My Little Mages: The New World Map

by Foxhelm

First published

After returning from another venture and setting into the new castle, Twilight and friends learn of the next step in the Princess of Friendship quests. Where will this new map lead? A My Little Mages retelling of The Cutie Map

Nightmare Moon; reformed into Luna
Discord; Work in Progress
Chrysalis; Haven't heard from in a while
Sombra; Stopped and body destroyed
Sunset; Turned over a new leaf
Tirek; Banished to Tartarus
The Sirens; Transformed and missing

Twilight and her friends have returned to the recently constructed Castle of Friendship, and Twilight's new home, with an ever-increasing list of accomplishments. But as they finally get to look the place over as they should, they summon a map of the world and it calls to a spot in the middle of no-where.

What will they face there?
A harmless road trip?
Another world-threating force?
Only traveling there can tell.

A My Little Mages AU retelling of The Cutie Map

Off The Beaten Trail

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Prologue: Summoning the Map

Six young women between the ages of 20 and 22 entered into a room with seven thrones, one much smaller and on the right-hand side of the throne with a rendering of a purple six-pointed star that seemed to rest on an inverted white four-pointed star surrounded by five smaller white stars. The other five thrones had renderings of either a cluster of three stylized apples, three sapphires cut into kites, three pink winged butterflies, a stylized lightning bolt that looked like a rainbow of red, yellow and blue coming from a stylized cloud and/or three balloons, one yellow and two blue.

The first of the six to enter had dark sapphire hair with two streaks, one was rose and the other was violet, with violet eyes, and metallic wings purple and gold in color which seemed to float behind her and yet also come from her back with two amethyst six-pointed stars functioning for the wings like her arm's shoulder balls. She wore a headband with a horn-like amethyst focusing gem on her forehead, with a dull blue robe with large golden cuffs, pink pants and brown boots that went up above her ankle. Around her neck was a triangle-like amulet that was colored like a rainbow of orange, yellow, cyan, alabaster, pink and purple. This was Princess Twilight Sparkle.

The next to enter, flying towards the throne with the rendering of the rainbow lightning bolt, had hair that was like a rainbow in color and that was done in a high ponytail with a hairpin that looked like a stylized cloud and a tri-colored rainbow of red, yellow and blue, with cerise eyes. She wore black sock-like boats that went above her knees, with a dull purple skirt and light a dull blue shirt with white and gold wing styled sleeves. On her waist was a quiver and a bow and from her ankles came ethereal wing. Also on her shirt was a pin of a stylized lightning bolt with wings, the wings were gold in color while the lightning bolt had the coloration of a rainbow of orange, yellow, cyan, alabaster, pink and purple. This was her youngest closest friend, Rainbow Dash.

The next woman had had long deep-magenta hair with a small tiara on her head with three sapphires cut as kites, this was Rarity, she had azure eyes, and she wore a long alabaster gown with some pinkish-purple with a long shawl that was composed of two rainbows in color, a traditional rainbow going the length of the shawl save for the width of one of the shorter edges which running perpendicular to the rest of the shawl was a rainbow of orange, yellow, cyan, alabaster, pink and purple, going around her back and hanging from her elbows.

Next was a blonde woman with green eyes, named Applejack. Her hair was done in a low ponytail and was dressed in brown pants, brown boots, a red leather jacket with some pieces of armor most notably pauldrons with stylized apples, brown gloves, a scabbard with a longsword in it. Around her neck was a black cord that had a coin with a rendering of apples on both sides but looked like a rainbow of orange, yellow, cyan, alabaster, pink and purple.

After her, was a woman shorter than all the others with bouncing cotton pink hair, blue eyes, this was Pinkie Pie, she wore a bear legged leotard with blue cruelly toed shoes a pink jester coat and a dark pink jester’s hat with three balloons, one was yellow and two were blue and on her jacket’s waist was a rubber chicken called ‘Boneless’, unlike other rubber chickens his right leg wasn’t the regular orange but a rainbow of orange, yellow, cyan, alabaster, pink and purple.

The last woman in the room, and the oldest of the six, also had pink hair and teal colored eyes, but her hair was lighter shade of pink and her eyes were teal, she was Fluttershy she was dressed in a green, yellow and light blue dress with a stylized pink butterfly as a brooch for her hood, and above her left ear was a blue flower but one of its pedals was a rainbow of orange, yellow, cyan, alabaster, pink and purple. Rarity was the first to speak, “It’s nice to be back, granted this place still takes some getting used to,” Rarity said as she took her seat, the depiction of her Aura Mark starting to glow. “But it was nice to see the Shadowbolts again, even though we had another set of power-hunger world conquerors to deal with, and without either the Elements of Magic or The Rainbow of Light to help us. I almost got split ends with all the drama.” She was looking over her hair.

“Yeah, but who would have thought Fluttershy’s song was the perfect counterspell. That was awesome, Flutters!” Rainbow cheered her friend as she took her throne, causing its insignia to glow as well.

“Sunset did, Sugarcube.” Applejack countered as she too took her throne and the rendering of her Aura Mark also glowed, “but all in all it was a nice vacation. Even got the portal to Midnight Castle moved to this castle and Twilight here has a new pen pal.”

“Well, it’s a good thing that Sunset was pardoned and her sentence commuted allowing her to stay there and yet come here too.” Pinkie Pie added her two cents as she sat down, the depiction of her mark glowing, “but honestly I don’t think the best band actually won, the Dazzlings were technically a trio of singers and we didn’t have half our band in our performances for most of the contest.”

“It really doesn’t matter, it was nice to see how much Sunset had changed, looks all she needed was a real chance.” Fluttershy pointed out as she took her seat and her Aura Mark’s rendering glowed.

Twilight then went to her throne, “Hey everyone, do you all see that your thrones rendering of your aura marks are glowing?” still have not taken her seat.

“That’s bizarre. I wonder why. Perhaps if you take your seat we might figure out why.” Rarity offered.

“Yeah, maybe will learn this faster than what happened behind-stage with the Survivor of the Universe?” Rainbow joked. No one found it funny as they all gave her bemused express.

