Broken then Healed 2

by Tohshi

First published

Despite still being plagued by nightmares, Lilac has adapt well and spends their time in the idyllic Ponyvile. When pains of the past resurface, Lilac has to help shoulder those pains, and help heal that which was broken.

Despite still being plagued by nightmares, Lilac has adapted well and spends their time in the idyllic Ponyvile. When pains of the past resurface, Lilac has to help shoulder those pains, and help heal that which was broken.

Sequel to Broken then Healed

Cover art by Gaylilmuffinboi
Was featured on November 5 2015 at 8:10 ish.


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Golden rays filtered through the tree tops. The park was mostly empty as a young child wandered along the path. Her clothes were in dire need of a good wash, yet she didn't seem to notice or care. A bright pink backpack sat bouncing with her as she skipped along. Her bright yellow rain coat was drawn over her dark hair.

She ignored the rumbling in her tummy. Lunch had been so long ago. She wiped the tears from her eyes. Crying was for babies and she couldn't be a baby anymore. Not now that mama was gone, just like Sister before her. The grown-ups that ran the house she lived in now were nice but way to busy.

Coming across a bench she took her backpack off and used it as a pillow. She curled up in a ball trying to fend off the cold air. After a bit sleep took her.

A bright light rudely awoke her. The small but intense beam came from above her. Shiny leather shoes were illuminated on the ground.

“What are you doing out here?” said a deep gruff voice. It was a scary voice and the little girl knew she was in trouble. “Where are your parents?”

Her eyes adjusted and she could make out the slightly shiny badge on the tall mans chest. His dark blue uniform stood out from amongst the black background. Despite her insistance against it, tears flowed down her checks.

“Come on,” the police officer said taking her hand. “Lets get you home.”

Home didn't exist anymore.

Part 1: Chapter 1

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Chapter 1
Life had been busy as of recent. Our house was overrun with decorations in piles, some organized, some not. The pale green and dark purple themes ran through all of them. I sat at the kitchen table the only place safe from the encroaching wedding supplies. Instead my homework was strewn across the table. Twilight had seen fit to give me two weeks worth of work right before the wedding, and I was just now getting around to finishing the last of them. Twilight would chide me for leaving such an important task till the last minute but the pressure seemed to pull out better results.

The particular essay that Twilight had me writing was about the my original home town. Twilight felt that the best way for me to work on my writing skills, outside of writing reports for other subjects, was to describe my old world. The first one of them which had been on family structure had been a bit painful to write for me, but now on the third one. the pain of having lost my old life was but just a dull ache far in the back of my mind.

Lyra and Bon Bon were both out and about. Lyra had been called to The Carousel Boutique for her dress fitting. Bon Bon had done hers weeks ago, though needed a second one done tomorrow. Lyra on the other hand had spent as much time as possible avoiding the thing. Rarity had finally forced the issue and Lyra had relented.

Bon Bon was at the doctors. The doctor insisted on one last check up before the wedding to make sure the baby inside of her was doing fine. After the wedding, both Lyra and Bon Bon were headed off for a week in Manehattan, for their honeymoon. So far, Bon Bon's pregnacy had been fairly normal. or so I had been told. My personal experience with pony pregnancy was fairly limited.

My mind had wandered off to the coming events and I tried to focus back on my work. I only had two more pages to write and then I could call it done. Twilight had only assigned five pages but I preferred to go over that by a page or two so seven was my goal. Twilight was always happy that I put in the extra effort, and she seemed to give me a bit more lenience when it came to the other aspects of the assignment. I freshened the ink on my quill and got back to the grindstone.

A few hours later, Bon Bon returned home. She stood in the door way that separated the large living room from the dining room that I sat in. Her smile was infectious and happiness radiated out of her. Her beige fur seemed slightly ruffled, and her dark purple mane with its bright pink stripe was somewhat dishevled. Bon Bon said, “I'm back. How goes the homework?”

“Well,” I said. “I just have to finish reading this chapter of my history book and finish taking notes on it. Then I will be done for the next week. How was the doctor?”

Bon Bon meandered over to couch, which she laid down on. She said, “It went well. I have good news but why don't we wait till Lyra gets back. She is going to be very disappointed she wasn't at the appointment as it is anyway.”

“KK,” I said quietly. I could feel the nervous shakes of excitement flowing outwards through my body. After a few minutes of fruitlessly trying to continue my work I gave up. The inter-workings of the Equestrian-Minotar Peace accords were nowhere near enough engaging to get my mind back on track. A short prance later and I snuggled up next to Bon Bon.

“Did you get all your work done?” Bon Bon asked quietly. She nuzzled my head affectionately.

“Not yet. The Equestrain-Minotar peace treaty is a bit dry,” I replied quickly. “I don't have much to finish, so I can easily get it done after dinner. Are you cooking today?”

“Tired of takeout?” Bon Bon asked, as she smiled at me with mirth in her eyes. “You could cook us dinner. I trust you to not burn down the house.”

“I don't mind. Do we have the materials for spaghetti?” I asked excitedly.

“We just had spaghetti. Why don't I show you how to make something new?” Bon Bon asked gently.

I hopped off the couch and pranced joyfully in front of it. I asked, unable to hide the joy in my voice, “Please?”

Bon Bon giggled as she slowly got off the couch. We headed into the kitchen, and Bon Bon retrieved one of her cook books. This one was well worn and looked older than I was. Bon Bon set the book on the counter. She said, “Lilac, bring your stepladder over here so you can see too.”

I levitated my stepladder over to us from out of it storage next to the refrigerator. Bon Bon had opened the book to the table of contents. There were many sections each with at least ten different recipes. Bon Bon flipped over to the salad section.

“Why don't you pick one out of these?” Bon Bon asked gently.

I flipped through the salad section and settled on what looked like a interesting salad. Bon Bon directed and demonstrated for me how to chop the ingredients and how to prepare the marinade for the tofu, which would be fried right after Lyra returned. After my preparations were complete I returned to my note taking waiting patiently for Lyra to come home.

My vigil was interrupted by Lyra as she announced, “I'm back. And I got us pizza for dinner.”

My heart sank. I enjoyed pizza but the thought of all my hard work on dinner being wasted hurt. I gathered my now finished homework and semi-neatly placed it into my saddlebags.

“Not quite the reaction I expected. Is everything alright?” asked Lyra. Her confusion shone through her eyes as she shifted her gaze back and forth between Bon Bon and me.

“Lilac has already made us diner, well most of it. We were waiting on you to come home to cook the hot parts,” Bon Bon explained quietly.

“Oh,” Lyra said. “Well I guess now we have pizza for breakfast.”

My heart soared once more. I pranced past Lyra smiling at her as I went. With my bag deposited next to the door in my room, I returned to the kitchen. I had both the frying pan and marinaded tofu ready when Bon Bon entered the room to supervise the last bit of making dinner. Ten short minutes later, we were all seated, enjoying a salad.

“How was the doctor's appointment?” Lyra asked. She took another bite of her salad as she stared quietly at Bon Bon.

A bite of Bon Bon's salad sitting on her fork for an awkward moment. Bon Bon said slowly, “Everything is fine, just a slight bit of unexpected news.”

“Unexpected?” Lyra interrupted. Worry had wormed its way into Lyra's head.

“Don't worry. The babies are fine,” Bon Bon said gently.

“Babies,” I interrupted. A panicked excitement ran up my back, causing shivers to spread through out me.

A small clank rang through the room as Lyra's fork dropped from her hoof. It bounced once before Lyra regained her composure.

“Yes, we are having twins,” Bon Bon said. Her smile radiated happiness into the room.

“I...I...” Lyra stammered. Her face seemed frozen for a second as the information processed. Happy tears ran down her checks. “Well this is going to be an interesting year.”

Bon Bon giggled gently. She said, “Hasn't been one already? The doctor said I should expect to be put on bed rest in my last trimester. That and there was an increased likelihood of them being early.”

“Now I feel especially bad about having to miss today's appointment,” Lyra said. Her disappointment dissipated as she stared happily at Bon Bon.

“If you hadn't put off your fitting, for your dress, for so long you could have come,” Bon Bon said. Annoyance tinged her voice.

“I know,” Lyra said dejectedly. “I promise to never miss another one.”

“I will hold you to that,” Bon Bon said.

The rest of dinner passed with much talk about the doctor's instructions. Afterwards Lyra took care of the dishes, much to both my surprise and Bon Bon's. The three of us relaxed on the couch. Soon enough the couch wouldn't be big enough for all of us, with two more bodies to add to the chain. As it was though the three of us could snuggle up close to each other. After a little while grogginess reared its ugly head, and I was ushered off to bed. The next two days would be quite busy, so I didn't complain much.

I woke in the morning feeling under rested. I couldn't remember any of them but I could tell I had been plagued with nightmares again. I had hoped that after four months they would have stopped or at least became less frequent.

I stretched as I got out of bed, and headed off to the bathroom to complete my morning ritual, with the addition of a quick bath. Getting my hair to do as I wished took far longer today, as the unruly clumps on my head seemed particularly vindictive today. After a good ten minutes I gave up in a grunt of frustration.

Bon Bon was already up as was usual, and similarly so Lyra seemed to still be asleep. Bon Bon was in the process of warming the pizza in the oven and smiled as I came in. I could see the concern in her eyes as she looked me over.

“More nightmares last night?” Bon Bon inquired gently. She walked over and scooped me up into a hug.

I nodded. Her warm embrace always helped to chase away the lingering anxeity caused by my nightly terrors. A ding from the egg timer on the counter signaled Bon Bon's release of me. She quickly pulled the pizza from the oven.

Carrying a plate over to me, Bon Bon said, “When your done with breakfast why don't you head over to Twilight's? That way you two can get your school work out of the way before everypony shows up for the dress rehearsal.”

“Okay,” I replied. The rewarmed pizza filled me up with just one slice. Bon Bon had left the room to wake Lyra while I washed my plate. I had made it to the door, saddlebags in tow, when Lyra lazily shuffled down the hallway. “Bye. See you in a couple hours.”

Cool crisp breeze of a fall morning greeted me as I stepped out the door. The quick walk helped get my juices flowing and half way there I burst out into a run. The gate to the castle lay already open for me.

“Morning Shining Spear, Cloudbreaker,” I said joyfully to the two guards posted at the castle gate. As usual neither of them made any indication that they heard me, not that I minded. It was after all their job to remain stoic at all times.

The gate clicked behind me as I walked into the large entry hall. Twilight's desk had been removed and in its place a stage had been set up. Much of the main hallway had been filled with chairs. A number of draperies had been set up hiding the bookcases from sight and a backdrop hide the back half of the room. From the thirty foot ceiling a set of large banners sat over each pod of chairs, one with Lyra's cutie mark on it and one with Bon Bon's.

I rushed up one of the two staircases that slowly spiraled up into the second floor. Twilight's throne room was much more homey with its new curtains down. Rarity had set them up to block the archways so as to make the Throne room into a makeshift dressing room for Lyra. I walked past the throne room into the circular hallway that surrounded it and headed to a specific door amongst the twelve. Twilight had set that room aside as a classroom, mostly so we would not be interrupted by those visiting the castle for the Library.

Twilight sat at her desk in the medium sized room, sipping from a cup of coffee. Her desk sat at one end of the room. A large table dominated much of one half of the room which had six chairs near it nicely stacked to the side. On the opposite wall two easels were set up one for painting, which had a half way finished piece. Twilight had requested that I paint a picture of each of my relatives from my old world. I had saved Melody for last and something had felt off about the painting so I had let it rest, for a full week. To the side of the easels a number of my paintings were displayed. My first mom's face, my dad, Annabelle who was Melody's sister, Melody's mom, and a few others.

Twilight lazily fiddled with her dark purple hair as she continued to read from her newspaper. I walked quietly over to the lavender unicorn, and jumped her with a hug. The slightly startled Twilight jumped ever so little in her seat.

“Good morning,” I said. Satisfaction crept through me as a basked in my embrace of Twilight.

“Good morning,” Twilight said. She returned my embrace as she folded the newspaper up in her magic. “Did you get all your homework done?”

“Yes,” I stated enthusiastically. Twilight's promise of a week without school had been more than enough enticement to make sure I finished everything in time. Even if it was finished last minute.

I emptied my saddlebags of their contents and presented my stack of homework to Twilight. Twilight scrutinized each piece of my homework, slowly flipping though them. After a few minutes she smiled at me. Twilight said, “Well everything is in order. Have you had breakfast yet? We still have an hour or two till Rarity shows up.”

“Yeah we had pizza for breakfast. Lyra brought home pizza for dinner last night but I had already made us a salad. So instead we had pizza for breakfast,” I explained excitedly. I felt wired, and the coming days events did little to help with that.

Twilight giggled slightly. Twilight said, “Well I haven't yet, so you can join me or if you would rather you could paint for a little while.”

“Ooo, I'll do that,” I said as I rushed off to the dresser where all of my painting supplies were kept.

I levitated both my stool and stand into place and then carefully selected my pallet. I wanted to paint another picture of my new family, though this time with two additions. I set to work creating the image that burned in my head. I started with a small sketch and then slowly built from there. If one thing had improved since I started it was my painting skills. Not only was I much faster if I wanted to be anymore but I could add allot more style to my paintings now. I hadn't quite decided what sort of styles I liked the best but I always tried to add a bit of abstractness to each one.

I was only a quarter of the way done when Twilight interrupted me. Twilight said, “Rarity is here. Lets go get you all dressed up for the day.”

I nodded, and followed Twilight as she lead me to the largest bathroom on the floor. Rarity had converted it to a temporary spa. The white unicorn finished putting the dresses on the preset rack when we entered. As usual her dark mane was perfection, though she had added some sparkle to it which help further that.

A small grin slide into place on her face. Rarity said eloquently, “Good thing I was early, you need a bath.”

My head fell slightly disappointed that my earlier efforts were a waste. Rarity was right though as I surveyed my forelegs, which were covered in flecks of paint and dust.

“I can't say I don't understand wanting to get your art out, honey. But it probably would have been best if you had stuck to drawing this morning. Oh well,” Rarity exclaimed as she started the bath with her magic. “Go hop in. I want to make sure you are squeaky clean before I get you into your dress.”

I slowly made my way into the bath. The evil contraption was neatly hanging from the end of the rack. While I had to admit it was quite cute, I hadn't yet gotten used to wearing a dress, or for that mater much of anything. Sending splashes onto the tub walls I slumped into a seated position. The tub quickly filled up to my withers and its warmth washed away some of the tension that had been building in my neck. Rarity attacked the grim on my legs with abandon and soon enough I was deemed clean.

“Now do try to stay that way,” Rarity chided. She walked over to her stool that she had set up in front of a mirror. “Dear please come stand on the stool while I get your dress on.”

I slunk into position and with the best pouty face I could muster stood still. My efforts were wasted as Rarity was making some last minute adjustments on my emerald green dress. The dress was thankfully fairly simple, though still elegant. Not that one could ever say that anything Rarity made was inelegant. I did like the bright colors of the dress but I would have preferred something that wouldn't contrast as much. Deciding that the dress was ready Rarity levitated it over my head. I tried to move with it to help it go on but only succeded in getting more tangled.

“This would go quicker if you would hold still, Dear,” Rarity said calmly. I did so and she slipped the dress around my head. “Now lift your front hooves one at a time Dear.”

Doing as I was told the dress fell completely on to me. It was just long enough to cover my rump and then a slight bit down my back legs. Using her magic she gently pulled my tail through a hole in the back of the dress. My nearly white hair clashed brilliantly with the deep emerald of the dress. Rarity then took a long slip of the silky fabric and tied a bow into my mane. After a few more minutes of her fussing with my hair Rarity declared me ready.

“Please try not to rough house. I know you are typically good about that but it would be a shame if you new dress were to be damaged,” Rarity said. I could detect the hint of a threat in her voice.

“I will be good,” I said quietly. I slowly descended from the stool.

“Tell Twilight she is next please,” Rarity said. She had returned to fiddling with some of the accessories she had prepared.

I stepped out of the dressing room into the hallway. Twilight had set up some chairs next to the door and was currently reading the newspaper in one of them. I said, “You're next.”

Twilight set her paper aside, neatly folded. She looked over me head to hoof. A growing smile spread across her face. Twilight said, “You are so adorable. Rarity really out did herself with the dresses. I like the way your hair is.”

I blushed, and tried desperately to hide my face by staring at the floor. Twilight gave me a gentle hug, doing her upmost to not mess with my dress.

“Spike is downstairs finishing putting up some decorations. Why don't you go hang out with him?” Twilight suggested. She then disappeared into Rarity's domain.

I slowly headed downstairs. The dress was a bit more restrictive than I was used to but to Rarity's credit it was much less so that I had thought it would be. I found Spike behind the stage's backdrop downstairs. He was putting the finishing touches onto the tables that had been set up. Most of them had a small vase in the center of each with a slightly glowing lotus floating in them. The castle seemingly on request had bloomed just the other day providing a number of the magical flowers which were being used to decorate much of the room.

Spike stifled a small giggle as I walked into view. Spike said, “Well don't you just look adorable.”

A harsh sigh escaped my head. I replied, “Don't worry Spike. Rarity has one for you too.”

“Yeah, but mine is handsome,” Spike said proudly. “Can't be the ring bearer if you don't have a spiffy suit.”

I sighed again. I had wanted to be the ring bearer, not the flower filly which was the role I was stuck in. I did have to admit though the little purple dragon would look quite adorable in a suit. If I hadn't been stuck with the alternative I probably would have picked Spike to be the ring bearer too. That and the little guy was quite excited to have a role in the wedding.

“Can I help you? I can't go back to painting now that I have my dress on,” I asked.

“If you want,” Spike responded as he stood tip toe on a chair to perfectly align a vase to the middle of a table. “Can you go place the rest on their tables? Don't worry about lining them up right I will get that.”

I nodded and set off dragging the cart with the remaining vases on it behind me. Telekenisis had made adapting to pony life much easier. Anymore I found it hard to imagine life without it. I finished before Spike had finished with one table so I helped him with the placement of the vases.

Lyra and Bon Bon's voices lofted through the room. I froze, part of me wanting to hide so that they couldn't see me in the dress and an equal part wanting to rush over there to show off. Deciding on the later I hurried, though not too much so, out to great them.

Lyra had a large bundle of decorations in her magical grip and Bon Bon was walking slowly next to her. A small yipe escaped from Bon Bon's mouth, and her face scrunched up in a slight bit of pain.

“Are you alright?” Lyra asked. Concern encased her voice.

“Its fine, just one of them kicked me,” Bon Bon explained still wincing with pain. “They have been quite active this morning.”

I closed the gap between us and slam-hugged Bon Bon. Her pain had pierced me, and I did my best to keep tears from running down my checks.

“Ooff, woah there,” Bon Bon said. “I'm fine. You should be a bit more gentle, don't want to mess up your dress.”

Lyra rubbed my back gently. She peeled me from Bon Bon and set me down a few feet back with her magic. Lyra said, “Well aren't you just the cutest.”

I rolled my eyes, and tried to ignore the blush that ran across my face. I could feel both of their gazes wash over me as I stared intently on the ceiling. There were a couple of enormous lotus which hung from the ceiling like chandeliers.

“You look very cute,” Bon Bon said gently. “Is everyone else upstairs?”

“Rarity and Twilight are upstairs. Spike is down here with me. We're setting up some decorations,” I said cheerfully. My embarrassment faded as the subject changed. “Where are those going?”

“Over the curtains in this room,” Lyra explained. She took a streamer from her bundle and demonstrated with the nearest curtain. “Bon Bon why don't you go up first? I'll stay here and get these set up then come up.”

“Okay,” Bon Bon replied. Slowly she climbed up the stairs and out of view.

I helped Lyra put up the streamers as Spike finished with the tables. With the two of us the curtains were finished in a few short minutes. I love telekinesis. Lyra then spread out the rest of the decorations on a table and we divide them up amongst the tables. Spike had finished with the last vase and directed us with the remaining decorations. Twilight's organization skills had defiantly rubbed off on him and we quickly finished.

Lyra excused herself off to the dressing room and Spike lead me off to his room. He had gotten a new set of comics. It was nice to read something a bit more exciting and Spike seemed to enjoy having someone to chat with about them.

“This weeks Power Ponies was particularly good,” Spike stated enthusiastically. “I think this has been the best arc the comic has had in a long while. I can't wait till next week the epic conclusion is due out next week.”

“How was Pony Detective this week?” I asked. I preferred the slightly more gritty comic.

“Eh, still in the Faceless Murderer arc,” Spike said. “I wish the Clowner was in this arc. He is a much better villain than Owlman.”

“I have to agree, but I find this arc to be plenty satisfying,” I retorted. “After all if every arc was a Clowner, arc we might get tired of him.”

“Eh I guess,” Spike said.

Spike's room was probably the messiest room in the entire castle. He had a large bookshelf overflowing with comics, and a pile of unsorted ones laying next to the shelf. I settled down in one of the two bean bags that sat next to the shelf and picked up the Pony Detective comic from the pile. Spike landed in his own bean bag and grabbed a comic from a second more organized pile next to that one.

The next hour or two was spent engaged in the amazing tales of action and suspense found with in the comics. From the heroic adventures of the Dread Pirate Withers, to the dark and gritty findings of Sheatlock Pony, Detective Extraordinarae.

Twilight entered the room sometime later. She had her dress a simple lighter green dress, which was of similar design to my own dress. Twilight's hair was held back by a green hair band and the dress fit her well.

“Everypony is here now,” Twilight stated. “So lets go get to practicing.”

Much of the rest of the day was spent going through the motions of the wedding and making sure that everypony knew their role. Thankfully my part was quick and other than a short walk I simply had to stand still for most of it. Which was by far the hardest part of it. We took a break after lunch before Twilight insisted that we go through the whole thing again. After the fifth run through We all were excused and Rarity helped us out of our dresses. For the rest of the day Lyra and Bon Bon directed those of us who had stayed after the rehearsal in making sure all of the decorations were correctly placed. By the time dinner rolled around I was ready to collapse and Sleep found me shortly there after.

Part 1: Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Morning rays shone through my bedroom window. Almost laughing at my mostly restless night. I heard movement in the hallway and decided to stop wasting time laying in bed. I crept out into the hallway and followed the noise into the kitchen. Bon Bon had just set the percolator into motion and sat stifling her yawn.

“You look absolutely terrible this morning. Did you not sleep well?” Bon Bon asked quietly.

“No, I don't think I slept more than an hour after we got home,” I replied.

“We have just over three hours before we need to be at the castle to get ready,” Bon Bon stated. She kept her voice low and gentle. “Why don't you come sit with me on the couch after I get my coffee?”

I nodded sheepishly. Ten minutes later I was snugly curled up next to Bon Bon on the couch. Finally sleep found me.

“Wake up, honey,” Bon Bon said quietly. Her gentle voice chased away my sleep. “We need to get going now.”

Slowly I stretched the rest of my weariness away. Lyra was standing in the Kitchen doorway surveying the remaining decorations. I could feel her anxiety. Lyra's stance annunciated it in subtle ways.

“Well I think we have everything,” Lyra stated. She joined us by the couch. “Emergency bag of stuff, check. Lyre in case of music breakdown, Check. Purse for monetary emergencies, check.”

“You forgot one,” Bon Bon said playfully. “Family, Check.”

With a smile and a kiss later, Lyra seemed visibility relaxed. She nuzzled my head with hers before lifting me onto her back. We headed out the door. I enjoyed my ride more than I felt I should, after all it was only two blocks away and I took this trip nearly daily but still it was nice to have some pampering from time to time.

The castle entrance was already a buzz with ponies, far earlier than I expected. Cloudbreaker was visibly agitated which was unusual for any of the guards. Passing through the already open gates a number of chairs had been set up in two formations as per typical for weddings. Several of the seats were filled already by a few of Lyra's distant family. They waved enthusiastically at us as we passed, Lyra returning the gesture forcing me to resettle on her back. We reached the curtains which hid the stairs up.

Spike leaned against one of the pillars at the top of the stairs, his little black suit jacket already on. With the addition of a brilliant red bow tie he did in fact look quite snazzy. He was reading another of his comics.

“Morning,” he said with a stifled yawn. “You guys look as tired as I feel. Well except for you Lilac. You look like you didn't get any sleep.”

“She had a rough night,” Bon Bon said sheepishly. “Though I guess we all did. Is Rarity already here?”

“Yep,” Spike stated. “She is just finishing up on Twilight. Not certain why Rarity thinks it is going to take so long for all of us to get ready. It only took me ten minutes to get ready.”

“Well some of us have to do more than just put on a piece of clothing,” Lyra explained. “Either way we should probably get to it.”

Leaving Spike to his comic, we made our way into the makeshift dressing room. Twilight had a brilliant emerald dress on that was similar to my own dress for the day though hers was a bit more elaborate. The sparkles cast by the actual emeralds laced into the dress made the dress quite dazzling. With a few strokes of a brush, Rarity finished what little makeup Twilight needed.

“Well, I am glad we got you done early, Twilight,” Rarity commented. She gave me a one over. “I wasn't expecting to have to spend as much time with Lilac as I have to. But don't worry everything will be absolutely amazing today.”

I slipped from Lyra's back and leaned up against Twilight in a show of affection that wouldn't mess with her dress. She gently leaned into me as well.

“Didn't sleep well huh?” She asked in a hushed tone. I nodded my response. “Well I bet you sleep well tonight.”

“Well why don't I start with you, Bon Bon,” Rarity commanded in a loving manner. “Lyra can you go get Lilac a bath and by the time your back I should be ready for you next.”

Despite no longer needing help bathing, I had found the pony custom of more communal bathing to be strangely relaxing. Lyra helped scrub me down first and then I returned the favor. We spent an extra bit enjoying the warmth of the tub. My eyelids were heavy but no rest would come from closing them as my mind continued it strange energeticness. It wasn't that my thoughts were racing around my head just that they seemed jittery. Still the soak seemed to help that.

As Rarity had stated, Bon Bon had donned her dress and was looking spectacular as we reentered the dressing room. Much of the flowing dress was white with emerald green trimming and outlining the dress. It hid Bon Bon's pregnancy bump from view, which Rarity had explained was so that no one would think the wedding was because of the twins. A opaque veil that would covered Bon Bon's face and much of her hair which was pulled into a tight bun, was tossed over her head. The long train of the dress was currently rolled up and magically adhered on the rump of the dress. Rarity was busy making some last minute adjustments to the dress while also magically feeding Bon Bon small bite sized sandwiches.

Twilight was absent from the room, so Lyra and I occupied the bench she had been sitting on. I could still feel the warmth from her spot, so her departure must have been recent. I leaned against Lyra and rested my neck.

Bon Bon gave us a sly look, and explained, “Rarity didn't want me to mess up my dress, so she insisted on this arrangement after I had mentioned not eating yet.”

“Of course I did,” Rarity said her head appearing from under the dress. “I know how easy it is to forget to eat on important days such as this, but it is days like this in which it is most important to take care of ourselves. Did you two eat yet? Probably best to do that now, before I finish with Bon Bon.”

“Yeah that is probably for the best,” Lyra stated.

She acquired a sandwich for both of us from a small cooler that contained a number of drinks and other food stuff. My sandwich was a dandelion and hummus sandwich which was a strange mix of sweet and bitter, along with all the garlicky goodness of humus. Using my telekinesis I managed to not spill many of the crumbs.

Lyra's turn to be gussied up was upon her. From the bench, I watched as Rarity assembled Lyra's outfit. The dress was a stark black dress that was quite simplistic when compared to Bon Bon's dress. Where as the other dress was long and flowing, this one was sleek and nearly skin tight. On the halter top Rarity pinned an intricate emerald rose. She then applied a fine coat of a pale blush to Lyra's face and added a few touches here and there to help make her eyes pop.

After about twenty minutes it was my turn. My simple yet elegant emerald green dress fit just as well as it had yesterday. A few adjustments and I was about to hop down from the stool.

“Wait a moment, dear,” Rarity instructed. “I hadn't planned on doing makeup for you, but it won't do to have the flower foal look like they could drop from exhaustion at any moment. Let me cover up the rings under your eyes..”

“Okay,” I mumbled. I really didn't like the feel of makeup in my fur, especially not on my face. But a small amount of discomfort was worth it, to help make today perfect.

“You really need to work on your sleeping habits, dear,” Rarity commented softly. “I have an herbal tea that might help with that. I'll get it to you tomorrow or so.”

“I bet it was just nerves about today is all,” Lyra lied. She gave me a knowing look. “She is normally much better at getting to sleep at a decent hour.”

“I have plenty of the tea,” Rarity replied with a cool air to her voice. “It is useful to have around anyway.”

The tea wouldn't work, the other flavors we had tried hadn't helped either. In fact only the frequent interference of the princess of the night had helped keep them at bay. Sadly Princess Luna was a busy pony and wasn't able to always help during the night. Still I owed each of my restful nights to her. That and my visits with Dr Vibes.

Snapping out of my darker thoughts, I shook my head at the wrong moment and ended up with eyeliner down the side of my face and beyond.

“You really must stay still,” Rarity complained. With a wet rag she wiped the mistake from my face. “I only need a few more minutes then I will be done.”

“Okay,” I mumbled.

A growing commotion made its way up the stairs. Octavia followed by Vinyl Scratch, who was carrying a boom box of sorts, Symphonia Heartstrings, and Fluttershy. The four of them filled up what remaining room was to be had in the temporary fitting room.

“Good Morning,” Octavia said. “Both of your dresses are absolutely beautiful.”

“Thanks,” Lyra replied. Stress was seeping through her voice once more. “I'm glad you guys are on time.”

“I don't think I could possibly be late today,” Vinyl stated dryly. “'Tavia here made sure of that. Besides I ain't ever late for a gig.”

Fluttershy had moved over to sit next to Bon Bon on the bench. The two of them started to chat quietly.

“Brought up some music,” Vinyl stated. “Figured you guys were gonna be up here all quiet and the like.”

“Some music would do well to lighten the somber mood in here,” Symphonia said. She found a seat on the other bench near Lyra.

The bass loudly dropped. I jumped nearly out of my skin and landed in a pile on the floor. I withdrew, hiding within myself from the sound.

The music quickly changed to a more soothing and much quieter melody. Vinyl stammered, “Sorry about that forgot to change the settings.”

“Well, at least now we are all defiantly awake,” Lyra said calmly. “Are you alright Lilac?”

My shaking had yet to subside. Trying to regain my composure proved futile and so I laid there for a moment. A magenta aura engulfed me, bring a warm hug.

“Its alright,” Twilight cooed softly. She had entered the room through one of the other curtains.

Her warmth helped wash away my tension and I nuzzled my head into her embrace. A moment later and my shakes had dissipated. Rubbing the tears from my eyes smeared a faint purple across my hoof.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. I made a show of my hoof where Rarity could see. Fear reared its ugly head again and set my stomach to simmer.

“There's nothing to apologize, dear,” Rarity said calmly. “You were startled is all. Now be a dear and come back over here and I can finish up real quick, please?”

I nodded, and returned to the overturned stool. I righted the stool before hopping onto it. Rarity wiped clean the mess around my eyes and set back to work. Thankfully with no more interruptions she was finished quickly.

Twilight conjured another bench and had occupied one end of it. Being freed from my prison, the horrid stool, I snuggled up close to my mom. I focused on the chillstep Vinyl had turned on, and zoned out the rest of the world save for the warmth of my family.

Sometime later Twilight shook me from dozing. She said, “It's almost time. Why don't we go downstairs get into position?”

I nodded and we headed downstairs. Many ponies had already gathered and much of the seats were filled. At the bottom of the stairs Spike waited for us holding both his pillow with the rings and my basket of flower petals. His big smile portrayed his excitement. I shook the last vestiges of fatigue from my face and grabbed the basket with my magic.

In the distance a piano took up a simple melodic song, it reminded me of wedding marches from earth. With the start of the music, Octavia and Vinyl exited from behind the curtain which we all were standing. They walked shoulder to shoulder and Octavia was leaning her head against Vinyl's.

Both of them are wearing similar dresses to Twilight Sparkle and my own dress. Vinyl’s dress was shorter and cut more simple, whereas Octavia's was much more flowing and fancy. They took up spaces just this side of the of the podium which had a sun and moon motif displayed upon a large banner which covered most of it.

From the other side, Twilight exited from behind the curtain along with her followed Fluttershy both of whom wore a similar emerald green dresses. Fluttershy's dress was long and flowing similar to that of Octavia's dress though it had embroidered flowers spread across its entirety.

After both Twilight and Fluttershy had taken their positions next to the podium, the piano took an upswing in the music. This was mine and spike's cue to enter. Side by side we walked slowly towards the podium. I lazily dropped petals from my basket each temporarily engulfed in my aura. Spike stopped next to vinyl Scratch. While I continued towards Fluttershy coating the area between with more petals.

Slowly but steadily, and at the same time, both Bon Bon and Lyra entered from behind the curtains. They took up their positions closest to the podium. From behind the podium Mayor Mare stood up and took her spot. The music faded away until it was just quiet background noise audible over the slight murmur of the crowd.

“We are gathered here today,” said Mayor Mare. “To celebrate the joining of two families. Lyra and Bon Bon have decided to share this moment with us.”

“Do you, Bon Bon, pledge to take Lyra as your lawfully wedded wife? To light her sky as the moon lights the night? To guide her day as the sun guides our life? Through sorrow and happiness?”

“Yes,” said Bon Bon, her voice filled with compassion. “I will light her way as the moon lights at night. As also I will guide her day as the sun does for all.”

Mayor Mare turned to Lyra and said, “Do you, Lyra, pledge to take Bon Bon as your lawfully wedded wife? To serenade her night as the moon brings joy to the world? To enrich her day as the sun nourishes us all?”

“Yes,” said Lyra. Her eyes glistened with beads of tears yet formed that floated in compassion. “I will bring music to her life as the moon brings joy to our night. As also I will embrace her needs as the sun enriches us.”

Spike walked up and presented his burden. Lyra adorned Bon Bon's outstretched limb with one of the Rings. It was a brilliant Platinum Band that was woven together with a thread of gold. The enchanted band adhered to Bon Bon's wrist. Bonbon placed an identical band upon Lyra wrist,
which similarly adhered in place.

With Spike returned to his position, mayor mare said, “You may now kiss your bride.”

The crowd hook up a large Applause. The noise was too loud and I started to withdrawal withdraw into my own mind. Shaking overtook my entire form, and it took all my effort to stay standing.

Twilight's magic engulfed me, bringing me into her embrace. Her magic kept out the noise, and brought serenity to me. Awoken from my stupor, I watched as Lyra and Bon Bon retreated up the stairs.

Pop! Suddenly I found myself at top of the stairs. Lyra rushed the final distance up the stairs scooping me up into her embrace.

“Too much noise,” sad Lyra quietly.

“Yes,” I murmured. The shakes had not quite petered out yet. “It was just a bit much. I'll be fine though.”

“Sorry it was too noisy for you,” said Bon Bon. “You don't have to come back down, if you don't want to.”

“You made sure that there would be pie,” I said. “I can't miss the pie, so maybe just for a little bit.”

“You can just have pie up here,” said Lyra. She ruffled my hair playfully.

“But that just feels like cheating,” I replied.

“That's alright, honey,” Bon Bon said softly. “If you want to watch, why don't you stay at the top of the stairs?”

“Maybe I'll do that,” I said sheepishly. “Thanks for understanding. I don't know what I would do without you, moms. I love you.”

Nuzzling my head against both of their necks, I embraced my family. I took a seat at the top of the stairs, and they joined the celebration.

From my perch at the top of the stairs, I watched the party progress. At first it was just mingling Lyra and Bon Bon traveling from group to group and table to table, spending a little bit of time at each. Before too long they took up spots at a large table, where Vinyl and Octavia along with Twilight were sitting. Before to long, a large cake was wheeled out add and placed upon a table near the punchbowl. The newlyweds meandered over to the cake table where the confectioner had left a knife for them. With much ado they cut the first piece of the cake. After feeding each other bites of the Vanilla swirl cake, they retreated back to their table. While everyone else was grabbing cake a large army of cups of cider were placed at each seating.

“So we're all here gathered to watch my best friend marry her best friend,” Vinyl announced in a loud and commanding voice. “Which so far has been pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I mean I could always kind of tell that they were meant for each other. Like two halves of the same pea pod. Still it makes me happy to see how happy they are together.

Vinyl took a large swig from her cup. She then continued, “I know that these last few months have been pretty busy for you and your new family but you rocked it pretty awesome, Lyra. Bon Bon don't let her lose herself in her obsessions. I hope you have a long and Rockin' awesome life together. Now its time for me to start this party right.”

The small pitter patter of feet alerted me to the arrival of pie. Handing me my piece, Spike sat down next to me on the stairs.

“Thanks,” I said quietly.

Vinyl’s art loudly filled the air.

“No problem,” Spike replied carefully. “You seem like you could use some pie.”

The night ran long with with merriment and frolicking. Before too long I found myself in slumber.

Part 1: Chapter 3

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Chapter 3
A loud murmuring filled the room. hundreds of faceless ponies sat in their chairs staring blankly at an empty podium. I head them from behind the podium. The podium slowly shrink away till it no longer provide that cover. I could feel their eyeless stares. Slowly a small crack appeared in each of their faces that spread until a large gashing mouth filled where their face should be.

Jumping from their seats The Faceless ones rushed me. I ran squealing from my attackers. They chased me far and soon enough I found myself atop a large cliff. The Faceless ones had fallen behind but their noise still filled the air. I I turn to the cliff in looked down trying desperately to find an escape. Far below the bloody monster waited for me. It's teeth glistening in the dark. The rattling of a chain link fence filled my ears as I see a footing let loose. The maw below grew larger and larger till it engulfed me.

In darkness I woke. A cold sweet had drenched my fur, and dampened my bed. For a moment or two I sat panting, waiting for my heart to return to its normal beat. The monster's teeth still dancing in my head.

Through the castle window a crescent moon illuminated the night and my room. The light of the moon fell on my desk where a number of drawing utensils were scattered after use. Dragging myself from bed, I started to draw. At first I just let the darkness out and pictures of my tormentor's filled the pages before me. Eventually though my thoughts turned to my true pain and what I had lost. Her eyes were the most striking thing in my head. Melody I miss you. I drew her at peace and happiness in this utopia I had found myself in. She would have loved it here. I brought her “sister” with her in the pictures.

The coming dawn brightened my room, making me aware of how much time I had been drawing. The distant sounds of a castle waking shifted through my cracked bedroom door. I stiffled a yawn as I collected my drawings into a neat pile, the thickness of which betrayed just how long I had been up. With my desk made clean, I left my bedroom behind.

I meandered my way towards the kitchens, which was bound to be busy. The guard population had grown substantially over the last couple months, and now there was an on staff cook. The guard shift would be changing in an hour or so, and as such the kitchens would be busy with breakfast. A nice warm muffin with my name on it waited for my presence.

The castle glowed in morning, the light diffusing through out the halls of the crystal tree. This was the best part of waking early, to watch the morning sun playfully chase the shadows away for the day. It was enough to keep my growing dread of the day ahead at bay till I was outside the doors of the kitchen.

Inside was a storm of movement and sound as the staff prepared the days meals. A table overflowing with pastries and bread had a single muffin on a plate waiting for me. The lead baker left one for me every morning I stayed since the first day, when I spent almost two hours trying to get up the nerve to ask for one. He had made sure to have one ready since, a fact I appreciated a lot. Today's muffin was a nice poppy seed with a light honey glaze drizzled on top.

I wandered the halls for a few more hours, or what felt like hours, as I munched on the muffin. The castle was still mostly empty save for guards on most days. The number of aspirants asking for Twilight's mediation was fairly limited still, a fact Twilight both complained about and was grateful for. Growing tired of walking I headed to our art room to continue my current project.

Sometime later Twilight came to drag me away from my painting. The time of my appointment was nearly appon us when she entered the room. I could see the bags under her eyes, proof that she had been up working on some project of her own.

“Good morning, Lilac,” Twilight said. She stifled a yawn with her hoof. “Didn't sleep much again?”

“Morning. No, I didn't all that much. Another nightmare,” I said as I washed my brushes.

“Do you want me to have a sleeping drought made up for you tonight?” Twilight asked; her tone gentle and concerned. “I have the ingredients if you need or want it.”

“Thanks for offer,” I replied sheepishly. “Those make me groggy all day afterwards, so I don't think so. But yeah, thanks.”

“It's your choice. It is almost time for your appointment,” Twilight stated; the concern still not left her voice. “Want to walk or teleport there?”

“Teleport, if you don't mind,” I said. A quick shudder ran through my body as images of the now crowded market flowed through my head. The loud murmuring of the crowd, being bumped into and pushed to and fro made my head spin slightly. “I don't want to deal with the market today, or for that mater walking around it.”

“That's fine by me,” Twilight said. Her magical aura engulfed us both and with a loud pop and a twist of our entire selves we stood outside a light blue two story town house. It had flower print curtains drawn across the windows, and a bright red door. A sign was nailed just to the side of the door that read: “Doctor Pleasant's Therapeutic Therapy”. A vein in my head threatened to pop as it did every time I saw that sign.

Twilight lead us into the house, me dragging my feet along the way. Logically I understood that I always felt better after my sessions with Doctor Vibes, vein threatening me again, but I still dreaded the journey here. The doctor would tell me to man up, and that I was just a weakling, and that I didn't deserve his services, and he would toss me out, and then my family would be mad at me and take his side. Variations of that fear ran through my head every time I had an appointment with him, each time having proven my worries false.

“Ah, Lilac, just in time for your appointment,” Doctor Vibes said when he saw us in the door. He got up and shook Twilight's hoof. “Well ready to get started? Or Twilight is there something that you needed to talk with me about first?”

“Nope,” Twilight said shaking her head slightly. “Just the continuation of the normal at this point.”

“Well lets get to it then,” said Doctor Vibes. He opened a door into what must have been a living room at one point. The doctor's dark brown fur was a contrast with what lied in the room. He gently pushed me in with a slight glow of his horn.

Inside the room a large plush couch was accompanied by a simple armchair. A low coffee table separated the two seats, which had a large scar near its center. I liked to imagine that the Doctor had once defended himself from an irate patient. Though such things seemed unlikely in Ponyvile, and I had never bothered to ask. The room was painted a light sky blue and was mostly devoid of decorations.

Taking his customary seat on the armchair, he took out his notes and began recording them with a pen and his magic. He would look back and forth from me and his notes for a few minutes while we sat in silence.

Breaking the wait, I said, “So I had another nightmare last night. It was a different one this time. A large crowd but then it devolved in to the monster eating me again.”

“I am sad to hear that,” Doctor Vibes said compassionately. “I was hoping we were making some progress in that realm, that and maybe that Princess Luna would also have been of help.”

“She has been helping me,” I said quietly. Guilt of my nightmares boiled in my stomach as I remembered Princess Luna's words about the nightmare's escaping my head at times. “I just don't know how to face this problem.”

“Well lets continue our delve into your past if you are feeling up to it,” Doctor Vibes said. I nodded my head in response. “I believe you had talked about fifth grade last? “-He checked his notes-” Yes that is where we were last.”

I sighed heavily. I did not have good memories of my time in middle school. I started, “Well school was both better and worse at that point, it was easier to fade into the background of the class and be ignored by my tormentors but when I did get their attention the jeering and barbs were much worse. I got allot of crap about my long hair at that time. But that change about midway through seventh grade. My step-mom caught me wearing my sister's dress and she flipped out at me. I don't think I had ever seen her so mad before or ever again.”

“Why was she so mad? Gender play is normal for young foals especially before puberty,” Doctor Vibes asked.

“In human society, or at least my countries society, such things are frowned upon. Especially for young boys. I can remember being so sad and angry when she made me cut my hair off after that,” I said a few tears rolled down my check. “Things just got worse from there and I just shut down, and did only that which I had to, to survive.”

Something clicked, as if almost a bell went off in my head somewhere. Things seemed to make sense now. Why this body felt right, why I had never complained about it onces, well the gender; it all clicked.

“Oh shit...Sorry,” I stated. “I get why being a girl doesn't bug me. Its because I am a girl.”

Doctor Vibes snickered playfully for a moment there. He said, “Forgive my laughter, I was wondering how long it would take you to put that together. We don't have many ponies who go through your particular circumstances here, but most of them do find some distraught over the change. That and there are those who choose to have such spells placed on themselves to feel better and more like themselves.”

“Does that make me weird?” I asked timidly. I didn't want to be shunned again. Not to have to hide for so long.

“No, its just a thing. I don't think anyone would care if you told them and you don't have to tell them either,” Doctor Vibes said. “Just do what makes you feel comfortable in this regards. Do you want to continue to talk about that or go back to history lessons?”

“Um, history,” I said. I turned my head and blushed a bit. “I think I need time for that to settle before we talk about it.”

“Fair enough,” Doctor Vibes said quietly. “Take your time.”

“Um, well after that middle school was fine, well till my dad left my step-mom in eighth grade, and well home life took a downturn from there,” I explained. “I hadn't ever seen them fight but based on what my step-mom told me, they must have had one hell of a fight. I left with my dad and my sister left with my mom. We moved over to the west coast, and I never saw either my step-mom or sister again.”

I paused for a second in my story. Memories flooded my head.

“I'll miss you,” Julie said to me as she hugged me. “Now be a good boy for your dad okay.”

She backed away from me and my sister hugged me and laughed, “See you twerp. Stay safe.”

My step-mom elbowed her gently. I quick flash of anger came over their faces as they looked each other in the eye. Julie's eyes lost their fight, but Sarah's didn't, the fire in them stilled burned. Dad grabbed my shoulder motioning us away from the cars.

“Love you, Twerp,” Sarah called out as we drove away. Julie was crying on Sarah's shoulder.

All Dad's face had in it was hate.

Shaking those times from my head, I said, “High-school was not my best period of life, but from that I met...Melody. I know I wouldn't have made it through High-school if not for her and her family. Mr Smith was more of a dad to me than Dad ever was, especially after the divorce, and Mrs Smith was always so welcoming. I..-”

Tears and gentle sobs interrupt my talking.

“So there I was,” Mr Smith said. His face alight with excitement from his story. “Neck deep in a river holding desperately onto my fishing pole, hoping to god that the line doesn't break, or that I don't slip.”

He paused for a second letting the laughter at his misfortune die down. Mrs Smith seemed the least entertained by the story, but mirth still plastered her face. I couldn't stop giggling, and Melody was busy covering her mouth, as laughter escaped her lips. Annabelle's face was bright red, a change from her usual pale complexion.

“I had managed to wrestle my way most of the way back up onto the shore,” Mr Smith continued. “And I am making allot of progress in reeling in the monster on the end of the line, when my pa comes up and he was like, 'Yer gonna break that rod if you pull any harder.' And as luck would have it what ever large fish had grabbed my catch decide in that moment that it wasn't worth it. So this half eaten fish maybe 6 inches long comes flying out of the water, to land flat on my dad's face. I don't think I had ever seen him so surprised before.”

We all roared at his punchline. I felt so at home, in my adopted family.

I shook the sorrow from my head and wiped my tears away. I continued, “I was so grateful for Melody's family, and well of Melody. She understood the pain of loosing my family, and she filled that hole that I had done so much to pretend wasn't there. Then during our junior year Melody's step-dad died from an heart attack. Mrs Smith was devastated, as was the rest of the family. Annabelle was only five at the time, I think she thought he was her dad. Melody sorta moved in with me after that, she and her mom were constantly arguing.”

“Well from there you know the rest,” I concluded. I sighed, and sniffed away the last remnants of my runny nose.

“Well I can tell we have a lot of discussions ahead of us,” Doctor Vibes stated. “What do you want to do now? Work on your breathing exercises or maybe talk some more?”

“Why don't we work on the breathing exercises.”

Doctor Vibes dismounted the chair and headed out the door. A few moments later he came back with a small music playing device. He set it to a relaxing chant and sat back down.

While he did so I reposition myself to better be able to focus. While I found these exercises hard to do they did seem to work. With the start of the music, I both thought and took a big breathe. In and out. For a while we sat there quite. My mind wandered for a bit but I did reign it back in after its short foray into the darkness.

“Well I think that's about all the time we have today,” Doctor Vibes said. “Do you think we had a successful meeting today?”

“More or less,” I replied as I stretched from my extended stay on the couch. We slowly walked back into the lobby.

Twilight got up from the chair; a magazine returning to the shelf while coating in her magenta aura. She smiled at me as the doctor came up to the desk.

“Same time, next week?” Doctor Vibes asked. A card floated into his view and he waited expectantly.

“That works for us,” Twilight said. “I will be the one dropping them off again. Lyra and Bon Bon are gonna still be on the vacation at that point.”

“Duly noted,” Doctor Vibes stated. “I shall see you next week then Lilac.”

“See you then,” I replied back dryly. I needed fresh air and maybe some sunlight and pleasantries were getting in the way of that. I tapped my hooves twice before heading out the door.

Twilight came following after, a perk in her step. She quickly caught up with me and nudged me gentle with her head against mine.

“Got stuff to do?” She asked playfully.

“No I just wanted to go,” I replied. “We did breathing exercises and those always get me itching to go do something. Twenty minutes of doing nothing is boring.”

“They are helping though,” Twilight rebueated. “Besides we have the whole day ahead of us now, and I have a surprise for you today.”

“Ooo,” I cooed. “What is it?”

“I finished Lyra's spell last night,” Twilight said excitedly. “We can open a view point now. I can't wait to see more of your world.”

“Well I don't mind telling you about it,” I replied coyly. “Though I guess showing you it would be better. When can you cast it?”

“As soon as we get home,” Twilight responded.

“Well, what are we waiting for?” I asked. I couldn't wait to show Twilight a few things that my explanations had fallen short. Somethings needed to be seen to be believed. “Teleport us home, please.”

“At your service,” Twilight joked back. A loud pop and we found ourselves in room in the castle.

The room had been preped for this it seemed. Twilight had two large crystals set near the edges of the walls half way down the room. A large matrix of circles and other geometric shapes were etched into the floor, conecting the two crystals in some arcane pattern. I didn't recognize any of the symbols.

Twilight had been teaching me some amount of higher spellwork, though at this point I had only master a small amount of theory. The best I had accomplished is teleporting an object across the room, a feat I was quite proud of. Sweetiebelle would join us in our sessions from time to time, and then we would work on slightly less difficult spells. Sweetie Belle was particularly good at color manipulation spells and sound manipulation spells. I how ever still seemed to have a knack of enchanting.

“So I put the circle down so I can have an emergency boost if needed and as a shut off valve if the spell grows out of control like it did last time,” Twilight explained. As she did so I saw the circles for drawing mana from the planet, a thing few ponies were capable of.

With out much ado, Twilight's horn started to glow. At first her normal magenta, but soon the blinding white of her more powerful alicorn magic. After a few seconds of concentration, Twilight's spell bore fruit. A large screen like holograph projected it self from the two crystals.

Inside the view port, a city block could be viewed. The normal buzz of a city seemed to be passing by on the block. In the center of the screen a dark haired child was curled up hiding next to a staircase. The world seemed to ignore her but something ate at me as we watched the world pass her. She seemed so familiar to me.
For a few hours, I explained the going ons in the picture to Twilight. The view refused to move, much to Twilight's annoyance. Twilight found the car's to be fascinating, citing their creative design.

After some time, the picture shifted a bit as the small dark haired child began to stir. And for the first time I got a good look at her face. Pain struck me immediately.

“Twilight, how much time has passed since I got here?” I asked coldly.

“Just under five months, why?” Twilight responded.

I scowled at her remark. Such a short time seemed to have changed so much. Guilt fought in my stomach again, setting it at ill ease.

“That's Annabelle,” I replied. “Melody's 'Sister'.”

Part 1: Chapter 4

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Chapter 4
Panic. Images of Annabelle jumping off of buildings or bridges, of her being ran over by cars, of her being taken by bad men. All the while I would be forced to watch and not be able to intervene. We had to figure a way to interact through this portal.

I finally realized that Twilight was holding me in a hug. She softly sang into my ear, “Ssssh, its alright. Don't worry, everything will be alright. Maybe she is just out having fun.”

I could feel my muscles relax as I let myself listen to Twilight's words. I couldn't get the tears to stop and I just buried my head in twilight's side. We sat there for ages, Twilight whispering soft words to me, trying to calm my storm.

Her efforts finally made head way. I looked at the screen again. The autumn sun was nearing the horizon and the large shadows had nearly engulfed Annabelle. Why was she out on the streets alone? What happened to Mrs Smith? Did she have a place to go to that night? Why?

“Mrs Smith wouldn't let her play on the street like this,” I whispered. “Something is wrong.”

“We can turn off the spell if it is too much,” Twilight offered. “You don't have to go through this.”

“No,” I nearly yelled. “I need to know more, we have to help her if things don't get better for her.”

“Our methods last time, weren't the most reproducible,” Twilight explained. “I am uncertain as to how we could help yet. Don't worry I will have a solution this time.”

With a loud pop a large number of books appeared in the room, along with an assortment of journals. Twilight began reading from four of them at once her horn glowing along with the books. She seemed lost to the world already.

“Lilac, can you go get Spike please?” Twilight mumbled. Her focus barely shifting from the books she smiled at me. “Don't worry I got this.”

I nodded and headed out the door. Spike would likely be in his room around now or having lunch. The thought of lunch made my stomach growl, so to the kitchens I went first. The walk to the kitchen was long enough for me to gather my composure as much as possible. My eyes were probably bloodshot but little could be done for that with out magic, magic I didn't know.

Spike was having his usual chit chat with the head chief over their lunch. The increase in castle staff had been a good thing for the young dragon, as he found a number of new friends.

Swallowing a large bite of what appeared to be ruby meatballs, Spike cleared his throat. Spike said, “So what's the plan for dinner?”

“Eh, not certain yet,” said Flaam Bay. “I have a bunch of lettuce that needs using though so expect some sort of salad. I was thinking a festive one, it is almost Fall solstice.”

“Yeah and then winter,” Spike said excitedly. “I love making snowmen with the Apple Bloom and her friends.”

“Sorry to interrupt,” I said quietly. “Twilight needs you, Spike. She likely wants to send a letter to the Princesses.”

“Sorry Flaam, gotta go,” Spike stated enthusiastically. “Number One Assistant duties call.”

