• Published 28th Apr 2018
  • 1,192 Views, 51 Comments

Light and Magic - Allenator05

Sunset Shimmer has made mistakes in her past that she's trying to move on and learn from. What happens when she meets an iron-willed Guardian with a similar past?

  • ...

Where the Heart is

Hildr led the way back to her ship and quickly walked up the ramp. Sunset followed, but Twilight couldn't help but stop and stare. "I just can't wrap my mind around it all," she exclaimed breathlessly. "It makes me wonder if the portal can still open to other worlds. I'm curious about Princess Celestia's journeys."

"Hey! Hurry up Twilight or we'll leave without you!" Sunset called out.

Twilight shook her head and ran up the ramp. "Don't leave me behind!" she cried out. When she arrived at the top of the ramp, Twilight carefully took note of her surroundings. Sunset was already buckled into a chair facing to the right, while Hildr was up in the cockpit. Twilight's eyes traced over the cables, pipes, and different sized displays. The interior was a bit cramped and she had to squeeze her way through a maze of storage crates, accidently knocking one over and spilling its contents all over the floor. "What are these?" Twilight asked.

Raven appeared and looked to where Twilight was pointing. "Those are engrams," he said. "Engrams are a type of crystal that is encoded with armor or weapon patterns."

"So like a type of storage device?" Twilight asked. She bent down to investigate one of the engrams near her feet. It was about the size of a soccer ball and she noted it had ten sides. The engram was also a vibrant purple color. "Why are they different colors? Does that mean the patterns they hold are different?" she asked.

Raven nodded. "It has to do with the rarity and quality of the pattern. White engrams are of the lowest quality, followed by green, blue, purple, and gold. Gold engrams hold the rarest and most powerful gear you can find."

"I see," Twilight said.

Raven scanned the engrams and they appeared back in the box. "I think you'd better sit down now. We're ready to go," he said.

"Oh. Right," Twilight replied sheepishly and climbed into the empty seat. She then looked down in confusion. "Um, how do I buckle myself in?" she mumbled. Twilight glanced around her seat and finally noticed the lap and shoulder belts. Between her hind legs was the buckle and Twilight quickly figured out the rest. Once the last belt was locked in place, she called out, "Okay, I'm buckled in."

"Good. I was starting to wonder," Hildr called out from the cockpit.

Twilight turned her attention to the screen in front of her and the giddiness started to overcome her and she had a hard time sitting still. "This is so exciting!" she squealed.

"Yeah, tell me about it," Sunset added with a smile. "The last time, I was stuck in a tiny seat behind Hildr, so I didn't get to see very much."

The screen in front of Twilight flickered to life and lines of code quickly filled the screen. Twilight tried in vain to catch it all. "What does it say?" she asked.

"Oh, that's just the system booting up and running a self-diagnostic to verify everything is working properly," Raven said. Sunset noticed similar lines of code appearing on her screen and on the smaller ones as well.

A gong tone filled the compartment as the user interface appeared onscreen, revealing lines of data and graphs. Raven floated his way to Twilight's console and shot a beam of light into the I/O port. "Give me a few seconds to upload program and search parameters," Raven mumbled. When this was done, he went to Sunset's console and did the same thing. When he was done, the graphs changed and new lines of data appeared. "We're ready back here," Raven called out.

Hildr didn't reply, instead the ship floated into the air for a few brief moments before rocketing into the atmosphere.

Unprepared for Hildr's sudden acceleration, Twilight and Sunset were slammed sideways into their chairs. "Oof. Was that necessary?" Sunset grunted.

"Sorry. I forgot you were back there," Hildr said and made a few adjustments. The pressure eased up and the two ponies readjusted themselves.

"You did that on purpose. Again," Sunset called out accusingly.

"No comment," Hildr replied. Sunset frowned and Twilight rubbed her shoulder.

"Raven, show them how to operate the sensors and change the displays," Hildr called out.

Raven rolled his eye and turned his attention to Twilight and Sunset. "First things first, these controls are designed for human hands, so you'll have some difficulty with fine adjustments. However, both of you have telekinesis magic, so just use that to manipulate the dials and switches," he said. He spent the next few minutes showing the two ponies how things worked and let them play around to get a feel for everything.

"Hey. You two want to come up here for a moment?" Hildr called out. Frowning, Twilight and Sunset shared a look before unbuckling their harnesses and heading to the cockpit. They squeezed beside Hildr and she pointed out the window. "Have a look."

Twilight gasped. Sunset had seen a similar view before and it still took her breath away. Before them was a blue and green marble wrapped with white clouds, suspended in space. The sun was off to the right, placing a small sliver of the planet in shadow. The stars shone brightly in the distance and Twilight felt a bit of vertigo as she tried to comprehend the vast distances involved.

Sunset was in awe. The resemblance between this planet and the ones the humans occupied was uncanny and it made her feel uneasy for some reason. She shook her head to push those thoughts aside. "This is incredible," she said.

"I...I don't know what to say," Twilight stammered. "This changes a lot of what I thought I knew." A notebook and pencil appeared and she began furiously scribbling notes.

"Hey! Focus!" Hildr said sharply. "I understand your desire to absorb as much information as you can, but that's not what we're here for, is it?"

Twilight sighed and put her notebook away. "No," she admitted.

Hildr rolled her eyes. "You know, the quicker we get this done, the quicker we can do a bit of exploring."

Twilight perked up. "Really?"

"Only if we finish what we set out to do," Hildr warned. Twilight nodded enthusiastically and rushed back to her seat.

"I do have a question though," Sunset spoke up.

"What?" Hildr asked.

"Well, I didn't really notice it last time, but if we're in space, how is there still gravity?" Sunset asked. "I doubt a ship of this size has the necessary mass to create its own gravitational field."

"And you would be correct," Hildr replied. "This particular ship has an artificial gravity generator. It's not much, but it prevents unsecured objects and talking ponies from haphazardly floating around."

"Oh. I see," Sunset replied and returned to her seat.

Hildr piloted closer to the planet as Raven explained what was happening. "So the first thing we are doing is orbiting the planet to get a baseline of its surface and features to build a model in the computers," he said. "Once this is done, we'll start mapping the Magic energy fields, provided the calculations are correct and the sensors are calibrated."

"How long will the initial scans take?" Sunset asked.

"That depends how fast we fly and how big the planet is," Raven said. "A normal Earth orbit takes around ninety minutes, but your planet is a bit smaller and we can go a lot faster, so half an hour or so?"

"So we're looking at two hours just to get everything set up?" Twilight asked and Raven nodded. "We could go faster, but the scans wouldn't be as accurate."

