My Little Pony: Teaching is Magic Story 1- Freeze Frame

by OverlordK

First published

After several years in Ponyville learning about friendship, Twilight's in a rut. Not for long.

After years of living in Ponyville and learning all about the Magic of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle feels like she's in a rut; all of her friends have begun different aspects of their lives and our favorite lavender unicorn is feeling left behind. Just as she's about to write a letter to Princess Celestia telling her that she wants to move back to Canterlot, fate throws something else at her.
Spike comes running in telling her that there's something wrong at the school, and Cheerilee needs her help. When Twilight Sparkle arrives at the school, she gets a little more than she bargained for...

The first story in a the TIM series

Chapter 1

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Twilight Sparkle sat in the middle of the Ponyville library early one morning, carefully setting each writing utensil in its designated place on her desk in preparation of responding to her weekly stack of mail. Twilight had a lot of letters to write, and she liked to have all of her items properly organized before she began to answer the slew of letters that she had to write.

What had started as the basic task of sending Princess Celestia her findings and lessons learned about the magic of friendship had evolved into something far more special. Even though Twilight still sent the occasional report on friendship, the weekly letter that she sent to Princess Celestia, without fail, was now a more personal letter telling the princess about her current life and asking about the princess’ in turn.

As she had gotten older, Twilight had started to run out of reports to send; she still learned new things all the time, but the letters to send on the subject of friendship had become fewer and farther between. When she sent a letter to her mentor concerning this dilemma, she confessed to the princess that she missed sending letters to her regularly. She also asked her, in that message, if she could begin sending her weekly letters again, these letters being about her everyday life, not just the lessons that she learned.

Celestia wholeheartedly gave her permission to her faithful student to write and send her these letters that she so craved to write, and even began responding to Twilight’s letters with her own. Thus a deeper friendship grew.

Not long after that, Princess Luna sent a formal request to Twilight Sparkle to begin a written repartee with her; the unicorn was, after all, one of the first friends that the princess of the night had made after she was freed from the role of Nightmare Moon. Twilight, of course, agreed to her princess’ request.

It seemed that not long after she began corresponding regularly with the two rulers of Equestria that Twilight Sparkle gained quite a stack of other ponies to respond to as well. She had always been close to her older brother, Shining Armor, so she had always taken time to write letters to him; now that he was married to her former foal-sitter Cadance, Twilight now took time to write to the both of them. Most of the time she wrote Cadance and Shining Armor a single letter, but sometimes she wrote them separate ones (you do not gossip with your brother, or tell him how cute that you think somepony is).

Twilight also had to reply to Rainbow Dash and Rarity. Rainbow Dash had finally achieved her dream of becoming a member of that famous aerial team, the Wonderbolts. Rarity’s fashion career had truly taken flight, and though she still had her shop here in Ponyville, she spent months at a time traveling across Equestria doing costuming for many famous ponies, including her own younger sister. Both Rainbow Dash and Rarity did their best to keep in contact and respond as often as their friend did, and even though their letters were often short, Twilight loved hearing from them.

She also had various letters that she regularly received from random ponies across Equestria. Someponies might call this fan mail, but Twilight Sparkle refused to think of it as such. It was true that several of the letters sent contained words of praise for the lavender unicorn from ponies that admired her and her talents and accomplishments. She also received letters that she was quite convinced were just pranks by bored foals (‘I think that you’re the prettiest mare in Equestria’… honestly, did these ridiculous ponies have nothing better to do than send fake love notes?). Her favorite letters by far, or at least the ones that she had received from the various citizens of Equestria, were the ones that were academic or magic-oriented. Being a unicorn renowned throughout Equestria for her magical gift, vast intellect, and knowledge, Twilight Sparkle found herself receiving a lot of letters asking her about uses of magic in certain situations, and many letters asking her to settle some intellectual debates.

It was these letters that Twilight found herself answering instead of the more important messages to friends and family. It had gotten to a point in her life that Twilight had an easier time responding to letters about intricate and obscure spells and being a mediator between pompous scholarly ponies who spouted overly complex solutions for simple problems, than responding to messages from her loved ones.

The main thing that was giving Twilight pause with her most important writings was the invitations that everypony kept sending her; Rarity was doing a big show in Trottingham and had said that she would love the company. There was also the aerial show that Rainbow Dash kept inviting her and their other friends to come and see, and there were always the invitations to come and spend time with her niece that Cadance and her brother kept sending her.

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go and make good on these offers that her loved ones were sending her; she would love to see all of them all again. The only problem with this was that she was afraid that if she left Ponyville, she might not want to come back. Twilight Sparkle had loved and enjoyed her life up until this point, but she was beginning to feel as though something in her existence was lacking.

The lavender unicorn turned away from her writing desk and the prospective letters that lay on it to look out the window, thinking how different her life was now from what it had been when she had first come to Ponyville. It was true that her only friends that had left were Rarity and Rainbow Dash, but life had changed for all of her friends. Mr. and Mrs. Cake's catering business had become incredibly popular, leaving Sugar Cube Corner in the care of Pinkie Pie and Pound and Pumpkin Cake quite often now. When Granny Smith had passed on a couple of years before, it had left Apple Jack the matriarch of the family, giving her a lot of extra responsibility, although AJ did have help with many of the new burdens that had befallen her from of the rest of her family and from her new sister-in-law Fluttershy.

After the ‘Love Poison’ incident several years back, Big Macintosh decided that he needed to make his feelings known to a certain yellow Pegasus, if for no other reason than to keep his sister and her friends from playing matchmaker for him and some other unsuspecting mare. Fluttershy had quietly and blushingly admitted to similar feelings for the red stallion. After a long courtship, the two were married. The happy couple was now expecting a little foal of their own soon. Things were certainly different for everypony now. Everypony, that is, except for Twilight Sparkle.

It seemed to Twilight that all of her friends were beginning new chapters in their lives, but she was remaining the same, and she soon may be left behind. Nothing new had happened to or for the lavender unicorn in quite some time, and in truth she only really had herself to blame; when Mayor Mare had spoken of retiring, her first choice of whom to succeed her was none other than Twilight Sparkle. The magically inclined mare had been flattered by the offer, and even though she knew that she was good at taking charge, she absolutely loathed the idea of having as much attention fixed on her as being Mayor would. Twilight hated always being the center of attention.

When Twilight had respectfully declined the offer, Mayor Mare had moved on to her next choice: Silver Spoon. Though the young mare lacked experience in politics and public affairs, she did have a knack for making ponies listen to what she had to say, and the grey earth pony certainly had no qualms about being the center of attention. Silver Spoon was now being trained and groomed for her impending rise to power by the current Mayor, and would soon be the one in charge.

Twilight sighed and turned away from the window to look around the library. Even it had changed over the years, gaining more new books, and even a basement to store the town archives. Life was passing her by and Twilight Sparkle needed to do something about it. Perhaps she would go and visit her friends, get out of town for a bit.

“Maybe,” she mused to herself, “my letter to Princess Celestia should be a request to move back to Canterlot.” This errant thought that had drifted across her mind was now something that Twilight mentally latched onto and examined closely. Did she really want to go back to the Capital City? Did she really want to leave the place she had called home for so long? She had once before, and going back to Canterlot would mean having all of the information of the Royal Library at her hooves again. If she did go back, she could pick up where she had left off in some of her old projects.

It wasn't a full-proof plan, or really one that she was sure she wanted to go through with, but at least she could write to her mentor and ruler to get some advice and perspective on this idea and the entire situation in general.

With her purpose renewed, Twilight Sparkle returned to her writing desk and, using her magic to grab the items needed, began to write her message. She didn't get any further than penning the ‘Dear Princess Celestia’ before she was interrupted by the door being flung open.

“Twilight, you need to help!”

Chapter 2

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Twilight Sparkle turned towards the door to see Spike standing there, breathing a bit heavily, as if he had just been running. She walked over to her draconic friend and put a hoof on his shoulder, getting him to look her in the eyes before saying, ”What’s going on Spike, who needs my help?” While she was talking, Twilight used her magic to get a cup of water for the purple dragon.

Spike downed the contents of the glass, and then took a deep breath before replying, “I was on my way back from unloading the order of materials over at the Carousel Boutique for Rarity, when I passed the school and Cheerilee called me over.”

“So something bad happened at the school?”

“I guess.”

“What do you mean ‘I guess’?”

“Well,” at this point, Spike was blushing a little, and he wouldn’t quite meet his friend’s gaze, “I don’t actually know what’s going on.”


The dragon in question backed a few paces away from the irritated unicorn in question with his hands raised in surrender, “I’m sorry Twi, but Cheerilee looked pretty freaked when she flagged me down; she told me that I needed to get you as quickly as possible.”

Twilight Sparkle sighed in defeat, “Well, we had better go and see what the problem is, and then see what we can do to help.”

The two left the library at a trot, with Spike jogging alongside Twilight Sparkle. With the growth spurts that he had gone through over the past several years, Spike had grown too tall to ride on his friend’s back. He was now, in fact, on eye to a pony of average height and had developed a pair of wings. His wings were still a bit too small for Spike to do much more than hover a couple of inches off of the ground. Because of his self-consciousness about their size, the purple dragon often hid his wings under a vest that Rarity made for him.

‘Even my little Spike is growing up,’ Twilight Sparkle thought with a sigh. She didn’t have long to dwell on this though, because as soon as they were in sight of the front of the school, Twilight was tackled to the ground by a frazzled Cheerilee.

“Oh, thank Celestia that you’re here!” the magenta earth pony exclaimed as she began to push the unicorn that she had nearly body slammed towards the school.

“What’s the matter?” Twilight asked as she began walking in the direction that Cheerilee was shoving.

“It’s easier if I show you rather than try and explain.” Cheerilee led Spike and Twilight Sparkle around the school to the back where the playground was to where a crowd had gathered. Not everyony in the crowd was a student, so it was impossible to see what the problem was at first. When she had finally gotten through the crowd of spectators, she immediately understood Cheerilee’s concern. In the middle of the mass of ponies were two in mid-fight. One colt was a cobalt blue unicorn with a short, spiky spring green, turquoise tipped mane and tail. The other colt was a bright yellow Pegasus with a messy orchid colored mane and tail.

The oddness of the scene wasn't in the fact that the two colts were fighting (scuffles between young ponies were common enough), but the strangeness of the situation was in the stillness of the two foals. It appeared as though the arguing colts had been frozen mid-fight, with the young pegasus hovering above the unicorn as his opponent looked up at him, glaring and possibly shouting. As Twilight examined the foal that hung suspended in mid air, she heard a voice over the constant murmur of the rest of the crowd. “This is why I said that it would be easier see than to explain.”

The lavender unicorn turned away from her examination to see a worried Cheerilee making her way over to where she stood. “Do you know what this is or how this happened?”

Twilight look expectantly at the school teacher, but the other mare woefully shook her head. “There was a filly that had gotten stuck in the crook of a tree that I had to help out, so I didn’t see what happened.”

“Hey Twilight, check this out,” Spike called from the other side of the circle of ponies.

Twilight turned away from Cheerilee and walked over to the other side of the frozen colts to see what her assistant had found. The gangly purple dragon stepped away from his place next to the immobile vibrant blue unicorn to reveal a light grey foal huddled beneath the frozen colt. Twilight Sparkle couldn’t tell whether the little unicorn was a filly or a colt because the young pony’s face was hidden by a mass of spring green and pink hair.

“Are you all right?” Twilight asked, fearing that this foal was another victim of the mysterious freeze.

“It’s my fault, all my fault,” the responding muffle of despair designated the pale grey unicorn as a filly.

“What’s your fault?” the amethyst mare asked gently as she walked forward and knelt down so that the two of them were on the same level.

“It’s my fault, I killed them!” the filly wailed in anguish. The pre-dawn colored filly threw her forelegs around the waist of the unicorn she had been hiding under and buried her face into his side.

Twilight Sparkle had to stop herself from snorting or giggling, lest she traumatize the foal any further. She took a calming breath before saying, “They’re not dead.”

This statement shocked the filly into looking up, revealing a pair of wide green eyes, rimmed red from crying. “Th-they’re not?” the hope laced into the little pony’s shaky voice made Twilight's heart ache a little in sympathy.

“No they are not,” Twilight confirmed. “Listen.” She gently laid a hoof on the un-moving, azure colt’s chest, “he’s still breathing, and you can feel his heartbeat.”

“Thank goodness!” the gray filly threw her forelegs back around the frozen unicorn as she cried joyously. A full minute passed with her ear laid against the azure colt’s back, and then she pressed an ear up to the yellow colt’s stomach for another minute. After she had reassured herself of the two boys' well being, the filly looked up at Twilight Sparkle, scrutinizing her for a moment before asking, “Are you here to help?”

“I’m going to do the best I can to do just that. My name is Twilight Sparkle, by the way.”

“Okay, my name is Wishing Star,” the little unicorn replied.

“Well Wishing Star, can you tell me who did this?”

Wishing Star murmured something that Twilight Sparkle couldn't quite hear.

“I’m sorry, but I didn't quite hear that,” Twilight replied as politely as she could. “Can you please repeat what you just said?”

“I did.”

“Did what?”

“Did this,” the filly gestured to the two frozen ponies.

“Oh. How? ”

“I don’t know,” Wishing Star looked tearfully away.

“Well, can you at least tell me what happened right before… this?” Twilight Sparkle gestured to the scene beside them, avoiding any words involving 'freeze' or 'statue'.

“I can’t…”

“Are you sure you can’t tell me anything? The more I know, the easier it will be to help your friends…”

“They’re my brothers!”

