Alicorn of Music

by Orthoros

First published

James, self proclaimed metal-head and connoisseur of all things music, gets transported to Equestria. Reborn as an Alicorn child, he has to find what fate has in store for him while dealing with his new body and strange technicolor ponies.

After what must have been the most epic of benders ever bent in the history of alcohol and metal combined, James finds himself waking up in a new world, crammed into an unfamiliar new body.

Left with little to no choice in the matter, he has to adapt to this new situation, all the while looking for a possible way back home. As if all of this wasn't already crazy enough, this world seemed to be inhabited by technicolor ponies which worshipped powerful beings called: Alicorns.

After finding out that he was indeed an alicorn himself, he decides to keep this fact a secret. Being crowned as a prince would surely invite more trouble than it was worth.

This story is inspired by Snorting Gentlemans story: Alicorn of Music: Reliving The Childhood. The idea behind the story always fascinated me, and, with Snorting Gentlemans permission, I've decided to write out my own twist at it.

This is just a side project for me, so updates will be irregular.

Cover Art by the amazing The Spirits Demise.

1. Shanghaied Into A Strange World

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'Ugh, my head…'

I curl up into a ball as I feel my… everything hurt. My head feels like it’s being split open from the inside, a low drone muting out all the sounds around me. Tears escape the sides of my eyes, as the whole experience becomes a bit too much and I cry out in pain.

'What the fuck even happened to me? I asked myself. I can’t even imagine what would cause this much pain, short from being run over by a truck… multiple times. But, if that happened I would sure as hell be lying in a comfortable hospital bed, with a sexy nurse already looking after my freshly awakened ass, pumping it full of painkillers.'

A particularly painful burst of unrelenting pain surged through my body and I could feel it contort in weird ways that it wasn’t supposed to. The ground beneath me seemed soft, yet had a rough texture to it, and the damp feeling on my skin informed me that I was naked for some reason.

'Ughhh, fuck. Something is very wrong here,' I thought to myself, as if I wasn’t already aware of that fact and tried to open my eyes in an attempt to figure out where I was.

I managed to keep them open for a split second before I clamped them shut again. Even though it wasn’t even that bright, I felt as if I’d just walked headfirst into a floodlight after spending ten years inside a dark cave. A new wave of pain surged through my body and I could feel something shifting inside of me, which actually caused me to cry out. My voice sounded hoarse, as if I hadn’t drank something in ages.

At least I was able to make out that I was in some kind of forest. I wasn’t sure what to do with that information, but at least I knew now.

All of a sudden, I felt as if something powerful was gripping my body, pulling in several different directions. I heard my own bones crack and break, the sounds reverberating in my head like a macabre orchestra, and I shouted like I never had in my entire life before. The sound of a flock of birds leaving their perch accompanied me into the sweet, sweet embrace of unconsciousness.

I awoke once more, feeling like death.

My whole body was sore, and the headache seemed to punctuate every thought with pain, if not a bit more subdued now. I readily swallowed the first pool of saliva that appeared in my mouth, anything to alleviate feeling like my throat was drier than the Mojave desert… The saliva left behind a burning sensation in my throat, but I could already feel a bit of moisture return to it.

That, of course, didn’t stop me from going straight into a coughing fit that would make a chain-smoker sound healthy. Which was weird, since I didn’t smoke.

I attempted to open my eyes, and actually managed to keep them open this time around. They refused to focus though, so I had to make do with trying to identify oddly shaped splotches of color.

As I suspected, I was definitely inside of a forest. Now that I actually could hear better, the usual sounds that one would expect within a forest were reaching my ears. Birdsong diffused the whole area, as if every tree around me was filled to the brim with little critters. I could hear the flapping of wings, long before a blue shaped blob swooped in from above and landed a few feet away from me.

It seemed to dip its head towards the ground several times with a weird motion, each time accompanied by miniscule splashes of water, which I could hear with an odd accuracy. It took me a while, but I eventually made the connection. Water. Just feet in front of me was water.

At this point I didn’t care if it was a dirty puddle filled with decaying foliage and every imaginable disease that ever existed. I needed to drink something, and I needed to do so yesterday!

With an enormous amount of effort I started pushing myself forward, the grunt and sudden movement disturbing the bird before it flew away in shock. My whole body felt oddly disconnected, as if my limbs weren’t attached to where they should be, but right now I couldn’t care less. All that mattered was getting something to soothe my burning throat.

I had no idea how long it took me, might have been seconds, or twenty minutes, but fighting through the pain, I finally reached the object of my desire, a puddle of water. Judging by it’s size and the damp dirt beneath me, it was mostly rainwater that hadn’t evaporated yet. I forewent using my hands to scoop it up and simply dumped my entire face into it’s cool relief. Or at least I tried to, my nose seemed to have grown several times larger for some reason, preventing me from doing that. Not really caring, I eagerly lapped up the lukewarm, dirty water with glee until there was almost nothing left.

My throat felt like shit after drinking that disgusting cocktail, but still… it felt less shitty than before. I coughed a few times more before rolling over onto my side. It was high time to stop moving, and I was intent to ride out what was most likely the most brutal case of a hangover in the history of alcohol.

Yesterday must have been a night to remember.

I was lying there, unmoving, for what felt like an eternity, listening to the soothing sounds of the forest. The symphony of animal noises and trees creaking provided a soothing place of respite for my pained body and mind, focusing on it distracted from the pain, if only slightly. Eventually, I felt as if I was back to a somewhat working order. Or, just a regular hangover, I guess. Relatively used to this level of pain and nausea, I got to work on getting into an upright position and took stock of my situation.

The first thing I noticed when trying to do just that, was that my limbs were sticking out at very weird angles and felt like they didn’t have the same amount of dexterity they had before.

'Priority number one upon opening eyes: Figure out how badly fucked up my body is,' I thought to myself.

Somehow, I got myself into a sitting position and attempted to rub the cobwebs out of my eyes by using my right hand. But, instead of the warm and gentle embrace of my hand, I was greeted by the cold and unfeeling thing of whatever I just rammed in between my eyes. I recoiled in pain, attempting to rub the pained spot on my forehead, making it only worse in the process before giving up.

Fed up with it all, I carefully opened my eyes, blinking at an accelerated rate until they finally focused on the world around me. The fact that I was in a forest was once again, confirmed, as well as the fact that I could actually… see more? I wasn’t exactly sure, but it felt as if my peripheral vision had grown larger and more accurate. Remembering my earlier objective, I looked down to check out my body and almost had an aneurysm.

For some reason I had four furry stumps instead of my usual limbs, which is to say, two healthy arms and legs. In fact, my whole body seemed to be covered in fur of a matte gray color, complemented by fiery red hair that messily hung from my shoulders and invaded my vision from above. If my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me, I even had some sort of tail of the same red color.

What disturbed me the most, though, was the fact that there were two wings snugly folded to my sides. I gave them an experimental flap, the movement coming way too naturally for my own taste, confirming that this was indeed my own body.

I closed my eyes again and took a deep breath. Something was incredibly fucked up, and it looked like it was my body. I didn’t really want to believe it, but now that I paid attention to it, the sensations being returned to my brain matched my outer appearance.

I opened my eyes once more. Yep, still in the wrong body, I thought, looking for another nearby puddle.

I found one in short order and wobbled my way over to it. Walking didn’t seem too hard, if a bit unstable. It was actually a lot like crawling on all fours, just without half of my legs being dragged along the floor. Once I arrived at my destination I tried to use the puddle as a makeshift mirror, which kind of worked. Due to the low light, all that greeted me was a somewhat transparent reflection, but it was enough to give me a general idea of what my head looked like.

Two, big floppy ears stood at attention on my head, swiveling around every so often, which I hadn’t even noticed up until now. I had what appeared to be a muzzle, which would explain my earlier issues with drinking, and my eyes were abnormally large, almost comically so. At least they had kept their deep blue color. What really sent me through a loop though, was the horn that was protruding out of my forehead, emerging from my… mane? Like a giant middle finger to common sense.

“Am I a fucking unicorn?” I said out loud. “And a pegasus at the same time? A unisus?”

Great, at least I could still talk. Yay, me! But, judging by the slightly higher than usual pitch of my voice, combined with the relatively low altitude of my body, I concluded that I had reverted back into a child. Either that, or unicorn adults were ridiculously small. My naming sense seemed to be fatally wounded as well, since it just occured to me that pegacorn was a way better word.

Whatever the situation was that I found myself in, I had more than enough of it, and sleeping for a bit sounded amazing right now. I looked around for a semi-comfortable place to lie down as I spotted something black close to me. Hobbling over to investigate, I identified the thing as my hoodie. Not questioning how or why, it appeared like it was the only thing of my effects that made it here, I picked it up with my mouth and carried it over towards the base of a tree, using it as a makeshift pillow.

Whatever the fuck was going on, I could deal with it tomorrow. And who knows? Maybe it was all a dream after all.

I awoke with a grumble, as the sun hit my face at that perfect, yet impossible angle through the trees that surrounded me. The atmosphere around me already told me, that what I experienced yesterday was definitely not a dream. My body was still resting on the soft fabric of my hoodie and the earth below me was still wet from the rain, which left my fur in a damp and uncomfortable state, and my limbs still felt oh so horribly wrong.

I slowly opened my eyes to take in the familiar setting of the forest which I found myself in before going to sleep. Whatever strange body I had acquired yesterday was still feeling sore, so the first order of the day consisted of copious amounts of stretching out. Aside from getting the after sleep drowsiness out of my system, this had the practical side effect of allowing me to reacquaint myself with my body.

The movements in and of itself came to me quite naturally, as if I had possessed these limbs for all my life. Even the wings proved to be no problem, and I achieved what I assumed to be the full range of movement with them. I played with the thought of whether or not I was able to fly with them or not, since they looked pretty small in proportion to my already too small body, but trashed the thought almost immediately. Given the miniscule probability of my success in taking off, I was almost guaranteed a crash since I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t want to add an injury to my already fucked up situation.

In other, more happy news, pretty much all of the pain in my body was gone. Aside from the headache of course, which had subsided to a dull throbbing. Not enough to take me out of the game, but enough to be annoying.

Whatever happened yesterday was some seriously fucked up shit, when I remember the impossible contortions my body went through I still shuddered. I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t leave behind some kind of trauma on me…

Deciding that it would be best to practice my movement to be… less wobbly and more viable to traverse a forest, I started doing some light exercises. Which basically boiled down to me trying to walk straight and stable without falling over. I took quite a few dives to the ground and some light bruising, but eventually I felt like I got the hang of it. Next, I moved on to some light jumps, which might come in handy in case there were big roots in my way or something.

Turns out it was harder than I thought to balance the landing without feet. After many a failed attempt, it dawned on me that I could just do bunny hops. That way I would be able to use all four of my hoof-things to compensate my momentum. After only three times it turned out that my idea was genius! Landing was a lot easier this way, and while it didn’t look graceful at all, it fulfilled it’s purpose.

Happy with my range of movement I decided that it was finally time to head away from my safe clearing and into the unknown forest. Priority number one was to find either shelter, or some sort of civilisation, if that even was a thing that existed… wherever I was. Sure didn’t feel like Kansas.

My stomach rumbled, and for the first time I realized that I was actually hungry. Very hungry. Priority number one was just replaced with finding something edible. If I was lucky, there would be some fruit bearing trees or bushes close to me.

I walked back to where my hoodie was, still crumpled up at the base of the tree where I left it. It was my favourite. The fabric felt soft and was warm enough in the winter, without getting to stuffy in hot weather. A pocket was located in the stomach area, which would allow me to hide my hands as a warmer alternative to my pants and there were two threads dangling down from the hood, which allowed for the adjustment of it’s size. The little plastic bits at their respective ends were chewed up to hell and back, since that was one of my favourite things to keep my restless body occupied.

Leaving it here was out of the question, but taking it with me seemed like an impossible task. I had no hands to carry it, no backpack, and if I just flung it over my back, I was sure that I’d have to pick it up every few feet. The idea to just hang it from my horn briefly crossed my mind, but I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to see anything this way. It seemed like the only option was to actually wear it.

I eyed my hoodie and after a while decided that it was possible to wear it, even in this weird unicorn-pegasus body. I’d just have to put my two front things through the arm-holes and I should be all set.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy and I had to assume some rather embarrassing positions, one of which led me to realize I was still definitely male, but eventually I got my hoodie on. The cut wasn’t made to be worn by a pony, so I felt some slight pinching at some points, but since my body had also shrunk quite a bit, it wasn’t too bad. My wings were completely covered by my hoodie, which felt odd, but not too uncomfortable.

Happy that finally everything was in order, I picked a direction at random and started walking. As I did so, I made a mental checklist.

'Alright, I’ll have to look out for anything edible while I walk, let’s hope I find something quick. Finding a vantage point or body of water is also on the list of top priorities, ideally a river. If I do find one, I’ll just follow it downstream and hopefully hit a village somewhere along the way.

I sure do hope whatever lives here is friendly and smart enough to build their settlements close to water… if they even need water to survive.'

My checklist complete I made my way past trees and bushes of all kinds. They didn’t look too different from what I knew, but every once in awhile there would be a plant or flower that looked just too alien to be from the earth I knew. I wasn’t too sure what it was about them, since I hadn’t majored in flower spotting or some useless shit like that, but whenever I crossed paths with one, I just felt that they were… wrong.

One of these bushes actually bore some kind of purple fruit, resembling a pear. I seriously considered just stuffing my mouth with them, but after some careful consideration decided against it. For all I knew, one bite could kill me and I actually quite enjoyed being alive. Even if I was in a seriously weird situation.

I really needed some answers on just what happened to me, because I felt like freaking out. Keeping a cool head like I always tried to, reminded me that a mental breakdown would help nobody, least of all myself, and so I trotted ever onwards.

Walking through the forest was actually calming my troubled mind. It was a familiar sight, even if marred by the occasional alien plant, and nothing was threatening to overload any of my senses.

I trudged on for what felt like hours, and most likely was, since the sun was travelling at a sedate pace with me. When I woke up, it seemed to just have risen, but now it had passed its zenith and was already on it’s way towards the horizon. It worried me a bit that I hadn’t found edible food or any shelter yet, but I convinced myself that I still had quite some time left in the day.

My body seemed to be of a slightly different opinion though, since the rumbling of my stomach had grown more frequent, and I could feel myself getting weaker and lightheaded as more time passed. I was still good on all fronts, but my pace had slowed down considerably.

Just a few minutes later, I finally spotted a treeline up ahead. That either meant there was a big clearing, or hopefully the edge of the forest. I sped up my pace and broke the treeline to find out it was the latter. I had finally found the edge of the forest, but to my amazement, that wasn’t the only thing I found.

In the distance I could see a village that looked like it was pulled straight out of an idealized version of the middle ages. Quaint little houses with thatched roofs were haphazardly built along streets, to build a moderately sized village.

It was a bit far away, but when I squinted my eyes, I could make out creatures walking to and fro among the buildings: creatures that seemed to look exactly like I did, which is to say, horse-like. Seeing some of them flying around over the roofs confirmed my theory that I was most likely able to utilize my own wings to fly, but still boggled my mind somewhat.

At least I wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb if I walked among them, and strangely enough, I was suddenly glad to have my body altered to match the local populace. Strutting around as a human would have most likely gotten me strapped to a dissecting table faster than I could say: “Take me to your leader!”

Unfortunately, this was the final straw that confirmed that this was most definitely NOT Kansas anymore.

The questions I had been repressing in the back of my mind all rushed to the front at once.

What the fuck happened to me? Why am I a horse abomination instead of a human? Who did this to me? Is it possible to return to earth? Will I ever see my family again? Will I ever attend another Sabaton concert, like just before shit hit the fan? Will I ever be able to re-grow my magnificent beard?

Yes, I’m an enormous metal-head, sue me.

I let my body plop to the ground, not feeling like standing anymore and tried to contemplate my situation and what to do now without having a panic attack. While I was doing that, I spotted a yellow something make it’s way in my direction, following a dirt path that led past my position and towards a small hut that was close-by that I hadn’t noticed before.

As it got closer, I was able to see that it had wings, just like me, but no horn. That most likely meant that there were different kinds of variation of horses in this world. The butter yellow pegasus had a soft pink mane and was carrying green… saddlebags? Embroidered on it was an emblem of three butterflies, identical to a mark on its posterior. Maybe it was some sort of clan affiliation thing?

As it got closer to me, I estimated it to be about twice my size, which disqualified it as a horse, in my opinion. A pony maybe? A pony pegasus? It hummed a happy tune as it walked past my position, still halfway amidst the trees, without noticing me. The humming sounded quite feminine, so I categorized this specimen as female for now.

It occurred to me that this was a prime opportunity to learn a bit more about this world before revealing myself, and I got up and started following her while remaining just inside the forest. As I suspected, the hut up ahead seemed to be where she lived, as she went inside almost immediately after arriving.

The hut almost reminded me of a hobbit hole, if it was built above ground, and all kinds of animals were positively swarming the place. I saw a chicken coop, as well as other abodes for the animals, which most likely meant that the pegasus cared for most, if not all of them in some kind of fashion. Most importantly though, I saw a little stream of water flowing alongside the hut and a little bridge leading over it, providing easy access to the hut.

The stream seemed to originate from somewhere within the forest, which was ideal for me, since I could drink as much as I wanted without having to step out of my tree cover. I drank the clear water eagerly, the cool liquid soothing my unhappy stomach for a bit. After I was finally satisfied, I immediately noticed with some displeasure that I drank too much, as I could feel it sloshing around in my stomach and felt like throwing up.

Fighting with myself, I forced myself to keep it in and returned to stalking my subject, which had by now come back out of her hut to feed the animals. Various kinds of animal food was tributed amongst the critters, which happily frolicked all about their caretaker. I watched with some wonderment, as she seemed to be able to actually grab and hold things with her hooves, which logically seemed impossible. I mentally filed the abnormality away as either ‘magnets’ or ‘magic’ for later.

My eyes went wide as she pulled something round and red out of the sack she was carrying around, and my body moved towards her location before I even knew what I was doing. There was not a singular doubt in my mind that what she was holding was most definitely an apple! And apples were edible.

“Excuse me, lady?” I called out as I practically ran across the little bridge. “Excuse me!”

My calling seemed to have gotten her attention as her ears swivelled around to my location, shortly followed by her head. She seemed confused towards my presence and purpose here, but before she could get a single word in I was already standing next to her and talking again.

“Oh please, for the love of god,” I pleaded. “Could I please have one of those apples? I’m literally starving right now! Please, anything! I’ll do anything for just one apple!”

I threw myself down in front of her and made a begging motion with my forehooves. The buttery pegasus seemed more confused than ever and was just about to say something when she was interrupted once again.

A dull thump resounded next to me, accompanied by a small cloud of earth and dust.

“Hey Fluttershy,” another voice said. “Who’s this?”

I couldn’t categorize the voice as either male or female from just sound alone, as it was quite raspy, so I turned my head to look at the new arrival. A sky blue pegasus with an honest to god rainbow colored mane had landed just a few feet away from me and was staring at me curiously.

“I.. I don’t know…” The yellow pegasus, apparently called Fluttershy, replied in a soft voice. “He just showed up right now, begging me for an apple…”

“Begging you for an apple?” The blue pegasus repeated, their conversation reminding me of my own agenda. “What’s up with that?”

“Please,” I said, getting the attention from both pegasi. “I haven’t eaten anything in days! Just one apple and I’d be forever grateful to you!”

It wasn’t really my style to beg for things, but the hunger was doing things to me. As far as I knew, it was at least two days since my last meal, but it felt like a lot more and I was getting desperate. The yellow pegasus still holding my target within sight wasn’t doing me any favors either.

“Whoa,” the blue pegasus suddenly said, getting all up in my face and startling me. “What happened to you? You look like you haven’t seen a shower for weeks!”

“I was in the forest,” I started to explain, but was unexpectedly interrupted by Fluttershy.

“Oh my…” She said in a worried tone. “Did you get lost? How long were you in there? The Everfree is such a scary place, I simply couldn’t imagine being lost in there, I’d be so scared…”

“As far as I know, I was always in there…” I blurted out without properly thinking about my words.

“Always?” The blue pegasus asked, getting up close and personal once again, as if she suspected me of lying.

“Rainbow Dash!” Another name filed away. “Can’t you see you’re scaring the poor little thing? What if his parents abandoned him in there when he was just a baby? Oh the horror. Here, take this apple, there’s more inside, take as many as you need.”

I was just about to correct Fluttershy about the fake and over dramatic back story she thought up for me, but she was holding out an apple to me and that was all I cared about. Whatever, free, and somewhat plausible back-story. Not familiar with the voodoo magic they used for grabbing things, I simply bit into it and brought it close to the ground so I could support it with both of my hooves, ravenously devouring the fruit.

“Oh, just look at him, he must have gone through so much,” Fluttershy said. “The poor thing.”

“That all sounds a bit over the top,” Rainbow Dash replied. “But, he does seem like he has been through quite a bit of trouble.”

“Come on little colt,” Fluttershy said to me. “Come inside, I’ll make you something proper to eat.”

She gestured towards her front door and I happily followed her and a still sceptical looking Rainbow Dash inside. For all I knew this was the alien-world equivalent of getting into the candy-van, but the promise of an actual meal made me throw away all of my concerns. Whatever this new world held in store for me, it could wait until after my stomach was filled.

2. Using Hooves 101

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I followed Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash inside. I immediately noted that the inside was just as much a home to various critters as the outside was. Every free space seemed to provide housing for an animal, a few of which seemed really interested in me; most likely because they had never seen me before.

Birds were nesting near the ceiling, a couple of ferrets were chasing each other over by a couch, and a small white bunny was sitting on a comfy looking pillow, eying me suspiciously. I would have wondered what it’s issue was with me, but I was promised food and was following the yellow pegasus on auto-pilot to her kitchen.

Fluttershy immediately pulled a few vegetables out from her fridge and laid out some bread on a nearby table. While I wasn’t too fond of the vegetarian lifestyle, right now I’d take even a vegan meal. I absent-mindedly registered that she had a fridge, which meant they had at least some level of technology, which put my mind somewhat at ease.

