind a rock.

“But you know what happened in the end? When Rainbow Dash tried brute force and kicked it in the face it became furious, and attacked all of us. When Fluttershy saw that we were all hurt her fear disappeared. She flew up to the dragon without a speck of fear, and with a few harsh words and a glare she brought the dragon to tears and made it agree to leave.

“Despite labeling herself as a weak flyer, when Spike and Rarity were plummeting to the ground after Spike shrunk due to reigning in his natural dragon greed she was able to match Rainbow’s Dash’s pace enough that they made it just in time.

“Those are just two examples. Even though Fluttershy is naturally timid she always rises to the occasion when her friends or her animals are in danger. So she may not be the hot-blooded pegasus with a need for speed and a desire to prove herself. She still has great strength when she needs to. It’s definitely harder for her to call it up, and easy for Rainbow to do, but it’s still there.

“So the true answer is that there is no definitive answer. In some ways Rainbow is stronger, and in some ways Fluttershy is. Now… getting back to what I was asking you to do before. Magic power is one form of strength, but physical strength is another. Another area of strength is mental and emotional strength. You pick any pony that to you just makes you think of strength when you imagine them. You’re going to picture them as your strength. Imagine them lending you their strength and letting it infuse your magic with great power; power enough to knock out any bullies who would bring harm upon your sister.

“The second pony I want you to do the opposite.”

Sweetie Belle tilted her head a little. “You want me to imagine the weakest pony I can think of?”

Twilight giggled, shaking her head. “No. Imagining the strongest pony is the core of your offense. For the second one I want you to imagine the kindest, sweetest pony you can think of. That will be the core of your defense. Power enough to beat off bullies, but gentle enough to protect those you care for. You have to learn to switch between those two rapidly. In the scenario I was posing to you before let’s just say that you didn’t have a magic surge and your power didn’t go out of control, but the power you sent out is what you could muster on your own.

"Now you have a shockwave heading towards the bullies, but Rarity is also in the line of fire. You can’t just pull back your magic after you’ve cast the spell. You have to use another spell to get her out of danger. Whether it be by levitation, a shield bubble, or just putting something heavy in her path to block the magic.

“We’ll get deeper into that later. For now you have to work on mustering your power at will. Emotional charged magic is normal, but you’ve seen what happens when you don’t have control.” She gestured around the room. “So… now find your two perfect ponies. Remember: they can be ANY pony. Like I told you about using your Element it has to be done with your heart. You don’t HAVE to pick Fluttershy as your kind pony simply because she’s the Element of Kindness. Pick someone who you personally feel best embodies what I’ve asked for.”

Sweetie Belle sat on the floor, closing her eyes, pondering the question put to her. Who were the strongest and the kindest ponies she knew? Since Twilight brought her up her mind immediately turned to Fluttershy. She thought on it for a little while. Was Fluttershy the kindest pony she knew?

“Oh!” Sweetie Belle said, getting an idea. “Miss Cheerilee!”


“Yeah!” she replied, getting up and doing a little hop. “She’s such an amazing teacher, and she’s kind and funny and smart and helps me out when I don’t understand stuff. She didn’t ever get that mad when me and Apple Bloom and Scootaloo tricked her and Big Mac into drinking that love potion that actually turned out to be a love poison. All of us love her so, so much! This one time I tripped and skinned my knees and she got out the first aid kit and cleaned it up and held me until I felt better.

“Yeah. Miss Cheerilee is definitely my first choice!”

“That’s good. Now what about your second choice?”

That stumped her for a short time, but then she got another brain wave. “Big Mac!”

“Him, huh?”

“Yep! Thinking about that whole thing with the love poison got me thinking about how incredibly strong he is. He was dragging a house he’s so strong!”

“A part of that might have been a side effect of the infatuation caused by the effects of the potion, but I get your point.”



“I have an idea that will really help me in my magic lessons. Do you think you can cast the spell for me?”

“Anything to help someone who wants to learn. What do you need?”

