• Published 23rd Aug 2013
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Sweetie Belle Gains a Soul - Bad Dragon



In her darkest hour, Sweetie Belle finds salvation, but with it comes a terrible curse.

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23 - Detection Spell

She sighed. “Sweetie Belle, passing the magic tests is commendable, but you shouldn’t attempt it by any means necessary! I would’ve appreciated it more if you’d passed the hidden test.”

“What hidden test?”

“Having magic at your disposal is neat, but the actions you take are the ones that actually count. You need to be responsible.” She looked at me as if she was expecting an answer.

I didn’t react because there was no question in any of the stuff she said. I cocked my head as I observed her, waiting for an actual question.

“I’m not sure I’m getting through to you, Sweetie Belle…”

“Can you teach me the gem-finding spell now?” I blurted out.

She raised both eyebrows, then sighed as she bowed her head. “I don’t think you’re ready to learn any more magic.”

“But I passed your stinking test!”

“You passed all the magic tests, but your raw abilities aren’t the ones being called into question.” She sighed. “Then again, detection spells are the most harmless ones.” She put a hoof under her chin and looked up in the air. “You couldn’t abuse the spells from this field of magic even if you tried to.” She half-closed her eyes as she glanced at me. “I would rather await a future where you’re detecting your surroundings instead of harmfully impacting them.”

“Is that a yes? Did I make you agree?” I held my breath in anticipation.

“Yes, I’ll show it to you, but—”

“Yay!” I jumped on the spot. “Gem, gem, finding gem; I’m gonna learn to find a gem!”

“…but I don’t think you have enough focus to pull off the detection. It takes painstaking discipline to detect a disturbance in your magic fields.”

I charged my horn. “I’m focused” I spun about, flattening the surrounding ground with fully charged channels. “I’m detecting…”

“No, Sweetie Belle, you’re not!” She facehooved. “Your channels are charged. That’s not how you cast a detection spell.”

“How then?” I sat down and crossed my forelegs on the chest.

“Hold still for a second and pay attention. I’ll show it to you.”

“Can I try it?” I asked.

“I haven’t shown it to you yet.”

“Oh, okay. Can you show it to me, then?”

“Ugh! Just watch.” She turned away from the castle, toward the vast meadow. After closing her eyes, she lit up her horn. Nothing around her changed. She stood there without moving a muscle.

I walked in an arch around the purple statue. The smell of the rotten egg was a bit less intense when I kept the stinker downwind.

“It seems Spike made a stash of gems.” She finally spoke. “Several of them, in fact.” Her horn light faded. “I thought he was kidding when he mentioned preparations for a trotting dead zombie apocalypse, but now I’m not so sure anymore.”

“Did you detect them?”

“Mhm.” She smiled.

“Where are they?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” Twilight leaned closer. “Do you want to feel them out?” She bit her lip.

I nodded maniacally.

“Okay, here’s how you do it. First, you extend the channels around you.”

I turned the way she was facing, lighting up my horn as much as I could. Charged shields formed before me.

“However, instead of charging your channels, you let them flow freely.”

I decreased the magic force and the shield dissipated, but I still kept my channels spread out.

“Good. Now you need to flatten your channels. Make them as thin and straight as you can. That’s the main requirement for detecting interference from any magic-imbued object.”

I did as she said. I spread out my channels in the straight plain above the ground. They were curved a bit. If I pushed my inner flow through them, I could straighten them, but I wasn’t supposed to do that. I tried my best to flatten all the curves with my focus alone.

“The next step is the easiest and the hardest at the same time. You’re already casting the detection spell to its full extent, but that’s not what pinpoints the gems. For that, you need to use your mind. The gems have inner magic by themselves. Those energies should affect your fields by slightly pushing them away. When you try to force them back down, you encounter slight resistance. It’s kind of like detecting a feather on your coat, except that you’re using your channels to feel it out instead of your hair.”

When I mentally followed the spread out channels, I didn’t sense any bumps. There were just a few random curvatures that stayed flattened after I fixed them. “How far are the gems?”

“They’re closer than you think. If you calm your mind enough, you should be able to sense the bumps in your channels.”

“I can’t detect any bumps.”

“Well, they’re not actually bumps. When you focus on them, they should feel as a rounded flatness; like when the wind flows against a drying sheet.”

I puckered my face. “My channels are straight. There is no roundness.” I cut off my magic and looked at her.

“Hmm…” She put a hoof under her chin. “Let me try something.” Her legs spread out and horn charged up. “Ngh!” The color of her aura changed from translucent purple to dark bubbly purple. It was the same kind of magic that I used—Alicorn magic. She closed her eyes and stood still. Her face was tense, not like when she used her normal magic. She struggled but kept up the darkly aura without letting off.

I blocked the sun with a hoof as I looked up. From the angle of my raised foreleg, I concluded that there was quite a bit of time left before the evening when I was expected to be home. Still, I hadn’t even written that day’s homework yet. We were supposed to write a story, and I didn’t know how much time that would take me. You can’t force writing…

The impatient part of me grew stronger by the moment. I struggled to keep my whining reflexes at bay. My eyes shifted back to the living statue as I sighed out of increasing boredom. She was still at it. “What are you even doing?” I whined

She shook her head and the dark aura around her horn dissipated. Her face grimaced as she looked at me. “Sweetie Belle, you should sit down for this.”

“For what?” I lowered my behind to the ground.

“Remember when I told you there isn’t any practical limitation if you use Alicorn magic instead of the normal kind?”

I nodded. “You said it was more awesome.”

