• 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 13: Fracture

The Blue Mage
By Nebula Star

Chapter 13: Fracture
***

Twilight smiled as she heard one of the upstairs windows open. She glanced at Feather and rolled her eyes. They both knew who it was.

“Hey, Twi!” Rainbow called, gliding down from the loft.

With a smirk, Feather leaped up and intercepted her. Rainbow gave a squawk as she was tackled out of the air and pinned down by the guard. “I seem to recall asking you to not come in the windows anymore, Rainbow Dash,” Feather said, though she was smiling as she did.

“Jeez, what’s the big deal!?” Rainbow complained from her place on the floor.

“She did ask nicely, Dashie.” Twilight said, amused.

“Alright, alright! I’ll try to remember.”

“You’ll try?” Feather pressed.

“Fine, I won’t come in the windows anymore!”

“Thank you.” Feather said, releasing her hold and letting Rainbow up.

“Don’t you ever take a day off?” Rainbow grumbled, brushing a hoof down her wing to straighten the feathers.

“I’ve been trying to get her to take more days off.” Twilight told her and gave her a quick kiss. “She insists that since the guard is currently minimally staffed that they simply can’t afford to take much time off.”

Rainbow sighed. “What’s the big deal anyway. The guards outside saw me. It’s not like I snuck in.”

“And I’ll be having words with them about letting you enter through the window later,” Feather told her.

“What, you worried I was a changeling or something?”

“That’s always a possibility. But I’m more concerned about you cooperating with the guard. As close as you are to Twilight, I need you to work with us and not make things harder for us.”

“Okay, okay…” Rainbow rubbed the back of her neck with her hoof.

“She’s just trying to do her job, Dashie.” Twilight wrapped a wing around her and gave her a squeeze.

“Yeah, I know. She’s just trying to keep my mare safe.” Rainbow said then pulled her in for a longer kiss.

Twilight kissed her back, feeling her heart flutter a bit as she did. She was really enjoying having a marefriend. And while she hadn’t decided yet whether or not she loved Rainbow, she definitely wasn’t against giving it more time. “So, what’s going on?”

Rainbow shrugged. “Not much. Just thought I’d stop by for a bit before Scoot’s flying lesson.”

Twilight looked over at her. “Is Apple Bloom not joining your lessons anymore? I know you told her she could practice on her own a couple weeks ago, but I thought she’d still want to be at the lessons.”

“Yeah, she still comes, but for the most part she just practices on her own while I focus on Scoots.” Rainbow told her.

“How is Scootaloo doing?”

“She’s getting there. She can hover and fly slowly just fine, but trying for any speed tends to be a bit much, she loses control of her magic and ends up crashing.” Rainbow sighed. “I can tell, she’s really getting frustrated.”

Twilight frowned. “I’ve told her again and again that it’s going to take time and a lot of work.”

“Yeah, and I keep reminding her… But I think having Apple Bloom there might be making it worse. She sees how quickly and easily Apple Bloom is learning and, well, you know… she’s jealous.”

“Well, I’ll talk to her during her magic lessons.” Twilight said. “Make sure she knows that she’s already doing even better than I expected. Honestly, I didn’t think she’d even be able to hover yet. How much she’s learned already is impressive. And maybe we should talk Apple Bloom into cutting back to just going to every other lesson.”

“Probably a good idea. Honestly, she could probably stop coming all together; she’s far enough along, but I think she enjoys the lessons.”

Twilight nodded. “When she doesn’t have flight lessons, she’s often been coming to the library to practice her magic while I give Sweetie Belle her lessons. I don’t mind since she tries not to disrupt us, but she could just practice at home… I think she just doesn’t want to be alone.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” Rainbow said thoughtfully. “Well, we’ll just have to talk to her and see what we can do. It alright if I send her your way, this afternoon? I really want to focus on Scoots today.”

