• Published 28th Apr 2018
  • 1,189 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?

  • ...

Welcome to Equestira Redux

Hildr met Sunset Shimmer back at her house. By now the sun was setting and the first evening stars were starting to appear. Sunset went inside, checked on her pet, and went to the kitchen. Hildr changed out of her normal armor, stood in the center of the living room and looking around. She noticed that things were slightly out of place from the last time she was there. "Did something happen?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" Sunset called out.

Hildr slowly walked around and traced her fingers across the walls and furniture. "It looks like you have done some redecorating," she said.

Sunset re-appeared, holding a tray in her hands and a frown on her face. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it," she said.

Hildr stared at Sunset, who started to shrink under her stony gaze. "Stop it. That's not fair you know," she mumbled.

"What. Happened. To you?" Hildr asked evenly.

Sunset Shimmer put the tray down and narrowed her eyes. "Why do you care? I'm just a distraction to you, remember?"

The corner of Hildr's lip curled in a snarl. "You're right. Why would I care?" She quickly stepped forward and pointed her finger in Sunset's face. "Because you are still my patient and I'll be damned if anyone forces me to spend any more of my time fixing something that shouldn't be broken in the first place!"

Sunset Shimmer was stunned. "You…you really think that?" she stammered.

Hildr folded her arms and looked away. "I treated you, therefore you are now my responsibility."

"But, like you said, it's your fault I got hurt in the first place. Isn't this just you owning up to your mistakes?" Sunset asked.

"Fine! If you won't answer my question, I'll just figure it out on my own!" HIldr shouted. "Based on what I've seen so far, you were visited by mysterious government officials, weren't you?"

Sunset could only nod her head and Hildr continued. "So they grabbed you up, took you to an undisclosed facility, and asked you some questions. What did they ask you about?"

"Well, you," Sunset replied.

Hildr continued to scowl. "Of course they did! They probably threatened you and your friends too, correct?"

"Yeah," Sunset said. "They told me they'd been watching ever since the stuff at the Fall Formal and the only reason I haven't been locked up yet is because they don't think I'm a threat."

"Ha! Like I believe that!" Hildr said.

Sunset frowned. "Which part?"

"The part where the government doesn't think you're a threat, what else?" Hildr said. "Anyway, they brought you back here when they were done and ever since, you've been paranoid that they've been watching you. Is this true?"

Sunset shrugged sheepishly. "Well yeah," she said. "How did you figure that all out?"

"Because while I was searching the Vex ruins, I triggered security beacon that sent a signal back here. That tells me that some very important people want to keep what I've seen a secret," Hidr said.

Sunset nodded her head in agreement. "You've said that before and it makes sense. What I can't figure out is why would they try and hide something like that?"

"Probably to prevent panic and a complete loss of faith in the government by the people," Hildr said. "I've seen situations like this before and they never end well." She vigorously rubbed her face and sighed. "Now then. Is there anything else you'd like to say?"

"About what?" Sunset asked. "You've pretty much figured it all out by now."

Hildr grumbled to herself and sat down heavily on the couch. "So. You were practicing your magic? How did that go?"

Sunset picked up the tray and put it down on the table. HIldr saw it contained a large bowl of salad with fixings and dressing. Sunset took a bowl for herself and offered another to Hildr, who accepted it reluctantly. "I think it went very well," Sunset said as she scooped lettuce into her bowl. "It's kind of like exercising muscles you hardly use, so it will take some time and a lot of practice. Even then, I'll be nowhere near where I was before I came here."

Hildr nodded absently and put food in her own bowl. "Tell me how this magic works," she said.

Sunset chewed slowly and thought about how to explain magic. "Back in Equestria, there are two basic types of Magic," she said. "There is magic that ponies have naturally, and the magic of Equestria itself."

"What's the difference?" Hildr asked.

"Well for one, Equestira has vastly more magical reserves than ponies do," Sunset said. "There are three types of ponies, technically four, and each utilizes magic differently. Normal ponies with no horn or wings are called Earth ponies. Their magic is more passive in nature and gives them a unique connection to the land. Therefore, Earth ponies tend to have great physical strength and care for crops and other animals."

"So Pegasai use their magic for flight?" Hildr asked and Sunset nodded. "Partially. Pegasai are generally tasked with weather manipulation by moving clouds, creating wind, and operate a factory for producing snow. Pegasai also have the ability to stand and walk on clouds."

"I see," Hildr replied.

"Naturally, Unicorn ponies are a bit different," Sunset explained. "Unicorns are able to actively use their magic for tasks, such as spellcasting and telekinesis. As a result, most Unicorns tend to favor careers in the fine arts or other things that require delicate control. Also, a Unicorn's magic may be specialized in their particular talent. For instance, while I have learned many different kinds of magic and spells, I have an affinity for fire magic." She held out her hand and with a bit of concentration, was able to produce a small flame.