Twilight groaned, “What happened or didn’t happen is none of your business. But why would our thrones be glowing?” Twilight cautiously took her seat and the rendering of her Aura Mark glowed. At that moment a rainbow much like the Elements’ of Harmony merged with a rainbow like the Rainbow of Light left from each of the Aura Marks and traveled down the thrones to the floor that they encircled and from the floor a circular table that occupied most of the empty floor space the thrones encircled. The tap was crystalline and the crystal looked like a cross between the Tree of Harmony and the chest that housed the Rainbow of Light. Once it stopped raising from the floor it flicked the rainbow of the Elements of Harmony and the Rainbow of Light and a map of the part of the planet where the nation of Mystica is located. Over the location of Magiville were images of Twilight’s et al Aura Marks floating over the town. The images then floated over to an area on the map that was in a desert were the Mystican train system tracks didn’t reach fully.

After the map finished its arrival a purple-scaled bipedal reptile with green spines along his back, about the size of a twelve-thirteen-year-old boy came in and headed to the smaller throne with a stack of letters and newspapers. This was Twilight’s familiar, Spike the dragon, “Sorry I am late, just got the…” as he noticed the map before he took his seat, “That’s new! I like it!”

Chapter 1: Off The Beaten Trail

Spike climbed onto the table, much to Twilight’s disdain and walked on it as looked over the map the table rendered. “This is incredible! It's got all of Mystica! And Gryphonstone, The Crystal Mountains, Yakyakistan, Nyika, Magetonia and so many other places!” The dragon continued his survey.

Pinkie Pie spotted her family’s rock farm, “Hi, Mom and Dad!” she shouted as if she was some sort of giant looking down on them and trying to call to them just before Spike stepped on the projection which gave the sound of him stomping on the farmhouse followed by Spike giving a shriek like roar that lasted about twelve seconds and resonated in the room. The stomping on the rock farm caused Pinkie to whimper and cry for a second before she and the other jumped back as Spike roared, even Rainbow hid behind her throne, shaking in fear. Once the dragon’s roar was done Pinkie started giggling, “Good one, Spike,” she appalled the young dragon.

“Thank you,” Spike bowed to the pink jester a smug grin on his face, “I’ve been working on my various roars, and that’s me right now, can you image what it sound like when I am fully grown,” turning to see Twilight with a look that said, ‘there’s more to it and if you don’t tell them I will’ but it wasn’t in a threatening or ‘I’m better than you’ way, more of a ‘you kept me up doing it and I am really tired’. Spike gave a nervous chuckle before he continued, “and I have been seeing some of those monster movies from the same nation Fluttershy gets those graphic novels from. And honestly, the subtitled versions are better than the dubbed.”

As everyone else was still recovering from Spike’s roar Fluttershy took another look at the map noting the locations of both Magiville and where their aura marks were hovering, “But if this is Magiville, why are our aura marks over there?”

Twilight looked over the map as well, trying to solve the riddle she perceived, “I don't know. But it seems like the map wants us to find out. Think about it, we are connected to the Elements of Harmony and thus The Tree of Harmony, the chest that came from the Tree housed the Rainbow of Light, which we are also connected to, both the Rainbow of Light and the Elements of Harmony were involved in having this map appear. They are clearly connected to it and thus we are now connected to the map. How can we not follow it?”

“That’s a mighty big leap in logic, Sugarcube. How do wah know this ain’t Discord messing around with us.”

“Discord or not, there's a ton of room for adventure along that route.” Rainbow Dash pointed out as she called attention to the actual route they would be traveling, “Count me in!”

Applejack shook her head, “Someone has tah Rainbow from makin’ a fool out of herself, Ah reckon Ah’m in.”

“Well, I was planning on organizing my baking sheets so that I can make my grandma’s fifteen layer cake, but okay!” Everyone turned to see Pinkie wearing a baker’s apron and a chief’s hat which weren’t there previously only to take them off stuff them into her pockets as she pulled out a piece of paper and marker and drew a map of the area from the end of the line to where there Aura Marks hovered.

Rarity sighed as she got up, “Well alright, let’s get this over with. I am definitely hitting the spa when we get back.” Every one of the ladies started out save one. Noticing the absence of the last one they all turned back to see Fluttershy still at the table.

“Um, maybe one of us should stay here,” the timid druid offered only to get a series of groans from the others, “Well I might have a nice time with Spike.”

“Awesome!” Spike cheered at that, “Thunderlane, Rumble, Pipsqueak, Time Turner, Big Mac, a few of the other guys in town and me have a huge weekend ahead of us, we’ll be talkin' football, both forms, rugby, baseball, cricket, mixed martial arts, boxing, judo, karate, kendo, fencing, volleyball, just to list a few of the sports. We’ll also be trading cards and be discussing stats. You’ll really get a kick out how much Big Mac dominates the discussion and how he predicts every result, I mean he is on the ball with everything, from the number yards the first kick-off will cover before being caught, to where which outfielder will catch the failed grand slam, …” Spike continued to list things off of what he and the guys were going to do. Fluttershy, feeling like this was too much for her too soon, sneaked away leaving the door open.

As Fluttershy meet up with the others, “On second thought, maybe I'd better go with you,”.

“Looks like it's time for a road trip!” Twilight declared earning a cheer from most of her friends.

“Hopefully it’s not that trip to Goldie Delicious to see if the Pies and the Apples are related.” Pinkie commented.

“Well if yah ever want tah put the debate tah bed once and for all yah or one of yahr sisters could marry Big Mac even it goes against that Choosing Stone thing.” Applejack commented.

This earned a groan from Twilight, “No, I am not dealing with a Cripps Pink again I forbid it!”

“Yah do know that culvert of apples are also known as ‘Pink Lady’, Sugarcube? And also it ain't yahr call.” There were a few laughs as the headed to train station.

About the same time the following day, “End of the Line! End of the line.” The conductor said as he walked into the car the six were occupying as the train started to decelerate and come to a stop.

“But we aren’t at our destination!” Twilight pointed out as she looked out the window to see the actual train stop, knowing there was still a ways to their goal.

“Sorry your highness, but the tracks turn here. They don’t go any farther this way because there are smoother and safer ways to get to the other side by rail. If you wanted to get where ever you're going you either should have chartered a skyboat or go on foot unless you have a land boat, not that the terrain is conducive. But feel free to take it up with Princess Celestia, Princess Twilight.” Twilight pouted as she and the rest exited the train. “Make sure to read the schedule. And I hope you all had a pleasant ride. Hope to see you soon.”

“Hey whatever happened to your spellbook, the one that had your skyboat in it?” Rainbow asked.

