• Published 10th Aug 2015
  • 2,787 Views, 147 Comments

Lost in the Mirror of Worlds - Meadow_Dawn

Four legs and magic. What kind of mess have I gotten myself into? I only wanted a full length mirror for home, and now I'm in a strange world with no friends or family. Who's this dark horse in my reflections and why is it blocking my trip home?

  • ...

Dawn and Dusk

Knocking abruptly wakes me up from my dreams, a groan escaping my throat as I try to get up and moving. Barely remembering before stepping off the bed, I stop and then hop down off the bed instead, making several clicking noises as my hooves hit the floor. With a barely stifled yawn, I use my magic to reach out to the door and open it to see why I'm being woken up.

“Meadow?” a familiar voice answered.

“Yes?” I answered through half open eyes before recognizing who it was, “Oh, Stalwart, what's g-”

“If you don't get moving you're going to be late for school!” He interrupted, “I can't leave, my duty's not done until sunrise, but just go down the hill, you can't miss it!”

I look toward my window, only seeing the moonlight and the rather beautiful stars shining down. I start to look toward him with suspicion, then seeing his sense of urgency, decide to trust him some more. Without any further delay I start walking past him, head still not coming up to my normal height as I mumble my thanks.

“Have a good day at school!” I hear him call to me before our hoofsteps carried us in opposite directions.

My mind was barely coherent, but having walked these halls several times in the last two days, I manage to make my way outside and wander down the hill toward the city, barely registering how different everything looked. It wasn't long until I started second guessing which way to go.

After wandering lost for a few minutes, a bit of laughter gave me a sudden idea. If I'm not the only one heading to school this early, maybe I could look around or listen for some of the other foals heading to school.

I look around, hoping this worked, but didn't see any ponies just yet. Just as I was about to turn around and try heading back, I caught something small but bright heading toward a side street! Figuring I have nothing to lose, I chase after it in a hurry. Sure enough, it was a unicorn filly heading off to school. I slow down my pace to not look as rushed, and quickly start catching up due to my stride, intending to walk alongside her.

She giggled noticeably when she turned and saw me. Despite looking at her noticeably confused, I couldn't seem to prompt her to tell me what was funny without speaking. I wondered what could be so funny, but the thought was lost as the school finally came in sight. I walked onward with this filly in front of me until we entered the front doors.

The teacher stood at the door to her classroom, waving every pony inside with a big grin on her face. It was nice to see someone cheerful this morning, even if I wasn't quite awake enough to give her one back. I start to wave to her as I walk into the room when I start to fall forward, hitting my chin on the floor spectacularly with a loud grunt.

I barely had time to realize what happened when the room burst into childish laughter, my eyes rolling as I start picking myself up and walk over to my desk around the room. Of course I'd forget it'd be extremely hard to wave and walk at the same time! I could hardly blame them for laughing, but it definitely wasn't a good start to the day.

“Good morning, children!” Lemon called out after ringing her bell.

“Good morning, Lemon Bloom!” They called out readily.

“It's wonderful to see all of you here today!” Lemon called out, “Time to do our morning warm-ups!”

I looked on slightly confused. This certainly wasn't something we did when I attended school. I watched and got up from my seat, following the others examples as we started to stretch our legs and our backs. After about only 5 minutes of these stretches, Lemon Bloom calling out encouragement and cheery voiced .

“Ok, everypony! Now let's warm up those horns! Take a deep breath in and concentrate on the tip! Make a light as bright as you can make it, to meet the morning sun!”

I watched as they all made their own little faces, a few grunting or groaning as they tried, and most of them were dimly lit, with a few others making a clear white light. Giving a small smile at the picture in front of me I took a deep, calming breath and remember what the book I was given told me to do through half closed eyes.

At first, I wasn't sure if it was working until I looked over at the teacher. She looked at me with a larger than normal smile in my direction, and I looked down at the desk. A small circle of a slightly greenish light reflected on my desk for several seconds before the sun made it's way upward.

