• 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 7: Into Caves Unseen

Author's Note:

My talented proof reader Cadenza Heartsong, has released a song to go alongside this chapter, and the next few, as ambience! Please, take a listen as you read, and let the music take you away to the mysterious, magical caverns in the Frozen North...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enM_eJvSstc

Twilight and Sunburst stood at the giant cave’s entrance, flanked on either side by massive crystals that towered over them. Although the crystals outside were blanketed by snow, patches had fallen off over time, revealing lavender-stained prism bodies. They glowed brightly, permeating through the darkness to allow them to peer inside.

The two looked at each other with disbelief. They had finally arrived at Amethyst Hollow.

“This is it! We’re finally here! Oh-my-gosh-oh-my-gosh-oh-my-gosh!” Twilight squealed, her outburst making Sunburst recoil a bit. He pursed his lips, knowing that the sudden giddiness belied her exhaustion.

“We should be careful,” Sunburst muttered, leaning in to examine one of the nearby crystals. “We don’t know for sure what exactly awaits us down there,” he said with a gulp, taking care not to touch the radiant surface of the crystal.

Twilight trotted closer and peered inside. Crystals of a myriad of sizes peppered the entirety of the interior, lending a deep, aetherial glow along the cavern’s walls. Twilight relaxed a little at the sight, her face breaking into a huge, carefree grin. Her eyes were spellbound, transfixed as the lights from within reflected on her eyes like pinpricks of starlight.

“You seem awfully calm about this,” Sunburst said, his eyes glancing about at the mysterious lights reflecting off his glasses.

“Huh?” Twilight said, Sunburst’s voice snapping her back to reality. “Sorry, I just—” she stopped herself and slowly looked around the entrance of the cave, surveying her surroundings in a systematic, circular method. “Something about this place just doesn’t seem all that scary.”

“It may be a dark, mysterious, cave filled with magical secrets,” Sunburst replied, “But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a dark, mysterious cave!”

Twilight idly swished her tail back and forth, her gaze fixed toward the darkness. Smaller, flickering crystals seemed to dance along the ceiling through a combination of the light from outside and the crystals’ own natural light. “It’s beautiful…”

Twilight’s eyes grew wider as the light from the crystals brightened, casting shadows on the rocks and walls of the cave, each moving in their own—almost living—way. Blips of magic shot between the crystals, arcing like lightning. “Do you see that, Sunburst? Those little surges of magic!” Twilight said, pointing with a hoof up at a patch of crystals on the ceiling. Lines and various shapes flickered in and out of reality around the crystals as magic was conducted between them, the sparks fading with each passing moment.

“I don’t see anything. The crystals are glowing intermittently, yes, but I don’t see anything like magic being used, if that’s what you’re asking,” he said as he adjusted his glasses, blinking in an attempt to get used to the darkness of the cave.

Twilight’s ears drooped as she frowned, upset that he didn’t seem to share in the spectacle. “I… I see… You really can’t see anything?” she asked. Sunburst merely shook his head in response.

“Well, if you can’t see it,” Twilight continued, “then maybe it’s related to the magic-viewing phenomenon I’ve been experiencing.”

“That could very well be the case,” Sunburst replied, biting his lip as his legs wobbled and shook in fear. With a heavy sigh, he stared resolutely into the intimidating darkness before them. “L-Let’s get going then!” he stammered, his voice strained. “And, Twilight?”

“Yes?” she replied, still transfixed by the sights within.

“Make sure I don’t bump into anything, okay? It seems like you’ll be able to see a lot better than I ever could in here,” he said, his horn sputtering in a vain attempt to create light.

Twilight giggled, taking a step toward her friend and motioning him closer. “Don’t worry, Sunburst. I won’t let anything happen to you. Anything else, I mean.” Together, they entered the cave.

There was a sharp drop off a few dozen feet in front of them, with a sloping passage to the left, leading down into an open room. A tunnel on the opposite side led deeper into the cave as an eerie purple and pink glow gently pulsated in the distance.

“Do you really think ancient unicorns used to frequent this place?” Sunburst whispered as they trekked across the room to the tunnel. His mouth was slightly agape as he looked all around, taking in the twilit shadows on the walls. “If you told me nopony had ever set hoof in here, I’d believe it. There aren’t any signs of civilization. No pathways, no carvings… nothing.”

