• Published 27th Aug 2017
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The Blue Mage - Nebula Star



Gifted with extraordinary power, Apple Bloom must learn to control it and try not to lose herself in the process.

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Chapter 12: Crusaders

The Blue Mage
By Nebula Star

Chapter 12: Crusaders
***

“Hey, Apple Bloom!”

Apple Bloom looked up with a broad smile. The weekend had gone by quickly and had seemed just a little boring after such an eventful Friday. But it was Monday again and so it was back to school. But Monday also meant that Sweetie and Scootaloo were back from their trips.

“Hey girls! How’d your trips go?” She asked, joining them outside the schoolhouse while they waited for the bell.

Sweetie just rolled her eyes. “My parents love Los Pegasus, probably a little too much, but it was fun!”

“The Wonderbolts were awesome!” Scootaloo said excited. “Fleetfoot did this crazy spiral dive that she pulled out of just over the stands; we could feel the wind off her wings! Then Spitfire, Soarin and Blaze did a synchronized corkscrew while trailing fire!”

“Sounds like fun!” Apple Bloom said, happy that Scootaloo had enjoyed herself.

“But that wasn’t even the best part!” Scootaloo went on. “After the show, Rainbow took me to meet the wonderbolts!”

“Really!?”

“Yeah! They let her since she’s in the Wonderbolt Reserve now.”

“Well, Ah’m glad you had such a good time Scoots.”

“So, what did you do for the weekend?” Sweetie Belle asked Apple Bloom. “And what happened on Friday?”

“Oh hey, yeah! You just said something came up and ran off on us. With Diamond Tiara of all ponies.”

“Heh he… Sorry about running off on you; but it was really important.” She started to explain but before she could say more the school bell started ringing. “I’ll tell you at lunch; it’s a bit of a story.”

“Alright…” Scootaloo said reluctantly, and the three of them hurried in to take their seats.

Apple Bloom looked around the room as she entered. She didn’t see Diamond Tiara, but then she hadn’t expected to. After Friday, she didn’t think Diamond would be in school for a few days at least.

All the class had taken their seats and Miss Cheerilee quickly took attendance, skipping over Diamond Tiara’s name. When she was done she stepped out from behind the desk. “Class, I have some unfortunate news this morning. Last Friday, Diamond Tiara’s father had a heart attack; He’s alive, and recovering, but I don’t believe Diamond Tiara will be joining us for a the next few days. I hope that you’ll all keep her and her father in your thoughts.”

Apple Bloom smiled. That explained why Miss Cheerilee skipped Diamond’s name. Somepony had thought to alert the teacher. She was glad; Diamond definitely deserved a few days off.

Class went on as normal and they were just getting into the morning lesson when there was a soft voice from the door.

“Miss Cheerilee.”

The room fell silent as they all looked over at the pink filly standing in the door. “Oh, Diamond Tiara, I wasn’t expecting you to be here today.” Miss Cheerilee said, her voice full of concern and sympathy.

“I know… I’m not staying.” Diamond said softly. “There’s just… something I need to do.”

Apple Bloom stood up, worried. “Diamond, is something wrong?”

Diamond Tiara looked over at her, her expression unreadable, then took a hesitant step toward her as if she still weren’t sure what she was doing. Then suddenly she lunged at Apple Bloom, throwing her hooves around her. Apple Bloom was almost knocked off balance by the other filly’s weight, but Diamond clung to her in a crushing hug.

“Thank you! Thank you. Thank you. thank you…” she repeated again and again as Apple Bloom felt hot tears on her shoulder.