“Well done my little ones!” She said excitedly, “It's good to see you all here again! So to begin, let's talk about our favorite subject... History!”

A collective groan from the class reaches my ears as I smirk. They might take it for granted, but learning what they'd take for granted is just as important to fit in. For the foals around me, it was an almost unbearable hour. I had to applaud Lemon Bloom as a teacher, it amazed me just how much effort she took to make it entertaining and involving. She made most of her lessons involved with little skits or questions to keep them involved. It also fascinated me that there wasn't nearly so much of a struggle between countries as there was with magical creatures, wild spells, wild magic, a wide variety of things. Then again, maybe it's something they'd learn when they're older.

Just about when I was starting to settle into the subject and feel adequately informed, the bell rang outside and the kids eagerly stampeded out the door toward the back so they could play. I followed along slowly, knowing how much I wouldn't fit in rushing to a playground like the rest. Lemon Bloom walked alongside me, when I heard her speak.

“Everything all right dear?”

“Oh yes, I'm fine. I would take notes, but you do a good job helping them... us, remember.” I reply, correcting myself mid sentence. “I had three teachers in the family, so I can imagine how difficult this might be.”

“Well thank you dear, but it's just my love to teach children.” She said, pausing as we stepped outside. “If you need anything, just let me know. It's not often Celestia brings over a student, and I'm sure you'll come along once you're ready!”

“Thanks... I think.” I say nervously, thinking about the pressure I'm under, and wondering just what others are thinking I'm supposed to be able to do now too. I walk over to a more secluded spot in the lawn, stretch out and lay down on the grass. With nothing better to do, I started trying to remember what my book said last night when I felt a tap on my side.

“What'cha doin'?” An adorable voice chimed as I looked over. To my left was a blue little colt who wasn't in my class, looking between my face and my cutie mark.

“Thinking,” I replied. I wanted it to sound like it was exciting like Lemon does, but sadly the energy just couldn't come out. I promised myself to make sure I get more sleep tonight.

“Oh,” He said deflated. I felt bad, his disappointment was palpable. “How long'd it take for you to get yours?” I watched him point with one leg toward my cutie mark.

“Oh that?” I start to say, thinking a little bit about what I only just talked about with Celestia last night. It'd probably be best if I didn't get detailed, “A few days ago actually.” I watched as he looked at me in complete surprise, and I worried if I said the right thing.

“Will it take me that long to get mine?” He said wide eyed, looking terrified at the idea.

“Don't worry, I was a special case I'm sure.” I stated reassuringly. “I was the only pony in my town that could use magic, and it scared them. So I spent a long time trying to be what they wanted instead of what I actually was.” A flicker of guilt passed my mind as I lied. It was still somewhat true, but was it a lie to say she was a pony who could use magic? The rest of it fit, but I almost lost myself to my own thoughts on morality when I heard him speak again.

“Why'd they be scared?” He asked, seated and looking up at me confused.

“Well,” I paused to think about it, “Some ponies don't really understand things that are different than what they're used to. They just get... afraid I guess.” I watched as he started to get a little disappointed before he looked up at me again.

“Could you help me get mine?”

“I'm sorry,” I said, trying very hard not to laugh, hoping to smile instead. His hopeful face was too precious to crush with laughter, “mine just kinda happened, and I'm still trying to figure out how I got mine. But tell you what,” I add before he can be disappointed, “If you manage to figure it out before me, tell me how you did it, ok? And if I can figure out how to tell you, I will.”

“Ok!” he nearly shouted in my direction happily before running off. I watched him go off with a smile on my face, until I heard a trio of snickers to my right.

“I don't see why you'd lie to a blank flank like that.” One of them said as I turned to face them.

“I don't see why you would assume that I'm lying.” I said coldly. “It's very rude.”

I received a haughty “Hmpf!” in response from the three of them as they walked away, tails held ridiculously high as they gossiped between each other.

