• Published 9th Nov 2013
  • 3,478 Views, 243 Comments

Adjacency - Frission



Obsessed with uncovering the magic responsible for creating the portal mirror she used to recover her crown, Twilight eventually manages to create a gateway to a series of worlds one step removed from her own.

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Chapter 3: Mirror, Mirror

Having recovered from Trixie’s awkward introduction, which had somewhat embarrassingly been answered with grumbling stomachs a few seconds later, Twilight, Trixie and Spike had moved their conversation onwards into the kitchen. Trixie sat there at the small dining table with a steaming cup of tea in front of her, choosing her words with hesitation as she explained why she was here. The whole time she felt like she was fighting with a voice in her mind, a part of her which was convinced she sounded utterly foalish, but she pressed on anyways.

Spike sat across from her, licking a large emerald between bouts of trying to give Trixie his most scrutinizing glare. Twilight, for her part, just listened attentively to the story while she fixed everyone some azalea sandwiches and tea. Her pale purple aura was wrapped around a half dozen ingredients, condiments and plates at a time, creating an aerial dance as the lunch was assembled.

“Spike, stop that.” Twilight interrupted, catching him resuming his glare at their guest.

“Sorry...” grumbled Spike, nibbling a corner off of his gem, but not taking his attention off of Trixie.

“…Anyways,” continued Trixie, clearing her throat before finishing her thought on the subject, “I figured after last time, you would probably be the only one who’d believe me.”

Twilight nodded, setting down lunch in front of everyone and finally taking a seat herself. “I suppose you might be right about that... You did run off before saying anything to the others, and their attention was all on the show for the ponies from Saddle Arabia anyways. So why come back now?”

Trixie took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. This was the hardest question for her to answer, and she didn’t want to sound as self-centered about it as she used to. “Well, I suppose I just felt that I had to face up to the past so I can finally put it behind me. Plus, my reputation has been in shambles since the first time we met, and it just got worse when I tried to get… revenge… last time…”

Trixie looked up at Twilight ashamedly. “Again, I really, really am sorry about that.”

Twilight half frowned at that, but nodded. “It’s alright, I forgave you back then.”

Trixie smiled weakly. “Thank you, Sparkle.”

Twilight fought off an urge to roll her eyes, keeping a neutral expression and deciding not to press the name issue.

“Oh come on!” Spike abruptly yelled, causing both mares to turn and stare at him. “Don’t tell me you believe her, Twilight! Have you even listened to how she’s talking? It’s all ‘I’ this and ‘Me’ that, Trixie doesn’t talk like that!” He paused, glaring daggers at Trixie again. “It’s gotta be a changeling in disguise, trying to get your trust, and then BAM!” he smacked his little fists together for emphasis. “Only one of them could get Trixie so wrong!”

Twilight groaned loudly and brought a hoof to her forehead. “Spike…” But when she looked back to Trixie, her heart sank.

Trixie had gone rigid in her seat, bristling at the accusations that had been hurled her way, while the hair of her tail began to stand on end. Trixie’s left eyelid started twitching, her irises narrowed to pinpricks, and the corners of her mouth curved down into a deep scowl. Twilight hadn’t seen a look like that on anypony’s face since the time Applejack had tried to back out of a Pinkie Promise, and the memory brought back a shiver.

’Oh horseapples...’ thought Twilight.

Trixie was suddenly standing on her chair, her front hooves planting on the edge of the table indignantly. “You..! You!” she strangled out in a growl, “The Humble and Apologetic Trixie travels halfway across Equestria to make amends, and you dare insult her by calling Trixie a- a BUG?! You want to know why Trixie doesn’t speak like this anymore?! Fine, Trixie will tell you why! It’s because— because…”

Then to everypony’s shock and relief it was over, just like that. All the emotion slowly drained out of Trixie’s face as she slumped back into her seat, staring at her tea sullenly. Everyone remained silent for a few minutes, while Twilight looked on with concern. She finally decided to be the first to break the silence.

“Feel better?” she gently inquired. Trixie nodded just a little bit.

“Good.” Twilight turned and caught Spike’s attention, who was still recovering from the sudden tirade. “And Spike, she’s not a changeling or anything silly like that. I felt her magic when I dispelled her illusion: there’s no doubt she’s the real Trixie. Changeling magic feels, I don’t know, greasy.” She stuck out her tongue as the vague sensation creeped up from the back of her memory.

