Rites of Ascension

by CvBrony


Dedicated to my grandfather, who passed away on June 13th after ninety-five years of a remarkable life dedicated to his family. I'll miss you, grandpa.

“Hey, Twilight?”

Twilight’s ear twitched. Somepony was knocking on her door. This was not something she wanted to continue. There was an illogically warm cloud bed under her, and she very much wanted the world to go away so she could stay in it.

“Twilight? It’s Spike. It’s time to get up!”

Ah, Spike. How many times has my faithful assistant woken me up early after I stayed up too late? I’m going to have to repay him someday with a swift kick in the—okay, now I’m just being grumpy. Begrudgingly, she rose to her hooves and stretched with a wide yawn. “Come in, Spike!”

The door latch went ka-chunk and slowly opened up. “Hey, Twi. Intelligentsia said to come wake you. She, Luna, and your brother are going to be meeting in thirty minutes for a briefing. Apparently, Gen’s found something interesting.”

Twilight’s ears perked up on that. “Well, hopefully it’s good news for once. Thanks for the wake-up call, Spike. Oh, do you think you could bring coffee next time? You know how I like it. Bop Gustave on the shoulder or something if needed.”

“Sure thing, Twi!” He gave a little salute and backed out of the room, closing the door.

Okay, time for morning stuff. Bathroom, bath, etc. Mental checklist: ready! Twilight summoned a downward blast of pegasus magic and pushed herself and her bed down to the next level. You know, I think it’s finally hitting me. This room is freaking amazing.

“So, what’s going on?” Twilight said, wandering into the briefing room with coffee, senechal, and Rainbow Dash in tow. “Wow, Gen, you look like hell.”

Intelligentsia yawned. “Somepony had me specifically travel out to Hoofington rather than allow me to delegate. Been up all night helping with evidence.”

Twilight’s ears went flat. “Oh. Right. Sorry, but with who I was up against… Sorry.”

“It may well have been worth it.” Luna stretched and yawned as well. “Such an odd time for me. I don’t need sleep, but I still always feel a sleepy this time of day.”

Obsidian smiled. “Well, one benefit about Celestia’s tour and Cadence taking over the Night Court is that my new schedule matches my wife’s quite well. Anyway, Gen, show Twilight what you showed us.”

Intelligentsia nodded. “Right. Take a look at this.” She pulled out a large rolled-up piece of paper and laid it out on the table in the middle of the room. “It’s a floor plan for the first level of the abandoned newspaper you went to. See the colored areas I added? Notice anything?”

Twilight nodded. “Yeah. You put a blotch of red right where Rainbow found the scratch marks. The outer edge of the room is in orange, and in the other room and outside is yellow.”

Spike scratched his head. “I see it, but I’m not sure what it is yet.”

“You will. Here’s another map of the same thing, expanded to encompass a city block around the building.” Intelligentsia pulled out another map and laid it out. “Now what do you see?”

Twilight tapped her chin with a hoof. “The building is in some kind of hot zone. Whatever it is, it radiates out about fifty yards. What’s this representing?”

Intelligentsia smiled. “Normally we wouldn’t check for this, but with strange magic, I tend to be a little paranoid. It’s paid off. This is a map of thaumic contamination.”

“What!?” Spike gasped. “Are we going to be okay? Did you evacuate everypony!?”

“Relax, Spike.” Intelligentsia chuckled. “It’s no where near danger levels. It’s actually less than the background contamination in the Everfree. But, it is higher than normal for this environment, and obviously it is detectable.”

Twilight’s eyes lit up. “Ooooooh! I get what you’re saying!”

Rainbow blinked. “Well, I don’t. Care to translate for non-eggheads?”

“Basically…” Twilight was grinning from ear to ear. “Since the hot zone was where Luna thinks a booster device for the illusions was located, that device probably caused it. Which means, we can look for unusual areas of thaumic contamination to search for them!”

“Ding ding ding! We have a winner! There are, however, a few complications.” Intelligentsia pulled out another map, this one of Equestria. “First, it’s implausible to search the whole country. We need to take readings locally, and we can’t just violate private property on a wide scale to do it. Second, while we do have a transcribed copy of Trixie’s detection spell, it too has a limited range.”