Twilight nodded. “Sure thing.”

~~~

Feather smirked a bit as Rainbow left. Twilight may not have admitted yet that she loved Rainbow, and in truth her feelings for the pegasus mare were still unclear, but she definitely seemed to enjoy the brief makeout sessions they seemed to have almost every time Rainbow came to visit. She and the guard tried not to make it awkward, and gave them as much privacy as they could, but at the same time it was clear that Twilight and Rainbow both were becoming accustomed to having them around. Feather was glad of that. The last thing she’d want was for the guard to get in the way of the princess’s love life.

Their relationship was still fairly new, though. It may be love, but it could also be a simple infatuation that would soon fade. Time alone would tell. A few months was too soon to say for sure.

“Feather, so you know, Apple Bloom will probably be coming by during Sweetie’s lesson to practice her magic.” Twilight told her after Rainbow had gone.

“I heard.” Feather said with a nod. “It’s probably for the best to be up front with Apple Bloom. Let her know that Scootaloo is feeling a little jealous.”

Twilight frowned. “Yeah, I’ll talk to her after Sweetie’s lesson tonight.”

“And it might also help Scootaloo if Rainbow gave her permission to practice on her own as well. As long as she promises not to go too high, she’ll be fine, and she’ll probably improve more quickly if she can practice flying whenever she’s going somewhere.”

Looking at her captain a little surprised, Twilight smiled and nodded. “You know, that’s a good idea,” she said sitting down and using her right forehoof to tap the bracelet she was wearing around her left fetlock. “Dashie.” She stated clearly, glad her marefriend at least had already taken to wearing the bracelet all the time. A few moments later it pinged and Rainbow’s voice came from the enchanted gem.

“Yeah?”

“Hey, Dashie, Feather had a suggestion: Why don’t you give Scootaloo permission to practice on her own so long as she stays below a certain height. It will help her improve if she can practice more, and also let her know that you have confidence in her.” Twilight said into the bracelet.

“Hmm, yeah, good idea. She should be fine so long as she stays within one story of the ground. She’s crashed worse on her scooter. I’ll do that. Tell Feather thanks for the idea.”

Twilight smiled. “She heard. I’ll see you later, Dashie.”

“Later, Twi.” Rainbow said and the bracelet let out a couple descending chimes to indicate the connection had been broken.

Feather looked at the bracelet thoughtfully. “Twilight, I know those work off of the magic of friendship, but I was wondering; do you think the comradery among the guard would be enough to power them?”

“Perhaps,” Twilight said thoughtfully. “I guess the only way to be sure would be to test it. You want me to make a few for the guard?”

“Well let’s just make a pair to test it, but if it works, would you mind making a set for the rest of the guard? The long range communications we have now are either just flares or they require a unicorn to use them. All the other ranged communication devices I know of take time to set up and have to remain stationary while in use.”

“Of course, Feather, they’re not hard to make, it wouldn’t take me long at all. It might actually help promote unity in the guard too, if you can always talk to each other. And if so, that would improve the range.” Twilight grinned. “If they do work, perhaps I’ll have to see about getting the rest of the royal guard set up with them as well.”

Feather laughed. “Well let’s see if they work and at what range first. If it's sufficient enough, then we'll see about making more.”

~~~

“Sweetie, you need to focus.” Twilight said and Sweetie Belle tore her eyes away from what Apple Bloom was doing.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay, Sweetie…” Twilight said glancing to see what was distracting her. “What in Equestria?”

Sweetie looked again, seeing the slightly shimmering blue field floating in the air in front of Apple Bloom, Little more than a distortion in the air really; it seemed to be a simple sphere in shape.

“Apple Bloom, what is that?” Twilight asked, curiously.

“It’s a time field.” Apple Bloom answered. “Inside time is flowing about half as fast; watch!” She picked up a nearby cushion and tossed it into the sphere. Once it entered the field it seemed to slow down almost instantly, slowly traveled across the space, then sped up again once it left the other side.

“That’s impressive Apple Bloom.”

She blushed. “Ah’ve been working on my fine control. RJ says Ah need to get better before Ah try making one that moves with me.”

“One that moves with you?”

She nodded. “Yeah, RJ said that if Ah get good enough, Ah could put a field around me to speed up time so even though Ah’d be moving normal, to everypony else Ah’d be moving at superspeed!”

“Interesting…” Twilight said, thoughtfully. “That sounds like a similar affect to Accelero.”

“Accelero?” Sweetie asked.

“It’s a unicorn speed spell, first developed by Clover the Clever if I remember correctly. But I never really considered that it might be altering timeflow for the caster…”

“Could I learn it?” Sweetie asked eagerly.

Twilight shook her head. “Not yet. It’s considerably more difficult than even the come-to-life spell.”

“Oh, okay…” Sweetie said, throwing Apple Bloom a glare, though she didn’t see.

“Although…” She trailed off as if something had just occurred to her. “Sweetie, why don’t you take a break for a minute; I want to check something.” Twilight said and started up the stairs to her bedroom. “Feather, do you recall which box I put my spellbooks in?”

“I think it was the one by the nightstand.” Feather said, following her upstairs.

Once they were gone Sweetie rounded on Apple Bloom, glaring. “Why do you always have to show off!?”

Apple Bloom looked at her surprised at the hostility in her voice. “What?”

“Are you trying to make me look bad!?” She demanded, all the frustration and anger that had been building for weeks finally bubbling to the surface.

“No, of course not! Sweetie…”

“Then why are you here!?”

“I… I just…” Apple Bloom stammered, not sure what to say as she was confronted by her furious friend.

Sweetie Belle took her lack of answer as confirmation. She glared back at her a few moments more. “Go home,” she growled.

