• Published 7th Apr 2017
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The Amulet of Shades - Sparkle Cola



Unfortunately, the Nightmare Moon Incident had one further complication...

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Chapter Three: Of Librarians and Unicorn Horns

Meadow Lark wiggled a forehoof back and forth on the ground while she waited for her new friend. It occurred to her that since Tempest had never set foot in Equestria, maybe she didn’t have the proper identification papers? What would border security ponies do if you didn’t have ID documents?

Before she could ponder the matter further, Tempest emerged, looking around for a moment before spotting Meadow waiting on the far side of the street. With a small flash of greenish light, Tempest appeared next to her and began to hurry down the street. Without slowing her gait, she called out over her shoulder. “Come Meadow, let’s be off. You wanted to stop for some tea, correct?”

Tea was the first thing on Meadow Lark’s spontaneous itinerary. She had been planning to visit a cute little tea shop where she could then help Tempest ease into modern Equestria, and plan what the two of them could do with the rest of the morning. But that thought suddenly got shoved aside when she saw what Tempest just did.

“You know how to teleport?” Meadow rushed forward in a flurry of hoofsteps. “That’s amazing! That’s a rare magical skill—I’ve only known one other pony with enough magic channeling ability to do it! What’s your teleportation range?”

Tempest kept her eyes forward as she continued walking. “Far enough, I imagine. It gets me from here to there.”

“Aww, don’t be so modest, Tempest! Really, it’s a great accomplishment!” Meadow studied Tempest’s fluted horn for a minute. Her horn had an impressive length, but everything about this mare was impressive, as she seemed to be taller than most mares. “I mean, it would just be so convenient sometimes! Sometimes I really wish I could teleport.”

Meadow paused as she heard some commotion from behind, somewhere close to the security checkpoints as they made their way down the street. Looking over her shoulder, she saw a few ponies rushing towards the pier area they had just left.

“Huh. I wonder what’s going on?” She looked over to Tempest, noticing that her horn was glowing lightly with a sheen of her pale green magic. “Think we should go back to investigate?”

“I am sure the guards are well trained for such things and have things in hoof. Let’s not make a nuisance of ourselves, Meadow. Where did you want to stop for tea?”

“Oh, just around the corner over there!” Meadow grinned, pleased that Tempest seemed to be opening up and was in better spirits. “What was that magic you were doing a moment ago?”

“Security. I don’t know this city very well.”

“Ah, no worries, Temp! We’re perfectly safe!”

Meadow shook her head. Tempest was probably just overly cautious after spending her life either in rough-and-tumble Gryphus or to the east of that nation, wherever that was. As far as she knew, lands to the east of there were known as unsettled, and considered very harsh, uninhabitable terrain. She knew Gryphus well from doing her continued research in ornithology for the avians of that continent, but she had no interest in heading further east. Her bodyguard, a hired griffon named Gorinyn, had only been far enough east to know that there was another sea. Beyond that, she didn’t know.

“Indeed.”

***

“…So then my cousin told her, ‘You didn’t actually lose, you won! Suri Polomare was hoping that if you thought you lost, she could accept first place!’ And that’s how Coco Pommel got her business booming. Thanks to the Element of Generosity!”

“Fascinating. And this Element of Generosity—this pony… the town she and the other Elements live in is called Ponyville?”

“That’s right! Of course, they no longer possess the elements in a physical form. The Elements were returned to the Tree of Harmony in order to defeat the Plunderseeds Discord had planted ages ago in his bid to overcome the Tree and capture the princesses!”

Tempest blinked before shaking her head ruefully. Meadow Lark had somehow skipped that story when she was giving her account of the escapades of the Elements of Harmony, the heroines of Equestria.

