• Published 1st Mar 2019
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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.

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Chapter 26: To Magics Unyielding

Twilight and Rainbow Dash drifted down the hallway, shrouded in darkness save for the shine of Twilight’s horn. Scattered cloud debris peppered the floor, casting eerie shadows along the wall as silent flashes of light burst from within the walls. A muffled rumble sounded from above, and they had to shield their eyes from the accompanying flare. Large holes had crumbled through the high ceiling, distant glimmers of starlight barely visible through an uneven cloud cover.

“Wow, this place really is a dump,” Rainbow said as she idly flicked a rogue piece of cloud fluff from her wing. It sparked angrily before dispersing into the air. “Can we pick up the pace a little bit?” she grumbled. “It’s too cramped in here!”

“No, Rainbow Dash,” Twilight said firmly, shaking her head. “Not in these narrow hallways. See those flashes?” She pointed ahead and, as if on cue, a series of sparks ran along the wall and around the corner. “There’s still live magic discharging all over the place, and if we touch the walls…” Her voice tapered and she gulped with a fearful shudder.

Rainbow pouted and crossed her forelegs. “Fine, but once we get out of here, we’re going full speed!”

Twilight sighed. How did things get this bad? How did the Umbrum wind up involved in all of this? Rainbow might be right… maybe we should just speed through as fast as possible. Every second we waste is another second Equestria has to suffer this rampant weather.

“Hey! This is the R&D room!” Rainbow shouted, startling Twilight into a faceplant on the floor. Light flared beneath her, a sudden discharge of electricity causing her mane to stand on end. She groaned loudly and sat up, pieces of fluff sticking to her as quiet crackles of electricity sizzled from her mane.

Twilight shook her head, casting off some of the clouds that clung to her fur. She gagged and spat out a small tuft, which floated mockingly above her. “It’s just water. Why is it so bitter?”

Rainbow smirked and helped Twilight to her hooves. “You look like Starswirl the Bearded with all of that old cloud gunk on your face!” Rainbow said with an echoing laugh. Twilight scowled and used her magic to pluck the remaining cloud bits off one by one.

“Very funny,” Twilight said flatly, narrowing her eyes at Rainbow. “Now, what’s going on? Where are we?”

“I already told you, R&D.” Rainbow said, suppressing a chuckle. Twilight blinked, staring at her friend blankly. With a smug grin, the pegasus continued. “The Rainbow & Dash room.”


Much to their relief, R&D had a proper floor. The latent magic discharged far less frequently here, allowing them to safely stand. A row of surprisingly intact machinery lined the far wall. Twilight and Rainbow Dash walked gingerly past a number of tables arranged in some kind of grid around the room, with smaller destroyed instruments and smashed glassware scattered across the blackened surfaces. Torn papers were strewn about, and a number of shelves filled the far wall from ceiling to floor. Glass jars, seemingly containing some kind of energy, were lined up on the shelves, each one labeled by an image adorning the shelf below. Some of the containers were labeled with clouds, others by snowflakes, and others had a bright sun icon. A few of the jars were cracked, the energy once within had long since faded away. A few collapsed bookshelves in the far corner of the room immediately caught Twilight’s eye. She flew toward the heap of books and scrolls, finding comfort in any excuse to read.

“Hey, where are you going?” Rainbow hissed loudly, her voice carrying easily in the dead air. She gestured toward a door to the left. “I thought we were going to go straight for the main control room!”

“Just a second,” Twilight muttered distantly, a number of notebooks floating from her saddlebags (thankfully still intact!). “We need to find documentation on the containment unit, this ‘sarcophagus’.” Particularly if dark magic is involved, she thought with a worried frown.

“Yeah, and while we’re sitting here reading this thing is destroying our home,” Rainbow protested, flying closer and landing on a nearby desk. “If it’s just runaway weather, then we can take it on!”

“It’s not just runaway weather. This goes beyond just pegasus magic!” Twilight snapped back, her wings flaring.

Rainbow took a shocked step back. “W-what do you mean?” she stammered, her confidence deflating. “Are you talking about that golem thing?”

