• Published 3rd Mar 2024
  • 1,207 Views, 48 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.

  • ...

6 - Magic Crawling

Ariel gazed into the mirror, taking in the details of her form. Her eyes were a sparkling blue, her beak a little darker shade of her eyes. Her fur was a vibrant brown, but she was willing to admit it was perhaps a little too bright, from too much scrubbing and cleaning. She had a new form, at least from the one she used to have, and she liked it.

She swished her long tail behind her, barely fighting a giggle. "This is me!" The tip flicked up and down like an excited cat's tail. She giggled softly at that thought, the idea that some other creature would feel so very comfortable in their own skin, and be able to let it all out. "It is!" She held up her talons, taking in the way they flexed and moved.

She grabbed her crystal, caressing it between her talons. "And you're part of me." A pinkish glow seemed to shine from within the gemstone as if in answer. Ariel breathed slowly, just feeling the stone in her hands.

She felt like she was getting closer. She could sense something deep inside the stone, just waiting for her. "You are part of me," she let out in a slow sigh, focusing herself. "And I love me. All of me." As she did, she felt a tug inside her. She closed her eyes, clutching at her gemstone as it began to shine more and more brightly, shimmering with radiant light. With a sudden flash, she toppled, having turned herself into a sea pony without meaning to. "Oops!" That was the one spell she knew she could get from the stone. She turned back to a hippogriff, just as swiftly. "Sorry, sorry. You're not just part of me."

Ariel nuzzled her beak against the stone, gazing into it. "You are me, just as much as this swishy tail and perky ears." She giggled softly, rubbing her snout against it. "But I love me for all of me."

The stone glimmered, and she didn't transform. It felt like, mmm. She struggled to find words, but it was not unlike she was the one glowing. "I, mmm, think I have it? Starlight?"

She got no answer, which made sense, she realized. Starlight was at school, but so was Ariel, just in a different part of it. "Time to meet!" She let the gem fall back against her chest. "This hippogriff has a date, with destiny! And a magic teacher." Filled with confidence, she strode out into the hallway, waving at her fellow students on her way past.

Some were curious, some waved back, and others seemed mildly concerned at the new hippogriff prancing through the school, but she didn't let any of that bother her. At least until another hippogriff popped up. "Silver!"

"Ariel!" Silverstream grabbed Ariel in a fond embrace. "You are positively glowing." She nuzzled at Ariel's face, earning a laugh. "Literally! How do you feel?"

Literally? Ariel looked down over herself to discover that she was actually putting out a soft glow. "Oops!" She felt her face go red as she hastily turned the light off. "But I feel great! It was almost like the crystal was talking back to me."

Silverstream clapped with building excitement. "Magic! You're doing magic. Oh, no wonder little unicorns learn glowing first. It's so easy!" She laughed and hugged Ariel tightly. "Congratulations!"

"I didn't even mean to do that." But hugging Silver was fun, so she partook of it gladly. "I was just going to visit Starlight for some real magic lessons, now that I'm in the front door."

Silverstream nodded at that. "Is there more to magic? I don't know, but that sounds exciting." She angled her head sharply. "You're already doing more magic than hippogriffs normally do." She slid in to Ariel's side, walking with her. "I can't wait to see what you do!"

The two walked side by side to Starlight's office, talking about nothing in particular as they went. Ariel made sure to explain how she had found that moment of self-awareness, which helped her in her efforts. "As a hippogriff." She held up her gem. "This is us, part of us. Just imagine how you'd feel if yours went missing."

Silverstream flinched at the idea. "That sounds so wrong. Mine has never been gone, and I never want it to be." She grasped her crystal as if to be sure to avoid such a fate. "But I used to not have it."

"But we do now." Ariel hadn't existed before then, and had to take Silver's word for it. "Starlight? Ma'am?" She knocked on the door lightly. "Are you in?"

Starlight's voice sounded muffled by distance, but clear enough to make out. "Ariel, come on in."

Ariel waved at Silverstream before slipping inside to find Starlight seated behind her desk. "Hey, um."

Starlight inclined her head faintly. "Good to see you, Ariel. Adjusting to the school?"

"Absolutely! I love it here." Ariel settled into one of the chairs in front of Starlight's desk. Her eyes wandered up to Starlight's horn, her source of magic. She grabbed and held her crystal, source of her own, in theory. "I think I've made a big step forward. It's like I found myself, and the magic thing got easier. Almost."

Starlight lifted Phyllis with a bit of magic and placed them on the desk between herself and Ariel, if a little to the side. "That's wonderful! Can you show me?"

Ariel hesitated. "I can't really do much." She giggled at that. "At least not on purpose, yet." She closed her eyes with a sigh. "Part of me," she whispered gently, reaching for that relaxed state of acceptance. "Part of me," she whispered once more, opening her eyes. The crystal glowed around her neck, though she didn't turn into a sea pony this time.