“What?” It was too late though, before Twilight could ask for any clarification, the dove gray filly had buried her face in the mane of the brother that was still on the ground and refused to say anything else.

“Excuse me, Miss Twilight?” The pale purple mare in question turned to look at the white hoof on her shoulder, then at the sky blue foreleg attached to the hoof, and then at the colt that they belonged to.

“Yes?!” Twilight Sparkle snapped. She hadn't meant to sound as harsh as she did, but she had just, with increasing futility, been trying to get Wishing Star to talk to her again. She took a deep breath, and then replied, “I’m sorry, what do you need?”

The young pony looked a lot less taken aback than she had thought he would, given his age and the current situation. The colt was a unicorn with a coat the color of the summer sky with white hooves and calm, plum colored eyes. His mane was short and spiky, his tail a bit longer; his bright green, yellow, and pink hair surprisingly well kept for his age. The young unicorn nodded in understanding, and then continued on as if nothing untoward had happened. “I’m sorry that I have to interrupt you Miss Sparkle, but I think that I can help,” he explained.

“All right, well, not to be rude, but who are you and how do you think that you can help?”

“My name is Bright Knight, and I’m a friend of Wishing Star’s, and them too,” he pointed to the two statue-like brothers. “Me and the rest of our friends…”

“That is the rest of our friends and I,” Twilight Sparkle corrected.

“Okay then, the rest of our friends and I,” Bright Knight amended, while gesturing to a chartreuse earth filly and a lilac pegasus filly, “we were here when this all happened.”

“That could be helpful, but I’ve been trying to probe and sense this spell with my own magic since I got here, but I’ve only been able to glean scant amounts of information. Now if I could look up some information in the notes and books at the library concerning the type of spell this may be, and get a letter to the Princess, she may know about this kind of magic. It does seem to be a rather arcane form of magic. Unless I can do that, I’m not sure how helpful any of us can be.”

Twilight Sparkle turned away from the turquoise colt and looked around for Cheerilee. When she located the school teacher clearing the area of the bystanders with Spike’s help, she called out, “Hey, Cheerilee!” When she had the magenta mare’s attention, Twilight Sparkle continued, “Would it be alright if I took Wishing Star and the frozen colts to the library?”

“Do you think that will help?” Cheerilee asked as she trotted over, leaving Spike to herd the students back into the school by himself.

“If I can look at the notes in some books concerning this type of spell, maybe send a letter to Princess Celestia…”

"Shouldn't we make sure that Lucky Star and Shooting Star can be moved before we start making any further plans?” Twilight Sparkle turned to see who had interrupted her train of thought, and her gaze fell upon the little tea green filly that Bright Knight had gestured to earlier. This filly, the pegasus, and Bright Knight were the only students left in the yard now besides the two frozen ones and their crying sister. The two fillies appeared to be examining the immobile brothers. The tea green filly who had spoken had a thick, wavy mane and tail colored in alternating stripes of grass and forest green, with dark honey colored eyes; she was prodding the pegasus colt, not even looking at the adults.

“Tea Leaf!” Bright Knight admonished, “don’t be rude!” The sky blue unicorn had been trying to comfort the hysterical Wishing Star, and had finally absorbed what his friend had said in the following silence.

The wavy maned filly huffed in annoyance and retorted, “How are supposed to help our friends if we ignore these basic problems?” When she turned to glare at her friend, Twilight Sparkle saw that the spunky little pony already had her cutie mark: a stoppered clay jar with a large leaf resting in front of it.

Twilight interrupted the stare-down that had commenced between the two foals by commenting, “That actually is a good point; we can’t do anything for these boys at the library if they cannot be moved from this spot. Now Lucky and Shooting…?” Twilight Sparkle let her question trail off, hoping that the filly would elaborate.

Tea Leaf, after she had given her opponent a raspberry of victory, turned to the lavender mare and explained, “Lucky Star and Shooting Star,” the filly pointed to first the pegasus and then the unicorn, “that’s their names.”

Twilight Sparkle nodded, and then began to think of the problem at hand: could the colts be moved? And even if they could be moved, how was she going to move them?

“I’m going to check on the other students. Twilight, will you be alright with the foals here?” Cheerilee had a worried tone in her voice, but she was still slowly walking towards the school.

“We’ll behave, Miss Cheerilee,” Bright Knight promised from his place beside Shooting Star and Wishing Star.

“I know I can count on you, Bright Knight,” the school teacher said with a softening in her gaze. When she looked at Twilight Sparkle, the unicorn nodded her own agreement. Cheerilee walked towards the door, and then into the school.

The only ponies that were left in the yard now were Twilight Sparkle, Wishing Star, Bright Knight, Tea Leaf, the lilac pegasus, and the statue stiff Star brothers. All of the ponies that weren't either frozen, comforting a friend, or being comforted, sat or stood around the problem contemplating solutions for it. After eight solid minutes of silent though, the stillness was broken by a shriek of frustration.

“Uhg!” everypony turned their head to face the direction of the scream. The noise had come from the pegasus filly that had stayed in the yard as one of Wishing Star’s supportive friends. The young pegasus had a lilac body; her mane and tail were short, choppy, and hot pink. Her powder blue eyes were currently sparkling with annoyance as she glared around at everypony. “What are we doing just sitting here?” she demanded. This was the first time that the winged filly had said anything since Twilight Sparkle’s arrival, and she was definitely the loudest of the four foals that the mare magician had met that morning.

“We’re trying to find a way to figure out if Lucky Star and Shooting Star can be moved,” Tea Leaf explained with great patience to the pale purple pegasus, “we just went over this, Compass Rose.”

“If Lucky and S.S. need to be moved, then we gotta move them! If we have to find out if they can be moved at all, then we need to try!” At these words, Compass Rose launched herself up into the air, fluttered over to Lucky Star, and pushed the yellow pegasus.

To everypony’s surprise, when the lilac filly collided with Lucky Star, he began to tip sideways. The hot pink haired pegasus shot to the other side of the slanting friend and began to try and stop the colt’s imminent crash. From where Twilight Sparkle was standing, she could see that it was not only Lucky Star that was in danger of falling; Bright Knight was also holding Shooting Star to prevent himself and Wishing Star from being crushed. It seemed to Twilight that the two brothers were not only held by the same spell, but were also connected because of that spell. This could mean…

“Whoa, what happened here?” Twilight Sparkle was interrupted by Spike; he had come outside right as Bright Knight and Compass Rose were trying to get the brothers back into an upright position. The purple dragon immediately ran over to help the foals. Just as the dragon and the two little ponies had gotten the frozen colts back into their original position, there was a shout that shocked Spike into almost knocking the statue-like figures over again.

“Compass Rose!” Cheerilee came stomping across the yard, scolding the filly as she went, “You could have caused some serious damage to those two boys, young lady!” The teacher glared down at the lilac filly expectantly.

“Sorry, Ms. Cheerilee,” Compass Rose murmured, looking away shamefaced as she descended to the ground in a dejected plop, “I just wanted to help.” The young pegasus looked as though she was about to burst into tears.

Before anypony could say or do anything else, Twilight Sparkle walked over to where the pale purple filly sat beneath the yellow pegasus that she had nearly toppled, and placed a hoof on her shoulder. When baby blue eyes met violet ones, Twilight Sparkle tried to smile as reassuringly as possible as she said softly, “You did help.”

“I did?”

“Yes, you followed your instincts, and did what you thought was the best thing to do to help your friends.”

“So, you’re not mad?”

Twilight Sparkle slowly shook her head and smiled again as she replied, “No, I’m not, but you need to be more careful in the future. Instincts are a good thing to have, but you need to have some discernment to balance it out.”

Compass Rose cocked her head to the side in utter confusion, paused for a moment, then said with the utmost eloquence, “Huh?”

“I’ll explain it to you sometime,” Twilight giggled as she fluffed the filly’s mane, “but trust me; I've made bigger messes than this when I was looking after my friends' best interests. At least now we know that the boys can be moved. How are your other students by the way? “Twilight Sparkle addressed Cheerilee, letting the magenta earth pony know that she was neither being ignored nor forgotten.

“They’re fine now; they were pretty freaked out when I got into the classroom, but after I got them all to sit down and color pictures, everypony started to calm down,” the teacher replied. She then sighed, “With all the craziness of this morning, that’s probably all that I’m going to be able to get them to do today.”

Twilight Sparkle shook her head at the thought of a school day with no learning. “I’ll do my best to undo whatever spell has been cast and help with Wishing Star’s magic so that you don’t have to worry about this sort of thing happening again.” She then turned towards her assistant and called, “Spike, did you see Big Mac with Applejack at the apple cart this morning?”

“Yeah, he was just getting there with a whole cart full of apples when I was on my way back from Rarity’s place,” Spike replied as he took an emerald out of a pocket in his vest and chewed pensively.

“Do you think that he could still be there?”

“Maybe, why do you ask?”

“I’m going to see if he is still there. If he is, I’m going to ask him to get these foals to the library,” She waved a hoof in the general direction of the motionless colts.

“I know Big Macintosh; he’s the big stallion that did the hay rides on Nightmare Night! I can fly over and get him for you if you like,” Compass Rose offered, stretching her wings as if preparing for a speedy take off.

“Thank you for the offer,” Twilight Sparkle said quickly, halting the filly before she took off, “but Big Mac is a good friend of mine, and I think it would be impolite if I didn't ask him for a favor personally.”

“Okay...” Compass Rose said reluctantly. She folded her wings and scuffed the ground in disappointment.

“So you’re going to the market?” Tea Leaf had come to stand beside Compass Rose as she asked her question.

“Only long enough to get transportation for the boys.”

“And then you’ll be back?”

“Of course, I made a promise. Do you think that you can watch over Wishing Star and her brothers for me?”

“Of course I can.”

“Well then, I should be off. Come on Spike, we need to get to the Apple family stall before Big Mac leaves,” Twilight Sparkle called over her shoulder as she began to gallop towards the market square.

“Right behind you Twi!” and Spike followed after his friend.

* * *

As Spike and Twilight Sparkle made their way through the town market area, they located the Apple Family Stall and quickly made their way towards it. As they approached, they could see Applejack doing business with a customer while Big Macintosh was unloading the last basket of apples off of his cart.

When the pony in front of Applejack had paid for his apples and was leaving, the orange mare saw her old friends; she walked around the stall to embrace each of them. “Howdy Twilight, howdy Spike,” she said as she pulled away with a smile. “Ah didn't think that ah’d see you here.”

Twilight Sparkle smiled at her friend and replied, “I’m happy to see you too AJ, but to be honest with you, I need to talk to Big Macintosh.”

Applejack nodded, and then yelled over her shoulder, “Don’t you go scamperin’ off jest yet Mac, Twilight here needs ta talk to ya!” The large red stallion stopped harnessing himself to his wagon and looked over at the lavender unicorn expectantly.

Twilight Sparkle smiled over at the workhorse, “Good morning Big Mac, is Fluttershy doing well with the pregnancy?”

“Eeyup,” Big Mac replied in his usual way.

“The baby is due at any time now, Fluttershy is stayin’ at home, and we’re havin’ Apple Bloom take care of ‘er.” Twilight chuckled at Applejack’s response to the question she had asked Big Mac. Even after all of these years, the large red stallion was a pony of few words, and was more than happy to let his sister do most of the talking.

“Well,” Twilight Sparkle winked at Spike and Applejack before walking over to stand in front of her quiet friend and said, “Do you think that I could borrow the services of yourself and your cart before you scamper off to be with your lady love?”
The red stallion smiled sappily at the thought of his wife as he replied, “Eeyup.”

“Splendid, can you take us to the school now?”

“Eeyup,” Big Mac replied, he then continued hooking his self into the cart harness.

“What’s goin’ on at the school?” Applejack directed her question to Twilight, since Spike was busy pulling himself into the cart.

“It’s actually a pretty long story. Can I come over later today to visit Fluttershy and tell you all about it?”

“Of course you can, sugar cube. In fact, why don’t the two of ya come over for dinner tonight, and you can tell us the whole story.”

“I would like that very much, AJ.” Twilight Sparkle hugged her friend, and then turned towards the cart. “Spike, can you get started on a letter to Princess Celestia?”

“Can do,” Spike said as he pulled a roll of parchment and a quill from an inner pocket of his vest. He began to put pen to paper, but paused. “Uh Twilight, what am I writing?”

“Describe the situation and I’ll fill you in on the things that I gleaned using my magic. With those observations given, the Princess may know what kind of spell was cast,” Twilight explained as she attempted climbed into the back of the cart.

“What does that… ya know what, never mind,” Applejack huffed as she came up behind her unicorn friend and boosted her into the wagon. “I’m sure that the two of you gonna are have one humdinger of a story to tell when ya come over fer supper tonight.”

“I’m sure that we will,” Twilight replied warmly.

“See you tonight, AJ!” Spike called from his spot in the front of the cart.

Big Macintosh then set off towards the school, and Twilight Sparkle began to dictate a letter for Spike to send to Princess Celestia.

Chapter 3

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As they approached the school, Twilight Sparkle could see that the yard had been completely emptied of all ponies except for Bright Knight; the unicorn colt was sitting in front of the school, watching the road beside the school intently. His eyes lit up and he hopped up from his seat in the grass when he caught sight of the approaching cart and its occupants. Twilight guessed that he had been left outside to keep watch for the arrival of herself and her two companions.

Bright Knight ran forward to meet Big Mac and his cart. “I’m really glad that you’re back, Ms. Twilight, Wish was getting really freaked out!”

“Is that why you’re out here on your own?” Spike asked as he hopped down from the back of the cart.

