• Published 5th Oct 2019
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A Phoenix Beyond the Veil - Amalgam - gerandakis



As the magic of two universes continues to interweave, Sunset Shimmer and her friends begin their second year at Hogwarts.

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2 - Parasite

Chapter Two

Parasite


Ripped from her dreams, Sunset suddenly jerked awake. On pure instinct, she swallowed to remove the obstruction in her throat. Her returning consciousness just barely registered the one distressing fact about the thing sliding into her stomach. She noticed that it was long, smooth and getting thinner as it went along, but that was not the distressing part.

The part that immediately brought her to full wakefulness and to the edge of panic was something else about the object.

It was moving.

On its own.

As in, the object was no object. It was a creature. A living creature. She shot to her hooves. Her panicky mind just barely managed to remind her that there were others sleeping around her. She could panic, sure. In fact, given what little she knew about what had just happened, that seemed entirely reasonable, but that would wake the others.

Maybe she really had been in Britain too long, but she didn’t want to wake them if she didn’t have to. And she was Celestia’s student. Or had been. Either way, she could probably handle whatever had just happened. After she was done freaking out. Looking around, she moved to find someplace where her panic wouldn’t be heard.

She dove for one of the tents.

One quirk of the undetectable expansion charm the wizards used, one her own version had kept, was that sound wouldn’t pass into or out of them while they were closed without a special charm to enable just that. Since she had charmed the tents herself, a simple mental command was enough to disable that charm.

The last of her self-control thoroughly gone, she broke into a panicked scream.

A few minutes of panic did wonders to get her emotions back under control and her mind working. That the sensation of the yet unidentified creature sliding down her throat kept replaying in her mind didn’t help her calm down at all. It did, however, allow her more rational mind to learn all it could about the thing.

It had been long and slender, ending in a narrow point, like the tail of a snake. But it had clearly been smooth skin, no scales anywhere.

Not a snake then. Given just how smooth the skin had been and considering the complete absence of fur, the creature was most likely amphibian. That, along with the fact that it had clearly jumped down her throat of its own volition, finally reminded her of something she had learned of during her tutelage under Celestia. Arcane biology to be exact.

Celestia had told her of a rare creature that matched all she knew about her mysterious intruder. More importantly, the lesson had come with a spell. If the creature was truly what she suspected it to be, she would know in a moment.

It took her several seconds to cast the spell. Panic, it turned out, was not exactly conducive towards the use of magic. When she finally did cast the spell, her panic ebbed off somewhat.

Her guess had been correct. The creature was what she had suspected. That also meant it would be perfectly fine, and so would she.

The lesson had taught her that what had just happened was a perfectly normal part of the creature’s life cycle. Imagining the process had, however, thoroughly grossed her out at the time, and experiencing it firsthand was, if anything, even worse.

The creature that was, according to the spell, now residing, alive and well, in her stomach, was a so-called alp-luachra. A small, magical amphibian that essentially looked like a tiny pony with a membranous fin in place of a mane and a long, serpentine tail several times the length of its body.

Given that the relevant lesson had been before her little stunt with the memory spell, Sunset was a bit fuzzy on the details. Fortunately, she had a book on Equestrian wildlife in her suite at the palace. Considering that she wasn’t exactly likely to get any more sleep anytime soon, she might as well look it up. It might help calm her down.


Hermione had been sound asleep a moment ago, dreaming of something or other. She wasn’t sure. She only knew that she wasn’t asleep anymore. She wouldn’t exactly call herself awake either, but she certainly wasn’t asleep anymore. And she couldn’t tell why.

By all means, she should still be soundly sleeping. The mossy ground beneath her was soft and comfortable, the summer air was warm, soft snoring filled the air, letting her know that the others were alright, and her sister was sleeping right next to her.

No.

Her sister wasn’t sleeping right next to her. The magical connection between the two had grown much deeper after a year spent in near constant close proximity. She had been able to feel Sunset’s presence in her immediate surroundings. It had helped her fall asleep. That said presence was now gone explained why she had awoken.

She cracked her eyes open and slowly got up. She could still see the flattened down moss where Sunset had been sleeping. Touching the area with her hoof revealed it to still be warm. Sunset couldn’t be far.

She was about to go look for her when the flap of the girls’ tent opened and Sunset came out. When she saw Hermione, she looked at her for a moment then slowly approached. Hermione simply tilted her head, well aware that talking out loud would risk waking the others.

