• Published 19th Dec 2017
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Ashes to Inferno - Sun Aura



Sunset Shimmer has reached her lowest point. Thankfully, there are those that would be happy to help her up.

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The Magician and Judgement

Author's Note:

While it's not 'required reading', this is in the same universe as Anon-A-Miscommunication, and the events of that are relevant to this chapter. Again, not required, but if you have questions then go there.

Christmas Time was interesting this time around. Well, perhaps it was a bit of a disaster at first, with the whole Anon-A-Miss debacle. Thankfully it got shut down rather quickly, but it started a new step for Sunset: being able to make friends outside her friend group.

In the two days since that all went down, she’d done extra shopping. Well, technically, she’d had Twilight do her shopping for her. She wasn’t quite ready to return to Equestria yet, but she wanted to get everyone gifts from there. Just to make it a little more special. Some were harder than others, especially since some ended up being custom jobs, but oddly enough it’s easy for a Princess to find ponies willing to work for it.

After getting the first six presents, she thought about getting some for other people. She wasn’t sure where she stood with Flash now. On one hand, when they talked they fell into old patterns. On the other, both were still hesitant. It took time, and Sunset wasn’t sure if buying a present would’ve helped or hurt. And that went double for anyone else.

But then Anon-A-Miss happened, and it sent a clear message. Sure, she helped save them, but the students in general still didn’t fully trust her. Not through any fault of their own, but because she’d really only become friends with the five girls who were told to by Twilight. And it wasn’t like they were sitting around waiting for reasons to hate her.

It had been easier for three girls to believe that she’d brainwashed their sisters than it was to think that they were people who made mistakes. And they pointed out how Sunset’s five friends all had a Magic connection, how they could feel what she felt for them through the Magic they shared while everyone else couldn’t.

She had felt the potential Friendship in everyone who had been at the Battle of the Bands, but she’d done very little with it. The Spark was lit, but it was her choice to turn that into a Fire. She had to work and make friends the old fashioned way, instead of just becoming the Hero. And she had a few starting points, which is why she had sent Twilight on a second gift spree.

Most of the presents were going to be brought to the Apple Family Christmas and Sleepover, since nearly all of them would be there. However, there were six extra presents she was delivering the Friday before Winter Break. Two had been slipped into open backpacks, and three were being delivered once she swung by her house to get them.

However, one was probably being opened early. And it was one she’d wanted to talk about. So after another round of Carols that ended with everyone having ‘Ponied Up’, Sunset found herself walking up to a blue girl at her locker.

“Hello Trixie,” Sunset greeted, perhaps a bit too chipper.

“What do you want?” Trixie demanded, glaring as she shoved things into her backpack.

“A truce of sorts,” she answered.

“A what now?” she wondered, raising an eyebrow.

“Listen, I know you still don’t like me,” she began. “And I know you’re upset about everything that happened at the Battle of the Bands.”

“Considering I was cheated out of my win, I think I should be allowed to be upset,” she pouted.

“Firstly, that wasn’t our fault,” she pointed out. “It was the Siren’s Magic that got them to first place, and they put us at second for reasons even I don’t get. Secondly, you dropped us through a trapdoor.”

“I….” she tried to think of a response. “I don’t suppose saying I was under their Spell will work on you?”

“Somewhat,” she shrugged. "Their Magic made your Desire go wild, and it’s hard to snap out of that since it works with what already there. Even the Principal and Vice Principal couldn’t break out of it, as it preyed on their Desire to see the best in their students. For them, it became dismissing any accusations of cheating or Dark Magic. For you, it made you slip into doing anything to win. But hey, I’m not really one to judge when it comes to going nuts with Dark Magic. Though I find sincere apologies work wonders.”

“Fine,” she sighed. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is sorry for, well, dropping you through a trapdoor. And everything I said during the competition. Though I still stand by that I should’ve won the competition under non-Magical circumstances.”

“Thanks,” she nodded. “And who knows, maybe there’ll be another band competition where we can try without magic.”

“Considering you get ears every time you play,” she said, pointing to Sunset’s head.

“It doesn’t actually make our music sound better,” she said, Pony ears flicking for a second. “Well, maybe we can hear better so we can adjust our own sound more precisely, but other than that I’m pretty sure it can qualify under stage effects.”

“Except half of my effects are banned from school,” she said.

“How long until Magic ends up in the official rulebook,” she laughed. “But seriously, your song was great. I keep thinking of that one line. ‘I’m a six course meal, and you’re just burnt toast’. I added that to the box of creative insults. Oh, that reminds me…”

Digging through her bag, Sunset pulled out a small wrapped box. She held it out for a moment, smiling a little at Trixie’s skeptical expression. Reluctantly, she took the box and looked it over.