“Can you get me a copy of that spell?” Twilight interrupted. “I’d like to learn it as soon as possible.”

Intelligentsia nodded. “You’ll have it before you leave. Third, there are natural and pollution-based sources for low-level thaumic contamination like this. A massive search would yield many, many false positives. Forth, we need to carefully hide what we’re doing. There is a chance that this group doesn’t know about the contamination since it’s so low.”

Luna cleared her throat. “That plays to our advantage, but we cannot simply perform a massive sweep without our purpose being detected. We need more information on this organization’s goals and methods to perform a more, shall we say, targeted operation.”

Twilight sighed and folded her forelegs. “That was not what I wanted to hear this morning.”

“Yeah! We shouldn’t just wait for them to hit us! We need to strike back!” Rainbow reached over to Twilight’s floating cup and tried to grab it as if it was hers.

Twilight flicked a pen at the thief’s head.

“Ow! Jeez, sorry.”

My coffee. In fact, Spike, have maintenance install a coffee machine in my closet.”

“Can do!” Spike pulled out his notepad and added it to the checklist.

Obsidian laughed and shook his head. “If only they’d show up and try to steal my little sister’s caffeine source, we’d nail them in a heartbeat. You’re right, though, Twily. I’m not a fan of sitting on my haunches either, but sometimes that’s just what we have to do. Wait, and watch.”

Intelligentsia rubbed the large, dark bags under her eyes and started packing up the documents. “The advantage that we do have is that the military has Trixie’s detection spell. We should work on creating cored amulets with that integrated into them and pass them out to unit leaders. If we put a shield spell in with it, we might be able to hide their real purpose long enough to catch them unawares. Until then, the Cardinal is right. We wait, and watch. Right now, though, I’m afraid I’m going to get going. I have a half-dozen new analyses to write now.”

Twilight blinked. “Um, no. You’re going to get some sleep.”

She shook her head and sucked in a breath, trying and failing to look stoic. “I can’t. Uncovering this means I have a mountain of new work to coordinate, and Grand General Blueblood is seriously breathing down my neck about—”

“Lieutenant, as Grand Mage, I am relieving you of duty until you get eight hours of sleep and a large meal. If Blueblood gives you trouble, tell him he can take it up with me. We have no indication we’re under immediate threat, therefor I’m not willing to risk a case of baked bads involving national security.”

Intelligentsia stared for a moment then deflated, folding her ears back. “I guess I could…”

Twilight put on her best Shining Armor impression. “I’m not satisfied with that answer, Lieutenant.”

Intelligentsia snapped into a salute and shouted way louder than a mare her size had a right to.“Yes, Lady Sparkle!”

Luna clapped her hooves in applause. “Well done, Twilight. I would have done the same, but sadly, I still have no military authority. Oh, they still more or less listen to me because they know Celestia will almost always back me up, but technically…”

Twilight gave her a small bow. “I figured as much. Lieutenant, go to bed. After all, the reason you’re up this late is because of me. All I need for now is that detection spell.”

Intelligentsia ruffled in her pack and floated a piece of paper over. “Here you go. Have at it. It’s a little complex, but I would imagine you of all ponies shouldn’t have too much trouble. Princess Luna, Lady Sparkle, let me know if you need me for anything else.” She trotted out the door, the bags under her eyes all but swaying with each step.

Twilight pulled up the paper, scanning its script and committing it to memory. “Huh. Not bad, Trixie. It is a bit complex, but the only reason it isn’t ten times worse is because she used a rather elegant design. She may be a better illusionist than I thought.”

Rainbow laughed. “Let me guess. You already have it memorized.”

“Yup. Hang on.” Twilight dropped the paper and charged her horn, following the spell instructions and letting the magic swirl around her head and eyes. A tiny magic circle formed around her and spun before collapsing as the casting completed. “There. Done.”

“And that’ll let you see through the illusions, right?” Spike asked.

Twilight shook her head. “Nope. This spell is simpler than I thought. It just tells me when I’m near an illusion of this class, what direction it’s in, and a vague idea of how close it is. I wish it did more, but it’s invaluable nonetheless. At least now we’ll know when one is nearby. And with the rest of the military being alerted, they’ll have ponies all over that can track them down. I think we should start with Canterlot.”

