• Published 1st Jun 2013
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Legend - Radiant Dawn

He was an average man in nearly every sense of the term, but his entire life is flipped upside-down when a push for a paycheck turns into something unexpected...something much more.

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Chapter 18: It Began with You

Chapter 18: It Began with You

As the six of us waited in Twilight’s suite (which was far more lavish than it had any right to be, even for a new princess), I busied myself with holding silent conversations with Saiian while the others played game after game of Luna’s Moon and other card games that were unfamiliar to me. I figured that while we all waited for Twilight to return, I would gather all the information from Saiian that she would give me, seeing as how she had been around even longer than Luna and Celestia had been.

I learned a great many things as I spoke with my inner elemental, from how Equis was formed to just what exactly Celestia and Luna were ‒ it turned out they weren’t mere ponies with wings and horns. Celestia and Luna went through much the same process as Twilight did when she ascended to alicornhood, only much more complex and it took longer. For them, it took nearly a week for their transformation to be complete, and it was accompanied by both pain and feverish nightmares. Twilight had it easy it seemed, seeing as how she had been born an alicorn. Beyond all that though, I learned that the Celestia and Luna I had come to know were a far cry from who they were as regular ponies. From what Saiian told me, they were not simply stewards of the sun and moon, but rather they were the sun and moon in many ways. When they connected with their cosmic counterparts and ascended to become alicorns, their personalities and even physical attributes completely changed to reflect what the sun and moon represented.

Celestia was the sun in so many ways; she was meant to be very visible and beautiful. She was warm and loving, nurturing and caring, but possessed the power to destroy everything around her if her control slipped on her limitless power. She was the most powerful being in existence, and because of that, spent every second of every day keeping much of her might caged, lest it destroy all she held dear. In ages past when she was still learning to control her power to appear as a pony, she was worshiped as a goddess and feared as a destroyer. It seemed under her loving and caring exterior, she likely harbored painful and horrible memories of a past that reminded her of just how important control was.

Luna, by contrast, was as different from her sister as night was from day, and at least in Equestria, the two Celestial Sisters were likely the source of the saying. The night was many things, but it represented far more than most thought. Beyond the mystery of shadows, the comfort of a starry night and the beauty of evening, night was wishes and love. When the daily hustle and bustle died down and there was nothing left to do but lay in bed before sleep claimed them, ponies whispered their wishes, hopes and dreams to the stars before they finally succumbed to their need for sleep. Late at night when the day’s work was done, lovers would revel in their mutual affection, whether by more physical acts or simply spending time with a special somepony. Luna personified those wishes and that love, which was why she was so heavily affected in the past when her beloved ponies began to ignore her. It was this neglect that gave rise to Nightmare Moon, since the night could be a time of terror for some. Because the night held many secrets, Luna was in many ways far more complex than her sister. While Celestia kept her magical might in check every day, Luna struggled to appear stoic and regal. Her facade was to protect the vulnerable core of her character, since the ponies of Equestria could be so biased against the night nowadays. While I knew for a fact that Luna wouldn’t want pity for what she had to endure, it was hard not to.

Another alicorn existed though ‒ one that I had yet to really get to know: Cadence. She was known far and wide not only as the ruler of the Crystal City (she renamed it after formally adding her lands to Equestria, negating the need for an “empire”), but also as the fabled “Princess of Love”. Be it familial, friendly or romantic love, all was within her realm of expertise, and she used her powers and latent abilities to spread love to all around her. She was nowhere near as powerful magically as Twilight, Celestia or Luna, but her abilities were no less potent. Her personality was warm and inviting (if not a bit flirty at times), and she spent her life ensuring the crystal ponies and the rest of Equestria could find and maintain the love they had. I hadn’t personally met her yet, but both Twilight and Saiian made her sound like someone I would want to meet. I just had to watch out for her protective husband should such a time ever come.

Lastly, Saiian told me about herself personally. It seemed that she only inherited the elemental side of her alignment after becoming a part of me, and she explained to me that a chaos colossus such as her looked much like a massive iridescent whirlwind with eyes. Her life was interesting to say the least, and more often than not her kind brought about the events of climate shifts and even geological changes. Though she served an important purpose in the world of Equis, her chaotic and often destructive nature led her to spend much of her time far away from civilization...which was how she met Luna. Before her fall to madness, Luna often spent great deals of time in the wilderness, enjoying the sights and sounds of the untamed land. The two met during one of these excursions, and after a brief scuffle with each other, the two spoke at great length of their respective places in the world. Much to both of their silent relief, they shared the doubt of their roles in the world, and both felt underappreciated for what they did. It goes without saying that a powerful friendship blossomed between them, and it was many times Saiian that lent a concerned elemental ear to the lunar princess when she was stressed, sad, or worried. Saiian, however, partially blamed herself for Luna’s fall into madness and hatred, and no matter how I tried to spin it in my mind, I couldn’t think of anything to legitimately deny what she said. Regardless of the lack of useful truth, I still felt shitty that I couldn’t make her feel better; my protector though she may be, I still found it easy to care for Saiian as a person instead of just a thing.

Learning new things helped pass the time, though it didn’t do much to settle the tense atmosphere around us.

Applejack and the others had exhausted their ideas for entertainment nearly an hour ago, leaving them all napping, quietly talking, or in Dash’s case, subtly eyeing me as she lounged atop a bookcase. I could tell just from her facial expression that she was battling with herself between laying on top of me somehow (as she usually did) or keeping her distance for fear that what she felt was an illusion. As I thought on the manner, I looked to Saiian and sighed.

“Saiian.” I called quietly, though I knew subconsciously that the others in the room would see me just sitting quietly instead of talking.

The elemental next to me turned her head and met my eyes, already knowing what I was going to ask. “You’ve been thinking about it for almost a half-hour now. Why don’t you just ask?”

I nodded and glanced to the ponies for a moment. “All that’s been happening hasn’t been because of my subconscious controlling my magic, has it?” Saiian shook her head. “So if I were to ask you to do or not do something within reason, you could take care of that.” She nodded. Taking a breath I stated, “I want you to shut off the whole ‘mental manipulation’ thing.”

