• Published 10th Jun 2020
  • 764 Views, 31 Comments

Splintershard - TheMajorTechie



Once upon a time, Equestria flourished. That time is now long-gone.

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Prologue ◈ The Mundane

Sometimes, life remains mundane.

Sometimes, it gets a little more interesting...


"Psst--" Emily muffled her words with the covers. "Starlight, you awake in there?"

"I am now, no thanks to you. Why did you wake me in the middle of the night? Shouldn't you be sleeping? You have schoo--"

"Portals. You said you worked with portals before, right?" Emily's voice grew into a giddy whisper. "That means you can open them, right? I've got a new spoon and everything so you can open one. I've been waiting all day for you to wake up!"

"No, no, you misunderstood. I only meant that I've traveled using a portal, not that I made a portal. There's a difference."

"C'mon, Starry! I know you've got it in you! You can levitate a whole bag of chips, so how much harder would it be to break physics just a little more?"

Emily smirked. If there was anything that could get her away from the mundaneness of her school life, a portal would definitely be the coolest way to do it. Even if Starlight couldn't pull off a portal, pretty much any kind of spell would still be enough to liven things up.

"I... don't know, Emily. Schooling is rather impor--"

"Eh, my grades are fine. I'm sure you've got the juice in you to make a portal to somewhere and back! We'll just spend the night somewhere fancy, and then I promise I'll go to school tomorrow."

Starlight's voice huffed. "I'll consider it. But first, you need to stop butting in while I'm talking."

"Fine."

"So, then..." Starlight paused in thought, mumbling quietly in Emily's mind about enchanted mirrors. "I think the best I can do is an unstable portal. I doubt you have the materials necessary for stabilization."

Stabilization? What, would the portal collapse on itself behind her or something?

Starlight hummed in agreement. "Precisely. And while I do have a rough idea of how Twilight's mirror portal worked from my time as arch-mage, this will actually be the first time that I've ever constructed one myself."

"Great. So there's also a chance that it could collapse while we're going through? Y'know, like in those shows and stuff where the main character uses a closing portal to cut a villain in half to kill them instantly. Actually... come to think of it, using a portal that opens and closes over and over could be a great way to slice materials in a factory."

"Emily, you scare me sometimes."

"Don't worry, I scare me sometimes, too!"

Though Starlight didn't have a physical body, Emily swore she could hear the pony equivalent to a facepalm. Again. Maybe it was a better idea to leave off on making a portal until tomorrow when she felt a little less loopy.

Starlight certainly seemed to agree.


"Em-ilyyy,"

"Emily, your alarm's blaring,"

The girl groaned, sitting up in her bed and rubbing an eye. What time was it again? Wait-- alarm. That question answered itself. She yawned, groggily crawling across her bed to shut off the noise. Mondays deserved a late start.

"Alright now, go brush your teeth and get ready. You'll miss the bus."

Emily paused, blinking in the dim light of her window. Bus? She didn't take the bus... did she?

"Oh... er, forget about that."

She hopped off her bed, scratching her side. Why did it feel like she had a spoon in her pocket?

"That, too."

Maybe staying up so late at night wasn't such a good idea. She was starting to hear things... maybe. Or... wasn't there something that happened recently? Voice... spoon...

Emily flicked on the lights, wincing at the sudden change in brightness. A single word escaped her lips that just about summed up her entire morning thus far:

"Ugh."

"Honestly, same."

There was that voice again! Think, Emi, think! What the heck did she do that put a random voice in her head?

"I'll... just stay quiet for now. You're waaaay too sleepy to be thinking about this."

"Yeah... sure... um... whispering voice thing... in my head..."

Emily set her toothbrush on the edge of the sink, holding a half-empty tube of toothpaste over the bristles. Still squinting in her bathroom lights, she missed the toothbrush entirely and proceeded to squirt the toothpaste directly into the sink.

"Gosh darnit."

She heard a snicker in the back of her head.


Crunch.

Emily chewed her cereal, staring at the dimmed screen of her phone.