“Its fine,” Flaam Bay said gingerly. “Lilac, I figure that means she is neck deep in some sort of research then?”

I nodded my head as an answer. Flaam Bay was a kind pony and the castle was much warmer with him in it. He was a dark blue Earth pony with dark black hair cut short and held back by a hair net. His apron was perpetually dirty with the days food. He had a nice smile and it did warm me to see it.

With my foul mood ruining any conversation we would have otherwise had, Flaam Bay asked, “Would you mind delivering a sandwich to Twilight then? Why don't you take a lunch for yourself as well.”

“Okay,” I mumbled. I grabbed the two bags he handed me with my magic. My endurance had increased dramatically, much to my delight.

“Oh and Lilac, if you ever need someone to talk to, I am always here,” Flaam Bay said gently. “With a cup of cocoa, too.”

“Thanks,” I said quietly. I gave a little bow, and then retreated from the kitchen. I passed Spike on the way back to the viewing room. He had a skip in his step. He truly did love helping out and I don't think Twilight would manage with out him.

Twilight was busy still reading a letter, seemingly a response from her mentor. A few papers floated in her grip, with the most complex arcane marks I had ever seen drawn on them. Her brow was crinkled in concern. She seemingly read the letter three times.

“I brought lunch,” I said quietly.

Twilight looked down at me a gentle smile on her face. She took the out held back from me and nuzzled a thanks across my head. Twilight said, “Thanks. A meal is just what I need, I think I might be able to do something but it will take some time for me to prepare it. I have to add this matrix into the current spell with out disrupting the spell. Then we should be able to interact at least a bit. Also it should make travel possible. Well only in one direction and only with a huge amount of energy expended.”

She paused her explanation to take a bite out of her daisy sandwich. Mine was of similar variety and we munched on them in quiet. Twilight busy with thoughts, and myself observing the screen.

Annabelle had gotten up and was wandering the streets. For hours I watched, my heart pained with my inaction. The long shadows cast by the setting sun made those streets look more and more menacing. She had found a pile of cardboard and had climbed into it. She must have fallen asleep there for the view had become motionless. The smears of city life littered the alleyway. It was no place for a child. I kept fighting my own tiredness, though it won in the end, as always.

I ran down a dark street. Lamps flickered with the faintest of glows. My heavy breathing was joined by two others. To my right Melody ran her face full of freight. Annabelle to my left. Both of their hands being pulled in my magic. A large thunderous boom crashed behind us. Followed by the slight shudder of the ground at measured paces. Gaining on us I could hear it crush through cars and lamp posts causing sparks and sirens to fill the air.

It's large hand struck out like lightning. Melody screamed as the teeth filled monstrosity ate her. Blood dribbled down its chin as it chuckled lightly. It was still gaining and I knew it would catch us. Pushing Annabelle ahead of me, I turned and faced my monster.

Beams of magic fired from my head as I futilely attempted to delay it. It batted me with it's large hand, sending me flying into a nearby car. Then with an evil glint of joy in it's black abyss like eyes it grabbed Annabelle. Her scream was ear piercing as it squeezed her.

The world shifted and we were on top of my old building. It chuckled as it pushed me from the building. I watch as I speed towards the ground as he dropped Annabelle's lifeless form into its gaping maw.

Crash. Lightning from outside woke me. The dark of my room did little to help keep at bay my darker emotions. I wish Lyra or Bon Bon were here. I wanted a hug. I got out of bed dragging my fuzzy blanket with me, it still wrapped around my shoulders. I walked down the hall to Twilight's bedroom Where she was sitting with a light on reading. Owliscious hooted gently when I entered the room.

Looking up from her book Twilight smiled gently. She asked, “A nightmare?”

I nodded my head as I climbed up onto the bed next to her. I shook back and forth searching for the the best place to lay, eventually settling on a nice place next to Twilight. She slowly petted my head. Soon sleep found me again.

I woke the next morning as the last bits of the morning shadows were just being chased away. Twilight had already gotten up and a plate with my morning muffin sat on the night stand. My belly full and my mind more focused I headed back to the viewing room.

A message had been taped to the door. It indicated that Twilight was in the middle of heavy spell casting and needed to not be interrupted till she was done. A second smaller note was addressed to me. It read:

Lilac, I know that you are worried about Annabelle but I need some time alone with this problem to be able to fix it. I also think you could use some fresh air, so why don't you go over to Sweet Apple Acres, and play with the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

Love Twilight
Grumbling about my exile, I slithered off towards outside. I got a block or two away from the castle and my mood had started to brighten already. There wasn't anything but pout that I could do in the castle. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo would all be in school at this point so I headed to the school house. With no hurry I meandered in my path, taking a scenic route and just enjoying the pleasant weather. Jumping around puddles and frolicking in the last bits of fall weather. I let go of my worries for a while.

I spent a couple hours making a very roundabout way to the school house and managed to line up my visist with lunch break. The noises of playground joy filtered through the air. The Crusaders were off sitting at one of the benches chatting amongst themselves. The day must have been going well because Cheerilee was also outside enjoying the weather. She waved at me as I approached the school gate.

“Good day,” I chirped at Cheerilee. “I have some free time and was well told to go outside today...”
Cheerilee smile lit up in laughter. She said mirthfully, “Fresh air is good for a young pony. Did you want to join us today? We are actually a bit a head of schedule so we are having a play day for the rest of the day.”

“That would be awesome,” I said.

The small rumble of an approaching storm heralded the Crusader's arrival. Sweetie Belle gave me a quick hug.

“Come to play today?” She asked joyfully. “You picked a good day. We were just planing a crusade just now. Why don't you join in?”

“Yeah come help us,” Scootaloo stated. “You always have ways of spicing up our ideas.”

“With warnings,” I retorted. “Those were things not to do, not suggestions.”

“Eh, Pretty much the same thing,” Apple Bloom joked. “Besides we the stuff we have been doing recently has been going pretty well. At least in the safely coming home department. No luck on our Cutie Marks yet.”

“So what is the plan this time?” I asked with dread in my voice.

“Well,” Sweetie Belle started. I could tell already this was not going to go well. “What do you know of magic plants?”

“That they exist,” I replied dryly. “We haven't really gone over them much yet.”

“Zecora came to class early this week and did a presentation for us,” Apple Bloom said. “Talked about Zap Apples.”

“Yeah, and this really cool and really rare flower,” Scootaloo said excitedly. “Apparently it can give you a great idea.”

“It's called the Epiphany Blossom,” Sweetie Belle explained. “Yeah if you make a tea out of it then drink it, it will give you an amazing idea.”

“And seeing as we have been sorta running dry on ideas now for a while,” Apple Bloom continued.

“We figured it was some time for tea. The flower kind not making it we already tried that one. So boring,” Scootaloo stated.

“So let me guess the flower grows atop a mountain where a dragon makes their home and is guarded by a large fire breathing bird,” I asked sarcastically.

“No silly,” Sweetie Belle said. “It supposedly grows out in the center of the Everfree forest.”

“You mean the monster infested, dark and spooky forest, that we have all been told to stay out of?” I asked.

“Well yeah, but this time it is really important to go,” Scootaloo stated. “Besides as long as we get back before diner we won't get into trouble.”

I faced hoofed. Looking at the excited faces in front of me, I asked, “And let me guess you want me to come with you?”

“Yeah, we could use to have some one as good as you at magic along,” Sweetie Belle said. “My light spells aren't the best still and you are pretty awesome with telekinesis, too.”

“And you lot will go, even if I don't come with?” I asked. Nods were the answer I received from the three fillies. “Well I guess me with you will help your likelihood of not getting eaten.”

“I told you we only got eaten once and that was an accident, the whale didn't mean to,” Scootaloo explained.

That didn't comfort me for some reason. I sighed heavily. I asked, “When do we leave?”

“As soon as class is out,” Apple Bloom said. “We need to stop by the club house and grab our adventuring packs.”

“I am gonna go do some refresher on a spell I learned about recently,” I said quietly. “Something tells me we may need a flare before this is done.”

I left the trio to go ask Cheerilee to borrow the book I wanted. Flare spells were fairly basic stuff and Twilight said all young unicorns are taught it. It was a single form matrix which had thankfully been fairly easy to grasp.

Thankfully Cheerilee did have the book I needed. A Beginner's Guide to Essential Spells. I flipped to the page of the spell, and reviewed it. With a quick glow of my horn shot off a small flare of sparkles and amber color which went about twice as high as the school building. A passing pegasus swung over the school checking for alarm, but I just waved at them as they passed. They smiled and passed on.

Deeper into the book were a few more difficult spells. The one that intrigued me allot but I had not managed to perform yet was a shield spell. Apparently Twilight's brother was very good at them, though my talents seemed to lie else where. I had yet to make any progress on the spell, and I was starting to wish I had been more stubborn on this spell.

A spent awhile going over the spell, though I didn't try any casting. I didn't want to drain myself before our tromp off into the forest. I flipped through the book looking for anything that struck my fancy. Finding nothing I returned the book to the shelf it belonged on and returned to my friends.

“So yeah the flower must be around this part of the forest,” Apple Bloom stated excitedly. She was pointing towards a spot on a crudely drawn map in the dirt. “I mean we have ruled out all other possibilities.”

“Yeah there or over here,” Sweet Belle stated as she pointed to a spot on their map. “I hope it isn't there though. I really don't want to have to wade through a swamp again.”

“Me neither,” Scootaloo said disgusted. “I don't think I will ever feel clean after the last time we did that.”

“What it's just mud?” Apple Bloom retorted.

“Swamp mud takes it to a new level,” I stated mater of factually. “So how are we getting there?”

Taking a stick Apple bloom started to trace a route through the forest. She explained, “So we will start on the trail to Zecora's hut, less cross country that way. Then we will cut across the river here, there was a fallen log there last time we were there. After that its just a hike through the forest to where we want to go. Oh and its a bit up hill to, well we think.”

“Sounds like a plan, I guess,” I stated.

“Class dismissed,” Yelled Cheerilee from near the school house. “See you all tomorrow.”

“Bye Miss Cheerilee,” shouted the trio as we speed off towards the club house. Scootaloo made short work of the distance and after exchanging their school packs for their adventuring packs, mine in tow, we headed off towards the forest. We left the wagon near the edge of the path and started down the darken trail.

The trees of the Everfree always sent shivers up my back. I swore they had eyes and were watching us as we passed. Half way there we passed a large field of blue flowers that made the forest almost seem idyllic for a moment. But as fast as we had come upon the clear, it was also gone. Replace by more of the menacing trees. Chirps and calls of unknown birds filled the air but other than that there were no signs of fauna.

About twenty minutes into our walk we diverged off the trail down a much less used one. Branches started to drag down in our backs and catch in our hair, as if the trees were reaching out to grab us. The small rumble of a rough river started to be heard over the forest sounds. In ten more minutes we had made it to a fallen log which bridge the river nicely.

Scootaloo went first followed by myself. I stared at the log beneath me as I slowly inched my away across our makeshift bridge. The white rapids of the water hung below me by feet, and for a second I swear I saw a huge eye looking up out of the water at me. But the eye disappeared in a flash of purple. Safely on the other side Apple Bloom and Sweetie followed suit though at a much more relaxed pace than my crawl across the log.

“See that wasn't that bad,” Sweetie Belle whispered at me after she crossed. “I knew you could do it.”

I smiled at her encouragement.

Our trek slowed considerably as our path took us away from any trails. As far as I could tell we were headed in the right direction but with the sky almost completely blocked by the over head branches it was hard to tell. My light spell light our way forward. Menacing was no longer the right word for the trees, which at this point were downright terrifying. Though I was the only one who seemed to have such thoughts, I stilled tried to stick close to Sweetie Belle. Her closeness helped chase away my own fears.

A lone howl called a bit off. I jumped at the sudden noises and the rest of the group paused.

“Don't worry, Lilac. That was pretty far off,” Scootaloo stated. “Besides that being the first one we have heard is weird normally they are a little more noisy.”

“Yeah, that was far off enough to not worry,” Apple Bloom stated. “Though no point in delaying, just in case.”

We redoubled our pace towards the hill that was starting to come into view now. After another twenty minutes Scootaloo climbed up a tree to get a better view at our progress. The many vines and ivy making climbing the trees trivial. The birds were still at it, in their unique songs. Scootaloo came tumbling down the tree with a loud thud as she landed on her hooves.

“We are about half way there,” Scootaloo stated. “Maybe another twenty to thirty minutes from here. Oh and you can see the Castle from here.”

“Well of course you can see Twilight's castle from here,” I stated.

“No silly not that castle, the Castle of the Twin Sisters,” Sweetie Belle corrected.

“Oh, yeah I forgot that was out here,” I said. “Well it is good to know we are making progress.”

“Yeah, come on girls we are this close to finding out what our cutie marks are supposed to be,” Apple bloom stated enthusiastically. She started back down our way towards the hill. “I wonder how that tea is gonna taste.”

“I bet it tastes like mint,” Scootaloo stated. “That's the best tea.”

We continued to make progress, only having to backtrack around one cliff, that was just a little to deep to want to climb into and up the other side. Thankfully our detour didn't last too long and soon we were on our way again. The trees had been growing more varied as we went, becoming more alive with color and a bit less demonic in appearance. At the base of the hill we found an old staircase leading upwards, laid into the side of the hill.

“I wonder why this is out here?” I asked.

“Maybe part of the old castle grounds,” Sweetie Belle stated.

“I bet there is some sort of treasure up here,” Scootaloo said. “Well beyond the flower.”

“Maybe they just had a watch tower up here,” Apple Bloom commented.

“Eh it is nice to have an easy way up though,” I stated.

“Yeah,” the trio said in unison.

Our trip up the hill took more time that I was expecting as the stair way meandered back and forth across the rocky hill. A number of flowers were doting the rocky outcrops. It made this part of the forest strangely beautiful. Even the trees had lost their menacing qualities.

The bird calls seemed more varied here, and I spotted a little bright red breasted robin as we passed. We stopped and watched as a deer passed us slowly hopping away into the brush. A strange peace came over the group as we walked.

Finally coming to the top of the hill, the ruins of a tower sat scattered around. On top of a large stone block stood a single white blossom which glowed in the sun. It seemed to be shaped similar to a rose, though no thorns could be found on its stem.

“That's it,” Sweetie Belle stated excitedly. “We found it girls.”

“Hurrah,” the trio yelled in unison. “Cutie mark crusaders are go.”

With help from the three of us Sweetie Belle scramble on top of the giant block of stone. Picking the flower, she carefully placed it into a jar and stored it in her bag.

The sun was inching towards the horizon as we gathered for a small snack before heading back home. The castle Scootaloo had mention before was easily spotted between the trees that doted the top of the hill. The snack consisted of some granola bars and dried fruit. With our stomachs pacified we packed our bags and started to head out.

“We are gonna be in trouble,” I said. “No way we are gonna get back in time now.”

“Yeah this was a bit further than I thought it was gonna be,” said Apple Bloom.

“But it will be worth it if this tea works,” Scootaloo proclaimed.

“Hey girls, be quite for a minute,” Sweetie Belle said sternly. “Do you hear that?”

Listening for a moment, I could hear what ever she had heard. In fact it was strangely quiet. I stated, “We need to leave now. Somethings wrong.”

“Yeah. Where are the birds?” asked Apple Bloom.

“I don't want to know what scared them away,” Scootaloo countered. “Lets not find out.”

We started our rushed descent down the stony stairs. Some howls could be heard but they were much closer now than they had been the previous times. We made it down the hill in no time flat. The others started running down the path we had come.

Noticing another path, I called out, “Hey there is a path here it might be quicker to go this way.”

The others rushed over to where I had pointed. A stone path had once lead away from the stairs, seemingly in the direction of the castle. Despite its over grown state it seemed like a better bet than pushing our way through the brush in the way we had come.

“Yeah lets try this,” Apple Bloom stated. “At least we wont' get as caught up in the undergrowth if we have to fight.”

With nothing left to say we took off down the overgrown path. Our hooves causing a slight racket as we thundered down the stones. What ever was out there definitely knew we were here now. Reaching out with my magic I grabbed onto any branches hanging above the path. My grip was strong enough that several branches broke flying along with us in a amber glow. I dropped the group of them behind us. Hopefully that would delay our pursuers.

Several times I piled debris on our trail as we speed down the winding path towards the castle ruins. My attempts were for not, for before too long timberwolves could be seen in the distance dashing down the path.

“Hurry girls,” I hollered. “Maybe we can take refuge in the castle.”

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom yelled. “We can make it there.”

Sweetie Belle started flinging flares into the air, which exploded over the tree line. Her concentration on her spell work made her loose sight on the path and she tripped over a upturned stone brick. She yelped in panic as she tumbled down the path, head over rump. Picking herself up, Sweetie Belle started to limp after us. Her back hoof was bent at a weird angle.

Seeing the trouble she was in Apple Bloom rushed to put herself between the oncoming wolves as Scootaloo and myself helped Sweetie Belle move faster. The yips and howls of the wolves grew louder as the closed the distance between us. A rickety rope bridge came into view a couple hundred feet down the path as we rounded a bend. Hope fluttered as we neared salvation but the sounds of the wolves came down upon us.

A large monster of a wolf, comprised of tree branches and some evil smoke jumped out of the brush to our right. Apple Bloom, quick on her feet, planted a thunderous kick to the side of its head. With it's head flung to the air, the wolf collapsed into a pile of sticks.

As soon as one had fallen another wolf jumped from the other side of the path. Scootaloo pushed us three out of the way of it's claws, though she herself was a smite to bit slow and got a large gash on her hindquarters for her heroism. Apple Bloom again came to her friend's aid and sent another buck into the wolves head.

Three more appeared out of the brush though they stood back circling us as we huddled together in a tight bunch. The two piles of twigs started to shake and soon enough the two wounded wolves pulled themselves back together. With two more arrivals, seven wolves circled us, waiting for a moment to strike.

“Look I am gonna rush them,” I commanded. “When I do I want you three to make a break for it. I don't want you looking back just run.”

“No, I can't leave you,” Sweetie Belle said her voice cracking with pain and sorrow. “We will get out of this together.”

“Okay,” Scootaloo stated. “As soon as you do we will.”

The wolves looked at us hungrily. Their glowing eyes brought images of the toothed maw monster of my nightmares. I wouldn't let them get my friends, but I wasn't strong enough to hold them off. We needed help. Sweetie Belle cast another flare into the sky, but help wouldn't get here in time. Reaching for my magic, I called for help. Something answered. Magic kept pouring from me. Spreading into the ground, I could feel my magic awaken something in the earth. In my mind a saw the arms of a knight smashing the timberwolves to bits and being our bulwark.

A large hand reached out of the ground crushing a wolf in its grasp. The hand turned into a arm as a large earthen giant pulled itself out of the ground leaving a crater in its place. Amber eyes looked out of the giants face as it batted at the wolves around it.

The wolves jumped the large beast as it fought them. Help had come and I felt drained. My vision started to blur. Some one grabbed me as the world went black.

Sometime later I awoke, a large shadow blocked the sky from my view. Shaking my head to clear the blur from my vision I beheld a large earthen shape staring down over me. Large glowing amber orbs looked at me. I could almost make a sense of fear in those eyes. Lifting my head I looked for Sweetie Belle and the others. Something struck me as I looked out over the path where the fight had taken place, I was several feet up in the air.

Large hands held me, cupped like one would hold a fragile chick. As I stirred the hands lowwered me towards the ground gentle placing me on the path. The Cutie Mark Crusaders sat in a row, awe shone in their eyes.

“Congratulations, Lilac,” Apple Bloom stated excitedly.

“Yeah, good job,” Sweetie Belle chirped.

“That is so awesome,” Scootaloo commented.

“Huh? What?” I asked confused by the situation. Cough. I moved my head back and forth looking for something out of the ordinary, well save for the giant at my back. Shaking my head I laughed at my pointless search, much was extraordinary right now. We weren't wolf chow. I coughed, and my head felt light.

“You got your cutie mark,” Sweetie Belle explained. “Which I think means something about life and painting. Not certain how.”

Looking back at my flank, I noticed the image now emblazoned there. It was a paint brush that its end was blossoming into an interesting flower, which was sorta rose like. The flower was a vibrant emerald green. A light green star back lit the paintbrush.

“I don't get it,” I said. “What is it supposed to mean?”

“Eh, I don't know,” Scootaloo stated. “Still really awesome.”

“Yeah, you made a giant out of earth,” Apple Bloom said. “That is so cool.”

“As much as I like the praise, we need to get going before the wolves come back,” I said. A storm seemed to be brewing and the sky had darkened into a slate gray. I pushed myself up on weak hooves. I attempted to hack up a lung to no avail. “Besides I bet our families are worried by now.”

“Yeah I bet they are,” Apple Bloom said. “Sweetie keep sending up your flares, we don't know how long till the wolves come. While that giant made short work of them, I don't think Lilac can make another if they decide to attack us again. Also Lilac your not sounding so good.”

“Will do,” Sweetie Belle said. Her horn glow once more as a flare shot into the air.

Our pace down the path was slow with both Sweetie Belle and myself needing assistance. Only ten feet down our path a large thud and a shaking of the ground caused us to jump. Behind us the giant had taken a step to follow us. It's eyes stayed glued on me. Ignoring our would be protector we hobbled down the path, periodically sending up flares.

Stopping at the bridge a dilemma appeared. The giant didn't seem to be going anywhere but with us, but the bridge would not hold it's weight. Did we leave our protector behind and continue into the castle alone or wait here for rescue from town.

“Let's wait,” I stated. “It isn't gonna be long with that storm brewing for someone to see us. There has to be weather ponies on duty near the Everfree border, they will see our flares and send help. At least staying here he” -I motioned at the giant- “will keep any wolves at bay.”

“Sounds good to me,” Apple Bloom said. She winced in pain as she sat down. The wound on her flank looked particularly nasty though the bleeding had stopped. Scootaloo started to try to clean the wound best she could with the first aid kit we had brought with.

The howls of the wolves started up and the forest grew deathly silent save for the wind. In between sending up flares I willed a light into existence. The flares and the light drained me nearly dry, making me feel very weak. I was wracked by more coughs. Small red flecks stained my withers afterwards.

Twenty minutes later, a cyan blur thundered into our makeshift camp. With a sonic boom Rainbow Dash dealt a mighty blow to the giant. The lumbering arms of the giant started to bat at Rainbow Dash to no avail. It's target being much to agile and fast to be hit.

“Stop,” I yelled at the two of them. “Don't hurt him.”

The giant became perfectly motionless. It's amber gaze fell back onto me. Rainbow Dash hovered in the air well out of arms reach.

“Wait, what is that thing?” Rainbow Dashed asked. Confusion filled her eyes. “Why is it listening to you Lilac?”

“Because Lilac made it,” Scootaloo beamed up at her idol.

“Yeah, that thing saved us,” Apple Bloom stated.

Lowering her guard, Rainbow Dash landed next to us. She asked, “What happened to you guys? You looked horrible.”

“We got attacked by timberwolves, but Lilac saved us by calling this giant out of the ground to fight them off for us,” Scootaloo chirped. “You should have seen it. It was like swoosh and bam the wolf just got splattered. Then another wolf jumped on it's back but the giant just grabbed the wolf and slammed it into another one sending them both flying.”

“Yeah, Yeah, kid, you can tell me later when we get you all to Ponyville,” Rainbow Dashed stated. She pulled a flare out of her saddle bags and sent it off into the sky. A much larger flash filled the sky.

A large pop and flash filled the air, and Twilight appeared on the path. Worry filled her eyes, and her hair was quite frazzled. More coughing left my mouth. She rushed over to me and scooped me up into a hug. The warmth of her hug felt so good after our frantic flight. For a good minute she just hugged me.

Setting me back down, I could tell we were about to get it, her eyes had shifted from worried and happy to anger and worry. Twilight opened her mouth but then closed it with out saying anything. Shaking her head, she said, “I am very angry with you girls. But here isn't the place to deal with that. I am going to take us all to the Hospital and I will explain to you girls why this was a bad idea there.”

One loud pop, twisting of our very being and a large flash, we found ourselves in the lobby of Ponyville General.

Part 1: Chapter 5

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Chapter 5
The world twisted as I tried to regain my composure. Something was off, teleportation didn't make me sick anymore. The others around me were also trying to regain their composure with Sweetie Belle having already lost her snack to Mr floor.

“Now I want you four to explain why you were out in the Everfree this late at night,” Twilight commanded. “I want the truth so no hiding things alright.”

“Well,” Apple Bloom started. “We were looking for this-”

A cacophony of coughing interrupted Apple Bloom's explanation. The fit last longer than usual and the world darkened a bit for it before it subsided. I spat out that which had came out, red smeared my hoof. I started to feel the world spin once more.

“Lilac,” someone shouted before my world grew black.

Pain was what woke me. Everything hurt. My eye lids refused to open and a slight panic started to come over me. Faster and faster my breathe came as I tried to move anything and found nothing responsive.

“Lilac, it's alright,” Twilight's voice said. “It's alright, your safe now.”

I let out a whimper, the most amount of noise I could and it still sent jagged streaks of paint through my boddy. The pain caused a coughing fit, which further exacerbated the pain. A warm hoof slowly brushed my head.

“Sssh,” Twilight's voice said. “It's alright. I'm here for you.”

We sat there for a while Twilight's hoof eventually helping me sleep. Dreams swept me away from my pain. For a while I floated down a river with Melody on a giant cherry serving as our makeshift raft. the pleasant trip was interrupted when Melody morphed into the toothy monster of my dreams. Who ate me. As I fell into the infinite void of his throat a light slowly grew till my eyes fluttered open.

My head felt foggy and a dull ache filled myself. Slowly I shifted my head to the other direction. Sleeping on a cot was both Bon Bon and Lyra and taking up the bench Twilight, as the three of them slept. Slowly the ache started to become more and more intense, burning me up. A whimper of pain soon became a low moan. Tears ran down my check as a let out a cry of pain. Pain which felt like being stabbed over and over.

A rustling to my side and some noise was made. I couldn't tell what was happening as my head was scrambled. Slowly the pain died down, till it was manageable. Twilight stood to my right, Bon Bon and Lyra to my left.

Rubbing her hoof across my head, Bon Bon said, “There, there, that should help take the bite off of it.”

“Hi honey,” Lyra said. “How you hanging in there?”

“Not well,” I mumbled. “What's wrong?”

“You over exerted yourself on magic,” Twilight explained. “Which in a normal unicorn would be exhausting, possibly for days, but for you it can be life threatening.”

“Why?” I asked in hushed tones.

“Because of how we saved you,” Lyra said. “Remember Sombra's spell? One of the side effects is it ties your life force with your magic supply. Run your magic low, run your life low.”

“Will I recover?” I asked.

“In time,” Bon Bon replied. “It is just gonna take a bit of time okay, honey.”

“Sorry for messing up your honeymoon,” I mumbled. Tears wet my checks again and a quiver took my chin. “I'm sorry. Sorry.”

“Ssssh. It's fine,” Lyra said gently. “It's fine. Don't worry about it. Just try to get some rest, okay?”

“'Kay,” I mumbled. I closed my eyes and tried to drift off to slumber. Sleep came slowly thoughts

“How close was it?” Lyra asked.

“Very. If we had been even twenty minutes later in finding them...” Twilight said. I could her her sob.

“It's alright you did your best,” Bon Bon said.

Sleep finally found me and the rest of the world drifted away. Again I dreamed of unusual circumstances though this time a midnight blue guardian kept the monster away. Blurs of odd ideas melded together and as I slowly awoke the night's dreams melted into a weird soup of fantasy.

The light of dawn lit the room from the eastern window. Twilight was reading a book on the bench next to the door, and Lyra and Bon Bon rested in the cot pushed up against the south wall. A dull ache persisted at the back of my head and my whole body felt fluffy and light. Two intravenous drips stretched out of my right limb.

“Twilight,” I mumbled, which was little more than a whisper. Twilight didn't notice at first. “Twilight.”

Diverting her attention from the book, Twilight gazed over in my direction. A tearful smile over came her face. Crossing the room, she slowly brushed my hair to the side with her hoof.

“Feeling any better?” She asked in a hushed voice.

I gently nodded. I asked still whispering, “Can I have some water? Mouth is dry?”

Sadness shone through her eyes. A small globule of liquid floated in a magenta glow, landing in my open mouth. Feeling refreshed, a weak smile stretched across my face. It took much more effort than it should have to do even the simplest of movement. I figured it must be the pain medication, because the pain was being kept at bay.

“How long was I out?” I asked.

“Just over a day,” Twilight explained. “After you were out of immediate danger, I just went and collected Lyra and Bon Bon. Manehattan is too far away for them to have gotten here by train, so I just helped.”

That far, she teleported that far. I knew teleporting to Canterlot took a decent bit out of her but to go that far and back. I asked, “How? You mentioned Canterlot being too much of an expenditure?”

“Only for causal visits,” Twilight explained. “Besides I have some emergency pools of magic I can tap into when I need to.”

A gentle cough escaped me which made my throat sear in pain. After swallowing to subside the pain, I leaned against Twilight's foreleg as she tried to comfort me.

“Sorry, for getting hurt,” I mumbled.

“Don't worry about that now,” She said softly. “This just means I have to teach you somethings earlier than I had planned. You need to know how to draw on the ambient mana in the air and earth.”

“You said not many can do that,” I mumbled. “Said it was really hard to do.”

“I have faith that you can figure it out,” She said trying to sound confident but I could tell she wasn't.

“I will do it,” I said.

“How is Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle?” I asked.

“They are fine. Scootaloo will be up and at it by tomorrow and Sweetie Belle is going to have to take it easy for a while but should recover completely,” Twilight explained. “But you need to rest okay, so don't worry about them okay.”

“'kay,” I said.

Sleep didn't come, despite wanting it. A strange restlessness filled my and kept me from drifting away. I watched the morning clouds be cleared away. Rainbow Dash's cyan blur making short work of the clouds hanging over Ponyville, or at least what part of it my window let me see. She worked faster than usual, I figured this meant she was either worried about something or showing off.

Twilight had returned to her book on the bench. It was entitled: Trans-dimensional: Collected Notes of Starswirl The Bearded. Twilight loved to talk about Starswirl, and after seeing the number of books he alone authored, I had to admit that the pony knew his stuff.

Bon Bon slowly stirred on the cot, woken by the brightening of the room by the daylight. I could see the weariness in her face, as she looked over at me. Her eyes lit up as she saw me. Gently she lowered herself off the cot, careful to not disturb Lyra.

“Morning,” She whispered in my ear as she gave me a big hug. “I was so worried about you. I thought...-” tears interrupted her speech “-thought you were going to die. You need to be more careful.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “I will be.”

“Good,” Bon Bon whispered gently. Her voice took a more sharp turn. “Because if you ever worry me like that again, so help me...”

“I won't,” I said.

The room suddenly became dark as some large form blocked the window. Glancing over that direction, a large pair of amber spots could be seen looking into the room. Bon Bon protectively covered me with her body.

Twilight jumped from the bench, her horn aglow as she prepared to blast the large visitor. A large magenta wall separated us from the window.

“Wait,” I said as loud as I could the strain causing pain to jeer through my body. “He won't hurt us.”

Twilight looked to me and then to the giant a few times before lowering her magic. The magical wall dissipated with a small pop. Lyra had woken during the tense moment, was staring at the suspicious giant.

“What is that thing?” Lyra asked.

“A giant that saved us from the wolves,” I stated. I erupted into coughs and it took several moments for me to continue. “I called it from the ground to save us.”

“Then it's no foe,” Lyra said. She got up and helped Bon Bon right herself. “No need to worry then, it's just checking up on you. Though one of us may need to go tell the town that. I can't imagine it getting too warm of a welcome, save from Pinkie.”

Twilight's horn glowed as she stared at the giant, her eyes were extremely focused. The glow form her horn faded and she said, “You made a golem. No wonder you used so much magic. That spell is permanent.”

“A golem?” Bon Bon asked.

“It's a magically created construct and automaton, whose enchantment is self feeding,” Lyra explained. “Basically it's an artificially created life like servant or protector.”

“It's a rare talent,” Twilight mentioned. “Congratulations, Lilac, I am proud of you and your cutie mark.”

“Wait, she got her cutie mark,” Lyra said excitedly. “Oooo. Let me see.”

As Lyra pulled up my blanket to stare intently at my flank, the door opened and Spike rushed in. He shook his head at the odd sight. Spike said, “Here you go Twilight. Mail from the Princess.”

“Thank you Spike. I am so grateful that your around,” Twilight said affectionately. “Especially when things get a little out of hand. So lets see what Celestia has to say: Dear Twilight. I am sorry to do this especially after your last letter explained poor Lilac's situation, but a problem has arisen that requires your expertise, along with the other Elements. Queen Chrysalis surrendered herself to me this morning in an unexpected turn of events and I need your help in resolving this conflict. Your Mentor and Friend, Princess Celestia.”

Everyone in the room, save myself had gone pale and were at strict attention. I asked, “What? Why is everyone so shocked? Who is Queen Chrysalis?”

“The changeling queen,” Twilight answered. “She invaded Canterlot and has attacked the Elements and myself several times.”

“So why would she surrender?” Lyra asked. “This must be a trap.”

“If it is, my friends and I shall meet it head on,” Twilight stated. “Nothing can stop the magic of friendship. I am sorry that I have to leave, but whence this mess is all sorted out I will be back. Love you, Lilac.”

Pop. The flash faded leaving us down one Twilight. Lyra went back to staring at my flank, and Bon Bon spared a moments time to look as well. I was blushing thoroughly by the time they were done viewing my mark of accomplishment.

“That is very special cutie mark,” Bon Bon said. “It fits you. A splash of life.”

“Hmm, I wonder what Pinkie will do for your cute-ceañera,” mussed Lyra. “That is gonna be an interesting one to see.”

The restlessness had drained away, and in its place a peace, that mirrored the strange peace in my hospital room, spread through me. I started to drift away into slumber land. Welcome rest felt so good.

A low grumble of my stomach woke me some time later. Bright lines of light seeped past my earthen protector, and I guessed it must be near mid day. Lyra was lazily spread across the cot, reading a book engulfed in her amber magic.

“Where's Bon Bon?” I asked. The dull ache had died down and was barely present.

Smiling as she looked up from her book, Lyra responded, “She just went to run some errands. Wanted to pick up some fresh flowers for the house when you get released.”

“How long am I in for?” I asked sarcastically. “Maybe they will give me a frequent visitor card like the rest of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Not that I hope this keeps happening. Wait, I almost forgot, how is Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle?”

“Don't know,” Lyra replied. “Why don't you ask the nurse when she comes to check in on you? On both accounts.”

“Is there any chance I can have lunch now?” I asked. “I can't remember the last thing I ate.”

“I'll go check,” Lyra said. “Just don't go and hurt yourself again while I am gone.”

I stuck my tongue out at her, and she playfully returned the gesture. I said, “I promise not to.”

“Be right back,” Lyra stated, as she closed the door behind her.

I turned my attention towards my silent earthen guardian. He just seemed to be staring, though I thought I could see small strands of multicolored paper hanging from his head. I briefly wondered why till the pink demon popped into mind. His compact rocky surface showed no signs of his fight with the wolves and really outside of the glowing orbs of magic that made his eyes, there were little to distinguish his face from a boulder. A bit of guilt plagued me, I had created him, but he had no personality in his appearance. Next time if there ever was a next time I would make sure to add some flourish to him.

The door creaked open and a tuff of purple hair preceded the small scuffling of hooves in the room. Slowly Scootaloo peaked her head over the foot of my bed. Her face lit up when she saw me

“Hi, Lilac,” Scootaloo said. “Be right back.”

She sneaked back to the door and seemed to be waving her friends over. Soon three shapes bumbled into my room. Coming around to the side the trio came into view. Their faces were a strange mix of guilt and happiness. Sweetie Belle started to tear up. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo stood against my bed, but Sweetie standing closest didn't. The broken back leg was wrapped in a large cast.

“Sorry,” Apple Bloom said dejectedly. “You almost died and that was our fault.”

“Sorry,” Scootaloo said quietly. She winced and shifted her weight to the other leg. “We promise not to drag you into so much trouble again.”

“Sorry,” Sweetie Belle said between quiet sobs. “Sorry.”

“It's fine,” I mumbled. “This is as much my fault as yours.”

“Still, we're mighty sorry,” Apple Bloom said. “We're gonna give you the flower we found, maybe you can come up with something cool with it's powers.”

“Well, I appreciate the offer,” I said. “I can't-”

Scootaloo interrupted, “Nope, we aren't taking no for an answer. The flower is yours.”

“Fine,” I muttered.

The door swung open and the Cutie Mark Crusaders froze, shock and guilt mixed in the eternal face of having been caught in the act. Nurse Snowheart and Lyra walked into the room. Lyra smiled at the trio, but Nurse Snowheart's visage was not pleased. Lyra had bought with her a tray of food.

“I told you girls to stay in bed,” Nurse Snowheart chided. “Apple Bloom don't make me kick you out for the day.”

“Sorry, Nurse Snowheart,” the trio said in unison. “We just needed to check up on Lilac.”

“I will forgive you this time,” Nurse Snowheart said. “But no more meandering about okay, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle need their rest. Now back to your beds.”

“Yes, Nurse Snowheart,” the trio chanted. The three of them and the nurse left the room. “Bye, Lilac.”

“I got you some good stuff,” Lyra bragged. “There's this awesome applesauce, a Mooncatus stir-fry and some dragon carrots.”

“Errgh,” I groaned. “I hate the way those carrots make me feel. I always get so jittery for hours afterwards.”

“Doctor's orders,” Lilac explained. “But I also got you a dessert, but only if you eat the rest of your lunch first.”

“When has that been a problem?” I asked in a deadpan. Not once had Lyra or Bon Bon had any trouble from me about food. “I will eat them, doesn't mean I have to like it.”

“Fair enough,” Lyra said. “Besides the only way I convinced the nurse to give you a dessert was by saying I had to bribe you. So act the part.”

I giggled at her slyness. I said, “Okay, one fussy eater coming up.”

The nurse returned after I a few minutes. I had devoured as many of the cooked carrots as I could, just to make it easier to act like I was being spoiled. The nurse looked at my plate suspiciously and then to Lyra, and back. I figured the less I had to eat in front of the nurse the less I had to act.

“So, How are you feeling today, Lilac?” The nurse asked.

“Alright I guess,” I said between bites. “I am a bit sore, well okay allot sore. And I am pretty tired.”

“That is to be expected,” Nurse Snowheart said. “You are looking much better, and if you are only sore at this point we can release you later today, into strict bed rest. With that said no magic for the next two days, just to be safe. You have recovered in miraculous pace, thanks in part to Princess Twilight Sparkle, but you still need to rest your magic.”

“Will do,” I said.

“I'll make sure she stays in bed,” Lyra said. “Bon Bon and I are both free for the rest of the week so it shouldn't be any problem to take care of her.”

“Good to hear,” Nurse Snowheart said. “We are gonna want to see her back in in four to five days. The doctor wants to run some tests, make sure everything healed right.”

“'Kay,” I said still shoveling food down my gullet.

“Anything else we should know?” Lyra asked.

“Not really, though you may want to ask Twilight that,” Nurse Snowheart stated. “We had never seen a case like this before.”

“Lilac is a special little filly,” Lyra said through a strained smile.

“I will be back in an hour or so with paper work then you can go,” Nurse Snowheart explained as she left the room.

“I don't think she cared about the dessert,” I stated. I licked the last remnants of the chocolate pudding from my spoon. “Though good find on that pudding.”

“I try my best,” Lyra stated.

“So sorry,” I said. “I didn't mean for things to go so bad.”

“It's fine,” Lyra said. “We all make mistakes. Just have to learn from them is all.”

“Will do,” I said.”

The next hour was one of the more boring ones I had spent in the hospital. Lyra had returned to her book and I had little to do but try to sleep and count the ceiling tiles. Even my go to entertainment, the window, was blocked by my vigilant earthen protector.

Eventually freedom was mine and the nurse lead us out of the room, me riding on Lyra's back. We left the hospital and took a pleasant walk home. The only interference in the peace that settled our walk was the thud thud of the golem following us. I really needed to figure out how to tell it to stop following me around like a puppy. Twilight would hopefully have an answer for that. Though I guess it was a small price to pay for not being wolf meat.

The mail and four newspapers sat on our porch. Confusion set in as I tried to figure out what day it was. I asked, “Lyra what day is it?

“Thursday,” Lyra answered. “You were out pretty much all day yesterday. Only woke up the one time in the morning.”

“Oh,” I said. A bit of sadness filled me, I had lost an entire day to this stunt. “I thought it was Wednesday.”

“It's alright, after that first time I think the doctor had upped your pain meds,” Lyra explained. “To help you rest.”

“Still feels weird,” I said. “So how was Manehattan?”

“Eh, boring for the most part,” Lyra said. “I mean it was nice to have some alone time with Bon Bon, really haven't had that much fun since...”

“It's fine,” I said. “I know that you weren't expecting to have a child so quickly.”

“I don't regret it one bit, honey,” Lyra said lovingly. “But time for you to take a nap.”

Lyra levitated me into my bed, which was until that point far too well made, and I hugged her as she planted a little kiss on my check.

“Sleep well,” Lyra whispered.

“You too,” I replied.

Closing my eyes I drifted off into dream land. My dreams were far saner than the ones over the previous days, and thankfully pleasant as well. Picnics and tea parties, one with my golem. He had a cute little, well not so little, dress on and had a large sun hat.

The sun had nearly set when I woke again. I slowly wandered into the living room. Bon Bon and Lyra were snuggled up with some glasses of wine on the couch. They smiled at me when I meandered up, and climbed up next to Bon Bon on the couch.

“Sleep well?” Bon Bon asked. I simply nodded my answer. It felt good to have them back, I didn't realize how much one could miss somepony in four days, but I was glad to have them home. The only thing that would have made this more perfect was if Twilight was here too.

Part 1: Chapter 6

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Chapter 6
A brisk knock interrupted our peace. As Lyra struggled to disentangle herself, she shouted, “One minute.”

The door clicked open and Twilight sat there with a forced smile on her face. Something or someone was riding on her back. Twilight asked, “Do you mind if I come in? I have to introduce someone and ask a favor.”

“Please do,” Lyra said while motioning with her head to enter. As Twilight passed her, Lyra froze up. Shock filed her face. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Yes,” Twilight answered. Her horn glowed as she gently picked up the sleeping form from her back. Slowly she set the strange black pony on the floor. The little filly had maroon red hair that was very striking with her glossy black fur, wait that wasn't fur. “Wake up, Little one. Come on Nympha, we are here.”

The small changeling stretched away her sleep. She batted her eyes open and revealed her gorgeous ruby eyes. She was an inch or two shorter than me when standing straight.

“This is Princess Nympha,” Twilight said. “Daughter of Queen Chrysalis. She is going to be staying with me for the foreseeable future. I was hoping that Lilac here would be her friend.”

“Why do you have Chrysalsis' daughter?” Bon Bon asked. She seemed to be fighting an urge to either run or smush the cute little changeling in hugs.

“Chrysalis asked for peace,” Twilight stated. “She said her people were starving and that she could no longer even take care of her daughter anymore. So in a show of trust she offered for one of us princesses to look after her daughter for her, while we all work out a more sustainable treaty. And Princess Celestia asked that I be the one to look after her.”

“Won't she just suck you dry?” Lyra asked.

“They don't have to do so,” Twilight assured us. “They can feed off the ambient love in the air, which leads me to my favor. Can Nympha stay with you? The castle doesn't have enough people to really have enough love in the air to feed her, and you are the closest ponies I trust for this.”

“I don't know,” Lyra said. “I mean, how can we trust her.”

As their conversation continued, Nympha moved over to the couch and was looking up at me with pleading eyes. I motioned for her to join me on the couch, which she did. Twisting once to find the perfect spot, Nympha curled up next to me with her head resting on my flank.

“I know this is allot to ask of you, but she is too young to use mind magic, and hopefully we will be able to teach her why that isn't an acceptable thing to use,” Twilight explained. “And outside of her ability to transform she is pretty like a normal unicorn or pegasus filly.”

“I still don't know,” Lyra said. “I don't know if I am up for the responsibility of this magnitude. I don't want to risk war with the changelings because I am not a good enough mom.”

“That or the risk to our family,” Bon Bon stated. “If something were to happen, and Chrysalis decided revenge was in order.”

“I am just two blocks away,” Twilight said. “Also I can set up an enchantment around the building to make sure Chrysalis can't come within half a mile of it.”

“How can you do that?” Lyra asked. “I don't know any warding spells that you can pick only one pony to be warded from.”

“She shared a bit of her mana with me, and I can use that to make a ward that keeps out her signature,” Twilight explained. “I will put up all the measures I can to keep you safe.”

“What about the townsfolk?” Lyra asked. “I know some of the town would be willing to forgive the changelings and give them a second chance, but what of those who won't. How will we protect Nympha from that?”

“I have an amulet which will help her keep her disguise up,” Twilight explained. “As long as she wears that no pony will find out she is a changeling.”

“I think we should do this,” I said. “Look at how fragile she is. How sickly she looks. I don't think she was being properly taken care of before. And you gave me a home, despite not knowing much of me. We should do the same for her. Everypony deserves a home.”

Bon Bon rubbed her head against mine, her smile was contagious as she beamed at me. Nympha seemed to perk up as Bon Bon did so. Bon Bon said, “I am proud of you, Lilac. Your right, this little filly needs a home, and what kind of ponies would we be if we didn't at least help her find one.”

“Okay,” Lyra relented. “We will do so. But I want all the protections you can enchant on this house, also you need to be here or with Nympha as much as you can.”

“I intend to,” Twilight stated. “I am really proud of you Lilac. I love how big your heart is.”

Blushing I buried my head from view in Bon Bon's thigh. I mumbled, “Thank you.”

Nympha rubbed her head up against my flank in a comforting pattern. I looked down at her. She seemed to be smiling at me.

“So one little hiccup I didn't mention,” Twilight said. “Nympha can't speak.”

“Why? She looks only a bit younger than Lilac,” Bon Bon asked concern filled her voice. “Is there something wrong with her?”

“I don't know,” Twilight said. “Chrysalis would only say that she couldn't speak and she dodge every question about that. As far as I can tell, Nympha isn't hurt in anyway, but I really don't know changeling physiology all that well so I could be wrong there. Also she is much younger than she looks. Changelings hatch at a much bigger size than ponies are born at. She is less than a year old. That said, I don't think it is a age issue. Changelings hatch at the same mental and physical maturity as a five year old pony.”

“Hmm,” Lyra said. “Well I guess that is just one mystery that we will have to solve later. It's just about diner time, did you want to stay for some Twilight?”

“I'm sorry I need to return to the castle for a bit,” Twilight said. “I have allot of paper work to do, and I need to get all the enchantments worked out ahead of time. Oh and I need to check on Lilac's and my pet project.”

“Pet project?” Lyra asked. “What are you working on?”

“Oh it's a surprise,” Twilight said. “I will tell you all tomorrow. Oh and Lilac, dear, don't worry about it, I figured out a solution to our problem.”

Her words of encouragement did little to steam the sudden torrent of emotions. Tears started to run down my checks. Nympha covered me in a blanket, and Bon Bon tried to nuzzle my head to help calm my sudden storm. Images of Annabelle dead on the street ran through my head. It hurt my chest to think about it.

“What's your project?” Bon Bon asked of Twilight. "Lilac doesn't seem to be too happy about it.”

“It has to do with Lilac's birthplace,” Twilight answered. She motioned at Nympha and shook her head. “As I said I will explain tomorrow. Sorry I have to make you wait.”

Lyra's eyes had lit up with excitement. She was about to say something when Bon Bon interrupted, “Okay, tomorrow. Though you should be going don't want to be up too late.”

Lyra's head sank. Lyra said, “Yeah don't want to be up too late or anything. I am gonna go make dinner.”

“Lyra, baby,” Bon Bon called as Lyra disappeared into the dining room. “Try not to make too much of a mess.”

“I'll try, but no promises,” Lyra called back. A large bam filled the house. “Sorry.”

Bon Bon sighed, and shrugged her shoulders. The three of us sat in quiet for a while. Nympha hadn't moved from my back and was a strange pony sized blanket. She was strangely lighter than I had expected from her size. Still though worry ate at my stomach, I felt helpless about Annabelle, and guilty that I wasn't doing anything.

I tried to put my fears and guilt aside and just rest. I concentrated on my breathing exercises which were much harder with a filly laying on you, but still they helped and I half way dozed off.

“Dinner is ready,” Lyra called from the dining room.

Nympha must have been startled as she jumped severely at that. Bon Bon caught her in air and placed her down next to the couch. I slide off the couch in a very lazy way and we went into the other room.

“Nympha, why don't you sit here next to Lilac,” Bon Bon instructed as she pulled out a chair for the little changeling.

We both clambered up into our chairs and Bon Bon had taken a spot next to Nympha on the other side. A large sauce pot sat in the center of the table, with a forked ladle held over it by Lyra's amber magic. Scooping out a modest serving for Nympha and a slightly bigger one for me, Lyra placed the spaghetti on our plates. Large chunks of mushrooms were mixed into the tomato sauce, along with small pieces of onions.

I slowly filled my belly with the delicious food watching Nympha eat. She had little in the way of table manners, doing little more than shoving her face into the food and slurping it up. I giggled as she came up to swallow and a noodle stuck to her nose. I tapped my nose with my hoof, and Nympha noticing the noodle, just licked it into her mouth.

I ate my fill and soon after the two of us were ushered off to bed. I had to share with Nympha due to the lack of a bed for her. I didn't mind, she was really cute and sorta clingy. I didn't think that she had slept alone before. It took longer than usual for me to fall into slumber, but for the first time in a long time I didn't have nightmares.

The next morning I woke with the dawn. I found myself entangled in Nympha's grasp, which was far snugger than I would have guessed. Slowly and gently I eased myself out and shoved a pillow into her arms.

I ventured out into our little living room. Bon Bon sat on our dark brown couch, her coffee sitting on the small table in front of it. Three bookshelves filled allot of the empty space in the room, along with a comfy little armchair, which was my favorite places to read a book alone. The rest of the empty space on the wall was filled with my art. I was sorta embarrassed that Lyra and Bon Bon insisted to frame any of my work that they felt was in anyway special.

“Morning,” I said.

“Good morning,” Bon Bon said. “How did you sleep? Sorry for having to have Nympha sleep in your room.”

“It's fine,” I stated. I climbed up into the couch next Bon Bon. “I slept well for once.”

“Well, that is good,” said Bon Bon.

We sat in peace for a while enjoying the morning. Bon Bon and I read to pass the time. My book was a daring tale of suspense and romance with plenty of sword fighting and monster well rodents of unusual size in it. Rarity had recommended it to me one day when she had been visiting Twilight. I quite enjoyed the book and this was the second time I had read it.

Nympha shuffled out into the room and was shaking the sleep from her head still. The sleek black of her chitin shined in the morning sun which filled the room through the many windows. She scrambled up to join us on the couch.

“Good Morning,” Bon Bon said. “Did you sleep well, Nympha?”

Nympha only nodded her response. Her voice still ever elusive. She curled up next to me, staring at my book intently. Her eyes weren't moving with the words and she seemed to not be reading just staring.

“Can you read?” I asked. I received a shake of her head as answer. “Do you want me to read to you?”

An excited smile filled her face. Small glistening fangs flashed in her mouth as she did so. Her eyes had light up and she looked at me with one of the cutest faces I had ever seen. She nuzzled her head against my side.

Starting from the beginning, I read my book to Nympha. She stayed alert and attentive for the entire time I sat there reading. About an hour latter, Bon Bon extracted herself from the couch.

“Are you two hungry for breakfast?” Bon Bon asked.

“Yes please,” I said. Nympha nodded in excitement.

I continued to read to Nympha and Bon Bon disappeared into the dining room. Bon Bon called us to the table some fifteen minutes later. She had made up a pot of oatmeal and was serving each of us a bowl of it. Nympha jiggled and bounced in her seat waiting for her bowl to be given to her. Bon Bon added some brown sugar and raisins to the top of each of our bowls. I stirred my oatmeal, and Nympha tried to mimic me. She was grasping the spoon between her two hooves and trying to stir in a clumsy fashion. I helped with my magic, so as to not make a mess.

My attempts of minimizing messes was proven futile when after stirring the oatmeal, Nympha buried her head into the bowl. Slurping and munching, she devoured her bowl. I took a much more steady pace, and cleaner.

Half way through my bowl there was a knock at the door. Bon Bon walked over and opened the door. She said, “Good Morning, Twilight. Come in, come in.”

“Morning,” Twilight said. Her voice was ragged, like she hadn't slept the night before. “I need to talk to Lilac, and I brought over the amulet for Nympha.”

“They are both in eating breakfast. Care to join us?” asked Bon Bon.

“Hmm, Breakfast does sound good,” Twilight said. The two of them walked back into the dinning room through the open door. Twilight's eyes had bags under them, and her gaze kept darting away from me every time I caught her looking my way. She picked at her food and slowly ate the oatmeal plain.

“Don't you want raisins in it?” I asked. She always wanted raisins, they were good for you as she would say. A sense of dread built its way up my throat. Something was off, and Twilight was hiding something.

After a bit, Twilight deposited her empty bowl onto the counter. She took an ornate amulet out of her bags which lay at the feet of her chair. It had an ornate golden chain that was centered with a small topaz that shined with a hint of magic. Using her magic she attached the necklace to Nympha's neck, which hung loosely for a second till it tightened to fit snugly around her neck. As it did so Twilight's aura was dissipated in a unusual fashion, causing slight sparks of magic to erupt from the aura and a slight crackling sound.

“The amulet has several enchantments on it,” Twilight explained. Her voice was still melancholy. “The most important one is a booster for her transformation magic, which should allow her to hold a disguise for much longer at little effort. Also there is a magical protection to prevent it from falling off or being pulled off by anyone but Nympha, that and should prevent a slew of unwelcome spells from affecting her. I made it last night. Nympha can you try shifting your form to a pony fill of what ever kind you feel is most comfortable.”

Slowly a green flame engulfed Nympha and she was replaced by a cream colored unicorn filly, whose mane and tail were the same maroon as Nympha's original mane. Her Ruby eyes had changed slightly, making them resemble a cat's far less now. The smeared oatmeal contrasted very little with her fur and she held a big smile, revealing normal pony teeth.