Saiian eyed me warily. I knew by now that she had pretty much full access to my mind and memories (which to be honest was a little invasive and off-putting, but whatever), but I also knew she knew it made me feel more comfortable for her to audibly speak questions or requests to me. “Are you sure?”

I nodded firmly. “I am. It’s not fair to them or me, so please cut off that specific ability.”

Saiian nodded and closed her eyes for a moment before sighing. “It’s done, but now we have another problem.” I raised my eyebrow and waited for her to continue. “As Twilight told you, magic needs an outlet, and with that bit of magic no longer functioning, you’re now building up magic faster than you’re burning it, and you don’t have a magis reservoir like ponies do. This means that unless we find a solution, you’re going to come down with magical sickness within a day. While it won’t kill you, it’s very unpleasant.”

I placed my index finger on my lips as I thought for a moment before asking, “You have the ability to modify my body, right?”

“Within reason.” she answered.

I nodded. “Would you be able to modify the function of a preexisting organ then?”

She smiled. “I think I know where you’re going with this, but I’ve already done that. I modified your pituitary gland to also work as a Starswirl gland so that you’d be protected from this world’s gravity.”

I nodded again. “So I just need a reservoir thing then.” As I thought, my mind called up all the possibilities before quickly choosing one. “What about my appendix?”

Saiian seemed to think for a moment before nodding slowly. “That actually may work, Jamie. I can do it right now, but I’ll warn you that you’re going to feel a slight pinch.”

“Which means I’m going to want to hit you, right?”


I groaned softly and nodded, clenching my eyes shut and gritting my teeth. “Well, go on then.”

Saiian’s hand found mine just before pain erupted in my lower right abdomen, crawling up into my chest and then behind my eyes. The inside of my body felt like it had been soaked in napalm and lit on fire, and I struggled to contain whimpers of pain.

“Jamie? Jamie, are you alright?” Rainbow Dash’s voice distantly rang through my ears.

I wanted to say yes and tell her that I was fine, but it felt like my body was being burned away from the inside out, so I just squeezed Saiian’s hand in my own and tried my best to ride out the pain until it was over. While I didn’t particularly like pain, I was certainly no stranger to it.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the pain and burning began to recede, leaving only a faint tingling and soreness in its wake as the lack of pain allowed me to spare focus to my other senses. I was slightly aware of a panicked voice nearly screaming my name as hooves shook me relentlessly, followed by a familiar southern accent telling the first voice to “shut up and get a nurse”.

“I’m fine.” I croaked weakly, coughing before clearing my throat and raising my voice a few more decibels. “Everyone calm down; I’m fine.”

Dash’s familiar rainbow mane entered my vision, followed by her rose eyes as she furiously scanned my expression for any hint of a lie. After taking a few moments, she gestured to my face. “You uh...kinda bit through your lip with your sharp teeth, dude.”

Now that she mentioned it, my bottom lip did feel like someone just pierced it.

“Rarity, a mirror if you please.” I requested, holding my open hand out to her.

Like I figured, she had a small pocket mirror (or saddlebag mirror, as the case was) that she kept with her, which she deftly levitated to land in my hand. I flipped it open and looked into the reflective surface, grimacing at the damage done. While gritting my teeth in pain, I hadn’t taken into account the fact that four of my teeth were now much larger and sharper than normal, which meant the skin under my bottom lip now had two gaping holes in it from when I’d caught it in between my teeth to keep from screaming. I then looked down and noticed that my neck and the dress shirt I was wearing were both covered in fresh blood.

As I gazed down at the mess I had made, I hummed to myself. “Y’know, I’m pretty surprised you’re not having a conniption right now, Rarity.” I handed the mirror back to her and waited patiently for her to take it from my hand.

Rarity was quiet for a few moments before she stepped forward and looked up at me proper, concern etched into her face. “Darling, it’s just a silly shirt. What worries me far more is the fact that it looked as if you were dying for a moment, and none of us were able to get a response from you or even move you.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You tried to move me? Why?”

Rarity turned her eyes away, painful remembrance clear in her expression. “Magical backlash is a condition specific to unicorns, and as impossible as it seems, it looked like you were experiencing it. During such a situation, the victim is to be laid down on a flat surface and given plenty of room to keep from hurting themselves. The problem is, your body was so rigid that not even Applejack was able to lay you down.”

AJ, by her token, looked a little embarrassed as she chuckled weakly. “Not ta sound full ‘a mahself, but Ah think we all know Ah’m stronger than you.” Her eyes then narrowed. “But tryin’ ta move you was like tryin’ ta plow a field without a plow; it just wasn’t happenin’.”

“So for you to be so immovable,” Fluttershy continued, having calmed down enough to speak at an audible level, “you must have been in an extraordinary amount of pain. Are you sure you’re alright?”

Glancing to Saiian out of the corner of my eye, I nodded with a smile. “Yeah, I’m alright.” I then turned my attention back to the rest of the girls. “Although, I could really use some ice and perhaps some gauze or something, if you don’t mind. It’s getting difficult to talk without wincing.”

Rarity and Fluttershy both set about scrambling out of the room and into the halls, likely looking for what I asked for, but Applejack and Rainbow Dash were staring me down.

“Ah know a lie when Ah hear one, Jamie.” AJ ground out. “Spill it; what’s really goin’ on?”

Looking into eyes of emerald and ruby, I realized I couldn’t keep up the facade any longer, and I sighed in defeat. “I can explain it, but chances are you either won’t believe me or won’t understand.” Before Dash could retort, I added, “I’m not calling either of you stupid or anything, but trust me, this is more Twilight’s thing than yours. It deals with magic and elementals, if that makes any sense.”

“Ya mean like tha tree ents on tha farm?” AJ asked with a pointed look.

I glanced to Saiian and she explained, “An ‘ent’ is the common term for an elemental warder of the forests. It is not uncommon for ponies to come across them from time to time, but if your friend Applejack does indeed have ents on her farm, it would explain how she can tend to so many trees at once. Ents have the intelligence of a dog, and can be trained like one in many instances. They will care for whatever flora and fauna is within their chosen area.”

I turned back to AJ, new information in hand. “You have ents work your farm with you?”