It was already hard enough to adjust to an alien world, but if I had to make do with middle-age technology only, I’d probably have gone crazy. Fluttershy went to work on cooking what might have been a stew while I hungrily eyed the bread on the table. I was really hungry, but I wasn’t about to just tear into the first food presented to me. I needed to be on these ponies good side if I wanted to survive for now.

I was jerked out of my musings by a blue hoof tapping my shoulder, Rainbow Dash apparently wanted my attention.

“Hey, squirt? You okay?” The blue pegasus asked. “You were lookin’ kinda out there…”

“Yeah… yeah, I’m okay… just, just really hungry,” I answered her.

“Oh my, please don’t hesitate,” Fluttershy said quietly. “You can start eating the bread, since the soup will still take some time to finish.”

“Don’t mind if I do, then,” I said and hopped up on one of the chairs.

I greedily reached out for the loaf of bread on the table and was immediately presented by my next challenge; I had no idea how to properly handle it so I could comfortably eat. Mentally shrugging I just started pawing at it like a cat would a toy and slowly brought it closer to me. As long as I could get it close enough to my mouth, I’d be able to eat.

“What are you doing?” Rainbow Dash asked curiously, as she sat down in a chair next to me.

“I’m… trying… to eat… this bread,” I managed to get out while trying to somehow mash the loaf into my face-hole.

“Why don’t you just, like, pick it up?” Dash asked, sounding more confused this time.

“Well, that’s kind of hard to do with hooves, isn’t it,” I snarked at her. I didn’t really like it when people sounded like they thought they were better than me because they knew something I didn’t. “These things aren't exactly made to… pick up things…”

My semi-annoyed rant petered off as soon as it started when I started to pay more attention to what Fluttershy was actually doing. She was making soup, for sure, but more importantly she was grabbing and holding things with the flat of her hooves, which should have been impossible.

“Sure they are,” Rainbow Dash chuckled next to me. “See?”

And just like that, to prove her point, she picked up the bread that was lying in front of me. I followed her hoof and the bread with my eyes, baffled by the fact that the hooves in this world seemed to work like magnets that worked on everything.

As if magnets weren’t confusing enough before.

“You mean you can’t do this?” Rainbow Dash asked me skeptically, her left eyebrow raising as if to ask me if I’m for real.

“Umm… No one ever taught me?” I stammered out.

Apparently, being able to pick up things like that was a common skill possessed by everyone. If so, it was most likely taught at a very early age, which would make me seem fairly suspicious in my opinion, or at the very least like someone in desperate need of an occupational therapist.

I shot Rainbow a sheepish smile, hoping she’d buy into my white lie. She seemed just about to say something when we were surprisingly interrupted by Fluttershy who apparently had left the soup to simmer and joined us at the table.

“Oh no,” she said timidly. “You poor thing you must have really been abandoned at an early age if you haven’t even learnt something like that. It must have been horrible, but don’t worry, you’re safe now.”

“Yeah… must have been really difficult…” Rainbow Dash confirmed in a suspicious tone and I couldn’t help but feel like she might be onto me.

As much as it pained me to abuse her trust in me, Fluttershy seemed to be somewhat gullible, so I might be able to use her as a shield against Rainbow Dash. The blue pegasus put down the loaf of bread back in front of me and gestured towards it.

“Why don’t you try learning now then, it’s really easy,” Rainbow Dash said, and I couldn’t help but hear a challenge in it.

“Umm… okay?” I answered. I was still extremely hungry and not really in the mood for learning games, but it felt like the safer bet to play along for now. As a side effect I’ll at least learn how to pick up things, which should make eating infinitely easier. “Can you teach me?”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash looked stumped, as if she didn’t expect something like this. “You… uhh… You just pick it up… like this... “ She awkwardly picked up the loaf of bread again and I shot her a deadpan look. Apparently Rainbow Dash had no idea how to teach anyone anything, so I redirected my eyes towards Fluttershy, my last hope.

“Oh,” she replied when she saw me staring at her. “You’ll have to forgive her. She’s more of a mare of action than a tutor.”

“Heh yeah,” Rainbow Dash replied, apparently getting saved by Fluttershy just as much as I was. “Once you’re as awesome as I am, you can just do things like that, no sweat.”

Rainbow scratched the back of her head and made it a point to not look at me while chuckling weakly. I was starting to see just what type of character Rainbow Dash was. A sportive muscle-head with some sort of superiority complex. Also known as the type of person I really didn’t like.

“Umm… I’m afraid I’m not much of a teacher either, this is more of Twilight’s thing,” Fluttershy said meekly. “But, if you’re okay with me trying I’d like to help.”

Seeing Fluttershy nervously fidgeting in her seat must’ve been one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, so there was no way I could have refused her. “Yes please, I’d love to learn this.”

Fluttershy seemed to brighten up a bit at my words and her eyes appeared from their hiding place under her mane. Shy and always happy to help, while also being somewhat of a pushover. I was starting to feel bad about just lying to her face like that, but as long as I couldn’t be sure whether they’d dissect me on a table once the truth got out, I would have to keep up the charade.

“Alright, I’m sure you at least know that every creature on this planet is a being of magic, right?” Fluttershy asked me and I pretended that I did by nodding. “Well, us ponies can use this magic to varying degrees, depending on your race. But ,one thing everypony can do, is use the thaumatic field that is attached to each of their hooves. Or… at least that’s what Twilight said it was called,” she said while trailing off a bit.

“Well, anyways, you can use your innate magic to pick up things with your hooves!” Fluttershy explained to me, recovering a bit from her bout of insecurity. “I can’t really remember how I was taught specifically, but first, close your eyes.”

I was starting to get curious about who this Twilight character was, but still paying attention, I did as I was instructed.

“Calm down, take regular and deep breaths and focus,” Fluttershy said, and I tried to comply to the best of my abilities. “If you really try, you should be able to feel how the magic flows through your body. Twilight told me that it feels slightly different for everypony, but I’m sure you’ll know what it is once you feel it.”

After Fluttershy had spoken these words, she stopped talking, apparently leaving me to my own devices. Kicking my suspension of disbelief as well as my imagination into overdrive, I let out a deep breath and started doing my best impression of somebody meditating. I really had no idea what I was doing, so I just tried to stay calm and watch out for anything that felt out of the ordinary.

After a while of nothing happening, just before I was about to give up and give in to my hunger, a faint feeling seemed to envelop my whole body. If I had to describe it, I would have said that it felt like I could feel my blood flow throughout my body. Yet, something was off, instead of the pulsing sensation originating from the heart, this felt like a more constant flow. It even had a somewhat cool sensation to it, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine.

“Alright, I think I can feel it,” I said, my eyes still closed.

“Then try to focus on the area around your hooves,” Fluttershy said, the smile on her face carrying over on her voice.

I once more did as I was told, but this time with a lot more enthusiasm. It just caught up with me, but apparently I was about to use actual real life magic, a fact that seemed amazing and outlandish to me. I had actually not even realized what I was being taught about, due to my hunger, but this was actually really cool.

Sure enough, it felt like the weird stream seemed to over-extend somewhat where my hooves were. Similar sensations could be felt around the area where my wings were, while the horn on my forehead felt like all of these “magic streams” were coalescing there. Maybe my horn was to my magic what my heart was to my blood?

“All you have to do is to imagine your magic grabbing the thing that you want to pick up, and it should work,” Fluttershy said, sounding expectant this time.

I nodded and felt with my hoof for the loaf of bread in front of me, my eyes still closed since I didn’t want to lose this sensation and fuck the whole experiment up. I made contact with the product without issue and took a deep breath.

’Well, here goes nothing,’ I thought to myself and imagined myself picking up the bread with my hand.

The image just came to my mind, most likely because it was what felt most familiar to me, and I pulled my hoof upwards with a jerk. I heard some soft clopping from in front of me and curiously opened my eyes to find Fluttershy beaming at me and apparently applauding, which caused the sound. I took a look at my hoof to confirm what she was on about, and sure enough, the bread seemed like it was stuck on my hoof.

“Well done,” Fluttershy said. “You’re a fast learner!”

“Not half bad,” Rainbow Dash said to my right. “But that’s still just a basic skill, I’m not that impressed.”

“Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy called out, seemingly offended on my behalf. “It’s not his fault he couldn’t do it before.”

While Rainbow Dash was busy being chewed out, I was busy staring at my hoof. The bread just hung there, blatantly defying every law of physics that ever existed, painting a huge smile on my face as it did so. While I was staring at the marvel right in front of me, my stomach decided to remind me that I was still quite hungry.

The rumbling noise caught everyone's ear, stopping Fluttershy from berating Rainbow Dash and spurring me into action. I started obliterating the bread, soon enough noticing that it’s dryness demanded some assistance in the form of liquids. Fluttershy had brought a pitcher of water with her when she sat down and I eagerly grabbed it, pouring myself a glass of clear water without even thinking too hard about it and downing it eagerly.

Fluttershy seemed to watch me happily while Rainbow Dash was sulking next to me, until Fluttershy's eyes went wide.

“The soup!”

3. What's In A Name?

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The soup Fluttershy made was delicious. While I wasn’t a good cook by a long shot, I was actually a low key soup enthusiast. After all, making soup was so easy, a child could do it. Just throw stuff into water, let it cook until it almost breaks apart by just looking at it, mix everything up, throw some salt and pepper at it and you end up with delicious soup. Thus, even I with my terrible skills could easily make it.

Aside from my crude cooking techniques, Fluttershy's soup was actually well prepared. The vegetables were carefully selected and chopped so that the resulting taste would be in harmony, while still providing something tangible to bite down on in the form of solid vegetable. Even if she had forgotten about it slightly, the taste was still flawless and actually sort of reminded me of my mother's cooking.

’I wonder what she’s up to’ I thought to myself. ’I wonder if my disappearance was already discovered…’

Since I took a few days off in order to go to the concert, it might be a while until someone realized that I was gone, especially since I went alone. None of my friends were able to clear their schedule for it, but I wouldn’t just let a chance like this go by, so flying solo seemed to be my only choice.

Rainbow Dash excused herself shortly after my meal, saying something about having unfinished work to do. Fluttershy on the other hand still continued to fuss over me, apparently assuming that I was about to break apart or something. She was a really sweet and caring… mare? Even going so far as to offer me her guest room to stay at for a while.

Which lead to me currently sitting on “my” bed and staring out the window. I was able to take a bath a bit earlier, which was an adventure in and of itself, trying to figure out how to wash my body was interesting and… educational. I garnered a few strange looks from Fluttershy when I came out of the bathroom still wearing my hoodie, which was now quite damp, due to me not completely drying off my fur. She seemed like she wanted to ask something, but apparently, her shy nature got the better of her.

Truth be told, even though it was apparently common to not wear clothes, I felt kind of naked without my hoodie. So even though it was kind of uncomfortable on my newly sprouted wings, I put it back on before getting out of the bath.

For the first time since arriving in this world, I had what could be considered some downtime. First was the shock from finding out I had changed into a weird new body and familiarising myself with it. Then blindly wandering around a dubious forest in hopes of finding some sort of civilization, before finally figuring out I had been transported to another world entirely.

I let out a deep sigh while looking at the beautiful star-filled night. Back on earth, the only places you’d be able to see something like this would have been far away from any kind of civilization, since light pollution hid the true night sky from sight. As a self-proclaimed creature of the night, the view had a somewhat calming effect on me, while I contemplated the situation I found myself in.

Since it appeared that Fluttershy had turned in for the night as well, I pulled off my hoodie over my head with some difficulty. Manipulating things with my weird hoof-magnets was easier than I first thought, yet I was still far away from mastering it. I decided to continue examining my new body in more detail, as a continuation of what I did in the bath earlier. While Fluttershy had mentioned that I apparently could do magic things with my horn, and I was incredibly curious about what I could do, I didn’t want to risk doing so without someone teaching me first; I didn’t want to risk blowing myself up after all.

So for now, I focused my efforts on my wings. Contrary to how fast I was able to get used to walking on flat and inflexible hooves, these wings were strange, to say the least. After all, they were basically extra limbs that I never had before. For some reason, finding the muscles used to move them, wasn’t all that hard. Moving them in the way I wanted to on the other hand… seemed almost impossible.

Moving my wings accurately seemed to be a very nuanced thing, requiring minute adjustments. As it was, I didn’t have that accuracy around, so every time I flexed my wing muscles, they violently spasmed about, even managing to hit me in the face at some point.

I did try for a while, but it looked like this would take a lot of practice. Maybe I should ask Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash to teach me at some point. Especially Rainbow Dash seemed like she was a pretty proficient flyer.

With a sigh I let them return to their resting position at the side of my body. For now, I’ll just have to do what I can.

While I was sitting there, looking at the stars, I realized that I knew pretty much nothing of this world I’ve stumbled into. I wasn’t particularly smart or anything, but even I knew that information was invaluable in a situation like this. Knowing this, I resolved myself to try and gather as much information as I could tomorrow. I’m sure Fluttershy will be more than willing to help me out, since she was so caring after all. I could even reason any suspicion away by saying that I never learned, since I was in the forest for such a long time.

Feeling the day catch up with me, I nestled myself into the comfortable bed, falling asleep soon after.

I awoke with a start to the ferocious roar of an animal nearby, immediately getting into an upright position and looking for the source of the danger to my life. After frantically looking about for a bit and confirming that there was indeed no giant creature trying to eat me inside Fluttershy's home, I let out a sigh of relief. Cautiously, I made my way over to the window and precariously looked outside.

Much to my amazement, Fluttershy could be seen wrestling with a bear in front of her house for some reason. What was even weirder about it was that she seemed to be winning. Looking at the shy mare, you’d never guess that she was capable of something like this, so it seemed like some sort of re-evaluation was in order.

Having nothing better to do, I continued silently observing her for now, in an attempt to learn more about this world and my host. After a while I noticed that the bear wasn’t actually fighting back, and aside from the occasional pained roar actually looked quite pleased with what was going on. I noticed that the bear had a surprising range of emotion it displayed on its face, which wasn’t too unusual, considering that he was being wrestled by a freaking pegasus.

Their match was over after a while, and the bear was hugging and licking Fluttershy. If I’d had to wager a guess she was probably being thanked. I knew Fluttershy was some sort of animal caretaker, but the fact that she was looking after a bear was quite surprising. For now, I should probably head downstairs and make it known that I was awake, because judging by the sun it was already noon.

Now that I was able to use my weird hoof magnets, putting on my hoodie was considerably easier than it was the last time, albeit not without its difficulties. My wings didn’t seem to like their woolen prison, the way the hoodie pressed them against me feeling slightly uncomfortable.

I made my way downstairs, where various smaller critters eyed me curiously as I passed them. Yesterday I was a little out of it, so I didn’t really pay too much attention, but there actually was an incredible amount of animals present in Fluttershy's home. Birds of all types and colors were resting on sticks hung around the ceiling, even a few squirrels sneaking about, while the ground was dominated by things like mice, rabbits and even a duck or two.

Uncomfortable with this many eyes resting on me, I opened the front door and stepped outside into the warm summer breeze. Fluttershy was still in her front yard, talking to the bear.

“Good morning,” I said as I cautiously approached the two.

Normally I wouldn’t even think of approaching a bear that was easily five times my size, but he seemed docile enough, and if he tried anything, Fluttershy could probably save me like it was nothing.

“Oh, good morning, did you sleep well?” Fluttershy asked, turning away from the bear to look at me.

“Like a log,” I replied. “Haven’t slept this well in quite some time, your bed is really comfortable.”

“Oh I can only imagine,” Fluttershy said. “You really looked like you needed it, so I thought it would be good to let you sleep in a little.”

“Thanks,” I said, suspecting that she probably thought I hadn’t seen a proper bed in forever, instead of just having to sleep on a cheap and shitty one back home.

“Are you hungry? I’ve put some lunch aside for you earlier,” Fluttershy told me, making me realize that I actually was quite hungry.

“I could go for something to eat right now, yeah. But first, who’s that?” I ask, pointing a curious hoof at the docile bear behind her.

Fluttershy took a confused look behind her, a surprised look on her face, as if she forgot that there was a giant bear right behind her for a moment. “Oh! That’s Harry the Bear. He might look intimidating, but he’s a real sweetheart.”

Just to prove her point she started scratching Harry behind his ear, which caused him to practically melt into her hoof with a goofy smile.

“Ummm, nice to meet you, I guess…”

I awkwardly stretched out my hoof in greeting, unsure if the bear would even get what I wanted, or how to properly do this, really. True to my suspicions, instead of doing literally anything with my hoof, the bear opted to give me a big ol’ lick across my whole face. A deadpan look adorned my face as some saliva started dripping from my now drenched face, while Fluttershy giggled off to the side, apparently thinking the display was cute. I dragged my leg across my face in an attempt to get some of the Gak™ off my face.

“Come on, let’s get inside and get something inside of your stomach,” Fluttershy said after my stomach grumbled a bit. “It sounds like you’re really hungry.”

I followed Fluttershy back to her house while still trying to clean up my face as much as possible, while Harry the Bear lumbered off towards the back of the house. She led me back into her kitchen and I sat down at the same spot I was in yesterday.

“I only made a few sandwiches for a light lunch, they’re filled with some nice daffodils,” Fluttershy said as she pulled out said sandwiches from a bread box. “I hope you like them.”

I blinked a few times as my brain jumped through a few hoops. “Uhh, yeah. Sure.” It wasn’t impossible for a human to eat flowers, but it was still considered very weird, so having them served to me like it was regular seemed a bit weird. Still, it was entirely possible that flowers were a staple food for ponies, so it was probably best to just roll with it.

It might even be tasty, since I’m now a pony, and all that jazz.

I carefully started eating the offered sandwiches and had to discover that it was actually not that bad. The daffodils had a sweet and savory taste, with a slight hint of bitterness. All in all, not the most logical flavors to put in between two pieces of bread, but it was edible. I wolved down the three sandwiches while Fluttershy simply watched, sipping on a tea sitting in front of her, which she provided me with a cup of as well.

Fluttershy waited patiently for me to finish, although I noticed pretty early on that she wanted to talk about something, from the way she was fidgeting about while looking at me. I was able to make a pretty educated guess, since there was an elephant in the room ever since I came here and it hadn’t been properly addressed yet.

“Umm…” Fluttershy tried to get my attention when I finished eating, which she already had anyways. “I’m really sorry, but I don’t think you told me your name yet…”

I froze and got immediately nervous. Apparently, I had missed the pink giraffe standing right behind the elephant. My head started racing, considering a few things at once. I had no clue how names worked in this world, but judging by the three names I’d gotten to know, “James” would most likely stick out like a sore thumb. Then again, was there really any point in hiding my real name from them? Technically I really wanted to keep the fact that I’m not from around here under wraps until I was sure I wouldn’t get dissected on a table somewhere.

But would a name such as James even cause them to suspect anything? Maybe they’d just think I was a bit quirky or something. That’s when I remembered the headcanon Fluttershy had about me and made a decision.

“Uhh… This is… it’s like…” I stammered a bit and looked down at the table while scratching the back of my head with a hoof. “I don’t really know my name…”

I could hear a tiny gasp coming from Fluttershy, causing me to look up at her. She looked at me with a look of pity, while looking around nervously. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know…”

“It’s okay,” I immediately intervened before she could start an apologetic tirade. “I didn’t really have a use for one.”

“Oh, but I can’t just call you ‘colt’ or something similar all the time,” Fluttershy fussed. “We need something to call you by…”

Fluttershy hid her eyes behind her mane, while starting to mumble about several things. I felt a twang of guilt when I saw that, because I most likely unintentionally triggered some sort of nervous breakdown within the poor pony. My honor as a man couldn’t let me just sit idly by and watch it happen, so I tried something that could potentially get her to calm down.

“Would you like to give me one?” I asked, slightly louder than normal to make sure I’d get through to her.

“Give you one?” Fluttershy froze and immediately established eye contact from behind her mane. “But, giving a name is the duty of the mother… I couldn’t just give you one…”

“Giving a name is the duty of the mother?” I asked, tilting my head slightly at this new bit of information about this world. “Why?” I said quizzically.

“Oh, well, a mother sort of… feels what the name of her foal should be,” Fluttershy explained shyly. “Twilight told me that it’s a form of natural magic, but it hasn’t been researched that well…”

’Huh, so there I something like natural magic in this world… I wonder if it’s just regular old instinct, or actual magic…’

“But I still need one right?” I followed up. “I don’t think we’ll find my real mother, so you might just as well.”

Fluttershy blushed and hid even deeper behind her mane, giving a little squeak. Meanwhile, I realized what I just indirectly insinuated with my statement and mentally facepalmed.

“Look, uhh, why don’t we just choose one together?” I suggested. “I’m sure we could figure something out.”

Fluttershy reappeared from behind her mane, eyeing me curiously. I could already tell that I’d have to be careful around her, since she really held up to her own name. She seemed more agreeable to this idea, since it didn’t imply that I wanted to adopt her as my surrogate mother.

“Together?” Fluttershy asked. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea,” She added slowly, while sitting back upright, apparently regaining some of her confidence. “Can you remember anything about the name you had once?”

I mulled over the question, technically, I knew perfectly well what my name was, but I had dug this hole and now I needed to lie in it.

“I don’t, I’m not even sure where to start when giving somepony a name.”

I had picked up on the ‘somepony’ thing yesterday and had to make a conscious effort to use it in order to blend in properly. Fluttershy had a conflicted look on her face, seemingly thinking very hard about something for my sake.

“Well, is there something you really, really like?” Fluttershy asked slowly.

“Music, I guess?” I said the first thing that came to mind, and since I got brought here right after an amazing concert, music was still at the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t even a lie, since whenever I could, I’d listen to all kinds of music.

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Fluttershy exclaimed, clapping her hooves together a few times while smiling happily. “Why don’t we make it something related to music then?”

“Sure,” I replied. “So something like… uhh… metalhead?”

I just kinda blurted out the first thing that came to mind and immediately cringed right after the words left my mouth. Fluttershy had a confused look on her face, tilting her head slightly to the side.

“What does metal have to do with music?” Fluttershy asked.

“I’m… not.. Sure…” I replied, mentally kicking myself over and over.

Judging by the level of technology I’ve seen so far, electrical instruments most likely weren’t a thing. Much less the music genre of metal, which heavily relied on these instruments. Thinking about it, I actually got lucky that the concept of music even existed in this world.

“That’s okay,” Fluttershy smiled. “But it was a good first try! How about something like… Gentle Song?” Her face scrunched up and I could tell she was trying her darndest to think of a good name.

