• Published 1st Jun 2013
  • 27,267 Views, 1,385 Comments

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 6: Spellbound

Chapter 6: Spellbound

I woke on a dark Wednesday morning to a loud crack of thunder overhead. Having grown up in the midwest of the United States, I was rather used to loud and powerful storms, and by Dash’s reluctance to even move at the sound, so was she. I found it strange that she was a little damp though, and she was now on my right side, when she’d fallen asleep on my left. I then looked at her cutie mark, then the storm outside, and it clicked.

‘Oh yeah, pegasi make the weather. She must have started the storm and then came back.’

So the reason for her dampness and change of position were accounted for, and she’d told me ahead of time she was a cuddler in her sleep, which explained why her wing and right leg (arm?) were wrapped around my waist, but one thing didn’t quite make sense to me...

Why had she come back?

A few things about this didn’t make sense, the first and foremost being that she had said she wanted to keep me company. I was grateful of course, but with me not even realizing she had left in the first place, she could have gone home this morning, or even done something else besides sleep. Secondly, I had heard from not only Rainbow Dash, but from a few other pegasi that nothing compared to sleeping on a cloud. I wasn’t privy to such an experience, so I couldn’t say for myself, but if I knew I could sleep someplace better than where I was, I would likely take it. Yet again, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy having an adorable rainbow-maned pony sleeping next to me, I just didn’t know why it was still happening.

Whatever...I’m probably thinking too much into this.

At the current time though, I took a few things into my working knowledgebase about ponies. Since this would be the first time I’d actually been in close contact with a pony for an extended amount of time, I noticed a few things that were different from what I initially thought of them.

First of all, ponies didn’t smell like horses did. True that I’d never owned any sort of equine back on earth, but I’d been around them from time to time, and horses as a whole smelled musky and...well, like a horse. It was difficult to explain a smell such as that, but I knew for a fact that Equestrian ponies did not share such a thing with the equines of Earth. Ponies bathed regularly ‒ usually every day or every other day ‒ and used soap or shampoo often, as well as brushing their teeth. Much like humans did, ponies had their own unique scent that seemed to oddly coincide with who they were as people (or ponies, as the case was). Applejack, for example, smelled of her beloved apples, along with a hint of sweat from the work she did. Twilight smelled of parchment and ink. Rainbow Dash smelled like the air right after a heavy spring thunderstorm. True that I didn’t often use my sense of smell to identify things in everyday life, but it could come in handy at some point.

The fur that covered their bodies was also much different from what I’d expected, and depending on the pony varied from coarse (akin to my facial hair) to as soft as velvet. Generally speaking, the more physically active ponies had a rougher coat, while ponies like Twilight or Octavia tended to be softer. Of course it was just an initial observation, now that I had actually felt comfortable enough to touch and be touched by a pony or two, but it was something to be able to base my visual observations off of. Sure it wasn’t necessarily an important thing to know, but it added a sense of familiarity to the world that I would need to be able to eventually live comfortably.

The hair of the mane and tail was similar to the hair a human had on the head, and usually differed in textures depending on how well it was taken care of, as well as whether it was frequently brushed or not. Octavia’s mane, for example, was very soft and well-groomed, while Rainbow Dash’s windswept mane was spiky, frizzy, and a little rough.

Lastly and most importantly, I’d come to notice that ponies often slept in close quarters, and it was not uncommon (nor frowned upon) for two or more ponies, male and/or female, to share a sleeping area. I supposed it went back to the herd mentality of their evolutionary ancestors, but in general, ponies didn’t seem to like to sleep alone. Twilight had explained to me that most ponies felt more comfortable in a group, whether going about their daily chores, relaxing, or sleeping. It was why even when sharing a home as roommates, there was usually only one bedroom between roomies. As Rainbow Dash was currently demonstrating as she nuzzled my chest in her sleep, friends could share a bed together and have such a thing be completely platonic in nature. Of course my lifetime of human culture learnings told me that it was strange to have a female in my bed, cuddling as Rainbow Dash was, and it not mean anything, but I also reminded myself that I wasn’t among humans anymore.

They’d all been patient enough for me, and of course no change ever came successfully for someone resisting it the entire way. So instead of removing myself from uncomfortable situations, I vowed to myself that I was going to “power through” things as they came at me, and do my very best to live the Equestrian lifestyle. There were certain things of course that I was going to avoid for some time (possibly permanently) like courtship, but the easier things like familiar physical body language and contact I could learn to do pretty quickly. It went without saying that I would have to unlearn and re-learn certain things about cultures, but now that I was actually determined to do so, I knew I could pull through. I knew it would be difficult sometimes, maybe a little awkward, or possibly even scary, but yet again I had to remind myself that this was my home now, so I needed to make myself fit for it.

Sure it’s not my first choice on how to do things, but I hoped it would be the best.

Since it was clear that Rainbow Dash didn’t mind being close to me, I busied myself with running my hand through her mane as I relaxed and thought about things. She responded in kind by murmuring in her sleep and nuzzling my chest cutely, which oddly reminded me of a dog I used to have. Unfortunately for me, it was at that moment that the rest of my body decided to start waking up, and as comes with most mornings for guys who haven’t gotten laid recently...

As the late Beavis would say, “BOI-OI-OI-OING!”

It now became a priority to extract myself from Dash’s grip, but unfortunately she wasn’t too keen on letting go, as when I tried to pull away, she just tightened her hold on me. She had once told me that she didn’t like her hooves being touched, so I gently used my free hand to tickle the inner part (which was soft) in an attempt to get her to release me. She giggled in her sleep in what would in any other situation be an adorable manner, but she still didn’t let go of me, so that forced me to resort to desperate measures, so I stuck my index finger in my mouth for a moment before sticking it in her ear.

Juvenile? Yes...but it did the trick.

Dash’s eyes shot open as she flared her wings and jumped away from me. She then rubbed her ear with her hoof and glared at me. “Ah dude, why? That is so uncool!”