“What is this?” Trixie asked.

“Well, it is the time for gift giving,” Sunset shrugged. “Merry Christmas or Hanukah or whatever it is you celebrate.”

“Most people say ‘Happy Holidays’,” she pointed out. “And not to be suspicious, but how can I trust this is a gift and not something that will turn my hair purple for a month?”

“Friendship?” she replied. “You can open it early if you want. That way if it does, my hair would be purple too.”

Trixie only raised an eyebrow.

“I won’t tell Santa if you don’t,” Sunset joked.

Rolling her eyes, Trixie complied and tore at the corner of the package. Blue paper came off in mostly one piece, leaving the item itself. She turned it over a few times, inspecting it.

“Tarot cards?” Trixie deadpanned.

“Yeah,” Sunset nodded. “I don’t know you enough to be more specific, but I figured since you’re a Magician I could get you something related to that. It’s actually from Equestria. I don’t know if that makes it more magical.”

“I…. thank you,” she smiled. “Even if it’s not more magical than my other decks, it might help the aesthetic.”

“Exactly,” she said. “I had been thinking of a standard deck, but one of the Ponies Twilight knows made this one. Twilight said that the artist dropped by and said ‘These are technically a spoiler since they don’t come out for a few more months, but your friend will need them now’ right before I messaged her. Not quite sure what she meant though.”

“Maybe it’s just early release?” she tilted her head. “Why would a person-a Pony- who doesn’t know either of us go to the trouble?”

“Friendship?” she guessed. “Then again, it is a tarot deck, so maybe she knew the future. Besides, once I saw it, I knew it was perfect for you.”

“Why?” she wondered.

“Look through the Major Arcana,” she smirked.

Trixie flipped the box over, carefully sliding the deck out. Sunset found herself smiling as she watched her shuffle through the cards. Her expression dropped into a confused frown, seeing a few familiar faces. But one card made her stop.

She studied the card, almost entranced by it. Having looked through it before, Sunset knew which one she’d found. It was simply labeled ‘I-The Magician’. The artwork itself was quite detailed, despite being so small. A blue Unicorn stood on stage, wearing a purple hat and cloak as fireworks burst around her.

“She… she looks like me,” Trixie whispered.

“Interdimensional Counterparts,” Sunset nodded. “There’s a few of them in there. But I thought you might be interested to know that someone in Equestria thinks your Counterpart is involved enough that she ended up in a deck with literal Royalty.”

“It’s quite accurate too,” she smiled.

“Well, you are a Magician,” she said.

“No, I mean,” she shook her head. “How much do you know of Tarot?”

“Not much, oddly enough,” she admitted. “When I was kind of terrible, I never put much effort into learning that branch of Magic. I couldn’t tell you card meanings, but I understand the concept of readings.”

“Well, each card has two meanings,” she said, holding up her card. “If it shows up in a reading normally, The Magician represents willpower and desire, using everything to mold the world into what you want it to be.

“But if it shows up reversed,” she continued, flipping the card upside down, “Then it becomes illusions and trickery, using your ability for self-gain. Now, I know I have a bit of an ego problem-“

“You don’t speak in third-person much anymore,” she said.

“Yes, that,” she huffed. “I will do a lot to get what I want, but there is a point where I go too far. Like dropping the competition through a trapdoor.”

“Trust me, I get that,” she smiled. “You know, ‘turning into a Demon to get what I thought I wanted’.”

“True,” she said. “But I do find your card interesting.”

“My card?” she wondered.

Shuffling through the deck again, a new card was held up. Another Unicorn, but in oranges and reds stood while tendrils of magic swirled around her. Looking close, one could barely make out a pair of phantom wings in similar colors, like fire. At the bottom, it was labeled ‘XX-Judgement’.

“This one is you, is it not?” Trixie asked.

“Y-yeah,” Sunset nodded.

“This card is for Reflection,” she explained. “For evaluating your life, and having the realization that will lead to a Rebirth of sorts. But it warns of judging oneself too much, focusing on the bad parts of your journey.”

“Oh,” she mused. “That’s…. actually very weird. Accurate, but how would someone I’ve never met be that on the nose?”

“Who knows,” she shrugged, putting the cards away. “But again, thank you. I will… try to get along better with you and your friends.”

“And isn’t that the best present we can ask for?” she smiled. “I have a few more gifts to drop off, so I need to head out. Happy holidays though!”

“Same to you,” she said, waving as they parted.

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