“Eww, that sounds like a name for a girl,” I said, deciding to act the part of a small boy. Females had the cooties after all.

“Oh, I suppose…” Fluttershy said, looking somewhat sad, and in doing so making me feel bad for rejecting it so blatantly.

“Uhhh…” I stammered a bit trying to come up with a name using musical terms that sounded too girly. “Steady Beat?”

I just threw together the first two things that came to mind, hoping it wouldn’t sound as stupid as my first try. It didn’t. Apparently, Fluttershy thought so too, as a smile spread on her face.

“That sounds like a wonderful name,” she replied. “Would you like me to call you like that?”

“If it doesn’t sound too stupid, sure,” I said, trying my best to give the pony equivalent of a shrug. “Steady Beat it is.”

“Hello Steady Beat, I’m Fluttershy,” she held out her hoof, apparently going for a proper introduction, now that I had a name.

“Hello,” I said, bumping her hoof with mine. “I’m Steady Beat, but you can just call me Beat, if you’d like.”

Steady Beat was a good name, but somewhat of a mouthful, which I just realized. Might as well go for nicknames already. I knew those were a thing, since I heard Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy calling each other “Shy” and “Rainbow” respectively.

“Pleased to meet you,” Fluttershy said, still smiling for a while, until it somewhat dropped of her face, apparently switching back to nervous mode. “So, now that you have a proper name, there’s something else we need to discuss…”

Oh right. The elephant. Forgot about that guy.

“Rainbow Dash came by earlier, wanting to check up on you, but I told her to let you sleep in,” Fluttershy began to explain. “I asked her to inform the mayor of your… situation, though. If anypony would know something about foals that have gone missing, it would be her.”

’Oh great, the authorities are already informed… I highly doubt my cover story will hold up against a thorough investigation.’

“I also asked her to let you rest for today, but would it be okay with you to meet with the mayor tomorrow?” Fluttershy asked. “I’m sure she’d be a great help.”

Fluttershy looked at me hopefully, breaking right through all of my defenses. On one side I really didn’t want to meet with the mayor of all people, on the other, meeting them could be extremely educating about how this world worked. It seemed a bit strange that they’d go straight to the mayor for something like this, but judging by the size of the village I saw, they might not even have a police force.

Plus, I felt like Fluttershy would probably break apart if I said no.

“Sure,” I answered. “I’d love to.”

Fluttershy's face brightened up considerably at my words. “If you’d like, I could show you around town when we’re going there, I need to stock up on animal feed as well,” Fluttershy added, definitely more excited now.

“That’s a good idea, I’d love to see… what is this town even called?” I asked upon realizing that I had no idea where I was.

“Ponyville,” Fluttershy answered promptly. “It’s a rather small town, but it’s lovely.”

The urge to laugh was hard to resist, but I did my best. Whoever named this town didn’t have a shred of imagination in them. That, or they just loved terrible pun-like city names.

“Well then,” Fluttershy interrupted my thoughts. “What would you like to do today? I have finished tending to the animals, so I can help you with whatever you like.”

I took a second to consider her offer, which actually was pretty convenient for me. Just as I thought yesterday, acquiring information should be my top priority, and Fluttershy would most likely be able to provide them. Though the real problem was asking for them without arousing suspicion. Sure, I was assumed to be stranded in a forest for probably years, but I’d obviously displayed a certain level of intelligence up until now, so asking for things that would count as general knowledge here could raise some alarm bells.

That, or Fluttershy would start to fuss over me even more.

“Could you maybe read a book to me?” I asked, remembering that I’d seen a bookshelf earlier. “I’d like to just have a day to relax and calm down.”

“Oh, but of course,” Fluttershy smiled. “What kind of story would you like to hear? I have a wide variety of books here.”

“Possibly one that is based on true history, if it isn’t too much to ask,” I replied, following Fluttershy as she got up and started trotting towards the bookshelf in her living room.

“I know just the one then,” Fluttershy said. “Young colts and fillies love this story. Why don’t you go take a seat on the couch and I’ll be right with you.”

Just as requested, I made my way over to the couch and hopped onto it, trying to get comfortable. Some of the animals inside the hut were giving me curious looks again, a few birds actually alighting on the backrest of the couch to inspect me closer. I tried to not pay them too much mind, but the white bunny on the other side of the room was giving me the stink eye, so he was kind of hard to ignore.

I didn’t even know bunnies could give the stink eye. Must be just another quirk of this world.

Fluttershy soon joined me on the couch, carrying a book on her back, bearing a stylized symbol of the sun. She climbed on top of the couch and over me, somewhat awkwardly lying down next to me at first, but then snuggling up to me so I was resting against her barrel. I almost shirked away at the sudden physical contact, but Fluttershy acted like this was perfectly natural and a normal thing to do. So aside from stiffening up a little, I tried to not let her catch on to how uncomfortable I was.

The book was placed in front of us, so that we both could look at it without problems and Fluttershy then actually proceeded to use her wings to open the book to the first page. I was amazed at the display of dexterity the feathers had, but considering I was now able to pick up things with a flat hoof, I wasn’t too surprised.

“Now then, are you comfortable and ready to go?” Fluttershy asked, looking down at me.

“Yeah, as ready as I’ll ever be,” I smiled up at her before looking back at the book.

The thing that I immediately noticed was that pony writing was definitely different from the Latin alphabet, which caused me to frown, and I was, once again, happy that I could at least talk to the ponies. With any luck, it’d just be different symbols, making translating it as easy as finding the correct cypher. I really hoped this to be the case, because this could become quite the issue if it wasn’t.

“Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria,” Fluttershy flipped to the real first page, that was more or less just a two-page illustration with some writing in a corner. “There were two regal sisters who ruled together, and created harmony for all the land.”

Fluttershy continued to read while I tried to get a little more comfortable. Now that I was over the suddenness of the bodily contact, this was actually pretty nice. Like snuggling up to a big ‘ol fluffy dog. I leaned a little bit more into Fluttershy, while listening to hear read, and at least attempting to figure out how their alphabet worked at the same time.

4. Going Into Town

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I awoke reluctantly, the shrill cries of the rooster outside piercing my eardrums like a knife and causing me to bolt upright. I grumbled to myself in annoyance, wondering just how I had managed to sleep through this yesterday. My only thoughts were that I just must have been that tired.

I wanted nothing more than to sleep in for a bit longer, but there was no doubt in my mind that Fluttershy would be coming to knock on my door momentarily to check if I was awake. I did promise her to help feed her animals before going into town, after all. Resigning myself to my early-rising fate, I left the warm confines of my bed sheets and threw on my hoodie that had been resting on a nearby chair to make sure that my wings were completely covered.

True to my prediction, a soft knock sounded on the door before it slowly opened. “Beat? Are you awake?” Fluttershy asked while poking her head through the crack in the door.

I regarded her through bleary eyes, realizing that my mane must be a proper mess. “Kind of?” I said after a moment of contemplation. “How could I not be after a wake-up call like that?”

“Oh yes, sorry,” Fluttershy immediately adopted her usual modus operandi, which apparently involved apologizing for things that were out of her control. “Mister Cluck really likes to greet the morning bright and early.”

“That’s okay, I’ll just have to,” a huge yawn interrupted me mid-sentence, “get used to it.”

“Oh my, you do look really tired,” Fluttershy said concerned. “Would you maybe like to sleep a little longer?”

“No, that’s okay,” I immediately replied. “I promised to help you and that’s what I’m gonna do. I’ll just have to properly wake up first… maybe brush my mane or something.”

“I’d be happy to help you with that,” Fluttershy exclaimed. “If you don’t mind, that is…”

“That… would actually be much appreciated,” I said after realizing that it would probably take me an exorbitant amount of time to do it myself. “Thank you.”

“It’s not a problem at all, Beat,” Fluttershy said with a smile. “Why don’t we move over to the bath so we can take care of… your little problem?”

I swear I could see her smile after she looked at my mane, confirming my suspicion of it looking absolutely bonkers up there. Not paying much mind to the fact that she wanted to visit the bathroom with me, I followed Fluttershy out of my temporary room and into the adjacent bathroom where we took care of my situation. After splashing some water on my face, I finally achieved a state that could be compared to being awake.

Fluttershy made sure that we had a healthy breakfast together before we moved on to the task of tending to all the animals that were using her cottage as a home. While there wasn’t much for me to do at all since I was small, weak, and barely able to use my body in the way I wanted to. But Fluttershy, kind as she was, made sure not to make me feel left out nonetheless.

Faster than I’d wanted it to, the time came for us to head out into town. The weather was absolutely perfect, not a single cloud in the sky and cozy temperatures would lure everyone outside. Though, this wasn’t too surprising, since pegasi apparently could control the weather in this world. While this freaked me out a bit when I first learned of this, I very quickly realized the advantages this could bring to a society.

“Alright then, are you ready to go?” Fluttershy asked, both of us standing outside her cottage and about to step onto the dirt road leading into town.

I furrowed my brows and looked myself over once. My hoodie was my only physical possession in this world, which was resting snugly against my body. Since I didn’t even have saddlebags like Fluttershy currently was wearing, the only thing I’d need now was the mental fortitude to go.

“Yes?” I answered, the statement coming out sounding more like a question than I’d wanted.

Fluttershy nodded once and started on her merry way, myself following closely behind. She had told me quite a bit about what I could expect in town and about her friends, so it wasn’t like I was going in blind. On the other hand, I was still about to enter an unknown town in an unknown world. To make matters worse I was about to meet with some kind of authority, where my admittedly weak alibi would be tested.

I was actually pretty nervous because of this and was constantly trying to calm myself down. The method that seemed to be working, for now, was to imagine it as an upcoming job interview. Thankfully, I possessed a skill that I learned in my early school days, that had been an incredible boon throughout my school- and adult-life up to this point and it was indubitably going to come in handy now as well.

The power of bullshit.

Thanks in part to my vivid imagination powers I was generally able to come up with what sounded like well-informed facts, while generally just being bullshit I’d just thought up. I felt like no matter what I’d be able to come up with a somewhat convincing answer to any and all questions as long as they weren’t overly specific, which they shouldn’t be since I was technically “just” a small child. Or foal, I guess.

“We’ll be able to see it shortly,” Fluttershy suddenly said, ripping me from my thoughts and making me realize that I hadn’t been paying attention to my surroundings at all. I really hoped she wasn’t talking to me up to this point or things might get awkward.

“Woah,” I exclaimed as we’d crest a small hill, which brought Ponyville into full view.

During the info dump I received yesterday I began to picture Ponyville as this underdeveloped hick community, but all of my expectations were immediately smashed upon actually seeing it for the first time.

True, it was nowhere near an advanced level of technology, or even building code for that matter, but it was definitely further along than I’d thought. Aside from that, it looked like an absolutely amazing place to live in. The cozy vibe it gave off only disturbed by the occasional eccentric house sticking out like a sore thumb, which I now knew almost exclusively belonged to Fluttershy's friends, for some reason.

Thanks to our slightly elevated position we were able to take in the entirety of the town without issue, and Fluttershy didn’t mind indulging me while I did just that, patiently waiting next to me.

The houses of her friends were relatively easy to spot in the sizable town due to their special nature. Carousel Boutique, the home of her friend Rarity, was the easiest since it was one of the only houses painted white. The previously thought impossible gingerbread house near the center of town was the home of Pinkie Pie, which would no doubt want to throw some kind of party immediately upon seeing me. Close to it was the circular town hall which would be the most important destination for us, aside from shopping and maybe dropping in on some of her friends.

On the far left of the town was Sweet Apple Acres, home to Applejack and her family, the town's biggest farming family. Curiously enough, the only produce they farmed were apples, and the rows upon rows of apple trees lining the hills around their home were a testament to that.

Various pegasi of all colors could be seen lazily flying over the thatched roofs of the towns buildings, but they weren’t the only thing catching my eye that was soaring through the sky. Floating a respectable distance above the town was a house made entirely of clouds, which apparently belonged to Rainbow Dash. No doubt I’d run into the prismatic pegasus today as well, since she’d probably drop in if she saw us from above, quite literally.

Another interesting landmark was a big tree growing in the middle of the town, according to Fluttershy, it was the towns library and home to what was probably Fluttershy's most surprising friend, Twilight Sparkle. Twilight was quite literally a princess, and with her added title as one of Equestria’s most recognized scholars, would probably prove to be either my greatest friend or my biggest threat.

“It’s amazing,” I said truthfully. While it most certainly lacked the comfortable level of technology humanity achieved, there was no doubt in my mind that this was an amazing town to live in. “A lot more than I thought it’d be.”

“And I’d agree with you,” Fluttershy replied. “It’s really nice to live here. Well, aside from the occasional event…”

“Occasional event?” I asked, confusion apparent in my voice.

“Well, Ponyville is kind of like a magnet for trouble…” Fluttershy admitted reluctantly. “But don’t worry, my friends and I usually take care of any problems pretty fast.”

“O...kay?” Apparently, I had discovered a previously unknown side of my host and her friends which would require some more investigation at a later point.

“Why don’t we continue on?” Fluttershy asked gently and gesture towards town.

I accepted her suggestion, of course, and started moving once again. Now that I’d seen Ponyville from afar, I really wanted to see it up close. I suddenly found myself not only interested in the town, but also the many ponies going to and fro within.

“So, what are we going to do today?” I tentatively asked my guide.

“Well, aside from the visit to the mayor, we can do whatever you’d like,” Fluttershy answered. “I will have to go and buy some feed for the animals back home at some point, though, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not,” I replied instantly. “But I’d definitely not be opposed to a tour and maybe meeting some ponies.”

“Oh, I have no doubt you won’t be able to avoid meeting Pinkie, at the very least,” Fluttershy giggled. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she already knew you were here and was looking for you right now.”

“Did Rainbow Dash tell her I was coming?” I asked, my interest piqued. “I thought I was being kept on the down-low for the time being?”

“And you are,” Fluttershy explained. “As for how she would know you’re here, well… we decided to at least tell our friends about you, and Pinkie Pie... is a bit special. She’s friends with everypony, and her Pinkie sense usually lets her know if there’s somepony new is in town.”

“Pinkie sense?” I pried. “What’s that?”

“Pinkie just... knows things sometimes,” Fluttershy answered cryptically. “Just know that if she has a twitchy tail, you should run for cover. That usually means something is about to fall.”

“So it’s like a sixth sense kind of deal?” I asked for clarification.

“I’d say more like a seventh or eighth, but that’s a pretty accurate way to define it,” Fluttershy said. “When you’re with Pinkie, just try to go with the flow. It will save you a few headaches.”

“Alright, I’ll try to do that,” I replied. I had heard about Pinkie a bit yesterday, and she was starting to sound more and more like my kind of friend. Randomness and laughs to be had in spades.

At some point during our conversation we’d entered Ponyville proper and the other ponies were starting to throw the occasional greeting towards us, which we responded to in kind without fault. They were giving me specifically a few odd looks, but they probably thought I was some sort of relative that was visiting Fluttershy.

A loud thud behind us announced the arrival of a certain polychromatic pegasus, startling Fluttershy in the process. “Hey Flutters, hey squirt, how are you guys doing?”

“Good morning, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy said after she recovered from her shock. “We’re doing just fine, thank you. How about you?”

“Oh you know, just finished setting up the amazing weather for today and was planning on taking a nap,” Rainbow explained. “I spotted you guys when I was flying overhead and decided to drop in and say hi. You guys going to the mayor now?”

“Um… we were certainly planning on it, but I thought I’d leave it to Beat to decide where we go first,” Fluttershy replied. “What do you think, where would you like to go first?” She added after turning towards me.

“Whoa, hold on!” Rainbow Dash interjected. “Beat? You finally revealed your name?”

“Sort of,” I answered. “I don’t really remember what my name used to be, or if I ever even got one to begin with, so we just came up with a new one.”

“You gave him a name?!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed with a shocked tone, taking to the air a bit.

“Well, he sort of gave it to himself,” Fluttershy said, hiding behind her bangs. “I just helped him come up with one.”

“Oh,” Rainbow Dash deadpanned, settling back down on the ground. “Thought you were going to adopt him there for a moment.”

“Is it really that important that a pony receives their name from their own mother, that you’d immediately count them as adopted if somepony else gives them one?” I asked with disbelief.

“Uhh… no?” Rainbow Dash stammered. “It’s not that extreme, but it definitely holds a big meaning. Even if it’s not official, you might as well be, after receiving a name…”

I blinked a few times, trying to understand why giving out a name was so special in this world. Sure, a name was important and all, and Fluttershy already told me about how a mother kind of magically knew the name their child should have, but they seemed to make it an even bigger deal than it should be.

“Well, whatever,” I said eventually. “I do believe putting the visit to the mayor first would be a good idea, get it out of the way and all that jazz.”

“Alright, if that’s what you’d like,” Fluttershy nodded.

“You guys mind if I tag along?” Rainbow asked, starting to hover above the ground again instead of just walking. “I’m kind of interested in this as well.”

“Sure, I don’t mind,” I replied to her.

“Cool,” Rainbow replied, following as we set off in the direction of town hall.

It didn’t take long for us to reach our destination, with Fluttershy and Rainbow pointing out interesting places and generally introducing me to a few ponies along the way. Town Hall was smack dab in the middle of Ponyville, taking the form of a large, circular, wooden building. Double doors stood wide open and ponies leisurely filed in and out of them, minding their own business. We made our way inside as well, entering into a rustic greeting area.

Just like the outside, everything inside was also made of wood and had a cozy feeling to it. Official looking ponies carrying ledgers were hurrying all over the place, a few of them engaged in complicated discussions pertaining to this world's laws, while the common folk was either bored out of their mind while waiting their turn or currently talking to one of the three receptionists.

We made our way over to the reception area as well, patiently waiting in line for our turn. I took the lull in our conversation to look more closely at the residents of this world and their behavior. Aside from them obviously being ponies, it was almost scary how human-like they behaved in general. If I didn’t know better they could be humans in disguise, living in a magical land.

Just like my host and Rainbow, every pony I’d seen on my way here was the proud owner of a cutie mark, which took on all shapes, sizes, and colors. The ponies themselves were extremely colorful as well, with every imaginable color represented in either coat or mane. I had yet to see any black or white ponies, but there was no doubt in my mind that they existed somewhere.

“Umm, hello,” to my surprise, it was Fluttershy that talked to the receptionist pony and not Rainbow. “We have an appointment with mayor mare today, with no specific time set. Would you happen to know when she has time?”

“Let me check that for you,” the green mare behind the counter smiled as she ran her hoof along the writing of a large book in front of her. “It looks like there’s an opening in about forty minutes, would that be okay for you?”

“Oh, yes,” Fluttershy smiled happily.

“Alright, please make sure you’re back by then. Of course you’re also welcome to wait here,” the mare gestured towards the seating area behind us. “Somepony will come and get you.”

“Thank you very much,” Fluttershy nodded and turned around, going for the seating area, a bored-looking Rainbow and me hot on her tail.

“So what exactly can I expect from this?” I asked nobody in particular as we sat down on the simple wooden chairs. “Who is Mayor Mare? And are we really just going to sit here for forty minutes?”

“Oh, would you rather do something else while we wait?” Fluttershy asked timidly.

“I know I sure would,” Rainbow remarked, seemingly desperate to do something that wasn’t sitting around for forty minutes and doing nothing.

“Is there anything we could do without being late?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well... the market is close by, so we could go and buy that animal feed I need, and we could visit Applejack at her stand as well,” Fluttershy suggested. “If you don’t mind, that is.”

“Applejack is your farmpony friend, right?” I asked, even if the name was a dead giveaway.

“Yeah, and she’s almost as awesome as me!” Rainbow said. “Almost.”

“Well, why not? Sure beats sitting around here,” I replied, ignoring Rainbows boasting. “Meeting ponies was on the list of things to do anyway.”

“Alright then, let’s go!” Rainbow said enthusiastically, already back to hovering above the ground.

Having decided on a way to pass the time, we got back up from our seats and made our way outside, turning to go down a street to our right, where I could already see a mass of ponies in the distance along with what looked like simple market stands selling various produce.

“So back to my other questions,” I said once we were well on our way. “Who is Mayor Mare and what can I expect from this meeting?”

“Well, Mayor Mare is the mayor of Ponyville,” Fluttershy explained. “And what most likely will happen is that she’ll ask you a few questions about where you are from and if you remember anything. She’ll probably be able to look up a list of missing ponies to look for any possible matches to your case.”

“So why are we going directly to the mayor with this?” I asked slightly confused. “Wouldn’t there be some kind of police we could go to?”

“What’s a police?” Fluttershy and Rainbow asked me simultaneously and I immediately realized that I’ve tripped up.

“Umm… you know, like, ponies that protect other ponies?” I stammered out.

“Oh, you mean like the guard?” Rainbow asked from above. “Ponyville isn’t big enough for a guard force. We just have to make do with what we have, and that’s the local government.

“Oh,” I simply replied, filing away the fact that the local force were referred to guards.

“Yeah, the guards usually get dispatched from Canterlot in case of a big event, since it’s not too far away,” Rainbow explained further, thankfully not prying into the police thing.

By now we had entered into the market proper with Fluttershy guiding us towards the first stall she had to visit. Due to the somewhat big crowd of colorful ponies milling about, nobody really paid too much attention to us, aside from the occasional friendly greeting coming towards either Rainbow or Fluttershy.

“Not too far away?” I asked. “Must be pretty close if they can just send over help in an emergency.”

“Yeah, it’s right over there,” Rainbow said, casually pointing off to my right somewhere.

The movement caused me to turn around, following the direction of her hoof. Off in the distance was a mountain and for a moment I was confused as to what exactly it was that she wanted to show me. It took me a moment, but eventually I saw that the ponies had built a whole town towards the base of the mountain. But not like one normally would do it, no. This one was hanging straight off the side of the mountain like some giant pimple. The odd positioning aside, I could tell that this was most likely an incredibly wealthy settlement, even from this far away.

Large spires could be seen rising from the town, and each and every one of them seemed like their roofs were capped off in gold, judging by the yellow glint that could be seen. I took a moment to take in the town that was a marvel of architecture and probably ignoring every building code regulation at the same time. Knowing ponies there was most likely an incredibly simple explanation as for why the town hadn’t simply plummeted to its demise ages ago.


