Love Sickness

by XenoPony

First published

Dragons are not hot! Or at least Twilight keeps telling herself.

Dragons are not hot! Or at least Twilight keeps telling herself. Seriously, what's wrong with a little meddling in transmogrification magic from time to time? It's not like there can be any... 'unexpected' side effects, right? Tried and tested, completely safe! That is, of course, if there's not somepony with a secret crush also involved.

Featured: 12/4/18

Edited by: Emtu
Cover art created by: xWhiteDreamsx

Chapter One: Dragons Are Not Hot!

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"Dragons aren't hot," Twilight screamed to the purple alicorn staring back at her from the mirror. "Dragons are another species altogether, they are not hot! Spike's a dragon, do you find him attractive, no... Well, maybe... No!"

The princess smacked her forehead with a forehoof, wincing as she twanged her horn. For the third time today she was alone in her bedchambers, arguing with the mirror again. For an hour now she'd been here, and it had been like this every evening for the past few days. There was just something wrong, but she couldn't tell what. It had all started about a week ago. She didn't know why or how, but she'd started seeing the dragons in her life in a new light.

Spike, for one. Far from the little hatchling she'd known growing up, her number one assistant had matured into a handsome young drake. In fact, he was just as much royalty as she was, having become the mate to Dragonlord Ember only a year ago. Now he was getting ready to have a family of his own, dragon mating season had just passed and Twilight was pretty sure they had eggs on the way.

And here you are, Twilight, thinking about his tail, the princess thought, the image of his fine purple flank swaying as he walked. No, no I am not, brain! She thwacked her head again. Okay, okay, how about Ember's then? Whoever said you had to stick to males?

Twilight choked, the eyes of her doppelganger in the mirror going wide as she mentally tumbled over her own thoughts. Come to think of it, blue was a very nice color. Plus, she's so slim, sharp and fierce. So strong and...

"Oh by Celestia, what is wrong with me!" the alicorn cried as she levitated over a pillow and buried her face in it.

She was a pony, not a dragon. While she may not be one hundred percent straight, she was still into ponies. She liked fur, flowing manes, fluffy tails, flanks... Spines, scales and...

"No, no, no... Come on, Twilight. Stop thinking about dragons' butts for one moment!" she hissed into the mirror, slapping her face. "What's with me, dragon mating season was days ago, maybe it's something to do with that?" She lifted a hoof to her chin. "No, I'm not a dragon. Damn it, I'm into ponies for Celestia's sake!"

Not even during her most intense estruses had she been this crazy. Only, instead of a sexual drive to procreate, it was more of a burning curiosity. There was no buzzing between her flanks, nor an urge to breed keeping her up at night. She just couldn't stop thinking about it... Those smooth scales, rough leathery wings.

"Stop it, stop it!" Twilight growled, sinking low as her ears burned. Maybe it was just a phase and she'd get over it. She had to admit there had been a few times she'd been curious about other creatures, there was that whole trip through the mirror for one. Plus, she had to admit she often found zebras exotic, griffins too sometimes.

Taking a deep breath, Twilight finally sighed and tore herself away from the mirror. Her muscles ached and her stomach growled, all just many more peculiar afflictions she couldn't put her hoof on. She trudged over to the end of her bed and flopped down with her back against the covers.

"Maybe it's just me, am I really that lonely? I've never really wanted a partner before?" she mumbled to herself, tapping her forehooves together. Then she sighed once more. "I guess I'll just practice some more, that ought to take my mind off of things."

Flaring her horn she levitated a book over from her bedside drawer. 'Advanced Transformation Spells: Vol. VI'. read the cover as Twilight flicked through the pages.

"Partial limb transformation, internal transformation, memory transformation... dragon transfor..." She stopped herself mid mumble, closed the book and sat up in a flash.

Looking back at her was a wall of crystal and her dresser, a set of glistening gemstones resting upon it. By Celestia, Twilight, you think of dragons one more time and...

The princess cocked her head. Did those rubies look more sparkly than usual? Levitating her book aside, Twilight stood up and crept over to the dresser. She stopped only a few hoof steps away, considering her actions as she regarded the gemstones.

What am I doing? she asked herself, biting her bottom lip. Her mouth felt dry, she needed taste, flavor, something more. Her stomach growled. Then there was a knock at the door and she froze, standing stiff as a board for a second before the large doors to her room creaked open.

"Twilight, hey, Twilight, you in here still?" came the voice of her former student, Starlight Glimmer.

Shaking her head free from her dragon obsessed stupor, Twilight swiftly pivoted, manufacturing a wide smile for the lilac mare.

"Right here, Starlight. You know there's hardly anywhere else for me to be these days," she called, voice a little more shrill than she intended.

Starlight sighed. "What's that supposed to mean? I've been looking all over for you," the unicorn informed her as she trotted over.

Look there, Twilight. She's a pony, a mare, with fur, a horn, and a mane. Is she not pretty, sexy even? She's powerful too, wonderful personality once you get to know her. Please, please have some attraction to her! The princess's brain went on as Starlight's gaze narrowed.

"Hey, are you feeling okay, Twilight? You seem a little, frazzled?" her former student asked, and Twilight ran a hoof through her messy mane.

"What! I'm fine, perfectly fine, why wouldn't I be?" Twilight blurted with a small laugh. Then she swallowed and added."Just a little anxiety, that's all. I think it's to do with... Well, mare things."

"Okay," Starlight responded unsurely, taking a small step back. "I mean to be fair, I hate my distracting biology too, so if you want me to leave you alone I can just..."

"No, no, it's fine," Twilight swiftly interrupted, finally sitting down to stop her jitters. "What was it you wanted me for?"

"Well, you see, we've all been invited to a party with AJ and Rainbow tomorrow evening. They're celebrating their second wedding anniversary, after all," Starlight elaborated.

Twilight gasped, pressing a hoof to her head. "Oh, by Celestia, how could I forget? It's seriously been two years!" She shot up and darted over to her dresser. "I'm going to need something to wear. Oh ponyfeathers, most of that stuff was ruined when we had that transfiguration accident!"

Starlight blushed, crossing her forehooves as she bowed her head slightly. "Yeah, sorry about that," she admitted.

"Oh, don't be, Starlight. It wasn't your fault, and I'm sure Trixie will get better with you teaching her." Twilight waved the issue away with a wing as she stuck her head into a drawer.

"Well, I guess I didn't marry her for nothing," Starlight admitted with a laugh. "So you're going to be coming then, I'm pretty sure they invited everypony."

At Starlight's last comment, Twilight's head shot up, a wayward saddle sitting atop it. "Everypony is going to be there?" she asked, and Starlight shrugged.

"Everypony who can make it, I assume. Me, Trixie, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity and whoever she's dating right now." Starlight twiddled a hoof. "Plus Spike and Ember, considering they're here this month, and maybe some of Rainbow's fans will show up, you know how it is?" she added.

Twilight's left ear twitched and she looked up to see her face, a mask of awkward silliness, in the dresser's mirror sitting right in front of her. Spike and Ember are going to be there? Oh, by Celestia that does complicate things, doesn't it Twilight?

"You sure you're okay, Twilight?" Starlight pressed, edging closer.

Twilight abruptly turned around, wide smile as brittle as sugar glass. "I'm fine Starlight, really. No need to worry about me whatsoever," she declared, chuckling as she waved away any issues with a forehoof.

Starlight took a deep breath but nodded. "If you say so, but with all the magic we've been doing recently you should really be careful. You know, cool down and warm up sessions? No potions afterward, transfiguration can have..."

"A lot of unknown side effects, I know. I'm aware of spectral tethers, soul-rending and everything else, Starlight, thank you," Twilight finished as she hopped away from the dresser and sighed. "I think I just need some rest, my mind's all over the place."

"Isn't everypony's right now? Marriages, families, not exactly something I saw myself doing when we first met," Starlight chuckled, nudging her former mentor's side.

"Yeah, well you have to admit you are not the best at first impressions. We're both kinda like that," Twilight joked, and the pair shared a laugh before Starlight gave the princess a small hug and turned to the door.

There, look at her butt, Twilight. Look at it move, wiggle and... Nothing, seriously? Her mind raced before she slammed a mental door into the face of such thoughts. She's married, you pervert!

"You know if you need to talk, I'm here too? I mean, if you'd want to talk to one of the others first I'd understand, but..." Twilight lifted a forehoof, cutting Starlight off as she stood between the ajar doors.

"You'd be the first to know, especially if it involved magic." Starlight practically beamed.

"So we still on for more transfiguration work tomorrow morning then?" she asked and Twilight bit her bottom lip.

"Not sure, I think I'll have to go see Rarity about something to wear tomorrow night. How about you take the day off, spend some more time with Trixie," the alicorn suggested.

"Fair enough. Well, good night Twilight," Starlight said before she vanished through the door and it slid shut, sealing with a clunk.

Twilight let out a long breath she didn't even realize she'd been holding. A whole ten minutes with her and not even one thought about how beautiful she was? Wow, Twilight, I'm sure you've ogled her at least once before, married or not.

With a weary groan, the princess dragged herself onto her bed and slumped into the covers. "This has to be a mid-life crisis or something? Can alicorns even have those?" she wondered as she rolled onto her back and pressed her forehooves over her eyes.

In the corner of her sight, however, something glimmered. She shifted a hoof to peer over at the gemstone sitting on the dresser and almost subconsciously licked the inside of her dry mouth.

Why does it look so bright, so pretty? Why in Equestria do I want it so much? She thought, yet tucking her tail between her hind legs and curling into a ball, she heaved the covers over herself and dove into the gloom.

Sleep would set her free, of course it would, she didn't have to think about rubies or dragon butts when she was asleep. That was all she could assure herself as she rubbed her tail for what felt like hours, flashes of scales, swaying tails, strong wings and hordes of treasure going through her mind before she finally staggered her way into a rough sleep.


The pillow was hard, but still a pillow. It was odd, it felt like it should be the most uncomfortable perch in the world and yet it was so warm and cozy there was no way she'd ever want to move. Rolling onto her side, she stroked the hard surface with a hoof, only for it to jingle and slide away. There was a clatter, like that of bits falling from saddlebags. Still, her lazy eyes did not open, at least until something sharp poked her side.

"Twilight," mumbled a vaguely familiar voice, yet in the lucid soup of her half-sleeping state, she couldn't put her hoof on from where.

"No, five more minutes... or hours... months maybe," she groaned, pushing in the offender's direction with a hoof. "Ooo, I could just lay here forever."

She rolled onto her back, feathered wings spreading wide over the comfy mound as she curled her hooves up against her chest and snuggled down. There was a sigh somewhere in the distance, then another jingling clatter as a dark shadow loomed over her.

"Come on, Twi. It's time to wake up," prompted that voice again, and before she could protest a second time the sensation of claws tickling her underside lurched her awake.

Her grunts and moans were replaced by a laughing fit of giggling and flailing legs as she rolled and tried to kick her attacker away. The jingling mass under her started to give way as she squirmed, and before she could slip down any of the mound's sides she finally sat up, gasping as she clenched her chest.

"Since when was that a good way to wake somepony up? I was so comfy there I..." She let a hoof slip down to press what she was sitting on.

Now she was awake it didn't feel so hospitable. Hard edges and gnarled bumps dug into her rump and she looked down to see she was sitting on a pile of golden bits, jewels, and gemstones. With a shrill yelp, the alicorn hopped to her hooves, wings ruffling as she peered down the slopes of the mountainous pile of treasure she'd been resting atop of.

"What? Where in Equestria did all of this come from?" the princess exclaimed, her restless hooves causing more of the gold to slip away.

"What do you mean, Twi? I got it all for you, remember? Only the best for my little pony princess," came that voice, and Twilight winced.

There was a shift atop the pile and she went as stiff as a board, limbs almost creaking like an ill-kept door as she pivoted. Now that she was actually awake, that voice didn't seem all that hard to recognize.

"S–Spike?" Twilight stammered as she looked around to see the large, purple scaled dragon sat stoically on the edge of the mound, a glow akin to Celestia's sun at his back. She felt a growing flutter in her chest and her lungs instantly demanded her air intake increase.

The dragon smiled, sharp white teeth flashing like sparkling diamonds. Twilight felt her legs quiver like jelly as she stared at his wings. "Well, yeah. Who else were you expecting, Twi? This is your fantasy, isn't it?" Spike asked.

Twilight opened her muzzle to protest, jabbing a hoof at the handsome drake. All that escaped her mouth, however, was a series of dry stutters. Words caught like cotton buds in her throat and she ultimately choked.

Come on, Twilight, this has to be some kind of dream... No, no, nightmare! I mean, really? This is Spike, get over it already! She rubbed the back of her neck, resisting the dragon's almost magnetic pull on her. Really, Twilight? Can you resist those scales, that smile... Those strong, muscular wings?

"N–no... I­–I, I'm sorry, Spike... I wasn't expecting to see you here, I mean... I..." Twilight's words failed her yet again as the dragon stood up and marched over. "Oh, by Celestia, now you're coming over... Haha, I... I..." Her breathing grew more intense as she tried to back away, uncontrollably ogling the dragon. "I–I never noticed how tight your thighs are..."

Twilight pressed her forehooves over her mouth with an eep, only to return to a statue-like state as Spike wrapped a wing around her before she could tumble off of the hoard. "Well, I do like to keep myself looking good for my Twiley-Wiley."

Twilight gulped, cheeks burning red hot as she dared to glance up at the dragon peering down at her with lidded eyes. Damn, he's so... So hot! It's fine, Twilight, just breathe. Remember what Celestia told you, there's no wrong way to fantasize!

"T–That... That's great, Spike... I–I really appreciate it, but you see, I really have no idea why I'm feeling like this soooo..." the alicorn trailed off, staring off into the pale white oblivion surrounding their mountain of gold.

Spike let out a low growl, smoke streaming from his nostrils. "Really, Twi? You sure, I thought that you really cared? I mean, what will the foals think?"

Twilight's head gaze back to the dragon like a whip. "Foals? What foals?" she demanded, blood draining from her blushing cheeks.

Spike smiled and from over his shoulder appeared a pair of purple foals. A lilac scaled filly, and a deep, midnight purple coated colt. Both had draconic wings, spiked tails, scaly hooves, and horns. Both looked at her with slitted, emerald eyes, their fanged muzzles split with giddy smiles seconds before they pounced.

"Mommy!" called the duo as they collided with Twilight, clawed hooves wrapping around her midsection as she rolled back with a yell.

The foals almost seemed to burst into purple mist on contact with her, yet collided with just enough force to send the princess rolling back. Twilight's hooves flailed as she was sent tumbling down the hoard with a series of chiming clatters, yelps of pain, and flapping wings. Moments later, she finally hit something solid with a dull thud. She groaned as her muzzle slammed into the flat, white nothingness. She kept her eyes closed as more bits and gemstones fell upon the invisible surface around her, the odd lavender feather drifting down along with the glittering shrapnel.

Having finally popped open one eye, there was another shadow looming over her, how wonderful.

"Twilight Sparkle?" sounded a voice that certainly wasn't Spike.

Twilight hinged open her other eye and looked ahead across the white expanse to see a pair of bluish-silver shoes adorning a pair of deep blue hooves before her.