Discord was a creature she was keenly aware of from her youth. When she was a six year old filly she and Sweet Potato had to evacuate Hoofdale along with the rest of the ponies in order to get away from Equestria’s capital. Discord had overthrown the whole of pony society and had made his base of operations the Castle of the Two Sisters. With his ability to seemingly warp the very fabric of reality itself, residents of Ponyvale and neighboring cities were forced to flee to the far reaches of the country, hunkering down in smaller groups away from any population centers. It seemed that the more ponies tried to organize themselves, the more they would draw Discord’s ire. It was a harrowing time of fear and sorrow, and with the loss of the constraints of civilization, many unscrupulous and violent ponies took advantage of the weak and the defenseless.

To this day, Tempest couldn’t stand the thought of eating grass, since there were many nights Mavis and her adoptive mother were unable to find anything else while foraging for food. Through it all, however, Mavis was a rock, defending them from possible raiders and seeing to it that they did not suffer too much.

It wasn’t until Tempest was eight years old that the princesses were able to settle differences between them and harmonize sufficiently to wield the Elements. It was the third attempt, Discord having laughed them off the previous two times, and of course this was the origin of the expression “the third time’s the charm.”

Meadow was giving her a funny look again. On further introspection, Tempest decided she needed to hide her moments of brooding better. “Yes, Meadow?”

“Oh, nothing…” The light blue pony grinned. “So, you wanted to catch up on the latest news? Learn about our Equestrian ways? The Manehattan Library is about two Kilometers down that way on Gaskin Street. But before we do that, my cousin’s shop is just around the corner past the intersection of Chestnut and Gaskin.” She indicated a soft blue and green shop with arching windows a few doors down with a point of her hoof. “If we stop there, maybe we can get your wardrobe up to speed. You know, something a little more modern than your cloak!”

Bringing a hoof up to her mouth, Meadow froze in horror, her ears folding back in dismay. “Not that there’s anything wrong with your cloak, Tempest. Heh heh. It’s umm…”

Amused, Tempest tried to keep a straight face, her ears perked up at attention. “My cloak, you say? What’s the matter with it?”

“Nothing! It’s a fine cloak, and a very… classic look!”

Tempest regarded her cloak for a moment before looking back up and responding with a raised eyebrow. She wasn’t one to joke around very often, but this pony left herself wide open for it. “Classic as in timeless, or classic as in ancient?”

Meadow made a sound that sounded distinctly like a ‘meep.’

Chuckling, Tempest hoofed Meadow’s shoulder lightly. “It’s fine. This cloak is actually older than you know. But first things first. I really need to find a magic store. Would you lead me to one?”

Meadow seemed to let out a breath she was holding before she grinned and trotted ahead. “Sure! There’s a good one back that way called Krystal’s Crucible. C’mon!”

***

The shop was a mishmashed cacophony of color, with bizarre clashes of electric blue, pale teal and dark pink stars. The sign over the door was brightly lit in glimmering lights, displaying the name and what looked like a crude crucible emitting sparks and smoke. Comically, the lights on the sign followed a pattern where the crucible would light up, then the sparks, and finally the smoke giving the appearance of a magical brew reacting out of control.

Tempest felt a little mystified by the decor, but Meadow urged her onward, opening the front door. A bell hanging from the door latch jangled, drawing the attention of an older unicorn stallion sitting behind the counter near the back. The stallion was a brick red color, grizzled with a smattering of gray through his coat. His graying light aqua-colored mane was a short-cropped, and he had a matching beard covering his lower jaw and chin.

“Good morning, ladies!” The unicorn beamed. “How may I help you today?”

Tempest’s eyes scanned through the various aisles to her right and the many display cabinets on her left and in the back. She only grew more confused at what she saw but perhaps this pony could clarify a few things.

“Hail, kind sir! Are you the proprietor of this establishment?” Tempest paused as she heard a snicker behind her, turning to regard Meadow who was attempting to cover her smile with a hoof.

“See? See?”

Apparently she had slipped into more archaic speech patterns again. After giving Meadow a flat look, Tempest turned back to the older stallion. “My apologies. You are the shopkeeper, I presume?”