I shook my head, feeling what little good this morning had in store start to ebb away. It wasn't long before the bell rang and teachers started herding their children inside. Giving a small sigh and standing up, I followed suit, preparing for the onslaught of magical spell studying we'll be doing for most of the rest of the day.

When I left school, I looked around for Stalwart, but he nowhere to be seen. I waited for him for a few minutes, and then remembered he was the one who woke me up. I sighed, disappointed as I realized he probably was asleep, since it hadn't been long enough since dawn. I walked upward toward the hill, castle always in sight. I felt a little glad that I'd be able to make my way on my own, but it was saddening that I couldn't keep having a guide take me around.

I walked straight to my room and began studying the beginning chapters again, trying to grasp the concepts behind the books for several hours. Despite my best intents, my head was nearly spinning at all the explanations in it. It felt like I got the familiar knock on my door too quickly to make any progress, but I got up to answer the door. Naturally, it was time for Silver and I to have our dinner meeting with our hostesses...

For several more days this became my new 'normal,' waking up early, going to school, coming back to study, eating dinner and passing out afterward. I had several strange dreams, from that “otherself” or whatever it was chasing me, to it trying to use the very magic I sought to learn against me! Once, I tried to pick up a sword in my dream and hit him with it, only to somehow feel and see it bounce off something and start flying toward me, waking up to have found the book I was studying somehow in my bed along with a rather noticeable headache.

In my most recent dream that pony was chasing after me, and I didn't know what he wanted. Admittedly, I was scared to find out, yet no matter where I turned, he followed me, even appearing in front of me suddenly! After several times of him poofing in front of where I was running, making me turn, I ended up trying to use that magic too. I thought I teleported onto a cloud in my dream before that shadow pony “otherself” came out of the cloud under me in my face!

I woke up half screaming, half crying in Silver's room! Silver no doubt, was very surprised. I barely remember the rest of that night. I cried myself to sleep that night, wondering if I'd ever be able to get myself home, let alone him. That Friday was a nightmare of a day, not making any progress at school whatsoever, especially with the dreams following my mind to distract me from the lessons there.

Stalwart was very helpful to me when the weekend came though. He told me how his younger sister struggled with magic too, and revealed the book I found on my dresser after my first night and was studying was actually one of hers. He used his days off to try to help me learn magic, and I tried just as hard with him as I did with school. What I remember most about that weekend was when he and I had a bit of fun together during our breaks. After our second day of studying with him, we went bowling, and I gave him a small peck on the cheek in thanks before heading to my room and resting early for the school day ahead.

I wake up from another nightmare on Monday, panting. I couldn't rest well because I spent the entire night's dream in front of that pony, and all he did was stare. He almost used some magic before I caught a glimpse of Luna, who yelled “Sleeping is supposed to be for rest you two, not studying!”

It bothered me to think that somehow my dreams were for studying, and yet when the shadow pony looked from her to me and started to pick up a giant log and throw it to near me, I had woken up to find my chair halfway across the room. I tried to pick it up and move it back into place, but I could barely get it to budge. I snorted and dismissed that dream as yet another way of my mind trying to cope with stress.

I went to school, tired as ever, and not appearing to have made any change in abilities at all, while the other children in the class were able to make a light as bright as mine was almost a week ago. They were all rolling balls with ease, starting to be able to use their magic more finely, learning how to write notes with their quill and ink. My internal frustrations grew when I could barely write my name cleanly. It was very difficult to be patient with the children there, especially that trio I encountered from day one. They made a point of trying to get under my skin every day, from the cleanliness of my mane to lack of magic. It made me wonder whether Lemon Bloom was at all right about me having the talent or aptitude for it when it was clear everypony else was making progress.

After school, I paced in my room trying to let off some steam. Where I had been tired most of the week, I was pouring over with energy that I just had to burn! I was sure it was mostly anger, at myself, this world even my situation. My stomach growled, and I realized how I really shouldn't be only having one meal a day like this, but I never wake up early enough for breakfast and it's too late to have lunch or I won't be hungry for it at dinner! That in itself added to my frustrations as I tried not to go hitting my bed or letting off steam in the castle.