“Ohhhhh, okay.” Spike sniffed, puffing his chest out again. He tried inserting a little humor to restore the mood in the room. “I guess your story checks out.”

Twilight reached over and ruffled Spike’s spines gently, getting a chuckle out of the little guy. Trixie looked back up as well with a hint of amusement on her face, her pink aura levitating her sandwich to her face so she could finally give it a nibble.

“By the way… a cuckoo clock?” Twilight smirked, not even trying to hide her amusement over that, which got a sheepish look and a blush from her guest in response.

“Eheh... Trixie panicked?”

Twilight’s response was a bubbly, lighthearted giggle that spread quickly around the table. Spike and then Trixie joined in, and all three of them ended up laughing over their lunches for a while.

The mood in the library had improved dramatically. Tea, sandwiches and two emeralds had vanished over small talk, and Spike was busily cleaning up the kitchen after everyone. The two ponies walked back into the large main room, still overflowing with books and papers strewn chaotically about. They had been discussing possible solutions for repairing Trixie’s reputation as they left the remnants of lunch behind, but Twilight had to stop as she truly took in the state of her home. With fresh eyes from her day of relaxation, she realized that in pursuing her latest research obsession, she’d really let the state of her home get out of hand.

“Wow… It kinda looks like Discord came through here riding a paper tornado, doesn’t it?” remarked Twilight.

Trixie snorted, “Discord? I would think if that was the case, there wouldn’t be anything left standing!”

“No, no, he’d probably leave the towers of books all over the place like this when he’s done. To him, that’d be the joke.”

Trixie blinked at that, looking over at the bemused expression on Twilight’s face. “Oh. Oh right, I forgot you’ve actually met that creature, haven’t you?”

Trixie looked back around the room as Twilight nodded. She heard the princess starting to say something on the subject, but Trixie tuned it out, her attention elsewhere. She walked over to the papers that had caught her interest previously, before Twilight's earlier commotion had startled her into attempting to hide. Diagrams depicting various runes arranged into analysis seals and notes about magic identification covered the desk, all in Twilight’s meticulous hornwriting. On the wall behind the desk had been taped up a giant scroll of parchment, with images of the mirror currently stored in the basement drawn from four angles. Lines pointed to parts of the images with even more notes attached to those, but most of them were more questions rather than hard data.

“…and then we – Trixie, are you even listening?”

“Hm? Oh, sorry Sparkle. I’ve been meaning to ask you, though. What were all those explosions I heard on my way into town?” She paused, sniffing the air deliberately. “There haven’t been any more since my arrival, and this place smells… burnt. Trixie deduces that you had something to do with it? Or this?” she waved a hoof towards the giant diagram on the wall.

“Eheh, explosions? You don’t… say?” Twilight’s voice subconsciously went high and nervous, then after a moment she sagged in defeat. “They were that loud?”

“What exactly have you been working on?” Trixie raised a brow.

As Twilight stared at Trixie, her eyes went wide and bright, and a smile that could rival one of Pinkie Pie’s best spread across her face. She realized she had someone here who she could not only tell all about her research, which made her giddy enough at the thought, but would probably even understand it! At least, most of it!

Trixie backed up nervously as the princess approached her, wondering if she had enough magic to teleport away.

“Twi? Where are y— oh. Figures I’d find you two down here...”

Spike scampered down the wooden stairway leading into the basement laboratory. He had just found Princess Twilight Sparkle standing in front of the familiar mirror, lecturing a mile a minute with a giddy smile on her face to a somewhat uncomfortable looking Trixie. Twilight was in the middle of making some bizarre gesture with her wings and hooves while she regaled her guest with the story of her most recent adventure, and Trixie’s eyes had gone wide.

“The crown can do what!?” he overheard their guest say, not really paying attention as he straightened up the sandbags that formed the line of the ‘Safety Zone’, as Twilight called it. He had a feeling this was going to get used again pretty soon, and started getting more sandbags from the back to shore it up.

An hour later, Fort Spike was complete, and the little dragon looked up at his makeshift bunker with pride. Meanwhile, Twilight had finally finished her lecture about the mirror, their adventure to the human world, and all of the research she had done since then trying to understand how it worked. Trixie had a few questions of her own, and the two had been going back and forth for a while.