I decided at that moment to sit up and hunch over a bit in an attempt to hide my problem, and made up a believable lie on the spot. “Well I kinda gotta run to the restroom, and you wouldn’t let go of me. It was all I could think of at the time. I would have waited for you to wake up, but nature’s call can’t be ignored.”

She accepted this, thankfully, and nodded. “I guess I can be kinda hard to wake up. No harm, no foul and all that...just don’t do it again. You could have just called my name and I would have woken up.”

I smiled sheepishly, realizing that probably would have been easier. “Sorry...I panicked.”

As I stood, I grabbed hold of “myself” and tucked it under the waistband of my shorts so that it wouldn’t show. I then quickly made my way to the restroom and closed the door behind me, breathing a sigh of relief as the potential disaster was averted. I then grabbed the towel that Twilight had provided me and went about washing myself for the day.

Some time later, I was clean and dressed in a casual outfit that Rarity had made for me, consisting of a pair high top sneakers, blue denim jeans, a white undershirt, and a tee shirt with a graphic of the Elements of Harmony. I found it funny that it made me look like quite the 1990’s kid, when I was in fact born nearly two-hundred years after that time, but the style was very similar, at least from what I could remember of Earth’s history. In fact, most of the clothing Rarity had made me was a throwback to earlier times in Earth’s history, but I didn’t mind. She made me clothes, I did some odd jobs for her here and there, and we called it even. Can’t beat a deal like that.

As I made my way to the main room of the library, I saw Spike and Twilight helping a young pony I didn’t recognize check out a book, while Dash was eyeing the situation amusedly from the top of a bookcase, for some reason. The young pony’s eyes widened slightly when he saw me, but Twilight whispered something to him, and he calmed a bit. The unknown pony then nodded to Twilight before placing the book in his saddlebags and trotting out of the library.

Twilight then took a seat at the reading table, looking over a book I’d never seen before. My curiosity was piqued, so I made my way over to her and asked, “Whatcha reading there, Twilight?”

She furrowed her brow as she continued looking over the book. “It’s a new spell that Princess Celestia sent me. She said that it’s unfinished, but if anypony could finish it, I could.”

Rainbow Dash sighed. “Sounds boring. No offense Twi, but I think I’ll pass. I’ll see you guys later, alright?”

The two of us nodded to her as Twilight answered, “Alright Rainbow. You take care.” As Dash left, Twilight motioned for me to sit next to her, so I pulled up a stool and did so as she explained, “This spell is unlike anything I’ve seen before. I mean I’ve heard about spells like this, but I’ve just never seen one before.”

I raised my eyebrow in confusion, as I didn’t know much about spells anyway. “What do you mean exactly?”

She pointed to the book, as if I could read it. “This is an incantation spell. It requires specific words to be recited out loud or in the mind in order for the spell to cast. Spells like this haven’t been around for centuries.” She sighed as she rubbed her temples. “See, normally if I came across a spell that was unfinished, I’d just cast it to see what was missing, but incantation spells are notoriously powerful. This one even more so, because it is Starswirl the Bearded’s secret unfinished spell.”

“And Starswirl the Bearded is...?” I asked.

Twilight sighed. “He was only the most powerful unicorn to ever live. So if he couldn’t finish it, I’m worried about just how powerful this spell could be.” She then levitated a parchment from next to the book. “This is a letter from the Princess that came with the book. It reads:

‘Dear Twilight Sparkle,

The spell contained on the last page of this book is Starswirl the Bearded’s secret unfinished masterpiece. He was never able to get it right, and thus abandoned it. I believe you are the only pony who can understand and rewrite it.

Princess Celestia’”

Twilight then looked over the book and read, “From one to another, another to one. A mark of one’s destiny singled out alone, fulfilled.” She then placed her hoof on her forehead and rubbed softly. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

I shrugged. “So just cast it and see what happens.”

Spike entered the room and nodded as well. “Yeah Twi, just give it a try. We’ll be here to help you if something goes wrong.”

“B-but what if something goes really wrong? What if I destroy Ponyville on accident or something?” Twilight began to question in a manic manner.

I rolled my eyes. “The princesses seem pretty smart Twilight, and Princess Celestia knows you really well. She had to know what you would do in an attempt to figure out the spell, which meant she knew you were going to give it a try. She wouldn’t put the entire town in danger just to sate her curiosity.” At least I didn’t think so. I was still trying to figure the princesses out, for the most part.

Twilight squinted at the book as her lips pursed. “I guess you’re right.” Her horn began glowing as she softly chanted the words to herself, and a moment later a soft noise ‒ akin to wind chimes or bells ‒ signified the spell had been cast. She opened her eyes and looked around. “Did anything happen?”

I also looked around the room, myself, Twilight, and Spike. I shrugged. “Nothing seems to be any different.”

Twilight frowned at the book as she closed it and sighed. “Well, I guess we’ll figure it out later. Just keep an eye out for any strange happenings, alright?” I nodded as she looked at the clock. “It’s about lunchtime now. Spike, will you help me make us something to eat?”

The young dragon nodded as she made his way over to the kitchen with his mentor. “Will do, Twilight!”

While they both went to fix a meal for the three of us, I busied myself by dropping to the floor and doing some fingertip pushups. After all, if I was going to a masseur for ponies, I was going to need some strong arms and fingers to be able to dig into those thick muscles of theirs. After living in Ponyville for a while now, I could tell that my body type had changed from flabby to lean, but I was going to need more muscle if I wanted to do my job correctly. After all, if I was going to be getting paid to do something, I wanted to make sure I did the job well.

A crack of thunder sounded from outside, and I looked out the nearby window as I stood to see that it was still raining heavily. I didn’t envy Rainbow Dash for having to keep the storm in check today. Sure, she could definitely handle it, but I knew for a fact it was going to take a lot out of her.

