• Published 11th Nov 2011
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The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments - Wanderer D


Sweetie Belle must find Twilight by travelling through different Fanfic worlds...

  • ...
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Of Mares and Magic

The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments

By Wanderer D

Editors & Proof-readers: Trevor, littlerobotbird, GanonFLCL, Cardslafter, Fifth Alicorn

o.0.0.o

Applejack looked down at Apple Bloom as the young filly walked up to her, head down and frowning in disappointment only to sit down next to the apple cart. “What happened, sugarcube? Ah thought you’d seen Sweetie Belle?”

“Ah did!” the filly said, looking up at her sister, “But she didn’t hear me callin’! She ran straight into the library.”

The orange-maned mare nodded at a unicorn as he left a few bits and levitated an apple, trotting away happily. The apple farmer then turned to look at her younger sister. “Into the library?” she asked with a small frown, “She shouldn’t be able to. Should be closed at this time in the morning.”

“Ah, know! And when Ah got to the door, it was locked!”

“Now, that’s odd.” Applejack pushed her hat back, bewildered. “As far as Ah know, only two unicorns know the spell to open it without a key.”

The Library door suddenly slammed open and a towel-wrapped, still-wet-from-the-shower Trixie rolled out of the building, followed by her toothbrush.

Applejack and Apple Bloom stared as a piece of rope enveloped in a white magic aura floated out of the library and began to wrap itself around Trixie’s hooves.

“Stay still!” Sweetie Belle whined, her horn aglow, “I can’t tie you up if you keep squirming!”

“But I don’t want you to tie me up, Sweetie!” Trixie shouted, eyes wide in shock at the sudden attack.

“Hey! What in tarnation are you doin’?!” Applejack asked as she and Apple Bloom galloped up to the pair.

“I caught Trixie in Twilight’s Library!” Sweetie informed them as she concentrated, trying to loop the rope around the azure unicorn, while Trixie fended her off, slowly getting up..

“And?” the elder of the two sisters asked.

“Call the guards! I almost have her!”

Trixie had gotten up to her hooves and, once her heart had stopped pounding from the sudden attack from the formerly gentle and unable-to-perform-magic filly unicorn, began carefully batting away the rope with short, concentrated bursts of magic.

“Hey! Quit it!” Sweetie groaned.

The showmare leveled a look at her. “No.”

Sweetie Belle gritted her teeth. Her brow furrowed and her horn flashed.

Trixie kept a wary eye on the surprising filly. “What was that?”

“None of your business.”

“Now, look here, Sweetie...” Trixie said as she began taking a step towards the little unicorn, but just as she planted her hoof down, it slid on a suddenly very slippery surface sending the showmare to the ground, accompanied by a painful-sounding “Oof!”

“Ha! Never underestimate Twilight’s prized apprentice!”

Trixie growled and stood up, careful to avoid the slippery area around her. “Okay, Sweetie, you asked for it!” Her horn flashed and the rope was torn from the filly’s grip. Before she could blink, the unicorn filly was upside down and hogtied.

“Hey, lemme go!” Sweetie Belle shouted, struggling against her bonds. She thrashed from side to side, horn glowing as she tried to use her magic to break the rope, but it held.

“Sweetie Belle?” Apple Bloom asked, walking towards her friend carefully, “Why’re you attacking Trixie? And... when’d you learn magic?”

The young unicorn blinked. “Apple Bloom? You’re back!” She smiled in relief. “Quick! Untie me! Maybe we can get a Wanted Felon-Catcher Cutie Mark!”

Applejack and Trixie shared worried looks.

“Sweetie Belle?” Applejack ventured, stepping closer to the tied unicorn, “What you mean by Wanted Felon-Catcher Cutie Marks? There any dangerous sorts around?”

“Oh, I hope not!” Rarity broke in, having overheard Applejack as she approached the group, “The last thing Ponyville needs is ponies of dubious nature!” She stopped and looked down at her sister. “Sweetie, why are you tied up?”

“Trixie tied me up!”

Rarity followed Sweetie’s glare to the showmare who shrugged and released the spell holding the rope. “Well, I wouldn’t have if you hadn’t attacked me!” She glared at Sweetie Belle.

“What did you do with Twilight?!” the young unicorn asked angrily as she shook free of the rope.

“Yes, dear, whatever happened to Twilight?” Rarity asked, “Your challenge ended last night. I thought she would be around for the aftermath so we might avoid certain... unpleasantries.”

Trixie winced. “So anypony can challenge me today?” She sighed. “Twilight left to meet with Princess Celestia last night...”

“Ha! A likely story!” Sweetie Belle bellowed as she jumped to her feet.

Trixie ignored her. “And I haven’t heard from her since. She might write later today, I think. I checked on Spike and there were no messages next to his bed.”

“Ah’ve seen a few new unicorns around town today, sugarcube,” Applejack added, “Ah don’t think you have much time before the first challenger comes up and...”

Sweetie Belle had grown more and more frustrated as she was ignored by the older group. “Wait!” she shouted, drawing their attention.

“Sweetie! What have I told you about screaming like that?” Rarity scolded.

“Sorry!” Sweetie looked down. But her eyes went back to Trixie, a frown set on her face. “So, any pony can challenge you?”

Trixie smiled, glad that Sweetie Belle seemed to have calmed down. “Any unicorn capable of performing magic who feels his or her magic is strong enough to earn them the title of ‘Great and Powerful’, yes.”

The filly smiled. “Then I challenge you! What’s it gonna be? Checkers? A race?”

The group of mares looked at her, wide-eyed. Then Trixie frowned and graced the filly with a calculating look. “That’s... possible...”

“What? No.” Rarity shook her head. “You can’t challenge Trixie, Sweetie. Not only are you too young, but you hardly know any magic!”

“I know lots of magic!” Sweetie argued, “I’m Twilight’s student!”

The group exchanged confused looks.

“Uh, Sweetie Belle,” Apple Bloom smiled, a bit unsure, “Don’t you mean Cheerilee’s student?”

“Nope! Twilight made me her apprentice!” Sweetie declared proudly, “You’d know, but you went...” She blinked. “Wait, when did you come back from Appleloosa?”

“Appleloosa?” The earth pony filly shot Sweetie a confused look. “I didn’t go nowhere! We played together yesterday and the day before! Remember? Scootaloo tried doing her double-spin ultra-deluxe upside down back-flip to impress Rainbow Dash.”

Sweetie Belle’s eyes were wide. “Did she do it?!”

“Not exactly...” Apple Bloom looked a bit worried. “She lost control on the second spin and ended up dragging the cage-full of weasels and chickens with her onto the catapult... you really don’t remember?”

Sweetie shook her head.

“... the cake?”

Another shake.

“Hogtyin’ that manticore? Blowin’ up that haystack? ... Setting fire to the edge of the Everfree?”

Sweetie stared slack-jawed at Apple Bloom. “You did all that while I was studying? Aww... stupid theory of reverse flow.”

“So...” Applejack’s voice was hard. “If Ah’m hearing this right, y’all responsible fer all that chaos yesterday?”

Apple Bloom looked panicked. “Ah... Ah, uh...”

“No,” the filly unicorn stated simply, seemingly oblivious of her friend's panic, “I was studying with Twilight.”

“No, you wasn’t!” Apple Bloom turned to look at her. “Y’all was there with me and Scootaloo!”

“I was studying!”

“Was not!”

“Was to!”

Was not!”

“Enough!” Rarity was also glaring down at the pair. They both stopped and looked at her. “Sweetie, you are in enough trouble as it is. Don’t lie to cover it up.”

The filly’s eyes were brimming with tears. “But sis! You know I’m Twilight’s student! I even Pinkie Swore to do study! If she was here she would tell you I was studying with her!”

“Sweetie...” Rarity almost growled. “I don’t know anything about Twilight taking you on as her apprentice. And you have never cared about magic enough to spend time studying rather than playing.”

Sweetie’s lip trembled. She looked at Apple Bloom, but the other filly wouldn’t even look at her for not admitting to have been playing with them.

“Now, hold on, everypony,” Trixie said, “Sweetie Belle seems to know quite a bit more magic than I would have expected, and she was rather skilled when she attacked me...”

Rarity glared at her sister.

“I thought she did something to Twilight!” Sweetie Belle replied.

“... anyway.” Trixie shot an odd look at the unicorn filly. “Her style certainly had some elements of Twilight’s influence...” She frowned, tapping a hoof thoughtfully on the ground before turning to the little unicorn. “Sweetie Belle, what are the three basic laws of elemental magic?”

“Correspondence, Control and Constitution,” the filly responded immediately.

Rarity blinked, her glare replaced by a look of awe.

“Aleister’s correction to the statute of limitations proposed that the primordial approach for understanding transmutation was flawed because...”

“... Prestidigitation itself allowed for too many changes with a single spell formula,” Sweetie Belle replied from memory, “Whew, you have no idea how many times Twilight made me repeat that!”

“I can imagine.” Trixie smiled, then turned to look at the others. “I think Sweetie is telling the truth, somehow Twilight has been teaching her behind our backs, unless she somehow managed to sneak into Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.” She frowned. “I don’t understand why she would do that, but...”

“Wait... you sayin’ that Apple Bloom’s lyin’?” Applejack looked to her sister in confusion and hurt. Honesty was a very important part of their upbringing. Come what may, lying was something the Apple Family could never condone.

“S-Sweetie...” Apple Bloom pleaded, her great big eyes begging. “Please, Ah don’t know how you know so much about magic, but don’t make me inta a liar.”

“B-but...” The filly unicorn stepped back. “Apple Bloom... I was studying...”

“No, you wasn’t!” Apple Bloom snapped, eyes tearing up as the betrayal sank in.

“Enough, Apple Bloom,” Applejack said after a moment, her eyes hard, “Ah don’t want to hear from y’all no more.Yer gonna go right back ta the acres an’ right to yer room, Ah clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Apple Bloom walked slowly and with her head down until she passed next to the unicorn filly. The earth pony glared at her friend. “Ah hate you,” she spat.

Sweetie looked like she had taken a hoof to the face. “I’m... but I was studying! Honest!” she called after her friend, who didn’t bother looking back. “It was all about ki- kinetic forces! I was learning a shield spell for when we go crusading!” she insisted miserably, scratching the floor with her hoof in frustration.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie.” Rarity nuzzled the depressed filly. “Things will go back to normal once we figure out why she lied.”

“Now wait just an apple-pickin’ minute,” Applejack said, turning to look at Rarity, “Ah never said she were lyin’. She’s grounded for burnin’ down the edge of the Everfree Forest and causin’ such a ruckus that the weather patrol had to work right through the night. Ah swear, they could’ve ended up burnin’ down the town!”