Twilight sighed wearily, her ears drooping. “Yes, but also no.” Rainbow stared at her, starting to speak, but bit her lip her lip instead. She noticed for the first time dark circles beneath her friend’s eyes—how long had Twilight gone without a good night’s sleep? “There’s no doubt about it,” Twilight continued, “I can definitively visualize pegasus magic now, but it wasn’t just pegasus magic powering the simulacrum. There was something… something else. Something I never would have expected to see here.” Twilight said, limply touching one of the books and sliding it aside in her search.

Rainbow tilted her head. “Like what? Like, not just regular magic?” she asked with a frown. Twilight closed her eyes and shook her head slowly. Rainbow groaned and stamped a hoof in frustration. “O-okay look… Yeah, I get that it’s dangerous, but we need to do something about it! You’re a princess. Princess Celestia’s star student. The biggest egghead I know!” She chuckled. “But you’re probably the only pony in Equestria who can fix this. I know you can!”

“I…” Twilight’s voice cracked, words escaping her. The mental image of sickly green aether churned around in her head. That twisted caricature of everything she thought she knew about magic. She shuddered, recalling the sensation of that magic flowing through her. “It’s dark magic,” Twilight whispered. “The same dark magic that Sombra used.”

What?” Rainbow yelped, her cry echoing through the room. “You mean that jerk that tried to take over the Crystal Empire? But didn’t we beat him with the Crystal Heart?”

“Yes, I know, but… I don’t… I don’t know!” Twilight cried out in frustration. She fell to her haunches and hung her head, her bangs casting a shadow over her face. Her horn sputtered out, a flurry of notebooks clattering to the ground. Rainbow’s right, the Crystal Heart banished Sombra into the space between the aether. If he were to return, Cadance and Shining Armor would have seen something in the Crystal Empire. They would have warned us. It can’t be him. Maybe another of the Umbrum? She shivered at the thought. I tapped into Umbrum magic when I was still just a unicorn. If dark magic is something unicorns can use, what about other ponies? What about pegasi?

A stillness fell upon the room. Even Rainbow Dash found herself sitting in a sobered silence. Twilight finally spoke, but her tone was distant, as if she wasn’t really speaking to Rainbow in particular. “When I was conjuring the lightning rod, I panicked. I dug deep into something I hadn’t felt in a long time.” Twilight looked up and stared at the ceiling, a single tear running down her cheek. “Rainbow, I used dark magic.” Her eyes shut, and as she whimpered, more tears began to stream down her face.

Rainbow jumped down and sat next to Twilight, slinging a foreleg around her shoulders. “Hey, Twi, that’s…” she murmured, vainly attempting to comfort her.

“I-I don’t think it’s King Sombra,” Twilight stammered, her voice wavering. “Umbrum aren’t the only ones who can use dark magic. Princess Celestia used it, and Starswirl researched the topic extensively in his time. Even I managed to use it when we found the Crystal Heart.” Her breath grew ragged as feelings from long ago—feelings she had long forgotten—bubbled to the surface. “It feels wrong. Using this power, it’s… unnatural.”

“Well, yeah, I mean…” Rainbow said, struggling to find the right words. “But that doesn’t matter!” Rainbow took hold of Twilight’s shoulders, pivoting her to look eye-to-eye. “Sombra is kind of loser, and, well… you and Celestia aren’t. I don’t think it really matters what kind of magic you used.”

“Yeah, but the simul—” Twilight protested, but Rainbow interrupted her.

“That doesn’t mean anything either. Maybe the pegasi who made it were jerks too, like Sombra. Or maybe they just messed up. It’s probably that one. You know, ‘cause of how messed up the city is.” Rainbow pulled Twilight to her hooves.

“If this dark-Sombra-magic-stuff has got you scared, then you just let me handle the scary stuff, and I’ll let you handle the egghead stuff.” Rainbow grinned broadly, striking a confident pose.

Twilight smiled softly at the absurdity of her statement. “You know, that implies that no matter what, I’m going to be scared anyway. Your praise doesn’t make much sense.” A quiet chuckle escaped her lips.

“Huh? Yeah, well—” Rainbow stammered in annoyance, but cut herself off as Twilight started giggling.