Twilight peeled her muzzle off of the floor and glanced up. "Princess Luna? Oh, thank Celestia, this really is a dream," she sighed in relief.

Luna cocked her head, ethereal mane waving in an eternal breeze as she raised an eyebrow. "Quite so, Twilight." The princess of the night glanced up at the monstrous mountain of gold. "Though, do forgive me for saying, but it would seem you have a gold problem, Princess," she observed.

"You don't say," Twilight deadpanned as her face once again hit the floor.

Luna lifted a hoof to her chin, looking up to inspect the golden monolith of treasure. "Usually I'd assume you have a desire for great wealth, yet after what I just observed it would seem you have a different need. One that I'd usually attribute to the dreams of aging fillies and colts."

"Okay, that's enough information, thank you!" Twilight suddenly exclaimed, shooting Luna a dangerous look and waving her forelegs.

Luna paused, slightly dumbstruck as she regarded Twilight. The princess of the night had been through an uncountable amount of dreamscapes in her time, yet she'd never thought she'd see this in the dreams of the princess of friendship in a million moons. The midnight alicorn lifted a hoof to her muzzle again, snickering.

"What's so funny?" Twilight grumbled, sitting up, crossing her forelegs, and pouting.

"You know being attracted to somepony is nothing to be ashamed of, Twilight," Luna offered, but her words only made the lavender alicorn's frown grow.

"Somepony, sure! But that's just it!" she declared, throwing up her forelegs. "I've known most of my life that I was into both mares and stallions, I was okay with that. But this... this has come out of nowhere, I think I'm going mad!" She slumped again, brow furrowed. "I don't see how this can get any worse!"

Twilight huffed, and just like that a dark cloud swirled into existence over her head, then it started to rain.

The alicorn's lavender mane drooped into a sheet over her face, and she blew a clump aside with a snort. "You have got to be kidding me!"

Luna once again bit back a laugh, before graciously blowing the cloud away. "Dragons, ponies, mares, stallions... It's all the same, really. I know my sister and I have had the occasional scandalous swing with all kinds of creatures," she assured the sulking, wet mare with a wink.

Twilight looked at her fellow princess like the midnight mare was a complete stranger. "I really don't think that's something I want to hear any more about," she retorted.

Luna hummed, drawing in close to Twilight with a sly smile. "You know, maybe you're just lonely? I know how hard an alicorn's immortal life can be." She wiggled her sparkling eyebrows. "Maybe I can help with that."

Luna wrapped a wing around the wet mare and sidled up to her. Locked sitting in a sidelong embrace, Twilight went rigid again. Yet the sensation of fur and not scales against her body was at least a welcome one. Finally, the princess of friendship took a deep breath and straightened herself. Luna's butt slid across the featureless white ground, her face like that of a confused puppy as Twilight gently shoved her away.

"Thank you, Luna. While I appreciate the offer, I think I should really try to figure this out on my own," Twilight insisted, and Luna looked defeated for a moment before she shrugged.

"As you wish, Twilight. I'm not one to tell my fellow princesses how to go about dealing with their problems," Luna responded, rubbing a silvery slipper against her fluffy chest. "I'm sure as cute as you are, you'll have no issue finding a cure for this lovesickness."

At Luna's wink, Twilight stammered, going almost as red as she had done talking to Spike's fantasized apparition. "I–I... I... Are you like this with everypony's dreams?"

Luna appeared to consider that for a moment, then ruffled her feathers, eyes lidded. "Only with ponies I like."

"Oh, dear Celestia, what's wrong with me?" Twilight asked, dragging both forehooves over her face, stretching her eyelids as she groaned.

"Loneliness, it's a simple explanation. You know you really should come to one of my sister's after dark balls. They're to die for." Luna smirked, and Twilight paled, dreams literally shattering and falling like dusty snow around her.

Finally, Luna stood up, dusting herself off with a wing. "Nevertheless, this is where I must take my leave, Twilight. I do hope we see each other again soon." Luna patted her fellow alicorn's shoulder. "And I'm sure you’ll get this little mess of yours sorted out in no time. Who knows, maybe the answer may be closer than you think."

There was a flash, and just like that Luna was gone. Twilight slumped, closing her eyes. When they flickered open again she was presented with a diagonal view of her mattress. She was plastered against her bed, butt in the air and both bedraggled mane and rumpled bed sheets drooped over her face.

Twilight huffed. "Good morning, Twilight," she muttered to herself, glancing to her window to see beams of sun darting in from the edges of her curtain. "There's something seriously wrong with you."

Really, you don't say? A small, lavender alicorn in her head responded as she grabbed a pillow and pressed it into her face with a loud groan. This can't seriously be what lovesickness is.

Chapter Two: New Kind of Makeover

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"Urg... If this is still a dream, Luna, please stop foaling about and wake me up," Twilight groaned as she sat under the warm flow of her shower.

Her morning had equated to waking up, feeling ill, dragging herself to the bathroom and collapsing under the blissfully hot deluge while trying not to think about throwing up. She slumped with her back against the smooth crystal wall, a hoof pressed on her grumbling belly. Having an uncontrollable crush on her best friend all of a sudden was one thing, now it felt like her insides were dancing around to rearrange themselves. Not only that, but her whole body tingled, and every step she took felt like she was walking on small pins. She let out a snort, dripping water and steam flitting from her muzzle as she slumped against the wall.

"Wake up, Twilight. Wake up!" If this had been a dream then the amount of effort she put into slapping her face would probably have been enough to make her shudder in the waking world, never mind actually free her from Luna's domain.

After only one major impact, however, her hoof slid down her cheek and she uttered another long, irritated groan. It's too early for this... Too early in my life, does my body seriously expect me to settle down now, for Celestia's sake?!

A tingling in her tail begged to differ. Twilight wriggled the itch away before one sharp cramp in her gut forced her to lurch forward, clutching her stomach. She gritted her teeth, wincing as a subtle burning welled up deep inside her. It was almost like fire. Funny, the more she'd been thinking about dragons the more fire had been appealing. Flames licking purple scales, the shimmer of that perfect, lean draconic form in the midst of a firestorm. Before she knew it, Twilight was almost drooling.

No, down, Twilight, down! The little princess in her head barked, slapping her wandering thoughts back to attention.

"No mother, I wasn't thinking about the colts next door again!" she blurted out instinctively, yet the only answer she received was the roar of the shower water crashing down around her.

Hahaha, did you seriously just say that, Twilight? Bet you wish the only thing you were into right now was the colts that used to live next door, hm? Her mental avatar snickered, and once again her blushing face was back in her forehooves.

"What type of curse is this? I thought steam was supposed to help a mare relax!" she cursed, waving a hoof at the shower head above her as if it were the thing responsible for all of her current issues.

When the neat protrusion of gold and crystal failed to produce anything other than more steaming hot water, Twilight finally admitted defeat. Sparking up her magic, she telekinetically turned off the faucet, shook herself, and stepped out of the shower in a plume of steam.

Steamy... Hmmm, there are some places I know I'd like to get steamy... She hit herself in the face. Seriously, who's in control of my brain anymore!

She levitated over a towel, hoping the effort to get dry would at least present a temporary distraction. Telekinetically rubbing the thing over her neck, under her barrel, and between her legs, she swiftly turned her mess of wet fur into a fluffy lavender plumage. She frowned to see a clump of hair and feathers caught in the damp towel, yet quickly tossed it aside. That was when the itching came back.

"You have got to be kidding me!" she cried as she frantically scratched her neck and chest. "I thought this had stopped!" she went on, hoping that the intense itching she'd awoken with this morning would have been chased away by the shower.

For some reason, she could not shake the image of Luna's wry smile from her mind as she shook herself like a wet dog and tried to resist scratching as best she could. Her skin burned, each shift of her aching muscles seeming to spark a new fit of itching. Finally, she gritted her teeth, trembling as what felt like a swarm of biting insects crawled under her fur.

"Okay, that is it!" she declared, unable to resist scratching the intense irritation any longer. A fumbling mess of scraping hooves and ruffled wings, the alicorn dragged herself over to a medicine cabinet beside the sink and flung it open.

"This has to be wing rash or something. Rainbow Dash did warn me about it sooo..." she mumbled to herself as she fished in the cabinet. "Here we are, finally!" she declared as she dragged out a dusty bottle.

'Flying Feathers All Feather Ailments, Fantastic Feather Treatment!' boasted the bold title on the front of the pale blue bottle. 'Wonderbolt Approved!' declared a second set of words sitting above the sunbeam lit image of a rearing Rainbow Dash adorned by a tight Wonderbolt uniform.

Ha, no wonder Applejack had an issue with her wearing that... look at how tight it is. The pony in her head whistled, then frowned. Seriously, nothing? Not even a single thought that your friend's attractive? I mean look at how tight it is on her butt, you really are not right in the head!

Without ever considering the words in her head, Twilight opened the bottle and squirted almost the whole thing across her back. The soapy, cyan substance dribbled down her flanks, and levitating over a sponge, she let out a breath of relief as she rubbed the stuff into her coat and across her wings.

"Yeah, that's the spot," she gasped, tongue lulling from her mouth as the cooling cream soothed her hot irritation.

She didn't stop until her coat was a messy mix of lavender and soapy cyan swirls. Looking at herself in the mirror it was pretty clear she was still a mess. But at least now she only had to worry about her frazzled mane and aching stomach. The former fell in front of her eyes and face, and blowing some aside with a huff, she levitated over her toothbrush.

Okay, today's steps now that things are getting back on track. Number one, no thinking about dragons or looking at their butts. Step two, go to Rarity and get...

"Ouch!" Before she knew it a sharp pain blossomed in her mouth and she spat her toothbrush at the mirror like a crimson dart.

Lifting a hoof to her teeth she pressed inward to see a large, bloody cut in her tongue. "Can't I even brush my teeth properly anymore!" Twilight asked, jabbing a hoof at her wounded mouth.

Wait, is it just me or does it look a little longer? The pony in her head wondered as she poked at the crimson lump on her tongue.

Letting out a growl she threw back her head, retracting her tongue and glaring at herself in the mirror. Her eyes trembled, shimmering. Then they were almost forced to go crossed as she peered at something on the ridge of her muzzle. Between her eyes was a thin, purple band of dark, puffy fur. At least it looked like fur at first glance. One poke later, and it was revealed that the skin of the band was hard, the fur growing from it rugged as the bristles of her toothbrush.

"What in Equestria?" the perplexed princess mumbled as she rubbed the bridge of her muzzle, pouting. "Please, a blemish is the last thing I need right now!" she grumbled.

Seconds later, however, and her ears stood tall, twinkling eyes wide as ideas flashed through her mind. The look of pure, malicious determination her reflection displayed as she flared her horn would have surely scared her on a normal day. But right now she was ready to do just about anything to show her traitorous body who was boss.

"I knew that anti-acne spell Spike made me get for him would come in handy one day," she boasted, rubbing her forehooves together eagerly as her horn grew brighter. "Let's see how you like this!"

There was a flash, and the second the light faded Twilight's face became a perfect example of what a well kept, blemish-free princess's face should be. It was a complexion to make even Rarity proud, and Twilight leaned back, hooves crossed as she nodded smugly.

"And that's how it's done. I was right, I have this all under..." The band of darker purple faded back into existence and Twilight's mouth fell open, forehooves hitting the sink. "Are you serious!"

There was another flash and another perfect face. Then the mark appeared again, and again, and again. Twilight's head finally hit the sink-rim ten attempts later, her horn blackened and smoking as she panted.

"This is ridiculous, that last one was a transfiguration spell for Celestia's sake!" As if in protest, her belly gave a groan and one cramp later she was clutching her gut. That bubbling fire in her was building, wriggling its way through her chest until finally, it escaped.

Twilight slammed both forehooves to her muzzle as she belched. Eyes wide she looked at herself in the mirror, the pony staring back even more frazzled than when she'd started.

This is getting absolutely ridiculous! She declared, but the little pony in her head just shrugged. You know, maybe you should have asked Luna for help?

Twilight swallowed, setting her hooves down. Was it just her or did her throat feel hot? Her stomach certainly did, and at that, she reminded herself not to eat so many hay fries for supper ever again as she had done the previous evening. She rubbed the ridge of her muzzle, each pass of her hoof over the ridged mark sparking more concern until she was trembling again.

"It's okay, Twilight. It's just an illness, it has to be? Maybe this is what feather flu is like? Rainbow warned you about that too, remember?" she told her nervous reflection. Finally, she straightened herself off, one forehoof pressed onto the sink-top. "All you have to do is get through today, then spend the rest of the week working this out. It will be a piece of quartz... I­–I, I mean cake."

Her reflection blushed as she stumbled over her words, then she finally looked over to one of the bathroom drawers. "Now, I just need another way to cover this up?" she murmured to herself, rubbing her chin, until finally, an idea hit her.


"My goodness, Twilight, dear, might I say you are looking positively ravishing today! That makeup really adds to your complexion," Rarity admired skeptically as she and Twilight trotted into the dressing room of Carousel Boutique.

"Thanks, Rarity. I sure was glad for that pampering kit you gave me when..." Twilight stopped herself, biting her lip. "When..." She tapped the floor with a hoof.

Glancing over her shoulder, Rarity gave her friend an odd look. "When you heard about the party tonight, I'm sure?" she asked, and Twilight nodded rapidly.

"Yeah, of course, that's the only reason," the alicorn confirmed, forcing a wide smile.

"Well, you are certainly most welcome, Twilight. Usually, when attending a party planned by Pinkie I'd forgo such extremes, however. You do look like you've used a little too much blush, my dear," Rarity finally admitted, the pale, pasty substance covering most of Twilight's face, not to mention the excessive amounts of purple eyeliner and lipstick, a little jarring.

Too much? Well, sorry you don't have to cover up a second puberty over here, Rarity! the tiny princess in Twilight's head huffed, meanwhile she outwardly maintained her awkward smile.

"My goodness, maybe we can give each other makeover lessons!" Rarity beamed, darting over and positioning her hooves as if to somehow measure Twilight's facial proportions. "Of course, I have a great amount of experience in the field already. Not that there's nothing I can't learn."

Twilights smile faltered as she nudged her friend away with a forehoof. "That sounds great, Rarity, maybe some other time. Right now I just need something to wear, then I really have to get back to the castle."

To say that any story she manufactured to cover up her predicament would be believed, would be a huge overstatement. Her friends knew her too well, and Rarity was no exception. But as the tingling itch threatened to creep back over her body, outside her home was the last place she wanted to be.

Damn, you're going to have to use everything left in that bottle of feather lotion to get through the night at this rate. Her mind noted as she reflexively moved a forehoof to scratch her mane.

If Rarity had any doubt regarding her friend's intentions, she did not show them. Instead, the alabaster unicorn merely nodded.

"Of course, Twilight. You know sometimes I forget how busy the rest of you girls are these days. Still, I must insist we meet up for lunch sometime soon. I'd love for you to meet my new coltfriend," Rarity hummed as she trotted away.

"Sure, Rarity, just let me know and I'll make time. I'm sure it'll be great to meet him too." The little alicorn in Twilight's head added the word 'again' rolling her eyes. She thwacked a hoof against her head at that.

"Yes, well I really should thank Rainbow Dash for introducing us properly. You know her and Soarin never really got on when they were together and she's been so good about all this, you know?" Rarity went on as she walked.

