• Published 3rd Sep 2021
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Definitions - Techno Flare

I was hard on myself during my time as Princess Twilight's student. Nothing but my studies had mattered ever since she saved me from my own magic. When I finally burned out, Equestria was on fire.

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Chapter II

Sleep debts were something I was accustomed to.

My payment for the debt the morning after my birthday was my tolerance for the inconveniences of the world.

Unfortunately for me, due dates don’t exactly care about tolerance, especially when the one enforcing the due date is the ruler of the nation. Fortunately for me, the debt payment did not include my cognitive functions, and this research report needed my whole brain.

This stuffed nook of an apartment was cozy, but often did not leave much breathing room. Three cubicles were all I needed, and whatever else I could’ve wanted was within walking distance. Sleeping, studying, and keeping food close by – in case the other two needed to happen without breaks – was my allocation of space. Books piled high in stray corners, enough to make foals want to use them for building blocks. The bedsheets were left unmade, browning from the weeks of use without a wash. The walls were decorated with notes, and any decor beyond those was covered with dust. It was a place to which I resigned.

That day, my brain preferred to do its work in the park. I quickly filled my bags and headed off along the cobble streets of Canterlot, my mind using the winds of the open air to power my thoughts.

Petrification magic was the topic of this research report. I wrote two pages of background knowledge, from the earliest cockatrices to the crystallization of powerful magical beings. I gave a full rundown of the methodology of the spell, including references to the original incantation and an explanation of the headspace of the spell. I mused upon further possibilities in the research and application of the magic, some of which the princess might pawn off to a review board for discussion of its viability. These rubric-bound portions I could write under any sedative or sleep debt.

I only needed to finish the paper with a ‘related friendship lesson.’ This required my full attention. The royal ruler was not interested in hearing about more conversations during my running practices, so I needed to come up with some other life experience which I could apply to this report. Somehow, I would find a way to stretch my memories with my creative freedom and language control in order to create a sufficiently productive essay. This process took time, and although the princess controlled the raising of the sun and moon, she could not move the hands of a clock backwards just for me.

Perhaps adding something about my encounter last night could help? I argued both sides before relying on some advice which the ruler herself had mentioned in one of our recent lessons. I have to be ‘A Mare of My Word’ if I want to be respected among any community, including scientists and researchers. She portrayed it along the same lines as honesty playing into good friendships, although we were talking about leadership positions.

Princess Twilight Sparkle was incredible in so many ways, but this friendship thing always baffled me. How could a pony earn wings from fraternizing? In all my years of studying, magic has fooled me in unexpected ways. Yet, even this event confused experts for two decades and still was not solved. I could understand seeing the value in something which caused the most important change in one’s life, but forcing it upon another pony who is going to school for a wildly different venture is delusion at best. Right? Right.


Yet, she has been overly helpful to me. Giving me guidance in order to fine-tune my casting during that first year, she catapulted my abilities. She provided opportunities for me to go above and beyond what other students were doing. She shared herself with me, allowing me to peer behind the curtains of an incredibly influential pony, so that I might be able to do the same one day. I’m sure that my reports, lessons, and questions took her away from the most important duties in Equestria at times, but never once did she leave me hanging.

I looked up to her. I gave her the whole of my respect. If I needed to write out some friendship lessons for her sake, I would.

As I stepped onto the grass of the park in northern canterlot, the memories of Twilight’s lessons and the lavish scenery around me began to meld within my senses. The bushes that scattered the sloped field shifted and distorted as they grew into walls of dark green leaves. The flowers sprouted into rows and diligently placed patches. Soon I realized where my mind was taking me – the Canterlot gardens, where three creatures hung motionless in a petrified prison. The perfect conclusion to this paper would be recalling the stories of this statue and how friendship tied into it.

I sat on the grass, picked up a quill, and wrote in the rising sunlight, extending my neck to soak it all in.

Thank you, Princess Twilight Sparkle.