"Feeling awake yet, Emily?"

"Yeah, Star--" she paused. "--oh. It was you."

"I'll continue to be quiet for now. I know you have a busy day ahead of you in school."

Emily rolled her eyes, stuffing another spoonful of cereal in her mouth. "Alright, Whisper. You do that."


...

...

Well, that was a morning well-wasted. A movie in first period, on top of her usual free-study second period? There was even less to say about third period as well. At least Starlight's been quiet enough to deserve the nickname 'Whisper' again. Just one less thing to bug her. But, now wasn't the time to be thinking about how pointless it was to stay awake in the first three periods of the day, it was time for lunch!

"...You're a foodie, aren't you?"

Aaaaand there's the mare.

"Sorry, I'll--"

"No, no, it's okay right now," Emily muttered under her breath. "I've been bored all morning, anyway. I'ma grab lunch and then we can head outside until the bell rings."

"Alright, you do that," Starlight's voice sighed. "I'll just... well... be here, I guess."

Ignoring the confused looks of a couple other students nearby, Emily stepped in line for a sandwich. Nothing fancy, just a good ol' ham sandwich, just like every day ever. She yawned, pulling her earbuds out of her pocket. It was a good time for some music, anyway. It's not like she was going to be relevant to the conversations around her.

One ham sandwich and an awkward fumbling for lunch money later, and Emily was out of the lunchroom. The second bonus of being out here, besides the whole fresh air and sunshine jazz, was that it'd feel less awkward talking out loud to Starlight. Speaking of which--

"Aren't you going to sit with your friends?"

"None of them have the same lunch schedule as me," Emily shook her head. "Last semester some of us had the same lunch, though. Anyway--" she set down her tray in the grass, sitting down beside it. "I was just thinking, what if I get you a real wand of sorts? Just as a friendly gesture and stuff, since I've... uh, kinda been a little rude since we first met."

"A... real wand?"

Emily nodded. "Uh-huh. There's some old trees that grow around campus. I could probably find a good-sized stick for you!"

"Were you even listening when I was talking about wand materials?"

"Wha-no-I mean yes! You said that metals conduct better, but I was just thinking... if we used something wooden, then wouldn't that take more effort to channel mana through?"

Emily smirked as her question was met with silence.

"I..." Starlight trailed off. "I... actually, you might be on to something there. Wood... wood... there was something I remember about wooden artifacts for channeling magic..."

Bingo. Score one for Emi!

"I'll ignore that. Going back to what you were saying about a nonmetallic wand, though-- I do vaguely remember something about wood once being a popular material for wands and staffs, in fact, I--" she froze for a moment. "I... once had experience with it. Granted, I enchanted the thing beforehand, but..."

Starlight's voice devolved into a rambling mutter. Once or twice, Emily could make out the phrase "cutie mark", but it really didn't make much sense regardless.

Emily stood up again. "Um..." she began, "I'll just get the stick for now." She glanced down at her unfinished lunch, then to the old oak trees towering beside the school. With so few people outside at the moment, it probably wouldn't be much of a risk to jog down and nab a stick from the ground, right?

"Seems like it."

Well, if Starlight agreed... Emily bolted, sprinting towards the worn patches of grass underneath the trees. Since Starlight didn't call her idea crazy or anything, a fancier stick would be her goal. Something with a neat little curl or something that she could use as a handle... or maybe the curl could be used to hold something? Then again, it wasn't all that common for a stick to be curled like that, anyway...

"Like that stick over there? Sorry, I was borrowing your eyes for a moment."

Wait, Starlight can do that?

"Seems like it to me, at least. Also, forget about what I was mumbling about. I'd rather not talk about it. The stick's a few steps to your left, under some dried leaves."

'Cutie mark' sounded too kiddy for her, anyway. Emily brushed the leaves away with her foot, leaning over to pick up the stick. To be honest, it looked more like a broken section of an entire branch than just a regular stick. Maybe that's why it had the curl to it? She turned over the stick in her hands. Judging by how splintered the wood was on one side, that seemed to be the case. A bit of sandpaper would probably be helpful right about now, though.