Twilight’s giggle soon broke into a roaring laugh, leaving Twilight gasping on the floor as she struggled to suppress it. “Thank you…,” she whispered, pulling Rainbow into a tight hug. “You’re right. It’s not any less dangerous, but now I know it’s something that I—no, we—can face.”

Rainbow smirked, swiping the tears from Twilight’s face as they parted. “Now that’s the Princess Twilight I know. So, what’s the plan? Find that control room?” Her wings spread reflexively, twitching with anticipation.

Twilight glanced around the room, back at the pile of books. “My knowledge of dark magic is cursory at best. If that’s what we’re up against, we need find notes, schematics, logs, journal entries, anything that can help us deal with whatever happened here. If it’s that powerful, they surely must have left documentation,” she said. Looking over the books, she grimaced—many were illegible not only due to dry rot, but due to the archaic proto-Ponish dialect they were written in. She filed most of her notebooks away, keeping the most recent open in front of her.

“I’ll start with these older books. You can take the more recent ones, they should be written in modern Ponish,” Twilight said, levitating a pile of tomes and scrolls to her friend. “I know reading for research isn’t really your speed, but there’s too much for me to go through alone.” Twilight giggled as Rainbow grumbled in protest, but unrolled the shortest-looking scroll all the same. Turning her attention to her own pile, Twilight settled in and began to work.

She flipped open the oldest book she could find, the cover crumbling even with the gentlest magical touch. What is this writing? I can barely read it. She scanned through a chapter, finding only daily notes of operation. There must be something in here about—wait a minute.

Twilight bit her lip and paused, re-reading some of the text she’d glossed over. In the margin, a particular passage caught her eye. “Plifortigita magio… ‘Augmented magic’?” she read aloud. She squinted, struggling to read the ancient hoofwriting. Something, something… need more power to move the weather?

“You say somethin’?” Rainbow perked up, casually tossing the scroll aside (much to Twilight’s chagrin).

“No, nothing yet,” Twilight said with a sigh. “I thought I had something, but… it’s hard to tell. We have to keep looking.” She turned back to the ancient text. It says something here about a shortcut. A shortcut for what? ‘More-stronger magic’… That’s such a strange phrase. She shook her head. The concepts of weather control were beyond her understanding, let alone reading about them in a dead language.

Twilight picked up another book whose relative good condition caught her attention. “Weather Order Log #133 - Year 738–Present. Date of publication… Three hundred years ago. Right before the city was abandoned!” Scanning through the contents, she noticed some of the entries were labeled simply “S-K”. Somepony’s initials? No, that can’t be right… As she continued, the abbreviation became more and more common. With a spark of realization, she quickly flipped to the first abbreviated entry. Scanning back a few lines, she found its meaning. ‘Senkontrola’. Out of control!

A hoofwritten note slipped from between the pages. She recognized the writing from some of the later entries, but this clearly had been written in much more of a hurry.

We messed up. In our haste to solve this weather crisis, the core has begun to spiral out of control. We tried to use a shortcut left behind by our ancestors… but it only made things worse. Even as I write this, we have our best weather ponies scrambling to build a containment unit around the core. Ironically, the only magic that can save us is the magic that got us in this mess in the first place. I only hope our limited understanding of magic is enough.

“There are readouts attached to this entry for anypony who may read this in the future. If we don’t get out of here… please, I beg you, don’t use this magic! Our ancestors wrote that it could boost our weather control and distribution capabilities a hundred times over. What they didn’t tell us is that the magic also makes the weather core itself stronger. Too strong to contain.

“I don’t have much time to write more. I have to help my team. My dearest Aurora, I love you. I’m so sorry.”

The letter was signed at the bottom, but both the signature and a hastily-drawn cutie mark were illegible.

Twilight felt a pit growing in her stomach as she read. She carefully turned the page to find a graphical log of magical output over time. It summarized the output of the weather core over the course of an entire year, dating back nearly a millennium. The nomenclature was dated—the language itself notwithstanding—but she still understood its message. At least, she thought she did.

“So,” Rainbow gulped. “What’s it say?”