“Agreed, Twily, and already underway. Though we’ve uncovered nothing else so far, I’m afraid.” Obsidian got up, and started to make his way out the door too. “I’m about ready to clock out myself, if my Sovereign allows it, of course.”

Luna smiled at him. “Of course. Go be with your wife. I shall summon you if I have need of your services.”

Obsidian nodded and trotted out the door. Though he gave the appearance of alertness, Twilight saw him lean and sway to one side, revealing his own exhaustion.

He’s exhausted too. Poor Shiny. Hopefully he gets his rest this time. Sleep, Brother. Twilight took a drink from her coffee before continuing. “Have there been any new orders for me, Princess?”

“Back to ‘Princess,’ I see.” The Princess raised an eyebrow, then sighed with a shake of her head. . “No. I did talk with my sister via message, and she knows about your delay in getting to Ponyville. I’ve already arranged a chariot for your journey there.”

Twilight held up a hoof. “I appreciate it, Princess, I mean Luna, but I don’t want to drain our resources like that. I can take the train like I planned to.”

“I appreciate your humility, Twilight Sparkle, but you should take the chariot. If you take a standard commuter train while not undercover, it makes it look like our military is so strained we cannot transport our VIPs. Take the chariot.”

Twilight opened her mouth to counter but stopped before the first syllable could leak out. “Ah. I see your point. Sorry.”

“‘Tis not a problem. As I said, I appreciate your willingness to be humble. I only wish others shared your view. However, the world is what it is, and Ponyville awaits you.”

“Where should we set down, Lady Sparkle?”

“Somewhere near the town square, Officer.” Twilight turned her head to get her bangs out of her face.The town spread out ahead of her, from Sweet Apple Acres in the south to a massive, dark, concrete superstructure in the northwest. That must be the new fort. They sure built that fast. “I need some more coffee. Time for a trip to Bon Bon’s Café.”

Spike snickered. “Twilight Sparkle. First Grand Mage powered exclusively by coffee.”

“Hey, yeah!” Rainbow guffawed. “Just put an IV in her veins. Watch her crush some dragons with the power of caffeine!”

Twilight glared at them. “I’m under a lot of stress, and I’m pretty much royalty. If I want some coffee, I get coffee.”

The chariot dove down to the ground, rolling to a halt in a street with plenty of ponies all around, going about their day. Twilight wasted no time jumping off, making a beeline for the café, but started to slow down the more she noticed something.

She was being watched… by everypony.

She came to a stop, eyes darting about and ears back. A small crowd was already gathering, whispers and murmurs replacing the hustle and bustle. Even having her guards flanking her didn’t help much to shield her from the stares.

“Twilight’s back!” somepony in the crowd shouted.

“Hometown Grand Mage!” somepony else cheered.

“Twilight! Twilight! Twilight!”

The crowd started chanting, and there was no stopping them. Hooves stomped on the ground in applause, pegasi did loops in the air, and some of the unicorns launched little celebratory bolts into the air.

“Dang, Twi, you’re a freaking hero! Again!” Rainbow put her foreleg over the Grand Mage’s shoulder. “I haven’t seen a greeting like this since I was a Wonderbolt!”

Twilight suppressed a smile but utterly failed while a wave of tingles washed over her. She ducked out from under Rainbow and stepped to the crowd.

“Thank you, everypony! I’m so proud to be accepted as Equestria’s next Grand Mage, and I could never have done it without all of you! My friends! I promise to do my very best to represent and protect you and all ponies everywhere! Again, thank you all!”

Another wave of cheers roared through the town square and put a spring in Twilight’s step as she waved for her guards to follow. “Come on, guys, let’s get some coffee and lunch. My treat.”

“Twilight? Is that you?”

Twilight’s smile grew a few sizes as she walked up to the wood counter and its ornate cash register. It’s good to be home. “Hi, Bon Bon! Can I get my usual? Oh, and these two are with me.”

Bon Bon smiled back. “I think I know what they want already. Extra-large raspberry protein smoothie and emerald-flavored tofu wrap, right?”

Rainbow laughed. “Yep, she knows me.”

Spike sighed. “Someday, Bon Bon, I’m going to figure out how you managed to make a glorified sandwich taste like emerald.”