My engrossed mind was shaken out of its focus by a flitted touch on my shoulder. I swatted and looked, expecting a fly, but instead I made contact with another unicorn.

He lost his balance immediately.

“White Noise! I’m so sorry.” I scooped him up in my aura, hanging him beside the paper and quill. I checked things over, glad to be finished. “What brings you here, White?”

Landing shakily on his hooves, the light gray stallion stood tall but was not any taller than myself. “I was trying to get your attention earlier, I was just on my way to the school.”

My eyes wandered to the sun as the assignment withered, decomposing into an ethereal yellow spiral that shot west towards the Canterlot Castle. “How long did it take you to build up the courage to come tap me?” I cursed under my breath, frustrated with my fixation. I quickly placed myself back into my surroundings.

“It must’ve been a good five minutes at least.” His smooth voice ran through my ears, barely even taking hold in my mind.

“So yeah, Ms. Scribble is gonna have our hides.” I stood on the grass, immediately drilling my hooves into the dirt. The school was about 1200 meters away, and getting both of us there was gonna take a lot of energy but I didn’t see many other choices. There were too many buildings between us and the school, and luckily the park was devoid of other life. The hearth within my heart revved to a blazing glow as I panicked, trying to slow down my thoughts enough to teleport us.

“Luster,” I heard a faint call whisper by my ears with the wind. “Can you hear me? For the third time, we don’t have school today.”

I inhaled and opened my eyes as I broke my focus away from the spell. “My birthday was last night, and I know it was on a Thursday.” My face lifted one eyebrow in White’s general direction, barely raising my head as I gasped again. “Today is Friday, right?”

He closed his eyes, lighting his horn in an off-white glow. “Let me see if I have it in my saddlebags, but we got a letter late last night. Yep, here it is.” As he let my magic take hold of the Academic Dean’s hornwriting, he added, “Also, for all the years we’ve known each other, you’ve never told me your birthday. Happy belated.”

“Thanks,” I muttered. I couldn’t believe the words on the scroll. The school closed for the day because of a mishap with the cauldron in the science lab? It took out a whole wall? Mr. Sprout had a tendency to go overboard, but did this actually happen?

His tone finally found some emphasis, I just didn’t expect the emotion of choice to be brooding. “It’s another bad sign. First the cutiemap goes haywire, then this happens. It’s not looking good for unicorns.”

“Bad sign?” I asked, sliding the scroll back into his saddlebags. “What do you mean?” I leveled with his dark green eyes, but he only glanced back with a scowl. “Are you okay, White?”

“Follow me to the school, let me show you something.” Meandering out of the grassy park, past the benches and scattered trees, White Noise kept his stride slow.

Since my plans for the day were cracked wide open, I needed to fill them with something semi-productive, and seeing my hometown neighbor so enthusiastic about something for once had to be noteworthy. I quickly assembled my saddlebags as I lurched into motion. I shook the stars out of my head as I got up too quickly and caught up to him. This headache was getting annoying.

Soon we were among the lively streets of Canterlot. Although not crowded, busy ponies, changelings, griffons, hippogriffs and dragons were carrying shopping bags, rushing to meetings, or sharing meals in the outdoor cafes. The overwhelming majority of the crowd were those pastel ponies, but the shiny scales and exoskeletons stuck out, and the stray kirin horn was a beacon of merging cultures. Canterlot harbored most of these other creatures, since the ambassadors and important diplomats all gathered here, at least that’s what Twilight told me.

The walls of buildings within the market district rose high above the creatures below, and the smooth stones around us echoed the sounds. Yet, the sun beat down on the backs of these lives, and so each stand was kind enough to lend some shade to the streets. We passed by different shops and street vendors as well, most of which were kind enough to wave with a smile, but after a few minutes of walking through the market district, we happened upon a character.

“Magic here! Get your fancy magic here! Spells like no other, and I’ve got all kinds of em!” Balloon-shaped vials and conic beakers, each with their own color of cork, lined the table and the support beams up to its pyramid roof. He reached out with one in his hoof in our direction as we walked past, hoping to achieve his goals and make his money.

