• Published 11th Jun 2020
  • 2,354 Views, 32 Comments

The Reluctant Protector - LadyMaria



Twilight Sparkle finds a place seemingly devoid of magic in the Everfree and informs Celestia.

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2 - The Therapist, The Basics and The Bombshell

Author's Note:

Thank you so much to everyone who has given my story the time of day. I was so nervous when I first considered submitting this, but now I know it was the right choice. Like I said earlier, constructive criticism is most welcome! I can't thank you enough. I love you all. I hope you enjoy.

“What. Was. That!?” Lyra paced. I was rubbing my temples. “Can she do that? I mean, I know she can do that, she’s the Princess. The Princess! That is, not to say that Princess Luna is also not a Princess, but The Princess just told us-”

I took a very long pull from my flask. “Lyra, for the love of everything you hold dear. Stop saying ‘Princess’.” This mare is going to give herself an aneurysm. She stopped and stared at me, biting her fingernails. “I know you have a lot of questions but just give me a second to unpack this.” She nodded and sat. I could feel her eyes boring into my skull. Closing my own eyes, I began to think.

Okay, lets process this. The most important thing right now is that Lyra is to be my official apprentice. I like Lyra, she’s a gem. But after living alone for so long she can be a bit too much sometimes. Not to mention it’s going to be almost impossible to teach her magic with her horn the way it is… I’m going to have to think of something to build her strength beyond basic levitation. I could always just refuse to teach her, but Celestia seems to be on her way to forgiving me. If I just outright refuse, that would be the end of that. That’s not an idea I’m willing to entertain.

I have to meet with Celestia’s current student. This, ‘Twilight Sparkle’. I’ve read about her in the papers when Lyra started bringing new issues with her. She’s supposed to be very powerful. Saved the world a couple of times. Bet she’s never dealt with a Smooze though. Ha! Artemis 1, Twilight 0. Maybe she could help me get a lesson plan together that helps conform to the new way of doing things? No. If that way hasn’t worked for Lyra so far, then it’s not going to take. I’m going to have to teach her the old ways. Okay let’s put a pin in that for now.

I’m going to have to re-weave the barrier around the property. She could have just taken it down; she didn’t have to shatter it… Ugh. That gonna be a pain. Celestia was… Happy? To see me. That’s good. I wanted to have a talk with her about the ring though. Has she told others about me and her? Probably best not to assume she has. I’ll keep it on a need-to-know basis for now. Lyra probably deserves to know. Eventually.

Then, there’s Luna. That prospect terrifies me. What will she say to me? What would I say to her? What could I say to her? I failed her. If she never forgave me, I could understand. It would be hard, but I could accept it. If she did forgive me? I think that would be harder to accept. Will Celestia tell her that I’m alive when she gets back to Canterlot? If so, I should expect a visit soon. Let’s put a pin in that too.

I got up and stood in the middle of the room and looked to Lyra. Her fingernails where practically down to the nub. “Okay Lyra, stand in front of me.” She did. I grabbed her shoulders so that she was directly in front of me and tapped my right arm on both of them, one after the other. “Congratulations young Padawan, you’re my apprentice now.”

She squealed in delight. Then looked confused. I’m going to be seeing that face a lot, aren’t I? “Wait, Padawan?” She asked.

I rolled my eyes and moved past her to the broom closet. “Never mind.” I started to move boxes out of the way, reached to the back, and brought out something I haven’t used in years. My staff. As tall as me. Made from carved elder wood with fluorescent green runes. It gripped a piece of roughly hewn, cloudy white crystal at the top.

“What’s that?” Lyra asked.

I smirked. “This is my horn.”

“But I’ve seen you do magic lots of times without that.” She said in confusion.

“True.” I replied. “But that was just me exerting my will on the environment.”

“Your ‘will’?”

“That’s right. With lots of practice and patience, you can use magic without a medium to guide it, such as a horn. You have only seen me do small things. Levitate an object, light a candle, freeze some water into an ice cube, you know, small things like that.” I lifted my staff. “With this, I can do true magic.” I exerted some of my will into the staff and the green runes started to glow brighter. The cabin started to creak and groan, wind started to pick up out of nowhere, getting stronger and stronger. Blowing my hair in any which way, strong enough that Lyra had to hold onto the couch. The notes that covered the floor flew around the room, scrolls unfurled, some bottles exploded, the water in the kettle started to re-boil… and then everything stopped. The door to my cabin slowly opened. “Come on, we’ve got work to do.” I said, walking outside.

