• Published 1st Mar 2019
  • 2,285 Views, 233 Comments

Magisight: Thaumaturgical Ocularity - PsychicKid

A series of strange dreams and a new, burgeoning power sends Twilight on an adventure that will change her life forever.

  • ...

Chapter 19: A Memory Lives

With a lurch, Twilight crested the water and flung herself over the edge of the pool. She wretched loudly, coughing up what felt like gallons of water. She lifted herself out of the water with an unsteady heave and onto the branch, panting heavily.

“Could I seriously,” Twilight groaned between coughs, “get a break from all this drowning?” She rolled onto her side, her labored breathing slowly returning to normal. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed. It was still daylight, but the sun had creeped down behind the ever-present canopy overhead. The magical activity had also subsided in her absence—she could no longer see aethereal refractions beaming down from the strange wooden construction, and the drifting motes of sun magic had all but disappeared.

With a slow exhale, Twilight rolled over and slowly stood. She trotted carefully toward the edge of the Tree’s crown, peering down at the villagers far below. From between cracks in the Tree’s branches, she spotted dozens of farmhooves hard at work. Even at this distance, Twilight could make out faint—and familiar—magic auras flaring up around the fields and trees.

“This is incredible,” Twilight muttered under her breath. “I need to see this for myself.” She flexed her wings and crouched to take flight, but a wave of uneasiness gave her pause. She stretched a wing forward and looked carefully at her primaries, then glanced up at her horn. It sparked a little as a mote drifted into it. Maybe I should take the stairs, she thought, sighing. As she made her way along the water’s edge, she idly traced a wing along the contours of the strange device. She shivered as sunbeams pouring in through the lens seemed to electrify the base carvings.

The inside of the Tree was still—not even the air itself seemed to stir. She looked down toward one of the lower walkways, and suddenly leapt to it without a moment’s hesitation. She landed gracefully and crossed the walkway, but stopped mid-stride as she reached the stairs.

Did I just—she thought, craning her neck to look at her wings. Still clamped shut—definitely no flight involved. The jump was practically a reflex. Most surprising of all, she found her legs remained strong despite such a precise jump at altitude. With a smirk, she glanced over the side of the railing and made another leap, bounding down to the next walkway. Then again, and again, and again, each jump made in quick succession. Her laughter echoed through the empty halls of the Tree.

Twilight landed on the ground floor with a grunt. She looked to the walkways above, the overwhelming height of the Tree no longer dizzying her. “I can’t believe I just did that!” She shouted to nopony in particular. She flexed her knees slowly—nothing seemed sore or out of the ordinary, nor did she feel out of breath. “I guess I’m stronger than I realized.”

As Twilight closed the door behind her, she caught sight of Applejack having an animated conversation with Ivy. Hitched to Applejack’s backside on an ill-fitted harness was a cart overfilled with apples of all colors and sizes. She spied Hopeseed resting on the top of the apple pile.

“I can get this here cart unloaded at the storehouse, but I still don’t understand how in Equestria you had this much at once,” Applejack said.

Ivy chuckled wearily. “Just like the Argent Moon last night, the Aurum Sun—”

“—gave Peacegrove its blessing of solar and earth pony magic, expediting the already-planted crops!” Twilight interrupted, beaming happily as she joined the pair.

“It seems our young Princess has been busy,” Ivy said, a wide, if tired, smile crawling over her muzzle.

“Didn’t your mother teach you not to butt into other ponies’ talkin’?” Applejack half-scolded, quirking an eyebrow. Twilight blushed, stammering an excuse. “Never mind that now,” Applejack said, waving her friend off. “Where in Equestria did y’all disappear off to this time? You know I don’t mind you checkin’ out your magic stuff, but not only has it been nearly four hours, but you’re also soaking wet!”

Twilight squeaked and touched her mane with a hoof. She was indeed still dripping with water, her mane and tail matted against her body. She gave the pair a sheepish grin, and could swear Applejack’s eyebrow was about to take off and leave her face. Twilight struggled to find the right words.

“What were you doing up there for so long, little one?” Ivy asked with concern. “I know our calendar is old-fashioned but surely it can’t be that interesting. You all but missed the Aurum Sun!”

Twilight smiled nervously. “N-not exactly,” she said, her words drawn out as her thoughts organized themselves. “Trust me, I got a first-hoof look at everything. The calendar, as you call it, is really—” Twilight’s recollection flashed to the strange entity showing itself in the aetherstream, breaking her train of thought.

