• Published 7th Apr 2012
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Scion of Chaos - SilentBelle

Sweetie Belle plans on learning the basics of magic, but what she discovers is so much more.

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Chapter 8 - Step by Step

Scion of Chaos: Chapter 8 – Step by Step
By: SilentBelle

Amongst the soft sands of the aeons past,
A contented form closed her eyes at last.
In a place where only silence remained,
She had decided to stay, tired and drained,
Awaiting the call of the morning.

* * *

She walked through the forest, vast and endless.
The darkness followed behind her, alone and friendless.
Voices could be heard from behind, echoing through the trees,
But she shook her head, and continued through the Everfree.
Rhythmical and monotonous, her focus held.
As she marched on, the trees began to meld,
Until all that remained, all that could be seen,
Was the path that she forged, marking where she had been

* * *

She blinked a few times and was pulled from her trance. Where am I? All that she could see was the path she was standing on, it glowed with the light of thousands of fireflies. Turning her head back, she could see the path's meandering form fading behind her into the surrounding darkness.

Voices echoed from all around, Sweetie Belle could barely make them out. Anger, disappointment, fear, worry. Apple Bloom's accented words, Scootaloo's harsh calls and Twilight's calm, decisive rhetoric; the words hid behind each other in a confusing onslaught of sound, save for one voice.

“Sweetie Belle, where have you gone?” Rarity's distraught question lingered before all the other noise.

Sweetie Belle turned her head and stared back into the darkness, at the fading path behind her. “Rarity,” nervously, she called her sister's name, as she squinted, searching the surrounding, growing darkness.

Something flashed in the distance, just above the ebbing glow of the path; it was further down the path she had traveled. “Is that you Rarity?”

Slowly, the light began to fade around the stationary filly, yet something approached. Sweetie Belle could begin to make out its form. Just as the path disappeared from sight, two golden eyes hovered right before her. She remembered in a moment.

“Run girl!”

She turned wildly and fled from the eyes. There was nothing in sight to indicate where she was headed. But still she ran.

Suddenly, she felt the ground give way beneath her and she fell. Expecting the harsh rebuttal of the ground, the filly let out a scream.

* * *

With a gasp, Sweetie Belle awoke, her head colliding with a slab of gray stone.

With a wince, the filly pulled herself to an upright sitting position. “Ouch.” the filly stated belatedly as she rubbed her temple with a fore-hoof. “That wasn't a good dream at all.”

“Dare I ask what it was that would shock a brave filly to such an extent that she would be willing to deal herself physical harm?” Scoddri's voice echoed with poorly concealed mirth.

“I wasn't planning on hitting the wall,” Sweetie Belle said dourly, with a roll of her eyes, which shifted into a quick examination of her surroundings. There was very little in this room. It was a three sided structure, three-quarters roofless, filled with nothing but piles of dust and sand, and all of it, illuminated by the soft glow of an early summer's morning. “No wonder I didn't sleep well, I've never slept on stone before. And now I know why most ponies don't.”

“At least you are able to sleep when in contact with stone surfaces,” the voice chimed in pleasantly, “I've known of someone who faced the largest case of insomnia, simply because of contact with the aforementioned material. Now clouds, those are the right material to rest upon.”

“But how would you know? I thought unicorns would just fall right through clouds,” the unicorn said earnestly, as she failed to hold back a yawn. “At least that's what I've always been told.”

“Indeed. However, imagine, if you will, something so light as to dissipated before your very touch, and that substance is now holding you up. It would be like resting in the air; it would provide such a wonderful feeling of freedom and comfort.”

“Hmm, I suppose you do have a point,” she admitted, as her curiosity took form in her pensive stare. “Maybe I should ask Fluttershy what clouds feel like the next time I see her.”

“Ah, so many wonders to be found in this world,” Scoddri mused aloud. “Yet, the largest of them all stands before me unexplained. How can there be so few who actually see the value of these wonders, which are dancing right before their eyes? And why do so many look the other way, gazing upon the sore sights they've seen countless times before?”

Sweetie Belle was at a loss for words, she wasn't entirely sure what, or who the voice was talking about; nor was she sure she would understand even if Scoddri deemed it necessary to explain the situation to her.

“Say, Scoddri,” the filly probed quietly, deciding to break the silence to change the subject. “Now that we're here, you said you would teach me magic, right?”