“This… isn’t just pegasus magic,” Twilight said, her words dripping with dread. “They were using a modified version of magic they found referenced in an old book to enhance the long-range distribution of the factory, but they were unable to control it. I think what they’re referring to is dark magic. The same kind the Umbrum used—the same kind powering the simulacrum.”

Rainbow crossed her forelegs and tilted her head. “You know, there’s something about this I don’t get. The Umbrum are basically unicorns, and I mean, like, you’re basically a super-unicorn, so how can pegasi use that kind of stuff?”

Twilight paused. Rainbow’s right. How could they use it? Even normal weather simulacra don’t contain such an incredible display of magic. It doesn’t make sense… “That I couldn’t even begin to tell you,” Twilight said. “There’s nothing here about how they got access to this kind of magic. Only what they used it for.”

Twilight examined the old graphs. In a few places, notes had been written where the weather output had indeed been augmented by this plifortigita magio. The power output grew much higher—and more unstable—as she approached the end of the charts.

“Based on the sudden increase in power output, they must have known a meltdown was imminent and tried to contain it using the same magic they used to augment it in the first place.” She pressed a hoof against her temple, gently massaging away a growing headache. “I don’t think they saw any other choice.”

“That’s… dumb.” Rainbow said flatly. “That’s like using a stormcloud to stop a flood!”

“Maybe so, but I suspect they had other reasons, or maybe they simply panicked.” Twilight shivered. Panicked like I did. She pored over the final entries, dated almost exactly three centuries ago.

“Okay, well… whatever they were planning, they built the stupid thing, right?” Rainbow said, looking around. Parts of the ceiling were sagging, and one of the walls had visibly warped in a few places. Maybe the room wasn’t as structurally sound as they had first thought. “The sarcophagus thing, I mean. That’s what that one book said.”

“I think so,” Twilight said, drawing out mental calculations with her hoof in the air in front of her. “What surprises me is the extent of the damage. The front of the factory was completely blown out, along with nearby buildings, but much of the factory’s interior is more or less intact. I believe there was either a partial meltdown, or there have been gradual leaks over time. I’m not sure which I’m more worried about.”

“Well, only one way to find out, right?” Rainbow said with a smirk. “We get to the core and shut this thing down!”

Twilight grimaced hard. “That’s what I’m worried about, Rainbow. If they were truly using dark magic to somehow enhance pegasus magic, then I don’t know if I’ll be able to help. It’s unheard of. We need a solid plan to—”

A low howl filled the room. Twilight tensed, feeling the fur on the back of her neck raise. Taking a careful step toward Rainbow, she whispered, “I think we should go. Something’s—” She yelped as a blast of lightning crackled through the air, striking the book she was holding. It arced into the bookshelf and struck the pile of books, flames roaring on what little wood and paper remained. Twilight dove under one of the tables, catching Rainbow and pulling her to safety. They coughed and covered their muzzles with their wings as a cloud of dust and rubble billowed into the room.

Tears welled up in Twilight’s eyes as she held her hooves to her mouth. “No. No, no, no, no, no! All those books, all that research! We were so close!” Her breath caught as a pony shaped figure walked out of the smoke, its sickly green eyes casting light about the room as its head swiveled stiffly from side to side.

“Another one of those simul-thingies!” Rainbow muttered under her breath. “Come on, we need to move!” She glanced at Twilight, still staring at the books with shock. “Twi…” She gingerly touched her friend on the shoulder. “You’re gonna figure this out. You’re gonna save Equestria. And when you do, we’ll come back and find more books for you.” She peered out across the floor, keeping track of the golem slowly thumping around the room. “But right now, let me save you.”

Twilight blinked back her tears. The golem was moving erratically, the eldritch glow of its eyes making it trivial for it to see in even the darkest crevices. If it even needs light to see. She nodded, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. “I trust you. I’ll follow your lead.”

Glancing upward, Rainbow spotted at least two more constructs skulking about through the holes in the ceiling. Their way back out had been blown apart, and with a ceiling escape out of the question, their only way out was through the door in the far end. She cocked her head toward the door, her eyes meeting with Twilight’s. She grinned as the familiar Twilight Sparkle confidence spread across her friend’s face. “That’s more like it. Now, on my mark.”