Starlight sat up. Her own horn glowed as if in sympathy. "That is magic. It's not a big magic, but still, magic." She reached a hoof to gently trail over the crystal. "You're right, this is a big step forward. You've just reached unicorn foalhood levels of magic, and I don't say that in any insulting way. Most creatures never get that far."

Ariel bubbled with happiness, cheeks flushing with color. "Thank you!"

Starlight pressed her hooves together. "It only gets harder from here. Every step will take practice. I practice every day. But you made it over the biggest single bump in your way. Now you're climbing a gentle sloping hill that stretches out as far as you're willing to climb it. Are you ready? Can you do this?"

Ariel began to laugh. "I'll give it my best! If I can't do it, I'll at least enjoy the journey."

Starlight smiled at that. "Good attitude. Now, for a unicorn, it'd be about controlling things up here." She reached up and tapped the base of her horn. "For you, it'll be different. You have to get a feel for how you press and pull against that crystal of yours. Learn how to lean into it, or away from it. You have to make it dance with you. Am I making sense?"

"Dance? Oh!" Ariel did a little spin in place. "I like dancing. Okay, how do we start?"

Starlight smirked as she sat back in her chair. "Not literally." She lit up her horn bright enough for even an untrained creature to see its magic as she worked slowly through the letters of the unicorn magic system. "See how it wobbles and shakes? Each is a specific pattern. You have to practice with yours until you can do things like that too."

Ariel's eyes roamed over Starlight's horn. "Can you just tell me how?"

"I really can't." Starlight leaned forward. "I could tell a unicorn foal what they need to do, but you aren't one of those. You're in uncharted territory." She pointed to the crystal hanging over Ariel's neck. "That is your horn. You have to figure out how to make it dance its magic. Once you do that, I can start showing you what steps we need to take in that dance. For now, you're just dancing, wiggling. Learn to shake your flank before you get into specific dance moves."

Ariel craned her neck to peer at the crystal. "So no specifics? It'll be just me and it?"

"Yup." Starlight tapped her hooves together gently. "Like I said, uphill, for as long as you dare. That's the journey you're starting. Ariel, I didn't think you'd get this far, but you have, so I'm rooting for you. I want to see you get further, and I think you want that too."

Ariel laughed at that. "I definitely do! I really do! I love being me." She had never imagined that she could feel so very much herself, at all. "I will take this path. I will walk it until I find its end." She grasped her crystal between both hands. "Glow for me."

And it did, a gentle light, but it was one that came easier. Each time she coaxed it to glow, it felt simpler. It was part of her, she just had to practice flexing that finger. There was no one way to do it, and the crystal seemed happy to let her explore it. She wanted to make it dance like Starlight's had done, even if Starlight had said that would be a harder step than it had been before.

She pulled back her eyes. "You are a part of me, I am a part of you."

Starlight watched the practice for a few quiet moments. "Ariel, not to be a bother, but this will take a little time. I really should let the next student in, hm? You're welcome to come back if you have any questions."

Ariel pulled back from the crystal. "Um, can I ask one now?" She lifted the gem, giving it a slight swing. "Is it safe? Like, what happens if I try something and end up falling off a cliff?"

Starlight perked an ear at that. "Fall off a cliff? I wouldn't practice while I'm walking, but if you're worried about casting a spell, the odds of your wiggles happening to be some huge spell are vanishingly small, and the power you're putting into them wouldn't be enough to do anything disastrous." She tilted her head at Ariel. "Does that help?"

Ariel shrugged, slumping into her chair, just to almost melt from it, falling to her feet on the ground. "I get it. Right! Big long hill. No shortcuts, just a lot of climbing."

"Exactly." Starlight smiled at her eager magic student. "I look forward to seeing your progress."

Ariel happily padded back to the hallway, just to have Silverstream perk up with a smile. "You're back." Silver grabbed her friend, since that friend was entirely alright with random hugs. "How'd it go? Are you a super wizard now? Can I become one too?"

Ariel laughed brightly, walking with Silverstream through the halls of the school, happy for the company. "Not exactly. I'm a baby wizard, and I've been given crawling instructions." She nodded along with the mental image that summoned. "Only after I learn how to crawl do the waddling tips begin. It'll be a long journey."

Silverstream hummed cheerfully as she followed along, and there was a slight sway to her own steps, matching the way Ariel seemed to be almost bouncing as she walked. "But you can do it! And it's fun, right?"

Ariel nodded at that, having never considered the question before. "It is more super interesting, and I want to do it." She rubbed her crystal gently. "It'll become more fun as I do things, but every time I get closer, I feel happier." She tapped her feet on the floor. "My parents would probably say—" She trailed off on that with a little frown. Her human parents were a world away, and a life away. "Nevermind, um, yeah. Fun!"

Silverstream kept close to Ariel, though she let their momentary quiet be, unwilling to break it with her usual blabbering. Fortunately, Ariel seemed to be in the mood for some companionable quiet as they walked without words getting in the way of things.

Author's Note:

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