• Published 6th Mar 2018
  • 3,494 Views, 211 Comments

I Don't Need Magic - Undome Tinwe

Fifteen years into the future, Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer reunite to stop a thief from bringing magic back into the world.

  • ...

Chapter 9: Endless Forms Most Beautiful


There was no other word to describe what Twilight felt as she took in the sight before her with wide eyes. Her lips parted in shock as she temporarily forgot how to breathe.

After stumbling through the darkness until she'd made it into the light on the other side, Twilight now found herself standing at the edge of a small meadow surrounded by thick trees whose towering branches obscured most of the sunlight, leaving only small rays to peek through from above. The lack of sunlight didn't matter though, as the meadow was already illuminated.

All around her, the trees glowed with a faint haunting lustre from the patches of luminescent growths of every color that covered them. A few of these growths were actively emitting a pollen-like substance into the air that floated about in the air like fairy dust, sparkling with an otherworldly light.

And on the ground, in the center of the meadow and surrounded by beautiful blooming flowers that spanned all the colors of the rainbow – sometimes all at once – was a large, faintly glowing blossom the size of Twilight's head that pulsed with an ethereal blue light.

From the corner of her eye, Twilight could see Sunset standing stock still in similar awe, gazing at the magnificent tapestry of flora with an open mouth. "It's beautiful," she heard her whisper, the words a soft benediction to whatever powers had touched this place.

The sound of Sunset's voice broke the spell that had captivated Twilight, and panic surged through her when she realized just how much magic must be present here. The twisted, glittering blooms suddenly looked a lot more sinister, and Twilight's instincts began screaming at her to run away.

Swallowing the lump in her throat, she forced herself to slowly breathe in and out.

It was okay, the magic wasn't hurting her. It was just causing the plants to glow, nothing else. No need to panic. This isn't like the last time.

With shaking hands, she pulled out her detector, taking comfort in the familiar lights and sounds of the machine. "The sensors indicate that there's a large amount of abnormal radiation present," she said. "According to the readings, there's probably magic here."

"Yeah, kinda noticed that," Sunset said dryly. "I guess we figured out where the thief found the magic to pull off the heist."

There was a rustling sound coming from behind Twilight. She turned around and saw Gloriosa emerge from the trees, a crushing finality haunting her eyes.

"Well, this is it," she said dully. "The magical anomaly you were looking for."

"Where did this even come from?" Sunset asked, the wonder still present in her voice.

"It started around five years ago," Gloriosa placed a hand on one of the trees, staring distantly at one of its glowing branches. "I was doing a routine sweep of the area when I first saw it." She pointed to the center of the meadow where the glowing blue flower was swaying in an invisible breeze.

"At first, I thought I'd found some new species of bioluminescent plant, but there's nothing in nature that glows that color. And when I touched it, I felt magic from it, just like from the caves."

Gloriosa smiled wryly. "The first thing I did was run away. You remember the last time I tried to use magic; I really didn't want to go all Gaia Everfree on everyone again. But the next day, I just had to go back and check on the flower; I don't know why, but it was like it was calling to me. It took me a few days to build up the courage to touch it.

"As soon as I did, I felt this rush of magic flow through me. It was... like the last time, but with a lot less power. And it didn't try to overwhelm me or take me over. It just felt... right. Like the flower was giving me power instead of me taking it."

Gloriosa walked over to one of the few trees that wasn't giving off any light. "After a few weeks, I sort of figured out how to use the magic with a lot of trial and error." She touched one of the branches and her hand began to glow. A moment later, a patch of the same glowing substance spread out from her hand to cover a small part of the tree.

"Eventually Timber got suspicious and found out about what I was doing. He freaked out, of course, but once I showed him I wasn't going crazy this time he agreed to help me keep this secret."

Gloriosa spread her arms out towards the meadow. "This is the product of five years of work." She said, pride in her voice. "Five years of trying to get magic to work, stumbling around blindly until I found a spell that let me do what I wanted." A wry smile. "I guess I should've known it would attract attention."

Her hand trembled as she brushed against the large blue flower. "Last year, a second flower started to grow next to the first one. I'm not sure if it was a seed from the original flower or if they both came from the same place, but soon this little bud grew big and strong like the other one."

"If this isn't the original, then where is it?" The look Sunset shot Twilight said that she already knew the answer.

Gloriosa sighed. "It disappeared about a month ago. I'm guessing that's what caused whatever magical anomaly you're looking for."

Sunset walked over to the center of the meadow. "May I?" she asked, gesturing towards the glowing flower.

"Go ahead," Gloriosa said with a sigh.

Sunset bent over and brushed her fingers against the petals of the flower. "Yup, that's what I thought."