A breathless moment passed as the creature slowly wandered in their direction. It passed nearby, and as soon as its back was turned, Rainbow rocketed out from under the desk. “Twilight, go!” She shouted, kicking the desk as hard as she could at the golem. Unfazed, lightning arced from its wings, blasting the table into fragments. Rainbow banked wide, drawing its attention away from Twilight. The two prowling golems descended with otherworldly shrieks, their forms shifting erratically as they slammed into the floor with a horrific, wood-splintering crunch. Dodging bolts of lightning, she jumped from table to table, flaring her wings only to leap aside at the last moment.

Twilight flew as hard as she could to the door, flinging it open with her magic as Rainbow kicked off the far wall and barreled through the doorway. Twilight slammed the door tight, reinforcing it with her magic and panting as she looked around the room. It was a storage closet. The space was large enough for a few ponies to stand comfortably, but formerly-stacked wooden crates took up the majority of the room. Rainbow groaned, digging herself out from under the pile of crates. A chill shot down her spine as the threshold started to frost over.

“Ice?” Rainbow shouted with exasperation. “Just what in Equestria are these things?”

Twilight’s horn flared as she reinforced her barrier, casting a shield that spread along the wall. She could feel shards of ice shattering against it, a burst of lightning punctuating each volley. The barrier rippled, but held. For now.

“You need to go, Dash!” Twilight strained, keeping her full concentration on their protection. “Find another way out, find the core. I’ll think of something!”

“No way, I’m not leaving you behind! We’re kicking monster flank together!” Rainbow growled, planting her hooves in a wide stance next to Twilight, whose eyes narrowed as the wall to the side of the door began to glow. A deep red radiance spread throughout the wall with ever-growing intensity, casting a shadow in the room. It suddenly became warm, hot, hot, too hot! Sweat streamed down their foreheads as they began to pant.

“What now?” Rainbow groaned. She held a hoof up to shield her eyes from the light.

Rainbow can see it, Twilight thought with sudden realization. That means… “It’s not magic, it’s heat! Rainbow, get back!” She shouted, releasing her hold on the door to yank her friend away as she dove to one side. At that moment, the wall crumbled and burst inward. A rush of steam poured through the hole, the force impacting the rear wall and sending a spray of scalding water into the air. Some of the wooden crates were pulverized into splinters, papers and shattered glassware tumbling to the floor. The air felt like a sauna as the creature’s magic continued to surge relentlessly into the room.

The rise in humidity and sudden temperature change triggered the cloud ceiling above, a sudden downpour matting their fur and soaking the crates. The torrent slowed to a stop and a sickly, twisted cloud golem stepped into the room, picking its way through the remnants of the wall. Its joints bent all the wrong ways, and Twilight gasped as its neck twisted impossibly to look at them. Portions of the face were disfigured, one of the eyes a dead black pit as the other glowed with fiery purple and black flames.

“That’s it, you’re going down!” Rainbow shouted. She crouched low, then launched herself directly into the golem, tackling it back out the hole. Her hooves slammed into its chest, shards of cloud matter cracking away from its body under the impact. It cried out with an ear-splitting agonal wail, stunning Rainbow Dash and causing her to tumble to the ground.

Twilight scrambled after her friend, hesitating as she peeked around what remained of the wall. The other two golems had turned their attention to the dazed Rainbow Dash, groaning and holding her head between her hooves. The third one was prone on the ground next to her, flailing its twisted legs in the air. Its chest cavity was exposed, a blighted green orb dancing amidst a flurry of red aether. A soft glint of glassware from the shelves in R&D caught Twilight’s eye through the newly created opening, and an idea suddenly began to form. Her fearful gape gave way to a confident grin.

The remnants of her barrier melted away as Twilight shifted her magical focus. She felt the energy return to her, a familiar warmth welling up inside. Three spells in tandem. That’s what was needed. She could feel her focus being tugged in multiple directions, but she kept her train of thought steady.

Lub-dub.

She closed her eyes, focusing on Rainbow’s position as the aetherial map manifested itself around her. A single arcane thread linked them together, shimmering in her mind’s eye.

Lub-dub.

