“If we cannot get past this, your studies end here. You are no longer welcome in the castle.”
Those were the words ringing in Sunset's head as she packed her bags. In her head there was no doubt that this was Celestia's most foolish decision ever. Sunset was powerful, more powerful than any unicorn in Canterlot right now, possibly in all of Equestria, and yet this was how she was being treated. Thrown out without being given the power and respect she deserved. She wasn't about to take this lying down.
The guards that were assigned to escort her were watching her intently, making sure she didn't make any sudden breaks for it till they had finished with their escort. Not that there was anything about them that intimidated Sunset, they were nothing more than living scarecrows to her. Their presence was meant to intimidate her, but that job was failing miserably because there was nothing they could possibly do to hurt her. She was going along with what they wanted from her for the moment though. It would be easier this way until her plan could come to fruition.
She looked into her bag real quick, making sure she had everything she needed. Inside was a bag of all the bits she had on her, several gems used for enchanting or spell components, a few of her spell books, and some parchment and ink with quills. It wasn't much, but she never needed a lot as it was. Besides, everything else was something that she considered belonging to Celestia, and if she was going to show her former mentor what a mistake this was, she wasn't going to be using anything she had given her.
She hadn't had much time to read about the mirror before Celestia had walked in on her, but the basics of what she had time to skim through had said that it was a portal to another realm. It opened up once every 30 moons, that was the part that concerned Sunset at the moment. How long from now would it be till the portal opened next? She could sneak into the castle every day for the next two years if she had to, but that idea troubled her. She would most likely get caught if she kept risking entering the castle like that, and if that happened they'd likely lock the mirror away in a place she couldn't reach.
She shook her head and tossed away the thoughts for the time being. She would have plenty of time to consider her plans once she had set up a base of operations in Canterlot.
Reaching out to close her bag, her eyes fell upon the brown tome with a sun emblazoned on the front. The very book that let her and Princess Celestia be in contact with each other no matter where they were or how far apart each of them was. She levitated the book over to her and held it in her hooves, scowling at it, remembering what it meant to own it.
On one hoof, she was ready to cut ties with Celestia entirely if this was how she was going to be treated. On the other though, once she had gained the power she deserved she could always use it as a means of contacting Celestia as part of her plan to truly rub it in Celestia's face.
Her ego won out in the end and she slipped the journal into her bag next the spellbooks.
“Are you finished?” One of the guards asked very sternly, and in her opinion very rudely.
“Yes, I have gathered all that's worth bringing with me.” Sunset huffed, placing the bag on her back. The meager pile of items would pale in comparison to all she could obtain once she was through the portal.
“Very well then. Follow us.” The guard gruffed roughly, nodding his head towards the hallway and turning to begin walking. As they walked through the castle towards the front door, they followed her closely at her sides. The fastest path to the front door took them past a certain room, her eyes looking at the open door as they began to pass by it.
Even just walking past the room, she could clearly see the mirror plain as day. Looking at the mirror from this angle, a thought popped into her head. If she could confirm the portal wasn't open today, then she could start accurately tracking when it'd be open next. Grabbing hold of a loose marble pebble on the ground with her magic, she tossed the small object as hard as she could. The stone skipped against the ground before rushing into the mirror's face and passing right through it.
Sunset stopped in her tracks as she stared in disbelief at the mirror. She could clearly see the ripples going across it's surface as the pebble had passed through it unimpeded. She couldn't believe the sheer luck of her discovery, the portal was already open!
“Hey, keep moving!” One of the guards spoke, turning to Sunset with a glare on his face. Sunset turned to him, a look of disbelief lingering on her face, before a devilish grinning formed.
A bright flash filled the hallway as the two guards were hit with a powerful concussion spell, the two of them instantly going limp from the spell. Without wasting a second longer she galloped as fast as she could for the mirror, jumping straight into it and feeling the waves of magic pass across her body as she hurdled through it.