“Good,” Twilight said. “I think we should give her another day or two of getting used to that form before we take her out around town still, just to be safe. If you need anyone to look after her, all six of us elements plus Spike know what is up with her.”

“Thanks,” Bon Bon said quietly. “She isn't too much trouble so far at least. She's just a normal filly, if a bit affectionate.”

“So on to the more...” Twilight said, pausing for a moment. The look of worry intensified on her face. “Lilac, I am afraid that Annabelle isn't in the best of places right now. I need you to come over and confirm somethings for me. Lyra should come, too.”

“I will go wake her,” Bon Bon said. “Who is Annabelle and is it that serious?”

“Yes,” Twilight stated solemnly. She clammed up after her soft spoken word.

“Annabelle is Melody's sister,” I stated quietly. “She wasn't doing so well last time we checked on the spell, before my hospital stay.”

Bon Bon retreated from the dinning room and a few minutes later a crazed Lyra rushed into the room, her hair still a tangled mess of bed head. Lyra said, “You opened another window? Come on lets go and see it.”

“Yeah we did,” Twilight said. “There is a situation, we should go and discuss our options after we check up on it. Spike is there watching in case it gets worse. I did figure out how to make the view more of a portal but right now I only know how to drag something through to our side, not send anything.”

“Still that's progress,” Lyra stated. She engulfed me in her magic and started towards the door. “No time to waste, lets go.”

“I'll just teleport us there,” Twilight stated.


Twilight, Lyra and myself found ourselves out side the room that held the viewing spell. Lyra was a bit extra green and wobbled on her hooves for a moment. I fared much better, though a spike of nauesea did find my stomach making me thankful for having not stuffed myself too much at breakfast.

“Give me more of a warning next time,” Lyra stated.

“Sorry,” Twilight said quietly. “Still we're here.”

We entered the room; Lyra taking a large glance over the whole room. Nothing, save the view itself, had changed since I had last been here. Annabelle could be seen, inside a dark basement. She was shifting through some boxes but I couldn't tell what else was up beyond that.

“Some people grabbed her last night while I was working on the amulet last night,” Twilight explained. “She didn't seem very happy about that and fought them the entire way into the car. I don't think she is there by choice, nor do I think those people are supposed to be the ones to have her, one of them hit her.”

Looking more closely, I could see the faintest of bruises on Annabelle's arms. My worry grew into panic. Someone had stolen Annabelle. I couldn't watch her get hurt. I started to shake. I said, “How big of a thing can we bring over to this side?”

“Pretty much anything given enough energy,” Twilight stated. “I think I could grab about twenty to forty kilograms of stuff.”

“Is that enough to grab the girl?” Lyra asked quietly. “I am pretty certain Bon Bon is going to kill me, but we can't leave her there. Can you pull her over here, Twilight?”

“Yes,” Twilight said. “But the spell to do so is going to take some time to bring up. I am going to need your help to power the spell. That should stabilize the spells strength and allow for a greater mass allowance, minimizing the risk of the spell.”

“What risk?” I asked quietly. Images of the various times spells had blown up in my face came tumbling through my head, thankfully most of them tame but the thought of that happening to Annabelle scared me.

“Well if she is too big the spell may fail or a piece of her might be left behind,” Twilight stated. “But based on what you've told me about humans and my calculations that shouldn't be a problem. Still it doesn't hurt to be safe. We should start, I don't know how long Annabelle is safe.”

Lyra nodded, and I did as well. Twilight's horn light up, slowly building up to a blinding level of light. A large purple dot formed in the screen spell. Strange symbols and lines floated in the spell. Lyra's horn lit up as well as she poured energy into the spell though at a much slower rate than Twilight. Beads of sweet formed on both mares brow.

“Good keep that rate steady,” Twilight said. “Should only be another twenty or so minutes of this till we can pull her over.”

“Twenty minutes,” Lyra exclaimed. “I don't know if I can hold this rate for that long.”

“Just do your best,” Twilight responded.

The scene on the screen moved with Annabelle. She had finished pushing the boxes around and had made a makeshift ramp. Grabbing a broom she climbed up her ramp, which held her weight but barely. Using the broom, she broke the ingress window. Her ramp barely held up to the sudden movement, and the noise must have alerted someone upstairs because Annabelle's head shot in the direction of the stairs. She pushed herself through the broken window, leaving several large cuts on her as she did. Once free from the window, Annabelle broke into a mad dash away from the building, cutting across road and alley to escape from the house she had been captive at.

Someone must have been following her because she would look back and redouble her efforts every so often. Slowly the orb in the view point grew till it was nearly the two feet across. Lyra had fallen to her knees but still pushed magic into the spell. A person could be seen gaining on Annabelle, someone I didn't recognize but whose face held all the information I needed, a face of rage and hate. Grabbing from my pool I pushed my own magic into the spell, hastening its growth.

“Lilac, we have this,” Twilight stated. “Your not supposed to be using magic yet.”

“Your not gonna make it in time,” I said firmly. “We can't let that man catch her.”

Twilight dropped the subject, knowing that she couldn't stop me without disrupting their work on the spell. The orb was growing much quicker with my additions, and soon was three feet across. Annabelle, noticing that her pursuer was nearly at her sped across a road without looking. I swear I could hear the resulting crash and cracking sounds. My world slowed to a snails pace. Twilight's horn grew brighter than I thought possible, as both of us poured more magic into the spell, my own horn starting to grow hot with light. A purple aura engulfed the crumpled form of Annabelle who had been tossed by the impact, and was still in the air. For a moment she hung there, suspended in Twilight's magic before she moved into the orb in the picture obscuring her from sight for a moment till with a loud pop she came out of the orb into the room.

Gently Twilight placed her onto the floor. Her left arm was bent at an awkward angle, clearly broken, and her right was much worse off, barely to be said to still be attached. Her legs were not much better off, and multiple lesions covered her body. Blood started to pool around her. Miraculously she still was breathing albeit in short pained gasps.

“Help her, please,” I pleaded of Twilight. My vision blurred as her injured form laid out on the floor swam in my eyes.

“I don't know how much I can,” Twilight stated. “I just don't know enough about human biology to heal this. I can give her some time though.”

Her horn lit up once more, though much more gently than last time. A warm glow covered Annabelle and the bleeding stopped, and her breathing eased slightly.

“That's all I can do for now,” Twilight said. “I am going to get help though. Be right back.”

With a pop Twilight disappeared from the room.

Part 1: Chapter 7

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Twilight’s return was heralded by a large pop. Three shapes took shape as light faded from Twilight’s spell. The solar and lunar diarch stood with a strange mix of regal composure and panic. The fog in my brain obfuscated any other details.

“Twilight,” Said Princess Celestia. “You look after Lilac. She isn’t looking well. Luna and I shall help this one.”

“Yes,” Princess Luna said. She stepped forward and surveyed Annabelle, her horn engulfed in her midnight blue aura. “We will have to change her, Sister. It is the only way. I can see Twilight’s healing spell still trying to work. The small one seems to be resisting the magic.”

“Agreed,” Princess Celestia stated. Her horn glowed pale golden as a small orb of her magic formed above Annabelle. The light grew brighter and brighter and my vision faded into the light of Celestia’s magic.

I awoke in a darkened room that smelt of a familiar crispness. From my warm bed the stars could be seen stretched across my view. A pair of glowing eyes looked down at me from the mass of stars.

“Welcome to the world of the living, Lilac,” Princess Luna said. Her voice was soothing and calming. Her smile revealed her white teeth which shone like the moon in the darkness. “You are a lucky filly, well that or a very unlucky one. Annabelle will be fine in time, so fret not.”

“Where’s Twilight or Lyra? Where am I?” I asked. My voice came out feeble and cracked. Talking brought spasms of pain through my body.

“Worry not,” Princess Luna commanded softly. “They are safe and nearby. We are in the Canterlot Castle Hospital Wing. Please try to get rest. Twilight has asked me to watch over you till your final guardian, Bon Bon, arrives from Ponyville.”

Princess Luna took her job very seriously. I could hardly keep track of time as I sat there watching the stars in her mane. They twinkled like the real sky did and every once and while a shooting star would streak down her mane as it billowed over my head.

Some amount of time, when my vision had hazily landed on an interesting constellation that would shift form from time to time, the door to the room was opened with a loud click. I jolted upwards trying to see the door that was half obscured by Princess Luna’s mane. A grey coated stallion who was wearing dark armor had entered the room. His eyes glowed in a similar fashion to Princess Luna’s

“The little one’s guardian is here, my Princess,” stated the guard. His form remained rigid and stoic.

“Let her in please,” Princess Luna asked of the guard. Her long flowing mane shifted to behind her head mostly tucked behind her head.

Bon Bon came into the room. Her hair frazzled with worry. Her eyes were red with tears shed. A small and timid form followed her in stayed glued to the walls far from Princess Luna. Nympha's maroon hair hid her eyes from me.

Bon Bon approached slowly but purposefully as she approached me her eyes shifted and a fire seemed to burn in them. A fire I had only seen when she yelled at Lyra for her numerous “accidents”. She paused at the edge of my bed for a second before scooping me up into a hug, making the iv in my arm to tug tightly. The hug was painful, but I beared through the pain.

“Never worry me like that again,” Bon Bon said anger and sadness having a strange battle in her voice. After a long awkward moment of silence, she released me from her grip. “I am so happy you are alright. Well as well as to be expected. Look at you you’re skin and bones.”

I took stock of myself. She was right. I looked worse than I had ever before. My legs were strangely gaunt and I could feel the tightness of my skin now that I thought about it. My fur had lost its color and was almost pale white.

“Lilac’s recover shall be swift for one in her position,” Princess Luna assured us. “Her physical state is more attuned with her mana-spring than is usual thanks to Sombra’s magic. Within the week she should be back to normal.”

Nympha had inched her way around the room during Bon bon’s embrace. Her worried eyes shot back and forth from myself and Princess Luna. Princess Luna nodded her head slightly towards Nympha. Tentatively Nympha approached the edge of the bed and then scrambled up next to me. Her deep stare was captivating for a second and a slight fog came over me. Nympha curled up next to me.

“Why don’t we leave them to get some rest,” Princess Luna stated. “My night guard will stay watch just outside the door.”

Bon Bon nodded and nuzzled my head gently. Her touch wasn’t as painful this time. She said, “Get some sleep, okay. I’ll be back in just a bit after I check on Lyra.”

I nodded my head slowly. I almost missed the click of the door closing as I slipped into sleep.
I awoke to the bright rays of the morning sun. The vaulted ceilings of my room seemed to reflect the light beyond what they seemed capable of. A bookshelf filled with a collection of interesting covers sat in the corner farthest from myself. Bon Bon slept in a cot set up next to the bookshelf and under one of the windows that were inlaid into the same wall as my bed was pushed up against.

Nympha was still a curled up ball sleeping peacefully next to me. I felt much better than I had expected, and color had started to return to my fur. My muscles seemed somewhat rejuvenated as well.

To my right there was a small stand with a book waiting for me. A book of stars. I wondered if Princess Luna left this but was thankful all the same. As used to waking up in hospitals early with nothing do I had become, it still wasn’t the most pleasant of mornings. I grabbed the book with my hooves, moving as slowly as I could to not disturb Nympha and flipped to the first page.

I was on page sixty-seven when the door opened. It made a sizable bang as it bounced against the wall. The shock of it seemed to dissipate the sense of dread that had slowly been building in me. Twilight’s face was scrunched up in the doorway. Calmly she entered, doing her utmost to ignore the door that was wobbling back and forth next to her. Lyra followed behind Twilight. They both looked worse for wear though Lyra was much worse off than Twilight. She had her horn wrapped up with thick bandages.

Nympha pressed had jolted up and pressed her form into my side as far as it would go. She glanced my way once, her eyes filled with fright, but otherwise stared at Twilight as if she were some sort of monster. She shook terribly.

“Morning,” Twilight said abashedly. “Sorry about that. My control is always wonky for a few days after a major drain.”

“At least you don’t have the splitting headache that I do,” Lyra complained. “That was very loud.”

“Yes it was,” Bon Bon said angrily. “Some of were sleeping and had no need of such a startle. Look at poor Nympha. She’s shaking.”

Nympha was still shaking and cowering into my side. I pulled my arm around her and sat up in bed, righting myself. A nuzzle of affection chased away Nympha’s shakes.

“Sorry,” Twilight said. “How are you all doing this morning?”

“Tired,” Bon Bon said flatly. “In need of coffee.”

Twilight’s horn glowed for a second before a cup of steaming coffee appeared in her aura next to her. She handed to Bon Bon who started to sip slowly from the cup.

“I feel better,” I said. The dread from earlier started to “The pain is gone. Is this -” lifting my arm with the IV “- pain medication?”

“Not that I am aware,” Bon Bon stated. “You look much better. More so than you should. We should ask the doctor about that when they come by.”

“Yeah we were pretty worried about you there,” Lyra stated. “You do seem to have a predilection for ending up in the hospital.”

“Are you joking?” Bon Bon chided. “The only pony more prone to hospitalization because of magical ‘accidents’ is standing next to you, Lyra.”

“She has a point,” Twilight stated. “We should be more careful.”

“How is Annabelle?” I asked. Images of her tattered body swam in my head and my stomach went for quiet to boiling in a second. “Di-did she make it?”

“Annabelle will live,” Twilight said solemnly.

“That doesn’t sound good,” I replied. My nausea and fear roared on. “What happened to her?”

“You aren’t stressing my patient, are you?” asked a deep voice from the doorway. A brown coated stallion with dark brown hair and a stethoscope around his neck filled the frame of the door.

“No of course not , Dr Remedies,” Twilight sated. Her face had scrunched up again.

The unicorn doctor entered the room. His cutie mark stood out from the many I had seen before. A skull and crossbones over a medical cross. My eyes darted back and forth from his flank to his eyes. The disconnection between his kind eyes and the mark on his flank startled me.

“Don’t worry,” the stallion said. “My cutie mark is for treating deadly injuries and the like. My full name is Deathly Remedies. I am the royal physician.”

“You’re in good hooves,” Twilight stated. “Dr Remedies is the best doctor in Equestria.”

“I don’t know if I would agree with you, Princess,” Dr Remedies said joyfully. He had come over to my bedside. “But I am a very good doctor. You are looking amazing for what you have gone through recently. Much better than expected.”

He gave Nympha a little rub on the head. “Is this one Proto-Queen Nympha?” -Twilight nodded an affirmation- “Hmm. My guesses about Changelings being able to heal seems to be accurate.”

“Doctor Remedies is also a studied Xenobiologist,” Twilight said. “He knows more about changelings than another pony.”

“Now, I don’t know if I would say that,” the doctor said. “Still I think Little Nympha may have reduced Lilac’s recovery time considerable. I want her to take the next few days lightly. Use a wheelchair or carry her, and I want her to stay here for at least another night for observation.”

“Will do,” Lyra said. She seemed overly eager to follow the doctor's orders. She glanced at the others and then at Nympha. “Nympha why don’t we go get some breakfast for everyone?”

Nympha happily nodded her head. She hopped down from the bed and followed Lyra out the door. Lyra stated as she crossed the threshold, “We will be back in a bit?”

“While they are gone why don’t we go see Annabelle?” Twilight said. She rubbed her right hoof across her other foreleg. SHe did that when ever she was trying to hide something.

“Okay,” I said. I looked at Twilight shrewdly as I tried to guess what she could be hiding. Coming up blank, I shook my head and climbed into the wheelchair Bon Bon had pulled over.

Our journey down the hallway was unusually quiet. As with my last visit the doors seemed to have no markers as to which was which but Twilight seemed confident in her way. There were a number of pleasant paintings along the way. A large number of them being of flowers.

We came up to a door which had four guards in front of, one on either side of the door and two on the other side of the hall. The lot saluted Twilight as we came up between them. Twilight opened the door and ushered us inside.

On the bed lay a black haired form which faced away from us. She was much smaller than I had expected. Her hair ran down the entire length of her body and then some. It was straight and well combed save for a few errant strands. Something feathery stuck out from her hair, but only one. There were several magical machines hooked up to her as well as an iv. Princess Luna seemed to be dozing in the back

We came around the side of the bed which took up much of the center of the room. Annabelle had been transformed into a pony. She had a dark grey coat. Her hair had the starting of light grey streaks in its roots. What stood out most though was she clearly had both wings and a horn. It was clear to see why Twilight had said she would survive instead of saying she was fine. Both of her left legs were missing and a small stump could be seen where a wing could have been. Scars shone through her short coat. Maybe in time they would be hidden but the shone pink against her coat.

“The Princess’s did all they could to save her. Sadly she may this all they could do,” Twilight stated.

“How did she turn out like this? An alicorn?” I asked.

“The young one had sustained too much damage,” Princess Luna explained. Shaking the last vestiges of sleep from her head she walked over to the side of the bed with the rest of us. “Our healing spells would have been useless. It seems your manaless forms started to soak up the mana before letting the magic do its work. We had no time to wait for her form to saturate, instead we transformed her. This required much beyond normal amounts of mana. We, my sister and I, have not been so challenged in a long while.”

“Oh,” I said. “Thank you for saving her. When might she wake up?”

“We expect it to take her a few days while her mind becomes settled in her new form,” Princess Luna stated. “Her transition shall not be as smooth as yours was.”

“You know how to transform creatures into ponies?” Twilight asked. “That is some impressive magic.”

“Yes from time to time we have been asked to help a interracial couple be more compatible,” Princess Luna mused. “Though it has been well over a thousand years since the last time my sister and I performed that spell. It takes both of us to do it.”

“Could you teach me?” Twilight asked enthusiastically.

“Yes,” Princess Luna said. “Though it may be best to not tell Spike of this spell. It has poor results on dragons.”

“For the time being please withhold this information from Nympha,” Princess Luna commanded. “We know not whether her mother is spying through her form.”

“Is that why she can’t speak?” I asked. “She is very smart for her age. It seems weird, her not being able to talk.”

“We believe that her mother, Queen Chrysalis, has put some sort of enchantment on her preventing her from speaking or acting out of turn,” Princess Luna explained. “Proto-queens are not as tightly tied to the hive as drones and should be able to resist any commands from their mother if they chose to. Still Nympha may be fine with just being a spy for her mother.”

“I know it has only been a couple of days, but she seems...I don’t know just something tells me she doesn’t want to hurt us,” I said. The weight of the last couple of days sat heavy on my shoulders. “We at least have to give her a chance.”

“Everyone deserves a chance,” Twilight stated. “I’ll make sure she has hers.”

Bon Bon had remained frozen in thought since we had entered the room. She had been staring at Annabelle this entire time.

“We can’t take on another little one right now,” Bon Bon stated. She seemed torn by what she was saying. “I don’t want her to go alone but with the twins coming and Nympha our hooves are too full.”

I looked at Bon Bon. We couldn’t put Annabelle out on the streets. I wouldn’t stand for it. Tension and heart fluttering, my breathing increased in pace.

“Wory not, little one,” Luna said gently in my ear. “Annabelle shall not go without. Celestia and myself intend on taking on Annabelle personally. A young alicorn will cause such a stir in the noble houses. Possibly more than you did yourself, Twilight.”

“I can see that,” Twilight said. “I bet Blue Blood will be livid at this. Lilac, I would never let you or any filly be homeless. No need to worry hunny.”

I scooched over in the wheelchair as much as I could and laid my head against Twilight’s neck. She nuzzled my head. Bon Bon rubbed my back with her hoof. The tension slowly leaked away.

“We wouldn’t either,” Bon Bon begin. “But Annabelle is going to need extra help. Help we can’t give right now. She deserves to have that help, and I know the Princesses will make sure she gets it.”

“Bon Bon, We would like you and your family to stay in Canterlot till we can get Annabelle settled. Possibly for a while after. You’ll be compensated for your time,” Princess Luna asked. Her regal pose had changed little since we had entered the room.

“If that is what you wish of us, Princess,” Bon Bon stated.

“Good,” Princess Luna said. “I must go attend to some matters. Annabelle will be safe here. She needs her rest.”

“Yes, princess,” the three of us said in unison.

The group of us left following Princess Luna for a bit, before returning to my room as she continued down the hallway. Shortly after I had been transferred back into my bed Lyra and nympha came into the room. Nympha had an excited prance to her steps. A cart was dragged behind them filled with food for all.

I was served a bowl of oatmeal with fine grain crystallized mana mixed into it. Twilight had once explained that due to Sombra’s spell I had the ability to digest solid form mana, similar to dragons. Still the oatmeal was filling and tasteful, so I had no complaints.

Nympha also had a bowl of oatmeal sans the mana crystals. As with last time her face was covered with nearly as much oatmeal as she managed to swallow. I rubbed her head affectionately. I was looking forward to the twins, but would enjoy my temporary little sibling.

Breakfast was cleared away after some small talk about chocolates and other work which would be on hold as they stayed in Canterlot. Small worries were exchanged and soothed. The peace seemed contagious for I found myself nearly dozing away.

A click and a soft voice herald the entrance of another. She said, “Good morning.”

Princess Cadence brightened the room with her soft pastel tones and brilliant smile as she entered the room. Her belly noticeably bulged with pregnancy. Her presence seemed to stun twilight for a second before she bounced into song.

“Sunshine, Sunshine, Ladybug awake, clap your hooves and do a little shake,” sang both Twilight and Princess Cadence. Twilight performed a little dance while Cadence only pantomimed the dance.

“Sorry with the baby coming I can’t do the dance as well,” Cadence explained to Twilight. “Only a few more months now. How are you doing this morning?”

“Better now that you’re here,” Twilight said excitedly. “We just had breakfast or we would invite you.”

“Oh, thank you but I had already eaten,” Cadence replied earnestly.

“What brings you to grace our presence, Princess?” asked Bon Bon. She hastily wiped the oatmeal from Nympha’s muzzle. “Not that it is an unwelcome surprise.”

“Well, I am here to perform the cleansing on Nympha,” Cadence replied. “That is if she wants it.”

Nympha looked at her with her head tilted to the side eyes scrunched slightly with concentration. I could help but giggle a little at her cute expression. Nympha looked up at me happily.

“Nympha,” Lyra began. Her eyes were filled with worry. “We are a bit worried for you. We think your mom has put an enchantment on you that is preventing you from talking and possibly a number of other things.”

Nympha had started shaking at my side. Her eyes started darting around the room catching the adults eyes each at least once. She pushed herself into my side.

“We would check but the emotion you eat clouds our ability to see,” Twilight explained. “So we were hoping to dispel all magic on you for a second then fill you back up with some replacement magic. So you don’t go into shock or something worse.”

Nympha’s form crumpled at Twilight’s words. She pushed herself further into my side. I wrapped my leg around her back protectively. Nympha leaned into my arm her shaking subsided slightly. I leaned my head against the top of her head, careful to not bang our horns together.

“Twilight,” Bon Bon Chided. She rubbed what little of Nympha’s back was exposed. “Please don’t scare her.”

“Sorry,” Twilight stated abashedly. “Didn’t mean to. Cadence, you’re the one doing the cleanse? Why? I should be able to do it no problem. No need to have wasted your time coming down here while you’re pregnant.”

“Aunty thought that since I am the Alicorn of Love that I may be more gentle to Nympha’s system,” Cadence explained. Confidence oozed off of her voice. “That and we think that my magic being love based may be better for Nympha afterwards.”

Twilight nodded her head. She asked, “Nympha, are you alright with us performing this cleanse on you? You should be able to talk after this. I also will bet you will feel better afterwards as well. I can tell you aren’t feeling all that well but are trying to hide it. If you want this take off your amulet so that doesn’t interfere with the process. We will take that as a yes.”

Nympha nodded slowly. Her shaking started up again. Slowly she removed the amulet from her neck her form shifting back to her natural one. Cadence engulfed Nympha in her magic and levitated her to the center of the room. Cadence closed her eyes and when she reopened them they shone with power. A beam of light shot at Nympha and Nympha started to shake as wisps of green magic flew off her and dissipated into the air. A particularly large one which exited from her entire form blasted the bookshelf sending a puff of papers into the air. Twilight erected a shield around herself, Nympha and Cadence. Several more big burst shot out but dissipated after they hit Twilight’s shield.

Cadence’s magic changed from a beam to a wave which washed over Nympha seeping into her form. She started to glow pink after a while. Cadence Set Nympha down on the edge of my bed. Nympha was shaking badly and the pink glow, while subdued, still shone out her eyes and body. She started to look green and ending up depositing breakfast all over poor mr. Floor. She shakily looked at me before closing her eyes and dropping into a deep sleep. The glow didn’t seem to fade but her shell lost it’s black hue.

“Don’t worry, Lilac, Nympha is just molting,” Twilight sated. “Cadence’s magic must have been a bit much at once.”

Part 1: Chapter 8

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Princess Cadence left carrying Nympha’s dull form with her. Her face looked peaceful like she was sleeping. Her breathing had slowed but not stopped. I couldn’t help but worry about her.

“Would it make you feel better if Dr. Remedies explained what is happening to Nympha to you?” Twilight asked. She knew the answer but so often prefered a second source to tell me. “We can ask him next time you see him.”

The excitement had left me drained and I soon dozed off. I came to a few times during the day but I couldn’t stay awake till much later in the day. THe light from the windows had been replaced with naught but an amber glow and a bright spot on the ceiling provided most of the light in the room.

A nurse stood by my side. She smiled gently at me as I stirred from my sleep. The dull ache which had suffused my whole body was lessened substantially. She had pink hair and a light purple fur similar to my own. THe nurse asked, “How are you doing?”

“Mmmh, better,” I yawned out. The nurse’s eyes seemed to be melting from something, her smile intensified slightly.

“That’s good, honey,” the nurse said in a sing-song voice. I was too tired to care about how cute I must have been. “I am going to go get the doctor. He wanted to check up on you if you woke.”

She hurried out the door and returned shortly followed by Dr. Remedies. He seemed tired in his deliberate yet slow walk. He did smile in my direction upon reaching my side, on the other side from the nurse. He flipped through a clipboard before speaking.

“You are doing marvelously for a filly who was on death’s bed just yesterday,” Dr Remedies stated. “You’ll be free to go tomorrow morning.”

“Where are my moms?” I asked quietly. The nurse made a squishy face again.

“They retired to their suite. They are still in the castle and aren’t far from here. They’ll be back tomorrow,” The doctor explained.

“Oh, thanks,” I stated. “Um…”

“What is it, Lilac?” Dr Remedies asked.

“What is happening to Nympha?” I asked quietly. “Is she alright?”

“Oh she is fine. She is just a couple of rooms down from you,” The doctor explained.

“But what is wrong with her?” I asked.

“Nothing. Though I can see why you might think that. Changelings’ growth is tied to how much food they get much more so than ponies. When Princess Cadence poured love magic into Nympha it forced her into a molt state while she grows from the over abundance of food,” Dr Remedies explained. “Does that ease your fears?”

I nodded. I asked, “How long will she be um molting?”

“Oh I don’t expect more than a day or so,” Dr Remedies stated. “So you two should be able to play together tomorrow afternoon. But for now try to get some sleep, okay?”

“Kk,” I whispered. His instruction had been unnecessary for but moments later I was out again. I didn’t even hear them leave the room.

I was walking down the hallway in the morning. The skylight illuminated the strangely dark hallway. The pictures had been switched out for distorted portraits. The eyes of each one seemed to follow me as I walked past.

I came up to an open door. A flickering light cast shadows around the room at odd angles. On the bed sat the full form of Nympha which glowed pink from the inside. I approached the bed as cracks spread from Nympha’s horn and down her face. In but a moment her shell split open revealing a sickly green pool of slime which oozed down of the bed and beneath me hooves. I could feel a presence behind me and I turned to see a large black head with a twisted horn and glowing green eyes. It stared for a moment with hunger in its eyes before devouring me whole.

I got stuck part way down the head’s throat, not that the monster seemed to notice. It strode away on an unknown form of locomotion. Twilight appeared happily around the corner before she screamed passing past me down the monster’s gullet. Soon Lyra and Bon Bon followed her screaming in horror. The monster made it’s way to Annabelle’s room. It reached out with a long spindly arm and moved Annabelle’s small form towards its mouth.

I woke in a cold sweat screaming. A nurse came rushing into my room as she flipped a switch activating the magical lamp located in the ceiling, which looked like the glowing moon. Her warm arms scooped me up into a tight hug as tears streamed down my cheeks. It took sometime before I had control over myself again. Exhausted I slipped into sleep again.

With a morning ray flashing across my eyes as the door opened, Lyra and Bon Bon woke me when they entered my room. They both looked well rested. Envy edged it’s way to the front. I shook the last vestiges of sleep from my head.

“How did you sleep?” Lyra asked. “You look pretty horrid this morning.”

“I had another nightmare,” I said quietly. My stomach simmered. I couldn’t help but worry about them eventually leaving me, no longer able to deal with my frailties. I tried to push those thoughts back down to little avail.

“It’s alright, honey,” Bon Bon said. She pulled me into a tight hug. “We’re here for you. No need to worry.”

“Why don’t we go get breakfast with, Twilight?” Lyra asked. “The nurse said you were fine to go.”

I nodded my answer and slowly extracted myself from my bed. After a quick stretch, we made our way out of the hospital wing of the Canterlot Castle. When we had made it to the cafeteria there was a large number of other ponies seeking their morning meal as well. The noise was suffocating. I felt my face collide with poor mr Floor.

Bon Bon picked me up with a slight oomph as she did so. We retreated from the cafeteria. Lyra took me from Bon Bon and started to walk away down a hallway. My vision was hazy and swirling. I could hear some soft voice whispering to me as I held on tightly to Lyra’s warmth. I felt Lyra release her grip on me but I clung all the more, so she just sat there with me on something black. I slowly faded to sleep.

“She was fine till we got to the cafeteria,” Lyra said in a soft whisper. “She said she had had a nightmare last night. I thought we were over these by now.”

“Look she’s waking up,” Twilight whispered. I heard her hoofsteps come closer. “How you feeling?”

“Shaky,” I said. I blinked a few times to get the fuzziness from my eyes. “Sorry.”

“There isn’t anything to be sorry for,” Twilight explained softly. “Just a little hiccup is all.”

“We all understand,” Bon Bon said. “We should have taken you here instead of the cafeteria.”

“Where are we?” I asked.

I sat on a black couch that was pushed up against a wall. A elaborate coffee table sat near pushed away from the couch by Twilight. Two armchairs mirrored the couch on the opposite wall, both were black as well. The walls were adorned with landscapes of what looked like the equestrian countryside. A large stainglass window occupied the far wall that depicted the Solar and Lunar Diarch and a representation of each type of pony. On the wall of that was a small kitchenette that appeared well stocked. A small hallway lead in both directions out from the room.

“This is the Black Suite,” Twilight explained. “It is one of the suites for foreign dignitaries or other guests of the Royal Sisters. Your home for a bit.”

“Yeah till someone lights it on fire,” Lyra joked. I giggled at Lyra’s joke.

“Lyra!” Bon Bon chided. “Let’s not jinx this place. Also be a better influence for Lilac.”

“I know she was joking,” I assured.

Bon Bon gave us a look of “you know what I mean”. She brought over a bowl of oatmeal for me and set it down on the coffee table. I grabbed the oatmeal in my magic and ate my meager but delicious breakfast.

With a little pop and poof, a scroll appeared next to Twilight in the air. She grabbed and and scanned it quickly. She said, “Princess Celestia has invited Lilac and I to a lunch time tea in an hour or so. Want to go Lilac?”

“I wouldn’t want to disappoint a princess,” I said.

“Oh, Princess Celestia would understand if you aren't feeling up to it,” Twilight assured me. “Do you want to go? This is up to you not how important the pony doing the inviting is. After all I am a princess too and would be disappointed and worried if you forced yourself to go to this.”

“Will it be in the cafeteria?” I asked.

“Nope, Princess Celestia has a tea room near the throne room,” Explained Twilight. “Should be nice and quiet.”

“Well, tea sounds nice,” I said. “I want to go.-” I looked towards Bon Bon “-If it is alright with you?”

“Of course it is,” Bon Bon said. “Why don’t you go get a bath before hand. Your room is that way. There is a full bathroom in there for you.”

I followed her hoof down the nearest hallway. I meander that way. My room consisted of two full beds with a long nightstand between them. There was a large closet as well as a door towards the bath. More paintings of Equestria filled the rooms, though with a nocturnal theme to them. The beds had several layers of blankets varying from fairly thick to just thicker than a sheet.

My bathroom had a overly large tub that was much too deep for me, but had stairs in and out. I didn’t know what sort of creature may have needed such a bath but maybe minotaurs. I clambered into it and turned the red knob. Blasts of water started filling the tub from all of the walls. The temperature much too hot, I spun both handles till I found a perfect steaming bath. A bench was inlaid on one side of the tub. I pressed the small button next to it and a few smaller jets started to pulsate beneath my form on the bench giving a gentle massage. This was the perfect tube. Maybe a bit too large, I was pretty certain I could swim in here. At convenient distance shampoo and conditioner of apple scent sat waiting.

After bathing myself and spending some amount of time to enjoy the warmth of the water, I returned to the main room. I combed my hair with a brush I had found on the countertop. Lyra and bon Bon were snuggled up on the couch and Twilight sat in one of the armchairs. She was reading a book in some language I didn’t recognize.

“Um, Twilight, Is Princess Celestia going to cast the same language spell on Annabelle that she cast on me?” I asked. The language of the book having sparked my memory.

“Oh, yes,” Twilight said. “We should double check with her at tea though. I wouldn’t mind trying my hand out at that spell. But we should get going. Don’t want to be late.”

I nodded.

Bon Bon slipped from the couch and gave me a quick hug. She said, “Have fun. We’ll be here when you get back. Maybe we can go check in on Annabelle and Nympha after that. Okay?”

“Yes, please,” I said

Twilight lead our way out of the suite and down the twisting and maze like hallways of the Canterlot Castle. Before too long we made our way to a discrete set of doors which looked no more special than the number we passed before. Twilight knocked twice then opened the door.

Inside Princess Celestia sat at a round table with a few stacks of paper scattered around her. A teapot adorned the middle of the table, steam already raising out of its spout. A tray of finger sandwiches sat next to the tea pot followed by a bowl of spring salad, filled with daisies and a variety of colourful leafs. Finally a bowl of fresh apples sat on the far side of the teapot.

Princess Celestia smiled as she looked up at our entry. She said, “Perfect timing Twilight. You saved me from this tediousness.”

“Thank you for the invite,” Twilight said. She took up a semi warn cushion near Princess Celestia. I took up the much newer looking cushion next to Twilight. “It has been too long since we took lunch in this room together.”

“It has,” Princess Celestia said. “Now Lilac, seeing as this is your first time having lunch with me, there are some rules we have to go over first.”

I gulped. Twilight never used her princesshood to hold anything over anyone else but Princess Celestia was something else. Getting tossed into the dungeon, exile to the moon or worse back to Earth all ran in my head as potential punishments for my impending transgressions.

“Rule one. In this room there aren’t any protocols to be followed just be relaxed and be yourself. Rule two. If you have a question, feel no hesitation in asking. And rule three, the most important one. There shall be cake,” Princess Celestia explained. “Can you do these for me, Lilac?”

“Of course, Princess,” I said. “Wait does that mean I am supposed to not call you Princess?”

“Yep,” Twilight stated. “But don’t worry Celestia will go easy on you for that one. It took me almost four years before I felt comfortable enough to drop that here.”

“So with that out of the way, please help yourselves to lunch,” Princess Celestia said. She grabbed a stack of plates from a nearby cabinet and passed them out with her magic. Twilight grabbed tea cups for us all. “I heard about your little spill this morning. Are you feeling better now?”

“Much better,” I said. I grabbed two of the sandwiches with my magic as well as a small scoop of salad. “Sorry if I caused any inconvenience this morning.”

“None were made,” Princess Celestia said. “And no need to apologize for something you can’t control. We all know how hard some things can be for others and I try my best to be understanding and helpful to those who need it. So no more self-deprecation. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said quietly.

“Really, Lilac, it wasn’t a problem,” Twilight said. “You didn’t do anything wrong honey.”

Princess Celestia poured us each up of the tea. She asked, “So how are your studies going, Lilac?”

“Um, good, I think,” I stammered. To save myself from further embarrassment I shoved a sandwich into my mouth.

“You're doing fine, Lilac,” Twilight stated. “I’m very proud of her. She has been keeping up well with magic lessons as well as history, even if she isn’t quite as fascinated by that as I am. And she just got her cutie mark.”

“Oh really, that is a very important thing,” Princess Celestia stated. I knew she had noticed but feigned ignorance. “What is your cutie mark off?”

“I think it is about bring things to life, um with my imagination and magic,” I stammered again. “Nothing impressive.”

“Every cutie mark is impressive,” Princess Celestia stated. “Your’s especially so. Magic related cutie marks are rare.”

“That they are,” Twilight stated. “Lilac created a golem for her cutie mark event. She saved her friends from danger by doing so. Whence she is a bit more rested I am going to start working on enhancements with her. I figure that may be a good place to start with golem making. I’m not well versed in that field.”

“I have a few books I can loan you Twilight that should help with that,” Princess Celestia said. “There hasn’t been a golem maker in Equestria for a long time, nearly four centuries now.”

“See, very special,” Twilight stated. I blushed and hid my face by scratching my forehead.

A triple knock came from the door before a Stallion entered the room. He wore a guard uniform but more fancy. His coat was not the traditional white, instead it was a dark blue. His cutie mark was visible and it was a set of swords crossed over a heart.

“Sorry to interrupt, Princess,” the stallion said. “Queen Chrysalis is seeking an audience with you, as we suspected. She only has an honor guard with her though.”

“Hmm,” Princess Celestia stated. “Sorry to cut our time short but I must go meet with my guest.”

“Queen Chrysalis asked for Princess Twilight Sparkle as well, if she were available,” The stallion stated.

“Well i guess lunch shall be postponed for a bit,” Princess Celestia stated. “Thank you Captain Piercing Heart. Why don’t we all go? Captain Piercing Heart can look over Lilac while we are in the throne room.”

“I guess that would work,” Twilight said bitterly. “I still don’t trust Chrysalis. But I think I would rather be able to see Lilac than assume this isn’t a diversion.”

“I understand, but I don’t think we have to worry about that,” stated Princess Celestia. “I think she came to us in honest faith.”

“I guess we will see when Nympha wakes up,” Twilight stated. “And with what Chrysalis wants today.”

We quickly made our way around to the throne room. Which had been cleared save for ten guards who lined the wall. We entered from a side door hidden behind a curtain. Captain Piercing Heart and I stayed back near the shadows while Princess Celestia took the throne with Twilight standing to her left. The throne room was lined by awe inspiring stained glass windows, many of them depicting Twilight and her friends saving equestria from a number of threats.

A green aura engulfed the far doors and pushed them slowly and deliberately open. A large black pony with dark green mane and piercing eyes entered the room. Her horn was jagged and curved with large pockmarks in it. Large holes were scattered down her limbs. Her voice was both melodic and shrill at the same time.

“Thank you for your audience,” Queen Chrysalis said. With a mock bow she completed her entrance. “I came bearing gifts and news of how successful our treaty has been.”

“We are always open to welcome guest,” Princess Celestia stated warmly. “Though some warning next time would be appreciated. I would prepared a better welcome for you.”

“Ah, yes,” Queen Chrysalis said. A slight air of sarcasm flew through her voice. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

She levitated a chest to in front of her from the back of one of her personal guards. She opened the lid and removed a book.

“To Twilight Sparkle I present this tome, the only tome of Changeling lore written by changelines. It was scribed during my great grandmother’s reign some centuries before,” explained Queen Chrysalis. She levitated an ancient and decrepit tome over to Twilight’s hooves.

Twilight’s horn glowed with an intensity abnormal for just picking things up as she lifted the book to her face. The text seemed garbled from where I stood.

“This is writing in ancient runes,” Twilight stated. “There are only a few tomes written as such left in existence. Thank you for this gift. I will treasure it.”

“For princess Luna I bring a blade forged from my grandmother’s horn, as is the tradition for Queens who pass of old age. The horn is nearly indestructable and takes to magic easily for excellent use in telekinesis,” Queen Chrysalis stated. She laid the bladed on a cloth at the hooves of Celestia. “I hope Princess Luna enjoys this as much as Princess Twilight enjoys her own gift.”

Twilight had already begun to read the dusty tome cradled in her grip. Hearing her name she mumbled, “Hmm Hum”

Queen Chrysalis said, “A jar of pure love collected just collected for Princess Cadence. For who better to have it than the ‘princess’ of love. Proof of the success of the Treaty between us.”

Queen Chrysalis placed a sphere filled with glowing pink energy at the feet of Celestia. The pink swirled and pulsated.

Queen Chrysalis brought out an amulet of pure what appeared to be crystallized fire. In each one a small bead of green light floated in them. She held the amulet aloft for Celestia.

“An amulet made of motes of fire, enchanted to ward off bad luck and to protect those around the wearer,” Queen Chrysalis Stated. Her voice was different when she spoke of this gift. It had more revenance. “For you Princess Celestia. May your people always have fortune smile upon them.”

“Thank you for these wonderful gifts. Surely there was other things you wanted to do than shower us with gifts?” Princess Celestia asked. Her voice was coated in suspension.

“Well there are the final details of how to integrate the changelings so as to make sure no changeling goes unfed,” Crysalis stated. “I would love to work on that with you.”

“Very well. We can talk about this now instead of next week as previously arranged,” Princess Celestia stated. “Sorry to have to call our meeting short, Twilight, but I must deal with our guest for the foreseeable future.”

Shaking from her book based stupor Twilight looked at celestia and then back at the book. She stated, “It is no problem, Princess. Lilac and I shall go and have a quiet afternoon by ourselves.”

With a loud pop the throne room vanished and the quiet suite replaced it. Lyra and Bon Bon sat cuddled up on the couch dozing with the remnants of lunch strewn across the coffee table. Bon Bon looked sleepily up at us.

“You’re back early,” Bon Bon whispered. She stifled a yawn.

“Yeah we had an unexpected guest that called for a short lunch,” Twilight whispered. She leaned over to me. “Are you still hungry? I can go get us something from the cafeteria.”

“Um, would they have mac and cheese?” I asked in a whisper.

“Probably, I’ll go check,” Twilight said. Another pop and she had disappeared.

I scrambled up into one of the armchairs and waited. My thoughts wandered towards thoughts of Annabelle and Nympha. Of my own frailty when both of them seemed to have such greater need right now.

After what couldn’t have been more than five minutes another pop herald the return of Twilight. Floating in her aura there was two paper bowls steaming. She handed me one of the bowls and took a seat. We quietly ate our lunch. Bon Bon had fallen back to sleep.

“Want to go practice your magic?” Twilight whispered in my ear. “There is a practice room not far from here.”

I nodded and we snuck out of the room. Practicing magic would be fun.

Part 1: Chapter 9

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“I feel we have covered the basics enough to move on to some more complex spellwork,” Twilight explained. She set two hoops down five feet away from each other. “So want to learn how to teleport?”

“Really,” I stated excitedly. “You think I’m ready.”

“I do. I had a look at your wellspring of mana after your miraculous recovery,” Twilight explained. “And I think that you have enough to practice this spell without causing any worries.”

“How big is my wellspring?” I asked. “I knew I had more than usual for a pony my age and size but teleportation has to take up a lot of mana.”

“Your wellspring is approximately at eight kilolites. Which is about four times the amount an average adult unicorn has,” Twilight stated. “Teleportation is actually fairly mana light if you are well practiced with it. At first it is going to take a lot out of you. One of the properties is that the spell will draw extra mana out of you if you misjudge the distance or location for safety reasons.”

“Wait if I have eight kilolites, how many do you have?” I asked. Eight seemed like such a high number.

“I am around twelve thousand kilolites,” Twilight said. “I probably have the largest wellspring of all time right now, well save for Discords who has so much it is unmeasurable. That or his chaos energy is just messing with my spell. My wellspring grew substantially after the Tirek incident. You don’t hold onto four alicorns amount of magic without some side effects.”

“Wait you’re about four times as powerful Princess Celestia and Princess Luna?” I asked. I had never realized how powerful Twilight was.

“Only in one aspect,” Twilight explained. “Amount of mana you can draw on isn’t the only way to measure a mage, and is normally only important in tests of endurance. Control and efficiency is far more important. It takes me around one thousand kilolites to move the moon where as it takes Luna only around fifty. I couldn’t move the moon daily at least not for a long while till I got a better handle on the spell.”

“So how do I teleport?” I asked trying to break Twilight out of lecture mode.

“Well first you form this spell matrix-” She projected a complex multi layered spell matrix into the air “-and then you focus on your destination and push mana through the spell matrix. As you get better you can simplify the matrix by a lot but for now it is best to use the more complex version.”

I recreated the spell matrix, thankful that unicorn brains were made to hold those in memory much better, and then attempted to teleport from one hoop to the other. My first jump was semi successful as I popped into existence five feet up in the air above the hoops. Twilight caught me in her magic.

“Nice first try. It took me much longer to pick this up.”

“Why do these things seem easier for me than you?” I asked. The teleport had drained me much more than I would have liked and only had one or two in me after that

“Part of it is just your personality,” Twilight explained. “You are very mature about things which translates to an easier time pushing your all into these spells. But also it is likely a side effect of Sombra’s spell. You just are more intune with your magic than a normal unicorn. Besides I learned how to teleport when I had a wellspring similar in size to you and I couldn’t pull near as much at once as you can.”

“Ah,” I said in response. I powered up for a return trip and manage to only be about a foot above the ground this time. Still I figured that was all I could do without risking exhaustion. I had to pant to catch my breath and sweat ran down my back. “I think that is all I can do right now. It takes too much out of me.”

“That’s alright we can work on some less arduous spells now. How about we work on the come to life spell, that one should be pretty easy for you,” Twilight said. She cleaned up the hoops, placing them back on their racks.

“I can already do that one. Is this just for practice to get better?” I asked.

Twilight said, “Mostly but I also am pretty certain that you can now use that spell at much greater effect than you once did.”

Twilight levitated a pony shaped manikin over to us. The manikin was earth pony shaped and looked worse for wear having been used for target practice. With a quick use of magic, Twilight returned the manikin to pristine condition. The manikin was made of wood with articulating legs and neck to be put in poses. A silly face had been painted on its head.

“So I want you to try to make it walk like a real pony. This one’s joints should work for that type of movement,” Twilight stated.

I channeled mana into the spell matrix focusing on the movement I wanted from the manikin. Something felt different in the way the mana came. It felt more natural as if this was somehow meant to be. I released the spell and watched to my amazement as the manikin came to life. Walking around much as a pony would. It seemed to not have much to do so it wandered in a wide circle through the room.

“Great job, Lilac,” Twilight exclaimed. “Now comes the hard part turn it off.”

As Twilight stated removing the spell from the manikin proved much more difficult than had putting it on. I had never been very good at dispelling magic. It took me twenty minutes before the manikin was back on its stand stationary. We repeated the process for much of the rest of the day.

Returning to the suite diner awaited us. A simple salad and some garlic bread. The coffee table had been converted to a make shift dinner table. And four place settings had been set out.

“Great timing,” Lyra stated as we entered the room. “I was about to go find you guys.”

“Diner smells great,” I stated. I took up a spot near the far end of the table.

“Did you have fun today?” Bon Bon asked. She set the steaming bread onto my plate as I helped myself to a scope full of salad.

“Yeah I learned how to teleport,” I stated. “It is very hard to do. All I can manage is five feet.”

“Better than I can do,” Lyra stated proudly. “I’m very proud of you, Lilac”

“Thanks for diner,” Twilight stated. “Sorry your vacation plans have gotten so far off course.”

“I forgot we were even on vacation,” Lyra stated sheepishly. “This is fine at least to me. I get to hang out with the ponies I love.”

“Yeah it hasn’t quite the vacation we had planned but it is still plenty nice to have time with the family with no worries about the shop,” Bon Bon said.

The rest of diner passed with small talk about our days. Twilight left out what we had seen of Chrysalis so I did as well. Soon enough I found myself tucked away into bed. I woke the next morning cursing the infernal rays of the sun which bored mercilessly into my room from the wind on the far wall.

Stumbling into the living room, I scoured the bookcase for a book to read. Finding something that looked remotely interesting. I sprawled out on the couch. Approximately half way through chapter two of the cheesy romance novel, Bon Bon came out and joined me on the couch.

“Did you sleep well?” She asked quietly.

“Not really,” I stated. “But at least I didn’t have a nightmare, again.”

“That’s an upside,” Bon Bon stated. “Do you want some tea?”

“Yes, please,” I asked. “Do they have orange spice?”

“You’re in luck,” Bon Bon replied.

We enjoyed our tea a few minutes later. Bon Bon had also grabbed a book to read. The quiet morning wasn’t interrupted save for a small breakfast of toast till much later in the day. Lyra came stumbling out of her bedroom just before lunch. We had a simple lunch of pasta with a light red sauce. The plates were clinking back into their homes when a knock on the door interrupted our peaceful day.

“Come in,” Bon Bon called. The door clicked open and twilight walked into the room. “Hello. How are you today?”

“Exhausted,” Twilight complained. “Paper work sucks. Princess Celestia had me working on the backflow of written requests from the general populace. Nothing is quite as deadening as reading a thirty page essay on why Prince Blueblood should be able to banish ponies from Canterlot.”

“Yeah that sounds riveting,” Lyra stated. “We were just enjoying a quiet morning if you wanted to sit down and spend some time relaxing.”

“Oh I wish,” Twilight said with a sour tint in her voice. “I only swung by to tell you all that Nympha is showing signs that she will be hatching out of her molt sometime soon. I figured Lilac would want to be there for that. I have to get back to writing a thirty page response to Blueblood’s request. Why the response has to be just as long as the request is beyond me.”

“Really,” I exclaimed. I turned to Lyra and Bon Bon. “Can we go and wait there? I want to be there when she wakes up.”

“Of course,” Bon Bon stated. “There is no reason not to go and wait there. How long does Dr Remedies think it will be before she wakes up?”

“He mentioned he thinks it will happen in the next few hours,” Twilight answered. “Sorry to dash so quickly but I really need to get back to the paper work. Princess Celestia was very clear with how important this task was.”

Twilight popped away. I hurriedly rushed to my bathroom and gave my face a one over with a washcloth. I drew up my mana and imagined the hallway just outside my room. Pop. I managed to only be six inches off from where I had wanted. Still the attempt drained me.

“Wow,” Lyra praised me excitedly. “You just teleported! That’s so great! Good job.”

“Thanks,” I panted. “It takes too much out of me. So I have to practice the spell.”

“Well keep up the good work,” Bon Bon said. “We’re proud of you.”

I blushed and rubbed the back of my head. Ignoring my embarrassment, I headed for the door. I stated, “Come on let's go. I don’t want to miss it.”

“Okay, Okay,” Lyra exclaimed. “We’re going. Hold your wings, we’re not in that big of a hurry.”

The trip to the hospital wing was much longer than I would have liked. My patience had long since worn thin. I clammered through the doors to Nympha’s room first. Dr. Remedies sat on a bench a few feet from the bed. He scribbled notes from time to time. He glanced slightly in our direction but otherwise kept his eyes glued on Nympha.

Nympha’s form had swollen significantly since the last time I saw her. Her dull shell had turned pure white and the pink glow had shifted to a dirty brown glow as pink and green swirled equally. Every so often her entire form would twitch.

The next two hours were spent in total silence only punctuated by slight cracks and pops coming from Nympha at odd and distant intervals. It was nearing two when the cracks and pops took an upswing. A crack started to form on the back side of nympha’s huddled form. It slowly speed up as it grew to encompass the entirety of her back. With one sudden movement A head burst out the back of Nympha. Nympha started to struggle to extract herself from the rest of her old shell. Gently Doctor Remedies help her break the pieces of her shell with his magic. Nympha’s new chitin was shinier than ever. She was huge, nearly as large as Lyra. Her maroon mane was nearly a foot longer and feel wet on her side. Her eyes only seemed more expressive. A look of love filled her eyes.

“Hi,” Nympha said in a higher pitched voice than her size would have implied.

“Hello,” I said tentatively. “How are you feeling?”

“Sleepy,” Nympha stated. She stifled a yawn. “And happy. Talking to you.”

Nympha seemed giddy as she bounced slightly on the bed. Her mood shifted quickly though as she slumped into a pile still in the remains of her old chitin.

“Why don’t we get you a bath, Nympha?” Dr. Remedies stated. Nympha nodded.

Dr. Remedies got up and started to gather the tarp that had been placed under Nympha’s bedding. I had not noticed before but there was an attached bath which he deposited the tarp with Nympha in the bath room. He spun the dial and the tub filled with steaming water. He gently lowered Nympha into the water with his magic.

“Lilac do you want to help?” Dr Remedies asked.

Bon Bon nodded at me towards the door. I said tentatively, “Yes, if it is alright.”

“Just be gentle with your magic and run this wet cloth down her chitin,” he explained.

Slowly and meticulously we cleaned off the remaining gunk from Nympha. She seemed to be particularly sensitive to touch right then and flinched away from our touch several times during the bath. Still she tried her best to stay still for the duration of the bath. The warm waters had done their magic on poor Nympha and she was barely awake when we tucked her back into bed. The evening sun cast bright marks across the wall.

Bon Bon waited nearby on a bench next to the door, reading a book. Lyra entered into the room from the door, carrying two cups of coffee with her. She smiled gently at me and handed one of the cups to Bon Bon who placed her book beside her. The steam coming off the coffee was barely perceptible in the evening light.

Nympha stifled a yawn as her eyes fluttered in between open and closed. She smiled meekly at me and said, “Sleepy now, talk tomorrow?”

“Of course,” I said gently. “Sleep well.”

Nympha’s eyes ceased their struggle and she quickly dozed off to dreamland. I tucked her blankets around her form with my magic, taking extra care to be gentle. She looked peaceful in her sleep. We quietly slipped out of the room.

“We’ll visit tomorrow,” Bon Bon said. “But for now it’s almost dinner time, and I feel we should avoid the dining hall.”

“Please,” I said quietly. The thought of having to endure that level of noise sent shudders through me.

“Don’t worry,” Lyra stated. “We can always just order room service if need be. Perks of being royal guests.”

“Ehhh,” Bon Bon grunted. “We can just cook something the kitchen has plenty of things to cook.”

