• Published 24th Jul 2012
  • 3,762 Views, 145 Comments

Darkened Shores - Silver Flare



An adventure that takes the Mane 6 around the world to face the what destroyed the alicorn homeland.

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Peaceful Interlude

As the commuter train sped through a green and sunlit countryside, Twilight lay across a threadbare bench trying very hard to contain a giddy elation. She was watching Celestia instruct Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Applejack in the fundamentals of magic. Pinkie Pie still quivered with excitement, and Rainbow Dash looked equally enraptured. Applejack looked blank, as though she’d been hit over the head with a rake. And Fluttershy just sat quietly, eyes wide. Although she wasn’t part of the lesson, and could easily have taught it herself, Twilight felt a very real joy. To her, magic was an endless source of wonder. She’d never even dreamed of the possibility that she might one day share it with her friends. As she watched the lesson, she drummed her hooves against the bench and grinned excitedly.

However, her elation was relatively short-lived. Her friends found even simple magic more difficult than anyone had anticipated.

“How am I supposed to clear my mind and picture the apple at the same time? It makes no sense.”

“I reckon I ain’t usin’ the proper part of mah brain fer this.”

“Um. . . did it move? No? Oh. . . I’m sorry.”

“Apples are boring! Can I try levitating Spike?”

*sigh* “Isn’t something supposed to be happening about now? When do we blow stuff up?”

“There, see? Ah levitated the apple. It’s called a ‘hoof.’”

“Oh, good job Dashie! You looked like you tried really hard there! I’m sure you almost had it!”

“*squeak*”

“Now, y’all ain’t supposed ta. . . and ya ate it. Good fer you. How’d that taste?”

“Now that Pinkie Pie ate the apple, can we try levitating her instead?”

Shields were almost as disastrous. Fluttershy was the only one of the four who managed to generate anything at all. As a soft-yellow dome of light coalesced around the pegasus and her friends cheered her success, she blushed faintly. But when Celestia levitated a cushion and flung it at her, Fluttershy panicked, dropped her shield and got thwapped in the face. It was a somewhat disheartening end to hours of frustrating attempts.

When Princess Celestia tasked Twilight with helping Rarity learn the illusion-piercing spell, she started by instructing her student to change her own appearance. It took Twilight a full minute to clear her mind and actually cast the spell, but when the flash from her horn died another pony stood in her place. A white unicorn with a violet-streaked red mane, and a moon for a cutie mark. Spike did a double-take. “Wow Twilight, you look just like Moondancer!” But when Twilight turned to look at him, the colors of her face and mane blurred, and the shape of her eyes too. “Woah. That’s creepy.”

“Try to remain focused, Twilight.” Celestia said with a frown.

“Hmmm. . .” She still sounded like Twilight. She swished a hoof through the air and watched her glamour fray at the edges. “It’s harder than I remember.”

Celestia nodded. “You know the principals. Use your focus to breathe magic into the spell, and then allow the spell to hold the structure. Don’t force it.”

“I’m not sure I’ve practiced this enough, Princess.”

“Perhaps I should apply the spell for now.” Celestia turned towards Rarity. “Deception is all about showing us what we want to see, playing upon our preconceived notions. To pierce an effective illusion, one must first focus upon a feeling of skepticism. If you aren’t willing to see something unpleasant, your spell will fail.”

Rarity nodded. “I do believe I can manage that particular mindset. I’m always trying to view my boutique creations with something of a critical eye.”

“Good. Next, use your horn to try to feel the presence of a magical aura. Once you can sense it, you may be able to affect it.” Celestia’s horn flashed white, and a blurry Moondancer was replaced with a different pony. Rainbow Dash sniggered, and elbowed Fluttershy in the flank. “Now Rarity, approach Twilight and try to sense the magic clinging to her.”

Rarity did as she was asked, closing her eyes. The seconds dragged by. Twilight noticed all her friends were watching her rather than Rarity. Celestia’s illusion must have been convincing. All she could see of herself was a chestnut coat.

“Wait. . .” Rarity gasped a little. “I. . . I think I can sense it. It’s terribly subtle.”

“Yes.” Celestia agreed. “It might seem impossible to grasp, but if you can imagine the glamour as a garment woven of magic, your task is to find and pull one of the threads.”

Rarity seemed hesitant to nod, fearing to lose the sensation she’d found. She took her time, so Twilight was unprepared for the abrupt crawling sensation that covered her from crest to hoof. “Gah!” She yelled in a deep and masculine voice. “Easy!” Dash and Spike fell over together laughing, and Pinkie Pie burst into giggles. Even Fluttershy cracked a tiny, genuine smile. Twilight spun to look at her reflection, catching sight of a young stallion with a trio of colored pencils for a cutie mark. Twilight sighed and rolled her eyes.

“My sincerest apologies, Twilight. Please, let me try that again.”

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