“Well, that’s…. pretty incredible actually…” I stated in a monotonous voice. “Different, to say the least.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty awesome, at least from the outside,” Rainbow replied, sagely nodding her head. “The inside isn’t. All that frilly frou-frou stuff is more up Rarity’s alley, to be honest.”

“Lot’s of nobles?”

“That’s one way to say it…”

“Alright, I’ve placed my orders,” Fluttershy suddenly said from next to us. “They’ll deliver it to my home later, so why don’t we go visit Applejack now? Rainbow Dash, can you see her stand anywhere?”

“Yeah, it’s at her usual spot,” Rainbow said from her elevated position.

Fluttershy nodded while Rainbow Dash took the lead, guiding us through the marketplace. While we passed the various stands I tried to gain some understanding of the worth of their currency. Most of the stands had some simple signs declaring their prices, although I could hear quite a bit of haggling. The conclusion that I came to was that I had absolutely no idea how it compared to earth's pricing.

Sometimes stalls offered a whole bunch of their produce, like carrots for a single bit, while other things like pears or beets cost a whole bit each. Of course, there was such a thing as supply and demand which could change prices heavily, but everything seemed just a tad to skewed for me to completely grasp the worth of a bit.

“Howdy Rainbow, hey Fluttershy!” A voice with a southern accent suddenly said next to me. “What brings you ‘round here this time a day?”

I turned to face the speaker, her being a earth pony mare with an orange coat. blonde mane, and an old fashioned stetson resting on her head. Much to my surprise this pony actually had freckles, which, again, made no sense to me since ponies had fur all over their faces. Maybe it was some sort of very specific fur discoloration in this case?

“Hey, Applejack, just showing the squirt around the market,” Rainbow greeted back, actually landing for once. “We got some time to kill until we can meet with the mayor.”

“Oh, you must be the young feller Rainbow told me about yesterday then,” Applejack said after giving me a once over. “Heard about your little… uhh… situation.”

“I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal…” I muttered trying to get her to stop tiptoeing around my ‘issues’. “Pleased to meet you, my name’s Steady Beat and I’m new in town.”

“Steady Beat? Last I heard you couldn’t remember your name,” Applejack remarked with some confusion.

“Yeah, Fluttershy gave him one yesterday,” Rainbow Dash commented with a shit eating grin on her face.

“You did what!?” Applejack exclaimed, shock apparent while staring down Fluttershy.

“Eep,” Fluttershy squeaked, hiding behind her mane.

I rolled my eyes, the reaction to this whole name giving business growing really old really fast. I could see that Rainbow was having the time of her life, trying her hardest to contain her laughter.

“Actually, I picked the name myself,” I tried to disarm the situation. “Fluttershy was just kind enough to help me find a fitting one.”

“Oh,” Applejack said. “Sorry fer that. Just thought for a moment Fluttershy was trying to mother you.”

“Well, yes. I get that a lot today,” I answered with a shake of my head. “Doesn’t help that Rainbow seems to be getting a kick out of making everypony else misunderstand.”

As Fluttershy came out from behind her mane to confirm my statement, we collectively ignored Rainbow Dash who was, by now, rolling around on the ground and laughing her ass off.

“Well, you don’t worry none,” Applejack said. “If’n ya just tell everypony the truth, I’m sure they’ll understand just fine.”

“I plan on doing that,” I commented dryly, mentally crossing my fingers behind my back. “It would be rather inconvenient for me otherwise.”

Applejack seemed to squint at me for a second, seeming unsure of herself, but the moment passed as fast as it came and her usual cheery attitude returned.

“Well, I guess I can give you an apple on the house, consider it a welcome to Ponyville present,” Applejack said, picking up one of the meticulously displayed apple from her stand and throwing it to me. I caught it, albeit with some difficulty, thanking her. “Although I think you’ll be getting more of these kinds of presents in the near future. You met Pinkie yet?”

“I don’t think I have,” I replied honestly.

“Oh you’ll know when you do,” Applejack chuckled. “Kind a weird that she hasn’t showed up yet, to be honest. Usually she’s faster than this.”

“Well, I’m sure she’s got her reasons,” Fluttershy said, confusing me even further.

I knew that this Pinkie Pie character was supposed to throw me a party sooner or later, but these two were acting as if she was supposed to actually be hunting me down for it. Apparently Rainbow had already spilled the beans about me to Applejack, which would probably make it safe to assume that Fluttershy's other friends already knew about me as well, including Pinkie Pie.

“Well, as I said before,” Applejack said while winking at me. “You’ll know her once you meet her.”

I just blinked a few times before I noticed Fluttershy trying to get my attention through my peripherals. “I think it’s time that we returned to town hall now.”

“Alright, then,” I replied, the original nervousness I felt about this particular upcoming conversation returning full force. “It was nice meeting you, Applejack. And thanks for the apple.”

“The pleasure was all mine, Steady Beat,” Applejack replied with a smile. “Best apples in Equestria; I’ll look forward to seeing you again.”

With the pleasantries out of the way we started making our way back towards town hall, with Rainbow Dash gliding lazily along beside us the entire way. Carefully walking on three legs I tried a bite of the apple I just received and was almost blown away by the taste. Much like every other food I had tried up to now, this world's food seemed oddly more potent in the flavor department compared to earth. This apple was juicy beyond belief and tasted more like an apple than any other apple I’d ever tasted.

Pleasantly surprised, I devoured the apple as fast as I could, core included, without tripping over myself and face planting. Before I even realized it the apple was gone and we had arrived at our destination and went inside to wait.

It didn’t take long for somepony to come and get us, leading us to a room that was easily identifiable as Mayor Mare’s office by the large nametag on the door. We entered the seemingly regular office which had a large desk in the center containing lots of drawers, with unfiled documents lying about and and a rather bored looking official sitting behind the desk. In this case this was the highest official of Ponyville, aside maybe from Princess Twilight, the mayor.

“Hello, everypony,” the elderly looking pony greeted upon seeing us enter. “So good to see you made it.”

“Good morning, Mayor Mare,” Fluttershy greeted back, Rainbow Dash doing the same.

“Good morning,” I followed suit, starting to question whether Mayor Mare was her actual name or some sort of job title. Either way, it was weird. I mean, her mother must have had a field day when picking out her name.

“And you must be the young colt that I've been told about!” Mayor Mare said cheerily, almost slipping into a baby voice. If she started treating me like a child who had no clue about anything I would probably leave immediately. “What happened to you is just simply terrible! Terrible! But don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be able to help you.”

While her motherly smile was quite soothing, it seemed to me like she was over-acting a bit. Kind of like an amateur actress that wasn’t good enough for the stage and ended up in an office instead. For now I simply nodded, unsure of how things would proceed from here or what was expected of me.

“I’m sure you’re wondering what we’re gonna do today,” Mayor Mare continued. “But don’t worry, I’ll just ask you a few questions and then I’ll be out of your mane. We’ll try to find out where you came from and get you back to where you belong in no time at all!”

’I wouldn’t be so sure about that…’ I thought to myself and put on the most innocent smile I could manage.

“First off, would you happen to have remembered your name?” Mayor Mare asked, a tint of pity in her voice.

“Sadly, no. But I go by Steady Beat now,” I replied somewhat honestly. “A name I picked for myself,” I said somewhat harshly, cutting Rainbow Dash off before she could even think of pulling the same stunt as with Applejack again.

“A wonderful name to be sure!” Mayor Mare said. “Sadly, it probably won’t be of much help to us in finding out where you are from. Would you happen to remember anything about your parents?”

There it was, the million dollar question. Of course, I could just say something random, throw some imaginary color palettes together and call them my “parents”, but there was a possibility I would accidentally bullseye some parents who were missing their child. But simply saying no would mean that my “parents” abandoned me at an age where I physically wasn’t able to remember anything in the most dangerous forest in all of Equestria. Which would also make my survival impossible in said forest while simultaneously making it impossible for me to speak their language as fluently and eloquently as I could, meaning there was only one way to talk myself out of this.

“I do not,” I said. “The earliest thing I remember is me waking up somewhere in the forest with my head hurting somewhat fierce.”

A collective gasp of shock could be heard around the room, as this piece of information was new to even Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. Amnesia background = Check.

“Oh my, would you happen to know how long ago this was?” Mayor Mare asked.

’Three to four days’ I thought. “It was kind of hard to keep track of time, but I’d say around half a year or so.”

“Well, that will certainly narrow down our search criteria…” Mayor Mare mumbled. “This development kind of makes most of my other questions moot, since you probably won’t remember anything from before the… event. Although there are two questions I still would like to ask.”

“Go ahead,” I nodded, pointedly ignoring Fluttershy's fidgeting next to me.

“First, just how is it that you were able to survive for so long inside the Everfree forest?”

“I have become quite proficient at hiding myself and sneaking about,” I explained. “Though, there were a few close calls. To be honest, the forest doesn’t seem as bad as you make it out to be. If you leave the inhabitants be and stay out of their way, they’ll generally leave you as well.”

My explanation was kind of a shot in the dark, as I hadn’t encountered a single denizen of the forest while I was in there. For all I knew they were more aggressive than RPG mobs that auto-aggro on anything that moves and isn’t a monster. Guess I got lucky this time.

“That’s a bit hard to believe, but since you’re sitting right in front of me there must be some truth to it,” Mayor Mare nodded. “And then for my last question. The hoodie you’re wearing, have you had it with you ever since… the event?”

“This?” I asked, pulling on my hoodie a bit with my hoof. “Yeah, I always had it.”

“Then, would it maybe be possible for us to take a closer look at it? It might provide us with a clue of your origin. Could you please take it off?” Mayor Mare asked with a smile.

My smile on the other hand, instantly vanished. Taking off my hoodie would display my wings for all to see, and I quite honestly wasn’t ready for that kind of big reveal. I was still severely lacking in the information department, after all. Of course, they almost worshipped Alicorns as their gods, making them their de facto rulers, but there was no guarantee what they’d do to me. No matter what happened there would be a huge uproar over my existence, and everything would be out of my control.

Considering I found myself on an alien planet, albeit a very friendly one, I valued what little control I had over my course of action above all else. I simply wasn’t ready to be thrown into a maelstrom of events that were out of my control. Which meant I needed to keep my physical traits a secret at all cost, even if I might be looked at as a weirdo.

“No,” I denied firmly, going so far as to take a step back.

Confusion spread around the room at my statement, an Fluttershy shot me a worried look.

“Why not? This could help us find out where you are from,” Mayor Mare asked gently.

“I don’t want to take it off,” I denied strongly. “There’s nothing on it that would give any clues. No labels, no nametags, no designs, no symbols that could be cutie marks. It’s just simple black fabric.”

“Oh, umm…” Mayor Mare was looking towards Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash for help, with Rainbow Dash simply shrugging.

“Well, he didn’t take it off at all while he stayed at my house…” Fluttershy said weakly. “At least not when I was around to see.”

“Oh!” Mayor Mare suddenly exclaimed, seemingly having come to an understanding. “Is there maybe something you don’t want us to see?” Shit! “Like scars for example?” Phew!

I simply averted my gaze and awkwardly dug at the ground with one of my hooves. Well, this would just be one more addition to my list of half-truths at this point.

“Oh my,” Fluttershy said silently to my right, while I just heard Rainbow whisper “wicked,” next to me, causing me to roll my eyes.

“Oh, in that case I wouldn’t want to force you,” Mayor Mare said soothingly. “But I still feel that we should take a look at it, just to make sure.”

“We could go to Rarity with it,” Rainbow said next to me. “I’m sure she’ll respect the squirts privacy, and if anypony can figure something out from his clothes, it would be her.”

“A wonderful idea!” Mayor Mare exclaimed. “What do you say, Beat? Would that be okay with you?”

Seeing as there was no apparent way I could talk my way out of this, I found it hard to disagree with them. At least I would be able to hide my wings in a controlled environment, if I was careful.

“Alright,” I said, letting the tension flow out of me. “I’ll do it.”

“That’s wonderful news,” Mayor Mare said. “Now, I’ll just have to fill out this form here about your appearance and we’ll be done in a jiffy.”

The next ten minutes were spent filling out the form, with me being asked all kinds of things that any regular pony with two working eyes could see without asking. Things like my coat and mane color, race, sex, height, and so on. Well, of course my race was wrong, but it wouldn’t matter either way, unless some cosmic coincidence made it so I perfectly matched a kid that went missing half a year ago.

“And that would be everything,” Mayor Mare said, putting down her quill, which she had used with her mouth, much to my amazement. “Rest assured, we’ll do everything in our power to find out where you’re from and where your parents are.”

“Thank you very much,” I replied, indicating a little bow of appreciation.

“Thank you, Mayor Mare, we’ll take our leave now and let you get back to work,” Fluttershy said next to me.

I suddenly found one of her wings resting over my back and I looked back at it a little confused. Was this supposed to be some kind of hug? Due to my slight distraction I hadn’t paid attention to the “adults” exchanging pleasantries and I was guided out of the mayor's office. Shortly after, Fluttershy’s wing disappeared from my back and I looked towards her, fully intent on asking what that was all about, but saw she was hiding behind her mane once again, and decided prying would just make things worse. Probably was a hug then, and she did it somewhat unconsciously and was now embarrassed.

“So now that the boring stuff is out of the way,” Rainbow said while walking down the hallway with us. “What are we gonna do next?”

“Well, we could go and visit Rarity next,” Fluttershy said, coming out from hiding a little.

Rainbow seemed to deflate slightly at the prospect, and I wasn’t exactly feeling to keen on that encounter either. Stumbling from one delicate situation into the next just wasn’t my style, I needed some R&R.

“Could we maybe do something a little more fun first?” I said almost desperately. “This whole talk was kind of draining on me”

“Hey! I could show you some of my moves!” Rainbow Dash suggested enthusiastically. “After all, I’m the best flyer in Equestria.”

I considered the offer for a moment. This was a chance for me to see just what a pegasus was capable of while being simultaneously entertained and not having to do much myself.

“Yeah, that sounds nice,” I replied, smiling up at the airborne pegasus.

“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘awesome’, squirt,” she said while ruffling my mane.

“Well, if that’s what you want…” Fluttershy commented, now fully emerged from her mane-cave.

“Alright! I know just the spot! Let’s go!”

5. Visiting Rarity

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Rainbow Dash swiftly led Fluttershy and I through Ponyville and towards one of her preferred training spots, which turned out to be an open field at the outskirts of town. There wasn’t really much in ways of trees and the landscape was dotted with small rolling hills, which I guess were ideal conditions in case of crash.

“Alright, this is it,” Rainbow said, presenting the field like it was something out of the ordinary. “This is where I come up with my coolest tricks!”

Rainbow was looking at us expectantly, and while Fluttershy gave her what I assumed to be a pity clap, all I did was cock an eyebrow at her unnecessary boasting. Seeing my deadpan expression, she quickly ceased her showboating and I swear I could hear her mumble something about this getting more cheers usually.

“So anyway, I can do some pretty neat tricks, is there anything in particular that you’d like to see?” Rainbow asked while doing some stretches.

I observed her stretching carefully, particularly the ones directly involving her wings and filing them away for later testing. “Not really, go nuts.” I shrugged.

“One Rainbow Dash special coming right up!” Immediately after the words left her mouth, Rainbow shot up into the sky, a gust of wind ruffling our manes.

In fact, Rainbow took off so fast, it took a second for me to register what happened and where the blue pegasus had disappeared to. I redirected my eyes towards the sky, and sure enough, I could faintly make out Rainbow Dash up there, apparently waiting in a hover until she had our undivided attention.

Shortly after, Rainbow fell into a dive bomb with a direct course towards us. It appeared as if her plan was to pull up shortly before hitting us in a display of skill, so I took a careful step to the side. Unfortunately Fluttershy wasn’t as quick on the uptake as I was, and when Rainbow practically grazed to top of her head with a hoof and she let out a meek shriek and toppled over backwards.

I quickly hurried over to her, concerned about her well being, but Fluttershy was already scrambling to get back on her hooves. It appeared like she had just received a mild shock from Rainbow Dash’s ‘awesome trick’. I sidled up to Fluttershy in an attempt to calm her nerves somewhat while refocusing my attention on Rainbow, which was back to a higher altitude, where she was performing some loops.

I watched closely as the speedster performed all kinds of complicated tricks; seemingly a lot more agile than earth's stunt fliers. Some of her tricks seemed downright physics defying, but considering that magic was a thing in this world I wouldn’t be surprised that it was to blame in this case too.

Rainbow Dash was up in the air for a good twenty minutes before she pulled out of a corkscrew and started gliding lazily towards us, panting slightly.

“So, what did you think?” Rainbow asked, setting down on the ground before Fluttershy and I. “Pretty awesome, right?”

“Aside from that first stunt, it was very entertaining, yes,” I confirmed. “Poor Fluttershy was so startled that she fell over backwards because of you…”

“Oh, don’t worry about me…” Fluttershy interjected. “I’ve seen her do that quite a few times already, but I still haven’t gotten used to it...”

“Sorry about that,” Rainbow said sheepishly. “I sometimes forget myself a little when I’m up in the air like that…”

I watched them apologize to each other some more. It was quite obvious that Rainbow cared a lot for Fluttershy, apologizing profusely and making sure she really was as okay as she claimed to be, while Fluttershy apparently just made a habit out of apologizing to others. A small smile graced my face as I listened to them.

Considering everything that happened up to this point, humans and ponies didn’t seem too different from each other. Of course there were pretty significant cultural differences, yet in terms of personality, one would be hard pressed to find any. The most obvious one right now seemed to be that ponies were a lot friendlier and caring towards people, or I guess, ponies they didn’t know.

“Aww, see?” Rainbow Dash said suddenly. “Short stuff actually can smile.”

I blinked a few times, confused at the two ponies in front of me looking happily in my direction. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, it’s just… You haven’t really been smiling ever since we found you,” Fluttershy helpfully supplemented. “I was starting to worry.”

“I haven’t been smiling?” I asked myself quietly, trying to remember if I had done so the past few days. “I guess I haven’t…”

With all that had been going on, the different world, the new body, trying to keep up my cover, it would appear that I was uncharacteristically serious the whole time. A fact that was reflected on my face whenever I was with them, apparently. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to leave my guard down just a little. Might as well enjoy myself while I was here. After all, the hardest part was over now. My presence was established, as well as my safe background. As long as I sticked to the story, my secret would be safe for a while, even if I wasn’t on guard twenty-four-seven.

“So, now that this is done, wanna go visit Rarity?” Rainbow asked tentatively after I had been blankly staring at the ground in thought.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the last hurdle I still had to pass. “Uh, yeah, sure,” I replied, making sure to flash the two a smile when I answered. “Lead the way,” I gestured into the rough direction of town and we took off towards Rarity’s boutique.

“So, what’s Rarity like?” I asked, curious about the mare I was about to meet.

“Rarity is all about fashion and high society,” Rainbow Dash answered with a roll of her eyes. “I know it sounds awful, but she’s actually pretty cool in my books. You can always count on her if you need any help.”

I chuckled at Rainbows description of Rarity, but found myself agreeing with her a bit. Personally, I never was too fond of being overly polite and high strung, so there might be a bit of a culture clash once I met with her. Well, even more than what was usually the case since I arrived here. But apparently I shouldn’t worry too much, since apparently Rarity wasn’t too extreme in her behaviour, or otherwise I’d wager to say Rainbow wouldn’t put up with her at all.

“I’ll try to come over as not to crass then,” I responded, thinking that if she was going to be my judge, I might as well butter her up a bit instead of kicking in the door and proclaiming my love for America while kicking back a can of beer.

“You shouldn’t worry too much,” Fluttershy commented. “Rarity is actually really nice, no matter how you behave in her presence, she always tries to be accommodating.”

“Well, that’s certainly good to know,” I said, feeling a bit of mental relief. The more I learned about this Rarity, the more it sounded like she’d respect my boundaries, which in turn meant, that the possibility of my secret being kept grew more likely.

“Now, we could be at Carousel Boutique in just about ten minutes of walking,” Fluttershy said. “But if you’d like, we could take a little detour and show you more of Ponyville.”

“Sure, I’d like that,” I replied, actually curious to see more of this quaint little town I’d found myself in.

After a short discussion between Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, we walked back into town proper, emerging between two cozy looking houses into a somewhat busy road. Fluttershy took the lead for a change, with Rainbow being content just lazily hovering next to us as we made our way through the streets of Ponyville. It appeared like there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to how the roads were placed, giving the me a quite haphazard impression. If anything, Town Hall was at the center and everybody simply built away from it in whatever direction they pleased.

As we were passing through town, Fluttershy kept pointing out various things to me, such as stores that sold specific goods, restaurants and cafes, and the occasional house of a friend of theirs. Most notably among there were a store that exclusively sold quills and sofas, which just seemed weird to me, since there had to be a very limited demand for both of these things. The other one being an actual, life size gingerbread house, which was apparently the towns bakery. I stood in awe at the size to the thing, this absolute unit, and was wondering if you could actually eat it, when I remembered that this was probably where Fluttershy's friend Pinkie Pie lived and worked. Both Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were expectantly looking at the front door of the bakery, seemingly patiently waiting for something to happen for a while, much to my confusion.

“Eh, probably isn’t home…” Rainbow Dash shrugged after a while. Fluttershy seemed to agree and the tour picked back up.

We passed through the market again, but instead of going straight towards Applejack’s produce stand, I actually paid a bit more attention to the individual stands and what they were peddling. The vast majority was selling some sort of produce, much like Applejack, but mixed in with them was the occasional utility, such a hoof woven baskets or woodcarvings. We waved at Applejack when we passed her by, but aside from waving back she didn’t interact with us all that much, since she had acquired quite a long line of ponies craving for apples since we last saw her.

I tried to memorize as much as I could about the layout of the town, for when I eventually would have to navigate it myself, and eventually we arrived at the most unique looking building in the all of Ponyville. At least if I was the one judging.

It was designed to look like a giant tent, mostly painted in purple, white and equipped with yellow curtains, giving it a very gaudy, yet elegant appearance. It seemed to be two or three stories high, I couldn’t really tell because of the peculiar design, and at the top was what I suspected to be the namesake of the store. Modelled after an actual carousel, bars were erected, each one holding up a pony mannequin striking a different pose.

“And this is Carousel Boutique,” Fluttershy explained. “Rarity’s shop and our destination.”