My internal tirade was interrupted by a knock on the door, frowning grumpily I answered it, softening that frown when I saw Stalwart on the other side. We didn't share any words on the way, but his smile was comforting, helping to ease the pent up anger I had. By the time we arrived at the dinner table I was a lot more relaxed, but still not looking forward to a progress report.

I go in to the now familiar room where Celestia and Luna both sit, taking up my usual place alongside Silver Wing to my right. Eating the food placed in front of us we quickly fell into our routine of eating our fill and then talking about our day.

“My my, Silver!” Celestia mused. “You sure do enjoy carrot salad. That's all you've eaten for the last 4 days!”

“Haha, yeah! They're just too good not to order though!”

“Indeed. So how have your lessons been today?”

“Pretty good. Though I still can't do a 90 degree turn...”

“You will learn. Just give it time.”

"Yeah. Hard as it is, I've always loved a good challenge. Especially a physical one"

"Have you now?" Celestia said thoughtfully, "Then perhaps you would like to consider a new topic of study?"

“Hmm? Like what?”

“The Ariel Guard is not solely for learning the intricacies of flight. There is also a degree of martial combat to be learned.”

“But, how could I fight without hands, or magic?” I looked over to Silver at his comment, slightly curious about his prospects as well, before Celestia gave off a chuckle.

“Accept this new challenge, and you shall discover this for yourself tomorrow.”

“Alright, why not. Let's see what your aerial guard has to offer"

“Excellent, so how about you dawn? How are you? You've been quiet today.”

“Frustrated, angry, tired, to name a few,” I finished off the last of my food and took a deep breath before starting to unload. “I'm making no progress in school, my magic's not getting any stronger while even the slower children have a brighter light than I can manage, ignoring some of the snobbish ones teasing. I'm studying and not understanding the books at all, and to top it all off I'm not resting well because weird things happen to me when I keep seeing that stupid shadow thing!” Finally letting all that out, I breathed out and let my head hit the table, moving the plate out of the way and making a small thud as I hit the solid wood before hearing Celestia.

“Have you calling him by his name?”

“It's just a dream. I don't give names to things in my dream.” I raise my head gloomy but trying to be respectful.

“Have you forgotten already?”

“Forgotten what?” I looked at them confused and try to think. I couldn't say I recognized what they were talking about, but a lot has happened in the last week.

“The name of the pony you saw in the mirror when you came.”

“Oh, that.” I sighed and tried to remember what I named him, “Star... something?” I tried to think of why I'd name him something after stars when all I could see was shadow when I heard a tickling voice in my ear.

“Starlight... Dusk...”

I echoed what I heard as I heard it, and then felt a chill down my spine as on my left a pony started to walk to my left from behind me, and sat down next to me to sit across from Luna, who smiled and chimed in.

“Have you tried talking with him instead of running?”

“I...” I hesitated, feeling really nervous and slightly embarrassed. It was hard to imagine having something that came from my dreams as something to sit with, especially with all them ending with me being scared. I had to be firm! “No.”

“Perhaps you should start there.” Celestia added helpfully.

“Right,” I say half sarcastically, turning to the Starlight, “Hi Starlight! I'm Dawn, and I'm terrified of you!” On instinct, I cringe, expecting some sort of magical retaliation, and I watched as his horn glowed and my eyes started to open as I feared the worst. Without intending it, I felt my legs shift as they started to get ready to bolt.

“Fear not.” I heard that tickle in my ear again, and my look of fear becomes one of concern. How could he tell me to not be afraid after what he put me through? I felt my face heat up in anger as I started my reply.

“Really? That's what you have to say? 'Fear not?' The flip is that supposed to mean after chasing me and throwing things at me!” I half yelled at him, looking him dead in the eyes to glare at him into guilt. He stared back at me, almost unwavering until I saw his eyes starting to tear. I felt his sadness, though how I did made no sense to me.

