Nothing out of the ordinary persisted in Ponyville—rather oddities came as fleeting lightning flashes. Recently, such storms had all but died out. For the first time since Twilight Sparkle's arrival, Ponyville had returned to the bastion of everyday life it began as. The previous winter had seen a dearth of horrific incidents, rampaging monsters, or even a wayward spell. It had been so quiet that Twilight had prepared herself for a resurgence of chaos the moment the ice thawed. Her hopes had quickly been slashed.
The only incident of note had been Rarity's loss of some fabric that spring. A few minutes of investigation later revealed that the Crusaders had borrowed it for "improvements." Now, with the arrival of summer, little hope remained for more activity then the occasional misplaced sock. Such was the way of life Twilight Sparkle had been relegated to.
"Twilight, are you okay?" Spike cocked his head to the side, prodding her with a wary claw. "You've been spacing out all morning."
"Urgh." A dull thud echoed around the library as Twilight's head made repeated contact with the book she had been re-reading. "Why?"
"Why what, Twilight?"
Doesn't he understand? Twilight waved a hoof melodramatically around her. "Look around you, Spike. What do you see?"
"Uh, books." Spike puffed out his chest a little bit. "Super organized, dust free books."
"Exactly." Rolling on the wooden floorboards revealed an equally dust-free ceiling. "It's organized. How many times last year was it ever organized?"
Spike's eyes closed in concentration, counting on his claws. "Less than this year?" He leaned over, patting her on the back. "By why's more organization a problem? You love organizing stuff."
Her assistant obviously did not grasp the significance of the dilemma. "Yes. But that's not the point!" A quick scan of the library revealed every little book, quill, piece of parchment, and cushion in its proper place. Normally it would have relaxed her, but today it was maddening. "This never happened before! I was always stopped by somepony's problem or the fate of Equestria." What if this down period led to her being unprepared for a real disaster? No! I won't accept it. But without a chance to practice, what could she do? "When will something happen?"
"Uh, I dunno." Spike tried in vain to push her to her hooves. "Come on, Twilight. It's not that big of a deal. Besides, we can always mess up the library and reorganize it. That might be fun."
'Fun.' A relative term if ever she heard it. Twilight stared blankly around until knock at the door brought her to full alert. A visitor? Knowing her luck it would be the Knitting Society again. "Who is it, Spike?"
Spike walked to the door, peering out the window. When he turned back, his mouth hung open in shock. "It's Princess Celestia."
"What?" Twilight flipped upright, hurriedly straightening the loose strands of her mane. Is he serious? She trotted over to the door, legs quivering with nerves. The princess did not come for idle chit chat. No doubt she would be sent on another dangerous mission. Mentally preparing herself for the worst, she opened it with her magic. Celestia glided inside in her typical regal fashion, flanked by a tall stallion she did not recognize. It took more than a few moments to register the oddity before her. Finally composing herself as best she could, she addressed Celestia. "Princess, it's so good to see you."
"And you as well." Celestia smiled sweetly back at her, eyes darting around the immaculate library. "I can see you are putting your time to good use."
"Yes, well . . . there hasn't been much going on around here lately." Try nothing. The Royal Canterlot Library had been more happening and that was saying something.
"I see. Well, I hope I can change that." Celestia nodded to the unicorn who had been hanging back by the door, examining the shelves with interest. Celestia cleared her throat, eyes moving significantly from him to Twilight. "Why don't I introduce you two? Twilight, this is Professor Entropic State."
He strode forward, offering a hoof. "Please, call me Entropy. Such long titles should hardly be used among colleagues."
Professor? The all too rare opportunity for conversation amongst scholars set her grinning like an idiot. "Hello, I'm Twilight Sparkle," she murmured, taking his hoof.
An all-too charming smirk creased the lines of his face. "I've heard some wonderful stories about you, Twilight."
Twilight felt her heart leap inside her chest at the smooth, silky quality of his voice. "I uh . . ." Her tongue felt like it had twisted itself into a knot. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise." Entropy's golden eyes darted around the library at Twilight's expansive collection of books. He gave a long whistle. "You're quite the scholar!"
"Well, I try." Twilight tried to remain calm as Entropy strode around the room, examining the shelves of books. It took all her willpower to avoid staring at the rippling muscles underneath his sleek brown coat. Forcing her mind back on the issue at hoof, she whispered an aside to Celestia, "What's he doing here?"
Celestia chuckled, looking Twilight in the eye with that piercing stare of hers. "Entropic State was hoping to study magic under the Princess of magic herself. I thought you would enjoy the chance to have a student of your own."