“But, darling, you can’t possibly believe that Sweetie here is lying,” Rarity said, raising her eyebrow. “You heard her answer Trixie’s questions. I certainly didn’t teach her any of that!”

“Ah jus’ don’t think that Apple Bloom is lying, s’all.”

Rarity frowned. “So you’re saying that my sister is lying?”

“No... Ah’m not s--”

“Excuse me.” A male unicorn stepped up to Trixie, interrupting the work pony. “Are you The Great and Powerful Trixie?”

Trixie blinked. She had completely forgotten about the challenges. “Uh, yes, it is I, Trixie.” she said quickly, turning to face him.

“I am here to challenge you for the title!” the unicorn said, “My name is-”

“I shall accept your challenge on the hills just north of Ponyville, in...” Trixie interrupted, turning to look at Rarity, “Ffifteen minutes?”

The designer shrugged. “That is as good time as any, I suppose.”

The male unicorn grinned and trotted away.

The showmare turned to look at the others. “Well, I’d best prepare. This shall be a long month.” she sighed as she walked back towards the Library.

“We’ll talk later, Applejack,” Rarity said, ushering Sweetie Belle away towards her boutique.

“Yeah...” The apple farmer shook her head as she returned to her cart.

o.0.o

“Why do you look so down, Sweetie?” Rarity asked, as the pair walked towards the hills.

“Apple Bloom hates me,” the filly answered, “I’m not lying, sis! I haven’t seen them since I started learning under Twilight!”

Rarity turned to look at the hills a small frown on her face. “I don’t know what to tell you, Sweetie,” the older unicorn said.

“What do you mean?”

“I saw you three playing together just a few of days ago and...” she stopped talking and walking when she noticed that she was alone.

Turning around, she looked back to her sister, several steps behind, staring in horror.

“Sweetie?” Rarity asked, taking a step towards the filly, but stopping when her sister took a matching step away from her.

“I...”

She saw, with horrifying slowness, how the magic pierced through Twilight Sparkle, the purple unicorn was completely engulfed in magical flames, but her worried eyes never wavered away from Sweetie Belle.

“Are you okay?” Rarity tried again, seeing her sister’s horrified gaze.

As the world bent and shifted around her, she saw, in a dreadful moment of clarity, Twilight shatter into pieces that were caught in the magical maelstrom.

Sweetie gasped, almost collapsing into the grass, eyes wide and breathing ragged. She could feel her heart going a hundred miles an hour.

“I...” She shook her head, looking around.

Everything’s okay. I’m in Ponyville. The Library is fine. Trixie said that Twilight left last night...

She frowned. “...but that... that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Sweetie? What doesn’t make sense?” Rarity asked, giving her sister a concerned look.

“Sis, I have been studying with Twilight every day for the past two weeks!” Sweetie exclaimed. “How could I have been playing with them when they weren’t even here?”

“Sweetie, are you feeling okay?” Rarity asked, pressing her hoof to her sister’s forehead. “You don’t seem to have a fever,” she muttered, “And Scootaloo and Apple Bloom haven’t left Ponyville in months!”

This doesn’t make any sense!” Sweetie shook her head. She looked up at her sister. “And... why is everypony treating Trixie like she’s one of us?” the filly demanded. “She almost killed me just last week!”

Rarity stood straight. “What?!” Her eyes blazed in anger. “What did Trixie do?”

Sweetie cringed beneath her sister’s enraged glare. “She... threw two werewolves at me and Twilight...”

“What?” Rarity shook her head and her anger seemed to focus on her sister. “Sweetie. I’ve had enough of these lies. You are grounded, young lady.”

“But...”

“No ‘buts.’ I can believe that you were not involved in Apple Bloom’s and Scootaloo’s chaos, but accusing Trixie of willingly putting you and Twilight in such danger is simply preposterous! I am disappointed that you'd think I would believe such a hollow lie.”

“But... sis... I...”

“Go home,” Rarity said coldly. “We shall have to have a talk after I witness Trixie’s duel. Just because Twilight taught you a couple of things yesterday doesn’t mean that you can use that same excuse to convince me of something so ridiculous! Trixie would never hurt Twilight, especially after everything that’s happened the last couple years.”

“What happened the last couple years?”

“I said go!” Rarity snapped. “And I had better not catch you outside your room!”

Sweetie Belle opened her mouth to object, but snapped it shut as she found herself facing the full force of her sister's angry glare. Lowering her head and turning around, Sweetie walked slowly towards Carousel Boutique. She could feel Rarity’s eyes on her as she trotted away down the street.

What’s going on? she thought, furious. How could everypony forget about the werewolves?
She shook her head as she passed the first few houses. Just... what’s happening here? She thought as she kept her eyes on the ground. Just yesterday I was with Twilight at the lab... how come she is fine and with the Princess if that spell exploded on her? Her eyes narrowed. And how come everypony thinks Trixie is our friend? Just like that? How come nopony remembers the werewolves?

She stopped and pawed at the ground with her hoof. “Come on, Sweetie, you know how to solve a problem; Twilight drilled it into your head!” she growled to herself.

Okay, let’s examine the facts... Sweetie’s thoughts went back to her earlier memories. I got blasted by that spell, Twilight was... She shuddered, pushing the thought to the back of her mind. Then I wake up, Applejack and Apple Bloom are suddenly back from Appleloosa, Rarity’s back from Fillydelphia and everypony thinks I’m just playing around... and even remember me doing exactly that... there can only be one conclusion!

Sweetie stomped her hoof on the ground. “I didn't kill Twilight, Trixie must have come into the library and done something!” Her eyes widened. “Trixie somehow brainwashed everypony with a spell!”

She blinked. “Wait... does that mean that... I murdered Twilight!?” she gulped as a sudden shiver ran up her spine. “No... nonono... I... no...”

A buzzing sound grabbed her attention and she looked up to see one of her best friends propelling herself towards her on top of her scooter.

“Scootaloo!” she smiled, gratefully pushing the horrible thoughts to the back of her mind as the copper-colored pegasus stopped abruptly in front of the unicorn.

“There you are!” she said angrily, jumping off of her scooter and stomping up to Sweetie Belle.

“Listen, there’s something going on-” Sweetie started to say, but she was interrupted by Scootaloo pressing her forehead and snout right up against hers.

“The hay is your problem, Sweetie?!” the pegasus asked, fuming. “I just saw Apple Bloom on her way to Sweet Apple Acres and she was crying! And guess what she told me when I asked her why! Go on, guess!”

Sweetie fell back onto the floor, eyes wide and staring at her friend.

“She told me that you lied to cover your own sorry flank and let her take all the blame for our crusading!”

“But I-”

“So what is it?” Scootaloo asked venomously, walking from side to side in front of the unicorn. “Did you just not want to get into trouble? I guess being a Crusader doesn’t mean you have to be loyal!”

Sweetie cringed. “Scootaloo, I swear I didn’t lie! I was studying with Twilight and-”

“But you were not studying!” Scootaloo shouted, drawing the attention of several passers-by. “You were with us!”

Sweetie shrank back. “But Scootaloo... you have to believe me...”

“I don’t even know why I’m bothering to talk to you, traitor,” the pegasus said. “You lied, and you hurt Apple Bloom...” She looked away. “And me.”

“Bu- but I didn’t...” Sweetie’s lower lip trembled. “Why doesn’t anypony believe me?!” She turned around and ran as fast as she could into town.

“Sweetie! Wait! We’re not done here!” Behind her, Scootaloo’s voice faded as the unicorn ran away. She went into alleys and side-streets. Ponyville wasn’t a big place, but she wanted to put as much distance between Scootaloo and herself as she could.

She slowed down and sighed, looking up to see where she was.

The Library stood proudly in front of her, the warm wooden interior and the smell of books something she found she needed now.

Funny that I would end up back here... she thought. Now I’m craving a book.

She entered the library, closing the door and locking it behind her.

“Trixie?” a voice called from the kitchen. “Is that you? Where is... oh, hey, Sweetie Belle!” Spike blinked as he walked into the main room. “What are you doing here?” He looked around suspiciously. “Are Apple Bloom and Scootaloo hiding somewhere? You aren’t trying to get a Dragon Slayer cutie mark again, are you?” Spike cringed.

Sweetie Belle couldn’t help herself and started crying at the mention of her friends. She ran up to him and hugged the little dragon close as she bawled her eyes out.

“Uh...” Spike froze for a second, the little dragon flailed about with his arms at the sudden invasion of his personal space, but eventually he managed to return the hug and pat her back, even as he looked around in a panic. “Uh... there there, Sweetie,” he said once he realized he was on his own. “Please calm down?”

The filly cried for a bit longer, but she nodded against his shoulder and slowly stepped back.

“Why don’t I make you some tea? Chamomile okay?”

Sweetie sniffed. “Would it be okay to have some of your special spicy tea, Spike?” Spike tensed. “I... know it’s usually for special occasions but... I really like it.” She smiled a little, and sniffled.

That did it. The dragon couldn’t deny her. “Okay...” he acquiesced. “But just this once!”

Sweetie nodded, still sniffling and went to look at the books as the baby dragon walked into the kitchen. Her horn flared as a tome slid out and floated to a table. Her magic opened the large book on top of the table. She skimmed through the pages until she reached the page number where she had last read the book.

“That’s weird...” she muttered, “I already read this page.” she flipped a couple of pages until she found the correct spot. “Must’ve forgotten where I was...”

She read in silence until Spike came out with her tea. Absentmindedly, she levitated the cup from the astonished dragon’s grasp and set it down carefully where it would not spill on the book. She took a pause from her reading to sip the tea, eyes closed blissfully. "Thank you, Spike... that was really nice," Sweetie said, giving the flustered dragon a quick peck on the cheek.

“Y-you’re welcome, Sweetie,” the baby dragon stammered.

She smiled and turned back to her reading, falling into the routine she had cultivated over the last two weeks, and the dragon, after raising an eyebrow at her choice of literature, let her be. He knew from experience not to interrupt an obvious bibliophile.

o.0.o

It was much later that the door to the library clicked open as the lock was released. Spike perked up as the door swung open to admit a pair of unicorn mares into the room.

“I’m really worried, Trixie!” Rarity said, her eyes reflecting her assertion. “Sweetie was not at home when I arrived! I’ve looked all over Ponyville for her! I went as far as Sweet Apple Acres and their club house but...”