“I’m gonna bring Rarity over here. Do you think you could make a doll or a stuffed animal that looks like her?”

Twilight’s eyebrow rose. “I… suppose. Why do you want that?”

“Well… you keep taking about visualizing and imagination. Since I’m still in training I don’t want to do anything to hurt Rarity, so I don’t want to use the real her, but I figure a doll that LOOKS like her will help me to focus and watch how much power I put into my spells. “

Twilight’s eyes twinkled with stars. “Excellent idea, Sweetie Belle! You’re learning so quickly already! I’m proud of you.”

Sweetie Belle blushed a little. “Thank you , Twilight.”

So Sweetie Belle returned home, picking up her sister. With a little bit of study Twilight created a workable copy of Rarity in a stuffed animal body. She also created three Diamond Dog lookalikes, setting them around the stuffed animal.

Sweetie Belle took a deep breath before starting her breathing exercises. Whispering to herself she said, “The protectiveness of Miss Cheerilee, the toughness of Big Macintosh. Kindness and strength. Stop the bullies, but don’t hurt my sister.”

She opened her eyes, focusing solely on the doll of Rarity. A glow came to life in her horn. A small aura appeared around the doll and it began slowly lifting into the air. “Gentle. Just like Miss Cheerilee. Protect her from harm.”

Twilight clapped her hooves. “See? You’re getting the hang of it already. Give little Rarity a hug. With your magic, I mean.”

“Huh?” she asked, losing her concentration. The doll fell to the ground.

“I don’t mean a literal hug. As I told you before imagination and will is the key to mastering your magic. Look.” Twilight’s horn started glowing, and a pillow from Twilight’s bed flew in front of her. With a slight increase in the glow the pillow began squeezing itself a few times. “See? I can fluff my pillow with magic. Levitation is a basic art, but it encompasses a little more than simply lifting things in the air. You can also squeeze the object you’re holding.

“Now. This will be a test on your control. That doll is designed to fall apart easily. If you’re too rough on it then it will break into several pieces. The goal, of course, is not to destroy the doll. It will start showing signs of tearing before it actually comes apart, so if you just pay attention it will stay in one piece.”

“Got it!” Sweetie Belle responded with a nod.

Closing her eyes she imagined Cheerilee, and the fun times they’d had together as teacher and student. Joy entered her heart, and she transferred her feelings into her horn. The Rarity doll began floating in the air. It hovered there for a short while. “Okay. Give a gentle hug.” Her heart racing, she pushed her magic to make her imagination reality, and the doll got an indentation around it like it was being held. A few seconds went by, and the doll remained intact. Extremely gently she set the doll back down on the floor like she was holding the real Rarity. She wiped a bead of sweat off her face. “Phew! That’s hard work, even with all this visualizing stuff.”

“You didn’t break the doll. That was a phenomenal first attempt considering you couldn’t even lift a piece of paper yesterday.”

“I want to protect Rarity. No matter what it takes. She’s my baby sister.”

Twilight nodded. “Then let’s continue.” With a flash from her horn the Diamond Dog dolls appeared. “We’re going to do the opposite this time. I want you to think of your image of Big Mac, and squeeze these ones as hard as you can. They’re made of a much stronger material, so you’re going to have to really put your all into it to break them."

Sweetie Belle thought of all the times Big Mac had shown how strong he was. She remembered him yelling at her and her friends over the Gabby Gums fiasco. She’d seen him plowing at the farm. When they had tried to set him up with their teacher he had easily pulled a lot of heavy objects with barely any strain.

Next her thoughts turned to Rarity, and how she wanted to be able to protect her sister. She lifted the doll, imagining it was someone trying to come after her. She strained her thoughts, a soft growl coming from her lips as she squeezed the doll, her horn glowing brightly. “No… one… hurts… my… sister.” After a few more seconds her horn flashed and the doll fell into several pieces.