Twilight followed, the urge to scratch growing. Her only relief came when she passed by the corner of a dressing stand, hard enough to scratch her side on. All the while her mind could not work out why she didn't even find Rarity's hips swaying just ahead of her even a little attractive.

"Wait, you are dating a Wonderbolt and didn't tell us? How long has this been a thing?" Twilight asked, trying to scratch a particularly irritating spot on her flank against the wall without the fashionista noticing.

Rarity paused, turning, and Twilight's butt hit the floor in a flash. Heat was flowing over her coat as the tingling grew, and the itch on her haunches ushered a set of awkward twitches from the lavender mare.

Rarity seemed none the wiser as she went on. "Well, we've been trying to keep it under wraps for now, he is a celebrity after all. I can't imagine how ponies would react to the thought of the team captain's ex-coltfriend dating one of her closest friends."

"Yeah, that makes sense," Twilight retorted, unable to resist scratching her neck while failing to notice the small cloud of purple fur that was tossed into the air.

Rarity cocked her head. "Twilight, dear, are you feeling alright? You look a little..." Rarity tapped her chin. "Agitated?"

"Nope, perfectly fine. Everything's fine with me!" Twilight chirped immediately, hoof shooting back to the floor as she sat up straight and rigid.

"I see, and the itching? Do forgive me for saying, but you seem to be shedding more fur then Opal?" Rarity pressed, waving a hoof at the small trail of lavender fur following Twilight.

The princess looked over her shoulder, eyes following the trail to where it vanished under her agitated butt and tucked her tail in between her hooves. Come on Twilight, think... You can't tell her that you're sick... Think!

"It's... It's, it must be the makeup, I don't think it agrees with me!" she improvised suddenly, rubbing her tail and causing more purple strands to peel away.

Rarity's concerned expression turned to one of surprise in an instant, and she pressed a hoof to her chest with a gasp. "My goodness, Twilight, I'm so sorry. I had no idea your skin was so sensitive, if I had known I'd never have..."

"It's okay Rarity. I'm sure this is the worst of it," Twilight cut her friend off, waving a forehoof dismissively.

Rarity stomped. "No, I will not have this. I need to make this up to you, Twilight," the unicorn insisted before darting over to one of her drawers. "Now, if you could just get up on the pedestal I'll have you the best dress in Equestria in no time."

Practically dragging herself along, Twilight crawled onto the pedestal. You know dragging doesn't sound so bad, scratching your whole body at once? The idea was almost soothing as Twilight did her best to stay still.

Her tingling hooves tried their utmost to do otherwise until she was prancing on the spot like some kind of excited fan-filly. She bit her bottom lip, yet then the irritation only grew, so her butt once again hit the floor. One grumbled in her gut, followed by a sharp cramp, and she was ready to forget the dress and run for the door. Rarity peeked up from the drawer, a chest of sapphires in her magical grip as she trotted over.

"I think blue will do quite nicely this time. I was saving these sapphires for a special occasion and I think this fits quite nicely." Twilight's eyes followed the box of gems as Rarity set them down across a desktop from her. Is it just me or are they glowing? And what's that sweet peppermint smell?

"Really, Rarity, you don't have to do that for me..." Rarity silenced Twilight with a 'tsk'.

"Quite the opposite, Twilight. I'm willing to provide only the best for you. Besides, I imagine this party could use as many spectacularly dressed ponies as it can get," Rarity insisted, then turned to another drawer. "Now, I'm sure I had your measurements around here," she added, seemingly more to herself then anypony else as she retrieved a tape measure.

Rarity sat down before the pedestal, forming a makeshift window with her forehooves as she levitated the measure around Twilight. The alicorn closed her eyes, teeth grinding as the sensation sent her irritation into overdrive. Tears peeked their way from the corner of her eye as Rarity hummed, and that urge to break out into a fit of itching became as hot as the bubbling feeling in her stomach.

"Humm, That is odd? You look a little sharper than usual, Twilight, and..." Rarity observed and unable to resist any longer Twilight gasped.

"What! What is it?" she demanded, eyes darting to the perplexed fashion pony.

"Well, it looks like you've grown? I had to adjust all your sizes like this when you became a princess, but it seems to be happening again, how odd?" Rarity mused, rubbing her chin.

Twilight swallowed, trembling as she fought to keep that heat in her stomach down in her gut where it belonged. "Oh don't worry, just an alicorn thing, I'm sure," she offered, waving the issue away with a forehoof as she chuckled. "Too much magic equates to extra muscle mass."

So you're calling yourself fat? Well, maybe it really is time to cut down on the hay fries? The pony in her head rubbed her chin as she wondered.

For a second it seemed that Rarity appeared to have come to the same conclusion, yet she failed to say anything about it. "Well, it's going to be a struggle every time you decide to grow, but I can manage. Just need a few adjustments," Rarity mumbled to herself.

"Yeah, I know awkward alicorn stuff. Who knows, one day I may be as tall as Celestia?" Twilight laughed, prancing on the spot again as the swarm of imaginary bugs returned to bite at her skin.

"Ooo, the things I'd be able to make for a body like that," Rarity pondered, then smiled at Twilight. "Okay, you just wait right there, I'll make some corrections and be back with new measurements in just a minute." The unicorn practically sang as she trotted out.

The moment her friend was gone Twilight scratched so much the cloud of purple fur levitating around her became a hazy screen. She fell to the floor, butt up in the air as her mane fell over her eyes. Finally, that hot bubbling in her gut escaped and she covered her mouth with a forehoof once again. Glancing to the door in case a horrified Rarity had heard her rude outburst, the alicorn shivered. When the mare failed to return and scream how unladylike it was to belch uncontrollably, Twilight sighed. She rubbed her front against the pedestal, before falling down to the side and scraping up and down. There was an odd meow and Twilight stiffened, looking sharply at Opal sat on the desktop next to her.

"What? You don't understand how irritating this is," the alicorn grumbled, scratching her forehooves rapidly as she grimaced.

You're talking to a cat, Twilight. Not to mention behaving like one. Her mind noted as Opal let out another bored meow and wandered off after Rarity.

Ignoring her thoughts, the princess kept scratching, at least until her eyes wandered to something sitting in the shadow of Rarity's desk. The small, unremarkable wooden bucket contained a pool of mangy water and damp clothes. At the sight of liquid, however, Twilight darted over, magically lifted up the bucket and dumped the stuff over herself. She didn't care for the muck, grime or even the unmistakable sensation of Applejack's dirty farm duds slapping across her muzzle as she sighed in relief. The cool water washed away the heated irritation, not to mention causing slow cascades of lavender and purple make up to flow down her face. Twilight couldn't care less. She was free, free from her stupid body's attempts to drive her crazy.

And here I thought you couldn't look any more of a mess, her mental avatar commented as she slumped her head on the floor, the cool, goopy mass of waterlogged makeup and dirt like a refreshing mask over her face.

"See, nothing to worry about. All under control," Twilight assured herself, seconds before another sensation hit her. "By Celestia, what's that smell?"

Twilight looked up, expression gleaming in the brilliant blue glow of the sapphires Rarity had left, her nostrils twitching as the blissful smell hit her nose. It was like nothing she'd ever experienced before, putting even the succulent scent of the royal kitchens back in Canterlot to shame. Her stomach growled, hot feelings mixing with that of hunger as she licked her lips. As if willed by some unseen force her hooves betrayed her and began to edge her across the floor. In an effort to stop her starved advance she planted her plot down, yet nothing could stop her as she reached the opposite end of the table and crept up.

Twilight, what are you doing, you're dragging your butt across the floor like a dog! Get a grip, they're just gems... Delicious, tasty gems! One forehoof reached out for the gems, and the other shot out to hold it back.

That level of restraint lasted all of ten seconds before both forehooves were reaching for the gemstones like hungry timberwolves. What in Equestria? These are my legs and they'll do what I say!

Face scrunching, she forced both forelegs under the table and leaned down, her chin hitting the wood as she slumped. Nevertheless, no matter how much she tried her stomach still rumbled and those gems smelt so divine. Her eyes closed tight, only for one to peek open.

"Hmmm, why do rocks smell so good?" she groaned as she slumped a little further toward them, drooping. "I mean... They're just... What's the harm in just one bite?"

She heaved herself onto the table, butt in the air, rear hooves propelling her slowly towards the gemstones. Her eyes twinkled and her tongue lolled as her mouth opened. The burning in her gut was like a fire and they were so close. Her tongue reached out, stretching further than she thought possible until it wrapped around the first sapphire...

"Twilight, I'm back, dear. Sorry, I should have been quicker..." There was an abrupt clatter as the things levitating around Rarity fell to the floor and the alabaster mare's jaw dropped.

Twilight's senses came rushing back, eyes wide and ears tall. But before she could say anything her unusually long tongue instinctively retracted, wrapping around the gemstone and slamming into her muzzle. Oh no, now you're busted!

Rubbing her muzzle as the gem clattered to the floor, Twilight blurted. "Rarity, I–I... I can..." That fire in her welled up, her word cut off as a belch of smoke escaped her mouth.

Okay... That's not normal... Oh Celestia! Twilight manufactured a wide smile, chuckling nervously as she rubbed the back of her neck.

"I know what this looks like, but I can totally explain!" The little alicorn in the princess's head rolled her eyes as the hair shedding from Twilight's neck begged to differ. Oh, sure you can!

Chapter Three: Oh Talons and Tails!

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"Okay, Twilight, not the time to panic. You've totally got this all under control. You're just molting, it really just must be an alicorn thing!" the princess of friendship stated profusely as she paced up and down her bedchamber. "Sure, you scared the fur off of Rarity... Haha, fur off, funny joke!"

Yeah, because spitting smoke is totally a thing the other princesses do, Twilight, her mind interjected as she paused and took a deep breath. Oh, it still tastes of smoke, how marvelous!

"Oh, just hold it together, Twilight. Hold it together!" She pressed her forehooves to her aching temples as she shook her head, then flinched at the pressure her strong limbs asserted. "W–what... No, no, no... They're the same, my hooves are not getting sharper!"

Upon confirming to Rarity that a craving for gems was just another alicorn thing, she'd gotten her new dress and raced from Carousel Boutique as fast as her wings would carry her. It was funny, they almost felt stronger, despite the fact she was starting to see bald patches between her ruffled feathers.

Oh, yeah, what did you tell her? Alicorn metamorphosis? You need to replace your magic or something because you have so much? Ha, what a joke, Twilight, you're lucky she bought it! If anything, it looks like you're going to pupate at this rate, her mind chastised, and she shuddered as she recalled the lie she'd conjured to cover her condition.

"You're not helping, brain!" the princess hissed, smacking her head. "I'm staying right here until tonight, going to take everything I can to make this stop for the party then sort it out tomorrow first thing, got it?" she told herself, jabbing a hoof at the mirror.

Then she finally took a breath, only to snort out a trail of smoke. She covered her face as her stomach growled and really tried not to think about how tasty the walls of her bedchamber were starting to look. She looked at each of her forehooves, noting several balding patches in the lumpy limbs. Yet beneath there was no pale flesh, but instead a hard, purple bristle, similar to the growing ridge on her nose. That had been another thing that had grown in the past few hours, to the point that there were now two more similar ridges either side of it, trailing along the bridge of her muzzle like scales.

A muzzle that looks far wider and longer then I recall, her mind added as she peered down at it. How many times have you accidentally bitten that snake you call a tongue today, Twilight?

She pressed a hoof to her mouth, feeling the edges. Just as she suspected it was getting longer, sharper and more defined. Her skin was becoming hard and her fur falling away. Twilight swallowed, her throat singed with the acrid sensation of smoke. She dared open her muzzle and had to nibble on her hoof to avoid trying to eat the shimmering wall next to her.

First dragon physiology becomes irresistible, now crystals... If I didn't know any better, I'd say... Her thoughts were cut short as pain bloomed in her forehoof. "Ouch!"

She moved it away from her mouth only to see a small cut in the falling fur. Twilight's eye twitched as she dared reach back to her mouth, and poke her teeth. They felt strong and rigid, her gums expanding to support her warping jaw. Then she felt a prick, and another as she tapped a large pair of teeth.

"Are... Are those fangs?" she asked herself, looking at the small puncture in the frog of her hoof. Another feel of her inner jaw, and it was pretty clear that there were far more than two sharp teeth sprouting in her mouth. "No... Not all of my teeth can be fangs... I... By Celestia, it's like what happened to Fluttershy!"

There was a cramp in her gut and she doubled over, feeling a wave of heat escape her mouth. She lay on the floor and huffed, smoke blasting from her flared nostrils. Her aching limbs splayed out around her, the tips of her hooves starting to tingle more and more as she stared across her room at the window. The sun was starting to set, it would be night soon and then the party.

You really think you can go looking like this? Your whole body is changing for some reason! her mind exclaimed, and the alicorn growled, sharp teeth grinding. It's their anniversary, how can I not? she asked herself.

"It's fine, Twilight, just do all you can to cover it up. You have the dress, maybe a scarf and a hat too? Makeup should help," she stated to herself as she heaved herself up.

Yeah, because that went so well the last time, her mind countered, but she shook her head.

There had to be some way she could fix things and not disappoint her friends, nor end up messing up their party with her plight.

Providing you don't accidentally set the place on fire, her mind added and she face-hoofed, desperately trying to think of what she could have done to cause her to be changing so drastically.

"Stop, Twilight, let's think... I used transmogrification to turn into a breezie once, then into a pegasus and an earth pony with Starlight. We had failsafe and reversal spells so nothing could go wrong. The incantation should always default me to my original form," she confirmed to herself, looking at her knobbly forehooves.

"We played it safe, just pony transformations, not even as far as a griffin or half pony like a hippogriff." At that, Twilight's face fell into her forehooves yet again.

"This should not be happening, I'm a pony... But it feels like I'm..." Before she could finish there was a knock at the door and her ears perked, head snapping to the bed chamber's entrance. "Erm... Don't come in... I–I... I'm not decent!"

"Erm, Twilight, we don't usually wear clothes... I've seen you naked," came the muffled voice of the only pony Twilight could even consider wanting to see right now.

"Starlight!" she exclaimed before darting over to the door in a flash. "Oh, thank Celestia it's you... I thought it may be... Oh, never mind, just get in here!"

Before Starlight knew it the door was flung open and a very strong hoof pulled her into the princess' bedchamber. Ruffled, the lilac mare had just a second to stop her head from spinning, at which point she was met with the very crazy face of her mentor way too close to her own muzzle for comfort.

Look, Twilight... Look, she's still a perfect pony... No bald spots, no fangs. This is all in your head, Starlight did everything you did! The tiny mare in Twilight's head rolled her eyes. Seriously, you still think this is all in your head? I'm in here, I know for a fact it's not.

"Whoa, Twilight... You..." Starlight waved a hoof in the air cautiously. "Have you done something with your mane, you look terrible?"

Twilight's eye twitched, her vision distorted for just a second as her morphing pupils shifted. Then she finally slumped, head drooping. Whoa, okay neck feels longer... odd feeling, odd feeling!

"Starlight, can you look at me and tell me I don't look a mess?" Twilight asked, lifting her head. Starlight immediately shifted from worry to uncertainty as she searched for an answer.