Twilight settled back in her chair and stared at her screen. It was a bit overwhelming at first and she could feel her brain start to fizzle, but Twilight mostly understood what was happening and how it worked. "Do you think we could develop technology like this?" she wondered out loud.

Sunset shrugged. "Hard to say. Since we have Magic, there hasn't been a real need to develop advanced technology."

"I suppose you're right," Twilight said. "And even if we could, we'd have to get help with the development from an outside source, such as the human world."

"To add onto that, I don't think a majority of ponies would support such an effort anyway," Sunset said. "They would see it as unnecessary, since Magic exists."

Twilight frowned. "I'm sure there are a few ponies who would support such a project," she said.

"True," Sunset admitted, "but they would be few and far between. How would you justify a huge expense of money and treasure for such a niche and little-known project?"

"You can't remain ignorant forever," Twilight argued. "Science and Magic are constantly evolving, taking everypony toward the future, whether they like it or not."

"I don't disagree with you Twilight, but you would face a lot of opposition. People, even ponies, are hesitant to change, especially grand and life-altering change. I think it would cause more problems than it would solve," Sunset replied.

"But if that were the case, ponies would still be living under the old feudal system, like it was before the first Hearths's Warming Eve," Twilight said. "Can you really say that things haven't gotten better because of changes to our thinking and way of life?"

"But at what cost?" Sunset asked. "I admit that the pony way of life is vastly different and some would say better, but every new idea replaces an old one, and not always for the better. At what point does the advance of civilization become detrimental to its population?"

"That's not a very good argument," Twilight countered. "Ideas and techniques are replaced because a faster, better, cheaper way was found and implemented. Can you really say that ponies were better off living on farms, struggling to make a living?"

"That depends on who you ask," Sunset said. "Apple Jack, or any Apple for that matter would say that growing up on the farm was more important than fancy city living. Rarity on the other hand, is a city girl through and through. The thought of getting dirty and hard labor is unfathomable for her."

"That may be so, but even the Apples would say that managing the farm is easier now than in the past," Twilight said.

Sunset sighed. "Listen Twilight. I understand your passion and share your thirst for knowledge, but you can't expect to drag everypony kicking and screaming into the future. Balance is a delicate thing. If you upset it too much, everything might come crashing down around you."

Twilight frowned and crossed her forelegs. "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this then."

Sunset shook her head. "I'm not disagreeing with you. I just want you to see the big picture."

"Well, it's not like any of this affects you since you'll be returning to the human world," Twilight said.

Sunset was shocked. "What is that supposed to mean? You do realize that anything that happens here affects the human world too, right? And how dare you say this doesn't affect me. I might not live here anymore, but this is my home, and you are my friend right? I care about my friends and I don't want anything to happen to them."

Twilight sighed. "You're right. That was wrong for me to say and I apologize."

Sunset turned back to her screen and watched as a wireframe globe slowly filled in. Making a few adjustments, she zoomed to look at what the sensors were seeing. Unfortunately, they were currently flying over a vast desert that wasn't very exciting to look at. Sunset moved the globe to look at the previously scanned area. She frowned and zoomed in on a particular mountain. "Hey Twilight, do you recognize this?" she asked.

Twilight appeared over her shoulder and looked at the screen. "From this angle, I'm not really sure. If I had to guess, I'd say it's Mount Aris."

"Where the hippogriffs live?" Sunset asked and Twilight nodded. "We haven't heard from them in a long time. I hope everything is okay."

Twilight went back to her seat, leaving Sunset to her thoughts. Meanwhile, Hildr listened to Sunset and Twilight's conversation. Listening to Twilight's push for advancing knowledge and Sunset's argument against pushing boundaries reminded her of when the Traveler first appeared. While the majority of humanity saw the good the Traveler had done, a small but vocal minority vehemently opposed the Traveler. After the Collapse, those naysayers certainly would have said "I told you so," if they weren't all dead. Even now, people blamed the Traveler for the Collapse. Maybe they were right.

Hildr looked down at her status panel and saw the initial scans of the planet were complete. "Hey, we're done circling the planet. Get ready to start mapping," she called out. When Twilight and Sunset gave their acknowledgement, Hildr steered closer to the planet and entered the atmosphere. She wasn't sure if any pegasus could reach their current altitude, but she kept a close eye out anyway.

Raven hovered between Twilight and Sunset. "Okay. You two have the most important job, and that is to sit there and stare at the screen."

Twilight frowned. "How is that important?" she asked.

"The computer can display and organize the data, but that data needs to be interpreted. That's where the two of you come in," Raven said. "What good is scientific analysis if no one does the analysis part?"

Twilight was still unconvinced. "It still doesn't sound very useful."

"Not everything does," Raven explained. "When building a house, the carpenter's apprentice might not feel appreciated for pounding nails all day, but without the nails, the house wouldn't be built. That's what we're doing right now, pounding nails. It won't make much sense now, but when we're done, we'll have a big beautiful house."

"If you don't like it, I can always take you back to your castle," Hildr said from the cockpit.

Twilight vigorously shook her head. "No, I'll stay," she said hurriedly.

Sunset chuckled to herself and adjusted her display. The center displayed a small ship icon in the center from a top down view with the ground passing beneath. The rest of the screen was a light blue color. Sunset turned a dial and the screen zoomed out. She zoomed all the way out and saw that the blue box represented the area already scanned for magic. She leaned back and sighed. "This is going to take forever."

Twilight leaned forward and squinted at her screen. "Hmm. I think I have something," she said. Raven appeared over her shoulder as Twilight pointed. "It's faint, but the signature matches our predictions."

Raven hummed to himself. "So it seems." He gave Twilight an approving rub on the head and added, "Good job. If all else fails, we have proof of concept for tracking and analyzing Magic." Twilight beamed proudly.

"Hildr, I recommend coming to the left to follow this trace," Raven said. Hildr huffed to herself and piloted the ship in the direction Raven indicated. Sure enough, the trace on the screen became stronger, displayed by a solid particle line. Before long, both Twilight and Sunset's displays were fuzzed out. "Just so you know, we're passing over Canterlot," Hildr called out.

"Oh. Well that makes sense then," Susnet said. "The sensors are probably tracking Princess Celestia and Princess Luna's Magic."

Raven was at a loss for words. "I figured the princesses had higher Magic levels than normal ponies since, well, they're magical princesses, but I never would have imagined something like this."

Twilight and Sunset were awestruck as well. "Yeah. I guess we kinda take it for granted just how powerful the princess really are. And by that I mean ALL of the princesses," Sunset said. Twilight said nothing and looked down at her hooves.

Hildr continued over Canterlot and the sensors recovered from the overload. Time passed quickly as the main continent of Equestria was scanned. "Should we keep going or do we have enough data?" Sunset asked.