“Could we get pizza ordered?” I asked. I smiled cutely at Bon Bon trying my best to make sure my eyes were as puppy dog like as possible.

“Fiinnee!” Bon Bon sighed. “We can order pizza.”

Lyra playfully rubbed my head. We took a hurried rate back to the suite. The blur of passing ponies and armors that lined the walls hid my tiredness from me. But upon reaching the suite my exhaustion caught up to me and I shakily slid into the couch. I found my head to be impossibly heavy, as were my eyelids. Soon enough I lost track of the world.

I found myself tucked snugly into my bed with the morning sun not so gently playing with my face. It was strangely bright for how early I normally woke. My stomach grumbled with hunger. Stumbling from my bed I headed for the living room. Bon Bon sat sipping from a steaming cup.

“What time is it?” I asked quietly.

“Near six in the morning,” Bon Bon replied. “Good morning. The pizza took a while getting to us and by then you were really out of it so we just tucked you into bed.”

“Oh,” I stated. “Any left? Can I have some for breakfast?”

“Go ahead. There is plenty left.”

I quickly grabbed a slice of the cold pizza and stuffed my face. With my belly satisfied, I snuggled up next to Bon Bon. Despite having had a full night’s rest I still had a thick blanket of sleepiness over me. I rested my head against her chest and dozed off into a haze of sleep.

Some time later Lyra joined us on the couch after she too grabbed a slice of the cold pizza. She sat on my other side and smothered me in snuggles. I sleepily pushed back against her onslaught. It was then the tickling started. My high pitch squealing could likely be heard several doors down. Try as I might there was no stopping the horror of such an attack and I giggled madly till mercifully Lyra yielded.

Gasping to regain my breath i leaned further onto Bon Bon’s side. My head hang lazily of to one side. I stated, “Please no more. I’ve had enough.”

“Awwh. Oh well,” Lyra stated as she engulfed me in a hug. She gave me a gentle nuzzle before placing me back on the couch. “So you up to going and seeing Nympha now?”

“Yeah,” I stated. “I hope she hasn’t been waiting too long.”

“Don’t worry,” Bon Bon stated. “I bet she will be happy just to see you.”

“Yeah, probably,” I stated. I stifled a yawn. “I hope today is less eventful.”

“Me too,” Lyra stated. “But we should get going. Don’t want to make her wait any longer.”

I nodded in affirmation. We gathered ourselves and headed out the door. The walk to Nympha’s room was short and familiar at this point. The halfway point was marked with a beautiful painting of what looked like a yin yang. The sun and the moon were vying for the sky in a dance.

We passed the picture with little fan fare. Coming upon the door shortly the voices of Doctor Remedies could be heard inside as well as some high pitched giggles. Entering revealed the doctor reading a book to Nympha this one had little hoof puppets which the doctor was acting out the story with. Nympha sat engrossed by the display. She lit up though upon noticing visitors and started to jump up and down on her bed. Much to the bed’s disagreement as it creaked and trembled.

“Hi,” She shouted at us. “Play games?”

“Um, maybe,” Lyra stated. She seemed baffled by Nympha’s size versus her maturity. “But first we need to calm down.”

“Um, Okay,” Nympha said. Her jumping ceased and she settled down into the mess of blankets. Her stare was slightly unsettling with her cat like eyes.

“How is she, Doctor?” asked Bon Bon. She had moved over to the far edge of the bed and was gently petting Nympha’s head. Nympha leaned into the affection with a content sigh on her face.

“Physically fine,” Doctor Remedies stated. “Almost too well. She has the energy of a little one with the size of an adolescent. That and the mind of a one the age she once appeared. She is smart but very limited in her education at this point.”

“Is that normal for a changeling?” Lyra asked. She leaned up against Bon Bon.

“It is hard to tell. This could be a symptom of her separation from the hivemind or of the sudden forced growth. Or even something else we don’t know about yet. Only time will tell us,” Doctor Remedies explained.

“Can we play now?” Nympha asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Doctor Remedies stated. “Though maybe a different avenue may be in order. The gardens have plenty of space for her to run and frolic.”

“How does that sound want to go play in the gardens?” Bon Bon asked Nympha.

“Yes,” Nympha nearly shouted out. She hopped off the bed and rushed over to me. “Play tag or chase?”

“Um maybe let’s see what it is like when we get there,” I said tentatively.
“Might be good time to practice teleportation,” Stated Lyra. “Maybe then you can keep up with her.”

“Maybe,” I stated with a hint of sarcasm.

“Some exercise will do you well,” Bon Bon stated. There was no weaseling out of this now.

“Don’t be too rambunctious both of you are still recovering,” Doctor Remedies stated. “Even if your recoveries were miraculously quick.”

“We’ll make sure they don’t push themselves too much, Doc,” Lyra stated. “Come on let's go to the gardens, but Nympha you need to stay close till we get there.”

“Okay,” Nympha stated.

True to her word Nympha spent the entire walk nearly glued to Lyra. Our walk took us further than our suite though not by far. The walk shook the rest of the sleepiness from me.

The open floor to ceiling doors each made of a stained glass scene of roses and other flowers. Outside the doors stood a wonderful green lawn that had plenty of space to run. All along the sides of the expansive garden were beds of flowers with more variety that I knew there could be. A large flowering tree caught my eye the most as its pink blossoms.

The tree brought back memories of Melody and my brain started to spiral again. Painful memories fluttered through my head. Her smile as we sat amongst the cherry trees. Their pink blossoms falling from time to time to land on us or the ground. The world around me started to fade to black as images of her face laying in the coffin hovered in my head. A strange warmness bleed into my head as it started to chase the bad images away. The warmth that should have been present in those painful memories of the cherry trees some springs ago started to take root again. My vision cleared and with it the world returned with a magenta tint to it.

“Better?” Nympha asked. Her gleaming eyes filled most of my vision.

“A bit,” I whispered. “How did you do that?”

“Love heals,” Nympha stated.

Part 1: Chapter 10

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I stumbled around the bend of the tall evergreen bush. A pedestal adorned with Strange letters and markings sat in a four way intersection. The pedestal looked as if it once held some large statue but no longer did so. The whole area felt off suddenly. I looked back down the path I had just taken looking for signs of Nympha who was surely trying to find me by now. She had so much energy and could run much faster than I now that she towered over me by half a foot.

I panted trying to regain my breath before heading off again when the strangeness of this place took an upturn. The fur on my back stood up on end.

“Hello puff ball,” said a deep baritone voice. I turned quickly to gain a look at this new comer. The jumble of forms that sat before me could only belong to one creature. “Did you miss me?”

“Only the slightest,” I said quietly. “What honnor brings you to bug me?”

“You wound me. I mean we are practically best buds,” Discord stated. He laughed for a moment. “Or you could say bath buds.”

My previous encounter with Discord came to mind. Taking a bath with a draconequus was not the most pleasant of situations. A rain cloud appeared above me and a set of brushes started to scrub away at my fur for a moment. I grimaced at Discord. The rain and brushes disappeared my fur returning to its slightly damp with sweat state.

“Yes we are clearly best of buds,” I said. “Don’t you normally hang out with Fluttershy or something. Surely she would love a visit from you.”

“Eh, Fluttershy is currently down with a cold and I am being the nice lord of chaos and letting her rest for a few days,” Discord said. “Besides Canterlot seems like the place to be now. And you’re part of the reason why.”

“And why would that be?” I asked. I tried to keep my voice respectful even with my growing frustration. I didn’t want to end up a statue on the pedestal or one of the flowers.

“I can count the number of ponies that will be around long enough to be worth my time on one paw and you are one of them. And further still you have just the best special talent,” Discord stated. “After all what brings more chaos than life itself.”

The flowers around us started dancing and frolicing as a small little diddy played in the air. Each had a smiling face save one who sat in the corner and stared in horror as they all were forced to dance.

“Okay so that just means I am going to have to deal with you periodically stopping by to mess with me for the rest of eternity?”

“Or something like that. But that isn’t the point today since you seem to care oh so much about what the point of things are. Must be a part of your age,” said Discord. His head leaned upside down from above me as he rested on my back weighing almost nothing.

“Yep my weird halfway nine halfway twenty years of age. Oh god I am just the weirdest little thing to you, aren’t I?”

“Don’t think too highly of yourself there short stuff,” Discord scoffed. “I clearly have you beat in weirdness.”

“I wouldn’t even dream of trying to compete with you on that one,” I stated dryly. “So again for what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Oh nothing much I just wanted to meet with you and Nympha and make your day a bit easier. You seem so tired why don’t I take your place for a while and entertain the young queen?” Discord asked.

“You want to play with Nympha?” I asked. This seemed more absurd than the cloud of cotton candy Discord was munching on.

“Of course,” Discord triumphantly stated. “I get two new long term friends today.”

“Why are you suddenly concerned with making friends? I thought the Lord of Chaos was fine with having just one friend,” I stated.

Discord wrung the cotton candy cloud out over his waiting mouth. A shower of chocolate milk came out of the cloud filling his ever increasing mouth. WIth a large swallow that distorted his whole body he smiled at me but for a moment the mask left him.

“I just recently did some thinking and this seems like a good time to get some plans for the future,” Discord stated somberly.

It hit me harder than a brick. He knew Fluttershy would die at some point and wanted friends who would stick around past that, for a long time. I was going to out live nearly everyone I knew. A tear ran down my check. Discord gently wiped the tear away.

“I understand,” I said sadly. “You are welcome to play with us anytime.”

“Splendid,” Discord exclaimed. Fireworks erupted from his back spiraling outward till the exploded into flowers and other wonderful shapes. The noise made me jump and I fought off another panic attack.

“Right no loud noises with you,” Discord stated. “Sorry I forgot.”

Nympha came sputtering around the corner. A look of concern grew on her face as she saw me. I had fallen to the ground. My breathing raced out of control and my heart matched with increased speed. A blurr edged its way around my vision. Nympha’s warmth came again, chasing the demons away.

I stood back up the familiar tint of magenta covering my vision. In front of me stood Nympha staring down the Lord of Chaos. She said, “No hurt Lilac. Bad pony.”

Discord only laughed. Nympha launched herself into the air striking at Discord. She only connected with air as Discord’s body wove out of the way. Discord caught Nympha mid air

“Now, now, no need for that,” Discord stated. He spun her mid air to face him. A bouquet of flowers appeared in Discord’s hand and he proffered them to Nympha. “Here let’s be friends.”

“You bad pony, no friends,” stated Nympha.

“It’s alright Nympha,” I started. “He didn’t mean to hurt me. Just was a bit over exuberant.”

“If say so,” Nympha said. She grabbed the flowers in her mouth and gave Discord a stink eye.

We rode slides made of trees and fought off giant sharks that swam through the ground. Nympha got eaten once but managed to beat the shark from the inside. As we were conducting an orchestra of peones a bright light descended upon us in rapid fashion. Celestia glowing brighter than the sun came crashing into the maze landing on the pedestal cracking it. She was wearing the amulet from Chrysalis.

“Discord, what have I told you about messing with my garden? Do you want to go back on this,” Celestia said as she slammed her hoof down on the pedestal leaving more cracks.

“Only having a bit of fun with the kids,” Discord explained. “Besides this is easy to clean up.”

The garden had been thoroughly torn to shreds by our play. Mostly by the sharks. Discord snapped his fingers and all was right again. Nympha was taking shelter behind Discord barely peeking out at the dimming Celestia.

“Now come on Celestia you’re scaring children. That is my job,” Discord stated.

“Hmph,” Celestia stated. She took off leaving with a large gust. “Don’t mess with my garden again.”

With Celestia gone, Discord turned to us and said, “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the hay this morning. But probably best not to press the issue.”

With a snap the three of us found ourselves next to the entrance of the garden. Lyra and Bon Bon sat on a bench enjoying the bright sun. Both seemed surprised by our sudden appearance and possibly more so by Discord’s.

“We play with Discord,” Nympha said energetically. “Fun, no bad.”

“That’s good, I think,” Lyra stated. She still eyed Discord warily.

“Toodles,” Discord stated. WIth a slight flash of light he winked out of existence.

“More play?” Nympha asked me

“Not yet,” Twilight stated as she walked out of the castle into the gardens. “Lilac has some practice to do first.”

“Really. Now,” I groaned.

“Don’t worry we will keep Nympha busy,” Lyra stated. She motioned Nympha up over to her.

“Okay fine,” I grumbled. I gathered my energy and focused on the spot in front of Twilight. I formed the spell matrix and let me teleport take hold. Pop. I landed just a few inches above the ground landing with a small thud. I felt drained by the small distance traveled.

“Great job,” Twilight stated exuberantly. “Since you are doing so well on Teleporting why don’t we work on something else. How about shield spells?”

“I suck at shield spells,” I exclaimed. “Can we work on something else? Like maybe my come to life spell? I want to know what all I can do with it.”

“Well fine we can work on that but first you should skim the introduction to this,” Twilight stated. She teleported a book to her and levitated it towards me. “This is a book written by the last golem master who graced Canterlot’s halls. He wrote about his craft for future generations to follow in his footsteps, a few have tried but most don’t go far in this field. He is the foundation for our prosthetic limbs, though none are as good as the ones he made himself. I think it will help you learn what you might be able to do with your talents.”

“Okay I’ll give it a read,” I stated. “Have you already read it?”

“Only really just skimmed it is all,” Twilight stated. “Still has some practical uses I want to try out.”

I nodded and flipped to the first page of the book. It was entitled The Manual of Movements. The introduction was finely printed and looked to have been made by hand.
Artificial life has always been the lofty goal of the fine art of golem making. Sadly the soul is always out of grasp of a non-necromancer, as it should be. Still Golems can come to act as close to life as is possible without a soul. More importantly golem making has a number of more practical uses than that lofty goal. Replacing the limbs of an amputee. More efficient flying machines. Automating repetitive tasks. All of these are possible with Facticius Vitathuergy.
I could make Annabelle new legs and maybe a wing as well. Hopefully others had paved the way forward for me. I looked up to Twilight who was staring at me seemingly waiting for me to come to get to this point.

“Has anyone made working fake legs?” I asked. “Or wings?”

“There is a custom made set for a long dead noble that are eighty percent functional but that is the best ever made,” Twilight explained. “And no one ever got wings down. You could be the first.”

“I need to do that for Annabelle,” I stated. “At least I can make one person whole again.”

I used my magic to trim a large section of the grass and gathered it all into an orb. I poured my magic into an idea and kept at it till I was nearly exhausted. Then when I had poured as much as I dared I released the spell. The blades of grass wove together as a wing took shape. The wing started to flap but as the spell completed it’s work the blades started to wilt and fade. The wing fell gently to the ground and I to my knees.

I panted to catch my breath. My hearing was nothing but a buzz and the world around me grew blurry. I pulled my center together and gathered what mana I had left spreading it across my form. My hearing returned. I could tell it had gone quiet.

“Are you alright?” Twilight was asking worriedly. “How many times do I have to tell you stop pushing so much of your mana into spells.”

“Sorry,” I stammered. “I just needed to know where I was. I’ll be fine.”

“You’ll get there with time. You really need to stop pushing yourself to be ready now. There is plenty of time to grow,” stated Twilight. “With that said that was an impressive first try. You really need to get better at making matrixes this may have lasted with one.”

“I just have a hard time coming up with them. You are way better at that than I am,” I complained. I still felt winded. I sat up on my haunches. “I need to know more about wings.”

“Yes you do. That looks more like a bird wing than a pegasus wing.”

“How do they work? That is pegasus wings?”

“They channel ather mana through the feathers to allow for flight with their smaller wings.”

“Do you have any idea how to replicate that?”

“A few but they all would be too heavy for flight. Maybe with a titanium matrix grid. Or cloudstone.”

“Hmm. So much to do still,” I stated. “I wish I could pick this stuff up faster. I always feel so limited.”

“And I think that is because you are comparing yourself to me,” Twilight stated. “Which you shouldn’t. I am the Alicorn of Magic. Of course I am one of the best at magic. You shouldn’t hold yourself to my standards. You are plenty powerful in your own right.”

“I don’t feel good enough.”

“And that is the depression speaking. You are enough. Now enough moping and let’s have some family time before I get torn away to do some other meaningless task by the Princess again.”

We headed over to where Lyra and Bon Bon were sitting with Nympha sandwiched between themselves. The bench was too full with the three of them but none of the occupants seemed to mind the squeeze. Nympha in particular seemed content as her eyes were lazily half closed and she had a big goofy smile on her face.

Twilight summoned a blanket and spread it out on the grass. She stated, “I be right back with lunch.”

Twilight disappeared with a pop and flash of light. I settled down on the blanket and enjoyed the warm sun. It was almost too hot today again. After a bit I closed my eyes to the bright sun which stung a bit.

Lyra asked, “Did you over do it again in magic practice?”

“Maybe,” I stated coyly.

“Twilight is right that you need to learn to not over do it so much,” Lyra said. Her voice was both commanding and sad at the same time. “You have so much potential please don’t squander it because you can’t be patient.”

“Sorry,” I stated quietly. “I’ll try to keep it in mind next time.”

“That’s all I can ask for,” Lyra replied quietly. “The weather is unseasonably nice today.”

Twilight returned with a large pop and a couple of plates floating in her grasp. She laid the plates out in the center of the blanket. Each contained some food item; vegetables, fruit or sandwiches. Twilight stated, “Lunch is served.”

We all dug into the meal. The sandwiches were a variety of flower and cheese, with a mix of types of breads. I selected a cheese one and munched away. The sun’s brightness was the only damper on this otherwise peaceful meal.

“So you have any plans for the rest of the day?” Twilight asked Lyra and Bon Bon. “I have some work to do after this. But doesn’t mean you guys can’t have fun. Maybe a visit to the museum or library?”

“That would be interesting. What do you girls think?” Lyra asked.

“The museum was interesting and fun last time we went. It would be fun to go with you, Lyra,” I stated.

“Museum?” Nympha asked. She looked at me for an answer.

“It’s a place with lots of paintings and statues that depict history,” I explained. “It is a quiet place for looking at pretty things.”

“Oh, so no fun,” Nympha stated matter of factually. “We just play, okay?”

“Maybe the rest of us don’t have the energy to play all day,” Bon Bon explained to Nympha. “But we’ll get some playing in before the end of the day.”

“I have a solution to that, be right back,” Twilight stated. She dashed over to the castle entrance and poked her head inside. She returned with a guard in tow. The guard looked scampy for a castle guard. “This here is Gilded Lance. He is a new recruit. He’ll be Nympha’s play partner for a while.”

“Huray,” Nympha shouted. She stuffed the rest of her sandwich into her mouth swallowing it whole. “We play now?”

“Um, yes, of course,” Gilded Lance stated nervously. “What ever the Princess wants.”

“We play tag you’re it,” Nympha shouted as she bursted off down the path further into the garden. Gilded Lance followed as quickly as he could with his armor.

“Is it alright to get a guard to do that?” Lyra asked. “Wasn’t he busy, I don’t know, guarding things?”
“They always station new recruits at the garden and Shining likes to give them weird orders to keep them on their toes. Besides I am a princess and that has some perks, such as being able to order the guards around.” Twilight explained.

“It is easy to forget that you being a princess does mean more than a shiny pair of wings and a castle,” Lyra stated.

“And I like it that way. If everypony started acting stuffy around me like they do with Celestia I think I would go mad,” Twilight stated.

“Well let’s hope that never happens then,” Bon Bon laughed.

I leaned up against Twilight and the heat took me gently to sleep. I woke shaking plesant dreams from my head. Twilight was shaking me awake. I looked up to see her holding a message in her magic and her looking down at me. Concern tinted her eyes.

“Annabelle has woken,” Twilight stated.

Part 1: Chapter 11 (A return)

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Author’s Notes: So here is me coming back to this after a long, long hiatus. The writing in this is going to be different. I have written so much since I last left off and as such this may be a bit of a jarring return. Hopefully not too bad though. and it is well within reason that I am overthinking this.

Chapter 11

“We got to go now,” I half yelled half stammered. “She must be all sorts of worried right now.”

Bolting up I jumped into a gallop and headed towards the castle only to be caught in Twilight’s magic. She held me aloft letting my hooves speed away into the air. Being confined in Twilight’s grip like this was strangely startling and I could feel the panic building in me. I had to get to Annabelle this moment. Images of a frightened Annabelle must have been were running through my head.

“We will be there in just a moment. But first you need to calm down,” Twilight said. “No point in frightening her by our urgency.”

I wiggled in Twilight’s grasp. She was right but knowing that did little to make the panic subside. I tried to focus on my breath but sitting still was painful. I couldn’t hold my mine on my breathing for long enough for the calming mindfulness to come over me. Nympha pulled me out of Twilight’s grasp and her warmth started to help me regain my composure.

“Why hurt so much?” asked Nympha. “Who hurt you? Who broke you?”

“I, ah, I…” I stammered. I couldn’t think of the words to answer that question. My father yelling ran through my head. The stone cold face of Melody in the casket. A faded memory of my mom that I wasn’t certain was accurate. All of these ran through my head but also the nagging thought that I was to blame. That I just hadn’t been strong enough. That I was the problem. Tears ran down my checks.

“Nympha, I know you care but that question is going to be hard on Lilac,” Bon Bon said. “Maybe when she is ready she can tell you but you have to let her have time to be ready to talk about that.”

Nympha had grown somber and her face was torn with thought and the slightest hint of guilt. She shook her head and a smile spread across her face. It was very clear that it was a mask. Nympha said, “When ready. I love you always.”

I just nodded. I barely had the energy to do anything else. Nympha’s love was keeping me from spiraling but I couldn’t shake off the funk. I looked to Twilight and asked, “Can you just teleport us there? We’ve wasted too much time.”

“Are you certain you are up for this?” asked Twilight. “I can but I don’t want to push you to hard on this. Annabelle can wait for an hour or two.”

“No I need to do this. Annabelle needs me,” I said.

“Okay,” Twilight said.

With a loud pop Twilight and I found ourselves outside of Annabelle’s room. The door was open and Annabelle was staring at us with a look of shock. There were traces of tears running down her cheeks slightly matting her dark gray fur. Princess Luna was too one side of the bed though she paid us no heed.

“Who are those ponies? How did they just show up like that?” asked Annabelle. Her voice was similar to what I remembered it being but more smooth and silky as well as being higher pitch.

“That is Princess Twilight Sparkle and her daughter of sorts, Lilac Splash. Though you know Lilac as a different name. Do you remember an Alex from before?” said Princess Luna.

Annabelle’s head jolted towards Princesses Luna. I could see the shock in her face. Like she had seen a ghost. Then she shook her head and tears started flowing again. Annabelle asked, “Is this what happens to people when they die? They turn into ponies in heaven?”

“I have no idea but I would assume not. No your transformation was a much more complicated task than simply dying. Fear not you are still among the living,” Princess Luna said.

“We are in a different world from home,” I said. “I’m so sorry Annabelle. I should have been there for you. But I let my sadness win.”

Tears once again started flowing from me. This time there was no warmth that held the spiral back and my mind fell into darkness. Guilt ate at me in ways that felt new. I was a horrible person, or I guess pony.

Twilight rubbed against me and pulled me into a hug. She whispered in my ear, “We can come back latter. You don’t have to push yourself.”

I tried to shake the sadness and guilt from my head and managed for a moment to hold it at bay. Sure it wasn’t gone but not being up in my metaphorical face was just enough to continue without collapsing.

“I can do this.” I said. I Walked up to the side of Annabelle’s bed next to Princess Luna. “How are you feeling, Anna?”

“Confused and sad and it hurts. Like both my heart and my body,” Annabelle said. She collapsed back into her pillow. She shifted to be facing towards Princess Luna and I. “My wing keeps getting in the way.”

“Give it some time. You’ll get used to it. It took me a while to do so but eventually I got used to my wings,” said Twilight.

“Did you use to be a person too?” Annabelle asked. “Why am I broken and you aren’t?”

“No I was born a pony. But I did earn my wings,” Twilight said. “But you are in your current state due to a terrible accident. It was all we could do to save your life. I’m sorry that we couldn’t do better for you.”

Turning away her gaze, Annabelle’s face scrunched up in pain. A small gasp of pain escaped her. Princess Luna’s horn lit up with an indigo light and shortly afterwards the look of pain on Annabelle’s face eased.

“What about Mommy, and Melody?” asked Annabelle.

I had been dreading this question. I scrambled against my brain trying to prevent the coming spiral of memories and emotions. I was prepared and I managed to prevent the worst of it but the effort left me stunned. Any attempts to think of what to say had my brain spiraling again so I just focused on my breath. Moments passed as I continually fought with my mind.

“They are not with us,” said Princess Luna. “I know not of your mother, but Melody is beyond us now. She walks the golden fields of Elysium. I’m sorry for your loss. For what it is worth I understand. I have lost many precious to me.”

Princess Luna’s face was nearly unreadable. Which was slightly off putting to me as her kind nature always seemed to shine through her eyes. Who ever she had lost must have been important.

Soft sobs wracked Annabelle. For a moment we all just sat there letting her cry. I tried to calm her with touch but I was too short and it made it a feeble attempt at best. Princess Luna seemed to follow my lead and stroked Annabelle’s head in that way that felt good to a pony but hadn’t as a human.

“I’m sorry Anna. I promise to be there for you,” I said.

Annabelle snapped upwards. Anger had replaced all traces of sadness that had once covered her face. She shouted at me, “You promise. You promise. What about your last promise to me? You left me alone. You said we were going to be a family the four of us. That we were going to live together. That you wanted to make Melody happy. That we were going to be happy. That everything was going to be good now. And you lied. You couldn’t protect her. You were supposed to protect us…”

Annabelles yelling devolved back into pained sobbing and her cries were like daggers to me. Guilt ate at me quicker and stronger than ever before. She was right. I had promised to help make their life better. I had abandoned my family when Melody died. I left them behind. The very thing that I hated my mother for. The room felt like it was collapsing into me and I couldn’t get myself to breath. I had to run. I needed to not be here anymore. I needed to escape from the monster that was eating away at my heart. Pop. I started running not knowing where I was going or caring. Pain started to spread from my gut to the rest of my body but I tore down the maze like hallways of the Canterlot castle till I could run no more. Stopping in front of a doorway I opened it to find a broom closet which I promptly collapsed in. I closed the door behind me.

The darkness of the cabinet along with my lack of energy caused me to fall into a deeper darkness. Sleep gave me no solace though as monsters of my past would form in my depression fueled nightmares to eat me. Even the bellies of the beasts were no haven from their pain as even in that darkness more would naw at my limbs. Spiralling further and further out of control my dreams stopped being coherent. A bright indigo light pierced my mind and shattered the monsters and any traces of consciousness I had left.

I woke to someone picking me up out of the broom closet but I paid them little heed. Their magic felt off to the touch but I couldn’t muster the energy to care. I was stuck in a state of semi-wakefulness for what seemed like forever as my brain kept running Annabelle’s words through my head. I could tell that things were happening around me but I couldn’t break the cycle till a warmth from outside started to flow into me. Nympha’s love was what brought me out of the cycle. And the tears started again.

Some time latter I came too enough that It was apparent that I was back in my bedroom. Nympha was to my right and Bon Bon to the left. Sandwiched in their warmth I shifted my head slightly from my forelegs to the side of Bon Bon.

“You there now?” asked Bon Bon. I rubbed my head against her in acknowledgement. “Are you feeling better?”

“Um...yes,” I said quietly. Yet as the words left my mouth they felt like a lie. Guilt was still gnawing at my insides. “Well no.”

“I think we may need to go back to Ponyville. Get away from all the craziness that is going on right now. You have had a bad week and it all seems to have started when you and Twilight opened that portal back to your world,” Bon Bon said. “I love that you find an interest in magic and that you and Lyra have something to bond together over. But I need you to be safe and to not dig up these scars like this. Doctor Vibes felt that it might be best to leave your past behind and to focus on the future. I want, no I need, to be able to trust that you aren’t going to throw yourself off a building again.”

“I can’t leave Annabelle. I have to make it right with her. She wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for me,” I said. This conversation was not helping my guilt which was only growing as I listened to Bon Bon’s words. “I can’t leave her behind. Not again. There is this word back in my world and I can’t remember it but it meant family and family means nobody gets left behind.”

“But that also means you don’t get left behind. Even in your attempts to make the world better you have to take care of yourself first,” Bon Bon said. “If you really have to stay then there are going to be some rules that you need to follow. Until we are back in Ponyville no more magic practice. You wear yourself out too much and you always have worse days when you do that. Second Doctor Vibes is coming up to meet with you tomorrow. I don’t want you to visit Annabelle till after you talk to your therapist and even then not till he says it is okay. Finally, you have to take sleeping draught till we get all of this sorted out. That one isn’t mine. Princess Luna’s orders. She said something about a nightmare demon that she had to fight today because of you.”

I felt even worse at that last part. I hoped that the demon hadn’t hurt anyone. Princess Luna had explained that they were the most powerful of nightmare creatures. Capable of even affecting those awake. That demons were crafty too and could be hard to track and kill if Princess Luna didn’t get to them right when they broke free of a pony's dream. Thankfully the sleeping draught would prevent me from dreaming and therefor creating nightmare creatures.

“Now don’t let that get you down. Princess Luna said she had it handled and to not worry. Look I just need you to promise me that for the time being you will put your needs first, okay?” asked Bon Bon.

“Okay,” I said. “I promise.”

“I’m holding you to that,” said Bon Bon.

Nympha had been strangely quiet during Bon Bon’s lecture. Glancing her way, I could see why she had been asleep the whole time. I nuzzled into her cream colored shoulder and tried to follow suit. Even that small conversation was draining.

Easing herself off the bed, Bon Bon headed out the door of my temporary bed room. At the doorway, she turned her head back at me and said, “Don’t fall asleep yet. You need to take the Draught. I’ll be right back with it.”

“Bring juice or something too, to wash it down. That stuff is nasty,” I said quietly. There was no happiness in me about needing to take that potion for so long. I don’t think you could make it taste worse than it did.

Bon Bon returned shortly with a small glass flask and a cup of apple on a tray she was masterfully carrying in her mouth. The flask was much smaller than I was used to and the potion was also much more transparent than usual. I grabbed the potion with my magic looking to make quick work of this unpleasant task only to be surprised when the potion was not like drinking sewage mixed with cleaning supplies but instead a nice minty aftertaste. I could feel the effects almost immediately which was also unusual.

“Who made this? It is way...better…” I said as I fell into a deep dreamless sleep.

I woke feeling groggy. Seemed the side effects were the same either way. Nympha wasn’t by my side which left me a bit lonely. It was weird how quickly one could get used to having the warmth of another body next to you in the morning. But all this meant was that I had slept far longer than I would have otherwise which was the other side effect of the sleeping draught. I stumbled out of bed and out into the living room of the Black Suite. With her nose buried in a book Bon Bon only noticed me when I crawled up next to her.

“Good morning,” said Bon Bon. “Though it is almost too late for that one.”

“Where is Nympha? Is Lyra still sleeping?” I asked. If it was as late as Bon Bon had implied then Lyra should have been awake by now. I figured that the answer to both of my questions were related.

“Lyra took Nympha to the gardens to play,” said Bon Bon. “That filly is just too filled with energy. I was just about to go wake you. Doctor Vibes is here and wants to met you for lunch. Princess Luna has arranged for a private room for you two to talk and eat.”

“How soon do I need to be there?” I asked. “Do I have time for a bath or shower?”

“That you do,” Bon Bon said. “You still smell of cleaning supplies.”

One sniff confirmed her words. I wandered back to my bedroom and into the amazing tub. The thing could have both the shower head running and the facet at the same time and so for a few minutes I took a shower while I waited for the tub to fill. I pushed my bath to the limits, attempting to enjoy as much of the warm water as possible. The bath tub had heating runes inlaid into it which kept the water just the right temperature. At least there was one silver lining in all this craziness.

After a thirty minute soak, Bon Bon lead me through the castles to a private dining room near the Cafeteria. Doctor Vibes was already waiting for us and was busy reading the menu. He smiled at me as we walked in. I couldn’t help but bow my head. I had made him come all the way to Canterlot on a weekend. He didn’t normally work on Sunday’s.

“Good afternoon, Lilac,” Doctor Vibes said. “It isn’t often that I am summoned by the Princesses to Canterlot. But it does has its perks. The lunch here is amazing.”

“Sorry for ruining your weekend,” I mumbled just loud enough for him to hear me from across the small table. Despite knowing better, I couldn’t shake the guilt. He didn’t have to have come today and if he had wanted to meeting him tomorrow didn’t seem like a big deal. But still it didn’t help the emotions.

“Lilac, you did not ruin my weekend. I get to have a paid for trip to Canterlot,” said Doctor Vibes. “There is a show later tonight that I get to see because of you. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without having transportation and room and board covered. So really you have made my weekend.”

“If you say so,” I said. I pulled up a chair and started to look at the menu. I was pretty certain about what I was going to order but I wanted to check anyway. Macaroni and cheese was in fact what I ordered along with a small side salad.

Bon Bon left the two of us to our meal. We only made small talk till the food came. Talks about seeing the gardens and Doctor Vibes recommending places for me to visit that he figured I would like. With our food delivered our talk began in earnest. In more details than I probably should have told him, I recounted the past week since I saw him. From opening the portal to Nympha to Annabelle. He gave me the space to just let it all out.

“I feel we have to address your feelings for and around Annabelle,” Doctor Vibes said. “It seems to me that you are conflating your own actions with the problems of others. You didn’t cause all of this to happen. This isn’t your fault.”

“It feels like it is,” I said. “Had I been there I could have done something.”

“But that doesn’t matter. All the could have, should have, would haves are meaningless in the face of what did happen. We don’t have to like it. It doesn’t have to feel good but we have to accept that no matter what happened we can never go back and fix it. Time flows only one way.”

“How do you get to that acceptance?” I asked.

“Only you can find that out. It is different for each of us. Some of us just stop thinking of the past. We move on and away. Some make it their mission in life to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Some don’t come to accept it. For whatever reason they can’t get there. But you will never find out unless we work on it. I know you well enough to say that you won’t be the first type of person. I just hope you can avoid being the third type of person,” said Doctor Vibes. “But if you want to be the second type of person the most important part is to be there and to not let the pains of the past preventing you from fixing the problems of the future and present.”

“I am trying but I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know what to do anymore,” I said. “I feel like I am drowning.”

“You just need to remind yourself every time you have that thought that every journey begins with one step. That is all a journey is, a collection of steps. They may add up to more than their sum but only because each step is taken,” Doctor Vibes said. “I think you know what the next step is, don’t you?”

“Yeah work on myself,” I said. “Find a balance in my life. We’ve been over this before. It is just really hard when shit hits the fan.”

Doctor Vibes laughed for a moment. After his chuckling subsided, he said, “Sorry but that is a new phrase to me. I would say it is quite apt for this week. But we know what to do when it gets to be too much. We ask for help. I am always here for you and I know Bon Bon, Lyra, and Twilight are too. Don’t take on so much. I can tell you have been pushing yourself on your magic training too much again. You don’t need to be perfect. You are so far and above most fillies your age. In some ways you are above and beyond even adults, so take your time. You have plenty of it.”

“Can we talk about that?” I asked. “Discord sort of made me realize what it means to be immortal. Most people I know are going to die long before I do, if I do. How do you come to terms with that? I used to think dying was scary but not dying is so much worse.”

“I can only help so much in this. Everypony loses somepony eventually and while you may lose more than your fair share of them I feel like you also get to have more than your fair share of friends. Also you won’t be alone. The princesses will always be there with you. But besides that I can’t offer much advice. It isn’t something that I think I can even really imagine. I would suggest that you talk to Princess Luna about this if you can get an audience,” said Doctor Vibes.

“I will,” I said.

“Now I have already talked to Annabelle today and I think it would be a good thing for both of you to have a talk in a safe environment. So to that end, if you want, I think the three of us should have a talk,” Doctor Vibes said.

“I don’t know if that will do any good. I think she hates me. Rightfully so,” I said.

“Assumptions are a poor thinker’s tools,” said Doctor Vibes. “I don’t think she hates you. Just angry and scared and confused. Much like you were when we first met. I promise that there will be no shouting. So are you willing to talk to her.”

“Of course. I want to really apologize to her. I need to make it right,” I said.

“Remember that a real apology is not just an admission of wrongdoing but also a promise to not do so again. If you really want to apologize then you are going to have to forgive yourself,” Doctor Vibes said.

“I’ll try,” I said.

“That is all I ask.”

The two of us had long since finished our lunch and we took a slow walk to Annabelle’s room. Doctor Vibes set the pace in part because I couldn’t keep it steady alternating between rushing and dragging my feet. I didn’t relish this upcoming talk but I knew it had to be done. Doctor Vibes was constantly telling me trivia about the various art pieces that we passed. It was obvious that he was trying to prevent me from stewing on what was ahead of us. It only half worked.

“I hope you don’t mind that there will be a fourth pony with us in our conversation,” said Doctor Vibes. We were standing outside Annabelle’s room. “Princess Luna insisted that she be in attendance.”

“Nope, that is fine. Probably good even. I think she understands better than most of us, when it comes to losing things like Annabelle and I have,” I said.

“I think you are right,” said Doctor Vibes.

As the doors opened it revealed the cute scene of Princess Luna reading a book to Annabelle. She was at rapt attention despite, or maybe because of, the complexity of the book Princess Luna was reading. Annabelle had always been an avid reader. It was a thing that she used to do with her sister and a thing that we shared in common. Reading had always been a thing that we as the three of us had been into.

“I hope we aren’t interrupting a good scene?” asked Doctor Vibes.

I tried to swallow the lump that was forming in my throat. It was no more easy as a pony as it had been as a human. I could feel panic building again as Annabelle looked up from the book and in our direction. Her face was almost void of emotion for a second till it was replaced with something I hadn’t been expecting. Guilt.

“I’m sorry, Alex,” Annabelle said. “Please don’t hate me. I can’t lose you again.”

“I broke my promise once. I’ll never do that again,” I said sheepishly. Despite my hesitation I meant every word of it. I would never leave her alone like that again.

Part 1: Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

I crawled up onto Annabelle’s bed so that we could better talk. It wasn’t as if she was using the whole thing. Pony beds seemed designed to hold more than one pony no matter who was in it. That or maybe they were all princess sized. My musings though only lasted a moment when Annabelle tried to push herself over to where I was to little avail. Instead getting a face full of blankets as she collapsed from her efforts. I picked her up and gave her a hug.

“Why are you so small here?” asked Annabelle. “Like your my size. That is funny.”

“Well this body is about as old as you are. Which is as confusing to me as it is to you,” I said. “But it is still me on the inside for the most part.”

Annabelle gave me a look over. Eventually her gaze came back up to my own and rested there for what seemed like forever. Her eyes were still the same ones that I remembered but as they were bigger they had detail in them that had been difficult to see before. The flecks of gold in her brown eyes were the biggest difference. Her eyes were absolutely laced with it and they had a glow to them that hadn’t been present back on earth.

“Why are you a girl now?” asked Annabelle.

I snorted. I had not been expecting that question but in retrospect I should have expected it. I paused for a moment trying to think of how I wanted to answer that question. There was the detailed and accurate explanation but then there was the answer I felt like I wanted to give. Being honest about it seemed to be the right choice.

“Because my outsides finally match my insides. It was magic that changed me but for the better,” I said.

“Oh okay,” said Annabelle. There was no sense of confusion on her face or in her eyes and for a moment there was nothing but happiness coming from those eyes. Then pain flared up on her face. “Can you go get the princess pony to make my arm and leg not hurt again?”

“Be right back,” I said.

I stepped out of the room to look for Princess Luna. Princess Luna and Doctor Vibes had stepped out to let us talk together. Thankfully they were talking out in the hall. Their conversation was clearly about me and part of me was slightly annoyed by it. But the princess was just asking questions on how to better deal with my nightmares. How to better stop them from happening.

“Princess Luna, the pain in her missing limbs is back,” I said. “Can you fix that again, please?”

“Of course,” Princess Luna said. “Banishing phantoms are sort of my specialty in magic.”
Princess Luna and I reentered Annabelle’s room. Annabelle was trying to hold back tears of pain and it showed in her huddled form. Her horn started to glow. Quick with her own magic, Princess Luna’s spell washed over Annabelle and quickly her pain seemed to dissipate. The magic she had been channeling through her horn though didn’t stop and seemed to be growing.

Annabelle started to breath heavily and was clearly panicking. Her eyes were focused on her horn at the top of her vision. Tears ran down her cheek and the glow on her horn continued to grow. She said, “How do I get it to stop? I can feel it pulling more and more out of me.”

“Yank back on the flow, pulling the mana back into you or let it go and let the magic spill from you,” Princess Luna said.

Annabelle’s eyes closed and for a moment the glow stopped growing. However the growth started again and this time it seemed quicker and more out of control. Annabelle’s breathing became even more ragged. Annabelle said, “It won’t stop. I can’t get it to stop. I don’t know how to let go of it.”

“Breath a deep breath,” I commanded in a steady voice. I had climbed up onto the bed next to her. I touched her horn to mine and I could feel the burn of her magic eating at my horn. I pulled at her magic with my own pulling it into me. It was a strange feeling have such uncontrolled magic running through my system. “Did you feel that bit that just left you?”

“Yes. I think I understand,” said Annabelle.

Her magic surged into me. Far far more than I had thought possible and it burned away at my insides. It reminded me of being cleansed by the princesses. The pain was well beyond my capabilities to handle and I faintly could tell I was screaming. Then there was a soothing coldness that came over me and the pain started to fade.

“Never do such a thing again till you can properly receive another’s mana,” said Princess Luna. Her voice almost seemed to come from in my head and not from outside it.

My vision had whited out and slowly colors were returning to it. Princess Luna was holding me up with her magic while tucking in the sleeping form of Annabelle. I broke Princess Luna’s weak grip on me with my own magic and hopped off the bed. I felt so energized. It was weird how giddy I was with mana.

“Come let us not disturb her sleep,” Princess Luna said. “Besides I have something to teach you. You need to know how to do what you just did safely. Until Annabelle learns control it would be best for those around her to know how to siphon off her magic safely. Any outburst by her could be disastrous.”

“How much magic does she have?” I asked. “Twilight said I was at 8 killolites. But she seemed to have much more than that in just that outburst.”

“Human souls seem to have a greater affinity for mana than a pony’s and as an Alicorn her power is even more so amplified. She has in the hundreds of Kilolites. To the point where an exact number is hard to guess.,” Princess Luna said.

“Which further puts importance on her magical education. I think it will be important to have you be a part of that. You have the most relevant experience of any of us when it comes to her situation.”

“Certainly Twilight could do a better job than I,” I said.

“In some ways yes. But you can explain to her what it is like to pull on something thing you once did not have. Only you can really know what that is like and that will help Annabelle in ways that neither I nor Twilight can explain.”

“I am currently grounded from magic lessons,” I said. “I want to help but I also don’t want to disobey Bon Bon.”

“Then we shall have a talk with your guardian first.”

Doctor Vibes was waiting outside of the room for us still. He bowed to Princess Luna when he noticed us coming out of the room. His bow was long and awkward which seemed to me to be the sign of someone who wasn’t used to being in the presence of the two solar diarchs.

“Doctor Pleasant Vibes, as you are already informed of the situation I would like to have you be available for weekly sessions with Annabelle on top of your current ones with Lilac,” Princess Luna said. “The crown will pay for your transportation between Canterlot and Ponyville so that we do not deprive your other clients of their good doctor. Is this acceptable to you?”

“Of course, Princess,” said Doctor Vibes. “It would be my honor to help the crown in this way and I wouldn’t feel right if I weren’t doing my best to help both of these little fillies.”

“I am pleased,” said Princess Luna. “Please tell my shenishar about what you require for an office so that we can provide optimal place for your work.”

“I will,” said Doctor Vibes.

“Then you are dismissed,” said Princess Luna. “I hope you have a pleasant evening here in Canterlot.”

“Thank you, Princess,” said Doctor Vibes.

Doctor Vibes headed down the hallway towards the entrance while Princess Luna and I headed the opposite direction. Princess Luna was a much slower walker than I had expected her to be if just because she was so tall. She lead the way and I assumed that she knew where she was headed even though I was fairly certain it was the wrong way. So I didn’t say anything when Princess Luna walked us down a hallway I had never been down. She paused nearly half way down what seemed to be a dead end and turned to face the wall.

A huge painting dominated the wall here. It must have been nearly three meters long and nearly as tall. There were many ponies depicted in the painting. Each had a happy face plastered on them but there was still something sad to the picture which was brought on by the blues of the painting. In the center was a glowing orb and to my surprise a small wispy trail of silver light left the ponies’ eyes and flowed into the sphere. At first I thought I was seeing something but it repeated itself a few moments later. Slowly the ponies started to lose their happiness and the painting slowly faded to black in all but the small orb near the center. In that orb two dark green eyes appeared. They seemed to be staring at Princess Luna.

“I made this a week after my return. It was all I could do for that week. Time had not passed as it did for others while I was on the moon. It was all but one moment of anger and hatred. But the Elements saved me from that pain. The ponies this painting normally depicts died the day I turned into Nightmare Moon. I stole their souls to fuel my dark magics. The magic I want to teach you has dark uses but it can also save lives as well. Dark things happen to those who don’t deal with their demons and you have demons like which I have never seen from one of my ponies since my return. Celestia has done so well for this world in my absence. Peace has reigned for nearly the entire time I was gone. Those nightmare demons that escaped your dreamscape last night feed on the darkness of a pony's mind. They grow powerful off of those emotions. If left unchecked that can transform you into a nightmare. I will be there to make sure that doesn’t happen but you shall live for a long time. Possibly longer than I and as such you must come to terms with your demons. But do not feel rushed nor judged. I fell to my demons and I shall do my best to see that fate avoid you,” Princess Luna said.

“I’m sorry,” I said. Light tears ran down my checks. A small part of it was guilt but no it was the pain this painting represented to her that made me cry. “I promise to work on this but also I will be there for you in anyway I can if you have need for me. Discord reminded me that there are only a handful of people that will live as long as me now. I don’t want eternity to be as lonely as it must have been for you.”

“I thank you for your concern,” Princess Luna said. “I look forward to having a much larger pool of ponies who will be there for so much longer. That loneliness is something that I can only imagine as I have always had my sister. How long must have been those thousand years have been? I don’t know how my sister has stayed so strong for so long.”

I nodded my head. I didn’t have any better answers than Princess Luna had for this. In fact all I had were questions. But now felt like a bad time to talk of them. I didn’t want to dredge up old painful memories of hers.

“To take another's magic from them is an art that has long been out of practice. My sister and I are the only two now living able to do it. I suspect that Twilight has figured out how to by herself but I doubt that she has ever tried. While it is a very useful skill to prevent accidents from happening to young ponies who have yet to gain control over their magic the uses of this magic are far too often nefarious. I have seen your darkness and I feel like I can trust you with this magic. Will you promise to never harm another with this, unless not doing so would cause greater harm?”

“I promise. I don’t ever want to hurt anypony.”

“I hope that you never have to. This magic in its extreme can be used to steal the very life from another even their soul. I shall explain the basics of it to you but before we put it to practical use we shall check in with your guardian. You are not to tell another soul of this magics. Not even Twilight. If she has not figured it out already I don’t wish for her to know of how deep my past crimes are. She is too naive for that and I seek to protect her innocence as long as possible. Do you promise to keep this a secret? Even from your guardians?”

“I promise. If it will help keep Annabelle safe then I will learn anything and take on any burden.”

“I admire your courage. Just try to not let it blind you.”

Princess Luna paused for a moment looking back at the painting which had long since returned to its unaltered state. She watched it go through another cycle before she turned back to me. I could see the sorrow in her eyes. There was a depth to it that was unlike any I had seen before. The guardian of the night and vanquisher of nightmares was plagued by a past that would frighten any who heard it let alone remembered it. I could tell it weighed heavily on her. This sadness though only shown for a moment before her eyes returned to their more mysterious natural state.

“Mana and by extension magic rests most fully in the soul of a pony, or any living creature. Even plants hold on to mana though they do so more passively than any living creature. Some have much more powerful reserves such as eachother. This mana is much larger or voluminous than most creatures can call upon. There is a resistance to our bodies that makes channeling mana inefficient for all but the most skilled. You are special in this. Sombra’s Soul Binding has reduced this resistance in you to almost nothing. You are nearly completely sustained by your magic now. You could choose to not eat and it would have little ill effect on you though I would advise against such actions. Even if you don’t need to eat your body still thinks it does and the pain of such a course of action shall be much the same nonetheless,” said Princess Luna.

“Under normal circumstances the mana that flows from the soul to the horn of a unicorn is an uninterrupted flow. You can however redirect that flow if you know how to. If you are very skilled in this task you can pull from their wellsprings without their use of magic. Pull enough from them and the soul becomes unanchored from its host. Souls in some ways are like giant balls of mana and can be converted to such uses by a skilled mage who has learned the dark arts. However as it is now I wish only to teach you to redirect mana from one's horn to yourself in a way that will not harm you. Foreign mana clashes with your own so you must subdue it before letting it into yourself. To do this you must pass it through a spell matrix. I can not show you one for it has to be one of your own design. Don’t worry though it is a fairly simple thing to make. But it will require some trial and error. Which will not be the most pleasant of things. I’m sorry for that,” Princess Luna said.

“It is fine. How will I know I did it right?” I asked. “Is it just something that will click?”

“Oh it will be very obvious if it is working. The mana will stop causing pain as you steal it from another,” Princess Luna said.

“Why does it hurt when you take it into you? Others mana doesn’t hurt when they cast spells on me,” I asked.

“Intent matters. Something freely given is rightly there and as such has no ill will attached to it. Mana can be a fickle thing and to steal another’s mana is in a way steal from their soul. No matter how one fights that the instinct of self preservation makes their magic hostile to the thief,” said Luna. “At this point the best I can do is to show you it but first we must ask permission.”

Princess Luna headed back down the hallway from whence we came. She was much quicker this time and I had to jog to keep up with her. It wasn’t a bad thing though. I was excited while also nervous. Part of me wanted to run from this. I knew that if I mastered what Princess Luna wanted me to that I would be able to take it further. This was the first magic that I had ever learned that was so easily applicable to hurting others. But it was more a fear of not being good enough then ever intentionally hurting someone else. That thought was almost unthinkable.

We made it to the Black Suite in less time than I had thought it would have taken. Princess Luna paused at the door and knocked. I felt it was sort of silly. It was her castle, why should she wait outside of a room. Not seeing the point in waiting for Bon Bon or Lyra to open the door, I opened it and walked in. Bon Bon was sitting on the couch reading the book from earlier in the day.

She smiled when I came into the room. Princess Luna’s appearance however sparked a bit of a different emotion. Her eyes though were still plastered on me and screamed ‘what did you do?’ awkwardly Bon Bon removed herself from the couch.

“Your highness,” said Bon Bon. She had a slight bow to her head as she spoke. “What has Lilac done this time?”

Laughter was Princess Luna’s only response. In a moment when her laughter had subsided, Princess Luna said, “She tried to help a friend. Which in of itself is admirable but she did so not knowing what she was doing and I seek to remedy that problem. We are here to acquire permission for me to teach and train Lilac in a specific spell that will allow her to help Annabelle with her magical outbursts in a safe way.”

“Can’t you just let them run their course?” asked Bon Bon. “I don’t know much about magic but I do know that all the books say to just let it run its course and just try to contain any damages. Why does Lilac need to deal with that?”

“Lilac, as I am sure you are aware, won’t stand by and watch another in pain. No matter how much any action might hurt her. On top of that. Annabelle has access to magic far beyond what any filly her age should have. Where an outburst from Lilac would likely destroy a room and all its inhabitants, Annabelle could destroy a sizable chunk of the Castle. I want to teach Lilac a way to stop them at their inception and prevent it from becoming such dangerous affairs,” Princess Luna said. “We both know that Lilac will be glued to Annabelle for as long as you allow her. I just want to give her the ability to help without hurting herself.”

Bon Bon seemed defeated. She just slunk back onto the couch and sat there her face nearly blank. Tears slowly ran their course down her cheeks. I climbed up next to her and gave her a hug. She returned it and squeezed me to the point it almost hurt.

“What am I supposed to say?” Bon Bon said. Her voice was cracked and somber. “I don’t know. I can’t let her not have the skills to help someone because she will do it without them and we all know how that turns out. But on the same level she goes overboard. Lilac isn’t an adult. She may think similarly to one but she doesn’t know her limits. She forgets to eat if I don’t remind her on some days. On bad weeks she can’t sleep alone. This week alone she has ‘almost died’ four or five times. How am I supposed to protect her? How do I fix this?”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

Princess Luna sat down on the other end of the couch. I was surprised that she could fit. A pain had covered her face and she clearly was in deep thought. She didn’t seem ready to speak so I went back to trying to comfort Bon Bon.

“I’m sorry I’m such a hassle,” I said. “I don’t mean to be. I know I don’t think things through very well. It is just hard for me to remember that I can’t just do what I think is right. That I might be wrong about that.”

“Honey you don’t have anything to apologize for,” Bon Bon said. Her tears had yet to stop. “You are who you are and I don’t think there is a thing we can do to change that. I just need to know how to help you not hurt yourself. How to get you to the point where you can bounce back from mistakes. You are so much like Twilight in that light. I just need to find a way to get you to that point.”

“Twilight isn’t a model to emulate. She hasn’t learned the lessons that you wish to teach Lilac,” said Princess Luna. “The only difference is that she doesn’t have the talent to push her limits like Lilac does. She is much better than when we first met but that was years of progress. Lilac hasn’t had that time yet. But also Lilac has access to a far greater percentage of her magic at once. I can not match Lilac in this manner. The most I could draw from myself in one spell is around seventy percent I would say. Twilight is more skilled at this than I and she can pull nearly eighty percent. Lilac can pull nearly all of her magic at once. It is part of Sombra’s spell. There isn’t much that can be done about this but watch her and be there when she tries magic. It isn’t the most pleasant of things but if necessary disrupt her magic so that she doesn’t push herself too far.”

“But we can’t be there all the time,” Bon Bon said. “How are we supposed to trust that she will be fine by herself?”