“Yeah, as soon as you guys were out of sight, Wishing Star started hyperventilating. Then she started banging her head against the ground, screaming ‘work you stupid horn, work’!” Bright Knight held out a hoof to Twilight to help the mare out of the back of the cart. Twilight Sparkle couldn’t help but smile at the colt; he had impeccable manners, which was impressive considering his age. She accepted the outstretched hoof and stepped down from the wagon. As soon as Twilight had all four hooves on the ground, Bright Knight gave her a small bow and then walked back around to stand in front of Big Mac, “If you would follow me Sir, my frozen friends are this way.” He began to lead the red work horse around the school.

“Bright Knight, what happened to Wishing Star?” Twilight asked, catching the younger unicorn’s attention before he got further distracted from the story he had been telling her.

“Well, we were afraid she was going to hurt herself, so I tried to get her to hold still and calm down,” he rubbed his jaw with a hoof as they were walking, “but she started struggling and flailing wildly as soon as I touched her; got kicked in the jaw for my troubles. After I staggered back from the hit, I guess Compass Rose took over, because after I shook my head to clear the woozy feeling, I saw her wrestle Wishing Star to the ground and then pin her so that she couldn’t move…”

“Where is she?” Twilight Sparkle demanded, interrupting Bright Knight mid-sentence. She was normally not this rude, but something about this filly Wishing Star made the lavender coated mage feel a higher degree of concern about the little unicorn’s well-being; a level of worry that she normally reserved for close friends and family.

“After Rose got Wish pinned, Tea Leaf calmed her down enough to be led inside,” Bright Knight explained, completely unperturbed by the rude behavior of the older pony. By this time they had made it to the other side of the school, and Big Mac could see the statue like colts for himself; he began walking over to where they stood on his own and Spike followed to see if he could lend a helping hand.

“After Wishing Star was sent inside, Miss Cheerilee asked me to watch for you… so I should probably go and do what she told me to do,” the sky blue unicorn finished his story in a quick tumble of words. He blushed, and then quickly galloped inside to comply with the instructions that his teacher had initially given him.

Twilight Sparkle watched the colt dash off until he disappeared into the school and then trotted over to where Lucky Star and Shooting Star were frozen. Big Macintosh had obviously figured out that the two brothers were frozen together; Spike was in the back of the cart, using the pegasus as leverage to push both immobile colts into the cart while the red stallion pushed. The colt statue didn’t appear to be heavy, but the space between the brothers did appear to make moving them a bit cumbersome. Twilight Sparkle offered to lend a helping hoof but the boys declined, Spike saying that they had the situation handled, and Big Mac nodding his agreement. All Twilight could do for the time being was stand and wait for something more to happen.

She didn’t wait for long; just minutes after Bright Knight had first run in to go and get his teacher, Cheerilee walked out of the school house with the small group of foals that had stayed to help earlier in tow. Wishing Star was stretched across the magenta mare’s back. She wasn’t moving.

“What happened, is she alright?” Twilight asked with concern.

“Wishing Star is fine,” assured the violet maned unicorn, “she’s just sleeping.”

“When did she fall asleep?”

“Quickly after you left actually; after Tea Leaf brought her inside, she went over to the window that looks out onto the playground, sat down, and refused to move again. She had calmed down considerably since being brought inside, so I left her there and checked on the rest of the students. By the time I had a chance to check on her again she was asleep with her head on the windowsill.”

“It really didn’t take long for Wishing Star to fall asleep,” Tea Leaf added,” I sat near her to make sure that she didn’t try to hurt herself again, and almost as soon as you walked to the front of the room and started talking to everypony her head dropped and she started snoring a little.”

“The drain on her, both magically and emotionally, must have taken too much out of her,” Twilight mused as she used her magic to lift the snoozing filly from Cheerilee’s back and drape the little unicorn across her own. She then turned toward the teacher again. “How are the rest of your students, by the way?”

“They’re still rather excited from the events of the morning, but other than that they’re fine.”

“So, what are you going to do for the rest of the day?”

Cheerilee sighed and gave a small stretch, “I suppose that today will just be an arts and crafts day. I can’t send them home so early in the day, but I don’t think that I’ll be able to hold their attention long enough to get through any kind of lesson.”

Twilight Sparkle looked behind her to check on how the situation with placing the boys was going. The immobile colts were firmly placed in the cart, so she turned back to Cheerilee. “With the boys in place, I suppose that we should be go…”

“Uh, Twilight?”

“Spike you know that it’s rude to interrupt… what do you think you’re doing?!” As the lavender unicorn whirled around to reprimand her assistant, she saw that Bright Knight had found a place for himself in the cart, and Compass Rose was clambering in after him.

“We’re going with you, duh,” Compass Rose stated like it was obvious. With a kick of her hooves and a flutter of her wings, the lilac bodied filly tumbled into the cart. When her head reappeared, she had a hard look in her eye that made it clear that she had no intention of moving. Bright Knight had a similar look of quiet determination set upon his young features.

“No, you’re not. You need to stay in school,” Twilight Sparkle commanded, trying to sound as authoritative as possible.

“Miss Cheerilee just said that we weren’t going to be learning anything today, right? Wouldn’t we be more useful if we went with you?” Bright Knight argued, positioning himself firmly beside the statue-like forms of his two friends.

“How?” Twilight Sparkle challenged. She didn’t want to act harshly towards Bright Knight, he was a colt with good manners and seemed to have a kind heart, but she had no wish to take on a group of foals when all she wanted to do was help solve a problem and be done with the situation. She had her own troubles to deal with, and none of them involved a bunch of rambunctious little ponies.

“Well, you saw how upset Wish was earlier,” Tea Leaf reminded Twilight as she walked forward and stood between the lavender mare and her friends in the cart.

“Well, yes, but…” Twilight began.

“And Wishing Star and her family are fairly new to Ponyville; they've only been living here for about two weeks and none of them have visited the library yet.” The light green filly continued to speak as though there had been no interruptions to her speech as she paced before the older pony with an air of confidence.

“I have never seen…”

“So it would be easier if we, that is to say me, Bright Knight, and Compass Rose, came with you to reassure Wishing Star and keep her calm when she wakes up in an unfamiliar place.” Tea Leaf finished her argument and her pacing, standing directly in front of Twilight Sparkle, looking up at the pale purple unicorn with a wide grin of triumph spreading across her face.

“But I can’t just take a group of foals out of school without some kind of permission.” Twilight Sparkle looked down at the filly with her own grin of smugness at the obvious trump card she had just laid before the young earth pony.

Much to Twilight’s dismay, this statement only caused Tea Leaf’s grin to widen. “We already talked to Cheerilee about going with you; she also thought that it would be for the best if Wishing Star had some familiar faces to comfort her and keep her calm. Especially with the stress of the current situation and your plans of taking her to a place she has never been before.”

An impending feeling of dread was coming upon Twilight; she was running out of valid arguments, and she was unfortunately beginning to side with Tea Leaf despite her wanting to solve this problem alone and with as little hassle as possible. To make matters worse, Spike, her trusted friend and companion of all these years, seemed to have decided to not help her argue against the foals. “What about your parents? Won’t they be upset if they find out that you’re being taken out of school by some strange mare?” She knew that she was grasping at straws at this point, but she felt that she had to try.

“You’re not some strange pony; you’re a famous savior of Equestria many times over, and the librarian of the town. Plus, we’re going to a library; we’ll learn a lot more there than we would if we stayed in school today.”

Sighing in defeat, Twilight Sparkle turned around with the faint hope that Cheerilee did not in fact completely agree with everything that Tea Leaf was saying. As she looked over her shoulder, Twilight saw that the school teacher was no longer standing behind her- in fact she was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Cheerilee?”

“She went inside,” Compass Rose replied, trying to sound nonchalant and failing at it.

“When?” There was an edge of irritation to Twilight’s voice; she had a sinking feeling that she had been played during the entire debate.

Now the casual expression that Compass Rose had been wrestling with completely failed her. She now grinned uncontrollably, “She went inside right as Tea Leaf stepped forward and started talking.”

* * *

“So, what is Tea Leaf’s special talent?” Twilight Sparkle asked the two conscious and non-frozen foals that were sitting in Big Macintosh’s cart as she walked alongside it. Because of Tea Leaf’s nearly flawless argument, and the lack of support that Twilight had gotten from any of the adults present, the foals had won the battle of who got to go to the library. After Twilight Sparkle had relented, agreeing to let Compass Rose, Bright Knight, and Tea Leaf come with her to the library, the filly that had won the debate had departed from the group. She had said that she had some important supplies to gather before she went to the library, and she had promised to join everypony at the library as soon as possible.

This left Bright Knight and Compass Rose to steady the statues in the back of the cart alone. They had also taken up the responsibility of watching over Wishing Star, who was still asleep and now tucked into a corner of the cart. The two foals seemed to have divided the two duties with little argument; Compass Rose was sitting near Wishing Star with a steadying foreleg wrapped around one of Shooting Star’s hind legs, while Bright Knight stood between the two brothers, keeping them both steady.

The lilac colored pegasus looked over the edge of the cart at Twilight Sparkle. “Tea Leaf’s special talent? Well, her cutie mark is a medicine jar, and her special talent involves medicine and taking care of other ponies.”

“From the way she argued the case for you ponies, I’m surprised she doesn't have her cutie mark in debate,” Twilight huffed.

“She won because she felt that she had to,” Bright Knight replied cryptically. Twilight Sparkle strained her neck to stare at the sky blue colt in the cart, willing him to further elaborate upon the mysterious comment that he had just made. When the plum eyed unicorn looked up from his self-appointed task of shifting his two friends into a more stable position, he saw the lavender mare watching him with an expectant expression painted across her face. He smiled awkwardly at his own blunder and proceeded to explain himself. “What I mean is that if somepony is hurt or in trouble, Tea Leaf feels like she has to step in and take care of them. She can and will do whatever she can to take care of an injured pony or one in need. This goes double for when anypony she personally cares about is the one that needs a helping hoof.”

“Yeah, once Lucky and S.S. and Wish needed help, nopony stood a chance against Tea Leaf,” Compass Rose added with a giggle.

“I believe that I would be interested in hearing the story of how she earned such a cutie mark,” Twilight Sparkle commented.

Compass Rose was now hanging half way out of the cart, with her wings spread for balance, looking the indigo-haired unicorn in the eyes as best she could. “Oh, you really should, it’s a great story. You see, we were playing in the woods…”

The pegasus filly was cut short from her reminiscence by an unexpected tug that pulled her backwards. Bright Knight had pulled Compass Rose forcefully back into the cart with a firm yank on her choppy, hot pink tail. Bright Knight spat the chunk of tail that he had latched onto out of his mouth and gave his friend an annoyed look. “It is Tea Leaf’s story to tell, and it would be rude for anypony else to tell it.” He poked her with a reprimanding hoof. “You also shouldn’t lean out of a moving vehicle like that; you could fall out and get hurt.” The calm, stern demeanor that the unicorn colt was using was made less effective by the burning color that had settled into his cheeks. Now Twilight really wanted to hear the story, but decided to leave it alone for the time being.

After that, the group descended into an awkward silence. Both foals were concentrating on their self-assigned tasks and Twilight Sparkle was now deep in thought over the morning’s events and how she might be able to help the living statues that were riding in the cart. The silence would have continued, if not for a question that had been nagging at Spike’s mind. “So what’s the deal with Wishing Star? I mean, I know she and her brothers aren't from around here, but that filly acts like nopony in Ponyville that I've ever met.” Everypony looked at the purple dragon in bewilderment; even Big Macintosh had paused in his quiet plodding towards the library to look back with interest and confusion draped across his own face. Spike scratched at one on the ridges on the back of his neck as he attempted to clarify what he was trying to ask. “Well, I know that anypony that thought that they might have just killed their siblings would be pretty upset, but the way she acts seems to be more, I don’t know, more frantic, cagey than any foal should be.” Big Macintosh began walking again.

Bright Knight and Compass Rose glanced over at the sleeping filly in the corner of the cart, and then at each other. A silent war was now being waged between the two foals, presumably over who would be the one to respond to Spikes's question. After a few moments of intense staring, Bright Knight looked away with a sigh. “Fine, I’ll talk.”

“Yes!” Compass Rose cheered and attempted a victory dance. She only made it as far as a leap and a twirl before she spun into the frozen Shooting Star, causing both colts to begin wobbling dangerously. Bright Knight dived through the gap between the two immobile brothers to hold up the side that was tipping dangerously towards the edge of the cart. Spike almost jumped into the cart to help, but Compass Rose and Bright Knight managed to pull the statues of their friends back into the center of the wagon and force them into a stable position.

“You need to be more careful,” Bright Knight scolded his friend as he stepped away from Shooting Star, checking to make sure that he was not going to have to make any more harrowing leaps or dives to keep the living statues from crashing. When he saw that there would be no need for such heroics, the sky blue colt turned towards the pegasus filly that had caused the near mishap. “We don’t know how this spell works at all. If Lucky Star and Shooting Star are turning into real statues or something like that, any kind of fall could be really harmful to them.”

Compass Rose’s cheeks stained red with shame, she tried to cover the embarrassment with a snarky bluster. “Don-don’t you have a story to tell?”

Bright Knight sighed and walked back over to Twilight Sparkle’s side of the cart. “I’m sorry about all of this. Can you please give me a moment to collect my thoughts?”

Twilight Sparkle was still surprised by how polite this colt could be; she would be interested to know where he learned to have such excellent manners. “Of course, is it a difficult story to tell?”

