• 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 7: Death

The Blue Mage
By Nebula Star

Chapter 7: Death
***

Apple Bloom looked up as Twilight came over to where she had her potions equipment set up on the library’s table.

“So how is it coming?” Twilight asked.

“Ah think it’s almost done. It looks right, anyway.” Apple Bloom said looking at her potion that was simmering over a small flame. It was one of the more complex potions she’d made under Twilight’s guidance. A potion that Twilight had in turn learned from Zecora. Twilight took a close look at the clear, sky blue liquid.

It seemed ridiculously difficult in fact, considering what the potion was meant to do. A cure for the hiccups didn’t seem worth this much effort.

“Yep, looks right. Give it half a minute more then take it off to cool.” Twilight instructed.

She nodded and Twilight went to check on the other two crusaders. Scootaloo was currently reading over notes Twilight had written about the technique for a pegasus to consciously control their magic. It was clear the filly was having a hard time understanding them and since Sweetie Belle was simply practicing the spells she’d learned in her private lessons, Twilight went to see if Scootaloo had any questions. After all she was starting her own lessons tonight after Twilight Time.

Apple Bloom focused on finishing her potion, not wanting to fail at the last step. The usefulness, or lack thereof, aside; the potion was still good practice to make. After a few more moments simmering, the potion took on a greenish tint and it began to give off a pleasant minty smell.

“Smells like that’s done, Apple Bloom.” Twilight called from across the room.

“Yep!” She agreed, already moving the flask away from the flame and blowing out the burner. The potion was exactly how Zecora’s instructions described; teal in color with a smell like spearmint.

“So what does that potion do?”

Apple Bloom looked up at the armored pegasus mare that had become a fixture around the library over the past week. Captain Feather seemed friendly enough, and the other guards that had come with her certainly seemed friendlier than the overly formal guards they had around Canterlot. “It’s a cure for the hiccups.” Apple Bloom said, smiling, then explained. “It relaxes the diaphragm to stop it from twitchin’ which is what causes hiccups.”

“Really? You’ve been brewing this potion for almost two hours. That seems like a lot of work just to cure hiccups.”

“It is,” Twilight agreed, joining them. “But it’s a nice safe potion that’s good practice to make.” She then leaned close to the flask and sniffed to check if the smell was right. She smiled, satisfied. “Looks good, Apple Bloom. Now next time you get the hiccups, just take a spoonful of this and they’ll stop right away.”

Apple Bloom grinned. “Yeah, but I don’t think I’ll bother making more after this runs out.”

Twilight nodded, smiling. “I know, that’s just the way some potions are; far too much work for the benefits. I know of one recipe that takes nearly three days to brew and all it does is clear up red-eye…”

“Three days?” Feather snorted with a laugh. “You’ll give yourself red-eye trying to brew it!”

“Yeah!” Apple Bloom agreed and turned to begin bottling her potion.

Feather smiled. “Well I’ve got to say, I was rather surprised when Twilight explained to me what this Twilight Time of yours was, that you fillies were really interesting in studying in your free time. But I have to admit, what you’re studying is pretty interesting. It’s not like the average school offers courses on potion making or consciously wielding pegasus magic.”

“Well these three aren’t your average little fillies either.” Twilight said, looking around at the three crusaders with a proud smile.

Apple Bloom blushed and continued working at sealing doses of her potion into individual vials that were enchanted for durability.

“You know, Feather; you could work at learning something as well.” Twilight told the pegasus guard. “I could teach you to wield your pegasus magic.”

She laughed. “As tempting as that is; I have too many other duties and can’t take the time required to learn something like that.”

“Nonsense!” Twilight insisted. “You can spare some time to learn with the rest of us.”

“Heh, well I can’t really afford to be that distracted when I’m on duty.”

“Suit yourself.” Twilight said and, with a nod, Feather returned to her customary position near the front door.

Apple Bloom finished bottling her potion and knowing that Twilight time was almost over, began cleaning up her potion making supplies.

“So, how’s your magic lessons going?”

Apple Bloom looked up at Twilight and shrugged. “RJ’s mostly been teachin’ me some protective spells that he promised AJ that he’d teach me.”

“Oh, well that’s good.” Twilight said with a nod, trying her best not to sound worried.

“But now Ah got the hang of them, RJ said we can start working on illusions and maybe even some time-flow magic!” Apple Bloom told her excitedly.

“Time-flow magic?” Twilight asked, concerned. “That sounds a little dangerous…”

“Nah, he said it’s time-travel magic that’s dangerous. And he said he’s not goin’ to teach me that.”

Twilight raised a brow. “Did he tell you why time-flow magic is safer?”