“We can only do just that. We can train her as much as possible and we can only hope that she learns enough,” said Princess Luna. “Besides I think she has learned from her past mistakes at least in small ways. We may not be happy with what she learns but she is making progress. The stunt she pulled today not only possibly saved Annabelle’s life but had she tried to do so a month ago it would have killed her. My ponies always forget how much I watch them grow. I visit her every night when she dreams. I can tell you that there has been progress. It may be small but any progress is good.”

“I wish I could be as certain as you,” said Bon Bon. Her hug had lessened but only just so. “You aren’t there when she hurts herself. You don’t get to spend hours waiting hoping that she will wake up again this time.”

“You are right. I have not had to be there for that,” said Princess Luna. “Celestia has been bugging me to take on a more personal project and as I can’t see anyone else being able to take care of Annabelle other than myself, Celestia and maybe Twilight, I know I will be spending much more time around Lilac. I can see the use in becoming a teacher. If you and the rest of her guardians would be interested I am willing to take on Lilac as a full student of mine. It has been almost twelve hundred years since I last did so but there are secrets of magic that nopony else can teach her. But also I know what it is like to fight demons like she does.”

“I would be fine with that but you have to be the one to tell Twilight,”said Bon Bon. “Well and the three, no four, of us should all have a talk about this. I can’t make this decision on my own. But for the time being you can teach her this thing you wanted to teach her.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I promise to not go overboard on this one.”

“That promise isn't worth much right now as you have broken that several times this week,” said Bon Bon. “No I want you to promise to listen to what the princess says and further still try to learn from her example.”

“I promise,” I said.

"Okay," Bon Bon said. "You can go learn what Princess Luna has to teach then. Try to not wear yourself out too much I want us to go visit Lyra's parents tonight for diner. Oh and honey, have fun."

Part 1: Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

Princess Luna teleported the both of us after we had exited the Black Suite. We ended up in a place that seemed far removed from Canterlot. Princess Luna’s teleportation didn’t come with the slight hurdle of the stomach that I had grown accustom to which was pleasant to avoid.

“Welcome to my personal training grounds,” said Princess Luna. “There are a few rules I wish to address before we start. First off here there is no rank. Call me Luna. Or if that is difficult then Teacher is an acceptable inbetween. The magic that I will be teaching you will be more personal than that which Twilight has likely taught you and todays lesson is no exception. Secondly anything that we practice here is to be between me and you alone. There are spells that I find to be useful and beneficial to ponykind but my sister disagrees. I would rather those arts not die out if the unthinkable were to happen to me. That though is for the future.”

“Okay, Luna,” I said. “Where are we though?”

“On the far side of the Everfree forest,” said Luna. “I found this place just a few years after the defeat of Discord for the first time. There is a locus of mana underneath this meadow which makes it easy for me to to teleport to and from.”

I took a good look at the meadow we were in. It was surrounded by trees similar to those one might find in the whitetail woods and was nearly a kilometer across. The grass grew tall here and in the distance the sound of water could be heard over the calls of the birds. It was peaceful but unremarkable.

“Let us start though. We don’t have too much time to dally around,” said Luna. Luna laid down on the ground making a comfy bed out of the tall grass. “For this to work you will have to draw mana from me. Do not worry about hurting me but do try to pull as small as you can so that it doesn’t become too painful. As you draw that in you need to run it through a matrix and this is the hard part it will be like running it through backwards. The matrix itself can be as complicated or as simple as you want at this point. If you were stealing the mana from an already cast spell and not just me channeling you would have to use more specific matrixes to do so. When I start to channel press your horn to mine. With practice this step won’t be necessary but for now it is easiest.”

Luna’s horn lit up with her indigo magic. I touched my horn to hers and could feel her magic wash over my horn. It wasn’t as aggravating as Annabelle’s had been and I could stand to hold it there for a second. Pulling up my own magic I used it to pull on Luna’s magic. Her magic was harder to pull from its spot as if there was some sort of gravity to it. Still it wasn’t so much to not be overcome and I started to pull her mana into me. The burn came right away but her mana didn’t flow into me more than I had pulled and the pain was much more manageable. Concentrating, which was proving difficult due to the pain, I tried to push the mana through a matrix. It powered the matrix and my horn lit up with the light spell I had cast. The burn though barely faded as the mana was spent. I pulled more of it from Luna and tried again. And again I failed. After four more failures I slumped down breaking the connection between Luna’s and my horn. My head ached as if I had hit the cider hard last night.

“I think I messed up,” I said. “Bon Bon isn’t going to be happy with me.”

“Don’t fret about the pain I can alleviate that, although not without side effects,” Luna said. “You may a bit...ah...loopy...yes that is the right word. Which would rather? Deal with a headache for the night or be a bit more of a child for the day.”

“Um how loopy are we talking? Like a bit giddy or like playing with spoons?” I asked. “Cause I have been there and done that on the latter end. I think that Bon Bon and Lyra will notice that something is up if I am that loopy again.”

“Playing with spoons?” asked Luna. “Pray tell what made you do that?”

“Caffeine. Turns out I have no tolerance for the stuff anymore,” I said.

“Well I don’t see that this will be the case,” Princess Luna said. “No this will just give you more energy than you will rightly know what to do with. It is side effect of what I will do to purge the remaining traces of my stolen mana in you.”

“Well then hit me with it,” I said.

Hit me in fact was the right description. A wave of mana engulfed me and ran through my body. It was gentle and calm but it lingered in ways that I had not been expecting. I could feel it seep all the way to my core, to my wellspring. I could feel my mana and Luna’s swirling together in me and a pleasant warm spread through me from that. For a moment everything felt stronger and more real before it faded along with any vestiges of pain that were left in me.

“Holy shit,” I said. Immediately my hooves covered my mouth. Embarrassment over the word which just slipped out of my mouth fought with the growing dread of being punished for it. Luna just laughed for it. “Um yeah uh sorry. I mean holy cow. That is one jolt of energy. Like eating Moon cactus but on steroids.”

“Yes that is a similar effect. Maybe try a single teleport to balance out your mana again,” suggested Luna. “You have been working on that spell, right? Or are you further in your studies than I thought.”

“Just started working on that one. But yeah using that to get rid of all this energy would probably be a good thing,” I said. I was shaking from the mana that seemed to be overflowing in me.

I pulled at my magic and concentrated on a spot just ten feet from us. It was a bit further than I was used to teleporting but I knew I could do it. Forming the spell matrix I pushed my mana through it and with a pop I appeared on the ground where I had wanted to be. I barely even felt drained from that one. Twilight had been right the better one was at it the less teleportation took from you. I pulled on my magic and made the return trip with even less effort.

“I suspect that that did not have the effect you were looking for did it,” Luna said. “The locus does make teleportation much easier here than usual but you also seem to be picking that up well. Let us head back home. It has already been over an hour anyway. Annabelle should be waking soon her mind has gone quiet in the dream realm.”

“You can tell that from here?” I asked.

“For those who I have enchanted with a dream beacon, distance is not a problem. I am always tied to the dream realm not just during the night,” Luna said. “It is that connection that lets me find being in the dream realm restful. Though my alicorn nature also helps with not needing much sleep.”

“Will Annabelle be that way too? The whole not needing much sleep part,” I asked.

“In time yes,” said Luna. “Or at least I think so. Her transformation into an alicorn is not a natural one. At least in so far as any alicorn transformation is natural. We don’t know what will happen to her. Only guesses. Either way let us be off now.”

With a small pop we were off and found ourselves in the room that Twilight had teleported us too shortly after my arrival. This time I didn’t empty my stomach onto poor Mr Floor. The guard bowed deeply to Luna as we passed him on our way out.

“Luna, where did you go?” asked Princess Celestia. Her voice was tinged with anger. “I have told you a number of times to go to this beacon room when you want to teleport out of the castle. Both you and Twilight are going to be the death of me. Do you know how much of a hassle it is to deal with the wards you break every time you do this.”

“Do not fret, Sister,” Luna said. “I shall reaply the wards myself. If you would have just let me do it last time then this would not be a problem.”

“Your wards are a thousand years out of date,” Princess Celestia said. “Plenty of time for old foes to break them.”

“What old foes? All of them are locked in Tartarus, at least those who are still alive,” Luna retorted. “My wards are more flexible and therefore more useful. We have gone over this a hundred times. Just trust me, please sister.”

“No. I said no,” shouted Celestia. She was about to storm off when her eyes fell on me and it seemed that for the first time she noticed me. “Where were you going with Twilight’s daughter? You took her out to your little secret training place you won’t tell me about, didn’t you? What magics where you teaching her? What are you hiding from me?”

“Nothing sister,” Luna lied. “We were simply getting some fresh air outside of the bustle of Canterlot. Even the gardens can be too noisy at times.”

“I know you are lying,” said Princess Celestia. “Why do you think I am so stupid as to fall for that one? I know you were out there teaching her magic that you shouldn’t be. Lilac, tell me what she was teaching you.”

“Uh, um,” I said. “I-I don’t kn-know what you’re talking about. We...were...just enjoying the meadow.”

A golden aura surrounded me and restricted my movement to the point it was hard to breathe. Celestia lifted me up to her face. Flames licked at the air around her eyes. The amulet around her neck had a green sheen to it. She shouted, “Do not lie to me!”

Luna’s much more subtle magic engulfed me and for a second I could feel the battle of wills that was being fought over my body. Luna ended up winning and I swiftly floated behind Luna herself. Her magic however did not dissipate and remained swirling around me.

“What is your problem?” shouted Luna. “This is not behavior I would expect from you. When did you start shouting at foals?”

“You have no room to speak, Nightmare,” Celestia said with poison in her voice.

I felt a change in Luna’s magic and soon the tell tale pop of a teleport herald our arrival at the Black suite. Luna was crying and I was left without words. Opening the door to the Black suite I ushered Luna into the room. Bon Bon was sitting on the couch reading her book.

Looking up from her book, and then bolting into a bow, Bon Bon said, “What happened?”

“Um I don’t know anymore,” I said. “I don’t know what to say or what I should say.”

Stunned was the only word for it. I couldn’t fathom what had just happened. Twilight had painted a picture in my mind that Princess Celestia was perfect but this put all of that in question now.

“My sister and I just had a spat is all,” Luna said. “I had thought we were past that. That we had finally come to understand each other. There is something off about her. I don’t know what could have changed this though. She has never acted like this before.”

“Maybe Chrysalis has done something to her?” I asked. “She has been wearing that amulet that Chrysalis gave her.”

“Celestia would have checked the amulet for any sorts of negative enchantments on it,” Luna said. “The dagger that I was given had no traps hidden in it. Or at least none I could find.”

“But she wouldn’t just snap like that would she?” I asked.

“II don’t know. I will talk to her tomorrow. It is best to let her cool off for a while,” Princess Luna. “Thank you for your concern but you have a lovely night ahead of you. Try to enjoy it.”

“Princess, if you need someone to talk to all of us are here for you,” said Bon Bon. “You keep our dreams safe. It wouldn’t be fair if we weren’t there for you as well.”

“Your concern is appreciated but I shall be fine. This is not the first time my sister and I have fought and it will not be the last,” Luna said. “Annabelle is waking now and I must attend to her. Enjoy your night and fret not, Lilac. Annabelle is in good hooves.”

Luna left the suite and Bon Bon scooped me up in a hug. She was shaking and I knew why. Too much seemed to be happening all at once. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Chrysalis was up to something.

Part 1: Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

Lyra and Nympha walked into the suite. They brought with them an energy that chased away any of the darkness left from the previous topic. Nympha, as usual, radiated energy. Lyra on the other hand looked worn to the bone. Nympha half tackled half hugged me.

“Good to see you too, sweetie,” I said. “Did you have fun playing with Lyra?”

“Yes, much fun,” Nympha said. “We go play now?”

“Um maybe later,” I said.

“Yes later for now, you need a bath we are going to go visit some ponies and I want you to look your best,” Bon Bon said. “Nympha take her to your bath and why don’t the two of you get bathed. It is nice having access to two baths at once.”

“How much time do we have?” I asked.

“Plenty,” Bon Bon said. “So yes you can enjoy the soak for as long as Nympha will let you.”

Nympha and I left Bon Bon behind and headed for the bath. A good soak would be good for my nerves. I filled up the tub while Nympha was being the most helpful parasite ever and clung to me. She seemed particularly clingy today but I couldn’t figure why. I was feeling pretty alright all things considered. Our encounter with Princess Celestia had me a bit shaken but for once it didn’t phase me like I felt maybe it should. The tub was filled a bit more than I would normally put it at and I stopped the water and flipped the switch on the heating runes.

I shrugged off Nympha and got into the tub. Nympha followed quickly. She let her disguise fall revealing her natural black chitin. It was much softer than I had thought it would be and was more like flexible plastic. I ran the brush over her chitin in my magic lazily as I sat mostly submerged under the water. Nympha picked up the other with her own magic and brushed me as well. After a while it became a bit tiring to hold my above the water at the angle I had to to do so, and so instead I moved using Nympha’s back to prop me up further. With a quick cleaning of our manes and tails we were completely clean and could just enjoy the water.

“Why you feel different?” asked Nympha. “What happen?”

“I don’t really know. I guess part of it is just knowing what to do next. Having a step to take,” I said. “Sorry I have been such a worry wart.”

“You hurt but also love much,” Nympha said. “No worry. I just give your love back. Make you feel better.”

“Thank you, sweetie,” I said. “I am really happy to have met you.”

“Me too,” Nympha said. Her face turned sullen which was quite a stark difference for her. “Never feel love like you before. Better now. Why you give love so much? Why mama not?”

“I don’t know, I can’t rightly tell you on that one. Maybe you will get the chance for her to answer that question for you,” I said. “I want you to know that I am worried that your mom is up to no good. I don’t know what but my guts says that something foul is up.”

“Understand. Love mom. Not trust mom,” Nympha said. “Mom no hurt you. I not let her.”

“I hope it never comes to that,” I said. “I don’t want to see you in that kind of pain.”

“I love you,” Nympha said.

“I love you, too,” I said.

It was weird but in the just under a week that I had known her I had grown quite fond of her. Hopefully nothing would ever change that. I leaned my head up against the back of hers and we sat just enjoying each others company. It was strange suddenly having a little sister like this but I hoped my other siblings would be as much of a joy as Nympha was.

Feeling the heat starting to get to my head I pulled myself reluctantly out of the bath. We dried off quickly and headed back out into the living room. Neither Bon Bon nor Lyra were there and I assumed that they were still bathing. Pulling a book from the shelf I read to Nympha for a while. It was the book that Bon Bon had been reading the last few days. It was about some buisness mare who hadn’t had time to find love deciding to finally look for it after her aunt dies tragically alone. Nympha didn’t seem to be paying too much attention as she rested her head on my back but I kept reading aloud anyway.

In what was just over ten minutes Lyra and Bon Bon came out of their room. They were looking fresh and ready to go though Lyra did still look pretty tired. She smiled at us sitting on the couch and pulled her head back indicating it was time to go.

The walk to the Heartstring’s manor was pleasant as the weather was still fair. The city was busy which wasn’t too surprising what with the good weather and it being the last day of the weekend. Everypony wanted to make the most of their weekend. I was looking forward to a quiet time again. No more need to dig into my past. Not when the future had so many things to deal with.

Nympha was energetic as usual. Ecstatically she went from spot to spot taking in as much of the sights and sounds of the city. There was a part of me that wished I found wonder in such simple things still. It seemed like I should given my bodies age but It wasn’t so. But I did try to keep up with Nympha if just to explain things for her as we stopped and looked at something.

Our walk wasn’t far and we came to the large blue house where Lyra’s parents lived. It was quite the house to behold even still and I in my prior life would have loved to live in it. The victorian style which it reminded me of was one I had always been quite fond of. That and every visit had been a pleasant experience. Lyra’s parents were always so very welcoming to me.

One knock later and the door was opened by Iron Hoof. He was wearing an apron and uncharacteristically had a smile plastered on his face. He had never been mean or anything but kind but his face in my experience he always had a bit of a stoic look to me. Something was off but it seemed to me that it couldn’t be anything wrong.

“Oh welcome, Miss, or should I say, Mrs. Lyra,” Iron Hoof said. “I hope you have been enjoying your honeymoon.”

“It was cut short,” Lyra said. “But other than that it was quite enjoyable. But time spent with family is what really matters.”

“Truer words were never spoken,” Iron hoof said. “It is good to see you again. I understand that you are busy but I do miss our time together when you were no bigger than Lilac.”

Lyra blushed and looked away. Shaking her head to drive away her embarrassment, Lyra said, “You aren’t going to bring up all the silly things I did as a filly are you now? I mean can’t we have a day where you don’t embarass me infront of Bon Bon?”

“It is only said out of love,” Iron Hoof said. “Come in your mother and I were just working on dinner.”

“Oooh what is it tonight?” I asked. I ran up to the front with Nympha right behind me. “Nympha, Lyra’s um friend here is such a good cook. He always makes something I hadn’t had before whenever we visit which to be fair has only been twice now but still.”

“I do believe you may find tonights dinner to be up to standards,” Iron Hoof said. “Tonight we are having Alfalfa Burgehay.”

“Have you been hitting the wine?” Lyra asked.

“A proper stallion never lets a lady drink alone,” Iron Hoof said. There was mirth in his eyes. “It has been known on occasion that Lady Heartstrings and I will relax with a nice wine or cider when ever we end up cooking together.”

“It is good to see you enjoying yourself,” Lyra said. Iron hoof had stepped back to let us in. “I want to introduce to the other little one. This is Nympha. She is a friends child that we are looking after for a bit. Nympha this is Iron Hoof.”

“Hi,” Nympha said.

“Greetings young one,” said Iron Hoof. “It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

I pushed Nympha forward trying to stall the probably need to explain her. I wasn’t certain how it would be best to explain her and though there was likely no escaping that explanation. Still any delay gave me more time to think about an answer. Maybe the truth was the only real answer for this but I didn’t want to give Princess Celestia any more reason to yell at me or Nympha.

I lead the way to the reading room. It seemed to reason to be the best place to hang out with out being under hoof. Nympha followed me at a brisk pace. She did pause a few times to look at two different paintings on the wall. One was of Lyra’s long since dead ancestors. It was an amazing painting and one could tell the love of the painter for the pony depicted. The other was of Canterlot but from a bird’s eye view off the mountain. The castle was quite majestic in the painting and the small town that was Canterlot in the picture had a quaint little look to it.

In the reading room Twisted Logic with his bright colors was busy reading what looked to be some sort of scientific journal. Through his orange coat you could see he had not been eating right again. I worried about him but it was plain to see he was where Lyra got her obsessiveness.

“Hello, Twisted Logic,” I said joyfully. “What are you reading?”

“Oh just a dissertation about the physiology of Changelings. The paper seems to gloss over many of the implications that Changelings bring up. It barely talks about love as a measurable magical energy,” said Twisted Logic. He finally looked up from his reading. “Oh hi Lilac. Who is your friend?”

“Um, this is Nympha,” I said.

“Hi,” Nympha said. Curiosity oozed from Nympha’s words. “What physiology? What do with Changeling?”

“Physiology is the study of bodies and how they work,” Twisted Logic said. “So where did you find her, Lilac?”

“She is just a family friend,” I said.

“I can tell that you are hiding something and my hunches are that she is not as she seems,” said Twisted Logic. “You can trust me.”

“I don’t know if I am allowed to tell you,” I said.

“Tell what?” asked Nympha. “He not mean. We trust.”

“I promise that whatever it is that you tell me will not leave these walls,” Twisted Logic said.

I rubbed my ankles together as I pondered my decision. No one had told me not to talk about Nympha and I felt like I could trust Twisted Logic but it still seemed off to tell him. I fought with myself for a while. Twisted Logic for his part didn’t pressure me to make a decision. Nympha however made my choice for me.

Dropping her disguise, Nympha said, “I am changeling.”

It took a moment for Twisted to regain his composure. There was no anger in his eyes but they did seem to be trying to calculate something. His horn lit up and I felt his magic pass through me. I wasn’t certain what he had done but I figured it was some sort of scanning spell. His spell must have revealed something because he relit his horn after the first spell and a second slightly more invasive spell ran over me.

“Interesting,” said Twisted Logic. “I have so many questions. Let me get paper first if you don’t mind, Nympha. I really want to work out the kinks of that this paper I just read has. That is of course if you are up to answering some questions.”

“I don’t know how much Nympha can answer your questions,” I said. “We think she has been cut off from the changeling hive network.”

“Does that mean she is a proto-queen? The paper I just read said that drones require the network to be functional,” Twisted Logic said. “This just increases the number of questions I have. Let’s stick to the basics.”

“Okay,” I said. “As long as that is fine with Nympha.”

“Is fine,” Nympha said with cheer in her voice. She seemed almost too happy for this and I couldn’t really tell why. “Want know more too.”

A bright flash of green filled the room and Bon bon stepped into the room. She had a glow to her that was contagious. As if her worries had washed away for that moment. There was a mirth in her eyes that was unusual for her or at least as of recent was.

“Twisted, do you mind watching the fillies while we have a foal free zone in the kitchen?” asked Bon Bon. “it has been a while at this point to have a relaxing moment without having to worry what sort of trouble Lilac is getting into.”

“I don't mind at all,” said Twisted Logic. “I don't get as much time with foals and younglings anymore now that I have been promoted at work.”

“Thanks. I’ll be in the kitchen with everypony else,” Bon Bon said as she disappeared out the door.

With Bon Bon gone there was a second flash of green and Nympha was back in her natural form. She climbed up onto the couch and sat down. Patting on the couch next to her she motioned for me to join her. When I did she pulled me up next to her with her magic.

“So what questions do you have?” I asked. “Though if you don't mind why did you scan me twice?”

“Well the first one was to check for what spells you were under the effect of. The second one was to gauge your wellspring depth,” said Twisted Logic. “Though I bet that brings up another question. I checked your wellspring depth because you had much more magic in your system than you should have. Part of me was worried that your mana was leaking into your physical form which can cause all sorts of problems. My check can tell if your it was and thankfully it wasn’t. Have you been working on depth increasing exercises?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I just have been practicing teleportation and Princess Luna is teaching me how to safely disrupt magical outbursts. She did cast a spell to alleviate a headache of mine from our practice and she said it would make me a bit loopy. I haven’t really noticed too much effect outside of being better able to keep up with Nympha without wearing myself out.”

“Hmm. Your wellspring is much deeper than it should be based on natural growth alone,” Twisted Logic said. “When compared to where you were the first time we met you have grown nearly twice that. Maybe that growth is a side effect of your soul binding. Still that doesn’t explain the overflow of mana. It was like your wellspring just suddenly grew significantly and for lack of a better word splashed out into your physical form. Hmm how is Princess Luna teaching you to disrupt magical outbursts? Most of the time we just let them run their course and those we don’t we just use a calming spell on the foal in question and that gets them to release their mana.”

“Do you promise not to tell anyone about this? Anyone at all?” I asked. “Like really really important.”

“I already gave you my word,” Twisted Logic said. “You can trust me.”

“Princess Luna has been teaching me to disrupt outbursts by taking the foal’s mana from them,” I said.

“Stealing others magic is a painful endeavor and if not done right can be harmful to the person who you are taking from. Why would Princess Luna teach you that sort of magic?”

“Because of Annabelle. She has more magic than even I do. Enough to damage the castle if she has an magical outburst or seriously hurt herself,” I said. “I have to be able to protect her until she has control over her magic.”

“A foal with more wellspring depth than you do,” Twisted said. He had a dumbfounded look on his face. “I guess I can understand why drastic measures might be necessary. Doesn’t mean I like it but I trust Princess Luna.”

“How deep is my wellspring now?” I asked. “A few days ago Twilight said I had eight kilolites and that seems like a lot in some ways. Okay if I was being honest it doesn’t anymore knowing what I do about alicorns but still.”

“That much growth in just a few days,” said Twisted Logic. He seemed dazed for a moment. His horn lit up again and I could feel he was scanning my wellspring again. “Sorry I needed to be sure. You have thirteen kilolites now.”

“Maybe the growth is a side effect of Sombra’s spell? I know that it makes me have much greater access to my mana than would otherwise be,” I said. “Princess Luna said I can pull on nearly all my mana. But what if the opposite is true. Where anything cast on me seeps into my wellspring making it bigger?”

“That is a possibility,” said Twisted Logic. “It would explain how Sombra was able to grow in power so quickly according to the history books. Well no point in dwelling on that we can’t answer at least yet. So Nympha what can you tell me about changelings? Anything in particular that is really important to you as a changeling?”

“Love. Mama need love, but don’t give. Love heals. Love make strong. Much stronger now,” Nympha said. “Home not good. Here good.”

“I am sorry that your home life has not been the best,” Twisted Logic said. “I am sure your mother does love you though. I can’t imagine a mother who doesn’t love their child.”

“My mama no good. I tool not daughter,” Nympha said. “Can’t speak right. Can’t think right. All alone. Mama why. Only not dead because Lilac.”

“I am sorry to hear that,” Twisted Logic said. “You always have a home amongst my family. I do hope that Celestia knows what she is doing when working with Chrysalis.”

“Me too,” said both Nympha and I at the same time.

Nympha’s magic engulfed her again as she resumed her disguise. It was weird to feel her magic flow between us. It had a strange stickiness to it and I couldn’t shake the feeling that it as clinging to me. A moment later Lyra came into the room. She was walking slightly off and even without smelling it I could tell she had been hitting the wine a bit harder than she usually did.

“Hey Dad,” Lyra said. “I love you. Oh and I love you two as well, Nympha and Lilac. I love you all. Uh, um, yeah diner is ready.”

“We love you too, my little Cherub,” Twisted Logic said.

The three of us followed the clearly drunk Lyra to the dining room. Iron Hoof had just set the last plate onto the table when we walked in. Lyra sat down next to the seat that Bon Bon was already in and she scooted her chair over to the point of touching Bon Bon. For her part Bon Bon didn’t seem annoyed at all. I couldn’t blame Lyra for drinking to relax after this week and apparently neither did Bon Bon.

The diner was very different than I had expected but was quite delicious. The slight taste of the wine in it added a depth that I hadn’t thought one could get with alcohol. Not that there seemed to be any alcohol left in the meal. The egg noodles were a perfect base for the sauce and the garlic bread was to die for.

Nympha was much more cleanly tonight than I had come to expect. She must have picked up using telekinesis recently because she was using that to shovel food into her mouth. Her grasp of magic seemed to be growing quite well for a filly who ate with her face just a few days ago. Lyra must have been giving her lessons.

Symphonia was similarly intoxicated as Lyra and seemed to be having a fun time of it. It was a little weird knowing that the adults were all drunk. Well most of them. Bon Bon had good reason not to and in a number of ways Twisted Logic had never struck me as an adult really. He was too excitable or something that just made me feel like he was on my level. The conversation meandered from family to general life to work and back again. It was honestly hard to follow and I had other things on my mind. I was starting to get restless sitting there listening to the adults talk about nothing which was odd for me. Normally my patience for this sort of thing was much longer than today.

There was a strange poof of magic right next to my head and a scroll appeared out of thin air. It reminded me of Spike’s dragon mail but without the fire. Based on the color of the magic it must have been from Luna. I opened the scroll and read it quickly. Annabelle was having an episode of sorts and was refusing to talk to Luna. Luna thought that I would be able to calm her. It was a request to teleport me back to the castle with instructions to burn the letter if I wished to come.

“Bon Bon, can I go back to the castle?” I asked. Everypony else had been waiting for me to read the letter on baited breathe. Bon Bon looked confused and worried. The implications of my request seemed to go over the head of Lyra though and she still seemed quite cheerful. “Annabelle needs me.”

“I guess I can walk you there,” Bon Bon said. “Sorry to leave so early everypony. Lyra why don’t you stay here and enjoy your night.”

“Don’t worry about walking me,” I said. “Princess Luna is going to summon me via teleportation.”

I lit the letter on fire with one of the candles that sat on the table. For a moment there was nothing but then a strange force seemed to overcome me. It didn’t have the same feel as magic normally did and definitely didn’t feel like any teleportation spell I had felt before. The world quickly faded to black around me and just as quickly it came back but I was no longer at Lyra’s parents’ house. I found myself in the teleportation beacon room once more. There teleportation hit me harder than any had in a long time and I struggled to keep my diner. Mr. Floor was not happy with me efforts.

“I’m sorry, Lilac,” Luna said. “I should have warned you that this type of teleportation is quite unsettling.”

“It’s fine,” I croaked out. “Annabelle is what matters.”

“Yes. One more teleport coming up,” Luna said. “I am going to teleport us directly to Annabelle’s room. She is quite distraught and I don’t want her to have an outburst right now.”

Pop. That teleport was comforting compared to the previous one. We were right outside Annabelle’s room and inside I could see Annabelle wailing and throwing whatever she could get her hoof on. Which at this point was a lamp. There was a Night Guard unicorn who was catching everything that Annabelle was throwing at him.

There was a second pop. I jumped in surprise. RIght next to us was Princess Celestia. Her eyes were bright with fire and I could feel the venom in her gaze. Luna pushed me into Annabelle’s room with her magic and closed the door with it. As she was doing that an argument broke out between Luna and Princess Celestia. With the door closed though all sound of their bickering was snuffed out.

I jumped up onto Annabelle’s bed and scooped her up in a hug. She fought me for a while screaming and yelling. Her horn started to glow with power and sparks sputtered off her horn and landed on my shoulders burning me. I stole a glance at the Night Guard. Her horn quickly lit up but she stood still. I could see doubt in her eyes.

I touched my horn to Annabelle’s. Again it burned my horn though this time the pain was much more. I could tell that she was pushing much more of her mana into this outburst. I channeled my own magic into my horn if just to buffer it from her magic and tried to center myself. I didn’t have much time and really only managed it half way. I pulled on her magic and again it flowed into me like a broken dam. The pain was nearly unbearable but it didn’t break my focus. I pushed her magic through an array. It was sloppy but most of it managed to be tamed by my matrix. Slowly I started to reach an equilibrium of her magic and mine. Her outburst though kept flowing on and on. I could only imagine how much this could hurt her if it continued.

“Cast the calming spell now,” I yelled. Having taken my concentration away from my spellwork her mana once more burned away in my body. I was reaching my limit.

A spell washed over the both of us. Instantly my own focus was shattered and the pain of her magic doubled for a moment. Thankfully after one big burst of mana her horn lost it’s glow. I collapsed onto the bed and Annabelle onto me. I could still feel her mana eating away at my insides. The pain fought off the calming spell the guard had cast on us. After a moment of trying to block out the pain I managed to run the rest of Annabelle’s magic through a matrix neutralizing it.

Annabelle moved first. After the spell she had been silent but as she slowly lifted herself off of me I could hear her tears and sniffles returning. I was almost stunned by the fact that she was still conscious after that outburst. After a moment or two more of trying to shut out the scream of my nerves throughout my body I lifted myself up into a sitting position.

“Alex, I’m so sorry. I can’t control it. And these bad memories or thoughts just keep springing up in my head. They don’t want to go away,” Annabelle stammered out. “Can you stay here please? I don’t want to be alone.”

“Of course,” I said slowly. The pain was starting to fade but it was quite slow. “I’ll be here for as long as you need.”

“Thank you,” Annabelle said. She half hugged half fell into me. I used my magic to move the two of us so that we could rest against the headrest and pillows.

We sat there for a while in the silence. The guard seemed to do her best to look like she wasn’t watching us while watching us. I didn’t pay her much attention. I was both exhausted and overly energetic all at the same time. Even with everything proving a distraction my mind kept coming back to what had just happened. That Annabelle was having waking nightmares.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked. “I don’t know if I can help but I will try.”

“It just hurts,” Annabelle said. “Mom is gone and so is Melody. I wish I had told her that I knew. I wish I could have told her that I loved her. Their gone and now I am broken. -” Annabelle tears flowwed freely again. “-Did you know about Melody and me?”

I was pretty certain that I knew what she was referring to but I didn’t want to burden her with my own knowledge if I was wrong. I nuzzled her head with mine being careful not to touch our horns as at least mine was still aching. Images of Melody and of her father ran through my head. He didn’t deserve that title though. Not after what he had done.

“I think so but I think you should say it just in case,” I said. “I want to make sure we are on the same page with that one.”

“That Melody was my mom,” Annabelle said. “Not that Mommy wasn’t Mommy to me but it is confusing.”

“Yeah,” I said. “We are on the same page. How did you find out? Melody didn’t want to tell you till you were older.”

“I overheard her and Mommy talking. My dad wanted to see me and Mommy was trying to convince Melody to let him. I’m happy Melody won. I don’t want to know him. He hurt Mommy and Melody so much,” Annabelle said. “But I don’t want to be angry right now. I don’t want to be angry that I exist. Can we talk about something else?”

“Of course,” I said. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Tell me what it is like outside the castle?” Annabelle asked. “The star pony showed me some pictures but I want to know more.”

“So I live in a town called Ponyville,” I started. I went on to explain all the little things that I could remember to talk about. I told her of Twilight’s castle, of our home, of Canterlot, a bit about the Everfree, and what I knew from books. I went on for nearly an hour just talking about life in Ponyville and Equestria. Annabelle had fallen asleep somewhere along the line and by the end of my story I just followed suit.

Strange monsters attacked me as I desperately tried to protect Annabelle. The monsters took many forms. Some of them were pony like with fiery makes and tails with sharp perfect teeth. Others were large brutish humanoid creatures with odd proportions on their arms and legs and large glowing eyes. But beyond that a large bat like creature seemed to be controlling the hoard. For what seemed like hours I fought them off. Suddenly though their numbers dwindled and the leader bat creature had disappeared. Minutes latter an indigo blue appeared out of nowhere and all the monsters were blown away bit by bit.

“May your rest be undisturbed for the rest of this night,” said Luna.

I woke the next morning still in Annabelle’s bed. She had wrapped her foreleg around me and was holding on as well as she could. It felt early but I couldn’t tell there was a night light on but otherwise the room was dark. It hit me that there were no windows in this room which felt odd considering the room I had been in had one. We were alone as far as I could tell.

I reached out with my magic and snagged a book from the small shelf in the room. Lighting my horn um I started to quietly read while I waited for Annabelle to wake or someone to come wake her. The book was dry and boring but it was better than nothing. It went over the growth and care of apple trees. It turned out it was written by one of Applejacks ancestors. For a book about trees it wasn’t too bad and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the bible for the Apple family. I had half read half skimmed through half of the book before there was stirring to my right. Annabelle slowly came out of her sleep. Her eyes caught in my light and I could tell that more of her eyes were amber. It was weird that she was still shifting in form this long after the transformation spell or at least I thought so.

“Good morning,” I said. “Did you sleep well?”

“I had nightmares again but the star pony chased them away,” Annabelle said. “I wish they would stay away. Ever since Melody they haven't gone away.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I have been having nightmares too since then. Well honestly since before then. They just got worse afterwards. But at least here there is Princess Luna, that star pony you keep talking about, who tries to keep our nightmares at bay.”

“Yeah she seems really nice,” said Annabelle. “Not like the white big pony. She just is so mean. She doesn’t even smile and I could tell that she was judging me for some reason. I didn’t do anything wrong. Well since I got here.”

“She is normally very nice from what I hear,” I said. “Maybe she just was having an off day.”

“Maybe,” Annabelle said. “I have only seen her once. It has been a bit lonely here. I’m happy you’re here though. Can we go play today or something? I don’t know what I can do but I want to do something.”

“I’ll ask for you,” I said. “I’m sure we can find something fun to do. I’m hungry. Are you?”

“Food yes,” said Annabelle.

“Okay I’ll be back in a jiffy,” I said.

I hopped off the bed and headed out the door to see two night guard. Stoic as ever they seemed to ignore my presences. I was about to ask them whether I should go get the food from the cafeteria or have it ordered when I noticed a strange sight in the stone floor near us. It was warped and melted in a way that I had never seen on a rock. Had Princess Celestia and Luna’s fight been that heated. Something was about to snap and I couldn’t think of anything to do to stop it. Maybe Twilight would but for some reason I hadn’t seen her in days.

Turning back to the task at hand, I asked, “Um Annabelle and I are hungry. Can we order food to be delivered or should I go to the cafeteria and get some to bring back?”

“Delivery would be best,” said one of the guards. “What would you like and I’ll see to it?”

“Pancakes with extra syrup on the side. Figure should stick to something familiar with her,” I said. “Um thanks.”

I retreated back into Annabelle’s room. It was weird not reading in the morning with Bon Bon but I could make the exception for today. Annabelle was flailing her wing around along with the small stump where her second wing should have been. Still this was a pleasant enough morning.

“So I guess I should bring this up now,” I said. “So you’ve been calling me Alex but my name is now Lilac. Or at least it is my pony name and I have gotten used to it. I would appreciate if you called me that.”

“You have a pony name?” Annabelle asked excitedly. “Does that mean I get one too?”

“If you want one,” I said. “My name was picked by Twilight and Lyra. I’m sure we can come up with one for you.”

“Cool,” Annabelle said. “Hmm I wonder who will pick mine? Do you think it will be, uh, Princess Luna, that is the star pony right?”

“Yep and I am sure if she asks you she would be glad to give you a pony name,” I said. “One other thing. Our home world, Earth, we are keeping it a secret from most of the rest of Equis. So you can talk to me about it and Doctor Vibes but maybe make sure with me or him on who else. Oh and Princess Luna, Twilight, Lyra and Bon Bon all know too so I guess they are all good. Oh and Spike. I almost forgot about him.”

“Why are we keeping it a secret?” asked Annabelle. “Is there something wrong with being from Earth?”

“We decided that I, and now you, deserved to not be judged because of our origins and so we kept it a secret.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

Our conversation wandered from there until our breakfast showed up. The pancakes were delicious even if Annabelle seemed to be only picking at it. I asked her about and only to respond that it was the third day of pancakes and she was tired of them. I would have gone and gotten something else had not Princess Celestia walked into the room. There was no hiding that she was off. Instantly my eyes went to the amulet around her neck. It had an intense green glow to it. I placed myself between Princess Celestia and Annabelle.

“Good morning,” said Princess Celestia. There was something off about her voice. Like something had cracked in her. “I heard from the guard that you were here this morning, Lilac. I just wanted to apologize. I know that Twilight was working on your magical education but I had to have her go deal with a diplomatic problem in Manhattan. There was a griffon that her and Rainbow Dash know that was causing some problems. A perfect job for Twilight to go fix. But that leaves you without your teacher. As dearest sister has taken up the slack, I would be remiss to not do the same. Why don’t you just tell me what you and Luna were working on and the two of us can continue where you left off?”

“Um I made a promise to Luna to not tell you,” I said. “I don’t want to break her trust.”

“But I am the princess,” Celestia said. “Besides I’m sure my sister wouldn’t mind. Now just tell me.”

“I can’t,” I said.

“You can’t make Lilac break a promise. It isn’t right,” Annabelle said. Anger coated her face. For a moment I was just happy that she still had her fierce spirit but that was greatly overshadowed by the increasing heat in the room.

“It is an order. I am the ruler of the country. You have to listen to me,” said Princess Celestia. “Answer me or I will tear the answer from you.”

“I can’t. I made a promise to your equal,” I said calmly and quietly. I could feel the panic building in me. There was only so much that I could stand up to Princess Celestia. “Please take this up with her.”

“If you won’t tell me what she has been teaching you, I will rip it from your magic. Luna information is out of date, I doubt that she knows of this spell,” Princess Celestia said. “It is sad the effects it will have on you. But order must be preserved.”

Her horn lit up in an instant and I was surrounded by her aura. I could barely breath her grip was so strong. After a moment of floating in the air, a dark glow came over Princess Celestia’s eyes. It wafted off her eyes and her horn bubbling as it did. Then her magic hit me. It was not the most painful thing I had ever felt but it was close. I had to stop her or at least try. I was starting to not feel my hooves. I pushed my magic to my horn and focused on where I wanted to be. I had never tried to teleport two ponies or even how one did so but hopefully this would work. I reached out to Nympha with my magic and I pulled a tiny bit of her magic into my spell and then I fired it. My spell fizzled though as an outside force slammed into my magic. The backlash was intense. I had forgotten about the wards. My world was starting to fade to black as Celestia's magic ate away at me but I pushed what little mana I could muster to my head to buffer it from Celestia’s magic just a second more.

A bright glow overcame us. I couldn’t tell where it came from but I had the inkling that it was from Annabelle. I hoped that she wouldn’t be harmed by her outburst. There was something off about where we were. All my pain had washed away and I seemed to be floating in something pleasantly warm, like a bathtub without the wet of the water. A startled thought came over me. Was I dead? This wasn’t what I had imagined and Twilight had been very certain in her belief that the afterlife for ponies and others in Equis was the Golden Fields of Elysium. This didn’t seem like there and Twilight wasn’t one to be religious. Maybe it was purgatory or something.

Trying to focus on anything I tried to take inventory of my body. It all seemed to be there but my hooves were dark and twisted in ways that made me panic. Was that permanant now. My mind started to spiral out of control. My world started to fade when I felt a presence near me. It was warm and kind. I could tell almost instantly that it was Annabelle as she hugged me. I could feel some magic flowing from her to me and my hooves which I hadn’t realized I couldn’t feel to that moment started to tingle and slowly my world came back into view. We were no longer in the featureless white void. A cool breeze brushed over me sending waves of pain through my legs but that was slowly fading.

Looking down an amber aura surrounded my legs and they were visibly healing. Annabelle’s horn was lit up with the same amber aura. There were striking differences in her eyes now as they were nearly completely amber now and her hair now had long white streaks in it but more than that her hair was billowing with an unseen force like that of Princess Celestia’s or Luna’s. She was even a bit bigger than I was now. As I turned to look at where we were i noticed that a cutie mark rested on her flanks. It was a Brilliant silver shield with wings that were spread out of it. In the center of the shield there was a circle that had a from top to bottom a line through it and perpendicular to that line there were openings in the circle. It reminded me of something but I couldn’t remember what.

Finally looking around I noticed we were in the gardens. How we had ended up out here was beyond me but I wasn’t too surprised that her alicorn magic could do something that I couldn’t. Especially considering how much power she had. I tried to stand but my legs were too weak to hold me.

“Don’t move please,” Annabelle said. There was strain in her voice and her magic falter shortly thereafter. For a few moments she sat there trying to regain her breathe. “Sorry. I can’t do more. I don’t know what happened but I couldn’t let her hurt you like that”

Her horn lit up with her magic again though this time less strongly than the previous time and a few sparks shot off of it. It sputtered for a few seconds before the glow died. Annabelle just buried her head in my side and I could feel the telltale wetness of crying. I snuggled up against her as much as I could with what mobility I had at the moment. Ignoring the pain that wracked all of my body I pulled on my mana. If using too much of my magic can cause harm to me it stood to reason that the opposite would be true. I pulled on my magic gathering as much of it as possible which was intensely draining but I managed to keep my focus. I spread that mana through my form focusing on my legs. Itching was the biggest sensation from my legs after doing that but I kept cycling my magic through my body.

A familiar voices came into earshot. Lyra must be out playing with Nympha. Her voice was distant though and I struggled to my feet. We needed to get out of here until Luna or Twilight dealt with Princess Celestia. Annabelle looked at me with worry in her face.

“Don’t worry I am going go get help stay here I’ll be right back. Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m fine.”

I was lying but Annabelle didn’t need to know that. I slowly hobbled towards Lyra’s voice. It took me much longer than I was hoping it would to get into view of them. I didn’t know who else was there with them and I didn’t want to risk shouting out incase Princess Celestia was within ear shot. Thankfully Nympha and Lyra were alone.

“Lyra, Nympha,” I half shouted half screamed. I couldn’t ignore the pain in my legs anymore and I collapsed. “Help me.”

Lyra’s head jolted up when she heard my voice. Faster than I had thought she could run, she was scooping me up in her arms. Tears were starting to form in her eyes. Nympha was just a second behind. Nympha’s horn lit up and I could feel the comforting warmth of her magic flow into me. Any left over pain was washed away in her magic.

“What happened? What spell were you trying to work on that this happened?” asked Lyra.

“It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do this. Please Annabelle is just over that way,” I said pointing in the direction that Annabelle was. “We need to get out of here. Princess Celestia has gone crazy.”

“What are you talking about? Princess Celestia is an angel,” Lyra said.

“Have you seen her in the last couple of days?” I asked. “She has been wearing this amulet that Chrysalis gave her and I think it has been controlling her or messing with her mind in some way. She attacked me today. I don’t think I would have survived it had not Annabelle’s spells.”

Lyra lifted me up onto her back and started to walk in the direction that I had pointed. It didn’t take long for us to come up to Annabelle. Nympha was constantly bathing me in her magic and love and it was definitely helping my mood.

“What mom do?” Nympha asked. “How fix?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Twilight will figure it out. She and the other elements of harmony will fix all of this.”

“See nothing to worry about,” Lyra said. “You outside of a god-like pony gone mad.”

“Somebody say mad god?” asked a deep voice from inside a tree. Discord slithered out of the tree and hung upside down.

“We weren’t talking about you,” I said. “Princess Celestia seems dead set on taking your title of the mad god.”

“So she finally snapped,” said Discord. “I was hoping that Moonbutt or bookworm would have figured out what was wrong before that. Oh well. I guess I get a great show now.”

“Discord,” I shouted. “This is bad. If Celestia goes and blows up the mountain, you won’t be able to snap your fingers and make it better.”

“No way that she’ll go that far,” Discord said. He was relaxing on Nympha’s back while being barely bigger than a garter snake.

“She tried to kill me,” I said. “All because I wouldn’t tell her what Luna is teaching me.”

Discord went silent at that. I hadn’t seen him so serious. It was even more so than our somber moment a few days ago. It was quite scary seeing even him shaken. He said, “Don’t worry I won’t let her go too far off the deep end. The ashy barrens that would follow is not fun. Not at all.”

“If you knew all this was going to happen or what is going to happen, why don’t you stop it?” asked Lyra. “I guess I get that chaos is your stick but this seems bad even for you.”

“If I focus I can see all of what could be, but I can’t tell for certain that anything will. There is a chance that she just takes that amulet off now and an equal chance that she burns the world to a crisp. I don’t know if it is a good thing that neither of those are too likely.”

We came up to Annabelle. She had moved a bit but not much since I had left her. I really needed to find something to help her get around as from appearances only having two legs was not useful for a pony. As if reading my mind Discord snapped his fingers and an animate wheelchair formed under Annabelle. Discord appeared behind it and started pushing her towards the Gardens exit. As he walked the plants and trees around us rose up from their places in the ground and they formed a perimeter around us as we headed towards the castle.

“Lyra,” I said. “The three of us will be fine with Discord. Please go get Bon Bon and get out of the castle. We will head that way in a bit. I just have to warn Luna.”

“I can’t leave you,” said Lyra.

“Don’t fret she will be fine with me,” said Discord. “Now go and rescue your pregnant wife.”

Lyra paused for a second before sprinting into the castle. A small thought ran through my head that we were over reacting but the sense of dread hanging over me drowned out that thought quickly. We made it to the entrance of the castle only to find the one pony I was hoping to avoid waiting for us. Princess Celestia stood there with wisps of darkness just barely noticeable coming from her eyes. The amulet was glowing brighter than before.

Part 1: Chapter 15

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Chapter 15: The End of an Era

“I told you to never mess with my garden,” Celestia said. Her mane started to burn like a pyre. “And you Lilac. You will tell me what I want to know or I will pry it from your corpse.”

“Sunbutt, you are really this far gone,” Discord said his voice seemed cold and harsh. “I had dreams of breaking you but not like this and not any more. If you continue on this path you are going to hurt the ponies I care about. I won’t allow that.”

“What can you do to stop me?” scoffed Celestia. “I know that multiple exposures to the Elements of Harmony have weakened you. It was a momentary lapse in judgement when I had you freed. Now though I think that instead of making you into stone, a pile of ashes will work well.”

Celestia’s horn lit up with intense and powerful magic. Seconds later she fired a beam of fiery energy straight at us. Before I could even blink we had shifted positions and the beam that had been headed our way instead just incinerated all of discord’s plant army. Celestia lit her horn up once more and I braced for another beam of light to come our direction. It never did. Instead a pulse of magic blew past us. There was a strange sensation and I felt like I had just been tied up.

“There will be no escape for you,” said Celestia. Her eyes had grown blood red and glowed with power. Her horn lit up once more and this time there would be no escaping the beam.

Snap. Four statues near Celestia tackled her and Discord kept snapping his fingers sending more and more of them till all the statues had tackled her. Not wanting to waste the moment. I pushed Nympha and Annabelle, in the wheelchair, away from Celestia. It wasn’t much but maybe we could escape whatever it was preventing us from teleporting.

There was a large explosion and chunks of statue were flung in every direction. We would have been crushed if not for Annabelle’s timely shield. I was momentarily impressed with the bubble around us. How she was pulling it off was beyond me but I bet that my own come to life spells would be the same for her.

“Even you stand against me Annabelle,” said Celestia. “I had hopes for you. Even if you were broken. Oh well there will be more in time.”

Her horn lit up and a beam of plasma shot our way. I prayed that Annabelle’s shield would hold and cursed myself for not picking up shield spells with Twilight. However the beam never hit us and instead a large reverberation of a metal plate that was reminiscent of a gong filled the air. Discord stood between us and Celestia with just that, a giant metal gong which was starting to melt.

“Sunbutt, this is between you and me,” Discord said. “No point in dragging the kids in on this.”

“Their fate is sealed,” said Celestia. “All those who stand in the way of order will be purged.”

“Sister, please don’t go down this path,” shouted Luna as she walked out into the garden from the castle. “I have been there. I understand but please don’t become the same kind of nightmare as I was.”

“Hmph,” snorted Celestia. “You were weak. You are weak. Stay there while I deal with these miscreants. Then we can decide your place in my order.”

Celestia’s horn lit up as she gave a death glare in our direction. Nympha was burying her head in my shoulder and Annabelle seemed likewise frightened. I summoned my magic. I wouldn’t just sit still while she blasted us into oblivion. Thankfully I didn’t have to do anything. A indigo beam of magic struck Celestia. It engulfed her and then wrapped around her. Luna’s magic tried to engulf Celestia. An opaque sphere of Luna’s magic formed where Celestia once stood.

Cracks started to form on the sphere and a moment later the whole thing exploded. A beam of plasma shot out from the explosion to where Luna had been once before. Luna barely had the time to pull up a shield but it didn’t block the whole beam and much of it leaked or blasted around Luna’s shield. The castle did not withstand the blast. Screams of agony could be heard in the distance.

My magic was almost gathered. I called for help and was answered. I didn’t know where the materials came from but I knight burst from the ground. They were wearing a full plate that covered the golem from head to toe. The whole thing was fifteen feet tall and dwarfed even Celestia. The knight drew their sword and shield and stood at ready between us and Celestia. I could feel the drain of magic hit me but the warmth of Nympha’s magic poured into me and I focused on that to replenish my reserves. Working together I seemed to stave off the effects of massive magic use.

“All of you will burn,” shouted Celestia. Her horn started to glow with power once more and it was still growing. “No more shall you upset my order.”

Celestia’s spell hit before Discord or Luna could manage to do anything about it. A rapidly growing ball of plasma expanded out from her horn. In less than a second it had engulfed Celestia. A second after that it exploded outwards For a moment the Knight’s metallic shield seemed to hold against the onslaught but that didn’t last. The wave of fire hit Annabelle’s shield and I braced for the end. Again it didn’t come as Annabelle’s shield seemed to absorb and grow from the display of magic. Still there were signs of strain in Annabelle’s eyes.

Eventually the flames died down. Much of the close by castle had been obliterated as had all of the gardens. Thankfully it seemed that only a few layers into the castle had been destroyed. Discord had burning birds rotating around his head and Luna looked scorched and her shield was nowhere to be seen. However the worst off for wear seemed to be Celestia as she sat there panting. Maybe with her exhausted this fight would end. All hopes of that were crushed when Celestia’s horn lit up once more. A small nearly invisible beam of light shot out of Celestia’s horn and towards the sun. It took a while to connect but as soon as it did a burst of solar energy ran along Celestia’s magic and slammed into her. It was reminiscent of the pictures of a solar flare. The beam seemed to refresh Celestia and she only seemed more powerful for it.

Luna shot her own small beam of magic and it hit the moon. She shouted, “You aren’t the only one empowered by their charge. The moon fills me with its power.”

“It won’t be enough,” said Celestia.

Blasts of magic were traded between the two of them Luna’s were always careful to not hit anything other than the ground or an already destroyed bit of the castle grounds. Celestia’s had no such concern. I was growing increasingly worried for everyone in the castle. My Knight had somehow managed to survive the large blast but not without injuries. Their shield was a twisted mess and they had losts their sword. But they still stood guard between Celestia and us.

Discord would trip up Celestia at every chance he got sometimes by making the ground into an oil slick and others by flinging rocks at her. Still he seemed out of his league with this fight and he mostly did his best to run interference with Celestia’s errant beams. I was pretty certain there were a number of ponies who owed him their lives now.

Twilight came running out of the ruins of the castle. Pain covered every inch of her face and I could tell that whatever horrors that lie in the castle were taking their toll on Twilight. As she gazed on Celestia her face turned to iron and it surprised me how quickly she steeled herself for a fight against her mentor.

“Celestia,” shouted Twilight. There must have been magic in her voice as it didn’t sound like it was just coming from her but all places at once. Never had anything shook me to my core like Twilight’s shout. “End this meaningless destruction. Don’t make me fight you. I love you. Please.”

Celestia paused for a moment at Twilight’s plea. There was sorrow on her face but it didn’t stay there for long. Her horn lit up and a beam of energy shot right for Twilight. Twilight disappeared from where she was standing only to appear behind Celestia.

“So be it,” said Twilight. Her voice was filled with her iron will and a sadness that I could only imagine the depths of. A beam of pure mana shot from Twilight’s horn slamming Celestia into the ground. “I won’t let you hurt another pony.”

Celestia started to get back up from the ground her horn charged with magic again. But Twilight wasn’t where she had been once more and once more appearing in Celestia’s blind spot Twilight slammed her into the ground. It was frightening to see the amount of power she was wielding as if it was nothing. I couldn’t figure out how she was teleporting though.

I pulled on my own magic and tried to teleport a few feet from where I was while remaining in Annabelle’s shield but the spell fizzled every time I tried. Either Twilight was powerful enough to ignore what ever was keeping us anchored here or she was doing something else.