Lyra stared straight ahead, wide-eyed. “You had that the whole time and you never showed me?!” She was not happy.

“I didn’t want your drool all over it.” I teased. “Did you take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks?”

She ignored me and looked around at the mess. “I just cleaned this place…” My references will be completely lost on her, but they amuse me, and that’s all that matters. At least, that’s what I tell myself…

At the edge of my property was a charred black line in the grass, just before the treeline. “Ugh. Why did she have to shatter it? This grass is never going to grow back…” I muttered and took a step over what was once the barrier. It was my first time doing so in years. I felt a childish sense of adventure I hadn’t felt since I travelled the known world.

“Where are we going?” She asked.

“To meet my therapist.” The Everfree forest was dark. Unnaturally so. You would expect a forest with a canopy this thick to block out most of the light, but to be left in pitch blackness during the day is a strange thing. I brought the top of my staff up to my face and gently blew onto the crystal. It started to glow with a pale blue light, casting shadows that danced as we walked. I glanced back at Lyra. “How do you manage to make it through here each time you visit?”

She concentrated very hard. Her horn crackled and sparked and a dim light appeared at the tip. She panted in exhaustion. “I can still do basic spells like levitation and lumos, but it hurts after a while.” She said, slightly downcast.

I nodded in acceptance. I don’t want her to get sad. Need to change the subject. “Tell me what you know about Twilight Sparkle.”

She was trying hard to step over various logs, rocks and roots whilst also trying to keep up with my naturally long stride. She was a bit out of breath. “Well, we both went to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns together until I had to drop out on account of my accident.” I nodded. “She was at the top of the class, always was. She was getting special treatment from the Princess, so that probably helped. She’s also naturally brilliant, she’s very powerful and her thirst for knowledge is unrivalled. I was actually creeping up on her in terms of grades before I had to leave.” She said with a bit of pride, then she got very quiet. “My parents were so sad. It made me feel like a failure.”

I stopped. So, did she. She was looking down at her hooves. I Grabbed her shoulders. “Look at me Lyra.” She didn’t. I tilted her head up to me, her eyes were looking anywhere but my own “Look at me.” She did. “I want you to listen to me very carefully. You are not a failure. I know failure.” I thought for a moment. “How old are you Lyra?”

“T- Twenty-two.” She sniffed.

“You are still so young. You have many doors in front of you. All waiting to be opened. Just because one door closed on a portion of your life, does not mean that you can’t open another. You did just that a couple of weeks ago when you pushed through my barrier, with your own will I might add. When I said that was impressive, I wasn’t lying. You managed to ignore the perception filter, and then push through a barrier that would have sent anyone else running away in terror. You affected the environment without using your horn, Lyra. Not many can do that.” Her eyes started to light up in realisation. “Trust me when I say I saw great potential in you. If Celestia hadn’t made this apprenticeship official back there, I probably would have done so eventually anyway.” Probably. “You’re my apprentice now. It’s my job to make you better, to shape you into a better version of yourself. I can honestly say that if you do what I tell you, we’ll have you using magic again and more.” She hugged me tight. I returned the gesture with a smile.

“I can also tell that you’re jealous of Twilight Sparkle.” I continued. She didn’t answer. I sighed. “Lyra, comparing yourself to another is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. If you think they are better than you, you will get depressed, and lose the will to try. If you think you are better than them, you will lose humility, and become incapable of growing. Never compare yourself to another, Lyra. Compare yourself to who you choose to be. Ask yourself, ‘am I living up to my own ideals?’.”

She let go of me and smiled. “Thanks, Artemis.”

I winked and kept walking towards the town. “No problem, Grasshopper.”

About fifteen minutes later we arrived at the edge of town. It looked completely devoid of life. There was no one. Not even any animals. Total silence. The windows on the thatch-roofed houses and shops where shuttered closed. “Huh, they all must be out for lunch.” I commented.

