So many books. It appeared I really had a lot to learn, catching up with the world and whatnot.
It's been about half an hour since I've awoken from my fatigue-induced sleep, and I'd awoken with what I came to call a 'magical hangover'. Pretty sure I won't be doing that ever again... At least not if I can help it or are properly prepared. Talking about my awakening, I also apparently didn't revert to Changeling upon arrival. Which was pretty awesome, because that meant that if anyone had found me during my 'downtime', I would not reveal the entire Changeling species right then and there. Talking about not having been found... Why hadn't I been found?
I mean, not that I'm complaining. Heck, I should be happy that I wasn't discovered, and normally shouldn't have counted on being discovered anyway, given that the library was said to have been abandoned since a few weeks. However, there was one factor that immediately sprang to my mind the moment I opened my eyes here that I forgot about when I made the rash decision to crash here for the night: Pinkie Pie. I mean, I was a new pony, so why didn't her sense allow her to track me down immediately?
After thinking about that for a bit, I figured it was probably because she didn't want to break into somewhere. Yet, that didn't make sense! I mean, it would be weird, with her throwing surprise parties and all, that she would just not enter if she wasn't allowed to! Then again... Most places where we have seen her throw parties, while doubling as houses, were shops where you were free to enter. At least, that's how I thought it worked. So maybe she really didn't enter places she wasn't supposed to if she didn't absolutely have to? On the other hoof, a new pony seems like something she'd consider a reason where she'd just have to throw a party, given how she'd always been portrayed in the show.
...Maybe it's because I'm not actually a pony?
I sighed. Why was I even trying to understand how Pinkie works? Twilight tried that, and it didn't work for her, so what chances did I have?
A more valid concern, at least to me, were all the books I'd have to read through. I mean, how was I supposed to blend in if I didn't have any basic understanding of pony culture, magic and all the other pony-related things that were considered common knowledge over here?
With that in mind, I began to read...
Equestrian culture was... strange, to say the least. Granted, I should have expected it, and yet it was surreal how the history of a country could be so boring. Where were the wars and the bloodshed? Where were the political intrigues and the stages of scientific advancement? Nowhere to be found! And while we are at scientific, let me tell you something about science and magic in Equestria: Everything, one way or another, is related to Star Swirl the Bearded. Now you are probably thinking that that's only logical, given that he was such a big shot in Equestrian history, but I think you are misunderstanding a bit there, and that's kinda my fault for wording it that way: When I say everything is related to Star Swirl, I mean that Equestria, the whole country, has made nearly no scientific, social or magical progress since his death. You remember the 'over 200 spells' he created? There are, according to every book in the relevant section this library, about 280 spell in existence. The implications of that? The entire population of Equestria since and before his time, including Star Swirl's student Clover, the princesses, you name it, were only able to create 80 spells, which is less than half of the spells he was able to create. Of course, there are probably spells locked away or generally unavailable, but imagine how high that number must be if creating spells really was as easy as Star Swirl made it out to be! Even if I were to go only by that and say that ponies are so sadistic that they create about fifty harmful spells each, that was shattered directly by the book stating that 'even the most genius and magical of Unicorns' were only able to create one or two spells during their lifetime, if they created any at all. It made my head spin. If that was true, then just how far out there must Star Swirl's mental abilities have been if he'd been able to create 200 of those? On that note, maybe there were only so many things you could do with magic. I mean, what if Star Swirl just found most possible applications in his time? It seemed like a possibility. Heck, I sure as all hell didn't know enough about magic to refute it. Magic, however, was only half as shocking a topic as science. Magic? Ok, don't know anything about it, maybe that was just the way things worked. It was science that really caught me off-guard.
Do you remember the episode where Twilight traveled through time? Not the Starlight one, the one with the two Twilights? On her chalkboard, there was an equation about time dilation. Guess what? That equation, the theory et cetera were all made by your one and only Star Swirl the Bearded. They had such advanced scientific knowledge for what appeared to be a millennia, and nothing new came out of it during that time period? Things only got weirder the more I delved in: Information on solar energy, on mathematical theorems, on genetics... All just sprang into being during Star Swirl's time and then was never touched again, one of the few exceptions being steam engines who came online after about 950 years silence. 950 years, with what, at least according to the book, were 'lackluster descriptions' and 'much guesswork on the developers part', by which they referred to a good 50 pages of information on that exact topic. After reading said pages from the relevant book, I, personally, kinda felt like I could build one on the spot if given the necessary materials. It was worse with genetics, where the entire idea was scrapped because 'leading scientists found no way to prove it'. On the other hoof, it made sense they wouldn't, given how many colors the skittles-species that was ponykind sported, but still...
What in the world is going on here?
It was at that point I realized that I had gone overboard with my studies. Looking outside, it was already dark, Celestia having apparently made the decision to grant her ponies their rest quite some time ago. Deciding to come back to that topic at a later date, I took my leave, taking a few books o magic with me so I could learn the mind-magic I found in there. The door was closed and I didn't want to fall unconscious, so I escaped through the window in what would soon be Twilight's bedroom... Which resulted into me falling on my behind because it's not on ground level.