“The book survived the explosion of the Golden Oak...barely, but the page with the image of my skyboat was one of the pages lost,” Twilight answered dipping her head at the memory of seeing the remains of the Golden Oak after Tirek blasted it.

“Well, let’s get moving.” Pinkie said as she pulled out a map she drew from the train station to the location they were heading and they all started to walk, well hover in the case of Rainbow Dash.

After an hour they arrived at a ledge and down in the gorge there was a town of a handful of two-story houses arranged as an equal sign with one house at the right end of the ‘equal sign’. Upon seeing this, “Tha must be it! That must be the place on the map!

Rarity took a seat on one the boulders closest to her and took off her flat shoes and examined her feet, “Oh thank Celestia!” After she massaged them and put her shoes back on, “Right, now let's go there and find the local spa. My feet are screaming murder.” Rarity then started to what looked like a wind and water erosion made a natural staircase that would take them all down.

Twilight took hold of Rarity’s upper left arm, stopping her, “Wait. We still have no idea why the map wanted us to come, nor do we know what dangers we might face.” She turned to the rest of her friends, “I wouldn’t be wise if we just walk right in.”

Pinkie was in a desert themed camouflage suit, “Stay behind me, everybody! I'm on it!” she then started towards the edge and down the path.

Concern for her friend, “Careful, Pink…” Applejack stopped as she saw Pinkie Pie was safe and sound at the bottom of the stairs and starting to scout the path ahead like a comical rendering of action movie scout, “Oh why do Ah bother?” Applejack then started down with the rest following her.

After reaching the bottom and just about to enter the small village, “This is where we were told to go?” Rainbow asked unamused by how the place looked. The houses looked to be in a style a hundred years older than many of the houses in Magiville, everyone was dressed in very much like the Pie family still on their rock farm, the woman all wore long shirts that went down to cover their ankles, with two equal signs with leather shoes with small heels and long sleeve simple shirts, sometimes with a vest, each one had slightly different coloration, but it was dull. The men were all dressed in black pants similar to the pants Pinkie’s father wears with shirts much like the shirts he would wear but of various colors with equal marks rendered on the upper arms and without the overshirts he wears. In addition to that, all the Magicborn had a band on their heads with a black bar that would be the normal focus gem, the Skyborn all flew low to the ground with their ethereal wings looking like black bars. “This must be the most boring place ever.”

Applejack also looked around, nothing seemed too out of place. To her, it seemed like an ordinary village full of ordinary folk. However, she elected to not comment and shrug her shoulders. An action the was repeated by Twilight.

However, Rainbow was not the only one to voice her opinion as they looked at the town, still walking into it, Rarity’s ever-fashionable eyes were bombarded with the dull and lifeless desert brown of the building’s exteriors and the plain monochromatic brown robes every one wore, “It could use a few more architectural flourishes.” Rarity then took noticed that all the men and women had basically the same hairstyles, styles that were on their way out when Granny Smith was a young girl, which caused her to visibly shake in disgust.

Fluttershy, however, couldn’t help but smile, here there didn’t seem to be any judgment in what people wore and did and they all seemed happy. “Well, I for one think it's lovely.”

This sentiment was not shared by others. “Well, I don’t like it in the slightest,” Pinkie herself, misses Smile, smile, smile, was frowning as she looked that big toothy grins of the town folks. These smiles seemed inorganic, “Look at those smile I know smiles. I have a song about why I go out of my way to help everyone put a smile on. Hm Put a smile on, put a smile on, everyone come on, put a smile on~.” Everyone gave Pinkie a slight scowl, “Sorry, but look at those smiles? They're just not right.” It was then to Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash saw how creepy everyone looked with their smiles. Something that seemed lost on Fluttershy.

“Forget the smiles for a minute, Pinkie,” Twilight, too was unnerved by the smiles, but what got her focus was that on everyone's clothes were equal signs in lieu of the various unique designs and marks that would located in various places on one’s clothes instead along the bottom of the women’s dresses and on the upper arms of the shirts for the men. “Everyone look at the aura marks. They are all the same and located in the same areas of their clothes! An entire town with the EXACT same aura mark? How? How is it remotely possible? How can it be? It doesn’t make any sense, no two people are exactly alike.” Twilight then started to hyperventilate as if she was in the middle of a panic attack.

Rainbow flew up grabbed some clouds flew back down to the ground and convinced them into a ball of water and let it dump on Twilight, “Okay, we get it. That's weird. Now calm down. Or we won’t beat what monster is behind this.” Before anyone, especially Twilight could ask what led Rainbow to that conclusion, “Nightmare Moon, Discord, Chrysalis, Nightmare Rarity, Sombra, Sunset Shimmer or rather Demon Shimmer, Tirek, and the Dazzlings. Fighting these kinds of things is what we do, it’s called pattern recognition.” Everyone in her grouped smiled at this show of Rainbow’s often hidden mind. “Also it would be so super-awesome to fight another horrific monster.” And the moment was gone earning a groan from Applejack and Twilight. Fluttershy just shook her head with a sad smile, Rarity rolled her eyes and Pinkie… well, she was still very comfortable with the smiles the people gave and didn’t seem to care.

Applejack was the first to speak up before Rainbow could complain to the reactions of her last statement, “Well, Ah reckon wah just have tah talk tah the locals and find out what the hay is goin' on here.” Applejack then continued farther into the town. Rainbow gave ‘yes’ as she jumped into the air. Rarity, Twilight, and Fluttershy were much more restraint. All the while Pinkie Pie continued to be suspicious of the smiles, giving a very comical looking scowl. As the six continued to walk further into town they were greeted by multiple residents of the village of both sexes and various ages with the unnerving smiles and the same uncanny expressions all saying, “Welcome!”

Everyone was starting to feel uneasy about the whole place, save Fluttershy, “This is the most pleasant place in Mystica!” The druid could not help but laugh and feel welcomed by the people in the town.

In her happy state, she bumped into another female Skyborn. She had white and bluish-gray hair done into two ponies tails, with cerulean eyes, she didn’t have a vest but a grayish azure dress and shirt, after the two recovered, “Welcome to our town, I am Night Glider.” This greeting gave Fluttershy to giggle a little over being greeted so warmly.

