• Published 22nd Aug 2015
  • 3,953 Views, 183 Comments

Double Sun Daze - The Albinocorn



Meet Sunset Shimmer... now meet Sunset and Shimmer. They don't play well together.

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Next Time, if you Want to Keep Something from Me, Get Better Security

You know, whistling whenever you’ve done something you’re not supposed to do only makes you look more suspicious.

It was something I was fully aware. Yet, as I walked down the dim corridors of Canterlot Castle with my saddlebag on my back, whenever I stopped, I heard my hooves tapping on the floor and shouting to everypony that something was wrong. At least when I whistled, to the cadence of ‘Don’t notice me, don’t look at me’ repeating over and over in my head, I felt less conspicuous.

Curse my conscience.

Of course, I wouldn’t have had to sneak a book from the forbidden section of the library if Celestia trusted me. All I’d ever done since I became her student was surpass every test she’s thrown at me. Besides the whole, ‘go make friends, Sunset,’ I had gone above and beyond.

The whistling stopped. I was too busy grinding my teeth together. Her cryptic hints, telling me I wasn’t ready for things, and constant nagging to make friends or treat other ponies nicely was wearing my nerves dangerously thin.

But I still loved Celestia. She was the mother I couldn’t remember having.

I suppose that means I was acting the part of the rebellious child. I stuffed the cheesy villain laugh from every play ever back into a dark corner of my mind. That would be suspicious. All the trouble I’d just gone through could have been avoided if Celestia just told me things instead of ‘you’ll know when you’re ready.’

I heard her voice again, saying the same line. My eyes threatened to roll out of my head and across the floor.

I’ll know now, dammit! Next time, if you want to keep something from me, get better security. The librarian was still probably snoring at her desk. I didn’t even have to use magic for that, I had just brought her some especially strong chamomile tea with a sweet smile and a dollop of honey. Because I’m such a sweet and studious student.

I snorted. She’d be down for hours.

Of course, if Celestia really had wanted to keep something from me, she would have put more effort into it than a dowdy librarian and locked gate. I paused. What if the laxity itself was a test to see if I would stoop to theft from under her nose to get what I wanted?

I certainly wouldn’t want to be around when she woke. I shrugged away the thought and continued on past a mural of sun and moon.

Guards stood at every turn and intersection, unmoving as statues, stony faces implacable and staring straight ahead. But I could feel their eyes following me. What if they knew? What if Celestia already knew?

Oh, I was so going to get banished!

I started whistling again before I could bite my lip—the ultimate sign of guilt. Paranoia, I decided, that’s why everypony does it. You know you’re going to get caught, so you try to look as innocent as possible in the meantime.

My thoughts could be pretty loud when they wanted to be, and over the inconstant, slippery whistle, they jabbered at me.

‘No! I’m not going to get caught! It’s one book, and I covered my tracks. Come on, we’re one turn away from being home free!’

‘But it’s Celestia. She’ll find out eventually.’

‘Just a few spells, then we’ll put the book back and nopony has to ever know.’

...Why was I talking in plural?

Around the last corner was my bedroom; just fifty steps down the hall and past one last guard. Barring any surprises, I was in the clear!

“Hello, Sunset.”

“Hi, Cadence.”

I froze.

Sun dammit! I spun around, finding myself face-to-face with the bane of my existence. Excuse me while I name all the things wrong with Mi Amore Cadenza.

First: she’s pink.

Second: everypony just loves her.

Third: she’s just so nice and giving and kind to a fault, it makes me want to hurl.

Fourth: she became a princess after I started training with Celestia. I was supposed to be next!

Fifth: she’s a freaking alicorn! Again, mine!

Sixth: she’s pink.

She smiled at me with that loving smile that could make any stallion (and quite a few mares) weak at the knees. If Celestia had sent her to guilt trip me, it wasn’t going to work. I had what I liked to call, an immunity built up to resist the toxic levels of amity she released.

“How are you this evening?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said curtly.

“What did you do today?”

“Studied. Practice magic. Took a walk. Ate.”

“Sounds like a full day.”

“Yep.”

That was typically how all our conversations went.

We stared at each other. She kept smiling. I kept glowering. There was no trace of knowing in her eyes, so either, she was covering her tracks very well, or she was just bugging me for the heck of it.

