• Published 22nd Aug 2015
  • 2,864 Views, 255 Comments

Fullmetal Pony - Leoshi

To get back what they've lost, siblings Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor embark on a quest to obtain the legendary Alicorn Amulet.

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1.2: Curiosity is Cheap (But New Carpet is Not)

"All matter is subject to balance. Nothing can be gained unless something can be lost. Equivalent Exchange. Formula. Material. What else?"

Twilight Sparkle was alone in the house, spending the afternoon in concentration while her brother and mother visited the market. In the time she had to herself, she had already created a sizable tear in Velvet's favorite lounge pillow. With the fabric damaged and the cotton within spilling out, the only thing missing was a guilty expression on the lavender filly. Instead of worry or panic, she was focused and a little giddy besides. She had torn the pillow without hesitation. There was no time for worry; this was for science!

"This should do it. I wish I had a lab coat or something."

Glancing about her bedroom, Twilight settled for the bedsheet she had yet to spread. She crawled beneath it and emerged on the other side, her head poking out like a groundhog beneath fresh snow. The filly wrapped the edge around her collarbone, took a step, tripped, stood up, and took another step. She scrutinized the setup before her, taking the time to glare a little bit because she had only recently learned what 'scrutinize' meant.

In the middle of her bedroom was her mother's victimized pillow. However, the pillow itself wasn't quite as impressive as what surrounded it. Placed at strategic points were little balls of thread, yanked out and rolled into bundles of tangles, and some bits of cotton. Beneath all of them was a large sheet of paper, on which an alchemy circle was drawn. The markings within the circle - the array, as Twilight had learned - were relatively simple, meant only to reconstruct something. There were no wordings or complex figures. Just a few angles to make a five-point star.

When drawing it, Twilight had had to resist the urge to give the star six points instead, if only so she could say her cutie mark did the work.

The unicorn cleared her throat. "On this day," she said to the empty space around her, "I change the world!"

With a great flourish and an excited smile, Twilight jumped forward and placed both forehooves on the paper. At the same time, she sparked a small charge through her horn, allowing the magic to spread from base to tip. The magic and the physical contact worked in tandem with her own desire for change, allowing the power from her horn to travel through her body and reach the circle below. The reaction began shortly after.

The drawn lines took on a bright blue glow, enough to make the filly squint her eyes. She didn't see the thin arcs of electricity jumping in front of her, but she certainly felt the sparks on her coat. A few were hot enough to sting. There was more heat too, enough to prompt a few beads of sweat on her brow. One drop made its way into her eye, and she was forced to shut them all the way.

A moment later, the heat dissipated and the sounds of electricity silenced. There was a distinct smell of burnt paper.

Opening her eyes and ignoring the sting of salt, Twilight saw the result of her first proper experiment with alchemy. Her hooves were slightly marred when the sparks had struck her, but the burns were nothing a little ice wouldn't soothe. And before her, giving off little wisps of steam...

"Oh...wow! Wow, whoa!"

Her mother's favorite pillow was unharmed. Every stitch was in its place, every tuft of cotton was hidden inside. The frills along the sides were pointing every which way, as through someone had rubbed a foreleg along them. The simple pattern on its broad side was restored, all flowers and stems. The only thing missing was the hole Twilight had made in the first place.

The thread and cotton Twilight had set nearby were gone as well, but of course that wasn't quite true. They weren't gone; they were simply put back, used in the process to repair the pillow to its previous state. Such was the nature of alchemy, and fully in line with the rules she had studied: all matter is subject to balance. The threads and cotton were of the same pillow, so of course they were a perfect match.

In fact, out of everything Twilight was expecting to occur, the only real surprise was the lingering odor of smoke. She looked away from the pillow and down at her setup.

"Ahh, shoot! No, no, don't catch fire, don't catch fire, please don't catch fire..."

The paper on which the pillow sat was gone, though oddly there were no ashes or scraps to be seen. The drawing of the circle, however, had been subjected to too much energy flowing through it, and thus the carpet beneath now held an alarmingly large replica of Twilight's little experiment. Black, smoldering lines were burnt into the fabric, and little streams of smoke wafted through the air. Twilight moved to trample each one as she saw them, to smother the heat beneath...or at least she tried to, if her hooves hadn't gotten tangled in the bedsheet she still wore.