“Yeah.. um, please to meet you Night Glider,” Rainbow Dash said as more or less pulled Fluttershy away from Night Glider as the group continued along the one street in the town, “Thanks a lot, map.”

As they continued the group almost bumped into two men, one was a Magicborn with cobalt blue eyes and grayish azure hair with a streak of duller shade and with his black pants he wore a dull cyan-like gray shirt. The other man was an Earthborn with similar eyes but his hair was very much like snow and his shirt was white. “Welcome!” the Magicborn said before he looked at Twilight, as he noticed her metallic wings, “Pardon my forwardness, but are you a Demigod?”

“Eeyup. This here be Twilight Sparkle, Mystica’s Princess of Friendship!” Applejack answered on behalf of Twilight.

Upon hearing the title Twilight actually held, “Well, you've certainly come to the right place for friendship.”

The Earthborn then spoke up asking the group, “So what brings you all to our little town?”

Twilight was the one that actually answered the question, “Honestly, we don’t know why.”

Both men nodded and the Earthborn continued on, “Well all the same, welcome to our town. I am Double Diamond,” the recently self-identified Double Diamond pointed to himself and then pointing to the Magicborn with him, “And this is Party Favor.”

Applejack the reached her right hand to Double Diamond and was accepted, “Well howdy, Double Diamond,” after they shook she then turned to Party Favor and offered her hand which Party Favor accepted and they shook hands, “Party Favor, pleasure tah meet yah both. Ah'm Applejack,” after ending the shake she gestured to each of her friends in order of her introductions, “This here's Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and the already introduced Twilight Sparkle.”

Double Diamond and Party Favor then looked over each of the six seeing each of the different aura marks, Applejack’s three stylized apples on her two pauldrons, Fluttershy’s stylized butterfly brooch, Rarity’s three sapphires cut into kites on her tiara, Rainbow Dash’s hairpin and the three balloon’s on Pinkie Pie’s hat, “And you all have your own unique aura marks.” The two men were slightly taken aback at this site.

Twilight and her friends, sans Fluttershy, were fairly taken aback as well. However, she didn’t forget that they were here on a mission, “This might come off a little, well odd, but if you don't mind, has there been any sort of... trouble here, lately?”

“Trouble?” Double Diamond asked seemingly to be legitimately confused at that question, “Why, I don't think we've ever had trouble in our little village.” Party Favor silently nodded in agreement with Double Diamond. Double Diamond then looked to the house at the end of the one street in the town, “Perhaps you if speak with the founder of our village and our philosophy, Starlight Glimmer.”

As Double Diamond started towards the house and the six followed, “Well aren’t these the friendly people in all of Mystica.” Fluttershy mused a distinctive grin on her face. Pinkie Pie, in contrast, kept looking at everyone still very much not liking anything.

In a hushed tone, Rarity turned to Applejack, “Starlight Glimmer? Seriously another person with a name like our Twilight.”

“Yah’re questioning our nation’s namin’ scheme now.” Applejack pointed out.

After a few minutes, they all arrived at the house and Double Diamond knocked on the front door and called to the person who lived there in “Starlight,” Double Diamond then opened the front door of the house and stepped in escorting Twilight et al, “we have some new visitors.”

Rainbow Dash turned to Applejack as she drew her bow, “Be ready to fight. We don't know what's gonna come through that door.” Applejack nodded as she drew her sword getting in front of everyone else.

Just then the door opened and a woman about their age stepped out from another room in the house. She had purple hair was done in a slight ponytail with streaks of light purple and pale grayish aquamarine, her eyes were Persian blue. She was dressed liked the other women in town but her long sleeve shirt was a light gray, her vest was pink and her skirt was purple. This was most likely the aforementioned Starlight Glimmer, “Welcome to my little home, I am Starlight Glimmer. I'm so pleased to have you here.” She greeted them with a smile, one that seemed more organic than the smiles of the rest of the town. This caused Rainbow to groan as she put her bow back into her quiver while Applejack sheathed her sword.

She turned to Double Diamond and before she could ask who the six were, the Earthborn man gestured to Applejack and then the rest as he introduced them, “This is Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Twilight Sparkle.”

Starlight silently acknowledged the paladin, druid, trickster, enchantress, and elementalist. As she turned her attention to Twilight, the demigod’s wings were unmistakable. Looking the princess over, “Forgive my bluntness, but unless I'm mistaken, you are Princess Twilight Sparkle?” she asked. “We don't get many demigods around here.”

“No, she’s Princess Celestia, how did you miss the floating hair and the whole sun motif.”Rainbow Dash retorted borderline sardonic in her tone.

Twilight rolled her eyes before answering Starlight, “You can just call me “Twilight” but yes I am Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

“Well Princess Twilight, may I ask how did you hear of our little village here?” Starlight seemed to just ignore the comments from Rainbow Dash and turned back to Twilight, as she pondered how did the six find this place.

“Let's just say we found it on a one of a kind map.” Twilight elected to share as little information as possible, something Celestia, Luna, and Cadance advised when interacting with figureheads she might come across for the first time.

“Well, all the same, we're happy to have anybody who wants to experience true friendship for the first time.” Starlight said as she started towards the door. However she could see the raised eyebrows and questioning looks from five of the six, namely Twilight. “You see that is what our village unique. We don’t flaunt our ‘special talents',” As she said special talents Starlight used her right and left index and middle fingers to make quotes. She continued her speech, “because we have no ‘special talents’,” again she made the same gesture as she said ‘special talents’, “to flaunt.”

One of the many things that Twilight studied was aura marks and how their unique forms signify various things about a person, their talents, their identities, their destinies and any combination of the three and other such concepts, in short, they signified the uniqueness of the person. Recalling this and that each person in this town had the same, “Is that why you all have those aura marks?”

“Perhaps it would be easier to understand if I gave you a tour of the village!” Starlight then opened the door and from what seemed to be out of nowhere a marching drum set was heard. Twilight et al looked to Pinkie Pie and she shrugged her shoulders just as confused as the others. Starlight then projected her voice much like she was calling the rest of the town, “Heads high, people! Marching proud!" At this, the sound of a whistle-blow was heard. “All together now! Every one of you! No one left behind!” The rest of the town came out and headed towards Starlight’s house everyone seeming to march with the beat as Starlight began to sing, “Life is so grand in Our Town
We're always filled with cheer
We never have to look around
To know that we're all here.”