“I agree. But I imagine the cave system extends further into the mountain, so we’ll likely have to head deeper to find anything of merit,” Twilight said astutely, motioning her head toward the passageway that lay before them.

Twilight and Sunburst entered the tunnel, winding down deeper into the earth. They passed by a large crystal nearly identical to the ones they found outside, save for the lack of snow. The crystal radiated a much stronger light than the smaller ones, but it was still quite gentle and warm.

“Do you think they’re safe to touch?” Sunburst asked, stopping to examine the crystal closer. He leaned in and adjusted his glasses with his hoof.

“They’re certainly strange, but they don’t feel dangerous. Let me try it; I don’t want anything bad to happen to you if they’re unstable,” Twilight said as she reached forward, giving the crystal a quick tap with her hoof. A gentle plink echoed through the cavern as a ripple began to form and expand seemingly beneath the surface of the crystal, not unlike water.

The vibrations grew more intense, and Twilight saw a small cube-form wiggle out of the aether surrounding the crystal. It was composed of intersecting straight lines, forming a cage-like shape in three dimensions. About a quarter of the cube was jagged and missing. The sight made something visceral and primordial stir deep within her.

She gasped sharply as the realization hit her. “A transmutation spell!”

“Wait, what?” Sunburst asked, his glasses sliding down to the end of his muzzle.

Twilight’s lips pursed into a small O-shape as her eyes widened. “In case you can’t see it, there’s a broken cube-matrix that appeared after tapping the crystal. It looks just like a spell waveform from one of my textbooks! The shape and structure implies an unfinished or botched transmutation spell.”

“That’s… That’s incredible! You can not only see spells being cast, but the magic that’s locked within these crystals! The fact that it resembles a theoretical spell waveform is nothing short of extraordinary!” Sunburst exclaimed.

Twilight reached forward and waved her foreleg through the cube. It instantly broke apart into tiny lines and fragments before fading from sight.

“I see,” she said. “With no user to charge the spell with emotions, it’s unstable and incomplete. It’s almost like the frame of a building with nothing inside.”

“Fascinating indeed… This could change so much in the field of magic, and we’re only in the first tunnel!” Sunburst shouted with glee, feeling his anxiety melt away under the excitement of learning new magic theories with Twilight.

“I’m going to give it a try now too!” Sunburst suddenly exclaimed, trotting over and giving the crystal another tap.

Plink.

The same ripples diffused across the crystal’s surface, giving Sunburst a shudder. This time, a sphere took shape before Twilight. It was thick with a rainbow of colors as gentle beams of light shone through its membrane, reminding her of sunbeams peeking through a cloudy day.

Twilight leaned close and turned her head, squinting. “It’s just… raw, unfocused magic. It kind of reminds me of my fights with Tirek and Starlight. In fact, I’d say that’s exactly what it is!”

As quickly as it appeared, the orb began to unravel itself and peel away, fading into the darkness of the cave.

“And just like that, it’s gone. With no spell for it to focus onto, it just sort of fizzled,” she observed, ears twitching with curiosity. Her head was tilted slightly, her mouth slightly open as she turned to stare at the crystal. Her eyes were sparkling in its light; or was it a momentary return to the innocence of learning magic as a filly, wide-eyed with curiosity?

“I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it,” Sunburst chimed in, still shivering. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like it before in my life!”

Twilight mumbled to herself and thought for a moment, her ears perking up in realization. “I actually think you might have! If I’m seeing waveforms of unicorn spells like transmutation, then it only lends credence to our theory that the crystals are made of unicorn magic. That sensation you’re feeling is just like casting a spell!”

“That makes perfect sense! It’s hard to describe, but being next to these crystals feels almost like…” He bit his lower lip, twirling his hoof in place as he struggled to find accurate words for such a strange feeling. “It’s like casting a spell from a scroll, but on a level even more abstract from that… Almost like giving yourself a hug… Somehow.”