Luna landed near us and hide behind the Annabelle’s shield. Initially she looked worn ragged but in a few seconds she seemed completely refreshed. Her eyes were filled with sorrow. Her horn glowed a deep dark indigo and she stood there for a while.

Twilight seemed to be able to counter everything that Celestia was doing but each time I could start to see strain on her. What ever she was doing it was hurting her more than anything Celestia had done. Slowly magical circles started popping up around Celestia as Twilight kept her stuck in the crater that was the gardens. The circles were clearly of Twilight’s making and I couldn’t tell what sort of magic she was doing but from what I could see of a nearby circle it was some sort of binding spell. One that was more complex than I had thought a spell could be. Twilight’s preparation seemed complete when she appeared ten or so meters away from Celestia.

“I’m sorry,” said Twilight. Her horn glowed with the brightest light I had ever seen and she rose up into the air floating from the magic she was channeling. Chains of magical light shot out of the various circles that surrounded Celestia. They wrapped themselves around Celestia and pulled her to the ground once more. Celestia shot smaller beams of energy at each of them but they held fast. A bright beam of light shot from Twilight’s horn and engulfed Celestia a magical sphere of light bubbled Celestia and Twilight slumped to the ground.

Discord floated over to her and held her up. He was staring at the bubble of Twilight’s making. He wasn’t relaxing though. He said, “Luna hurry. This will only hold her for another couple of minutes and when it breaks we want to have as many ponies away from here as possible.”

“I can set up more barriers,” Twilight said pushing herself to her hooves.

“No we need your magic to get them to safety,” said Discord. “I can’t get them all by myself.”

“Thirty more seconds,” shouted Luna her horn was still glowing but a ball of her magic. “I almost there on breaking the dimensional anchor on Canterlot. Then we can teleport out of here. Twilight, I understand that you did what you had to but no more time manipulation please. It can have some disastrous effects on both the user and the area around them.”

“I didn’t have a choice,” Twilight said. “If I have to do that to save Lilac again I will.”

“Fair enough,” said Luna. “Let us hope you don’t have to.”

Luna’s spell seemed complete and it pulsed outwards like the anchor that Celestia had cast earlier. I felt lighter and I knew we were free. Twilight walked over to us and her horn charged with mana.

“Lilac I am going send you about four kilometers out of Canterlot which is about as far as I can without exerting myself too much. Take care of Annabelle and Nympha. I am going to stay here and find more ponies to teleport out of here. Expect company,” said Twilight.

“I’ll send any I find to the same spot,” Discord said.

With a pop we ended up in an open field near Canterlot. There was the Canterlot forest not to far from us and I knew we were probably safe now. I turned to check on Annabelle and Nympha both of whom were not taking the teleportation as well as I was. Annabelle had lost her breakfast and Nympha was looking green despite her disguise. I wish I could relax but without knowing how Bon Bon and Lyra were doing I couldn’t. Images of their mangled burnt bodies kept running in my head and now that we were out of immediate danger the adrenaline was fading. I wasn’t going to be able to hold it together well for long. Thankfully I didn’t have to as Nympha again started to pour love into me.

I tried to center myself and found it much easier with Nympha’s help. I focused on my magic and started to force it to repair the remaining damage to my legs. It was painful work but Nympha’s magic helped greatly. Soon enough my legs were looking back to normal. They were a bit sore but I wasn’t going to complain about that.

A moment later a group of disheveled ponies appeared out of nowhere with a pop. They looked frightened and huddled together a few feet from us. It wasn’t long before more and more started to appear. Soon there were hundreds of ponies in the field. Not all of them were in great condition. A couple looked like a blast had hit near them and at least one had been hit by a glancing blow. Thankfully one of the crowd was a unicorn doctor and he set about organizing taking care of the injured. It only grew worse though. The fighting had resumed though this time only between Luna and Celestia or at least that was all I could see from this distance. The bright flashes of Celestia’s beams and the indigo ones of Luna. It must have felt like the end of times for many of the ponies around us to sit in shocked silence watching their two beloved princesses duke it out.

Eventually the silence wore off as the ponies started to freak out. Thankfully none of them had noticed Annabelle yet outside of a few glances of pity at her in the wheelchair. I didn’t want them looking to Annabelle for answers and guidance. She may be an alicorn but she wasn’t an adult and knew little to nothing of this world.

“Nightmare Moon is back,” shouted one of the nearby stallions. He was average in a lot of ways for a pony and his somewhat drab coat matched his boring wrench cutie mark. Which was one of the most simple ones I had seen. “I knew that letting that monster back into the castle would be bad. Look at how many of us she has hurt and killed this time. Thank Celestia that she is there to fight her off.”

I turned to the jerk who was spouting off about things that he knew nothing off. My anger was a bit over the top but I wasn’t going to stand by while Luna was badmouthed. She had done nothing wrong and I wouldn’t let her take the fall for Chrysalis and Celestia misdeeds. Gathering my magic I teleported to over in front of him.

“That isn’t Luna,” I said. “Celestia is the one who did this. Celestia is the one who has turned into a monster.”

“There is no way,” the stallion said. He looked pissed beyond measure. “Don’t fucking lie about her. Celestia is the heart of Equestria. She loves us all. There is nothing that could make her do this.”

“I am not lying and I won’t tolerate you bad mouthing Luna. I was there,” I shouted. “I was there when she shot the first blast and the next and countless after that. I was right there in the center of it all as Celestia tried to kill me.”

“Really you were in the castle. And I am Discord himself,” said the stallion. “Quit lying filly. Or somepony is going to get hurt.”

Nympha ran over and placed herself between me and the stallion. He had grown dangerously mad but so had I. I wasn’t certain why I was so pissed. But I wouldn’t let this stand. I reached for my magic and plucked the guy from the ground. While holding him I summoned a smaller golem of rock and dirt. It was only two meters tall and towered over most ponies here. Hopping onto its back I pulled him close.

“I am daughter of Twilight Sparkle, Element of Harmony, Princess of Equestria and Magic, and you will not bad mouth Luna. She has done so much for you even in the four years that she has been back. Now shut up and be quiet,” I shouted. I tossed the poor stallion to the ground and turned to look back at the fight. “Golem take us back over to Annabelle.”

It listened and the three of us joined Annabelle with most of the ponies around us giving us a wide berth. More and more ponies joined us in the field till there was thousands of them. It was starting to slow which wasn’t a good sign as the fighting had grown more bright and flashy which could only mean that many more had died. My emotions were getting more and more out of control. Something was wrong with me and I couldn’t tell what.

“Lilac,” Nympha said. She had climbed up the golem and was sitting on its other shoulder. “I feel other changelings. Mama is coming.”

“Is that what is messing with my emotions?” I asked.

I looked around and noticed that most of the ponies around us were either on the verge of panicking or were actively doing so. This was bad I could protect Annabelle and Nympha from the crowd if things got ugly but I didn’t think I would be able to get away with that without hurting somepony. I tried to center myself but it wasn’t working. Around us ponies started to faint at a startling rate. Nympha and I jumped down from our perch and huddled up next to Annabelle who seemed to be having her own issues. Nympha’s magic poured into me, chasing away the madness that had overcome me, and from the looks of it Annabelle was receiving the same aid.

Changelings without disguises started to pour out of the forest. More than I had imagined possible. They were markedly different from Nympha. Instead of pupiled eyes theirs were void and just seemed to glow slightly blue. There was a hunger to their movement and actions as they started to round up the remaining ponies who hadn’t passed out. Any that came near us seemed to jolt for a second and then stop and formed a circle around us.

“How many of them can you control?” I asked. “I don’t like our chances against this many.”

“Not enough,” Nympha said. There was something immediately noticeable about her speech. Gone was the choppiness and now a master sort of flowed where her youth once was. “I approximate about fifty or so is all I can control and if Mother fights me I am only confident in maybe twenty or so. She is representing them. Most of them are willing to join me but they can’t fight Mother. At least not on their own. Her control is too strong.”

“Yes it is,” Chrysalis said. She strode out of the forest with an entourage of beefy changelings. “You have done well for yourself in such a short amount of time. Now come join me by my side. It is your rightful place.”

“My rightful place is between you and these ponies, Mother,” said Nympha. “I have a family now. They love me in ways that you can’t possibly begin to understand. I have felt true love. It isn’t something you can take. Please stop this madness, Mother.”

“When I am about to win,” Chrysalis laughed. “I think all that feeding has made your mind weak and foggy. Oh well. I have no use for a tool that doesn’t obey.”

The changelings around Chrysalis sprung forward ramming into the ones that Nympha had taken from her. The two groups of changelings fought but it was clear that Chrysalis had the upper hand. For every one of the beefy guards that Nympha’s group fell they lost five of their own. Soon there was nothing standing between us and Chrysalis. Outside of my Golem of course.

“Protect us, Golem,” I said. I charged my horn ready to shoot any changeling that got too close. I was thankful that Twilight hadn’t told me no for learning basic blasts a month or two back. “Nympha protect Annabelle. Annabelle if you have it in you another shield would be great about now.”

“I’ll try,” Annabelle said. Her horn sparked with magic and in a few moments a shield started to form around us. “I don’t know if I can do this long. I am too tired.”

“Hold it for as long as you can,” I said.

“Such silly foals,” Chrysalis said. “You think you can withstand me. I have grown powerful off the love that Celestia has so graciously let us harvest. I could take even Celestia now. You are but worms to me.”

“I won’t let you hurt them, Mother,” said Nympha.

“You have no choice,” Chrysalis said.

Her horn lit up with magic that was sickly green in color. A blast of her own shot at our shield. As it had earlier the shield only seemed to grow stronger but I could see the toll it was taking on Annabelle. This wouldn't last for long. My brain was wracking for answers and I seemed out of them. My golem wouldn’t survive more than one blast like that and I knew my own blasts would not suffice to break any shield that Chrysalis erected. If only I had more magic. And then it hit me. I could do the very thing that Luna had warned me against. It felt like I was breaking Luna’s rule for this but I couldn’t let Nympha die and Annabelle fall into Chrysalis’ clutches.

I whispered into Nympha’s ear, “I have a plan but I need to make contact with Chrysalis’ horn. Do you know anything to hold her for even just a few moments?”

“I don’t know I can try,” Nympha said. “With help maybe.”

“Okay,” I said.

I focused on my magic. I would need more than one golem to pull this off. I just hoped that I had enough magic. Pulling my mana forward, I imagined four golems grabbing Chrysalis’ legs and holding her down low. I poured my magic into that image. And released. It worked at least in part. Four sets of arms burst from the ground and grabbed onto Chrysalis. They yanked on her legs and she faltered for a second.

“Drop the shield,” I shouted. “Now.”

The shield fell and the golem myself and Nympha shot towards Chrysalis. Other changelings tried to get in our way only to be halted by Nympha. She couldn’t turn them against her mother but she could paralyze them for long enough for us to get through. The golem punched Chrysalis in the chest and tried to push her further towards the ground. Chrysalis’ horn was glowing with magic and a quick blast hit the golem blasting off a decent chunk of it, including one arm. Nympha’s magic shot forward and a shield of her own expanded behind Chrysalis forcing her down. Chrysalis’ was preparing another beam when I jumped and touched her horn with mine thanks to some help from my magic.

I pulled. Like I had never before. Chrysalis had almost as much magic as Luna and for a second the thought of her beating the enraged Celestia was laughable. I didn’t linger on that thought though as I yanking as much of her magic from her as I could. She started to resist but her response was more magic making it easier for me to latch onto it. I was in crazy amounts of pain but it felt distant. I wasn’t certain but I thought that Nympha must be that reason. I ignored the pain though and kept pulling and converting as much as I could. As I gained ground I picked up speed. Things were working better than they ever had before. Better than I had any right in doing. I touched something that I hadn’t ever felt before in Chrysalis but I knew exactly what it was. I had found her soul. It was strangely easy to pull at it. To start ripping her soul from her body. Chrysalis’ resistance collapsed and in moments her soul was in my control. I wasn’t certain what to do with it. Then pain the like of which I hadn’t thought possible struck me. But it wasn’t anywhere in my body. No it was my soul being attacked. Chrysalis was trying to rob my soul and body from me. The pain was unbearable but no matter how she tugged my soul would not budge. I started to pull her soul into pieces and ran it through a matrix. I had so much power running through me. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend it. It seemed like forever but it was before our bodies hit the ground Chrysalis was no more. I faded to black. My body couldn’t handle the amount of mana running through me.

Part 1: Chapter 16

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Chapter 16 Nightmares and Changes

All around me were the ponies I love. Each of them with looks of utter disgust. No matter what I said it didn’t matter. I had killed. I had taken a life. It didn’t matter to them that I was justified in it. That it was my only choice. I felt myself changing. Shifting and growing. Soon I towered above all of them. My horn lit up in a sickly green aura and I started to pull at Lyra’s soul. I would eat her and after her all of the rest would follow. A blurry indigo light shone through my world and it faded from view only to be left with images of those who loved me. But even they wouldn’t love me anymore. Not after what I did.

I was at Melody’s funeral once more. It was the fourteenth time that I had been here that I could remember. It was weird reliving this day over and over again. Each time lead me to my own death and then I would wake at the start of the day once more. Each time though grew darker and harder to bear. I would not wait till the night to end it this time. No I would do so after the funeral. Right afterwards. And maybe the next time through this day I won’t even go. I’ll just end it right away. There is no end to this cycle. There is no end to this pain. At least this way I don’t have to walk past all the ponies that I disgust. A indigo light flooded the world and the faces that had been staring at me with a mix of hate and disgust, a face I knew so well due to my dad, were now smiling. But it looked off on all the humans. Like it had been pasted on. I still ended it. The next day would be worse but that brief moment of not being was worth it. The indigo light came again and the world was fixed. One thought tried to prevail. The happiness of that moment seemed distant now.

I was walking somewhere I didn’t recognize but I never seemed to miss a step nor take a wrong turn. It was a strange tunnel system. My drones ran by me busy with their work. They were under their own operations for the time being. It was too much hassle to have to micromanage them all the time. A thought occurred to me that having so many children and just thinking of them as nothing but tools was wrong but the thought faded quickly as if a memory from a different life. I walked into a specific room. It had been my destination all along and what I seeked was waiting for me. Chained to the wall and bleeding lie the greatest annoyances to have ever defied me. Twilight Sparkle, Mi amore Cadenza, Twilight’s brother, whose name I felt like I should have remembered, and Celestia herself were all stuck to the wall their mouths covered without obstructing their breathing. After all I wanted them to be alive when it came time to torture them. Dead bodies felt no pain after all. But other things needed dealing with first. My pawn of a daughter was chained in a corner and her punishment would be most grand. I would kill the one she cared for the most. The light purple filly that was stuck to the wall near my useless daughter reminded me of someone. It was the way her pink hair had lighter streaks in it. If it wasn’t absurd I would say it was me. But I was a tall changeling queen. Wait was I? I closed my eyes and when I opened them I was the one stuck to the wall. Pain shot through me. It went on for ages till an indigo light freed me from this prison. But where I went was back to the ponies who wouldn’t love me anymore.

The darkness parted and I woke in the Black Suite. I could smell food being made in the room next to mine. It was weird waking so late but I wasn’t complaining the food smelt wonderful. I stumbled into the kitchen living room combo. There was something wrong with my legs and looking at them only revealed charred stumps. Bon Bon was at the stove flipping pancakes. Something smelt wonderful but it was a weird and old thought. Wait that was bacon. THere was no way we were eating bacon. We were herbivores. Bon Bon turned to look at me. Her movement was jerky and random. Dread started to build in that moment. Her face was all torn up with bone exposed on one half. There was a fire of anger in her eyes, or eye. She started to speak but it came out wrong and twisted. Then I noticed the glowing eyes poking out of her belly. She reached for me and pulled me closer. I felt her teeth sink into me. They ripped like nothing should have. I deserved this A flash of indigo and Bon Bon was back to normal. The smell of bacon was gone and there was a sense of calmness. It seemed so fake though. Like it was forced. None of this was real.

I slowly faded from the black darkness that seemed to cover my mind into a more grey fog. My head hurt and everything felt so heavy. Even my eyelids were too heavy to open. I drifted from a state of semi-lucidness to lost in a fugue and back more times than I cared to count. The period between them though was quite small and slowly my lucidity seemed to become more stable. I took stock of myself. I didn’t know where I was and the place offered no clues as it was quiet and I didn’t smell anything. My eyes were still refusing to listen. The thing that caught my attention the most was my wellspring. Normally it was just out of sight in my mind. Always there but not in focus unless I wished it to be so. It had been like a candle in the dark but now a pyre roared in my mind and soul.

After much effort I managed to open my eyes only to immediately regret it. The room was so bright that it hurt to have my eyes open. I blinked a few times trying to adjust and thankfully it wasn’t long before I could see once more. The crystalline walls and colors all lead me to the conclusion that I was in Twilight’s castle. It wasn’t a room that I recognized though but I assumed it must have been in the basement as there were no windows. The light was from an orb of crystal that was suspended from the ceiling that seemed to have a sacred flame on it. The walls were covered in magical circles that glowed with power. Some of the symbols in them pointed towards the circles being wards but against what I wasn’t certain.

The door opened and in stepped Twilight. She had such a pained look on her face and she immediately burst into tears. She scooped me up into a hug and held me tightly. I didn’t deserve this. She shouldn’t love me.

“Lilac,” Twilight stammered. “Thank Celestia that you are awake. How are you feeling?”

“Uh,” I said. There was something off with my voice like it hadn’t been used in forever. The sudden need to get a drink of water hit me. My mouth was so dry. “Water...please.”

“Oh right,” said Twilight. A cup of water poofed into existence near us. “Here you go.”

I tried to take the cup in my magic but instead of a small stream it was as if I had turned on a firehose. My grip on the cup was so strong it shattered immediately in my grip spilling water all over my lower half. Panic bubbled to the front and images of my bloody wrist flashed through my head. It was as if I fell down a rabbit hole. I was stuck watching, feeling as that image of blood brought me back to my fight with Chrysalis. Gone was my determined righteous fury now only guilt and sadness. I couldn’t escape it. I tried closing my eyes but that only made it worse. Twilight was saying something but I couldn’t make out her words. I just shook as the images took me. Eventually they faded but left me exhausted. It was hard to keep myself upright in the bed.

Twilight had another cup of water from somewhere and the shattered remains of the previous one were nowhere to be found. She lifted the cup up to my mouth and let me take a few quick drinks. My throat felt so much better now. But I couldn‘t shake my guilt it was eating at me in ways that I was all too familiar with and yet it was stronger than ever. It was eating at me. Laughing at me.

“No one will ever love you,” said a voice in my head. It was like a distorted version of my own voice. At first it seemed like it was just a negative thought of mine but there was a sense of foreignness to it that I couldn’t shake. Someone or something was sharing my head.

“I’m hearing voices,” I said.

“Don’t tell her,” the voice said. “She will just lock you up. If you aren’t already locked up in here. After all you did murder someone.”

“That was self-defense,” I said. “I don't have a choice. It was that or let her kill Nympha.”

“We both know that you don’t believe that,” said the voice. “At least I am not the delusional one.”

“Lilac?” asked Twilight. Her face was filled with concern. “Who are you talking to?”

“I don’t know,” I said. I couldn’t feel them anymore but I knew they weren’t gone. “I heard someone or something talking to me. I think...I think it’s in my head.”

“Doctor Vibes will be here to talk to you no later than tomorrow,” Twilight said. “It might just be side effects of being in a coma like sleep for a month.”

“I was out for a month,” I said. Shocked. “Why? What happened?”

“Luna and I think that it has to do with your wellspring and your soul,” explained Twilight. “Wellsprings can and do grow but slowly or at least compared to what you did a month ago. Being stretched by a factor of nearly one hundred is not normal. Your soul had to grow adapt and with it your body in some ways. Funny thing you're still pretty small even for your age. But I have never seen a unicorn with as much magic as you do now. I don’t even think sombra had this much.”

“How much do I have?” I asked. “I mean eight was supposed to be a good number?”

“You are at somewhere over a thousand,” Twilight said.

“A thousand,” I nearly shouted. My mouth nearly hit the bed.

“Your magic lessons became a lot more necessary now. And we may have to start from the beginning as your control over how much you use is going to be a bit iffy now,” said Twilight. “Which is why you are in here. This room was warded so that any outbursts you have would be harmlessly siphoned off. This magic is going to be so useful. Think of how many accidents we can prevent now and all magic kindergarten’s are going to be so much safer now. Really I am super excited for this magic.”

“So you made new magic just for me,” I said. “Again…”

“Oh yeah sorry,” Twilight said. “Got carried away. Either way the wards aren’t just mana siphons but also they ward the dream realm from you. Luna said that your nightmares were worse than ever and a couple of nightmare demons spawned. She thankfully was able to counter them and destroy them before any damage was done but this way none of them could escape. So for the time being you're going to be on sleeping draughts. Luna is going to be making them for you.”

“At least hers are better,” I said. “You should get the recipe from her.”

“Oh I have,” Twilight said. “Mine have improved a lot since then but Luna’s are still better.”

“Did they survive?” I asked solemnly. “How many died?”

“Bon Bon and Lyra are safe,” Twilight said. “I bet they are on their way here now. As for the second question. I don’t want to give you anymore nightmares.”

“I know at least one died,” I said. “I’m a monster.”

“Yes you are,” said the voice. “Why fight it? Embrace it.”

“No you aren't a monster,” Twilight said. “You saved the lives of countless ponies. Not the least of which was Nympha’s. Chrysalis was the monster. You did what you had to. I wish I could have taught you more. Maybe then such drastic measures wouldn’t have been necessary but I don’t even know if there was anything I could have taught you.”

“She is lying,” said the voice. “You know the truth though.”

“You don’t have to lie,” I said dejectedly.

“Nope none of this,” Twilight said. “Luna showed me your dreams. I know what has been eating at you all this time while you slept. It isn’t true. We love you. We will always love you. I love you.”

It was painful to hear those words. I didn’t deserve them. Monster. Killer. Murderer. The feeling of guilt and sorrow were eating at me. But a light shone through that was warm and gentle. Despite being but a slight breeze it washed away my worry and guilt. It was love. Like that which Nympha had bathed me in so many times. Not as strong mind you or as calming but still unmistakeable. I looked up to see Twilight’s horn glowing. I reached out and grabbed Twilight into a hug.

“I picked up a trick from Nympha,” Twilight whispered into my ear. “You can’t fake that. You can’t fake love. Especially not love magic. So trust me when I say I love you. Don’t let your demons drag you down.”

“I’ll try,” I said.

Lyra and Bon Bon showed up some short while later. It was warm and loving. They seemed like they were walking on eggshells the whole time though and when my exhaustion caught up to me I was asked to take a sleeping draught. I was out before I could say good night.

I woke feeling strangely rested. Even Luna’s draught left me feeling drowsy in the morning and something else felt off. Maybe I was just paranoid. The dark of the room slowly faded away and revealed a strange place. One I had not fallen asleep in. The room was very dirty and I lifted myself off the floor. Roots of something were poking through the stone slab walls. A moment later and there was a bright flash. Discord as well as a number of humans appeared out of nowhere. They were each strangely dressed and often had weird colors of hair or skin tone.

“What do I owe the pleasure of your visit?” asked Discord. He was strangely polite and if I wasn’t mistaken I could sense fear in his voice.

“You know why we are here,” said an angry man with fiery red hair. He was wearing a business suit that was rapidly switching between black, white and all the shades in between. “I mean why else do all of us get together. Because someone fucked up. And again it is you. Wait you weren’t at the previous one.”

“Entropy,” said a blonde woman who was strikingly beautiful. She was holding a golden apple in her hands and was wearing what looked like a toga. “There is no need to be hostile. I know you don’t like him. We all know you don’t like him. Hell you don’t like any of us. Now follow the rules.”

“It is so silly we have rules,” said a small skinny girl wearing short shorts and a tank top. Her hair was a wild mess that was multicolored in such a fashion that it couldn’t have been dyed. “Though I guess rules for but a moment are better than this taking forever.”

“Delight, you were the one that insisted that we have rules,” said a raven sitting on a fence post.

“Delirium, now,” said the technicolor haired girl. “But you’re right. So silly of me to forget.”

“Let’s on with this,” said Entropy, the red head man whose suit was not quite pitch black at the moment. “I fucking hate all this drivel and I have worlds to burn.”

“Look it has been nearly a thousand years,” said the blonde with the apple. “Some amount of catching up is fine. Besides it isn’t like we don’t have all the time we want.”

“This bores me,” Entropy said. “And Eris quite trying to play the politician. None of us are going to allow you to be the head.”

“Hmph,” murmured Eris, the blonde. “Not for here and now. Or at least not yet.”

A dog who looked more painted than real laughed at all of this. He curled up next to me and wrapped around me like a snake. His touch seemed so foreign and harsh unlike when Discord had done the same before. There was a playfulness to it but unrefined like my friend’s. He spoke to the group and not me, saying, “Let’s at least get on topic. He might throw a fit if we don’t and that will take even longer.”

Entropy looked like he wanted to strangle the strange dog wrapped around me. THe rest of the group of which many seemed to be off in their own worlds came back to the circle. There must have been at least twenty of them in total. A few of them stood out from the crowd. A jackal faced man with dark skin. A pale skinned dark haired person wearing all green who carried a curved spear and a helmet with impossibly long horns. A pair of satyr like creatures who had not separated the whole time. There were so much variety.

“Finally. We have come together to deal with a breach of dimensions. He stole what is rightfully mine. Twice,” said Entropy. It was then that I noticed Annabelle in the shadows beyond the far side of the group. “And if that wasn’t enough the two of them who are embodiments of the harmony that rules his land have cause more chaos than he has in the last thousand years. Discord is unfit to be amongst us. He must be purged.”

There was shouting at that. Each of the twenty seemed taken aback by Entropy’s words. Discord seemed to have his colors fade from him. An anger built in me. No one would be purging my friend. I tried to move but the dog who was snaked around me tightened his grip on me.

“Now now don’t worry,” the dog whispered in my ear.

“Purged?” Discord said. His voice was filled with disgust. “I thought that we had decided that we weren’t going to interfere with each other's worlds. You want to purge me due to low performance? If you had your way and finally completed your work you would be the worst of all of us. I would have done more chaos as a statue in a garden than what your world would look like.”

“You will not talk to me like I am one of your pathetic ponies that you care so much about,” Entropy shouted. “My dream is perfection.”

“And that is the problem,” said Delirium. “But that isn’t the point, is it?”

“I do not agree with this course of action,” said the jackal headed man. “He does not deserve to be purged. But I see merit in taking some form of action.”

“What about our other poor performers?” asked Eris, the blonde with the golden apple. “Discord isn’t the only one who is not shall we say up to snuff. Where individually they fail together they may yet prevail. Whimsy, Melancholy. I know you are here but hiding. Come forth please.”

A lone human walked forward. I couldn’t tell their gender and they were strangely generic for this group. There was a slight flash and where once stood one person now stood two. Each were tall horned creatures that seemed impossibly thin. They had hooves instead of feet but were seemingly otherwise mostly human or well humanoid. They were quite beautiful and delicate looking. One was a strange assortment of colors that was reminiscent of a field of flowers while the other was a dark grey in garb and hair. The darker one’s hair nearly touched the floor while the more bright one’s hair had a pixie cut quality to it.

Jerking back and forth and pressing their back into the grey one, the colorful one had a look of panic on their face. Wrapping their arms around the colorful one the grey one word love on their face. The grey one said, “What do you want with us? I know we don’t meet your standards but we do our best. You are causing her to freak out.”

“Like we care,” said Entropy. “What could these two useless pieces of flesh do, Eris?”

“Well my thoughts are that if one or in their case two isn’t enough why not together. We make them work together. At the very least it should be good for some laughs in a few hundred years,” Eris said. “I propose we merge their worlds together.”

The dog wrapped around me burst into laughter that was loud enough that my ears hurt. He uncurled from me and stepped forward. He said, “Great idea. At the very least things will be hectic for a while in their worlds and if this doesn’t work the way we want then maybe we think of more drastic measures.”

“Who all agrees,” asked the raven. “I wish to be done with this.”

Most of the group raised their appendages whatever that might be. The only who didn’t were the three who the vote was about. There was a huge buildup of magic in the air that fizzled out after a moment. It was anticlimactic but I couldn’t do anything about it. Much of the group had disappeared with the burst of magic but Eris, Melancholy, Whimsy and Discord all stayed. Each looked different than they had a moment ago. Discord and the other two were noticeably shaking but it was Eris that kept my eye. She walked over to the two huddled together and squished them into a hug.

“Look, sister and sibling,” said Eris. “Entropy is gaining favor in the group and I can’t protect you for much longer. This gives us time. I know it is drastic and harsh but you’ll get through this. Besides some company might do you some good. The change will take place in a week or two your time. Call me if you need anything.”

With that Eris disappeared. Annabelle was shaking a handful of meters away from me and I rushed to her side. The two of us just tried to let it sink in what we had just seen. Knowing that there were more gods of chaos than Discord was a bit of a startle but to see so many. It was a bit off putting.

“Whimsy, Melancholy,” Discord said. “I know that this isn’t ideal but we do need to work together now. If we are going to stop the coming death of our worlds or I guess world, then we are going to have to work together on this one.”

“This is all your fault,” Melancholy said. “And you want us to work with you. Hmmph. You are just as bad as the rest of them.”

“Melly,” said Whimsy. “Please don’t fight. I can’t take anymore. Discord means well and at this point we can’t do anything about it. Discord, I don’t know how much help we can be but we will try.”

“That is all anyone can ask for,” Discord said. “Don’t worry. If the pudding hits the fan, I’ll protect you from them.”

We blinked out of the strange dark void that we had been in and I found myself in a different room in the castle. Annabelle had passed out or fallen asleep and I couldn’t tell which. This was my room. Discord was sitting on the end of the bed. His head hung low and storm clouds were forming over him. I covered up Annabelle and walked over to Discord. I leaned up against him and tried my best to comfort him.

“We are screwed aren’t we?” I asked.

“More than you know. More than you know,” said Discord.

Part 1: Chapter 17

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Chapter 17 Demons, Angels, and Alicorns

I couldn’t sleep. Discord had disappeared saying something about having preparations to make. For my part I didn’t know what could be done or even what would happen. What would worlds merging be like? There were too many options for me to really nail one down. Seeing no point in trying to dwell on it I left my room. Food sounded really nice right now and the kitchens were probably not completely closed yet.

The castle had changed. There were so many more guards than there had been before. Weirdly still each of them saluted me as I went by. I wasn’t aware why they would do that or what I had done to deserve that. It honestly a little creepy. The trip to the kitchen was a familiar route for me and I made it in no time. A wave of relief ran over me as I walked into the kitchen. First it was still running. Way way busier than I had thought it would be at this hour and that secondly there was nopony saluting me. That didn’t stop it from being slightly awkward though. Flaam Bay stood there with a tear in his eye and a stunned look on his face.

“You’re awake?” Flaam Bay said. He rushed over to me and scooped me up into a hug. It was a bit awkward as I wasn’t aware he cared this much. “It is so good to see you out of that dreary room down in the castle depths. That and it is so good to see our little hero.”

“Why would you call me a hero?” I asked. “I didn’t do anything heroic.”

“Nothing heroic? You fought a changeling queen to save all of Equestria and in doing so saved an entire race from her tyranny. That is quite heroic if you ask me. Everypony in Equestria owes you a debt,” Flaam Bay said.

I froze. Why had they told anyone about what I had done? How much did they know? I couldn’t shake off the panic that was building in me. Deeply ingrained, the guilt ate away at me. Flaam Bay noticed immediately that I had frozen up. He scooped me up and took me into the walk in pantry. The noise was noticeably lower and I was much better able to fight off my panic attack.

That is until the voice spoke again, “You are the monster that you think you are. No one will ever love you again.”

I shook my head trying to shake the voice from my head. It was working and I could hear its laugh rock through my head. But the voice was right. I was a monster but I wouldn’t let that stop me from helping those I loved. I held onto that thought and the laughter became pained and faded. But the thought did more than just banish my tormentor, it helped calm me.

“Are you feeling better?” asked Flaam Bay. I nodded. “I hope you don’t mind me picking you up like that. I know you like to act like an adult but you are just a filly after all. I can’t sit by and watch a foal in pain and not do something about it.”

“No it is fine,” I said. “Thanks for helping me get away from the noise. Can you get me something to eat? I can’t remember the last thing I ate.”

“One order of mac and cheese coming right up,” said Flaam Bay. “Do you want to stay here or go somewhere else? The pantry isn’t the most exciting place in the world. Even when you know where we hide the chocolate chips.”

“I’ll be in the dining room across the hall,” I said. “Thanks.”

I charged my horn. It came too quickly and with a loud pop I appeared inside the dining room that was just across the hall from the kitchens. I landed perfectly on the floor with not a strand of hair out of place. The chairs and tables near me however were blown around. I needed to ask Twilight how to better control that. There were a few guards grabbing food in the room but it was otherwise mostly empty.

Flaam Bay was not long with my food and I slowly ate the large dish of pasta. He had brought me a chocolate chip cookie with my food. The gesture was heartwarming. It was nice to be back in a place with familiar ponies round instead of the cold and collected ones of the Canterlot Castle. My mood soured for a while after that thought. How many of them had died that day?

As I was picking at the last bits of what had been way too much food for me, Luna entered the room. Immediately my guilt and anxiety ate me and I ducked under the table. It was sort of silly but it helped me from completely devolving into a panic attack. I could feel the voice laughter coming back. My hiding spot was not very good as Luna’s legs came to a spot right in front of me. She leaned her head down and looked at me. Her face was pained and it was apparent that she had been crying recently. She pulled me into a hug with her magic.

“I’m so sorry,” Luna said. Her voice was about to crack and I could see tears flowing once more. “You are not a monster. We love you very much. Enough pain has been created by Chrysalis’s actions and you are not a murderer. Self-defense and the defense of others is not murder. I shudder what would have happened to Equestria without your actions. Please believe me that you are the hero everypony thinks you are.”

“I did the very thing you told me not to do,” I said. “I killed with the magic you told me not to. I ripped her soul out.”

“I know,” said Luna. “And I am glad you did so. If I had been in your position I would have done far worse than what you did. I am the one who holds any blame for what happened that day. Sis..Celestia and I are to blame.”

“Why are you glad I killed somepony?” I I shouted. “All life is precious and I snuffed one out.”

“When you have lived as long as I have, it becomes easier to see what is for the greater good. I can’t tell you what exactly the long term ramifications are but I can tell you what that single action has done in the last month. The changelings or at least the remnants of Chrysalis’s hive have become full citizens of Equestria and we are working towards a lasting peace between pony and changeling. You saved all of Equestria from falling into her hooves. From what traces of her magic that we could find in you, Chrysalis had enough magic to kill even me. Yes I can be killed. Chrysalis underestimated you to her detriment but she would not have done so to me or any of the other princesses. If she had time to suck all of the ponies in that meadow dry of all of their love then I don’t know if any of us could have stopped her. Oh and you saved Nympha’s life. Doesn’t she mean something to you?”

“What of course. I just…”

“No, no justs. There is no way to spin this that makes you into the monster. I know how hard that can be to accept it but you must. Not just for you but for everyone here. Your nightmares are causing demons to spawn. While I have up to this point prevented any from escaping, it is only a matter of time before one does. Their power is proportional to the strength of the wellspring of the pony that birthed them. That means that your nightmares create creatures of immense strength.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll just keep taking that sleeping draught.”

“That is but a temporary solution. Those potions cause addiction and after long time use will drain your life and mind away. You have at best a month before they cause permanent damage.”

“Is that why I have been hearing voices?”


“Yeah. It keeps calling me a monster. Telling me that people are lying about me.”

“I was afraid of that. One of the demons must have latched onto you. If we do not deal with that and soon, the demon will transform you into a nightmare similar to that of Nightmare Moon herself. You are much too powerful for us to let that happen.”

“What can we do?”

“There is a ritual. It is not pleasant but if successful it will purge you of the demon as well as it should help put to rest your nightmares more permanently.”

“Is it just painful?”

“No you risk your mind to this demon. The ritual will purge you or the demon. Only the one with the stronger will will survive.”

“Let’s do it. I don’t want to put anyone else at risk and if it doesn’t work then you can just keep it locked up.”

Luna paused for a moment. She had tears in her eyes again and a look of worry colessed on her face. If she was this hesitant then there was no way that Twilight would let me do this. I needed this. I needed to be free of that voice. Of that demon.

“Please,” I said. “I don’t want to be a walking time bomb.”

“Fine then we must be off and quickly. I do not want Twilight interrupting this. Brace yourself for teleportation.”

We popped into existence at the meadow where Luna was training me. It was weird being here in the middle of the night but the stars were beautiful and easy to see without the light pollution of the city. It was funny even Ponyville put off a bit too much light at night. Canterlot had been even worse. But here we could see so much of the night sky.

Luna had set to work the minute we got to the meadow. Her horn was a glow as she burned away the grasses in a large circle and flattened the ground. Runes and circles appeared at odd positions all over the meadow. The chilly Autumn air sent shivers down my back as I watched her work. The thought that something was living in my brain was making it hard for my panic to subside and the grim efficiency of Luna’s work was not helping the matter. It took her a good twenty minutes for Luna to finish placing all the magic circles. She walked over to me and calmly sat down next to me.

“When you are ready,” Luna said. “I must warn you that this is a fight that I will not be able to help you in. Remember your love of others it will be your greatest ally in this fight. Hmm a thought occurred to me. I do know someone who can help.”

Luna popped away and a some ten minutes later reappeared with a much taller Nympha. She was nearly the same size as Luna. She ran over to me and scooped me up into a hug. I could feel her pushing her love into me and it made the evening much more pleasant.

“I must make some adjustments to the circle if Nympha is to be of help,” said Luna. “It shall only be a moment yet.”

“Are you certain you want to do this?” asked Nympha. “Luna said that you were possessed by a demon and that she needed my help with freeing you. Said that the demon might gain control?”

“Yeah that is the jist of it and yes I am certain. I can’t put anyone else in danger. Not after watching what inaction about demons does to somepony,” I said. “I don’t know how you are going to help though.”

“I am a master of mind magic now,” Nympha said. “Mother spent a lot of time working on that and I think I have a way to buffer your mind from this demon.”

I looked away from her. Guilt kept eating at me and I saw images of Nympha crying over the dead body of her mother. I could hear the demon laughing as it started to alter my dreams. It was weird watching what it shoved in front of me knowing that it was the demon’s doing. Still it didn’t stop the images from hurting. Watching myself kill everyone I loved was not something I was happy about. Nympha’s love poured into me and it chased the visions away. I knew what Luna was thinking now. Love was the antithesis of demons and Nympha’s magic was love taking magical form.

“It makes me feel safer you being here. Thanks,” I said. “I can feel that you will make a difference here.”

“Good,” Nympha said. “I don’t want to loose my sister to a demon.”

“I am ready,” Luna said. “Lilac please go lay down in the center of the circle. It is marked by a star. When I cast the spell you will be taken into a dream space. There the demon will be waiting. You must slay the beast before he does the same to you. It is a dream world so do not stick to only that which you know. Use whatever you can imagine. Your foe will do the same. Hopefully though you will have help. Nympha sit in the square next to the star. When the spell has started push your love into Lilac. That should hopefully handicap the demon. If you have spells or other abilities that will let you lend a hand they shouldn’t disrupt the ritual. I would join you Lilac in the dream realm but I must maintain the spell and I am the only one who knows it. Good luck.”

I nodded and took my spot on the star. I looked inward and focused on my magic. I used it to occupy my mind. Channeling it through me was pointless but didn’t do anything other than take concentration. It wasn’t long before the spell hit me and I found myself falling into a void. It wasn’t like falling asleep though and the journey disturbed me a bit. There was an unnaturalness to it all that put me on edge.

I landed in the dark. The very air was crushing me and I could feel a fiery presence that was somewhere out of sight. It was hard to follow what was happening as the world was shifting as if made of smoke. I concentrated and drew on my magic and it poured forth in an unlimited torrent. In a dream I could do anything and this thought powered my dream magic.

I pushed away the smoke and smog of the demon’s creation. The demon was a large winged monstrosity who stood on two human like legs and carried a massive axe that was easily four times my height. The demon lunged at me and crossed an impossible distance in a second. His axe came falling down towards my back. I was quick though and a bubble of my hope blocked the blow. THere was a loud bang as our two wills clashed and the demon struggled to break through my shield. Slowly cracks started to form as the axe made its way through my shield. I jumped to the side as the axe came crashing down where I had been standing. The ground shook with the blow but I wasn’t even close to where it had been.

I blasted him with my dream magic. Despite washing over him it seems to do little to phase him. He was on me in another second. A second later the axe hit where I had been again and once more I was some thirty meters away. I conjured chains of light with my mind and wrapped them around him. It slowed him down for a second is all and once again he was on me. I managed to escape once more but it wasn’t looking like I was going to win this fight.

A pair of claws formed out of nowhere made of shadow and smoke. They grabbed at me and tried to hold me down. The demon was quick and he was on me in an instant and swung the axe at my head. I popped out of existence and reappeared some thirty meters away. I called on protective layers of shields and surrounded myself in as many layers as I could. I needed help and creating it was my speciality. It would just take a bit of time is all.

Calling on my magic was difficult in this dream realm. My wellspring seemed distant and far off but it still glowed like a star even from such far distances. I wonder what I could do with all this magic and it was time to find out. I poured all of it that I could into my horn. It was again weird trying to do things at arm's length but I seemed to have a decent connection to my mana nonetheless. I needed a protector but not just anyone who could protect even my dreams. I wasn’t the best at multicasting but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying. I grabbed all of the dream energy that I could which seemed endless and I compressed it into my dream horn. WIth all my might I merged my dreamself and my body. It was unstable but it only needed to hold for a moment. The dream magic and my magic began to mix. Only a few more moments and my plan would be in motion.

THe demon had not been still as I worked on my spellcraft. If anything it seemed to spur him on even more. He had broken through all but a few of the layers of my shields and would soon be upon me. I redoubled my efforts but it left me blind to most of the dream realm. I could hear though the shattering of shields and I could feel him grow close. I knew that he would get to me before I could complete my spell. He was on my last shield banging away at my last hope. The cracks were far quicker to show than I had hoped.

My final shield cracked and I braced for his strike. It never came though as a wave of love rushed through me and started radiating the area. The demon who was in my vision now recoiled in pain. Nympha had come to my rescue and hopefully gave me the time to finish my spell work. The demon had backed away from me and looked like he was trying to cleanse himself of Nympha’s love as a dark aura surrounded him. He came rushing at me and the dark aura protected him from the love. But this time he was too late.

I released my spell. Time seemed to stop in the dream realm and for a moment it looked like my spell had disrupted Luna’s ritual. But I didn’t leave the dream realm and so Luna’s spell must have held. I couldn’t see my work but I felt her. She was reaching into this dream realm and soon entered.

Before me stood my creation greater than any I had done before. A pair of alabaster wings stretched out in front of me attached to a lithe human girl. Her hair was the same white as her wings and her skin only a shade more pink than that. She wore a black dress that had spots of light that flickered on and off as if they were the stars themselves. The dress was relatively short and only went to just above her knees. In her arms was a spear that shone like moonlight.

Seemingly without moving she appeared in front of the demon her spear piercing him through. The demon had a pained look on his face and he started to fade into smoke. It took but a few moments but the demon was gone and from what I could tell forever. The angel looked at me and in that instant her face tugged at my heart. It was Melody. Or at least sort of. There were small details off. Her eyes were a different color and her face a bit more chiseled. The angel rushed over to me and scooped my dreamself into a hug. I was pretty certain it was a hug in both dream and reality.

Magic started to pour out of my wellspring. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I had felt drain after making the angel but now I was filling up with magic. It was more than I could handle but instead of hurting it seemed to spill out of me. I was no longer in the dream realm but I wasn’t back in the meadow. The area was almost featureless. The ground had this glow to it that sort of looked like magic. I slowly floated down to this magical bridge of sorts and tried to get a sense of where I was. It was impossible.

A familiar indigo blue approached from far off. I must have been in some sort of strange dream for Luna to be here but it didn’t feel like a dream. I reached out to my magic and found it near and brighter than ever. Still overflowing with mana I had to turn my thoughts away from it. Luna was quick to cover the distance between us and she looked at me with pride in her eyes.

“Where are we?” I asked. “This isn’t the dream realm.”

“No we are somewhere much more special. As far as I know this is a realm of pure magic. You are one of but a handful to ever set hoof here. I am so proud of you,” said Luna. “We are waiting for one more to appear. She should be in but a moment.”

“Who?” I asked.

It was as if the universe answered my question as Twilight popped into existence next to us. She had a look of wonder and confusion on her face. It only seemed to deepen when she looked at me. Scooped up into a hug I felt her pride and love flow into me. The very world we were in seemed to projecting our strong emotions out into it where they seemed to almost become tangible.

“I had my suspicions but I still can’t believe it,” said Twilight. “I am so proud of you.”

“Destiny awaits,” said Luna. “Let us met it head on.”

The two of them burst into song and the very world accompanied them. It was inspiring to hear but it still just added to my confusion. Twilight wasn’t much for singing and while I had no idea with Luna it still felt out of place. The song was quick and generally was about life and how precious it was. At the end of their song the mana that had been pouring out of me started to coalesce around me and I was lifted into the air. The world faded to white.

I woke or something again in the meadow. Nympha had been shielding her eyes from something and her foreleg was held at just the right angle to break her view of me. When she lowered her foot she paused with surprise on her face. It quickly faded to joy. Nympha rushed towards me and I could feel a hug coming. Nympha however wasn’t the first to scoop me up into a hug. The arms felt different than what I was used to and it took a moment to realize that it was the angel who was hugging me. I could feel her breathing as her chest moved in and out slightly against my back and something else. There was new sensations coming from my back ones that had never been there before. They wiggled and twitched. It didn’t take long to put two and two together. I had wings.

Part 1: Chapter 18

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Chapter 18 History aka the past four weeks

I could feel so many more things that I had any right to do. I could feel the grass in its constant struggle. I could feel the wisdom of the trees beyond that. I could feel the potential of Nympha and the joyfulness that ruled her energy. Luna was different there was a quality to her energy that was beyond my understanding. But what struck me as most interesting was the angel who had yet to yeild me from her hug. The spark of life was there and it was so bright and fresh. I had brought her into life. Not just a golem that had little thought to it but a living breathing creature whose soul I could feel. I tried to shut out all the life that was glowing to me but it was hard to push away that beauty. Still I couldn’t concentrate with it at the forefront like this. It took all my will but I pushed my magical sight to the side. It was still there but less so apparent.

“Lilac,” said Luna. “Oh I couldn’t be more proud of you.”

“You’re an alicorn now,” Nympha said. “How did that happen? Also where did that creature that is hugging you come from? She loves you very much.”

“Uh I am not certain on how I did this but I know that I made her and that is why this all happened I think,” I said. “It is very exciting and super crazy to know that I made life. Like not a golem but a real living being. I’m too young to be a mommy.”

Luna laughed loudly. Her laugh was hearty and joyful. When she had finished, she said, “You don’t get a choice in that anymore. But now is not the time to worry about that. We must go celebrate. Equestria could use a pick me up as of right now and a new princess might just do the job.”

“Wait,” I stammered. “Princess?”

“You didn’t think you could get those wings without getting the crown too, did you?” said Luna. “Don’t fret for the time being it will be but an honorary title. I shall not deprive you of your childhood. But someday the world will call on you to lead.”

“I am not ready for that,” I said. “What if I make a mistake? What if I suck at it? Ponies could die because of my actions.”

“No one is ready when the first get the call,” said Luna. “I wasn’t and neither was...Twilight. It will be a role you can grow into though.”

“Don’t worry,” Nympha said. “I’ll teach you everything I know about ruling.”

Luna laughed again. She said, “You mean everything I taught you.”

“I know more than what you have taught me,” said Nympha. “I have the knowledge of my hive. Some of them were once infiltrators into the government. They had much knowledge too.”

“I apriecate that both of you are trying to help but this is a bit too much right now,” I said. Anxiety had been building since they had started to talk about leading a nation and it was nearing its boiling point. The angel’s presence was helping with a hug and the slow flow of love from Nympha also helped keep it at bay but even still it was hard to keep the break down from happening.

“Of course,” said Luna. “Brace yourselves, I shall teleport us back to Ponyville.”

It was a pop and we were in the entry way of the Crystal Castle in Ponyville. I fell to the floor as the angel released her grip on me. I knew what was coming and stepped out of the way. My wings flared up with out my wanting and I hopped out of the way of the coming teleportation sickness.

The guards around us jumped to attention with our arivial. After a second one of them bowwed and then another and soon it was all of them bowing. They weren’t bowing at Luna though or Nympha but me. My anxiety shot through the roof and I needed to get out of there. With out a thought I pulle on my magic. Again it came easier and stronger than I had intended but it did what I wanted. With a pop I appeared in my old room.

Jolting upward Annabelle looked at me in the darkness. Fear was present in her eyes for a moment before it faded. She struggled with her blanket as she tried to move towards me. With a final push she sort of jumped off the bed only to go tumbling head first towards the floor. I grabbed her with my magic before she hit. Even I was surprised by the speed of that magic and both of us sat there for a moment. I ran over to her and one hug later we were both sitting on the bed.

“You have wings now,” Annabelle said. “How did you do that?”

“I sort of made life and somehow that was enough to do this,” I said. “Honestly I don’t really know.”

“Does that mean your an...alicorn...too?” asked Annabelle. “We both get to be princesses now. This is so exciting. Wait you made life. Does that mean you’re a mommy now?”

“Hell if I know,” I said. “I guess that is up to her. I”ll be what she needs of me. Well as much as I can be.”

“That is awesome,” said Annabelle. “Someday I am going to be a mommy, too. Where is your baby though?”

“Oh she isn’t a baby,” I said. “I made a full grown angel. Uh and I sort of just left her in the loby of the Castle. Where she doesn’t know anyone...I got to go fix that.”

“Take me with,” said Annabelle. “I want to see the angel.”

“You should be sleeping,” I said.

“I wasn’t sleeping well and now I am way too excited to sleep. Please can I come?” asked Annabelle.

“Fine,” I said.

I lifted her over to her wheelchair and we headed out of the room. Annabelle’s wheelchair zoomed off without my help and I noticed her horn lit up with magic. It was good to see that she had a grasp of it now. I wish I had been there to help with that.

“Who made you this awesome wheelchair and where did you learn to drive it?” I asked as I rushed to catch up.

“Twilight did,” Annabelle said. “She is so awesome though sort of boring too. Magic she does magic and somehow she makes it boring. Luna is way cooler for that.”

I giggled for a moment. Of course she would find Twilight boring. If I was honest I did too a bit. I led us towards the Castle entrance and the stairs down. It accured to me that there wasn’t an elevator and I didn’t know how Annabelle got down by herself if at all. All the guards on the way though were bowing as I passed. It was still nerve wracking but less so than just a few minutes ago. Thankfully we didn’t have to go all the way to run into Luna and the angel. They had come up the stairs and seemed to be headed our direction.

“Ah there you are,” said Luna. “Next time try not to run away.”

“Why does she look like Melody?” asked Annabelle.

“I made her and I think that my thoughts of what an angel were like may have drifted to the only other angel I have had in my life,” I said. “Other than that I don’t know.”

“Well she is really pretty. Melody would approve,” said Annabelle.

“What are you doing up this late?” asked Luna. “It is well past your bedtime, Belle.”

“Lilac woke me, and I was having bad dreams and you didn't come chase them away,” Annabelle said.

“Armored Belle. We both know that you have such bad days when you don't sleep well. You will have to take a nap today at some point,” said Luna in a very motherly way.

I didn't know that Annabelle had gotten a pony name yet. It was a bit disappointing to have missed that. Not that I could do a thing about it now. I wonder what else I had missed in the last month.

As I was thinking the angel came up to me and picked me up into a hug. It was weird sitting in someone's arms like a cat was but she was big enough that I fit nearly perfectly. She was shaking slightly but that faded quickly. She must have been scared without me.

Twilight came running down the hall she looked winded but her face beamed with her happiness and pride. She came to a screeching stop in front of the angel and her face scrunched up in a strange mix of wonder and worry. It was some what marvelous to even see such a mix. Her horn lit up and I could feel the magic pass through me into the angel. I really needed to think of a name for her. The angel wouldn’t work for long. Twilight’s worry seemed to ease as her eyes shifted from one of worry to that of pure wonder.

“You made new life,” whispered Twilight. “You created a soul. Not a copy not a similacrum and not a golem. No a soul. I couldn’t even do that. I’m so proud of you.”

Twilight tried to pick me up in her magic but the angel would not let me go. I looked up at her face and it was filled with terror. I didn’t know what I had done wrong when I made her but clearly I had done something. I reached up to her and stroked her face wiping away her tears that were forming. I wouldn’t leave her like I just had. Of course I would create broken people. After all the broken can only create more broken.

“Why don’t we go somewhere with less eyes on us,” suggested Luna. “Twilight if you would lead the way to the conference room. The spare one.”

“Ah yes. That will work nicely,” Twilight said. She walked away down the halway and I was baffled by there being confrernce rooms in the castle. I had been in every room and while there were certainly rooms that could have fit that discription none of them were naned as such. Still a month had passed with me asleep some things were bound to be different. It only took the twitch of my wings to remind me of that.

It turned out there was a small room that had been used for book storage that was now a private conference room. It wasn’t as buisnesslike as I had imagined and instead was almost more like a longue. The chairs were bigg floofly ones that looked quite comfortable not that I got to find out as the angel flopped down into one of the bigger ones. She had to shift for a few moments till she found a way to comfortable lay her wings which she wrapped around herself and me. This was a great view a wall of alabaster feathers.

As it was all I could see I watched her eyes dart back and forth around the room for a second they seemed to brighten with wonder about something only to dart away to another thing and find some new wonder. But every sound would cause her to jerk slightly and her eyes would do another sweep of the room. I reached up to her and grabbed her face with my hooves. Gently I directed her gaze at me. There was so much fear in her eyes. I had to do something about that. What had I left in that mind of hers?

“It is going to be alright,” I whispered to her. “I’m here and we are going to figure everything out, okay?”