The rest of the town took over marching as they sang circling the six. “In Our Town, in Our Town
We don't have to wait
To find out that our destiny
Is just to emulate”

“Let's see those big, happy smiles!” Starlight broke in a more spoken lyrics before going back to the song.“Life is a smile in Our Town
Our aura mark's the same
Because we do not separate
Ourselves by more than name.”

The rest of the citizens took over, “In Our Town, in Our Town
We dare not compete
Winning only breeds the worst
Ego-filled conceit.”

“You see? Now everybody wins!” Starlight took over again more like spoken words before going back to singing like the rest.“Life is a joy in Our Town
We're all equal here
No one is superior
And no one shakes in fear”

“In Our Town, in Our Town
We work as a team
You can't have a nightmare
If you never dream” The citizens sang.

Starlight again took over for the singing having stopped her own march while the rest of the town encircled the seven, “Other people argue
Do you ever wonder why?
When you think your talent's special
You don't see eye-to-eye
There's just too many differences
That lead to disarray
But when you learn to act as one
It's like a holiday.”

The citizens took over the song bring it to a close, ”In Our Town, in Our Town
We don't complicate
When you learn to simplify
Life is oh, so great
Join in our utopia
Come out of the dark
Banded by equality
By our aura mark!”

After the song ended, Rainbow Dash started to laugh, “You're kidding, right? Give up our aura marks? No way!” The elementalist protested.

“Rainbow Dash, don't be so rude” the druid tried to scold the elementalist, but the elementalist didn’t care. “I don't think we should judge them. They all seem perfectly happy with their choice.”

“Don't believe their smiles, Fluttershy.” Pinkie Pie said far from believing the smiles of the villagers.

“I'm sorry,” Twilight said seeming to get in front of both an argument between her friends and a possible breakdown in communications between the six and the locals, “We're just confused by all of this.”

“There is no judgment here in our village. You see each of us was confused once as well,” Starlight began to explain what was the philosophy of the town, “We were blinded by the false promise of our aura marks. That they would guide us throughout our lives only.”

None of the six really seemed to buy what was being pitched by Starlight. Rainbow, Applejack, Rarity were skeptical about this, Fluttershy seemed to be at a loss about it but it was more of ‘let me think about it’, while Pinkie was… comically still turned off by the nature of the smiles of the villagers. Twilight, however, was confused. As the villagers went back to their regular day, Twilight turned to Starlight, “You see when we left to come here, we assumed the reason was to help you.”

Starlight looked over Twilight’s statement and after a second of thought had a counterpoint, “Have you considered perhaps that you might have been sent here so we could help you?” This caught Twilight and the others off guard. It was a possibility they didn’t seem to consider. Seeing this Starlight pressed the matter, “After all, nobody has ever come to our village and wanted to leave. Why would you be any different?” Starlight stopped there, she needed them to want to stay and she knew better than to come on strong, “But that is entirely your choice. Please enjoy our little corner of Mystica. We're all quite fond of it. No doubt you will be as well.” She turned to Double Diamond and looked to him like a general would his lieutenant, “Double Diamond, please help our guests with whatever they might need.” Double Diamond nodded and headed to escort and see to the needs of the six visitors and escorted them back into the main part of town. Starlight turned back and began walking back to her house. Speaking to herself, “Well, this certainly will provide a boost to not only our little community but to message we seek to convey. Soon the rest of Mystica will hear of Princess Twilight Sparkle giving up her aura mark to join us and when that happens they will see, know and understand what I’m trying to achieve… equality.”

The Un-Marking

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Twilight and her friends continued to walk amongst the town in a way that would be aimless if it weren’t a one-street town. As they waved to the locals then came across, “An aura mark is a representation of a person's unique talents, skills, their identity, their destiny and so much more.” Twilight muttered more to herself than address the others, “How is it possible to—”.

There was dramatic gasp that cut Twilight short, a gasp as only Rarity could, as they came to one house, which seemed to function as the village’s tailor, “What in the name of Mystica is that?!” she pointed to looked like potato sack like cloth shaped to look like some sort of cloak in the loosest definitions of the term.

“Welcome!” The shopper keeper exclaimed upon seeing them as he stepped out. “Care to sample some local fashion? We've got cloaks this month!” He was trying to market his wares.

Rarity blinked three times before she fainted in the dramatical way only she can. Pinkie reached into her pockets and pulled out her special blend of smelling salts, “How long has it been since I used these? Well, let’s see if they…”

“Oh good heavens, no!” Rarity exclaimed as she came to and crawled back from Pinkie before getting back to her feet. “Um… perhaps another time.” She then started to push the others away, a feat that caught four of the five by surprised, Applejack, however, gave a bemused expression more or less indicating. ‘Oh, now that fashion is involved you have upper body strength.’ As they left, “Thank you, good sir.” After getting to the next building and as the shopkeeper walked back into his store, Rarity stopped and had the five others huddle with her, “No wonder everyone wearing the exact same thing.” She spoke in whispers. Applejack, Rainbow, and Pinkie seemed to agree in silence.

“Really, girls!” Fluttershy scolded her friends in a hushed tone as she broke the huddle to have them look at the town. “They may do things a bit differently than we're used to, but that's no reason to be rude.”

“No, the reason to be rude is that they all keep staring at us!” Rainbow Dash pointed out as the townspeople looked at the six giving them the smiles that even she, Applejack, Rarity, Twilight had to agree with Pinkie about how creepy and unnerving they were. How Fluttershy couldn’t see it was lost on everyone else on the group.

“Need something?” Came Double Diamond’s voice from behind the six. The Six turned and were unsure what to say or do to confront the Earthborn.

“Maybe you could point to where we can get a meal? We haven’t eaten for the better part of the day.” Twilight asked knowing that them having a space to sit down and talk would be much less suspicious than standing out in the open. Double Diamond then pointed to a small little cafe and opened his mouth to speak only for Twilight “We're good now, thank you!” The six then went to the cafe and took two of the open tables, putting them together to form a larger table. Double Diamond went across the street into the building there, the local printing press. After seeing him enter the building as they all sat down Twilight started the conversation anew, “Fluttershy's right. If we're going to get to the bottom of this and figure out why the map directed us here, we'll need the help of these people.”

“Well Sugarcube, Ah think wah ran off to the end of Mystica before wah even knew what that map was.” Applejack pointed out as she took off her hat and fanned herself with it before placing it on the table.