The unicorn chuckled, stroking his graying goatee. “I am the shopkeeper, Flint Foundry. My wife is Krystal Krucible, and together we manage this store. What can I do you for?” His gaze traveled from the taller unicorn to the smaller earth pony.

“I am Tempest. And this here is Ms. Meadow Lark.” Tempest indicated Meadow, who bobbed her head with a grin, and then she gazed around the shop again. On display was a variety of compact cylinders and boxes in the display cabinets, and there was a collection of books and what looked like potion ingredients on the shelves. Perhaps the amulets on sale were within the boxes or cylinders? “May I see some of your more powerful magical devices, Mr. Foundry? Coin is not an issue.”

The shopkeeper’s smile widened as he activated his horn to swing open the fold-over counter he was behind. The panel flipped over with a bang as he trotted out, worried less about the noise than helping these two mares and making a sale.

“Absolutely, my dear.” Flint pointed a hoof to the shelves first. If you look over here, you will find that our store is well stocked with practically any potion ingredient you can think of. And if we don’t have it, we can have it shipped to us within the week!”

Tempest scanned the shelves for a moment before shrugging her shoulders. There were not only potion ingredients, but cauldrons, mortars, and crucibles as well. “Okay. And what about your items in the cases?”

“Of course! Here we have all the top brands, and all of the typical sizes necessary for your magic power supplies!”

Tempest only gazed back, furrowing her brows. “Magic power supplies?” He must have been talking about these cylinders and boxes. “What sorts of magical effects are these items capable of?”

“Effects?” The stallion scratched at his beard with a hoof, tilting his head in confusion. “Well, there’s only one effect… You want to power your music player? Most of ‘em take two to four of this one: size “C3.” You want to power your auto-scooter? That will likely be four to eight of these on the bottom shelf, size “D6.” You want to use your household’s automated hoof scrubber? They normally run off of a D1.” He lifted the cylinder out of the case, the diameter being about a third of the width of his hoof.

Tempest was now well and thoroughly confused. What the hay was he talking about? She continued looking at the strange manager, only this time there was more distance between her upper and lower jaws.

Meadow finally leaned in and got Tempest’s attention. “Tempest, all of these things store potential energy. Heh, calling them magic is actually a misnomer; they are just magically charged.” She pointed a hoof at the devices in question. “Griffons call them batteries. This is how we power simple machines and appliances, especially the portable ones!”

So these little cylinders contained energy to power small machines and devices? Interesting.

“What about the ship we were on? Wasn’t the Windsong using coal for fuel?”

“Yes, well... “ Meadow paused to gather her thoughts. “The Windsong is from the Gryphus shipyards. They specialize in steam-powered devices. Equestrian shipyards now build ships equipped with larger versions of these power supplies, all capable of self-recharge under normal daylight conditions. You can still find many steam powered engines in Equestria, but those are slowly being phased out. The further you travel from the unicorn-dominated city of Canterlot, the more Steam-tech you will find.”

The smaller mare looked pensive for a moment. “As a matter of fact, that’s probably why things are getting more and more unstable over in Gryphus and Minos right now…their exports have been shrinking.”

“Anyway!” Meadow shook her head and held up the battery, giving it a tap. “The ponies of Equestria use these for portable power. The energy they contain is stored as chemical energy, and the reactions of that chemical drives the electricity out one end and through the device to return to the other end.”

“Batteries are typically charged by worker unicorns in factories, but recently Princess Twilight Sparkle has been leading our engineers to create better ways of moving electricity, such as hydroelectric dams!”

“Electricity.” Tempest replied, her tone flat. “I see. Well then, what about devices that can act as more than a simple reservoir for electrical energy? What about devices that are able to carry an ongoing and active magical effect, such as giving a pony wings?”

“The Wingspring spell?” Mr. Foundry cut in. “That is quite the doozy of a spell, my dear! There is a limit to how much magic you can cram into an inanimate object, as I am sure you learned in magical kindergarten. Now, if you want to use a minor cantrip, such as cloud buoyancy, then fine. That’s why Cloudsdale’s kitchen tables and cabinets don’t crash down on our craniums! The cloud buoyancy rune inscribed on a hidden panel allow our pegasus cousins to have nice things. But a rune to allow a pony to have wings? Something taking that much magic? That pony would have to strap on a plank as big as this store for a rune to be large enough to carry that much magic, and then the wings would do him no good!”