“Even scrolls still need sufficient spellwork from the reader to successfully be used, but part of the nexus point comes from the scroll itself. Wow, this is kind of hard to put into words,” Twilight said, looking the crystal over some more. “There’s something else I’d like to try…”

Her horn started to glow as she readied an illumination spell. As soon as the spell was prepared and began to light the cavern up, the crystal glowed brighter. Light shot from it and bounced onto the smaller crystals embedded in the ceilings and walls as the illumination spell started to waver wildly.

“Ahhh! H-Hey!” Twilight cried out and stumbled, almost falling over as the spell literally fell to pieces, chunks of light stripping away from itself and coiling up into the natural light that the crystals bled. The ribbons of light fell apart like crumbling leaves in a river before finally disappearing into nothingness, leaving only the crystals’ ambient glow.

“What… What in Equestria was that!?” Sunburst yelled, his voice echoing through the cave.

Twilight regained her composure, rubbing her head with her hoof. “It’s just what I expected to happen. These crystals seem to disrupt unicorn magic. It explains what we saw outside. The book has been accurate so far, so we have to be careful when we use our magic. We don’t know what could happen,” she said as she gestured toward all of the crystals with a hoof.

“We should be thankful that these crystals give off enough light to see. Without illumination magic, we’d be black and blue from all the tripping!” Sunburst said as he cast a nervous glance along the walls of the cave.

Twilight giggled. “Come on! We need to go deeper! If unicorns really did inhabit this cave centuries ago, then it’s possible they left artifacts or clues left behind!”

Sunburst nodded, and the two unicorns turned to continue their spelunking deeper into the unknown. The tunnel curved and twisted, bringing them hundreds of feet down under the base of Mount Everhoof. As they explored, something that Sunburst had said rolled its way around Twilight’s mind.

Black and blue… She thought to herself. Black and blue, black and… green? Images of the past suddenly dredged themselves out of her memory.

“Hey, Sunburst?” Twilight said, stopping mid-stride as she turned, facing a crystal the size of a pony jutting out of the floor. “What do you know about Sombra and his dark magic crystals?”

Sunburst stopped and looked over at Twilight, tilting his head in confusion. “That’s a bit sudden. Why do you ask?”

Twilight approached the crystal, eyeing it closely as she observed the unstructured unicorn magic fade into translucency. “Well, don’t these crystals somewhat resemble Sombra’s? At least, in shape and size.”

“Hmm… Now that you mention it, they do! How fascinating… And Sombra was also a unicorn. Are you suggesting there might be a connection?”

“Well…” Twilight said somewhat absently as arcane runes of an incomplete augmentation spell flittered by. “Maybe. I’m honestly not sure. On one hoof, the similarities are pretty uncanny, aside from the color. Here, I don’t feel any sense of malice or oppression, unlike when Sombra attacked.”

“I see. Well, it’s not impossible, but details on Sombra are scarce. Even my own knowledge is limited,” Sunburst admitted, somewhat dejectedly. “Was dark magic a part of your research?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, only the pony tribes.”

“Dark magic can technically be considered an offshoot, not unlike the magic that bat ponies and crystal ponies use,” Sunburst said.

“True, but they would still be derived from the same basic principles of aether.” Twilight blinked, putting her hoof to her chin as a thought suddenly crossed her mind. “Actually, as I say that, it likely is a coincidence, since all of the above would still be tied to either unicorn magic, pegasus magic, or earth pony magic.”

“I’d still be careful. There’s likely a good reason that particular kind of knowledge is scarce,” Sunburst said with a slight quiver in his tone.

“You’re right,” Twilight said—only half-convinced. “It’s probably just a coincidence.”

The two resumed their walk, Twilight turning her head to eye the crystal one last time before they rounded the bend, and its dim, lavender light fading out of sight.


“So… Twilight?” Sunburst asked, his hooves clopping against the solid rock as he trotted, echoing gently through the tunnels. Condensation dripped from the stalactites above into small pools of water irregularly, breaking his concentration. “What exactly prompted all of this? I mean, I know you're here mainly because of those bizarre dreams, but what made you pursue this topic in the first place?”

Twilight continued her pace alongside Sunburst. She hung her head and sighed a little as her ears lowered, mouth curling into a frown. “Honestly, at this point I'm not entirely sure. After the recent events with the Storm King, I'd been reflecting about what I've accomplished thus far as a princess.”