"That's up to you," Raven said. "At this rate, we could be done with the whole planet by late afternoon. However, that wouldn't leave us much time to figure out where to go and find what we need."

Twilight and Sunset shared a look, then glanced up to the cockpit. Hildr was surprisingly quiet and Sunset wondered what she was thinking about. "Let's call it good for now," Twilight said. "We've already surpassed my wildest dreams for this project and anything else is just icing on the cake."

A tabletop rose out of the deck between Sunset and Twilight with a projector in the middle. Once it was fully raised, Raven interacted with the projector and a 3D image of the planet was displayed. "Obviously this is the planet the ponies live on," he said. The picture zoomed in on the Equestria continent and flattened out.

"Hey! This looks like the Cutie Map in my castle!" Twilight exclaimed.

"Uh, Cutie Map?" Raven asked and looked at Twilight in confusion. "Do I even want to know what that is?"

"It's not bad or anything," Twilight said. "Whenever the map senses a friendship problem, our cutie marks are displayed at the location with the problem. For example, my friends and I were summoned to a remote village where ponies had their cutie marks removed. That's how we met Starlight Glimmer."

"That's…interesting," Raven said. "Based on what you told me about the importance of cutie marks, why would ponies willingly give them up?"

Twilight sighed. "The story is kinda long and complicated but basically, Starlight Glimmer convinced a small town of ponies that by giving up their cutie marks, they would all be equal with nopony above anypony else, that being unique was something to be frowned upon. She said that ponies could only truly be happy by being the same."

"Well obviously that didn't work," Raven said and Twilight nodded. "We ruined Starlight Glimmer's plan, and as a result, she used a time travel spell to get revenge on my friends and I." Twilight fiddled with her hooves. "Of all the threats to Equestria that I have ever faced, Starlight Glimmer was probably the most dangerous."

"In what way?" Sunset asked.

Twilight looked up with sadness in her eyes. "Nothing against you Sunset, but Starlight Glimmer proved to be my equal in magic in nearly every way. Every time I tried to restore the timeline, she was always one step ahead to stop me."

Sunset sat back and thought about what Twilight had said. "Let me guess. Altering the past created multiple futures with different outcomes?" Twilight nodded. "How many timelines did you witness?" Sunset asked.

"Countless," Twilight said. "There are a few that stand out, such as King Sombra returning and declaring war on Equestria, or Queen Chrysalis and the Changelings taking over, and even one where Nightmare Moon gets her revenge and banishes Princess Celestia to the moon."

"And in the end, the power of Friendship saved the day," Hildr called out from the cockpit.

Twilight frowned. "When you put it that way, it almost sounds silly."

"Because it IS silly," Hildr said, then let out a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I just can't get my head around this whole, Magic of Friendship thing."

"I could say the same thing about your Light, so we'll just have to agree to disagree," Twilight said.

"Fair enough," Hildr agreed.

Raven cleared his throat. "Anyway, here we have a map of Equestria overlaid with the Magic energy we detected." Several fuzzy green blobs appeared on the map with the two largest appearing over Canterlot and Everfree Forest.

"Well that makes sense," Twilight said. "Canterlot is where the Princesses are and Everfree forest is, well, Everfree Forest."

Sunset looked at the smaller blobs. "These blobs here correlate with some of the bigger cities in Equestria, like Manehatten, Las Pegasus, Vanhoover, and even Cloudsdale."

Twilight frowned. "It could be that the collective Magic of a large group of ponies would be enough to display on the map. But that doesn't help us very much does it?"

Raven nodded. "That's a good point. The map right now represents ALL of the Magic we detected, regardless of the source. With a few adjustments, we can filter out the Magic from ponies-" he made and adjustment to the display, "-and show only the Magic of the planet itself."

Twilgiht and Sunset gasped. The large blob over Everfree Forest remained the same, but the most surprising was the concentration over Canterlot. "It's gone!" Twilight exclaimed. "So does that mean that the princesses really do have that much magical potential?" Twilight looked closely at the map. "Look at this," she said. "The areas with a high Magic concentration have branches that reach out to the other areas." She adjusted the projector to show pony magic as well. "When we display both sources, the lines weave together in an interconnected web." Twilight looked up to Raven and said, "I bet if we measured the whole planet, the results would be similar." She smiled and became excited. "This proves that the Magic of the planet and the Magic of the ponies connected, each supporting the other!"

"It would seem so," Raven said. He moved to a different part of the map and said, "Look at this place here."

"That's the Crystal Empire where Princess Cadence is," Twilight said.

"Another princess? Oh. Then watch this," Raven said. He flipped the settings back and forth, showing Twilight and Sunset the differences. "It would seem that Princess Cadence has some influence on the overall magic of the Crystal Empire as well."

"True, but the map also shows that the Empire itself has a large amount of natural Magic," Sunset said. She looked to Twilight and said, "Should we just go there? I mean, it's kind of in the name right? Crystal Empire. That place has to be loaded with crystals."

"You are correct, but I don't think we'll find one that suits our needs," Twilight said. "While it is made of crystal, it vanished with King Sombra for a thousand years. I don't think any of those crystals will have absorbed enough magic for what we need."

Sunset frowned and looked at the map. "So we need a place that has had a high concentration of magic for a very, very long time."

Both ponies looked glumly at the map. "So. Who's up for anther foray into Everfree?" Sunset asked.

"Not me, that's for sure," Twilight replied and made a face.

"Is there anywhere else that fits our criteria?" Sunset asked.

Raven floated above and regarded the map. On the far western edge, he noticed a small, but very pronounced dot of Magic energy. "What's this over here?" he asked and flew down to get a closer look.

"That's Western Equestria. Nopony ever goes there since it's unexplored," Twilight said.

"Why is that?" Raven asked. At this, Twilight could only shrug. "I honestly don't know. At least I've never heard of anypony going there. Most assume it's just another wasteland, like the Badlands, or San Palomino Desert."

"So you don't know for sure," Hildr called out.

Twilight hesitated briefly, then nodded. "Correct. It appears on every map of Equestria, but like I said, I've never ready anything about it or heard of anypony visiting there."

Sunset tapped her mouth with her hoof as she thought. "Do you remember hearing about an old mountainpony by the name of Pathfinder Colt?"

Twilight nodded. "Wasn't he part of the expedition to explore Equestira prior to its founding?"

"Yep," Sunset replied.

Twilight frowned. "But the expedition was well-documented. What are you getting at?"

Sunset gave a little grin. "While exploring the new land for the Earth Tribe, he stumbled across what he called 'a bizarre and nightmarish landscape bubbling mud pits, steaming geysers, and ground that belched smoke like the pits of Tartarus itself.'"

"Oh. You mean Colt's Nightmare? Everypony has heard of it, but nopony believed him." Twilight remarked. "Also, nopony has been able to find it since. Most believed he was bragging about his exploits in order to make himself look better."