She chuckled and nodded. “Well ‘a course. Mac ‘n Ah ain’t got a problem buckin’ tha fruit and such, but if we gave all them trees all tha care they need ourselves, we wouldn’t even be able ta sleep or take a break. Tha ents were at tha farm before ponies even came here, and over tha years, we worked out a bit of a partnership with ‘em.” She twirled a hoof in the air. “We protect ‘em by takin’ care ‘a tha land and lookin’ after ‘em, and they take care ‘a tha trees. Ol’ Bloomberg is one of ‘em, and he tends tha fields in Appleloosa now with cousin Braeburn.”

I looked to Dash and she shrugged. “All of us know what an elemental is, whether by Twi tellin’ us or by us seein’ ‘em at AJ’s farm. What’s all of this thing with you got to do with elementals though?”

I sighed and asked, “How do you feel right now, Dash; about me, I mean. Be completely honest. Is it different than what you felt a few minutes before I went all weird on you girls?”

Raising her eyebrow, Dash slowly nodded. “Yeah...how did you know?”

“Feels just like when Twilight put that shield around you in the train to keep my magic from affecting you, right?” I prodded.

Dash’s eyes widened. “Okay, what’s going on? Twi’s not even here.”

I sighed and lowered my gaze to the floor. “Twilight was half-right on her study of my magic. It’s true that my subconscious feelings caused my magic to alter what it did and how it changed me, but I wasn’t the one to change it directly.” I pressed my palm to my chest, but my free hand gently squeezed the hand of the invisible elemental beside me. “There’s an elemental inside of me, and she’s the one that controls my magic. I asked her to cut off the magic that was affecting you girls’ minds, which is why you all probably feel differently than you did a little bit ago.”

“So,” Dash began quietly, “there’s some magic elemental inside of you right now.”

I nodded, bringing my eyes level with that of the two ponies’. “She is the magic inside of me, and only recently have I been able to speak with her ‒ ‘recently’ meaning earlier today.”

Applejack considered my words for a minute. “Well, from what Ah know ‘a elementals, it makes sense. What does all that have ta do with y’all bitin’ through yer lip though?”

I shrugged. “I asked her to change an unneeded organ in my body to work like a magis reservoir, since I don’t have one. When I asked her to stop the affect I was having on you all, it caused that magic to start building up, and without a reservoir, I would get magical sickness. Needless to say, it hurt quite a bit.”

“Umm,” Saiian began, looking a little nervous, “the reservoir will only increase the amount of latent magic you can hold at once. You’ll still need another outlet to keep it from building up and making you ill.”

I nodded and looked to Saiian. “What do you propose then? I don’t want to be messing with the minds of my friends or anything.”

“What’s going on right now, Jamie? You’re just kinda...sittin’ there.” Dash commented.

I looked to my pegasus friend and smiled. “I’m speaking with the elemental inside of me. So that I don’t look like a crazy person talking to himself, whenever I speak to her, it’s inside my head.” I pondered what I just said for a moment before violently shaking my head. “I don’t really understand how most of this works, really. I’m at the point now where I’m just going with the flow as best I can.”

“No offense Jamie,” Applejack began carefully, “but you ain’t really a ‘go with the flow’ type ‘a guy.”

I shrugged. “I’ve had to become one, or else I would’ve gone batshit crazy by now. I mean, I’m in Equestria as the only human, I got locked in a weird time place for three months, and now I find out I’ve got an ancient and powerful elemental inside of me.” I chuckled with just a hint of insanity present. “Saiian also appears as a human like me, and wears little to no clothing. She’s such a perv.”

Applejack quirked an eyebrow. “Saiian?”

“The elemental inside of me.” I clarified.

“If she’s inside of you, how can you see or know if she’s wearing anything? Why does she need to wear clothes? Why-” Dash questioned, only to grunt and shake her head in frustration. “I’m so confused right now.”

I chuckled at Dash’s confusion and patted her affectionately on the shoulder. “It doesn’t make sense to me either. I can only tell you what is, not what I think things to be. All I know for sure is that only I can see her, and I can also feel her if she touches me; the reverse is true for her as well ‒ if I purposefully touch her, she can feel it as well.”

Dash now raised her eyebrow as well. “Why is she a perv exactly?”

“Because she takes great pleasure in teasing me in a sexual manner, knowing that I’m the only one that can see her.” I explained with a flat look, glancing momentarily to where Saiian sat beside me. “The only reason she even wears clothes is because I asked her to.”

“You do realize you sound like a crazy person with an imaginary friend, right?” Dash concluded with an expression that screamed disbelief.

I looked to Saiian for help, but she just shrugged. “I can talk to her, but I already told you there’s only one way to do that.”

I still didn’t entirely believe Saiian’s explanation. “What magical property does a kiss have that would allow you to talk to them?”

She sighed and pointed to my forehead. “The main conduit for a pony’s ‒ or in this case, person’s ‒ magic is located within the head. Two unicorns can bridge their magic by touching charged horns together, but other ponies require a kiss. For obvious reasons, both acts are considered very intimate, which is why you may have noticed that unicorns are very protective of their horns, as well as who is allowed to touch it. In much the same way a horn bridge works, a kiss links the magic of two people together, however briefly, and allows them to perform unimaginable feats if one of them has the ability to use their magic in an outward manner, like a unicorn. You, however, have the ability to allow a pony to connect with me directly, allowing me to talk to them.” Before I could retort on the whole manner, she added, “Even with all that being the case and your emotional reservations about kissing a pony or other intimate acts, we both know you’ve wondered what it’s like. I don’t recommend your friends though, as they do not have the emotional maturity and wisdom of centuries to allow them to separate such an intimate gesture as something purely an act of circumstance. Rainbow Dash would become even more confused, Applejack might downright hit you, and any of the others could have a distinctly negative reaction.”

“So…” I urged.

“Luna...or Celestia.” Saiian confirmed. “So the question is, how far are you willing to go to explain everything?”

True that the mere thought of kissing a pony made me shudder a bit, but the more I thought on my reaction I began to wonder just why I was so against the idea. I couldn’t at the moment say I was for the idea either, but I began to question my reasons for disliking the very idea. I suppose part of it was because I imagined it would be like kissing a horse, but I had learned just in my short time on Equis that making assumptions was a very ignorant and dangerous thing to do. So, the only way for sure to know whether I would dislike it or not would be to just do it.