Sunburst nodded with a grunt of assent. Crystals continued to dot their path, providing some much-needed guidance forward. Twilight sighed again; despite her lack of confidence, she still felt calm. She felt almost at home surrounded by all of the latent magic gently wafting through the air.

“I wanted to learn more about just how magic came about in Equestria, particularly after the Storm King stole it so easily from me and the other princesses with the staff of Sacanas. Never before had I been tested like that in my duties as a princess,” she said as she sighed and lowered her voice, “Nor had I ever felt so powerless.”

“You told me about what happened during your confrontation with him. Did you feel powerless because you literally had your magic stolen? Or...” He bit his lip, his voice laced with concern.

It took Twilight a moment to realize that the sound of her companion’s hoofsteps had stopped. She turned back to face him with a worried expression.

“Or was it because you thought you had lost your friends?” he asked solemnly.

Twilight's face grimaced as she tried to find the right words, her tail flicking a little as she fidgeted in place. “The latter,” she finally replied, flatly. She sat on her hindquarters, her forelegs planted on the ground in front of her as she looked down. “I really thought I had screwed things up. Equestria, the princesses, me… my friends.”

Sunburst took a step closer, giving Twilight a reassuring and comforting nuzzle against the back of her neck.

“As soon as they returned, I could feel that… that spark that I felt so many years ago. It's such a distinct and unique feeling, almost its own class of magic. Beyond weaving illusions or making plants grow or making it rain… Or ruling a kingdom.”

Twilight turned her gaze deeper into the tunnel, her face reflected in a square-shaped crystal nearly the size of a filly that jutted from the wall.

“After that day, I began to wonder just how I stood up in the grand scheme of things. Celestia and Luna control the sun and moon, and Cadance reigns over the Crystal Empire. I… solve problems,” Twilight said dejectedly.

“But you were able to save Equestria! You and your friends have done it so many times!” Sunburst said.

“I know, but after all of that, life just kind of went back to normal for a while. I took it upon myself to see if I could learn the secrets of how magic came to be, and just how it all interconnects,” Twilight said, lowering her head again as she idly traced her hoof into the dirt. “We see it every day when ponies interact, when they laugh together, cry together, fight with each other, and fall in love. I think it goes far deeper than what we currently know.”

“I know I haven’t known you as long as your friends in Ponyville, but I am honored to call you a friend. I’m more than happy to help you find the secrets you seek,” Sunburst said with a reassuring, if a little awkward, smile.

Twilight stood, feeling her stamina and confidence returning from Sunburst’s encouragement. “Thanks, Sunburst. It means so much to me to have such understanding friends like you at my side.”

Sunburst smiled widely as they embraced, Twilight nuzzling against Sunburst’s warm fleece cloak.

“We should keep going and see where this tunnel leads, then!” Sunburst said, walking alongside Twilight as the two ponies resumed their trek deeper into the cave network.


The duo trotted along, renewed with energy from their little pep talk. Their hoofsteps echoed in the ancient caverns as crystals steadily appeared in greater frequency and size the further they went. They rounded a bend in the passage and found themselves at a fork in the path.

“Well, we can go left, or we can keep going straight,” Twilight said. The path ahead seemed darker with fewer crystals, while the path to the left permeated with a much thicker and heavier feeling air. Crystals continued to line the hallway as they peered down the left corridor.

“I say we go left. There’s a higher concentration of crystals down this way,” Sunburst said. “That’s probably going to be our best lead to follow for now.”

“I think you’re right. If we stay on the path with the most crystals, that should take us closer to where the ancient unicorns may have congregated,” Twilight said as they started down the tunnel. “At least, I hope it does.”

They continued through the tunnel system, using the crystals as a guide until they came to what appeared to be a dead-end wall of crystals. A massive flat crystal took up most of the room before them, flanked by several others of varying sizes jutting out of the rocky walls.

“So… Now what? We didn’t take a wrong a turn, did we?” Sunburst asked, looking over his shoulder.

“No, I don’t think so,” Twilight said as she peered at the crystals, her own reflection staring back at her. Her eyes scanned along the edges, looking at the walls and ceiling in particular where the crystal met the rock.