“Well, I’m going into town tomorrow to do a little shopping. Would you like to come with me?”

I smiled, showing all my teeth. “Gee, Cadence, that sounds really fun. But my schedule is just so full right now, I’m going to have to take a rain check.”

Her ears folded. Why on earth did she look so disappointed? “Okay, that’s fine. I’ll see you around then.” She turned down the hall and trotted away.

Sometimes, I couldn’t figure her out. Our conversations were mostly one-sided, and I made it an effort to never spend time with her. After a year and a half of this, it was almost routine. I thought by then she would have picked up on the fact that I didn’t like her!

Still, part of me admired her for being so obstinate. Every other pony at school never wanted any contact with me. Cadence was the last one still trying to be my friend.

But, there was a forbidden book in my bag that needed reading. I didn’t have time to make friends; I had to learn everything I could so Celestia would make me an alicorn!

I snapped out of my daze and kept walking to my room. The last guard said nothing, just like all the rest. My paranoia waned as I entered my chambers. There was still the possibility that Celestia could visit me any second and catch me red-hoofed, but with the rebellious child act came the thrill of living life on the edge. I almost dared Celestia to walk in on me, just so I could rub the stolen book in her face.

Of course, if she had set me up, I wouldn’t have much to rub in.

The door swung shut, and with a flick of my horn, the lights came on, illuminating my circular bedroom. The four-poster bed was positioned in the back, with my desk and alchemy station perpendicular to it. The wardrobe and my large bookshelf flanked both sides of the door. On the floor was a carpet decorated in the shape of my cutie mark: an eight-rayed sun, half crimson and half gold.

I walked over to my bed and tossed the saddlebag onto the red covers before resting my head against the gold sheeted pillows.

I’m a narcissist; sue me.

The moon slowly rose over the horizon until it fit in the frame of my window. If my paranoia were still rampant, I would have considered it to be Celestia’s nocturnal eye watching me. Good thing I had stopped caring.

I lifted the book from the bag and held it in front of me. The title was worn and in Old Equestrian. Flipping it open, I was annoyed to see the rest of the book was in Old Equestrian as well, albeit easier to read. I summoned my translating scrolls and laid them out on the bed.

“Just one spell, then bed time.” Translating one spell was going to take most of the night anyway. I picked a page at random and began the tedious translation.

After an hour, I had decoded almost half the page. The spell I had selected doubled the user’s potential by balancing their yin and yang. Something close to that; it wasn’t a perfect translation. But it certainly sounded like it would make me stronger. And maybe I could have used some more balance in my life.

Either way, I had already spent too much time translating one spell to say no. I was determined to prove to myself, and Celestia, that I could handle the spells in this book. And if the first spell I cast doubled my potential, then the rest of the spells in here would be a breeze.

I continued translating and transcribing the text into modern Equestrian. My eyes hurt from reading the thin text in the dim light of my room, but I pushed on. You could call me stubborn, but I liked to think of myself as fiercely determined.

Another hour and a half passed by. The only sounds filling my room were the scratching of my quill against paper, and the ticking of the clock on the wall. I pulled my nose out of the book and rolled my neck before I examined my finished work. Two whole pages neatly translated; take that, Celestia!

I sighed. Maybe I was going about this all wrong. Celestia had been around for who knows how long, and knew everything about anything. Maybe listening to her when she told me I wasn’t ready for something had some merit.

The papers floating in my magic danced in front of me. On the other hoof, I hadn’t just spent almost three hours hunched over a book for nothing. This was going to happen.

I hopped off the bed and read through my notes one last time. The amount of magic this spell would require was significant, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The first step was to fill myself with emotions and thoughts opposite to my usual demeanor.

Well, being honest with myself, on a normal day, I was sarcastic, distant, kinda surly, a little spiteful, and maybe on occasion, a tad hostile. Never to Celestia, of course, just every other idiot I had the displeasure of coming across.

Namely, everypony else.

So the opposite of that would be… Cadence.

I gagged at the idea of filling my head with whatever butterflies and rainbows made up Cadence. But, if it would give me more power, I suppose I could stomach it for a short while.