“If we were at the end of Mystica, we'd be sitting on a big 'A'!” Pinkie joked, making a play on the expression getting a chuckle from both Applejack and Rainbow as she herself giggled at it. Turning the Rarity and Fluttershy, both of whom weren’t assumed, Fluttershy was shaking her head while Rarity rolled her eyes. “What, you don’t get it?” Pinkie asked legitimately unsure if Rarity got the joke.

“Oh, please, Pinkie! This is hardly the time for jokes!” Rarity did, in fact, get the joke, but she failed to see how the joke was funny namely given the timing, “We've come all this way and for what?”

Twilight shushed the group as she spoke in a hushed tone, “Maybe you're right, Rarity. But we're here now, and it sure feels like something's wrong.”

Applejack could not help but give a bemused expression, “That and two bits'll get you a mug of cider.”

“Is this a bad time?” The six turned to see the source of the voice. She woman around their age. She wore a baker’s apron over her light gray-like pink dress, with equal signs near the bottom of her dress. Her hair was dark grayish purple and her eyes were cerise. On her forehead was another one of those black stone focus gems the other Magicborns in town were also wearing.

“I am sorry, could you hold on a second,” Fluttershy said to their server before she turned back to her friends, “We shouldn't be bickering like this in front of our new friends. Really, Applejack, you're almost as bad as Rainbow Dash!”

“Hey! 1) We only know like four of their names and that Starlight is the village head, they aren’t our friends yet and 2) Don't drag me into this!” The elementalist countered slamming her hands on the table she was at.

“Is your friendship ending?” the server asked seeming to be scared about what she saw in front of her.

“Are you crazy?!” Pinkie said having seemed to manifest right behind the poor girl spooking her with the focus and emphasis that Pinkie put on the word ‘crazy’. Seeming to teleport right back to her seat dressed with a large lobster bib with her mark on it a large fork and knife in her hands, “We'd never let a disagreement get in the way of food!” Similar bibs each with the other five’s respective aura marks, for lack of a better term, seemed to materialize on them with forks and knives too, well except Fluttershy, she had one spoon in her right hand.

For reasons she didn’t understand, the server elected to not question what she just saw, giving only an “O-kay, “ before she put her pencil to the notepad she had. “Well, my name is Sugar Belle. What can I bring you?”

“What do yah’ve, Sugarcube?” Applejack asked the recently self-identified Sugar Belle as she and all but Pinkie placed their utensils down on the table and took off their bibs.

“My name is …” Sugar Belle started, slightly confused about why the paladin didn’t get her name right.

“She calls everyone ‘sugarcube’, Sugar Belle, darling.” Rarity explained, “So what do you serve?”

“We have muffins…” Sugar Belle informed followed by a couple seconds of silence.

Once it was clear that muffins were the only thing on the menu to eat, “Then we'll take six muffins!” Twilight placed the order. Sugar Belle began writing it down.

“Make that twelve!” Everyone turned to Pinkie, “What? I'm hungry!”

Before anyone of the other four could groan as Sugar Belle started to go fill their order, “Come on, girls,” Twilight said to her comrades, “We've got to stick together. It doesn't matter what happened before, we're here now. Also, it’s an hour back to the station and the next train won’t stop there for three days.”

Applejack picked her hat back up and put it on her head, “Yah're right, the sooner wah figure out what wah’re tah dah here, the sooner wah can go home, assuming it takes more than a day.”

As the other four gave various statements and expression of agreement, Sugar Belle, turned to the six, utterly befuddled at the change among them, “Forgive me for overhearing,” she said as she walked to them, their order having been placed but not ready. “But just a moment ago you were disagreeing, and now it sounds like you're... agreeing.”

Applejack gave a soft chuckle, more so out of pity for the poor thing, “To quote mah big brother, ‘Eeyup’. Granted he ain’t much of a talker as his other go-to response is ‘Nope’. But if yah were tah ever met him, don’t let his size frighten yah, he’s as gentle as they come.” After looking her over, “Ah think he’d like yah, maybe if yah put a little bounce inta yahr hair.”

Sugar Belle began to blush a little, after a cough to collect herself, “Well, it's just that you had expressed such differing opinions – and you have such different aura marks.”

Rarity gave a “Pshah,” as she seemed to brush the matter away, “We have differing opinions all the time, darling. I for one, as you can tell,” Rarity stood up and did a fashion walkway twirl of her alabaster gown, “am a woman of form and fashion, while Applejack prefers a more overall functional approach to her choice of clothes. Rainbow has more of a specific functional approach, predominately her aerodynamics. Fluttershy has a more one-with-nature approach, or lack thereof at times. Twilight is still trying to find just works for her given her new status in life and the small town librarian look she had before and Pinkie … well… it’s best to not ask questions," Rarity then stared into the void right in front of her as recalled having made that error her eyes glazed over in horror, "many a night I could not sleep having made that very error." She then snapped out of it she turned to give Sugar Belle a smile as she took her seat, "And that’s on the topic of fashion.”

Sugar Belle was still having a hard time processing all this, “But you look like you are friends.”

“We are friends.” Twilight pointed out, “A simple disagreement wouldn't change that.”

Sugar Belle went to get the order for the six and place a dozen muffins, served on a large plate, on the table, “I'm sorry, I'm just having a hard time understanding. Different talents lead to different opinions, which lead to bitterness and misery. So... why aren't you bitter and...?” The young woman slowly seemed to get it, but was quite a ways from there. As soon as the muffins arrived Pinkie started to eat one of the muffins. One bite was enough for Pinkie to started dry heave, her face greener than a lime. After the last heave, Pinkie turned up and gave a thumbs up. Sugar Belle dipped her head sadden that her muffins brought that much disgust. “It's all right. I know I'm not a very good baker. At least, I know I'm not any better than anybody else in the village.” She looked out the window and saw Double Diamond walk by and looked in the cafe, “Well, I... hope you enjoy our little village!” Sugar Belle then went back to the kitchen, humming to herself. Pinkie tried the muffins again, only to go back to dry heaving. As Double Diamond turned from the window and started to walk away. Once he was out of sight, Sugar Belle doubled back and in a hushed tone, “Come to the back of the house before you go! Meet me downstairs!”

“Okay, that was weird too.” Rainbow commented looking at the other five clearly put off by what just happened.