“I don’t think this is the end of the road. While I won’t rule out the possibility of a cave-in blocking a path that we overlooked, the farther down we’ve gone, the more intense the magic in this cave feels. There’s probably more on the other side of these crystals!” Twilight said.

Twilight leaned in closer again, shutting her eyes. “Yes, there’s definitely something on the other side. This entire area feels just like I do when I use magic, and I can feel magic practically leaking from it.”

“Hmm… Now that you mention it, it does feel a little stuffy in here. It’s surprisingly not very cold in here. It’s sort of humid, but, not hot? I don’t really know how to describe it!” Sunburst said, waving his hoof in the air as if he were running it through water.

“It almost feels like walking into Sugarcube Corner and being bombarded with all of the fresh baked sweets, but instead of confections, it’s like walking into a room full of unicorn magic that’s just… there,” Twilight said with apprehension, not entirely sure how to describe it.

Twilight walked around the edge of the large crystals, her eyes being drawn to them as she examined every tiny detail. “No way around, over, or under… Sunburst, I’m going to try something!”

“W-wait a second, you don’t plan to use a spell here do you!?” Sunburst cried out. “You saw what it did to your illumination spell. If you try to teleport to the other side without knowing what’s there, or even just blast the crystals… Celestia knows what will happen to you!”

Twilight closed her eyes and concentrated. She focused her thoughts and tried to hone in on the naturally occurring frequencies of the crystals around her, letting them coalesce and ebb their way into the spell that she was preparing. Arcane sigils appeared around and in front of her, stars within circles dancing wildly in the air as the invisible disruptions of Amethyst Hollow began to interfere. This time, instead of pushing back against the magical resistance Twilight gently adjusted her spellweaving, letting her magic flow alongside the crystals’ influence.

“Twilight, what are you—” Sunburst began.

“Here we go!” she cried out. Sunburst squeaked in panic and dove to the ground, facing away from the crystals as he covered himself with his cloak for cover.

Twilight kept her energy focused and flowing, letting it mingle with the natural radiance of the crystals nearby. A high pitched whine echoed through the cave as the spinning arcane symbols flowed together and overlapped into one giant mark in front of her. Twilight reared back, then flung her body and head forward, her horn piercing the exact center of the symbol.

Lavender light filled the cave as a thin beam of energy shot forth and struck the crystal dead on, whirring with an ear-piercing squeal as it merged with the structure—crystal and spell becoming one. Twilight grunted and struggled, unfolding her wings to brace for extra balance as she tried to maintain the spell in spite of the surging crystalline magic.

Bit by bit, the crystal began to warp, reshaping itself like melting ice as her spell continued to mingle with it. The more Twilight pushed the crystal apart, the thinner it got in the center. Soon a small hole formed in the middle.

“Come on Twilight, you can do this!” She said to herself, the condensed, solid unicorn magic of the crystals proving to be difficult to wrestle with. “If I can stay with it… S-Stay matched to its wavelength… Yaahhh!” She cried out as she continued to funnel her magic into the crystal, fighting against its constantly-shifting magic imprint. Inch by inch the hole continued to widen and grow, glowing red-hot like molten glass.

Accompanied by a great shout of determination, her horn surged with light, filling the hallway. The beam of energy emanating from her horn widened for a split second, then shrunk back down to a razor thin wire of light, before winking out of existence. The room fell silent, save for some small chunks of rock falling from the ceiling.

“Is… Is it over?” Sunburst asked, peeking up from his cloak.

“It’s just as I suspected. There’s a passageway on the other side!” Twilight beamed with excitement as she gaily bounced up toward the newly-formed entryway, just large enough for them to crawl through at about shoulder height. As she peered into the crawlspace, she felt a gust of… something. She quickly threw her foreleg up to her face and turned away, flinching at the feeling. Curiously, there were no air currents or wind, as her tail and mane remained stationary.

Sunburst stood up and approached, turning his head against the rush. “Ahh, even I can feel that. All that magic on the other side is making me dizzy…” Sunburst said, trying not to fall over.

“Do you think you can make it to the other side? Crawling through such a small tunnel might be difficult, and I’m honestly still not comfortable teleporting to the other side. Not with such a huge crystal this close,” Twilight said, helping him balance with a wing.