“Indeed girl, and you may also recall that I do not tell lies,” the prideful voice chided. “So spend your time asking the questions you actually intend to ask. If I said I will teach you, then I will.”

“So... then what are you going to teach me next?” she asked eagerly, getting up on her hooves.

“Well, that's entirely up to you, my dear. What do you want to be taught?” Scoddri replied. “While I do believe that best way to learn anything is through practical experience, it all amounts to nothing if the student in question is uninterested with what is being taught. We learn because we want to, plain and simple. So tell me, Sweetie Belle, ask me a question that you want answered, and I will give you an answer.”

“Hmm,” the filly hummed as she tilted her head to the side and began pacing around the three sided, dilapidated structure. She had a bundle of questions, no doubt, but there was one question pertaining to magic that had been nagging her; there was something about magic that she had already experienced which she couldn't quite comprehend. With a nod, the filly made her decision

“When I faced the monster in the stream yesterday, I panicked,” Sweetie Belle began slowly, trying to lead into the question properly. “I remember seeing the magic shining bright in the water, and I grabbed at it as it flowed below me. I felt it flow through me then, as soon as I touched it, and I felt as though I had been swept away in the flow, yet I was still standing. It was incredible, and scary too, I never felt anything like it. So, I guess my question has to do with that strong current. What is it, and why can no pony else beside me use it or see it?”

“Ah, two questions, that's one more than I agreed to answer by the way, however, since they are related, I suppose it's not too difficult to give an answer to both of your questions. Of course, I should have expected a pony as sharp as yourself to notice some of the nuances of natural magic,” Scoddri mused whimsically. “So, my dear, the magical current you are describing falls under a topic known as 'Chaos Magic'.”

“'Chaos magic'...” Sweetie Belle muttered to herself quietly, as an expression of rapt interest quickly donned itself as a mask upon the filly's face.

“Indeed, it's a silly name, I know, and not a very concise one, considering the usual naming patterns those unicorns come up with,” the voice said wryly. “But, it's the name that it has come to be known by, so let's call it 'Chaos Magic' to make things easier.

“Now, I am quite surprised that you realized just how special you are Sweetie Belle. To be able to see that which cannot be seen naturally by others, and therefore, to be able to use magic which they cannot use. My dear, you have access to a magic that most unicorns have no idea exists. Can you begin to see why it would come to be known as 'Chaos Magic'?"

The voice paused for a moment to let allow the filly to consider, before continuing on to answer his own question. “All things become chaos before those who cannot see the whole picture. Your affinity to see this magic, it will also become something that others will label as 'chaotic' in their ignorance. There is no escaping such a stigma. You may choose to keep it a secret, or even try to explain it to your closest friends, hoping that they'll understand.

“So to answer your second question, no, you are not the only one to have such an ability. Although it certainly is a rarity. Even I cannot begin to fathom all the reasons for anypony's eye colour, cutie marks, gender, or particular talents. However, I accept the fact that they exist, and I know that they are very real. So it matters not why you can see these things, my dear, but rather, what you do with it, now that you know you can.”

Sweetie Belle blinked a few times and paced around a bit as she turned Scoddri's words over in her mind a few times. “So this 'Chaos Magic', could be used by any unicorn then,” she thought aloud as she pieced the information together. “I mean, it's still magic, right? It's there, and it's very real, so others could use it, not just the ponies who can see it.”

“How very perceptive,” Scoddri praised, with a small chuckle, “Although it would be very much akin to a blind and deaf pony exploring the world, with no senses on which to rely. Just the feeling of their gut instincts, and perhaps a sense of faith that everything will turn out alright. Most ponies wouldn't last too long on such a journey, which is why this particular section of magic has rarely been explored by many unicorns, and its validity has been held in question numerous times.”

“I get that Scootaloo and Apple Bloom wouldn't understand it, I mean I can hardly believe it myself. If I couldn't see the glow from the sand or the stone walls, I wouldn't ever believe such a thing could exist,” Sweetie Belle admitted. “But what if I told Twilight, surely she would at least hear me out, if any pony could figure out about 'Chaos Magic' it would be her. My sister says that she might be the most magical unicorn in all of Equestria. And surely Rarity would believe me too.”

“It might be more prudent to reconsider who you talk to about such things. Trying to explain this aspect of magic to one who can never see, no matter how hard they try, will most likely just amount to wasted effort. My dear, sometimes silence is the sensible option,” he said gently, with a softness in his tone that Sweetie Belle hadn't heard him use before. “But in either case, none of your friends or family are out here to tell, so you can spend your time worrying about such things when they matter.”