“But that’s not important right now,” Twilight said, shaking her head to bury the uneasy memory. “Right now, I’m more amazed at the harvest!”

“Boy howdy, you sure missed it, Twi,” Applejack said, uncomfortably adjusting the harness. “Left and right like magic, apples just kept poppin’ up all over the orchard, just like Granny Smith’s Zap Apples! Ain’t just the apples neither; just ‘bout everything they planted in the last few weeks suddenly grew ripe as if they’d been growin’ for a full season.”

Twilight smirked, perhaps a little too smugly for Applejack’s liking. “Trust me, AJ, I didn’t miss a thing.”

“Lemme guess, you did some magic-whatzit and it let you see the harvest from the Tree, like how ya saw Hopeseed last night?” Applejack rattled off flatly. Hopeseed, peering from the top of the pile, couldn’t help but blush.

“Something like that,” Twilight said with a giggle. She looked up to the filly. “How are you feeling today, sweetie?”

“I feel great!” Hopeseed beamed, hopping to the ground. “Kinda sleepy, but I helped mom and dad out with the apples and we picked a whole bunch!”

Applejack chuckled, playfully pulling her in to deliver a noogie. “Ya sure did, squirt. They’re real proud of ya. We all are.”

“Hey!” Hopeseed squirmed away from Applejack, giggling as she fought against the onslaught. As Hopeseed turned to the side, Twilight gasped.

“Hopeseed! You got your cutie mark!” Twilight said happily, flaring her wings. “I must’ve missed it this morning.”

Hopeseed blushed and turned away shyly, slowly turning to face it toward everypony. A familiar blossom with two blooms adorned her flanks, their petals shimmering in the afternoon sun. “That’s amazing!” Twilight said.

“We truly cannot thank you enough,” Ivy said, bowing as gracefully as her joints allowed toward Twilight and Applejack. A sound not unlike hardwood boughs bending sounded as she stood once more. “Surely, there must be something we could do for you in exchange for all that you’ve done for us.”

“No need, ma’am,” Applejack said, tipping her hat. “It’s what we’re here for: helpin’ ponyfolk in need.”

Twilight tapped a hoof against her chin as her eyes focused into the middle distance, muttering to herself. “Actually, there may be one thing,” Twilight said. “Does the phrase, When all three have been connected carry any significance in your village, particularly the latter half? Stories, legends, official records, census data, anything?” Twilight’s cadence quickened as suggestions rolled off her tongue.

Ivy closed her eyes and let out a long exhale, falling deep into thought. After pondering for a moment, she shook her head slowly. “I’m afraid not, young one. There are all kinds of stories surrounding our festival, but nothing quite like that. At least, none I can think of that use that particular phrase.”

“I see…” Twilight said, her ears lowering with disappointment. She sighed and looked down at her hooves, idly tracing a pattern in the dirt.

“This part of them weird dreams you keep havin’? You didn’t fall asleep in the water upstairs did ya?” Applejack asked, her eyes narrowing.

“Three more words revealed themselves to me while I was examining the solar capture apparatus,” Twilight said, carefully dodging part of the question. “It happened at the apex of the Aurum Sun, right as my magic merged with the Tree’s. The extension of the phrase isn’t helping me understand the dream.”

“I’ll admit, I ain’t never seen anything like it myself. I’m not the studyin’ type, but I’ve sure seen more ‘n my share of weird things over the years,” Applejack said.

“I’ve heard vague mentions about such phenomenon in some of Starswirl’s old books, but the research was spotty and inconsistent, and it seems like he abandoned it at some point before his disappearance,” Twilight said, kicking a small pebble away.

“Do you still have those books?” Hopeseed chimed in eagerly, eyes widened as she looked up at Twilight.

Twilight sighed, shaking away a faded a memory. “Sadly, no. They were lost when an evil centaur named Tirek destroyed the Golden Oak Library.”

Ivy gasped and sputtered something incoherent, stealing everypony’s attention. “Excuse me, Princess,” she stammered. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but did you say the Golden Oak Library?”

Twilight’s voice grew soft. “I did, yes.”

“I… I had no idea. Oh dear me, I’m so sorry, young one,” Ivy said, taking a step closer and pulling Twilight into a surprise hug. Twilight flinched at the unexpected contact, but returned the hug all the same.

“What’s wrong, Ivy?” Twilight asked. “Is everything okay?”