What surprised me was that I found myself hoping she’d be too tired to fly home as her workday ended, and that she’d have to sleep over at Twilight’s house again. As much as I hated to admit it (and I really did), I had slept better with Rainbow Dash than I had since I came to Equestria. This morning was the first morning I woke up feeling truly rested, and I had noticed that I was so comfortable I hadn’t moved even once in my sleep. That was besides the fact that it was nice to be able to hold someone close for once, knowing that they enjoyed the touch as much as I did. I suppose it’s one of the things that never quite fit me, as far as being a human. Between humans, only lovers would sleep together as Dash and I had. Among ponies though, it didn’t have to mean anything if we didn’t want it to...and more often than not, complete platonic friends could sleep as we had without any unwanted undertones to the situation.

“Jamie, lunchtime!” Twilight announced as she and Spike brought some food to the table. For the rainy day, they had chosen to make some hot vegetable soup with toast, and hay for Twilight. I found it strange at first that ponies ate hay, but I had to remind myself that they didn’t eat meat, and generally had the same diet as horses from Earth did.

As the three of us sat down and ate, conversation flowed comfortably. I found myself not minding when Twilight would ask about my personal life before Equestria, or my family. I still missed my family of course, and it was likely I would always miss them somewhat, but I forced myself to be more open. Twilight had hidden very little from me in regards to Equestria as a whole or her personal life ‒ not that I asked much about the latter, but very rarely did she choose not to discuss anything with me. With that being the case, I fought against my innate instincts as a human and chose to share more with her, if she asked. Ponies did not hide much from each other. Though it was true that places like Ponyville tended to be more close-knit than a city like Canterlot, ponies as a whole were comfortable being open about themselves with others. This meant that in order to fit in properly (or at least as much as a human could in a world of ponies and other magical creatures), I would need to follow their example in that respect.

Some time later, lunch was finished and the three of us were sitting on the sofa talking. It was the first time that I was actually speaking with Twilight and Spike for an extended length of time about humans and myself. I didn’t really mind it all that much, and found it much easier to talk than I thought I would. Unfortunately, Twilight decided to bring up something I’d hoped she wouldn’t...

“So, I saw that Dash decided to stay the night last night.” she commented offhandedly.

I nearly choked on the apple juice I was drinking, and composed myself as best as possible before answering. “Y-yeah, she did.”

Twilight put a hoof to her chin, looking towards the ceiling as she mused aloud, “Now I know she didn’t stay with me, because she snores, and I know she didn’t sleep on the couch, because the cushions were the way I left them yesterday.” I knew exactly what she was doing, and so did she. See, she knew for a fact that for a pony, what Dash had done was commonplace among friends, but she also knew that for a human, it wasn’t. She’d learned that about me as one of the first things I told her regarding humans as a whole, so she had apparently decided it would be fun to mess with me.

Honestly, it felt nice that she felt comfortable enough with me to mess around, but that didn’t make me any less nervous...although I suppose that was the point.

Spike, by his token, looked completely confused as to what was going on. He likely knew that Dash had stayed the night, but like a pony, he didn’t see anything wrong with it. “I don’t get it, Twi. Was Dash not allowed over or something?”

Twilight shook her head innocently. “Not at all, Spike. I was just wondering where she stayed is all. I mean I guess she could have slept in the storage room, but there’s just not much room for-”

“She slept with me!” I shouted out in an effort to end the lines of questioning, only to realize what I’d said when Twilight smirked. My eyes widened as I stammered, “N-no, I don’t mean she slept with me, I mean she slept in my bed, with me! Sleeping, not sleeping!” I slapped my palm onto my face as Twilight started laughing, and just shook my head. “You’re evil, Twilight.”

She giggled and bumped her shoulder against me. “Oh come on, Jamie. You left yourself wide open for that one.”

I chuckled as the humor hit me and nodded. “Yeah, I guess I did.” I removed my hand from my face and looked directly at Twilight. “For the record, nothing happened at all. She thought that I probably wouldn’t want to be alone last night, and I’m inclined to agree with her. I wanted someone there, but I guess it was just too awkward to ask directly. Luckily for me, Dash isn’t known for beating around the bush about things.”

Twilight nodded as she pushed herself off of the sofa. “Yes. She’s one of my best friends, but Rainbow Dash and subtlety are complete opposites.”

“Hey Twilight, isn’t it summer right now?” Spike asked as he stared off into the distance.

Twilight nodded with raised eyebrow. “Yes it is. Why?”

Spike pointed towards the window. “Because it’s snowing.”

She laughed as she replied, “That’s ridiculous Spike. It can’t be...snowing?” During her statement, she had looked towards the window to find that indeed, snow flurries were falling outside. Twilight rushed to the library window, eyes wide and ears flat in worry. “B-but, why would it be snowing? This doesn’t make any sense!” Quicker than I could imagine, Twilight shoved both Spike and I out the door before turning to us with a panicked expression on her face. “We need to find Rainbow Dash right away! Split up and search Ponyville for her. We’ll meet back at the town square in ten minutes...now let’s go!”

Spike and I didn’t question her orders as we split up and began searching the town for our friend in an attempt to find out what had gone wrong with the weather.

After nearly ten minutes, I was making my way back to the town square. I couldn’t find Rainbow Dash, instead only coming across a plethora of confused and frightened ponies. I had noticed during my time trying to find our friend that the clouds had arranged themselves in a checkerboard pattern in the sky, alternating between clouds and clear blue sky. I became confused when I first saw it, but had pushed the thought aside. My job wasn’t to ponder what was happening, it was simply to find Rainbow Dash and bring her to the town square. Unfortunately I didn’t find her, so I headed back to the square with the bad news...only to find Twilight already there, and she did not look happy.

She looked downright terrified.

I raised my eyebrow as I shook my head to dislodge some of the water that had rained on me. “What’s up, Twilight? Did you find Rainbow Dash?”

She shook her head. “No, I didn’t. However, I did find why the weather is so chaotic right now.”

