• Published 9th Nov 2013
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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 4: Linked by an Endless Thread

A pair of eyes struggled to open in the darkness.

Spike was the first to wake up. At least, he thought he must have been, considering the deafening silence filling the air. His eyes blinked open, but it was hard to see. All of the normal lights in the room had gone out, but still he could see a source of light coming from nearby. Flickers of orange danced on the walls of the lab, casting strangely shifting shadows all about. The sound of something crackling made its way to his ears, and he sat up groggily behind his ruined fortress of sandbags.

“Nnnhh… What happened? Gir…ls?” the little dragon’s eyes widened as he trailed off, taking in the scene before him fully.

Trixie’s mirror was shining brightly, an eerie blue-white light pooling out from where the reflective surface used to be. Twin tracks of fire were burning in a curved path across the floor between the two mirrors, right where the artificial ley lines drawn between them used to be. The inch-tall flames were already starting to go out on their own, smoldering and dying out a little at a time, while thankfully showing no sign of spreading.

With the exception of the one scroll Twilight had managed to lob over to Spike before things went sideways, everything in the room that wasn’t nailed down had been blasted against the walls. It was as though a shockwave had erupted outwards from the spot the girls had been standing minutes before.

Two ponies, he realized, who were nowhere to be found.

The last of the twin fire trails flickered and went out, and his brain finally registered what he was seeing. “Oh no… Oh no, no, no! Twilight?! Trixie!” he bellowed, starting to panic. “Where are you?! Oh no… I have to tell the others! I have to tell the Princesses!! I have to… to…”

Tears started to stream down his cheeks, and Spike dashed up the stairs, bolting for the nearest exit. He was running as fast as his little legs could carry him, fearing the worst and desperately crying out for somepony who could help.

Rarityyyy-hyyy-hyyyyy!

A pair of eyes slowly fluttered open in the light.

It was colder than Twilight remembered from the last time she was awake. She could feel a breeze around her, and the sounds of leaves rustling gently drifted down from above. The grass, though cold, felt soft beneath her prone body, and she could hear the relaxing sounds of water flowing through a stream. ‘Outside…?’ For some reason the light hurt her eyes, forcing her to squint against it as she awakened.

Definitely outside, she could tell now. The alicorn glanced cautiously at her surroundings, but winced as she tried to open her eyes. Everything was a mass of blurs and colors. She vaguely recognized that she was at the edge of the town square, lying under a tree near a somewhat familiar looking park bench. But the more she woke up and her eyes adjusted to the light, the harder a headache began to pound and torment her conscious mind, spreading out from the base of her horn. It felt like some insidious thing was taking root inside her brain. She groaned and nursed her forehead with a hoof, deciding against trying to get up just yet.

“Ungh… How did I get out here?” she wondered out loud, eyes still blinking blearily as they adjusted to the scenery.

"Shhhshhshh... Trixie has a Great and Powerful migraine..."

“Trixie?” Twilight looked up, craning her neck around to spot her friend, which just brought the headache swimming around in her skull again as though something were loose inside it. “Ugh… yeah, so do I…” she winced. “What happened?”

“Nnhh… How should I know? Oww… Where are we? Ugh, I’ve still got that strange taste in my mouth...”

Twilight’s eyes finally started to work right again, the lines and edges of the world sliding back into focus, and she winced again; not just from the pain in her skull, but from what she saw. Trixie was laying sprawled on her side a few feet away, and her cloak had gone missing. She wasn’t moving much other than nursing her head, apparently suffering from the same mind-piercing migraine, and now Twilight could see why. The showmare's horn was blackened and singed, and sparks of magic flew pitifully from it at random intervals, like a dying sparkler. She winced, logic drawing her to an uncomfortable conclusion, and tried to look up at her own horn. Hers was in the same sorry state.

“Well… I don’t know why, but for some reason that spell sent us out to the middle of town.” she murmured, just loud enough so Trixie could hear her clearly enough. “Weird, this is my favorite bench, maybe that has to do with its choice of destination?”

Trixie just groaned in reply, muttering a barely comprehensible sound of recognition that yes, words had indeed been spoken at her.

Twilight’s tongue tingled, and she tasted that strange flavor from before, slowly fading from her lips. She blinked, raising a brow in surprise. “...Muffins?”

“Nnnnhh…?”

“Trixie? Oww… We better go see a doctor.”

“Mhhhhh….” agreed Trixie.