“These stupid ponies…” Lyra said with a scoff. “They see something different and they think the world is going to end.” To be honest, if a creature I’d only ever seen in story books that I was two thirds the height of, carrying a big stick came into town, I’d probably run and hide too.

We heard the clip-clop of hoofsteps getting closer from behind and turned around to see a member of the Royal Guard approaching. He stopped in front of us and snapped to a sharp salute. “Ma’am, welcome to Ponyville. I’ve been instructed to escort you to the Golden Oaks Library. If you’d like to follow me?”

Me and Lyra looked at each other, then back to the guard. “Um, at ease soldier?” I said carefully. I hadn’t done this in a while. “Lead on.”

“Of course.” He turned and started walking. Me and my apprentice followed.

The Golden Oaks Library was a tree. An elder tree to be exact. Elder trees have the unusual property of being connected to the heart of the Everfree. Both spiritually and physically. Nobody knows where the heart of the Everfree is, as the forest is simply too big to get that far in and is believed to be endless. If someone wanders past a certain point, it’s considered a suicide. Not only because they run out of supplies, but because the creatures get deadlier and deadlier the further in you get. If anyone has ever seen the heart, they haven’t lived to tell about it. We only know the trees are connected, because all their roots grow in the same direction, towards what is believed to be the centre. Timberwolves are believed to be the heart of the Everfree trying to protect itself. Sort of like white blood cells. They are made from elder wood wrapped around an extremely hard and magically potent crystallised sap. Exactly like my staff. Occasionally, the staff will start to grow buds which I have to prune off. It can be annoying but quite magical in a philosophical and real sense. As long as the wood is connected to the heart, either physically or magically, it will never die.

Now, the library of Ponyville had me worried. Because elder trees are not supposed to be this far out of the forest. They are only found deeper in. It could be the forest trying to expand. I thought. I’ll have to keep my eye on that. We walked up to the front door and the guard knocked. A boyish voice answered. “Who is it?”

“Private Featherweight!” The guard called back. “Reporting with the…” the guard looked at me. “The Human.” It was quiet for a moment. Then there was some whispering coming from the other side. Then there was some shuffling. Then hoofsteps. Then the door jiggled. Then opened.

Standing on the other side was a purple unicorn mare, with large, deep purple eyes. She stood slightly shorter than Lyra and her hair was a dark blue, neatly brushed, with violet streaks that came down around her left shoulder. A horn poked through her fringe. She stared at me. I stared back.

“Ah, hello. You must be Twilight Sparkle. My name is Artemis.” I said giving a small bow. “I’ve heard a lot about you. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” I held my hand out to her. She stared at me with wide eyes. And kept staring. I turned to Lyra. “Um… is she alri-”. Only to be interrupted.

Twilight grabbed me by the shoulders. “Oh. My. Gosh.” She squealed. “It’s really you! The Princess said you weren’t a pony, but to see it with my own eyes… amazing. I’ve never seen anything like you before!”

“I would hope not.” I said under my breath. Lyra gave me a nudge on my arm to shut me up. It went unnoticed by Twilight as she shouted something back into the library. I didn’t catch what. She then started walking circles around me, inspecting my appearance.

“Hmm, exceedingly tall and pale.” Exceedingly? She used her magic to force me down to her height. “Bald, save for a patch of grey fur on the top of the head.” Hair. She sniffed. “Slight smell of what I assume to be alcohol.” Ugh. She turned my head to the side. “Small rounded ears. One adorned with varying pieces of metal. Possibly a status symbol in their culture.” Is she dictating to someone? Opening my mouth, she peered inside. “Incisors, canines, premolars and molars all present. Hmm, subject is likely omnivorous.” Subject? She let go of me, got down on all fours and inspected my feet. “No hooves, amazing. Subject appears to be plantigrade.” Subject!? “Tendons and ligaments likely built to endure long distance walking and/or running in contrast to the bursts of speed Pony magicka is built for.” Oh, I’m about to run far away in a second. She looked me in the eyes for the first time since our meeting. “The bluest I’ve ever seen…” She commented, seemingly losing her train of thought. Lyra smiled. “Tell me, what species are you?”