Seven minutes later, the room was in a much different state. The sheet was in a bundled mess in a corner, the pillow had been kicked aside, and the burnt carpet was much colder and absolutely soaked with water. Twilight herself was staring at the charred markings in a defeated haze, trying to think up a way to explain the mess that wouldn't sound irresponsible to her mom. Each excuse she came up with was more haphazard than the last, until finally she gave up.

"When I said 'change the world,' I didn't mean burn it down."

With a heaving sigh, Twilight looked back toward her mother's favorite pillow, still pristine and comfy-looking. After a few moments, she allowed herself a small grin. The day wasn't a loss, not totally. At least she had learned a good deal of things about alchemy, and all without asking for help.

An unmistakable clack was heard from downstairs, followed by the voices of her family. They had returned from the market. Velvet was calling for her daughter, and very soon there were sounds of somepony ascending the stairs. Doubtless whoever it was wanted to check on her.

Thinking fast, Twilight magically floated the bedsheet over the burnt carpet, covering the evidence. Then she swiped a book from her shelf, bit down on the pillow, set them both on the sheet, and placed herself between them. She opened the book to a random page, confident she had read it enough times to fake-read it anyway. Finally, she quickly adjusted the pillow to rest beneath her elbows and set herself down upon it. A very unexpected crinkling sound was made.

At that moment, a knock sounded on her door. It was Shining Armor. "Hey, kiddo, you awake?"

"Hey! Welcome ba—"

And Shining Armor had never waited for permission to enter, the rascal. The door swung open and her brother flashed her a smile. "Why am I not surprised to see your face glued to some book?"

"It's not just some book! This is..." Twilight spared a momentary glance at the pages. The words were familiar enough. "This is a history of the practice behind alchemy! It's fascinating and informative and..."

Her brother's hearty laughter drowned her out. "Hahaha! Okay, Twily, you don't need to get so defensive! I believe you!"

Twilight paused, then grinned. Then ignored the cold feeling as the water in the carpet soaked through the sheet covering it. This is gonna look so bad if I move...

"Anyway, Mom and I brought back some muffins from the bakery. You should come down if you want them while they're still hot."

I've had enough heat for one afternoon, thank you! "Thanks, I'll be down once I finish this chapter."

Shining paused, then scowled. "Hey, do you smell that?"

"Smell...what?" Twilight asked. She was the epitome of innocence.

"Something's burning."

No, I swear I made sure it was put out, and there's enough water here to smother a campfire so please don't look into this any closer! Twilight gave a little cough. "I...maybe the muffins you brought back were...left baking a little too long?"

Her brother hesitated, sniffed the air again, then nodded. "Yeah, you're probably right. The owners just took on a live-in apprentice, so I guess a few mistakes can be expected. Heh, I gotta tell you about her though, she's so hyper I swear she puts syrup in her coffee."

"Y-yeah, you can tell me about her! Later! After this book!"

Shining Armor chortled and gave another smile. "Fine, fine, I take your hint. Don't take too long, okay? Muffins are way better when they're warm."

With a grin, Twilight give a small sigh of relief. Shining turned, gripped the door handle, and started to exit. But then he paused partway through, and fixed his sister with a mischievous grin.

"By the way," he added in hushed tones, "you might want to bring down Mom's pillow soon. She's been on her hooves for a while, so she'll want to relax tonight."

A moment of silence. Then a quiet nod. And finally the satisfying sound of her door closing. Twilight sighed again and stood up, doing her best to ignore the clammy feeling of water on her coat. The bedsheet beneath her was distinctly wet and rendered partially see-through, so she clearly made out the black lines in the carpet. Thank goodness it was her brother who had come up - she wasn't sure her mother would have been so easily turned away.

Twilight's gaze moved from the saturated sheet to the pillow. Now that she looked closer, it did seem slightly larger than it used to be. That and the odd crinkling sound gave her a theory. With a worried gaze, she pressed her hoof against the pillow. The sound came up again.

Her hoof met her forehead. Now she knew where the paper had gone.

Author's Note:

Two down, one to go. Be back by Saturday!

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