Apple Bloom frowned thinking. “He said it was because time-flow magic keeps you in the same timeline, but time-travel magic you’re actually moving to an alternate timeline… Ah didn’t really understand it, but that’s what he said…”

Twilight smiled. “Well it definitely sounds interesting… I think I’ll ask him about it sometime.”

“He’s not going to cause and trouble, Twilight.” Apple Bloom said, hearing the suspicion Twilight couldn’t quite keep out of her voice.

She sighed. “I really hope so; Apple Bloom… I’m just trying to look out for you.”

“Ah know.”

Twilight smiled and put a wing around her in a brief hug. “So you and the others have anything planned this evening?”

“Nah, but tomorrow we’re going to go crusading! We haven’t been in a while! We’ve got to get back to it!”

Twilight laughed smiling. “Well; be safe, but have some fun too!”

“We will!”

~~~

It was still early the next morning when Twilight yawned, exiting the bathroom, her mane still a little damp from her morning shower. Absently she cast out with her magic as was habit for her, checking the area around Ponyville for anything out of place.

Then she froze, an icy chill running up her spine. Scanning her surroundings wasn’t one of her habits. She shuddered, wondering just what else she had inherited from Achlys. Still, she had to admit, it was a good idea…

With a sigh she went ahead and continued casting outwards, further and further, encompassing not only Ponyville but much of the lands surrounding the town. There was something… she focused her scan toward the mountains west of Ponyville. It felt like an anomaly of some sort; something was disturbing magic in the area. Frowning, Twilight decided to investigate and with a flash, teleported to the edge of town.

~~~

“Why does it have to be so hot?” Scootaloo groaned, buzzing her wings briefly to fan herself.

“Maybe we should ask princess Celestia.” Sweetie Belle suggested, her horn glowing as she used her magic to create a breeze of her own.

It was still early and already the day promised to be the hottest of the year.

“I’m just glad Me and Rainbow aren’t training today.” Scootaloo said with a sigh.

“What are we goin to do for crusadin’ though?” Apple Bloom asked frowning. “It seems like weeks since we’ve gone! And we’re all so busy now; we can’t miss this opportunity! Who knows when we’ll all have time again!”

“I know but what can we do in this heat?” Scootaloo said.

“We could try something indoors.” Sweetie Belle suggested.

“Nah, we’ve tried everything we can do indoors.”

“How about we go out to Saddle Lake? Ah already tried being a water pony but maybe we can get our cutie marks in marathon swimming!” Apple Bloom suggested.

“There’s an idea, and swimming sounds great right now, even if we don’t get our cutie marks!” Scootaloo agreed.

“Saddle lake is probable really crowded right now…” Sweetie pointed out.

“Not if we go to the south end of the lake.” Scootaloo said, grinning.

“I guess that’s true…” Sweetie hesitantly agreed.

Apple Bloom grinned. “Well let’s get going then! Cutie mark crusader marathon swimmers!”

“YEAH!” Three voices shouted at once.