What followed was a torrential spiral of magical energy, pulling and stretching her body as she barreled through the barrier between realms. The rush of sensations was too much for her and she squeezed her eyes shut, trying to push out the feeling of magic cascading across her entire body.
With one last push through the torrent of magic, she came out the other side landing on a hard cement floor. Her head was still spinning but the rest of her body seemed none the worse for wear. With a groan she picked herself up onto all fours and rubbed her face, trying to clear her vision.
Blinking to let her eyes adjust, she could instantly tell that wherever she had landed it was the middle of the night. A large building towered in front of her, it's outline against the night sky making it look like a castle. A light breeze was blowing through the area and her hair was being pushed in front of her face. What she noticed more than that though, was the sensation of wind blowing clothes tighter against her body.
“What the...” She muttered, turning to look behind her. The moment she did, everything seemed wrong.
Her body was long and lanky, unlike her pony body. Her tail was missing outright, and her hind-legs were bent in half as they supported her body in a strange position. Her fur was gone, a layer of skin of the same color showing instead, and clothes had been placed onto her body; A leather jacket, pink shirt, orange skirt, and black and pink boots to be exact. Even her saddle bags had changed, from the side-hanging bags to a backpack.
Sunset began to shake, a mixture of rage, panic, and fear filling her body as she quickly sat down and lifted her front legs to examine them too. The ends of her hooves looked like they had turned into claws of a dragon, though far more thin and brittle. She could move each of her digits independently, a feeling that felt strange and foreign in this new body.
“What in Tartarus am I!?” Sunset shouted, pressing her hands against her body and face trying to decipher what was going on. Her hands frantically traced the outline of her head, before quickly finding her horn also missing. “MY HORN TOO!?” She cried out, gripping her hair and pulling at it as if that would somehow allow her to look at her forehead clearer.
“This must be a mistake, a bad joke!” Sunset landed back on her claws, panting heavily as she hyper ventilated. “The mirror showed me, it SHOWED ME, how powerful I would become here! That I could truly get the power I DESERVE if I went through it! So what is this!?” She slammed a curled up fist against the ground. “Without my horn I can't cast magic! And how can I gain any power WITHOUT MY MAGIC!?”
The strands of hair fell in front of Sunset's face as she panted heavily, trying to desperately calm herself and not let the rage consume her. She was in a strange new world and she needed to be able to think clearly. She had expected to enter this world as the unicorn she had left, but that's not what happened and she had to deal with that now.
“Calm down Sunset, think rationally.” She took several sharp, deep breaths as she reassured herself. “The mirror showed you how to attain power in this world. All you have to do now is figure out how to achieve it. Even if you've turned into some sort of...” Sunset looked at her body again, trying to think of what she was reminded of most looking at herself, “...Monkey thing? Whatever, there's power here, I know there has to be. Celestia might be able to lie, but this mirror can't.”
With her heart slowing down and her mind cooling, she sat there speaking to herself. “I should investigate this place first. There's no point in having come here only to immediately turn back and go home. Not that I even have a home to go back to.” She snarled at that last remark.
Sunset placed herself onto all fours again, pausing to contemplate movement. She started by walking like she would as a pony, finding her hind legs lifting her hips far too high into the air and her head way too low to the ground. It only took her a few seconds to realize how ridiculous it felt to move like that. The limbs at such radically different lengths did not make moving at a decent pace feel good, she had to stagger her gait in order for her movements to line up and that just wasn't working for her. Not to mention with her head at this angle all she could see was cement and grass, not to mention it just didn't feel dignified. She felt like she was trying to 'present' herself to everyone, and that idea was just mortifying.
Sitting back down she sat on her ankles with her knees in front of her, putting a clenched hand to her chin trying to think about this. There was obviously a natural way for this species to move, but there weren't any around for her to observe.
Another gust of wind rushed by her, carrying a wild piece of paper that flew by and smacked itself straight into her face. Sunset yelped in surprise at the sudden assault of paper, before grabbing it and ripping it from her face and glaring down at it, before blinking in surprise.