“What, Celestia didn’t tell you?” I asked. she continued to stare. “Human.” I replied curtly.

She stroked her chin. “Hmm. No, I don’t think that’s possible. They’re just stories created to scare foals.” Scare foals? What has Celestia been writing about me? I looked to Lyra, she smiled apologetically at me, then turned to twilight and cleared her throat.

“Hello, Twilight.”

Twilight looked to Lyra. “Lyra? What are you doing with this creature?”

“I can see you haven’t changed since school…” She said under her breath. Her back went very straight. “I can assure you; She is a human,” she crossed her arms and tilted her nose up, “and I just so happen to be her apprentice.” She said in a haughty tone.

I nudged her. “Lyra, remember what I told you.”

Twilight looked at Lyra, then to me. “Lyra has never been a liar.” her eyes started to widen. “So that means…”

I smiled. “Hi.”

Twilight looked as though she’d just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She quickly backed off and put her hands behind her back then took a deep breath. She held her hand out to me. I carefully shook it. “I-I’m so sorry, please forgive me. It’s just that I’ve heard a lot about you! The Princess never mentioned that you were a- a-”

“Human?” I asked.

She nodded. “Even though your species is mentioned in story books, there isn’t anything official. Why, I believe you could be classified as an entirely new species!” I raised an eyebrow. Is that so? “Can we start over? I don’t want to get off on the wrong hoof.” Her face went bright red. “I-I mean foot! I’m so sorry, was that offensive?” My headache from earlier was starting to return. I rubbed my eyes and sighed.

“I think starting over sounds good. As I said, my name is Artemis.” I looked to Lyra out of the corner of my eye. “I can’t imagine what the princess has been telling you about me.”

“Oh, nothing much.” Twilight's smile got a little forced and her eye started twitching. “Just that you’re extremely powerful. You were, up until this morning, considered a myth.” Lyra scowled. “Oh, and I’m to be your therapist which, can I just say, I am absolutely thrilled about!” Yay, therapy! She went quiet for a second. “There is one small, teensy-weensy thing that I find even more incredible and exciting.”

I got a little uneasy. “And, what’s that?” I thought I heard the sound of a length of twine breaking.

“That you where, at one point in time, to the Princess, what she is to me.” Great. She knows. “I honestly have no idea how I’ve never heard of you before today! This is- I can’t even-” It seems like Celestia tried to forget about me. Not the other way around. But then why was she still wearing the ring?

I cleared my throat. “Yes, well, It’s complicated. All that business aside, I just came here to meet you and get a feel for your character. Now that I’ve done that, I think I’ll be going.” I turned to leave. And moved past Lyra and the Guard who was wondering if he should leave or not.

“My character?” Twilight asked. I stopped.

“That’s right, your character. I need to know who’s going to be my therapist, don’t I? Now that I know, I’ll be going. I shall see you tomorrow, bright and early.” I turned to leave again.

“Wait!” Ugh. I stopped and turned around with a sigh.

“Yes?” She looked like a child asking her parent to buy her candy.

“I have so many questions! Can you please stay for a bit?”

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Look, Twilight… It’s been a really long morning. I should be getting back home. I also need to spend some time showing Lyra the ropes.” Twilight's face lit up.

“Can I-?”

“No.” I interrupted holding my hand up. “You are not my student.” Twilight pouted. I turned to leave again. “Come on, Lyra.”

Lyra put her hand on my arm to stop me. “Actually, Artemis.” Double ugh. “I think this will be a great opportunity for you two to get to know each other.” Twilight squealed in delight.

“Who made you my mother?” I said. Her demeanour became exactly that. Like a mother scolding her child.

“You want to better yourself, don’t you? I would like for you be at your peak if you’re going to teach me.” Everything went quiet. Twilight looked between us in confusion.

“So, you are her apprentice?” She said to Lyra who grinned at her.

“That’s right. By royal decree! That means she’s stuck with me.” I rolled my eyes.

“Ooh, I’m so jealous of you!” Twilight said to her. Lyra froze. I smiled. “When I first started out as the Princesses student, I learned very quickly that the most important thing you can do is not try to impress, just listen.” Her face went slightly pink. “I’m still getting that trough my head to this day…” She cleared her throat. “Just take it slow.” She looked to Lyra’s cracked horn. “She’ll help you. I’m sure of it.” Lyra smiled. “Artemis?” Twilight asked.