“It’s very… unique,” I commented, the building not exactly striking my fancy.

As I was saying this, the door opened up and out walked a rose colored unicorn mare, levitating besides her a bag, presumably containing a freshly bought dress. She shot us a smile as she passed by, but I was more focused on the bag floating in her aura. Magic in this world was really a thing, and it looked hella convenient, especially since manipulating things with hooves wasn’t as accurate as I’d like it to be, magical assist or not.

I’d really have to try and learn some proper magic myself.

Just as I was wondering what kind of clothes ponies even wore, a voice coming from the shops entrance interrupted my thoughts.

“Rainbow Dash! Fluttershy!” A white unicorn mare with a fancy purple mane stood in the entrance to Carousel Boutique. I almost didn’t believe my eyes, but she seemed to be wearing some sort of eyeshadow.

Ponies wearing makeup… this world was getting weirder with ever new encounter I stumbled into.

“So nice to see you two!” The mare, most likely Rarity, continued. “What brings you here today?”

“Hi Rares,” Rainbow Dash said while setting down on the ground once more.

“Hello Rarity,” Fluttershy said next to me with a smile. “Actually we’re here to ask a little favor of you, it’s actually something to do with little Steady Beat here.”

As Fluttershy pointed me out, Rarity's eyes focused on me. She had been curiously looking at me before, but seemed to prioritize greeting her friends instead of snooping out my identity first. Now that her attention was officially directed towards me, she was scrutinizing me without reserve, although I had the feeling she was more interested in my hoodie rather than me.

“Why, hello there young colt,” Rarity said sweetly, engaging her ‘talking to a kid’ voice, much to my annoyance. “Then, what is it what you need my help with?”

Alright, this was it. First impressions were always important, and if I wanted her to respect my boundaries and not inadvertently expose me, I would need to come over as really polite. Rainbow mentioned that Rarity was into high society so I’d have to peruse my vast knowledge of being stuck up.

“Greetings, fair lady,” I said in a slightly blase voice. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance on this beautiful day. I’m afraid I’m in quite a spot of bother and may need some assistance with identifying the origin of the piece of garment I’m presently wearing.”

I blinked a few times to clear my head. My brain had just gone on auto-pilot and said the most cliche thing I’d ever heard. Apparently I wasn’t alone in my surprise, as three pairs of eyes were looking at me. I took the momentary lull in conversation to check if the magic of this world had made me grow a neckbeard in the last twelve seconds, and was relieved to find no unsightly stubble on my chin whatsoever, excluding my fur, of course.

“Oh! Yes! Of course!” Rarity said after a few moments of silence. “What a polite little colt you are, of course I’ll help you out. Why don't you all come inside first?” Rarity gestured for us to enter and stepped aside to let us in.

We shuffled inside and I got my first look at the interior of the shop while Rarity closed the door behind us. The floor was incredibly spacious, with lots of free room to move around. Pony mannequins stood in various spots, each displaying a masterfully crafted dress. Apparently pony fashion mainly consisted of cloth being worn over the front hooves and extending up until just before the tail, which would explain why nobody taught me to wear something weird. No matter where I looked, pants seemed to simply not exist, or at the very least they weren’t made here.

Compared to the completely stuffed clothes shops on earth, this was actually rather refreshing. As I was curiously looking around at everything I could set my eyes on, I could hear Fluttershy behind me roughly explaining my current situation to Rarity in more detail. I guess not all of their friends new about me yet. Judging by the suppressed gasp, Rainbow Dash probably just told Rarity that Fluttershy gave me a name. What gave it away was mostly Rainbow laughing her ass off once again.

I turned around from the dark blue dress I was inspecting and gave Rainbow the stink eye, which she happened to catch. Fluttershy was apparently already correcting the false statement, voiding the need for me to step in. Slightly annoyed relief spread across Rarity's face and she gathered herself up again, assuming a confident posture.

Positioning myself in front of a mirror and pretending I was inspecting myself, I actually watched the interaction between the “adults” behind me. Rarity seemed incredibly invested in whatever Fluttershy was telling her, making me worry that Rarity might be one of these persons that just love gossipping, because Rarity looked like she had just caught the gossip of a lifetime.

It didn’t take too long for Fluttershy to fill in Rarity, so after a few minutes, the three cantered over to me, Rarity front and center.

“Alright Steady Beat,” Rarity addressed me, causing me to turn and face her. “I’ve heard about your regrettable situation, and of course I’d love nothing more than to help you out.”

“That’s…” I stammered a bit, trying not to revert into a neckbeard at full tilt. It obviously wasn’t necessary. “Very nice to hear.”

“I’m sure it is,” Rarity nodded sagely. “Well then, I do have a small dressing room over there, I guarantee you will have full privacy according to your wishes and I’ll handle your precious hoodie with utmost care.”

“Promise?” I said, trying to pull off some sort of puppy eyes, and most likely failing spectacularly.

“Pinkie promise,” Rarity said, much to my confusion. How’d a pony even make a pinkie swear, considering they didn’t have, well… pinkies. As if to answer my question, she began a series of movements while chanting a peculiar rhyme. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

“Uhhh… okay?” I replied while the three mares just smiled at me.

Rarity proceeded to herd me towards a small booth on the other side of her shop and lightly shoved me inside before magically pulling the curtain closed, effectively completely obscuring me from their view.

“Alright, now, if you’d please take off your hoodie and hoof it to me outside?” Rarity said from the other side, patiently waiting for me to reply.

“Just a moment,” I replied back, directing my gaze down towards my hoodie.

Considering how much trouble I had so far with dressing and undressing myself lately, this was bound to become awkward really quick. Not wanting to waste anymore time I began to do my best to take off my hoodie by pulling at it with my magnet hooves and occasionally just tugging at it with my teeth. My fine control over my hoof grip wasn’t really anything to write home about, combined with the still rather awkward body I now inhabited, taking my hoody off was a chore everytime.

When I was at Fluttershy's place inside the guest room, I had all the time in the world to take it off, but this time I was under time pressure. I’m sure, by now the mares outside were exchanging questioning looks as they heard the occasional grunt and me just generally shuffling around. Eventually I managed to get it off, though, and passed it outside, making sure that the curtain covered everything except my hoof. After it was taken off my hoof, I quickly pulled it back inside and breathed a sigh of relief.

Another mirror was placed inside the dressing booth and I looked myself again. My little stunt had absolutely destroyed my hair, which stood out wildly in every imaginable direction, making for a rather comical sight. I made to flatten it out a bit with my hooves, and used the time to stretch out my wings a bit. Letting them out of their cottony prison always felt liberating and incredibly relieving.

Meanwhile I could hear Rarity outside hmm-ing and aha-ing, as she was probably scrutinizing my precious hoody from every angle. I wondered if she was using any spells on it to determine anything about it when a movement in the mirror caught my eye. Right before my eyes, one of my feathers gently floated towards the ground. At first I didn’t really understand what just happened, just staring at the, admittedly, rather beautiful feather as it alighted on the ground. Looking from it to my wing and back, it slowly dawned on me that it must have fallen out of my right wing.

My brain took a moment to process the implications, but as soon as I realized that this was actually one of my own feathers, a shiver ran down my spine and I started panicking slightly.

What if one of my feathers fell out and was now stuck in my hoodie? What if they found one of my feathers? There was no doubt in my mind that they would ask some very uncomfortable questions if they discovered one.

“Uhh… Rarity?” I shyly asked, trying to mask the nervousness in my voice as good as I could. “Is there anything wrong with my hoodie? Anything unusual?”

“I wouldn’t say that anything is wrong per se,” Rarity replied. “But it is definitely highly unusual.”

“In what way?” I asked, dreading the answer.

“Well, for starters, I can’t really find anything indicating who made it,” Rarity began absentmindedly explaining. “Usually, whoever tailors the dress leaves behind some sort of signature, usually just a small depiction of their cutie mark, or sometimes they sew in their shop’s name. Yet there is quite literally nothing, making me believe that somepony must have made it just as a hobby. Although that would be a bit weird as well, since it is crafted absolutely expertly, if I may say this.

“All the parts are sewn together expertly and sewing itself is hidden expertly from sight, while at the same time the proportions give off the impression that it wasn’t exactly made for a pony to wear. Time has worn it out a lot, yet it’s still perfectly functional and doesn’t have too much visible damage, attesting to the quality of the fabric that has been used to produce it. I must admit, I haven’t seen wool that was processed like this before.”

“And that’s all?” I asked.

“Why, yes,” Rarity replied. “I do feel like this particular piece of garment might hold quite a few more secrets for me to discover. But after turning it inside out and taking a good look at everything, that’s all I can tell right now.”

I let out a huge sigh of relief. If she had scrutinized it that carefully and hadn’t found any feathers yet, there probably wasn’t one there.

“So is there anything that might tell us more about where Beat is from?” Fluttershy asked hopefully.

“I’m afraid not,” Rarity said, probably frowning. “Aside from the fact that this seems like it wasn’t made in Equestria, I really have nothing to go on…”

“Oh…” Fluttershy replies, most likely slinking back behind her mane.

“Well, why don’t we talk about something a little more uplifting than this?” Rarity tried to salvage the situation. “Beat, dear, I couldn't help but notice that your hoody seemed a bit tight for you earlier. Would you mind if I made a few adjustments to it?”

“Uhh, I guess I did kind of grow a bit bigger over time, it is rather tight,” I replied. “But don’t these things take a lot of time?”

“Psh, nonsense dear,” Rarity brushed me off. “Of course a complete adjustment would take me an hour or two and I’d have to take your measurements of course. But seeing as that isn’t exactly an option right now, some simple adjustments should give you some breathing room and I should be able to do it in just about five minutes.”

“That would be amazing,” I replied, thinking of the constant pressure on my wings. “But I don’t think I could pay you for this…”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Rarity said. “Something this small is barely worth any money, plus, I wouldn’t dare taking any bits off a colt in a situation like you. Just see it as a small favor between friends.”

“Then by all means, go ahead,” I replied, hearing them chuckle outside, not sure about what.

“I’ll be done in a jiffy,” Rarity said before I could hear her trot off to somewhere.

“Are you okay in there Beat?” I heard Fluttershy ask through the curtains.

“Yeah, I’m perfectly fine in here. Feeling considerably less nervous now that this is over,” I replied, letting on some of my true feelings about this whole situation.

“Rarity is a real sweetheart, isn’t she?” Fluttershy said and I could hear her settling down next to my little booth.

“She’s very nice, yes,” I nodded. “Where’s Rainbow Dash by the way? I haven’t heard her in a while.”

“Fell asleep on Rarity’ couch as soon as she started talking about the details of your hoodie,” Fluttershy chuckled, on which I joined in. I haven’t known Rainbow for very long, but that was such a Rainbow thing to do.

“So what would you like to do after this?” Fluttershy asked.

“Honestly?” I said. “I’m pretty exhausted, so I could do with a nap or something. Rainbow’s got the right idea…”

“How do you feel about returning home then?” Fluttershy asked innocently, not really knowing the implications of the question.

“There’s nothing that I’d love to do more…” I replied mysteriously, not realizing that I just agreed to go “home”.

We fell into a comfortable silence after that, each ruminating about the situation we found ourselves in, albeit from two incredibly different angles, until Rarity’s return brought us back to the present.

“All done!” Rarity announced loudly. I could hear her hoofsteps coming closer, and suddenly the curtain opened up a bit and my hoody floated inside, carefully being set down on the ground next to me. “I made everything a little looser and widened the sleeves a little by adding some more fabric. It’s a patchwork job, really, but you should barely notice the difference.”

Aside from almost getting a heart-attack when I thought she was just going to pull the curtain open all the way, I was pretty happy about this little adjustment. I picked up my trusty hoody, and true to Rarity’s woord, I could barely notice anything different at first glance. “Thank you, Rarity,” I said, truly grateful. “I’ll put it on right away.”

True to my word I began the arduous process of putting my hoodie back on, although this time it was considerably easier, since I had more room to wiggle myself into it. As soon as I got done, I took one last look in the mirror to see if my hair was messed up again, and after a quick flattening opened the curtain and walked outside.

“It fits perfectly, thank you,” I said as soon as I came out. “Much more comfortable than before.”

I had to resist the urge to wiggle around my wings a bit, since I now could, because Rarity was eyeing me with a critical gaze, most likely to see if she messed up anything. After a few moments she nodded her head once, apparently satisfied with her work.

“Alright, this should do,” Rarity said. “If you’d ever like for me to really fit it to you, don’t hesitate to let me know.”

“I’ll think about it,” I nodded. “Thank you very much.”

“Don’t worry about it, darling,” Rarity waved me off. “So what are you two going to do now?”

“Actually,” Fluttershy replied before I could. “We thought about going home and maybe taking a nap.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” Rarity said, eyeing me again. “You look really tired, Beat.”

“I am really tired,” I replied with a yawn.

“I guess it’s time for us to go,” Fluttershy chuckled.

“What about Rainbow Dash?” I asked, causing everybody to look towards the sleeping pegasus.

“I’ll let her be a little longer,” Rarity said. “I’ll tell her where you went after she wakes up.”

“Thanks a lot,” I said to Rarity. “For everything.”

After exchanging a few more pleasantries, we moved back towards the door, intent to leave, and just like before, it opened before we could get to it. A white unicorn filly with a purple and pink mane trotted in. She was wearing a purple saddlebag and almost walked into us, since we were standing so close to the door.

“Woah!” She exclaimed, taking a step back. “Sorry about that.”

Her voice was kind of squeaky, almost causing me to laugh. We managed to shuffle past each other while she greeted Fluttershy and me, although I felt like she was actually staring at me for some reason. I’m not sure why I was so interesting to her, but hey, whatever floats her boat. With a last goodbye, Fluttershy and I started on our journey back towards a soft bed.

God knows I need it.

“Who was that?” Sweetie Belle asked her big sister.

“Hello to you too, Sweetie Belle,” Rarity replied with a roll of her eyes. “That was Fluttershy of course.”

“No, I meant the colt that was with her,” Sweetie replied, her annoyance barely hidden. “Is he like, her little brother or something?”

“I’m afraid their circumstances are a bit more complicated than that,” Rarity smiled awkwardly. “Suffice it to say that he’ll probably be staying at Fluttershy’s for a while.”

“Do you think he’ll come to school then?” Sweetie asked hopefully.

“I’m… not sure…” Rarity said after thinking about it for a little. “I don’t think they mentioned anything about it. Why?”

“He doesn’t have his cutie mark yet…” Sweetie replied. “I’m sure he’d make for a great crusader!”

“Of course that’s all you think about when you see a handsome young colt like that,” Rarity let her disappointment be known, her hopes at discussing love and the likes with her little sister completely lost. “Now why don’t you go upstairs and wash up? I’ll make us something to eat soon.”

“Alright, but be sure to tell me if you hear anything about him coming to school,” Sweetie said as she trotted off towards the stairs leading up. “I’d like to discuss him joining with the others first.”

“I’ll make sure to do that,” Rarity said. “I guess that’s actually not too bad of an idea, I’ll have to talk with Fluttershy about it if I get the chance…” she added under her breath. “Alright then, time to clean up a little!”

With renewed vigor, Rarity went back to her work. Since she currently had no clients and she had completed all her sewing work for today, all that was left was to clean up shop, which consisted of meticulously dusting everything off and making sure the dresses on display didn’t have any wrinkles.

She went about her work while humming a little tune that popped into her head, completing the task with practiced ease. Being able to control about ten dusters at once with her magic certainly helped. As she passed by the booth Steady Beat used earlier, something caught her eye. She levitated the foreign object towards her, until it was right in front of her face.

“Hmmm… how curious…”

In her aura floated a single, grey feather.

6. Back To School

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“Until the dawn they hold on! Only forty are left at the end! None alive! None survive! Shiroyaaamaaaaaa!!!” James stumbled drunkenly through an alley while trying to find the way back to his hotel. He had just left a pub called “Cask’n’Flagon” that recently closed up for the night.

The pub was conveniently located down the street from the concert he’d attended earlier in the evening, and provided the perfect spot for an after-party. The songs of his favorite band, Sabaton, still at the forefront of his mind, he bellowed random lyrics into the night as he made his way through the unfamiliar streets.

“Hey! You there!” A voice called out to him from his side.

“I’m innocent!” James’s hands shot up into the air, assuming he was being stopped by the cops for some reason.

“I’m not trying to arrest you…” the voice replied slightly annoyed.

“Word?” James lowered his hands and blearily looked around trying to locate the speaker. He eventually zeroed in on an obscured figure standing in the shadow between two buildings. “What up?”

“Come closer, I’d like to make you an offer…” The figure replied in a hushed tone while beckoning James with a gloved hand.

James stared at the shadow for a while trying to make sense of the situation, which was made more difficult because of the copious amounts of alcohol in his system. “Oh, I get it!” Something suddenly clicked in his head. “Show me what you got then!” James happily stumbled towards the shadows.

“My offer isn’t like what you are expecting…” the figure said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’m offering you here.”

“Yeah, yeah, cut the crap,” James waved him off. “So what you got? Maybe some weed? LSD? Ecstasy?”

“I’m not selling you drugs,” the shadow sighed.

“Oh okay. Drugs are baaad, mkay?” James slurred, already turning away again with an awkward chuckle.

“Wait!” The shadow said exasperated. “I’m telling you, this is a chance you don’t want to miss out on. What if I told you there’s another world out there, a world where you could be powerful, where you could make a difference? What if I told you I could send you there?”

“So you’re not a cop, you’re not selling drugs…” James’ brain was working in overdrive. “You a military recruiter? Isn’t that how they get gullible people to join? See the world! Bring about change!” he mocked. “Sorry, not interested.”

James turned away from the shadow while waving at him, intent on finding his hotel and a warm bed to sleep. He could only hear an annoyed sigh behind him, which put a smile on his face.

“Fine, I tried it the nice way…” the shadow mumbled. “Guess I’ll just have to be a bit mean then.”

I slowly opened my eyes, blinking the sleep out of them. A rooster outside was greeting the morning, and he was most likely the one to wake me up. He had done so for the past few days, and today was no different. For a second, I longed for that blissful first day I spent at Fluttershy’s cottage, where I was too tired to be woken up by poultry terrorists.

After gathering my thoughts for a moment, I got out of the comfortable bed and started wrestling with my hoodie. Putting it on was becoming easier by the day, as I’ve been growing more accustomed to manipulating things with my hooves. I wracked my brain during the ordeal, trying to recall what I was dreaming about. For some reason I felt like it was important, but for the life of me, I just couldn’t remember what it was about. Such were dreams, I guess, since I usually wasn’t able to remember them anyway.

For some reason Sabaton was stuck in my head, though.

I finished the difficult task of getting dressed and made my way to the door. Even though I didn’t like getting up early one bit, yet I might as well get up to help Fluttershy out with her chores, since I was awake.

I opened the door of my room and came face to face with Fluttershy, who was just leaving her room as well. “Good morning!” I greeted her, the tiredness practically oozing out of me.

“Good morning, Beat,” Fluttershy replied happily, obviously used to getting up at this god-awful hour. “Will you be helping me out today as well? That so nice of you.”

“It’s the least I can do, since you’re letting me stay here after all,” I replied, as I’ve done for the past few days, yet she insisted on telling me every day how happy she was about my nice gesture.

“It’s still very nice of you,” Fluttershy smiled as she walked past me and down the stairs. “I can tell that you don’t like getting up at this early hour, so seeing you still do it just to help me means a lot.”

“I won’t argue against that,” I replied as I followed close behind her. “But the animals need feeding, so here I am.”

“Exactly,” Fluttershy nodded. “So let’s help our furry friends, and after that I’ll make us a hearty breakfast. How does that sound to you?”

“Sounds great,” I suppressed a yawn as I followed Fluttershy outside and into the shed where she kept all the different kinds of animal feed. It was a small miracle that the animals didn’t just break in there and eat everything, especially seeing how she didn’t even bother to lock it, but I suppose the animals just appreciated everything Fluttershy did for them and didn’t want to cause her trouble.

For the next half hour I helped Fluttershy distribute the copious amount of feed to all the different kinds of animals inhabiting the area in and around her hut. It was really kind of nice, since I liked animals anyway, and being this close and being able to interact with species that would normally run at the sight of humans was a pretty cool experience.

Eventually, we got done with our chores and headed back inside, straight for the kitchen. I headed straight for the chair which had become my official-un-official seat, intent to plant my ass on it and maybe sneak in a little nap while resting my head on the table. My plans were delayed when I spotted the small ball of white fur already taking a nap on my chair.

Angel Bunny had made himself comfortable and was snoozing away with nary a care in the world. I blinked a few times, registering the hindrance to my nap with slight annoyance. The little fluffball apparently didn’t like me staying at Fluttershy’s and occasionally tried to mess with me. My best guess for this situation being that this was supposed to be some kind of messed up power play by taking over my spot.

Not about to take attitude from a tiny bunny, of all things, I unceremoniously shoved him off the chair before hopping up on it myself. A thud could be heard, followed by angry bunny noises, which I didn’t even grace with my attention.

“Language, Angel!” Fluttershy reprimanded him without turning around, causing the bunny to slink away in defeat.

Intent on not losing this chance, I let my head fall on the table, got as comfortable as possible and closed my eyes for a bit. Even though we had been up and about, I still had this tingling feeling of sleep coursing through my body. Back on earth, a steaming hot cup of coffee usually got rid of it, but ever since coming to Equestria I was left to suffer.


I heard something being placed on the table with a wooden thump. “Huh?” I raised my head and blearily looked at Fluttershy.

“Breakfast is served,” Fluttershy replied while pointing at a bowl in front of me. It seemed to be some sort of greek salad. Although I wasn’t too sure, since I’m not an expert, but it had different veggies in it and what looked like some sort of cheese. “It really wouldn’t be a problem for you to sleep in a bit more, you know?”

“No, I want to do this,” I replied stubbornly as I pulled the bowl of salad closer, before getting some of the offered bread as well. “Not like I have anything else to do…”

“About that,” Fluttershy said as she began eating as well. “Rarity came by yesterday.”

“Really? I didn’t notice,” I replied, slightly surprised.

“I think you were upstairs taking a nap,” Fluttershy explained, causing me to nod my head in understanding.

“So what did she want?”