She understood then, and, smiling, she slowly raised her forehooves to return the hug as the rest of the class looked on in confusion. “You’re very welcome, Diamond.”

~~~

“So you saved Diamond Tiara’s dad?” Scootaloo asked excitedly. Apple Bloom had spent most of the lunch hour telling the other crusaders what had happened.

Apple Bloom smiled. “Yeah, once we got the doctor there on time, everything worked out. It will take him a while to fully recover. But he’s alive.”

“That’s incredible, Apple Bloom.” Sweetie said smiling, with happy tears in her eyes. “I can’t imagine how Diamond must feel; knowing how close she was to losing her daddy.”

“Yeah, no wonder she was crying all over your shoulder this morning.” Scootaloo agreed. “You think she’ll be a little nicer to us from now on?”

“That’s not why Ah did it.” Apple Bloom scolded. “If she wants to treat us nicer, then good for her; but don’t you go expecting it or hanging this over her head.”

“I know, I know,” Scootaloo said quickly. “Just saying it would be nice.”

“Ah hear ya. But Ah mean it; don’t try to force her to be nice.”

“I won’t… But hey, you’re a real super hero now Bloom; turning back time to save somepony’s life.”

“That wasn’t the first time Ah did it, remember.” Apple Bloom reminded her softly.

Scootaloo looked confused at first, but then realization hit. “Oh right… with the… yeah.”

Apple Bloom smiled as she tried and failed to avoid the subject. Sweetie Belle was also looking at her, worried. They hadn’t talked about the Hydra incident at all since it happened. She knew her friends had been advised not to bring it up, and she was grateful to them for doing so for so long. “It’s alright, girls,” she said softly. “Ah think Ah’m alright talking about it. You don’t have to avoid bringing it up anymore.”

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle exchanged nervous glances. “You sure, Apple Bloom?” Sweetie asked, her voice full of concern.

“Yeah, Ah’m sure, girls. Ah think this whole thing with Diamond’s pa really helped me get over it.” She smiled remembering the feeling of helping save Filthy Rich. “It’s times like that that make all the bad stuff worth it…”

“Then, uh… could you tell us how we… well…?” Scootaloo trailed off, clearly uncomfortable saying it.

“Sweetie got eaten. You got smacked into a tree. I’m pretty sure it broke every bone in your body.” Apple Bloom told her bluntly. “Really yours was pretty quick… if Sweetie experienced anything like what I did… yeah, I’d rather take the tree.”

“It was quick then?”

Apple Bloom nodded. “That hydra took one swing and you were gone… Trust me, being Swallowed was way worse.” She gave a shiver.

“Really, just one hit?” Scootaloo pouted.

Apple Bloom looked at her, raising a brow. “Scoots, you skipped across the ground like a rock on a pond and hit a tree hard enough you might as well have fallen all the way from cloudsdale. Ah think a hit like that would be enough to put even Princess Celestia out of commission.”

Sweetie gulped nervously. “Yeah… let’s just hope nothing like that happens again.”

“Ah’ll make sure it doesn’t. Ah have all these time spells now; so Ah should be able to just reverse time if anything starts to go bad. And Ah still have the reset spell too; just in case.” Although if she were honest with herself: she really hoped she’d never need it again. But if she did; she knew she’d be glad she had it.

~~~

After class, the three fillies headed home together; Scootaloo pulling the other two in their wagon. Sweetie would have her lessons with Twilight in about an hour so they didn’t have time to do any crusading, but they still liked to ride home together. They were just heading down the road from the schoolhouse when they spotted a blue stallion standing on the side of the road just ahead.

“RJ!” Apple Bloom said smiling as they came to a stop and she jumped out to greet him.

“Hello, Apple Bloom.” He said in an even tone.

She hesitated. Rekaj was usually much happier to see her… had she done something wrong?

“I heard some rumors about what happened this weekend; and I was able to piece together what you did…” He said in a flat voice, completely devoid of emotion.

Apple Bloom looked up at him, smiling nervously.

He stared back, his face unreadable. Finally, he smiled. “You made me proud, Apple Bloom.”

A huge grin split Apple Bloom’s face and she leaped up, throwing her hooves around him in a hug that he gladly returned.

~~~

“Twilight, Sweetie Belle is here.” Spike called over his shoulder as he let the filly in.

“Hi Feather!” Sweetie called waving to the guard at the base of the stairs and getting a smile and wave in return.

A moment later, Twilight herself appeared at the top of the stairs. “Sweetie! I’m glad you’re here.” She said and jumped, gliding down into the main room. “I can take a break!”

“From what?” Sweetie asked curiously.

“Trying to separate out my own books from those that belong to the library. Don’t want to accidentally take some of the library’s books when I move into my,” she sighed, “castle.”

“But… isn’t your castle just being built? It’s not going to be done for a long time isn’t it?”

“About eight months was the last estimate… they could go faster, but it’s not that vital, so they’re only working fast instead of at super pony speeds.”

Sweetie frowned. “But then, don’t you have months to separate out your books?”

“Never hurts to get ahead!” Twilight told her brightly, taking a seat on a cushion near the center table. Sweetie followed suit, and Twilight went right into her lesson. “So, we reviewed multicasting and track sequencing last time; and you’ve got them down pat. I think you’re ready to try the ‘come to life’ spell again, now that you understand some of the principles behind it.”

“Actually, Twilight; I was wondering if you could teach me any time spells?” Sweetie asked a little timidly.”

Twilight blinked, surprised. “Time spells? Why would you want to learn time spells?”

“Well Apple Bloom learned some time spells and they’re amazing!” Sweetie said and quickly went on to tell her about the weekend’s events. By the time she finished, Twilight was staring at her wide eyed. “Apple Bloom did all that on Friday night?”

Sweetie nodded. “Yep, but I was gone so I didn’t hear about it until today at school.”

“Wow… that’s… truly incredible.” She shook her head trying to wrap her mind around it. “To think that Apple Bloom would possess that kind of power…”

“So will you teach me time spells too?” Sweetie asked eagerly.

“I’m afraid not, Sweetie. Even with all my knowledge, Starswirl’s time spells are still the most advanced I’ve seen in pony magic, and they’re way too advanced for you right now. They make teleportation look easy. Which makes the magic that Apple Bloom has learned all the more amazing.”

“Oh, okay,” Sweetie said, looking down at her hooves.

Twilight frowned Seeing the filly’s disappointment. “I think you’re ready to try again on the come-to-life spell, though.” She tried hoping to cheer her up.

Sweetie Belle looked up and smiled. “Okay,” she said, but there was still something a little off about her smile.