“Hmm?”

She opened the front door to the library wider “Would you like to come inside?”

“Good luck.” I heard the guard say as the door closed. I forgot he was there...


Now that I was finally inside, I got a good look around. The main room was slightly round in shape with a domed ceiling. Separating the wall and the ceiling looked to be a metal rail. A trap to catch sap that would otherwise ruin the books, but instead was guided away to an unknown place through a small hole in the wall. A staircase lead to an upstairs area and there was a door that lead to a kitchen from what I could tell. The walls below the metal rail that didn’t have windows, were completely covered in bookshelves, which where filled with books that ranged from small scrolls, to tomes that must have weighed a good few pounds.

However, there were more books in the room than there were spaces for them. Piles accumulated in areas of less walking traffic, creating pseudo ‘corridors’ to areas like the staircase, the desk, the door to the kitchen and what I assume to be the door to the bathroom. I glanced at one of the books. ‘Ancient Equestria.’ It must be a nightmare if the one you want is at the bottom of the pile…

“Sorry about the mess.” Twilight said. “I’ve been doing a survey for the Princess on the ambient magic of the Everfree. That’s actually how I discovered the area where-” I was distracted by a scratching sound.

On top of one of the piles sat a small boy. He’d probably come up to my knee if he was standing next to me. He was covered in Blue scales that seemed to catch the light and shimmer slightly. Huge green eyes with slit pupils, stared intently at what he was writing and his face seemed to protrude ever so slightly to form a snout. The scales on the top of his head where bright green and slightly longer than the rest. My eyebrows raised. He’s a Dragon. What’s a dragon doing here?

He was writing something on a piece of parchment. Twilight walked over to him and looked down at his work. “What are you doing? You wrote down our entire conversation!” He stopped writing and gave her a quizzical look.

“Was I not supposed to? You’re the one that said you were going to dictate!”

Twilight pinched the bridge of her nose. “Yes, I meant dictate my observations, Spike. Observations.” She took the parchment from him and read it over. “Well, you did get the observations of the subject down.” I’m not a subject damnit. Spike smiled. “But this entire bottom half of the parchment has to go.” Spike frowned. Very reluctantly, Twilight neatly folded the parchment between where her observations of me ended and the rest of the conversation began and winced as she slowly tore the parchment in two. “Stupid Spike, making me waste good parchment…” She grumbled to herself as she reluctantly tore the waste parchment into pieces with her magic and deposited it into a nearby container.

Spike harrumphed and crossed his arms. “Well you should have been more specific with what you wanted me to do.” Twilight ignored him and turned to me.

“Sorry about that.” She said, bashfully. “Allow me to introduce you two.” I walked over to the boy. “This is Spike. He’s my number one assistant!” Spike puffed his chest out at this. “He’s also my little brother. You already know Lyra spike.” Lyra waved; Spike returned the greeting. Twilight gestured to me. “This is Artemis. I’m going to be her therapist because she has an alcohol problem!” Overshare Twilight… We both shook hands.

“How do you do?” I said.

“Nice to meet you.” He replied. At least he didn’t grab me like Twilight did. I like him already.

Twilight cut in. “So now that everyone’s met everyone let’s get down to the questions!” Her horn lit and a scroll materialised in her hand. She unfurled it and it was long enough to reach the floor. Great. “Question one! Where di-”

“Wait!" I cut her off. "Before we start, do you mind if I use the bathroom?” That seemed to take the wind out of her sails.

“Oh, um, sure. It’s through that door over there.” She said, pointing to it.

“Thanks.”

Now that I had a moment of peace, I stared at myself in the mirror thinking about the size of that list of questions. I remembered what Lyra said. ‘Her thirst for knowledge is unrivalled.’ Whilst having a thirst for knowledge is a great thing. A thirst for knowledge when it comes to me is definitely not. I have lived a very long life. In living a long life, you come to know things. Things that can change the way people live, for better or for worse. Things the people of this world can only imagine, things that they couldn’t. Things that, when said aloud the right way, could create things, could destroy things… Could awake things… I reached into my cloak, pulled out my flask and took a long swig. I was going to have to deflect her. A lot. Alright, let’s get this over with.