“Why, Twilight?” Spike asked, clearly as confused as I was.

Twilight sighed as her head fell to a shameful slump. “Rarity is controlling the weather.”

I felt my eyes widen as I struggled to keep from bursting out laughing. “Rarity’s doing the weather? Why?”

Twilight looked up at me, and I saw the fear increase in her eyes. “That’s not the only thing, Jamie. She has Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark.”

Again, my eyebrow perched itself on my forehead. “Wait, she has Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark? What the hell is up with that?”

Twilight stood and sighed again. “I don’t know yet, but I need to see if the rest of my friends are okay. Rarity told me that I could find Rainbow Dash at her cottage near the Everfree Forest.”

I raised my index finger in the air as I said, “But isn’t that Fluttershy’s house?”

Twilight nodded. “It is. Something strange is going on here, and we need to find out what. C’mon, we need to find the rest of my friends.”

When Twilight, Spike, and myself arrived back at the library, it was with bad news for the town, and her friends as a whole. Their cutie marks had been swapped, changing not only what they looked like, but also who they were as ponies. Rainbow Dash had been at Fluttershy’s cottage, attempting to take care of the animals there (with no success), Fluttershy was at Sugarcube Corner trying to make everyone laugh and smile (also with no success), Pinkie Pie was at Sweet Apple Acres trying to run the farm (with great success...just kidding), and Applejack was at the Carousel Boutique, attempting to put together clothing.

What didn’t make sense to me was why their cutie marks changing would have bearing on how they acted.

The three of us sat in the library for a moment before Twilight’s head shot up. “Oh no...” she rushed over to a glass display case that held the Elements of Harmony, and looked over them. “That spell...it affected the Elements of Harmony. That’s what changed my friends!” She then stopped and sat down on her rump as her eyes began to water. “I did this...this is my fault.”

Spike stepped over to his mentor and placed a claw on her shoulder. “C’mon Twilight, maybe there’s a counterspell or something.”

Twilight’s horn lit up as the book that contained the spell was levitated over to her, and after scanning the book for a few moments, she placed it back on the reading table with a sigh. “There isn’t a counterspell.”

“Well...” Spike began, thinking feverishly for anything that might help. “Well what about that memory spell you used when you all were changed by Discord?”

She shook her head sadly. “It’s not their memories Spike, it’s their true selves that are the problem.”

I raised my hand and interrupted. “Hold on now. You said that cutie marks were just a physical representation of your special skill or talent in life.”

Twilight trotted over to me and shook her head sadly as her glassy eyes gazed at me. “Cutie marks are much more than that, Jamie. They’re magical in nature. In every sense, they represent who we are as ponies, and our passion in life. It seems that if the cutie mark is changed, so is the pony. I didn’t even know such a thing could happen, but it appears that cutie marks are much more important than they initially appear.” She then lowered her head as she trudged towards the stairs leading to her room. “And because I couldn’t figure out the spell and cast it without thinking, now I’ve changed who my friends are as ponies...ruining their lives.” Without another word, Twilight bounded up the stairs to her room, slamming the door shut.

Spike sat next to me on the sofa and sighed heavily. “Well what do we do now?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know, Spike...I just don’t know.” I then motioned up the stairs with an jerk of my head. “I know that Twilight needs you right now though. I’m going to go out and take a walk...see if I can come up with anything.”

Spike waved his hand at me as he hopped off of the furniture and headed upstairs. “Good luck, Jamie.”

I nodded as I pushed myself up and walked over to the door, intent to find some kind of fix for all this.

The situation around town wasn’t good.

I caught sight of Applejack boarding up the Carousel Boutique, likely from her lack of fashion flair. Fluttershy seemed to be packing things up, as if she were going to move. The largest problem, however, was the chaotic weather that basically turned everyone in town into assholes. Now, I understand that rainy weather can usually put a damper on one’s spirits, but the ponies around town were extra pissed off because of it. Ponies were cursing loudly at one another, and I even saw a fight break out between two mares.

Needless to say, Ponyville had seen better days.

What surprised me was that the princesses were nowhere to be seen during all of this. Now, I would think that a town that held the Elements of Harmony ‒ Equestria’s greatest treasure and weapon ‒ would be closely monitored by the two diarchs. This meant one of three things. Either I was wrong and they had more important things to worry about, they were here and I just hadn’t seen them yet, or they were trusting Twilight to solve this problem, as if it were another test.

Wait a minute...

Now I don’t consider myself all that smart or observant most times, but for some reason I was struck with an answer to all this. I felt something welling up inside of me at the same time, and suddenly everything made sense. That was it ‒ I wasn’t supposed to do anything to fix this. This was Twilight’s show; always had been, probably always will be. My job wasn’t to fix the problem with the Elements of Harmony...my job was to fix Twilight ‒ to remind her of just what she’d be willing to do to help her friends, and how much she cared for them.

“I knew you would figure it out, Jamie.” spoke a velvety voice in front of me.

Without even looking up, I knew who it was, so I simply greeted, “Hello, Princess Celestia.”

Her large form sat down on the bench beside me as ponies did, which was really more of laying down with her rear legs splayed off to the side. This put her face even with mine, and I couldn’t help but look at her with a smile. Maybe it was her pristine white coat, or maybe it was simply the gentle aura she always gave off, but Princess Celestia was the one pony I could truly say was beautiful. Not in a sexual way really, but more of a powerful, divine way. She radiated benevolence with her smile, and comforted with her presence alone. Perhaps it was the way Equestrian magic was slowly changing me, but her “pressure” didn’t seem to affect me as much. It was still there of course and I could feel it strongly, but it was no longer oppressive to me. It wasn’t scary, and it wasn’t threatening. Instead it was welcoming, much like the way a warm fire could comfort during the dead of winter, or a cool river could do the same during the hottest days of summer.

“Hello, my dear Jamie.” she answered warmly.