“Well, since it looks like you might be staying here for a while longer, she came here with a suggestion,” Fluttershy continued. “Apparently her little sister, Sweetie Belle, has been bugging her about who you are, and whether or not you’ll be going to school.”

“Going to school?” I paused my eating to raise an eyebrow in surprise. The thought hadn’t crossed my mind yet, even though my current body was at the perfect age to do so.

“Yes,” Fluttershy nodded. “Ponyville does have a small school building, and I’m sure it would be great for you to go. You’d be able to meet foals your age, and learn all the things you missed out on while you were… you know…”

“That does sound rather interesting…” I rubbed my chin with my hoof in thought. I wasn’t too keen on meeting foals around “my” age, but I had been trying to learn more about this world with varying success, and going to school was probably the most efficient and inconspicuous way to do so. “I think I would like that, yes,” I replied after a moment. “This doesn’t come with some big expenses on your part, though, right?” I added as an afterthought.

“Oh! No, no, don’t worry about that,” Fluttershy waved me off. “The Ponyville school is funded by the crown, so everypony can attend it for free.”

“Really? That’s amazing…” I was slightly baffled, thinking back on my college days and the big debt I was still paying off when I got transported. At least that was one problem I wouldn’t have here. “In that case, I’d love to go!”

“Really?” Fluttershy seemed to forget her shyness for a second as it was replaced with genuine happiness. “Oh I’m sure you’re going to have so much fun!”

“Totally,” I replied a little less enthusiastic, but Fluttershy didn’t seem to mind. “So like, how do we even do this? Do I just show up at some point? Or do we need to go and sign up somewhere?”

“I… umm…” Fluttershy faltered a bit. “I’m actually not too sure about that myself… But if you’d like, we can go and meet the teacher later today and ask her about it?”

“Sure, why not,” I nodded and started shoveling salad down the hatch again. “If anypony is going to know, it’s gonna be the school staff, I guess.”

“Oh yes, Ms. Cheerilee is a very nice mare, I’m sure she’ll gladly help us out with this,” Fluttershy had a bright smile on her face again. Apparently the village teacher was well known around here, which made sense, considering the village wasn’t too big by my standards.

“So, what do we do until then?” I casually asked while finishing up my breakfast.

“If you want, you can help me some more around the house, the animals seem to be taking a liking to you, so I’m sure they’d like to play with you or have you around in general,” Fluttershy finished up her own food, and started putting away our bowls.

Well, I knew at least one certain bunny who didn’t like me very much at all. “That sounds good to me, the otters that hang out by the creek are really fun to play with.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Fluttershy smiled at me. “What do you say I make us some tea, and we enjoy it in the nice weather outside for now?”

“That sounds lovely,” I returned a warm smile before heading outside, to prepare the small table we sometimes drank our tea on, on nice mornings like this.

Fluttershy was leading me down the path that leads to the school, and apparently to Sweet Apple Acres if you continued along the way. The school wasn’t terribly far away from Fluttershy’s cottage, maybe an estimated ten to fifteen minutes of leisurely walking. After coming back into town, all you had to do was hang left and eventually you’d come upon the path.

I could already see it in the distance; a dainty building, probably barely big enough to hold a class or two at a time. It’s walls were painted mainly in red colors, with pink and white accents all over the place. A small bell tower decorated the roof, which most likely functioned to let the ponies know when school was starting and ending. I could barely see some playground equipment behind the building, indicating that recess was a thing in this world as well, for which I thanked the gods.

All in all, the school seemed to follow the general building trend of Ponyville, which was to say, any building that was remotely important was way over designed compared to anything else. Almost as if they were built in case they wanted to make merchandise for dumb tourists out of them.

Just as we were about to step on the small path that connected the school to the main path, the bell rang, indicating that school was over. Not soon after the door opened and a throng of small ponies filed out excitedly, probably eager to get home and have some lunch.

Fluttershy and I stepped to the side a bit, to let the excited fillies and colts past us, and I started to feel like some sort of exhibition. Without exception, every kid that passed us by was staring at me as if I was some sort of alien. They were no doubt checking me out, because I was new, and since I was coming to the school, they were sizing me up as probable friend material.

Looking a bit closer, most of these ponies were slightly smaller than me. Were they younger than me? So they’d probably be in an age group below me.

Eventually, all of the school-goers had left the building, leaving behind a purple earth-pony mare that stood in the doorway and called encouraging words after the children, as well as reminding them about their homework.

“That’s Miss Cheerilee,” Fluttershy pointed out helpfully.

“She seems very… caring,” I replied, being reminded that teachers usually knew a lot of things about their charges, which would raise the chance of her figuring me out.

“Oh yes, definitely,” Fluttershy smiled and waved towards Cheerilee, who had just noticed us. “She’s been Ponyville's teacher for years now, and she still enjoys it very much.”

“Good Morning Fluttershy,” Cheerilee followed along after the last few students and approached us with a motherly smile on her face. “What brings you here today? And who’s this handsome colt?”

“Good morning Miss Cheerilee,” Fluttershy eagerly replied. “He’s actually the reason I’m here. This is Steady Beat.”

“Hello, pleased to meet you,” I replied, taking the hint that I was supposed to greet her.

“The pleasure’s all mine,” Cheerilee extended a hoof, which I took and shook. “So what is it that you need from me?”

“Education,” I deadpanned, failing in containing the slightly sarcastic response from escaping.

“Yes, there are some rather unfortunate circumstances, so Beat here will have to stay in Ponyville for a while, and we thought it best that he’d come to school for the duration of his stay,” Fluttershy carried on as if nothing happened, even though Cheerilee was now curiously looking at me with slightly furrowed brows. “You know… so he can make some friends around his age… and things like that…”

“Well, I’d never deny education to a young colt who actively seeks it out,” Cheerilee’s expression reverted back to being friendly. “But would you mind if I ran you through some simple tests to see where you are currently standing in terms of your knowledge?”

“I wouldn’t mind,” elementary school tests, how hard could they be? “But I don’t really know how to write.”

Cheerilee’s expression changed to concern and she tilted her head a bit to the side. “Don’t know… how to write?”

She seemed incredulous that a pony my age would be incapable to do something as simple as writing. Truth be told, I was still a slow reader, even after mostly figuring out how the ponies alphabet worked. And even though I was getting better, writing still proved to be almost impossible for me. Through observations I had figured out that Pegasi used their wings to hold the feathers ponies used to write. Unicorns just used their magic, and earth ponies apparently used some outlandish thing called “mouth-writing”.

Since my magic was still a no-go, and I couldn’t expose, nor use, my wings, all that was left was mouth writing for me to try. The results were more than horrible and I seriously doubted that I’d ever get the tongue dexterity needed to pull it off.

“Uh, yes… about that,” Fluttershy cringed a bit. “Might I have a few words with you in private?”

“Yes, certainly,” Cheerilee led Fluttershy a few paces away from where I was sitting, although her eyes lingered on me for a bit longer than necessary.

Thus, a hushed conversation commenced, intent on not letting me listen in. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what they were talking about, especially after seeing Cheerilee gasp and putting a hoof over her mouth. At this point I began wondering if my web of lies was actually holding up well, even now, or if it was slowly degrading, like some sort of fucked up game of telephone.

It didn’t take long for the two of them to return, and Cheerilee’s demeanor towards me had visibly changed. Gone were the confusion and slight apprehension, replaced by genuine care and worry. She almost felt like a more extreme version of Fluttershy now.

“Alright, Beat,” Cheerilee carefully started. “Fluttershy has informed me of your… situation. It wouldn’t be a problem for you to take the tests verbally, and if you’d like, I could offer you some additional lessons outside of class, to help you get up to speed. Would that be alright with you?”

“Sure,” I shrugged my shoulders. I still had a lot of things to learn about how this world functioned, as well as how to properly control my body with more finesse, so this would be a welcome addition. Especially since I wouldn’t have to tiptoe around Fluttershy to learn things that should be obvious by this world's standards.

“Great!” Cheerilee clapped her hooves together in satisfaction. “Then, let’s not delay this more than it needs to be. Tell you what, why don’t you two go out and eat lunch, and come by again in the afternoon? I’ll have the tests prepared by then, as well as some other papers needed to enroll in the school.”

“We wouldn’t want you to miss lunch because of this…” Fluttershy shot a worried look towards Cheerilee.

“Don’t you worry about it,” Cheerilee waved her off. “I’m going to eat something as well before coming back.”

“That’s good then,” Fluttershy gave a cute little nod before facing me. “Let’s go and grab something to eat then.”

“Sounds good to me, I’m actually getting pretty hungry,” I got up from my seated position in the grass. “Enjoy your meal, Miss Cheerilee.”

“You too, Beat, Fluttershy,” Cheerilee nodded and waved us off, as we started back on the path into town.

Math. Math was my rock. My steadfast anchor in a sea of turbulent waves and rain. I loved math, more than anything. Math loved me, and we cared deeply for each other.

I had to desperately cling on to the fact that math worked the same in this world as it did back on earth, since everything else was alien to me. Cheerilee’s relentless elementary grade questions drove that point home more than ever, as I struggled to answer even the most basic questions she asked me.

History? Not a clue. Physics? Turns out magic tends to fuck with it in ways I could’ve never predicted. Weather? I knew it was somehow controlled by pegasi, but it was weirder than I thought. Magic? I couldn’t even begin to fathom what the fuck was going on there.

But math was safe. I was addin up seven and twelve like a champ. Subtracted thirty-five from sixty-two with nary a thought. I was able to divide and multiply as if it was second nature. Math was true.

That’s what I’ve been telling to myself, while I sat alone at one of the desks, my head resting on it, defeated, while the adults discussed my test-results with each other. I already knew that I would probably bomb some of the subject in this evaluation test, since I lacked a lot of what was considered common sense in this world, but this exceeded my wildest imaginations.

Cheerilee grilled me on eight different subjects, and aside from math, I was barely able to answer any of the questions she asked. It was a mentally draining experience for anypony present. For me, because my ego deflated like a bouncy castle jumped on by a landwhale. For Cheerilee because she seemed to become sadder and sadder with each failed question, and Fluttershy because she had to witness the whole exchange.

“Steady Beat?” I heard Cheerilee’s voice carefully asking for my attention right in front of me. I hadn’t even noticed her approaching me.

“Yes?” I asked without lifting my head from the desk, or looking at her for that matter.

“Well… I think we both know that your test didn’t go too… well,” I could hear the cringe in her voice. “There is a lot you don’t know, and I just want you to know that this isn’t your fault. You just never had the opportunity to learn these things.”

“Yeah, I know,” I answered dejectedly.

“I would very much like to help you however I can, if you’d allow me to do so,” Cheerilee soldiered on. “So if you’d like, you could start sitting in on some of my classes starting tomorrow, and I’d also like to give you the supplementary lessons that I’ve mentioned before. Fluttershy also mentioned you being completely unable to control your magic,” I cringed at myself a little, “And she suggested that she could maybe introduce you to her friend Twilight, so that you could learn to do so there…”

I mulled her proposal over in my head for a bit, the awkward silence permeating the room while I did so. Back on earth I had barely escaped the studying hell that was college, and I’d thought that would be the end of it. But it seemed like I was plunged right back in, and not at college level, mind you, but at elementary school. It was so sad that I almost wanted to laugh, but try as I might, I didn’t see a way out of this. If I wanted to live and thrive in this new world I’d found myself in, I’d have to learn one way or the other.

“Alright,” I finally lifted my head off the desk and properly looked at Cheerilee, which had a worried look on her face. A glance in Fluttershy’s direction revealed a similar expression. I replaced my sullen look of defeat with one of determination. “I want to learn, so let’s do this.”

7. First Day At School

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I awoke with a start, looking around with confusion as it took me a second to realize that I was safe. A nightmare had woken me up before the roosters usually did, and even though I tried to remember, the contents of said dream were rapidly fading. For some reason, the image of a well-dressed man trying to take away my clothes remained in my head, though.

Annoyed, I shook my head in an attempt to get rid of my remaining sleepiness, before taking another calmer look around. I was still safe and sound in what had become my bed, and while I wasn’t wearing any clothes, it wasn’t due to some suited maniac taking them away from me. My hoodie still rested on the chair beside my bed, just where I left it.

The fact that it was steadily getting brighter inside the room tipped me off that it was just about dawn, and sure enough, just a little while later, the rooster outside crowed to greet the morning. Seeing as I was wide awake already anyway, I got up from the bed and started patting down my hair and fur where it was out of place. It would be easier and faster to use a brush for this, but since I couldn’t magically levitate things, and my hoof skills were rather bad still, I was better off just doing it like this.

I spread out my wings a bit and gave them some experimental flaps, which had become something of my morning ritual. I still didn’t have much skill in moving them, but after at least trying every now and then, I was beginning to gain some semblance of control. One of my feathers seemed to have gotten loose and fell to the ground, a sight I had gotten used to as well.

Every now and again, a feather or two would just naturally fall off. I would then take great care to collect, hide, and then discreetly dispose of them when nopony, and no animal, was watching. After the close call at Rarity’s boutique, I made sure that I always treated my wings with care. Today as well, I tried lightly pawing at my wings to see if any more would fall out. Thankfully, none of them seemed to want to vacate their positions, so I went on with my morning and put on my trusty hoodie.

“Good morning, Fluttershy,” I said after going down and into the kitchen, where my host was already preparing breakfast.

“Good morning to you too, Beat.” Fluttershy smiled at me, seemingly excited about something. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, I did. Thanks for letting me sleep in a bit.” I sat down on my chair, which was remarkably bunny-free today.

“We wouldn’t want you to be sleepy on your first day of school now, wouldn’t we?” She let out a happy chuckle, setting down a pitcher of freshly pressed orange juice in front of me.

“I’m sure I still won’t be able to retain everything I’ll learn today.” I poured myself a glass with only slight difficulties. “There’s going to be lots of new things.”

“Yes, isn’t it exciting?”

“It most certainly is,” I replied to a beaming Fluttershy. She seemed almost more excited about this whole school thing than I was, although I couldn’t quite figure out why. “My body is ready to get more knowledge.”

“And just think of all the friends you’ll be able to make.” Fluttershy set down the finished breakfast on the table, which turned out to be quite a spread, most likely to celebrate my entry into school-life.

“Oh yeah… that.” Fluttershy didn’t seem to notice my rather unenthused answer, absorbed in her own little world. Obviously, our intentions differed greatly from each other which caused the conversation to derail slightly. Thankfully, it was held together by Fluttershy’s rather unusual enthusiasm.

“Are you sure you want to walk to school alone?” Fluttershy asked, suddenly turning rather serious.

“Yes, definitely.” I nodded. “I wouldn’t want you to neglect all the friendly animals that live around here just because of me. Besides, I know the way and I can take care of myself. I’ll be fine.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t mind waiting a little bit before I tend to them…” Fluttershy pouted a little, which almost caused me to cave by sheer force of cute.

“Probably not,” I agreed, “but I could really use some alone time before going to school, you know? To mentally prepare myself and stuff.”

“Alright then, I wouldn’t want to impose…” And just like that, regular Fluttershy was back. She had been quite adamant about accompanying me to school, almost giddy even, before I dropped the bombshell on her that I wanted to walk there by myself.

Ever since then, it had been a mixture of her asking me if I was sure, and her assuring me that she was respecting my wishes. I felt a bit bad denying her this simple wish that would have definitely made her happy, but I really needed some time alone. Ever since I emerged from the Everfree Forest, I was always in close proximity to another pony. Always having to hide the real me was already starting to take a toll on me, and I just needed a bit of time to myself so I could relax, and just be me.

“Thanks Fluttershy, I really appreciate it.” I flashed her a genuine smile, which seemed to relax her somewhat, before digging into the hearty breakfast.

It wasn’t long before it was time for me to leave, and Fluttershy insisted to at least see me off. She accompanied me up to the small creek in front of her cottage, giving me a hug, and then waving after me until I was out of sight.

Once I was sure she couldn’t see me anymore, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, feeling as if a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I took a few deep breaths and took a look around me, taking in the admittedly beautiful and undisturbed scenery. I took a moment to just sit at the side of the path leading into Ponyville and rest my mind, before taking up the walk again. If I took my sweet time getting to school, I could probably get about twenty minutes of time for myself, which was just fine with me.

As I walked, I actually got pretty excited about going to school myself. Ever since I got here, I’d had to dodge dicey questions, hide my identity, not just as a plane-walking anomaly, but as an alicorn as well. And now that I had settled the most crucial parts of my arrival, I was starting to appreciate the opportunity that presented itself before me, which was to explore a completely different world than the one I came from. There were people back on Earth that would kill for a chance like this, and here I was, living the dream.

I happily strolled along the path, and felt a little song bubble up inside me. Hearing it always made me feel happy for some reason, and although I wasn’t a good singer by a long shot, I felt this urgent need to just… sing. I bobbed my head a bit as I could practically hear the jaunty little tune that was the opening of the song, before jumping on my cue to start.

“I’m sitting here in a boring room; it’s just another rainy Sunday afternoon. I’m wasting my time; I got… nothing… to do?”

My happy little rendition of Fool’s Garden’s Lemon Tree came to a sputtering stop, as did my body. I furrowed my brows, as there were several things wrong with what had just happened.

First off, my voice sounded amazing. This might come off as a little egocentric, but I could definitely confirm that I had never before sung so on-key as I did just now. While I could chalk this one up to me inhabiting a completely different body, with a matching set of vocal chords, the other thing was a bit harder to explain.

Fucking. Music.

I was one-hundred percent sure I was able to actually hear the music that accompanied the song. Not just in my head, but in actual real life. It was enough to cause me to question reality, and check my surroundings for some sort of hidden orchestra or band that was hiding behind a bush that just so happened to accompany my musical stunt.

My confusion persisted as I proceeded to not find anything of the sort, before slowly picking back up my pace. I was beginning to chalk the weird phenomenon up to magic, the true explanation to everything, before realising that I could just try to verify through experimentation.

I picked up where I left off and continued singing with my newly discovered amazing voice. Much to my happiness, the great voice persisted, which meant that I could now sing my favourite songs without feeling bad for the artists who made them. The same thing couldn’t be said about the ethereal music, as it vehemently refused to show up again.

It was not for a lack of trying, since I continued to belch out various songs all the way to Ponyville, before stopping due to not wanting to get a weird reputation as “that one singing colt”. I made a mental note about asking either Cheerilee about it, or maybe Fluttershy later, and continued walking through Ponyville while keeping a low profile.

It didn’t take long for me to arrive at the path leading up to the rustic school building, and I could already hear the commotion that came with lots of children being gathered in the same place. Before long, the school, as well as all of its attendants, came into view, as I got my first look at what would be my classmates for the foreseeable future.

Just as their adult counterparts, these fillies and colts were just as colourful in their appearance. A veritable rainbow unfolded before me, as seemed to be the norm whenever one set foot outside their house in Equestria. After a quick glance, I counted twelve young ponies waiting outside the building, divided into little groups, as was par for the course for any school, really. Even alien ones, apparently.

While it wasn’t as easy to categorize them compared to humans, mostly due to the lack of clothing, I was fairly certain I could see two of the snooty rich kids being relatively close to the door. The tiara and haughty atmosphere gave it away, and I made a mental note to not engage with them, since I had more pressing matters to tend to aside from being looked down on by a bunch of children.

As I let my eyes wander, an oddly familiar white filly seemed to spot me, her face brightening up immediately. She got the attention of her two friends to shift to me as well, before making her way over.

“Hey, you’re Steady Beat, right?” the white filly asked.

“Uhh… yeah, that’s me.” I furrowed my brows a bit. “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“Oh!” An adorable squeak escaped her. “I’m sorry! I’m Sweetie Belle, Rarity’s sister.”

“Oh yeah, I think I remember seeing you now…” I thought back on the time at Rarity’s boutique, making the connection. “Pleased to meet you again.”

“Likewise! These are my friends. This is Apple Bloom.” She pointed at the yellow filly, whose red hair was adorned with a pink bowtie.

“Howdy, partner!” Apple Bloom jovially greeted me.

“And that’s Scootaloo.” Sweetie Belle pointed to the orange filly with a messy purple mane.

“Hey, what’s up?” Scootaloo seemed to be attempting to pull off an aloof expression, but the effect failed due to her being a tiny orange horse.

“Pleased to meet you,” I replied, decidedly not as motivated as they were. “As already mentioned, I’m Steady Beat, and I suppose I’m your new classmate starting today.”

“And we’re happy to have you!” Apple Bloom seemed a bit too excited, causing me to suspect that there was more going on here than just meeting someone new.

“Yeah, you’re just like us!” Scootaloo fluttered her wings a bit, barely taking off the ground.

“I somehow seriously doubt that…” I replied with a raised eyebrow. Considering what an anomaly I was in this world, I knew I was right with this assumption.

“No, really!” Apple Bloom pointed at her butt for some reason. “You don’t have your cutie mark yet! Just like us!”

Her two friends joined her in showing off their decidedly empty behinds, with a lot more gusto than you’d think. They were obviously very excited about this, although I couldn’t quite understand why. What I did understand was that I was supposed to be excited about this as well.

“That seems to be the case.” I took a look at my own flank, reconfirming that it was indeed blank. “I’m sorry, but why is this exciting news?”

“We actually are in a club called the Cutie Mark Crusaders!” Sweetie Belle gushed. “We spend our time together looking for, and helping each other find what our cutie marks might be!”

“And we’d like to invite you to join us!” Apple Bloom chimed in.

“Yeah!” Scootaloo added with a grin.

I could already tell that they were very enthusiastic about their little get-together. The exact importance of having a cutie mark still escaped me, but judging by how most of the tiny ponies around us already had theirs, the three of them might just be late bloomers. Which would obviously include me.

As I let my eyes wander across the gathered fillies and colts, I noticed that none of them really paid us any mind, apparently accustomed to my three new “friends” being a bit louder than usual. All except for two. The snobby ponies by the door seemed to shoot some nasty glances in our general direction, causing me to immediately figure out the relationship these ponies had.

“I’ll, uhhh… I’ll think about it?” I replied while glancing at the duo shooting us stink-eyes. There was already enough on my plate, and I didn’t feel like adding “getting bullied by children” to it. “Why don’t you tell me more about it later? It seems classes are about to start.”

Sure enough, the door just opened, revealing an enthusiastic Cheerilee waving in everypony with a cheery, “Good morning, everypony!”