Hildr was quite impressed. "That is very interesting," she said. "But I thought you said there was no natural magic here. How are you able to do this?"

"Remember when I said I stole Princess Twilight's crown?" Sunset asked and Hildr nodded. "Princess Twilight's special talent is Magic and her crown contains a very powerful magical element. At least it did. Anyway, I brought it here and used it. As a result, Equestiran magic is now leaking into this world."

Hildr thought to herself as she chewed absentmindedly on a piece of lettuce. Sunset Shimmer watched her for a moment and said, "So you never told me what your magic was."

"My Light?" HIldr asked.

"Sure. If that's what you call it," Sunset replied.

"Where I come from, people who possess exceptional Light and are able to use it as a weapon are known as Guardians," Hildr said.

"But where does your Light come from? Is it something you're born with?" Sunset asked.

Hildr shrugged in reply. "There's a lot we don't know, but it is theorized that Light exists in all living things to some degree and when the Traveler appeared, it used its own Light to kick start our own."

Sunset frowned. "The Traveler? What's that?"

HIldr sighed. "It's late, I'm tired and I really don't want to get into that right now, or we will be talking for days." Sunset leaned forward, her big eyes pleading with Hildr. She glared at the eager young woman and said, "Fine. A long time ago on my Earth, we discovered the Traveler and it started a Golden Age of discovery and learning. Hundreds of years later, everything fell apart in the Collapse, and we've been trying to recover ever since. Happy now?"

"For now, but I still have many questions," Sunset said.

"Of course you do," Hildr growled. Sunset stuffed another forkful into her mouth and asked, "Can I see your Light?"

"Why?" Hildr said.

"It's only fair," Sunset argued. "I showed you mine, now you show me yours."

Hildr shook her head. "Someone could take that completely the wrong way."

Sunset frowned. "What does that mean?"

Hildr waved her off, saying, "Never mind!" She held out her hand and a ball of yellow energy appeared.

Sunset Shimmer was in awe. She leaned forward and stuck out her finger. "It looks like a tiny sun," she whispered. She touched it and found it was very hot. "What is it?" she asked.

Hidr grumbled to herself. "There are three types of Light energy; Solar, Arc and Void. Guardians are able to master all three, but most have an affinity for one type or another."

"And this one is yours?" Sunset asked.

"Yes, Solar is my preference," Hildr admitted.

Sunset leaned back and could feel her own magic reacting to Hildr's Light. It felt stronger, more tangible. She wondered why that was. "Before, when you used your Light, my magic became stronger," she said.

"Is that so?" HIldr asked.

Sunset nodded and said, "I'm not sure why, but it could be that my magic and your Light are not that different. Like they are the same, but not really if that makes any sense."

Hildr pondered this. "As a medic and a Sunsinger, my abilities focus on healing others and bolstering their abilities. As far as your magic having such a positive reaction, I think that's why."

Sunset frowned. "But how do you rationalize your healing against killing things, which you seem to be very good at, by the way."

"I am a medic, and as such, I have never willingly killed another person, only in self-defense. I am shocked that you would think otherwise," Hidr said with a frown.

"Well, that's not exactly what I meant," Sunset stammered. "Sure, you may not be hurting other people, but what about the Vex? You seem more than willing to kill them."

"Because they are our enemies and will kill us all if we don't do it first," Hildr replied, her voice taking an edge. "Every Vex that I or the other Guardians kill is one less to fight against Humanity. And that's why we do any of this."

"Why? What happened?" Sunset asked.

"I told you, the Darkness came and almost wiped us out," Hildr said, raising her voice. "Ever since that time, Humanity has been fighting for its very survival. Our enemies outnumber us and would like nothing more than to erase us from existence. It's only thanks to the Traveler and the Light that Humanity hasn't gone extinct."

Sunset was taken aback and put her hands up in defense. "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to upset you or anything."

"No? Well you're doing a good job of it," Hildr replied angrily.

"But don't you have friends where you come from?" Sunset asked.

Hildr jumped to her feet, dumping her bowl on the ground. "I told you once I don't want to talk about it!" she said.

Sunset firmly put her own bowl down and also stood up. "Then what do you want to talk about?" She put her hands on her hips and her face softened. "Look. I understand that you are going through a tough time. I don't know what it's like to fight and struggle to survive. I can't even begin to understand what you are going through. But please, let me help you. I don't know the first thing about medicine, but even I know that what you are doing can't be good for you."

"You don't know the first thing about me," Hildr hissed. "How dare you stand there and claim to know what I should or shouldn't do."