Upon exiting the bathroom, I saw that Twilight was sat at her desk scribbling something down and Spike was bringing her extra scrolls and quills. She didn’t acknowledge him when he placed the things down next to her, she was too engrossed in her work. He didn’t seem to mind; this was probably normal for him. He just walked away and sat on a pile of books ready to listen. Lyra made herself comfortable on a pile of books too, much to Twilight's vexation. I walked over to Twilight and peered over her shoulder. She was writing a letter to Celestia. About me. She really is a teacher’s pet…

I cleared my throat which startled twilight into knocking over an inkwell, ruining her letter. “Will you two, please, stop making me waste good parchment!?”

I stepped back. “Sorry Twilight. But I’d really like to get this Q and A going.” I took Lyra and Spikes lead and made myself comfortable on a pile of books. Twilight's eye twitched but she didn’t say anything. Her horn lit and she materialised her scroll full of questions again. Here we go.

“Right, that’s probably a good idea.” She said. She unfurled the scroll and looked to Spike to make sure he was ready to write down my answers. He was. She cleared her throat and began. “Now, my first question is a simple one. Where did you come from?” A simple one she says. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Only two people know my true origins and that was two people too many if you ask me. I was going to have to lie to her. Off to a great start. But what should I tell her?

I sighed. “Far away.” Spike stopped writing. Twilight spoke up.

“Um, I’m sorry, ‘far away’? What do you mean? Like, east of Neighpon or below the Everfree?”

“Sure.” Was my simple reply.

“Okay…” She was smart enough not to push. She looked to spike to make sure he was still recording. “At one point in time, you were the Princesses mentor and teacher just like she is to me. While I have a million questions regarding that alone, what I want to know now is, how old are you exactly?” Lyra was listening intently. I thought about that for a second. My age wasn’t exactly a secret, but how to explain?

“I looked like this when Celestia and Luna were born. I can’t tell you the exact number because I don’t remember." I thought for a moment more. "Well that’s actually not true, I’ve lived for so long that the distant years get muddled into a sort of, soup, of images in my head. I’m sure if I meditated for a while on only thinking about my age, it would eventually come to me. But at the moment, I just don’t know.” Twilight looked at me with stars in her eyes.

“The things we could learn from you…” she said wistfully. Spike cleared his throat. “Oh, um, sorry. I’d like to get into talking about magic now if you don’t mind?” Lyra wiggled excitedly.

Yes, questions that aren't about me! Quick, Artemis, roll with it!“I think that’s a good idea. Lyra, you should pay attention too.” I said. Her ears flicked to me but she stayed silent.

“Great!” Twilight skimmed the long parchment to select a question. “I noticed when I was examining you, that you have a large, black equilateral triangle on the back of your cloak. I also noticed that you have the same triangle as decoration in your ear. My question is, what are their significance?”

I raised a brow. “What makes you think they have anything to do with magic?” She got very embarrassed.

“Well, I’m not exactly sure what you know about me. But I’m an avid researcher.” I looked around at the piles of books.

“You don’t say?” She didn’t seem to hear me. Spike snickered. She continued on.

“I’ve come across the shape a few times in some old notes as well as a few books on magic, but it’s never been explained.” So, Celestia didn’t erase everything about me… “It was just sort of assumed that the reader would know what it meant. I have a few ideas, but seeing you wearing it indicates to me that the shape means something personal for you.” Damn this kid is sharp.