Sunset's grin grew a little bigger. "Perhaps, but I came across a book of legends and tall tales and one of them talked about how Pathfinder Colt was the one to show Smart Cookie the location of the cave where the first Hearth's Warming Eve was held."

Twilight's eyes grew wide with this revelation. "What? Why haven't I heard of this before?" she shrieked.

"And, it also said that since that first night, the location of the cave was lost to history," Sunset added. Twilight took several deep breaths to keep from passing out.

Raven carefully inspected the map. "So you think this location here is where this Hearth's Warming Eve took place?" he asked.

Sunset shrugged. "Who knows? In any case, I think this is our best bet."

"Why do you say that?" Twilight asked.

"Compare this reading with the others," Raven said. "See how bright and compact it is? Now look at this one over here." He pointed to another. "This one is of similar size, but see how weak and fuzzy it is? Higher concentrations will have a better defined shape."

"Well, I can't argue with that," Twilight said. "However, I doubt that it's the location of the first Hearth's Warming Eve. I'm pretty sure that Canterlot Castle now sits on the cave. I mean, that makes sense right? Building the castle in the place Equestria was founded?"

"I'm pretty sure that's just a legend," Sunset replied. She then shook her head and held up her hoof to Twilight. "I don't really want to argue about it now. Let's just find this dot of Magic and hope it has what we need."

Raven relayed the coordinates to Hildr, who turned the ship in the right direction and headed off. She noticed that the farther west they traveled, the more desolate and barren the land became. The bright colors soon gave way drab greys and browns, and the rolling plains turned to jagged mountains with treacherous valleys. Hildr began to see why no pony ever traveled this far.

She also noticed the ship controls were starting to fight her and the displays started to flicker. "I think we've gone as far as we can go," she called out.

"I agree. All of the displays are going haywire," Twilight called out.

"Hang on. This might get a little bumpy," Hildr said as she struggled to control the ship's decent. As if to prove her point, the ship hit a spot of turbulence and suddenly dropped in altitude. Twilight and Sunset both screamed and Hildr planted her feet against the console and pulled back on the controls as hard as she could. At the last minute, the ship pulled out of its decent, snapping the tops off the larger trees. Hildr continued to fight with the ship until she noticed a small clearing off to the right. She steered the ship as best as she could and the ship dropped to the ground in a controlled crash.

Hildr let out a tired sigh and checked her indications. The ship was still in one piece and serviceable, but required minor repairs. The engines were overheated and the onboard diagnostics wailed in protest. Hildr hit a button and silenced the alarm. "Everyone alive back there?" she asked.

Twilight and Sunset untangled themselves from their harnesses and checked themselves over. "Just some soreness and minor bruising, but I think we'll be okay," Sunset replied.

"What happened?" Twilight asked as she rolled her head to stretch the kink out of her neck.

"If I had to guess, the source of concentrated Magic caused some interference with the ship," Raven said. "All things considered, we're quite lucky to have gotten off as well as we did."

Twilight stared at him in shock. "You call that getting off easy? We practically fell from the sky and crashed!"

"But did you die?" Raven asked.

"Well, no," Twilight replied uncertainly.

"Then we're fine," Raven insisted.

"Okay, okay, let's just all take a minute to gather our thoughts, and put aside the fact we crashed in the most remote part of Equestria where nopony has ever gone and where nopony will think to look for us," Sunset replied. Both ponies then became downcast.

Hildr appeared and tapped her hoof on the deck to get their attention. "I offered to leave you behind, but you insisted on coming along. You have no one to blame but yourselves," she said.

"I know, I know," Twilight exasperated. "I was just hoping things would have gone a little bit better."

Just then, a tiny purple dragon fell out of the overhead and landed on the deck with a THUMP, startling everyone. "Ow," Spike groaned and rubbed his head.

"Spike? What are you doing here?" Twilight exclaimed.

"Well, you all forgot about me back at the castle and I had to sneak onboard," Spike pouted. "Why is it that every time you go on an adventure, I get left behind?"

"You don't always get left behind," Twilight insisted. "Remember the Crystal Empire? Without you, Sombra would have succeeded."

Spike considered this for a moment. "Well, yeah, but that was just one time. What about all the other times you left me alone?"

"I…uh…well…you see…" Twilight sputtered. Sunset rolled her eyes and placed a hoof on Spike's shoulder. "We didn't leave you behind on purpose. We don't know what we're facing or how much danger we'll be in, so Twilight just wanted to keep you safe. If anything happened to you, she'd be devastated," she said.

Spike gently pushed Sunset's hoof away and crossed his arms. "That's the kind of thing you tell somebody who always gets left behind. 'It's for your own safety, we don't want you to get hurt, we don't know how bad it will be, someone has to stay behind and hold down the castle.' I've heard it all before." He glared up at Sunset and Twilight. "In case you've forgotten, I'm a dragon, and dragons can do all kinds of useful things."

"I didn't forget Spike, really," Twilight said as she took a step forward. "But Sunset has a point. Despite all of the adventures and dangers we've faced, I really don't know what to expect."

Spike huffed and rolled his eyes. "That's a pretty lame excuse Twilight." He put his hands on his hips and started to pace back and forth. "You all see me as nothing but a baby. I'm a dragon.I can hold my own. Why won't you give me a chance?"

Twilight and Sunset shared a look, unsure of what to do. Hildr looked down at Spike and her opinion of the little dragon improved a little. She slowly stepped forward until she towered over him. Spike noticed the shadow and jumped back in surprise. He quickly regained his composure and glared up at Hildr. "You gonna take their side too?" he asked.

Hildr shook her head. "Actually, no."

It took a second for everyone to process her words. Twilight and Spike's eyes went wide and Sunset was taken aback. "What do you mean?" Twilight asked.

Hildr turned to face her. "What I mean is, he's here now and it's too late to turn back. So he can either stay alone with the ship, or go with us where we can look out for him."

"I'm going," Spike said defiantly and crossed his arms.

Hildr gave a short nod. "Okay then." Raven activated the ramp and Hildr walked out with Spike trailing close behind. Sunset looked to Twilight and after a moment of hesitation, ran after Hildr. Twilight finally came to her senses and followed after Sunset. Needless to say, she wasn't very happy.

"I don't think Hildr is a very good influence on Spike," Twilight said to Sunset.

Sunset rolled her eyes and sighed. "You have to admit that Hildr has a point. It is better to bring Spike along so we can watch out for him."

"But he shouldn't even be here in the first place!" Twilight insisted. "However, I will admit that I kind of lost track of him back at the castle."