The stallion chortled at his own joke while Tempest scratched at her mane in confusion. That made no sense at all—not if her amulet technology was used in the modern day. What was missing here? Tempest was beginning to lose her patience. “Mr. Foundry, let me be perfectly clear: I want to know if you have devices… capable of exactly that, and yet be small enough to be worn on the body or slipped into a saddle bag.”

Mr. Foundry’s mirth simmered down until he started studying Tempest’s face. “Wait, you’re serious?”

Nodding her head, Tempest raised both brows in an expression which seemed to say: Do ya think?

Without another word, Mr. Foundry pursed his lips and then turned abruptly, trotting back to the sales counter. Tempest watched him go in growing confusion, before the older pony flipped the counter panel back open again and turned to regard her steadily. “If you two are here to waste my time with a stupid prank, then I shall have to ask you to go. Off with you, now.”

“I… what?”

Mr. Foundry rolled his eyes, walking behind the counter again. “Something that you could wear that makes you sprout wings? If that pointy horn on your head is for more than just show, then you are clearly aware of the rune-size rule. It’s the inherent limitation of all runes: they are only useful for minor magical effects, unless you have a whole flank-load of space!” His brick-red horn activated with a pale blue glow, bringing a catalogue up in front of his face. “I bid you a good day!”

Tempest’s brows furrowed while she started to piece together the clues. Nopony in this city seemed to be wearing anything that might suggest amulet technology—that had seemed odd. But to hear this ridiculous little proprietor demean her by claiming the technology that she herself had pioneered was fantasy? It was infuriating! And yet, her anger would be misdirected if she focused it on the proprietor.

Tempest sat on her haunches and swore, gritting her teeth in aggravation. “That infernal mare! To Tartarus with her—she covered it up!”

Startled by her outburst, Meadow trotted up in concern. “Are you alright, Tempest? What’s wrong?”

Steeling herself, Tempest shook her head. “It’s nothing, Meadow. Nothing that can’t be remedied, anyway.” Tempest sighed with a huff before standing up to face Mr. Foundry again. “I… I humbly apologize for the prank, sir. It was in poor taste. Excuse us, and you have a pleasant afternoon.”

The stallion behind his catalogue grunted in reply.

Tempest turned on her hoof to leave, but then she remembered the other reason for why she was there. “I am sorry, sir, but I did actually want to pick up an item for potions brewing, if you don’t mind?”

Mr. Foundry sighed before placing the catalogue on his counter. Studying Tempest’s demeanor for a moment, he raised an eyebrow before hopping off of his stool again and exiting the counter a second time. “I have an excellent variety of ingredients and supplies, you won’t find any stores better. What do you need, my dear?”

Tempest thought for a moment. If amulets had been covered up somehow, then the methodology for making them would of course be a complete mystery. Amulet creation was a very painstaking process, and it necessitated an intensely focused beam of resonant magic, with more power than most, if not any, unicorns alive could muster. However, a disembodied horn, encapsulated within a amplifying resonance chamber, worked just fine. Besides, the use of a disembodied horn would render horn burn-out a non-issue.

One of her friends who was usually in the medical wing of Sisters’ School because of his medical studies actually helped her come up with the idea. He offered it to her when he had learned that she had nearly burned out her own horn in a failed attempt at making an amulet. He was able to procure the item, and fortunately, the cadaver lab was never able to track down what happened to it. Also fortunately, Princess Luna supported her discovery while at the same time urging her to keep the method a secret.

“I was wondering, sir, if among your potion ingredients you might have a unicorn horn?”

The shopkeeper grew slightly pale, before his expression became grave.

“I beg your pardon? A what?”