"Ermmm, well... You look... You look like a total mess, yes Twilight," the lilac mare admitted, then poked at one of her mentor's forelegs. "You were so strong... And, what in Equestria is happening to your fur, it's falling out!" she exclaimed.

"Please just tell the whole castle while you're at it!" Twilight suddenly snapped, pressing a hoof to Starlight's lips. Seconds later her eyes went wide and she drew back. "Oh... my, Starlight I... Sorry, I don't know..." She shied away, rubbing the back of her neck.

Grr, what's with me... And why does my neck feel so lumpy? Twilight thought, wincing as several more clumps of mane fell out in her hooves.

Starlight was swift to recompose herself and creep back towards her former mentor. "It's okay, Twilight, just tell me what's wrong... You... I've never seen anything like this before?"

"That's the problem, I have no idea what's wrong!" Twilight exclaimed, forehooves wide and wings losing feathers as they flared. "A few days ago I could not think straight, then there was this itching, now my coat's falling off!"

Starlight lifted a hoof to her chin, then leaned forwards. "Not thinking straight, how?" she pressed, and Twilight instinctively hid behind a balding wing as she went bright red.

"I may... Or may not, have had an uncontrollable urge to be rutted by a dragon," she muttered before swiftly declaring. "Totally not Spike! That would just be weird." She shuddered.

Taken aback by the sudden burst of information Starlight almost fell backward. "Oh, I thought maybe it would just be anger issues or something... But I guess that works too," she admitted and Twilight huffed smoke as her face went redder than ever.

"I hate this... Stupid dragon instincts, why is this happening to me?" Twilight groaned, falling onto her back. "We did everything safely, nopony even turned into a dragon!"

Starlight shrugged. "It was transmogrification, you know changing our shape in the universe can have big impacts, right?" the lilac mare elaborated, but Twilight shot her a flat look.

"You think I don't?" She sat up and looked at her balding forehooves. Ooo, please tell me they're not starting to look even lumpier... No claws, no, no, no!"

"But secondary shifts like this... ones resistant to magic, should not be happening. That's soul transmogrification stuff, we only used body?" Twilight explained, starting to feel new muscles in her limbs that she really shouldn't. "My soul is still a pony... I'm still a pony!"

Starlight took another step back as smoke sizzled from Twilight's nostrils. "Wait, magically resistant? What do you mean?" she asked, and Twilight sighed.

"I tried to cast a spell this morning to cover up the changes, they were not as bad back then." She rubbed the hard bumps on the bridge of her muzzle. "But nothing I did worked, I was just going to keep it a secret, hope it would just blow over..." She sighed, face in her forehooves. "But I give up, help me Starlight."

Starlight bit her bottom lip. Twilight's pleading eyes did not quite have the same effect now that her pupils were narrowing into draconic slits. Nevertheless, the unicorn stomped a hoof down.

"Twilight, you need to cast a self-scrying spell, maybe that can help?" she offered as Twilight staggered up on her ever elongating limbs.

"I tried that last night... I got nothing. Urgh, magic is supposed to solve my problems, not turn me into a..." Twilight paused, pressing a hoof to her throat. My voice... did it just break... Oh Celestia, I don't sound that deep all the time, do I?

Starlight lifted a forehoof to her muzzle, looking like she was caught halfway between laughter and fear as she regarded her friend. One hard look from Twilight and the lilac mare collected herself with a dismissive cough.

"Okay, okay, sorry." Starlight waved her hooves defensively before sitting down to think. "Try a spell, how about a simple illusions spell? That won't change you physically so this transformation curse won't know the difference, right?"

Twilight's expression fell flat again, yet Starlight insisted as she levitated over a book from the princess's shelves. Grumbling, Twilight finally did as she was ordered, only for a pain to blossom in her skull. The changing mare winced, reaching up to grab her horn.

"Ouch, what in Equestria?" she shrieked, voice shifting between deep and shrill as Starlight also perked up. "I–... My magic... Starlight, I can't do it!" she declared, face scrunching as she tried to force a spark from her horn.

Oh, no, no, no, Twilight please tell me that's not your horn you're feeling! her mind's little avatar pleaded as Twilight's hoof tapped against the longer, more crooked shaft that was once her horn.

Panic gripping her, her ears folded back and she pressed both forehooves to the back of her head, only to feel two more sharp bumps pushing their way out from her skull. She gasped, coughing on a jet of smoke before finally covering her elongating muzzle with her forehooves.

"This... This can't be happening... How can I fix this without magic?" Twilight stammered, looking down at her forehooves to see nubs parting to form small claws in the newly bald patches in her fur.

"Okay, Twilight calm down, I can fix this, I'm sure. It's just a little side effect, right? Your soul's probably been contaminated by somepony else's," Starlight suggested as she tossed the illusion spell book aside.

"Yeah because knowing that makes me feel so much better," Twilight huffed, slouching as she looked at the lilac mare.

Starlight did her best to sympathize as she sat down next to her larger friend. "Look, stand up for me please, I'll have to look you over instead," she suggested.

Twilight glanced back with a sniff. "Seriously, a scrying spell? You know how intimate they can be, right?" she asked, blushing a little.

Starlight hid her own embarrassment with a smile. "Yeah, but I'm married, Trixie will understand," she responded before her horn started to glow. "Besides, if I let her see you like this I know she wouldn't let either of us ever live it down."

As instructed, Twilight got to her hooves, now standing almost half a head taller than her former student. She felt her whole body starting to shift in ways she really wasn't used to, she was stronger and sterner. Yet less magic was flowing through her veins every second, replaced by the fire in her chest and stomach. Starlight's face contorted with confusion, and she hummed as she looked over Twilight's body completely. There was an odd tingle as the observational magic passed through her. Feeling oddly naked, she shifted a wing to cover her side, flopping her now very thin tail fur over her flanks. The spell reached her lower body, then her rear and she let out an eep, the feeling sharp as it pinched her most sensitive areas.

Urgh, it's like a serious doctor's exam all over again! her mind moaned, recalling the few times she'd suffered minor magical side effects as a filly. Always too ambitious for your own good, Twi.

Finally, Starlight leaned back, face a little red and ears flushed as she rubbed her chin. "Not a word to anypony, okay? I promise." Starlight motioned a cross over her heart, held up and wiggled her forehooves, then put one hoof over an eye, and Twilight smiled, nodding.

"So, what did you find, anything?" the princess pleaded and Starlight stood up, pacing up and down.

"As a host, the transformation must not respond to your magic, even a scrying hours ago would have told you something was different. Twilight, your whole insides have shifted, your organs are all over the place and there’s whole new ones!" Starlight elaborated and Twilight paled, her butt hitting the floor.

It's so cold with no tail to sit on... Ooo, why does my dock feel like it's grown so much longer? Her thoughts spun as she huffed, smoke sizzling from her nostrils again. Look on the bright side, at least it's not itching anymore.

"I can only guess it is something in your soul, it's seeping outwards, it affected you inside first and now it's asserting itself on the outside," Starlight proposed, stopping to take a good look at Twilight.

The dragon-mare perked up. "Yeah, but that still makes no sense, I never changed my soul. You and I both know how dangerous that is. One of us could have ended up turned into a rock or a stupid chair. You think I wanted to risk my soul being lost in the ether forever?" she exclaimed.

As unsure as she looked, Starlight could only shake her head. "I know, I know, you should be fine... Urgh, but there's so many things about transmogrification that nopony understands, this could be a breakthrough for all we know!"

"I prefer my magical breakthroughs when they don't break my body, Starlight!" Twilight snapped, then flinched away once again, hiding behind a wing that was rapidly looking far more like that of some crazy bat creature. "Sorry, I'm just getting so frustrated... I can't control it."

"Just like a dragon," Starlight observed, tapping a hoof on her chin. "It's in your mind too, Twilight, it could be some kind of ether parasite for all we know!" she exclaimed, then face hoofed. "We never should have messed with this stuff."

"Easy for you to say... I have no magic, I can't fix this," Twilight muttered, then slumped again. "Maybe Celestia, but I can't go to her like this... What will she think when one of her princesses can't even get this kind of magic right?"

"Twilight, not to say you're wrong, but we might have to. This is way over our heads," Starlight proposed, but Twilight shook her head.

"No, no, we can fix this. We're the two most magically gifted ponies in Equestria, right... Not counting Celestia and Luna," Twilight beamed, even as she was sure she could feel muscles shifting in her face and hear the crack of her spine elongating.

Yeah, and when one of those two mares offered help, why did you turn her down again, Twilight? Her mind asked, images of Luna's giggling face from her dream flashing before her eyes.

Starlight winced. "Maybe we can, but it's going to take a while. We can't leave you like this." She motioned to her friend's balding fur and leathery wing tips.

Twilight looked herself over, noting that her last strands of tail fur were now falling out of a very dragon looking tail bud on her butt. Her shifting eyes twitched, strands of frazzled mane falling in her face as she looked at Starlight.

"Sure we can fix it, I'd trust you with my life, Starlight. You can fix this in no time. All we have to do is make me look presentable for the party tonight then I just wait in here until you fix this." Twilight manufactured a toothy smile.

"The party, are you sure... Plus, we don't know how long it will take, what if you outgrow the castle?" Starlight countered.

"Pfft, I'd be more worried about eating it first, plus there's no way I can let Applejack and Rainbow down." Twilight flexed a hoof-claw. "I just trust you Starlight, you're the only pony I have," the dragon-mare pressed and Starlight finally sighed.

"Okay, I understand, I promise I'll do all I can for you, I owe you that much," Starlight admitted, smiling at her mentor. "But what about the party? Seriously, it's just hours away?"

Twilight almost subconsciously scratched her balding chest with a newly squat set of claws, unsure, before finally, an idea came to her. "Starlight, I can't use my magic but you can clearly use yours on me. What was that about illusion spells?"


"Ha, take that stupid dragon curse, it worked!" Twilight shouted into the mirror, jabbing a hoof at her perfectly pony like reflection as Starlight panted next to her. She looked at both of her hooves on the dresser-top, giggling. "Ooo, it feels so good to not have them twitching like that all the time!"

"Twilight wait, there's still some things..." Starlight forced through her panting, only to be cut off as Twilight hugged her with a very feathery wing.

"Now I can go to the party no problem, thank you so much, Starlight!" she said as she squeezed the lilac mare.

"Twi–Twilight... Y–you, your strength... It did not change... You're crushing..." Starlight tapped Twilight's wing and in a second the princess recoiled with a gasp.

"Oh, by Celestia, Starlight, I'm sorry... I forgot..." Twilight stammered, forehooves pressed to her chest.

Taking a deep breath Starlight rested a hoof on Twilight's side. "It's just a perceptive illusion, Twilight, you only look and feel like yourself, inside you're still..."

"Still some freaky monster?" Twilight interrupted, drooping as she looked down at her normal forehooves.

"No, no, I was going to say dragon-mare... hybrid... Gah, you're not a freak Twilight. Whatever did this to you, we'll stop it, I promise," Starlight insisted, waving her forehooves.

Twilight pouted, wings ruffled. "Still not perfect though, is it... What have I done to myself?" she asked, looking back at her reflection.

Is it just me or did I see those stupid dragon eyes flash in the glass? Her mental avatar wondered, tapping her chin as Starlight considered what her former mentor had said.

"Well no, but we only intended for it to be temporary, right? So what if we have no idea how much you'll have changed when we take the mask off, or how stable it is?" The lilac mare chuckled and gave a sheepish grin.

Twilight shot her an unimpressed look. "Of course, I can be like your wingmare. I'll make sure nopony finds out by accident, I promise?" she went on, tapping her forehooves together.

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "How's that even work when you're married, Trixie's going to be there?" she asked, but Starlight shrugged.

"Yeah, but Pinkie said there'd be karaoke, you know what Trixie is like when she sees a stage. We'll have a magic show by the end of the night, I'm sure," she explained.

"Let's just hope it's enough to keep this dumb dragon mind I have off of Spike and Ember," Twilight admitted with a huff as she looked at herself in the mirror. "Or everypony’s eyes off of me too."

Starlight placed a hoof on her shoulder, a reflection of the lilac mare appearing at Twilight's side in the shimmering glass. "Just try not to think about it, all you have to do is show your face for a bit... What was it you told Rarity, it's an alicorn thing right?"

"Ha, like that will work again, they'll know something's up," Twilight countered, feeling muscles squirming under Starlight's illusion even now. "They all know me too well."

Regardless, the troubled princess's former student smirked. "Well, they don't have any reason to not believe you yet," she prompted, and Twilight looked at her. "Not if I can help it, that is."

Chapter Four: This Night's Gonna Drag-on

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"Everything's going to be fine, right? Just act casual," Starlight whispered to Twilight as the pair walked through the dark Ponyville streets, gravitating in the direction of thumping music with along with a range of other ponies.

"Casual, yeah... Just act casual," Twilight muttered, straightening her hat and pushing a pair of dark-rimmed sunglasses up her muzzle as she stepped awkwardly on shifting limbs. "It's not like I feel like I'm about to explode right now or anything."

Starlight winced at her former mentor's words. To say the illusionary mask spell had been successful would have been pushing it. At first, aside from Twilight's strength and odd cough of smoke, nopony would have been any the wiser of her worsening condition. Yet the longer the mask was up the more it was starting to slip. It started with the princesses' eyes, now amethyst purple and slit like that of a dragon. Her horn was tarnished a darker shade of lavender and her fangs had once again begun to peek from her mouth in addition to the stubborn ridges reasserting themselves on the bridge of her muzzle. Her legs were starting to bend in odd ways and flecks of hair fell from her coat, disintegrating into nothing as a new pair of horns threatened to push the hat off of her head altogether.

The dress Rarity had made for her, in combination with the large headwear, glasses and thick scarf covered everything up rather neatly. What was left of Starlight's spell took care of any major details, yet with every step Twilight could feel the lean draconic body lying under the magic yearn to break free. Her attire could barely contain some of the draconic details, she could feel scales cutting through it as they once again asserted themselves from under her fur. Those instincts were still there too, a hunger for gems, the uncontrollable attraction to the draconic form. There was anger as well, she felt like every buzzing insect her twitching ears picked up needed to be swatted. Her tail was good for that at least, or what was really left of it. Part of her simply wanted to snort fire at the offending bugs just to get the burning out of her chest.

"Casual? Ha, you can't seriously expect me to act casual!" declared the third mare traveling alongside the princess and Starlight. Trixie rapped a foreleg around her wife's shoulder, pulling her into a sidelong embrace as she boasted. "You just wait, the moment the stage is free the great and powerful Trixie is going to put on such a show!"

Starlight giggled, nuzzling her wife's neck. "Oh, I sure can't wait for that, my little Pixie," the lilac mare teased and just like that the showpony's confidence waned slightly.

"What... Starlight, what did I tell you... Not in front of Twilight," Trixie muttered, floundering as she moved Starlight away, then smiled awkwardly at Twilight.

Oh, she has no idea what I've heard. The little alicorn in Twilight's head muttered as the princess rapidly returned the same awkward expression.

"Oh, don't worry about me... I'm sure whatever you put on will captivate everypony, Trixie," Twilight chuckled, waving the idea away with a hoof.

Oh, wouldn't you like that, Twilight. All eyes off you and your dumb, warping body. Twilight shook her head, eyes and ears twitching as her mane crawled.

