• Published 3rd Mar 2024
  • 1,073 Views, 43 Comments

Sickness to Health - David Silver

His life had become pain and sickness, but a bright new world offered an alternative path where not only it glittered, but it offered him the chance to shine as well. He would never be the same again, but life as a hippogriff can't be worse.

  • ...

4 - To Know

Ariel wandered down the hallway of the school. She was upright, walking on her equine feet with the soft clip-clop of her hooves as she looked around at the hints to the nature of the school around her. A framed picture of the student body with the staff behind them, and various plaques and medals on display. "Starlight, Starlight." She mumbled that to herself. "I know her name, but where is her office?"

She pointed at each door as she went past them, tail flicking behind her thoughtfully. "I hope she knows how to do this." A loud, sharp noise echoed through the hallway.

Clap, clap, clap. It came again, and Ariel followed it. The hallways twisted and turned in this strange place, and she wound up standing outside an open door, and beyond it, a pegasus pony. "Hello?" she dared softly as she came up to the door. "Everything alright?"

"It will be!" The voice sounded warm and soft. "I've got to get this window fixed."

Ariel relaxed with a strained laugh. A janitor! She was jumping at janitors. She felt quite silly for the whole thing. "Can I help?" She stepped into the room, seeing it was a typical office. Desk, chairs, the big glass window, and the tools to repair it. "I'm a fast learner."

"Thank you. That's nice to hear." The pegasus put a small blue orb on the floor, and it began floating upwards. "I'm using some funny tools Twilight provided." The pegasus pointed a wing at the floating orb. "That's supposed to help hold the window in place."

"But you're just holding the glass?" Ariel cocked her head, watching.

"I am indeed!" The pegasus pressed forward against the glass. "That orb's supposed to seal it in there, so I can stop holding it. This thing has... mmm... weight to it."

Ariel made her way closer to the glass, touching the sides. "Feels solid, I think." She didn't really know what it was meant to feel like, but if it needed to stay in place, why not just nail it in? The answer came to her just moments later. The edges of the school were made of thick crystal. Was one supposed to put nails in crystal? "I'll help you hold it up at least." She got in with the janitor and propped herself against the window to lend a talon or three.

"Aaaand release."

Ariel let go and watched, flexing her claws. The window stayed where it was, and she gave a pleased chirrup. "Wow!" She could see the orb was busily roaming around the edges of the pane as if making sure it was all sealed in place. "Magic?"

"Yup." The janitor turned to Ariel. "I appreciate the assist. Those windows get really heavy. Still, aren't you supposed to be in class?"

"I was just going to visit a counselor. She's an expert in magic."

"Expert? Hmm. Probably Twilight or Starlight then. What's the trouble?"

"I want to learn." Ariel gestured at herself as she fell to all fours. She could stand on twos, but four felt easier. Natural? Easier for sure. "They said not many other creatures manage it, but I want to try."

"Huh. Good luck." The janitor got their tools in a bag. "I have to get the old, broken, window out of here. You have a good day, kid."

"Wait!" Ariel grabbed for the janitor, catching a shoulder. "Which way was that counselor's office?"

"Uh, down that hall, last door on the left." The janitor pointed the way. "Hope it works out."

Armed with knowledge, Ariel thanked them and dashed off towards the door. Counselor Starlight, read the plaque on the door quite clearly. With a nervous, but excited, giggle, she knocked on the door.

"Come in," rang out a friendly female voice.

Ariel stepped through the doorway into the office. She wasn't sure what she had been expecting. She hadn't done any research at all, but she still felt like she had some idea of what a counselor's office would be like. A sofa to lie on, a notepad and pen to scribble with, a coffee machine for the one that stays up too late. A small potted plant was on their desk with a little tag that labeled them as 'Phyllis'.

She giggled at the idea of a named plant and came the rest of the way in. Anyone that named their houseplant couldn't be all bad, she decided to herself. "Miss Starlight?"

Starlight inclined her head. "Hello, but if you're going to use 'Miss', then Glimmer is what should follow it. You're a student?"

"A new one." Ariel hopped up into a chair facing Starlight, desk between them. "My name's Ariel, nice to meet you." She offered a hand.

Starlight met it with a hoof, touching, then shaking gently, though Ariel had to put in all the effort of grabbing. "Nice to meet you, Ariel. What brings you by today? Cocoa?" She reached for what Ariel thought had been a coffee machine and produced a mug of steaming chocolate instead. Her magic dropped several large marshmallows in it.

Ariel shook her head. "I want to learn magic!"

"You're a hippogriff?" Starlight looked over Ariel carefully. "And not a unicorn." She touched her own horn, considering that. "Many ponies want to learn magic, but it's rare for another species to attempt it."

"Rare, but not zero." Ariel lightly clapped her hands together. "Please? At least give me a chance."

Starlight shook her head. "That's not how it works, Ariel. You don't have a horn. That means you don't have a magic conduit, which is crucial to casting spells. But..." She turned to Phyllis, picking the potted plant up in a field of purple magic. "I don't mean to be harsh, but no matter how much Phyllis here wants to take a walk, they have no legs. No legs, no walking."

Ariel considered that. "I don't have any other magic though." She took the necklace from around her neck, holding it up. "Except this."

Starlight set Phyllis down and patted the plant gently as if it had just finished some trick. "It is magic. But is it your magic?"

Ariel closed her fingers around the crystal necklace. "Yes. Queen Novo gave it to me, and it saved my life. It's definitely mine."