"Grrrrrr!" Sunset growled and grabbed her hair with her hands. "I don't know anything about you because you won't tell me! I want to help you but you won't let me!"

"I don't need your help!" HIldr shouted. "I'm doing just fine on my own!"

Sunset leaned forward and poked Hildr in the chest. "Somehow I don't believe you. What about Raven? You depend on him don't you?"

"Raven is my Ghost. He doesn't count," Hildr shot back and slapped Sunset's hand away.

"Why are you here? Why did you abandon your home?" Sunset asked.

"I didn't abandon anyone. I don't have anyone left to abandon," Hildr said, turning away.

"Hey!" Sunset called out and grabbed Hildr's hand. Her pendant started to glow red and her eyes turned white with power. Sunset inadvertently touched Hildr's bare skin and her Empathy Touch activated. Sunset's vision went blurry and blended together, and then she saw…

A large room with a round wooden table in the center. Large braziers stood around the room, providing illumination. Behind the table, a large hearth burned brightly and provided some measure of warmth. Several people stood around the table, hunched over a map.

Suddenly, the large doors opened and a lone figure stomped inside. The heavy doors banged shut, sending a deep rumble through the room. All who stood around the table looked up to see the newcomer. "Ah, the Valkyrie herself has graced us with her presence," a female wearing ornate robes said with a short bow.

"Save it, Lady Skorri. I have no times for your games," the one called Valkyrie said. The others made room as she approached the table. She took one look at the map and scowled. "So. You are going through with this plan?" she asked.

"Yes. Out of all our options, we believe this is the best one," a man with dark skin and ornate heavy armor replied. He wore a thick fur cloak around his shoulders to ward off the chill.

"Save your breath, Lord Saladin. You're just wasting your time otherwise," a tall, red haired female spoke up. She crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. Her armor was similar to Lord Saladin's.

Another of the group spoke up. "I know you don't agree, but this is our best chance to reclaim what we lost during the Collapse," he said. He wore robes similar to the one called Lady Skorri.

"And what does The Tyrant have to say about that?" Valkyrie shot back. "He will not willingly give up what is his."

"I will talk to Rasputin. He will see reason," a low, gravely voice said.

"The only 'reason' that Rasputin follows is 'Do what's best for Rasputin and damn the rest,'" Valkyrie argued. "The only thing Rasputin cares about is himself."

"Surely you don't mean that," Lord Saladin said.

Valkyrie pounded her fist on the table. "I do! And you are foolish to think otherwise. In all this time, what has Rasputin done for us? Nothing! He has stayed silent, caring only about his own self-preservation."

A female standing next to Valkyrie wearing light leather armor placed her hand gently on Valkyrie's shoulder. "If not this, then what would you have us do?" she asked.

"Forget about Rasputin and leave him to his own devices," Valkyrie said, brushing the hand off her shoulder. "And leave the past where it belongs. There is a reason we have eyes in the front of our heads and not the back and that is to look to the future and keep moving forward."

"My, my, Valkyrie, I never took you for a poet," Lady Skorri teased.

"I am nothing of the sort," Valkyrie said firmly. She pushed away from the table and held her arms out. "If you insist on this folly, then I refuse to be a part of it."

"Valkyrie," Lord Saladin started, but Valkyrie cut him off. "Go. Proceed with your foolish plan. I will remain here where I am needed. I will await your return and pray that I am wrong." With that, Valkyrie stormed out.

The scene shifted. Valkyrie was now sitting outside on a ledge that overlooked the valley below. Behind her was the towering mountain fortress of the Iron Lords, known as Felwinter Peak. Directly behind her, a fire blazed brightly in the firepit. Valkyrie ignored the cold and swirling snow. Lord Saladin and the rest of the Iron Lords had departed some time ago, and Valkyrie was meditating and holding vigil. Her stubbornness and pride wouldn't let her admit she might have been wrong, but a small part of her wondered if perhaps, she could have made a difference. But it mattered little now. She had made her decision as the others had made theirs.

Several days passed and Valkyrie did not eat or drink anything, sustaining herself only through her connection with the Light. Periodically, the wolves that roamed the temple grounds would sit next to her and keep her company, but they never stayed long. It was as if they could sense something terrible was about to happen.

Finally, Valkyrie heard slow footsteps crunching in the snow behind her. With a bit of difficulty, she rose from her seated position for the first time in days and tried not to wince as the blood started to flow through her limbs. Lord Saladin stood on the other side of the fire and they stared at one another. Valkyrie could see his armor was scorched and pitted with recent damage, and his fur cloak was nowhere to be seen. Valkyrie didn't even need to ask, the look of resignation on his face was all she needed. Several emotions played across her face; anger, sadness, rage, fear, but ultimately settled on a stony mask. She walked up to him until they were inches apart. "I warned you," she hissed.