Rolling her eyes, Tempest repeated herself. “A unicorn horn. Typical potion ingredients may include powdered unicorn horn. Would I be able to acquire one here?”

Mr. Foundry’s look of horror slowly morphed into one of anger. “A… a fully intact horn?” he sputtered. “W-what kind of store do you think I run? Why would I be in possession of such a thing?”

Uh oh.

Tempest’s mind raced as she observed Mr. Foundry’s reaction. In hindsight, maybe it would have been better to research in the library first. Possessing a horn in ancient Equestria, while odd, wasn’t actually unheard of for potion masters.

But now? Apparently, gauging by his reaction, it was either taboo or illegal to have a unicorn horn. In her attempts to expunge amulet technology, Celestia must have made the very possession of a horn verboten, thereby avoiding the chance that anypony else might be able to repeat what she did.

I need to come up with a cover story quick.

“Oh, excuse me! I know that normally, only horn shavings are available, you know, like from salons and such. But see, I am publishing a research article on the effects of different grits of horn shavings on potion vitality.” Tempest winced, not really sure if her cover story sounded credible at all.

Meadow leaned in between them at this point, giving the shopkeeper a forced smile. “She’s… not from around here, sir.”

Mr. Foundry’s expression did not improve.“Oh? Just where is it she is from?”

“I… I think we should just go now.” Meadow squeaked, as she began to push Tempest towards the door. Bodily moving the larger pony out the front door, Meadow called over her shoulder. “She… didn’t know, sir. She didn’t mean anything by it. New to Equestria and all...”

***

The Library was massive. Huge columns were interspersed in soaring archways, allowing ponies to pass either on hoof or on wing. It was like the towering shelves of books within were exposed to the elements, until Tempest examined it with a diagnostic spell. Apparently, the entry was maintained by a magical barrier of some type that sealed the weather out.

Statues of the Princesses, each standing about eight meters high, impressively framed the soaring entrance. Further to the sides, the building was walled by brick masonwork of earthy tones interspersed at intervals by stained glass windows.

Feeling an excitement she hadn’t felt in a long time, Tempest couldn’t help but speed up her gait a little. Meadow increased her pace to stay alongside of her, until Tempest stopped, turning to Meadow with a smile.

“Meadow, it has been 12 weeks since you were last in Equestria, correct? You said you were gathering data for your ornithology research?”

“That’s right! But I wanted to make sure you got settled! You sure you’ll be okay?”

“In a library? I’ll be more than okay.” Tempest smiled warmly. “Your help has been welcomed, but I am sure your cousin Ms. Pommel would be happy to see you. Why don’t you let me take it from here.”

“Well, okay then,” Meadow replied, beginning to turn the other way. “ But let’s get back together for dinner with Coco tonight! She’d love to meet you—and you could tell us more about your time east of the Griffon lands. No more deflecting, alright?”

“Fine, fine!” Tempest breathed out, rolling her eyes. She waved a hoof back at the departing pony, and then turned again to face the magnificent temple of learning and knowledge. “Let’s get started.”

***

Tempest scrutinized the lobby as her eyes panned back and forth. It had been an odd sensation, passing through the wall of magic that served as a doorway, but an entrance such as that certainly let in a lot of natural light. Reading couches were clustered at intervals around low tables, arranged strategically to allow through-traffic. Around the periphery, benches, desks, and organizing shelves were placed.

The building was not experiencing heavy use at the moment, if the sparse ponies around her were any indication. Tempest’s eyes soon fell across an older unicorn mare, who seemed busy behind a desk piled high with books and other materials. If her current activity of stamping books were any indication, she was the librarian. The unicorn’s grey and mint-green mane was pulled back into a bun, and her spectacles were managed by a delicate jade-beaded chain that wrapped behind her slender neck. Her eyes were a similar mint-green color as her mane highlights, and she looked rather furry at her fetlocks, above her elbows, and at her chest.