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would hear this story through to completion,” Ivy said, her voice cracking as a tear ran down her face. “I’m so thankful he was okay.” Twilight looked expectantly at Applejack over Ivy’s shoulder. Applejack frowned, shrugging. “There’s something I must give you. Please, come with me. It’s at my home,” Ivy said. She released Twilight, a huge, wrinkly smile on her face.

“What about these apples? Y’said you needed them at the east storehouse,” Applejack said, releasing the lock on the cart. The very moment the harness stood empty, a blur zipped past her and with a click, the harness was locked again.

“I got it!” Holly chimed in a singsong voice. Before Applejack could blink, she had taken the apple cart. “The squash and corn is all stored away, so I can take care of just a few apples.” She giggled, nestling naturally into the harness as if it were made for her.

Ivy smiled. “Very good, Miss Thicket. Run along now, I have to see to our guests.”

“I hope you two had fun! I know Bill and Phil sure did, but I need to make sure Dill and Lil get to bed. They’ve been awake all day and I think they’re starting to get grumpy!” Holly rambled, merrily skipping away with the cart of apples.

“Y’know, I reckon I ain’t never gonna get a good read on that one,” Applejack said, shaking her head.

Twilight stifled a giggle, pausing as she touched Ivy’s shoulder lightly. “You said something about ‘him’ being okay. To whom were you referring?”

“All will be explained in due time. This way.”

The scent of ginger tea filled Ivy’s home as she poured cups for her guests. Twilight and Applejack blew on their drink before taking gentle sips. Ivy sighed contently as she set her cup down. “And so goes another festival,” Ivy said. “I wonder how many more I’ve got left in these old bones of mine.”

“Hey now, don’t say things like that,” Twilight said. “I’m sure you’ve got plenty of—” Applejack gave Twilight a rough prod and shook her head. Twilight noticed a peculiar glint in her friend’s eye, and she let the thought trail off as she cleared her throat.

Ivy chuckled wearily, giving a wrinkly smile. “Oh, don’t you worry none about me. I’m just glad to see the foals of the village blossoming into fine ponies.” She took another sip of her tea.

“What was it you wanted to show us, Ivy?” Twilight asked. She glanced around the room, taking note of all the photos and knickknacks—mementos of festivals long gone.

Ivy’s smile wavered slightly as she set her cup down. “Wait right here. I’ll go fetch it.” Ivy stood up—creaks and all—and carefully ascended the stairs. Despite her age—and the creaking—she didn’t seem to struggle. A door opened, and a few moments later it creaked shut. Ivy reappeared on the steps soon after, a small wooden box in tow. She gently set it down in front of Twilight. Despite its small size, intricate carvings adorned each face. Along the sides, carvings of ponies of all races celebrated together, traces of vines and young trees filling the space between each figure. Emblazoned across the lid was a symbol Twilight was beginning to know very well: A rising sun opposite a setting moon, a tree betwixt them.

“I never did tell you,” Ivy slid the lid off of the box to reveal a small sapling, “the name of our Tree, did I?”

Twilight looked at the sapling. Its swirling aura was small, but Twilight could feel its potential locked deep within. She was transfixed by the incredible display of raw intrinsic magic, noticing that the spellwork didn’t fall into any specific class. It was crude, powerful, and untarnished. Something clicked in Twilight’s mind as she suddenly recognized the aetheric signature.

“The name of our Tree,” Ivy said, smiling, “is the Golden Oak.”

Twilight sat back, mouth agape. Her gaze shifted back and forth between Ivy and the sapling. Her lower lip quivered as the familiar sensation of pieces falling into place grew in her mind. Applejack was similarly stunned, her mouth working wordlessly.

“I don’t understand—How did—” Twilight squeaked, her voice cracking as her eyes began to water.

“Do you remember the tale I told you? About the colt who was rejected by the Tree?” Ivy asked, gently sliding the box closer to Twilight. Twilight nodded slowly as Ivy continued. “There were rumors of a certain tree growing somewhere far, far away after he left. Now, we don’t get much hoof traffic out here, but the occasional lost traveler regales us with tales of a tree not too dissimilar from our own, if just a bit smaller in stature.”

“Are you saying,” Twilight said, gulping. She found it difficult to tear her eyes from the sapling. “The colt from your village planted the Golden Oak Library? My library?”

Ivy chuckled. “Who can say for sure? I, for one, find it too much of a coincidence to ignore.”