“Right, and what matters now is learning how to use magic properly,” the unicorn replied. “So let's start.”

“The eagerness and optimism of youth,” the voice said with a light chuckle. “Surely there is no greater treasure in all the world.”

With a raised eyebrow, Sweetie Belle tilted her head slightly. “So where do we begin?”

“Well, as I said before, I do believe that learning requires your full attention, otherwise, distraction will ultimately lead to the loss of information. So why not tackle your first problem right now? You are hungry and thirsty, and there is very little to be done about that in our current location. Unless you enjoy eating dusty stones and washing it down with some dry sand.”

Her stomach growled as an echo to Scoddri's own words, and she let out a sigh. I suppose learning magic can wait until after breakfast.

* * *

Sweetie Belle made her way to same stream that she had visited last evening. After a few minutes of relieving her thirst, as well as the building summer's heat, she sat once again on the riverside, feeling refreshed until she started staring at the lengthy grass that covered the entirety of the banks. With a sigh of defeat she began to munch upon the repulsive grasses.

“I thought you didn't want to eat grass unless you had to,” Scoddri teased, as she chewed away at a mouthful.“You could have gone on an adventure searching for more food.”

With her pinched lips forming a frown, the unicorn slowly swallowed before responding. “Well, I figure that the sooner I finish eating, the sooner I can learn more about magic,” she said simply, as she got to her hooves and began walking towards the forest. "And that's enough eating for me."

“Ah, very true. However, given how taxing the use of magic can be, I don't suspect that you would be able to perform magic for an extended period of time. I remember just last night, a certain filly nearly fell upon her own face as she walked back to find shelter from the beckoning stars of twilight. And all of this fatigue, just because she moved a dozen berries over a few feet.”

Sweetie Belle blushed, her cheeks turning a soft rose in embarrassment. “What if I used the 'Chaos magic',” she offered, tilting her head towards the brightly glowing trees of the distant forest she was heading towards. “Couldn't I have used it instead?”

“And so you make yet another keen observation, my dear,” the voice admitted. “However, because 'Chaos Magic' is indeed magic, there is still the matter that you can only hope to be able to control it as well as you can control your own magic.”

The filly made her way up to the large, looming trees of the Everfree Forest. The darkness of the shadowy woods was completely forgotten to the filly as she looked about. The cascading and vibrant glow of her surroundings brought on a feeling calm, almost as though the trees were gently reaching out to her and embracing her; even when she closed her eyes, she could feel their presence, gentle, stable, and powerful.

“Hmm,” the small unicorn considered, with closed eyes. “What if I used the tree's magic to refill my own as I use it?”

“And now you tread upon the other use of chaos magic,” Scoddri said in amusement. “Of course, it's more fun if you try it yourself. So give it a shot. Even if you were to start a fire, you are close enough to the edge of the forest to get to safety.”

“I'm not going to set the forest on fire,” Sweetie Belle muttered in determination. “It can't be that dangerous.”

With a moment of concentration, she fed a large portion of her magic out of her horn and let it loose into the forest before her, not even attempting to control the wave of magic beyond releasing it from her horn. Before her eyes, the magic dissipated, like rain falling upon already damp soil. In that moment she felt a shiver roll down her spine, and with a downward glance she noticed that her own glow had dimmed slightly.

Now the filly was ready to initiate her plan. She turned her focus to the magic inside of a sizable tree before her. It glowed with an unwavering sheen, which emanated from its core, bound solidly within its sturdy trunk.

She focused, guiding a thin tendril of her own magic through her horn. In a moment, the serpentine reach of her energy touch upon the trunk of the tree. With a smile, she pulled at the magic within the tree; however she was met with resistance, and the glowing within the tree remained undisturbed.

Her smile faded into a frown as she tried again and again. Each time she tugged harder than the last; but she may as well have been trying to uproot the tree from the ground itself. With one last tug, she shook her head with a pout, and reeled her magic back through her horn in defeat.

“Dumb tree! Why didn't it work?” she raised her voice in frustration, it had been the perfect plan. “If it's magic then shouldn't I be able to use it?”

Scoddri's laughter echoed around the filly. “Oh, but didn't it work? Have you not regained your luster from your earlier display of magic?”