“So you want to find out what makes this portal work,” Trixie stated matter-of-factly. “Have you any idea who made it in the first place?”

“Well, no. Honestly I haven’t found who created it in any of the books I’ve dug up on the subject. The mirror predates our lives by centuries, and nopony alive has published any findings on this type of magic, to my knowledge. I thought the Princesses might have made it, but neither Celestia nor Luna knew where it came from either.”

“And you said the explosions happened every time you try to scry or analyze the incantations?”

“That’s right...” sighed Twilight.

“Hmmm...” Trixie’s horn lit up, her pink aura lifting up a diagram depicting the circle of runes Twilight had been using to analyze the mirror. She looked it over for a while, eventually tilting her head to the side and raising an eyebrow. “This is a new generation of thaumic ring. I’m impressed, Sparkle. Or I would be if it worked.”

Twilight frowned, and Trixie caught her mistake, dropping the haughty look that had formed on her face in favor of an apologetic one. “Sorry, old habits. Perhaps Trixie could observe an attempt? Maybe you need a focus to absorb excess energy?”

“Hmm… I think you’re on to something there…” Twilight cocked an eye towards Trixie, surprised the idea had come from her. “You know, I’m honestly surprised you were able to follow all that. Most unicorns don’t extend their studies toward identification spells, let alone artifact research. Since when did you know so much about artifice?”

Trixie looked away, not really wanting to look at Twilight all of a sudden. “Well, I didn’t just walk into a corner store and pick up the Alicorn Amulet, you know. Well, okay, technically I did, but still!”

Twilight gave Trixie a puzzled look, but the blue mare continued. “I spent months researching ways to get back at you. For a while my most promising idea was creating a magical amplifier of my own design, but then when I was researching that, the Amulet popped up on my radar, and I eventually tracked it down. I learned quite a bit about all kinds of artifacts and how they work in pursuit of my own research, though. Not much else to do working on a rock farm…”

“Oh, that reminds me,” she continued. “Pinkamena’s parents told me to say ‘hi’ for them.”

“Pinkamena? You mean Pinkie Pie? You worked on that rock farm?” Twilight blinked in disbelief.

Trixie nodded. “Nice ponies, really. Rather boring, but they took me in when I needed work. Anyways, I believe we were discussing the idea of a focus object?”

Twilight looked encouraged by the idea. Trixie scanned around the room, but found nothing suitable. Twilight followed her gaze and realized what she was thinking. “Oh, that’s right, I haven’t ordered the custom mirror yet I’d need to fill that role. The only other mirrors in the house are in my bedroom and bathroom, and neither would be able to hold that amount of power without shattering.”

Trixie shook her head. “I have an idea about that, actually. A large part of my old act involved mirrors, and there’s a rather big one in my trailer that just might work!”

“Really? That’s great! Let’s go have a look at it!” With a bright violet flash the two vanished, teleporting outside to Trixie’s wagon. In her excitement to make progress on her research, the odd emphasis Trixie put on the word ‘old’ failed to register in Twilight’s mind.

The mirror was enormous, easily as large as the portal Twilight had brought back from the Crystal Empire. It was a tall rectangle rather than the portal’s oval shape, with a thick, solid oak frame as wide as a hoof supporting it on all sides. The wood was painted a dark midnight blue, and the constellations of the night sky were embossed at regular intervals upon the wood, painted in a pale sky blue that matched Trixie’s coat color. The top supported a single large topaz surrounded by an elaborate and pointy wooden setting, designed to make the whole thing look like a shining star sitting atop a night sky.

Getting it into the lab had been a simple matter of Twilight extending her teleportation spell to envelop it, though levitating it into a proper position had been another matter entirely; That sucker was heavy! Still, it was definitely sturdy, and the gem theoretically would ensure a suitable focus. Twilight estimated the topaz had roughly the same mass as the combined gems in the existing portal’s frame, though she didn’t know if that was a requirement for the enchantment yet. She looked over the frame of the dormant portal again, studying the gems closer. They had originally been a soft pink color, but since going dormant had shifted to sapphire blue instead.