Besides that fact, how many get to say they got to neck with a princess?

I stood up off the bed and straightened my shoulders determinedly. “Well, there’s only one thing to do then.” I rolled my shoulders and smirked. “Looks like it’s time to buck up and just do it.”

“Do what, exactly?” Dash questioned, and it was only then that I realized I had not spoken solely to Saiian.

I looked to my friend and smiled. “There’s only one way I’m going to prove this for sure, and I need Luna or Celestia to do it. Once Rarity and Fluttershy return with the ice and gauze, I’ll-” I stopped, looking around. “Wait, where’s Pinkie?”

Applejack looked around and shrugged. “Ah hardly ever know where that pony is. Just expect her to pop up when you least-”

“HERE I AM!” squealed the bouncy pink pony from behind me.

While Dash and Applejack nearly jumped across the room in surprise, I merely fell onto my face and was quite pleased I didn’t need to relieve myself when the pony appeared. I suppose I should be used to Pinkie’s randomness by now, but she’s an enigma even in a world filled with mythical creatures. Regardless, I would rather be surprised into a near-heart attack than not know where she is; I don’t like not knowing where and when Pinkie will appear.

After catching my breath and just barely keeping my heart from leaping out of my chest and running away, I turned to Pinkie and sighed heavily. “For chrissakes Pinkie, just poke me or something. The whole shouting loudly thing is going to scare me to death one of these times.”

“But everypony loves surprises, Jamie!” she exclaimed, bouncing on the bed as she gazed down at me. Suddenly, she gasped and hopped down onto the floor, pulling me up roughly as she looked me over. “Oh no, you’re hurt!”

I waved her concern off. “I know, but Rarity and Fluttershy are-”

“We’re back, darling!” announced Rarity as she and Fluttershy reentered the room, a bag of ice and a first-aid kit in tow. Glancing at the Pink pony in the room she greeted, “Oh hello there, dear. Where have you been?”

Pinkie cocked her head to the side. “When?”

“Just now.”

“I was here!”

“No, before that, darling.”

Pinkie scratched her head. “I don’t remember.”

Rarity stared at her friend for a few moments before sighing in frustration and trotting over to me, levitating the bag of ice to land on my lap while Fluttershy floated up to my face and began applying antiseptic to my wounds.

After cleaning me up and icing my wounds, the five ponies went back to passing the time as we all waited to Twilight to arrive. I knew for a fact that the others were trying hard not to be upset with the princesses, since none of them directly mentioned them in an attempt to not think about the two, but I had a feeling that a verbal lashing from Twilight wasn’t the only heated words the princesses were going to hear. A part of me wanted to feel a little sorry for them both about the fact that they had lost the trust of Equestria’s greatest weapons against evil, but the realistic part reminded me that they had this coming for what they did to me. Just as I would expect to be punished for breaking a law, they likely expected this all to happen to them as well.

Thankfully, Twilight decided to enter the room at that moment.

All within the bedroom stood to greet her, but stopped when they saw the state of her. She looked haggard, with clear tear trails on her cheeks and puffy, red eyes. Her wings were drooping tiredly, and her head was held low as she made her way over to me. Finally lifting her gaze from the floor, she looked at me for only a teary-eyed second before lunging forward and latching onto me in a desperate hug, as if letting go would cause the entire world to fall away. I wrapped my arms around the young alicorn and pulled her up with me as I made to sit on the bed again, allowing her to sit on my lap as she sobbed uncontrollably, sputtering broken apologies the entire time. It was then that I felt wings and hooves begin to encircle me as the other five stunned ponies embraced Twilight and I, trying their best to comfort their distraught friend. Admittedly, it felt pretty nice being in the middle of a veritable ponypile, but the sobbing alicorn in my grip sobered my wandering mind very quickly. For now, Twilight needed to be comforted; questions and random thoughts could come later.

The urge to bestow as much comfort as possible overtook me, and I surprisingly found myself planting small kisses on Twilight’s forehead as I stroked her mane and cupped her face in my hand, running my thumb along her cheek as I did so. These actions only caused her to cling to me tighter and increase the intensity of her weeping, but she never once pulled away, so I continued doing to her as I would to a hysterically unhappy child, should I ever have one. I whispered shushing sounds into her ear as I continued to hold her.

After a few minutes of smothering Twilight in the love and affection of friends, she finally calmed enough to catch her breath, hiccuping several times as she tried to compose herself. It took a few more minutes for her to regain any semblance of true composure, but when she did, she looked to me with a heartbroken expression on her face.

“Jamie...I’m so s-sorry for everything that’s happened to you.” she whispered, just barely in audible range. Before I could speak, she continued. “I’m sorry for how we treated you when you first arrived, for how we reacted to unknowns about you, and for how the princesses abused you and your trust.”

I shook my head firmly. “Twilight, that’s not your-”

“Jamie, stop it.” she ordered, glaring at me even as tears began to fall down her cheeks once again. “Without your consent, Equis is now your home, and yet the ponies that live here have treated you like a threat at best, or a toy at worst. I myself am guilty of the former, and I am so sorry I ever doubted you or your intentions.” She shook her head ruefully, lowering her voice again. “I don’t know how or why you don’t absolutely hate us by now.”

Clearing my throat nervously, I answered, “Truthfully, I’ve been through a lot worse. One day soon I’ll tell all of you exactly what my past was like on Earth, but I can tell you now that any negatives I’ve experienced here on Equis pale in comparison to what I went through on my own planet.” The six gathered nodded warily, but kept quiet on the matter. “However,” I began, feeling anxiety begin to creep over me, “there is something that I need to tell all of you, but I need the other two princesses to do it.”

Instantaneously, Twilight’s mood took a nosedive once again. “Why do they need to be here?”

“Because they’ll be able to explain it better than I ever could myself,” I countered, “and it involves Luna in quite an important way.” Somewhere distant in my mind, I found it oddly strange that I didn’t mentally or verbally add titles to the two older Equestrian princesses anymore. Strictly speaking though, I think I’d earned the right to call them by their names.