Spike sat curled up on Rarity’s fainting couch inside Carousel Boutique, while a handkerchief wrapped in a blue aura dabbed at his cheeks to dry his tears. When he had run into the shop wailing as though the world had come to an end, Rarity knew immediately that trouble was brewing. She had sent her little sister to gather their friends, and had spent the time since then consoling the poor dear.

“Shhhh. There, there, please calm down my little Spikey-wikey?” cooed Rarity. “Oh something simply dreadful must have happened to put you in this state! Never worry, we shall do our best to make it all better.”

Spike nodded up to her, eventually uncurling himself back into a sitting position, sniffling quietly as the last of his tears were dried by the silk cloth. The shop’s bell rang behind them, Sweetie Belle trotting in with four colorful mares in tow.

“Hey sis, we’re back!” called Sweetie, walking up and giving her big sis a nuzzle. “Is Spike doing any better?” she asked, peering around to see him.

“Yeah, what happened little guy?” asked Rainbow Dash, flying up to the couch, with Fluttershy, Applejack and Pinkie Pie not far behind, each looking concerned for their young friend. Spike looked up Rarity, who was showing him her most caring and supportive smile.

“T-Twilight! And Trixie! They’re… they b-both… disappeared!” he stammered, looking up at them with trembling eyes.

“Twilight?” “Disappeared?” “Huh? Trixie’s back?” “Oh my…” the girls began, talking over each other as they voiced their confusion.

Dash was the first to snap out of it, darting over to take Spike by the shoulders and looking him in the eye, her own going wide. “Wait, that no-good Trixie did what to Twilight?”

Spike however had finally snapped out of his distressed state and was shaking his head at Rainbow. “N-no! Trixie didn’t do anything, she’s good now! At least, I don’t think she did anything… She came back, apologizing, and… and…”

He sighed, motioning his hands downward as he got Dash to step back finally, her head cocked to one side with a befuddled expression evident. Taking a deep breath, he looked to each of his friends. “Alright, sit down and get comfortable, everypony. It’s a long story. I guess it started this morning...”

Twilight winced as Nurse Redheart applied a soothing ointment to her horn, and began wrapping it up in a large cloth bandage. She and Trixie were sitting in a modestly sized examination room, part of the clinical wing of the Ponyville Hospital. Trixie’s horn had already been soothed and treated by the nurse, and she sat on an exam bed while sipping a glass of water. Doctor Stable, an earth pony stallion with a heart monitor cutie mark, whose mane and coat reminded Twilight of caramels for some reason, stood nearby examining their charts.

“Well, Miss Sparkle, we’re still not sure what exactly happened to put you and your friend in this state. As far as we can tell, you both overused your magic to an order of magnitude higher than any normal case of magic exhaustion we’ve ever seen!” He paused, raising a brow and giving the alicorn mare a searching look. “What exactly were you two doing?”

Twilight twitched nervously, wincing when her movement interrupted the nurse’s ministrations on her horn. “Aheh, well, I was experimenting with identifying an artifact, and Trixie helped me hold the spell together… but I guess we messed it up. I still don’t know what happened exactly, but that’s when we woke up in the middle of town and found ourselves like this.”

“Hmmm…” replied Dr. Stable, his mouth dropping into a small frown. “Well, the good news is there wasn’t any irreparable damage. You should both be back to your old selves in a few days, but until your next appointment I’m going to have to forbid either of you from using magic. Do you understand me, young ladies?”

Trixie nodded sullenly, wincing at his words. Twilight wasn’t sure whether she was still in pain, or recoiling as though the mare expected to be shouted at any second. “Yes, doctor.” they spoke in unison, with different degrees of confidence.

The doctor smiled back to them. “Good to hear. Now I’ll set up an appointment to check up on your horns three days from now, and we’ll go from there.” He nodded, putting the charts back in place before turning to leave the room.

Nurse Redheart finished working on Twilight’s horn and smiled softly to the young princess. “There we go, dear. Does that feel better?”

Twilight nodded slowly and smiled back, the migraine she was suffering from before no longer present thanks to the powerful combination of healing magic and medicine they had been given. “Much better, thank you.”

“And how are you feeling?” the nurse turned to Trixie with the same pleasant smile, helping her get a fresh glass of water.

“Much better, thank you. Really, Trixie appreciates how kind everypony has been to her, considering what sh-- what I did to you and everypony else last time I was here…” she frowned, looking down into her fresh glass.

“Huh?” blinked Redheart, looking genuinely puzzled. “I’m sorry sweetie, but I don’t remember you ever doing any wrong by me. Even if that was the case, all of us doctors and nurses swear an oath to help anypony we can, regardless of how we feel.”