"What is it?" Twilight asked.

"It's a cloverbloom," Sunset said, leaning over to sniff it. "Named after Clover The Clever, who was the first to study it in detail. They only grow in places that have concentrated amounts of magic. The roots and leaves have special channels that resemble spell matrices, which let it absorb magic and use it to sustain itself. In theory, a cloverbloom can survive forever without sunlight, nutrients, or water, as long as it has enough magic stored inside of it."

Sunset lifted a petal to one of the rays of light to examine it better. "They don't normally release their magic though, except in very special circumstance. I know Mage Meadowbrook outlined a method for extracting magic from the stem a few years after Clover wrote her own treatise, but it requires a lot of specialized techniques to pull it off."

She rubbed the petal between her fingers. "I'm not getting any magic out of this thing just by holding it." Releasing the flower, Sunset turned to face Gloriosa. "You must have some kind of special ability or connection that allows for the transfer. An affinity with nature, maybe?"

"I don't know," Gloriosa said. "I'm not some fancy magician or anything. I just touch the flower and the magic flows into me."

"Why didn't you tell me about this?" Sunset asked. "Why did you try to hide it from us?"

"There isn't enough magic to keep this place going anymore." Gloriosa walked up next to Sunset and softly stroked the petals of the cloverbloom, like a mother comforting a child. "Without the other one, this little flower can only try its best, but it's just not strong enough. Look around you – this garden is dying and I don't know how to save it."

Twilight did as instructed, carefully studying the otherworldly plants around her. With this new revelation, she began to notice the grim details of what Gloriosa had said. The patches of luminescent fungus lost their lustre as they got further away from the center of the meadow, until they gave off only a dull glow. The colorful flowers scattered about seemed slightly wilted. And the cloverbloom, which Twilight had first thought was pulsating with magic, seemed to be losing its light intermittently, like a flickering bulb moments before it blew out.

Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight saw Gloriosa clutching the petals of the cloverbloom. "When you came here asking about magic I got scared. I – I don't know what's going to happen to this place, if it's just going to shrink until it's not using that much magic anymore, or if it's going to die while I watch and can't do anything about it.

"And then you two show up, looking for some kind of anomaly. I wasn't sure what to think. I still don't, actually." Gloriosa's eyes narrowed. "Your company studies magic, doesn't it, Sunset?"

When Sunset didn't respond, Gloriosa kept speaking. "You would have wanted to study it, to send in a team of researchers to conduct experiments and try to replicate whatever this is. Probably just buy the whole forest from under us first chance you got."

"Of course," Sunset said, looking confused. "This is the most magic I've seen in this world since we closed the portal. It's probably a resurgence of dormant magic from what happened fifteen years ago. Who knows how much power is still sitting here? We could do so much with it."

"I don't care," Gloriosa said. "The last time I tried to do something big with magic, I almost destroyed everything and everyone I loved. I'm done with using magic to change things. All I want now is a quiet and peaceful life here in this forest. "

"Then why use magic at all?" Twilight found herself asking. She had been silent during the discussion between Sunset and Gloriosa, but it was bothering her how freely Gloriosa was using magic. If Gloriosa wanted to get away from her past like Twilight did, why did she continue to dabble in things better left to rest? "Why didn't you just leave things be?"

"I wanted to, at first," Gloriosa replied. "But the magic, it... called to me. It was like a part of me was missing, and when I was using magic, I was whole again. Using it to grow plants and tame animals just felt right."

Gloriosa looked upwards at the dense canopy of leaves towering above them, fire burning in her eyes as she spoke. "Look at this place. Without magic, I could never create something so beautiful, and using my powers to do something good like this makes me feel complete. I don't want to go back to how I was before."

"Someone stole the other flower and we need to find them before they do something very bad with it," Sunset said patiently. "We need to study the other flower to try and find a way to stop them."

"And after that? Are you just going to give the flower back?"

For a moment, Sunset didn't respond. Then: "I promise, I'll give you back your magic and more after we figure out where this magic came from. This can't be the only deposit of magic left, after all."


Two eyes locked onto her in surprise. "Twilight?" Sunset asked, clearly having forgotten her presence.

"I'm not going to let you take away something she loves." Twilight turned to address Gloriosa. "We're just going to take a few measurements for calibration, and if you don't mind, we'd like to take some samples of the plants around here. We won't tell anyone about this place. And if we find the other cloverbloom, we'll bring it back."

A hopeful smile tugged at Gloriosa's lips as Sunset glared at her. "Twilight," Sunset said evenly, "I'm trying to find a solution that helps everyone here."

