by Arad


It had taken less than a day for Solaria’s display to reach the ears of the rest of the hidden community, and after a prolonged discussion with Starswirl about the virtues of precision and moderation, she was able to take a shift warming the fields. After showing literally no fatigue from the shift, Starswirl had tentatively agreed to increasing her area of responsibility in the field the next day.

The process had repeated itself several times over several days before they had come to a rather startling arrangement: Solaria would maintain the warmth of all of the fields for one day per week, thus allowing the regular team a much-needed break to rest and recuperate. The plan also was designed to give her enough time to recover her apparently substantial magical capacity, as well as help with some other duties in the town.

What she had not shared with Starswirl or any of the other unicorns was that she suspected that she could warm the fields for years before beginning to feel any strain from the fire spells she was casting. Even replicating the flickering flames several hundred times felt no more strenuous than the magic she used to maintain her physical form. The only problem that Solaria had encountered with the arrangement of her work schedule was the pony who was sent to ‘supervise’ her and make sure that if she needed help she would get it. Still, her ‘supervisor’ was proving useful in other ways.

“Are you really sure you don’t need to rest? It sure seems like it would be pretty tiresome to maintain this many spells all at once,” the pegasus calling himself ‘Prancer’ said as he walked in the next cultivated row beside Solaria. The younger stallion had never failed to miss an opportunity to talk with (or more accurately, talk at) Solaria, and seemed impervious to the frosty reception of his company. It had been nearly two weeks of such treatment before Starswirl pointed out that he was the same stallion who had helped her master the torch spell, and that she should probably be a bit nicer to him.

Still, she had found a use for the stallion. After she had discovered an elevated heart rate in him whenever she approached, she had run a series of test to see if her magic was somehow affecting his body. Through that, she had hoped, she could find a way around the Traveller’s curse so that she could resume her rightful place in the world. Solaria’s theory fell through when her magic continued to have no negative effect on her test subject, and the curious behavior of his heartbeat continued regardless of what magic she attempted to cast on him.

“The answer to your question is the same as the last time you asked: This work is no challenge for me,” Solaria answered, before idly attempting to disembowel Prancer with his own ribs. The familiar pull of the energy welled up within her, but the spell refused to execute. She resisted the impulse to scowl as she let the energy of the failed spell bleed into the torches around her.

“That’s amazing! I know the others on the field team really appreciate having a chance to put their hooves up and rest for a bit,” the stallion said, and Solaria once again felt the curious feeling of déjà vu right up until the conversation deviated from its usual path. “Before you came, they didn’t really have the opportunity to spend much time with their families and friends… and special someponies.”

“Then it is good that I require no such time for myself,” Solaria replied, and she threw an off-the-hoof attempt to teleport Prancer off the planet and into the airless void. When Prancer’s heart rate began to elevate again, she arched an eyebrow to witness what effect her attempted murder was having on the stallion.

Prancer face had grown quite red, and he immediately glanced away when Solaria’s gaze fell upon him. He squirmed under the scrutiny before stuttering, “I-is that because we spend so much time t-together?”

Nearly incoherent speech, increased blood pressure and heart rate… is this progress? “I have no such attachments, therefore I require no such time,” Solaria said as she again attempted to teleport Prancer while directly observing the test subject. Unlike the first attempt, Prancer’s vital signs began to level out. He tried to speak several times but failed to do so. I do so hate inconsistency in my results! Solaria complained inwardly before resuming her patrol.

“Oh… well… that’s nice, right? Lots of free time then,” Prancer finally managed to say as he recovered enough to trot back to his usual place. “Most of my days I have to keep the skies clear so the fields can get as much light as possible while the sun is up. The rest of my time off is spent here… with you.”

His heart began to race again, and Solaria felt a spike of agitation as she hadn’t even tried anything new yet. Accursed inconsistency! Perhaps it’s not my testing, but the raw materials I’m working with? I will have to pursue another line of testing to confirm this…

“Little Lulu seems rather attached to you. You must be a really good teacher! Starswirl’s been trying to teach her for as long as I’ve been here, but he has problems keeping her focused I think.” A brief pause was filled only with Solaria’s failed attempt to twist Prancer’s head from his neck. He continued to talk, oblivious to the ongoing attempts on his life. “You’re way too young to have been a teacher before all this happened. Were you a student in the capital?”

A spike of annoyance drove into Solaria’s concentration as another of the mortals made an assumption based on her appearance. “I am older than you,” she said, and some of her aggravation must have bled into her voice as the stallion actually winced at the words.

“O-of course you are! I didn’t mean to imply that you’re inexperienced or anything!” Prancer said hastily, before apologizing again and floundering with his words. Solaria began to tune out his rambling as the pair continued their patrol of the fields.

It was only when Lulu’s cloaked form came bounding down the hill from town that Solaria finally perked up. The little filly made a flying leap between the rails of the fence that seemed rather reckless before skidding to a halt before the disguised alicorn. “Sunny! Sunny! Your shift’s over and I’ve got something for you to see!”

“But--” Prancer started to say before the little filly turned her blind gaze to him and stuck out her tongue.