“And until then, he’s going to keep having me buy them.” Twilight tossed a large bit from her saddlebag onto the counter. “Keep the change. Tips for the employees.”

“Oh, my!” Bon Bon picked up the coin. “Looks like Grand Mages are paid well!”

Twilight put on a nervous smile. “Ah, well, it’s got it’s downsides. It’s not exactly the safest job out there.”

“Ah. High risk, high reward. I get it. I’ll have your food ready in a few.” Then, Bon Bon smiled a very specific type of smile. The type one only wore when there was one thing on her mind: profit. “Can I interest you in any candies? I have a whole new assortment ready for the fall!”

Spike rushed up to the counter. “Do you have any more of those blue gumdrops that change your voice!?”

Twilight groaned. “Spike, no! Dragon or not, I don’t want you eating anything laced with poison joke!”

Bon Bon sniffled, her eyes watering. “Nopony wants my candies since they found out that secret ingredient. But that’s the only thing I used it in! And it’s harmless!”

Rainbow tapped Twilight on the shoulder. “Hey, maybe we should—”

“Bon Bon, the last I heard, you’re expanding with a new store in Canterlot,” Twilight interrupted. “There’s no way business is bad if you can afford the most expensive retail real estate in Equestria.”

The sad visage broke instantly. “I should’ve known better than to pull the wool over the Grand Mage’s eyes. Alright, you got me. Sales have been through the roof since ponies found out. I’ve got orders as far away as Neighpon! No such thing as bad publicity, right?”

Twilight sighed but couldn’t help keep a smile. Same old Bon Bon. “I’m hesitant to agree, but if it helped, I’m happy for you. We’ll be at my usual seat. Come on, guys.”

“Good to see you all again!” Bon Bon waved as they left.

Twilight and her guards made their way to a corner table that she always favored. She could put her back right against a nice, non-windowed wall and have plenty of privacy to read. It was also near a heat vent in winter. She plopped down on a cushion and leaned back on the wall while her friends took two of the other cushions up and started squabbling over which set of utensils they should have.

They’re like a couple of foals, I swear. “If you two don’t stop, I’m going to see to it that you’re moved in with the general barracks back in Canterlot.”

They both froze, wide-eyed at her, then sheepishly put the bundles back to their original places just in time for their food to get placed at their table.

Twilight took a large bite of her sandwich and washed it down with her ‘special’ spicy coffee blend then took a moment to breathe in the breeze from the window. “Ah…” This is what life is supposed to be. Friends, food, and that amazing scent in the air as the season just starts to shift to fall. She took a large gulp of her coffee, and felt it ease every muscle in her body as it went down. I really missed this place. Feels like it’s been ages already. Canterlot is majestic, and my room there is fantastic, but it’s just not the same.

“Hey, Twilight! Welcome back!”

Twilight opened her eyes to find a mare walking over to join them. She had a yellow coat, a deep red mane and tail, a tool belt, and a hard hat. Most important of all, though, was the cutie mark: a branch with a blossom on it.

“Hey, Apple Bloom!” Twilight smiled. “It’s good to see you again!”

She sat down next to Twilight and gave her hoofbump. “I can’t believe y’all got promoted! O’ course, I didn’t know y’all had a rank, but still!”

Twilight snickered. “Well, it’s a promotion of sorts I guess. How about you? I know about that fort they’re building. Did Celestia contract your company for any of it?”

“Aw, shoot, no. Not our thing, really.” Apple Bloom took off her hard hat and scratched her head. “We really just do houses and shops. Biggest stuff we do would be something like the new orphanage, even though we went and lost the bid on it. But that fort? I wouldn’t even know how to make an armor-reinforced wall like they want.”

“In spite of how often it would’ve been useful for the Cutie Mark Crusaders, am I right?” Rainbow held up a hoof.

“Yeah! Maybe then they could’ve avoided that time they knocked a hole in Roseluck’s house!” Spike gave it a bump.

Apple Bloom laughed. “Well, I’ll say this much: that fort is huge. I hear a thousand ponies are gonna be stationed there! And they’ll need to buy stuff. And that means jobs, which means houses, so I’m still lookin’ at makin’ a mint. Applejack, too. Oh, you should swing by the farm! AJ’s all runnin’ around trying to get things back ta the way she likes it.”