“Well who’s going to go get them then?” Dash questioned, just barely keeping a growl of anger out of her voice.

I shrugged. “I will. I need to collect my thoughts a bit anyway, so you all keep Twi company for a minute or two, and I’ll be right back.” Before any of them could argue, I slipped away from them and out the door, quickly making my way by memory through the castle corridors...well, Saiian’s memory. Hers was far better than mine.

“Take a left here.” she said, and I obliged as I pivoted and followed the sparsely decorated hallway to Celestia’s study. “So, have you surrendered to the fact that you’re going to have to lock lips with a pony for things to work out the way you want them to?”

I shrugged. “I’ve done stranger things in the name of fixing things, though kissing an alien will be a first.” I sighed and stuck my hands in my pockets. “I’m still a little weirded out about it, but maybe it won’t be as bad as I think it will be. Besides, it’s not like I’m doing it because I want to date her; I’m just doing it so that she doesn’t think I’m intentionally trying to piss her off by saying that one of her only friends in history is inside of me right now.” Grimacing, I added, “That’s quite possibly the strangest sentence that I’ve ever said.”

Saiian giggled and nudged me with her shoulder. “I’m just going to leave that one alone; it’s too easy.” After a moment longer of walking, she gestured to a familiar door leading to an ivory tower. “Well, here we are.”

Two guards were flanking the door, one a night guard and the other a solar guard. While I didn’t recognize the golden-armored day guard, the pegasus in dark armor was one I recognized immediately, and she me.

“Heya Lanky!” Shudder greeted jovially, much to the chagrin of her stoic and professional companion.

After a moment of looking between us, recognition dawned on the day guard’s face as she gasped. “This is the alien you were looking after?”

I whipped my head around and theatrically shouted, “Alien?! Where?!” After a moment of bad acting, I turned back to the two ponies and grinned. “I don’t know of any other tall, handsome aliens in Equestria.”

“Getting a little full of yourself now, aren’t you?” Shudder remarked, smirking.

I shrugged. “Someone has to be.” I then pointed to the door behind them. “I need to speak with the two princesses. Are they still in there?”

The white unicorn day guard shook her head. “The two princesses are not to be disturbed.”

Shudder rolled her eyes and stepped forward toward me. “What she means is that the princesses are pretty shaken up after Princess Twilight Sparkle chewed them out. I’m sure they’ll make an exception if they’re told it’s you that wants to see them.”

The day guard trotted forward with a look of shock as she exclaimed, “Shudder, remember your place! The princesses order, we follow; do not step outside your bounds!”

Shudder growled and poked her compatriot in her breastplate. “Maybe the day guards feel the need to treat Princess Celestia like a goddess, but Luna and the night guards are a family. She’s our mother, and we’re her children; family talks to one another when there’s a problem.”

The other pony grumbled, but acquiesced to Shudder’s explanation. “Fine, but if we get in trouble, I’m blaming you.”

The two guards turned and knocked on the door before entering, closing it behind them while I waited patiently for them to reappear. After a few moments Shudder stuck her head out and nodded to me, so I made my way inside.

The study was noticeably messier than when I left it, with a few books and scrolls littering the carpeted floor and both windows cracked as if struck by a wave of force.

“I don’t think I have to ask who did all this.” I mused aloud, letting my eyes wander around the study before settling on the two princesses, the elder of which looked as emotionally spent as Twilight had.

“Please leave us, guards.” Luna requested, though an undertone of finality was in her voice. Shudder and the unnamed day guard bowed shallowly before stepping out the door and leaving me alone with the two princesses. Luna then looked to me and raised her eyebrow. “Do I want to know what happened to you?”

I rubbed the gauze taped below my lower lip. “I’ll explain later.”

Luna nodded before smiling weakly. “How is she?”

“Blaming herself.” I answered, motioning to the clearly ashamed Celestia. “Like your sister is, no doubt. I just spent the last half-hour consoling a sobbing pile of alicorn.”

“Ah, so your evening is panning out much the same as mine is.” Luna quipped, earning a childish raspberry from her sister as they sat together on an alicorn-sized sitting pillow. Luna continued lovingly brushing her sister’s mane as she turned her gaze back to me and said, “Not that we don’t enjoy the presence of Equestria’s resident alien, but was there something you needed?”

I looked to where Saiian was standing just a few feet away from me before nodding to Luna. “There is, actually.” I took a breath before asking, “How much has Twilight told you both about the magic inside of me and how it works?” A folder was caught in a golden glow from Celestia’s horn, and it levitated over to me, dropping in my hands. As I looked over the materials presented, I realized they were all of Twilight’s notes on me. “Okay...so she told you everything.

Celestia nodded. “She did. I apologize for being short, but is this going somewhere? I am far from being in the mood to discuss anything work-related at the moment.”

I sighed and nodded. “It’s something pretty important, and I think you both need to hear it. I wouldn’t bother you otherwise.” Luna motioned to me to continue, so I took a deep breath before forging ahead. “The magic inside of me is sapient, meaning that it isn’t reacting to my feelings directly or anything. It’s an elemental ‒ a colossus, to be exact.” I then locked eyes with Luna. “Her name is Saiian.”

The brush that was in Luna’s magical grasp slipped away, bonking her sister on the head in a comical manner as Luna’s mouth dropped open in shock.

“W-what did you say?” she hissed.

I nodded in confirmation. “Her name is Saiian, Luna.”

After a moment of shock, Luna’s gaze narrowed as she growled, “I don’t know how you found out about her, but this joke has run its course.”

Celestia’s shamed wallowing graduated to curious confusion. “Luna, who is Saiian?”

Luna’s eyes shot to those of her sister, and she struggled internally for a moment before explaining, “The elemental I spoke of before my banishment. Saiian was one of the only friends I’ve ever had,” she then pointed angrily to me, “and now this foal is using her memory for a sick joke.”

I had expected the response from Luna, but the fact that she thought I would be downright cruel still hurt a little. “I’m not, and I can prove it.”

As my thoughts were coalescing into my plan, Saiian commented, “It’s called a magis bridge; Luna will know what you mean when you say it.”