Both of the unicorns balked at this reaction, Trixie’s jaw nearly hitting the floor. “But… But… you don’t recognize the Great and Powerful Trixie?”

Nurse Redheart simply tilted her head at an angle and put a hoof to her chin, thinking back as far as she could. “Hmmm… No I don’t… Oh!” she smiled. “That’s right, weren’t you that nice rock farmer that lives north of here? Funny, I could’ve sworn you were an earth pony.”

She shrugged and turned to leave the room, waving a hoof goodbye at the girls, who were too busy staring at each other in disbelief to notice. “Now you two take it easy, you can leave whenever you’re ready.”

Trixie put down her water and hopped off the bed, looking up at Twilight, who followed suit as the two began to walk towards the door. “What… just happened?”

“I don’t know…” replied Twilight, her brows furrowed in thought. “But now that I think about it… since when was nurse Redheart a pegasus?”

Twilight and Trixie made their way back through the center of town, paying more careful attention to their surroundings as they went. Something about Ponyville seemed off to both of them, and they’d become more acutely aware of this fact in the time since leaving the hospital.

“Sparkle, have you noticed?” asked Trixie, motioning around her to the ponies going about their daily lives. When Twilight stopped to look at her, she continued, “Look. Nopony has even noticed my presence.”

Twilight looked around, and sure enough not a single second glance was being given to the mare beside her. A few paused to wave to Twilight, so it was clear they weren't simply being ignored. An oddly familiar looking blonde and grey mailmare obliviously made her rounds nearby, horn lighting up with a sky blue glow as she lifted letters from her saddlebag. “You’re right, that’s weird… It’s like nopony even remembers you trying to take over the town.”

Trixie winced at the reminder, but still nodded in reply. “Do you think the spell did this?”

They passed in front of the Clover Cafe as Twilight opened her mouth to reply, then nearly fell over as she stopped in her tracks, her rear legs trying to keep going for a stunned moment while her front had already gotten the message to halt.

Sitting there in the cafe enjoying a late lunch were the two musicians who had put on a concert in town earlier: The unicorn with the electric blue mane who had DJ’d at her brother’s wedding, and the grey coated earth pony cellist with the treble clef cutie mark. At least, that’s clearly how Twilight remembered them. Except, the DJ was an earth pony, and the cellist was a pegasus.

“What in all of Equestria is going on here?” she exclaimed, while Trixie moved up to follow Twilight’s gaze. “A botched identification spell couldn’t have done this!”

However, that train of thought was interrupted once again as a flying pink blur tackled the princess.

“Oof! Hey, Twilight! Nice catch!” beamed Pinkie Pie, sitting atop her friend with as big a smile as ever.

“Gee, thanks Pinkie,” Twilight deadpanned. Trixie, meanwhile, stood to the side trying to suppress a giggle.

“You’re welcome!” she cried cheerfully, her smile getting even wider. “So are you ready for more flying lessons? I’ll bet we can go super fast this time without even crashing more than twice! And then we can go down to Sugarcube Corner for snacks and hot cocoa and I can even throw you a ‘Congrats on a New Flight Record’ party and we can tell everyone how super awesome you’re getting at flying!” Pinkie panted and caught her breath, her wings fully extended in her excitement.

‘Wings?’ popped into Twilight’s head, and her eyes went as wide as they could go as she stared up at her pink, feathery friend. “Pinkie! You’ve got wings!

“Huh? Well of course I do, silly billy! I’ve always had wings! How else would I be the most fun fun fun flyer in Equestria?” giggled Pinkie, with just a smidgen of pride in her voice. “I may not be as fast as Applejack, but nobody flies in a smile like I do!”

Twilight’s mane started to pop out of place at weird angles, this conversation taking its toll on her sanity. “Fast as, A-Apple… Pinkie, I think you just broke my brain…”

“Oh no, does it hurt! I’m sorry Twilight! Is that why your new horn is all bandaged up?” her friend deflated a little, her eyes quivering slightly with genuine concern as she looked over Twilight’s injury. Trixie gave up trying to suppress her laughter and ended up rolling around on the ground, clutching her sides in a fit of tearful giggles.

“No, don’t worry Pinkie, that’s not your fault. Trixie and I had an accident with a spell earlier and—” she stopped mid-sentence, deadpanning up at Pinkie, who was still sitting squarely on her chest. “New horn?”