“Sort of difficult… I don’t even know the whole story. But what I do know, I don’t like.” There was a bitter tone to the young unicorn’s voice. He inhaled deeply and began, “So what Tea Leaf was saying about Shooting, Lucky, and Wish moving here recently is true. Their family moved here from Manehatten a couple of weeks ago. Wish won’t talk about it, and Shooting and Lucky haven’t said much about what happened to them there; but Tea, Compy, and I have made some guesses from what we’ve heard.”

“What sort of guesses?” Spike asked.

“Well…” Bright Knight leaned out of the cart, and getting as close to Twilight and Spike as possible, whispered, “If you haven’t noticed, Wish doesn’t seem to be very good as using her magic.”

Twilight furrowed her brows in confusion, “there are plenty of young ponies that can’t use magic properly until they get older.”

“Yes, but the problem doesn't seem to be that she can’t use it, it’s that she can’t seem to control the magic that she is using.”

“So she can use magic?” She wasn't sure if it was the sparse information that she was receiving to work with, or if it truly was such an unusual case, but Twilight was finding that it was a challenge to even guess at this new puzzle.

The sky blue colt leaned back in the cart, no longer hanging out at a precarious angle. “I think so, but not in a normal way.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know how most unicorns around my age can use that spell that lets you use magic to pick up different stuff?”

“Yes, it’s a simple levitation spell that all unicorns possess,” Twilight confirmed. “Most other spells that a unicorn learns are based on their special talent.”

“Right, but Wish can’t use levitation when she wants to; I’ve seen her try.”

“She can use other spells though?”

“It sounds like the other kinds of spells happen to her instead.”

“That sounds like a sign that her special talent is coming to light,” Twilight mused. “Do you know what kinds of spells she’s performed or affected?”

The spiky haired colt shrugged, “Sorry, but no. Besides today, I’ve never seen Wish actually use her magic at all, and she won’t talk about the times that she has. Most of what I’ve just told you is guesses that I’ve made with Tea and Compy from what Shooting and Lucky have been willing to share with us.” Compass Rose nodded her agreement when Twilight looked to her for confirmation. The group fell into silence after that, leaving everypony wrapped in their own thoughts.

The quiet was broken by Spike asking, “So is that why Wishing Star is so nervous?” Everypony stared at Spike with varying degrees of confusion. “I mean, I know that thinking that you killed your brothers would probably put anypony on edge, but even after Twi calmed her down she was still pretty anxious,” the dragon explained.

“Well, as Knight said, Wish and her family just moved here from Manehatten.” Compass Rose nudged Bright Knight over, clearly deciding to be the new spokespony. “From what we’ve gathered, the foals that they all went to school with are pretty judgy.”

“You mean ‘judgmental’,” Twilight corrected.

“Yeah, sure, that.” The pegasus filly waved a hoof as if to dismiss her own grammatical error.

“So, Wishing Star probably has low self-esteem because she can’t use basic magic, and that most likely got her teased a lot at her previous school in Manehatten?” Twilight Sparkle’s face contorted into a knot of confusion and displeasure. She knew it happened, but she hated the idea of anypony being bullied.

“That’s the best that we can figure,” Compass Rose confirmed.

There wasn’t much else to say, so the group once again fell into silence. Shortly afterwards, they arrived at the library. Big Macintosh deftly unhooked himself from his harness and circled around to the back of the cart to retrieve the frozen colts. With the help of Bright Knight and Compass Rose, with the three of them working together as a team, they got the two frozen colts over to the library door. While that was being dealt with, Spike climbed into the back of the cart, and then lifted Wishing Star’s unconscious form out of her corner. He then carried her to the door, waiting for Twilight to let everypony in.

Twilight opened the door for everypony and immediately made her way over to the bookshelves. She levitated several volumes to rest at her hooves, her mind already focused on which books could be used to solve this challenging puzzle. She must have lost track of time, because the next thing that she knew, Spike was snapping his claws in her face. “Twilight, aren't you forgetting something?”

The lavender unicorn looked away from the shelf of books and the pile that she had created to analyze what was happening behind her. She was slightly surprised to see the flurry of organized activities that was happening without her notice. While she had been distracted with her resources and the intellectual side of the dilemma, Tea Leaf had waltzed into the library and taken charge. The tea green earth filly was directing Big Mac in moving the immobile brothers where she wanted. She was directing the stallion from where she sat on a large cushion in the middle of the room, Wishing Star curled up asleep next to her.

If she weren’t so embarrassed about her own lack of attention to the important things that the filly was seeing to, things that she herself should have been seeing to herself, Twilight would have been giggling over her large friend being ordered about by the younger pony. She walked over to stand beside Tea Leaf right as she was informing Big Mac that Lucky Star and Shooting Star had been positioned into the perfect place. The red stallion nodded, and then looked to Twilight for further directions. The lavender unicorn smiled at her friend, “Thank you for all of your help, I think that I can take it from here.”


“Thank you so much for your help, Mr. Macintosh,” Tea Leaf chimed in.

Big Macintosh nodded again, and then turned and left the library. The wavy maned filly turned to the unicorn mare beside her and announced, “I sent Bright Knight and Compass Rose to your kitchen and I had Big Macintosh put Shoot and Lucky Star in the best place for you to study them and look at your books.”

“Thank you, that was very helpful of you.” Twilight said, smiling down at the filly. After a brief pause, she then asked, “Why would you send anypony into my kitchen?”

“To make tea and find some plates,” Tea Leaf explained. When Twilight looked at the filly uncomprehendingly and said nothing, the earth filly began to blush and stammer, “I’m really sorry that I didn't ask you first. When I walked into the library it was chaos: Rosie was pestering Big Mac and Knight was arguing with Spike about where to put Wish. I couldn't let all that craziness go on, so I gave Knight and Rosie my bags and sent them to find the kitchen and prepare the snacks that I brought with me. Then I had Spike put Wish on this cushion so that I could keep an eye on her. Then I showed Big Macintosh where to put the boys so that they were in the best place for you to work with.”

“You did that all on your own?” Twilight marveled at the filly; this girl had a truly amazing talent.

Tea Leaf flushed at the awe in the mare’s voice and looked down. “Well… you were busy trying to find a way to help my friends, so I just wanted to do what I could to help you.”

Twilight Sparkle smiled down at the filly and gently placed a hoof on her head, but before she could say anything, the amethyst mare heard the telltale belch of her draconic friend magically receiving a letter. She turned around to see that Spike was indeed snatching a scroll with the royal crest of the sun upon it from the air. He unrolled the message and began to read aloud:

To My Faithful Student Twilight Sparkle,

I wish that I could be of more help to you, but the information that you have supplied is too little for me to even hazard a guess as to what spell was cast. Though the problem that you have presented to me is an interesting conundrum and does indeed sound like a powerful sort of magic, there is still not enough information to narrow down my knowledge and give you any help. Even an educated guess from me at this point would more likely do harm instead of good. I am afraid that I must leave this in your hooves to gather more information on. Write to me again if you need more advice when you have gathered more information, and I will help if I can. Please keep me well informed of the situation, in any event.

Best of luck,

Princess Celestia

“What does that mean?” Tea Leaf looked up at Twilight expectantly.

The sorceress walked over to Spike to read the letter herself. As she scanned the message, she offered Tea Leaf a brief summary. “It means that we’re going to have to get more information about what happened when Lucky Star and Shooting Star were rendered immobile.”

“How do we do that?” Tea Leaf had followed Twilight to where she was currently standing, and had crawled onto her back to read the message herself.

Twilight looked back at the slumbering Wishing Star. “We need to wake up the pony that cast the spell.”

Chapter 4

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“All right, if you’re planning on waking up Wish to ask her about magic, then I had better go and round up the rest of the group and get those snacks.” Tea Leaf declared as she leapt off of Twilight’s back. She then began to trot towards the general direction of the kitchen.

“Why?” Spike asked as he placed the scroll that he had just read into a basket with similar rolls of paper.

“This will be really hard for Wish to talk about; she won’t even talk to us about it. If she’s going to forced to talk about all of this then she’s going to need her friends and all sorts of support and comfort.” Tea Leaf explained. She then disappeared around a corner in the hallway.

“So… should we wait, then?” Spike looked at his friend for an answer.

“I suppose that we should get ready for whatever it is that we’re going to do,” Twilight Sparkle answered with a sigh. She went over to the table in the main room and levitated the wooden horse head off of it. She then started to do what she did best: she organized a work space for note taking and research. Spike, seeing that his friend was working on her own project, went about cleaning and setting up the rest of the room for the impending inquisition.

A soft thud, the sound of clattering of dishes, and whispering that could now be heard told of the arrival of the young ponies that Spike and Twilight had been waiting for. Each of the three foals emerged from the hallway carrying something on their backs. Spike led the trio to the table so that they could relieve themselves of their burdens. Tea Leaf placed a tea set that Twilight had all but forgotten the existence of on the table. The tea pot was emanating a fresh herbal scented steam that promised a warm soothing brew. Compass Rose set down a basket filled with an assortment of pastries, smelling fresh and sweet. Bright Knight slowly came to the table last, bearing a tray laden with a stack of dishes and some cups on his back. “ Isn't that a bit heavy?” Twilight asked with concern.

“No ma’am,” Bright Knight grunted, “I’m a lot stronger then I look.” The spiky maned colt tried to look confident as he trudged slowly towards that table, but there was a distinct wobble in each step.

Tea Leaf carefully stirred honey into the pot of tea. “I tried to tell you that a whole stack of dishes would be too heavy to carry by yourself Bright, and so did Rosie.”

Bright Knight glared at the mothering filly. “I’m fine Tea; I just need to walk slowly.”

Twilight levitated the dishes off of the colt’s back and laid them out on the table. “You did fine. Thank you for carrying all of that.” As she checked out her own handiwork, she inhaled from the basket of treats and was surprised by the scent that was invading her nose.

She looked into the basket and found that her nose had not lied. How in Equestria did Tea Leaf know that lemon-clover scones were one of her favorite treats? Once again, Twilight found herself looking at the light green filly with surprise evident on her features. Tea Leaf shrugged when she caught the lavender unicorn’s stare. “When I was on my way to the library I passed by Sugarcube Corner and went in to buy some muffins to go with the calming tea that I had gotten from my Mom’s shop. I was about to ask Mrs. Cake about getting the muffins when Pinkie Pie burst through the kitchen door with this basket in hoof. She gave it to me free of charge and said that there was a message for you.”

“What’s the message?”

“She slipped into the basket before I left. So should I wake Wishing Star up now?”

“What?” Twilight had located a pale piece of paper that was attached to a lurid pink bow tied to the top the basket’s handle. She had been about to open the note and Tea Leaf’s question had caught her off guard because she hadn’t quite heard her.

“Should I wake Wishing Star up now?” Tea Leaf repeated her question patiently.

“Yes, splendid idea.” The mare replied, flushing because she had gotten distracted by something in front of these foals again. Her mental scolding was interrupted by a hoof on her shoulder. She looked down to see that it was Compass Rose with a semi-sympathetic smile.

“You should go ahead and read your note now, while you still have the chance.” The lilac filly’s sympathetic smile transformed into a wry grin as she continued, “Once Wish is awake, Tea won’t let any of us rest until the boys are unfrozen.” The grin, coupled with the knowing tone that the choppy haired pegasus’ voice held told Twilight that she spoke from experience. With that realization, the unicorn mare quickly read her note:

Hi Twilight!

Good luck today, I have a feeling that you’re going to need it. Come by Sugar Cube Corner tomorrow for breakfast and tell me all about it.

-Have Fun!

Pinkie Pie

Twilight Sparkle chuckled; even after all of these years, Pinkie Pie’s Pinkie sense never ceased to amaze her.

“Wishing Star, you need to wake up, little rain cloud.” Tea Leaf’s gentle, motherly voice was so effective that it pulled Twilight from her reverie. She looked up to see the wavy maned filly gently shaking the snoozing grey filly awake.

Wishing Star stirred slowly, opening her eyes and stretching, taking in her new surroundings groggily. “Where are we?” she asked sleepily, confusion clouding her wide green eyes.

“We’re in the library, honey comb,” Tea Leaf replied, gently helping her friend to her hooves.

“The… does that mean my brothers are okay?” Wishing Star looked around the room hopefully. Her ears fell, her face visibly drooping when she saw her still statue-like brothers, and she let mane fall over her face, covering both of her eyes.

“Lucky Star and Shooting are fine, they just can’t move yet.” Tea Leaf lifted her friend’s chin, pushed her bangs out of her eyes, and then led her to the table. After she had settled herself and Wishing Star onto a pair of cushions, Tea Leaf continued, “And we can fix that problem as soon as you have a talk with Twilight Sparkle.” She kept a firm hoof on her now nervous, smoky colored friend as she motioned for Bright Knight to sit on the other side.

Wishing Star furrowed her brows as she let her bangs fall over the right side of her face, covering her right eye. After a moment of letting her mind process all of the new information she had awoken to, she stammered, “H-how is that going to help?”

Twilight Sparkle sat down where she had made a spot for note taking. She noted that Tea Leaf had sat her nervous friend directly across from her. “If I know all the facts that can possibly be brought to my attention, then I can effectively utilize my resources to properly deduce the enchantment that was executed and in turn perform a counter-spell that will release Lucky Star and Shooting Star from their current state of immobilization.”

Everypony stopped whatever they were doing to stare at Twilight in utter confusion. Spike paused in his task of setting a place for everypony to give his old friend a raised brow and a rueful shake of the head. “What she means,” he translated, “is that if you tell her everything that you can about what happened this morning then Twilight can use the books in the library to cast her own spell that should undo whatever froze your brothers in the first place.” The sound of ‘Ohhhhh’ echoed in the room as each of the foals echoed their understanding.

“Thanks, Spike,” Twilight murmured as her assistant walked past her to continue his original task.