"You'll sure have my attention, superstar," Starlight added, bumping Trixie's rump with her own, forcing the light blue mare to blush.

Face scrunching, Trixie retorted. "Okay, kinda wishing I saved telling you until we were somewhere more private, you tease."

Starlight batted her eyes. "Yeah, but just think about what I will end up doing to you in private later."

Trixie's ears stood tall, cheeks red and eyes wide as Starlight nuzzled her neck, giggled. "Okay... The Great and Powerful Trixie has water needs, catch up, please!" Just like that she was gone, darting toward Sugarcube corner like a bolt of blue lightning.

"Good distraction. I don't think I've ever seen anypony other then Rainbow Dash move that fast before," Twilight admitted, hoof pressed to her throat as she coughed.

By Celestia, no not the voice too. Damn it, I'm starting to sound like a prepubescent filly again! Twilight's mind screamed as Starlight shot her a sly look.

"Well, I wasn't lying about it. Sex helps me think afterward, all the better to solve your problem too." Now it was Twilight's turn to blush as Starlight chuckled.

Okay, after all the amazing things I have seen her do... She was able to do them because... Twilight spat out her tongue, gagging along with the little princess in her head. Way too much information!

"Whoa, watch the tongue, Twilight!" Starlight prompted, and Twilight was swift to notice that her long, gem grabbing tongue had begun to show.

Slamming her mouth shut with a shrill eep, the princess grumbled. "Erg, I really thought we had it under control for a moment... No way is this going to last all night." She glanced at Starlight as the lilac mare winced.

"I thought I'd put enough power into it, but the magic in you must be stronger than I anticipated," she admitted, then seemed to think. "Usually I'd suggest a subconscious magical flow to keep power to the spell... But with your magic out of commission, I don't know how to sustain it for much longer?"

"Please don't remind me," Twilight huffed, all too aware of the lack of any magical feeling in her head and horn as the spire atop her skull slowly faded back into its crooked, darker draconic form. "Guess I really will just have to show my face and be off... Or at least what I can of my face."

She straightened her glasses again, catching sight of her slit eyes reflection in the glass and feeling a spike of dread down her spine. She'd wanted to at least make a night out of two of her best friends' most special evening. Yet it seemed everything in the universe was conspiring to turn her into a monster instead. All she could really hope is that she did not end up seeing much of Spike or Ember, no way did she think she could keep the dragoness inside her from coming out then.

"Sorry, Twilight. If there was a way I could sustain the spell without anypony noticing then I would. But if Rarity already knows something is up, they're all going to be suspicious," Starlight apologized.

And there she goes again, bluntly reminding me of how stupid I am and how dire this situation is. Twilight's thoughts grumbled before she slammed a mental door in the face of her accusations. That's the dragoness talking, Twi, not you.

She sighed. "It's okay, Starlight, don't worry about it. All I have to do is keep my head down and, well, everything should be..."

"Oh, my goodness, you're actually here! Oo, oo, oo, Twilight, I was so worried you wouldn't come! And Starlight too, hello there my favorite magical ponies!" declared the sudden energetic voice of Pinkie Pie the moment either of the pair's hooves took one step on the doorstep of Sugarcube Corner.

Keep your head down, nopony will notice? Yeah, spoke way too soon. Twilight's mental avatar smirked as, in reality, the princess once again manufactured her signature awkward smile. You know I think you're using that a little too much, Twi. It's getting hard to hide those fangs of yours.

There was a nudge from Starlight as the lavender mare chuckled and Twilight zipped her muzzle shut. "H-hey, Pinkie... You know I wouldn't miss this for the world," Twilight stammered, words broken by chuckles and eyes darting between the pink earth pony and Starlight.

"For sure, we just had a little trouble getting ready, that's all," Starlight added, gesturing to her own, far less conspicuous, dress with a hoof. "We may, or may not, have had a magical accident with some permanent dye."

Wow, nice improvising there, are you sure you didn't train her in charisma too? Twilight's mind chirped as Starlight shot her a subtle wink. What... No, how else do you think she managed to get an entire town to follow her that one time, brain!

Pinkie Pie giggled, forehooves pressed to her muzzle. "Oh, you silly-fillies, sounds kinda neat... Oh, oh, could you make me more pink for a day? Oooorrr, maybe give me a mane like Rainbow? Oooo, the pranks I could pull on her with that!" the giddy mare exclaimed before she flicked Twilight's hat with a hoof. "Explains the super silly get-up though, Twilight. Are you some super secret agent now? Oh, I should have so made this a fancy dress party!"

Twilight was swift to press a forehoof to the headwear and make sure it didn't fall off as Pinkie beamed at the pair of them.

"Yeah, that sounds like it would have been a great idea," Twilight offered, considering just how much easier it could have been to hide her new features if everypony had been in costume.

"Yeah... That's if AJ would have let me, she's so stubborn about things around Rainbow," Pinkie huffed, waving the idea away with a hoof.

Starlight giggled. "They're married, I think one of them has to be the sensible one and it's sure not Rainbow most of the time," she offered, and in a flash, Pinkie was giving her a sly look.

"Oh, you'd know all about that wouldn't you?" the earth pony pressed and Starlight raised an eyebrow as Pinkie nudged her side. "Don't think I didn't see Trixie run in here just now all flustered... You're such a tease."

Starlight choked, coughing, their antics at least drawing a laugh from Twilight. Then she swiftly slammed a hoof over her muzzle as her giggling voice cracked again. Pinkie was none the wiser as she was too busy giggling herself.

"Hehe, you're all so cute nowadays... Hehehe, she made right for the punch, Starlight, bet that's where you'll find her now," Pinkie practically sang, before bouncing on the spot. "Oh, look, more ponies! You two enjoy the party, I gotta go meet and greet!"

In a pink blur and a gust of wind, the giddy mare was gone, darting around groups of newcomers like a cotton candy hurricane. Twilight looked to Starlight, who still had the faintest hints of pink in her cheeks before she shook her head and took a breath.

"You know, sometimes I'd really like to figure out how she knows so much about everypony," she stated, watching Pinkie dash around like a mad mare.

"It's just Pinkie being Pinkie, there's no explanation," Twilight retorted.

Yeah, just like there's probably no explanation to why you're turning into some freak of nature, Twi. Admit it, you're doomed. Twilight's mind droned and she tapped a hoof on the floor nervously.

"So you wanna head in? Trust me, if Trixie is drinking already nopony is going to be looking at you," Starlight asked, then rolled her eyes, ears folding back. "Celestia knows I'm going to have to cart her drunk butt home later."

"Sure, head in for a bit, mingle then go right back to wallowing in the castle until I turn into a dragoness... What could go wrong ?" Twilight choked awkwardly, and Starlight at least tried to make her next smile reassuring.

Oh, sure, you're in a confined space with loads of ponies while there's a virtual time bomb ticking away inside you. What in Equestria could go wrong? Twilight's mind commented, the little alicorn seemingly taking bets on how long it would take for everything to turn into an utter mess as Twilight stepped into the party. Well, hope everypony is ready for another Ponyville disaster?

The inside of Sugarcube Corner was decorated exactly as one who'd been to a party conjured up by Pinkie Pie would expect. Streamers and confetti littered the floor and ceiling, balloons were strung to just about everywhere they could be anchored. A large banner strung above the counter at the far end of the room boasted the faces of the two mares of honor. Applejack and Rainbow Dash, along with a heart and hastily written text. The music that had been audible as a distant rumble from back at the castle was now like thunder thumping in everypony's ears. A familiar white unicorn with an electric blue mane sat at the controls, purple shades concealing her eyes as she bobbed her head to the beat.

Oh Celestia, what I would not give for glasses like that right now! Twilight mentally yearned, eyes passing from the DJ across the sea of partying ponies. Yeah, you can't see strange, freaky, purple dragon eyes through purple shades, right?

The heart of the party was dominated by a long table covered in food. Cakes, pastries, and candy sat among other treats. Piles of hay burgers and fries made Twilight's mouth water. As her gaze continued to a mound of blue sapphire cupcakes sitting next to them, however, she was almost drooling uncontrollably. Her hooves started to pull her forward without thought, tongue lolling as she marched like a zompony in the direction of the table. Then a hoof wrapped over her shoulders and Starlight's face contorted as she put all of her strength into heaving the entranced Twilight in the other direction.

"This way, Twilight, look this way... Don't think about those, they're for Spike," Starlight encouraged, panting as she took Twilight by the cheeks and stared through the princesses' glasses, right into her eyes.

Twilight shook her head rapidly, breaking out of her stupor. "Gems... Spike... Oh no." She pressed a hoof to her muzzle, her dry mouth yearning for tasty sapphires and rubies. "T–thanks, Starlight... I, think I need to be as far away from food as possible."

Starlight nodded, giving a salute with a hoof as she looked around and identified a safe spot at the far end of the room by some empty dining booths. In the same moment, there was a whoosh of air and everypony's eyes were drawn to the middle of the room as a familiar brash voice announced to the crowd.

"Evening everypony!" Rainbow Dash declared as she hovered in the center of the room, dressed in a dress that looked half gown, half Wonderbolts uniform.

Wonder what she had to say to Rarity to get her to make that? Twilight asked herself, trying not to think about the pale gem set above Rainbow's chest. Something cool, awesome. No, not fancy! That's my guess. The little alicorn offered.

"First of all I'd like to thank you all for coming to the awesome second-anniversary bash of me and my awesome wife AJ!" she went on, pointing a hoof to the crowd, ponies clearing to reveal Applejack.

The farm pony looked a little put off as she was singled out, blushing even as she rolled her eyes, forelegs crossed as she shot Rainbow Dash a wry look.

The prismatic pegasus chuckled. "The love of my life, I'm pretty sure," she joked, drawing a laugh from the crowd. "But it's more than just that, neither of us would be here today if it wasn't for all of you. We have some pretty awesome friends here in Ponyville, or wherever else you've come from tonight!"

Before she could finish there was another whoosh, this time a pink flash shooting up to wrap around Rainbow's side.

"Oh, don't forget about me, Dashie! I know just how to throw the perfect party for both of you!" Pinkie Pie added, pressing a hoof to Rainbow's muzzle as she effortlessly clung to the hovering pegasus' side.

Rainbow chuckled again. "Nope, no way I could forget about you, Pinkie, without whom AJ and I would probably not be together in the first place!" The pair finished with a hoof bump, before breaking out into laughter and Applejack once again rolled her eyes.

"Now who's ready to shoot this party up to eleven!" Rainbow called, lifting a hoof as the crowd cheered.

"Oh, oh, do the cake trick, Dashie, the cake trick!" Pinkie added with equal enthusiasm as she cheered too, somehow not falling as she did so.

"Okay, Pinkie... So long as you clean it up afterward," Rainbow responded, and Pinkie grinned, licking her lips.

The cake trick? Oh, no. Twilight paled under her disguise, looking at Starlight who had an equally concerned look on her face. It's not good to be standing near that stunt at the best of times.

"We need to get out of the way, now would be a really good time!" Twilight insisted and Starlight was swift to clear the way for them both to dart over to the dining booth as Rainbow began to circle, the cheering growing in magnitude.

The pair ducked into the cover of the booth just in time as Rainbow flew up toward the stairs, gaining as much height as she could before locking eyes on a large cake in the middle of the central table. Pinkie darted to stand right behind the towering dessert, mouth open as she bounced on the spot. Almost everypony was cheering now, many moving to mimic Pinkie, save for Applejack still singled out on the far side of the room who simply pressed her hat to her chest, lowered her gaze and shook her head as she chuckled.

"Cake trick!" Pinkie called as Rainbow recoiled in the air before launching full force at the tower of baked magnificence and cyan icing.

There was a prismatic blast, followed by a torrent of sugary dessert shooting everywhere. Like a hurricane of frosting, the deluge of icing was blasted around the room, covering walls, doors, seats, and everypony standing out in the open. Open mouths were filled instantly, giddy ponies munching down as they were caked in cyan swirls. Pinkie Pie was the foremost to explode into a fit of cheers, everypony else following her a moment later as Rainbow, miraculously unscathed by any cake debris, swirled in the air to bow for the crowd.

Protected by the cover of the booth, Twilight had just one spot of frosting to flick from her muzzle, ears folding back as she muttered. "She does that with the gem cakes and I'm going to lose it."

"How does she even do that without getting covered in..." Starlight mused, tapping her chin before she caught a glimpse of Twilight shuddering so much it almost rattled the whole booth. "Oh, no, no, you're doing great, Twilight... Maybe another half hour, then we go?"

Yeah, you think you can last that long? Her mind asked, counting down like a doomsday clock to the moment she'd break. Oooo, why do my hooves look like they're flickering?

"By Celestia, the nerve of that mare. This is an anniversary, not a wing-rally," huffed Rarity, and the pair looked to see that in their haste, they'd not been the only ones to take cover in the dining booth.

Dressed in a far more appealing looking version of Twilight's dress, the fashionista looked practically glamorous without the additional hat, scarf and other random attire the princess was wearing. Rarity flicked a slip of icing away from her with a forehoof, before looking at Twilight somewhat awkwardly. The princess paled at the sight of her, no idea how to dig herself out of the hole a second time.

"I'd say you had the right idea dressing like that if they are throwing cake around like ruffians now, dear. Please, please, tell me that it's not because of the makeup reaction," Rarity offered, face stricken with guilt once again.

Oh, so she still thinks it's that? Maybe you can still cover it up? The little alicorn in her head offered as Twilight's eyes darted to anywhere other than Rarity's face, ears folded back.

"No–no, nothing to do with that... Like I said, alicorn issues..." Twilight improvised once again, shuddering as she chuckled awkwardly. "I–I have it all under control."

"It's magical exhaustion, when a lesser alicorn like Twilight expends too much magic and they need to refuel. Hence the consuming of gems... smoke is a side effect too, kinda like an engine running on fumes," Starlight interjected, resting a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "It's kind of an awkward subject. Considering there are like... Only two mares that even go through it."

Wow, improvised again? She really is good. Twilight's thoughts noted as she glanced at Starlight's cool, composed expression. Then the little princess in her head frowned. Hey, who is she calling a lesser alicorn?

"Oh, my," Rarity pressed a hoof to her chest. "I had no idea it was such a touchy subject... I'm sorry for pressing, Twilight. I just worry about you, that's all," she responded, smiling at her friend.

"It's okay, Rarity, really. I usually handle it in private, but it's just hit me at a really bad time," Twilight assured her, nodding to the party going on around them.

"Quite so, it's always such a pain when our bodies catch us out, hm?" she giggled, catching an awkward chuckle from Twilight.

Oh, she really has no idea. Celestia forbid she catch whatever I have. Then again, that happens and I guess I would not have to worry about Spike again. He'd be all over her, Ember or not. Her mind chimed as she glanced around the chaos. Bet you're so glad they're not here yet, huh?

She blushed, trying not to think about it too much before another pony caught her attention, and she looked back towards Rarity.

"Hello there, my little diamond, I was wondered where you'd gotten to. Rainbow's about to blast some pies!" said a pale, cloudy-colored pegasus stallion as he peeked over the rim of the booth, darker mane and tuxedo marred by cake frosting. "Duck and cover, right?"