“I think we’ve found her,” Trixie spoke softly, motioning with a hoof for silence. The designer blinked and followed Trixie’s gaze towards the center table of the library. Sweetie Belle was sleeping, her head resting on the pages of an enormous tome and snoring softly.

“She came here a while ago,” Spike said quietly. “She was crying... I didn’t really know what to do. I made her some tea... then she just sat there drinking it and reading that book.”

The two mares stared at the little filly as they made their way to the table. Despite how long it had been since she had arrived, Sweetie still sniffled a bit in her sleep.

Kinetic Fields: From the Simple to the Prismatic,” Trixie read aloud. “She’s certainly trying her best to learn that shield spell. Too bad Twilight is so insistent on theory; it might benefit her to have a bit of hooves-on experience.”

“Are you saying you believe her about Twilight teach-”

“Just look at her,” Trixie interrupted. “She’s almost certainly Twilight’s apprentice. No other unicorn would force such an innocent filly to sit down and read that!”

Rarity looked at her sister, sorrow flooding into her eyes. “Oh, Sweetie...”

The younger unicorn shifted. “Just a bit more sleep, Twi... I promise I’ll do those equations later...” she mumbled as she cuddled up to the book.

Rarity blinked. “Sweetie... it’s time to go to bed.”

“Oooh... alright Twilight...” Sweetie Belle, yawning and bleary eyed, ignored the lot of them as she made her way upstairs towards the guest room.

“Sweetie, wait-” the white unicorn spoke up, raising a hoof to stop her sister, but an azure hoof on her own stopped her. She turned to look at the blue unicorn in surprise.

“Let her stay over,” Trixie said, looking at the filly as she walked into the room and shut the door behind her, “It seems that she’s rather familiar with the library.”

“A bit too familiar perhaps,” Rarity said, slightly perturbed, “She didn’t even have to open her eyes! She just knew where to go...”

“And which step to skip to avoid the creaking,” Trixie observed.

“Ju- Just how many times has she been here studying?” Rarity wondered.

“Just once... meaning today.” Spike muttered, “As far as I know.”

“Yet another mystery...” Trixie smirked. “But we should all rest. It’s been a long day. I’ll take care of Sweetie.”

Rarity hesitated, remembering the filly’s words from earlier. “Trixie... do you think something could be wrong with Sweetie? She’s not acting like herself.”

“I don’t know... yet.” the blue unicorn said, stealing a glance at Spike, “You say she’s only been here studying today?”

Spike gave her a look. “Trixie, you know as well as I do that today’s the first day she’s willingly stepped into the library by herself and studied.” he looked thoughtful for a minute. “But... I had no idea she could do magic already. Like, she levitated the teacup out of my hands! And she knew about my special blend of-”

“Special blend?” Trixie raised an eyebrow.

“Uh...” the dragon sighed. “I have a special tea that Zecora made for me a while ago. Most ponies don’t like how spicy it is, but even less know about it. Until now, I thought that only Zecora, Twilight and I knew!”

“Zebrican tea? That’s an acquired flavor. At least for ponies.” Trixie smiled, recalling her travels. “Did you know that when hoof-gathering the leaves, they actually separate the leaves by freshness? They have two versions, you see-”

“Can we talk about tea later?” Rarity interrupted, “I hate to be so short with you, I’m sure it would be an enlightening conversation under better circumstances, but I am worried about my little sister.”

Trixie smiled weakly. “Apologies. In any case, I will talk to her when she wakes up. It does seem rather strange how she believes herself to have lived the past few week so differently-” she stopped, eyes widening.

“Trixie?” the fashionista looked at her worried. “What’s happening to Sweetie Belle?”

“I...” the showmare shook her head, briefly considering not telling Rarity anything. However, she knew the white unicorn was very good at picking up on little details and would know if Trixie was lying. The showmare sighed. “I think... I might know what’s happening; it’s unlikely but...”

“What is it? Is it dangerous? Is she losing her mind?” Rarity asked, starting to panic eyes widening with each imagined horror.

“No, no...” Trixie patted the fashionista’s shoulders with her hoof. “I am uncertain if it indeed is what I’m thinking; it’s not a bad thing or particularly dangerous, and as far as I know, it only happens to rhinos.” she raised her hoof to forestall further questions. “So, I may simply be jumping to conclusions, Rarity. Let me speak with her when she wakes up and I’ll find out for sure; it is nothing bad and it is very unlikely that it is, okay?”

“So why can’t you tell me?”

“Because you would worry unnecessarily and begin looking for facts to fit into the theory rather than seeing if the theory fits the facts.”

Rarity still looked dubious, but finally nodded her assent, casting a worried glance towards the guest room. “I see... I... I suppose I can see why you would say that... please, take care of her.”

Trixie smiled warmly. “Of course, The Great and Powerful Trixie can handle a single filly. You needn’t worry at all.”

o.0.o

It was still nighttime when Sweetie Belle awoke. She rubbed her blurry eyes and looked around. She was in her- in the guest room at Twilight’s Library.

She took in a deep breath her thoughts running through her recent experiences. “I guess it was all a dream.” she shivered. “Or a nightmare, more like!” She looked out of the window. The moon wasn’t that high in the sky, so it was still relatively early... for her mentor at least. She would either be stargazing or reading in her room.

Sweetie shivered again and looked at the room for a second time. There’s... something weird going on... but what? She slid out of bed and sighed as she walked towards the door. Maybe talking to Twilight would help.

As expected, the light seeping from underneath Twilight’s bedroom indicated that the mare was awake. She could hear the soft, rumbling snores of a baby dragon coming from within the room.

Sweetie took a deep breath and knocked twice on the door before entering. “Twilight, I’m sorry to be up so late but I had... the strangest... dream?”

Lying on Twilight’s bed, comfortably reading a book as if she owned the place, was Trixie. The unicorn looked up at Sweetie and raised an eyebrow.

“Wha- the hay?!” Sweetie stepped back, eyes wide as the showmare slowly stepped down from the bed.

“Are you feeling better, Sweetie?” she asked, tilting her head to the side as she examined the little filly.

“What are you doing here?!” Sweetie Belle began fearfully before the questions began to spill forth rapidly. “What’s happening here? What’d you do with Twilight? You erased everypony’s memories so they wouldn’t know you killed her, didn’t you?!”

The showmare’s eyes widened a bit but then she smiled and chuckled. “Well, I am not called The Great and Powerful Trixie for nothing... but I dare say brainwashing everypony is still a bit outside my current abilities. Not to mention that killing Twilight is the last thing I would ever want to do.”

“But- but what are you doing here?” Sweetie asked.

“Hush,” Trixie said, pointing at the snoring dragon, “Let’s go downstairs so we don’t wake Spike.”

Barely able to contain her questions, the filly followed the older unicorn down the stairs. She watched silently as Trixie levitated a teapot onto the stove and began to brew a mix of herbs she pulled from a container that she didn’t recall ever seeing in the library before.

“Wha- what is that?” the filly asked.

“My own special Zebrican tea blend.” Trixie smiled. “What, you thought Spike had the only secret stash?”

Once tea was ready, the showmare sat down, placing both cups on the table.

“Now, Sweetie, this might come as a shock to you, but I live here with Twilight. We’ve been living together in the Library for almost a year now.”

“What? But...” the filly shook her head. “That’s can’t be right! I’ve been staying with Twilight for the last two weeks and... and the last time I saw you you almost killed me! And Twilight certainly wasn’t happy to see you!”

A flash of hurt crossed Trixie’s eyes. “Those are words I’d rather never have to hear.”

“Huh?”

“Exactly.” Trixie smiled as she slowly stirred her tea. “Tell me, Sweetie, how do you feel?”

“Confused... really, really confused...” the filly confessed, staring morosely at the cup. The inviting scents emanating from the tea were making her mouth water, but she had to wait, lest she burn her tongue and lips before recalling Twilight’s spell and cooling down the tea a bit.

“That’s good. If you know you are confused, then you know something is not right.” The showmare looked at the library. “Think about how things were and how things are. Tell me... what’s different? Start with the small things.”

“Well...” the filly frowned as she thought. “My stuff wasn’t in my room upstairs,” she said, feeling a bit dumb for not realizing it earlier. “And... the book I was reading had fewer pages...”

“So, even if somepony had managed to brainwash all of us, do you think they would go into enough detail to change that?”

Sweetie looked down. “No...”

“What else is different?”

“Well, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo weren’t in town, and neither was Rarity the last two weeks.”

“I can tell you for certain that all three of them have been here all that time,” Trixie said, motioning for Sweetie to drink some of her tea.

Slowly, the filly levitated the cup just like Trixie was doing and took a sip. She looked at the tea in the cup in surprise. “This is really good!”

The showmare smirked. “I figured, since you liked the spicy tea, you would like this one too. I got it during my travels with the Zebras.”

Sweetie drank more tea before putting down her cup. “So... are you going to tell me you’re not a wanted felon?”

She had to dodge to the side to avoid being sprayed with tea as Trixie spit what she was drinking.

“I... What?!”

“You released two werewolves in the middle of Ponyville!” Sweetie said, glaring at her. “I almost got killed!”

“But... I would nev-” Trixie took a deep breath. “Okay, now I’m fairly certain I know what the problem is.”

Sweetie blinked.

“While I was travelling with the Rhinos-”

“What’s a Rhino?” Sweetie interrupted.

Trixie arched an eyebrow. “Great lumbering beasts with poor eyesight, but with grand magical traditions that go back thousands of years. Almost as long as the Zebras’.”

“Oh...”

“Anyway, they have a ritual which allowed them to see beyond this world and into others,” Trixie continued. “I never experienced it firsthoof, because only they seemed to be able, but it would allow them to find themselves in other dimensions, across time and space itself, and see and experience those other worlds through the actions of their counterparts.”

Sweetie Belle stared at her, silent.

“...” Trixie blinked. “Did... you understand any of that?”

“Nope!” Sweetie said. “But some of it sounded familiar. I think...” she closed her eyes and tried to remember. “I think the experiment where-” she choked.

“Go on, Sweetie, what experiment?”

“... the one where...” She couldn’t bring herself to say the words. An overwhelming feeling of guilt settled on her as she looked at Trixie’s worried gaze. “It was... last night... and Twilight... she...”
Sweetie closed her eyes. “I think I killed Twilight!” she confessed as she collapsed on the floor. “I didn’t know!”

Trixie dropped her cup, the sound of it shattering lost in Sweetie’s sobs.

“You what?!”

“I’m sorry!” she bawled. “I’m so sorry! I was just trying to get something while she worked!”

Trixie looked at the filly, mind racing. "I-it's okay, Sweetie. Just calm down and tell me what happened."