The dragon stopped behind Twilight. “Not a problem, Twi,” he whispered back. “But from now on you need to be careful about what you say. I've been around you long enough that I understand what you mean when you start getting all academic, but these ponies are just foals. If you keep using such big and complicated words, you’re going to get them all confused and upset.”

“I’ll try to keep that in mind.”

“So do you really think that you can use all of these books to help out Lucky and S.S.?” Compass Rose asked. She had taken a seat between Twilight and Tea Leaf.

“Not all of the books, but I’m sure that I have a reference guide in here that will be useful,” Twilight assured her. “I may even be able to figure out what kind of magic it is that you can use, Wishing Star.” She added this almost as an afterthought, but it was this statement that truly caught Wishing Star’s attention.

“You could really do that!?” The grey filly’s excitement at this prospect caused her to jump up and nearly launch herself across the table at the older unicorn, but she was held in check by Tea Leaf and Bright Knight.

“Yes, I believe that I can,” Twilight confirmed, oblivious to the outburst, “but to be of any help, I’m going to need to know what happened earlier this morning.”

Wishing Star visibly deflated when the lavender mare said this. “Oh,” she said glumly as she slumped back onto her cushion and looked forlornly across the table, not really looking at anything. In the following silence, Tea Leaf and Bright Knight looked at each other meaningfully. Then, as if they had just discussed what to do with each other, the two began to act in unison. Bright Knight pulled Wishing Star up to a position where she was resting against his side, his foreleg wrapped around her shoulders. While he did that, Tea Leaf swapped Compass Rose’s steaming and just-filled cup with the empty cup that had been in front of Wishing Star. She then grabbed a raspberry muffin from the basket of goodies and forced both items into the hooves of her despondent friend. After a long drink of the soothing brew and a bite of the pastry that she had been given, Wishing Star finally spoke again, speaking clearly, but still melancholy. “Okay, I’ll tell you what I can, but it all happened so fast, and I’m kinda fuzzy on the details.”

Twilight Sparkle finished organizing her teacup, scone, and various note taking materials, even stacking her books neatly between herself and Spike. “It’s fine that you don’t remember it all, just tell me what you do know. Talking about it is likely to jog your memory.”

Wishing Star carefully sat up and slowly nibbled on an edge of the muffin that Tea Leaf had given her. “This morning, while we were having breakfast, dad told us that the whole family was going to Canterlot to see him off for his next trip. He said that before he left, we’re going to get to go sight-seeing, and that there were some neat places that he wants to take us.”

Compass Rose looked up from the chocolate chip muffin that she had been munching on. There was a chocolate chip stuck to the tip of her nose. “That’s what those two were arguing about this morning? Considering how loud they got and all, the reason behind all that yelling seems kinda silly to me.”

“Shoot and Lucky Star did get pretty bad this morning,” Tea Leaf agreed as she used her napkin to pick the stray morsel off of her friend’s face. “Not even Bright Knight could get them to stop.”

“It’s not really a silly reason,” Wishing Star interposed. “My dad is a navigator. When I was little, we used to travel with him all over the place. Once we got old enough to start going to school, mom had us settle down and live in one place. Dad still goes on trips to keep trade routes straight for cargo ships and caravans; over the last several months he’s been going on these big airships that are supposed to be used to carry big cargo.”

“But you've dealt with that stuff before, haven’t you? Compass Rose asked. “How was this morning’s argument any different from all of the other arguments that your brothers have had to make it as bad as it was getting?”

Wishing Star sighed and took a sip from her cup. “I know you know that we’re used to it. My dad has to go on a lot of trips, but this time it’s different. It always gets a little tense around the house when dad is about to go on a trip, but that’s usually for a trip that lasts a couple of weeks at the max. This time, he’s going to be gone for over two months.”

The foals gasped at this statement. Bright Knight turned his pink and green maned friend towards him so that she had to look at him. He stared intently into the eye that was not covered by her bangs. “Why didn't you say anything to us about this?” he asked, his concern plain on his face.

“Yeah, I thought we were all friends.” Compass Rose added, slapping a fore hoof on the table for emphasis.

Wishing Star squirmed out of Bright Knight’s grasp and hunched over, refusing to look at anypony. Her pink bangs fell over both of her eyes and covered her entire face so that none of her features could be seen. “I only found out about how long dad’s trip would be last night. This morning mom and dad made the announcement about spending the weekend in Canterlot.”

“So what is it that made your brothers start fighting?” This time it was Spike that had interrupted Wishing Star. He had also sat down to listen to Wishing Star’s story.

“Spike…” Twilight began in a warning tone. Before she could reprimand her assistant, she was cut off by the very filly that she had been trying to defend.

Wishing Star looked over at Spike and pulled her bangs over to one side of her face as she replied to his question. “What started the fighting is when dad gave us this list of some of the things that we could do together in the city. He said that we could pick some things on the list to go do and see together. When we were on our way to school, we started looking over the list while we were walking through the forest…”

“Hold on a minute, what did you say?” Twilight cut in, fighting back shock. “Where do you live?” The word forest immediately conjured images of the Everfree Forest into the mare’s mind, and the thought of anypony raising a family there; much less letting their children go near the place disturbed her.

Wishing Star’s brows knit together in confusion at the concern that was on Twilight Sparkle’s face. “My house is in a clearing towards the edge of the White Tail Woods. I think mom said something about us living next to some ‘Running of the Leaves’ trail.” Twilight’s concerned look melted at Wish’s words, prompting the filly to ask, “Where did you think that I was talking about?”

“The Everfree Forest,” Twilight answered sheepishly.

“What’s that?”

“How do you not know what the Everfree Forest is?” Twilight asked, her shock returning in full force.

“I… I just don’t.” Something about her apparent ignorance clearly bothered Wishing Star; her head sank so that her eyes were below the level of the table. The only thing that anypony on the opposite side of the table could see of the filly was her horn, ears, and some of her pink bangs.

“She hasn't been living in town for long. You can’t expect her to know everything about Ponyville,” Bright Knight defended. He pulled Wishing Star up from her slump and into a more upright position. He then took her teacup and thrust it into her hooves. “You’re fine, Wish.”

“Okay, so it’s been established that Wish and her brothers were walking through White Tail Woods this morning, not the Everfree Forest,” Compass Rose summarized. “Can we please move on with the story now? I don’t know about you guys, but I want to know what happened!”

Now everypony turned to look expectantly at Wishing Star again, who had a mouth full of muffin at the moment. The group waited, with varying degrees of patience, as Wishing Star sipped some more tea and had another bite of muffin. “So, we were on our way to school. We were walking through the trees, looking over a list that dad had given Lucky before we left the house. It was a lot of fun looking at all of the cool things that dad wanted to show us. The whole business of narrowing down the choices of what to do, that’s what started the fighting: Lucky wanted to go to a Wonderbolts Derby and Shooting Star wanted to go and see the Royal Guard’s public presentation.”

Twilight nibbled the corner of her scone thoughtfully. “So why can your family not go to both events? Are they at the same time?”

“I’m pretty sure that we can, and I tried telling my brothers that, but they weren't really paying attention to me anymore.” Wishing Star sighed, a sigh that said that she was used to this sort of thing. “It’s hard to get their attention once they get going, but I did try. I tried to get them to stop yelling so much, and I think that I almost got them to stop, but then Lucky told Shooting that we should do what he told us to do because he’s the oldest.” Every other foal at the table let out a groan at this last part of the story.

“Am I missing something here?” Spike made a sweeping gesture with a cookie to indicate all of the foals that were now in various states of aggrieved disarray.

Twilight Sparkle gave a bit of a shrug. “I’m just as confused as you are, Spike. Why are you ponies acting like this?” She addressed her question to the top of Tea Leaf’s head, which was slumped on the table.

Tea Leaf sat back up and brushed some errant strands of hair out of her eyes and back into her bangs. Smacking her head against the table had mussed her hair out of its previous state of organized chaos. “The thing is, Shooting Star is normally pretty level headed. Most of the time he makes a great leader, but…”

“But Shooting Star and Lucky Star fight more than any other brothers, like ever!” Compass Rose popped up from her sprawled out position on the floor and pounded a hoof on the table to emphasize her point. “Lucky is the oldest out of the six of us and he keeps trying to lord it over us. Nopony actually listens to it, but it really bothers Shooting Star for some reason. Just about every time Lucky brings up age in one their fights, it pretty much guarantees that S.S. will lose his head.”

Spike reached for the tea pot to refill his cup. “Does age usually bother Shooting Star?”

“No.” It was Wishing Star that replied. She was carefully rolling a piece of muffin into a ball as she spoke. “My brothers and I are triplets. Lucky is the firstborn; he was born 15 minutes 38 seconds before Shooting, and I was born 48 minutes 47 seconds after that.”

“How do you know the exact times?” Spike asked. “And how can you be triplets? No offense, but none of you looks alike.”

Wishing Star smiled ruefully at him. “Mom and dad made the mistake of telling Lucky the times when he asked; he hasn't let any of us forget about it since then. I don’t mind hearing him brag about it, but it really does bother Shooting for some reason. As for us being triplets: when I asked, dad said that we were fraternal triplets.”

“Oh, right. I knew about that sort of thing,” Spike said, blushing in embarrassment at the foolishness of his own question.

“Shouldn't Wishing Star get back to explaining why Lucky Star and Shoot are frozen?” Tea Leaf pointed out sensibly.

The ponies’ undivided attention had now shifted back to Wishing Star completely. The filly sighed; clearly she had been wanting to avoid further exposure to the spotlight. Before Wishing Star could begin retreating into her mane again, Bright Knight laid a hoof on her, causing her to look up at him. “I know that you feel bad about what you did. I know that you don’t want to talk about it because you don’t understand it, but Miss Twilight needs to know everything that you remember. The sooner she knows all of that, the sooner she can figure out how to break the spell.”

Wishing Star inhaled deeply and straightened herself. “You’re right; I need to do this to help my brothers.” She looked over to her sky blue friend and smiled warmly. “Thanks for the encouragement, Brighty.”

For a split second, Twilight Sparkle saw the calm unicorn colt’s pupil’s contract in shock. Bright Knight stared at Wishing Star and her grateful smile as if she were a ghost or nightmare made real. The moment passed quickly, leaving in its place a very embarrassed young pony; Bright Knight pulled his hoof from Wishing Star’s shoulder as if it had been burned, a hot flush spreading across his cheeks. To cover this, he grabbed a particularly large muffin and began to munch on the pastry with gusto, effectively hiding most of the lower half of his face. Compass Rose and Tea Leaf giggled over their friend’s humiliation, but Wishing Star stared at all of her friends at the table with great confusion marring her small face.

Twilight Sparkle cleared her throat to gain the attention of the table again. “Not that this isn't entertaining, but Bright Knight has a point: the sooner that I know the whole story, the sooner I can remedy the situation.”

Wishing Star gulped the contents of her cup, took one more deep breath, and faced Twilight with a look of renewed determination. “Where was I again? Oh right, the argument. After Lucky had provoked Shooting, things only got worse. I tried to calm him down, but Shoot was ignoring me and Lucky wouldn't stop egging him on. By the time that we got to school, my brothers seemed like they were actually going to start hitting each other. Then we were in the schoolyard and everypony was staring at us. I didn't like all of the attention, especially that kind, and I really didn't want to see Lucky and Shoot hurt each other…” Wishing Star trailed off with a look of immense guilt washing over her face.

Twilight could tell that the filly was on the verge of bursting into tears again, but she had to know what had happened to those two colts. “What happened next, Wishing Star?”

The grey filly did not begin to cry, but she had visibly drooped. “I got upset and yelled for them to stop. When I did, there was this big flash of light, and then I felt really tired, and the yelling had stopped. I figured that the bright light had shocked Lucky and Shooting into stopping or something. When I could see again…” Now her eyes began to well with tears and she could no longer speak. Tea Leaf pulled her distraught friend into a hug, and was shown no resistance.

“You saw that your brothers were frozen?” Twilight finished for her, her voice gentle. Wishing Star nodded her reply into Tea Leaf’s mane; she was clearly beyond words now. Twilight looked around the table at the rest of the foals. “Did anypony see something else that might be important?”

“Pretty much just the big flash of light,” Compass Rose confirmed.

“Well… I only saw the flash of light too, but I think I heard something,” Tea Leaf offered.

Twilight turned her attention directly towards the soft green filly with a piece of parchment and a quill poised for further note taking. “What did you hear? Think carefully on this: any piece of information that you may have heard could be vital.”

The shrug that Tea Leaf gave was accentuated by her mass of curls’ slight bounce and Wishing Star’s slight bob in correspondence to being attached to her earth filly friend. “I don’t really remember exactly what I heard; I know it was something that Wish was saying, but I couldn't hear much over Lucky Star and Shooting screaming at each other. I do know that she said something more than just stop when she started to yell whatever she yelled.”

“I was closer than you, Tea,” Bright Knight mused. His muzzle was covered in crumbs from the muffin he had tried to hide in, making his thoughtful pose rather comical. “I heard Wish try and yell something, but the only word that I could make out was when she screamed ‘stop’.” Even if he had more to say, he couldn't have continued. Tea leaf had seen his messy face, and had shifted her hold on Wishing Star so that she could reach over her and clean the crumbs off of Bright Knight.

Twilight repressed a giggle at the foals’ antics. She levitated the cup that Wishing Star had been using to poke the filly in the back. When she had the young unicorn’s attention, Twilight asked, “Do you remember what you said?”