To his credit, Lord Saladin said nothing.

"I told all of you this was a terrible idea. But what do I know? I'm just a medic. What do I know about planning and fighting battles? I'm just a healer, a barely used one at that!" Valkyrie angrily poked Saladin on the chest. "This loss is all on you, Lord Saladin. I hope you are happy!" She waved her hand around and added, "Look at this place! It is now a tomb, a monument to the folly of the Iron Lords! And as such, there is no need for me here." She gave Lord Saladin one last angry look before walking past him.

Lord Saladin finally found his voice and asked, "Where will you go?"

"To the City, where I am needed," Valkyrie said. "I am a medic, and the City is sorely lacking in medical knowledge and care. Maybe my skills will be appreciated there." She turned away from Lord Saladin and walked down the mountain. She did not look back.

Sunset Shimmer saw all of this in a split second. She finally let go of Hildr's hand and gasped. "You were there. You watched your friends die?"

Hildr glared at Sunset and angrily pulled away from her grasp. "I wasn't there. I didn't watch them, but yes. Everyone I knew died. And for what? To reclaim lost glory? Their hubris was their downfall."

Sunset collapsed back into her chair in shock. "I'm sorry," was all she managed to say. Not only did her Empathy Touch allow her to see the memories of others, but their feelings too. Sunset was overcome with feelings of rage, sorrow, and self-doubt. She took a few shaky breaths and tried to keep herself from falling apart. She was amazed how raw and jagged Hildr's emotions and memories were.

Hildr glared down at Sunset. "You had no right to invade my privacy like that," she said.

"I'm sorry," Sunset replied with a sniff. "I honestly wasn't trying to read your thoughts, but sometimes it just happens." She looked up with teary eyes and asked, "How do you do it? How do you keep going while bottling up all those memories?"

"By focusing on the future and where I want to go," HIldr replied. "The past is the past and should stay where it belongs. What good does it do to dwell on things that you can't change?"

"But isn't that what you're trying to do? Use the Vex to travel back to the past?" Sunset asked.

Hildr quickly looked to Sunset. "How would you know that?" she asked.

Sunset sighed. "After seeing your memories, it's obvious to me. You want to go back to a time before your friends died and find a way to keep that from happening."

Hildr said nothing and walked to the window. "I won't say I know how you feel, but I understand where you are coming from," Sunset said. "With everything that I've done, you think I haven't thought about going back and changing it?" Hildr continued to say nothing and Sunset continued. "It's like you said, the past is the past and it should stay there. I have come to realize that my past does not dictate my future and I will not let it hold me back from becoming a better person."

"'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,'" Hildr said.

"What?" Sunset asked.

"It means that if you do no learn from the mistakes of the past, you are destined to repeat them," Hildr said. "Believe me, I completely understand what you are saying and I agree with you. But glossing over your mistakes and simply forgetting they happened means you never really learned anything. It is good to keep moving forward, but it is also good to look back at past success or failure and judge yourself accordingly."

"Oh. I have heard that quote before," Sunset said.

Hildr looked down at her hands and clenched them into fists. She let out a sigh and added, "I have lived long enough to see the truth of these words."

Sunset gasped and she didn't know what to think about this new revelation. "Just how long have you been alive?" she asked.

Hildr shrugged. "I lost track a long time ago. Eventually you start remembering events, rather than specific dates. I was first resurrected sometime after the Collapse during a time referred to as the Dark Age. Everything was in ruins and Humanity was on the verge of extinction. There were no Guardians then, only those called The Risen. And you can probably guess what things were like during this time."

"With a name like Dark Age, it's not hard to guess," Sunset replied.

Hildr nodded slowly. "Powerful Risen banded together to form groups and many claimed the title of Warlord. There was a lot of infighting, and when you can be resurrected from death, well, there isn't a lot to stop you."

Sunset's eyes went wide. "You…you can come back to life? How?" she sputtered.

Hildr held out her hand and Raven appeared. "With the Ghosts. As long as there is sufficient Light and the Ghost is unharmed, death is simply a minor inconvenience."

Sunset struggled to process this information. Hildr was immortal? And there were others like her? This raised a whole new series of questions that Sunset wasn't sure she wanted the answers to. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. With a sigh, she said, "I really can't process any more right now. Let's just agree to not kill each other for now and worry about the rest in the morning. Besides, we have a journey to make." Sunset pushed herself up from her chair and wearily walked up the stairs to her bedroom. Hildr could hear her moving about getting ready for bed. Before long, the light upstairs went out and all was silent.

Hildr turned off the rest of the lights and sat down on the couch. The darkness settled around her like an uncomfortable blanket and Hildr rubbed her arms. Raven appeared and settled on her shoulder. "You know, you and Sunset Shimmer are a lot alike," he said.