Sunset took some time to think of her response. "I don't know Spike well enough to say for sure, but it seems to me that he's starting to go through the stage of youth where he doesn't want to be viewed as a baby or small child anymore. When people know you very well and see you a certain way, it can be hard to break away from that."

"But Spike IS still a baby," Twilight insisted.

"Perhaps when compared to dragons, but what about ponies?" Sunset asked. "How long has it been since he hatched?"

Twilight stopped to think. "Let's see, it was when I was accepted into the School for Gifted Unicorns, so about ten years or so?"

"So compared to a pony, that puts him at late elementary school age right?" Sunset asked.

"Yes, but I'm not sure where you are going with this," Twilight said.

Sunset sighed. "The point I'm trying to make is this. Spike has known you his entire life. You're practically his mother. Because you are so close to him, it's hard for you to see him as anything but a baby dragon. One day, you are going to realize that Spike has grown up and doesn't need to depend on you for everything, and it will surprise you."

Twilight frowned. "How would you even know that?" she asked.

"It's not a hard conclusion to make," Sunset replied. "I see it happen all the time, especially in the human world."

Up ahead, Spike was jogging just to keep up with Hildr. "What do you think they are talking about?" he asked as he looked behind him. Hildr stopped and Spike ran into her. "Hey, why did you stop?" he asked and rubbed his nose.

Hildr looked down at the little dragon. "Do you often get left behind while Twilight and her friends go about saving Equestria?" she asked.

"Not always," Spike said and stood up. "Sometimes they let me tag along before completely forgetting about me."

Hildr nodded. "It can be difficult when others pay little attention to you, even when you are a vital member of the team."

"Exactly!" Spike said and snapped his fingers. "Finally, somepony who understands. I can't tell Twilight any of this because she'll just brush me off and say something like, 'You're not old enough,' or 'You'll just get in the way,' or 'We can handle it ourselves.'"

Hildr noticed he was covered in dust and panting for breath. "Are you having a hard time keeping up?" she asked.

Spike shook his head. "Not really. I have short legs, so I'm used to it by now."

Hildr couldn't believe the idea she was considering, but she found herself asking, "If it's that much trouble, would you like a ride instead?"

Spike's eyes lit up. "Really?" After a second of hesitation, Hildr gave a short nod in reply. "Wow. Thanks," he said as grabbed hold of Hildr's armor and hoisted himself up. He made himself comfortable and gave Hildr a pat on the shoulder, indicating he was ready, and she set out again.

Raven floated nearby and Hildr looked around at her surroundings. Whereas Everfree Forest gave a sense of danger and foreboding, this place seemed ancient and powerful. The Magic was almost palpable and Hildr could feel a tingling deep in her bones.

There was no path to follow and no way to tell how far they still needed to travel, or in what direction. The ground was littered with rocks and scraggly brush, with the occasional lizards and bugs darting around. "Raven, where are we? How much further?" HIldr asked.

"According to the map, we landed only a few miles from the source," Raven said. "We're heading in the general direction, however there's no real path to follow and we don't know the exact location of the source."

Hildr looked to the sky and noticed the sun was getting late. "Looks like we're running out of time, at least during daylight," she said.

Raven bobbed in the air, indicating his agreement and continued onward. Hildr looked back and saw Twilight and Sunset were still in deep conversation. About what was anyone's guess. Hildr shrugged and turned to follow Raven.

After a while, Spike asked, "Say Hildr, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"You just did," Hildr replied.

"I guess you're right," Spike chuckled and rubbed his head. "I just wanted to know if there are any dragons where you come from."

Hildr thought about her answer and shook her head. "Not anymore."

"Oh," Spike replied and his face fell. "What happened to them?"

"Do you really want to know?" Hildr asked.

Spike winced at her reply. "Is it bad?" he asked softly.

"Yes," Hildr said.

Spike went silent and Hildr didn't blame him. "I would like it if you told me," he said finally.

"They were killed off," Hildr said simply.

Spike gasped and he almost fell off Hildr's back. "But why?" he asked.

Hildr sighed. "Where I come from, these dragons were known as Ahamkara. The Ahamkara weren't dragons per se, but they greatly resembled dragons from myth in appearance. They first appeared after the Traveler was discovered and were highly sought after for their knowledge and power. However, in order to receive the gifts of the Ahamkara, there was a bargain, a price to be paid. Eventually, it was decided that the price for the Ahamkara was too great, and they were hunted down and killed."

"That's terrible," Spike said sadly. "The Ahamkara didn't do anything wrong, did they? It's not their fault humans asked them for things."

Hildr shook her head. "There is always a price to be paid. Nothing in life is free."

"Well sure, but that doesn't mean the Ahamkara had to die right?" Spike asked.

"Think of it this way," Hildr said. "Say you wish you had a million dollars. You find an Ahamkara, you make your wish, and it's granted. But the Ahamkara doesn't just give you the money. There is a price to be paid. So you go home and find out that Twilight was horribly injured in an accident. She may never wake up again. As compensation for the accident, you are awarded a million dollars."

"But that's horrible!" Spike gasped.

"But now you have a million dollars. That's what you wanted, right?" Hildr asked.

"Well yeah, but not like that," Spike said. "If somepony has to get hurt, then I don't want a reward."

"That's just an example," Hildr said. "I don't know for sure, but the price has an equivalent value of the request. That's just how it is."

Spike thought for a moment and asked, "Did you ever meet an Ahamkara?"

"Yes," Hildr replied.

"Did you make a wish?" Spike asked softly.

"Yes," Hildr replied.

"What was your wish? What was your price?" Spike asked.

Hildr shook her head. "I'm still paying for it, even now."

Spike scooted forward on Hildr's back and wrapped his arms around her neck. "I'm sorry. I hope it was worth it," he said.

Hildr was taken aback by Spike's show of affection and stopped. "What are you doing?"

Spike quickly sat up and scurried backwards. "I'm sorry. I just thought you might need a hug. You looked like you needed it."

Hildr turned her head to stare at Spike. He fidgeted with his hands and had a worried look on his face, afraid he had done something wrong. A faint grin appeared across Hildr's mouth. "It's fine. Don't worry about it."

Raven stopped a short ways ahead and looked back. "According to the map, this is the location of the Magic source," he said.

Spike hopped down off Hildr's back and looked around. "I don't see anything," he said.

Hildr noticed the ground had become cracked and uneven, with sharp peaks of rock surrounding a large hill. It was faint, but it looked as if a path led partway up the hill and disappeared in the thick underbrush. The sun was starting to set now, and long shadows stretched across the ground. The air was still with no breeze, as if the land was holding its breath in anticipation.

Sunset and Twilight approached and their conversation quickly died away to whispers. They looked around uncertainly and Hildr was satisfied to see she wasn't the only one affected by this place. "So now what?" Sunset asked.