Sunset stopped before her, lowering her head and lighting her horn with just a small amount of magic, just enough to create a faint glow. It took Hermione a moment to understand what her sister was doing, then she did the same, lighting her own horn and crossing it with Sunset’s.

Once more, the connection between them deepened and she immediately understood what was going on. More or less. Immediately, a slew of questions came to her mind, but Sunset sent back a single idea. Both of them stepped back and looked at each other, nodding. Then they both walked around the tent Sunset had come out of.

Once they were behind it, where they no longer had line of sight to any of the others, Sunset lit her horn properly and they both vanished with but a wavering of the air.


The moment they reappeared in Sunset’s royal suite they both took a deep breath, knowing that they needn’t be silent any longer.

“What was that? I mean, I get something happened, but I didn’t get anything specific.”

Sunset shook her head. “The book can probably explain it better. I wanted to look it up anyway. Just give me a moment to find it.”

Taking another deep breath, Sunset walked up to one of the book shelves looking over the titles. “Not here, hm? Then maybe …” She walked up to another shelf. “Ah, here we go.”

“A book on the species of Equestria?”

“Yeah. You’ll see.” Placing the book on her desk, Sunset flipped it open and looked at the index. Then she started looking through the pages for a moment. “Here we go, there it is. Come.”

Walking up beside her sister, Hermione looked at the book, seeing the illustration of the creature Sunset was looking up. She only glanced at the miniature pony with the long tail for a moment before joining Sunset in reading the description.

Once she had finished reading, she took a few moments to look over it again, then she looked to Sunset. “Sis, why are you looking up magical stomach parasites?”

Sunset raised an eyebrow, looking at her in exasperation. “Take a wild guess.”

“Huh? Wait.” Hermione blinked for a moment, then glanced to Sunset’s barrel. Then back to Sunset. “You? No.”

Sunset groaned. “Yes.”

“Really? Cool. I mean, it’s weird, but it’s cool.”

Sunset’s jaw dropped. “Really?! That’s your reaction? It’s crazy, that’s what it is. There’s another being living in my stomach. That’s not cool at all. It’s gross. It’s weird. It’s … I don’t know! It isn’t normal anyway.”

“It’s normal for them. Pretty much necessary, actually. And since when do you care about what’s normal? You traveled to another dimension. That’s about as far from normal as it gets.”

Sunset groaned. “I know. I wasn’t in a particularly good place back then. And it’s not like I could just go back. It took half a year until we figured out Philomena could just take us back and by then … well, you know.”

Hermione smiled at her. “Yeah, I know. Still you always seemed to me like a very ‘go with the flow’ kind of person. I don’t know why this bothers you so much. From what I can see from this there isn’t anything dangerous or malicious about these things. They actually sound kinda useful.”

Sunset sighed. “You don’t get it. There are … implications.”

“Implications?”

“Yeah, cultural implications. These things are rare. Like, seriously rare. And with ponies living in towns and cities, further away from nature, it’s become even more rare for one of us to be chosen as a host. It’s actually seen as a great honor. At least by those who know what these things are. They’re kinda obscure.”

“Okay, I still don’t get where the problem is.”

“The problem is that there are expectations linked to being chosen as a host. And I know these things intellectually. That doesn’t mean I can just accept them emotionally. If anything, living with humans made it worse.”

“Really? How so?”

“One word. Meat.”

Hermione cocked an eyebrow. “Huh?”

Sunset sighed once more. “I’m a pony. When I came to Earth I was used to a sugar-rich, vegetarian diet. The only reason I didn’t completely freak out the first time your parents put meat in front of me was that I had prior warning. Well that and it was bacon.”

Hermione looked a bit dumbfounded at that. “Uhh, how does that-”

“It’s bacon. It’s tasty, okay?”

“Can’t argue with that. Still, what does this have to do with your new … uhm … guest?”

“I’ve just barely grown used to eating parts of other living creatures. And only because I know they were never sentient to start with. This is different. Not only are these things fully sentient, this one is also still alive inside me.” She sighed again. “Waking up with a freaky half-pony, half-lizard thing half way down my throat probably didn’t exactly help either.”

“Well, okay, I get that. Probably not the best thing to wake up to. Honestly I don’t know how you managed not to wake all of us up. I know I would have probably screamed.”

“I know for a fact that you wouldn’t have.”

“Huh?”

“I would have screamed … you know, if I hadn’t had a weird lizard thing lodged in my throat.”

“Oh yeah. That would get in the way of that, wouldn’t it?”

“Absolutely. I’m pretty sure the reason I woke up in the first place was because it got in the way of my breathing.”