Hildr sighed. She was too tired and drained to argue. "Can we not do this right now?" she asked.

"Okay, but if not now, when?" Raven asked. "Sunset has brought up some good points and I happen to agree with her."

"Oh, so you think I'm a hypocrite now?" Hildr asked. "Please tell me how I preach about 'Moving forward, forget the past,' blah, blah, blah, only to turn around and come up with this crazy plan to try and change the past."

"No, I don't think you are a hypocrite, but I do think you are pushing yourself too hard on this," Raven said.

"Sunset Shimmer already nagged at me," Hildr said.

"Then you know it must be true. Aren't you supposed to be the adult here?" Raven asked.

"Fine! What do you suggest?" Hildr exasperated.

"I don't think you should stop, but I do think you shouldn't push yourself so hard," Raven said. "You've got yourself wound so tight that you're bound to break and it won't be pretty."

Hildr thought about what Raven had said. "Am I really that unlikeable?" she asked.

"Well, you can be rather firm and abrasive at times," Raven said.

Hildr closed her eyes and let out a long breath. "I can't stop. If I do, even for one second, I see their faces and the guilt and pain comes back, like I didn't do enough to stop them, or maybe I should have gone."

"And what does that cycle of thinking get you, hmm?" Raven asked.

"Nothing good, which is why I try not to think about it," HIldr said. She lay down on the couch and pulled the blanket over her. Before long, her eyes closed and she drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

By the time Sunset Shimmer woke up in the morning, Hildr had already been up for some time. Sunset quickly got dressed and went down stairs where Hildr was sitting at the computer. "Morning," Sunset offered. Hildr barely acknowledged her with a wave. Sunset frowned as she grabbed her backpack. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"Researching the latest medical procedures," Hildr said. "So far, there isn't anything I don't already know."

"Well yeah, you're from the future right? Makes sense that you would have more advanced knowledge of certain things," Sunset said. "By the way, you mentioned yesterday that you were resurrected. Were you a doctor of some kind before, or how did you get all of your medical knowledge?"

"When Guardians are first raised, they have little or no memory of their past life," Hildr said. "Raven found me in the ruins of a hospital, so I figured I must have been a doctor or nurse in my past."

"But you could have also just been visiting," Sunset pointed out and Hildr nodded in agreement. "I had considered that possibility and ultimately decided that it didn't matter. I was given a second chance at life and I made the decision to spend it trying to help others."

Sunset placed a reassuring hand on Hildr's shoulder and said, "For what it's worth, I think you've done an excellent job."

Hildr snorted and gave her a look out of the corner of her eye. "Is there anything I need to know before we go?" she asked.

"Nope," Sunset said. She thought for a minute, then reconsidered. "Well, not really. I'll tell you when we get to the portal."

As Hildr stood up, there was a knock at the door. Sunset quickly ran to the door and peeked out the window. "Quick! Go hide upstairs!" she hissed and shooed Hildr to the stairs. Curious, Hildr went up the stairs and peeked down.

Sunset put on her best smile and threw open the door. "Fluttershy! Thanks for coming on such short notice."

"Um, really it's no problem," Fluttershy said softly. She cast a quick glance inside and carefully stepped inside. "You said you had to leave for a few days. Is everything okay?"

"Yep! Everything is fine," Sunset replied. "Princess Twilight wanted me to come and visit, and it was kinda last minute, so I sort of need a pet sitter."

"Oh it's no problem at all," Fluttershy said.

"Are you sure? I feel guilty for imposing on you," Sunset said.

"Really, it's fine. This sort of thing happens all the time," Fluttershy assured her. "Most people wait until the last minute to find a pet sitter anyway, and some simply forget about them entirely! Those poor animals. I feel so bad for them."

"Yeah," Sunset said. She picked the terrarium out of the window and carefully lifted it up. "Hey little guy. Behave yourself while I'm gone, or Miss Fluttershy will have to sic Angel bunny on you."

Fluttershy giggled. "The other animals get along just fine with Ray. I'm sure there won't be any problems."

Almost reluctantly, Sunset handed the box to Fluttershy. She reached inside and gave her pet one last rub under the chin. "Please tell Princess Twilight we said hello and to come visit soon," Fluttershy said. "And let me know when you get back, I'll bring him right over."

"Okay, will do," Sunset said and waved goodbye to her demure friend. When Fluttershy was gone, Sunset shut the door and sagged to the floor. "Well. She seems nice," Hildr called out.

"She really is the sweetest person I've ever met and it makes me feel even worse when I think about what I used to put her through," Sunset said with a sigh. "Anyway, we should be going now." Hildr followed Sunset out, and after she locked the door, they set out into town.