Slowly, between sobs and suddenly finding herself in the surprisingly comforting forelegs of Trixie, Sweetie Belle explained what she had done and what she had seen. “... an- and then she... bro-broke into pieces...” The filly sniffed. “I saw a flash and... and I woke up in my room... I thought it was all a bad dream...” She started shaking.

Trixie felt cold, having imagined that happening to her Twilight. “And you said that the thing she was experimenting on affected time and space?”

Sweetie nodded morosely, not even looking up at her.

The showmare slowly stroked the filly’s mane. “It was an accident, Sweetie... and... I don’t want to give you false hope, but when things like that happen, you cannot simply trust your eyes...”

“What do you mean?” Sweetie asked, her eyes red from crying and rubbing at them.

“There is a chance that Twilight, your Twilight, is still alive,” Trixie said carefully. “Your perceptions of what happened could have been affected by the magic... I believe that’s how you were sent to this dimension. Maybe the same happened to her.”

“So... this isn’t my real home?” the filly sniffled.

“I’m afraid not. That’s why everything you remember is so different.”

“But then... Apple Bloom wasn’t lying! And she got punished worse because of me!”

Trixie nodded. “There’s not much we can do about that right now, but we’ll sort it out tomorrow. For now we should sleep. I’ll ask Spike to send a letter to Twilight; she may know how to get you home.”

Sweetie yawned and nodded. “Thanks... Trixie.” She stood up and went upstairs, leaving Trixie alone.

With a sigh, the unicorn conjured up a blank scroll and a quill. Soon, the only noise in the Library was the scratching of quill on parchment.

o.0.o

The next morning, Trixie trotted down the stairs slowly to a pair of youthful voices.

“So, then you add the bananas now...” Spike’s voice drifted from the kitchen.

“Like this?” came Sweetie’s voice a second later.

“Yep, nicely done! Now, press them down a little bit so that the batter goes all around it. Yeah, like that,” Spike instructed.

“What’s going on here?” Trixie asked, walking into the kitchen with a sleepy grin.

“Morning, Trixie!” Spike called, smiling at her.

Sweetie Belle smiled brightly and waved a hoof excitedly at the showmare. “Spike is teaching me how to make the princess’s favorite pancakes!”

“Ok! Concentrate!” Spike interrupted, shifting the little unicorn's attention back to the task before them. “You see how the batter is starting to bubble? That means that they’re almost ready to be turned over; lift up the side of the pancake a bit: once that looks a bit more solid, use your magic to flip them.”

Sweetie concentrated and three of the pancakes glowing as they flipped under her control, while Spike expertly flipped five others with a spatula. They waited a little bit before placing the pancakes onto a platter which went straight into a preheated oven.

“To keep them warm,” Spike explained, when Sweetie asked why.

Trixie watched in bemusement as the pair of youngsters produced batch after batch of pancakes. It wasn’t long before they had run out of room in the oven, and the group sat down to eat.

“I think I will take over your training for today, Sweetie,” Trixie declared after a pause in the meal, “Twilight is not due back until late afternoon, I would think. And honestly, that mare puts far too much emphasis on theory and not enough on execution, I think you need a bit more hooves-on practice to get that shield working.”

Sweetie looked at the older unicorn in surprise. “Really? You’ll help?”

Trixie nodded. “Why, of course. The Great and Powerful Trixie could not simply leave her beloved’s apprentice unattended to stagnate in her education! Twilight would have my hide for such an offense! So, get ready, we’ll stop by Carousel Boutique to tell Rarity you’ll be with me today.”

Sweetie could only nod dumbly as Trixie walked out of the kitchen. “Did she just call Twilight her ‘beloved’?” she squeaked, wide-eyed as she turned to look at Spike for confirmation.

“Yeah,” the little dragon nodded, munching happily a somewhat burnt pancake. “I thought everypony knew, what with the duel and the competition in Canterlot...”

“But... what about Big Mac?” Sweetie asked.

Spike blinked. “What about him?”

“I always thought he had a thing for Twilight! I even saw them--” Sweetie stammered out before stopping herself short.

Stupid, Sweetie! I forgot this isn’t my home...

“Even saw them what?” Spike asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Uh... nothing.” Sweetie smiled. “I should get my mane ready, you know...” she trailed off at his expression. “Because of my sister... Who dislikes... messy... manes. I go now!”

Spike watched as she ran out of the kitchen before shrugging. “Well, better get this cleaned up if I want to go with them to see... Rarity.” Spike sighed as he absentmindedly began to wash the dishes.

o.0.o

The walk towards Carousel Boutique was quiet. There were a lot of things that Sweetie wanted to ask Trixie, specifically what to tell Rarity, but Spike’s presence made her feel uncomfortable talking about something that felt so personal.

She really wasn’t looking forward to this.

What am I going to tell Sis? Is she really my sis? Should I talk to her at all? She grew more even nervous as the boutique came into view. What should I do? What should I do?! She looked, wild-eyed to Trixie, who looked back calmly.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure your sister will understand if you need a day to sort things out. And you’ll be with me, so she needn’t worry.”

Sweetie Belle exhaled and felt herself relax a bit at Trixie’s words. I guess if she’s my sister back home, she’s still my sister here... she smiled. I’m sure we’re as close here as we are there... like apple pie.

As soon as they reached the boutique, the door opened and Rarity was looking at Sweetie with a worried expression. “Good morning, Sweetie...” the fashionista trailed off, unsure of what to say next.

Sweetie looked down and scratched at the floor with a hoof. “Morning, sis.”

The two looked very uncomfortable, just standing there, avoiding one another’s gaze before Trixie finally cleared her throat. “Good morning, Rarity. I have talked to Sweetie and she wishes to practice magic with me today, and hopefully to clear her mind. We came here to see if that was okay.”

“We did?” Spike asked, cringing as he received glares from everypony present. “Uh... I guess we did.”

“I...” Rarity glanced over her shoulder at the tea set and muffins she had procured for a quiet talk with Sweetie. “I- if that is what you want, Sweetie,” she said, looking back to the pair of unicorns in front of her.

“I do, sis...” the filly said after a moment. “But I also wanted to talk to you... and Scootaloo and Apple Bloom... but I... I need some time.”

Rarity sighed. “It’s okay, Sweetie. I’m... I’m sorry I made you feel so bad and that I accused you of lying.” She was suddenly being crushed by a hug from the unicorn filly.

“I’m sorry I’m making you worry, sis!” Sweetie cried. “I just... have a lot to think about. I promise I’ll tell you everything.”

Rarity smiled, nuzzling the filly affectionately. “I can work with that,” she reassured her sister.

“Well, we should get going,” Trixie said, casting suspicious glances around. “I’d rather be out of here before I get challenged again.”

“Good luck then!” Rarity said as the trio turned around and started walking away.

“Thanks, sis! See you soon!” Sweetie called over her shoulder.

Spike waved half-heartedly as he rode on Trixie’s back, watching his beloved Rarity walk into the boutique.

Trixie led them out of town and towards the edge of the Everfree Forest, stopping just shy of entering Everfree proper.

“I think we’re far enough...” She turned around to face Sweetie Belle. “Okay, now, we’ll start with you trying the spell while I throw something at you. If your spell works, the shield should stop it.”

Sweetie blinked. “Uh... Twilight always told me that I should understand everything about the spell before-”

Trixie waved a hoof dismissively. “Twilight worries too much. Trust me. I didn’t spend several months tied in a high-magic competition with her without knowing what I was doing.”

“But...”

“It’s okay. I won’t throw anything too dangerous at you,” Trixie encouraged. “This is how the Zebras train their young warriors.”

“But I’m not a Zebra!”

“Well... you like the spicy tea so you could be,” Spike said after a moment. “I mean, you’d need stripes but...”

Trixie rolled her eyes and levitated a small dirt clod. “Ready?”

“No!”

“Well, here it goes!”

“But I-” Sweetie’s eyes widened as they followed the patch of dirt. She jumped out of the way. “Hey! I said I wasn’t ready!”

“You cheated!” Trixie called back, grinning. “You’re not supposed to dodge! You’re supposed to cast the shield spell!”

Spike didn’t look amused. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” he asked the azure unicorn.

“Yes,” Trixie admitted, keeping her eyes and her grin trained on the little filly.

Sweetie kept a wary eye on the showmare. “I knew I shouldn’t trust her,” She muttered, only to watch in horrified fascination as Trixie levitated many, many pieces of dirt and positioned them right over the pair. When the sky was veritably blotted out by small balls of dirt, Sweetie decided that it was best to be someplace else...

… and promptly found that she couldn’t move.

Too late did she notice the faint blue aura surrounding her hooves. She looked up at Trixie in despair. The showmare smirked at her. The dirt balls above her shot down in Sweetie’s direction.

Spike, watching from a safe distance away, closed both his eyes for a split second, but soon enough opened one to take a peek.

With a huge SPLAT made out of smaller splats, Sweetie Belle was buried under hundreds of dirtballs.

“Why?!” Sweetie asked after a moment. “That’s not fair!” She shook off some of the dirt, but most of her coat was completely covered in it.

Trixie chuckled, looking proudly at the filly. “But Sweetie, you cast the spell!”

Sweetie blinked and looked at her coat. She had been almost completely covered in dirt. “No I didn’t!”

The showmare shook her head, smile still in place. “Look at your mane, you silly filly.”

Sweetie looked up as much as she could.

“One moment.” Trixie transmuted a small rock into a mirror before levitating it before the young unicorn. “Here.”

Sweetie stared at her reflection. Just like the showmare had said, there was not a speck of dust or dirt on her mane.

“I did it?” she asked in wonder. “I did it! Yay!” out of habit she turned to look at her flank.

Was... was there something there? Even for just for a second?

“Are you ready for another try?” Trixie called as she watched the filly spin around trying to see if she had a cutie mark.

“Yes!”

o.0.o

They spent most of the morning practicing. Once Sweetie had figured out how to make a shield big enough to cover her completely from falling dirt, Trixie had changed tactics, hurling clods from all directions. Some were stopped by the shield, but most of the time, Sweetie was unable to cast the spell quickly enough to avoid getting hit.

Trixie had then alternated between practicing the shield spell to practicing Prestidigitation, and finally having Sweetie levitate three balls which they would toss back and forth between them. As they did, the showmare began to describe the competition she had had with Twilight Sparkle, both of them throwing hundreds of balls at each other.

To say the little filly was impressed would be an understatement.

I’m pretty sure the Trixie from my world would never be able to do that! she had thought to herself on more than one occasion, but she was nevertheless thrilled that Twilight, or this world's version had proven herself so powerful and resourceful as well.