Everything was in place now. The thaumic ring had been redrawn around the portal’s base. The two unicorns had cast every protective spell they could think of to shore up Trixie’s mirror against damage from any magical backlash. Artificial ley lines had been drawn across the lab floor to channel the excess energy into the mirror, and Spike and Trixie were taking cover in ‘Fort Spike’ to observe.

Twilight looked around the room and nodded. “Is everypony ready?”

“Ready, Twi!” beamed Spike confidently, while he equally confidently put on his favorite helmet and dove behind the sandbags again.

“Ready, Sparkle!”

Twilight’s horn began to glow, softly at first, but the glow rapidly grew stronger and brighter as she focused on the spell forming in her mind. She’d donned her crown before she began, and the Element of Magic began to glow softly in response to the spell being channeled through her horn. One by one the glyphs on the floor surrounding the portal began to light up, spreading their light around the ring before her. As they did, the formula it represented flitted through her mind, each rune granting her a deeper understanding of the magic that filled her world for but an instant.

She strained under the exertion but kept on pushing, the light surrounding her horn growing brighter and more intense. ’Almost there…’ she thought as the patterns continued to light up. As the outer ring completed its circuit, the light began to shoot through the runes towards the inner rings at an exponentially increasing rate. Magic began pulsing in the air, filling it with an audible thrum that sounded like a heartbeat. Twilight opened her eyes, and all that was there were fields of white.

“This is where she lost it the last five times!” shouted Spike, diving for cover.

The heartbeat turned erratic. The expansion of the light through the thaumic ring slowed to a crawl, struggling to make it to the last handful of runes. Twilight desperately dug into the deepest wells of her magical reserves, but to her those last few inches may have been miles, forever just out of reach. A high pitched whine filled the air followed by a deep, fierce rumbling, and Twilight braced herself. She’d failed again.

“I’ve got you!”

All at once the world rushed back to her, and it was still in one piece. The spell hadn’t collapsed, she was still holding on somehow. In fact, the burden seemed lighter than before. Twilight opened her glowing eyes, scanning for what variable had changed to make the equation work only to find it right next to her. Trixie, standing there with a wild grin on her face, was pouring all of her magic into supporting the spell right next to her!

Twilight returned the grin and turned back to the glowing circle before her, magic practically erupting from her horn in a grand torrent as she poured power into the final runes, and the light snapped into place on the inner ring. Just like that, all the resistance Twilight had been pushing against faded like a wall had dropped away in front of her.

As soon as the spell completed, the portal was a surrounded with a breathtaking sight. A perfect sphere of pink magic glowed and pulsed in rings and abstract patterns around the mirror, forming a spectacular mobius strip of information flowing around and through the artifact. Twilight sucked in a breath as an arcane symbol brushed past her mane; the knowledge filling the room was literally tangible. She immediately set to work, levitating over a quill and parchment and began recording everything she saw. Everything she suddenly somehow knew. The identification was filling her mind with everything she could possibly want to know about the portal and how its magic worked, and she scribed it down fervently upon her scroll, not wanting to waste a moment.

“Uh… Sparkle?” rose a voice next to her, but Twilight was too engrossed in her writing to notice.

“Twilight…”

“Not now, Trixie, I have to get all this down if I’m going to—“

Princess!

Twilight blinked at the address as she looked to her right, and nearly yelped in surprise. Trixie’s horn was crackling and the mare looked about to collapse from strain. Sparks were flying all over the place, and the brightly shining pink aura shooting from her horn was flickering, threatening to go out. The identification spell had gone into a feedback loop.

“Horseapples…” Twilight cursed herself. She’d dropped the spell without realizing Trixie would have to support it all on her own! She magically lobbed the scroll of her notes back to Spike’s bunker, and then leaned back over to Trixie to try to reestablish the spell before it was too late. Then everything went wrong at once.

Twilight’s head was still full of all the spell formulas she’d been observing, and she miscast her spell.

Trixie staggered from exhaustion and bumped roughly into Twilight’s side.

The Element of Magic fell from Twilight’s head, hitting both of their horns at the same time, forming a connection between the two for just a moment.

The world turned white. And the whiteness tasted like snozberries.

Author's Note:

As you can see, I'm experimenting with a new image to go in the break between scenes. What do you guys think? This beautiful line break was customized for me by Minifig, and if it goes over well I think I'm going to add it retroactively to the other chapters. :twilightsmile:

Update: And so I did! :pinkiehappy:

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