“Let’s get this show on the road.” I tossed the papers onto my desk, and stood in the center of the room. Magic flooded my being and gathered at the tip of my horn. I began thinking happy thoughts: Rainbows and puppies and tea parties with friends. My stomach actually started churning, so I took it down to memories of Celestia praising me, or when my dad used to spend time with me.

It occurred to me at that moment that I hadn’t actually been happy in quite some time. Spell first, therapy later! I thought, forcing myself to stay on task.

My teal aura became intense, and a draft kicked up, making the curtains around the window and bed dance. A blue ring of light circled around me, pulsing every few seconds. It was working!

Sparks of electricity flashed around me as the magic continued to build. The ring spread out, adding lines and symbols until it was a complex diagram hovering just off the floor. My body felt light as a feather, save for a heavy stone that had somehow found its way into my chest. It sat where my heart should have been, and the more my magic grew, the heavier it got.

I growled, and focused harder, more on the magic than the happy feelings I was supposed to be concentrating on. The rock in my chest heated up, and through my closed eyelids, I could see the light of the magic beginning to fade.

“No,” I grunted. “Come back!” I doubled my magic, and the light returned, but the pain in my chest intensified as well. I remembered the happy thoughts I was supposed to have and tried to dig up some good memories. Me getting accepted into Celestia’s school, the day I got my cutie mark, showing off my perfect grades to anypony who would listen…

The pain started to ebb away, but I wasn’t feeling any more powerful. Heck, I wasn’t even feeling happy, just nostalgic. “Come on, give me something!” My magic increased, and I went back to thinking of asinine things like gumdrops and teddy bears. The wind grew into a full-blown tempest, sending books and papers flying through the room. I could hear the static popping in my ears, and my mane stood up.

My out-of-body experience grew more intense, and yet, I still didn’t feel any different. The spell said it would double my potential. Then why did it feel like I was hitting my normal maximum?

“Come on, give it to me!” Amidst my frustrations, the rock lodged itself in my heart again. I tried to think of a fluffy bunny, but that didn’t seem to make the pain go away. Now I was just irritated. “Give it to me!” My horn was ablaze, blinding, even with my eyes shut. The light from the circle made the lanterns seem like distant stars, and the stars outside vanish completely.

I still felt no different. “I’m giving it my all! Now, give me something back!”

I’m glad the guards never heard me.

My power peaked, and a loud whining noise filled the air. I cracked my eyes open to see the diagram spinning madly around me. A single glance made me nauseous, and I buckled my knees. I couldn’t hold onto the spell anymore, and it seemed like it didn’t want to stick around anyway. My horn released it, drowning the room in a brilliant light. Something collapsed on top of me, and the last thing I remembered was feeling angry.

******

Outside a bird chirped consistently, earning my ire. Couldn’t it tell I was trying to sleep? I turned over and reached for my pillow, only to grab at nothing. In fact, my bed was feeling very hard this morning.

I opened an eye, finding myself looking at the bottom of my door. You’re not my bed, I thought dumbly. The question was, how did I end up so far away from it?

Memories of last night came trickling back, and I recalled the botched spell I had cast. I groaned and sat up, suddenly aware of the migraine at the base of my horn.

“Dammit all. Celestia might be right, maybe I wasn’t ready.” I puckered my face. Celestia couldn’t have been right. I was a magical prodigy—there was nothing I couldn’t do! “Stupid princess,” I muttered. Being angry this early was a first for me. Usually, I was composed until breakfast when I had to sit next to Cadence.

I stood up and turned to my bed, deciding that breakfast could wait; I needed more sleep. Only, curled up between me and my bed was something that looked very familiar.

It had a amber coat, and a crimson and gold mane. Its ears twitched every few seconds, and it seemed to be murmuring in its sleep.

I slowly crept forward, curious to know what it was, and angry that it was in my room. I poked it with a hoof.

“Daddy, five more minutes,” she mumbled in a very familiar voice. I poked her again, and she rolled over towards me.

Curled up in front of me… was me.

I twisted toward my mirror, finding the same face that always stared back at me. I looked down at the carpet again, and there I still was. Her mane was a little curlier and bouncier than mine, but past that, we were identical.

“What?” I squeaked. I poked my doppelganger again, and she opened a teal eye, same as mine.

She yawned, then smiled at me. “Good morning.”

I screamed.

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