“I think that is enough for now,” Trixie said, looking down at the now brown-coated filly covered in darker patches of dirt panting in front of her. “Rarity is going to kill me. I know it.”

“I think most of it’ll come out in a bath.” Sweetie looked down at herself, taking several deep breaths before closing her eyes and shaking herself, sending cascades of dirt falling to the ground. She opened her eyes to find that, despite the ring of dirt around her, her normally white coat was still a light brown.

“Maybe.” Trixie smirked. “We should have something to eat.” The showmare gave Spike a meaningful look. The dragon, having watched the training with a great deal of amusement, rolled his eyes.

“Fine, fine,” Spike muttered half-heartedly. “I’ll make you some daisy sandwiches.” He sighed as he stood up and walked back towards town.

Thankful for the rest, Sweetie collapsed on the grass. She didn’t think about anything at all, content to watch the clouds pass overhead. However, a passing pegasus in the distance brought more painful memories.

“Scootaloo and Apple Bloom hate me.” she said finally. “Apple Bloom thinks I lied to avoid getting punished, and Scootaloo thinks that I don’t care about them at all.”

“They think that you’re their Sweetie Belle. To them, you were here a couple of days ago playing around,” Trixie said, sitting next to her. “We’ll have to clear it up before we send you on your way to find your Twilight, otherwise our Sweetie is going to find herself in a rather unexplainable situation.”

“Oh...” Sweetie murmured. “I just wish I hadn’t hurt them,” she added miserably.

Trixie sighed. “It’ll be okay, Sweetie. You had no intention of hurting them. You were simply confused. I am sure your friends will understand.”

The little filly nodded tiredly before she looked lazily towards Ponyville, blinking in confusion as she saw Spike running back to them. “Well, that was fast.”

Trixie looked towards the approaching dragon and frowned. “Too fast. He couldn’t have even gone halfway to the library yet.”

The pair watched as Spike jogged up to them, out of breath. “I... *gasp* I got this... *cough* from the Princess...” he said, shakily holding a scroll up in his claw as he bent over, wheezing, “Whew... I gotta lay off the agate.”

Blinking, Trixie levitated the scroll up and opened it. As her eyes scanned the page, she started looking ill.

“Trixie?” Spike asked. “Is something wrong?”

“It’s Twilight,” the showmare said worriedly. “She was supposed to have arrived last night!”

“But what happened? Wasn’t she with the Princess?” Sweetie asked.

“The Princess says that Twilight decided to go home on her own after stopping at a village to investigate a some legend,” the blue unicorn said, rereading the scroll. “She’s worried since Twilight was only supposed to be there for a couple of hours before heading back here.”

Trixie smacked a hoof to her forehead before letting it slide down her face, a frustrated groan escaping her. “She’d better not be in trouble!”

“What town is it? Maybe we can go get her?”

Trixie looked down at the filly. “Marethage. But what do you mean by ‘we’?”

“I’m not staying here while my teacher is in danger!” Sweetie declared without hesitation. “Even if she wasn’t teaching me, Twilight’s still my friend!”

“Since when have you been so close to Twilight?” Spike asked Sweetie, but she ignored him, concentrating on the showmare instead.

Trixie sighed, wilting beneath the little filly’s stare. “Listen, Sweetie, you are indeed very talented in magic and you would make Twilight proud with how fast you are advancing. But, you are still very young. It would be completely irresponsible of me to take you with me.”

“But...” Sweetie looked down at the floor angrily.

Why is it always like this? Sis treats me like that all the time! The only ones that never do are Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Twilight! She blinked back tears.

“Listen Sweetie, you have to stay with your sister. It’s too dangerous. We don’t know what happened to Twilight.” The showmare said kindly.

“No.” Sweetie looked up at the other unicorn. “I can’t! Don’t you see? I can’t go back home... I don’t even know when I will! I have to learn to be stronger and I have to help Twilight! Please! Don’t... don’t leave me behind! I can’t let anything happen to her again... not again...”

Trixie looked unsure. For a moment, she had forgotten who she was dealing with. This might be Sweetie Belle, but it wasn’t their Sweetie Belle. And it was true: there were no guarantees that Sweetie would return home once they figured out how to send her on her way. And if she got into trouble... would she be able to defend herself? A Shield spell was useful, but other than Levitation and Prestidigitation, there was little else the filly had at her disposal danger in some other universe. Was it better to leave her behind, safe in Ponyville? Or would it be better to take her along and try to instill some of the world knowledge she had?

The showmare sighed. This was not what she imagined she was going to spend this month like. Dodging challengers? Yes. Suddenly finding out that the little sister of one of her friends was in reality a dimensional-hopping filly unicorn? No. Embarking on a sudden quest to find her lover? Well... perhaps, considering her lover and friend’s habitual attraction to adventure, but a sudden quest and a dimension-hopping filly at the same time? Certainly not.

And now here was Sweetie staring at her with those big, green, puppy dog eyes of hers. Trixie knew Twilight was probably just caught up in her studies, but still she had an uneasy feeling about the entire situation.

“I’ll be good!” Sweetie promised. “It’s just that... If anything happens to Twilight and I’m not there to help...” She looked down. “I don’t know what I would do. I... I have to make it up to her, Trixie... please let me make it up to her...”

“Hold on!” Spike said, stepping between the two. “Since when does Sweetie Belle hang around Twilight enough to be her student and friend? And how come I never noticed? What is going on here?”

“I-” Sweetie started to reply, but was interrupted by Trixie.

“We will tell you and the others when we return,” the showmare promised.

“We?” the filly asked, looking up at the older unicorn in surprise, “Are you saying-”

“Yes.” Trixie nodded. “I will take you with me. You are not prepared enough for your situation. Be grateful that Twilight managed to teach you the value of study and diligence... it will probably save your life in the future.” The blue-coated mare turned to look at the baby dragon. “Spike, please trust me, I will go find Twilight; we should be back soon. We have to talk to Rarity first though...”

“That won’t be necessary,” a voice said, startling them and making them turn around. Rarity stepped nervously into view. “I... arrived here a few moments ago... I heard you talking.” Rarity walked towards them before stopping a few feet from her sister. “Sweetie...I know yesterday wasn’t exactly a perfect day, but I want you to know that I love you, and that I am ashamed of having doubted you. I don’t know how you know what you do, I don’t understand how Twilight had the time to even teach you while you played... there’s quite a lot I don’t understand about all this...” she sighed.

"How long were you listening, sis?"

"Only since Spike arrived... I had just been to the library to check on you, but you weren’t there... then I saw him running this way, so I followed him.”

“Oh...”

“Sweetie... you are my sister and I trust you. Even when everything I thought I knew told me otherwise... I saw you fall asleep studying last night, I saw you use magic and I heard you when you answered Trixie’s questions. I know that there is something going on here... something you know that I do not... But... must you go with Trixie?”

“Sis...” Sweetie hugged Rarity tightly. “I... I’ll explain everything to you and Apple Bloom and Scootaloo and Spike... but, it has to wait; it’s a long story and Twilight needs us. Please let me do this, sis. I have to do it... for Twilight,” she begged, eyes pained.

Rarity’s eyes met Trixie’s. “You will take care of her? You will make sure she’s not in danger?” she asked, staring at the showmare.

"I promise," the showmare replied before shrinking back suddenly.

Despite knowing that she was more powerful than the white unicorn, Trixie still found herself intimidated by the sudden death glare from Rarity. “Trixie, if something does happen to my Sweetie Belle, I will kill you.”

Gulping, the showmare nodded. “I will protect her with my life.”

"Good." The fashionista's glare faded as she turned to nuzzle Sweetie Belle. "Take care of yourself, Sweetie Belle."

“I will!” the filly said, sniffing as she pulled away from her older sister to go stand next to Trixie.

“Let’s go, Sweetie,” the showmare said, turning around. “The sooner we find Twilight, the sooner we’ll be back.”

Spike went to stand next to Rarity as the pair watched the blue unicorn and the filly walk away. They stood on the hill until they had lost sight of the travelers, and then Rarity looked down at Spike. “Come now, Spike. I need to take my mind off things, and I could use some company while I find some new gems.”

Spike nodded happily and walked beside the unicorn. “Are you going to be making a new dress, Rarity?”

“No,” she said with a smile. “I just have an idea.

o.0.o

The journey began quietly. Both unicorns were deep in thought as they walked along the road to Marethage.

Finally, Sweetie spoke up. “Thank you for bringing me with you, Trixie.”

The showmare shook her head when she heard the filly. “It’s okay, Sweetie.” She looked towards the younger unicorn. “You really do feel guilty about what happened to your Twilight, don’t you?”

The little unicorn nodded miserably. “It was my fault. If I hadn’t messed up her experiment, none of this would’ve happened.”

Trixie was silent for a moment, thinking on how best to express her thoughts. “I think our worlds are similar enough that the um... incident... with the Ursa Minor happened in your Ponyville too, am I right?”

Sweetie Belle nodded. “I didn’t really know about it until after you, I mean, my Trixie threw the werewolves at me. Twilight told me about it afterwards.”

Trixie nodded. “Well, although I wasn’t the one that brought the Ursa Minor to Ponyville, I was still indirectly responsible for it getting there. If I had kept an eye on Snips and Snails, I would have noticed that they were too easily impressed with my feats, that they couldn’t really distinguish showbiz from reality.” She coughed. “Sometimes we do things without thinking about consequences, Sweetie. I inflated my achievements to the point of fantasy to inspire and amaze my audience, but I never thought that it might be too much for... impressionable minds.”

“But at least nothing happened,” Sweetie argued, her voice threatening to break. “I blew up the Library!”

“Just because the Ursa was contained doesn’t mean something much worse wouldn’t have happened,” Trixie pointed out. “I was lucky that Twilight was there to save my and Ponyville’s collective hide.” She looked sadly at the filly. “But you weren’t so lucky. It’s random chance sometimes, how our lack of foresight plays out. I’ve learned a great deal since then, Sweetie, but you’re just a filly, and what you’re dealing with is more than anypony should at this time in your life. Accept that it was an accident... but as you struggle to make up for it, also accept that certain things are beyond your control.”

Sweetie Belle said nothing, her mind replaying the incident over and over... the way the out of control magic had coursed through and enveloped Twilight... the way her mentor had turned to crystal and shattered...

There’s no way I can ever forgive myself, she thought bitterly. How can I ever make up for it? I killed Twilight. There’s no bringing her back.

The pair continued in silence a little longer before Trixie spoke up once more. “I don’t know where you will go next,” Trixie said, looking straight ahead. “But perhaps... would you like to learn some illusion spells?”