Twilight nodded. “It’s on the list. Spike?”

He held up a fairly decent-sized scroll and unfurled it. “Item number eighteen, in fact. Should I move it up?”

“Nah. We’ve got all day and most of the stuff on there is ea— Won’t take long. We just—”


Twilight and her guests all swung their heads to the sound of the door flying open and a green unicorn scrambling into the restaurant.

“Bon Bon!” Lyra yelled as she ran behind the counter, tears streaming down her face. “Bon Bon! BonBonBonBonBonBonBonBonBonBonBonBon—”

Bon Bon shoved a hoof in her mouth. “Celestia, Lyra! What!?”

Lyra pulled the hoof out. “Muh— Muh— My—” Her eyes locked on to Twilight and went wide with shock, and she ducked down behind the counter. A whisper of “Twilight Sparkle…” could be just barely heard.

Twilight smiled and took another bite of her sandwich, finishing the first half of it off. There’s another one of Ponyville’s… unique individuals.

“Damnit, Lyra! Spit that out! Argh, no, don’t put it back with the others! Just, go ahead and eat it! I can’t sell it now… and just what in Tartarus is wrong this time?”

Twilight purposefully refused to ponder what Lyra had tried to eat.

“My…” The poor thing was on the verge of sobbing. “My lyre was stolen!”

Twilight coughed, sending coffee right up her nose. “Ack!”

Bon Bon sighed. “Calm down, Lyra. You probably just misplaced it again. Where did you see it last?”

“I… I… Bon Bon! Bonbonbonbonbon—”

Bon Bon shook her. “Think, Lyra! Where was it?”

“Right next to me!” She sniffed. “I was playing it, and I set it down to drink some water, and then it was gone!”

“Hmmm…” Twilight quickly started eating the rest of her sandwich.

“Yeah, Twi’s going to jump in and help.” Spike started scarfing down his meal, too.

Twilight swallowed the rest of her meal and chugged her coffee. “What use am I as a Grand Mage if I can’t help a friend find her lyre? Time to hunt down a rogue musical instrument! At least that’s not something liable to kill us.”

“On it!” Spike said with his mouth full, finishing the last of his meal.

Rainbow, meanwhile, started slurping up the rest of her smoothie before going rigid and tipping over under the table. “Brain… freeze…”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Spike, drag her out there, would you?”

The dragon bent down and forced her up, keeping her balanced while the effects wore off.

“Hey, Lyra?” Twilight poked her head over the counter. “Where did it go missing? I’d like to help find it if you’ll let me.”

“And don’t forget me!” Apple Bloom waved.

“And us!” Spike chimed in, speaking for the pegasus rolling on the floor under the table.

“So… Cold…”

Lyra’s pupils expanded even as her eyes watered, and she looked over to Bon Bon.

“Shoo!” Bon Bon was practically shoving her out the door. “You’ll never find it here. Go!”

Lyra nodded and sniffled and slunk out the door. Twilight and Apple Bloom followed while Rainbow finished her smoothie in one more giant gulp, sending her back on the ground to be hauled around again by Spike.

The late-morning sun was bright, and the wind was brisk. There was still just a bit of heat from the sun’s direct rays, and it was giving Twilight a nice extra bit of energy, at least emotionally. Finally, she was home.

Lyra quickly led them to the little park in the center of town and to a bench she was known for frequenting while she played. She also scurried underneath the park bench before reaching up with a hoof and pointing at the far side of the seat.

“That’s where you left your lyre?” Twilight eyed the scene and found a water bottle in the center of the bench. “So you took a drink of water, and poof, it was gone?”

Lyra wiped away a tear and nodded.

“Hmmm,” Spike murmured. “That actually sounds like it could be a theft. It’s one thing to misplace it, but you usually stay here most of the day, right, Lyra?”

She nodded again, covering her head with her hooves.

“Let’s not go pointing hooves just yet, Spike.” Twilight started wandering around the bench, looking for the tell-tale shimmer of Lyra’s gold lyre. “Just because it’s gone doesn’t necessarily mean it was stolen.”

“Yeah! I mean, Lyra’s one of the nicest ponies in town!” Apple Bloom said, checking a wastebin. “Who’d do that to her?”