I stood up and took off my cloak then laid it down flat on the pile of books so that the triangle was visible. “Well Twilight, your right. I’m impressed.” She beamed. The praise of a teacher must mean a lot to her. “The triangle actually represents a few things.” Both Lyra and Twilight were listening as if there was nothing else in the world. “First of all, the three points of the shape represent the three most important cores of magic itself. Three things that magic needs in order for it to exist. If just one is absent, there can be no magic.” I pointed to the bottom right corner. “Mana. Magic, in this world at least-” They both looked at me strangely. “-is bound by certain laws. I’m sure you both know this, but it’s good to revisit the basics. Especially you Lyra.” She nodded. “Much like the laws of physics, some of these rules cross over, for example, the conservation of matter. Something cannot be created from nothing. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Magic works the same way and uses an energy called Mana. If you want to make a giant gout of fire, mana is the fuel. If you don’t have enough Mana, no gout of fire. Simple as that.” They were staring at the triangle. “Mana is in everything.” I pointed to the bottom left corner. “Nature. As in, everything. The water we drink. The food we eat. The air we breathe. The ground we walk. The plants that grow. The animals that hunt. You get the idea. No nature, no mana.” The sound of Spike writing was deafening in the silent room. I pointed to the top of the triangle. “Will.”

“Will?” Twilight asked.

I looked to her in confusion. “I thought you are Celly- I mean… Princess Celestia’s student. How do you not know what I mean?” That ruffled Twilight a bit and she raised her voice.

“I’ve never had it explained to me like this before!” I stared at her. She went red and covered her mouth. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to shout.” I rolled my eyes.

“It’s alright, just listen and I’ll explain.” I looked at Lyra and asked. “When you want to levitate a book. What’s the first thing you do?” She thought about that.

“Well, first I reach inside for my mana, then I bring it up into the tip of my horn and-”

“No, no, no. That’s not true.” I said, interrupting her. “Think about it. When you want to levitate a book. What’s the first thing you do?”

She looked lost in thought. “I… I reach f-for my mana and…” Seriously? How could this have stumped her? This girl is a serious over-thinker.

“Lyra. Look at me.” She did. She looked very upset that she wasn’t giving the right answer. That’s okay. She’s learning. “What is the first thing you do. When you want to levitate a book?” She thought again. There is a specific moment that teachers live for. A certain light behind a student’s eyes. A light that banishes the darkness and allows them to see clearly, as if seeing for the first time in their lives. I saw that look on Lyra’s face, and smiled. She understood.

“I want.

I placed a hand on her shoulder. “Exactly. You want. You have to want a spell to happen in order to cast it. You want to lift that book, just like you wanted to push past my barrier, but that’s not enough. There’s a phrase, ‘I want, never gets.’ If you just ‘want’ something to happen, it usually never does. You have to will it to happen. Make it happen. You have to be the change you want to see. Do you understand?”

“I think so.”

I looked at Twilight. “Lyra told me that you are very powerful for your age.” She looked down embarrassed and started fiddling with her fingers. “On a side note, how old are you exactly?”

“Twenty-one.” She replied meekly.

“So, like I said, powerful for your age.”

Spike snorted. “She turned her parents into potted plants when she was young, but the Princess managed to change them back. She also hatched me with her magic on the same day. That’s why I’m her little brother!” He said with pride in his voice. "That’s when she got accepted into Celestia’s school!” Her face went as red as a tomato and she covered her eyes with her hands.

“Impressive.” I said. “That means that you have a lot of mana at your disposal. If you had the right strength of will, I daresay you could change the world.” She looked very nervous. “Don’t worry, teaching you to hone your will, will be part of Celestia’s job. I’ll make sure of it. That way, turning someone into a potted plant won’t happen unless you want it to.”

I ran my hands over the triangle on the back of my cloak and continued with the explanation. “The shape is a triangle, not only for the three points of magic, but because the triangle is the strongest shape in nature, just as magic is the strongest force. It is an equilateral triangle because all three points of magic are equal in their importance and in their dependence on one another.”

“Fascinating…” Twilight said, also running her hands over the shape. “It all makes sense now. But one thing I don’t understand…”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Why is it black?” Lyra asked, taking over where Twilight left off, who nodded and looked to me.

“Well, that’s actually more to do with me than it is for the laws of magic. As I said earlier on, I’m from far away. I’m from so far away that where I’m from has no magic what so ever-”

“But that’s impossible!” Twilight interrupted with a shout. “You said it yourself, mana exists in all things!” I got annoyed.