Sweetie looked at the mare in surprise. “Will you teach me?”

“Well, why not? I was helping train you with the Shield spell already,” Trixie said. “Besides, I can’t let my love’s apprentice go into the unknown without sharing my amazing magical repertoire.”

Sweetie smiled, pushing thoughts of her original world to the back of her mind.

You’ll have to deal with it sooner or later... a tiny voice in her mind said, but she told it to shut up. She didn’t want to think about it.

“Okay, we can practice a bit on the way,” the showmare said. “This is a little like the Prestidigitation spell, but it is more advanced, so don’t be too worried if you cannot do it yet, okay? Just keep practicing whenever you have the chance.”

o.0.o

The town of Marethage was slightly bigger than Ponyville, but not by much. It had a small library, a couple of restaurants, and other amenities just like their town.

However, unlike Ponyville, Marethage was surrounded by a tall wall made out of thick, sharpened logs plunged into the earth. The outside fields were even protected by a lower wall, but strangely there were no barns or dwellings of any sort outside of the town itself.

“Look at this,” Trixie said, stopping a moment to admire the plants. “I have never seen cornstalks this size! And look at those pumpkins! And those tomatoes! No wonder Canterlot has been buying almost exclusively from Marethage these last couple of years.”

Sweetie Belle looked at the plants for a moment. Thinking about harvests and farms just made her think about Apple Bloom and she didn’t want to do that.

Taking her silence in stride, Trixie guided her charge along the main road towards the town.

It was starting to get a little dark by the time they arrived. A pony up in an observation tower noticed them and waved with a lantern. “Who goes there?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie and her assistant and apprentice, Sweetie Belle!” the showmare announced with practiced flourish.

“Apprentice?” Sweetie asked, looking at the older unicorn with an arched eyebrow.

“Well, yes!” Trixie said. “It isn’t as though Twilight has exclusive rights to you! Besides, I have been tutoring you for close to a day now.”

The gates swung open to admit them, Sweetie Belle smiling as she followed the blue-coated mare into the town. Inside the walls, the town looked to be pretty much the same size as Ponyville. At its center stood a decorative fountain from which a jagged rock rock in the shape of a crescent moon glittered in the light of the street lamps. The houses were less stylized than their hometown, having a more uniform look with its structures. All in all, however, it seemed to be a hospitable, if a bit too orderly, place.

“You were lucky to make it here before sundown!” the earth pony guard said, as he trotted up to meet them. He had a brown coat and an honest smile. His cutie mark was a lit candle. “Lantern Case, at your service, ma’ams,” he said with a curt bow of his forelegs. “Welcome to Marethage; no doubt you are on your way to Viscolt, correct?”

“Actually, this is where we were headed, good sir,” Trixie said. “We’ve come seeking a unicorn by the name of Twilight Sparkle.”

“Oh...” Lantern looked suddenly nervous. “I’m afraid that Miss Sparkle is not with us anymore...”

Trixie’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, by ‘not with us’?”

“Well, you see...”

“She didn’t listen when we told her she had to be in town by nightfall,” another guard, older looking and with a grey coat and a lock for a cutie mark, growled, as he trotted up to them. “She said she needed to be out there to find something. We warned her to be careful and to come back here. By the time we had locked the gates, she hadn’t come back.”

“What?!” Sweetie Belle squeaked out.

“And you didn’t organize a search party?!” Trixie demanded, her eyes hard.

“Miss, we can’t just organize a search for everypony foolish enough not to listen to those of us that know better. I’m afraid that, having been gone this long,” the guard said. “It’s unlikely she’s even still alive.”

A burst of energy nearly knocked both guards down as Trixie’s magic manifested in a visible blue aura around her. Her eyes almost glowed with power. “Do you foals even know who she is?!” she almost screamed, drawing the attention of other ponies in the area, who slowly walked up to the guards as they struggled to get up.

“Just some uppity unicorn from Canterlot,” the gray one snorted.

“She is Princess Celestia’s PERSONAL STUDENT!” Trixie growled, anger emanating from every particle of her being, wisps of magical energy curling off from her aura. “She’s gone missing and you didn’t even attempt to find her!” Trixie gritted her teeth in anger as another wave of energy radiated from her. The main gate beginning to protest as her magic slowly pressed on it.

The guard’s eyes widened. “Stop! Stop! What are you doing, you crazy mare!? Do you want to get us all killed?”

“I’m going to do your job and go find her, you useless slob!” Trixie retorted.

“Miss! Please calm down!” an elder unicorn asked, stepping out from the terrified crowd. “There is a reason why we didn’t go after her! Please! Calm down and let me explain.”

Trixie was about to ignore him when she felt a tap on her leg. Looking down, eyes still glowing with power, she noticed Sweetie Belle looking up at her. “Please, Trixie, calm down. We can go find her, but Twilight wouldn’t like it if you destroyed the town.” The showmare took a deep breath and visibly restrained herself, the blue aura slowly dying away.

“Fine,” she spoke through gritted teeth. “You will tell us what happened. And there better be a good reason.”

The unicorn nodded, sighing in relief at the calmed mare. He turned an annoyed look towards the gray-coated guard. “Lip Lock, when are you going to learn some tact? There’s other ways of breaking the news to a pony.”

The guard looked away angrily. “Whatever.”

The elder unicorn shook his head sadly. “Please, come with me. I am the Scroll Shelf, Mayor of Marethage.”

“Shelf?” Sweetie asked with a soft giggle before she could stop herself. “Sorry.”

The Mayor chuckled. “I had cruel parents,” he said with a fond smile. “They were very good at name guessing though, since that is about 80 percent of my work.”

“Mister Shelf, as much as I would like to chat, I want more to know what happened to my- to Twilight,” Trixie demanded.

If the elder unicorn caught her slip, he gave no indication of it. “We’re almost there,” he said, pointing to a small building with a sign that read ‘Council Hall.’

They entered the building and after finding a place to sit down, they did so. The mayor coughed before looking out the window. “Miss Sparkle was here, as you already know, conducting a bit of research,” he said. “She asked me if there were any ruins in the area and I said no.” He looked back at them. “I lied.”

“Why would you do that?” Trixie growled. “Knowing Twilight she headed straight for the nearest library and found out that there were.”

The mayor nodded. “That is indeed what happened. Miss Sparkle left the town by herself when she couldn’t get anypony to talk to her about the ruins...”

“But why wouldn’t you tell her anything?” Sweetie asked.

The Mayor sighed. “A few years ago, something happened,” he said. “Out of the ruins came two enormous wolves. The beasts would attack at night, and drag one of our own with them to the ruins. We tried fighting, but they were far too strong. And when the moon would be full, they would transform...” The mayor shuddered. “We searched the old records for mention of the ruins, and found that the two monsters had been trapped in there in ancient times. They had been turned to stone by some sort of magic. But now... it seems they have broken free.”

“But why did you not warn Twilight?” Trixie asked. “She could have-”

“Wait...” Sweetie Belle interrupted, looking up at the mayor with a frown. “These wolves... are they Romulus and Remus?”

The mayor blinked in surprise. “Well... yes but... how...”

“You know of them?” Trixie asked, surprised, then her eyes narrowed. “Were those...”

Sweetie nodded nervously. “Yeah... but...” she looked at the mayor. “How did they get out of the ruins? I studied their story and the legends. The only way they could leave is if somepony took them out of their cave, or if the spell keeping them inside is broken.”

Trixie looked at the mayor, who shuffled nervously. “We- we don’t know who did it, it just happened!”

“The legend also says that if they capture a mare near the Full Moon, they will try to turn her into one of them,” Sweetie Belle continued. “They were stopped a long ago when they were bent on creating a kingdom of wolves.”

“Who stopped them, Sweetie? And how?” Trixie asked as she tried to calculate when the next Full Moon was.

“I’m not sure, it could have been the Princesses,” the filly replied uncertainly. “But I’m sure we could find out if we researched it en-”

“We don’t have time,” Trixie said, pacing around the room. “The Full Moon is tonight! Twilight will become one of them if we don’t act now.”

Sweetie frowned and looked outside, worry evident in her eyes. “They will try to do it soon after the moon is out... it’s a bit cloudy and they’ll want it to be as clear as possible.”

“Good, that works in our favor,” Trixie muttered, turning her glare towards the Mayor. “You will give us directions to the ruins.”

“I can’t let you go kill yourselves!” The Mayor cried out. “You have no idea-”

“We know exactly what we’re doing,” Trixie interrupted, “And I will have you know that the Princess already knows that Twilight was last seen here, and that we both came looking for her on the Princesses’ behalf. If you do not help us, I will personally make sure that she finds out!”

The old stallion cringed. “Fine. But be warned that if you go, you will almost certainly die.”

“We’ll see about that,” the showmare replied.

o.0.o

“So, Sweetie,” Trixie began as the trees rose above them, hiding the stars from view, “What do you know about these werewolves? How did you stop them last time?”

Sweetie Belle looked around at the darkened woods nervously. “Well, they’re immortal... the story says that one cannot die while the other lives.”

The showmare frowned. “That doesn’t make much sense... sounds like some sort of riddle.”

“I didn’t get it either,” Sweetie confessed. “I also know that silver burns them... that’s how Twilight caught them; she made a cage and wrapped silver all over it.”

Trixie groaned. “We don’t have any silver. Is there any other way to stop them? What about that spell that kept them in the ruins?”

Sweetie shrugged. “I just know that there was some sort of spell keeping them there so only somepony willing would be able to release them.”

Trixie hummed to herself, eyes narrowing. “Somepony must have moved it...” she thought for a moment. “You said that they wanted to create a kingdom of wolves? Why are they sticking to this small area then? If they moved away they would be able to catch more ponies than those in Marethage.”

Sweetie looked down. “I don’t know, Trixie... sorry.”

The blue unicorn chuckled. “I didn’t expect you to know, Sweetie, I was just thinking aloud, that’s all.” Her smile faded. “I think the Mayor knew more than he told us.”

Sweetie didn’t answer, she was more concerned with the forest around them and the possibility of a werewolf attack.

“But why... they haven’t even reported the werewolves were free to Canterlot!” Trixie growled. “Sweetie, tell me more about this legend.”

“Well... the book Twilight gave me said that Romulus and Remus were two brother wolves that wanted to make their kingdom, but because they were the only ones left, they couldn’t have any subjects, so they each went their own way to find a way to create more wolves.” Sweetie paused, trying to remember more of the story. “They eventually found a magic item to help them with that, it had something to do with... uh... fert.. ability?”

“Fertility,” Trixie corrected.