“Brain… freeze…” Rainbow croaked out. “But… so… tasty…”

“When you’re done checking the ground, Rainbow, could you fly up and look around?” Twilight probed the grass with her magic. “We could use your eyes—”

“Argh! Where’d it go?”

Twilight froze in place along with Spike and Apple Bloom.

“That sounds kinda familiar right now.” Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow. “Y’all don’t suppose…”

Twilight turned to look over at the source of the yell, finding Roseluck looking all around her flower stand.

“It was right here! My watering can! Hanging on my stand, where I always keep it!” She kicked the building behind her, cracking a piece of the wood trimming. “What is this town coming to!?”

“Okay…” Twilight folded her forelegs. “Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence… Wait for it…”

“Argh! The list!”

Twilight’s vision shifted immediately to her extra sight. As she slowly turned her head to Spike, her nostril twitched, and her teeth ground. “Spike…” she said through clenched teeth. “You didn’t lose, it, did you?”

Spike ducked behind his backpack, one arm still in it. “Umm, the pack was still closed, I swear, but it’s not here, and—”

Twilight huffed. “Now, it’s personal. Time to hunt down a thief!”

Apple Bloom laughed. “Picked on the wrong Grand Mage, huh?”

Rainbow rolled her eyes, finally recovering from the smoothie. “Come on, it’s just a liiiiiiiiiii—”

Twilight’s glare stopped Rainbow’s words in their tracks, dragged them into an alley, and beat them senseless.

“Sorry, sorry! I forgot.” Rainbow chuckled, already sweating. “But how do we track down a thief if nopony has seen them?”

Twilight looked down at the torc around her neck. “Maybe…”

“Please don’t… I don’t want to…”

Twilight’s grin widened. Don’t worry. I can track you. And we still need to have that talk. Unless… you’d rather we do that now?


Alright, you don’t have to talk if you don’t want, but we do need to try to do something about this thief. Sit tight, and stay calm. Twilight pulled off her torc and dropped it on the bench with a clang and sat down next to it.

“Um, Twi? What are you doing?” Spike scratched his head. “Isn’t that thing, like, ultra-epically-rare? Won’t Celestia be pissed if you lose it?”

“Oh, I’m not going to lose it, Spike.” Twilight grinned, closing her eyes. Her magic sight was still working, and she could see the leylines and wellsprings of everypony around her. One thing, however, stood apart as being far more powerful than all the rest: her torc. The gem in the center was a power source in and of itself and had the same intensity as her own bright wellspring. “Trust me. Close your eyes, guys.”

Twilight could see them all shrug and assumed they all closed their eyes—although, it was hard to make out in her ‘third eye.’ There she sat, waiting. Yet, nothing happened. Did the thief move on? Or is this too obvious? She looked off to the distance. Maybe I should try something else


Rainbow’s yell snapped her out of it. The torc was gone, and it was moving right over the tops of the buildings.

“After that torc!” Twilight yelled, taking off running right at Sugar Cube Corner. Her horn flared and fired a teleportation spell that sent her to the rooftops. The torc was definitely flying, but it was blindingly obvious to see in her sight. There’d be no escape. “Fourth avenue, heading towards Fluttershy’s old cottage! Rainbow!”

A pair of cyan hooves swept her up into the air, carrying her through the sky and right to her target. “Twi, I can’t see the target. Call it!”

“Dead ahead! Flying into the alley!” Twilight thrust a hoof out to point, and Rainbow followed it as she corrected their course. The former Wonderbolt’s wings beat furiously, gaining on their target like a hawk after a pigeon. Whatever had her torc, she couldn’t make out their wellspring next the shining star of the gem. In seconds, they were diving to the ground as it flew just centimeters above the pavement.

“I still can’t see it! Where is it?” Rainbow yelled.

Twilight’s eyes went wide as the gem hopped from one place to another in a mere blink of an eye. What? Oh, nononono! Her hoof shifted up to follow it back into the sky, but Rainbow overshot the torc, going far beyond it. “Go back! Go back! We need to—”

A grey blur shot through the air next to the torc, slamming into whoever was carrying it and knocking them to the ground in a pile of dust.

“There! That impact!” Twilight pointed, and Rainbow did the rest, shooting them over one more building and into an alley, where they found a rather pissed Ditzy Doo sitting on a green pegasus mare in a dark green overcoat.