Before anyone else said anything Double Diamond came in and took a seat at another table, and Sugar Belle then went to get him some muffins.Twilight nodded and the six leaned in, “Let's all sit here and eat these muffins and act normal. I think we're being watched.” As she said this, Applejack stole a glance to see Double Diamond was had the town’s paper, but she could tell that it was a rouse.

Applejack then leaned back in, “Ah have tah agree, Double Diamond seem tah spook Sugar Belle. It’s like whatever Sugar Belle has tah say is somethin’ shah knows somebody doesn’t want to be known by us.” Everyone gave a small nod. Applejack then turned to Pinkie, “Yah ain’t gonna like this, but Ah’ve an idea, actually eat as many of the muffins yah can Pinkie.”

“Why me?!” The jester almost whined, but still in a hushed tone.

Applejack gave her a bemused look before she spoke still in a hushed tone, “Yah the one that got us tah have a dozen of these when Twilight placed an order for just six.” Before Pinkie could protest, “Ah didn’t say yah be eating them alone. Grab a muffin each, girls.” Applejack picked up on and took a fair size bite out of it. After chewing it for a minute, “Yah know, after the first bit, they ain’t too bad.” Everyone followed suit, they could tell that the muffins weren’t the worst thing ever, but they would never give these to Brighteyes… especially if they wanted time-sensitive mail to arrive when it should. As they ate, Double Diamond had his order got up and left, walking away as if his suspicions were misplaced. After he exited, the group finished their muffins, Pinkie was the verge of vomiting again, in fact, everyone but Applejack was sick to her stomach. “Okay Pinkie had six more than any of thah rest of us, Rarity’s eats only the finer thin’s, Twi grew up with that fancy Chantalot lack-of food, but Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash?”

“Dashie is an athlete and there are just somethings you just don’t eat,” Fluttershy explained while trying to keep the muffin she just ate down.

“How does it not bother you?” Rarity asked. Applejack just shrugged her shoulders.

“Well, we better meet with Sugar Belle, and hopefully not lose our meal,” Twilight said as they all got up and headed to the stairs. All but Applejack using the wall or railing as part of their support.

“I've accidentally eaten cardboard tastier than that…” Pinkie leaned on the railings and swallowed to keep down what would have come up. “These are worse than Applejack’s baked bads.”

“The one time Ah was Applebucking on my own,” Applejack countered.

Not wanting to dwell on the past and focus on the matters at hand, “Hello? Sugar Belle?” Twilight called out as she reached the bottom of the stairs followed by her friends.

That was when Sugar Belle greeted the six coming from the shadows in the basement, “Thank you for coming!” The baker hugged her guests and gave to five that appear to have stomach issues some ginger root. “It should help settle your stomachs.”

The five gave it a shot and while it didn’t get rid of the root cause, it did take the edge off, making the process bearable. For Twilight it actually worked instantly, most likely due to being a demigod. Once she recovered, “Why did you want us to come down here?”

Sugar Belle looked back into the dark area of her basement and nodded before she answered, “So nobody could see what's about to happen.” Just as she finished Night Glider and Party Favor emerged. However, neither gave the creepy almost unnatural looking smiles that rubbed Pinkie the wrong way since the six’s arrival. They looked nervous themselves, Rarity, Rainbow, and Applejack recognized the look, it was one their little sisters have given when they wanted to do something that might get them in trouble, like the whole gabby-gums incident with the school paper.

Party Favor was the first to speak, having swallowed to suppress his fear, “Are you really the Princess of Friendship, Twilight?” he asked. Twilight nodded after raising one of her eyebrow confused that they would still question her but elected to not press the matter.

Night Glider was next as she stepped closer and took Twilight’s hand’s “And you do know Princess Celestia?”

“And Luna and Mia Amore Cadenza, We are even slightly familiar with Prince Blueblood, a textbook example of a spoiled brat.” Rarity huffed the last part turning her nose up in disgust.

“Yah do know Discord did say his last words before charging at Tirek was 'For Rarity,'? Ah think yah left an impression.” Applejack elected to point out.

“And so has he. I wouldn’t forgive that lout of his behavior even if he helped me open a boutique in a hundred cities!”

Applejack and Rainbow Dash shared a half-open-eyed grin and fist bump, more or less saying to each other ‘so there is a threshold number.’ Applejack then turned to see Sugar Belle looking extremely close to the paladin’s pauldrons with a child-like awe smile on her face. While most would find this disconcerting, Applejack brushed it off, Sugar Belle clearly likes her apples. “I love your aura mark!” the baker exclaimed gitty as a school girl.

Night Glider turned to Pinkie and Rarity, noting the vast differences between the two and them and the other four, “How can you be friends with different aura marks? Don't you end up hating each other?”

Sugar Belle turned her attention to Fluttershy’s butterfly brooch, calling Party Favor's and Night Glider's attention to it, “Oh, look at this one! This one's great too!” She almost shouted getting a little too close for Fluttershy’s comfort, (not that such a feat was difficult to achieve). She then turned back to Party Favor and Night Glider, “I'd love to have my special talent back even just for a day!” She gave a Pinkie Pie certifiable smile before she looked down to the floor with a sad frown on her face. “Make something besides those disgusting muffins…”

“So what's stopping you?” Rainbow asked as she took to fly just above everyone else, after waiting for a few seconds and no response from the three, “So go get your aura marks back.”

“Daydreaming is one thing,” Party Favor admitted with a slight sigh before he connected the dotes, then a nervous look grew on his face, “but you mean actually having it put back on?” Rainbow nodded in response, “That seems extreme.”

“I'm not sure Starlight would like that.” Sugar Belle said as the three looked down at the floor forlorn about the prospects, “She wants us all to be happy in our sameness.”

“How do you take somebody's aura mark anyway?” Twilight asked the question that was on

Night Glider held her left hand aloft and waved it as she looked the ceiling, “The aura unmarking is a beautiful experience! Starlight uses the Staff of Sameness to magically take them away and replace them with these.” She then pointed to the equal signs on her and Sugar Belle’s dresses and Party Favor’s shirt.

Twilight was the most taken aback at this, “But nobody should keep you from your aura mark. It represents at least one of so many such essential parts of who you are.”

“Oh, we're not kept from them.” Night Glider said shaking her head with her eyes closed and a smile as if there was in fact nothing wrong. Like everything was par for the course. “They're in the vault up in the caves. We can visit them anytime we like to remind us of the heartache of a life with special talents.”