I cleared my throat nervously and stated, “We can form a magis bridge between each other.”

Celestia tilted her head curiously at me. “But you lack a horn. How would-” Her eyes then widened as a blush spread across her face. “Oh...oh my.”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “What? Am I missing something?”

Celestia cleared her throat as she explained, “A magis bridge is a way in which two unicorns can pool their magic together by touching their horns, allowing them to do far more with said magic than either could do alone. Of course, with how protective unicorns are of their horns, it is seen as a very intimate gesture.”

Luna nodded in understanding. “Captain Shining Armor did so with Princess Mi Amore Cadenza at their wedding, yes?”

Celestia nodded. “But what many do not know is that unicorns and alicorns are not the only breed of ponies that can form a bridge like that. The other method is by a kiss.”

Luna nodded again. “Because one’s magic flows through the head at all times; I know this, but why does that matter for Jamie...and…” Her face took on a lovely shade of maroon as realization hit her, and she nearly choked on her own tongue as she stammered, “S-so you want t-to…”

I shrugged helplessly. “It’s not ideal, but connecting with my magic means you’ll connect with Saiian, allowing her to not only prove her existence to you, but it will also explain just what has been going on with me.”

“And you plan to do that by kissing my sister?” Celestia clarified, slightly dumbstruck.

Strangely enough, most of the “weird” factor had bled away from the idea, to the point where I just shrugged again with chuckle. “I’ve done stranger things in the name of science. My last idea brought me to Equestria, after all.” I gestured to the night princess. “So the only question now is if your sister is okay with it. If you’ve got a better idea on how to do all this, I’m all ears.”

Celestia slowly swiveled her head to look at her younger sister. “Luna?”

Luna was completely still, her jaw still dropped in surprise and the blood from her entire body likely congregated in her face. After a moment more of silence she shook her head roughly and coughed to regain some form of composure. “W-well I am not against it per se, it is simply that…” The remainder of her sentence trailed off, but from the muffled word of “never”, I could figure out what she said.

I leveled her with a flat stare. “You’re joking, right? You’re thousands of years old and you’ve never kissed anyone?”

“Neither of us have.” Celestia confirmed, though without the amount of embarrassment that her sister was feeling.

I furrowed my brow in disbelief. “What is Equestria, ‘March of the Virgin Princesses’? For fuck’s sake!” I sighed and shook my head, waving my hand in the air. “Look, I’m sorry. It’s just...you realize how bad that sounds to someone like me, right? You all have a few thousand years on me, but you haven’t gotten any? What the hell, man? Is it some kind of alicorn-princess rule or something?”

“It was actually, in ages past.” Saiian stated dryly.

I glanced to the elemental and rolled my eyes before amending, “Okay, so maybe it was, but it’s not anymore. So why…?”

“Immortals are nothing if not creatures of habit, Jamie.” Celestia explained, smiling gently. “Besides that, I have just never met the right pony.”

“Same.” Luna added quietly.

I raised an eyebrow before sighing and shaking my head. “Okay, that is just not acceptable. I was a complete shut-in for almost two years back on Earth, and even I got some. I used to be a fat guy for chrissakes! Do you know how hard it is to get laid as a fat dude?” I realized I was panting after my short rant, so I took a moment to calm myself before continuing. “Sorry about that, but I mean what the hell. I know you feel all the same emotions and desires as mortal ponies, so why with all this denial of what you want and feel? What’s the point?”

I was leveled with a flat stare from Celestia. “There are more important things in our lives than giving in to what we desire. We run an entire country, Jamie; our wants and needs are not our own, they are those of our ponies.”

I brought my fingers to the bridge of my nose and rubbed, trying to keep a migraine from forming. “Well, as someone you wish to see as a friend and confidant, I have to tell you that you’re both being stupid. You can’t claim to truly care about what your ponies want and need if you deny yourself those same desires. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to them.” I sighed and shook my head. “Anyway, we’re getting off topic here. I’ll address those issues later, but for now I came here to seek help and support from you both, and we know there’s only one way to get you to believe me. The question is, are you up for it?”

Luna didn’t break eye contact as she answered, “Are you? It is not I, but you who have an aversion to our kind.”

“I can get past that,” I retorted, shaking my head, “the question is: are you okay with an alien being your first kiss for the sake of reuniting you with an ancient friend?”

Luna was silent as she contemplated my words, but Celestia glared at me. “This doesn’t add up, Jamie; what do you hope to gain from this? From the way it sounds, you seem to be giving more than you are receiving, and I do not mean to offend, but that alone goes against who we have seen you to be.”

Glancing once more to Saiian, I shrugged. “Perhaps I mean to make a change, and the backing of both of you in this will allow me to readily explain what I have become to all my friends. They don’t believe me, to say the least, so I would prefer if I had your support. Now that I know what it’s like to be able to share things with friends, I don’t want to hide something like this, since it could potentially affect them at any time.” I then cleared my throat and said, “Plus, I’ve kinda wondered from time to time just what it would be like...kissing a pony, I mean. It’s true I’m a little weirded out by it, but seeing as how you all are the only sapient beings around and I’m living here for the foreseeable future, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had thoughts and even dreams about it from time to time.” I shrugged again. “If I’m going to give this a shot, I suppose I might as well start at the top.”

“You do realize this is a vastly different stance on the matter than you had a mere few days ago, right?” Celestia commented, clearly skeptical.

I nodded. “I do, although you have to realize how much has changed for me in that time as well. I’m at the point now where I’m just rolling with the punches, so to speak.” I chuckled. “Which basically means trying out new things and seeing where it will take me. Meeting new ponies, making friends...all that stuff. If I’m going to be here, I might as well get started making this place a home rather than just somewhere I live.”

Luna stood and trotted over before taking a seat directly in front of me, connecting her gaze with my own. “Well Jamie, I can think of no discernable reason why I shouldn’t share this with you, barring your own reservations. If you are truly alright with it, I-”

Instead of letting Luna continue and talk us out of it somehow, I acted on impulse, stepping forward and cupping her cheek before bringing our lips together. Her own widened eyes of shock and a surprised murmur mirrored my own feelings, even though I had been the one to initiate the contact. A part of me thought I wouldn’t have had it in me, but it was clear I was wrong on the matter. And...it appeared I was incorrect on another few assumptions as well.