“I’ll be fine. There’s no turning back now, not after we’ve come this far,” Sunburst said as he approached the newly formed hole, trying to look through it to the other side. “Too hard to see anything on the other side. I guess we really don’t have a choice now.”

“I’ll go first and make sure it’s safe. I’ll signal to you if I think you should cross over or not,” Twilight said as she climbed up to the opening, wiggling and squirming her body into it. She grunted, inching her way through the narrow passage. Sunburst watched as Twilight’s form grew smaller and smaller, just barely visible in the crystal’s natural light.

Twilight let out a yell as she suddenly tumbled out of the end of the tunnel, doing a flip and landing on her back with an undignified thud.

“Twilight? Twilight, are you okay!?” Sunburst yelled out, stuffing his face into the tunnel to try and catch glimpse of her, his cheek smushing against the wall.

“I’m okay…” Twilight said, half dazed and dizzy. She coughed, her back aching from the impact. She shook her head and stood back up, shakily balancing herself against the wall. “I-I’m okay! Really, I just fell!” She turned to look around the room she’d fallen into.

A gasp escaped Twilight’s lips as she laid her eyes on the massive cavern before her. Her mouth hung agape, slowly raising one hoof up to cover it, her wings extending out in shock.

“Sunburst! Sunburst, you have to come in here! Hurry! Hurry-hurry-hurry!” Twilight yelled, excitedly bouncing in place, her hooves clattering against the stony ground.

“Ack, okay! H-Hang on, I’m coming! I think my cloak is caught on something in the tunnel here and—Ahhh!” Sunburst cried out as he finally wrestled himself free of the tunnel and landed in a tangled pile of his clothing.

“Gah… That tunnel was way too cramped. I don’t want to do that ever again!” He grumbled as he stood, adjusting his glasses with a hoof; using his magic this deep in the cave would be too risky. The adjustment proved to be in vain, however, as they slid right down his snout as his jaw hit the floor.

Twilight and Sunburst stood at the precipice of a steep cliffside that overlooked a huge chamber. A sea of crystals filled the floor of the cavern before them, stretching as far as the eye could possibly see. It was packed with such density that from above it looked like an eerily glowing ocean, the reflecting light of condensed magic not entirely unlike rolling waves. The natural light from the crystallized unicorn magic reflected off of the walls and ceiling, dancing with a whirlwind of a thousand pinks and purples from their various glows. So mesmerizing was the spectacle that their mouths simply hung open in awe.

As they bathed in the gentle light from the cavern, their eyes began to strain. They grimaced and flinched as their senses were assaulted not just by the pulsing hues, but by the magic itself. The sheer volume of condensed unicorn magic littering the cave was almost too overbearing to take in.

Sunburst rubbed his temples, his eyes shut hard from trying to adjust to the thick magic in the area. He slowly opened his eyes, vision returning and gaining focus.

“It’s… It’s beautiful.” he finally said, breaking the silence. He wiped his glasses down with his cloak, not wanting to risk using magic to clean it.

Twilight too, was slowly starting to adjust to the strange sensation of being surrounded by what felt like a legion of unicorns. “There must be hundreds—No, thousands of crystals here! The magic is so thick, it’s nearly palpable!” Twilight said, taking a few steps forward to get a better view. Her view was taken upwards, however, as sparks of color suddenly shot from her horn.

“Oh fascinating… Your horn must be reacting to the high concentration of magic that’s in the local atmosphere,” Sunburst said as he walked up to Twilight’s side, his own horn starting to spark a little bit. However, just as quickly as the magic reactions began, they seemed to stop.

“This is definitely the right place then,” Twilight said. “I never thought I would see crystal formations this pure and beautiful before. It puts the underground chambers in Canterlot to shame!”

“Hey, look down there, that way!” Sunburst said, pointing toward the crystals. “Doesn’t that one look like a pony-made structure?”

Twilight leaned forward and squinted. “Oh, I see it too! It looks like some sort of amphitheater or coliseum! But I can’t really tell from here. I think we should check it out! I bet that’s where ancient unicorns congregated! Oooh, this is so exciting! Come on!” Twilight said excitedly as she hopped in place before trotting toward a slope that made its way downward. Sunburst followed her eagerly as she headed into the heart of Amethyst Hollow.