In that instant Twilight had an idea, “Can we visit this cave?”

About an hour later, Starlight was leading Twilight et al passed her house at the end of town to the mountains beyond that end of town. She turned to look over her shoulder as they just exited the town proper, Applejack and Rainbow Dash in the front of the six right behind Starlight, with Rarity and Pinkie right behind them with Twilight and Fluttershy in the rear, “I’m so delighted you're interested in our aura mark vault. We hope someday everyone in Mystica will make a pilgrimage here to our little village to have theirs removed too, and our message of…” As she said ‘of’ she turned to face ahead and her voice was not as loud allowing for Twilight and Fluttershy in hushed tones to speak over, “perfectly equal friendship can finally spread across the land.”

Twilight turned to Fluttershy, “This must be the reason we're here. To help those people get their aura marks back.”

“Oh, are you sure, Twilight?” the druid countered, “Maybe they miss them a little, but even they didn't seem all that unhappy.” Fluttershy was not convinced that they should be involved here, why fix what isn’t broke, live and let live.

“Then why did they want to meet us in secret?” Twilight called Fluttershy’s attention back to more or less what prompted them to be on this path to the cave where the aura marks were stored. “And why did they ask us not to tell Starlight who told us about the vault?” Twilight asked, further proving her point Socratically as Fluttershy had no answer. After giving a reluctant nod considering Twilight’s point. Twilight turned her full focus ahead as they arrived at a cave entrance, a couple minute walk and less than thirty-second mad dash on foot from the town. “Something's not right.”

Starlight then gestured to the cave and beckoned the six in, “Just through here!” After the six entered following her she pointed to the back wall, “Behold! Our aura mark vault!”

The six were struck with awe. They had known certain rocks could be used to trap various forms of magic, but this was an almost perfectly clear crystal that seemed to box itself into what looked like a bank’s safety deposit boxes section in the vaults. In many of these ‘boxes’ were a wide array of aura marks. If one actually took the time to count they would see that there was one less aura mark than the adult population of the village as the few children in town were far too young to have made the epiphany that is the core of one’s aura mark, “I've never seen anything like it!” Twilight commented as she actually floated toward it, awed by it, like a moth is to enclosed light.

At the base of the crystal-wall was stone alter, much like either of the two at Sweet Apple Temple (well more so the exterior one where the sacrifices were burnt, then the one in the temple used for the services). On the altar was a short wooden staff about the length of the average man’s arm which was forked at the top. Starlight picked up the staff and presented it reverently as if it was a relic. “And this is the Staff of Sameness, one of Mage Meadowbrook's nine enchanted items.” After each of the six had looked it over, Twilight with a degree of confusion, “We are incredibly fortunate to have it here.” Starlight continued as point the staff towards the crystal wall where all the aura marks were stored, “This artifact allows us to free ourselves from our aura marks!” She then turned to the six with a small sinister-like smile creeping on her face, “I'm curious” There was a pause as she pointed the staff in the direction of the six, “– how did the subject of the vault come up?”

Before anyone else could provide an answer that question and not sensing it for the trap it was, “Oh, some of the villagers were telling us how much they missed their aura marks, and—” Pinkie started.

“Pinkie!” the other five yelled realizing the trap and that Pinkie Pie might have set it off cutting her off at the 'and', in hopes that no damage was done.

“Oops…” gave a weak sounding apology as she seemed to shirk under the annoyed looks from her friends.

Starlight gasped as if she was clutching a pearl necklace upon hearing that, “Were they?” She turned her focus to Twilight, “Well, it seems you inspire all sorts of free thinking, don't you?”

As the six slowly started to back away in an attempt to exit the cave, Rarity gave a few nervous laughs before she tried to speak on behave of the group in attempt to defuse the situation long enough for a getaway, “Well, w-we certainly didn't intend to cause any disruptions to your charming little—”

Starlight cut Rarity off there, “Good. Let's just make sure of that, shall we?” she asked as looked behind the six and around them. It was then that they realized that there were others in the cave, actually the whole of the adult population.

Seeing that they were surrounded by the entirety of the town, even Night Glider, Party Favor and Sweetie Belle, “It's a trap!” Twilight shouted and tried to be teleport away but was struck by a beam of light turquoise magic. As she struggled to break free she felt the six-pointed stars in her wings be removed from her as equal marks took their place, severing her from her magic. As the stars were hovering in the two prongs of the staff they merged to be Twilight’s aura mark, a purple six-pointed star that seemed to rest on an inverted white four-pointed star surrounded by five smaller white stars. As Twilight’s mark was stripped from her, the others tried to tackle Starlight, namely Applejack and Rainbow Dash, only for the sheer numbers of the villagers to tackle them and prevent them from stopping Starlight from adding Twilight’s mark to the vault. Once Twilight’s mark was added, Starlight repeated the process on the others, first Rarity, leaving an equal sign on her tiara where the sapphires were, as the three sapphires were followed a similar process as Twilight’s. Then Applejack leaving equal signs were each apple on her pauldrons were, as the six stylized apples on her pauldrons were merged to look like three. Rainbow was next as an equal sign replaced her rainbow lightning bolt pin, then Pinkie’s three balloons on her jester hat were replaced with an equal sign. Finally, Starlight turned the Staff of Sameness on Fluttershy, replacing the butterfly brooch like all the others, as the stylized butterfly that made the brooch became a set of three. All the while as each of the six had their aura marks removed, they struggled but the sheer numbers the town folk made it fruitless.

As Starlight added the last aura mark and seeing the six still struggling, she gave slight chuckle because she knew it was over, “Aw. I don't blame you for what you tried to do here today. You've spent your whole lives thinking those aura marks are a good thing.”

Twilight used her wings to break free of those that held her, but she was tackled and forced to her knees, her arms pulled back, forced so that she could only look up to Starlight and growl, “Give them back!”

Starlight chuckled as she took Twilight’s chin with her left hand as she lowered the Staff on Sameness on the altar it was one before she used it, “Well, now you can spend the rest of your lives here with us! And we'll teach you just how much better life can be without your aura marks! Take them to the education house!” The rest of the town then began dragging the six out of the cave. Twilight, Applejack, Rainbow, Rarity, and Pinkie trashed around while Fluttershy wept.