Wishing Star shimmied out of Tea Leaf’s forelegs and sat upright, effectively blocking Bright Knight from the napkin that had been scrubbing his face clean. “I… I want to remember, but I can’t. I don’t even really remember yelling that well; the only thing that I remember clearly is that I wanted my brothers to stop.”

Twilight looked up from the clues that she had been adding together. “Stop what?”

“Just, stop.” Wishing Star shrugged, unable to further elaborate.

Twilight Sparkle rubbed her chin thoughtfully with a hoof. “That still doesn't tell me much. Does your magic always work when you really want something?” From her discussion with Compass Rose and Bright Knight earlier, Twilight doubted this was the case, but she had little information to work with. It would help if she could get Wishing Star to talk about other things that her magic had caused in the past.

Twilight was surprised when she heard Wishing Star give a bitter laugh. “I would love that to be true. Sometimes my magic works for me, but a lot of the time it feels like it’s working for somepony else.”

“How do you know your magic is working because of somepony else?”

“I don’t know how I do. When my magic goes off sometimes, I can just feel that it’s because somepony else wanted it to.”

Spike took a long slurp of his tea and stretched his arms above his head. “So, what kind of magic have you done… unintentionally, then?”

Wishing Star popped the last of her muffin into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “Well, let’s see. I made a pony float, I caused it to rain, I made the moon rise for about three seconds…”

She was interrupted by the unanimous shock of everypony at the table. “YOU RAISED THE MOON!?!” They all stared at Wishing Star in disbelief and awe, Twilight included. From the shock that they had all expressed, it was clear that Wishing Star had not told her friends much about her faulty magic.

“I-It was only for three seconds, and I immediately passed out afterwards,” Wishing Star stammered. “That’s what happened after almost all of my spells. I could feel every time somepony wanted something when they…” she trailed off with a look of dawning realization in the eye that was not hidden by her mane.

Twilight Sparkle stopped taking notes to look expectantly at Wishing Star. “They what?” Her voice snapped Wishing Star out of the trancelike state that her own epiphany had cause.

Wishing Star shook her head to clear it. “Twilight Sparkle, can something that somepony says affect the magic that somepony else has?”

Twilight was already levitating new volumes and books from the shelves and scanning them as she spoke. “I suppose that it’s possible. What you describe sounds like some sort of verbal lock or word of power, and that sounds like a rather archaic form of magic. I believe that I've read about it somewhere, though. What phrase do you think is affecting your magic?”

“I-I’m afraid to say it out loud. Bad things seem to keep happening when ‘it’ gets said.”

“What if you wrote it down?” Tea Leaf suggested.

“That works. Thanks Tea,” Wishing Star said with a smile. “May I borrow a pencil and a piece of paper, Miss Twilight?”

“Of course. Here” Twilight levitated the requested items across the table and set them before the grey filly. As soon as she had the paper and pencil in hoof, Wishing Star began to scribble furiously. When she was finished with her writing, she passed the note to Bright Knight, who passed it to Spike, and he passed it to Twilight. On the paper was scrawled two words: ‘I wish’. “I wi…”

“Please don’t say it out loud,” Wishing Star begged.

“Fair enough,” Twilight relented. “So, this phrase, every time somepony says it you have some fierce compulsion to comply to their desires?”

All of the foals sitting at the table gave her blank looks. Spike snatched the note from Twilight’s magical aura. “Oh, what Twi is asking is, if somepony says this phrase, are you forced to use your magic?”

“Yes! I think that’s what’s happening!” Wishing Star cried joyfully. “So how do we fix it?”

“Give me a moment.” Twilight scanned through a book that was now floating before her. “We have all of the clues now; I just need to put them together.” She finished with the book that she had before her, and quickly replaced it with a new volume. “Let’s see, no, not that one…” She flipped through another book before startling the group at the table. “Here it is, wishing magic! I knew that I had read about this kind of magic somewhere.” Twilight gave the pages before her careful inspection. “Wow, your magic really is quite rare and archaic; the last unicorn in recorded history to have similar magic to yours was almost a century before the reign of Celestia. That pony was a stallion named Brass Lamp and his special talent was granting ponies’ wishes, but that seems to be one of the only similarities you share with him. While was only able to use his magic for others, you seem to only have a verbal lock…”

Spike snapped his claws in front of Twilight’s face. “Twilight, focus.”

Twilight looked away from the book and returned her attention back to the table’s occupants. “Right, sorry.”

“So, you know how to fix?” Bright Knight asked.

“Yes, I believe that I know exactly how this problem can be resolved,” Twilight replied with confidence.

“Fix it already, then!” Compass Rose demanded. Bright Knight and Tea Leaf both gave the pegasus filly hard looks. Compass Rose blushed. “I mean, please help my friends and fix this problem for us… please.”

Twilight grabbed another sheaf of paper and wrote out some instructions on it. She then floated the note over to Wishing Star. “I want you to stand in front of your brothers and read what’s on that paper.”

There was hope in Wishing Star’s visible eye as she clutched the paper like a life line. “Do you really think that this will work?”

“It will if you want it to.”

Wishing Star carefully transferred the note from her hooves to her mouth. She then got up from the table and made her way over to her statue-like brothers. There were calls of encouragement from her friends as she stood in front of the immobile Lucky Star and Shooting Star. All eyes were on Wishing Star as she read over what had been written for her. Wishing Star blew her bangs out of her eye and spoke in a surprisingly powerful voice. “I wish that my brothers could move again.”

As these words were spoken, a flicker of aqua colored light sparked from Wishing Star’s horn. The spark quickly bloomed into a strong and blinding glow that filled the room, blinding everypony and prevented them from seeing what happened next.

Chapter 5

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Nopony could see anything for about half a minute; the only sound to be heard in that span of time was two distinct thumps. When the light died down and everypony’s eyes could be open again they were greeted with the sight of the formerly frozen brothers now in a disheveled heap at their sister’s hooves in a dazed state. Wishing Star didn’t move; she simply stared down at her brothers with shock and wonder moving across her face.

Tea Leaf took action first: she got up from her place at the table and trotted over to the heap of colt to poke a dazed Lucky Star in the ribs. “Are you alright?”

Lucky Star opened and closed his eyes a few times. He then looked up at the soft green filly standing above him with the beginnings of a goofy grin on his face. “I’m fine, nothing a couple of… crampcrampcrampcrampcramp!” Without another warning, the yellow pegasus launched himself into the air and began to fly in erratic and wobbly circles around the near the walls.

Shooting Star, after getting kicked in the head by his airborne brother, shakily stood and stretched. Before anypony could say anything to him, the cobalt colt turned towards Spike with a beseeching look on his face. “Bathroom?” he asked.

Spike shook his head, as if to clear it. He was still in shock, so it took him a moment to comprehend the question. “It’s upstairs, second door to the left,” he finally replied, pointing in the direction of the desired room.

No sooner had the words left the dragon’s mouth than Shooting Star was galloping up the stairs, calling “Thank you” over his shoulder. The sound of a door being slammed could be heard.

Focus was quickly pulled from Shooting Star’s quick departure, as Lucky Star flew right over the table. The sunshine colored pegasus flew upwards too quickly, and collided with the ceiling face first. After a split second of hang time, he fell to the floor and crashed onto the cushion that Tea Leaf had been sitting on.

Twilight Sparkle looked over the table at the sprawled out pegasus colt with some concern. “Is he alright?”

Tea Leaf, Bright Knight, Wishing Star, and Compass Rose had all gathered around the fallen Lucky Star with varying degrees of concern and worry. Before anypony could say anything, the shaggy haired colt popped up from his prone position. “Well, that was a Lucky landing.” Everypony groaned at the pun.

“If he can still make his bad jokes, then he’s fine,” Compass Rose said in mock disgust. She plopped back into her own seat and proceeded to stuff a large muffin in her mouth.

Bright Knight punched Lucky Star in the shoulder. “The theatrics were totally unnecessary, you know.” The unicorn colt’s hit must have caught his friend off guard, because it knocked the shaggy haired pegasus on his rump.

Lucky Star was unperturbed by this turn of events, though. He looked up at his spiky maned friend with a grin on his face. “It might have been unnecessary, but it was still fun. Now, I’m starved and these cookies smell… OOF!”

Wishing Star, who had by now recovered from the initial shock of everything, had launched herself into a full-force hug. Lucky Star was tackled to the ground with his little sister’s forelegs wrapped firmly around his neck. “I’m glad that you’re okay,” she whispered.

After some initial surprise, Lucky Star recovered and shifted so that he could reciprocate the hug that his sister was giving him. “I’m glad that I’m okay too.”

“What’s going on, what did I miss?” Everypony turned to see Shooting Star walking down the stairs.

“You missed getting a hug,” Lucky Star teased.

“Are you really going to try and start another argument with me?” There was an edge of irritation in Shooting Star’s voice as he continued to descend the stair. “Fighting is what got us into trouble in the first place. I also think that it’s just plain stupid for you to make it sound like… OOF!”

As soon as he had reached the bottom of the stairs, Shooting Star was given the same kind of tackle-hug that his brother had been given. Wishing Star now had a huge smile on her face. “I’m happy that both of you are okay.”

Shooting Star returned his sister’s embrace with equal affection. “I’m glad that we’re all okay. I’m sorry that I made you so upset. It’s my fault that you cried, and I’m ashamed of myself for it.”

Lucky Star walked over and wrapped both of his siblings in a hug. “You can’t take all of the blame Shoot; I pushed the right button to get you mad. I wanted a fight this morning. We both made our little sister cry, and that’s just wrong.”

Wishing Star continued to hug Shooting Star, but she nuzzled her head against Lucky Star’s neck. “I forgive both of you. I love you guys.”

Tea Leaf dabbed her eyes with a napkin, and then handed it to Twilight. She wiped her eyes, and then handed it to Spike, who blew his nose. “How did you know that you made Wishing Star cry?” Twilight asked; she hated interrupting such a sweet moment, but she had to get all of the facts straight so that she could send these foals back to school. She also wanted to know more about Wishing Star’s unusual magic.

After a final squeeze, the Star siblings untangled from their group hug and walked over to the table. Shooting Star sat beside Bright Knight, Luck Star next to Tea Leaf, and Wishing Star between her two brothers. As soon as he had a place to sit, Lucky Star reached across the table and grabbed a pastry at random. “So when we stopped, or froze, or whatever, that didn’t mean we were dead to the world. …Sorry, Wish,” The yellow pegasus immediately apologized when he noticed his sister cringe.

Shooting Star shook his head at his brother’s slip of the tongue. He graciously accepted a cup of tea from Bright Knight and took a sip. “Mmm, what Lucky means is that even though we couldn’t move or talk after the spell was cast, we could still hear, see, and smell; or at least I could.”

“Mmhmm,” Lucky agreed with a mouthful of cookie.

Twilight Sparkle wrote quickly, trying her best to get down every piece of information that she had been given. “Fascinating. So, because Wishing Star only wanted the fighting and yelling to stop, when she cast her spell those were the only things that stopped.”

Lucky Star reached for a muffin and a scone, looking at the latter with mild curiosity. “I guess that makes sense. When I was a statue, all my senses were still working, but I couldn’t even move my eyes, let alone a whole leg. I could still breathe, but I couldn’t talk.”

Twilight Sparkle spent some time writing out all that she had learned that morning: the theories on how Wishing Star’s magic worked, what the two colts had said about their experience while under the spell. Meanwhile, all of the foals at the table were dividing up the rest of the pastries, drinking some more tea, and generally unwinding from the stress of the morning.

It was like a cloud had been cleared from the midst of the group of young ponies. Everypony had been on edge, determined to find a solution. Now jokes and laughter flowed free again, and Twilight couldn’t help but be reminded of being around her friends when they had all been together.

The indigo maned unicorn was interrupted from her reverie by Spike tapping on her shoulder. “Here, I managed to save these for you.” The dragon slid a plate in front of her that had two lemon-clover scones arranged neatly on it. “Most of the basket is just crumbs now; that Lucky Star kid is eating just about everything in sight.”

Twilight looked from her assistant to the basket to see that her draconic friend was indeed correct; the only baked goods that remained in the basket were a hoof-full of oatmeal raisin cookies. The area surrounding Lucky Star was littered with crumbs and a small mountain of pastries was amassed on his plate. The pegasus colt caught Twilight looking at him and grinned. “I’m hungry, and being a statue takes a lot of energy.”

Shooting Star rolled his eyes, “I bet casting two big spells in one day needs a lot more energy.”

Wishing Star smiled hesitantly at both of her brothers. She then quickly swiped a raspberry muffin off of Lucky Star’s overflowing plate and took a bite. “Yes, yes it does.”

Everypony, including Lucky Star, laughed with relief as Wishing Star consumed her pilfered pastry. The laughter slowly died down, settling into a comfortable silence. Twilight Sparkle took the opportunity to finish writing down any facts of the morning that she deemed relevant. Feeling that her research was complete, she finally took the opportunity to eat the rest of her snack.

“We should probably get back to school,” Tea Leaf said after a while.

“Yeah,” Compass Rose agreed with reluctance, “Cheerilee was pretty worried about Wish and S.S. and Lucky. We should let her know that everything turned out okay.”

Spike grabbed the last cookie off of his plate before Lucky could swipe it. “We can walk all of you back to school now that nopony needs to be carried.” He and the foals began to get up from the table and head towards the door.

Twilight Sparkle was the last to leave the table; she was putting her notes into an orderly stack to review later. As she stood and looked up, she couldn’t help but smile. “Wishing Star, wait.” The filly in question stopped and turned, looking expectantly at the older unicorn. Twilight had schooled her features into a look of the utmost seriousness. “There is one more thing that I have to say to her before we leave.” Wishing Star didn’t look as though she were about to run for her life, but she did eye the amethyst mare wearily. After she paused for dramatic effect, Twilight finally let her smile reappear. “I really like your cutie mark.”