~~~

“That’s it, Scoots! You’re doing great!” Rainbow shouted encouragingly.

“Yeah, you can do it, Scoots!” Apple Bloom shouted as well from where she was hovering near Rainbow Dash. Hovering almost effortlessly…

Scootaloo ground her teeth at the thought and lost her concentration. Her magic got away from her and she plopped down on the ground. She groaned as she pushed herself to her hooves. “Will you not shout at me! I need to concentrate!” She yelled glaring at Apple Bloom.

Apple Bloom shrank back from the glare, still hovering in the air. “Sorry…”

“Hey, easy squirt, she’s just trying to cheer you on.” Rainbow said landing next to Scootaloo.

“Well it’s distracting!” She growled.

Frowning, Rainbow looked up at the other filly. “Bloom, why don’t you take a few laps around the field.”

“Okay…” She said and took off to fly the edges of the field they used for flight practice.

Rainbow waited a few moments until she was out of earshot. “Scoot, you know what Twi said. It’s going to take a while before using your magic in flight will be second nature.”

Scootaloo looked away. “I was doing better the other day,” she muttered angrily. Rainbow stepped closer and put a wing around her.

“Getting upset won’t make it easier.”

She tensed a bit, then sighed. “I know… it’s just so frustrating!”

“I know it is, squirt. But I know you, and it may be tough, but I know you have what it takes to push through.” She gave the filly a squeeze with her wing. “Because you don’t give up, ever.”

With a heavy sigh she leaned into rainbow a bit. “Thanks Rainbow.” She glanced to where Apple Bloom was flying around the field. “I just wish it was as easy for me as it is for her…”

Rainbow gave her another squeeze. “Well from what Twilight told me, Bloom’s friend designed her wing spell to imitate pegasus magic without her having to do anything…”

“Like a normal pegasus.” Scootaloo said bitterly.

“Scoot…”

“I know, I know. Let’s get back to work.” She said, though she still sounded a bit down.



Apple Bloom couldn’t help grinning as she finished another lap around the field. She was getting faster and steadier in flight every day. And it was exhilarating; a thrill she’d never thought she’d experience: The freedom of flight. It was even better than in her dreams. None of them had ever quite captured the feeling of the wind whipping past her while her wings overcame gravity’s pull to carry her through the skies. She reveled in it, slowly picking up speed as she grew more confident in her newfound ability.

On an impulse she dove, dropping down toward the ground, opening her wings at the last second to pull up skimming the tall grasses of the field, then with a beat of her wings, rose back up into the sky, climbing higher than she’d yet dared. Soon she was well above the trees, soaring over the fields.

“Apple Bloom!”

She looked down, toward Rainbow seeing her looking up at her. Seeing her look, Rainbow gestured for her to come back down. Apple Bloom dove down and then backwinged to slow herself almost to a stop to land. She still stumbled a bit as her hooves hit the ground, but managed to keep from falling. “Yeah?” It was then she noticed Scootaloo standing a bit behind Rainbow looking a little upset and refusing to meet her eyes.

“Bloom, why don’t you head on home,” Rainbow said and she looked up at the older mare confused. “You’re far enough along that you can practice on your own now; just don’t push yourself, and have somepony nearby just in case. Earth ponies are tough, but I don’t know if you’re as durable as pegasi.”