She was able to read what was written on the paper, something she hadn't fully expected to happen. Being such a different species entirely, she would've expected to not be able to comprehend the language in this world, but there it was plain as day, Equestrian. That simplified matters at least, she wouldn't have to deal with any annoying language barriers, just likely cultural ones.
“Canterlot High Sundance...” She mumbled to herself reading the flier out loud to herself, “The CHS Yearbook committee will be hosting formal pictures at this year's blah blah blah.” Sunset huffed, blowing a strand of hair out of her face before turning to look at the dark building that was still looming over her. “So this is a school huh? It could be of some use, I need more information about this world after all.”
She turned back to the piece of paper and quickly examined it again, before noticing a picture placed on the paper that gave her pause for thought. It was two creatures that looked similar to what she did now, dancing together under a spotlight. They were very clearly standing upright on their hind legs to do it. If Sunset had to take a guess, that was how they moved around in this world.
Looking down at her legs, she wondered how that was possible. They didn't look strong enough to support her entire body weight, but they must be able to if the others in the species could. Lifting one knee up, she braced the flat of her foot against the ground, readying herself to stand up. With a deep breathe she focused on her balance, then pushed down and stood up.
The sensation came a little easier than she had expected it too, her body doing most of the work on it's own. What was throwing her off was her own preconceived notions of balance, adjusting to the idea of going from four legs to two. Her arms flailed around as her body wobbled, she reached out for support and found herself grabbing hold of a metal pipe that was part of the staircase into the building.
With several deep breathes, she focused her concentration and practiced walking. Using the metal pole for guidance she walked in what would be loosely called a straight line. Next she focused on making turns, then going up and down the stairs, and then getting a feel for the movement. It only took her a few minutes, but soon she was walking without the help of the metal bar. With confident strides, she almost felt like she'd been walking on two legs her whole life.
“That wasn't so hard. It certainly just goes to show how incredible I am.” Sunset smirked, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. Walking had been far easier than she expected, once she got the rhythm down her body seemed to do most of the work for her. Getting used to the appendages at the end of her claws would take far more getting used to though.
“Alright, now that navigation isn't a problem...” Sunset turned with her new found confidence, “I've been conveniently dropped in front of a school, a place of education. I can start my search here for information about this world, and perhaps figure out how to gain that power that the mirror promised me.”
Walking up the front steps of Canterlot High she stopped at the glass doors. She channeled magic into her horn and commanded them to open for her.
Much to her initial shock, the doors didn't swing upon at her beck and call. She grit her teeth in frustration before her brain reminded her that she no longer had her horn in this world, and as such no access to her magic. She smacked her hand against her face and grumbled loudly, before reaching out and grabbing hold of the door handle and pulling on it.
The door clicked before refusing to budge, much to Sunset's continued annoyance. She struggled with it a moment longer before moving on to the next door, and the next, and the next. Reaching the last door she raised her foot up and kicked it as hard as she could muster, only getting a resonating 'clunk' for her efforts, as well as losing her balance and landing hard on her butt.
“GUH! What is wrong with this stupid world!? It's fighting me at every turn!” She growled, rubbing her behind as she stood up, glaring at the glass doors refusing to part for her. “I apparently don't have enough strength to just break these glass doors, and I doubt any good would come from me doing so. If I get into any trouble, I don't have my magic to save me from it. Tch.” Sunset clicked her teeth before bringing a hand up to her mouth and biting on one of the knuckles in frustration.
“I've come this far only for me to have to turn back?” She grumbled to herself, staring at the statue not far from the school's entrance. The arch ways that made it's stand must've been the portal on this side of the mirror, meaning she could go back now. “Ugh, dammit.” She growled, stomping her foot against the cement, “I need to come back when it's daytime, I can't do anything while it's dark.”
She stormed her way back over to the portal, a snarl stuck to her face. She hated admitting any form of defeat, but she wasn't ready to face this world without a proper plan just yet. She knew the portal was open, so she'd spend the night coming up with a proper plan from her initial survey and then return during the morning when she'd likely run into other monkey things.