I was ready to put up a bubble of sound around him without even looking, but White Noise stopped on a dime and swiveled. “Where’d you get those? The Potion Lab in Hollow Shades, it looks like. Or were you planning on pawning these off as ‘homemade’?”

The seasoned salespony of a unicorn took this in stride, firing right back. “And who’s to say I didn’t just take some, er, inspiration? And besides, reusing these vials is good for the environment. At least, that’s what ol’ Princess up there tells me.” He gave a confident head bob in the direction of the looming Canterlot Castle. The sun glared over the castle’s silhouette above me, and I couldn’t get a clear look at its usual glory.

“Really?” White Noise pressed, his smooth voice squirming into the conpony’s ears. “Why don’t you take one for me right here, then? If you made them, then they’re safe and you know exactly what the effects are.”

I had never seen him like this before. The foal I once knew bore through the stand and the vendor’s skull with his parental stare. His concerned visage was replaced with one of hostility. “White Noise, let’s go. This guy isn’t worth our time.”

The vendor’s blue hue gradually transitioned to pink in his cheeks as he clamped his teeth down. “Interfering with the marketplace, defamation, is a crime, you know. Get out of my sight before I call the Guard.”

White, the idiot he is, stood there in the shadow of the stand.

I took a step back and stabilized. I was gonna have to break this up. “You’re part of the problem with magic today. Ponies like you abuse the craft for profit without realizing its potential for destruction and impact on ponies’ well-being. These love potions of yours could, and most likely will, cause decades of depression in unsuspecting teens.”

My horn revved to life, finding my focus point immediately. The vendor made good on his threat, shouting,“Guards!”

I tore White back from the stand, lifting him up as a teal mare Pegasus and a charcoal stallion earth pony in golden, blinding armor rounded the corner. I walked between the two, trying not to shout. “Alright, you two.” He struggled and wiggled around in my magic, even attempting to shout. Glad I included that soundproof spell, I turned towards the two guards.

“Luster, what seems to be the problem here?” the stallion asked.

Before my head could come up with diplomatic excuses, I heard a muffled chuckle, and then a burst of laughter came forth from the vendor. “Oh I just got into an argument with somepony over here who was disturbing me and criticizing my merchandise. And yet he’s the hypocrite here.” He pointed one hoof at me while nearly bursting the bubble I had made for White. “You walk around with her, and you want to talk to me about ‘the problem with magic’? Get real, buddy.” He walked back around to his protected stand while we were left in the sunlight.

I dropped White after hearing that. The Guards split up and talked to both parties. I dared to look around at the ponies and creatures who were passing by.

I couldn’t read them. The rainbows of colors and myriad shapes of the different creatures in every which direction were too many to analyze, and they were gone before I could discern them apart. I felt my vision blurring slightly; this headache wouldn’t let go of me. I wondered what they all were thinking about me before I realized that I shouldn’t care at this point. It was a stupid situation that I found myself amidst. None of it was helping anypony, and I would rather be at the library reading up in order to disprove bozos like these in the future. That crazy day was three years ago, I just wished that ponies like these would let it go.

The pegasus was conversing with White, but I intruded. “I’ll make sure he doesn’t get in any more trouble around here, officer,” I told her. “Sorry this all happened.” I gave a sheepish smile to keep things lax, and she gave me a nod before going towards the other Guard. I looked back, and the blue unicorn had uncorked a vial, showing its contents to the Guards. He looked back at us with the pleading eyes of a puppy, innocent to the dangers this world posed, afraid of the consequences that preyed on his innocence.

I turned back to White Noise as we started to walk briskly towards the school again, now in its sight and approaching through its red brick walkway which streaked through the large green space. “What in Celestia’s name was that?” His resolve never wavered, and I waited a solid three steps for a response. “We grew up as next door neighbors nearly our whole lives in Baltimare, but never once have I seen you like this. Since when was this you?”

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Luster.” He chuckled, then proposed a hesitant question. “When was the last time we even chatted like this?”