Kissing a pony ‒ Luna, specifically ‒ was actually not that bad; on the contrary, it was rather nice. Her lips were soft and smooth, with only the barest hint of velvety soft fur around them, offering an exotic yet not unpleasant experience. Instead of thinking, “Well, this isn’t so bad,” I found myself thinking, “Huh, this is actually pretty nice!” Whether it be because of such a lack of intimate contact for so long or the fact that the kiss wasn’t as strange as I had thought it would be, I pushed to deepen the kiss as I felt a rush of magical pressure press against my mind from Luna. Gradually, the sensation of the kiss itself bled away, and the world faded to white.

As sight came back to me, I found myself in an impossible place: the park playground where I spent most of the first years of my childhood. It was by that observation alone that I knew what I was seeing wasn’t real, since I had driven by the spot a few times as an adult, and saw it had been replaced by a shopping center. Concluding that what I currently saw was an illusion of some sort, I swiveled my head around to find out just what was going on. First of all, I noticed that there were no cars or sounds of a lively suburban living area, and no people. Secondly and most importantly, there was a very bewildered midnight-blue alicorn standing a few feet away.

Luna’s eyes slowly drifted to me, and she gasped in surprise. “O-oh, Jamie. Where are we?”

I glanced around again. “This is what my world looks like Luna, or at least the part where I spent the first two years of my childhood.” A stupid thought then came to mind, and I laughed aloud for a moment before saying, “I can now officially say that my lips have taken a female to another world.”

Luna rolled her eyes with a grin. “Stupid…”

I began to look around once more, calling out, “Saiian, I know you’re here.”

Sure enough, a soft hand caressed my shoulder, and I looked to see the elemental standing beside me, though I was quite sure she hadn’t been there a moment before. She gave me a bright smile before looking to Luna, who had a very confused expression painting her face.

“Saiian?” she questioned, tilting her head in the way ponies did when they were confused (which I’m just going to come right out and finally say it: cute as hell).

Saiian nodded. “I’m here, Luna.”

Apparently Saiian’s voice had not changed with her form since Luna had last known her, since the alicorn’s face contorted to utter shock and then unbridled joy as she ecstatically pranced over to the elemental and threw her arms around her in a hug. Tears began to fall down Luna’s face as Saiian embraced her, and I kept silent as the two enjoyed a silent moment of reconciliation.

After a few minutes of silence, Luna croaked out, “I thought I would never see you again, my friend.”

Saiian smiled gently and ran her fingers through Luna’s mane. “I once told you I would never willingly leave you alone again.” She briefly glanced to me before continuing with, “I thank Jamie for allowing me to find you once more, my young friend.”

Luna released Saiian before whipping her head to me and not trotting or cantering, but galloping and tackling me to the ground in a tight embrace. As I struggled to breathe she whispered through tears, “Thank you so much, Jamie. You cannot possibly fathom how much this means to me.”

Poking her in the side I groaned out, “I think I can...air please!”

Immediately relinquishing her grip on me and backing away with a sheepish smile, Luna commented, “You faced your own discomfort and fears to reunite me with one of the greatest pieces of my past.” She bowed her head low to the ground and added, “I hope with time I can return this grand gesture in a way that will please you. You have done something I deemed impossible, and I am honestly unsure how I will repay you.”

I brushed off my jacket and stood, shaking my head. “Don’t lock me away again and we’ll call it even.” After standing, I gestured to Saiian. “She’s the reason for every change within me that’s happened since I came to your world, including minor changes to my behavior.” I then glanced to the elemental directly. “And if I’m not mistaken, she’s the one who very recently made the prospect of kissing a pony look not so bad.” I then shrugged, turning back to Luna. “To be honest, it was much more similar to kissing one of my own kind than I thought it would be, and at least in that avenue, I don’t find any more problems.”

Luna nodded before nervously chewing her lip, looking to Saiian briefly before stepping toward me. “Jamie, we must return to the waking world. We have some more things to discuss, and I think you are finally ready to know the truth.”

Saian snapped her fingers and I had only a second to gasp as the world fell away before my vision once again faded to white.

When sight returned to me again, it was to find Luna’s face a few inches away from mine, and Celestia with a blush covering her entire face, neck, and even her chest. It was then that I realised Luna and I were still kissing, and as her eyes opened, she was hit with said realization as well.

Gently, and at the same time, Luna and I disengaged and pulled away from each other, and I’ll man-up and admit that I didn’t really want to stop, having been deprived of such intimate contact for so long.

“Wow…” I heard Celestia breathe from beside me, utter surprise in her tone. “That was...something.”

“It certainly was.” Luna commented giddily, grinning like a fool before realizing her reaction. “O-oh, the kiss was nice too, but…” she smiled wide again as she looked to her sister, “she’s there, Tia! She’s alive and she remembers me!” She then turned to me and smirked. “For the record, that far surpassed my expectations for a first kiss, Jamie. Reuniting me with Saiian; you truly are something special.” Luna then looked to her sister again, this time dropping her smile and adopting a more serious look. “It is time we tell him everything, sister. He’s ready.”

I groaned and collapsed onto the cushion next to the princesses, slapping a hand on my face. “Seriously, enough with the secrets!”

“In our defense,” Celestia voiced, smiling sheepishly, “we did not even suspect this specific information until mere moments ago, when you told us you had an elemental within you.”

Without sitting up or even moving, I grumbled out, “Explain, please.”

I felt the magical pressure of the room increase as Celestia lit up her horn and levitated a chest from the corner of the room over, opening it and bringing out a single scroll, yellowed with age. She dropped it on my chest, so I unrolled it, recognizing the strange writing of Equestrians.

“Um, I can’t read this.” I stated blandly. “I haven’t learned how to read your language yet.”

Celestia nodded. “I realize this, but this script cannot be translated. It is an ancient scroll that was part of a legend from long ago, that some marveled as prophecy. It is imbued with powerful enchantments to resist aging, but those same enchantments resist all but the most powerful of magic. Because of that, I cannot translate it to suit your needs.” I felt a pressure on my head as Celestia’s glowing aura surrounded me. “I can, however, temporarily link your vision with mine so that you can read it through my eyes.”