It was still early enough that there wasn't much traffic, therefore the trip to Canterlot High School didn't take very long. Another reason for being out so early was to not garner attention when they went through the portal. Sunset checked her journal as Hildr looked the statue over. The horse itself seemed to be a different shade of white than the base it stood on. Hildr pointed this out to Sunset. "Oh. Well, the statue kinda broken during the Friendship Games and was only recently repaired. I really don't think anyone cares," Sunset said.

"I see," Hildr replied. "So how does this portal work?"

"Originally, it only opened at certain times for three days, but Princess Twilight figured out how to open it at will," Sunset said. "When Twilight wrote back yesterday, she said the portal would be open this morning and she would be waiting."

"So you just…step through it?" Hildr asked.

"Yep. But just a warning, it will feel kind weird and be a bit disorienting when you go through," Sunset said. "And you'll be a pony on the other side, so there's that."

"Great," Hildr replied shortly. "Let's get this over with then."

Sunset gave a shrug and the base of the statue rippled as she walked through. Hildr squared her shoulders and stepped confidently through.

Even though Sunset had warned her, Hildr found the experience very disorienting. Her eyes and her inner ear couldn't agree on which way was down and her vision became a kaleidoscope of color and shapes. Her stomach felt like it had switched places with her heart and the rest of her body felt like it was being pulled and twisted into unnatural shapes. Mercifully, the experience didn't last long and everything came to a spinning halt.

Sunset Shimmer was no stranger to traveling though the portal and it still made her feel a little funny. She just closed her eyes and hoped for the best. Unlike last time when she came spilling out of the mirror, Sunset kept her balance and wobbled slightly to the side. "Wh-whoa!" she cried and put her hoof out for balance. Oh. Right. Feeling a bit silly, she leaned forward and all four of her hooves contacted the ground. She then gave herself a good shake all over. After being a human for so long, being a pony again felt foreign. Suddenly remembering she wasn't alone, she turned back to the mirror in time to watch Hildr come through.

Hildr fell on the floor with a THUD, but the spinning and dizziness didn't seem like it was stopping. Her body felt very strange, like something was crawling beneath her skin. She tried to push herself up with her arms, but she slipped and crashed down to the floor. None of her muscles and bones seemed to work quite right and caused her great discomfort. And on top of everything, her Light was going crazy. Hildr felt like she was burning up and being electrocuted at the same time. It was fighting with another essence and not mixing well, like oil and water. She didn't know what was going on, but figured it probably wasn't good.

Sunset's face went wide with shock. Hildr's body seemed to be glowing from within and it looked like it was having trouble keeping a solid shape. Instead of a pony, it was more of a pony-shaped…thing. The body kept bulging in strange places and making weird shapes. "It's her Light!" Sunset realized.

"Her what?" Princess Twilight Sparkle asked and Sunset realized they weren't alone. Twilight had been waiting in the room for them to arrive and Sunset saw the look of horror and fascination on Twilight's face.

Sunset ran up to Twilight and said. "Hildr's Light isn't reacting well to the Magic of Equestira! That's what must be causing this!"

"How do we stop it?" Twilight asked, finally becoming serious.

"I don't know," Sunset admitted. "I don't know if we can." She carefully approached the struggling shape of Hildr and said, "Hildr? Can you hear me?" Hildr replied with loud groans and mumbles. "Hildr! Your Light is reacting to the Magic of Equestria. You need to try and find a balance," Sunset offered.

Through the haze of agony, Hildr could hear a voice speaking to her. "Sunset? Is that you?" she tried to say, but no words seemed to come out. Hildr could barely hear what was said, but she could make out the words "Light" and "Magic." Oh. Hildr finally understood. Doing her best to block out the pain, Hildr focused on the bright spark of Light within her. Normally it appeared as a bright ball of energy, but now it was fluctuating wildly. Hildr could see it was clashing with another energy. Where her Light felt more dense and compact, this new energy was lighter, like wind or flowing water. Hidr realized this must be Magic.

Hildr concentrated on her Light and imagined a pair of hands enveloping her Light and shaping it, like rolling a ball of clay. Slowly, her Light began to take shape and the pain began to ease. Normally, her Light was spread through her entire body, but Hidlr felt the need to condense it all together. As she gathered in the Light, the Magic began to take its place. Hildr's body was no longer a formless mass, but was starting to take a familiar shape. Soon, all the Light was collected and Hildr began to ease her grip. The Light was still roiling like an angry storm, but it wasn't getting out of control. The Magic had replaced the Light and was now coursing through her body.

Hildr let out a tired sigh and opened her eyes. As they came into focus, she could see two ponies, one amber and one lavender, standing over her with worried looks. The amber one spoke with Sunset Shimmer's voice and asked, "Hildr? Are you feeling okay?"