"Mind if I try something?"

"Er... sure?" Emily started walking back. "Just don't turn it into a teacup. I'm actually liking the look of this thing."

"'Kay, I want you to pick up a handful of the grittiest dirt you can find, then."

"O...kay?"

"I see a dry patch close to where you left your lunch. What I plan to do would probably work best with sand, but gritty dirt should do alright for the time being."

"Wait-- oooh," Emily gasped. "Are you about to sandblast the stick?"

"Heh. Was it that obvious?"

Emily scraped a handful of dirt from the ground, dumping it over the stick. "Kinda. I got the dirt, now what?"

A familiar teal aura formed over her hands again, enveloping the dirt-covered stick. She could faintly hear a quiet scraping sound coming from her palms as the dirt rapidly began to grind away at the splintered wood.

"This dirt's not gritty enough."

"Hmf--" Emily snorted. "--just show it a Batman movie. That'll fix the problem."

"I... don't follow."

"Don't worry, I didn't understand half of what was going on in the latest movie, either. Didn't even watch it, in fact. Anyway..." she squat down, combing through the grass. "How gritty do you need the dirt to be? Small pebbles? Gravel?"

"Small pebbles should be fine. Hey, by the way, I was just wondering, why are you acting so fri--"

"Got the dirt! What were you saying there?"

"...nevermind. I'll get to work."

The scraping sound resumed. Emily wandered back to her lunch tray, shifting the mana-enveloped stick and dirt to her other hand before reaching for her sandwich.


The end-of-lunch bell stole Emily's attention away from her phone. With a light sigh, the girl stood up with her tray and began making her way back inside.

"Hey Star," she half-whispered, "How's the wand going? I think you're gonna have to stop sanding it soon since we're going back to class. The next period I've got is math, so-- oh crap."

"Hm?" Starlight hummed. The cloud of mana coating her hand and the noticeably-smoother stick dissipated.

Emily clenched her fingers around the stick, stuffing it into her pocket as she broke into a sprint. "I've got a test next period! I almost entirely forgot about it!"

"I could help you cram study if you'd li--"

"No, I'm good!" She shook her head, dumping the tray on the tray counter as she ran past. Besides, the unit wasn't that hard.

And no, she was not going to let those words come back to bite her.


...Yeah.

"Yeah?"

Emily tapped the question on the page with her pencil. She meant yeah as in yeah, this is gonna be easy. What did Starlight think she was going to say?

"Honestly, with the way you said that in your head, it sounds more like you're just defending yourself."

She wasn't defending herself!

"Suit yourself," Starlight's voice grumbled. "I'll just be waiting... as always..."

That definitely didn't sound creepy.

"You should be just about finished with the first free-response question at this point," her teacher announced. "If you're not done yet, I'd recommend you move onto the next question and come back to it later."

OH CRA--


"Well, that wasn't quite as bad of a trainwreck as I'd expected out of you."

"Shut up, Starlight," Emily leaned against the wall of the school's entrance. "You know I aced that test. And it's the last class of the day anyway, so I had more than enough time to prepare myself."

She turned away from the few students that passed by with concerned glances. Maybe she should hold her phone up to her ear and pretend it was all a regular conversation... or at least, as 'regular' as talking to a powerful unicorn mage can get. It was still a little hard to wrap her head around that, to be honest.

Emily slipped her hands in her pockets, wincing as the stick she'd put in there earlier grazed her knuckles.

"Are you ready?"

Her eyes widened-- the portal! She'd almost forgotten entirely about it! Emily pulled the stick from her pocket, grinning.

"Yup."

Starlight's voice paused. "...I think we should probably open it somewhere a little more hidden. Also, isn't your mom supposed to pick you u--"

"Yup," Emily repeated, pushing herself away from the wall. "Anyway, how about a bathroom stall? It'll be pretty hidden away in there."