“Yeah no, really not a great thing to wake up to. Still, you’re properly awake now. Why are you still so freaked out about this?”

“I … I don’t know, okay? I spent like five minutes or so panicking before I could even calm down enough to figure out what kind of crazy thing just jumped down my throat.”

“I see. Probably an emotional thing then,” Hermione remarked, frowning in thought. “Think approaching this whole thing rationally would help?”

“Maybe?”

“Okay. So what else do we know about your new guest?”

“Uhh, nothing really. Celestia taught me about these things years ago. Before the memory spell. It was sheer dumb luck that I even remembered the spell to check if it actually was one.”

“Oh. There’s a spell for that?”

Sunset actually chuckled this time. “You’d be surprised what kind of crazy nonsense there’s spells for.”

“Fair enough. I remember seeing entire spellbooks specifically to prank people when we were at Flourish and Blotts. Think you could modify the spell to tell you more about it? Weave a diagnostic spell into it or something.”

“Huh. That could work, actually. Hold on.” She sat down closing her eyes for a moment. Then she lit her horn. “Okay, let’s see here. It’s a female.”

Hermione glanced at the book again. “Uhh, yeah. They all are. It says so right here.”

“Oh right. Let’s see. She’s about twenty centimeters long if I’m judging this correctly. Not fully grown yet.”

“Hold on. Twenty centimeters? Not fully grown?” Once more, Hermione glanced at the book. “I’m still not familiar with Equestrian measurements. How long do they get?”

Sunset took a look at the book again herself. “About forty to fifty centimeters, why?”

“Wait, fifty centimeters?” Hermione glanced at the illustration again. “And that’s to scale? How would something that size even fit in there?”

Sunset sighed as she remembered the reason Princess Celestia had taught her about these creatures in the first place. “It wouldn’t. Remember how I told you most modern illusions were originally based on thessian shadow magic?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, they’re not the only kind of magical pattern unicorns appropriated like that. Now where do you think we got the basis for our spatial expansion magic from?”

“Oh! Wait? So if these things don’t have enough room, they ... make room?”

“Yeah, it’s part of their innate magic. Actually, I think there’s more to that, but we won’t find that in a book about biology. And I’m pretty sure that’s the only book I have that actually deals with them. I’d have to get one about their magic from the royal archives. And those aren’t open at this time of night.”

“Oh yeah.” Hermione let out a yawn. “It’s the middle of the night, isn’t it?” She grinned sheepishly. “Think we should head back before one of the others wakes up and starts to worry?”

“Probably best. Though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sleep after this.” Letting loose a yawn of her own, Sunset folded the book closed and floated it back to the shelf. “Let’s get back.” She stepped up next to her sister. “Ready?”

“Ready.”

“Okay.”

With a wavering of the air, the two sisters vanished again, the magical lighting of the royal suite going out the moment they were gone.


They arrived back behind the tent and Sunset stepped out and back towards the others. She let out a relieved breath when she saw that all the others were still there and sound asleep. Seeing that Hermione had followed her, she curled up where she had been sleeping before and closed her eyes.

She had been right. Finding sleep would be a challenge. The sensation of the alp-luachra sliding down her throat kept replaying in her mind. She was only mildly startled when she felt Hermione cuddling up to her. She smiled softly as she cuddled into her sister’s fur.

Suddenly, finding sleep seemed a lot easier.

Author's Note:

So yeah. One of five stories to feature this little critter. Also one of only two not rated M.
Again: If this seems odd to you, don't worry. This won't be a major plot point for most of the chapters.

The idea for this little creature came, as best as I can tell from Derpibooru user Badumsquish. Look them up if you want, but be warned. If the nature of this little critter didn't clue you in, most of their work is NSFW which is why I'm not directly linking it here.
This story won't go anywhere near that territory and will, in fact, avoid describing such things wherever possible.

That being said, I, like every author on here it seems, put my own spin on the concept that I will go into detail on whenever Sunset's little guest plays a major role in a chapter.

In other words, it's that time again:

Lore of the Veil:

The Alp-Luachra - General:

The Equestrian scientific community is still researching this most unusual little creature. There is some dispute among scholars on whether the alp-luachra should be classified as a parasite or a symbiote, so books may call them either.
A few things, however are known about the alp-luachra, such as their ability to recognize and, in many cases, neutralize poisons their host may have accidentally consumed.
The best guess the scientific community has as to the reasons for the alp-luachra's innate drive to find a host is that they are not naturally able to create certain digestive enzymes, drastically limiting the variety of food they can consume.

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