Tempest took a deep breath, and then approached. She had much to learn, but her ultimate goal would be to get Celestia far away from Princess Luna. Only then could she have a chance to stop the usurper’s reign and finally defeat whatever foul magics that were still holding her mother’s mind prisoner.

The unicorn mare looked up as Tempest strode towards her work desk, and gave a small smile as she set a stack of materials aside. “Can I help you, Miss?”

Tempest dipped her head briefly in a polite gesture. “You are the curator of these archives… er, the library?”

“I am an assistant librarian - my name is Moonlight Sigil.” The pony stood up from her stool, and Tempest’s eyes quickly flicked to the mark on her flank, a crescent yellow moon fringed with runes along the convex edge. Tempest smiled to see a cutie mark that would be so dear to her heart.

“Wonderful. I am Ms… Evermoon. Could you direct me to your section on cartography? And also, where could I find reference materials on the government?”

The librarian smiled and nodded her head. “Just follow me, Ms. Evermoon.”

“Also, do you have any private rooms for study?”

“Certainly!”

***

Tempest stretched for a moment, yawning and straightening out her limbs in order to restore some circulation after hours of disuse. She sighed, before sitting down again and moving another book off to the side. The study room Ms. Sigil had led her to was perfect. It was completely silent, with a long table for arranging her stacks of materials, and it was even convenient to the nearest bathroom.

One thing was obvious: the science of amulets and amulet production was completely absent. Unless you took anything in the fantasy and fiction sections seriously, all knowledge about amulets was completely gone, which rankled considerably.

The library had been most helpful in other regards, especially when Tempest had scouted around and found the restricted section. There were several magic wards in place, including an alert if the wards were defeated, but she had been clever enough to find that one and feed it some counter-magic before defeating the other wards. It wasn’t so much that the collection was great and mysterious, but it did have some blueprints and schematics of some governmental buildings, and surprisingly, a book on the construction of Canterlot Castle. There were likely many secrets about that castle that wouldn’t be found in this book, or any book, but it did give her a good place to start.

Now, she was reading what seemed to be a description of the daily schedules of the diarchy. Tempest’s hoof traced across the page quickly as she read.

...while Princess Luna holds Night Court as in olden times, her waking schedule holds a respectable overlap with her older sister since her return. Night Court typically spans from ten o’clock PM to four o’ clock AM, with an hour’s recess between twelve-thirty AM to one-thirty AM. During this time she can usually be found eating, and meeting with her closest advisors. After Night Court concludes, the younger Princess usually retires to her offices to review documents and take care of administrative aspects of her rule. For those who wonder about how she works her dream magic during this time frame, she intersperses the court cases that are scheduled with segments of time where she is able to police the dream realm...

As Tempest focused on the page, the door to the study suddenly opened, causing her to look up with a start. The kindly face of the same assistant librarian was peering back at her with a cheery expression.

“Um, hello, dear. I was just wondering if you were were doing all right, and needed any further assistance?”

Tempest watched helplessly as Moonlight Sigil’s eyes trailed to the books and materials that had been carelessly strewn about the table. She knew without looking that of the titles visible, including the Ponies Behind the Elements of Harmony and a Compendium on Modern Magical Combat, she would definitely notice the book from the restricted section.

Moonlight’s smile dissolved, her face growing coldly neutral as she looked back up to meet Tempest’s gaze with a blink. “...Excuse me.” She quietly ducked back out of the doorway and made her way back down the hall, appearing tense while at the same time trying to appear like she wasn’t.

With her heart suddenly thudding in her chest, Tempest swore under her breath. Not even a full day in Equestria and already she was going to be reported as suspicious. Making up her mind in an instant, Tempest reached out a hoof and cleared the books from the table. Quickly picking up a writing utensil, she inscribed two runes. The first was called videre, the sight rune, and was the foundation of the scrying spell. The second rune was Moonlight’s Cutie Mark.