“Yeah! Fertability,” the filly repeated. “They were somehow tied forever to the item, but the problem was that it would only give its power to one of them.”

“I can see where that would be a problem.” the showmare quipped.

“So they fought over it until Romulus almost killed his brother...”

“But didn’t you say that they were immortal?” Trixie asked.

“Hey! I didn’t write the story! Some silly pony did like a thousand years ago!”

“Sorry, Sweetie. Please. Continue.”

“Well, the book didn’t say how, but a group of heroes sealed them in the ruins with the magic item... and they were supposed to stay there forever.”

Trixie nodded, deep in thought.

The pair walked in silence until the forest started to clear around them. Soon, they were standing outside a circle of stones, with a path at one end of the circle going deep underground.

“I guess this is it...” Trixie sighed.

“Do we know what we’ll do?” Sweetie asked.

The showmare grimaced. “I should have asked you about those wolves earlier, had we been in town I think I could have done something...”

Sweetie looked at the path nervously. “Trixie... what if-”

“Don’t think about it,” the showmare whispered. “We have to get her out. Now, come, The Great and Powerful Trixie has a plan.”

The two unicorns slowly made their way into the ruins. At first, the underground passage was little but rocks around them, but the tunnel eventually emerged into a large cavern, where they stopped and stared in awe at the remnants of an ancient city. From time to time a small tremor would shake the cavern and bits of rock and dirt would rain from the ceiling.

“It looks like this place is about ready to collapse,” Trixie muttered.

“Wait!” Sweetie hissed. “I think I heard something...”

It took a moment, but eventually they heard a faint voice in the distance. Looking at each other, they slowly began to move forward.

“... you don’t have to do this, I’m sure there’s plenty of other ways for you to, uh, procreate than turning me into a werewolf!”

“That’s Twilight!” Sweetie whispered excitedly. Trixie smiled and nodded, raising a hoof to indicate to the filly that she needed to be quiet.

The pair snuck into a half-collapsed house and carefully peeked through the cracks in the wall.

Twilight stood inside a small cage, fearfully pleading with her captors as they stood in before of a massive ancient column that reached all the way up to the apex of the cave and seemed to be the only thing keeping it up. Next to her, a familiar looking stone structure stood amongst the remains of buildings and several rocks that had landed around it. It was a bit of jagged rock that looked almost like a crescent moon... or that’s what Sweetie had thought when she had seen it in Marethage. Now, it reminded her more of a wickedly curved fang, albeit a bit duller looking than its counterpart.

“Why isn’t she using her magic?” Sweetie whispered.

Trixie looked down and shook her head, pointing towards her horn.

What about her horn? Sweetie wondered, looking at the showmare blankly. When it was obvious the filly wasn’t getting it, Trixie rolled her eyes and pointed at her own horn, then shook her head. Not her horn? Then the showmare pointed at Twilight, then at her own horn. Twilight’s horn? Sweetie looked back at her mentor and noticed the small object around her horn, some sort of metal clasp wrapped around the purple unicorn’s horn. Oooh... that must stop her magic!

Seeing the light of comprehension dawn on the filly’s face, Trixie sighed. Finally. She turned to look back at the wolves.

“Ready, little mare?” One of the wolves, slightly bigger than the other grinned wickedly as he reached a paw past the bars, gently tracing a claw down the side of Twilight’s face. “You’re cute right now; I think you will make an even lovelier wolf.”

“Um, thank you, but I’d much rather not... no offense, but I have friends and a very special pony waiting for me back home... Maybe there’s some other way I can help you. Maybe a--”

“Don’t you ever get tired of begging?!” the other wolf barked, annoyed. “You’re going to be a wolf, not a dog!”

“I’m just offering a more mutually agreeable solution to-”

“No,” the bigger wolf growled with finality. “I don’t care who you are with right now, and neither will you in a few moments.”

The three looked up, the two unicorns in hiding also following their eyes. Where the ceiling had caved in, the group could make out the stars in the sky above. The weather had cleared and the Full Moon had risen.

“It is time,” the bigger stated as the pair of wolves approached the fang. The pair howled into the air, their lupine shapes blurring as they transformed into their larger, bipedal forms.

Both werewolves, now standing up on their hind legs placed their hands on the jagged rock, lowering their heads in what seemed like prayer.

“Moon!” the larger howled. “It is I, Romulus! He who hast proven beyond doubt to be the strongest!”

Sweetie and Trixie noticed Remus shooting his brother a spiteful glare before lowering his head again.

“Bestow unto me your blessing so that I might populate the world with our kin!” Romulus finished.

The rock pulsed with white light. Slowly intensifying until it began to illuminate the area around them.

Twilight stared, fears forgotten at the revelation of what had to be something a pony would only witness once in a life-time.

Sweetie, for her part, was staring at Trixie, the showmare’s horn shining softly with magic and eyes closed in concentration.

The moonlight slowly permeated the smaller of the werewolves, who glowed for a few seconds, smiling fiercely at the look his brother gave him.

“It seems the moon has chosen me after all, brother.” Remus laughed. “Don’t worry, I will make our kingdom strong.” He turned to grin at Twilight, who audibly meeped and backed into the opposite corner of her prison.

“No, no, no! I don’t want to be a wolf!” she shouted, smacking her encased horn against the bars, trying to forcibly remove the clasp that prevented her from using her magic.

“It is too late, pony,” Remus growled as he stepped closer, but It was then that Romulus’ clawed hand grasped his shoulder.

“This is not going to happen,” the larger werewolf said, a threatening growl emerging. “I am the Alpha here! I shall be the one turn her and we will begin the kingdom of the wolf anew.”

Remus stepped away, shrugging his brother’s paw off. “You were the Alpha,” he growled back. “The Moon Fang has spoken! I am to be the progenitor of-”

He never finished as, with a vicious snarl, the taller werewolf was on him, ripping and tearing at flesh with tooth and fang. Remus replied in kind and soon both werewolves were in an all out battle. Soon, Remus was sent rolling on the floor. Standing up in shaky feet, he lowered his head and tucked his tail as he took on a submissive posture.

“B-brother... I... I yield to you... spare me...”

Romulus paused and was about to speak when the moonlight shone again on Remus, his fur glistening once more with the white light of the Moon Fang’s blessing. “No! The only way to create my kingdom is by killing you! You still have the blessing!”

Eyes widening in terror, Remus turned and bolted, followed closely by his brother, the sounds of their chase fading away slowly.

After a few moments of silence, Twilight started struggling, trying to remove the clasp again, keeping an eye out for the brother’s return.

“Need a hoof with that?”

Twilight jumped and hit her head on the top of her cage. Rubbing her head with a hoof, she turned around and stared as Trixie walked out from a ruined house with accompanied by none other than... Sweetie Belle?

“T-Trixie!” Twilight choked out as tears of happiness flooded her eyes and flowed freely down her cheeks. Both mares pressed against each side of the cage’s gate, nuzzling each other. A lightly blushing Sweetie Belle looked away, her eyes falling on the Moon Fang as something caught her eye.

As Trixie magicked the clasp from Twilight’s horn and unlocked the door, Sweetie made her way to the statue. Something had caught the moonlight, she thought, or maybe she had seen a faint, purple glow from amongst the rocks piled around it.

“Sweetie, we need to go before the Remus or Romulus return,” Trixie said.

“Wait...” Sweetie shook her head. “I... there’s something here...” Her horn lit the rocks with a white aura, and she heard Twilight gasp in surprise as she slowly levitated a few of the stones out of the way to reveal a small crystal shard. “That’s-” her eyes teared up. She would recognize this anywhere... it was a piece of Twilight. Her Twilight. The crystal almost seemed to pulsate with the familiar feel of the purple unicorn’s magic.

Trixie and Twilight stepped up to her, admiring the purple crystal as it spun and pulsed with magic.

“What is that?” Twilight asked softly, sensing that the filly was about to break up crying.

Trixie studied the crystal, eyes widening as she looked from it to Twilight and back to the crystal. “It’s...” Her throat felt dry. “Is that... what I think it is, Sweetie?”

The filly nodded, letting it fall into her hoof before clutching it tight to her chest. “It’s my Twilight.”

Your Twilight?” the purple unicorn asked, confused. “What do you mean, Sweetie? And... what are the two of you doing here in the first place?”

“There’s no time for that,” Trixie said. “We’ll tell you once we’re safe. We need to get out of here before-”

“Too late for that, little ponies,” Romulus said, walking into their sight. He dropped the carcass of his dead brother and smiled, his muzzle dripping blood. “My brother is no more. I will capture the three of you and receive the blessing of the Moon Fang... I will turn you all and together we shall lead our new kingdom to glory.”

The werewolf pounced, but before he made it even halfway through his jump, he was frozen in place by a mix of blue and purple auras.

Horns flaring and anger shining in their eyes, Trixie and Twilight held the wolf aloft for a moment before hurling him across the cavern.

Twilight’s horn took on a brighter shade as the Moon Fang was levitated into the air and thrown on top of the wolf.

“Do you think you can teleport all of us out?” Trixie asked Twilight.

“I think so!”

“Good!” The showmare turned her attention to the distant cave entrance. With a blast of magic, she collapsed part of the cave wall there before levitating pieces of destroyed building and piling them on top of each other until the whole entrance was covered. “Quick! Before he comes back!”

Twilight nodded and, after placing her forelegs around Sweetie and Trixie, closed her eyes in concentration, horn flaring into life. Sweetie let out an audible gasp as Romulus emerged from the shadows, leaping at them with all his strength and speed, snarling and with bloodlust in his eyes. The massive werewolf smashed against the ancient center column, the force of the impact sending cracks splintering up and down its length.

The werewolf looked up in fear and confusion as the support column split in half and the whole cavern began to groan and shake.

o.0.o

Reappearing outside of the entrance to the ruins with a burst of purple magic, the three unicorns turned to watch in morbid fascination as the cavern collapsed in on itself, burying its contents under tons of rock and earth.

For a few seconds, the mares thought they could hear enraged howls coming from within, but, as the dust settled, all was silent.

Trixie and Twilight looked at each other for a moment before the purple unicorn grabbed her lover by the neck and shared a very passionate kiss with her. After almost a minute, she let go of the dazed blue unicorn, who had to sit down.

“Now,” Twilight said, “I believe you two have some explaining to do.”

“How about you tell us what you were looking for here?” Trixie said, levelling a look at Twilight. “You might want us to explain, but we are the ones that had to come over here to save you.”

Twilight blushed, looking anywhere but at Trixie. “I...” She coughed. “Well... what do you know of the Moon Fang?”