I raised my eyebrow with a smirk. “‘Dear’ Jamie? Moving a bit fast, aren’t we princess?”

She kept the smile upon her face as she gently nuzzled my face, and something about the gesture made me want to giggle like a little child. When she pulled away, I could see nothing but adoration on her face. “Regardless of what you may think, I love you as much as I love my dear ponies. Necessity does not breed want; you have no idea how difficult it was for me to do such a thing to you, but the protection of my land comes first, regardless of what my heart wishes.” She sighed as she added, “For the record, I do trust you. I did not, however, trust what was happening to you. Powerful magic has a way of changing the weak-minded, and with your kind never being exposed to magic before, I could not hope that who you are would remain as such. I am beyond relieved to see that the magic taking hold of you has not changed who you are as a person.”

I frowned. “So wait, you’re saying I’m weak-minded?”

She shrugged. “I am still unsure of that, as your life here is just beginning and as such, I am just coming to know who you are.”

I took the comment with neutrality, knowing she didn’t mean anything bad by it. Instead, I looked out over the town from the hill we sat upon, seeing the ponies going about their miserable day. “This is another test for Twilight, right?” When I looked to my left to the princess, she nodded, so I asked, “So won’t the ponies think it’s strange that you just happen to be here?”

She shook her head and reached out a hoof in front of us, and the air itself seemed to ripple a bit across a transparent sphere-shaped barrier around us. “It is called a ‘shine sphere’, and it refracts light around us, making us invisible to the naked eye so long as we remain within it. It is a useful spell Luna and I use when we must observe without being seen. Though some of my ponies think we spend all day up in the palace, removed from them, the truth is that many times we sit among them, watching while hidden in plain sight.” She sighed with a wistful smile. “We learned long ago that it is easier to guide our ponies if we know and understand them. It does no good for us to put such space between us. The nobles disagree of course, but they have a way of wishing themselves placed upon a different level than the ‘commoners’.” She shrugged as she leaned against me, and I braced myself against her so that she could sit comfortably. “I suppose it is pointless to wish for ponies to change beyond their own nature, but it is the hope of such a possibility that gives me faith in future generations.”

Her mention of the nature of ponies brought my mind to a famous line that I loved from history from Earth, and somehow I found it relevant. “You know, there was a man from my world named Robert McNamara, and he was what’s known as the Secretary of Defense from the Old Republic of the United States of America, which is where I’m from.”

The mention of my past life piqued the interest of the princess, as her ears perked and a small excited smile played upon her face. “And this man was important?”

I nodded. “Very much so. He held direct control over the Department of Defense, which handles the orders for all of my nation’s military, barring intervention from the president. I guess you could call the US president a king, though he was an elected official, was not royalty, and could only serve in that position of office up to a maximum of eight years.” I then cleared my throat with a sheepish close-mouthed grin. “Sorry, got a bit off topic there. Anyway, Mr. McNamara was in office during what is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which Russia ‒ another nation on Earth ‒ prepared to attack us with nuclear arms in retaliation to us placing a similar nuclear arms site near their border.”

She looked a little confused as she asked, “And nuclear arms are...?”

I frowned a bit at what I was about to explain, as it didn’t make humans look all that great. “Nuclear arms are any weapon that uses nuclear power to cause damage. The nuclear arms I’m currently speaking of were missiles, which are self-propelled munitions that can be fired upon a target from a great distance away.”

Princess Celestia nodded. “How powerful would such a weapon be?”

I shrugged. “It depends on which weapon you’re speaking of, as well as when it was built. At the time though, you could say it would be enough to level all of Ponyville to the ground, as well as set fire to both the Everfree Forest and the Whitetail Wood. Further damage would be caused by nuclear fallout, which would corrupt the ground and air with radiation that would slowly kill anyone in the area, and such contamination can last for many years if no one cleans up the radioactive particles. If left unchecked, the soil can be corrupted beyond repair, and nothing may ever grow in the area of fallout again.”

She gasped softly and brought a hoof to her mouth as her eyes glistened slightly in the cloudy light. “By all that is sacred...that is terrible.”

I nodded. “It is. What it leads back to though is what I was saying about McNamara. You see, we as humans recognize a term known as the ‘fog of war’ which refers to the uncertainty in situational awareness commonly experienced by those in the military. When asked what he thought about the fog of war though, McNamara stated:

What the ‘fog of war’ means is: war is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily...I’m not so naive or simplistic to believe we can eliminate war. We’re not going to change human nature anytime soon. It isn’t that we aren’t rational. We are rational. But reason has limits.”

I sighed as I continued. “You see, ‘human nature’ is much more violent, dishonest, and cruel.” I gestured to the sky around us. “If all of this were happening on Earth, there would without a doubt be a group of people thinking of how they could harness such a thing to use it as a weapon. It’s a sad truth of my people, but one I’ve had to accept and learn to live with.” I then looked back to the princess and said, “But not all humans choose to be violent and destructive. I’d like to think I’m one of the non-assholes, but I also know I’m a work in progress.” I was silent for a moment, simply enjoying being able to teach a thousand-some-odd year alicorn something, but then a thought came to mind. “So what’s my place in all this? It’s clear to me now that you sent that book to Twilight knowing that something like this would happen, but you didn’t stop me when I was around her.”

Princess Celestia nodded as she placed a hoof across my legs gently. “You have a way of seeing things that most ponies don’t, though whether that is because of your humanity or simply who you are, I know not. However, being around for as long as I have, one learns to be able to easily predict the outcomes, as well as what pieces on the chessboard are necessary.” She then raised her hoof from across me and pressed it onto my chest. “You see, you are are the queen piece.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I’m a queen? Never thought I’d hear that one.”

She giggled softly as she brought her hoof to her mouth to stifle her laughter, but then nodded. “The queen has the greatest power. It has the ability to move an indefinite amount of spaces in any direction.” Again she pointed to me as she added, “That is why I refer to you as the queen. You are not bound by the Elements of Harmony, nor are you bound by the turmoil of the town. You see things ponies do not, and understand different options when ponies see none. You have an insight into a different life and way of living that most ponies cannot fathom, and so I knew you would know what is needed.”