The tingling sensation Hildr sensed earlier now centered in her chest and grew to a deep vibration. Her Light was reacting and she struggled to keep it in check. Looking up at the hill, Hildr felt a strong urge to walk up the path. She suspected that was where they would find the source. Rather than wait for a decision to be made, Hildr forced the issue and started walking.

"Wait! Where are you going?" Twilight called out. Hildr didn't reply and kept walking.

The closer she came to the top of the hill, the stronger the sensation became. She could feel tendrils of energy, like fingers, reaching into her mind. It was alarming at first, but Hildr realized there was no malicious intent. Warmth spread through her body and Hildr felt very light, like walking on clouds. Her became hyperaware of her surroundings. Hildr's vision became ultra-sharp and she started to see bright flashes of color in the drab wasteland. She also became acutely aware of the feel of her armor and the way it sat and rubbed against her body.

The trail disappeared into a thorn bush, but Hildr equipped her helmet and shouldered her way through. Twilight and Sunset followed carefully behind with Spike bringing up the rear. "Do you know what's going on?" Sunset asked.

Twilight shook her head. "You got me. Hildr's acting like she's in some kind of trance."

Sunset shivered and gave herself a good shake. "I can see why. This place has heavy aura about it. It feels…ancient, older than Equestria maybe."

"But how is that possible?" Twilight asked. "Equestria was founded before the princesses were even born!"

"Magic?" Sunset replied with a shrug and Twilight rolled her eyes. "No really. I think it's Magic," Sunset insisted. "A very old, raw, and powerful Magic."

Twilight's horn flashed and she pushed the thorn bush to the side to allow them to enter. Sunset stepped inside and gasped. Twilight's eyes went wide and her mouth fell open. Spike stumbled inside and proceeded to pick errant thorns out of his scales. "Ouch. I really don't like thorn bushes," he whined. He looked around in confusion. "Hey. What's going on everypony?" he asked.

Twilight put her hoof on Spike's head and turned him in the direction they were all looking. Once he saw what they were looking at, Spike managed to say, "Oh."

In the back of the cave was a large pink and purple heart-shaped gem. Pink flames surrounded the gem and power and warmth radiated throughout the cave. Sunset felt her heart swell with love and emotion and she reached out for Twilight, who did the same. Spike jumped on Twilight's back and hugged her neck tightly. "Twilight? I don't know why, but I feel so warm and happy," Sunset said softly.

"Me too," Spike agreed. "I don't think I've ever said this, but I love you Twilight."

"I love you too, Spike," Twilight replied. She looked to Sunset and the two unicorns touched horns. "I just wish the rest of my friends could share this with us," she said sadly.

"I know what you mean," Sunset said. All her doubts and worries seemed to melt away in the presence of the burning gem, but she felt a tiny bit of loneliness for her friends. The thought of them made Sunset smile. At this, she had a realization. "Twilight, I think I know what this is," she said.

Twilight's eyes lit up as well. "I can't believe it," she said in awe. "This must be the Fire of Friendship!"

"Like the one from the Hearth's Warming Eve story?" Spike asked and Twilight nodded. "It's the only thing that makes sense. This is the cave the tribal leaders spent the night in."

Hildr stood under the Fire of Friendship and stared up at it. Under the gem's influence, the walls in her heart were slowly falling apart. Hildr tried to fight it as much as possible, but it was useless. The purest and oldest form of Friendship Magic worked its way into Hildr's soul. It super-charged her Magic infused Light and she couldn't keep it contained anymore. Hildr's body exploded into flames and Twilight and Sunset gasped.

The flames died down and Hildr rose to her full height. A golden aura surrounded her body and wings of fire appeared on her back. What really took Sunset by surprise was the fact that Hildr was now in her human form. "Hildr why are you human?" she asked.

Hildr looked down at her body and turned to face the dragon and two ponies. "I don't really know," she said. She reached up and her fingers brushed the burning purple heart. "Whatever this is, it caused my Light to react."

Sunset stepped forward and carefully walked around Hildr. "It's like that time we fought the Vex, but it seems different somehow," she said.

"It supercharged my Light. As long as I stay here, I'll be like this," Hildr said.

"Fascinating," Raven said and he hovered around HIldr, taking scans. "Your Light levels are off the charts. I haven't seen anything like this since Twilight Gap."

Hildr looked down and clenched her hands into fists. "This power is incredible, but at what cost? I can feel it in my heart, in my soul. It's trying to expose things I had buried long ago." She looked to Sunset. "Is this how it was for you? Is this what the Magic of Friendship truly is?"

Sunset slowly walked up to Hildr. With each step, she felt her own Magic and abilities strengthened by Hildr's Light. The Fire of Friendship seemed to blaze even hotter, but it did not burn. Sunset slowly reached out and touched Hildr's hand with her hoof. She gasped as power suddenly surged through her body and she began to change shape. Sunset opened her eyes and saw she was now a human as well and she was wearing the same outfit she wore at the Friendship Games when she fought Midnight Sparkle.

Twilight watched in awe as Sunset's body started to glow and she changed to her human form as well. "There are no words to describe this right now," she whispered in awe. Spike could only nod and stroked Twilight's mane in reply.

"Sunset, I don't understand what is happening," Hildr said. "It feels like the Magic is trying to take over my entire being. I don't think I like it."

Sunset nodded. "You asked me what it felt like to be exposed to Friendship Magic," she said. "It was a lot like this, but it hurt. When I put on Twilight's crown, my selfishness and ego corrupted the Magic and it turned me into a literal demon." Sunset grasped Hildr's hand and continued. "When I was hit by the Elements of Harmony, it stripped my soul bare and washed away all of that. It forced me to see the error of my ways and acknowledge the monster I had become. The pain was unbearable. I wanted to die. I felt like that was the only way to repay all the damage I had caused. But the worst part was the realization that I was alone. I had no one. I pushed everyone away or used them to further my ambition."

Hildr stared deep into Sunset's eyes with her unrelenting gaze. "I have lived for a very long time, and for most of it, I have been alone. I think I have forgotten, or I have allowed myself to forget, what it feels like to open yourself up to another. I pushed them away because I didn't want to suffer through the heartbreak, over and over again."

Deep inside, Hildr tried desperately to hold on and clenched her heart tightly in her fist. She could already feel her grip loosening as the Friendship Magic worked its way inside. Little by little, the pain and guilt she tried to hide was exposed and laid bare. Hildr felt the urge to collapse and break down, but her iron will refused to give in. She would weather this emotional hurricane, and she would stand strong to the end.

Sunset held Hildr's hand to her heart and she choked back tears. "I don't think I can be what you need me to be. I truly believe in my heart that I was meant to show you that Friendship is worth the pain and heartache it causes."