Trixie raised an eyebrow. “Sweetie here told me that it was a symbol of fert-” her eyes widened. “Are you suggesting that-”

“I came here to see if we could... maybe... use it... someday...” Twilight lowered her head as she spoke until she looked almost as small as Sweetie. “To, you know... have a foal?”

Trixie opened her mouth as if to say something, but found that she didn’t have the words to describe the sudden warmth within her.

o.0.o

“... and although they had used the Moon Fang to increase the growth of their produce, they did so fully knowing that removing the magical statue from the ruins would allow Remus and Romulus to escape and attack innocent ponies. The wall around Marethage is a clear sign of their premeditation. They knew full well what they were getting into.”

Twilight paused for a moment before continuing her dictation.

“However, since both werewolves perished, the statue has lost all its power and is nothing more than a decoration now. Thankfully nopony was hurt.

“The Mayor of Marethage needs to be made responsible for his decision to endanger so many innocent ponies.

“Your faithful student,
“Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight took a long breath and released it. “Okay Spike, send it.”

The baby dragon rolled up the scroll, and, in a breath of green fire, it was gone. “Well, it sounds like that was some adventure you three had!”

Twilight nodded. “I agree. But I still need an explanation as to why Sweetie was there. And who taught her magic?” The purple unicorn groaned in frustration. “If Sweetie hadn’t been so adamant on getting to Ponyville first...”

Spike blinked. “But, Twilight... she’s your apprentice. You taught her magic.”

The purple unicorn’s eyes widened. “No I didn’t!” They both turned to look at the filly.

Sweetie Belle, standing next to Trixie, cringed. “I guess I need to explain a couple of things now, don’t I?”

“It’s just about time, Sweetie Belle.” The showmare nodded with an encouraging smile.

“Well...” the filly unicorn hesitated. “I- I’d like Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Rarity to be here too, if you don’t mind, Twilight?”

The unicorn blinked and nodded. “Spike?”

“On it, Twilight!” he said, running out of the library.

It wasn’t long before Rarity walked in followed by the remaining members of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, both of whom refused to look at Sweetie Belle.

Rarity sighed, but gave her sister an encouraging smile as the group sat down around the filly.

“I- I don’t know where to start...” Sweetie said, turning to look at the blue unicorn.

perhaps I should,” Trixie offered, looking at each pony in the room in turn before she began. “Last year, while I was travelling through the lands of the Rhinos...”

As Trixie began to tell her captivated audience about the dream-like state that allowed the Rhinos to visit other dimensions, Sweetie sighed and looked down at the purple crystal she held in her hooves. It glittered with so many memories... she felt suddenly nostalgic, and very alone, despite being with friends and family, or rather, versions of them.

The little filly unicorn became aware of a sudden silence and, glancing up, she noticed that Trixie was looking expectantly to her. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were now also looking her way, confused as to what Trixie’s story had to do with anything, while Twilight and Rarity had slightly distant looks in their eyes as they looked at her as they connected the dots.

The filly sighed. “I...” She took a deep breath and looked at each pony in the eye. “For the last few weeks I have been learning magic as Twilight’s apprentice-”

“But-” Apple Bloom started, only to be shushed by Twilight, who was looking at the small unicorn intently.

“At first I just wanted to play with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, all summer, but then Scootaloo went with Dash to a competition and Apple Bloom went with Applejack to Appleloosa...”

The group became very quiet as Sweetie described to them what it had been like living with Twilight while Rarity was away on a business trip; about how she had slowly warmed up to the purple unicorn and started really learning magic. How she had levitated her first stone. How she had accidentally turned Twilight’s mane pink while learning Prestidigitation. She told them about Trixie dragging Romulus and Remus to Ponyville, how she’d almost been killed and of Twilight’s decision to teach her the Shield spell. In halting sentences, she talked about the day that the library had received the packages from Canterlot, how she had come to the library and...

“... I-if... she paused a moment to wipe away the tears. “If I hadn’t tried to levitate those past the experiment, none of this would have happened!” she sobbed. “I’m so sorry!”

She was suddenly held by somepony. She opened her eyes to see Rarity hugging her. She felt Scootaloo and Apple Bloom do so too, and soon enough Twilight had joined the group.

“Oh, Sweetie...” Rarity said. “You’ve gone through so much...”

“I’m sorry...” Sweetie Belle apologized, burying her face in her sister’s mane. “I didn’t want to make Apple Bloom a liar, or Scootaloo angry...”

“It’s not your fault,” Scootaloo said. “I’m sorry I acted that way.”

Twilight stepped back after a moment. “So... that piece of crystal you found, is that...”

Sweetie nodded, levitating the crystal so they could all see it. “It is a piece of Twilight... my Twilight.”

“May I?” Twilight asked, voice little more than a whisper, staring at the crystal.

Sweetie nodded, and allowed Twilight to take hold of it with her magic. The purple unicorn closed her eyes and concentrated, feeling out the magic within the fragment. It seemed to shimmer for a second, before the purple unicorn suddenly gasped.

“I- I heard my own voice coming from it!”

“What? How?” Sweetie asked, a sudden excitement coursing through her.

“I- I don’t know... I just tried sensing the magic in it and... I heard my voice... I couldn’t make out what I said, though...”

Sweetie took the crystal and concentrated, just as Twilight had taught her. Soon everything around her faded and her only focus was the crystal.

“Sweetie...” Twilight’s voice echoed around her. “It’s okay, Sweetie, we can make it back home... Both of us. Draw my magic from the crystal; it will get you on your way... I hope to see you soon, my student.”

“Twilight! I’m so sorry!” Sweetie said, gasping as she opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by the others.

“What happened?” Apple Bloom asked, look of worry etched on the farm filly’s face.

“I think... I think I know how to go home,” Sweetie said after a moment.

“Oh...” Rarity sighed. “I had made this for you, Sweetie...” She pulled out a small notebook, decorated with gems in the silhouette of a unicorn mare in a regal pose. “As a gift for you to take notes in while you studied...” she explained, letting Sweetie take it. “I guess you won’t be able to take it with you after all... and I don’t know if my Sweetie here would ever use it.”

Sweetie’s eyes watered a bit. “Thank you, sis.”

“Wait,” Twilight said after a moment, her hoof to her chin as she thought. “I think there might be a way.”

Sweetie’s eyes were wide. “You really mean that?”

Twilight chuckled. “Of course. What kind of unicorn would I be if I didn’t make sure my transdimensional counterpart’s student had at least a notebook to write down her lessons?”

“But... you... er,” Sweetie looked at her mentor in confusion, “My Twilight always said that scrolls were better and-”

“That’s... not important,” the purple unicorn interrupted, glaring at the others they snickered. “What is important is that between Rarity, Trixie, and us, we can enchant the notebook to be part of your magic... a summons of sorts.”

Trixie smiled. “I see what you mean. If we both provide the power, Rarity the finesse to enchant the gems and Sweetie ties her magic with them she could theoretically pull it out wherever she is.”

“Well, let us get to work then!” Rarity declared excitedly.

o.0.o

It was a much more tired group of unicorn mares that sat around the library watching as Sweetie Belle concentrated her magic, making her notebook disappear and reappear again on command.

“Well, hopefully that should work,” Twilight said.

“Are you ready to go?” Trixie asked Sweetie Belle, who nodded before embracing the blue unicorn.

“Thank you for trusting me, teaching me and helping.”

“It was great, Sweetie. If you ever stop by again, don’t forget to visit,” Trixie said, returning the hug happily.

“Sis... thank you. And I’m sorry I made you worry.”

“Never mind that, Sweetie,” Rarity said with a dismissive wave of her hoof. “Water under the bridge. I love you, little sister, here and in any other world,” the white unicorn declared with a fond nuzzle.

“Thank you for saving me, Sweetie,” Twilight said with a smile. “I’m sorry I wasn’t around to teach you more about the Shield Spell.”

Sweetie chuckled. “It’s okay, Twilight,” the filly said, smiling. “Trixie helped me a lot, and I won’t disappoint my Twilight... I’ll keep studying!”

The little unicorn then turned to look at Spike, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, who had fallen asleep while the unicorns enchanted the notebook. “Tell them I’ll miss them, please...”

Turning her back on everypony so that she wouldn’t hesitate, the filly concentrated on the crystal, slowly drawing its magic into herself.

A bright, lavender light flooded her vision and then she was gone.

o.0.o

Rarity gasped and ran towards Sweetie Belle as the filly collapsed. “Sweetie? Sweetie, are you alright? I don’t think it worked...”

“Uhh...” the filly groaned, opening her eyes. “Sis?” She looked around. “Wha-what are we doing in the Library?”

The mares stepped back and stared.

Sweetie stared right back, face contorting in confusion. “Why are you all staring at me like that? Did my horn fall off or something?" She crossed her eyes as she tried to look up at her forehead. She gasped as a new possibility occurred to her. “Oh! Did my cutie mark appear?!” She snapped her head around to stare excitedly at her flank.

Still blank.

“Aww...”

o.0.o

When Sweetie Belle opened her eyes and blinked, she sighed as she looked at the bookshelves in the library. “I guess that didn’t work.”

“Uuuggh...”

The filly blinked as she slowly turned around. The library was a mess. There were upturned couches, boardgames were strewn around, and Rainbow Dash was passed out on top of the table.

Sweetie could hear Pinkie Pie snoring noisily, but the filly could only see the pink earth pony’s flank sticking out of the kitchen door.

Fluttershy was giggling in her sleep, kicking out her legs sporadically as she dreamed, hooves barely missing the unknown white female pegasus sleeping beside her.

Applejack and Rarity were lying on the couch, also completely passed out. She could barely make out Spike’s body beneath the lamp cover he had on his head.

The strangest thing, however, was the swirling magical portal placed where one of the book-shelves was supposed to be.

The sound of hoofsteps coming from upstairs made the filly look up in time to see Twilight emerge from her room. The two unicorns, filly and mare, stared at each other.

“Twilight...” Sweetie stared. “Why are you wearing that belly dancer outfit?”

“I...” The purple unicorn fell silent for a few seconds, blinking as if she were imagining things. “Uh... do I know you?”

“I’m...”

“Twiiiliiight!” a sultry voice called out, making both unicorns look towards the magical portal.

Sweetie couldn't decide whether to scream or run away, the filly’s body freezing up as Nightmare Moon stepped halfway out of it. “You’re late for work, my assistant!”

“Sorry!” Twilight replied nervously, visibly daunted by the dark alicorn.

Sweetie settled on screaming.

o.0.o End Chapter 1 o.0.o

Next: Nightmares Don’t Last Forever