"Does it look like I'm okay?" Hildr huffed in reply. Sunset instantly relaxed and relief flooded her face. "Thank goodness! I was terrified I had made a huge mistake bringing you here," she said.

"Hmph. It's not too late for that," Hildr said and raised her head. She immediately felt that something was off.

"Hildr? Listen to me. Your body has gone through some…pretty drastic changes, so you should probably take it easy," Sunset warned. Hildr twisted her neck around and saw her body was lying on the floor. The strange part was, she felt her head was a lot taller than her body should be.

She looked back to the two ponies and made the connection in her head. "I'm a pony, aren't I," she said.

"Well, yeah," Sunset said sheepishly.

Hildr looked Sunset over. "So. That is your true form?" she asked.

Sunset looked at herself and gave her tail a swish. "Yep. This is me," she said.

Hildr also noticed she had a horn growing out of her head. "Hmm. Makes sense that you're a unicorn."

"Also true," Sunset said with a smile. She raised a hoof and pointed to the lavender pony. "And this here is my friend, Princess Twilight Sparkle."

"I'm very pleased to meet you," Twilight said. Hildr looked between the two. Despite the fact that Twilight was purple and Sunset was amber, there were other differences too. Twilight's neck was slightly longer and her facial features were more square and pronounced. She also had wings in addition to a horn, which took Hildr by surprise.

"So. You must be the fourth kind of pony?" she asked.

Confused, Twilight looked to Sunset, who sighed and smacked her head with her hoof. "Right. I said there were four kinds of ponies, but never explained what an Alicorn was."

"Well allow me then," Twilight said. She stepped toward Hildr and said, "Alicorn ponies are the rarest of all the ponies and have the most natural magic since they embody the traits of the other three types of ponies. So I have a unicorn horn and pegasus wings." She stepped to the side and spread her wings.

Hildr merely nodded. "Am I correct to assume only the princesses are Alicorns?" she asked.

Sunset and Twilight both nodded. "Right now, there are four Alicorn princesses." Twilight frowned and added, "Well technically my baby niece is an alicorn, but we won't get into that right now."

"So how does one become an Alicorn princess?" Hildr asked.

At this, Sunset's face fell and she looked away as Twilight looked at her friend sadly. "To become an Alicorn princess, one must embody the traits of all ponies and by sharing your gifts with others. And becoming a princess is earned, not just a title or position that is given. I became the Princess of Friendship because I learned what friendship truly means and to share it with others. And being a princess isn't just a one-and-done thing. I'm still learning what friendship means." Twilight placed a hoof on Sunset's shoulder and gave her a light rub.

Hildr noticed but decided not speak on it. She sighed and gathered her legs under her. "Might as well get this over with," she said and carefully stood up.

Twilight and Sunset ran to her side. "Take it easy. You'll probably feel a bit strange until you get used to it," Sunset said.

At first, Hildr's hooves would slip out from under her on the tile floors, but once she got the balance right, she was able to stand up properly. Twilight and Sunset's mouths dropped open as Hildr kept rising up and up and up, until she towered over them. "Hildr! You're huge!" Sunset stammered.

Twilight was equally flummoxed. "I've never seen anything like this before," she managed to say. Hildr glared down at them and Sunset unconsciously took a step back. Well that hasn't changed, she thought.

"Get me a mirror," Hildr demanded.

"Sure, sure, right over there," Twilight hurriedly pointed.

Hildr looked down at her feet and glanced over to Sunset, who quickly realized what Hildr wanted. Sunset stood next to Hildr and took a step, with Hildr doing the same. Sunset took another step with Hildr following. By this method, Sunset showed Hildr the proper rhythm for normal walking. "We'll get to the other stuff later," Sunset whispered. Hildr replied with a huff and looked in the mirror. Her skin, or coat rather, was a light peach color that resembled her normal skin tone. Her mane and tail were both the same color white as her hair and her mane was even styled similarly. Hildr's eyes were still a piercing grey color that was even more pronounced due their bigger size, and she even had the bright orange eye shadow. Hildr also noticed a horn sticking out of her head. "Seems like I'm a unicorn as well," she said.

Twilight, who was looking at Hildr's flank, asked, "What does your cutie mark mean?"

"My what?" Hildr asked.

"Your cutie mark," Sunset said and showed off her own flank. "Remember? For a pony, it indicates your special talent."

HIldr maneuvered herself so she could see her rear in the mirror. Sure enough, there was a mark that consisted of a red plus sign between a pair of spread flaming wings. "Hmm. If I had to guess, the red cross is for my medic, and the wings represent my Sunsinger," Hildr said.

"Sunsinger? What's that?" Twilight asked.