"Er... are you sure that'd be a good idea? I think I'd likely need a bit more space than that to get the spell going. Can't you just wai--"

"Nope! I've been waiting for this all day and night! Could you maybe try showing me the place where you came from using a portal?"

A long, drawn-out sigh came from Starlight as Emily retreated deeper into the school. "Fine. I... I guess I could try opening one. Though, I really don't have much of a clue as to how much time has passed since I... uh..."

"...Was whisked away by a spell that went south," Emily muttered. "Yeah, yeah, we'll figure out what day of the week it is when we get there, then. 'Kay?"

Strangely, Starlight didn't respond that time.

"Starlight?"

"I'm still here, just... thinking..."

Emily turned a corner, sprinting into the bathroom and shutting herself in a stall. "Okay!" she grinned, clutching tightly to the stick as she set her backpack on the floor. "Ready, Starlight?"

"Hold on," Starlight's voice was hardly above a low mutter. "O-okay... so, I think I remember that I'll need to make the destination as specific as possible. I... okay, I think I've got a place in mind. Emily, you might want to make some space in the stall. I have no idea how big the portal is going to be."

The girl nodded, slinging her backpack over her shoulder.

"Alright. Since this is a high-level spell, I think it'd probably be best if I handled everything from here on out. You don't know the destination, but I do."

Wait... handled everythi-- Emily felt her body convulse for a moment, slowly teetering towards the door before stopping herself. That is... before Starlight stopped her.

"Huh. That turned out better than I hoped," Starlight mumbled in Emily's voice, staring at her hands. "You alright in there, Emi?"

"HOLY CRAP," Emily's voice echoed all through her mind. "WHAT THE ACTUAL F--"

"I needed finer control," Starlight cut her off, inspecting the makeshift wand in her hands. "Only way I could really achieve that was to swap our mental states and possess your body."

"YOU CAN DO THAT?!"

Starlight chuckled, backing away and pointing the pointed end of the stick at the door. "Apparently, I can."

She closed her eyes, letting the image of Equestria fill her mind. Every little detail-- every patch of grass, the little puffs of clouds drifting overhead, the sounds of foals frolicking on a warm summer's day-- everything was crucial to pinpointing where the portal would lead to.

Just as before, a teal-blue aura formed around her hand, shimmering ever so slightly under the plain fluorescent lighting. Starlight grit her teeth, focusing all her effort into the spell. A trickle of mana fed into the base of the stick, channeling along the grain and through the little cracks before collecting at the end. The charge started out small first, being no bigger than a small grape in size. As the seconds passed, the swirling mana built up a larger and larger charge, even to the point of generating little sparks and fizzes of smoke shooting from it in every direction.

"Starlight--" Emily's voice cautioned, "I hope you know what you're doing."

She received only a dull grunt in response. Starlight's arm at this point was beginning to shudder as a few more wisps of her mana filtered into the charge. With a single flick of her wrist, the bowling ball-sized mana charge careened off the tip of the wand, hitting the stall door squarely in the center...

...And exploding...

...The door off.

"Ohhhh I'm gonna be in so much trouble--" Emily's voice muttered. "Starlight, did you really need to blow the door clean off its hinges? Like, the portal is there and all, but... Starlight?"

No response.

"Starlight?" Emily repeated. "Hey, you there still?"

She heard her own voice beginning to grow audible again. Emily faltered on her feet, pressing a hand against the wall for support as she regained control of her body.

"...Yeah, I'm..." Starlight groaned weakly. "I'm still here. Just took every bit of my power to pull off the spell, that's all..."

"Great!" Emily's grin immediately returned. "Alrighty, time to explore your world!"

"--Wait," Starlight's voice cut in. "I... I don't think I had enough mana to fully complete the spell. The portal might be u--"

Emily slipped her arm through one of her backpack's straps. "Unstable? Then I'd might as well hop through as quickly as possible, then! No use in wasting a perfectly good portal, amirite? Don't worry so much, Star! I'll make it quick!"

"WAI--"

A flash of light engulfed Emily as she sprinted head-on through the portal.