Just like before she felt herself sweating a little. Wiping her face again she turned to Twilight with a big smile. Panting a little she said, “How was that? Not bad, huh?”

“Not bad at all.” Twilight’s horn glowed, putting the doll back together. “Now for the next test we’re going to alternate between gentleness and strength." Twilight levitated a blanket over the table so it blocked the view of the floor. “Now I’m going to use my magic and lift up the dolls one at a time. Sometimes it will be Rarity, and sometimes a Diamond Dog. The goal here is to keep the Rarity doll intact, and to break the Diamond Dog ones. You won’t know which one it is until it comes up, so the goal here is to be able to switch the strength of your magic quickly, and to be able to alternate between offense and defense. Sounds simple enough, right?”

Sweetie Belle nodded.

“Since you’re still new to this I’m going to call out the name of the doll when it first comes up. As you get more experience I’ll stop doing that and force you to use your own eyes to determine how strong your magic needs to be.”

“Got it.”

Sweetie Belle turned to look at Rarity, who was sitting there watching their magic show with rapt attention. When she saw Sweetie Belle looking she let out a happy squeal and waved her hooves. “Swee-Belle. Swee-Belle!”

She smiled back at her sister. “Hi, Rarity.”

Putting a hoof to her mouth Rarity made a smooching sound, and then blew on it. “Kiss! Kiss!”

Joy entered the filly’s heart. “Right back at you, Rarity.” She blew a kiss back.

Turning to Twilight she said, “Okay, I’m ready. Let’s do it.”

Sweetie Belle took some deep breaths, waiting for Twilight to begin.

“Rarity!” said Twilight, and the doll came up and began falling.

Her protectiveness flaring up her horn started glowing, and the aura surrounded the doll. Remembering to be gentle she slowly lowered it back down.

“Diamond Dog!”

Sweetie Belle narrowed her eyes, glaring at the doll as her horn lit up brightly. Using all the force she could muster she squeezed it hard, and it broke into pieces.


“Diamond Dog!”


Like before she continued listening to Twilight’s voice. There was just one more Diamond Dog doll left, and then the exercise would be over. She was feeling a little fatigued, but she had enough energy left to smash the last one. She prepared all the magic she could, ready to get rid of the last thing threatening her sister. “Rarity!” she heard, and the doll popped back up a second time.

“HAAAA!” Sweetie Belle yelled, using all her strength. “Gotcha?” she said with confusion as she saw the doll of her sister break into pieces. “Huh-wha-huh?” A look of horror came to her face as she let the pieces drop to the floor, tears starting to pour down her eyes. If that had been the real thing…

She ran over to her baby sister, sobbing a little as she held Rarity close.

Rarity hugged her back. “No cry, Swee-Belle. No cry.”

Twilight walked over to the filly. “I’m sorry, Sweetie Belle. I didn’t intend to make you cry, but you needed this lesson. You were so sure there was a pattern you didn’t hesitate to unleash your magic on what you thought was an enemy, but was actually your sister. Or rather, a doll of your sister.

"I warned you about relying on magic surges because you could wind up hurting the one you love because you can’t control your magic. But even being in control now you still need to exercise caution and be sure of your target before attacking. If you carelessly use your magic without being certain you’re using it on what you want to use it on you still could wind up doing harm to those you love.

"Look on the bright side, though. Lessons are often learned through experience. You make a mistake, and then attempt not to make the same error twice. Far better that you destroyed a doll of your sister than the real thing, isn’t it?”

Sweetie Belle sniffed, giving a terse nod. “I’ll be more careful next time. I don’t want to ever hurt Rarity by being careless like that.” Looking over at Twilight she said, “I don’t want to practice any more today.”

“I understand.” She put a hoof on the filly’s shoulder and said, “You did great today, Sweetie Belle. I mean that. You’re learning fast, and have a lot of potential.”

“Thank you, Twilight.”

“No problem.”

For the next two weeks she continued her daily lessons, getting better at using only the amount of energy she wanted to. Every day she practiced she felt herself improving. It wasn’t causing so much mental strain to activate it and maintain it. It started to feel natural.