Walking through the streets, still struggling to comprehend how my recent discoveries could be possible (and maybe trying to ignore the literal pain in my ass), I saw something closing in on the streets. Something orange and purple that really made me want to go to KFC. Needless to say, that something was called Scootaloo, apparently in a hurry, not even watching her surroundings as she went by them. In what I assumed to be the middle of the night. My protective instinct kicked in. How could I possibly let her go alone in this darkness? Who knows what creep might be lurking around, waiting for an opportunity to... well, you probably know what.
So, with purest intentions, I stepped up in front of her way. She... actually managed to stop. Which kinda surprised me, since I was somewhat expecting that I needed to catch her in my magic, given that kid's normally aren't that quick to react. A lesson I learned when a classmate of mine wasn't able to react to a car and well, I never talked to him about that accident later on. 'Cause you know, he died. Then again, the show also had Scootaloo perform incredibly on her little scooter, so I probably should have had more faith in her abilities.
Feeling like it was the best to start the conversation on my end, I gave her my best smile and started talking. "Why, hello there, Sc-"
Wait, I can't let her know that I know her name!
"...little filly. How comes you are all alone, out here, so late at night?"
What, you think I should have flat-out used her name? Wouldn't it be weird for a random stranger to know it? ...You don't think so? ... Well, I thought it would, hence my decision not to!
In her emotions, I saw a good amount of fear. Understandable. When I was her age, I didn't like it outside in the dark either. When you are young, you always think that there are monsters out there, trying to get you. It's when you are older that you realize that humans are the most dangerous thing in that dark, and that you are one of them. Well, back home at least.
"Uhm... I... I was just i-in Whitetail with my scooter and..." She started to tell, her voice shaking. I'd like this moment to point out that Scootaloo was simply adorable! It took a lot of willpower not to 'Dawww...' at her. It really wasn't easy, what with her big eyes and her tiny, adorable hooves and her tiny, adorable wings... Sure, Dinky was cute too, but she was mostly at distance at the time and Amethyst's small talk took a lot of effort out of me. Scootaloo, however, I was able to see up close, and I was pretty sure being this cute could actually be weaponized. I really ought to find a way to defend myself against that!
After she's told her little tale of riding her scooter through Whitetail and how she forgot the time, I decided to waste no time on trivialities.
"Say, kid, how about I go with you for a bit, huh?" I asked her, stepping closer to her. The closer I came to her, the more I could feel the fear coming from her. Or did it suddenly become more? I must be imagining things. Bringing my head down so I she could see my face at her eye-level. "You wouldn't want to walk all the way home alone, now would you?"
Scootaloo gulped for some reason, and then answered me: "W-why wouldn't I? I-I know my way home!"
I chuckled at that. Sure, I probably shouldn't, given that her even asking this meant that whoever was in charge of her (if there was someone in charge of her... this is Scootaloo we're talking about), missed out on telling her how dangerous it could be in the dark, but her naivety was just so adorable! My chuckle gave an interesting reaction though: Scootaloos fear became more and more. How weird. Carefully, I siphoned a bit away from her, so she wouldn't panic and possibly run right into some perverts waiting hooves. Fear... Tasted kinda like dark chocolate. I liked dark chocolate! Still, I knew that I had to stay strong. After all, fear was a good emotion at its core, as it told us to watch out, and if she'd be abducted or worse because she wasn't cautious, it would be my fault if I drained too much of it!
Putting on my smile after chuckling, I gave her an answer: "Because, kid, there are some bad ponies out there!"
Scootaloo... took a step back? Why did she do that? Her emotional response didn't display that much surprise...
"B-bad ponies?" She asked with wide eyes.
I slowly closed in the distance between us, her fear still being siphoned away to ensure she doesn't do anything stupid. Well, that and because it filled my reserves, if slowly.
"Yes... Bad ponies." I replied and looked around a bit, ever leaving her out of my sights, to ensure no such bad pony was, in fact, sneaking up on us. When I saw the coast was clear, I continued. "There really would be no telling what they'd do if they find a filly alone at this hour, especially if they are such a..." I involuntarily licked my lips at the delicious fear I forbade myself from consuming. "...young and cute thing as you are."
Tears formed in Scootaloo's eyes.
I scared her with that...
I didn't even need my Changeling-senses to figure that out. After all, I just told her that she was in a dangerous situation, being out here. I was such an idiot! I wanted to get her back home as safe as possible, not to make her cry! Ugh, how could I fix that?
"I need an adult!"
There was it, my chance!
"I am an adult." I told her, smiling. Without another word, her fear spiked beyond belief and she bolted away. After the initial shock of her just going off like that, I tried to pursue, but even with my ability to sense emotions, I lost her pretty quickly in the background of sleeping ponies.
I just hope she'll be alright...
If she got caught now, it would be my fault...
Oh well, nothing I could do against that now, could I? Since the answer to that question was obviously 'no', I moved on back to Whitetail Woods, deciding to learn there for the time being, on the off-chance that the Pinkie-sense had a malfunction that day and she'd find me later if I were to stay within town-limits. Of course, I would normally be at a big disadvantage, trying to read in the dark. fortunately, I was a Changeling, which means I was able to cheat like a Unicorn by using my horn as a light source. Not a really good one, but better than nothing.
And with that, I began to read.