"A student of my own?" The thought sent her heart racing a mile a minute. Celestia had come all the way out here to give her a student. Judging from Entropy's salt and pepper mane, he had at least ten years on her. How could a mare as young as her teach a seasoned professor like him? "He's older than I am."
"Does that matter?" Her hoof patted Twilight's back reassuringly. "You are the most gifted student of magic I have ever had. Besides," Her gaze became distant as if re-living an age-old memory, "he is lost. I was hoping you might help him find himself."
Lost? What did that mean? "Oh, o-okay." Twilight's mind began to race with the implications of Celestia's request. A student of her own, just like she had been to Celestia. A heavy responsibility and one she dare not take lightly. Perhaps this was all a grand test? What if she failed? The very thought of failing made her sick.
"Excellent." Celestia turned to the professor. "Entropy!"
"I'll expect a full report on what you have learned in a month's time."
Entropy gave a little bow, "Of course, your majesty."
Silence followed her mentor's departure. Clapping his hooves together, Entropy turned back to her. "What now, Twilight?"
"Uh . . ." For once, Twilight had no idea what to do. It stood to reason that Entropy expected some kind of schedule or lesson plan. However, he had come out of the blue and she had no starting point. "Celestia says you want to study magic. What did you want to work on?"
"Oh, well that's an easy one." Entropy winked from behind his rectangular spectacles. "Control."
"Control?" Her eyes focused on the stallion's cutie mark. A circle with eight arrows branching out, the laypony's symbol for entropy. Somehow, his problem made a little more sense. "You can bring entropy, but you can't bring synergy, huh?"
"Precisely." Entropy gave another kind smile. "You've a good head on your shoulders."
The complement lightened her mood in an instant. Somepony outside of a crisis had actually acknowledged the value of her book smarts. Could he be real? Twilight found herself giggling to herself. "I guess." Clearing her throat, she pointed to a heavy spell book resting on the podium. "Could you demonstrate?"
"Of course." Lowering his long horn, Entropy levitated the book. It hung, suspended in his golden magic for a moment. Then, just as it looked like nothing would happen, the book literally exploded, sending pieces flying in all directions. Spike ducked for cover underneath the nearest cushion and even Twilight found herself too stunned for words. Grimacing, Entropy turned back to her. "You see my dilemma."
Despite the fact that a priceless spell book had been reduced to tattered debris, Twilight could not help but be impressed. The amount of raw power he possessed was astronomical—easily close to her own. "Incredible!"
"Hardly. I just blew it up."
"But the sheer power of it. Oh I can't wait to see what we can do with it once it's under control." If harnessed with hers, that power could easily double the output of any spell cast. The possibilities were endless.
He stroked his goatee thoughtfully. "I can imagine a spell with both of our magic would be quite impressive."
"Oh undeniably!" Twilight hopped around the library in a manner that would have put Pinkie Pie to shame. "This is going to be so awesome!" Seeing Entropy's concerned expression, she bottled her excitement. "I mean, it's going to be an excellent opportunity for knowledge." And if all went well, a doorway into entirely unexplored magic potential.
"Certainly." Entropy's gaze fell to the still quivering dragon under the cushion. His glasses nearly slipped clean off his muzzle as he leaned down to Spike's level. "I do apologize for startling you."
"No problem." Spike remained curled in a ball, looking at Entropy as though he were going to shoot lightning bolts down on him. Twilight felt her gut tighten at the overreaction. What had gotten into him?
Deciding to give him a break, she made the decision. "Why don't I show you around town, Entropy?"
The suggestion set off another of Entropy's carrying laughs. "Why, that's a brilliant idea."
Grateful for the distraction, Twilight led the way out to the sunlit streets of Ponyville. The day was warm with a cool breeze, perfect for a quiet stroll through town. As she walked, she could not help but notice Entropy's un-enthused expression. Her narrative of the town's history had all but fallen on deaf ears. "Entropy, are you all right?"
"Oh yes, I suppose." The stallion had stopped by the town fountain, looking around them at the cheery townsponies passing by. An expression very close to disdain was plastered on his face as he tossed a rock into the fountain. "But, don't you see the problem, here?"
Twilight's eyes darted this way and that, expecting something catastrophic. Ponyville looked as it always did lately—orderly. "What problem?"
"Well, it's mundane." Entropy started to sing in a smooth baritone voice,
"There's a smile to everypony's face
In this town, everything has a space
But what strikes me odd
is how little ponies trod
outside the comfort of this place."