Starlight opened her mouth, just to close it slowly. "Not exactly what I meant, but maybe I'm being close-minded. You know what? You're a rebel." She reached across to gently punch at Ariel's shoulder. "And I like that."

Ariel pumped her fist with excitement. "Really? Really really? Yay!"

"We can give it a try." Starlight brought her hooves together. "We may end up getting nowhere, but that's about the worst that'll happen. One thing." She raised hoof, flatside up. "Using magic, if you get that far, is a powerful thing that should be done carefully." She listed a bit to the side. "More carefully than I've done, if we're being honest." She sat up straighter. "Some creatures use it to harm others. That's unacceptable. Understand?"

Ariel's eyes widened at the very idea. "I would never! I want to make every, um, creature happy. It'd also be fun for me too. My magic should make smiles." She giddily shivered in place, tail swishing. "What's the first step?!"

"About that." Starlight sat back in her chair, one ear to the side. "I need to work out a lesson plan, and we need to figure out how well a hippogriff can channel magic through their portion of that orb." She pointed to Ariel's necklace. "I suppose we need to experiment first. If you just can't, we're done."

"Then we try some more!" Ariel leaned in closer, hope burning in her eyes.

"And if that doesn't work, we're stopping." Starlight spoke in a firm, stern tone. "We'll push, but only so hard. Twilight will be very upset if I let a student get hurt on my watch."

Ariel's smile vanished at that. "Hurt? Are you going to do something painful?"

Starlight waved a hoof at that. "No no no! But you might, if you keep trying to do something impossible and end up slipping in ways we don't even have words for. So let's go gently, hm?"

Ariel clasped her talons together. "Okay. Sorry." She stared at her feet. "I want to learn, but I'm not going to rush it." She took in a deep breath, sides swelling before she let it out with a hiss. "How do we start? I want to know if we're at least at the right place to start."

Starlight pointed up at her horn. "Everything I do with magic, I do through this. You won't, so, let me think. Hm. Hold it." Ariel held the crystal that dangled on her necklace firmly. "Like that, and feel it, deeper than the surface. Try to reach inside, with your mind. Feel what's coming and what's going."

"That's it?" Ariel searched inward. "I don't really..." She grumbled to herself. "You're right, it's not so easy." She grunted and grunted again. "I don't think it's working."

Starlight reached to pat Ariel gently. "I think you have homework now. Keep trying to feel it, until it feels like a part of you. If you can manage that, to feel it, we can proceed. If not, this may be a dead end. It has to be a part of you if you're going to cast spells through it." She stood and paced to the door. "I need to do some digging and thinking."

Ariel perked up at that. "And I should keep trying?" She clutched the jewel a little tighter. "I will! I'll keep trying, until it works."

"Don't push yourself too hard." Starlight guided Ariel out of the room. "For now, get to your next class." She waved even as her magic closed the door with a click of its latch securing.

Ariel lifted her crystal, allowing her to look through it for a moment. "What secrets do you hold?" she whispered to the artifact before shaking her head. "I have to keep trying." She walked the hallway back to where her friends were gathered.

The next few classes passed, and Ariel kept trying to find some bit of power within the pendant. It was warm in her hands, and could let her change between the two forms easily. It felt like it belonged to her, but was it actually a part of her?

At lunch, she sat with her friends, and the others explained the assignment they were working on. They excitedly talked about the pairs they had been assigned to and the things they planned to do, but Ariel was elsewhere, pondering the nature of her crystal.

"Ariel? Ariel? Hello?" Silverstream shook Ariel gently. "You in there?"

Ariel snapped back into awareness, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry, yeah! I'm here." She flushed lightly at being caught so distracted. "You have one of these." She held up her crystal towards Silver. "Ever feel like it was part of you?"

"I have this." Silverstream showed off her own crystal pendant. "It was a gift. Queen Novo makes sure we all get one, so we can go between the sea and the land." With a pop, she began a sea pony, awkwardly perched on her bench. "Like this!" She shifted back and sat properly. "No, I've never thought that it was a part of me, but I'm glad to have it."

Ariel considered Silverstream's crystal fragment, then her own. "Mmm, but mine saved me." She rocked in place. "I felt like I was just going to fade away, but then she gave me this." She fingered the crystal, holding it aloft. "And with this, I became a hippogriff."

Ocellus spread her wings, buzzing them excitedly. "Wow! That's neat. What were you before?"

Ariel had seen exactly zero humans in that world. The word felt like it would only make things more confusing. "A different world, with different creatures."

Ocellus nodded at that, as if that made sense to her. "Wow! Neat. I'm glad you're alright."

"Me too!" Silverstream bounced once in place. "Why are you asking about the crystal though?"

Ariel tapped at it with a claw. "Because I want to learn to use magic, like we were talking about with Rarity, remember?" She sniffed the rock. "Starlight's pretty sure I'd have to use the crystal like a unicorn uses their horn."

Gallus flapped his wings once with a shake of his head. "And?"

"So I have to know the crystal before it'll work." Ariel closed her hand around it, sealing it from view. "Know it from the inside and out. It has to be me, as much as my fingers." She spread her claws in demonstration. "That's how you use the magic part of it. But I've never thought of it like that." She suddenly burst into giggles. "I only just got it."

Author's Note:

Ariel has a mission! But that first step feels like a tall one. How does one become that close to a crystal?

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