“Mhmm. You must’ve hurt your brain harder than I thought.” Pinkie frowned, getting off of Twilight and helping her back up on her hooves. “You got it at the same time as your wings, remember? Casting that spell of Swirly Star whatsisbeard’s? I’m still amazed your element-crown-thingie let you cast spells without being a unicorn; I wish mine did cool stuff like that. But now you’re a princess! How great is that?” she finished with a grin.

“Huh,” came Trixie’s voice from the ground, her giggle-fit finally ceasing by the time Pinkie had stopped for air.

“Um… Pinkie, do you mind if I take a rain check on that flying lesson? Need to look into some things with Trixie here.”

“Okie-Dokie-Loki! We can go flying tomorrow, Applejack’s scheduled clear weather so we should have the perfect day for it!”

Pinkie shared a hug with Twilight, and managed to reach out and pull Trixie into it as well, much to the showmare’s dismay. Then waving goodbye, she stepped back and spread her wings wide. Sticking out her tongue and wiggling her rump, Pinkie Pie soared into the air with a great leap, leaving a trail of cotton-candy scented dust behind her.

“Trixie continues to be surprised by the extent of the Element of Magic’s abilities.”

“Yeah, that’s crazy what she mentioned it being able to do… But more importantly, I think I figured out what’s going on.”

Twilight lowered her gaze from watching Pinkie sail through the sky, turning her head to look Trixie in the eye, who had one brow raised as she listened. “We’re not in our Equestria anymore.”

“Dang, Spike. You guys really let this place go, haven’t ya?” drawled Applejack, making her way towards the basement door through the maze of books and papers in the library.

“Maybe some of us should stay up here and help clean up? I can do that. Instead of going down into the dark… scary… basement… “ Fluttershy squeaked and shrunk back from the group, her mane falling in front of her eyes and hiding her face. “Um, if that’s okay…”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and weaved ahead to catch up with Applejack, the two of them most of the way across the room now with Spike in tow. Rarity and Pinkie stopped and nodded to each other, then turned back to Fluttershy.

“It’s perfectly alright darling, we’ll call for you if we need you.”

“Yeah! Don’t you worry your pretty little head, your auntie Pinkie is gonna make things alllll better!” Pinkie grinned and patted the demure pegasus’ mane playfully.

“...I’m still a year older than you.” deadpanned Fluttershy.

Pinkie just giggled and followed Rarity down to the basement, bouncing along in her usual fashion. The other three had stopped to wait at the heavy oak door to the basement, and Spike pushed it open and led the way downstairs as they all caught up.

The magic which usually lit the room was still burnt out from the earlier explosion, and toggling the switch did nothing. The only source of light remaining down in the darkness was the blue-white pool of light pouring out of the surface of Trixie’s mirror, illuminating a path along the floor to the opposite wall like a spotlight. The original mirror remained the same as always, showing no signs of activity. The runes which had been drawn on the floor around it had turned to ash, but rather than being a simple blast pattern radiating outwards like the previous experiment, the blackened lettering had been clearly burned into the wood.

Dash fluttered in the air in the center of the room, taking in the scene in awe. “Whoa…”

“Hmmm…” nodded Rarity, her horn shimmering blue as she worked her magic into the room’s lighting, restoring it once again. “Oh my, this certainly doesn’t look good.”

Her eyes traced the two black lines, running in an arc from the outer ring surrounding the original mirror, leading across the room to Trixie’s. She walked slowly up to the mirror and examined it closely while the others spread out and began to search the room for clues. The first thing she noticed aside from the nearly blinding light coming through the mirror’s surface was the constellations on the surface of the frame. Specifically, one constellation, Orion’s Belt, had a glowing blue ring surrounding the brightly lit star on the right third of the formation, the closest to the glass. The ring shifted and shimmered as she watched for a moment, slowly rotating with the glow of magic.

She reached out a hoof to touch it, and was rewarded with a harsh buzz ringing through the basement. The buzzing vibrated into her horn, magically communicating to her its refusal to activate. At the same time, the gigantic topaz ‘star’ topping the frame flashed yellow once, as if in warning. Noticing another flicker in the corner of her eye, she looked down to see half of a brown cloak appear to be sticking out of the light, soaked with water. She tried giving it a tug, but it held fast.

“What the hay was that?” piped up Applejack, looking over from the corner of the room she’d gone to investigate.