Moments later they were speeding along the roads through Ponyville to the eastern end of town and Saddle Lake.

~~~

Twilight looked into the cave feeling just a little nervous about what she would find. It hadn’t taken long for her to track down the source of the strange disturbance she’d sensed. It would have taken her longer just a few months ago; and it had definitely taken longer the first time she’d climbed here. Of course, the first time; she hadn’t been alone.

It was the cave where a dragon had once settled for a nap; the very dragon that they’d been tasked with convincing to move on. Now she suspected another dragon had taken up residence.

The anomaly she could sense was inside; and this close, she could feel that there was magic here that she didn’t recognize; magic not of this world.

Taking a deep breath she entered the cave. She hadn’t gone far before a shimmering light became visible from further in; beyond the chamber where the previous dragon had stayed. Following the light, she made her way deeper into the mountain. Turning a corner, she finally saw it. It appeared as a jagged line of light that was constantly shifting and twisting like a bolt of lightning that never touched anything or really moved at all, staying in the same general position in the air.

Twilight stared at it in silence, watching as it twisted and turned; scanning it with her magic, trying to figure out what it could be.

“I figured if anyone were to find this; it would probably be you.”

Twilight looked sharply over her shoulder; recognizing Rekaj’s voice. He was standing in the tunnel behind her. He looked calm, as if he didn’t care that she was here, and wasn’t surprised at all.

“What is this!?” Twilight demanded. “I can sense it all the way in Ponyville!”

“This, is the rift between my world and yours.” He told her matter-of-factly as he stepped past her next to the rift. “You don’t need to worry; despite its appearance, it is completely stable.”

“This leads to your world?” Twilight said looking back at the jagged line of light, her curiosity sparking to life. This was how he came to their world? “How do you pass through something like that?”

He just smiled and reached a claw towards the rift; as he touched it the rift seemed to wrap around his claw, growing wider and twisting in impossible ways as his claw passed through, vanishing on the other side. Everything seemed to be twisting around the rift in eye watering ways. Finally, Twilight had to look away as the twisting started making her feel nauseous.

“The rift expands to allow passage to anything that touches it.” Rekaj explained. “It’s okay, you can look again; I know it can be hard to look at when something is passing through the portal.”

Twilight turned back, examining the rift once more. “It really doesn’t look stable… are you sure it’s safe?”

“Yes, I’m sure; after all, if it weren’t, my world would be in danger as well.”

Twilight looked up at him; like before he was being very forthcoming and friendly. Was he telling the truth? If so, then there was another world just beyond that flickering light… A whole other world. “Will you show me your world?” She asked, her curiosity overcoming her suspicions.

He sighed. “That wouldn’t be a good idea.”

Twilight’s eyes narrowed. “Why not?”

“Because as you pointed out when we last met; your magic is an integral part of your being, and I don’t know how you’d be affected, being in an environment without any ambient magic.” Rekaj laid down, putting himself more at her level. “In addition, my world can often be a dangerous place; admittedly you’d probably be fine if I escorted you myself, but I also don’t wish for anyone in my world to find out about yours. There are some factions in my world that would likely seek to conquer this world if they knew about it.”

“Oh, I guess those are pretty good reasons…” Twilight said, just a little disappointed.

He gave a soft laugh. “Yeah… perhaps if I kept you under an illusion while you’re there, I could show you some day. But we’d definitely need to make sure you’ll be alright without magic before we tried.

“So there’s no ambient magic at all there?”

He gave a small nod. “In my world, all magic comes from within; dragons are the strongest of the mortal races; but the Dracori and Senesori have some magic as well.”

“But where does the energy come from then if you don’t have an ambient magic field?”

“That, is one of the great mysteries of my world. Our best guess is that we draw energy from another plane of existence; but no one has ever been able to prove it.”

Twilight considered that for a moment, then shrugged, deciding it could wait. “So why is this rift open? Were you about to leave?”

“No.” Rekaj shook his head. “Due to giving my sa’dracori to Apple Bloom; I have to leave it open when I’m over there anyway, so I decided to just leave it open. That’s why I put it up here in this cave; so no one was likely to stumble across it. Fortunately I was also keeping the cave under surveillance, just in case; so I was alerted when you found it.”

“So you were trying to hide it?”

“Yes.” He answered simply.

Twilight raised a brow.

“Would you rather I placed it somewhere every curious passerby could pass through it and possibly get themselves killed?”

“Why does it have to stay open?” Twilight asked.

“Because I don’t know what would happen if the connection between our worlds were cut off with Apple Bloom and I in separate worlds. Most likely it would sever the bond between us which would be the same as if I took the Sa’Dracori back from her. And I already told you what that would do…”

Twilight sighed. “Right…” She stared at the rift watching it twist and bend in the air. It didn’t really look all that stable; but at the same time it was staying in the same general location in the air, never moving or growing larger, so perhaps it was. Taking a deep breath she shook her head. “I wish that I could trust you…”

Rekaj smiled understandingly. “I know it’s difficult. You care a great deal about Apple Bloom and just want to protect her. It’s perfectly understandable for you not to trust me; after all, you hardly know me.”

“Well maybe we should fix that.” Twilight said looking up at him. Rekaj looked back in surprise but then slowly smiled. “Will you tell me more about your world?” Twilight asked, sitting down in front of him.

“I would be glad to, Princess. Where would you like me to start?”

Twilight shrugged. “Well you said you rule over one of the nations of your world; why don’t you tell me about your land.”

Rekaj smiled. “Azuria is a beautiful land. Set in the peaks of the western ranges of Toravi, my flight has long made it our home…”

~~~

Apple Bloom leaned on the front of the wagon, as they sped along the road out to Saddle Lake, Sweetie Belle hanging on behind her.

“So you learn any fun spells yet, Apple Bloom?” Sweetie asked curiously to pass the time.

Apple Bloom shrugged. “Just the wing spell really; RJ’s spent most the time he’s been teaching me on some protective spells that AJ wanted him to. That reminds me…” She closed her eyes and focused, the Sa’Dracori glowing brightly as she cast a spell. It was by far the most difficult she’d learned and she still had to struggle to get it right, but after a moment she felt it snap into place.

“What was that?” Sweetie asked as Bloom’s shoulder returned to normal and she opened her eyes again.

“Just a protective spell RJ taught me. He said Ah should cast it ever so often.”

“Oh; okay. What does it do?”

Apple Bloom shrugged. “Ah don’t know other than it’s some kind of time magic. RJ said it would be too hard to explain.”

“Huh… Well that wing spell is still pretty cool.”

Apple Bloom grinned and her shoulder glowed again, her wings taking shape folded against her sides.

“Oh wow! They look like real wings now!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed.