She took her first day’s lesson to heart. She always made sure to take a few moments to be sure she was going after a Diamond Dog doll before using her magic. The contrast in their colors made them easy enough to distinguish at first, but Twilight very nearly got her good when she put a gray coat and hoodie on the Rarity doll. Twilight tried all sorts of tricks to get her to attack the Rarity doll, but she wasn’t fooled.

Finally Twilight said it was time for a real test of her magic. She was told to bring Rarity over on the weekend. When she arrived there she saw the other Element Bearers there, along with three surprise guests: the three Diamond Dogs that the dolls had been modeled after.

“What are they doing here?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“I told you,” replied Twilight. “It’s time for a real test of your abilities. You’ve gotten great at fine-control with dolls. Can you do the same with living targets? These three have graciously agreed to be our test subjects in return for us spending a few hours helping them mine some gems through the gem-locating spell. This is Spot, Rover, and Fido.” She pointed her hoof to the smallest, medium-sized, and the largest in turn.

“So here’s the drill: Diamond Dogs, like earth ponies, are very in tune with the ground. They are fantastic diggers and can make holes in the ground extremely quickly. Rarity will be placed in the middle with a circle around her. The other five of us are going to run around. The Diamond Dogs will each attempt to capture us and drag us underground. Your goal is to use what you’ve learned of magic to pull us out of their grasp when they try to drag us down.

"From time to time they will pop up to try to get a better view. That’s when you’ll try to get them out of the ground. If you can pull one of them out they’re stuck on the sidelines for a whole minute. The overall goal is to drag all three out. That’s how you win. If, on the other hand, they manage to get all five of us then they’re allowed to try to grab Rarity. Then they win.”

Sweetie Belle felt really uncomfortable with that last part. “And what are they gonna do with Rarity if they get her?”

“Nothing. If they pick her up it simply means they win. They’re not going to hurt her. If you win we have to go digging for two hours. If they win then its four hours. That’s the deal.”

The small Diamond Dog let out a laugh. “Yes! Lots of digging time for pony. We win contest easy.”

Twilight said, “There is no true win or lose. Spending a little extra time digging isn’t a huge deal. This is simply about checking your growth. Since we are all living creature and not dolls you have to be even more careful. Just remember everything you’ve learned over the past two months. Remember your visualization. Strength and power, and gentleness and kindness.”

Sweetie Belle was still uncertain. “You promise nothing bad is going to happen to Rarity? What if they decide to kidnap her to try to force you to work at the mine forever?”

“”Hey!” said Rover. “We are not monsters. We don’t kidnap babies!”

“Yeah!” said Fido.

Sweetie Belle chewed on her lip. She was still very wary of this. But… this was all the more reason to go through with it. Like Twilight tricking her into destroying the Rarity doll it was better that she risk a failure in practice than a real situation. If she ever wanted to be able to save Rarity from danger she had to know she could handle a real-life scenario, even if it was only a simulation. Letting out a heavy breath she said, “Okay. I’ll do it.”

The ten of them left the house, going to a large dirt patch near the edge of town. Setting a blanket down in the middle Rarity was placed on it.

Sweetie Belle went off to the side, panting slightly even though she hadn’t even done anything yet. She had to keep Rarity safe. If she could just protect the others that meant they couldn’t go after Rarity.

The rest of the group dispersed around the area. “Ready, Sweetie Belle?” asked Twilight.

“As I’ll ever be,” she replied, her heart rate going up.

“Three… two… one… GO!”

Jumping up, the Diamond Dogs landed with their paws in the ground, rapidly digging holes.

Sweetie Belle charged up energy in her horn, rapidly shifting her eyes and following the trail of rising dirt scattering about the land. She saw one heading directly for Rainbow Dash. “Gentle, gentle,” she said to herself. She focused on the rainbow maned pony and lifted her up into the air. The Diamond Dog passed under her harmlessly, and Sweetie Belle set her back down.