Hildr reached out hesitantly to touch Sunset's face, but stopped and shook her head. "It's just not in my nature to give in to things so easily. This is the path that I have set for myself and I will see it through to the end." She finally put her hand on Sunset's head and gave her a light pat. "Thank you for your understanding, Sunset Shimmer. If I had a daughter, I hope she would turn out just like you."

Sunset suddenly grabbed Hildr and hugged her tightly. After an awkward pause, Hildr put her arms around Sunset and held her gently. All her stress and anxiety melted away in the warmth of the embrace. How long had it been since she held someone like this? The memory of her actual meeting with the red haired woman from her dream was surprisingly strong and vivid. Hildr remembered what it was like to hold someone so close to the heart.

Twilight watched as the Fire of Friendship began to pulsate and a thumping sound was heard like a beating heart. The gem flashed brightly, followed by the sound of crystal shattering. A small piece of the gem separated from the rest and floated down above Hildr's head. The golden aura around Hildr's body started to fade away and the flaming wings extinguished. Hildr and Sunset were enveloped in a bright light. When Twilight could see again, Hildr and Sunset had returned to their pony forms.

"I…I don't even know where to begin," Twilight said in awe as she stepped forward to meet them. "What happened? What was it like?"

Hildr looked to Sunset. "It was warm," she said.

"What else?" Twilight asked.

"It was a lot like the time I used the Elements of Harmony to transform during the Friendship Games," Sunset replied. She frowned and tilted her head to the side. "You've never been hit with the Elements, have you?" she asked.

Twilight shook her head. "Usually I'm on the giving side and not the receiving side," she said.

Hildr looked up at the Fire of Friendship. "It showed me many things that I have been trying to hide for so long," she said. "It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience, then again, having your soul laid bare and being forced to acknowledge your faults rarely is."

Twilight looked above Hildr's head. "Well it looks like we got what we came for after all," she said. Hildr and Sunset looked up as Raven scanned the crystal shard. "This shard is packed with so much dense Magical energy, my sensors can't even read it," he said. He scanned the shard and it disappeared into his inventory.

"Wow," Spike marveled. "The real Fire of Friendship. After this, the annual Hearth's Warming Eve play won't be as exciting."

Sunset and Twilight shared a look. "Clearly this is some very powerful Magic," Twilight said.

"Yep," Sunset agreed.

"So, I was maybe thinking that perhaps such a thing should, oh I don't know, remain hidden?" Twilight suggested.

"Totally agree," Sunset said.

"Of course, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna should know," Twilight added. "You know, for safety reasons."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Sunset said with a shrug. "I don't know anything about a hidden cave with an ancient Magic power."

"My thoughts exactly," Twilight replied with a wink.

"My lips are sealed," Spike promised and he closed his mouth with an invisible zipper. They exited the cave and were quite surprised to find the sun had set long ago and the moon was now high overhead. "Gee, I didn't think we were in there for that long," he said.

Raven illuminated the way and the group walked back to Hildr's ship. Now that she was away from the influence of the Fire of Friendship, Hildr had time to think and reflect on her experience. It was quite humbling to say the least. She realized that in her quest to forge her own path, she had forgotten the meaning behind why she started out in the first place. Hildr had always suspected, but it was now made abundantly clear that by pushing others away to save herself was incredibly selfish and only hurt everyone involved.

The real reason she left her lover was fear. Hildr was afraid that she would be abandoned like so many other times in the past. She knew that leaving the way she did would leave a permanent scar on the redhead's heart. Now that she acknowledged this, Hildr was deeply sorry and hoped that she could be forgiven. Was she still alive? Would they see each other again? Time would only tell.

The Fire of Friendship also showed Hildr her true feelings about the Iron Lords. She missed them. She missed them terribly, and she was sorry she didn't go with them. Lord Saladin offered her a place among them, but she refused. She didn't see the purpose of being a medic for a group of nigh immortal beings. If she ever saw Saladin again, she would ask for forgiveness.

In a way, the burden on Hildr's soul felt much lighter. She still carried many scars, but she felt like things were a little bit brighter, that the future wasn't so dark. Because of this, Hildr started to seriously evaluate her current situation. She knew she needed to go back, but the question was, what time did she want to go back to? Was it even possible to carry out her original plan? Hildr had to admit that not much thought went into her plan in the first place.

They finally arrived back at Hildr's ship. Twilight turned to Spike and said, "Before we go back, take down a note please."

"Uh, okay," Spike said and took the paper and pen from Twilight.

"Ahem. 'Dear Princess Celestia,'" Twilight began. "'I'm sorry for the late hour, but I believe we found a crystal with sufficient Magical potential to cast the spell. I realize that we forgot to get the spell from you when we left the castle. If it's not too much trouble, could you meet us in Ponyville? Hildr will be anxious to get back to the human world, so I don't want to delay her any further. Best regards, Princess Twilight Sparkle.'"

Spike finished writing and handed the paper to Twilight. Satisfied, she rolled it up and handed it back to Spike, who incinerated the paper with his dragon breath. "With any luck, Princess Celestia will meet us back at the castle," Twilight said.

Hildr nodded and they all boarded the ship. Once everyone was strapped in, Hildr took off and flew back to Ponyville. The trip took very little time and before long, they landed on the outskirts of town.

Twilight opened the doors to her castle to find both Princess Luna and Princess Celestia waiting for them in the library. "Princess! I thought you would be sleeping by now," Twilight said and hurriedly bowed.

Celestia gave a little yawn. "I was Twilight, but Luna alerted me to your message and we both flew over as quickly as we could," she said.

Luna stepped forward. "I am glad your search proved fruitful, but I am apprehensive about what you plan to do next," she said.

Hildr took a deep breath to focus her thoughts. "My plan hasn't changed. I want to undo the spell, enable and enter the Vex portal, then shut it all down again."

Celestia frowned. "I stand by what I said earlier, however Luna and I have discussed the matter at length and I believe we have come to a compromise. In order to prevent as much damage as possible, we have adjusted the spell to affect only a small area."

"How small are you talking about?" Hildr asked.

Celestia and Luna shared a look. "I am uncertain as to the proper human measurements, but the spell will enable an area the size of this castle at most," Luna said.

Hildr thought for a moment and said, "That should be fine."

Celestia's horn flared and a scroll appeared. "This scroll contains the spell to enable the technology and the spell to disable it," she said.

Sunset took possession and put the scroll in her saddle bag. "Also, we would like to look upon the crystal you have chosen," Luna said.

Raven's eye flashed and the crystal shard appeared. Both Celestia and Luna gasped in surprise. "How did you manage to find it?" Celestia asked. "I thought we had hidden it well enough."