Hildr hung her head and sighed. "Is it going to be like this all the time?" she asked.

"Probably," Sunset reluctantly replied.

On a sudden thought, Hildr carefully raised her right front hoof until it was in front of her face. Okay. Focus. Just like you always do, she thought and called out, "Raven? Are you there?"

At first, nothing happened, but then Raven appeared in a flash of light He shook himself as he tried to get his bearings. "Where are we? Did it work?" he asked.

"Yes it worked, but not without some difficulty," Hildr said.

Raven turned around and got his first look at Hildr as a pony. He then flitted about, taking scans. Finally, he said, "I guess it really did work. I must say I'm quite surprised at the result."

"You and me both," HIldr said. "Did you see or feel anything when we first came through?"

Raven shook is eye no. "Just feelings of severe discomfort and your Light going crazy. How is it now?"

"Stable," HIldr said. "Provided noting crazy happens, it should stay that way."

Raven then turned to Sunset Shimmer. "Ah! You look lovely as ever," he said, earning a blush from Sunset. He then focused on Twilight Sparkle. "And you must be the Princess Twilight I keep hearing about."

Twilight could only stare in awe. "Um, is she broken?" Raven asked. He carefully hovered in front of her and took some scans.

"I think she is," Sunset chuckled. "Good job Raven."

"It's not my fault!" Raven cried. "I didn't mean to break her! I know nothing about ponies!"

Just then, the door crashed open and a tiny purple dragon with green spines came sprinting in. "Who hurt Twilight!" he demanded. He skidded to a stop and glared at everyone gathered. "No one hurts Twilight, or they have to go through me!" His anger and suspicion was quickly replaced with awe as he looked up at Hildr. "Wh-who're you?" he demanded.

"Hey Spike. Long time no see," Sunset offered.

Spike quickly glanced to Sunset. "Oh hey Sunset, how'ya been?" he asked, then pointed at Hildr and added, "Is she with you?"

Sunset rolled her eyes. "Yes, she's with me," she said.

Spike then noticed Twilight and the stupefied expression she wore on her face. "Oh. That's what you meant," he said. He waddled up to his mentor and waved his hand in her face. "Yep, she's broken. What was it this time?"

"Oh. Whew," Raven said with relief. "I was afraid I'd gone and done something terrible."

"No, she gets like this sometimes when she gets too excited and her brain can't catch up," Spike said. He then noticed Raven floating nearby and jumped back. "Gah! What are you?"

"I'm a Ghost and my name is Raven," Raven said and gave a short dip.

"A g-g-ghost? Like a d-d-dead pony?" Spike asked hesitantly.

Raven turned to look at Sunset. "Really? This is the second time now." He looked back to Spike and said, "No, I'm not the spirit of a dead person or pony or anything for that matter. A Ghost is simply what I am, and like I told Sunset Shimmer, I'm not here to hurt you."

"Oh. Well that's good I guess," Spike said. He stood up on his tippy toes and whispered in Twilight's ear.

Whatever he said had an immediate effect. "WHAT! What do you mean you made quesadillas?" Her eyes were wide and she started breathing heavily. Twilight then realized where she was. She cleared her throat and held her head up in a dignified manner. "Ahem. Please ignore everything you just saw. Everything is fine."

"Right," Sunset replied, giving Twilight a sideways look. "Anyway, what was it you wanted to see me for?"

"Oh. Right," Twilight said sheepishly. "The reason I asked you both to come here is I told Princess Celestia what you said to me about the other world and she wants to meet with both of you."

At this news, Sunset Shimmer's whole body went stiff and her eyes went wide. "Princess Celestia? Wants to see…me? Us?"

Hey Twilight,

I know it feels silly to keep writing when I can just talk to you, but this has pretty much become habit by now, and the end of the day doesn't feel right without it. Plus it gives me a chance process the events of the day and maybe think about things differently.

I have to be honest with you Twi, I'm scared. I'm scared of meeting Princess Celestia again. I'm scared of what she might say or do to me. I'm scared she won't even acknowledge me. I mean I know I have no reason to be, but when I think about what happened and everything since, I get so anxious that I just want to throw up everywhere. Hildr would tell me to square my shoulders and meet my fate head on since this is the path I have chosen to walk.

Hildr. Now that you've met her, what do you think? I know it's still early, and you haven't really had the chance to talk yet, but don't jump all over her. She can be quite terrifying when she wants to be. And the fact that she's a pony at least as tall as Princess Luna doesn't help. I have a few ideas as to why this is, but we can talk about it later.

Well, it's getting late now and today has been pretty interesting to say the least. It was good to see you and Spike again. You have no idea what it means to me to have you as a friend. I just hope that I don't do anything to screw it up.

Sleep well,

Sunset Shimmer