“Nice work, Ditzy!” Rainbow set Twilight down next to them. “I didn’t even see her there!”

“Neither did I!” Ditzy rubbed her head. “But then she slowed down, and I started to see her again, so I sat on her!”

“Heavy pegasus sitting on you at high speed. Nothing’ll stop a thief quite like that.” Twilight laughed, noticing Ditzy’s dual-wellspring, containing both earth pony and pegasus magic, making her a hybrid known as a ‘heavy pegasus.’ She leaned over, ripping the large bag on the thief’s back off at the strap.


Twilight ignored the thief’s protest. “Well, what do we have here. My torc. And my checklist. And a lyre! And a muffin. Here you go, Ditzy.”

“Yay!” The gray mare grabbed it and quickly devoured it.

Twilight continued, “And there’s also a watering can. Kind of an eclectic thief, aren’t you?”

“What’s it to you?” She grumbled and huffed, blowing her jet black mane out of her face.

“Well, I’ll make sure these get returned. Especially this.” She took her torc and dropped it back on over her neck, letting it activate and deploy her armor before forcing a hoof on the thief’s shoulder to keep her down. “The question is, why can’t I… Ahhhh, I see.”

Twilight’s sight was pouring over her target, but found very little. She could see her pony form well enough but no wellspring or leylines.

“What is it, Twi?” Rainbow asked, pulling out some irons from a compartment on her armor and slapping them on the thief’s forelegs. A second later, they glowed, sealing off the pegasus’s magic. “See somethin’?”

“You could say that.” The thief tried to get up, but Twilight just pushed her back down on the cobblestone road. “Neat trick, by the way. Your coat and boots, even that wide-brimmed hat, they’re all enchanted to make you hard to see, aren’t they? They work real well, especially at high speed.”

“Good guess,” she all but growled through her orange-yellow scarf. “But I’m guessing you had some kind of tracking spell on the torc. Can’t believe I missed that. Never saw you cast it.”

“You can think about it in jail. This torc’s worth a lot, so I get to charge you with grand larceny.”

Rainbow grinned at Twilight’s charge. “A Wonderbolt got kicked out for that once. Big scandal a few years back. Last I checked, that’s at least four years’ jail time.”

“Longer for something like this, actually. She’ll be lucky to hit parole in ten.” Twilight shooed Ditzy off the pony and lifted the thief to her hooves. “You picked the wrong target this time.”

The thief looked down at her shackled hooves and smiled. “Sorry, these aren’t my color. Got anything in green?”

Twilight smirked. “Actually, I’m thinking black and white stripes are more your thing.”

“They wouldn’t do a thing for my figure.”

There was wind. Twilight blinked. And the thief was gone.

“... How—?”

“Up here!”

The three of them turned to the rooftop, slack-jawed and stunned to find the thief free of her bonds and staring down at them.

“Twilight Sparkle, this is not over! I’m going to pick this town clean!”

A flash of light knocked her out of her magic sight and onto her haunches, and the thief was gone.

“No!” Twilight rocked back to her hooves and snapped her teleportation spell back to the roof. She turned around again and again, her magic sight flickering in and out while she scanned the sky for the pegasus to no avail. “Damn!”

“No luck, huh?” Rainbow flew up next to her. “Well, we can still get her. We just need new bait.”

“I doubt it’ll be that easy, Rainbow.” Twilight sighed, turning off her armor. “Despite her boasting, I’m certain she’ll be more careful now. Probably avoid us and lay low for a while. And if I’m right about how she got around the seal, she’ll be just that much harder to capture.”

“So what do we do? Or rather…” Spike rubbed his chin, looking away in thought. “What do you need us to do?”

Twilight gave it a moment of thought and looked up to the sky. “Spike, go to the police office and let them know what’s going on. See if they need anything. Rainbow, start searching for her from the sky. Let me know if you find anything, and I’ll jump on it. Even if you don’t, I’ve got an idea on how to catch her, but it’s not something I can do just yet. I need to wait a while before I’ll be able to pull it off.”

“What are you going to do in the mean time?” Rainbow asked.

Twilight gave her a wink. “What else? Cross some things off my list.”