As the connection strengthened, Twilight’s focus split and a swell of raw aethereal energy began to rise within Twilight’s mind. Unfiltered yet pure, it coalesced on the very tip of her horn. Arcane sigils shimmered around her horn, the visage of her cutie mark dancing around them. She felt the energy spread back along her spine and into her wings, which twitched and sparked as they overflowed with aether.

Lub—

She could hear her heartbeat slowing, slowing, slowing as her perception of time began to dilate. Twilight’s focus split a second time, conjuring hexagonal plates around her. The building blocks of abjuration formed in her subconscious mind, preparing themselves to be unleashed on her command.

—dub.

A moment of silence between heartbeats. Every muscle in Twilight’s body tensed in anticipation. It’s now or never.

Twilight’s horn flared a blinding white as the arcane trifecta was released. Rainbow was teleported behind her—dazed, but safe. With a high-pitched whine, the runes floating around her horn overlapped, creating one continuous stacked image. A bolt of bright violet magic arced from the tip of her horn into her outstretched flight feathers, and Twilight felt herself leave the ground as she brought them forward in a single, powerful wingbeat. Her eardrums screamed in pain as a deafening thunderclap boomed across the room, staggering the constructs. Just as she’d hoped, the immense power of her thunderwave shattered the jars of stored weather, their contents roiling and mingling as they spilled to the floor.

Recoiling, Twilight landed on her hooves, skidding to a stop just in front of Rainbow Dash. The final portion of her spell sequence came to life, a tight protective shield forming around them. She held her breath, pouring every ounce of magic she had into the defenses.

Inside the room, the ancient weather seeds crackled and flashed with lightning as they reacted with one another. Now free from captivity, they rapidly destabilized. Sunshine, thunderstorms, blizzards, and more pooled together and formed formed a seed of instability nearly two feet wide. Suddenly, something tipped inside of it, and a massive explosion ripped through the room.

The impact slammed into Twilight’s shield, but the tight spellwork held firm. Not but a moment later, silence took over. Her ears rang as dust and smoke poured around them into the storage room. Rainbow looked up at the carnage, craning her neck to look through the—now much larger—hole in the wall. “That was…” she said, panting. “That. Was. So. Awesome!” she chuckled wearily before dropping her head back to the floor with a thud.

The smoke started to settle, and Twilight carefully dropped the barrier. Broken magical fragments danced in the air with errant energy arcing within. It was tainted by that familiar unnatural green, and a glow persisted for a time as the rest of the magic dissipated. As Twilight watched, it too faded back from whence it came.

Twilight slumped against the wall, gasping for breath. The solidified cloud matter hummed and glowed for a brief moment as residual pegasus magic bled into it. “I just,” she panted, “had to stop them. Didn’t want to risk—” she swallowed hard. “—dark magic.”

Rainbow shakily came to her hooves and took a few nervous steps into the room. Her wings flared as she kicked up an updraft, pushing the dust up and out through the ceiling. As the smoke cleared, her jaw dropped. Nearly half of the room was gone. A massive crater remained where the bookshelves had been, and three pony-sized scorch marks were painted on the opposite wall. “Y-yeah, I don’t think we’re gonna have to worry about them anymore.”

She picked her way across the room and peered down into the crater. It led down several stories, disappearing into darkness. A persistent hum permeated the inky depths… a hum Rainbow knew all too well. “Twilight! Hey, Twilight, c’mere! I think this is it!”

Twilight strained, hoisted herself from the wall, and stumbled toward Rainbow. Her horn flickered, casting lavender light down into the pit. It was a long way down, and it was difficult to make out any details beyond the shadows.

“I think you’re right,” Twilight said with haggard breath as she trotted slowly up next to her friend.

“Hey, you okay?” Rainbow asked, a look of worry crossing her face.

“I’ll be fine,” Twilight said. She took a deep breath. “We’re so close, we can’t give up now.”

Rainbow playfully flicked Twilight’s feathers with a wingtip. “Listen, whatever’s down there…”

“…We face together,” Twilight finished. Their eyes met for the briefest of moments, and they nodded in unison. A dim indigo aura spread over each of them as Twilight conjured another shield, leaping into the darkness with her friend.