Finishing her inscription on the table, Tempest quickly uncorked her waterskin and poured in on the surface, silently breathing a word of thanks that the surface was level. Finally, she enacted the spell, lighting up her horn, and breathing to focus as the glimmer of magic struck the water. Immediately, the small puddle began to glow, and the image of Ms. Sigil came into focus, apparently hurrying along the hallways of the library. Tempest held her breath as she watched the actions of the older pony.

She was obviously nervous, as Tempest observed her repeatedly glancing behind her, likely afraid that she would be followed. Finally, the librarian turned a corner and walked into a small room, striding up to a desk which had a plaque with her name on it. Ms. Sigil reached a hoof under the desk, and with a little concentration, Tempest angled the scrying spell to see what she was doing, gasping as she watched the hoof depress a little red button with a label next to it reading police.

“Just gets better and better.” She muttered, shutting off the scrying spell and throwing down her cloak to dry up the mess. Her time was going to be limited, so she would need to come up with something quickly. Focusing again, she teleported directly to Moonlight’s office, having seen a clear enough picture of it through the spell.

Feeling the familiar wrenching sensation in her stomach, she kicked the door shut as soon as she felt the carpet of Ms. Sigil’s office under her hooves. Lighting her horn again, she locked the portal and soundproofed the area, just like she had seen Luna do countless times those many years ago. The Librarian was looking at her with horror.

“I… wish you hadn’t done that.” Tempest murmured.

Straightening herself courageously, Moonlight Sigil spoke, trying to keep her voice even. “Ms. Evermoon, how did you defeat the enchantments protecting the restricted section? Those security measures were in place for a reason.”

Not wanting to frighten the pony further, Tempest sighed, sitting down on her haunches. “My motives are pure, Ms. Sigil. I am righting a wrong, not threatening innocent ponies.” Tempest huffed in disappointment. “Did you have to go and summon the police?”

Moonlight took a step back, her eyes widening. “How did you—? W-what was I supposed to do? I know all of the books of this building, and seeing you with those in particular, plus the one from the restricted section…”

Again cursing her own stupidity, Tempest lowered her head while maintaining the pony’s gaze. “Well, that won’t do, will it? I need to check out a couple of books. If you won’t provide me with a library card, you will need to provide me with a distraction.”

“What?”

“Don’t worry—you’ll receive no harm… no more than a headache when you awaken.” The pendant around Tempest’s neck began to glow with a violet light. “Let’s have a heart to heart, shall we?”

Quick as she could, Moonlight ducked down behind her desk. “No… No! Somepony help me!”

Tempest raised her voice to be heard. “Your office is sound-proofed, ma’am… And you won’t be hurt.” As the crackling glow intensified around her pendant, Tempest began to raise it up higher. Light cascaded up and down her foreleg, then up over her horn, combining and interwining with Tempest’s own pale green colored magic. Finally, Tempest’s left eye took on a purple hue as well, with filaments of violet colored magic energies arcing out to the side.

“No, you won’t be hurt any longer.” Tempest’s voice now took on a reverberating quality as she stepped closer. “I perceive that you have been hurting already…”

Gently, the magical filaments, an intertwining helix of green and violet light, trickled off the tip of Tempest’s horn and began to encircle the horn of the older pony. Moonlight Sigil slowly sat up, wiping her nose with a hoof, and began to stare blankly ahead.

Narrowing her eyes, Tempest examined various images as they were projected across her mind. After a moment, she seized on a few.

“I perceive that your best friend passed away two months ago… I am sorry... and your daughter is estranged from you… I feel your pain.” Tempest took another step forward, as the lighting of her magic began to color both of Moonlight Sigil’s eyes with an eerie glow. “You are lonely. You are suffering…”

Lucidity gradually came back into Moonlight’s eyes as she looked down at her hooves, wiping her tears away with a fetlock. “Yes. It has been… difficult.”

Tempest smiled, placing a hoof on the unicorn’s withers. “Come. Let us banish the loneliness together.”

Author's Note:

All art by my 15 year old daughter, over at Tillie-TMB
Thank you, BlazingMoon, for the assist on the edits for Chapter 3.

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