“You’ve had enough time to try and flirt with Sunny, Pansy! I get to spend time with her now!” Lulu explained quickly, and right on cue the next shift of unicorns trotted down the hill to the fields. Their torch spells were already lit and they didn’t hesitate to take their usual places as Solaria extinguished her own spells.

“F-flirt?!” Prancer stammered, and his heart rate instantly ramped up again.

“Pansy?” Solaria asked, her attention split between the excited child and the test subject that was now so close to the heart attack she had been trying to provoke for weeks.

“That’s his name, silly!” Lulu said while pointing a hoof at the stallion before tilting her head. “What, did he tell you some other name like ‘Prancer’? Clover said that’s what he tells all the mares, but everyone still calls him Pansy.” The filly shrugged and didn’t seem to notice Pansy’s incoherent sputtering at the subject of the discussion. “Anywho, it’s time to go or we’re going to miss it!”

Lulu sped off, and Solaria trotted behind to keep pace. I wonder what this is about? she mused as the pair wove between the smaller buildings on the outskirts of the town before coming to lurk in the shadows of the central structure in town. “Lulu, why are we here?” the disguised alicorn asked.

“Shhhh! Stay quiet or you’ll spoil everything!” Lulu whispered, and she crouched down before peaking around the corner.

What is she doing? One would think she does not need line of sight to ‘see’ if she’s using a spell to make up for her handicap, Solaria asked herself as she watched the filly. The cloak she always wore was excellent camouflage against the side of the building and the stacked debris that was also there, but she was quivering in place. Her expression was carefully controlled neutrality, and Solaria couldn’t quite put her hoof on what it all meant until she lifted her gaze to look across the courtyard.

The building across the way was the small cottage used by Clover and Smart Cookie, and seemed perfectly normal at first glance. A second glance revealed some spellwork on the door, specifically enchanted to activate when anypony placed a hoof upon it. The inner workings of the spell were so slapdash and convoluted that the alicorn couldn’t make heads or tails of the spell’s intent, until she looked back at the filly lurking beside her.

It’s a trap meant for Clover, Solaria finally concluded before looking back to the doorway. I must admit to being somewhat surprised that one so young would be capable of such deception or intent. If she is mature enough to lay such a trap to eliminate a rival unicorn, then perhaps that mess of a spell is intentional to confuse its victim long enough to have a lethal effect? Why would she take such action though?

Any further pondering about the meaning of the situation was halted with the trap’s intended target cantered into the yard. Clover was wearing a far simpler cloak than normal, and was covered in dirt and pine needles from the trees surrounding the village. The fatigue from whatever work he was returning from must have been significant as he didn’t even hesitate for a second as he placed his hoof on the door and the spell began to activate.

Solaria tensed and the ghost of a smirk crossed her features. Perhaps little Lulu can be made my apprentice if one so young as her can be so cunning to remove a battle magi without direct conflict. Perhaps I need not directly exercise my wrath, as agents and assassins could prove just as useful…

“Sweetie? I’m home, and the wood stores are finally back up to a comfortable level,” Clover said as he opened the door, completely oblivious to the fact that his coat and mane were now lavender and purple.


“Did it work, did it work? Clover was being a mean plothole because I played a prank on Starswirl during their meeting, so I wanted to get him back!” Lulu explained quickly.

Solaria’s confused gaze swept down to the young filly… only to see that the would-be ambusher was also afflicted with the same coloration. The purpose of the trap was to alter Clover’s colors, and the improperly cast cantrip affected Lulu too? That’s… that’s--

The first sign that something was wrong was the muscles in Solaria’s barrel tensing. The disguised alicorn was so distracted by the illogic of Lulu’s apparent ambush that she didn’t catch the sensation until it had migrated into her chest. A strangled sound escaped her mouth as she struggled to keep her thoughts clear and diagnose the symptoms. It was then that an insidious thought hit her. What if the target of the ambush wasn’t Clover, but me? A brief thrill of fear entered Solaria’s mind as the muscle spasms forced all the air out of her lungs, and seemed to be unwilling to allow any back in.

Lulu asked something, but the words barely registered as Solaria ran a magical scan over her assumed shape. No spells appeared from the scan, and the convulsions doubled in severity in seeming defiance of her findings. She attempted a dispel incantation but her concentration continued to be interrupted as her lungs began to ache from lack of air. Solaria tried to fix the accursed filly with a glare promising a slow and painful death but her vision blurred with tears as the muscle spasms reached her face.

“What’s going on here? Is Sunny alright?” Clover’s voice asked from somewhere.

I am not alright, simpleton! This filly is trying to murder me! Solaria mentally screamed as her legs began to shake with the rest of her body.

“I… I think she’s laughing, but she doesn’t know how?” Lulu answered back.

“Okay? Well, let me know if she needs help. Also, why are you purple?”

“I’m not purple, you’re purple!”

A moment of silence.

“Lulu! You fix this right now!”

This is LAUGHTER? Why would anypony willingly put themselves through this!? I swear I will get you for this, Lulu! Your ‘laughter’ will be a thousand times worse! Solaria swore as she was finally able to drag a lungful of air in, before losing control of her breathing and her body to another fit of strangled guffaws.

Despite the struggle to draw breath and the full body spasms that took several minutes for her to recover from, Solaria couldn’t deny that she felt better for the rest of the day.