Twilight's eyebrow raised ever so slightly, "So? That's normal." She followed Entropy through the market, watching ponies heads turn towards them as they went. Entropy's words resonated, being the exact same point she made to Spike that morning. Still, did he have to sing so loudly?
Ignoring the stares, Entropy continued unabated.
"Each piece of brick a brack
has a stand, has a rack.
Now tell me true
does this mean anything to you?
Or is that just another act?"
The stares began to make her self-conscious. Lowering her head, she nudged him down the street. "Entropy. Ponies are watching."
He laughed, patting her on the head. "Let them.
Every little thing doesn't have to be perfect
There's more than one way to earn respect
For if they can't tell by now
I'll show them how
the natural order of the world is far from correct."
As they walked away, ponies behind them began to argue amongst themselves. Twilight stared in wonder at the spectacle. For the life of her, she could not figure out what started the whole thing. She doubted it was the stallion's doing, but the timing had been uncanny. Maybe his singing was a kind of magic? No, that was not it. It had to be coincidence. Whatever the song did, it seemed to be a kind of game with him. His singing at least followed the same pattern if not the same tune. A limerick, huh? I can manage that. Trotting up to him, she started in her steady soprano,
"Entropy, I do not understand
why you demand
that we bring disorder here
as it causes only fear.
What's the harm in sticking to the plan?"
Entropy seemed almost giddy to have Twilight sing along with him. He leaned in close, staring piercingly from behind his spectacles.
"The plan is boring
Why it only causes snoring
I'd say the best fix
would be to scratch that itch
and let harmony take warning."
"That's easier said than done
why I'm not the only one
who seeks a little stability
to prevent my insanity.
Chaos has no place here."
Though Twilight expected another reprise, it did not come. Instead the stallion stopped walking, and turned back to her, smirking. "That doesn't rhyme. Game over, my dear princess."
"What? I uh, argh!" She stamped her hooves against the dirt. "I was so close too."
"That you were, Twilight. That you were. But," He trotted over to a nearby bench, posing ridiculously. "I am the master of rhyme today!"
What? Despite his prim and proper appearance, the pony was hardly acting his age. "Okay."
Entropy jumped down, moving back to Twilight. Though he was still sporting a Cheshire grin, his little act seemed to be winding down. His voice lowered back to normal volume, and he gestured grandly to the surrounding buildings. "For what it's worth, I don't think any less of your town for being boring."
Really? I thought he hated it. Twilight found herself smiling at the goofy stallion. "Well, how do you keep things from being boring back home?"
Entropy looked taken aback. His overly cocky expression morphed into an unsure one. "I don't really know." His hoof dug nervously at the dirt, as if contemplating the question. "I'm rather fond of my studies, I suppose. If I'm not reading quantum physics, I'm studying chaos theory."
"Really?" Ever since coming to Ponyville, Twilight had not had the chance to intelligently discuss heavily scientific topics with anypony. To have somepony who actually enjoyed that as much as her was a dream come true. "You understand all that?"
"Of course! I'm a professor at Canterlot University."
"At Canterlot University? Eeeeeh!" She spun around in happy circles. "I've been looking for someone to share ideas with for ages. What do you think of Rallneigh's theories?"
"Foals' play. The stallion's an idiot." Entropy raised an eyebrow cautiously, "Westcock's got the right idea though. Have you read his findings?"
"All fourteen volumes!"
Entropy nodded approval. "I use his work extensively in my lectures."
"Really? I didn't realize any professors were forward thinking enough to teach him yet." An immediate surge of respect washed over Twilight then. Here was somepony who she could actually hold an intelligent conversation with. Somepony who just might teach her something she could not have read in a book. She felt strangely nervous asking him, but decided to anyway. "Would you . . . would you teach me?"
Entropy's eyes widened ever so slightly. "All right. But, I don't know how much help I'll be."
"Thank you! Thank you!" She gave him a quick hug, then released him just as fast. What did I just do? "Sorry, got a little excited."
"That's fine." He turned his attention to the tolling clock tower. "I've got to make some arrangements for my lodgings. So, I'll see you tomorrow then?"
"Yes, tomorrow." Twilight giggled nervously, pawing at the ground until Entropy was out of sight. After he left, she sped down the street to get things ready. Not only did she have her first ever student, she would be tutored by a top notch Canterlot professor. Tomorrow was bound to be full of learning for both of them, and she hoped for an easy transition.