Apple Bloom blinked and glanced between Rainbow and Scootaloo, the latter of which still refused to meet her eyes. “Oh… okay. Ah’ll se you later then.”

“Later.” Scootaloo said shortly, still not looking at her.

“We’ll see you later, Bloom.” Rainbow said kindly and turned back to Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom hesitated a moment more, glancing between them, then reluctantly turned and started on her way home.

~~~

Sweetie Belle scrunched up her face as she focused on casting the come to life spell again. It had been a while since she’d first tried the spell, but she’d learned a lot since then. Still, she wasn’t having much luck with it. A few sparks shot off her horn but that was as much as she managed. With a groan she flopped down on her belly.

Twilight smiled kindly. “You’re getting close, Sweetie. Much closer than last time you tried it. But I think you may be trying a little too hard. You can’t force it. If the spell isn’t formed right, it doesn’t matter how much magic you try to push through it, it won’t cast.”

Sweetie sighed. “I just can’t get it.”

Reaching out, Twilight ruffled her mane a little. “You will. You’re already very close. Let’s go over the spell forms again.” Reluctantly she nodded and Twilight levitated over the spell book. Before they could really get started though, there was a knock on the door. “Hold on a sec,” Twilight said, getting up to answer it.

Captain feather watched from where she stood near the window, but didn’t object to Twilight answering it herself. There were guards outside and they wouldn’t have let anypony knock if they considered them a threat.

Opening the door, Twilight was surprised to find Apple Bloom on the doorstep. “Hey Apple Bloom.”

“Hi, Twilight… would it be alright if Ah practice my magic here? Ah’ll try not to disturb Sweetie's lesson,” Apple Bloom asked hopefully.

“Sure, but I thought you had a flying lesson today?” Twilight said, confused. Rainbow had told her just last night that she was teaching the girls again today.

“Rainbow said that Ah’m ready to practice on my own so long as Ah have somepony nearby just in case,” Apple Bloom told her. “But AJ and Big Mac are busy an Ah couldn’t think of anypony else that could watch me so Ah thought I’d practice my magic instead.”

“I see,” Twilight said and smiled. “Well you’re welcome to practice, so long as you try not to disturb our lesson.”

Apple Bloom nodded eagerly and Twilight let her in.

“Sweetie and I are working over here,” she said indicating the nook next to her work desk where Sweetie was laying on a cushion. “Feel free to practice anywhere else, just be careful of the books.”

“Okay, thanks Twilight… Hey, is Spike here?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, he went out to stretch his wings, and I think he was going to check on the construction site…”

“Oh, okay.” Apple Bloom said, sounding just a little disappointed.

Sitting back down at Sweetie’s side, Twilight went on with their lesson.

Sweetie tried to pay attention; to not let Apple Bloom’s practice distract her. But when she spotted an illusion of herself walking up to Captain Feather, she couldn’t help looking.”

“Hey, Feather, what do you think?” The second Sweetie Belle asked in Apple Bloom’s voice.

Feather smirked looking down at her. “Pretty good, but the mane’s just a tad too short.”

The illusion Sweetie looked over at the real one. “Huh, your right.” She said and her mane grew just a little longer.

I am not that fat! Sweetie Belle thought, frowning at the illusion.

“You have to be observant in the guard.” Feather said with a wink. “Though your voice kind of gives you away.”

She laughed. “Yeah, RJ hasn’t taught me any spells to change my voice. Ah’ll have to ask him if he knows any. Ah bet he does.”

“As skilled as he is with illusions, I’d say that’s a safe bet,” Feather agreed.

“Sweetie.” Twilight said, calling her attention back to her own lesson. “Let’s get back to work okay.”

She nodded and tried to focus back on the book and the come-to-life spell, but she couldn’t help thinking about how it was one of the first spells Twilight had tried to teach her, and she still hadn’t mastered it. How long would it take before Twilight gave up on her all together?

Author's Note:

Yeah, I've been pretty bad about getting this story updated... The good news is that I have nearly three chapters worth already written and that's going to be almost the end of the story... The bad news is that I have one more chapter I have to write before I get to those three... Been writing a little out of order as of late. And as usual, I also have several other stories that I've been writing at the same time. So yeah, it's not that I haven't been writing; it's that I haven't been focusing on one story.

Anyway, trouble is starting to brew between the Crusaders, and in the next chapter it will be coming to a head.

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