My vision once again fell away for a second before I found myself looking down at...myself?

“Woah,” I breathed out, seeing myself say the word, “this is freaky.”

“Now,” I heard Celestia begin softly, “I wish you to read the scroll. With my eyes you will see the world as I do, which means the words will appear readable instead of as a jumble of shapes.”

Sure enough, when Celestia’s vision went to the scroll (which I held up, though it was a pain to coordinate the motion from another’s sight), I could read the words. It wasn’t anything like they magically shimmered to be replaced with english, rather I just kinda...knew. Something about Celestia’s eyes and her mind just recognized the words, even with me being the one seeing through them.

Slowly, I began to read.

“It appeared fromme Elseweyre, having a novel bodie and eyyes of wolfes.” I shook my head, noticing a break in the story. “What’s up with the language?”

Celestia giggled softly. “Much like your world, standardized spelling was not always the way of things. The next entry will be easier to read, I think.”

I nodded, continuing to read (it was strange watching myself nod). “She came from a world similar, and yet different. I saw not hooves, but fingers and toes; eyes of a predator, and the teeth of a meat-eater. Around her I spied ponies of all kinds ‒ ponies of horn, of wing, and some of both.” Another break in the story, leading to a last entry. “Within is a soul of elements, living with the soul of he that is alien to us. He lived with us as if he were one of us, and caught the eye of heroines and villainesses alike. Who was this strange creature, lost among the stars?” I don’t consider myself fantastically quick on the uptake, but I was bright enough to put the pieces together as my vision faded once again to my own. I rolled up the scroll and sat up, facing the princesses. “Okay, what is all this?”

Princess Celestia levitated the scroll out of my hands, smiling down at me. “What you just read are multiple interpretations across the ages of an ancient story called, ‘The Smithy’. The first entry on that scroll was originally written by a seer known as Brighteye, from a time before even my sister and I ruled. What began as a vision was passed off as the ravings of a madpony, and eventually evolved into one of the favorite stories of foals and adults alike. While much of the original meaning of the story has been lost to the ages,” she pointed to the floating scroll, “these three entries are what my sister and I have preserved for the sake of remembrance. Twilight may have told you already, but what many ponies believe to be mere stories passed down through the ages contain grains of truth here and there, and this scroll contains what we analyzed and found to be the most likely bits of truth in a wonderful ‒ if a bit romanticized ‒ story.”

Luna cleared her throat nervously. “Some versions of the story are dark, and even fetishized at some points, but the core of the story comes down to those three entries. It is the bit that we have poured over many times in an effort to snip away the unnecessary bits, and it is what we have found to be the most accurate depiction of what the original seer saw those many eons ago.” Luna pointed to the scroll, and began to explain. “Some saw the creature as male, others as female, but the parts that remain true in every version is that this creature came from somewhere not of Equestria, having a body unlike anything we have seen and having the eyes and teeth of a predator.”

“This creature is seen to be friends and allies alike with all four tribes of ponies ‒ alicorns included.” Celestia explained with a smile.

“Lastly,” Luna picked up, “it is spoken that this creature has an elemental spirit inside of it, and captures the attention of heroines and evildoers alike.”

“The Elements of Harmony and those assassins.” I spoke aloud, thinking to myself. I then shook my head. “Wait, why is this story called ‘The Smithy’?”

Celestia smiled gently. “The creature built and maintained weapons and armor, and was quite adept at it.”

“But-” I began, only to be cut off by a blue hoof pressed to my lips.

“However,” Luna continued with a grin, “the creature was never given a name in the story; it was simply called ‘The Smith’.”

Realization fully dawned on me as I pushed Luna’s hoof away and stood, trembling with anxiety. “W-w-wait wait wait, you think this story is about me?”

“Evidence certainly points to it.” Luna answered, smiling gently. “There is simply too much that matches with who you are to be mere coincidence.”

“We’ve lived too long to believe in coincidence, Jamie.” Celestia chided gently. “While it is true that we are a bit…” she paused, seeming to grasp for the correct words, “out of touch when it comes to personal relationships, foresight and planning is something we do very well. Do not doubt us in this; it would be a mistake.”

My mind raced to grasp the new information I had been given. A legend? Me? No...that couldn’t be true. I was just some fucked-up human from Earth. Sure a lot of things about that story made sense, but…

On the other hand…

The princesses...weren’t really wrong about these types of things. While I didn’t agree with all of their methods, I couldn’t deny that they had an unbelievable amount of foresight and were very observant of the world and its going-ons. They wouldn’t have shown me the scroll for no reason though, so…

“Why did you show me this?” I asked, surprised at how stable my voice was.

Celestia smiled reassuringly, placing a hoof on my shoulder. “Two reasons, actually. The first is to show that everything that has happened and everything you are is meant to be was not an accident. Secondly, and more importantly,” she then craned her neck so that she could reach me, and began rubbing her cheek affectionately against mine, “you were meant to be here, Jamie. I am truly sorry that you were ripped from your world so suddenly, but this proves that you belong here. So please, do not feel like an outsider anymore.”

As the truth of her words sunk in, I realized she was right. Much as I wanted to cling to my past and Earth, I couldn’t deny what the words said, and I had read them myself. I didn’t readily believe in prophecies or precognition, but there was too much in those words I read for my being in Equestria to be mere coincidence.

Part of the reason I had never told my friends about my past was because of what it reminded me of: that I never truly belonged anywhere. Every place I had gone, every person I had met, it had always felt like I was an outsider. No matter the time passed or growing up I did, I always felt so far removed from my own kind. But now, as I learned the truth of another world, I felt for the first time in my life what I had yearned for my entire life.

To belong.

I had friends that loved and cared about me, and two princesses that would risk losing my trust just to do what they thought was best for me, simply because they cared about me that much. For the first time since coming to Equestria, I didn’t feel like I had been taken from my home...I felt like I had been brought to it. Change is always difficult, and there were some things about Earth I might always miss, but now I felt the idea of “home” was Equis.

“Thank you,” I muttered, just before collapsing against Celestia and crying tears of joy.