I thought for a moment before replying, “I’d say Twilight needs a swift kick in the behind to stop her moping so she can help her friends. She’s smarter than she thinks, and I know she’ll think of something to solve this if she’ll just stop feeling sorry for herself.” I then gazed questioningly at her. “How did you figure I knew what’s going on?”

Princess Celestia simply smiled. “I’ve lived long enough to know the way different expressions look in different situations, as well as what they mean.” Her eyes seemed to sparkle a bit as she continued with, “Getting back on topic, Twilight always was too hard on herself, often letting her self-pity overcome her ability in a crisis. That is why she needs you, and I have faith in you, Jamie. You always wondered why Equis chose to keep you here, and I believe this is part of it.”

I felt a smile come to my face as I realized that if only briefly, I might have found a purpose in my life now. I turned my gaze back to the princess and nodded. “Thank you, your highness.”

She used her muzzle to nudge me with a smile as I stood, then gestured back towards the town. “Off you go, Jamie. Twilight needs you.”

With but a nod in response, I left the bubble of invisibility and jogged off towards Twilight’s library.

I entered the library to see Spike sitting on the couch, looking rather hopeless. This advised me that not only had Twilight not done anything yet, but that it was likely she hadn’t even let him in the room with her.

“Still moping?” I questioned, as if I didn’t already know.

Spike looked up and nodded sadly. “Yeah. She won’t even let me in the room with her.”

I headed towards the stairs as I used my hand to beckon him over. “Yeah, I figured as much. She’s going to sit up there feeling sorry for herself until something really bad happens though, so she needs you and I to get her to see what she needs to do.”

Spike followed me up the stairs and asked, “How are we supposed to do that?”

I stopped in front of Twilight’s bedroom door and grinned wide, showing my sharp canines for the first time with a devious grin. “With tough love, Spike.” With that, I raised my right foot up and kicked hard, right at the place where the latch would be.

The door splintered at my force, and swung open, revealing a very surprised unicorn with tear tracks on her cheeks, sitting on the bed. “J-Jamie?”

I strode into the room and pointed at her with a frown. “This needs to stop, Twilight. You sitting around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t helping to fix things.”

Seemingly letting go the fact that I just kicked her door open, Twilight looked towards the window again with a sad sigh. “But what if I mess things up again? What if I make things worse?”

I stepped over to her in two long strides and grabbed her shoulders, spinning her around to look at me. “How much do your friends mean to you?”

She sniffed and said, “T-they mean everything to me.”

I continued to press my advantage as I asked, “And if they were in trouble, what would you do to help them?”

Twilight looked a little more confident, and she sat up a little straighter. “Anything. I’d do whatever I could to help them, just like they’d do for each other...and for me.” Spike and I watched as a smile overcame Twilight’s face, and some sort of strange energy gathered around her. Suddenly her eyes shot open with a slight glimmer and she jumped off of the bed. “I’ve got it! I know what to do!” Her horn lit up as she levitated an ornate chest from the corner, and we followed her downstairs as she opened the display case and placed the Elements of Harmony into the chest. “I may not be able to make them remember who they are, but I can remind them of how much they mean to each other! C’mon, we need to find one of them quick!”

I stopped at the stairs and shook my head with a smile. “No...you need to find them.”

Twilight halted at the door and turned around with a pleading look on her face. “B-but what if I need you? What if I need your help and you’re not there?”

I shook my head with a grin, showing Twilight my teeth for the first time as well. “You’ve got this, Twilight. I have faith in you.”

Her eyes widened and she stammered out, “W-what are-”

I pointed towards the door. “Help your friends first. I’ll explain it to you when you get back.”

With only a nod, Twilight and Spike left the library, off to save her most precious possessions in the world: her friends.

I walked over to the sofa and sat down, prepared to take a nap and wait for Twilight to return, but was interrupted by a tap on my shoulder. I looked to the right to see the air shimmer a bit, and a certain dark-colored alicorn to phase into visibility.

I nodded gently. “Princess Luna.”

She returned the gesture and spoke, “Jamison Smith. It appears my sister was correct in her assumption that you could succeed where dear Spike had failed.”

I rolled my eyes with a playful grin. “Can’t you just say you’re proud of me? C’mon, you’ll feel better.”

Princess Luna huffed and pouted. “Fine...I’m proud of you.” Looking over at me with a far more serious expression, she added, “Truly, you did well. I did not expect you to be able to get through to Twilight as quickly as you did, but I can honestly say I am pleased to have been mistaken.”

I chuckled and pointed at her. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re absolutely adorable with the pouty face? Like seriously, I’m having to restrain myself from scratching behind your ears like I would a cute puppy.”

She gasped indignantly. “Referring to a princess of Equestria as ‘adorable’? Perhaps you forget your place, Jamison Smith.”

I shrugged. “I never said I didn’t respect you, just that I think you’re adorable. Is that such a crime?”

Princess Luna relaxed again and sighed. “I suppose not.”

For a few moments we were both silent as we sat together before I broke the silence. “You know, it’s just you and me here right now. You don’t have to act all high-and-mighty if you don’t want to...I won’t tell anyone.”

She looked over at me and stared intently. “And what makes you believe this isn’t simply who I am?”

“Because Twilight told me that during Nightmare Night, she got to know a pony that was lonely and wanted to be known as a pony, not a princess. I think that’s who you are.” I explained, gesturing to her. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the way you behave in public is an act. It’s a shroud you cover yourself in to appear respectful and regal.”

The princess held silent for a long few moments before saying, “Let us say you are right ‒ that who I am is not what I portray to the masses. What are you suggesting?”