Rarity looked at Soarin and frowned, but reluctantly nuzzled the tip of his muzzle regardless. "More than you, it seems, some of us still wish to keep our glamour intact. You're lucky that tux looks so good on you... and that it's an old one. I should have known better than that, now that I think about it," she responded and the stallion smirked.

"Cake or no cake, you'd be no less glamorous." He nudged her with a wing tip and she blushed, horn lighting up and yanking him forward by his tie.

"Twilight, Starlight, you've met Soarin before, have you not?" Rarity introduced and the moment her coltfriend realized who he was standing before he dropped into a bow.

"Princess Twilight, my apologies I did not recognize you," he offered, forcing Twilight to blush as her distorting feathers ruffled.

"D–don't worry about it, really, Soarin," she chuckled, tapping a hoof as he lifted his head. The stallion's look turned quizzical as the floorboards buckled under the force of Twilight's step, yet before he could speak Rarity chimed in.

"Oh, such a gentlecolt, isn't he?" the alabaster mare admired, nuzzling his neck as he blushed sheepishly, ears folding back. "Handsome and well mannered!"

Twilight glanced at Starlight, the pair sharing an awkward look before Rarity's attention became focused on the latter mare.
"But enough about my love life, how about you Starlight... I saw Trixie before but you weren't around. How are you two doing?" Rarity asked, and Starlight swiftly recomposed herself.

"Oh, you know how she is. I have a feeling everypony will know she's here by the end of the night," she responded, chuckling before she added. "We're both doing great, I just kinda had to help Twilight out with her alicorn issues first. Didn't want other ponies noticing."

Twilight nodded at the confirmation, as did Rarity. "Oh, I completely understand, darling. Also, if there is anything you need me to do too, do not hesitate to ask," the fashionista offered.

"Wait, alicorn issues? Are you okay princess?" Soarin asked, only to be nudged aside by a pale flank and a somewhat sultry looking Rarity.

"Mare issues, honey. You need not concern yourself with them," she assured him, muttering something inaudible in his ear that forced him to go redder than ever and shrink back.

"Oh, okay." The shrill cough that left Soarin's mouth at the words pretty much confirmed he'd not be repeating whatever his marefriend had told him any time soon.

And here I thought your voice was breaking, goddesses. For once the little alicorn in Twilight's head was impressed by something other than her own bodily changes as Rarity smiled back at her and Starlight.

"Thanks, Rarity, I'll be sure to come find you if we need anything," Twilight assured, offering a smile, only to be cut off by Starlight as she was hugged from the side.

"Or more accurately I'll come and find you... You know how things can get," the lilac mare added, before whispering in Twilight's ear. "The smile, Twi... Your fangs are showing again."

The princess let out a shrill eep, lips doing their best to stretch over her persistently prominent fangs as she turned away from Rarity and Soarin. Her retreat was covered by Starlight who stepped in to cover her former mentor's rear, flanks starting to weep falling fur again as scales forced their way outwards. Twilight swallowed, her throat aching as fire bubbled in her chest. The more she worked herself up, the more the mask seemed to slip, and her head drooped, neck cracking. She saw one of her forehooves flicker like a dying candle, then large claws appeared from under the illusion as it failed. Gasping a small puff of smoke, she covered the offending limb with the forehoof that still maintained its disguise. Her head shot up, sharpening ears tall. She needed a place to hide, she needed Starlight again!

The mare in question's voice chimed just behind her as she addressed Rarity and her pegasus coltfriend with a joke about how much magic could mess a pony up sometimes.

Funny Starlight, haha. Her mind droned. Then it hit her, not so much a realization, or the sudden sensation of all of her draconic features all erupting out at once.

Instead, it was the warm, hot stickiness of fresh pie sliding down her face. Twilight's eye twitched, dark glasses slanting as she fought hard to keep herself composed and not let the dragoness out from under the illusion. What was it Soarin said about pie? Oh Celestia, that's going to leave a mark.

Chapter Five: Can't Hide What's Inside

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To say that tonight was shaping up to be a mess was an understatement. When somepony is stuck with a body that is insistent on slowly changing into the body of another, the last place they want to be is in the middle of a crowded hall with noise, desserts flying like artillery, and every single pair of eyes in the room on them. Twilight stood as stiff as she could, even as parts of her body bubbled and morphed under her clothes and the smearing of pie filling. One draconic eye poked out from her slanted glasses. Bones in her back were grinding, spines asserting themselves and steadily ripping through her dress at a painfully slow rate.

Dear Celestia, how about everypony just gawk at me changing in slow motion while they're at it! Twilight thought, mouth twitching as she resisted the urge to smile at the ponies looking at her. No, don't show them the damn teeth, Twi

Yet before anypony could scream at how horrifying she was starting to look, everypony burst out laughing. Despite her better judgment, Twilight offered a weak smile, straightening her glasses and desperately looking for Starlight's assistance. That fire in her gut was building far too strong now, but the lilac mare was thankfully still right next to her. Of course, like the universe was some sick joke, somepony else was swift to interfere.

"Oh, Twilight... Looks like you're it... Sooo, wanna throw a pie?" Pinkie Pie asked, materializing beside the princess with a fresh pie in one forehoof.

Oh, I'm going to kill you Rainbow! Twilight's mind seared as she noticed the pegasus hovering behind Pinkie barely able to contain her laughter as she muttered a weak apology. No, Twilight, no! Don't think about setting her on fire on her anniversary!

"Errrrmmm," Twilight's voice was like that of rocks grinding together, at least until it cracked and she slammed her one good forehoof to her muzzle, folding the other to her chest in an effort to cover her claws.

"Sooo, Twilight?" Pinkie pressed, almost muzzle to muzzle with the princess, eyes staring right through her shades into her very soul. Words caught in the alicorn's throat like bricks, the fire in her chest swelling against the awkward plug as she trembled.

Pinkie cocked her head, a curious look blooming before she was interrupted. "Oh, Pinkie, dear, you might want to just give her a little space," chimed Rarity, waving a hoof to the pink mare.

Pinkie's curious look turned to concern as she glanced over at the primly dressed unicorn, taking a small step back. Both her face and that of Rainbow hovering behind her were a mix of worry and confusion as Twilight trembled, desperately trying to stammer out a word through her body's explosive attempts to break free of the disguise. It was like a pressure now, she could feel muscles bulging, scales cutting through fabric and her folded wings rippling. She coiled in on herself, trying to cover everything as she looked about in desperation.

"Say, ya’ alright, sugarcube?" asked Applejack from across the table, shooting her wife a disapproving look.

"What, I didn't aim for her specifically, AJ," Rainbow responded with a shrug.

"Bathroom now!" Starlight suddenly declared, marching into Twilight and shoving the paralyzed princess aside with her head as well as the full force of her magic.

The motion went by like a blur, every pair of eyes was still on her as her butt slid across the floor and Starlight dragged her right over to the furthest corner of the room. Before any more attention could focus on her, however, Rarity stepped into the place she'd been occupying and called out.

"Nothing to see here everypony, you just go right back to your games," she declared, laughing before she added. "Rainbow Dash, you throw one pie at me and so help me I'll have those wings of yours plucked!"

"S-Starlight... I think the spell is..." Twilight began to stammer, doubling over before Starlight forced a hoof to her muzzle.

"Don't talk, your voice is really, really not like it usually is," she insisted as she sat Twilight down by the bathroom door and looked her over. "Oh, it's completely breaking down, give me a second I might be able to give you a little more time."

She lowered her horn, face scrunching as she focused her magic and poured a little more power into the spell. Twilight felt her throat clear and the bubbling in her muscles stop, yet one look down and it was clear what draconic features had managed to break free were still prominent.

"Er, Starlight..." Twilight asked, her voice at least her own for the time being as she lifted her one claw-hoof and flexed her sharp talons. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

"Into the bathroom... I can put more into it without anypony noticing..."

"Oh, there you are, Glim-Glam!" Before the lilac mare could finish she was assaulted from behind be a light blue hoof, and from nowhere Trixie materialized to snuggle her wife's neck. "I have been looking all over for you!"

To say Starlight's predictions about her wife's state had been right was a testament to how well the pair knew each other. Trixie had either drunk much more than everypony else, or she was the biggest lightweight in town.

"Oh, Trixie... Hi, I thought you were going on stage," Starlight stammered as she showmare hugged her tightly.

"Oh, I am, Glim-Glam, don't you forget it... You'll be comming with me. But first, you don't want one drink with your little Lulamoon?" Trixie pleaded, sparkles in her puppy like eyes as her bottom lip quivered.

"I... Trixie, sorry but..." Starlight began to say, but Twilight shook her head.

"Just go Starlight, she's your wife. I can just hide for a few minutes." Twilight could not believe what she was saying as the words left her muzzle, but she at least felt she owed Starlight some time with the pony she'd married. "Just don't be too long, please," she added with an equally pleading expression.

"Twilight, I don't think that's a good..." It didn't seem the unicorn was permitted to finish any of her sentences as once again she was interrupted.

"Splendid, thank you, Twilight. Come on, Glimmy!" Trixie declared as she dragged Starlight into the crowd by a forehoof, the lilac mare stammering in protest.

An uneasy smile crossed Twilight's muzzle. Then her gut gave a sharp cramp and she doubled over as a puff of smoke escaped in another rude outburst.

Get out of sight, you dolt! Her mind ordered as she felt her muscles starting to shudder once again. She spun, darting right into the bathroom and shutting the door behind her. Safe, okay... I think it's safe. She assured herself, pressing her back to the door and sinking down until her balding butt it the floor.

There was a small sniff, and her whole body feeling as it were sitting on pins, Twilight's head shot up to find she was not alone.

"Oh... H-hey there, Twilight," murmured Fluttershy as she locked eyes with the stunned princess.

Oh, no, no, no... What is she doing in here! Wait, is it just me or does she look like she's been crying? Twilight's mind observed as once again lumps caught in her trembling throat.

Startled a little, Fluttershy took a step back, mane falling over her somewhat puffy eyes. Yet without a response other than heavy breathing from Twilight, the timid mare shifted her head and asked weakly. "Are you okay, Twilight? And... Is that pie all over your face?"

Oh, come on, you are seriously finding it hard to look at Fluttershy. This is usually her thing! Twilight's mind raced as her eyes darted about, ears twitching like buzzing insect wings and a fresh pair of horns slowly pushing up her hat.

She pressed a hoof to her head, sweating as she stammered. "Erm, yes it is! But I'm fine... Perfectly fine, Fluttershy... I'm fine here." She had to resist the urge to force that smile as she felt her long draconic tongue licking against fangs. Her muzzle gave a subtle crunch, extending a little as her voice cracked several times. "Sooo, good here... How are you?"

Fluttershy peeked out from between her mane, a little perplexed looking. "I... I'm... There's... Something was bothering me but..." She peeked further, leaning forward as she sniffed and wiped her muzzle. "Twilight are you sure, your face looks swollen, and your voice is... Erm, Maybe I should take a..."

"Nope, I'm perfect, Fluttershy! Just had a little too much to drink... I..." She looked around rapidly. "I think I need to throw up!" Twilight declared and in a flash, she darted into one of the room's two bathroom stalls and slammed the door shut.

Oh, of all the times you had to pick to mope in the bathroom Fluttershy. Why is she even in here? Twilight's mind exclaimed as she pressed both forehooves to the sides on the stall, taking long deep breaths as her whole body began to tingle. Oh, it's just getting worse.

Feeling claws, not hooves, dig into the sides of the stall, it was pretty clear that Starlight's mask had failed even with the momentary boost. The sensation of her bones popping and muzzle stretching forcing her to wince and grit her newly sharp fangs was even more of an alarm. It was an odd sensation as her expanding form ripped through her dress, hat falling to the floor as a pair of curled horns expanded out of her frazzled mane. A long tail snaked out from the rear of her dress, her size almost doubling along with it. To have the transformation have a sudden growth spurt as it was, was painful, her body felt like putty in a foal's hooves as she bit back and tried not to call out.

As if seeking revenge for being repressed, the transformation dragged on, slowing only when it left her looking far more dragoness then mare. One look at her reflection in the sheen of her broken glasses and she gasped. On her face, under the last drabs of pie filling, was a large and narrow snout where her squat muzzle had once been. Her eyes were unrecognizably lizard-like and her nostrils flared with every deep breath. It wasn't hard to know why as she felt her newly large barrel of a chest expand and contract, far stronger wing muscles wrapped around her bones than when she'd been an alicorn. The only things left that even suggested she was once a mare were her mane, a few odd feathers, and rear hooves. Yet even the foremost of those features was now more like a dorsal trail of lavender fur dotted by short spines and the lattermost were already starting to look lumpy.

Well, at least I still have my cutie mark? Her mind offered as she placed one claw on her rather sharp and freshly scaled flanks, ears pressed flat by her new horns. Note to self, don't try to suppress a transformation curse again, it only makes it so much worse!

"Erm, Twilight... I know you said you were okay but that really didn't sound good. How much did you drink?" Came Fluttershy's voice and Twilight smacked a claw to her face.

Oh, if only this was happening because you were drunk off your tail. Her mind chimed as she clutched the scale plated underside of her throat.

"I..." The claw instantly slid to her muzzle as she heard her voice. "I'm fine," she offered, forcing a higher pitch best she could.

It did not sound as if it had Fluttershy convinced. "You know, it's nothing to be ashamed of right,? Just because I don't drink doesn't mean you can't," the butter yellow mare reassured and despite herself, Twilight rolled her eyes.

Damn it, why is she so innocent! she mentally screamed, wishing the timid mare would just forget what she'd heard and leave like nothing had gone wrong. Keep it together, Twi, she’s terrified of dragons remember? Don't let the frustration get the better of you. You're still a mare in your head!

"I... I know... I just had... Kinda hard to talk... You know, throwing up..." Twilight choked and hearing Fluttershy gasp she huffed and finally added. "You know... If you really want to help, please, please, please go find Starlight for me!"

There was a long pause and for a moment she was worried Fluttershy would just fly over to look what was going on for herself.

Then there was a sniff and the pegasus finally muttered, "Okay, Twilight, you just wait right there I'll go find her for you."

There was a tapping of hooves and the sound of the party once again drifted in as Fluttershy opened the door and left, the thing lightly shutting behind her. The moment the music was once again muffled by the wall, Twilight let out a sigh, small puffs of smoke seeping from her muzzle.

Goddesses, what's got her tail in a twist? The mare turning dragoness asked herself, recalling how Fluttershy had looked in the briefest of glimpses she’d gotten. Probably something a lot less pressing than what's got your tail in a twist, Twi. I mean look, your tail is huge now!

Before she could look back at the large mass of lavender scales in question, there was a crunch and a clatter of porcelain before the princess lurched to the floor with an eep as the lavatory shattered under her new weight.

Oh, come on! She inwardly cursed. Haha, really let yourself go, Twilight.

She dropped her head with a huff, finding that her new tail was at least good for plugging leaking pipes as she shifted what was left of the sharp porcelain away from her and sat down in the newly formed puddle. She could only guess this was it, what was there left to do now but skulk back to the castle and pray to Celestia nopony noticed her. Given her new size that seemed unlikely, the bathroom stall could hardly contain her. She even had to keep her head low to avoid sticking up or going through the roof for that matter.

Damn, pony things are not designed for dragons! She mentally screamed as one wing broke through the wooden cubicle divider.