“Oh, and I suppose you know do you? Yes, very well, you correct the ancient immortal being on what they do and do not know.” She was quiet now, regretting her outburst. I can’t tell her where I’m from. I can’t. I want so badly to forget. “I’m sorry, guys. I know it doesn’t make sense, but you’re just going to have to take my word for it.” I sighed. Spike was still writing. “One of the reasons I’m so powerful is that there is no magic where I’m from. It’s also the reason the triangle is black, so let’s get back to that shall we?” They nodded. “Good. As I was saying, there is no magic where I’m from, so my body doesn’t know how to process it. Even after all these years it still doesn’t know how.” Lyra looked shocked. “But that’s not exactly a bad thing for me. Because my body doesn’t understand mana, it means that I don’t have a mana well - a place to store it. So, my body continually sucks in mana from the environment. All the time. Never stopping. Because there is nothing to fill. Much like the colour black absorbs light, I absorb mana. Thus, the triangle is black.”

Twilight found her voice again. “If you continually absorb mana, but don’t have a mana well, then where does it go?”

I looked her dead in the eyes and said. “I have no idea.” Spike stopped writing and looked at me. For an immortal being as old as I am to tell you that they have no idea is a scary thing. When taking into account the amount of time in the past I’ve sat and thought about the question she asked, yet still come up with the answer, ‘I have no idea’, really shows just how much we don’t know about the universe. It’s humbling in a way. Also, terrifying.

I picked up my cloak and put it back on. “Alright, it’s nearly lunch time and I’m getting hungry, so just one more question and then we need to get some food.”

“Okay, one question has been really bugging me. You can do magic, yet don’t have a horn. How is that possible?”

I laughed. “I do have a horn in a way.” I twirled my staff. She looked confused. I continued. “As for how I can do magic without a horn?” I thought about that. “I have had a long time to learn how to tell the environment what I want it to do. Exerting my will on it. But even after all this time I can only affect it in minuscule ways unless I have a medium like your horn.” I demonstrated by holding my hand above a book and exerted some of my will. The book floated from the pile and into my hand. Twilight was fascinated. I then grabbed my staff, held it up and tapped it down onto the floor. The piles of books started to float, pushing spike off of them with an ‘oof’, and a ‘hey!’ and rearranged themselves into alphabetical order and into neat piles, leaving all parties present to stare in amazement. The room was silent once more. “Now, my stomachs growling, so I need to be going. Come on, Lyra.” I turned to leave. “Twilight? I’ll see you tomorrow bright and ea-”

“Wait!” She said, grabbing my cloak. What is with everyone grabbing me today? “Just one more question! Please?”

“Twilight…”

“It won’t take long I swear!”

I shut my eyes “Ugh. Fine. But after this, no more. Promise?”

She nodded fervently “Yes, I promise!” I leaned against a pile of books.

“Go on then. Ask.” She seemed to be getting her thoughts together. Then she nodded.

“What exactly is the Princess to you?”

“Yeah, I’m curious about that as well.” Spike added, rubbing the bump on his head from when he fell.

I raised an eyebrow. I was not expecting this. “Huh?”

“The Princess.” Twilight said. “Princess Celestia. What is she to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when she was here and she was telling us about you, she seemed to talk about you in an almost revering tone, telling us how amazing you were and how you would do anything to help your friends. She told us how much you meant to her and how you helped her and Princess Luna.” Aww, Celly… “Yet at the same time, she contradicted herself, calling you a good for nothing coward and a loser who likes to drink too much.” Ouch, Celly…

She continued. “Even now as I’m telling you this, you don’t seem particularly bothered by it. In fact, you seem to have great respect for her, even going as far as to give her a nickname. ‘Celly’, I think you called her earlier?” Damn that slip-up. I nodded. “So, what exactly is she to you? Or you to her for that matter? I know you were her teacher but are you also like, her protector, or her friend or her confidant? And how could you let her say those things to you and then go back to being all buddy-buddy with her?”

I smiled. Then started to chuckle. Then started to laugh. Hysterically. Twilight and Spike looked at each other in confusion. “What? What’s so funny?” Spike said. I began to calm down and wiped the tears from my eyes.

“Oh, I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Thank you for that.”

“You’re… welcome?” Said Twilight.

I might as well tell them now... “Everything you just listed is exactly what we are and more. As for your question,” I continued. “It would be weird if we didn’t act like that.”

“What do you mean?” asked Twilight.

“That’s what Married couples do.”

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