She walked with purpose towards the statue, stretched her arm out, and fully expected to just waltz her way back through the portal, only thinking about what she was going to do if she ran into Celestia upon exiting.
Her whole body smacked against the hard marble statue, bouncing her back on staggering feet. Sunset stood there stunned, looking at where she had entered this world.
“W-What...” She stammered, approaching again and pressing her hand against the marble surface. “No.... No! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!” Sunset screamed, slammed her fists against the portal repeatedly, desperately begging for it to open. “OPEN DAMN YOU! I NEED TO GO BACK! I NEED A PLAN! YOU CAN'T ABANDON ME HERE!” She screamed, slamming her fists so hard she could feel pain surging through them before slamming them both one last time against it.
She was hyperventilating again, tears brimming at the edges of her eyes. Was this some kind of sick joke? Some kind of trap? Had Celestia showed her the mirror just so that if she ever disobeyed her or became a threat she could just trap her on this side of the portal? In a world where there was no magic and she could barely even walk?
No, no Celestia had never been that devious and cruel... Unless Sunset had just never seen that side of her before. The Princess was thousands of years old, it was entirely possible she had just developed a stronger poker face than even Sunset could imagine.
Her fists were bruised and trembling as she weakly slammed one against the statue again, “No... No you can't leave me here...” Her voice was stuttering as her body collapsed to her knees, weakly punching the statue again and again, “I don't deserve this... How could you do this to me!?” Tears began to streak down her face as she finally stopped hitting the inanimate object. “Why didn't you just recognize my power!? Is this how you treat your pupils!? I deserved to be a Princess dammit!” Sunset inhaled sharply repeatedly, unable to stop the flow of tears.
She turned her back to the statue and curled up into a ball, crying into her knees helplessly. She was completely alone now, with no way to return home. The Princess had banished her from the castle, she probably didn't even care that she was trapped on this side of the mirror now. She was probably having the guards fetch her some cake while she laughed, stuffing her mouth and rejoicing that she had finally gotten rid of her problem student.
Sunset wiped her face with the sleeve of her jacket, trying to calm her breathing. Her emotions were bubbling over again, the sadness in the pit of her stomach boiling over into rage again. Celestia had certainly gotten what she wanted. She was rid of her now, out of her hair, no more having to give lectures or teach pointless lessons. She'd probably just be happy for a while, Tartarus she probably wouldn't even get a new pupil for a while she'd be so relieved to not have one.
Not that there was ever a pupil Celestia could get that would be better than she had ever been.
The wind blew again, this time sending a chill down Sunset's spine as she realized the night air was actually a little chilly. She shuddered and rubbed her sleeves, her face stinging from the wind. She weakly got to her feet and walked towards the large building again, looking to just get out of the wind.
She looked around the staircase, seeing that the sides of the building had bushes to hide her from the wind. She pulled the backpack off of her back and placed it on the ground as she sat down next to the side of the school and looked up at the night sky.
The moon here was very different, lacking the distinctive marks of the mare in the moon. It was pure white, a site that made Sunset uncomfortable. It just highlighted how alone and abandoned she felt in this world, to not even have the watchful mare of the night looking down at her.
A wave of exhaustion hit Sunset next, the energy expended from her rollercoaster of emotions finally hitting her. She shuddered and rubbed her sleeves again, unsure about sleeping in a strange new world. She tried to push the creeping thought that she was going to have to get used to this out of her mind as she gently laid down on the grass.
“Well... At least the grass feels and smells the same...” She said, gripping a handful of grass, the only comforting thing she had in that world so far. She carefully pulled her leather jacket off and laid it on top of her torso as a make shift blanket, curling up near a bush and closing her eyes.
If this really was a school, someone would likely come round in the morning. She could figure out what to do then. For now, she needed to regain her energy.
With her troubled thoughts slipping away, Sunset fell into a restless sleep.