I ran through my memories of the current semester and the summer preceding it. “It was just a few weeks ago. I know I’ve been busy with school, but White you never mentioned anything about ‘magic problems.’ Nopony has.”

Somepony was yelling in the distance, and although I saw White’s eyes scanning ahead, I stayed focused on him. “If you consider eight to be a few, then you’re right. We talked a bit about potentially traveling home, which you never got back to me about.” His mannerisms returning to their usual mundane nature, he waved a dismissive hoof. “I hope you had a nice stay and got plenty of work done.”

Before I had a chance to apologize or reply to any of it, I could no longer ignore the crowd which had gathered in front of the school. Their echoes resounded against the School of Magic, but it never felt whole or cohesive because of the cavernous opening in its side. The jaws of white bricks and metallic foundations jutted out behind the crowd, and their cries bounced around the backbone of the school.

My acquaintance veered his course to enter my personal bubble as we stepped onto the trespassed property. “This is what I wanted to show you.”

A group of fourty or so surrounded the explosion damage in a semicircle. Most of them were earth ponies, but a few pegasi as well as a couple dragons and a griffon were in the mix, all of varying ages. They wore that same smug hostility that I saw White showcase. Amidst the rogue cheering, whooping, and laughter, their unified cheer was jarring.

Regulations for conjurations! Regulations for conjurations!

White Noise continued towards the crowd before I stopped him. The chants and jeers of the crowd nearly overwhelmed my senses. “Hold your horses there, pal. We need to talk.” He reeled back, and we sat at the edge of the lawn.

I looked at the crowd before throwing the first question. “Who even are these creatures?” I shook my head, realizing the accusatory tone I used. “You know what I mean.”

White chuckled, unnaturally amused and vibrant. “I met them a few months back, if we’re still counting eight as a few.” He looked towards the crowd, who just opened their ranks for a unicorn to join in. “A classmate of ours in barriers and weaponized magics found a flier one day. ‘Come to learn the truth about magic,’ was its main slogan. They taught him about everything — the commodification of rogue magic, the unregulated procedures for developing spells and distributing enchantments, the abuse of powers to achieve wealth and status — and hearing about this, I had to know if it were true. They welcomed my scrawny, helpless figure with so much warmth, and they helped open my eyes to the world.”

He looked back at me like I was crying, with tears of his own welling up. “I remember the day you came back to school three years ago. I had told some ponies at lunch how I knew you, how we grew up together.” He forced out a shudder. “They feared you, Luster. Even though everyone knew the story, they could barely comprehend how a pony their age could do something that powerful.” A hoof clasped my shoulder and a compassionate frown met my eyes. “I saw how it hurt you. I saw the crazy looks and lonely lunches. I saw how you clammed up behind those books, and still do.”

I looked away. White was stepping way out of line here, and I could feel the outburst of rejection building up. But I never let it out. I wanted to hear what he had to say, to see if he could tell me something new.

“Don’t you want to understand why it all happened?”

Eventually my impulses won. “What could you tell me that Princess Twilight couldn’t tell me?” My vision blacked everything else out but his eyes. The glassy orbs were stained green, and behind those irises were the feelings he now harbored. As the outcasts on the schoolyard playground back home, we shared emotional moments before, but this time his eyes were different.

They held no doubt.

He backed off, ready to walk towards the crowd.

“The truth.”

He turned and joined the semicircle, a round of hoof bumps and camaraderie welcoming him. The group around him stood tall, cherishing this event and this ‘truth’ they held.

At this point, I sat at the edge of the lawn as the gray clouds began shading speckled patches of grass. The clouds covered the school, a beacon of research and information. This place was where the ruler shared what she knew, continuing the tradition of everything passed down to her. The clouds shifted to shade the crowd, a small group of individuals who held something different, something that wouldn’t be in the libraries or schools. My option was clear, at least for now.

I sat, the grass my companion and the clouds my messengers, as I witnessed the protest from afar.