“Huh?” Wishing Star began circling herself, spinning tightly, in an attempt to catch sight of the alleged design that was supposed to be adorning her rear. To her surprise and joy, sitting on her grey flank was a golden wand topped with an aqua colored star, surrounded by swirls and four smaller stars of slightly greener hues. She squealed in delight and hopped around her friends and Spike singing, “I got my cutie mark!”

The teenage dragon was startled by the bouncing bundle of filly, and took a step back so that he didn’t collide with her. The step back caused Spike’s foot to connect with a forgotten volume that had been used in the quest for knowledge to find the source of Wishing Star’s special magic. The foot on the book slid forward with his next step, and the purple dragon fell backwards in a spectacular flail. Oblivious to Spike’s newly toppled state, Wishing Star continued to bounce about until she tripped over a scaly tail.

This sent the pink and spring green maned filly flying forward a few feet, only to then land on her face and skid a few inches. Before anypony could react, Wishing Star was back on her hooves, looking slightly disheveled and embarrassed. “I’m okay,” she assured the other foals, who sighed in relief. Wishing Star looked behind her to see what had caused her to trip and fall. She let out a little gasp when she saw Spike getting to his feet from where he had fallen. “Oh! I’m sorry, did I hurt you?”

Spike straightened as he brushed the dust off of himself. “Naw, I’m okay. Dragon hide is pretty tough and so am I. The only thing that you did was remind me that the library is going to need some serious cleaning when I get back.”

Shooting Star looked around the library with a grimace of guilt. “We could stay long enough to help clean up the mess.”

Spike shook his head. “You guys need to go back to school so that you can show Cheerilee that you’re all fine now.”

Shooting Star surveyed the room again with a frown, his fiery eyes lingering over the messy pile of books and the table still filled with dirty dishes. “I feel bad that we’re leaving such a big mess behind…”

“Well, stop feeling bad,” Lucky Star interrupted. “This is not a time to feel bad or upset; this is a time for joy and smiling.”

The cobalt unicorn squinted at his brother. “What are you talking about Lucky?”

The yellow pegasus slung a foreleg around Shooting Star’s shoulders. “Just think of all of the good things that just happened: we finally got to visit the library, and you and I are no longer frozen. Wish finally got her cutie mark…”

“You got to eat about half your weight in baked goods,” Compass Rose added in a sarcastically helpful tone.

Lucky Star grinned over at the pegasus filly, unperturbed by her snarky tone. “Exactly my point; a lot of good things have happened. Now I say that we go back to school with a smile on our faces, a spring in our step and a good wind beneath our wings!” With his speech done, the shaggy maned colt detached himself from his brother and trotted merrily out the front door.

“Not all of us can fly,” Bright Knight pointed out.

“Then you only have to concentrate on the first two,” Lucky Star called back cheerily. Then, just to prove his point, he spread his wings and began gliding down the street.

Shooting Star sighed heavily and then chuckled. “We had better follow him. There’s no telling what that mop-head will say to everypony if he gets to school before we do.”

“I’ll go catch him,” Compass Rose volunteered. Without another word, the lilac filly ran past everypony, and out the door. As soon as she crossed that threshold, she spread her wings and took flight, arrowing herself in the direction of her recently departed friend.

As the rest of the group exited the library and headed towards the school, Twilight couldn’t help but say something to Shooting Star, who was walking in front of the rest of the group. “So, you and Lucky Star argue a lot; why is that?”

The cobalt colt hung his head as he responded. “I did hear what you guys were saying when I was frozen and they are right; it’s a power struggle of sorts. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been better at getting ponies to follow me. Lucky is too much of a goofball for ponies to take really seriously.”

“And I’m guessing that Lucky Star doesn’t like this?”

“He’s the oldest, so he feels like he needs to protect all of us, and for him that means trying to lead the way,” Shooting Star explained. “The thing is, Lucky has no idea how good he has it. I may be the one that ponies seem to look to to take charge, but pretty much everypony likes him…” The group turned the corner and saw that Compass Rose had caught Lucky Star before he could get past City Hall. A smile spread across Shooting Star’s face as he saw his brother on the receiving end of a noogie from Compass Rose as she sat on top of him, pinning him with her weight. “…because it’s almost impossible to stay mad at him,” Shooting Star finished. He then called to the lilac pegasus. “Rose, what are you doing?”

The choppy maned filly looked up at the approaching group, and grinned. “I’m just showing this Dandelion Puff who the true master of the sky is.”

Bright Knight raised an eyebrow at Compass Rose as he asked, “Dandelion puff?”

“This guy,” Compass Rose rubbed her hoof against the top of Lucky Star’s head vigorously, “told me that I couldn’t catch him because I’m a flittery butterfly. I caught up with him pretty fast, so if I’m a flittery butterfly, then he’s a puff of dandelion that can’t fly straight.”

Shooting Star had on a stern face, but there was still a sparkle of amusement in his eyes. “Rose, we need to get back to school; can’t you torture my brother later?”

“But S.S.,” Compass Rose mock-pouted, “he insulted my flying skills, and I can’t just let that slide.”

Shooting Star sighed in exasperation, but he finally let his grin show. “What if Lucky apologized? Would you let him go if he did?”

The pale purple filly thought about this proposition for a moment and then smiled as she replied, “I suppose that could work.” She looked down at the yellow colt that was currently pinned beneath her hindquarters. “So, what about it fluffy, you going to apologize?”

Lucky Star, now that he was no longer in a headlock, attempted to free himself from his equine flank-based imprisonment. He flailed his limbs about for a few minutes to no avail, and then finally gave up with a groan. “I’m sorry that I called you slow.”

“And?” Compass Rose prompted.

“And we all know that you’re super fast, like a dragonfly. You are Queen Dragonfly Speedster.”

Compass Rose gave it another moment’s thought; though the smile on her face made it clear that she liked her new title. “Okay, I forgive you,” she relented, and preformed a graceful somersault off of Lucky Star’s back. Bright Knight stepped forward to haul the shaggy maned colt to his hooves.

“You should know, Compy,” Lucky Star said with a teasing grin, “That the reason that you caught me was because I was too busy being awesome to be my usual speedy self.”

“Whatever, Fluffy, I’m a faster flyer than you. Learn to live with it,” Compass Rose retorted with a look of mock-superiority crinkling her features.

“And so modest, too,” Bright Knight added drolly.

“I’m only saying what everypony knows is true.”

Shooting Star laughed with everypony else. “Come on guys, we need to keep going.”

“Good thinking, little brother,” Lucky Star cheered as he began unfurling his wings. “The sooner somepony gets to the school…” The thought was never finished, because as soon as the yellow colt tried to take off, Bright Knight grabbed his tail and yanked him back down again.

The sky blue unicorn spit out the chunk of tail that had been in his mouth and looked pointedly at his regrounded friend. “You should stay with the group this time.”

Lucky Star looked up at his friend, his cheerful grin still in place. “That’s a good idea Bright. I don’t want to be tackled by The Dragonfly again.” Compass Rose puffed out with pride at this new title, causing everypony to laugh.

When they made it back to the school, Lucky Star still managed to be the first one to walk in. “You can all stop worrying now! The curse has been lifted, your ‘Star’ students are better than ever, and all is right with Equestria again!” A group of students immediately began to crowd around Lucky Star, all asking questions and being generally excited about what happened that morning. The clamor surrounding the yellow pegasus was so great that when the rest of the group entered the classroom, nopony seemed to notice.

“Always has to be the center of attention,” Shooting Star groused.

Tea Leaf looked over at the commotion and smiled ironically. “Let him have his fun ,Shoot; it’s not hurting anypony.”

“But he didn’t do anything but hover in the air, being frozen,” Shooting Star argued. “We were jerks that made our little sister upset. If anypony should get some recognition, it’s Wish. She’s the one that did all of the magic.”

Wishing Star shook her head emphatically. “I don’t mind, really. Lucky is so good at telling stories, and he likes all of the attention.”

“But sis,” Shooting Star argued, “this should be your big moment. You just figured out how to use your magic, and you got your cutie mark…”

“CUTIE MARK!?!” The mention of the elusive marking that tells the world that one had found their purpose in life caused the students to flock to Wishing Star. The hoard of students shoved Twilight and her group of foals out of the way to get a better look. Wishing Star cringed at the sudden onslaught of attention; she stood as still as possible, a shaky smile on her face as her classmates admired the marking that had appeared on her flank.

“Oh wow!”

“Your cutie mark is so pretty.”

“What’s your special talent?”

Before Wishing Star was forced to answer any of these questions, though it was doubtful that she could have gotten a word in edgewise, Cheerilee stepped amongst the foals to break up the crowd. “All right students, calm down. It’s been a big day for everypony, so get back to your seats. If you all can calm down and behave, we can ask questions later.”

There was a lot of grumbling from the foals as they shuffled back to their desks. Wishing Star sidled up beside Cheerilee. “Thank you,” she murmured, and then she headed for her own desk. When everypony was back in their seats, Twilight Sparkle saw that Wishing Star was sitting in the middle of a ring of her friends; Lucky Star, Compass Rose, and Shooting Star were doing all of the talking. She’s got good friends. Twilight thought to herself.

Cheerilee walked over to where Twilight Sparkle was standing. “Thank you for helping my students.”

“It was no trouble, Cheerilee. They’re… they’re a good bunch,” Twilight said with a smile. She looked over at Wishing Star and her friends again; Wish was giggling at Compass Rose, who was imitating the frozen Lucky Star falling over.

“So what’s going to happen now?” Both Cheerilee and Twilight Sparkle were startled by Shooting Star’s voice sounding behind them.

Both mares whirled around in surprise, but Twilight spoke first, “What do you mean? Wishing Star knows how to use her magic now, and you little ponies are safe.”

“That’s true, but I don’t think that that’s all there is to this.” Shooting Star looked up at Twilight imploringly. “I know that you’ve done a lot already to help us, but I don’t think that it’s over with her just knowing what kind of magic she uses.” He scuffed his hoof against the ground, clearly frustrated at his own lack of explanation. “Wish still needs help; you yourself said that her magic gets activated whenever she hears somepony make a wish. She can’t help but grant the wish, and she gets so tired afterwards too. I-I just want her to be safe.”

Cheerilee looked worriedly between Twilight and Shooting Star now. “I have to agree with Shooting Star; if Wishing Star can’t control her gift…” The school teacher’s voice dropped to a frantic whisper as the true concept of the conversation hit her in full force. “You’re leaving a student that grants wishes in my class that can’t stop herself from granting them!”

Now it was beginning to dawn on Twilight Sparkle how disastrous it could be to leave Wishing Star here. Wish, her brothers, or one of her friends would inevitably end up telling the rest of the class about her special talent, and that would be sure to end in chaos. Twilight was ashamed that she had been prepared to leave Cheerilee and her new friends with such an impending disaster on to deal with. “That would be bad.”

“So what are we going to do?” Shooting Star repeated his original question.

Twilight thought for a moment on what course of action to take. “I have an idea about what to do, but I’m going to need to write to Princess Celestia first. She wanted to know how it all turned out in anyway. I’ll send a letter to her when I get home, and I should have some sort of reply by tonight. In the meantime, nopony else should know about what kind of magic it is that Wishing Star uses.”

“The Princess wanted to know about us? And you think that you’ll know how to help Wish by tomorrow?” Shooting Star asked, awed by the knowledge that the Princess had been involved in this and hopeful that this problem could be resolved as easily as his own had been earlier.

“Most likely,” Twilight confirmed. “I’ll let you all know what I find out as soon as I can.”

“Thank you again for all of your help, Twilight,” Cheerilee said as she shooed Shooting Star back to his desk.

“It’s no trouble, I just hope that everything else works out for the best,” Twilight replied.

“So do I,” Cheerilee agreed. “Well, I had better get my students settled and occupied again; can’t have them asking too many questions about how the spell was undone.”

“Right. Good bye,” Twilight Sparkle called over her shoulder as she turned to leave.

“Good bye, Twilight Sparkle,” she heard the class call in response as she began heading to the library. She had one more thing to take care of, and then her life could go back to its regular schedule.

There was just one more thing that she had to take care of.

Chapter 6

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Spike was waiting outside of the school door. He was almost bowled over by Twilight Sparkle as she sped towards the library. “So, how’d it go?” he inquired as he jogged to catch up with his mentor once he regained his balance.

“It was fine,” Twilight responded, not stopping, but slowing her gallop to a canter to make speaking easier. “Cheerilee was glad to have her students back safely, though she and Shooting Star brought an excellent point to my attention. We need to go home, Spike. I have a letter that I need to write to Princess Celestia.”

The slowing of Twilight’s stride made it easier for Spike to catch up; he fell into step with her. “Twi, you’re not making any sense,” the dragon declared with confusion. “What point got brought up, and what does that have to do with writing a letter to the Princess?”

“Wishing Star may know what kind of magic she uses now, but she still doesn’t know how to use it,” Twilight Sparkle explained. “Think about it: we’re leaving a wish granting unicorn that can’t stop herself from using magic if a wish is made in a school full of excitable foals.”

Spike shuddered at the thought. “It would be utter chaos if they knew about Wishing Star’s gift. Wait,” he stopped for a moment, and when he caught back up with his friend there was a smirk on his face as he snickered, “This had to be brought to your attention? Did Cheerilee or Shooting Star point this out to you?”