Sweetie Belle looked down at herself in surprise, and noticed that she had regained the full glow of her magic. “But when did that happen?” she asked in utter bewilderment. “I didn't even take any magic from the tree.”

“Ah, but look to your feet, look at the ground you are standing upon. See all the plants, bushes, grasses, this place is teeming with magical energy, so your instincts subconsciously pulled at the surrounding magic until you were filled with magic again. All unicorns do this, some believe it's just a matter of resting, however the truth remains that magic is replenished quicker in places where quantities of magic are abundant.”

“But that doesn't explain why I couldn't take the magic from that tree,” Sweetie Belle complained. “I should have still been able to use its magic, or at least interact with it.”

This, my dear, is the very nature of magic. Its properties differ based upon the medium within which it is contained. In this case, the magic in the tree is very sturdy and immobile, therefore quite hard to manipulate.”

“Then the time I was in the river, the river's magic was able to flow through me because the river naturally flows, and because of that, the magic did too?” she reasoned. “Well I guess that makes sense...”

“Indeed. However, the magic within the stream, or even inside that tree, is much more vast than your own magic. To handle such massive amounts of magic is potentially dangerous for anypony, much less a filly with no cutie mark. Usually a pony learns to walk before they run.”

“So I should start small then?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Only if you want to,” Scoddri said slyly, “I have no power over your choices, my dear. Besides, seeing a pony learning, and exploring all by herself is quite an entertaining sight. I look forward to the numerous blunders that await you.”

“That not very reassuring,” Sweetie Belle said, with a nervous chuckle.

As light as her laughter was, the levity was enough to raise her spirits. Heeding Scoddri's advice, the unicorn focused instead upon a small plant that lay just in front of her hooves, determination once again shining within her fixated emerald eyes.

The plant before her was a green shoot, nearly as tall as her. Its top half sprouted into numerous bell-shaped lavender flowers. She focused upon the gently glowing vegetation and once again sent out a line of magic from her horn.

In an instant she could tell the difference between this plant and the tree she had been focusing on before. This purple blossomed plant felt frail, and when she tried to grab hold of the plant's glowing magic, after a hearty effort, she was able to pull it free.

Sweetie Belle watched in awe as the plant's glow was pulled into her own tendril of magic and it flowed back to her. It felt moist and fresh at first. However, as she reeled the magic in, her fur bristled, the hairs of her mane and tail stood on end, and a sudden feeling of heat fell upon her. She felt beads of sweat forming on her forehead and she turned her head around to see her back leg starting to twitch of its own accord.

She shot a nervous glance to the flower she had drawn the magic from only to see the whole plant had turned stiff and brown; its once vibrant petals now littering the forest floor, two months short of autumn.

“What's happening?!” she shouted in panic as she began nervously prancing around.

A torrent of laughter flowed forth almost in time with Sweetie Belle's impromptu dance of half-controlled movements. She was swaying back and forth like a pony who had too much of Pinkie Pie's party punch.

“Oh, how wonderful, to see the dance of the reckless and over-eager,” the voice praised, as if Sweetie Belle were indeed performing a valid form of entertainment. “Don't worry, it's just your body's way of using up an excess of magic.”

“But how do I stop it?” the filly asked with desperation in her voice.

“Just keep dancing until you've used up enough of your magic. It's quite entertaining to watch.”

“I'm not going to just do nothing until it stops,” she shot back. “I'll stop it myself!”

With a flash of violet and emerald light, Sweetie Belle lashed out with her magic, like a bolt of lightning and an accompanying small peal of thunder, she struck a nearby, towering giant of a tree.

A number of forest animals squawked and squealed their indignation; a few of the birds hidden in the upper branches took wing in surprise.

Panting and blinking her eyes to clear her vision, she noticed her body had stopped betraying her, and the feverish feeling had left her in an instant. She could see a small smoking patch of bark upon the giant tree before her.

“Well, at least you didn't burn the forest down,” the ever-optimistic voice said with a slight snicker.

Sweetie Belle opened her mouth to form a retort when she heard a shout from up above.

“Sweetie Belle! Was that you?” the slightly raspy voice called from above, the distant branches began shaking as the owner of the voice made her way down. “I could have sworn the birds came from around here.”

With eyes opened wide in surprise, Sweetie Belle dove into the thickest bush she could find and rolled into a prone position, hoping against hope that Rainbow Dash wouldn't find her. She couldn't go back to Ponyville, not yet.

End of Chapter 8