“Well, I’m not entirely sure…” Rarity reached a hoof up to touch the surface of the mirror, but her hoof did not go through. Instead, the moment it came in contact with the shining surface the world seemed to spin and her surroundings changed. She was outside, looking at the town square. Twenty yards in front of of her stood unmistakably Twilight and Trixie, talking about something she couldn’t make out over the din of the ponies going about their day. Glancing down she saw the other half of the cloak laying in the pool of a pink fountain, and from the looks of it, several pages of Twilight’s now-ruined notes were strewn about in the water.

“Twilight, Trixie! There you are! I’m over here!” she cried out as loud as she could, raising her hoof to wave to them. But just as she raised her hoof the scene faded, and she was back inside the library basement again. She blinked slowly then looked around to her friends. None of them seemed to have even noticed her outburst.

“That’s Trixie’s mirror, like I told you guys,” Spike was in the middle of saying, while walking over next to Rarity. “It’s been glowing like that since Twi disappeared with Trixie.”

“I saw them!” she gasped, causing all eyes to turn to her. “Both of them, right there on the other side of this mirror! Oh dear, and their horns, they looked hurt!”

“Twilight, Trixie! There you are! I’m over here!”

Twilight’s ears perked and she looked around rapidly, faintly hearing Rarity’s voice in the background. “Did you hear that? Where’d that come from?”

“There!” Trixie pointed a hoof towards the fountain hosting the large statue of Ringaling, one of the centerpieces of Ponyville’s town square. “I think I saw a reflection, or a light? Well Trixie is sure she saw something over there just now.”

They trotted across the grass together, getting a good look up close at the local landmark. It was a tall rose-colored statue of a performer pony balancing on a large ball, which was mounted on a tall, shiny cubic pedestal. Surrounding that was a wide round fountain pool roughly a hoof deep with water, bordered again with a foot of rosy stone. Sure enough, an odd sight greeted them up close: strewn throughout the fountain were pages of half-ruined notes Twilight recognized as her own from the lab. Where the beveled edge of the statue’s base met the solid face lay Trixie’s missing waterlogged cloak sticking halfway out of the rose quartz slab.

“Oh my goodness! This must be the way back, it’s just like the statue at Equestria High!” beamed Twilight, sitting back and clapping her front hooves together excitedly. Her mouth started running faster and faster as the sheer implications washed over her, while Trixie looked on with ever-widening eyes as though staring down an oncoming train. “Oohh, this is so fascinating! Do you know what this means?! We created a whole new portal! I’m not sure how we did it, the spell kind of exploded in our faces, and I kind of expected us to have just ended up stranded in a whole new world though I guess it could have been a whole lot worse, I mean if the only difference here is everypony has swapped species it can’t really be that bad, but here we are and obviously this is a portal which we created!

“Sparkle?”

“I can’t wait to get home and study this! Oh my goodness I could publish a book on the subject! My first ever book-length research case study, on a whole new method of artifact creation, even! Of course we’ll have to be a lot more careful this time when we analyze it and try to avoid overloading our horns and ending up in another parallel reality but really what are the odds of that happening twice?”

Twilight!” shouted Trixie, stamping her hoof on the ground and shaking the excitable alicorn out of her ranting.

“Huh? Oh, sorry Trixie, I guess we should get back.”

“Twilight… Perhaps… Trixie should stay.” Trixie shuffled her hooves and looked away, back toward the ponies going this way and that around the town.

“Wait, what?”

“Nopony here has ever even heard of The Great and Powerful Trixie… They don’t pay me any mind at all. Maybe I could start again here, start fresh?” Trixie trailed off, her gaze not leaving the horizon as she spoke.

The sun was beginning to set now, and the two mares shared a quiet moment there, in front of their way back home. Trixie felt a hoof gently lay over her shoulder, and looked up to see the sadness in Twilight’s eyes. It was a look she didn’t recall ever seeing before in her companion, especially not directed at her.

“Trixie… I understand how you feel, but we can’t stay. We don’t belong in this world. Visiting and exploring is one thing, but there’s already another set of us here. We can’t expect to jump in and take over their lives from them.” Twilight sighed, and the two looked out to the horizon together. “I promise, we’ll find a way to show everyone you’ve changed for the better.”

“You promise?” Trixie showed faint signs of a smile forming, and she turned so she could look to Twilight. No, to look to her friend.

“Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” grinned Twi, going through the motions of a Pinkie Promise. “I’ll use a Royal Decree if I have to. Now come on, I’ll bet everypony is wondering where we went.”

Author's Note:

:yay: Success! :raritystarry: A huge thanks to Twilight's Library for bestowing me with this honor! :twilightsmile:

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