"You want to sell Gloriosa a false hope," Twilight replied, not allowing herself to look away from Sunset's furious eyes, "just so that you can take the other cloverbloom and study it."

"It's not a false hope. It's a better future."

Twilight scoffed. "Save the buzzwords for the sales pitch. You're just in this for yourself, and I'm not going to let you ruin her life."

Her words elicited a roll of the eyes from Sunset. "You can't stop progress, you know. No matter how hard you try. I'm going to study the other cloverbloom once we recover it, no matter what happens here."

"No, I can't," Twilight said, feeling her resolve settle within her heart, "but I don't have to work with you either. It's obvious the thief isn't here and you still don't know how to scan a large area for magic. You need me to figure out this theft, and I won't work with you unless you agree to back off and to return the other cloverbloom when we find it."

For several seconds, Twilight and Sunset silently glared at each other, neither willing to back down. The tension was so thick Twilight could have sworn she was choking on it. She barely even noticed Gloriosa standing silently to the side, her eyes darting wildly back and forth between the pair.

Finally, just when Twilight thought that Sunset was going to tell her just where she could shove her ultimatum, the other woman turned away with a sigh. "Fine. I've got some stuff here to collect samples with. Let's get this over with." She slung off her backpack and opened it up. As Sunset rummaged through her pack, Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn't been certain if that would work, but she couldn't have let Sunset take away something so precious to Gloriosa.

Sunset pulled out a set of gloves and a small plastic bag. With Gloriosa's permission, she plucked a few nearby flowers and scraped away some of the luminescent growths on the trees, placing the glowing flora into the bag with her gloved hands and sealing it shut to prevent contamination. Meanwhile, Gloriosa shot Twilight a grateful smile, mouthing a silent "thank you" to her. Twilight accepted the thanks with a small nod.

"Alright, this should be enough," Sunset said as she slipped the flowers into her pack. "Twilight, do you want to make sure we have what we need? After all, without the cloverbloom, it's going to be a lot harder to isolate the magical signature." The anger was clear in her voice as she delivered the request, but Twilight refused to be deterred.

"If the blooms are the source of the magic, then we shouldn't need anything else," Twilight said. "And if there's nothing else to do, we should head back to the lab to analyze the samples."

Sunset nodded, and the three of them left the meadow. Twilight spared one final glance at the enchanted grove on her way out, her heart skipping a beat at the wondrous sight. The thought of how much magic went into creating the place sent chills down her spine, but she couldn't deny the beauty of this creation either. And not for the first time, Twilight felt a familiar call that she'd feared would return when she'd agreed to help Sunset, the urge to embrace the magic once again reaching out to her.

Steeling her resolve, she turned away from the temptation and ran to catch up with the others.

"So, do you remember anything unusual happening around the time the cloverbloom disappeared?"

"Last month was our Summer Music Festival, so we had a ton of people here and the normal amount of weirdos that come with that. But not anyone who looked like an actual magician. I'll ask Timber if he's seen anything just to be safe, though."

"Thanks. How about sales records? I know you probably aren't comfortable sharing them with us, but we could give you a name of suspects to check."

"I can look, but if your suspects are smart enough to steal magic, they're probably smart enough not to use their real names either."

Sunset gritted her teeth as she listened to Twilight and Gloriosa chatting ahead of her. After their confrontation in the glade, Gloriosa seemed to think Twilight was some kind of Knight in Shining Armor who had rescued her flower from Big Bad Sunset, and the two of them had suddenly become fast friends. Without a big secret to hide, Gloriosa was more than willing to tell Twilight everything she knew. During the majority of their trip back, Sunset had been forced to listen to Twilight and Gloriosa try to determine any clues as to the identity of the thief.

Meanwhile, Sunset seethed as she thought about all the discoveries she would never make thanks to the deal she had been forced to strike with those two. Not for the first time since they began heading back to the entrance, she considered telling Twilight to go back to Hayvard and leave her to study the magic in the grove, but in the end, she'd realized that she needed the physicist to help her. After all, Twilight was right; they still had no idea how to scan a region for magic and Sunset wasn't making any progress on her own.

Still, that didn't make her any happier. She'd known that Twilight wouldn't want her to study the magic – that idiot still couldn't get past her prejudice – but for the most part, Twilight hadn't tried to stop Sunset from researching magic, even when she knew what Sunset was going to do as soon as they caught the thief.

This was the first time Twilight had directly interfered with her research, and by capitulating to her demands, Sunset knew she was setting a dangerous precedent. If Twilight continued to try and stop Sunset from studying magic, she was going to have to do something about it, consequences be damned.