I smiled and gestured to myself with a wave of my hand. “I’m just a simple human, princess. I didn’t grow up hearing about the tales of Nightmare Moon, and to be honest, I’m not really all that afraid of you unless you’re trying to scare me. You don’t have reason to put up a front for me, because I’ve no reason to judge. I’ve done a lot of bad things in my past, just as we all do. To expect perfection of anyone is to expect the impossible. So if it’s what you really want, let your hair down and relax. You don’t need to impress me. Just be yourself, like you were with Twilight.”

She looked away for a moment before muttering, “Twilight is special. She sees us as no one does.”

“Only because you keep who you are hidden.” I explained. She looked back to me and I smiled. “When you’re in front of the nobles during a meeting, or at any other royal function, be the princess. When you’re with friends and family, just be Luna.”

“Just...be Luna?” she questioned, as if she were truly unsure what I meant.

I decided to drive the point home with a bit of a gamble, in hopes I wouldn’t offend her. “Yeah, just be Luna. Don’t worry about acting foolish or anything, because sometimes the most interesting people are the ones who aren’t afraid to look like an idiot. Snort when you laugh, make stupid jokes, and just enjoy yourself.”

She thought for a few moments before smiling. “That sounds like a wonderful idea, but unfortunately I must return to Canterlot.” I was about to question what she meant, but she stalled my question with a raised hoof. “All will be made clear soon, but I would like you to accompany me.”

I clicked my tongue and clarified, “To Canterlot?” Princess Luna nodded. “Why?”

“Because first and foremost, my sister will wish to hear of your success.” she explained calmly. “And secondly, because we must prepare your new clothing for the ceremony, and only Canterlot silk will do.”

I tilted my head to the side and asked, “Ceremony? What ceremony? Is someone getting married or something?”

Princess Luna giggled and shook her head. “No...this is something far more important. You have done your part, and now it is time to put the situation into Twilight’s hooves to finish. Have faith and trust me, Jamison Smith. All will be well, I promise.” She then hopped up off of the sofa and beckoned me with a jerk of her head. “Come, we must depart.”

In a bit of a daze I stood and made my way to stand beside the slightly-smaller alicorn. I felt a faint pressure of her magic being cast, and I closed my eyes as a bright flash overtook us. What felt like no amount of time later, the air seemed to have changed, as did the sound quality. There were more echoes around us, which told me we were in an enclosed space of stone-like construction.

“We have arrived.” Princess Luna stated, and I opened my eyes to see the Equestrian thrones for the first time.

Almost immediately, I was greeted by multiple spearheads aimed at my face, while an armored stallion shuffled Princess Luna off to the side.

“Guards, lower your weapons!” a powerful, commanding voice boomed throughout the room. None of the guards seemed particularly affected by the voice, other than following the orders given, but I was practically shitting myself. Only a few moments later, Princess Celestia entered my vision with a frown. “Apologies for that, Jamie. The royal guard can be somewhat overzealous at times.” She then shot a glare towards her younger sister. “Although such a thing would not have happened if Luna had arrived in front of the gates instead of the throne room.”

The younger princess’ face flushed a bit as she kicked idly at the floor. “Hehe...oops.”

The elder princess sighed and rolled her eyes before turning to me with smile. “So, welcome to Canterlot. More specifically, welcome to Canterlot Castle, where my sister and I reside.” She then turned her gaze to the twenty or so guards that were surrounding me and ordered, “Leave us.”

One of the guards stepped forward. “But Princess Ce-”

Princess Celestia’s gaze hardened into a glare as she commanded, “Do not question me, Sureshot. I order you all to leave us. We are not to be disturbed.” No further argument came from the guards as they quickly vacated the throne room, closing all the doors behind them. Princess Celestia then looked to me and sighed. “As I said, a little overzealous. I praise their loyalty, but their questioning of my ability to defend myself can wear on my nerves at times. I must remind myself often that they are but ponies, and have not seen or experienced the things I have.” She trotted over to the two thrones and sat upon the larger one of gold before removing her crown and placing it at the end-table beside her. “Now, I wish to speak with you candidly, which is why I ordered the guards to leave. There will be no titles used, and we will speak on equal terms ‒ not as ruler to subject, but simply as two people. Is that understood?”

I felt it strange that with that being the case, her words sounded a lot like an order, but I nodded my assent. “Yes.”

The mask that the princess wore most of the time seemed to fall away, and for the first time, I saw the expressions of the pony underneath. She slumped in her chair, and I could see both exhaustion and worry clear as the day itself. When she looked up at me again, I saw absolute terror in her eyes, as well as tears caused by the stress upon her gathering at the corners of her eyes. “Do you think Twilight will be alright?”

I felt my brow furrow as I looked over the princess. “Are you alright? Forgive the expression, but you’re acting like a mother frightened for her child.”

“Because I am, on both counts.” she replied sadly.

Princess Luna made her way to her sister’s side and nuzzled her gently. “Sister, what troubles you?”

Princess Celestia looked to her sister and dipped her head low in what appeared to be shame. “Did we act too quickly? Could she be in true danger right now? What if she’s not ready? What if-”

Her rambling was cut short by a navy blue hoof upon her lips, and her younger sister nuzzled her lovingly. “Sister, you must have faith in Twilight once again. She is resourceful and intelligent, and I know she will succeed.”

I began to feel awkward, as if I was witnessing something I shouldn’t be, so I made my feelings known. “Um, I can leave if you two want some time alone.”

“No!” Princess Celestia shouted in response. She then seemed to shrink a bit as she said in a much softer voice, “I-I mean no, please don’t go.”

The pure and unadulterated need in her words made me stop from retreating anymore. It was unnerving to see one of the most powerful beings on the planet so vulnerable, but if she didn’t want me to leave, I wasn’t going to. Still, if I were being asked to be privy to such a situation, I had a right to know why.

“Why me?” I queried, taking care to do so in a gentle tone so as to not upset the stressed rulers.

“Because you’ll understand the fear of loss better than any mere pony.” she answered sadly.