She'd have to compensate the Cakes for the damage later. Looking at the white material and water scattered around her, she figured that would be a lot of bits. A hoard of soaked porcelain scraps and a tattered disguise, great start to my draconic career.

She huffed smoke again, resting her head on the new knuckle of her left foreclaw as she waited for Starlight to come and save her yet again. As if she'd expected anything else to happen, coming out to the party in this state. Sure enough, the door to the bathroom opened a few seconds later, the sound of the party blasting in along with new, slightly staggered hoofsteps. Twilight's ears perked, a toothy smile parting her muzzle as she expected Starlight. The voice that hit her hearing, however, made a cold pit of dread form beside that burning in her chest.

"Oh, Pinkie Pie, what would we do without you?" Rainbow Dash's brash voice was unmistakable as she chuckled. "Almost the best game of tag I ever played."

Twilight swallowed, a lump like rocks in her throat as she trembled. She had to brace her claws against the wall to avoid the whole cubicle shuddering as she fought to make sure her wings did not punch another hole in the frail wooden frame. All the while she could hear Rainbow's hooves tapping on tiles as she moved to what Twilight could guess was the sink.

Oh, please, please, please don't need to use the bathroom! Twilight silently begged Celestia.

Then came the sound of running water as Rainbow spoke again. "Urg, need to get out of this stupid thing, Rarity can't make anything aerodynamic." There was a shuffling and a huff from the cyan pegasus, then a clatter as she seemingly fell over. "Whoa, okay, maybe had a little too much already."

Twilight dared lift her head, longer neck providing more than enough means by which to peek over the top of the stall and see Rainbow Dash tussling with her dress, biting at the sleeves as she tried to rip it off. The pegasus' face was scrunched as she growled at the thing, yet the second the scent of the gems adorning the fine attire hit Twilight's nostrils she had to slam a claw over her face again. The force ushered an involuntary grumble from her newly enlarged throat and a small puff of smoke.

Dress now hanging limply over her rear, Rainbow Dash's ears shot up and her head snapped to attention, looking right at the stall Twilight was crammed into. By Celestia, if the broken pipes are not enough of a giveaway... Oh, I hope she's so drunk it doesn't matter!

"Wait... Did I..." Rainbow began, seemingly confused as she stammered. "Think I better cut down on the cider, I never usually see things this early... Wait, is it still early?"

Twilight had to keep in the breath she'd been withholding in fear that it may be a deep, smoke blasting bellow. She still had a claw pressed to her snout, eyes downcast to the space below the stall door. Then she saw a pair of cyan hooves on the other side and her eyes widened, fiery blood running cold.

"Ooooooh, Dashie, you in here?" Pinkie's presence was announced by the door swinging open, then a brief rush of air as the set of bouncing pink hooves shot up next to Rainbow's.

The pegasus was just about able to give a confused mumble before Pinkie declared. "Oh, come on, silly. We still gotta play pin the tail on the pony!" There was an audible scraping as the pink hooves dragged away the cyan set. Meanwhile, Pinkie added in a sly voice, "You know how fun that can get when we've had a few."

Twilight smacked her head against the stall door the moment the pair were out of the room. Still unaware of her draconic might, however, she yelped as the door fell right off its hinges and slammed to the floor before her. She sat in petrified stillness for a few seconds, terrified that somepony may have heard. Yet the sound of thumping music and partying ponies seemed to have covered up her destruction quite well.

You can't wait for Starlight now, there won't be a hiding spot left at this rate. You need an escape! Her mind declared and she looked about, eyes fixing on the large tinted window to her right. That was before she sniffed. Oh Celestia, that smell!

Her eyes went wide, head turning like a grindstone as she lost control over her body and her eyes fixed on the dress Rainbow had left, the large gem sitting on the chest piece in particular. She planted her claws firmly, talons cracking tiles as they dug in. Yet her resistance lasted all of two seconds before she was uncontrollably gravitating towards the gem like it was some kind of super magnet.

No, no, no, stupid body, I'm in charge, not you! Twilight waged a mental war with herself, desperately trying to pull herself away from the gem.

Her face scrunched and contorted as she attempted to force it away. In retaliation, it snapped back, and her long tongue lanced out like a whip to ensnare the gem. Oh pony feathers!

Her forked appendage wrapped around the gemstone, yanking both it and the whole of the fine dress Rarity had crafted back into her eagerly waiting mouth. Fangs bit down instantly, cracking stone like hard sugar candy, the gems magically melting in her mouth like sugary ice cubes.

Great, so that's two of Rarity's dresses you've destroyed tonight, any more and she'll make a purse out of... The sensation of taste hit Twilight like a solid wall of bricks.

It was like nothing she'd ever experienced. She'd not exactly been the worst off when it had come to food in her life, what with being the student of Princess Celestia, and then a princess herself. Yet there was nothing in the assortment of royal delicacies she'd tasted over the years that even came close to what was in her mouth right now. It was like an explosion of flavor, a strong, peppermint like sting mixed with a delectable strawberry sweetness and a refreshing, almost lemonade kind of aftertaste.

Her dire predicament was all but forgotten as she munched down happily, crushing the gems and shredding the fabric with her fangs. She could feel a smile spreading on her muzzle, and imagined she must have looked rather like some kind of giddy puppy as she relished every second of the amazing treat. She knew now why Spike had always been so insistent on getting every gem he could, even the smallest ruby must have been divine. Never again would she withhold gems from him, that was if she did get her old body back. If not, then her keeping them just to stop him from getting fat would be the last of his concern.

You know where he keeps them right? You could go get more, this is wonderful! Her mind prompted, but at that, some of her sense came back to her. What, no! He trusts me with that information, I can't do that!

It was about then that the last of the gems were devoured and Twilight swiftly came to realize she was just munching on what was left of Rainbow's tattered dress. The odd speck of flavor lingered on the ragged fabric, yet glancing down at it Twilight felt her dread grow. How uncontrollable was she? It was just a dress but what if somepony ended up getting hurt?

I think getting out of here is still the best idea. Get back to the castle! The little princess in her mind ordered and she glanced to the window. Also, make sure you don't try to eat it when you get there.

Before she could calculate a way home, however, her ears perked as she caught a muffled voice from the door. "Don't worry, AJ, I just left it in here, give me a second."

That was Rainbow's voice! She knew then that dragon scales could go white as she paled and tried to drag the dress off of her fangs.

When she failed to rip all of it free she dove for the window as fast as she could. The glass shutter swung outward without cracking, and Twilight let out a breath of relief as she gasped, cool, outside air! At least the front half of her did, one glance back and it was clear that her body was now a little too wide for such a swift escape.

Oh, no, no, no! Stupid fat dragon butt, get out here! Twilight mentally screamed as she wiggled and pulled with all of her might, wings flapping. Damn, at this rate the wall's going to give out before you do.

"Wait, Dashie, you still have the blindfold on, silly!" Came the voice of Pinkie Pie, and Twilight froze, rump stuck in the window as she heard the door open and hooves trot in.

She braced herself for the pony's reaction to seeing a draconic rear sitting right across the bathroom from them, tail swaying and scaled flanks in the air. Yet nothing came from Rainbow other than a dry chuckle.

"You said it doesn't come off until I pin the tail, Pinkie. I can totally find this dress with my eyes closed... Or blindfolded, whatever," Rainbow snickered and Twilight craned her neck back just enough to peek around her butt and see the cyan mare blindly staggering around the bathroom.

Okay, so she's blindfolded and drunk. This is your chance Twilight! The princess's mind declared as ever so gently she started to wiggle her way free.

"Now where did I leave..." Rainbow muttered, trotting so close Twilight had to lift her tail to avoid it being stepped on. "Oh, the sink yeah!"

Rainbow moved over to where she'd been battling her dress only moment ago. Twilight bit back a groan as she heaved as hard as she could, wall buckling under the strain and window frame bending outward as she finally popped herself free and fell face first from the broken window frame... Right into a pool of thick, wet mud.

Oh, seriously world, why me! She screamed internally, only to go rigid again as Rainbow announced triumphantly.

"Ha, found you... Wait, why does it feel so... Was I really that rough?" Twilight sank low to the base of the window, forced to cover more of her fresh lavender scales in thick mud as she heard Rainbow trotting about.

Her folded ears perked, catching another voice from somewhere beyond the small layer of bushes she'd also found herself behind. "But I don't want to go in yet... What if they, you know... think I look terrifying or something."

"But I thought you liked looking scary," responded another voice that instantly caught Twilight's attention.

"I never said I didn't. Not like I care what they really think... But they're your friends and I do care what you think," snapped the first voice, somewhat reluctantly, and it was followed by what sounded like a sweet sounding 'Awww'.

"Stop it, that's too cute for out here!" the voice huffed again.

Twilight swallowed, hoping the bush would just protect her from everything. Unfortunately for her, one suspicious pony was not so oblivious.

"Wait, why is there water all over the floor, and what in Equestria happened to the bathroom?" Rainbow Dash asked as her hooves squelched in the flow of the leaky plumbing. Then Twilight could assume she finally saw what was left of the window. "Okay, I know I'm not that drunk!"

So much for the blindfold. Time to move Twi, time to move! Stuck between a dragon and a hard place, Twilight's mind did not relent on telling her to get her butt moving back to the castle as fast and inconspicuously as she could. It's okay, sure you can make it, just tip-hoof... or claw, pony up and get out of here before Rainbow finds you!

Closing her eyes and swallowing her fear, Twilight bit back the urge to hide and crept out from the bushes, trailing mud and branches behind her. Taking one step away from the broken window, she opened her eyes, ready to let out a breath of relief. She found two sets of draconic eyes very similar to her own new eyes looking back at her with puzzled expressions. Just like that the blood completely drained from her mud smeared face as she once again forced a toothy smile.

Oh Celestia, I knew I recognized those voices! Her mind croaked, even her little mental avatar lost for words.

She raised a claw to wave awkwardly as her raspy voice finally whimpered. "Eheh... Hi there..."

Chapter Six: Language of My People

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Oh, dragons totally are hot! Twilight's mind could not stop racing the moment she locked eyes with Spike and Ember.

The latter was dressed in an ornate set of golden armor, excluding a helmet sat under one foreclaw, while the former wore a suit undoubtedly made specially by Rarity.

The blood that had drained from Twilight's cheeks swiftly reversed to a hot blush. Is it just me or is the mud on your face boiling?

"Spike... Ember..." The names were almost painful as they clawed their way from her muzzle, her whole body was twitching, and for once, she was incredibly happy to be bathed in mud as the two dragons cocked their heads.

"That's Dragon Lord Ember to you," Ember corrected, jabbing in Twilight's direction with a wing before receiving an unsure look from Spike. "What, we only talked about ponies. She's clearly a dragon!" the dragoness protested, gesturing at Twilight once again.

"Excuse me, but do we know you?" Spike asked, and realizing he had failed to recognize her, she was also thankful for her change of voice for the first time.

Wow, isn't that ironic, the little alicorn in her head chimed. I hope you're not going to whimsically decide to stay like this in the end, right? Oh, it's magical, I see it now.

Twilight shook her head in an effort to clear her thoughts, all the while looking for any form of method she could use to escape her awkward predicament. Meanwhile, Spike and Ember exchanged glances.

"So I'll take that as a no... We don't know you?" Spike asked, eye crest raised. "Because, I kinda don't think I do?"

He lifted a claw to his chin, seeming to think. Ember, on the other hoof, rolled her eyes, snorting a neat puff of smoke as Twilight made about the biggest fool out of herself she ever had.

Ha, given your track record this is pretty bad... I mean really bad. You'll be known as the crazy mud dragon of Ponyville soon enough, Twilight. Her mind chimed, right before she felt a wing on her shoulder.

Her bones almost rattled as she went stiff, eyes now met with the glare of the dragon lord. Ember's eyes were like hard diamonds, and not the tasty kind. They looked sharp enough to cut rock and felt like they could melt right through Twilight's new scales. The princess gulped, and at that, for some reason, Ember looked even scarier.

Damn, now that's kinda hot too! her mind chirped whistling as the sapphire dragoness finally growled.

"By the fires, just spit it out already... I know every dragon from my kingdom, and I don't know you. So who in the great drake's name are you?" Twilight had thought the Royal Canterlot voice could be loud, yet that was nothing compared to an angry dragoness.

Like some sort of purple scaled angel, Spike was there in a second, nudging his glaring mate aside.

"Come on, Ember, there's no need to be like that... We're not in the dragonlands, honey," he muttered, the latter most word making Twilight's dragon side wilt while the more motherly part of her swelled with pride.

Damn it, stupid mixed emotions. I'm a mare... I'm proud of him, damn it, he's got a family now and everything! Her turbulent mind stated. Yet you still wanna buck him so hard.

It appeared that she was not the only one to soften at Spike's words, however, Ember looked visually disappointed in herself. "Hey... I was just getting to the point. Dragons don't do subtlety."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Oh, I know that for sure, honey."

She shot him a glare, her disheartened expression seemingly momentarily forgotten. "What did I tell you about calling me that in public?"

Those hard eyes seemed to have no effect on Spike as he chuckled. "Actually you said only in the dragonlands." He winked and her cheeks puffed up, muzzle scrunched as she folded into her wings a little.

Ooo, he's so sensible and loving and... handsome and... No, no, no, brain! Twilight's mind battled with itself, only to go utterly blank again as she felt another broad wing on her shoulders. Oh, those muscles, so strong and... Gurr!

"Can't you see she looks terrified?" he asked as he glanced at his mate, then back at Twilight. "I think what she's trying to say is, are you okay? Us knowing if there's something wrong is kinda important?"

Oh, Spike, both parts of me are okay now. Her mind virtually sang, pride and attraction swelling in her chest and head as she was cradled in his wing. How did I ever raise him to be such a gentledrake?

"Okay, okay, yeah that's what I mean, but no need to get all up close," Ember interjected, waving her foreclaws and coming between Twilight and Spike, eying the muddy dragoness dangerously.

Oh, and she really does care about him. She's happy... I, gurr, stupid brain, how could you want me to mess this up! Twilight took a step back, both foreclaws raised defensively.

In the background, Spike frowned, yet before he could beret Ember's lack of tact again, Twilight finally found her voice.

"I... My name... It's..." She looked around, racking her brain for an answer.

Ember raised an eye crest expectantly. Fire, fire, think of fire... Or spikes and scales... Oh, what does fire do... You have to...

"Kindle it... I–I, I mean that's it, my name... It's Kindle!" she blurted, flapping her wings and foreclaws enough to even make Ember take a step back.

"You don't say... Kindle, Spike that's a name we were going to call..." Ember paused and shook her head. "Urg, never mind. For a moment there I thought you'd have been another of Crackle's relatives or something, with all the flailing."

Twilight let out another awkward chuckle as Ember waved a claw at her. "No, no... I'm new here... Been stuck in a cave for a few years, you probably won't know me," she improvised further, and from Ember's skeptical look it didn't look like she had the dragon lord completely convinced.

Nevertheless, it did not seem she was willing to press too far into the situation with Spike around, and she looked back at her mate as if gauging his opinion on the situation.

Spike too, looked a little unsure. Oh, please, please, please don't recognize me, Spike! Her mind raced as the dragon cleared his throat. So what if he does, maybe then you can admit some of these feelings you have for... Shut up, brain!