They arrived at the camp entrance and entered the main cabin through the back door. Timber Spruce was at the front desk, filling out some paperwork, and as they entered he turned around and faced them with a smile. "So, did you find any magic?" he asked, clearly trying to hide his nervousness behind that easy grin.

"We did," Twilight said. "Gloriosa showed us the glade."

"She did?" Timber glanced at Gloriosa, who nodded her head.

"It's okay," she said. "They aren't going to tell anyone else about it."

"Oh," Timber replied. "Well, thanks. That glade really means a lot to Gloriosa." A sheepish grin. "Sorry for lying to you guys about it."

"We understand," Twilight said, "and neither of us plan on disturbing the glade. Right, Sunset?" Twilight shot her a pointed stare.

"Right," Sunset muttered. "Don't worry, we'll keep your secret safe."

Timber visibly relaxed at those words. "So, are you two heading out now?"

"Yeah. We need to get back to the lab and test the samples we collected. By the way, you didn't see anything strange last month when Gloriosa's magic flower was stolen, did you?"

"Hmm... can't say I remember anything weird, unless you count really terrible singing by people who think they're actually good." Timber replied. "Sorry, but it was kinda hectic."

"That's okay. I told Gloriosa I'd send her a list of suspects. Would you mind looking over it too?"

"Sure, no problem."

"Thanks." Twilight reached over and gave him a hug.

"So, is this it then?" Timber asked, the smile on his face fading a little. "You going to disappear for another fifteen years?"

"I..." Twilight paused, looking a bit guilty. "I'll keep in touch." She pulled out her phone. "Give me your number, and I'll send you my contact info." Timber rattled off his phone number, and Twilight entered it into her phone. "I'll text you later tonight. We should be heading off now."

"Alright," Timber said. "Good luck with your investigation. And with the other thing."

"What other thing?" Sunset asked despite her annoyance.

"It's nothing," Twilight said as she shot a glare at Timber. "Nothing important."

Sunset would have pressed for more, but right now she didn't really care about what Twilight and her ex-boyfriend were talking about.

They exchanged another round of goodbyes before returning to the parking lot. Neither of them said a word as they loaded into the car and sped away from the camp.

As they approached the edge of the forest, Twilight finally spoke. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't want to confront you with an ultimatum like that."

"Whatever," Sunset muttered, still annoyed at Twilight. "I should've known you'd try to pull something like that, seeing as you hate magic so much. I'm surprised you didn't try to destroy the whole glade, what with your 'all Equestrian magic must be destroyed' philosophy."

"I couldn't do that," Twilight said. "Not to Gloriosa. Creating that meadow gave her so much joy, and she wasn't hurting anyone with her powers. Taking that away from her would've been cruel."

"And taking magic away from me wasn't?" Sunset snapped, anger flaring up once again at Twilight's hypocrisy.

"That was different," Twilight said. "The magic was dangerous, and it had to be sealed away for everyone's safety. Your actions afterwards proved it."

"I was desperate," Sunset said. "I needed to have my magic back."

"You managed well enough without it," Twilight retorted, "if your fancy penthouse suite and your wildly successful company is any indication."

Sunset didn't reply to Twilight, instead choosing to focus on her driving. They spent the rest of the trip in terse silence, neither willing to break the conversational stalemate they now found themselves in.

As they entered the Canterlot city limits, Sunset glanced at the clock on her dashboard. "It's getting late. I'll drop you off in the parking lot so that you can grab your car. We can figure out our next step tomorrow."

"Fine," Twilight replied quietly.

Sunset drove into the Canterlot Palace parking lot and stopped next to Twilight's car. Without speaking a word, Twilight stepped out and grabbed her bags from the trunk. Sunset drove away as Twilight walked over to her own car.

Before heading back to her suite, Sunset went over to the lab first, going straight to the safe that was still being guarded by that damned pink alicorn. She glared at the stuffed toy for a second before opening the safe. "I bet you never had to deal with this kind of crap," she muttered to the stand-in for her former enemy.

Reaching into her backpack, she pulled out two bags containing the specimens she had plucked previously. They still glowed with that ethereal blue light, and would continue to do so until the of the magic infusing them ran out. Sunset placed one bag in the safe before closing it again. She slid the other into her pocket and returned to the elevator.

Twilight had made her promise not to return to the glade, but she hadn't said anything about taking additional samples. The other woman was too blind to see what Sunset saw, but she'd show her. One day, she would bring magic back into the world on her terms, and Twilight would see the error of her ways.

As she entered her home, she dropped off her bags at the entrance and pulled out her cell phone. She dialed a number and waited for the other side to pick up. "Hey," she said to the person on the other end, "I've got something for you that you might find interesting..."

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