The three fillies agreed to postpone our conversation as we joined the others slowly filing into the classroom. Cheerilee made it a point to greet every kid personally, until it was my turn at last.

“Good morning, Steady Beat.” Cheerilee smiled at me, this time making the rest of the class aware of my presence. “Welcome to our class! Please sit down wherever you’d like.”

“Good morning to you as well.” I scanned the room, realizing that everypony was already seated, presumably in their usual spots. There were quite a few desks left empty, causing me to assume that class sizes were varied, and this was the only classroom in Ponyville. “I will, thank you.”

I decided on a desk in the front row, much to the chagrin of not only my three new companions, who were all seated in the third row, but apparently also the two rich fillies, who also occupied the first row. Great, they really seemed to already have it out for me. Deciding to ignore them, I settled down, ready to learn what was in store for me in this weird new world.

Time passed by rather quickly, as I attentively listened to the history lesson that was part of today’s curriculum. Enthusiasm not everypony in the room shared with me, as true to their nature, the other children seemed rather bored by it. Nevertheless, it was soon time for recess, a prospect the other kids were a lot more excited about than the history of their world.

The classroom emptied itself before I really registered that it was time to get up from my desk, the excited youngsters aiming for the best playground equipment behind the school. I slowly got up, making my way to the door everyone else left through. On the way, I made it a point to establish eye contact with Cheerilee to see if she wanted to tell me something, but she seemed perfectly content to leave her remarks for our one-on-one session later.

As I exited the building, I let my gaze wander over the playground, weighing my options. Well, I say playground, but it was a rather poor sight, all things considered. Aside from a few swings, a slide which had seen better days, and something which looked like a tetherball with two balls, there was nothing worth mentioning.

Nonetheless, the kids were having fun playing with each other and the rickety equipment. Not feeling like joining in with anypony in particular, I made my way over to a rather large tree and sat down in its shade, intending to internalize the things I had learned. Probably not something a child my age would do, but I might as well go for the “weird new kid” vibe.

“Hey, Steady Beat!” And immediately my plans got violently wrenched away by a trio of ponies coming my way to socialize. “What are you up to all alone?”

“Hey guys.” I nodded towards Apple Bloom, who was the one that addressed me. “I was actually thinking about going over the things I heard about in class, lest I forget.”

“Oh no, he’s an egghead…” Scootaloo stuck out her tongue, obviously not approving of my studious nature.

“Leave him alone, there’s nothing bad about studying,” Sweetie Belle shot back defensively.

This somehow started a whole discussion about eggheads being cool or not. For some reason, Rainbow Dash was mentioned multiple times, as if she somehow held sway over what was cool and what wasn’t. Whatever the case may be, the discussion was cut short by snootiness incarnate.

“I see the blank flanks are already gravitating towards each other,” the tiara-wearing pink filly said while trotting up to us. “What? Can’t make friends with cutie marks?”

“Haha, yeah!” The silver-coated pony behind her chimed in.

While I was still reeling about the cartoonishly bad villains that presented themselves before me, the trio of friends abandoned their current argument, and switched it out for an argument with the two newcomers.

“Can it, Diamond Tiara, are you really going to try and bully him on his first day?” Apple Bloom retorted. “You don’t even know anything about him yet.”

“Oh, but I already know everything I need to know.” Diamond Tiara stuck her nose up in the air. “He doesn’t have his cutie mark yet, which automatically makes him a failure. Am I right, Silver Spoon?”

“Yes, totally, Diamond Tiara!” The silver one chuckled.

It wasn’t hard to figure out the dynamic of the two would-be school ground bullies. Diamond Tiara was obviously the one whose dad had more money, and Silver Spoon was stuck trailing behind in their relationship. After all, if rich people here were anything like back on earth, money was everything.

“Hey, leave him alone!” Scootaloo got way up in Diamond Tiara’s face, which didn’t seem to really faze her in the slightest.

“Or what?” she challenged back before looking towards me. “Don’t you have anything to say at all? Can’t even defend yourself…” she scrunched up her face. “What was your name again?”

“Steady Beat,” I replied calmly. “I see you can’t even pay attention to anything your teacher tells you, since I was introduced to the whole class less than three hours ago. I sure do hope you are doing well on your tests, or your parents are going to be very disappointed to have raised such a dumb filly.”

Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon visibly recoiled at that. Apparently I was already pushing buttons concerning parental approval.

“I’ll have you know that I’m doing perfectly fine in school. In fact, I’m the best in class!” Diamond Tiara recovered pretty quickly, I had to admit.

“Listen, I don’t really have time to argue with some two-bit villain in my free time. In fact, since I’m not “as good as you”, I’d rather take this time to revise what I learned.” I made sure to be as extra as possible, since that was what was the current theme. “Neither do I have time to help you figure out which of your two daddies has more money in the bank. You’ll have to figure that out yourself. So if you ain’t here to help, I suggest you make like the wind and blow.”

I shooed them away with my hoof, taking pleasure in their dropped jaws. To further accentuate my point, closed my eyes and leaned back against the tree trunk. It took a few moments, but I could soon hear the sad clops of two ponies retreating, apparently not able to retort out of shock.

“That… was… awesome!” Scootaloo eventually disturbed the silence with a rather loud shout. “Did you see their faces? I’ve never seen them run off like that.”

“It was pretty amazing,” I heard Apple Bloom add with a chuckle.

“Diamond Tiara losing a battle of words… that’s a first,” Sweetie Belle squeaked.

I opened my eyes again, finding the three fillies excitedly talking to each other and looking at me like I was the messiah. “I was rather serious about the whole trying to go over what I learned by the way…”

“We can help you!” Sweetie Belle immediately offered.

“For sure!” Apple Bloom nodded her head enthusiastically. “We’d be happy to help you out wherever you have trouble.”

While I had the inkling that I had just made some friends for life, even if unintentionally, I did appreciate the help since I had a lot of new things to learn.

“I’d appreciate it.”

“Well, uh…” Scootaloo scratched the back of her head. “I’ll try to help too, I guess…”

With that, I had recruited some very eager helpers to help me with my academic problems. They settled down around me as I started to ask the questions I had.

The morning went by rather quickly, and after a short lunch with Fluttershy, I made my back to school, ready for my first afternoon of supplementary classes with Cheerilee. I found the school’s door wide open and let myself in. Cheerilee was sitting at her large teacher’s desk, a second chair next to her, obviously intended for me to sit in.

“Good afternoon, Miss Cheerilee,” I greeted her.

“And a good afternoon to you, Steady Beat.” She gestured towards the chair next to her. “Why don’t you take a seat?”

Not one to be told twice, I settled in next to my new teacher, taking a glance at the papers on her desk. Contrary to my belief, they weren’t meant for our supplementary lessons, but tests that she was grading before I came.

“Now, I know that these lessons of ours are meant to catch you up with the rest of the class.” Cheerilee moved the tests away from me, to a corner of the desk where they wouldn’t be in the way. “But why don’t we talk about your first day a bit instead? I’d like to make sure that you don’t have any problems before we really get into it.”

“Okay, sure…” I got a bit confused. Maybe she thought that I wouldn’t retain much of her teaching material if we went over too much too soon, and wanted to take things slow. “What should we talk about?”

“For example… Have you made any friends?” Cheerilee asked cheerily. “I did see the CMC hanging around you during recess.”

“The CMC?”

“Oh, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, you know? Haven’t they told you about their little club?” Cheerilee seemed surprised. “I mean Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo of course.”

“Yes, of course.” I finally made the connection. “We did talk about that briefly, but they didn’t go into too much detail since we were interrupted mid-conversation.”

“Interrupted?” Cheerilee seemed intrigued.

“By a rather shoddy attempt at bullying, yes;” I nodded. “One that failed spectacularly, might I add.”

“Let me guess, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon?”

“Exactly. I think there might be a bit of history here that I’m not aware of…” I started playing with one of the desks drawer handles. “But I made sure to tell them I wanted no part of their little game.”

“That’s good then.” Cheerilee sighed slightly. “Those two are rather uncontrollable, and it doesn’t help that Diamond Tiara’s father donates quite a bit of money to the school every year… Moving on then, what did you think of your first day at school? Is there anything you would like to say, or anything that you’d like to talk about?”

“I thought it was very interesting,” I responded honestly. “There were a lot of new things I learned today, and I hope to learn many more in the coming days and weeks. I don’t think there are any things I’d like to discuss specifically about today’s material.”

“If only everypony had a mind for learning like you do, it would make my job a little easier… Tell you what! You already had a lot of new experiences today, and I wouldn’t want to load on too much by spending even more time loading up your brain with information. Why don’t we cut today’s meeting short, so you can enjoy the afternoon and process all of your new knowledge?”

“I think I’d like that,” I honestly answered.

“Very well then. But I’d still like to give you some very small homework, if you don’t mind.” Cheerilee pulled the pile of tests towards her again. “I’d like you to think about what exactly it is you would like to gain from our extra lessons together, and to think about which things are most important for you to learn.”

“I will make sure to think about it then.” Feeling the conversation come to an end, I hopped down from my chair and made my way to the door while we exchanged pleasant words of parting.

The homework I got wasn’t much, as I already mentally decided that number one on my list of things I needed to learn was to properly read and write. Seeing as my skills there were shoddy at best, without these two things I’d have a hard time in school and life in general. Yet seeing as I suddenly found myself with some extra free time on my hands, I decided to swing by the local library. I still needed to introduce myself to Twilight Sparkle, my would-be magic teacher, after all.

Cheerilee watched Steady Beat leave while opening a drawer of her desk, pulling out a green folder labelled with the leaving colt’s name. In order to make sure that she could provide him with the care he needed, she had created said folder to be able to more closely record his progress and behaviour. She deftly flipped the pages until she arrived at a sheet of paper titled “Personality and Behaviour”.

Young ponies who went through traumatic experiences could display some rather rapid changes in their behaviour, and in order to stay on top of things, she planned on keeping a detailed record to notice even small changes.

The page was already filled quite a bit, and Cheerilee picked up her quill in her mouth to add a few more lines. Thinking about the exact words to use, she started to write.

“Steady Beat displays a severe lack of general knowledge, as well as the inability to read and write. However, he talks and behaves almost like an adult would, not like a child. The use of advanced words and his usually very calm and collected behaviour would not make you believe that he spent years in a forest without education at all. I should keep an eye on these things to see if he knows more than he lets on about his time in the Everfree.”

8. Magic 101

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I leisurely made my way into town while observing the ponies going about their lives. Ever since I had arrived here, I had been mostly cooped up at Fluttershy’s, except for a few exceptions, and when I was out and about I was always accompanied by an adult. As such I couldn’t really take in how ponies acted normally.

Now that I actually had some time to really observe, I found things to be eerily similar to how things were back on earth, just with less technology. If there was a main difference to point out, it was that ponies seemed a lot more social with each other compared to humans. Although that might just be due to this being a relatively small settlement, if there were bigger cities, it was entirely possible for ponies to ignore each other as well.

As it stands, most ponies in Ponyville seemed to know everypony else, which apparently already included me. On more than one occasion I saw ponies start a hushed conversation while looking at me. It would seem that my story, or at the very least rumors of it, were already spreading within this tight-knit community.

I tried to ignore the occasional hoof pointing at me as I strolled past the rustic buildings. There was little risk of me getting lost, as my goal was clearly visible over the thatched roofs. As it was already pointed out to me by Fluttershy, I knew that Twilight’s library was located in a big oak tree, which also served as a great landmark in Ponyville.

As I came ever closer to my destination I made sure to greet back every pony that greeted me, and before I knew it I was standing in front of the door to the Golden Oaks Library. Since I was told that the library also served as Twilight's house, I was unsure whether I could just enter or not, so to be on the safe side, I knocked to announce my presence and waited.

It took barely a second before the door handle started glowing with a purple hue and the door opened by itself. “Come in,” a shout accompanied the magically opened door, and I walked in, just as prompted.

The inside of the tree was somewhat surreal to look at since this was technically the inside of a tree. The shelves upon which the library’s books rested were carved right into the wood, as were the stairs leading upstairs and every doorway in sight. Two couches facing each other with a table in between them occupied most of the floor space, and on one of the couches, a purple alicorn was reading a book.

My eyes widened in shock, as I didn’t expect Twilight to be an alicorn. I was told that she was supposedly a princess of Equestria, mostly in name only, but I wasn’t aware that there were other alicorns aside from the two sisters and myself. Kind of weird that a big detail like this wasn’t mentioned to me.

“Dude are you okay?” something pointy poked at my chest, causing me to snap out of it.

In front of me stood a bipedal purple lizard with a green belly and spikes on his back. Thankfully I was already informed of the baby dragon that was living with Twilight as her assistant, or I might have stared at him a lot more than I was doing right now.

“Uhh… yeah,” I stammered while stealing another glance at the alicorn reading a book a few feet away from me. “You’re Spike, right?”

“That’s right,” Spike puffed out his chest a bit, apparently happy that I recognized him. “At your service.”

“Cool, my name’s Steady Beat,” I could see Twilight’s ear flick in my direction, as our small conversation apparently caught her attention. “I’m here to visit Twilight.”

“Sure,” Spike nodded at me happily before calling over Twilight and excusing himself to do some chores.

Twilight closed her book and made her way over to me while looking me up and down. “Hello Steady Beat, I’m Twilight Sparkle,” she introduced herself and offered me her hoof to bump. “I’ve already heard a lot about you. What brings you here today?”

“Well, I’ve found myself with some free time,” I began explaining. The way she was looking me all over made me start to wonder if she could somehow feel that I was an alicorn as well. The look in her eyes was friendly, but it felt like she was scrutinizing me more than necessary. “And since I was told that you would be my magic teacher soon, I thought I’d come by and introduce myself.”

“Oh yes, a very good idea!” Twilight perked up a bit, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one looking forward to our lesson. “I was also curious to meet you, since I kept hearing about you. Why don’t you come and have a seat and we can talk for a bit?”

“I hope I’m not intruding on anything, I saw you reading a book when I came in,” I tried being polite as we made our way to the couch.

“Don’t worry about it, I was just doing some light reading,” Twilight’s horn lit up as I curiously watched the book she was reading float back into an empty spot on a shelf. “Spike! Could you bring us some tea?”

An affirmative shout came from another room, presumably the kitchen, and we settled down on the couches, opposite of each other. “So I’ve heard you’d like to learn some magic?”

“Yes,” I nodded my head. “Actually, it was Fluttershy’s idea, but I still would very much like to learn.”

“That’s to be expected of a young unicorn,” Twilight delighted in my enthusiasm. “And it’s actually good that you came by, as I would like to ask you a few questions in order to plan your lessons better. Would you be okay with that?”

“Sure,” I confirmed without a thought, excited about the prospect of learning actual magic.

“Great!” Twilight clapped her hooves together while her horn lit up once again, this time floating over a rather substantial list from somewhere. Assuming all of those were questions for me, my excitement died down a little. Just how thorough was she? “First question: What is your current knowledge on magic?”

I hesitated a bit before answering, “Zero.”

The quill that had appeared at some point, stopped dead in its tracks as Twilight gave me a look I couldn’t quite decipher. “Come again?”

“I don’t know anything about magic,” I replied calmly. “I have no idea how to use this thing,” tapping my horn with my hoof for added impact.

Twilight seemed to be spacing out, just staring at me, as Spike arrived with two steaming cups of tea, setting them down before each of us. With practiced ease he turned around, making sure that his scaly tail bumped against Twilights leg, snapping her out of her daze.

“Thank you… Spike,” Twilight stammered out.

“No problem, Twilight,” Spike chuckled. “Just call if you need anything else.”

Twilight floated her cup to her mouth and took a sip of her tea, causing me to do the same, albeit without the use of magic. The whole time she was looking at me, and I could practically see the gears turning in her head as she was dealing with her new knowledge.

“That certainly puts a bit of a dent in my plans…” Twilight said slowly. “Fluttershy did mention that you didn’t know how to use magic and that you wanted to learn, but I didn’t think that we’d be starting from absolute zero…”

“Is that going to be a problem?” I put my cup back down on the matching plate and leaned back into the sofa a bit. “If it helps at all, Fluttershy taught me how to feel for my magic when she told me how to pick up things with my hoof.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, it’s just… unexpected is all,” Twilight’s long list silently floated down and landed on the sofa, now useless apparently. A brief look flashed over her face, that I couldn’t quite place. Seemed almost as if she remembered something, mixed in with some suspicion and doubt? “Would you mind if I did a quick scan of your internal mana pathways?”

“What would that entail?” now it was my turn to turn suspicious as well as slightly paranoid. I had no idea if this scan could reveal my little secret, for now it would probably be better to just deny her, even if I seemed unreasonable.

“I’d send a quick pulse of magic through you, and it would send me back information about the pathways in your body, such as if any of them are damaged, or otherwise impaired,” Twilight seemed to recover from her slight daze as she went into lecture mode.

“And what else would that spell tell you?” This sounded more and more like a thing I wouldn’t want. Seeing pegasi, and especially Rainbow Dash fly around, I got convinced that pegasi wings were definitely supported by magic, which would mean that some of these mana pathways probably ran through them.

“Nothing, really,” Twilight shrugged. “The only information I could get from this is whether anything is broken or not, so if everything is fine, nothing would happen at all. IF anything is broken or blocked, the pathway would start to glow in a red hue, which we would be able to see on your body.”

“Even through my hoodie?” one of my eyebrows shot upwards. “Because I’m not taking it off.”

“Yes, even through your hoodie,” Twilight nodded at me with a smile, awaiting my answer.

Denying it even further would probably actually make me seem pretty sus, and seeing as my secret would probably be kept safe, there wasn’t really a lot of reason for me to refuse. That is to say, if Twilight was telling the truth. But if I learned anything about ponies, and especially Fluttershy and her friends, it was that I could trust them.

“Alright,” I sat up straight, preparing myself for what was to come while praying that my secret was kept as such. “Go ahead.”

Twilight simply nodded and gave me a reassuring smile before firing up her horn once again. It didn’t take long at all before a purple wall of light crept towards me, and eventually slowly passed through me. The feeling was strange, almost as if the parts of my body that were in contact with the spell fell asleep briefly, only to wake up immediately after it passed through.

I was being watched closely through the entirety of this happening, but judging by Twilight’s unchanged look, it would seem nothing went awry. After the spell dissolved, I patiently waited for Twilight to give her verdict, which eventually came in the form of a relieved sigh.

“It looks like everything is just fine,” Twilight smiled again. “Your mana pathways seem to all be working perfectly.”

The tension left my body as apparently everything went well for me. Neither were my pathways screwed up, nor did my secret alicorn identity get exposed. It would seem that Twilight really did tell the truth.

“Well, seeing as we’ll apparently have to start from the very beginning, there isn’t a lot we can do right now…” Twilight adopted a thoughtful face. “We could find out your mana affinity if you’d like.”

“What’s a mana affinity?” I asked curiously. Now that the dangerous part of the introduction was over I could focus on learning about magic again.

“Oh right… we really gotta start from scratch,” Twilight had a slight smirk on her face, but explained anyway. “The world around us is filled with mana, we just can’t see it. And every unicorn that is born has a certain affinity for one of the six typed of mana that exist. Depending on which mana type you’re most attuned to, you’ll have an easier time casting certain spells.

“There are six schools of magic, each one associated with a certain type of mana. I, for example,” Twilight lit up her horn again, and this time I paid closer attention to it’s purple glow. “Am attuned to purple mana, which is associated with the school of magic.”

“The school of magic?” I couldn’t quite wrap around how there were six schools, and one was actually called magic. Weren’t they all about magic?

“Yes, as I already said, every type of mana has its uses, except purple,” Twilight pulled in a chalkboard on wheels from seemingly nowhere and started to draw on it with her magic. “Blue, Pink, Red, Orange, Green, and Purple, these are the different colors mana can have. They are associated with the school of Illusion, Manipulation, Combat, Energy, Life, and Magic.”

While she explained, a piece of chalk behind her was zooming around on the board, writing down and connecting the different schools to their respective colors, which made it quite easy to understand.

“As you can see they all have very specific compatibilities with certain types of spells, and while any unicorn may cast any type of spell with their inherent mana, they’ll lose efficiency when not matching the mana to the correct type of spell,” Twilight made a little drawing below what was written, showcasing the same pony casting a weaker and a stronger spell. “Purple mana is different, in that it doesn’t lose efficiency while casting any spells, regardless of what school they belong to. As such, the greatest mages usually have control over purple mana.

“Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t become a great mage if you possess any other affinity,” Twilight smiled reassuringly. “A master of a certain school is usually a lot stronger in their field than a mage from the school of magic could ever hope to be. For example, Starswirl the Bearded had an affinity for the school of illusion, yet he went down in history as the greatest mage Equestria has ever seen.”

“That’s so cool!” I was honestly incredibly fascinated by all of this. After all we were talking about actual, honest to god magic here. I was actually living the dream right now. “So how do we find out what my affinity is?”

“Well, usually you just ask a unicorn to light up their horn and that will tell you everything you need to know,” Twilight stood up and walked over to a door. “But that isn’t the most accurate way to measure such a thing. After all, in some rare cases, a unicorn might have multiple affinities, and you wouldn’t be able to recognize something like that with just a visual test.”

The door opened before Twilight, revealing that it leads towards the basement. After swiveling her head around a bit, Twilight seemed to locate what she was looking for, before a small contraption floated out of the basement and onto the table in front of me. I curiously looked at the transparent gemstone that was resting on some sort of pedestal, with a ring attached to it via some kind of wire.

“What’s this?” I curiously asked, getting down from the couch to get a closer look.

“This is a so-called thaumatic categorizer, or in layponies terms, a device that reveals the affinities a unicorn has,” Twilight sat down across from me again. “All you have to do is put the ring over your horn, and the device will do the rest.”

Not one to be told twice, I carefully picked up the ring in between my hooves. At this point, I was even starting to feel slightly nervous, since the result of this seemingly innocent test would define the path I would take while studying magic. I swallowed the saliva building up in my mouth, before sliding the ring over my horn.

“The mana pathways in your body circulate the same way your blood does, and while all blood moves through the heart at the center of its circulation, mana does the same with the unicorn horn,” Twilight explained, while the device was assumedly attuning itself to me. “The ring measures the mana traveling through the horn, and then extracts a tiny bit of it and makes it visible within the gemstone.”