“Sweetie… I didn’t… I…”

“Go home!”

Apple Bloom looked back, a moment more, looking hurt. Then, without another word, turned and ran to the door, threw it open and galloped away.

“Oh, Sweetie…”

Startled, Sweetie looked back toward the stairs. Twilight was there looking down on her. Sweetie whimpered and ducked her head in shame as she saw the sadness and disappointment in the princess’ eyes.

~~~

Apple Bloom hung her head down as she trudged along the path to the crusaders’ treehouse. She hadn’t been showing off… had she? She thought back over the time she’d spent practicing her magic at the library. That was all it was, practice… sure some of the spells she’d practiced had been rather flashy, but it had still just been practice, right? Clearly Sweetie hadn’t thought so.

She sniffed, not really paying attention to her surroundings. It was clear she couldn’t practice at the library anymore. At least not during Sweetie’s lessons. In fact, she should probably avoid practicing around Sweetie at all…

Looking up, she found she’d reached the Crusader’s clubhouse. Originally, she and the other Crusaders had planned to meet up after their lessons to get a little crusading in before it got dark, but now…

With a sigh she climbed the ramp to the clubhouse. Scootaloo might still show up. Moving to the center of the room, she sat down in the thinking spot. With nothing else to do, she went over all her recent interactions with Sweetie Belle. Had she ever seemed upset with her? Thinking back, she realized there were several times she’d noticed Sweetie had a somewhat sour look that she hadn’t understood at the time. Always after she’d been practicing some of her spells, or showing them to Twilight.

“I didn’t mean to show off…” She said softly, sniffing back her tears. With a hoof, she wiped her tears away, and waited for her other friend.



It was sometime later that she heard hoofsteps coming up the ramp. She raised her head, ears turning toward the sound. She hadn’t heard the usual buzz of Scootaloo’s wings powering her scooter; had Sweetie Belle come to the clubhouse despite what happened?

A moment later, she got her answer when the door opened. It was Scootaloo, looking more ragged than normal, her coat lathered with sweat.

“Oh hey, Scoots. You didn’t bring your scooter?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Nope, I flew here.” She said smiling a bit, while sounding out of breath. “Well, most the way. Rainbow said I could practice on my own, so long as I stay low.”

Apple Bloom grinned excitedly. “That’s great, Scoots!”

“Yeah,” She grinned and looked around. “Is Sweetie not here yet?”

Her face falling, Apple Bloom looked away. “Ah… Ah don’t think Sweetie will be coming,” she admitted.

“Why not?”

Apple Bloom kept her eyes averted. “Ah was at Twilight’s practicing mah magic. Ah was just practicing… but Ah guess Sweetie thought I was showing off. She was pretty angry.”

“Oh,” Scootaloo said sounding disappointed. “Guess crusading is shot then.”

“We could still do something just the two of us? Or we could just practice flying some more if you want?”

Scootaloo’s eyes flashed, but she just shook her head. “Nah, I’m kind of tired anyway…”

“Oh. Okay. Ah guess Ah’ll see you at flying lessons…” Apple Bloom said looking up hopefully.

Again anger flashed through Scootaloo’s eyes, but this time Apple Bloom was watching. “I thought Rainbow said you just need to practice on your own now.” Scootaloo said, a little bit of bitterness entering her voice.

Apple Bloom was taken back. “She did… but Ah still want to come sometimes. To practice.”

“Why, she’ll just tell you to practice on your own anyway.”

“That’s okay, Ah still want to go…”

Rounding on her, Scootaloo flared her small wings. “Well maybe I don’t want you there!” She shouted.

Apple Bloom stared at her a few moments in shock. First Sweetie Belle, now Scootaloo? She’d only wanted to spend more time with them… She hadn’t been trying to show off… She’d just wanted to join them in their endeavors. She’d just wanted to be with her friends. That was why she’d taken Rekaj’s power in the first place. She’d thought having his magic would allow her to spend more time with her friends. But now it seemed that it was only tearing them apart.

She’d only wanted to spend more time with her friends.

She looked up at Scootaloo once more, hoping her friend might not have meant it, that there would be some sign that she didn’t mean it…

Scootaloo just glared back.

Tears in her eyes, and lip trembling, she dashed past, out the door, casting her wing spell as she did. Once out of the club house she leaped into the air, taking flight. She didn’t know where she was going, but she knew she wanted to be alone, so she cast a second spell, making her fade from view, vanishing into the evening sky.

Author's Note:

Obviously I got stuck on this chapter for a while. Rather unfortunate that the jealousy that both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo have been feeling finally bubbled to the surface at the same time.

I have one more chapter to write, then there's two chapters that I've already written and that will carry almost to the end of the story, and the next chapter should be much easier for me, so it shouldn't take too long.

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