“I said that the channels of this spectrum offer less resistance. That’s usually a good thing, but with detection spells, it’s the very resistance that allows you to find them.”

“Whaa…?” I pinned my ears. I couldn’t believe she was dissing my magic.

“I tried. I really did, but I couldn’t sense anything. The energies from the gems don’t interfere with Alicorn magic. Now that I think about it, I’ve read this somewhere. It might have even been in the book that you found lacking—”

“What are you saying?” I raised my voice and stood on all fours.

“You can’t detect gems with Alicorn magic. I’m sorry.”

“No! That can’t be. It’s better in every way! You’re wrong!” I pointed a hoof at her accusingly. “Maybe you should have focused more.”

“Sweetie Belle, calm down. What we cannot do matters little; it’s the actions we take that count. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to perform this particular feat. There are loads of other spells that you can use to their full effect.”

Air puffed from my nostrils. “I want to learn this one!”

“You can’t cast gem detection spell, Sweetie Belle. Not with Alicorn magic.”

“I’ll try again.” I lit my horn and charged my magic channels.

“It’s no use, Sweetie Belle. With no field interruption, there’s no gem detection. It’s a simple concept.”

“Can you stop talking, please. I want to concentrate here!” I closed my eyes and spread out my channels.

She sighed. “Fine… Do your thing if that’s what it takes to get it out of your system.”

The channels, parallel to the surrounding ground, flattened under the guidance of my focus. A follow-up burst of inner flow straightened them. When the energies on my magic surface dissipated, I mentally followed the flatness through the air. My teeth clenched. I couldn’t sense anything.

Twilight interrupted, “Gems don’t interact—”

“Shh!” I banged a hoof in frustration. Perhaps if I focused more... I stuck out my tongue and bit at it. Roundness, roundness, where are you? There was a patch of slightly curved channel lines. They weren’t round, though; just wiggly.

I tensed my muscles and sent another shock wave through my channels to straighten the irregularities.

“You’re forcing it,” Twilight commented.

The burst went through, but it seemed to dissipate a little when excess energy passed through the patch. The resulting void felt like the reverse of an echo. I wouldn’t consider the siphon to be an exception, though. In my perception, everything else around the spot was off. Focusing on that point felt cozy. Looming on that energy siphon was like resting in the comfort of my home.

After releasing my inner flow through my channels, I focused on the energies.

Twilight sighed. “You’re forming shields again…”

I ignored her jabber and charged the channels even more. They thickened all over, but not so much on the fuzzy patch. I turned around, narrowing and lowering my channels down to the grass. There was even less magic on the blemish of my channel when my fields neared the ground. Something was absorbing them from below!

“And you’re facing the wrong way...”

“There!” Without opening my eyes, I aimed a hoof forth at the corresponding spot,

“You’re pointing at random, Sweetie Belle…”

“It’s there! I can detect it.”

“There’s nothing on that spot, but if you really must know, one stash of gems is buried just beside me. Can we stop with this charade now?”

I checked around Twilight. If there was an energy siphon near her, I couldn’t sense it. There was nothing of interest around her. She was just trying to distract me from the truth!

“No!” I pointed a hoof in the right direction again. “It’s there!” When my channels lowered right to the ground, I could almost feel the shape buried below. It was a grain, just under the surface.

“Sweetie Belle, you’re setting yourself for disappointment. There. Is. Nothing. On. That. Spot.”

“You’re wrong!” I focused my charged channels to the area, forcing the burst through the ground. My energies flowed toward it freely, as if they were attracted by the sweet nugget under the surface. After forming a telekinetic shield around the small stony structure, I ripped it out of the clenching earth, setting it free.

I opened my eyes and floated the object before my instructor’s confused face. “See!” What I held was much more than a mere grain. It was a translucent rock, nearly the size of Twilight’s butt cheek.

She slowly closed her gaping mouth. “That… That’s not a gem, Sweetie Belle… It’s a crystal.”

“I told you something was there.”

“Crystals don’t vibrate in response to magic energies. In fact, they absorb them. How in Equestria did you manage to find one?”

“It called for me,” I said simply.

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “It called for you?”

I nodded and smiled.

“This is most peculiar.” Twilight puckered her forehead. “I guess I’ll have to free up some of my time to study the nature of crystals some more.” She turned to the castle. “It will have to wait, though.” She waved me closer with a hoof. “Come. I want to give you something.” She paused. “A reward for finishing all the magic tests and giving me a newfound appreciation for crystals.”

I floated the precious into my embrace and caressed its slick surface. It was beautiful. Who cares about stupid gems, anyway? Crystals are the new black!

“Just put the thing back where you found it. We don’t want anypony chafing a hoof on one of the edges.” She shook her head and whispered to herself, “Crystals don’t emanate energies. With no field interruption, there’s no detection! But how could she find one then? Ugh, this doesn’t make any sense!”

It felt wrong to depart from my Edgy, but I didn’t want to carry it all around, either. If I ever felt lonely, I could just dig up another crystal to hug. Finding them wouldn’t be a problem anymore. My detection capabilities were even superior to Twilight’s.

“Okay,” I said as I floated the darkly stone back to where I found it. The crystal didn’t fit inside. Its size was much bigger than the hole I had pulled it out of.

I shrugged my shoulders and formed another shield on the ground, grabbing the hole with a bunch of earth around it. I softly lay the crystal in the cradle and covered it up with a blanket of earth. The surface on that spot had been flat before. It was anything but flat as I jumped over it. I glanced back at the big hump of earth. It looked sweet; kind of like a grave pile.

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