She heard Applejack let out a yell. She quickly turned her head and saw Applejack being dragged down. Her heartbeat speeding up she focused her energy on the orange earth pony, lifting her up out of its grasp.

She saw the head of Fido pop out of the ground, and she quickly thought, “Power! Power!” With a stronger glow she grasped the Diamond Dog and pulled upwards.

“One down!” She didn’t get much chance to celebrate her accomplishment before she heard two screams from two different directions. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie were both being dragged down. She looked back and forth between them, knowing if she didn’t make a choice in the next few seconds she’d lose both of them. She decided to save Fluttershy.

Pinkie Pie was left with only her head above ground. She guessed that it had to be that way or they wouldn’t be able to breathe.

Time went on, and it took every ounce of concentration she had to keep saving her friends. The Diamond Dogs were actually quite intelligent. Whenever she went to pull one out of the ground one of its buddies would go after one of her friends. She actually managed to get two of them one time, but she couldn’t get the third one before the one minute penalty for the others were up.

It was down to only Twilight and Fluttershy now. She was starting to feel drained from using her magic so much. She had to think of a way to trick them into all coming out.

“AHH!” she yelled as one of them popped up right in front of her. She quickly used her magic to try pulling it out, but then she heard two more yells. By the time she pulled him out she understood he was only trying to block her view so she couldn’t use her magic on the others. All five of them were now caught.

“We win! We win!” said Spot. “As soon as we get the baby we win.”

All three of them were running towards Rarity, and it paralleled heavily the scenario Twilight had had her envision to unlock her magic. Three creatures were all running towards her sister with the intent of possibly doing harm to her.

Rarity saw all three of the Diamond Dogs running at her, and she got scared. Starting to cry she shouted fearfully, “Swee-Belle! Swee-Belle!"

She let out a growl, her horn flaring up brightly as an aura surrounded her entire body.

“Sweetie Belle!” yelled out Twilight. “Remember your lessons!”

Sweetie Belle could feel her magic spiraling out of control. She couldn’t allow it to stay that way, or her sister could end up hurt by her own hoof. “Protect her! Protect her! PROTECT HER!” Her horn glowed brighter and brighter, and then there was a flash, and the three Diamond Dogs let out surprised grunts as they flew backward.

A force field surrounded the small baby. “You’re not gonna… touch my sister,” said Sweetie Belle strongly, panting slightly from her exertion. “This is how I can protect her from all harm! I couldn’t do a thing for my older sister. I won’t let any harm come to my younger sister while I have the strength to help her.”

“Hey!” said Fido. “That’s cheating!”

Twilight laughed a little. “Hey. The rule was that if you got all five of us you could go and pick up Rarity to win. You can’t touch her, so I guess that makes us the winners.”

“Drat!” Rover snapped his paw.

All three of them began digging again, pulling out the other five from the dirt.

Sweetie Belle ran over to her sister, picking her up with tears coming down her eyes. “I’ve discovered new magic. Magic strong enough to keep you safe. That makes me so happy!”

“New magic?” said Rainbow Dash. “Twilight has done force field spells before.”

“It’s new for her,” Twilight replied simply. “All she has done so far is levitation.” Walking over to Sweetie Belle she gave the filly a hug. “I’m so proud of you, Sweetie Belle. You did fantastic today!

“We have to go repay our debt for using the Diamond Dogs in your experiment, but do you think tomorrow we can restore Discord? Are you ready to give it another try?”

“Yes,” she replied. “I’m going to do it. I know what magic feels like now, so I think I can handle it.”

The following day Sweetie Belle brought Rarity to Twilight’s library. She was wearing the Element of Generosity around her neck. Setting Rarity down in the corner she walked up to the other five and they all stood around Discord’s statue.

Today was the day. The day she would see if she had truly matured. She took some breaths to settle herself.

“Alright,” said Twilight. “Let’s do this, girls!”