The light of dawn crept into the small, locked room at the top of the castle tower as the summer sun rose. Bathed in the warm sunshine, the faded Quill stirred. Rising up from a silver inkpot, it magically floated over to the book with the peeling black Dragon-hide cover and yellowing pages.
The Quill of Acceptance and Book of Admittance had long been responsible for determining who became a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, ever since they were first enchanted by the school's founders. The only unbendable parameter they had been instilled with was that only those with true magical abilities could be admitted. The rest of the "rules" they'd been given were more guidelines than anything else, a side effect of the four founders' sometimes differing views. Though primarily a school for the British Isles, they had enrolled foreigners before, for various reasons. But never before had they bent the guidelines this far, as evidenced by the Book's reluctance to open.
For many months now they had been observing a very special group of teens, four of whom were transformed beings from another world. Which, the Quill pointed out, was not against the rules as whatever magic brought them here made them fully-human. And they had enrolled students older than eleven before, as well. Still, the Book hesitated. After all, since the peculiar group of friends lived in America, should not Ilvermorny deal with them? The Quill was right though, it didn't seem like Ilvermorny was going to do anything about them at this point. Not to mention the eight girls who were born human all had at least a little European ancestry, the Quill reasoned.
The Book knew the main reason the Quill was so eager to enrol these twelve beings. They possessed a peculiar magic never before seen by the wizarding world. These girls had a knack for accomplishing the impossible, completely changing their own community in under a year. But could they help solve the wizarding world's myriad problems? The Book couldn't deny that Godric and Helga would have been all for it, while Rowena could have gone either way. Salazar, however, had been distrustful of foreigners. But, the Quill pointed out, he also had a strong desire to unlock the mysteries of unknown magics, a desire that overpowered his paranoia. This "friendship magic" certainly qualified. The Book could sense the alien magic spreading further and further from the Equestrian Portal. It would only be a matter of time before it reached their shores.
Both Book and Quill could feel the ripples in the very fabric of magic itself, and today those ripples were intensifying. A convict had just escaped Azkaban, a feat that had never before been accomplished. The Dark Lord was gaining strength in Albania, and the Imperius curse placed on one of his most loyal followers was beginning to weaken. Suddenly, they detected a new presence in Great Britain: another being with the alien magic, but they felt malevolence emanating from this entity. Great turmoil was coming. The last day of the year that invitation letters could be sent had arrived: it was now or never. The Quill waited patiently, as it always did when the Book struggled to make a decision. At long last the Book slowly opened, finally allowing the Quill to write the names it had been wanting to write for weeks:
Princess Twilight Sparkle
Pinkamena Diane Pie
* * * * *
Many miles away, a cloud-like being floated amidst the crashing waves of Dunmore Head, the westmost point of Ireland. Its smoky blue eyes scanned the rocky shore. Satisfied that it was alone, the entity proceeded to glide out of the water and up the rocky beach.
Pausing next to the rusted remains of an old container ship, Erebus closed his smoky blue eyes and reached out with his senses. He knew that what, or rather who, he was looking for dwelt somewhere on this island. Erebus could sense Sendak the Elder was here, but for some reason he couldn't pinpoint the Centaur's precise location. Whatever magic Sendak was using to hide was most likely disrupting the smoke demon's senses. If he were as strong as he once was, Erebus would have easily been able to break through the centaur's disruption, but Celestia had stripped him of that power long ago.
Erebus was not looking forward to manually scouring this relatively large island, but he reminded himself that the end results would be worth it. Sendak was too great a threat to be ignored, not to mention the fact that consuming the shadows of this world's beings would gain Erebus very little until the elder Centaur's damage was undone; and the only way to do that was to kill him. Or convince him to give back the magic he'd stolen, but Erebus much preferred the former option.
At least most of this island was open space so the search might not be too tedious, Erebus mused. It was probably for the best that Lavan was back in Equestria rather than with him here. His brother never had been the patient type. Stealth was another thing Lavan had issues with, and that was vital to Erebus' success. He knew there were other Equestrians inhabiting this world and did not want to attract their attention. At least not yet. Yes, Lavan was much better off using the remote volcanoes and geysers of the Dragonlands to regain the strength Luna had robbed him of all those years ago.
Erebus crossed the sparsely used road to begin his search for the wayward Centaur. The next time he and Lavan met the Alicorns things would be different. This time he and his brother would have the knowledge and experience of the many planets and moons visited during his sojourn. They would not be so short sighted this time. Now they knew that the only way to ensure no unforeseen enemies came out of nowhere to vanquish them again was to conquer the entire Universe.
"Welcome to Earth Ponies-turned-Humans who look and act eerily like us and share our names!" Pinkie Pie stuffed ten noisemakers into her mouth and blew, as streamers seemed to somehow fall from the sky.
"They've already been here for a few hours, Pinkie."
"I know that, Dashie. But I didn't have everything ready yet. And I mean how could I have, when nobody told me that we were having visitors today?" Pinkie pretended to glare at the Twilight Sparkle that wasn't wearing glasses.
"I could have sworn I'd sent a message through the journal," the Princess said sheepishly. She knew she should have heeded Spike's suggestion to write it down before starting (and finishing) the new Daring Do book.
Twilight and friends--both sets, human and pony--were gathered around the portal statue. Princess Twilight had always wanted her friends from both worlds to meet, but finding a time when everyone was free had been a challenge. Twilight smiled as she surveyed her mingling friends. The humans were enthralled by the tales that their pony counterparts had to tell, and the ponies were amazed by the humans' technology.
"...and when we stopped glowing we finally had our cutie marks!" finished pony Applebloom. Their human counterparts were in awe.
"I wish we could get cutie marks too," sighed human Sweetie Belle. "It must be so much easier to figure out what to do with your life when you have a magic tattoo that shows you what you're good at."
Pony Sweetie chuckled. "I think you've misunderstood. Cutie marks only reaffirm what you've already realized, not tell you what to do."
"Still, it would be nice to..." Human Applebloom paused, then smiled wide. "I just got a great idea girls! We're gonna-"
Suddenly an owl swooped past her head, startling her. It proceeded to catch the whole group's attention before perching on the statue.
"What's an owl doing flying around during the day?" Human Rainbow remarked.
"There actually are some owl species that are active during the day, but this isn't one of them," stated human Fluttershy, who then approached it. "Hello there Barn owl, what are you doing up so early?"
The Barn owl let out a small screech and started flying again. "She wants us to follow her."
The group proceeded to do just that, following the owl as it flew into the school building, much to their surprise. It flew down the hall and into the music room.
"Mrs. Barn owl, animals aren't allowed in the school building," Fluttershy said worryingly.
"It's all right Miss Shy," came the familiar voice of Principle Celestia from inside the room. "This owl is here with a special guest who wishes to speak with you all."
Slightly confused, the girls entered the room to see Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna sitting on either side of an old man wearing strange clothes. The man stood up with surprisingly youthful swiftness, smiling with deep blue eyes behind half-moon glasses.
"I see we have quite the group here. Greetings all! My name is Albus Dumbledore, and we have much to discuss."