Twilight Sparkle blushed and stammered, “I-it was Shooting Star. I was just so happy for Wishing Star. I was so excited for her because she had figured out her special talent and I was so happy that I had helped solve the problem. I had no problem leaving her… until Shooting Star reminded me about the ramifications of untrained magic. That’s why a letter needs to be sent to the Princess.”

“Okay, powerful gift, untrained magic is dangerous,” Spike reasoned, “but what does that have to do with sending a letter to Celestia?”

“She wanted to be informed about Lucky Star and Shooting Star’s condition,” Twilight reminded her assistant. “I also want to ask Princess Celestia to set up an entrance exam for Wishing Star.”

Spike almost tripped on his feet in surprise. “What?! Twi, you can’t be serious. You want to take that filly away from her friends and family?” Spike questioned the lavender mare, his voice thick with incredulity.

“What else can I do?” Twilight replied defensively. “Wishing Star has a powerful, untrained gift and it would be putting her and everypony in this town in danger if she isn’t taught how to control her magic.”

“I guess,” Spike supposed, sounding rather doubtful. The pair had finally reached the library. The drake opened the door and held it, waiting for his companion to pass. “I just wish that there was another way for her to learn besides being sent away to Canterlot.”

“Be careful about using that phrase now,” Twilight joked as she walked through the doorway, “you know how powerful it can be.”

“Right,” the dragon teen replied awkwardly as he closed the door behind him.

As soon as she was in the library, Twilight began to transfer her notes and relevant tomes to her writing desk. She glanced back at her assistant, who was still standing in the doorway uncomfortably. “I know, Spike,” the lavender mare sighed, “but there’s nothing else for us to do. Wishing Star will be fine. With her gift, she may even be Celestia’s new student.”

“Well, if you think that it’s for the best,” Spike said doubtfully. He had finally closed the door and was now picking up books and shelving them. He narrowly avoided stepping on a volume of Equestrian History and skidding across the room. “Jeez, what a mess.”

Twilight Sparkle looked up from the folder that she was organizing and grimaced at the mess. “I’m sorry, Spike, you know how messy I can be when I’m trying to solve a puzzle. Is there anything that I can do to help out?”

The green spiked dragon shook his head and smiled at his friend. “Thanks for the offer Twi, but I’ll go faster if it’s just me and Owlowicious. Besides,” he added, his smile widening into a grin, “the sooner that you finish writing your letter to Princess Celestia, the sooner that we can go over to AJ’s for dinner.”

Twilight chuckled at her friend’s love of food. “Then I’ll get to work now so that we can go as soon as possible.” After making this statement, she left Spike alone to do his job while she did hers. When her database of summarized and duplicated notes was completed, the unicorn scholar began to pen her letter.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I am happy to report to you that the crisis of the immobilized colts has been resolved. After some research on my part, interviews from Wishing Star and her friends, and a spectacular epiphany on Wishing Star’s part, the colts were released from their state of immobilization. The filly Wishing Star was able to figure out her own source of power, which is how her brothers were released from the enchantment that was cast upon them. It turns out that Wishing Star has been gifted with wishing magic; you will find in the folder that I have attached to this letter a summary of the notes that describe all of my findings of the morning. These observations also contain my brief study on the subject of wishing magic, including information on the last recorded wielder of the aforementioned magic.
I believe that Wishing Star has a powerful gift, but it is untrained. You know better than I the dangers of not keeping a young pony with strong magic in check. I suggest that she be given the opportunity to take the entrance exam for the Canterlot Academy for Gifted Unicorns. If I may be so forward, I also believe that Wishing Star may be an ideal candidate for you next pupil. I trust that you will make that best choice for the young filly.

Your ever-faithful student and friend,

Twilight Sparkle

Twilight tied her message and packet of information up with a ribbon and seal that would ensure the safety of the parchments when Spike used his magical flame on the items. “Spike, I’m done with my letter to the princess,” she yelled, not sure where to direct her voice. “We can leave for Sweet Apple Acres as soon as you send it.”

“Great, I’ll send the papers as soon as I dry these dishes,” Spike called from the kitchen.

As Twilight waited for her assistant to finish his final chore, she looked around the library’s main room. What had once been a chaotic jumble was now spotlessly tidy. The table had been cleared of its teatime dishes and the wooden horse head once again rested in its original location at the center of the table again. The cushions were stacked neatly against the wall, all of the books back on their proper shelves. “How did he get this place so clean in such a short amount of time?” the mare wondered aloud.

“Twi, I’ve been helping you for years; a quick cleanup is nothing.” Spike said as he returned to the main room, using a corner of his vest to dry his hands. “Anyway,” he added, “I had Owlowicious to help, and it did take you longer then you think it did to duplicate those notes of yours.”

“Heh, I guess that’s why you’re still my number one assistant,” Twilight praised him. When Twilight Sparkle looked out the window, she saw that it was indeed later than she’d anticipated; the sky was turning the soothing orange, blue, and purple that promised the coming of night. “Wow, it is getting late,” she confirmed, “Can you send my message now? We can go and have dinner with AppleJack and everypony else as soon as you do.”

“Sure thing, give it here,” Spike instructed and Twilight gave him the sealed documents. With the papers in hand, the light purple drake walked over to a window and opened it. He blew a sparkling green flame onto them, and the papers dissolved into a dusty, magical haze that floated out on a breeze towards Canterlot. Spike closed the window, readjusted his vest and walked over to the front door. “Can we go now please? That Lucky Star colt ate just about everything in the basket that Pinkie Pie sent and I’m really hungry now.”

“Sure, Spike,” Twilight giggled, “It’s getting dark and I’m sure that the Apples are waiting for us.” Spike opened the door for Twilight, and the two left the library.

* * *

A couple of hours later found Spike and Twilight Sparkle in the middle of dinner with the Apple family. They had received warm welcomes from Apple Bloom, AppleJack, Big Macintosh, and a very pregnant Fluttershy. The mares spent some time giggling over listening to the kicks that the foal was giving in Fluttershy’s belly, while the two males drank a mug of cider and sat in companionable silence. When dinner came around, more discussion and pleasantries had been attempted, but the curiosity of the adventure that Twilight and Spike had had overruled all other topics of conversation.

“And then there was this huge flash of light!” Spike exclaimed, quickly expanding a space between his claws to illustrate the event. Though Twilight had been adding information that was being forgotten in the retelling, she let her assistant do most of the talking. Spike had been telling the events of the day in great detail and everypony was too entranced to interrupt. “When we could all see again, it was clear that the wish had worked and the brothers were no longer frozen,” he concluded.

There was a collective cheer from everypony at the table. “So, all of the foals are okay now?” Fluttershy enquired.

“They’re all fine,” Twilight assured. “After Lucky Star and Shooting Star were remobilized, I let them rest and have a snack. After that, Spike and I escorted them back to school.”

“Hoo-ee!” AppleJack whistled. “Wishing magic! Ah’ve never even heard of that kind of magic.” She marveled.

“Ah can’t believe that the new family in town has kids,” Apple Bloom exclaimed. “Ah need tah tell Scootaloo so that we can invite them to the CMC club.”

Twilight Sparkle addressed AppleJack’s comment. “It is a rather unique ability, and Wishing Star’s magic is not only quite different, but also very powerful. In fact, when I wrote my letter to Princess Celestia this afternoon, I recommended that Wishing Star be given a chance to take the entrance exam for Canterlot’s school of magic.”

“What did the princess have to say about that?” AppleJack queried.

“I don’t know yet,” Twilight replied. “She hasn’t answered…” Spike interrupted with a loud belch, followed by a bright green flame. The shimmering dust quickly took the shape of a scroll as the drake snatched it out of the air. “…yet,” Twilight finished lamely. “So what does it say, Spike?”

Spike unrolled the parchment, cleared his throat and began to read aloud:

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

I am overjoyed to hear that the colts that were frozen have been freed. I am impressed with the ingenuity and persistence that the foals described in your notes possess. I am also intrigued by the magical gift that the filly Wishing Star uses; wishing magic is almost unheard of, even in most circles of scholars that study those sorts of rare spells and enchantments. From the extensive information that you’ve given me, I agree that Wishing Star has a powerful, but raw talent for general magic. Once taught to control her gift, she will likely make a formidable magician. However, from the observations that were included in the information that you sent me, I can conclude that it would be unwise to separate Wishing Star from the bonds that she has made in Ponyville.
I have also noticed that your letters to me have been rather lackluster as of late. It is my belief that the ideal solution to both of these dilemmas is for you, Twilight Sparkle, to become the filly Wishing Star’s teacher in magic.

Best of Luck,

Princess Celestia

“That’s wonderful news, Twilight,” AppleJack congratulated. “I bet that ya’ll make a great teacher.”

“Eeyup,” Big Macintosh agreed.

“Um, everypony,” Fluttershy tried to interject. She was the only one to notice that Twilight Sparkle had not moved or spoken since Spike had finished reading the letter to the group. As usual, her quiet voice rendered her observation and attempt to get noticed fruitless.

“Yeah, Twilight was real helpful when Sweetie Belle was workin’ on her magic,” Apple Bloom added. The chatter amongst the ponies continued as Twilight Sparkle was as immobile and statue-like as one of the colts that she had saved that morning. She sat rigidly in her seat, staring straight ahead at nothing. Fluttershy continued to try and call anypony’s attention to her friend’s frozen state, but gave up when Apple Bloom stated that she was getting dessert from the kitchen, and AppleJack and Spike began clearing the table. The pregnant mare finally got her husband’s attention, finally being able to share her concern over her unmoving friend.

When Big Macintosh saw what had his wife so worried, he called to his sister. “Uh, AJ?”

“What do you need, Mac?” AppleJack shouted back from the kitchen, ignorant of the concern in her older brother’s voice.

Spike, however, had noticed; he popped his head back into the dining room and saw that Twilight was not moving. “Hey, what’s wrong with Twilight?” he asked, walking back into the dining room to check on his friend.

“She, um, she hasn’t moved since that letter from the princess was read,” Fluttershy stammered. After hearing this, AppleJack rushed into the room. Apple Bloom was close behind with a pile of dishes that had been stacked haphazardly on her back, a pie resting on her head.

Spike was waving a claw in front of Twilight’s face. “Twi, what’s wrong?” The frozen mare still didn’t respond, she just stared ahead with glassy eyes.

“Maybe she’s in shock,” Apple Bloom suggested uneasily. Seeing the normally put-together mare in such a pathetic state was off putting for everypony to say the least.

“So, does this mean that I can have her slice of pie?” Spike joked. Fluttershy, a recently developed maternal instinct kicking in, glared the draconic teen with her famous ‘stare’. “Sorry, sorry, bad joke,” Spike apologized, holding his claws up in surrender. Fluttershy mercifully released the drake from her baleful gaze, and turned her attention to trying to care for Twilight.

Meanwhile, AppleJack had been attempting to revive her friend from her catatonic state. The orange mare prodded Twilight, lightly slapped her cheeks, and clapped her hooves in front of the unicorn’s face. None of AppleJack’s methods were working; Twilight Sparkle stayed as unresponsive as ever, her eyes still glazed over with shock. “Ah can’t snap her out of this,” the working mare at last announced. “This is some bad case of shock, and Ah don’t know what to do.”

“So what do we do now?” Spike inquired.

“The only thing we can do is try acting normally, and wait for her ta snap out of it,” AppleJack declared. Everypony agreed to this plan, and plates were passed around. As an experiment, Apple Bloom set a dish with a slice of pie on it in front of the catatonic Twilight Sparkle. She hoped that the comforting and familiar smell would help bring her back to herself.

As if by second nature, Twilight used her magic to levitate the fork that had been placed beside her plate. Slowly, with a mechanical pace and precision, the fork scooped bits of pie off of the plate and brought them to the mare’s mouth. No other part of the unicorn mare moved, only her fork and her mouth as she ate. She still stared ahead at nothing, her eyes glassy and unfocused.

“I think that you’re right about her being in shock,” Spike decided. “AppleJack’s plan is probably our best action. This has been a big day, with a lot of new things for her to think about. Plus, it’s been awhile since Twi’s been given a lot of responsibility like this. The best we can do is wait for her to snap out of this.” So the Apple family and Spike continued to eat dessert and socialize, but it was not as hearty or free-flowing as it had been earlier in the evening. At the end of the night Spike was able to convince Twilight to get into a standing position, and walk her out the door.

As Spike was walking out the door, his arm was caught by a strong, slender hoof and spun around to face AppleJack. “Are ya sure that she’s gonna be alright?” the earth mare asked with concern.

The drake looked over his shoulder at his charge; the lavender mare was standing at the bottom of the porch steps, still glassy-eyed. Twilight didn’t seem to be able to move without somepony propelling her forward at the moment. “She’ll be fine,” Spike assured AppleJack. “If she’s not back to normal by tomorrow, I’ll get one of the weather ponies to soak her with a cloud or something.”

“If yer sure…” AppleJack trailed off doubtfully.

“I am; she’s a tough gal, she’ll bounce back,” Spike promised. “Now, it’s been a long day and I think that Twilight could use some rest: I know I could.” The amethyst dragon bid his friends goodnight and descended the steps of the porch to stand beside his mentor. He slung an arm around the catatonic mare’s neck. “Let’s go home now, Twi,” Spike murmured. He led his friend away from the farm, through the orchard, towards town. The pair walked in silence, making good time until they walked past city hall.

Twilight Sparkle suddenly stopped, not letting her assistant prod her forward. “Twilight, what are you doing? Are you all right?” Spike inquired with growing worry.

Twilight did not answer him; she stood stock-still, with her joints locked. The filmy glaze dissipated from her eyes as reality set in. When the truth of the events that had transpired during dinner came crashing down upon the mare, Twilight Sparkle screeched. “I’m supposed to do what?!”