Just on cue, something was starting to move within the gem. A thin mist was starting to form, which at first was colorless, before eventually turning a vibrant orange. I watched in fascination as the mist seemed to form a small ball of mana, which was eventually joined by a second and a third one.

“So what does that mean?” I looked up from the device to look at the chalkboard again, matching the color to a school. “Do I have an affinity for the school of energy?”

“Exactly!” Twilight clapped her hooves with a happy smile. “Congratulations Steady Beat, you now know what your affinity is.”

“Thank you,” I smiled back at her before looking back down at the gemstone and the mana floating around within. “Why are there three balls of mana in there, is there any significance to that?”

“Yes, actually.” Twilight drew another device on the chalkboard that had five gemstones in a row. “A few hundred years ago, there was another device used for determining a unicorns mana pool. They have at some point been combined into a singular, more accurate measuring unit. Now a unicorns mana pool is divided into ten units of measurement instead of the five it used to be, and this device here shows the result by forming up to ten balls of mana.”

“So my mana pool is on the lower end of size then?”

“For now, yes,” Twilight nodded. “But you don’t need to worry about that. The amount of mana you can store grows with time and practice. In fact, most unicorns start out with one or two balls of mana when they are first measured around your age, so three is actually quite high.”

“That’s so cool…” I couldn’t help but whisper to myself, but apparently Twilight heard me, since she let out a hearty chuckle.

“Well, at least I can now plan our lessons with a more concrete goal in mind,” Twilight removed the ring from my horn, causing the balls of mana to dissipate. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to assign you some small homework, even if we haven’t officially started our lessons yet.”

“Yes, please, absolutely, I’ll do anything,” I was hooked. And if there was even anything small I could do with my magic without the need to be supervised, I’d love to do so.

“You said earlier that Fluttershy told you how to feel for your mana, right?” I nodded energetically. “Then please do this as much as you can until we officially start with our lessons. It’ll help you get a feel for the mana within you, and how it moves.”

“Is that like some sort of meditation?”

“In a way, yes,” Twilight delighted in the fact that I easily understood her meaning. “Once you feel comfortable enough, you can even try to redirect the flow towards your horn. You’ll know that you did it right when your horn starts to glow.”

“I’ll practice until I fully master this!” Now I couldn’t wait to get home in order to try this. The more I thought about using magic, the more excited I got.

“Why don’t try it right now for a bit?” Twilight gestured towards the couch behind me, causing me to hop back up. “Take your time, finish your tea, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me.”

Twilight was already floating another book towards herself, which motivated me even more. So without further ado, I made myself comfortable and tried to empty my mind. At this point I had already used my hoof magnets enough to be somewhat familiar with the feeling, and it only took me a few seconds before the familiar feeling washed over me.

I could feel the constant flow of the mana within me, reaching every part of my body, and culminating within my horn before going outwards again. Now that I knew that there were specific paths mana took, I tried focusing on these singular paths instead of the whole. At first I wasn’t having much success, but after a while I managed to capsule out one of them.

I mentally traced it with my mind, following it slowly, until I ended back up in my horn. I did this for a while, trying to find as many different paths as I could before something strange happened. I could physically feel the mana focusing somewhere to my right. Or maybe, focusing was the wrong word. It seemed like it lingered a little longer whenever it passed through a certain part of my body.

“Uhh… Twilight?” I asked, trying not to lose my concentration.

“Yes, what is it Beat?” I could hear Twilight’s friendly voice, ready to answer whatever question I had.

“I can feel this weird kind of… pull in my mana pathways. Is that normal?” My words were said slowly, as the feeling grew more prominent. “It almost feels like my mana wants me to go somewhere…”

“That is rather curious…” Twilight's voice came closer, as she probably came over to investigate. “Would you say it’s uncomfortable at all?”

“Not really,” I shook my head. “But somehow I feel like I should go to where it’s trying to lead me…”

“Well, it’s not unheard of that mana has a mind of its own sometimes. I don’t think this is anything bad, so we should probably go and see what it’s pointing to. Your magic is still pretty weak, so whatever is going on should be pretty close.”

I opened my eyes back up and the feeling of my pathways slowly went away, yet I could still feel this faint pull, almost like a sixth sense.

“Come, I’ll accompany you to make sure nothing bad happens,” Twilight nudged me with an encouraging face. “You never know, it could even be related to your cutie mark.”

“Then let’s not waste any time!” I got excited again and practically zoomed to the door. “What are you waiting for?”

“Don’t worry, I’m coming. Spike! We’ll head out for a bit, but I’ll probably be back soon!” Twilight followed me with a chuckle after Spike called out in agreement from the kitchen and we went outside. “Well, then, where to?”

I tried to focus on the pulling sensation as I spun around in a slow circle, until eventually, I zeroed in on a direction. “This way!”

With that we started out on our little adventure, navigating the nearby streets to go into the general direction of the pulling. As we presumably got closer to whatever was causing it, I could feel the pull become stronger and stronger. I practically raced towards my destination, with an amused Twilight following close behind.

True to Twilight's assumption, we didn’t have to walk for a long time. While the pulling felt stronger than ever, I could start to hear something in the distance. It sounded almost like singing… like an entire choir was performing some song. Was there a concert today?

Eventually we turned a corner, and I came face to face with a scene from High School Musical. Ponies were filing the street, dancing and singing to some music that seemingly came out of nowhere. And at the center of it all was one mare, enthusiastically singing about how much she liked cupcakes.

Why she was singing about cupcakes, why apparently half the town felt the need to join in, and where that darn music was coming from was a mystery to me. What I did know was that I expected anything but this, and so I just stood there, mouth agape, watching on as an intricate choreography unfolded before me. Twilight sat down next to me tapping her hoof to the beat and generally looking like this was nothing out of the ordinary.

It didn’t take long before the admittedly pretty catchy song ended and the crowd started to disperse as if nothing happened. They were just talking with each other and I heard a few ponies mention how much fun they had. While I was still baffled by what just transpired, the pink mare approached us.

“Hi Twilight!” she was waving like her life was depending on it, while pulling out a cupcake out of her mane with her other hoof. How she was walking on only her back hooves was beyond me. “Cupcake?”

“Thank you Pinkie,” Twilight took the cupcake without question, bit into it and congratulated “Pinkie” on having created yet another tasty treat. Meanwhile I was just sitting there, wondering how many hairs had to be in that pastry.

“And who might you be?” Pinkie was suddenly all up in my face, which caused me to recoil with a yelp. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before! Are you new in Ponyville?”

“Pinkie?” Twilight seemed confused. “This is Steady Beat, hasn’t Rainbow Dash told you about him?”

“Steady Beat?” Pinkie seemed to really wrack her brains for this particular memory. “No, I don’t think she did. Anyway, hi, I’m Pinkie Pie and I’d just like to bid you a fantastical welcome to Ponyville!!”

The newly introduced Pinkie Pie pulled a whole ass cannon out of her hair, which she, much to my horror, aimed at me. Before I could even say anything, the blasted thing went off and I got a face full of confetti. I was growing more confused by the second, and to be honest, I had questions.

A lot of them,

Just as I was ruminating about which of these questions would have the honor of being the first, I felt a hoof on my shoulder. A quick glance revealed it to belong to Twilight, which had an apologetic smile on her face.

“Just try not to think about it too hard…” she said while giving me a few reassuring taps on my shoulder. “Rainbow probably assumed you’d know about him anyway, since your Pinkie Sense would tip you off. Didn’t you get the feeling somepony new was in town?”

“Now that you mention it… no, actually,” Pinkie seemed quite befuddled, yet still somehow managed to put another cupcake into my hooves. “Well, it’s not like my Pinkie Sense is perfect or anything,” Pinkie shrugged with a goofy smile on her face while alternating between looking at Twilight and me. “So anyway, what brings you here?”

“Stead Beat actually,” Twilight gave me sideways glance. “I was teaching him a bit about magic, and apparently his internal mana was pulling him in this direction, so we came to check it out. Are you still feeling this pull, as you described it?”

“Uhh… hold up a second…” I took this chance to calm down a bit and try to reboot my brain to working order, taking a bite of the cupcake in my hoof. Focusing on the delicious taste of chocolate spreading in my mouth, I tried to feel for my mana again. “Not really, no.”

“Ohhh, mysterious!” Pinkie settled down a bit, apparently intrigued by what was going on.

“Well, it seems quite clear what it was that pulled you here, I think,” Twilight gave a sly smirk and paused for dramatic effect.

“Really?” I interrupted her attempt at suspense. “Because I still have no idea.”

“Well, going by regular magic theory, the only thing that can cause a reaction like this to occur, would be something that’s magical in nature as well.” Twilight started explaining. “And since we just witnessed something that was extremely magical, the conclusion should be obvious.”

Twilight paused yet again, this time apparently to give me a chance to figure it out myself. But since I had no clue what could be considered magic here, I just gave her a shrug as my answer.

“Well, the magic of music of course,” Twilight smiled at me. “A rather sizable amount of mana gathers whenever an instance of it occurs, so it would be big enough to attract any unicorn that was somehow connected to it.”

“Ohh! The magic of music!!” Pinkie was immediately excited. “I love that, I always feel so happy whenever it happens!”

“The magic of music?” I furrowed my brows, trying to recall if this was mentioned in Twilight's earlier explanation. “Is that a part of the different schools?”

“It’s a kind of wild magic, a very special one at that,” Twilight shot me another knowing smile. “But I’d say that is a lesson for another time. For now, I believe you should probably head home. It’s getting late, and we wouldn’t want Fluttershy to worry about where you are, wouldn’t we?”

“I guess…” I pawed my hoof at the ground, sad that we had to conclude the lesson just when it was getting interesting. Yet, I found myself agreeing with Twilight. “Alright, then I’ll head home. Thank you again, for teaching me about magic.”

“Don’t worry about it, Beat,” Twilight got up from the ground and dusted off her coat. “Suffice it to say, that I think I can plan some very exciting lessons for you in the future. I’m looking forward to what you can accomplish already.”

I nodded my thanks and turned around, towards Fluttershy’s cottage and was surprised to find that Pinkie Pie was apparently tagging along with me. I shot her a questioning look as I threw the last bit of cupcake into my mouth.

“I’ll accompany you until you get home,” she was keeping pace by bunny hopping next to me. “I haven’t seen Fluttershy in a few days, and I’d also like to get to know you a bit better! I just love making new friends!”

Chuckling at the pink mare, I turned around in order to wave goodbye to Twilight, which she reciprocated, and we went our separate ways.

“Spike! I’m back!” Twilight called out while closing the door behind her. She leisurely trotted towards a desk to her right, floating out a quill and some parchment, intent on writing down some notes about Beat.

“Hey Twilight,” Spike came out of the kitchen, once again holding a cup of tea, this one for himself apparently. “How’d it go? Find anything interesting?”

“It looks like Beat might have some sort of a connection to the magic of music,” Twilight explained while jotting down her thoughts and plans for Beat.

“Like Pinkie?” Spike took a sip of his tea, sitting down on a small chair next to Twilight and glancing at Twilight's notes. “What do you mean by, “not a changeling”?”

“On the second day after Stead Beat came out of the forest, Rainbow Dash told me about how she was suspecting that he might be a changeling trying to infiltrate the elements of harmony,” Twilight absentmindedly replied. “I didn’t give the theory much merit, but since he was acting a bit weird earlier, I decided to just scan him anyway, just to be sure. Suffice to say that he is most definitely not a changeling.”

“And that’s a good thing, right?” Spike asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, definitely,” Twilight nodded. “But while I was scanning him, I noticed some weird things about his mana pathways.”

“Nothin bad, I hope?”

“I don’t think so,” Twilight tapped her quill to her chin while thinking about what else to write down. “They seem messed up somehow, quite different from what a regular unicorn has at the very least. But even if they seem weird, they seem to work perfectly fine, so unless anything out of the ordinary happens, I’ll just have to keep an eye on that...”

9. The Magic Of Music

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I curiously watched as Pinkie Pie hopped along next to me. Twilight did just tell me to not think too much about what Pinkie did in general, but it was still interesting to just bear witness to her weirdness. True, I hadn’t spent a lot of time among ponies, but even I could tell that hopping wasn’t exactly the standard way of locomotion for the quadrupeds.

“Would you like another cupcake?” Pinkie once again pulled out a delicious treat from her mane, which I graciously accepted. It was delicious after all...

“How come there are no hairs in this?” I mumbled to myself after taking a bite, noting that this one was strawberry-flavored. “Considering where it came from…”

“Oh, silly you!” Pinkie snorted next to me. “My cupcake recipe doesn’t include any hair.”

I took another bite while Pinkie continued laughing. It should, of course, be obvious that hair wasn’t a required ingredient for cupcakes. Still, I found myself more concerned with the method she had chosen to store them. Then again, if Twilight was to be believed, I should thank the lucky stars and just enjoy my cupcake for the hairless treat it was.

“Whoa!” Pinkie abruptly stopped me from going any further, her eyes fixated on the sky. “Better wait a second.”

“Wait a second?” I asked quizzically. “Whatever for? The street’s almost empty…”

Pinkie continued to not say much of anything, which just served to confuse me even further. Just when I was about to ask what was going on for a second time, a loud crash captured my attention. A few meters before us, a suitcase had fallen and spilled its contents all over the street, which mostly consisted of clothing and some toiletries.

“Terribly sorry about that!” a voice came from above. “Are you two okay?”

A turquoise pegasus mare was descending towards us, a second identical suitcase balanced on her back. “It just kinda slipped off my back. Really, it was an accident!”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, Starlight Stream! We were well clear of the impact zone,” Pinkie waved her off, apparently knowing the mare. “Would you like some help gathering up your things?”

“No, that’s okay, thank you.” Starlight wanted to deny Pinkie’s help, yet the pink pony had somehow already neatly collected everything from the floor and carefully put it back into the suitcase.

“Don’t worry about it; I just love helping a friend out.” Pinkie gave her a big smile as she hoofed over the suitcase, leaned in close, and whispered into her ear. “I also left a little surprise in there for you.”

Pinkie retreated with a wink until she was next to me. “It’s a cupcake.” This time it was my turn to receive some top-secret information, which caused me to roll my eyes in amusement.

We parted ways with Pinkie’s friend and started back on our way to Fluttershy’s. Pinkie was casually hopping along while I contemplated if I really should ask the question that was burning in my mind or not. Eventually, my curiosity just got the better of me.

“Hey, Pinkie?” I made eye contact with the bouncing mare, catching her attention. “How did you know that something was going to fall right in front of us?”

“That’s because of my Pinkie Sense!” she exclaimed happily, as if I was supposed to know about it somehow. “Whenever I get a twitchy tail, it means something is going to fall!”

“That’s…” I wanted to say stupid, but seeing as this was a magical land with talking ponies, and Twilight had just told me that I shouldn’t think too hard about the things Pinkie did, I decided to just roll with it. “Very convenient.”

“I know, right?” Pinkie chuckled happily. “My Pinkie Sense tells me so many things! For example, it tells me when one of my friends is sad, or when there’s a ball-emergency, or when I’m running out of sugar back at the bakery, or when I need to save Gummy from the local fishpond again, or even when there’s a new pony in town! Actually, it’s kind of weird that it never reacted to you being new in town, but hey, sometimes things just don’t go according to plan, don’t they?”

“They sure don’t, Pinkie,” I shook my head, knowing full well that things had gone all kinds of sideways for me recently. “They sure don’t.”

Pinkie seemed to be content with letting the conversation peter out at this point, just happily hopping alongside me. I took the lull as an opportunity for a short recap on my current situation, taking stock of just how incredibly weird all of this was. Eventually, my mind returned to the topic of magic again, the single most amazing thing this new world had to offer in my opinion.

“Hey, Pinkie?” I looked over at the pink mare. “Twilight and you were talking about the magic of music earlier, right?” Pinkie happily confirmed my question with a nod and a smile. “Could you tell me some more about it? I’m really interested because Twilight said it might be connected to my special talent somehow…”

“Of course!” Pinkie didn’t need much prompting, since, if my earlier observations were correct, she really enjoyed whatever this particular kind of magic did to her. “The magic of music is just amazing! Whenever somepony is, like, really in tune with their emotions, something magical happens to them. Music starts playing, and you get this irresistible urge to sing, and then you just do! And sometimes other ponies get to sing along as well, but only if the singing pony has a really deep connection with them!”

Pinkie started rattling off her explanation like a machine gun, barely giving me enough time to keep up with her. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but considering how Twilight was an expert on all things magical, I should be able to count on her to explain the more technical aspects of it. For now, I was just happy to gather some more information.

“It always makes me feel all warm and bubbly inside.” Pinkie was wildly gesturing to get her point across, her smile seemingly growing bigger by the second. “And when other ponies join in, it’s just the best since I get to share this special moment with my friends!”

Pinkie somehow gave herself a hug and let out an adorably happy squeal, which was slightly concerning to me, since she did so in mid-air while still keeping pace with me.

“Kind of makes it sound like the magic forces you to do a musical number?” I scrunched up my face a bit, trying to comprehend what I was being told. “And others too?”

“No, silly,” Pinkie booped me on my snoot, causing me to go cross-eyed. “It just helps to nudge you in the right direction, and gives you some incredible music to go along with your singing. Nopony is forced to do anything—if you don’t want to sing, you just don’t. But since it’s so much fun, most ponies just do.”

“Provides background music, huh?” I was reminded of earlier today, when I started singing “Lemon Tree” on my way to school and somehow heard the music to go along with it. “I think this happened to me this morning…”

“It did?” Pinkie seemed to get even happier, and I started wondering if there was an upper limit to her happiness or if she just perpetually kept getting happier. “I’m so happy for you!”

“It took me by surprise though,” I said as we left Ponyville behind us, starting on the path to Fluttershy’s cottage. “I never experienced something like that, so I stopped a few lines into the song and tried to figure out where the music came from.”

“Oh…” For the first time today, I observed Pinkie calming down slightly, but she perked right back up. “Well, next time it happens, you know exactly what it is and you can just enjoy the feeling!”

“Where does the music come from anyway?” I asked, probing for some answers.

“I don’t know.” Pinkie chortled. “From the magic around us, I guess. I’m sure Twilight could tell you though.”

I just hummed in acknowledgment, trying to wrap my head around this new information. All in all, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but Earth logic didn’t seem applicable here. After all, for these ponies, being magically compelled to sing out their feelings was the most natural thing, barely worth a mention.

We continued walking on the path, and Pinkie, ever considerate, just left me to my ruminations. While I was thinking about this weird new magic, we arrived at Fluttershy’s humble abode in short order.

“Heyo! Fluttershyyy!” Pinkie started waving as soon as she saw Fluttershy in the distance, apparently spending time with some otters by the creek. “I’ve come to play!”

Fluttershy, for her part, flinched after being surprised by the shouting pony, but relaxed as soon as she saw Pinkie and me approaching. It didn’t take long for a small smile to appear on her face, as she returned the wave.

“Hello Pinkie, hello Beat,” Fluttershy greeted us. “How come you two are coming together?”

“I met Beat when he was with Twilight, and since it was getting late, I decided to escort Beat home safely and check in on you.” Pinkie immediately went for a hug, causing Fluttershy to giggle.

“Yes, since my time at school ended earlier than expected, I decided to drop by at Twilight’s library, to discuss my magic lessons,” I supplemented my own explanation. “I had a lot of fun.”

“Oh that’s simply wonderful.” Fluttershy managed a wide smile, obviously happy for me. “Did you make a lot of friends at school?”

“I wouldn’t say a lot,” I thought back to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, whom I suppose I could consider friends for now. “But I made some, that’s for sure.”

Fluttershy closed the distance between us, and I found myself the target of a hug. Pinkie, not one to be left out immediately joined in on the fun. At first I was a bit uncomfortable with the sudden contact, but one couldn’t be at the center of such joy without getting infected sooner or later. I just let myself melt into the moment and had a good laugh with these ponies, my worries about being in a strange new world momentarily forgotten.

It didn’t take long for this heart-warming moment to be interrupted, the perpetrator being my growling stomach. I may just have eaten some cupcakes, but I was still hungry for some actual dinner.

“Why don’t we go inside and you can tell me all about your day while we eat?” Fluttershy suggested much to my satisfaction. “You’re welcome to join us, Pinkie.”

“I’d love to, thank you, Fluttershy!” Pinkie replied, ever-smiling.

I walked up the stairs and into my room, letting out a content sigh. Dinner was a fun time with Pinkie thrown in the mix. Fluttershy wanted to know everything about my day, and was an incredibly intent listener, genuinely invested in what I did. She was obviously most interested in the fact that my special talent might be related to music in some way.

Every now and again Pinkie grilled me about what kind of food I liked most, no doubt for planning that party I kept being told about by everyone. Eventually, I excused myself from the table, citing my exhaustion as the reason. It had been a long day, and I felt just about ready to just collapse into bed at this point.

I carefully slipped out of my hoodie and set it down on a nearby chair, giving my wings a quick once over to check for rogue feathers. Eventually satisfied that everything was in order, I gave them a few experimental flaps. It was still an extremely foreign feeling to have these extra limbs, but at the very least I was slowly getting used to moving them how I wanted. For now, it was just the bigger motions that I was getting the hang of, but I’d probably be able to try some more precise movement with them.

Nodding to myself, I tucked them back to my side and hopped into bed, getting myself comfortable under the sheets. A big yawn escaped me, reminding me once again about just how tired I was.

But, thinking back on today’s events, there was just one thing I absolutely had to try again before going to sleep, no matter how tired I was. I closed my eyes, calming my breathing, and redirecting my focus inwards.

It didn’t take long for the now-familiar feeling of my magic to wash over me, which caused me to smile. The more time I spent in this meditative state, the more it felt natural to me. While at first, the feeling of mana circulating within me felt weird and alien, it slowly started to feel like a natural part of my being.

I continued to familiarize myself with the way my mana pathways flowed, just like Twilight instructed me to do. The exercise was actually rather calming, and I fell into some sort of trance while doing it. I didn’t know how much time I spent like this, but eventually I started to, very faintly, hear a song in the distance… or maybe within myself?

I couldn’t quite make sense of it, as I could only feel, rather than hear it, but it felt like someone was singing. A harmonious, calming song seeped into my entire being, guiding me, slowly, to sleep.