Sunset and Twilight were shocked. "You mean you knew where it was this whole time?" Twilight asked. "Why didn't you say so in the first place? That would have saved so much time!"

"The Fire of Friendship is a very old and very powerful Magic," Luna said. "There is no way we could have known how it would react if you tried to take a piece of it."

"What's done is done," Celestia said, placing a wing around Luna. "I believe the Fire of Friendship led you to it. It wanted to be found."

Hildr was unsure, but she didn't want to argue. "Thank you for your hospitality princesses," she said with a bow. "As much as I would like to, I do believe I will never be coming back here."

"Fear not Hildr. We shall remember you fondly," Luna said with a smile.

"However, before you go, we would like to offer you a small gift," Celestia said. The two princesses closed their eyes and their horns flashed to life. Two beams of Magic, one white and the other midnight blue, shot forth and surrounded the crystal shard. The shard began to glow bright purple and greedily absorbed the magic. After a moment, Celestia and Luna's horns blinked off and the shard sucked up the remainder of the magic.

"Goodbye Hildr. I wish you well in your endeavor," Celestia said.

"Thank you Princess," Hildr replied with a bow. Twilight activated the portal and the mirror came to life.

Sunset ran up to Celestia and gave her a big hug. "Thank you for everything Princess. I will come back to visit soon," she said. Celestia smiled and held her former student close. With a final wave, Sunset stepped through the portal.

"I thank you for your council and insight," Luna said to Hildr. "It is good to hear the opinions of an outsider. Often, we become to accustomed to our own way of thinking and a new perspective often reveals a new solution to consider."

"I apologize if I came across as straightforward, but I have little patience for wasting time," Hildr said. Luna smiled and gave Hildr a quick embrace. "Do not forget what you have seen here," she said.

"I won't," Hildr promised. Sunset went through the mirror first. Before Hildr stepped through, Spike ran up, holding a piece of paper. "Here. I want you to have this," he said.

Hildr took the paper and opened it up. It was a drawing of Hildr, Sunset, Twilight, and Spike. They were in the cave with the Fire of Friendship overhead. "When did you have time to do this?" Hildr asked.

"Mostly on the ride back and I just now finished," Spike said with a grin.

Hildr gave Spike a rub on the head. "Thank you. In return, I shall give you this," she said. Raven appeared and shot a beam of light on the floor. A pale yellow scale, this size of a fist appeared. "This is an Ahamkara scale," she said. "From one dragon to another."

Spike carefully picked the scale up off the ground and held it in his hands. "Whoa," he said. "This is probably the coolest thing ever!" He looked up to Hildr and said, "I'll take good care of it, I promise."

"Remember, there is always a price," Hildr warned and Spike nodded vigorously. With a final wave goodbye, Hildr stepped through the portal.

When her vision cleared, Hildr found herself back in the human world in front of Canterlot High School. The moon shone high above and she noted it was roughly the same time here as in pony Equestria. Hildr rolled her neck and worked her shoulders in attempt to relieve the soreness. After her adventure with the ponies, Hildr was glad to be back in her real body. Her contentment was short lived as she realized someone was missing. "Raven, where is Sunset?' she asked.

Raven appeared and he sent out several pulses of light. "I don't sense her nearby, however I am picking up traces of electromagnetic energy and radio waves. It seems a group of people was recently gathered here."

Hildr was on high alert as she looked around. She saw signs of a struggle and noticed numerous sets of footprints in the grass leading to the street. Hildr followed them and found fresh tire tracks on the pavement. "Whoever they were, they were in a hurry," she muttered. She thought about tracking the vehicle, but that was a Hunter skill she sorely lacked.

"Hildr! Above you!" Raven cried out. Hildr quickly rolled to the side, equipped her helmet, and readied her pulse rifle. The motion tracker on her HUD began to light up in multiple directions, so Hildr ducked ran to take cover behind the horse statue. Bullets impacted the sidewalk at Hildr's feet, sending chips of concrete outward. Hildr peeked out and noticed a dark silhouette on the roof of the school. She heard footsteps and saw a squad of heavily armed men approaching her position. Hildr ducked back into cover and leaned against the statue. "I have an idea as to what happened here," she said.

"Oh? Do tell," Raven spoke over her helmet radio.

"Those government agents that took Sunset before were waiting for us and grabbed her again," Hildr said. Just when things were going so well, this had to happen. Hildr felt herself growing irritated and let out a low growl. This was a distraction she couldn't afford to have right now. "You still have the crystal?" she asked.

"Of course," Raven said.

"But Sunset has the spells," Hildr said.

"Unfortunately, she's not here at the moment," Raven pointed out.

"Noted," Hildr replied. The footsteps drew closer and she could hear the squad talking amongst themselves.

"What are you going to do?" Raven asked.

Hildr let out a breath and steeled herself for what was to come. "I need her help, so I am going to get her back," she said with an edge to her voice. She slung her rifle over her back and stood up. She calmly walked out from behind the statue. Instantly, every gun was pointed in her direction.

Hildr looked at each member of the squad and made sure to stare at the man on the roof. "So. A group of trained killers is sent to kidnap a high school girl and a suspected alien." Hildr's hands began to glow. "Let me sing you the song of my people."

Dear Twilight,

Today was bittersweet. I am sad to leave, but I have to go back. Hildr needs my help and most importantly, my Fluttershy is pet sitting for me. I hate to impose on her more than I already am.

When I think about what happened, what I saw, my body starts to tingle all over. I'm still having trouble comprehending everything that happened during our visit. It was just so much! I feel so tired and emotionally drained, especially after meeting with Princess Celestia again and everything that happened in the cave.

Speaking of which, I noticed you were a bit mellower than usual. Was it because of your bickering with Hildr? Please don't let that get to you. She just takes some getting used to. I think she has a unique perspective that could be useful for Equestria. Plus, she and Princess Luna seemed to hit it off really well. I find that rather interesting.

On a lighter note, I look forward to reading the paper you are going to inevitably write on Clover the Clever's Magic theory and how we went about proving it. I just don't know how you'll manage to explain using Hildr's ship and fancy technology. You'll probably be branded a heretic and burned at the stake. I'm kidding by the way.

The Fire of Friendship is another topic that would probably take up a whole book by itself, so I only want to briefly discuss it here. If what Princess Celestia said is true, are they the ones responsible for erasing all record of the Fire of Friendship? I can see why they would do that, but go to such lengths to keep it hidden? Why not move it to a more secure location, like the Royal Treasury or in the vault? Now that I think of it, that's probably a bad idea to keep it in the castle. What if the next threat to Equestria manages to capture it? Can you imagine how much damage would be caused?

Anyway, it's late and I really need to go to bed. I'll keep in touch.

Sunset Shimmer