“Everything is just so confusing,” she said. “I have these images of someone else and there is some love there but so much hurt. It hurts just thinking them. But it isn’t my pain. They aren’t my memories. I just remember you and the field and everything that follows. I don’t know how I know how to speak. Why am I? Can you make the pain go away?”

Everypony else in the room had gone quiet when she started to speak and it was horendously awkward. No one but me could answer those questions and I didn’t have great answers. I hoped she would hate me. Hat eme for making her. I needed to think about that more when I make people out of thin air. What was I thinking?

Pushing aside the guilt, I said, “I made you because I needed an angel at the moment. I wasn’t really thinking things through. So the purpose by which I made you has been complete. So now you are because you are. Which is really dumb but why is anyone here?”

“I don’t know,” said the angel. “Is it your memories of her that are running in my head. That one over there the one with only one wing and the wheelchair. She reminds me of something but the memories of her are weird and incomplete. I remember her dying. I can feel the pain in that. It is going to swallow me whole.”

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to pass my pain on to you. That woman you remember, her name was Melody. She was my angel and when I made you I was thinking of her. Of my angel. Of how she would protect me from the hurt of the world. It was what I needed in that moment. In that fight with that demon. I’m sorry that bled into you. You don’t desreve to live with my pain. I don’t know if there is anything that I can do about that. I don’t know if there is anything that can be done about that and I am not going to risk you trying to fix that. Sorry that I can’t fix you.”

“So now what?” asked the angel.

“I don’t know,” I said. “But I know that I won’t abandon you. Ever. I made you and I am responsible for you. Right now my emotions are a bit wonky. There has been so much that has happened in the last couple hours and I don’t even know how to begin to process that. First there was waking up and being told I had been asleep for a month. Followed by crazy gods deciding to end the world or something. And then there was you and now I have wings and I am a princess now and everything is so confusing right now. So I don’t know what is going to happen but if you want I will be there with you when we find out.”

“I don’t want you to go away,” said the angel. “It isn’t the same way you loved her, but I love you. You make me feel safe somehow.”

“Sorry to interrupt but what was that about mad gods ending the world?” asked Luna.

“Uh so I woke in what might have been some weird dream but I don’t think so because Belle was there, and a bunch of people for lack of a better world had this talk with Discord. They decided he wasn’t doing his job well enough and that he needed help and so they were going to merge two worlds together or something.”

“Yeah it was better than what that angry fireman wanted. He was going to kill Discord. I don’t want my friend to die,” said Belle. “But the pretty blonde lady stopped that and it was really scary and I think they are going to do something bad.”

“We will have to ask Discord then. Do you know where he is?” asked Luna.

“He said he had preperations to do and then he disappeared to where ever he goes off to,” I said.

“Well we will just have to trust him,” said Twilight. “He has more than proven himself as of recent. If it weren’t for him Canterlot would still be an active volcanoe.”

“Can you guys fill me in on what I missed this last month?” I asked. “The last I remember was that the fight was still going on. I haven’t been able to see Canterlot mountain and everypony seems to think I am some sort of hero. What did you tell them?”

“So lets start with what happened,” said Luna. “If you would Twilight? It is a bit hard for me still.”

“Of course,” Twilight said. “Well after Discord and I did what we could on getting everypony to safety we went back to the fight. It wasn’t going well and when I interviened again Celestia turned to dark magic to fight us. It warped her in ways I had not thought possible and if you hadn’t stopped Chrysalis when you did we may not have won that fight. It turns out that the amulet was a direct connection to Chrysalis and she was subtlely controlling Celestia. With her gone Celestia well started to come to her senses. Not before destroying a lot of the mountain. But evenutally she gain enough control to stop fighting us. Well she made another rash discion and she banished herself to Sol. Her parting words were that she needed to be purified and that without the elements this was the only way.”

“Since my Sister’s departure,” Luna chimmed in. “We have been mostly playing damage control. As you might expect there was panic when word got out about what had happened. There are parts of Equestria contemplating sedition right now and it is taking much of our time just to rebuild the government systems that went up in smoke due to the fight. Not to mention do well by the dead.”

“How many died?” I asked. “Who died? Anyone we know? Did your parrents make it out? What about Lyra’s?”

“I don’t want to get into the details but not everypony made it out of Canterlot alive. Lyra’s mom didn’t make it and neither did…” Twilight said before her voice got stuck in her throat. Luna’s hoof ran up and down Twilight’s back.

“Neither did Night Light,” said Luna. “Equstria is in shambles and we are just trying to hold the pieces together right now. It doesn’t help that there have been five major dragon attacks in the last month. Mostly hot head younglings who don’t remember what I am cappable of. But it hasn’t helped the situation.”

Twilight was wipping away the tears from her face. I wanted to comfort her in anyway I could. I knew it must have been hard on her to loose one of her parrents. It had been hard when Mom died. From the thought of it everyone here knew what it was like to lose a parent.

“I’m so sorry,” I said quietly. “I don’t know what else to say. I don’t remember anything being all that helpful when my first mom died.”

“It is fine,” Twilight said. “My friends have been there and as has my Mom. She is in the castle right now sleeping. I am just happy we found room for her. This castle was never meant to be the head of Equestria. But yeah. Things are tough but with friendship I will make it through this.”

“You have a much more healthy understanding that I ever did,” Luna said. “I don’t know how...she did this for so long by herself. I can’t even imagine what those first years were like. I am so exhausted from raising the sun everyday even if you take every other night for the Moon, Twilight.”

“Are you kidding me? You are amazing. I don’t know how you do it. The moon alone is nearly too much for me,” Twilight said.

“How long is, uh, she going to be gone for?” I asked.

“I hope less than a thousand years,” Luna said sadly. “But the thing is that I don’t know. Sol is a beast and will not let her leave till her job is done. How long that will take will depend on her. I hope no longer than a year.”

“It may be much longer than that though if she lets her guilt eat at her,” Twilight said. “I know that face she had on her when she left. I know how much she can let her guilt eat at her.”

“It is true. Sister, has always had a problem with that,” said Luna. “If she had a fault it was that she let her guilt get the best of her in her alone times. For someone so strong I don’t understand why it weighed so heavily on her.”

“I think I understand,” I said. “It is such an insidious thing. I can’t shake the guilt I have over leaving Earth the way I did. I can only imagine how much banishing you had to hurt her. Or watching herself be corupted by Chrysalis.”

“I suspect that you are right,” said Luna. “If my own guilt is anything to go by.”

“How do we move forward now?” I asked. “I’m a princess now and from what you have said Equestria needs us all right now. I won’t run away from this.”

“When do you ever run away from anything?” asked Twilight. There was a strange mix of anger and pride in her voice. “I don’t think you have run from anything since coming to Equis.”

“There was some timberwolves once,” I said.

“That you summoned a golem and had smashed to smitheriens,” Twilight said. “Hhhhuh. Look I know you want to help but right now you need to focus on your studies and trying to be a kid for as long as you can get away with it. It might be too late for that but you’re just a foal. Please let us take on the brunt of this. If anything right now I need you to be an older sister to Belle. We just dont’ have time to be there for her right now and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I barely have time to even get in magic lessons right now.”

“It is true. If it weren’t for my general lack of need for sleep there would not be enough hours in the day right now,” Luna said. “Bon Bon and Lyra have promised to help step up with both you and Armored Belle here but there are things that only you will be able to help her with.”

“Um, sorry to interrupt,” I said. “How did you come up with a pony name for Anna?”

“There is an old ritual that simulates naming dreams,” Luna said. “Her name is a bit unusual for a pony especially in the modern era but it seems to fit.”

“I like it,” Armored Belle said. “Though everyone just calls me Belle most of the time which is fine. You can still call me Anna if you want though.”

“I’ll adapt to your new name,” I said. “Speaking of names. Do you have a name?”

The angel shook her head. Tears started to flow down her checks once more. I nuzzled her head with mine trying to avoid poking her with my horn. She responded by burying her head in my mane. It was in that moment that I realized how much my mane had grown. It was nearly to my back.

“Well I made you so it is only right that I name you. That is if that is alright with you?” I asked. The angel only nodded while not removing her face from my mane. “Hmm. What about Hope? Or we could name you after some of the angels from Earth. Or something ese. I guess I am not good at this. Sorry.”

“Why Hope?” she asked quietly.

“Well because that was what you were. You were my hope. In many ways the literal manifestation of my hope,” I said. “And honestly it seems to fit you.”

“I like it,” she said. “Hope it is.”

“It is a fine name,” said Luna. “I am sure you will live up to it.”

“Wait does this mean I am a grandmother now?” asked Twilight.

Part 1: Chapter 19

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Chapter 19 Thinking before one acts is hard

We talked for a while yet but I wasn’t really listening anymore. Belle had join Hope and I in the chair and I was just snuggling up against her. There was a sense of completeness to us all being together even if it had been such a weird journey. Life had broken us but together I felt real and complete. It wasn’t long until sleep found me.

We were sitting in Bon Bon’s and Lyra’s house there were small blurs running circles around us. Bell was leaned up against me as she slept in the warmth of the sun that fell through the windows. The whole world seemed to have the fuzziness that I had long come to associate with love magic. Slowly my family joined Belle and I on the couch. Their faces were somewhat obscured but the love that I felt for them was clear as day. The purple blur that had to be Twilight was on my side and just past Belle was a pair of cream and mint blurs that must have been Lyra and Bon Bon. Chasing the little blurs around the living room was a much smaller Hope but I didn’t really give that much thought. An indigo shadow floated into our living room from seemingly nowhere but they seemed as much part of this as anyone else here but they only lingered for a moment.

I could tell I had overslept when I woke and had to stretch the sleep away. Feeling the push of my wing muscles was a bit off putting but nothing I could shove back down into me. I was in my bed in the castle. Belle was on one side and on the other Hope. She barely fit on the bed being so large. I slowly scooted out from between the two of them. It was a miracle my stretching hadn’t woke either of them.

Pausing at the door out of the room, a thought occurred to me. Hope had freaked out the last time I had left her alone without her knowledge. I didn’t want to scare her again. Breakfast could wait. Instead I pulled out some of my art supplies and went to work on that. It was so fulfilling to just draw for a while that I didn’t even notice when the other two stirred with wakefulness.

Hope had snuck up on me her feet making none of the noise I had grown used to from hooves. She glomped me which was almost a bit too crushing as she was so much bigger than I but as she almost fell onto me her hand caught the ground.

“Sorry,” Hope said. “Being this big is weird.”

“Being this small is weird to me,” I said. “I don’t know why you are so much bigger than a human would have been but I hope that doesn’t cause you too much trouble.”

“I think I am hungry,” said Hope. “I don’t know though. Like everything is so confusing and I don’t know anything. It is like you put a dictionary in my head for language but I don’t have any context. I am pretty certain this is stress though.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean for you to come out this way. I will have to be much more careful of anything like that ever again. It wasn’t fair of me to deny you the ability to have a childhood.”

“I”m not sad I exist. I hope that you don’t regret making me,” Hope said.

“No, of course not,” I said. “All it is is me wishing that I had done a better job.”

“I see so much of that in your memories that you left me,” Hope said. “So much pain because you think you didn’t do well enough but you did your best. Isn’t that all anyone can ask for?”

“Yeah,” I said. “And I know that. Well at least logically I know that, but I don’t think I believe that.”

We just sat in silence for a second. Her slouched over me her legs lying like a wall around me. It was so weird being engulfed by another like this but it wasn’t unpleasant. There was a bit of me that thought that it should have been the other way around though. I should be the one comforting her, not the other way around.

Her bare feet were dark with dirt. We were going to have to go to Rarity today. Winter was rapidly approaching and the small dress she had was not going to be sufficient. How I was going to pay for that was beyond me but I tried not to dwell on it.

Feeling the need to actually do something instead of just waiting around here for Belle to wake, I extracted myself from the cave that was Hope. She didn’t make it easy. I made my way over to the bed where Belle was sleeping with the subtle painting of Hope’s feet behind me. Belle looked so peaceful in her sleep. A warmth spread through me as I watched her sleep.

With my magic I pulled a piece of paper and pencil to me. I left a neatly folded note on Belle’s wheelchair that I pushed right up next to the bed. It was sort of strange leaving her here but I didn’t want to wake her. I knew she needed the sleep.

Hope and I slipped out of my room as quietly as I could with my magic. There was no way we had woke her when we left. There were more guards than I had expected stationed outside my room. The fact that there was any was a bit of a surprise but having eight of them seemed excessive. Again they all bowed to me as I came into the hallway. I pushed down any guilt that wanted to eat away at me. If others looked at me as a hero and princess it would be mean to take that from them.

Food was first on the list. I was really looking forward to some pancakes right now. I hoped that pony food would work for Hope. I wasn’t certain what we would do otherwise. I could smell the kitchen a full hallway away from it. It was going to be packed wasn’t it with so many in the castle. I wasn’t looking forward to that.

There was a line of off duty guards that stretched out of the dining room. Even they bowed when I walked up and they parted to let Hope and I through. I would admit that there was some perks of being an alicorn. That or the giant angel behind me gave me a bit of extra authority. I wasn’t going to complain either way. There was no sitting room left so we just grabbed a few plates full of food with a bit of everything and fled the noise. I managed to stay focused and avoided any panic episodes.

There was tension building in me that I didn’t really notice till we were safely back in my room. It washed away and I could finally relax once more. We seemed to have woken Belle when we came back. Hope and I joined her on the bed. It was as good of place as anywhere to eat breakfast.

“Anything smell good?” I asked of Hope.

“Something does,” said Hope. I don’t really know what though. Like it smells like her.”

Tears welled up in Hope’s eyes. She must have been reliving the memories I had left her. I wasn’t certain which food triggered this or even if it was food. Maybe it was eating together on the bed on lazy sunday mornings. I rubbed what part of her arm I could with my hoof as I made a plate of food up for her. It was all stuff I had eaten in the past so hopefully it would work. Belle awkwardly picked out food for herself but sat there waiting for us to start.

It took a bit, but eventually Hope calmed down enough to start eating. I tried to keep up a strong appearance, but it was wearing on me. My wings twitching from time to time kept a constant reminder of my mess up. I had left her with my pain and little more. I needed to talk to Lyra and Bon Bon or Doctor Vibes. He would know what to do. How to make this better because I wasn’t able to really think of anything.

“I have a lot of things to do today,” I said. “Some of them I need you to come with, Hope, and others are probably unnecessary for you to be there. We need to go get you some more clothes and at least some shoes. Which means going across town to the Carousel Boutique to get that done. I need to find funds for that but Twilight talked about an allowance a while back for me and while that probably won’t cover much I want to have money in hand to get you what you need. I need to go talk to Bon Bon and Lyra. I wasn’t really all there when they came to talk yesterday and I want to make that better. Well and I need to explain them.”

“Can I come with?” Hope asked. “I don’t want to be alone.”

“I can’t say no to that and I will need you with me so Rarity can get your measurements. I sort of want to talk to Lyra and Bon Bon alone though. There is some heavy things that I need to talk to them about and there isn’t any point in ruining your day too,” I said. “But I am sure that Belle would love to spend the day with you, wouldn’t you Belle?”

“Of course,” Belle said. “Besides if you get to leave the castle then so do I. No more we have to keep you secret stuff.”

“Maybe we should talk to Luna or Twilight first but I don’t think it is fair to keep you cooped up all the time,” I said. “You’ve been here for a month and you haven’t left the castle? That seems harsh.”

“Oh we left the castle,” Armored Belle said. “We just went to a meadow far from here. Luna teleported us. It was nice but I want to meet other ponies. I want to make some friends.”

“I know just the trio for that,” I said. “Fair warning they like to get in over their heads so yeah. Be careful.”

“Anything to get a break,” Armored Belle said. “If you want to talk to Luna she is in court now. I figure if you just show up that she will have to say something.”

“When did you become a trouble maker?” I teased.

“Someone around here has too. Everypony has been so hurt as of recent, I can tell. If I wasn’t so persistent they would be sad all the time,” Belle said. “Besides Doctor Vibes agrees with me. Or at least he hasn’t told me to stop. Really no one has.”

“Don’t worry I won’t leave you alone anymore, I promise,” I said. “I’m sorry I was gone so long.”

“You were sick,” Belle said. “That isn’t your fault.”

“When did you become so wise?” I asked.

“I had to,” She said. “Besides I am ten years old now and that is almost an adult.”

“Not really but thanks for the encouragement,” I said. “So where is court being held? The entrance hall?”

“Yep. They set up a big chair between the two stairs. If you are careful you can spy on it from the top of the stairs,” Belle said.

“Cool. I will be right back,” I said. “Hope can you stay here with Belle for the moment?”

“Uh, yes, I guess,” said Hope a bit sheepishly.

“Don’t worry I don’t bite,” Belle said. She sort of tackle glomped Hope from the side and started to try to tickle her.

I smiled at the pleasant scene. My family had grown in ways I hadn’t expected but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I hopped off the bed. I made it much further than I had expected. Maybe that was a bit of the pegasus magic running through me. I charged my horn and my teleportation spell was ready before I hit the floor.

Pop. Maybe teleporting into a crowd of ponies was not my best idea as I pushed several ponies to the floor with my magic. A bit of a startle ran through the crowd as it tried to rebalance itself. Why there were so many at court was beyond me. Twilight had told me that Celestia never saw more than one hundred in a day but this seemed much more than that. The crowd grew noise and a few ponies even screamed. Definitely didn’t think that one through. Not that I could do anything about it anymore.

“My ponies,” Luna said in the canterlot royal voice. “Please calm yourselves. There is nothing to fear.”

The crowd quieted and I started to push through it to the front. Up to where Luna was standing now. It was a bit hard but I didn’t want to startle anypony else by teleporting up to her. I couldn’t thank Twilight enough for teaching me that spell. There were whispers from the ponies right around me as they turned to look at what was pushing through their midst. Some of them even dropped into a bow. I finally made it through the crowd and sort of fell out into the open space before Luna.

A blonde maned unicorn sat just in front of the crowd. There were two beefy earth pony guards next to him. They were almost as big as Big mac was. The unicorn gave me a glare that could have killed but it softened for a moment with confusion only to turn all the more rancid in a second. It was a strange transition to see happen on a pony’s face.

“Welcome Princess Lilac Splash,” said Luna. I knew I was going to get it later. Her voice had acid in it. “Nice of you to join us. So early.”

“Ah, uh, sorry for interrupting,” I said.

“Well now that the cat is out of the bag. Please come up here so that I can properly introduce the world,” Luna half said half sighed.

I walked slowly up the small raised platform they had set up a throne on. It was a bit dinky now that I thought about it. Hardly fitting for what it was being used. This did not bode well for the state of the Equestrian government. A problem for another time.

“To all in this great hall of friendship and harmony, I would like to introduce Equestria’s latest Alicorn,” Said Luna. The whole room except for the blonde unicorn bowed at those words. “Princess Lilac Splash is the daughter of Princess Twilight Sparkle and has accomplished what many had thought impossible.”

“Isn’t that the same filly who fought Chrysalis and won?” asked somepony in the crowd. “The one who was supposedly in a coma due to that fight?”

“Yes. Yesterday Princess Lilac woke from her coma. It was an eventful day for all involved,” said Luna.

“What did she do that you made her an Alicorn? Why is she worthy and I am not?” asked the blonde maned unicorn. “Playing favorites already.”

“I assure you that Princess Lilac earned her wings. It was not by my choice that she ascended nor by my hoof either,” said Luna. “As I am sure you have heard before, Blueblood, ascension is something that happens when a pony accomplishes something truly great. Princess Lilac did some such thing and is now standing amongst the rest of us Princesses.”

“You mean the ones you haven’t banished,” Blueblood said. “What did she really do to deserve this?”

“She did the impossible,” Luna stated. “Something even I could not do.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” said Blueblood. “Tell me why she is worthy but I am not.”

“I think that this would be a conversation best held at another time,” said Luna.

“Why? So you can hide it again. Like you did with the bookworm,” said Blueblood. “This child is not fit to be a ruler of Equestria and yet you make her one.”

“I said that this will have to wait, Prince Blueblood,” said Luna. I could tell she was angry but the look on Blueblood’s told me that he wasn’t going to back down.

“No the ponies of Equestria have a right to know,” said Blueblood. “I have the right to know. We both know that if it was based on merit it would be me standing next to you not that runt of a brat.”

Luna’s horn lit up but I was quicker. I said, “You want to know what I did. Here I will show you.”

I concentrated on my magic pulling on more than any pony had the right to have. Much more than I had prior to my fight with Chrysalis and much more than Blueblood had. I could feel the strength of his wellspring as I tapped into my own. My alicorn senses lit up and I could feel the wellsprings of everypony in the room. Only one of them was my better and none my equal. I poured more magic into my spell work. This time I wouldn’t have the same mistake as with Hope. I would not create a mind of a child in a body of an adult ever again.

My magic collapsed into a ball of light in front of Blueblood. Slowly it formed into a shape. A pony shape. There was a blinding flash and in the place of that ball of energy was a small sleeping foal. No bigger than a newborn. She opened their eyes and a small wail of a foal crying filled the air. It hit me. I had fucked up again.

Everypony in the room was dead silent. Even Blueblood seemed to be without words. Luna recovered quickest and she started to clap her hooves together. Soon the whole crowd followed. Except for Blueblood who was just staring at the newborn foal a few feet in front of him.

Floating the newborn over to me I held her in my foreleg. She had dark blue fur and a silver mane. A small horn poked through what mane she had. Dread and wonder were filling my head and heart. I couldn’t help but feel a tug of joy at the baby but the reality of what I had just done would not escape me. That was twice in twelve hours that I made new life. I was in so much trouble.

“All life is precious. To create new life is the joy of all parents. Princess Lilac is able to skip a few steps,” Luna said loudly after the clapping died down. The crowd giggled at her comments. Luna glared at me. It was a glare I had gotten used to seeing from Bon Bon and Luna was even better at it. “May all welcome Equestria’s newest princess, Lilac Splash, alicorn of life.”

Luna’s magic grasped me and I felt the teleportation before it happened. I appeared in a living room I had missed so much. There was a sense of belonging being back here after what felt like so long. Nopony seemed to be here at the moment and it seemed odd that Luna would send me here.

“Mom,” I said loudly. “Are either of you home?”

“Lilac,” came the surprised voice of Bon Bon from down the hallway. “What are you doing here? I’ll be out in just a moment.”

True to her word no more than a couple moments later Bon Bon came down the hallway from the bathroom. I ducked around the wall so that she couldn’t see what I was holding. It wasn’t going to last long but any extra seconds of not being yelled at seemed like a good thing right now. The foal had fallen asleep in my leg.

Bon Bon gave me no reprieve and came around the corner to the hallway in but a moment. Her eyes lit up when she saw the baby. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe. Bon Bon scooped the foal up into her own cradle of arms and slowly rocked her back and forth.

“Where did you get her?” asked Bon Bon. “Where is her diaper? Where is her mother?”

“Well you see,” I started. “I can explain.”

“Did you steal a foal?” said Bon Bon. There wasn’t any anger in her voice just disbelief.

“No nothing of the such,” I said. “So I know you are going to be mad at me and maybe just maybe you can me. Don’t want to wake the foal now do we?”

“What did you do?” said Bon Bon sternly. There was no dancing around it anymore.

“So you know how you keep telling me to think before I cast magic. To you know think of the consequences. I know that is mostly a don't use all your magic all at once thing but this applies. Very much so,” I said. Continuing but much quieter. “I made her.”

“I didn’t catch that last part,” Bon Bon said. The sternness hadn’t left her voice.

“I made her,” I said. I paused for an awkward silence. “With my magic.”

“Is this another golem?” Bon Bon said. “But she is breathing. I can feel the warmth from her. What is going on, Lilac? Tell me straight.”

“So yesterday when I woke up I was hearing voices. Turned out to be a demon and when I talked to Luna about it she had a solution. It was a bit risky but everything went fine. I just had to fight the demon in a dream realm and not lose. Or the demon would have taken over my body,” I said. Bon Bon was very not happy with me right now and her eyes had fire in them. “Look everything went fine. Sort of. I wasn’t much of a match for the demon so I called for help with my magic. But this time had to be different because a golem wouldn’t help me in the dream realm. So instead I made something much more special. I made an angel. A living breathing soul having angel. Out of thin air. And well I got these.”

I flared out my wings at that moment. They only half listened and they hung at weird angles. But the effect was immediate. Tears filled Bon Bon’s eyes and I could tell if it was from joy or fear. Her free hoof covered her mouth and was clearly stifling a shocked yelp.

“What?...How?” Bon Bon said. “I knew you were strong magically but this seems crazy. Was it the same spell that made Armored Belle into an alicorn?”

“No,” I said. “Luna said I ascended due to worth of my action. The same way that Twilight ascended.”

“Does that mean you’re a princess now?” asked Bon Bon. “I don’t think I want you in charge of Equestria. Especially not right now. You’re so young. You deserve to have a childhood even if you keep doing things to shorten that.”

“I am a princess now. It was just announced at day court just oh a few minutes ago,” I said. “I sort of accidentally forced that. Let’s just say that I did something that I shouldn’t have and I learned my lesson.”

“What does all this have to do with this foal?” asked Bon Bon.

“Uh so I made her,” I said. “Some jerk unicorn was being a jerk and so I proved to him why I was an alicorn.”

“You made a foal just to prove your worth to someone else?” said Bon Bon.

I just looked away and nodded my head. The yelling was about to start. I could feel it. Dread filled me but the yelling never came. I flinched at Bon Bon’s touch but it was only a hug. She rubbed my back and pulled me into her as we sat on the floor for a minute. The two of us looked at the sleeping foal in her arms.

“I am much too young to be a grandmother,” said Bon Bon. “But if there is anything I have learned from living with you these last six months is that you just have to roll with the punches. Don’t do this again. Not till you’re older. Like forty. I want to be angry at you but I know that you are going to do your best to make this right. We will figure something out but she is your responsibility. You don’t get to walk away from this one and pretend that everything's the same. This changes everything and you need to be ready for that.”

“I know. I can’t run from this,” I said. “I don’t know that if I could I would even want to.”

“No you take everything head on,” said Bon Bon. “You can’t do that anymore. You can’t put yourself at risk like you have in the past. We are all very happy that you saved Nympha’s life but you almost died. Again. I know that things are going to be different now that you're an alicorn but please be careful. You have ponies who need you now.”

“I promise to not push myself so much and to maybe develop a sense of self-preservation,” I said. “Maybe.”

Giggling, Bon Bon bumped into me. She looked at the small little bundle in her arms. She said, “So I assume you haven’t got to the doctor with her yet have you?”

“Nope came straight here,” I said. “So one more thing to do today. Do we have anything for a diaper? I really really really don’t want to deal with that without one.”

“You’re in luck,” Bon Bon said. “Pinkie Pie dropped of some diapers a week or so ago. She said something about us needing them. Which I assumed that she meant for the twins but maybe not.”

Bon Bon handed me the baby and walked back down the hallway. She was gone for only a moment before she returned with a saddle bag that looked full. Of stuff. Out of one of the side pockets she pulled out a diaper and showed me how to put it on. With that task out of the way she went and filled up a bottle and presented it to me. Levitating it in front of her mouth I waited till she decided to take the bait. I didn’t have to wait long for her to wake up and soon enough she was eating. I couldn’t be happier. One burping later and she was back asleep.

“Um so I, uh, don’t know how to ask this but how is Lyra holding up?” I asked. “I heard about her mom.”

Bon Bon pulled me into a side hug. She said, “It has been a hard month for us. With Lyra losing her mom and you having been in a coma, it has taken a toll on Lyra. She is sleeping right now. I’ll need to go wake her soon. Really probably should do that now. She has an appointment with Doctor Vibes in a hour or so.”

It took a few minutes but Bon Bon left and returned with a still sleepy Lyra. I could tell just from looking at her how much the last month had hit her. It looked like she hadn't been eating and there were dark bags under her eyes. Even her smile seemed broken.

“What are you doing here?” asked Lyra with a strained joy filling her voice. “Wait who's foal is that?”

“Surprise, you’re a grandma now,” I said. “Oh and a mother to an alicorn princess.”

“What!?” shouted Lyra.

The baby started crying and I tried to soothe her. It wasn’t really working and Bon Bon took over for me. The foal calmed down pretty quickly after that. Turning to Lyra I flared my wings once more. This time my wings were more cooperative. That seemed to only spark more questions and after about fifteen minutes I had caught Lyra up. She took it harder than Bon Bon had, and I wasn’t surprised. But after her anger faded she warmed up to her granddaughter.

“I had another five months of not having to deal with this,” said Lyra jokingly. “And now you have me holding a foal.”

“Practice so that you’ll be the best when the twins get here,” I said. “But really I’ll take care of her as much as I am able.”

“You have way more important things to do right now,” Lyra said. “You’re a princess. Like there has to be a lot of training that goes into that. Are you sure this is the right choice?”

“I may have made a mistake but it is one I don’t regret. Even if it was dumb of me and I didn’t even think about what that meant just that I had to defend Luna’s honor by proving my worth,” I said. “I am a bad mom, aren’t I?”

“That remains to be seen,” said Lyra. “But if you are set on this, then I will support you. But you had better do right by this.”

“I will,” I said.

“I know you will,” said Lyra. “I don’t think there is a thing in the world that could stop you from doing what you’ve put your mind to. I’m sorry to cut this short but I have to get to my appointment. I’ll schedule you one too, Lilac. I feel like you need one and soon.”

“Probably,” I said. “Um so I need to get back to my other pseudo child. Okay I have no idea what to think of Hope at this point.”

“Hope?” asked Lyra.

“The angel I made when I ascended,” I said. “That is her name. I’ll bring her by to say hello later today. I have to go find money now.”

“Don’t worry about that,” said Lyra. “We’ll figure something out.”

“You shouldn’t bear the burden of my choices,” I said.

“You’re our child. It is our responsibility to bear that burden,” Bon Bon said. “You don’t have to do this alone. Remember that doing everything by yourself is why we are in this situation. You can rely on us.”

“I know,” I said.

“Do you?” asked Bon Bon. “Well you are right you should probably get back to the Castle. Princess Luna probably will want to talk to you.”

“Yeah,” I said. I wasn’t looking forward to that conversation. “Um do you think I can instead just run away and live in the forest where no one will find me and I never have to deal with an angry alicorn? No okay.”

“It won’t be that bad,” said Lyra. “Princess Luna is very understanding. She is probably only slightly mad is all.”

“So much better,” I groaned. I started to charge my horn. I picked up the baby pack which was too big to fit on me right. “Um see you soon. I love you.”

“We love you too,” said Bon Bon. “How about we all have dinner together? Including Hope and Belle.”

“See you then,” I said. I popped out of existence and appeared in my castle room. Hope and Belle both seemed startled by my sudden appearance. I would have to remember that and not teleport to here directly.

“Where did you get that baby?” asked Belle.

One explaination later and the four of us were sitting on the bed leaning against the headrest. Both of them took that better than I had expected. Belle just wanted to be the baby's aunt and Hope seemed enamored by the foal. I could barely even think anymore my brain was fried from having to explain this to so many ponies already and I had only talked to half of them so far. I had gone past worry and into just exhaustion. It was a weird sort of worry though. It wasn’t out of control like my numerous panic attacks were.

Luna walked into my room a some time later. It must have not been that long really but it felt like forever. She stared at me for a second. There was anger in her eyes but it was tempered by pride. I calmed considerably after seeing her eyes.

“Do you ever think on your actions before you do them?” asked Luna.

“Sometimes,” I said. “But so far not today. I’m sorry.”

Luna just snorted and started laughing. It took her a moment before she collected herself enough to talk. When she did, she said, “Apology accepted. I hope you know what you’ve done. The gravity of what you’ve done.”

“That I am sort of an eight year old who made a foal in front a crowd of ponies,” I said. “Like by some regards Belle is older than I am right now. Yeah I am not the smartest cookie out there. But I don’t know what the political and social effects of this are going to be. I just know that I made life again that I am responsible for without thinking of what that means.”

“Don’t worry about the political backlash over this. There will be some from the nobles. Especially Blueblood but the general public will probably not care either way outside of what happens to the foal and you because of this. You have a lot of good will right now amongst the public and I don’t see this changing that,” Luna said. “No, we must talk about what this means personally.”

“I will take care of her,” I said. “Both of them. I won’t let someone else suffer because I didn’t think things through.”

“But can you provide for her, or even Hope, the best life they could have?” asked Luna.

“Can anypony say that they can?” I responded. “Because the best possible life they could have is not something I can give them but the best I can do is something I will do. Being a princess is supposed to be about living for your ponies. Well what sort of princess would I be if I didn’t do the best for and by my own children.”

“Your heart is in the right place and I see no fault in your logic. It isn’t as if you are just a child. Even when you act like your physical age. As a princess in training you are provided a stipend by the crown,” said Luna. “Never will you or any of you three go without. I expect you to spend this money wisely and I will check in on this frequently. I know that you may need a bit upfront so I have arranged that. Please keep the source of this money a secret from the general public. I don’t need Blueblood to hear of that one.”

“Okay. So not to sound greedy but where can I find that money?” I asked. “Hope needs shoes and other clothes. And I have a pack of supplies for the foal but that won’t last long I don’t think. Well honestly I don’t know. Pinkie Pie packed it apparently. I need to go say thank you to her.”

Luna’s horn lit up with magic and she summoned a small bag that jingled with coins. She said, “That should be more than enough for today. If not just talk to Twilight or I about it. Speaking of Twilight, I suspect she will want to have a word with you as well. She is currently in Manehatten for a few hours. There was a riot that she went to do deal with.”

“How many of those are happening?” I asked. “How bad is it?”

“Far worse than I want to admit. I fear that someone is pulling the strings behind this. But that isn’t a thing for you to worry about. Ponyville is safe and you have much bigger things to worry about right now,” said Luna. She tossed me the bag of money.

“Um so can Belle come with for my errands?” I asked. “I don’t think it is fair to keep her locked up like this.”

“You are right,” Luna said. “I guess it won’t hurt any more than this morning did. Just keep her safe and don’t go performing more miracles. Either of you.”

“We won’t,” Belle and I said in unison. We both giggled over that. It was nice to have a younger-ish sister around again.

“I have things to attend to. Try to have some fun, and please be careful. I can only imagine what would happen if something were to happen to that foal,” said Luna.

“Um wait I need your help with something,” I said. “You know how to force a naming dream or something like it?”

“Oh of course,” said Luna. “Such a simple thing that it skipped my mind. This will be a bit vivid but shouldn’t be too disorienting. If you would come closer this works better with horn contact.”

When our horns touched a vision overcame me. It was sort of dream like but still felt very real. I wondered if this was what regular naming dreams felt like. I Saw a small white flower that shone in the moonlight. The moon was full and high in the sky but it was the flower that stole my focus. It floated on a perfect pool of water and was purest white. I came out of trance feeling drained in ways that I hadn’t expected.

“Midnight Lily,” I said. “I think.”

“A great name,” Luna said. “May she live up to such a gift. Now for real I must take my leave. If you have need of me feel free to come find me but maybe ask a guard before you teleport into something. I shall see you later. When I have figured out a better schedule we can continue your magical training. Your’s are canceled for the day, Belle.”

“Awesome,” said Belle. “Let's get going then. I don’t want to waste a minute of today.”

“Have fun,” said Luna as she left the room. I breathed a sigh of relief after she was completely out of the room. Hopefully I wouldn’t have to do that again for a while. Hopefully we wouldn’t have to explain all of that to everypony we met.

“So I was thinking of teleporting us much of the way,” I said. “That way hopefully we can avoid some of the stares.”

“But I want to see all of the city,” Belle said. “Please?”

“If we walk the whole way we won’t have as much time to spend at any one place and if we get done quickly enough we could visit the school house and I am sure that there are ponies there that would love to meet you.”

“Really?” Belle asked excitedly. “Will the teacher mind us just showing up?”

“No idea but I doubt too much,” I said. “Cheerilee is pretty nice. Besides we are both princesses that has to give us some leeway.”

“I hope so,” said Belle. “Okay fine we can teleport.”

“Are you alright with that Hope?” I asked.

“I guess,” Hope said.

She seemed hesitant but I figured it was just a number of teleports away till she was used to them. I charged my horn and I poured more mana that was probably necessary. Maybe if I over charged it I could make it a bit more comfortable. We popped into existence some ten or so meters away from the Carousel Boutique. The teleportation took way more energy out of me than I had expected but it was relatively smooth. No one seemed to be too affected by the teleportation. Midnight was woke though by it and she seemed a bit fussy. Maybe she needed to eat again. Hopefully Rarity would let us use her sink to make some formula.

I lead the way down the road. We got way more stares than I had expected and it was hard to tell who of our group received more attention. I was betting it was the giant angel the size of Celestia herself. But we all were getting stares. There was even a few who bowed to us as we passed.

Rarity’s shop was fairly busy. Rarity herself was busy taking measurements of a lavender unicorn with dark purple mane with light nearly neon blue stripe that ran through it. Others were browsing the racks of clothes that Rarity had on display. Much of it was a dazzling display of winter wear. There was some that was foal sized that I would have to browse after talking to Rarity.

Everypony in the store froze when Hope ducked through the door into the room. She was carrying the foal supplies and when she noticed everypony was staring at her she hid behind the bag and her own hair. The only pony seemingly not fazed by Hope was Rarity.

“Lilac, who is your friend there?” asked Rarity. “One doesn’t see something like them everyday. I’ll be with you in a few moments, just have to finish taking these measurements. Oh and it is good to see you out and about Armored Belle.”

“Yeah it is really awesome,” said Belle. The eyes of the ponies in the room all fell on Belle and then me. It took about three seconds before most of them were bowing. Notably was the pony Rarity was working on at the time and Rarity who hadn’t seemed to notice that anything was up.

A light brown earth pony stallion with a dark mane came up to me. He had a huge smile on his face. He bowed deeply in front of me. It was a very awkward and far too low bow like he thought he had to get under my head level. It was almost like he was groveling. Thankfully he right himself shortly thereafter.

“Your highness, it is such a pleasure to met you,” said the stallion. “I am Filthy Rich, your humble servant. Though if you would, I prefer to be called Rich.”

“Thank you, I guess,” I said. I wasn’t really certain how I was supposed to deal with this. “Um, I am, uh, Princess Lilac Splash. Uh it is nice to meet you.”

“Don’t forget me,” said Belle. “I am an alicorn too.”

Filthy Rich looked over Belle. His eyes bulged as he did and he dipped into another bow. He said while still bowing, “Forgive me, your highness. I offer my deepest condolences.”

“Please don’t,” said Belle. She looked more than a little angry. “I don’t need your pity. There isn’t anything to forgive though. Can’t blame a pony for missing small details. My name is Armored Belle, and I am a warrior princess.”

“Of course you are,” I said giggling. “Um sorry we have some shopping to do and I need to talk to Rarity about a custom order. If you don’t need anything, of course.”

“Oh of course your highnesses,” said Filthy. “Here is my business card. If you ever need general supplies Filthy’s Bargain Barn has the best prices in Equestria. Oh and a discount for royalty.”

“Thanks,” I said. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to suck up to us or if he had something else in mind. Either way he seemed harmless and at least somewhat genuine. “We may stop by later today. I need more supplies for this one.”

I lifted Midnight in my arm. It was so strange having gotten used to walking on three legs. I could have carried her in my magic but I wanted for her to feel safe by having that contact. Midnight seemed to be pretty well occupied by having her eyes wander the world.

“Oh well if you are looking for Foals supplies then you’ll find no better place,” said Filthy Rich. “Again it was my pleasure to met you. Have a wonderful day, your highness.”

He bowed again and popped out of the store. Rarity was headed our way and the unicorn she had been helping was flipping through the racks. Rarity stopped halfway to us her eyes wide once more but this time they were only glued to me.

“Oh my Celestia,” said Rarity in a high pitched squeal that only she could make sound graceful. “Wings. Lilac I knew you were special but my dear this is beyond even my wildest dreams. And you have a couple of very interesting friends. Won’t you introduce your friend, dear?”

“Oh of course this is Hope,” I said pointing at her with my spare hoof. That was not the most brilliant decision and I almost fell face first onto Midnight. I was only saved by Rarity’s magic. “Never doing that again...Sorry.”

“We all make mistakes. Who is the little one and where did you find such a cutie?” asked Rarity.

“Her name is Midnight Lilly and sort of out of thin air…,” I said. “Um can we talk about it somewhere a bit more private, please? On a related note I need to make her some formula. I think she is hungry.”

“Of course,” Rarity said. “Why don’t you go do that and I’ll join you there after I finish up sales here.”

“I don’t want to cost you business,” I said.

“Oh don’t fret,” Rarity said. “They come here because I have the best wears. Waiting an hour or two for that won’t stop them from buying something.”

Rarity walked off and flipped the open sign in the window to closed. She then went and started to talk to another customer. I wasn’t going to turn down some generosity especially not from Rarity. Thankfully Sweetie Belle had invited me over a couple of times and I knew my way to the kitchen. We had spent a number of times there helping Sweetie Belle with her math homework.

Hope and Belle just sat near the table while I worked on making a bottle for Midnight. Thank Celestia for instructions on the container. I would have surely messed this up otherwise and that was just what I needed today. I gave the bottle to Hope who was holding Midnight and sat down at the table. I was feeling exhausted and drained. Today had been far too busy already and it was still the morning. I channeled my mana through my body attempting to reinvigorate myself. Successful, I felt my exhaustion fade away but the drain that I was feeling was still there. My body may have been ready to run a marathon but my mind was far from that.

Rarity came into the room after about thirty minutes. Her mask dropped when she did and I could tell that she must have been as tired as I was. She wasted no time making a pot of tea which took no time thanks to a fire spell she used on the pot.

“Funny thing about that little spell,” said Rarity. “Sweetie Belle made it. Not on purpose mind you but it is quite handy when you have a handle on it. Boiling water takes seconds to make. Mind you if you don’t stop after that it tends to burn down kitchens but still,” said Rarity. She levitated a tray over to the table on which was a number of labeled jars. “So what flavor will you all have?”

“Anything that will wake me,” I said.

“Mint, please,” said Belle.

“Uh, mint, I guess,” said Hope.

“Hope dear, you remind me so much of my good friend Fluttershy,” said Rarity. I would bet that the two of you would get along smashingly. Now that we have tea, care to fill me in on, well, everything?”

I breathed a deep sigh. This was the fourth time today I had explained this. I said, “I made Hope last night because demons are hard to fight and apparently making a soul turns you into an alicorn. I am not to certain on the details. Then this morning I decided that words weren’t enough proof of why I am now an alicorn so to shut up that jerk Blueblood I made Midnight. Which was dumb of me and now I have to take care of a baby as well as try to take care of Hope. That is pretty much it. Any questions? Wait I know what you’ll say. Yes I have told most of my parents. That is Twilight doesn’t know yet but Bon Bon and Lyra do. As does Luna. I have funds to take care of them and I want to do this. I think that that covers everything. Oh and all this happened in the last twelve hours.”

“Quite thorough,” said Rarity. “I take it this isn’t your first time explaining that.”

“And not the last time,” I said. “I still have to tell Twilight. She knows about Hope but yeah. Midnight seems like a harder thing to explain.”

“So what brings you to my shop? It is a treat just to see you but I suspect based on that sort of morning that this isn’t just a social trip,” said Rarity.

“For Hope,” I said. “She is sort of human and humans need clothes and I can’t think of anyone better to fix that than you. Also some cold weather clothes for Midnight would probably be good or really all of us. This is the first winter I have spent here.”

“Well if you will tell me what you are thinking, I’m certain I can make some clothes for Hope,” Rarity said. “Let’s go into my workshop and we can work out the details. I have some sketch paper so you can draw up some ideas. Do you need any piece right away? It is the busy season in the shop so this might take a week or two.”

“Shoes,” I said. “Humans don’t walk around barefoot, especially not during the colder months.”

Rarity lead us up to her workshop which was on the second floor. It was filled with a number of in progress projects and reams upon reams of fabric. One piece stood out from the rest though and it was a brilliant dress that looked like it would fit Luna. It was a near white pearl in color and had a number of black sparkling gems all over it. It was sort of like an inverse night sky.

“Princess Luna commissioned that for the next Grand Galloping Gala which for the first time ever will be held here in Ponyville,” said Rarity as she noticed me checking out the dress. “We have till spring before that but I prefer to have those sort of things done in advance as much as possible. Especially seeing as I need to make one for Twilight as well and maybe you two as well.”

“A pretty princess dress?” said Belle. “I am so game.”

“Yours will be made much closer to the gala,” said Rarity. “You are still growing and no pony knows how much you will as an alicorn. Here’s some paper and a pencil, Lilac and Belle why don’t you draw some normal clothes that humans would wear while I take Hope’s measurements. Going to have to use the big measuring tape for this.”

I passed a piece to Belle and got to work. I started with some shoes. They seemed the most important. I drew sandals, flip flops, sneakers and high heels. Belle was drawing a overly complicated dress that was part armor too. She had watched a bit too much cartoons back home. I drew some more practical clothing. Like sweatpants and sweaters. I wasn’t certain how to add her wings so I just left that part out. By the time Rarity had all the measurements I had some twenty pieces of clothes sketched out. Belle was still working on her one piece. With magic she was a decent artist but she was quite a bit slower than I was.

“So what do you have for me, my fellow fashioners?” asked Rarity. She flipped through my sketches before turning to Belles. She spent as much time looking at Belle’s one drawing as she had my several. It was sweet to see Belle given as much attention. “Some filly wants to be a knight doesn’t she?”

“Of course,” Belle said. “I’m gonna be the best warrior princess ever. Way better than Xena.”

Rarity gave her a puzzled look. I giggled and explained, “Xena is a fictional character from our home, Earth.”

“Ah, well I am sure you will be the best warrior princess ever,” said Rarity. “But armorsmithing is a bit out of my forte for now. So I think I can whip up these sandals in a few. What is the base normally made of?”

“Uh on those a foam that is durable,” I said. “Uh also leather sometimes. I bet a multilayered fabric would work.”

“Leather? Well that isn’t something we often use. The Griffons like to make armor out of it but I haven’t worked with any myself. Much too grisly for my tastes. But I think I can make something work I have some canvas for cloaks that is quite durable so that as a base and then a number of layers of something a bit more soft to the touch. If you are going to walk around on these all days they might as well be comfortable. Give me maybe ten minutes and I can have some prototypes ready.”

Rarity wasted no time getting to work. It was beyond impressive how many things she was levitating at once. I don’t think Twilight had that much precision with her telekinesis. Each layer of fabric was being cut out at the same time and then they stitched together with a thick waxy string. The whole process was a joy to watch and before long there was three pairs of sandals floating before Rarity.

“Try these on dear and tell me which feels most comfortable. Oh and walk around in them a bit. I want to make sure they stay on your feet. It is my first try at something like this,” said Rarity.

Hope did as asked and after the third pair she presented the second pair to Rarity. Hope said, “These are the best. You are really good at this. Thank you so much. It feels right to have some sort of shoes now.”

“One more thing and they will be yours, dear,” said Rarity. Her horn lit up as she floated the pair before her. It wasn’t the glow of simple levitation though as her horn was far brighter than that would entail. A moment later and the brightness faded from Rarity’s horn. “I enchanted them for durability. They should last for a while now at the very least. I don’t know how long though. First try for this after all.”

Rarity handed them back to Hope who slipped them on. It was good to see something good happen today. I asked, “How much do I owe you?”

“On the house dear,” said Rarity. “I just absolutely love a challenge and I haven’t had one like this in a while. I am being well over-payed by the crown for Princesses Gala dresses, not by choice mind you. Princess Luna insisted that I be and I quote ‘Properly compensated so that the common pony knows of the prosperity of the nation.’ You just added another dress to that bill, so it more than covers any expenses for this. Besides, if anypony asks where Hope gets her clothes I am sure you’ll send them my way.”

“If you insist,” I said. “I have too much on my plate right now to resist your generosity. Um do you know what sort of thing I should get for Midnight?”

“Of course,” said Rarity. “I wouldn’t be much of a merchant if I didn’t know what sort of products any customer might need. I have some stuff made up downstairs and one in particular that I think she will just be the cutest little thing in.”

Downstairs Rarity started flipping through a rack towards the back. It had many different sizes from newborn to my size on it. Each was unique though many of them were a bit more fancy than my tastes. Rarity pulled out a pale pumpkin orange jumper that came complete with a cute hood. It looked a bit big for Midnight but that was probably for the best. It certainly looked fluffy enough.

“Best part it comes with stain and mess repellent. I think it will be quite cute on Midnight,” said Rarity. “Let’s make sure it fits and we can make it horn accessible really quick.”

Rarity showed me how it fit on Midnight and then with a quick bit of spell work added horn accessibility. It did look very cute on Midnight and it would keep her warm. I pulled out the money bag that was in the baby bag. I would have to get one that was more friendly to either my size or a backpack that would fit Hope.

“How much do I owe you for that?” I asked. “Um I only have hundred coins. Can you break that?”

“Don’t worry about it, Lilac,” said Rarity.

“No really I insist,” I said.

“How about you each pick out something for the winter and with the shoes and this we will call that one coin even,” said Rarity. “Anything on the shelves.”

“As long as you are getting paid,” I said.

Belle had already started to flip through the rack for younger ponies. I however went over to where Hope was staring distantly at a rack. It was mostly scarves which was probably the only thing here that would work for her. After all Rarity didn’t often deal with customers of Hope’s size. There was one that I figured she was staring at. It tugged at my heartstrings too. It wasn’t likely all that good for staying warm but the silky mint green scarf was like a loaded gun of memories. A lifetime ago I gave Melody a scarf just like that. She would wear it all the time. Until it got stolen at her work. Melody was so hurt over that. It wasn’t a big deal to me but there must have been something special about that scarf that made it hurt more to Melody.

“What about this one?” I asked picking out a different scarf. “I bet this one will look good on you.”

The one I had picked out was a bright red scarf. It was fluffy and made of what seemed like felt. It definitely would be warm in the cold days to come. Not only that but it would add a bit of color to her which she was lacking right now. Her dark black dress was not the most colorful and outside of her brilliant emerald green eyes there wasn’t much color anywhere on her.

“It is pretty,” said Hope. “And fluffy. Which is a plus. I love fluffy things.”

“Well then let’s get it for you,” I said. “Nothing is calling me right now though.”

“You seem so off put by ponies seeing your wings,” said Hope. “Maybe a cloak or somethign to cover them?”

“I don’t want to run from them. I have them and it isn’t going to be long till the cloak would not do it’s job,” I said. “Best just get used to it now. I changed so many things without thinking and then I did it again just a few hours later. My wings are a symbol of that to me but to others they are a symbol of hope. They are the promise of an alicorn to be there for the ponies of Equestria. I can’t deny them that.”

“Well then a scarf for you too,” said Hope. She pulled out a beige felt scarf. It was nearly as fluffy as the one she was wearing around her neck. In a matter of moments the scarf was wrapped around my neck. “That looks good on you.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Let’s see if Belle has something picked out yet.”

She had and had the dark red cloak thrown over her shoulder. It did look good on her and would probably keep her plenty warm during the winter months. Twilight assured me that they were much more mild here in Equestria than what I was used to but it didn’t hurt to be prepared.

“Here is that coin,” I said. “I need to go pick up supplies for Midnight but I don’t really know where is best to do that any suggestions?”

“Thank you,” said Rarity. “It depends on what you’re looking for?”

“I know this isn’t helpful but everything,” I said. “I don't have a crib for her. We have nine diapers left and I have no idea how long that will last. A container of formula, one bottle and a single toy. And I am sure I am missing a bunch of things that I haven’t thought of yet.”

“Do you want some help with that?” asked Rarity. “I have some experience with foals. I haven’t had any of my own yet but I have always been quite active in my little sister’s life.”

“Only if you let me buy you lunch,” I said. “I wouldn't want to take you from you work for nothing.”

“Deal,” said Rarity. “I was going to have to close up for lunch soon anyway.”

The five of us headed out of the shop only pausing for a moment for Rarity to lock the front door. Ponyville was by far more busy than I had come to be use to. Worse yet, is that everypony around us would pause and stare dumbfounded as we passed. Much of it was on Hope but I got nearly as many stares. It was starting to wear on me. I knew I was safe here, but images of being harassed on the streets of a dirty city kept popping in my head. Hope seemed to be doing even less well. We were going to have to do something about this.

“Squee,” came a distant pony. The dreaded Pink blur came speeding over to us from down the street. Pinkie Pie started talking faster than any other person I had ever heard. “Hi. I am Pinkie Pie and you must be new in town because I know everypony or well everyone who lives in Ponyville. Which let me tell you, has been way harder as of recent with the whole all the new ponies from all over the place coming to help set up a new seat of the Equestrian government. But you are special. Like I have never seen anyone like you. And I would remember because I remember like everything. Can you remember being born? I can. Or at least I think I can. It might have been a fever dream from a night of one too many ciders mixed with my super fun time never sleep formula. It just isn’t working as well anymore. But that is enough about me tell me everything about you. Like where are you from? Are you from Gryphonhelm? Or no you must be from the other side of Equis. Like you would have to be for me to not even know about what kind of creature you are. Or maybe you aren’t from this world? Are you an extraterrestrial? Cause that would be super cool like space ships and everything. You come in peace right? That is good I want to be friends with an alien and it would be such a bummer if you were all like ‘This is my laser sword’ and then swish swoosh and arg.”

Pinkie pie fell over pretending to be dead. From seemingly nowhere she had found a daisy that she held in her hooves as she laid on the ground like a plank. Hope looked absolutely lost and was shaking. I tugged at Pinkie with my magic. It wasn’t enough to move her but it did work to get her attention.

“Oh. Hi,” said Pinkie Pie. “Wow you look like super duper tired and exhausted. Which is sort of funny because last I heard you were still sleeping and like a month long nap should leave you all rested. Or well I would think and you would be the expert on that as I don’t know anyone else who took a such a long nap. It is good to see you up and about. Twilight has been having a hard time as of recent and I am pretty certain that you being awake will help with that. And what is this? You have wings. Like holy cupcakes, wings. Do you know what this means? Party. Like the biggest party because you are a princess now and Equestria needs a party right now. Nobody seems to get that but me but you understand right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“I knew you would,” said Pinkie. I was frankly surprised she stopped long enough to hear my response. “But if we are going to do this right I am gonna need your help. After all if you aren’t there it won’t be a much of a “Super Gigantic Alicorn Party of Princess and WIngs Congratulations Party” if you aren’t there. So here is the thing that we are going to need some extra energy for this but don’t worry I have the perfect thing.”