I raised one limb up to give myself a small hug across my chest and looked away, feeling alone and a little ashamed of lashing out, until I felt a hoof on my left side. I jumped in my skin, tensing reflectively before realizing his touch was more gentle than I expected. Pangs of guilt and regret passed through me as tears start to form from realizing how I shouldn't have yelled at him in addition to his own regrets.

“I can help.” his ghost-like echoing voice came to my ear, his hoof feeling warmer to the touch as I start to feel his own sadness and regret. Our combined emotions was almost too much for me to bear.

“I'm sorry.” I whisper back, trying very hard not to cry.

“That's a start, Dawn, Starlight.” Luna echoed the now somber tone in the room.

I thought about what it meant to have this pony near me, supposedly someone who can help me out some way. I was left wondering why he prevents me from going home, but I resolved to find out. Taking a deep breath, I looked up at the others at the table again, where Luna addressed me first.

“Now that you have remembered Starlight Dusk and have heard his intentions, I expect your dreams to be far more restful from this point onward.”

“How is my remembering him going to help anything?” I ask, shivering slightly at a breeze. Instantly I regretted my asking, realizing how hurtful it could be interpreted. I felt Starlight's hoof withdraw from my back, and when I looked in his direction, I could tell I hurt him. His body was stiff and he looked away from me, making me wish he would turn back so he could see my apology. Once again, I fought back tears and found my voice unable to utter an apology.

"Though you may not fully understand what I am about to say at the present, you will in time," Luna said softly, "To truly wield magic, ponies must know and understand the magic they wish to command. This can be attained through study, apprenticeship, or self experience. However, you must also know yourself. For most, this comes easily. As children, we explore ourselves constantly through our imaginations and dreams, but for you... It is regrettably more difficult. You have not known of magic until you came to our world. Starlight Dusk is a part of you that is in tune with the magic of this world. He is the shadow of your magic, a part of you that you have never known prior to coming here. In order to know yourself and use magic, you must know him."

My jaw dropped in disbelief as I stared at Luna. It was not an answer I expected in the least! I find myself involuntarily looking over at Starlight in awe, who looked back at me with a rather proud smile.

“You can see him in your dreams easily enough, but the waking world will take practice. I suggest you take the day off tomorrow to reflect, and see if you can't find him yourself.” Luna said, regaining my attention and my confusion. He was in front of me now wasn't he?

“But, then why is he so clear now? Why wouldn't he stay that way?”

"Luna has used her magic to draw him out so we could bring the issue of your nightmares to rest."

“But... then...” I stuttered, looking back to Starlight confused and disappointed. I only just started to realize what he was, and now I have to figure out how to reach him without Luna's help when my own magic has been so limited? My disappointment and frustration must have been quite noticeable as Luna continued to speak.

"Do not worry. Now that you seek him with your waking mind and understand his true purpose, he will not be difficult to find.” Luna looked at my face and must have read my lingering doubts, since before I could voice my concern, she added, “But, should such difficulties still persist. We will assist you come the night."

I gave a sigh of relief before looking between Luna and Starlight.

“Thank you, I don't want to think of how hard it'd be to struggle through this if I can't manage it alone.”

Starlight stood up from his seat, looked toward me, and gave me a pat on my back before fading into the shadows of the room again. His departure after that consoling touch left an ache in my heart. It was hard to imagine before how that was possible, yet now it was the only reaction I could have as it was starting to dawn on me just how much I misunderstood him. Luna was right, I needed to understand him better. Perhaps it's true that in doing so, I'll understand myself and magic, letting us both go home.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully, my own thoughts were swimming in the implications of what we've covered. I tried to think of ways I could help Starlight stay 'real' in front of me like Luna did, but I simply did not understand how. I got up into my bed and curled up under the sheets, trying to let my mind blank out. The silence ticked by as I let my breathing slow until at last I fell asleep.

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