Her words struck me as very true, though it was painful to realize it. I lost my family, my friends, my old life, and even my world. I knew loss very well, and against all odds had avoided insanity or psychosis. Sure, I was a little jacked up here and there (more in some ways than others), but I had come out the other end alive, and not broken. I still had issues to work out with myself, as well as metaphorical demons to slay, but I could finally say with honesty that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel...and beside me were my friends.

I nodded in agreement. “I suppose I would, and I guess it would be pointless to ask what loss you’ve experienced, with how long you’ve lived. So I am assuming you’re speaking of something fairly recent, correct?” When the sun princess nodded, I thought for only a moment before it came to me. “You mean Twilight.”

The solar diarch nodded. “I am. I worry for her always, but now more than ever. You see, the letter I sent to Twilight outlined the spell as Starswirl the Bearded’s unfinished masterpiece, which he abandoned. This, however, is only partly true.”

I raised my eyebrow at this, interested in finding out what was so worrying to the princess. “What part is true and which is not?”

“Starswirl the Bearded did indeed work on that spell.” Princess Luna answered for her sister. “In fact, I helped him with it.”

The elder sister nodded. “Unfortunately, he did not abandon it willingly...it killed him.”

The severity of the situation dawned on me as I said, “So the spell that Twilight’s working on...”

Princess Celestia nodded as she placed a hoof on her forehead. “My mind knows that Twilight is more than capable of doing this,” she then moved the hoof to her chest, “but my heart fears for her safety.”

I cleared my throat as curiosity began to overcome me, demanding a question to be asked. “Forgive me if this sounds rude, but why is Twilight so important? More specifically, why is she so important to you?”

This seemed to surprise her. “W-well, she’s the Element of-”

I shook my head. “No, I mean why is Twilight Sparkle, the unicorn, so important to Celestia, the alicorn?”

The two sisters looked to each other in silent contemplation before Princess Celestia turned back to me. “What I am about to speak of you is never to leave this room. This is a request from Celestia, a pony...not a princess. Therefore, it is not an order. I am simply asking you, from one person to another, to be silent about what I am prepared to tell you.”

The princess’ request caught me off guard, as well as reminded me of just how much wisdom she had about life. She knew that an order will only be followed as long as it pertains to someone’s personal beliefs or morals. She knew, that as a human, I did not necessarily hold any loyalty to her personally. I had not been born and raised in Equestria, had not heard about the history of its people and princesses, and had not learned to love the two alicorns unconditionally as two benevolent mothers. Sure, I respected her ‒ I would be a fool not to ‒ but truth be told I would still likely side with my own people before ponies. As shitty as it made me feel about myself, it was the truth. I didn’t know if something like that might change with time or not, but I knew for a fact that the princess knew it would be worthless to appeal to my loyalty right now.

Instead, she appealed to my heart.

She had purposefully and sincerely placed us on the same social level, asking instead of ordering, and doing so as just another person instead of royalty. There was no obligation, and because of that, I felt compelled to offer my word.

I nodded gently. “Of course. If you asked me to, I wouldn’t even speak a word of this to the Creator itself.”

Gently, she smiled. “Thank you. I suppose I promised you an explanation then. You see, Twilight Sparkle is not the pony you think she is...truth be told, she’s not the pony her other friends think she is either.” Questions began running through my head, but I kept silent while the princess continued. “It is not her fault, and frankly it isn’t something she even knows. Twilight Sparkle was not born a unicorn, Jamie. She was born instead with dominion over all forms of magic...as an alicorn.”

It took me a few seconds to assimilate this new information into my mind, but then something didn’t make sense. “Well where are her wings then?”

“I transformed her body into that of a unicorn, locking her true power away until she was ready.” Princess Celestia replied sadly. “Lavish though the royal life may seem, it is a prison in many ways. Twilight deserved to live her own life, free of the oppression of the noble houses and court advisors. She deserved to become her own pony in her own time, and to live that time unfettered with the responsibilities of ruling over an entire nation.” A soft smile found itself on her face as tears glistened in the corners of her eyes. “She deserved to make true friends who love her for who she is, not what she is.”

The moving explanation even made me feel a little choke up, but one question still remained for me. “Twilight told me that only an alicorn can give birth to another alicorn, but her parents are both unicorns. So I guess my only other question is, who are her real parents?”

At this, both princesses smiled gently as Princess Celestia answered, “Her father was a stallion I knew, long ago. His name was Flash Step, and he is hailed as the first unicorn to develop a practical teleportation spell. Before him, teleportation required massive amounts of magic, usually leaving it to be a skill only usable by alicorns. Flash Step decided to work on the existing spell, making it far more efficient at drawing power from the leylines, and created a version that could be magically throttled, allowing the distance to decide the magic use, instead of one large amount of magic used for any distance. Unfortunately for him, the gestation period for an alicorn lasts for nearly fifty years, and so he did not live to see the birth of his daughter.”

When she was silent for a few moments, I asked, “And the mother?”

Princess Celestia’s smile became much more loving as she replied, “You’re looking at her.”

Suddenly, Princess Luna glanced out one of the windows in the distance and smiled. “Sister, look towards Ponyville.”

Princess Celestia did as she was told, and smiled when we all noticed the cloud cover had abated, and we could hear the faintest cheers, even from so far away. She then stood and donned her regal mask and crown once again, nodding to the both of us. “I must depart. I will return in the evening. Until then, be well.” Her horn then lit up in a golden aura and she disappeared in a flash of light.

Without much else to do, I decided to simply await her return. My part in this grand spectacle had been played, so now the game was out of my hands.

The night princess glanced at me a few times before asking, “So, would you wish to play chess?”

I smiled and nodded. “Sounds good, princess.”

Author's Note:

Many of you were asking questions as to the tags, namely the lack of an A/U tag when no points of reference as far as canon had happened yet. Well, this will be the first. Things will happen slightly differently, as you will see, but the end result will be much the same...with a few differences, of course.