“Yep, Ah finally got the visual part of the spell down.”

“You look just like a pegasus!”

“What!?” Scootaloo said looking over her shoulder. “Oh wow, you do look like a pegasus!”

“Yeah, I can’t wait to learn how to use them!” Apple Bloom told her. “As soon as you get your magic down, we gotta start learning how to fly.”

“You bet!” Scootaloo agreed enthusiastically.

Sweetie frowned. “It’s too bad I can’t learn a spell to give me wings…”

Apple Bloom looked at Sweetie. It hadn’t occurred to her that she might make Sweetie feel left out by joining Scootaloo in learning how to fly. “Didn’t Twilight give Rarity wings once? Couldn’t you learn that spell?”

“Maybe… But Rarity said it was a really hard spell, she said even Twilight could only cast it once. And if Twilight struggled to cast it…”

“Well you could still ask… Maybe she knows an easier spell now.” Apple Bloom suggested letting her wing spell fade away.

“We’re almost there!” Scootaloo called back to them.

Apple Bloom turned forward again seeing the lake ahead the water shimmering in the bright sunlight. Despite the heat, the beach ahead was completely unoccupied. Nopony came to the south end of the lake, mostly because of what was along the south shore. Looming over the lake stood the unmistakable trees of the Everfree forest. “Ah can’t wait to get in the water.”

“Me too! And look, we’ve got the whole beach to ourselves.”

The path they were following turned toward the edge of the forest and followed along the trees the last little ways to the beach, and Scootaloo sped along at their normal break-neck pace eager to dive in to the refreshingly cool water…

“LOOK OUT!” Sweetie’s shrill scream came just before something enormous and scaly slammed down on the path just in front of them. Scootaloo had no time to react; they slammed into the obstruction, the three of them tumbling across the ground.

Dazed, Apple Bloom heard what sounded like multiple roars at once and saw a hulking form standing over them. Frantically she clambered to her hooves and began to gallop away, but before she’d gotten even a few steps, the ground shook violently with another impact and she stumbled falling once more.

“Sweetie Belle!” Scootaloo screamed behind her and she managed to lift herself up enough to look. Sweetie Belle hadn’t moved. She was still lying where she had fallen in the crash, staring up at the creature that had attacked them, her eyes wide with horror. A body the size of a house, supporting four long snake-like necks that ended in wedge shaped heads. The heads roared again, and Apple Bloom saw their mouths, more than large enough to swallow a pony whole, were filled with teeth long enough to be swords.

“Sweetie, get out of there!” Apple Bloom shouted.

Sweetie looked over at them, terror in her eyes, but didn’t move; she couldn’t. Then a mouth with far too many teeth snapped shut around her.

“SWEETIE BELLE!”

Apple Bloom just watched on in disbelief. This couldn’t be happening; it just couldn’t.

“No, Give her back!” Scootaloo screamed, rational thought abandoning her. She charged the beast spun in the air and gave it the strongest flying buck she could manage. It hardly noticed. Almost carelessly, it flicked her away with one of it’s massive legs. Scootaloo was sent skipping across the ground a short ways before slamming into a tree and collapsing limply at its base; unconscious or worse… Apple Bloom could see her legs were bent oddly, and there was blood, a lot of blood. She wasn’t moving.

The ground shook as the beast took a step toward her. She looked up at it, eyes wide. The shock of what she’d seen warring with her instinct of self-preservation; one trying to freeze her in place, the other screaming at her to run. Too late, she turned to gallop away. There was a gust of hot steamy air as something clamped down around her middle, she felt agonizing pain as something pierced her belly and back, nearly splitting her in two.

Then she felt a rushing sensation as the ground was pulled away. She felt herself released as the world spun around and around. She tumbled helplessly high in the air, catching glimpses of the monster below her one of its heads raised up, mouth agape. There was nothing she could do. She screamed at the top of her lungs, flailing her front legs; her hind legs weren’t responding. Then the beast’s mouth snapped shut around her and everything was dark slimy and oppressively hot.

She felt herself enveloped in moving tissue, felt her mangled body being forced down. The walls of the creature’s gullet pressed in on her, even if there had been air to breath she wouldn’t have been able to from the pressure. She felt her bones creaking, cracking, snapping as the muscles of the massive throat compressed around her, forcing her deeper and deeper toward her fate. Finally, mercifully, the pain became too much and everything went dark.

Author's Note:

Sorry about the wait, good news is, the next chapter is already written up in first draft form; which is partially why this one took so long. I wanted the next one finished before I posted this one. For obvious reason, I didn't want to make you wait too long for the next chapter. And even more good news; being on vacation I've already gotten a good amount of chapter 9 written as well. So hopefully that one won't be very long either.

Did anyone catch the reference to one of my other stories?

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