Pinkie pulled out from her bag a pair of water bottles. They were filled with something that wasn’t water though. It had a glow to it that looked a bit like what movies on earth depicted as radioactive. Whatever the stuff was it was extremely thick and barely splashed when Pinkie held them out for me to see.

“This is a drink of my own creation,” said Pinkie Pie. “It is like the best thing since whoever made up cupcakes. So like I found this plant that grows in the Everfree and it is like coffee but way way better and I had Twilight look at it and she says that it is safe to drink so either way. The downside is that it tastes horrid so I just added more sugar to it to make it not taste bad but then it got a bit well glowy. But yeah like with this I haven't slept in like a week.”

Pinkie opened one of the small bottles and poured the bottle down her throat. It was almost nauseating to even watch. My mouth hung open as she literally started to vibrate. I was so shocked that when Pinkie poured the second drink down my throat that all I could do was swallow.

“Pinkie,” Shouted Rarity. “What were you thinking?”

“That this is going to be the best party ever,” said Pinkie.

Part 1: Chapter 20

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Chapter 20: The Places a Mind Will Go

I tried to focus. I could feel the energy drink work and my perception of time started to accelerate. Everything seemed so slow. I got lost in that focus of mine. The world seemed to cease being around me and I could feel the raging storm that was my magic calling to me to be used. But here would not do. No earth shaking magic meant needing space and Luna’s meadow would work well. I hadn’t ever tried to teleport that distance but I had to have the magic now. Besides it was a beacon for that. I reached out with my magic and focused on the meadow. There was someone else in my personal field. They could come with as well. It would be fun to have someone watch.

I teleported and in that moment I remembered who I was holding. Panic. Pop. Well I wasn’t dead. That was good and opening my eyes and forcing my focus to escape my mind so was Midnight. She was not happy but she was alive. I could worry about everything else later. The spell hit me though like a truck and I wasn’t certain if I had another one in me. A nap would fix that probably but that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Which put me a conundrum as to what to do by myself in a field of semi destroyed flowers from the previous night.

I pulled on my power. I called to the flowers, to the life around me and I shaped it to my will. The plants grew as I directed them and soon a woven crib was in the middle of the meadow. I put Midnight in the crib as she had fallen asleep and I wanted to push myself to the point where I might be able to rest. It still felt like a far off thing though.

What could I practice out here. I couldn’t think of anything that seemed so important right now. Instead I wandered the field. There was a tree that was near the edge of the forest that reminded me of an oak tree. Despite the chill the leaves hadn’t fallen off and it occurred to me that flowers in late October was a bit weird. Equestria was a weird place and we were still right next to the Everfree forest.

It really should have came as no surprise when a group of timber wolves walked out of the forest. I wasn’t aware that I had been all that loud but they were here. Midnight started to cry and the wolves each looked in that direction. There were at least four of them but I was having a hard time picking them out. All I knew was that while most of them were trying to surround me one of them was headed to my child.

That was a mistake. I teleported between the wolf and Midnight. It slowed its progress but didn’t halt it. They didn’t think I was a threat. That was their second mistake. I blasted the nearest with my magic. The wolf burst into a million pieces that was scattered all around the meadow. Another jumped at me and met the same fate. The others seemed to get the picture that I wasn’t to be messed with one on one. They circled me as I backed up to stand right next to Midnight. I lifted her up in my magic and held her close. These timberwolves would not get the best of me. A golem had kept them at bay last time one would do it again.

It was almost nothing to call forth a few golems. They weren’t anything special just large animated boulders with arms and legs. The timberwolves tested my minions but found that the rock that made them were not something to eat. Still they seemed determined to find a way past the golems to me and Midnight.

There was a loud roar and the timberwolves sprinted towards the forest. Load claps of air filled the meadow. Of course there had to be a bigger fish. Spike was nice. Maybe this dragon would be as well.

I turned to look at the incoming dragon. It was huge. Easily the size of a multi story house. It must have been at least ten meters tall and at least three times that length with a wingspan to match. I couldn’t help but be afraid at the massive beast that was quickly headed to the meadow. As the dragon landed they let loose a burst of flames into the air that went some twenty meters.

He breathed in and I had a moment to act. I popped into existence off to the side of the meadow. His fire burnt a line through the meadow where I had been standing with Midnight just seconds ago. A great swath of the forest was up in flames as well. I could probably keep doing this for a while but one mistake and both Midnight and I would be dead. Several more teleports and I wasn’t certain how much longer I could keep this up. He was getting closer to us each time. It was like he was anticipating where I would be teleporting.

He finally hit us with one. I had a shield up in just a second later but the flames had already done their work. I could feel a slight singeing but it wasn’t as hot as I had expected. I checked Midnight. Her face had been melted off by the flames but she was still moving and crying. I didn’t even know where to start on healing spells. I couldn’t stop staring as her as her face keep fading from her to reveal a skull behind it. And yet she still kept crying and moving.

The dragon was dead. It was only a matter of time now. I would rip his heart out. I teleported to a tree and called a bed out of the plants and covered the area in a shield leaving Midnight there. I would deal with that pain later. I turned to the dragon. He seemed to be laughing at me. A blast of flame washed over the area but I wasn’t there anymore. No I was ten meters up in the air above him. I charged my horn and spread my wings trying to slow my descent. I blasted the dragon with every ounce of my rage. It didn’t seem to phase the dragon though. I called upon the plants of the area and had them grow around the dragon. Wrapping him in vines that with any luck would choke the life out of him. I had them constrict as much as possible. Then I called from the trees near me a piece of wood that I shaped like a spear. I poured my magic into so very much of it and pierced the dragon. He screamed in pain. It wasn’t enough. Though I conjured spear after spear each one getting a satisfying scream from my victim.

There was a pop of light. Luna popped into existence near the center of the meadow. She seemed oblivious to the flames that licked at her legs. I teleported over to her.

“Hurry,” I shouted. I then teleported the two of us to Midnight. “You have to heal her. Please say you can heal her.”

“Lilac,” Luna said. “She is fine. There is nothing wrong outside of her crying.”

“What do you mean? How can you not see? Her face is all melted,” I said. “PLease do something. I need you to save her.”

The dragon roared and ripped itself free of the vines that bound it to the ground. Turning my back on Luna and Midnight, I would end this now. One teleport later and I was blasting him again. This time it seemed that the holes left by the spears was enough to pierce his hide. He screamed in agony. Even after that blast he was still breathing. I conjured another spear. This one would go through his head. It went in with surprising ease. His screams turned into a whimper until the died out.

“How is she? Did you heal her?” I asked Luna as I walked back over to her. “That dragon came out of nowhere and attacked us.”

“Lilac, there is no dragon,” said Luna. “Midnight is completely unharmed. I scanned her. What dragon are you talking about?”

“That one. The one I just killed,” I said as I pointed at it.

The flesh of the dragon had been fading away leaving the great bones of the beast. Something though that I hadn’t been expecting was for those to get up. The skeletal dragon rose high on his legs. Green flames appeared in his eye sockets and I could tell he was watching me.

“Do you know any anti-undead spells?” I asked. “I don’t know what to do against a dracolich.”

“Lilac,” Luna said. “You need to calm down. You are seeing things that aren’t there.”

The dracolich swiped at us and I teleported out of the way. It hit luna though and tossed her a couple of meters. She didn’t look so great. How could such a simple swipe have laid her low. I needed something to win me this fight. I summoned my magic. A golem might do the trick. From the ground a giant raised. The golem stood nearly 8 meters high and was massive. This one was made of plant and rock and looked much more human. Summoning him left me drained. I had to end this quickly.

“Destroy the dracolich,” I shouted. My golem just sat there doing nothing. Why was he not listening? “Move do something. Please.”

The Golem started to walk forward but the dracolich was much faster. It took to the air and ignored the golem. No it moved directly to me. A sickly green flame was headed my way. I teleported away. I didn’t make it far enough though and was caught by the edge of the fire.

Luna appeared right next to me in the flames. She was untouched by them. Her horn was glowing brightly.

“Forgive me,” she said.

I could feel some sort of magical sleep coming over me. I had to save Midnight. Why was Luna attacking me? Was she in league with the dragons? I channeled my magic through my system using it to break her enchantment.

I charged a blast and fired it at Luna. She deftly blocked it with a shield. I didn’t even make a dent in the shield. I was running no nearly empty. Luna’s face contorted and turned nightmarish. Then there were many of her surrounding me. I started to blast them but it didn’t do a thing. My body ached with the strain of pushing myself too much. I had to stop her. I had to protect midnight. A drowsiness hit me and this time I didn’t have the mana to stop it.

I came too in my bed at the castle. Belle and Hope where sitting in chairs next to me. Luna and Twilight were doing paper work on the floor where I had been drawing earlier that day. Everybody seemed on edge. Midnight was sleeping just a bit away from me.

“Luna she is awake,” said Belle. “Lilac, everything is fine.”

“What? What happened to the dragon? Luna why were you in league with the dragon?” I stammered out. I looked at Midnight her face was perfectly normal. “Why did you heal her now when you wouldn’t earlier?”

Luna and Twilight came over to the bed. Twilight spoke first, saying, “Lilac, you were hallucinating. None of that was real.”

“Wait I attacked Luna. I…” I stammered. My panic was getting the better of me again and I collapsed back into my pillow.

I felt someone petting me. She was gentle and a glowing beacon. My panic started to settle and I came back to the world of the living. Hope was the one petting me and there was a glow of magic to her hands.

“Lilac,” Luna said. “You have nothing to be sorry for or to worry over. You were not in your right mind nor was that a thing you had control over. You just need to rest. Real rest not magically induced sleep. There is nothing to be sorry for.”

Part 1: Chapter 21

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Chapter 21: Cracks and Leaks

“I need to go have a talk with Pinkie Pie,” said Twilight. She was quite angry and it showed in her voice. “She should know better than this. I can’t believe she did this to Lilac.”

“Calm,” Luna said. “I have already had a talk to her and she is currently sleeping. She hadn’t slept in over a week and was also intoxicated. It was a poor decision but she will make up for it. Just not now.”

“Don’t tell me to be calm,” Twilight snapped. “What if Lilac hadn’t have thought to get out of town? What would have we done then? A second alicorn going on a rampage in a town. What then? You don’t have any other answers than I do.”

“Twilight, I know things are hard right now but we will get through this,” said Luna. “Please trust me.”

“Don’t be deluded. We have a week till everything changes in ways that we don’t even know how. What will a merger look like? THe world may be coming to an end in a week for all we know and the one pony who does know won’t bucking show his face. But yes let’s just pretend that everything is going to be alright. I am a mother and I can’t even be there to stop my daughter from making a mistake that will change her life forever. That is proof that we are failing,” said Twilight pointing at Midnight. Twilight turned to me. “And you. What the buck were you thinking? No let me guess you weren’t thinking again. Do you have any value for life? And you just make them out of thin air. One of which will never be accepted by ponies because she is different and another that can’t fend for itself and you are clearly not able to do that. I’m done. Buck this. Have fun dealing with this crap show.”

Twilight charged her horn and disappeared in a flash of light and a pop. I was just lost for words. Twilight had never snapped like that before and thoughts of her being under some sort of enchantment ran through my head. I didn’t want to think of having to fight her and Luna would need help if it came to that. Luna looked undisturbed though by this all.

“Do not fret, Lilac,” Luna said. “Twilight has just been bottling up some problems that she hasn’t dealt with. She can stop me from entering her dreams but I am still able to get the gist of their content. I’m sure that she loves you and I suspect that in a few hours she will be more understanding.”

There was a slight flash of light and Discord popped into existence at the end of my bed. He was slumped over it and a literal rain cloud was pouring down on him. Even the colors in his mismatched body seemed drained and dull. Belle patted him on his right leg trying to be comforting. Hope was just bewildered by Discord and had surprise all over her face.

“Nice to see you,” said Luna. “We have so many questions that only you can answer. But something tells me that you aren’t here to answer them.”

“Lets see the world isn’t going to end it is going to change in ways even I can’t understand. That might end your world as in bring about a doom for ponykind but likely not. It will happen in a week from today. That one I can say for certain. At 11:45 am,” said Discord. “However right this moment there is something more pressing. There has been a dimensional breach. Like the one that brought Lilac and Armored to this world. This time was a bit different. It came from your homeworld without our intervention. I think that the god of chaos from that world has added a bit of a present for our world. This breach though is a bit slower than the previous attempts. So in a few minutes they are all gonna crash into Equis. Won’t that be fun.”

“Do you know who it is?” I asked.

“Nope. Not a clue. But I can tell you where they will be,” said Discord. “I know so amazing. Save your applause. There is a big group that is going to land just outside of Las Pegasus and another group that is gonna land about forty kilometers outside of Manehattan. Another group is going to land in between Bellingneigh and Seaddle. One group in Gryphonhelm. Like that one is gonna land in the middle of the whole thing. Oh and a group A bit outside of the Crystal Empire’s borders. Oh and one just inside the Everfree near the Apple farm.”

“How many people is that?” Luna asked. “Are we talking small groups of large ones? Can you send them back?”

“Send them home no idea. As for how many, some of them are going to be small numbers. Like the one in Gryphonhelm is probably gonna be like 2 or three at most. But Manehattan gets the biggest by at least one hundred. The others are in between in sizes,” said Discord. “Lilac any insights to share about your former people.”

“They are going to be scared and some of them might be violent. If they have any guns that could be bad,” I said. “Let me draw you what those look like.”

I pulled a piece of paper over to me from my supplies along with a pencil. It was a crude sketch but it would do for our needs. I drew a few basic version, including a rifle and a handgun. I drew some pictures of what I thought were heavily armed military types.

“So that is a gun. If they have it pointed at you it can hurt you and maybe kill you. I don’t know how tough Alicorns are. The thing fires a small slug of metal at eight hundred meters per second. I think a shield spell should prevent them from hitting you but you would need the shield up before the gun is fired. If one of the humans look like this then you can trust them with their weapons. That is a soldier and they are trained to understand how to deal with hostile environments and won’t loose their cool as much as a civilian. Civilians, so people in any assortment of clothes, with guns are the ones you have to watch. They will be a lot more twitchy. If you destroy the end of the gun it can’t fire safely. Like it will explode when fired. So you can disable the guns that way. Probably best to not try to just rip it out of their hands though,” I explained.

“Thank you for the information. Well we need to spring into action. Lilac I need you to be there for the one nearby. You are strong enough that any fight does occur you can at least teleport all of the group out of there. Belle I want you to stay in the castle. You are going to be in charge of keeping everypony here safe. You know what sort of things these people are going to need I need you to make up a list and get it to the guards. Further still you will be getting messages through Spike on numbers. We are going to have to figure out housing for them. I know logistics are not the most fun thing but it is what these people need of you. Discord I want you to go to the second largest group and keep them safe. If you think that your presence will help calm them then do so but right now calm is what we need,” said Luna. “I will be heading to Manehattan to deal with that group. We have no idea how being here in Equis will affect them so be prepared for anything. Good luck.”

Luna’s horn lit up and she popped out of existence. Discord faded from reality in just a few moments. Leaving the three of us here to our own devices. This was a lot. I had no idea how many would be here but I had to do my best. The everfree was not a place to be trifled with and my magical reserves were not to full yet. They had replenished far more than I had expected though. It must have been part of being an alicorn.

“Belle, take care of Midnight for me while I am gone. Hope, you coming might help but it will be dangerous. I will try to protect you but I don’t hold any illusions on my abilities right now. I am going to leave this too you,” I said.

“I think I want to stay here,” said Hope. “I’ll help Belle and make sure that Midnight is well taken care of.”

“Okay,” I said. There was a sense of relief that ran through it. At least they would be safe. “I”ll be back as soon as I can.”

I charged my horn and popped into existence near the Apple farm. I didn’t have a precise image of where I had wanted to go and I ended up a bit of a distance to the area Discord described. No I was near Fluttershy’s cabin. I must have been out of my mind but I was about to walk into the Everfree forest by myself.

There was a brilliant flash that ran through the sky. It was like a meteor. I hoped it was just the magic of the transfer and not the actual people. None of them were going to survive that impact. I teleported towards the light and pulled up a shield around me. The impact sent a burst of shrapnel and dust rushing towards me but none of it pierced my shield. I charged one more teleport and found myself just inside the devastation.

There in the center of the blast there was a number of black sphere. Each cracked with a bright light spilling out of them. Soon the spheres started to dissolve into a strange smoke that was quickly dissipated. Left behind out of the seven spheres were a scrambled collection of humans. They each seemed unharmed and were in various states of dress and readiness for such an excursion. One guy had nothing more than a pair of boxers but another was in a fancy business outfit. One was a child in a school uniform. Each of them though looked frightened. I slowly approached one of them. My horn was glowing with my magic ready to be unleashed if needed.

“Was ist los? Wo sind wir?” said one of them near me. They were ambiguously dressed in a hoodie and had pale skin and green eyes. They were staring at me with all the wonder in the world. I was pretty certain they were speaking German. “Das ist ein Einhorn. Ein echtes Einhorn. Warte, es hat auch Flügel.”

“Hello,” I said. “Please I know it is confusing but we have to get out of here soon. There are all sorts of monsters that live in this area of the forest and we really don’t want to be here when they show up.”

“Es spricht. Jungs, dieses Einhorn versucht, mit mir zu sprechen,” continued the one wearing a hoodie. They started to walk up to me. They were much bigger than I was and taller than many ponies but smaller than Hope was. There was nothing but joy covering their face. “Alles ist gut. Ich möchte dich streicheln. Ist das gut?”

They reached out and touched my head. It was a bit awkward but I let them feel my hair. I wasn’t certain how I was going to get them to all follow me out of this forest. I tried to mime as best I could that they should follow.

“No hablo alemán. ¿Habla usted Inglés? ¿O español?” said the guy in his underwear. “<<Do you speak english?>>”

“<<Not good.>>” said the person still petting me. The words they spoke were so familiar and yet I didn’t understand them. “<<I am better at reading it.>>

“<<Hey everybody,>>” shouted the dark skinned man in his underwear. “<<We probably should start thinking about trying to get out of here. THis forest doesn’t look like anywhere I know of and I don’t think i want to know what lives in it.>>”

“<<This one is trying to show us something.>> said the person who was still petting my head. “<<It speaks. Not that I understand it.>>”

Noises started to lift out of the forest. Something was about to jump out of the forest. I didn’t want to think of what sort of animals, magical or not, that would be brave enough to come here. We needed to leave now. I went behind the human who was looking at me very confused and their eyes kept darting back towards the sounds that were growing louder and louder. I pushed them in the direction of town and out of the Everfree. It wasn’t enough to push them over but it was enough to get my message across.

“<<The unicorn is trying to get us to leave. I think we should.>>” said the hoodie wearing person. “<<I for one don’t want to find out what is making that much noise.>>”

We were too late. A large snake like snout burst into the clearing left by the impact. It had to be a lyndwurm. It pounced forward on its two legs attempting to catch one of the humans in its mouth. The young child screamed. I blasted the wurm sending it off course just enough to save the human from being eaten. It didn’t take any more encouraging for the group of humans to start running. Most of them went in the same direction towards the relative safety of the edge of the forest. The child was just frozen and one had ran off in the wrong direction. I lifted the child with my magic and felt a strange drain in doing so. It was as if the child was sucking at my magic pulling it away from me. I should have figured as much considering Belle’s arrival in Equis. Still I had enough energy to at least push the kid into running away. The other straggler however was much bigger and was much quicker. Having them run further into the forest wouldn’t do well so I summoned a golem which blocked their path. They screamed as the golem lifted from the ground. I didn’t have time to make sure they got to safety as the Lyndwurm struck at me. Its massive tail slammed down where I had been just a moment earlier. Thankfully my teleportation at short range had gotten quite quick.

Lyndwurms were not common around this part of the forest and Twilight had warned me that they were quite aggressive in their hunting. If one was out here then running wasn’t much of an option. At least not till I scared it off. I summoned a large amount of my magic and called forth another golem. The Lyndwurm ignored my alley and snapped at me again. I wasn’t ready for another teleport and only managed to dodge ever so slightly. The creature's arm was much quicker than my reflexes and it grabbed me and started to squeeze. The pain was not the worse that I had ever felt but it was enough that I couldn’t concentrate on my magic at all. Thankfully my golem came to my rescue and punched the Lyndwurm in the face. The wurm’s grip loosened enough that I was able to focus on my magic and I teleported to the far end of the clearing.

The golem’s punch gave the lyndwurm a pause for a moment. With its mouth gaping, fire shot out of the Lyndwurm melting my golem into a pool of molten rock. This was not a fight I was going to win. Not without resorting to much more powerful magic. I called to the life surrounding us. I asked for its help. The vines and trees responded. The very Everfree itself responded to my call and my magic. Vines wrapped around the Lyndwurm and tree roots grew around its feet. Soon the thing was held down by so many vines and plants that it barely looked like a creature at all.

The drain of that magic was immense. I could barely keep myself upright let alone walk back to town just yet. A pair of arms wrapped around my midsection and lifted me into the air. It was quite awkward to say the least but I didn’t fight the help. The German speaking hoodie wearing human was hurrying as fast as they could through the thick brush away from the clearing. Hopefully the two stranglers had made it out. I wasn’t in any condition to go find out. We broke through the edge of the forest out into a clear field that separated the orchard from the forest. All seven of the humans were huddled near each other. We weren’t alone though. Rainbow Dash was hovering above the group. She seemed concerned about the way I was being held but that she didn’t want to cause a scene. In the distance I could see Applejack and Big Mac headed this way.

“It is alright Rainbow Dash,” I said loudly. “This one just helped me get out of the forest. There is a Lyndwurm nearby that I restrained but I don’t trust that to hold them we need to get out of here.”

“Alright let's get moving. Come on. Move it,” shouted Rainbow Dash. Most of the humans just looked up at her dumbfounded. She dashed over to me and the human who was still holding me. “Do they understand Equish? Or anything?”

“No not Equish but they do understand some languages. None that I can speak but yeah. We need to take them to the castle. I don’t have the energy to teleport them even if I could. Rainbow can you go get a few guards. Like four of them that shouldn’t scare the humans too much,” I asked. “We need to make sure that Lyndwurm doesn’t decide to come to Ponyville. Luna isn’t here right now and I don’t know where Twilight is.”

“You can count on me, but are you going to be alright here by yourself,” said Rainbow.

“Applejack is on her way with Big Mac,” I said. “I’ll be fine till they get here.”

“Okay one group of guards coming right up,” said Rainbow Dash before she flew away at a speed that almost knocked over the human holding me from the wind.

Most of the humans were seemingly in a shock. The child who had to have been no older than eight was crying into another’s arms and everyone looked more than a bit scared. I didn’t even know where to begin on getting them up and ready to go. I pointed at Applejack with an arm that I had to pry out from the German human’s grip. They seemed to get what I wanted and started to walk towards Applejack. A couple of the other humans followed us towards AJ. But four of them were still sitting near the edge of the forest.

“Whoa, are them what you used to be?” asked Applejack as she came into talking range. “Weird creatures. Where did they all come from?”

“We don’t know,” I said. “We have to get out of here though. I left a Lyndwurm tied up a hundred meters into the forest.”

It was as if I had spoke of the devil and he showed up for the Lyndwurm roared and a gout of fire spewed into the air above where the clearing was. That got the humans running again though this time towards us. Applejack and Big Mac lead us into the orchard and towards their home. It wasn’t the best solution but at least we would be safe there. The humans followed. The one who had been comforting the kid, had them riding on their shoulders. I could only imagine what was going on in their minds. We didn’t make it to the farmhouse before one of them collapsed.

We crowded around the one that had fallen. It was the middle aged man in a business suit. There was a faint glow to his body and I didn’t know could be affecting him. But it was clear he was in pain. I hopped out of the German person’s arms and walked up to the one on the ground. There was a heat to the air that was abnormal and magical. I looked around at the other humans and I noticed that the kid was also out and glowing. Great this was going to happen to all of them. It must have been magical overload of some sort though how that was going to manifest when it kept building was beyond me.

Another one collapsed and everyone started to panic. I erected a large field around us preventing them from running away. Two more fainted leaving only underwear guy and German person left awake. The two of them huddled near each other eyeing their fellow humans. The underwear man dropped too.

“Was ist los? Ich fühle mich sehr warm,” said the German person. They fell to their knees and were clutching their head. “Es schmerzt. Hör auf. Bitte.”

I walked over to them and placed my horn against their head. I reached out with my magic trying to stop the outburst. All this did was increase the reaction as they ate greedily from my magic. It grew worse and worse but I gained some insight on what was happening. Their souls had sucked up as much of the ambient magic in the area replenishing their empty wellsprings but that magic didn’t flow like it would in a native of Equis. The magic was fixing that. It was changing them. I wasn’t certain how but I was pretty certain they were growing ley lines so that their magic could properly flow through them.

“Lilac, what is happening to them?” asked Applejack. “This is hard to watch.”

“We need to get them to the hospital or to the castle and medical staff to them. I wish Twilight was here she would have a solution but right now I don’t have one,” I said. “I am pretty certain that their bodies are adapting to magic but what that is going to mean is beyond me.”

“Okay,” said Applejack. “I won’t sit by idly while a pony is in pain. Big Mac run and grab the cart. We can hall the lot of them to the hospital that way. Be easier and probably safer than trying to carry them ourselves.”

Big Mac only nodded and galloped away with an urgency I had only seen in him once before. It was maybe five minutes before he returned. We loaded them up in the cart as nicely as possible but some of them had to be piled ontop of eachother so that they would all fit. I made sure that was legs only. I wasn’t much use in getting them into the cart though as every time I tried to levitate them I found my magic being sucked into them and the spell would fail. The roars of the Lyndwurm were getting louder and I didn’t want to stay here anymore.

Somehow the German person had stayed awake despite the magical overload and I could tell that their magic was still building in them. The other humans had remained at a semi constant rate of magic flow. I wish I knew how to help them but it seemed beyond me. So instead I leaned up against them in the car and tried to comfort them as much as possible. It seemed to work as they were petting me. Again it was a bit weird but if that made them more comfortable it would work for now.

The trip to town was a bit bumpy as Big Mac was hurrying more than usual. We made it to the hospital some ten minutes later and the glow around each of the humans had yet to stop. I could feel that even without casting any spells the German was pulling on my magic slowly draining it. It wasn’t enough to be a problem in the least but I was worried for the build up in them that was growing more and more likely. They were sweating profusely and had stopped petting me by the time we made it to the hospital.

Applejack went in to acquire help and with it the Humans were loaded on stretchers and wheeled into the Hospital. The staff didn’t seem to even notice that I followed them in. I was the only source of information on the humans that was available for any of them and knew I need to be available to help.

“Princess,” said a brown coated doctor. “What are these creatures? I can tell there is something wrong with them but none of the scanning spells are working on them.”

“They are humans,” I explained. I wasn’t certain how much information I should give out but I had to make sure they survived. “They are from another world. Magic is the problem right now. Their systems are trying to adapt to magic as the world they are from didn’t have any magic. Their souls have gathered a glut of mana trying to fill their wellspring but their bodies are able to process the mana and I think it is changing them to be able to do so.”

“Is there anything that you can think of to help them through this,” asked the doctor. “I don’t even know where to start with that.”

“Monitor their heart rate and maybe get an IV with saline in them. I don’t know maybe a bit of pain meds would help. I have no medical knowledge of their species,” I said. “I’m sorry I don’t have any other answers.”

“You did what you would, your highness,” said the doctor. “No one can ask for more. Do you want to stay with them? It might be a good idea to have a princess on hand just in case.”

“I do want to stay,” I said. “It is my responsibility to see them safe.”

“I am going to go try a few tests to see if we can get some results. It would be nice if we had a baseline to go with but for now we will work with what we have,” said the doctor.

“What kind of tests? Sorry to keep you but I might have some basic knowledge I guess it is just sort of hard for me to remember it without prompting,” I said. “Like the Human body is supposed to be around thirty seven degrees. If it gets higher than four degrees more it can kill the human. I know they give them ice baths if they get too hot. I know that their heartbeat shouldn’t be above one fifty while exercising or something around there.”

“Thanks,” said the doctor. “At least it gives us something to go on.”

The doctor lead the way into a big open room. It was an overflow room and nurses were busily trying to set up equipment. I hoped that it would work as much of it was based on magic. I wasn’t certain if the human’s would siphon off even that magic. I sat in the corner near the child trying to stay out of the way. None of the humans were looking good and I wasn’t certain what I could do to help them or if anything could be done.

The doctor got to work trying every method he had that was non-magical in nature. I focused on my own magic and pushed that to open my secondary senses. They were confusing to me but I could see the magic running through the humans. It was weird to see the stuff slowly flowing through them disappointing as it did. I wish I knew more of what this did or meant though. There seemed to be pulses of magic as the mana was sucked out of the air by the humans and then sent through their system. Patterns had started to form but just so. Each pulse got a small amount further before dissipating.

In time this would stop but the question was how soon would that be and would they survive the process if it took too long. I was pretty certain I could speed up the process by intentionally pushing magic through their system. I had much more than was available from the ambient mana sphere. Would such an action further endanger them though. I needed more data.

I walked over to one of the nurses who had been visiting each of the humans with a stethoscope and thermometer. He was taking notes on what was collected. He had two more on his list as he walked from one to another.

“Can I see your data?” I asked. “I can tell you if there are any problems with them.”

“Oh uh sure,” said the nurse.

I glanced over the numbers all of them had temperatures around forty degrees and a few were at forty one degrees. This needed to end now or they would fry their brains. The German had the worse at nearly forty two degrees.

I rushed over to them. Another nurse was packing ice packs around them. It wasn’t going to be enough. They needed to be cooled down now. I started to pack on the ice packs as well.

“We need a tub of icy water for this one,” I said. “Also we should get them out of these clothes so that this works better. Do you have scizzors?”

The nurse handed me a pair and I started to cut their clothing off of them. Rarity was going to have some more work for her after all. What I found underneath confused me a little but I didn’t want to make any concern to the pony doctors and nurses. That and it was none of my business.

The nurse had run off and found the largest bin they could find. It would have fit a pony but humans were a bit too long so we. The only problem was that the tub was empty. I focused on my magic. Twilight had taught me to summon water though it had proved too difficult for practical purposes before my transformation. Now that I had so much more mana hopefully this wasn’t going to be a waste. I poured my mana into the spell matrix. From my horn shot a stream of water that was quite cold. It took me a minute or so to fill the tub and I was feeling somewhat drained from that. I would need to practice this spell more. Well that and maybe an actual rest today would be a good idea. I had less than a tenth of my magic left. Still it would have to do for what I needed. The nurse who was an earth pony stallion had no trouble lifting our patient into the water. I held their head up above the water while I waited for it to work. It would take ten minutes at least. I kept checking their temperature with the crystal that the nurse had left me. It was decreasing but by very small amounts less than a tenth of a degree every minute or so.

The magical reaction was taking too long. This would be deadly if something wasn’t done to speed it up. I flagged down the doctor as he walked by. A few of the others were being prepped for ice baths.

“Doctor, I think I have a way to hurry their magical reaction and in doing so hopefully get them through this tricky part faster,” I said. “But you are the doctor and honestly my idea might just be dumb.”

“At this point I don’t have any answers but I agree that something needs to be done now. Their pulses are getting well beyond what you suggested and I can tell that the stress to their bodies is causing damage,” said the Doctor. “You are the most knowledgeable of these creatures here. If you have a plan it is worth at least listening to. What is your plan?”

“I want to accelerate the process by providing the mana to them directly instead of them sapping it fromt the manasphere. I know that this will speed the magics effects and I don’t think there is a stopping this without killing them. I think the best we can do is either wait it out or make it happen quicker in hopes that it being faster helps them survive,” I said. “But I don’t know. I am not a doctor and in no way am an expert on these creatures.”

“I don’t like waiting. Not when they seem to be getting worse. We should at least try this but on the most stable,” said the doctor. “That way we reduce the risk of this going badly.”

“Okay, which one is that?” I asked.

The doctor lead me over to a twenty looking woman. She was being wrapped in ice packs as we came up. The doctor took her heartrate again.

“She has the most stable sounding heartrate,” said the doctor. “Her temperature is still rising but I think that this one is the most likely to survive this attempt. If this works the unicorn staff can replicate what you are about to attempt.”

“Okay,” I said. “That is good I am sort of running on empty here.”

“Don’t push yourself too much. And start small. We want to observe this as much as possible,” said the doctor.

I channeled my magic once more triggering my magical senses. I the lifted their hand to my horn and poured my magic into them. I could see the process of them growing leylines speed up. It was working. I pushed more mana into them and watched as the ley lines started to flesh out and head away from her core. It was a good sign. Her wellspring was smaller than I was expecting but it was growing with the magic that I poured into her at a steady rate. I pushed even more and soon they had complete leylines. Returning to my normal sight I saw the glow around them fade and they seemed to relax.

“It worked,” said the doctor. “Their temperature went up in that time but only just. How much mana did it take to finish the spell?”

“Four to five kilolites,” I said. “Too much for most ponies to provide. I think I can do this for most of them. I have the energy but if the unicorn staff work together on some of the more stable patients that would save us a lot of time. Ten minutes each would take a lot out of me.”

“Yeah that would cause magical burnout in all of our staff except for maybe two of them. But if we work together we should be able to take care of some of the load from you. I want to make sure you aren’t suffering from burn out though before we continue,” said the doctor. “Just let me do a quick scan of you and we can get to work on this solution.”

The doctor’s horn lit up and I could feel the tingle of being scanned. I was not feeling up to snuff but it would have to work. I didn’t have much of a choice right now. The doctor however was not looking happy at me when he came out of his scan.

“You are already burn out. Any further of this and you might risk horn blowout. I can’t in good consciousness let you do any more. We will figure out something,” said the doctor. “Don’t make me confine you to bed for the next day.”

“Doctor we don’t have time for that,” I said. “I have to do this. I’m the only one here who can.”

“You can rely on others for stuff. We will go and ask a few of the more magically gifted in town to help out. We can have them all here in twenty minutes. This isn’t a thing that you need to do,” said the doctor. “We need our princesses right now more than ever. You have to take care of yourself first.”

“You go gather the unicorns for that,” I said. “I know I have at least one more in me so let me take care of the one in worst condition and you can handle the rest. I don’t know if they will survive otherwise.”

“Fine, but you have my complaints and a promise of a told you so afterwards,” said the doctor.

I walked over to the German patient. They were still in the icy water bath. It had barely reduced their temperature. This needed to end as soon as possible. I focused on my magic again and turned to my other senses. They had the least amount of progress out of the humans I had looked at. I touched my horn to their head and started channeling. I poured more magic in at a time than I had for the other human and still their progress was slower. My horn started to hurt and I was having trouble concentrating over the pain. I was at most half way through when I had to stop. I had done what I could and anymore the doctor would be right. I stumbled up onto the bed that the human had been on and passed out.

Part 1: Chapter 22

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Chapter 22: A touch of Chaos and a spoonful of knowledge

I woke some time later in another room. It was hard to tell how long I had been out for but the light from the window proved it to be later in the afternoon. I recovered quicker now that I was an alicorn and it stood to reason that it was just later that evening. Bon Bon was sitting on the bench. This was far to frequent of a occurrence.

“Sorry,” I said. “I hope I didn’t worry you too much.”

“Only a little bit. No the major panic was when a random stranger comes up to our house and tells me you are in the hospital and that they needed Lyra to come to the hospital. The message wasn’t well delivered,” said Bon Bon. “I was so worried that you had done something particularly bad. Magical burnout though is a thing that seems tame at this point.”

“Yeah. It was a really busy day,” I said. “Um sorry for ruining diner.”

“We get to spend time with you that is all that matters,” said Bon Bon. “Though apparently you need a bit more supervision.”

“Maybe,” I said. “Did the doctors say why I was here in the first place?”

“No,” said Bon Bon. “But Lyra did. More humans. How did that happen?”

“We don’t know,” I said. “They just came out of nowhere by no means native to Equis. Discord might now more but that is all I do. I hope that the ones that we couldn’t get to directly survived their entry to Equis. There was three groups that weren’t being directly dealt with that showed up elsewhere around Equestria and beyond. The ones in Gryphonhelm are probably the ones worse off. That or the ones near the Crystal Empire. Maybe Cadence got to them in time.”

“Right now we can’t worry about that,” said Bon Bon. “The doctor said that when you were awake that they needed you back downstairs. But I was to inform you that you weren’t to be using your magic. For anything.”

“Fine,” I said. I hopped out of the bed and headed to the door. “Can you come with? I could use some help deciding on what to do. I don’t know how anyone expects me to be good at this.”

“Your heart is in the right place,” said Bon Bon. “Besides I think you're selling yourself a bit short there. You have some mistakes under your belt but you do try to make up for most of them. Even if you don’t seem to learn the don’t push yourself so much one.”

“That is never going to be a thing I get through my head. Sorry for how much stress I have been. Especially in the last month and a half,” I said. “Thanks for having always been there for me.”

“You don’t need to thank me for that,” said Bon Bon. “It is just what parents do.”

We left the room and headed back downstairs the hospital was relatively quiet which was good for my nerves. Downstairs was much less so but there wasn’t much frantic movement more lots of talking. Everypony was talking about the humans that were just a room over from the lobby. Each of them though paused at me. It looked like I wasn’t going to get away from the bowing for a while.

The room where the humans were was much more calm than the lobby had been. A few nurses were checking a couple of the humans but there wasn’t any sense of urgency in their movements. The glow that had engulfed the humans earlier had all faded leaving them look like they were sleeping. No the strange sight was rarity shifting through a pile of clothes off to one side.

“Oh hello dear,” said Rarity. “Oh and you are looking magnificent as always Bon Bon.”

“Looking for inspiration?” I asked.

“No mostly trying to figure out how much of this is salvageable till I can get more made up. Belle sent me a request saying the crown was going to need several hundred clothes for the human refugees. WIth the seven here and that order I have a lot of work ahead of me,” said Rarity.

“Is there anyway I can help? Surely an assistant for this large of a job seems necessary,” I said.

“You aren’t to be using magic,” said Bon Bon. I shied away from that comment. It was right I wasn’t much use right now.

“Oh don’t worry about that I sent a message to a friend in Manehattan who should be able to help,” said Rarity. “Coco is always reliable.”

“That is good,” I said. “Sorry about skipping out on lunch earlier.”

“Oh don’t fret,” said Rarity. “We will just have to get lunch some other time. Do you know where Twilight is? It isn’t like her to be out of the picture for such an emergency.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “She had a bit of an episode and then teleported away.”

“Don’t worry then I’m sure that she will be here soon. Twilight doesn’t like to deal with her problems sometimes,” said Rarity. “But if she hit the breaking point then she is close to coming around. I wish she had a more productive model but you should have seen her two years ago. Why she got half the town chasing a doll that she enchanted. Suffice to say Twilight doesn’t always deal with stress in the most healthy ways but she does come around eventually.”

“I hope so,” I said. “I can’t do this by myself. I have too many things to try to juggle and I slept through the last month. I can only imagine what Twilight is dealing with.”

“Right now isn’t the time to dwell on that,” said Bon Bon. “We can only move forward. Besides Lyra and I will be here for you. No matter what.”

I leaned up against her in a pseudo hug. Her warmth and love helped keep me sane. Well the love of all of my family did so. I couldn’t put to words how much I needed them. Even the new additions.

I walked around looking at the clipboards at the end of each bend and checking each human with my magical sight. I would need to ask Luna or Twilight about that eventually. It was definitely a new thing since I ascended. But being able to check in on the human’s leylines was not a gift I would look in the mouth. Each of them had complete leyline systems that I could see there mana slowly flowing through. There was a larger number of lines in their arms and hands similar to that of a unicorn’s horn. Would they be able to do magic? It would be quite interesting to figure that out.

A royal guard entered the room and rushed over to me. He looked like he had ran the whole way and must have been a new recruit as that distance wouldn’t have been a problem for some of the more veteran guards. He paused for a second to catch his breathe the said, “Your highness, your presence has been requested at the castle. There are more of these creatures there.”

“Okay I’ll be there in a second,” I said. I walked back over to Bon Bon who was helping Rarity. “Rarity can you make sure to have some sort of simple gown for that one there-” I pointed at the german “-They need it the most. Before everyone wakes. Please.”

“Of course,” said Rarity. “I can throw something together in a few. It won’t be up to my usual standards but that will just be temporary.”

“Thanks I have to go to the castle,” I said. I instinctively pulled on my magic but a pain came with it as I pulled and I stopped. “Right no magic.”

My walk to the Castle was relatively pleasant. Tuesdays were a relatively quiet day from Ponyville but it was still busy enough to make me wish I could teleport. Thankfully it was relatively quiet on our walk back to the castle as everypony that saw me quieted down and most of them bowed too. I would need to make a public announcement or something to get them to stop that. I was pretty certain that Twilight had done that but that was before Ponyville was the de facto Capital of Equestria. That might change things.

Outside of the Castle stood a large group of Royal Guards. They saluted as I strode into the castle. There was something off about them. A sense of nervousness amongst them like they were expecting an attack or something. Maybe I was just reading into it too much though. The inside of the castle was a mess as there were some forty humans scattered around the room. All of them were unconscious and were being attended to by a large number of Pegasus and Unicorn doctors. Each was on a cot that looked like a military one. Where all these cots came from was beyond me but that wasn’t a question worth asking.

Belle was sitting in the center of it all talking with Discord. Spike was there as well but he was busy sending out messages. Discord looked even more tired if that was possible. I walked over to them quickly.

“Thank goodness you’re here,” said Belle. “I don’t want to be a princess anymore.”

“Too much work?” I asked. “It wasn’t fair to leave you in charge. After all Twilight has had years of training for this and she still seems to think she isn’t ready for this.”

“I had to kick someone out of the Castle. This blond unicorn came in demanding to speak to Luna but I said she wasn’t here. He got angry and well he was just yelling so I just tossed him out the front door,” Belle said. “Which by the way was way easier to do than I had thought it would have been.”

“Did you actually throw Blueblood out of the castle? Like litterally throw him?” I asked.

“Uh yes,” Belle said. “Please don’t be mad. I didn’t know what to do and like I just wasn’t thinking. Maybe we can just not tell Luna or Twilight.”

“Tell me what?” asked a familiar voice from above on the stairs. Twilight came down the stairs with a look of confusion as she looked at the chaos of the castle’s entrance. “Sorry for my outburst earlier. I will give you a better one later but it looks like we have work to do. Oh and Belle, good job. Blueblood is such a jerk.”

“That we do,” said Discord. “There is two groups of Humans unaccounted for. The one in Gryphonhelm and the one near Seaddle. Twilight if you could go to Gryphonhelm and help that one. The humans need magical assistance and mine causes some weird effects in them. As there are no Unicorns in Gryphonhelm you should go there and I will get Seaddle.”

“Okay,” said Twilight. “What sort of help do they need?”

“Their bodies are trying to create leylines for the mana their souls are absorbing but the process is too slow and stressful for the body. If you channel mana into them it speeds the process considerably,” I said. “What happened with your magic Discord?”

“Chaos magic sometimes has a mind of its own,” said Discord. He snapped his fingers and a human popped into existence next to him. “This happened.”

Ze had dark maroon red skin that was unnatural in its coloration. Light nearly white freckles tickled zirs checks. Flowing similarly to Luna and Celestia’s hair, zirs pastel rainbow of hair billowed in an invisible wind. It was nearly as long as I was from head to tip of my tail. One side of zirs head was shaved nearly clean. Ze was wearing a lime green t-shirt and a pair of capris. Ze was strangely happy and nearly dancing in spot.

“Hi. So this is weird like Dissy here says that this isn’t Earth anymore and I am not going to pretend that I know what is going on anymore,” said the person Discord had summoned. “Oh oh, where are my manners. I am...Pandora. I was something else but here I am now. Like am I a human anymore? Does that matter? I don’t think so but it is a question i guess. So like who are you? Are ponies the like humans of this world? I mean I used to watch this show about ponies I think but like I don’t know if I am remembering right at all. Am I?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m Lilac Splash, and this is Armored Belle. The two of us used to be humans. But yeah not anymore and before you ask I don’t think we can go back and I don’t want to. Um it is nice to meet you.”

“Oh yeah you too,” said Pandora. “Um can I pet you? Like I get that you are talking and all that but like you are such a cute little unicorn pegasus thing and I just want to pick you up and give you hugs and all of that but like I don’t want to make you uncomfortable and what not.”

“You would not be the first person to pet me today so I guess go ahead,” I said. Somehow Pandora was right behind me in a moment and she scooped me up in a hug and and started to pet my head and neck. There was a bit less awkwardness to it this time. I couldn't help but get caught up in zir joy. “This time is much better. Oh and I can say for certain fingers are in fact the best at this.”

“Can I have a turn next?” asked Belle.

“Um, maybe later when there aren’t a bunch of ponies watching a princess being treated like a pet,” said Twilight. “But it is time to some other humans. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Oh don’t throw anyone else out of the castle.”

“No promises,” said Belle. “I don’t have time for jerks.”

Everybody laughed at that but shortly thereafter Twilight and Discord disappeared out of the castle with a sudden pop. A few ponies had in fact stopped what they were doing and had been watching us. To be fair Pandora was a bit of a surprise and I was pretty certain many of the ponies here were from out of town so we were all a bit weird to them.

“Pandora, maybe it would be a good idea if you and Belle went upstairs and maybe told the kitchen what sort of food they should prepare for the humans. After all we don’t know when the rest of them will be awake and food can take a while to make,” I said. “Don’t want a bunch of cranky humans who are hungry and scared here. Can you two go do that?”

“Yeah that will be fun I guess,” said Belle. “I am a bit hungry as it is. But after that I am going to bed.”

Belle wheeled herself over to the stairs and then signaled a guard. Before a guard could come Pandora just picked up the chair and all and ran up the stairs. It was clear that Discord’s magic had altered Pandora in ways that were going to be hard to predict. Though we would cross that bridge when we had too.

I wasn’t even certain what was necessary to be done at this point. We would need many more sets of clothes and Rarity needed to informed. It would probably do well to gather all the humans in Ponyville into one place for easier time keeping track of them but I wasn’t certain how to do that without potentially causing a panic in town. There was no way around that right now.

“I need who ever is in charge of the guard to come here,” I said loud enough that plenty could hear it. A earth pony mare walked up to me and saluted. “Are you in charge?”

“Yes your highness,” said the mare. “My name is Steel Sword. Captain of the Guard. What is your command, Your highness?”

“Uh, get a group together to escort the humans from the hospital here in tow to the castle,” I asked. “Try to make it look like an honor guard or something instead of prisoners or anything but the hospital staff is going to need help getting them here as they have likely not woken yet based on the ones here. Is there any carts or something that you can use to transport them easier? There are seven there. Oh and do we have room for seven more?”

“We have the room and beds to spare for now. I don’t know if we have the room for much more than that though. Not without having to make use of other rooms in the castle. I’ll get on that right away,” said Captain Steel. She saluted at me and then marched off barking orders.

This was going to be a long night. I sat there observing the ongoings as ponies kept tending to the humans. There was much I could do but watch. Belle never returned and it was nearly an hour before the humans from the hospital arrived. None of them were awake yet. Rarity showed up some thirty minutes later with a cart full of cloth. It looked like nearly her whole stock of it based on earlier this morning. She waved at me but then got to work on crafting what amounted to dresses for every human.

I hadn’t meant to but I feel asleep there watching everybody work. It had been relatively quiet for how much was happening and I was exhausted. As I let sleep take me after shaking it off for the tenth time, I couldn’t help but worry about how everything was going to turn out.

Twilight stood over me with a twisted grin on her face. Her teeth were pointed and sharp and bits of flesh poked out between them. She was much larger than she should have been. A loud yell that was deep and harsh came out of her. There was no words to it just screaming. Then she stopped and her horn lit up with a dark green wispy glow. The magic started to envelope me, burning as it did so. I screamed as the magic finally engulfed me. An indigo light washed through my dream and it faded into nothingness.

I woke on my bed with Belle and Hope next to me once more. Morning light spilt through the window playing lazily with the currents that were being blown by the slight breeze. The air was quite crisp and cool. Winter was almost upon us.

I squeezed out of bed and out the door. The bathroom was calling me. I start a warm bath. I had just gotten in when there was a knock at the door and I beckoned them in. It wasn’t like bathing was a private thing for ponies. Besides if they were in the upper part of the castle they were welcome here.

“Oh good,” said Pandora. She had escaped my mind. “Sorry just this is the only bathroom I know where is and I really really got to go. So yeah gonna go do that.”

The bath area was separate from the toilet area. A few minutes later Pandora walked back over to the bath area. Ze looked at the bath with longing in zirs eyes. Ze put zirs hand into the water.

“Can I join you? I need a bath and why waste the water,” asked Pandora. “I was reading last night on pony customs and apparently communal bathing is a bonding exercise.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I mean if you are comfortable bathing with me I don’t mind.”

“Cool,” said Pandora before stripping off zirs clothes and hopping into the bath. The water was a bit shallow for zir when sitting but when laying it was more than enough. Pony baths were made to accommodate multiple ponies at once most of the time. “This bath is so awesome. Way cooler than the ones at home.”

“Yeah they are. This one even has runes that keep the water warm,” I said. “Can you read Equish? If not I can help you with the soaps. I am not certain how the fur shampoo is going to work for you but the mane and tail should work fine.”

“Eh give it here worth a try at least once right?” said Pandora. “Besides somebody has to figure this stuff out and I am as good as anyone. Or at least I think so. Maybe not. I mean my skin is way darker and way more red than it used to be before. Things are so weird. Like I didn’t use to have vagina. Or at least I don’t think so. I mean everything is all weird but in a strange way it feels right. It feels right for the first time ever. This world may be a bit weird to me but I don’t know maybe here is home. Finally.”

“I know what you mean on the things finally fitting. Like I used to not be like this. I am from Earth too. I attempted suicide and Twilight saved me. Well to do so I ended up in this body. I wasn’t a child before. Not much of an adult but still and now I am stuck in an eight year old's body,” I said. “And yet despite a change in gender or something, I feel more right in my body then I ever did before. I’m sorry I didn’t really know about myself before coming here so I don’t know the right words to use.”

“That is fine,” said Pandora. “Like there are plenty of words out there but the context of what they were may not really fit this world. After all so many things are different. I mean there has been a female ruler of this country for the last like what couple thousand years. That is some crazy stuff. It is easier to do when you realize it has been the same ruler for that long but still.”

“How do you know so much about Equestrian History?” I asked. “Like I have been here for six months now and my understanding is sketchy at best.”

“Photographic memory and speed reading,” said Pandora. Ze sat up in the tub and grabbed the shampoo. “The room they tried to get me to sleep in had like forty boxes of books in it and while I only got through maybe ten boxes it was mostly non-fiction.”

“I think I am jealous,” I said. “Is that new? Like from the magic and you changing?”

“Yeah,” Pandora said. Zirs head was covered in suds and bubbles. “Like we are talking but no one ever taught me how to speak Equish or for that matter how to read it. Or Griffon. Yet I read a book in Griffon last night. I didn’t sleep at all and I am not tired at all. Everything is so clear to me right now but it is so blurry at the same time. I am so messed up and like I am high on LSD and yet I am the most right that I have ever felt.”

I grabbed one of the towels from the rack and dipped it in the water then started to rub down Pandora. It was almost just habit now helping the other wash when in the tub. Pandora seemed to enjoy it so I didn’t stop.

“Okay communal bathing is so much better. This makes up for everything that or magic is just the best,” said Pandora. “Thanks do you want me to do you?”

“Sure, when I am do with you,” I said. A strange thought occurred to me. I was washing the nude form of someone I would have found highly attractive before my transformation but there wasn’t any. No heat that I was used. No reaction at all. I wondered if it was an effect of my physical age or something else. “You said you used to not well be a girl? What were you? Do you know more about well being something other than what you thought you were?”

“I know enough,” said Pandora. “But first off, I am not a girl. Well not completely. I am what on earth one would call non-binary. Neither female nor male. But closer to female than male. Much closer. If you would please use ze, zir, zirs pronouns for me.”

“I’ll try,” I said. It was a bit beyond me but it didn’t matter not really. I would do my best to call zir what ze wanted. “But do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“No go ahead,” said Pandora. “What has your mind burning to know more?”

“I haven’t had much time to think through any of this very much and now that there are humans here for Twilight and Luna to go off of they could turn me back into a human but now I don’t think I want to. I don’t think I am who I used to be. I don’t know how much of Alex is left in me,” I said. “Is it weird that if I could I would trade all of my past away. I don’t want it anymore.”

“I am not who I was before walking in here. Like not much of a difference but still a difference. Life changes us in ways we can’t understand. I don’t think you would be the same person anymore without your past life. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be better without that but it is in part what makes you you. So what does it matter if there isn’t much of Alex left but their pain because that just means there is a whole lot of Lilac instead,” Pandora said. Ze pulled me nearer to them and started working on cleaning me. “We don’t get to choose what baggage of the past we get stuck with just how we deal with it. Some let it go and try to forget and others hide it. But I think you need to deal with it more directly.”

“If only I knew how,” I said. I just leaned into zirs hands and let zir work on my fur and back. It was a wash and massage all at once and with the warmth it was like heaven.

A few minutes later and the two of them were finally getting out of the bath. Pandora tagged along as I walked back to my room just down the hall. Inside Hope was up cradling Midnight. She had escaped my mind this morning and I felt guilty for not having been the one to take care of her. Hope despite my guilt looked like she was having fun feeding Midnight.

“Can I feed her?” asked Pandora as ze rushed over to Hope. It was plain to see how big Hope was when Pandora was right next to her. Hope stood nearly three feet taller than Pandora and Pandora was not that short for a human. Passing over the baby, Hope smiled.

Belle flopped around on the bed for a moment before giving up on more sleep. She pulled her chair next to her with her magic and scooted into it. She wheeled over to me and smiled as we looked on at the two gawking over Midnight.

“Let's go get breakfast. I am starving,” said Belle.

“Alright,” I said. We headed to the door and I called back at the two stragglers. “You two coming?”