Twilight’s eyes widened as she stared down at the sapling. Twilight knew the Elder was right. The familiarity of the Golden Oak wasn’t just a superficial coincidence. She had felt an ache in her heart she couldn’t put a hoof on, and now… The books hidden away in carved-out crannies, the private study rooms, the tucked away bedrooms—she felt her nostalgia rise in a lump in her throat as if she had been given the miracle of seeing a deceased friend one last time.

One tear fell from the corner of her eye. Then another. Tears streaked down Twilight’s face as she sobbed quietly, the memories of her beloved home rolling through her mind.

Ivy made her way around the table to Twilight, engulfing her in a warm hug. Twilight sniffled and buried her head against the Elder’s shoulder, fighting to keep her composure. Ivy pulled away with a gentle smile. “There, there. A smile better suits a princess, wouldn’t you say?” Twilight nodded weakly, a shaky smile forming amidst the tears. “When the time is right, I want you to plant this sapling where you see fit, so the blessings of the Golden Oak, the sun, and the moon can grow their roots across generations to come.”

Twilight nodded, drying her eyes, her smile growing firm. She recalled her time spent in the Golden Oak Library when she first moved to Ponyville. So many wonderful memories, both magical and mundane. “It’s true that I do love my castle, and in practice, not much has changed since it grew to replace the Library. The loss of my Golden Oak left a hole in my heart, one I don’t think could be filled with a hundred castles.” She gently touched the sapling, feeling its warmth spread along her body. “Although I may not live to see it grow to maturity, with this I can at least give these feelings a new home with somepony else who may need it.” She met Ivy’s gaze, a twinkle shining in her eyes. “Thank you.”

The village was humming with activity as the party left Ivy’s cottage. The majority of the fields and trees had been tended to, and there was certainly enough time to see Twilight and Applejack off. Ivy and Hopeseed stood alongside them, a crowd forming from the villagers not needed elsewhere. As ponies settled, Twilight took a step forward and cleared her throat.

“Good afternoon everypony!” Twilight said, raising a hoof in a simple wave—her wing subconsciously following suit. “I’d like to extend my gratitude for welcoming me and my friend Applejack into your village. We were sent here to solve a friendship problem, but we never could have imagined the true friendships blossoming once they had their chance. The love and warmth you all have for one another is reflected in the passion you display during your festival, and we have been truly blessed to witness it first-hoof. I thank you all,” Twilight said with a low bow. The village cheered, the buzz of excitement filling the air.

“However,” Twilight continued, eyes flicking from smiling face to smiling face. “It is with a heavy heart that I must bid my farewell.”

The village let out a collective awwww of disappointment. Applejack smirked and rolled her eyes.

“I will miss all of you terribly, and I hope it is not too long before I get to visit again.” Twilight said. She leaned down to hug Hopeseed as she stepped back, the crowd’s applause fading into the background. “Especially you, Hopeseed. You’ve made all of us so very, very proud. Thank you”

Hopeseed blushed and buried a smile under a hoof. “Oh, come on, I should be the one thanking you!” she said with a giggle.

“Friendship is a two-way street, Hopeseed,” Twilight said, beaming with pride. “Believe me, we’ve learned just as much from you as you have from us. The things you learned during the festival will help both you and your village grow, and we will take what we’ve learned back with us to Ponyville.”

Hopeseed smiled widely, the corners of her mouth trembling as she looked down at her hooves. “You’re really gonna come back to visit?”

“Of course I’ll come back! I have a lot of work to do in Ponyville and the rest of Equestria, but I’ll never forget Peacegrove!” Twilight said, rearing back happily. The rest of the village cheered joyfully in response as Twilight pulled Hopeseed into another hug. Applejack sighed, joining them in a group embrace. When Twilight opened her eyes, she saw traces of a white aura flowing gently from Hopeseed. It was warm, innocent—and content. With a sigh, she squeezed Hopeseed tightly one last time before letting go.

“Well everypony, it’s time for us to go. I hope we can see each other again soon,” Twilight said, blinking back a few tears that threatened to fall. The crowd cheered and waved goodbye as Twilight’s horn began to glow. In her mind’s eye, a map of Equestria appeared before her. A directed yet somehow gentle flow of magic projected from the Silverglade, honing in on their return point: Ponyville. Home.

“Goodbye, young ones!” Ivy shouted wearily, her foreleg creaking as she waved.

“I’ll come visit you too!” Holly said, leaping up into the air from the crowd of ponies. She flailed in mid-air as she waved goodbye, the leg motions enough to (almost) keep her suspended above the crowd.

In a flash of purple and white light, Twilight and Applejack vanished with a loud crackle of energy.