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Kindle," Spike offered, holding out a claw.

Ember marked the outstretched limb with a glare, seemingly a warning to Twilight that if she did anything other than shake it, she'd have no claw left when the sapphire dragoness was done. Regardless, Twilight tentatively reached out, taking his claw in hers and shaking once. There was a definite shift in strength as she did so, the fact that he didn't feel like he could rip her foreleg off with a simple hoof, or claw shake now, for one.

Spike smiled at her and she sank down as she really tried to focus on how good a dragon she'd raised and not that instinctive flutter in her chest. At her shy response, Spike's head tilted, yet it was then that Ember broke the claw shake with a nudge.

"Okay, that's enough of that... pony stuff," she mumbled, glancing at Spike with a snort.

One knowing look from him and she growled before finally looking back at Twilight. "Look, I'm kinda bad at first impression so if you're really not from around here then let's... You know... want to start over? I'm Ember, the dragon lord."

Ember did not catch Spike's impressed smirk, yet from the way it looked, it seemed like he still believed she had a little work to do. When she did look back at him it was almost like a foal would look at their parents after creating a pretty drawing.

Who knew she could be so hot and so adorable... Look she's like a little blue puppy dog to him! Twilight noticed, before mentally barking, Yeah, so let's not mess it up!

"Don't worry about it... We... dragons don't do soft, right?" Twilight responded and Ember smirked before she received a nudge in the shoulder from Spike.

"What?" she asked, looking back only to get another knowing glance from the handsome young dragon. She growled, face scrunched again as she reluctantly turned and held out a claw.

"Yeah, and most of us don't do this either," she huffed as Twilight hesitantly took her talons in a foreclaw and shook.

And here I thought Spike was strong, she's insane! Twilight observed as Ember's grip tightened just a little. Well, she's the dragon lord for a reason. You've seen her father, right?

"So, Kindle, what's the occasion for another dragon to come to Ponyville? We're usually the only two who ever bother," Spike finally asked, as Ember drew back and pressed against his side.

She was almost a head taller than him still, even on all fours. Yet it was not hard to guess that if Twilight were not here she'd be showing just as much puppy dog affection as she was before.

"And why are you covered horns to tail in mud?" Ember asked. "It's bad for your scales, you know, right?"

All the while the princess remained silent, once again searching through her brain for any excuse she could muster.

So awkward, come on, Twilight. You were playing it so well, don't blow it now! her mind chastised as she pressed a foreclaw to her muddy temple. Think, Twilight, think, you're a dragon, why would you be here at somepony's anniversary.

Just like that, her head perked. "I'm here for the ponies... Yeah, Rainbow Dash I think... Oh, and Pinkie Pie, yeah." Twilight nodded rapidly. "Came by my cave a year or two ago, on some kind of friendship mission thing I think for this... Twilight..." Saying her own name like that felt odder than ever, especially with a tongue as long as her new one.

Twilight forced another awkward smile, resisting all of her urges to flee, fly, or try and make moves on the two very attractive dragons she knew she'd regret. Damn it, why do neither of them seem so sex crazy. It's a dragon thing, right?

Ember looked at Spike, and from the look on the dragon's face, it appeared he was trying to recall ever hearing about the obvious lie from either of the two mares in question. He lifted a claw to his muzzle, squinting and biting his bottom lip.

"Wait, you know Rainbow and Pinkie?" he asked as if to confirm what she'd really said.

Twilight's coat of mud was starting to become unbearably uncomfortable as she started to twitch and sweat, claws tapping on the spot.

"S–sure, I do... The pink one even writes me letters sometimes, so when I heard it was Rainbow's second anniversary I thought I should come at least once... Was kinda hard to find the place," Twilight conjured with a charisma skill somewhat lacking compared to that Starlight boasted.

Wow, you sure you haven't become half spider too, Twi. You're spinning lies like silk threads. Her mind declared as she shuffled awkwardly, claw tapping growing more rapid.

"Hmmm, well can't say that surprises me really. Twi's map is always giving them quests together, and Pinkie Pie does pretty much know everypony, dragon or not," Spike finally responded and a small part of Twilight's dread left her in a breath of relief.

"Still doesn't explain the mud though. I'm about as big a party fan as the next dragon..." Ember began then looked at a smirking Spike and huffed. "Except for him. But even I would not show up looking like that." She jabbed a wing in Twilight's direction.

Scratching the back of her neck Twilight coked out a chuckle before adding. "Hehe, yeah... I... I didn't stick the landing too well, kinda crashed in a field just outside of town."

She opened a leathery wing and at Spike's look of concern, she felt warmness inside her once again. Ember, on the other hoof, rolled her eyes.

"Wow, you really must have been all caved up for years, forgetting how to land," she joked, before waving the issues away with a wing. "Really have to make sure I don't get like that." She offered Spike a knowing glance and for some reason, he seemed a little flustered.

"I think the day you let yourself forget how to fly is the day Celestia drops the sun on our heads," he chuckled, folding a wing over her and pulling her close before adding. "Now, about that party, we still have to show our faces, honey."

"Okay, okay... Just forget the helmet, I'll go in like this." Ember gestured to herself, tossing her golden helmet away. "I have hundreds of the things back home anyway."

Spike chuckled again, smirking at his mate before once again setting his eyes upon Twilight. "And you, Kindle? We can help get that mud off and all the dragons can enter together?"

He looked hopeful, and his offer once again made her feelings go at each other like rabid Timberwolves, not to mention causing Ember to frown just a little. It was Twilight's turn to awkwardly chuckle, however, as she waved the suggestion away with a muddy claw.

"No, no, that's fine. I... I think I'll go find a river somewhere and wash first. Bad for my scales if I don't get it all, am I right?" she responded, rubbing a little mud from her horns.

Ember nodded to Spike and he shrugged. "Sure thing, it's your choice. We'll see you later then I guess, it will be good to have more dragons to talk to." Ember grumbled something inaudible at that.

"Oh, absolutely, I'll be over as soon as I can. Would not miss it for the world," Twilight insisted, all the while her thoughts were saying the exact opposite.

No, no, no, no way are you going back there! Back to the castle now before somepony... Twilight's mental rambling was cut off as every dragon's attention perked.

"Rainbow, what in tarnation did ya' do ta that darn bathroom!" Applejack's voice was audible from the open window Twilight had left, followed by another equally loud response from a certain prismatic pegasus.

"W-what... You really think this was me, AJ?" Rainbow pressed before there was a pause and she rapidly added. "I'm not that drunk, damn it!"

"What in Equestria is going on in there?" Spike asked, seemingly half concerned, half humorously curious as Twilight steadily backed away.

"Oh, really sounds like they have their hooves full in there, I better go wash off quickly, don't want to miss the excitement," she offered as both Spike and Ember looked at her with perplexed exertions.

A few newly broad steps away, Twilight finally turned to march off back to the castle. Yet as she did so, she found her limbs smashing through wood, fabrics sneering her muzzle and the odd, squashing sensation of fruit splashing across her scales. Like an assassin that had been stealthily awaiting its moment, the market stall took her down effortlessly. The wooden claws of the splintering stand and a net of cloth snatched her less than gracious steps, causing her to fall face first back into the mud, her butt in the air. Fruit pulp and crimson juices pooled around her as if she'd been scoured through the heart, and she huffed.

Seriously, a damn market stall. By Celestia, why me! Twilight thought as she struggled to free herself from the tangled frame. Clumsiest dragon of Poniville goes to you too, Twi!

"Oh Celestia, Kindle, are you alright?" Just like the good dragon she'd raised, Spike was at her side in a flash, Ember begrudgingly following him. "That looked like it..."

Spikes words died as the pair went utterly silent, and Twilight freed herself enough to glance up to see the two standing motionless, eyes fixed on her raised flanks.

Oh my, they are looking at your butt, they're checking you out Twilight, see it is a dragon thing! Twilight's mind raced as she staggered back. No, no, they're not they're...

The red-hot blush burning on Twilight's cheeks was the least of her problems as she looked back to where Spike and Ember were staring. She felt a chill run down her spine, wings shuddering as she discovered that in the commotion of her fall one neat portion of mud had been brushed away, revealing to all the world her cutie mark.

"T–Twilight?" Spike stammered, looking at the purple starburst before his eyes shot to her face to meet her wide gaze.

Twilight's head was up in a flash, the tattered remains of the cart's roof draped over her horns and muzzle as she stammered.

"S–Spike... I–I, I can totally explain... I..." She was caught halfway between desperately trying to come up with any excuse and even more desperately trying to untangle herself from the mass of wood and fabric.

"Wait, Twilight... I thought she was a pony... Or was that Twinklelight? Urg, they all look the same!" Ember murmured, one foreclaw pinching the bridge of her muzzle.

Twilight's mind was like a war zone, some of her emotions wanted her to stay and try to explain. That small rational part of her mind that was very easily being drowned out by a whole host of new screaming draconic thoughts. Other parts wanted to run as fast as she could, yet where could she go now if not the castle where everypony could find her and see how ridiculous she looked? Another part of her brain was still lusting after the purple dragon trying to help her free of the cart wreckage, and her inability to keep it in check terrified her. Fear that she may do something she'd regret her whole life welled up, and with that dread instinct swiftly took hold.

By Celestia, I'm not used to all these stupid strong instincts. This is my brain not... She took a step out of the tangled wreckage, a rope snagging one foreleg and once again sending her falling flat on her muzzle in the mud. Oh, come on!

Spike was over her in an instant, looking down with concern as he stammered. "T–Twilight... C'mon Twilight, are you okay?"

There didn't seem to be a doubt in the young dragon's mind that it was the mare who'd raised him he was talking to, no matter how far from that mare she now looked. Twilight glanced up, panic welling within her as she saw him looming over her. Alien, blunt and crude draconic thoughts asserted themselves within the former mare's head, aligning into one singular vision. It was like an involuntary flash in her vision

"Just get away!" An ever tight knot of tension that had been building in her body ever since she'd seen the first scale appear on her muzzle came out as she screamed.

Reinforcing the strained cry was the fire that had been building in her chest, yet this time it was not a blast of smoke but a wall of amethyst flame. For the first time she'd breathed fire, and it felt good. It was powerful and relieving, literally a weight off her chest. The instinct to fight what she was scared of still possessing her mind, Twilight shot up, snarling through the fire at Spike. Her new white fangs flashed and smoke jetted from her nostrils. Spike, for his part, looked utterly stunned, at least until Twilight's fearsome stance was mirrored by Ember as she came between her mate and the crazy, fire-spewing dragon-mare.

Twilight's eyes darted from each face, to the fearsome and to the confused. That was when there was a knocking in her mind.

Erm, Twilight... What in Equestria are you doing! the little princess in her head exclaimed, barging through all the mental doors Twilight had erected in her path and screaming at the top of her tiny, imaginary lungs.

The princess felt her mind go blank for a second, her thoughts ultimately crashing. Rebooting, she shook her head, a muddy claw dragged across her face. The blazing fire that had once been the wrecked market stall glimmered in her eyes, the intense heat washing over her scales without burning them. It was an odd sensation, to say the least, but all of her senses were completely dulled as she saw Spike. Her eyes met his, understanding dawning in her own as he looked like he was staring at a ghost. That lack of recognition from the closest thing she'd had to a son washed away every spark of instinct in her like a freezing wave, drawing her right back to the mind of a mare. Yet that made no difference, it wasn't because she was now mostly a dragoness that he was looking at her in such a way.

"S–Spike?" she stammered once, croaking as her throat was still singed.

Spike seemed too dumbstruck to say anything and Twilight took a step back from him, Ember, and the fire she'd blasted right in the middle of Ponyville.

What have I done? She asked herself, taking another step back, then another. Before she even noticed, her knobbly rear hooves smashed through the wall of another stand, and she turned only to have her tail smack the cover off of the town well. You're destroying everything, Twilight, you idiot!

She blinked, feeling tears in her eyes. Funny, she'd really thought dragons wouldn't do crying. No idea what to do, why or how things were still happening to her, she did the one thing she hoped would keep everypony safe from her destruction. She ran, ran as fast as her foretalons and sprouting rear claws would carry her. Her ears, slowly morphing into a draconic ruff, pressed flat at the side of her head, even as she thought she heard somepony cry out her name. She didn't care, she only closed her eyes and ran in the direction of the closest way out of town she knew.

Only when she heard a tremendous crash and felt her forelegs shatter wood once again did she open her eyes and look down. Another pair of stalls lay in ruin at her feet, along with a bench. A trio of ponies were looking up at her, two mares and a terrified filly cowering behind the legs of one of the adults as they all backed away slowly.

She looked at them, then at the destruction she'd caused, tears lining her scaly cheeks. "I... I... I'm sorry."

Look at them, they're looking at me like I'm a monster! Twilight thought as she once again started running, wiping the tears from her eyes with a wing tip. That's because you are one now... Look at what you've done to yourself with that stupid magic! The tiny mental princess responded.

A picket fence almost threatened to trip her up seconds later or at least would have if she'd still been a mare. Right now she just smashed right through it, her coordination with her new, far larger body nonexistent.

It was just a test, some fun to try and push our limits... I never meant for this to happen! Twilight snapped back at herself as she reached the edge of town, almost managing to dodge a lingering cart before one heavy claw went right through it. Well, it has happened, now you have no magic... And what are your friends going to think? You almost just set the town on fire, it was a good job it was Spike and not somepony less fireproof you exploded at!

"Shut up!" Twilight declared, face scrunched and fangs visible as she growled.

Yet before her mind could offer any more snide responses she felt her longer rear legs hit her front, and with no control over her new body, she was once again sent tumbling forward and left sprawled out in the mud.

Her mane fell over her eyes, the last drabs of what she once was. Huffing the strands aside she lifted her head to see she was a good way out of town, and looking back she half expected to see a trail of destruction visible on the road out of Ponyville. What she did see was the last remnants of her pony self bubbling away as her rear hooves steadily completed their transformation into a pair of rear claws. She pressed a foreclaw to her ears to find they too were now leathery and draconic. All that she had left to suggest she was once a pony was the purple mane down her back and the mark on her butt, just enough to tell the world that she was not a normal dragoness either.

Twilight sniffed, wriggling her rear claws. Looking over the town she could see her castle in the distance, and suppressing the urges that came to her upon seeing so much tasty crystal, she shook her head. Where could she go now?

The next thing to catch her attention as she sat there on the muddy road was the sound of voices, a distant commotion emanating up from the town. Given her rather destructive escape she half expected to see an angry mob coming after her with pitchforks and torches.

Need a place to hide, Twilight! Her new draconic instincts insisted and she looked around, eyes drawn away from the town and to the mass of thick trees to her left. The Everfree forest, perfect for a dragon!

Twilight gulped, really wondering if that was it for her now. She rubbed a muddy claw against her chest, that feeling of fire sparking inside again even after so recently being released.

I can't risk letting anypony get hurt... I need to learn to control myself. She decided before her mind added, Well, you can't do that out here, can you?

Swallowing her fear and taking one last look at Ponyville as the sound of commotion grew, voices carried on the wind, Twilight turned to the trees and sighed.

The mare, now fully transformed, took one broad step forward. New life as a dragoness, I guess. Here I go... alone.

Chapter Seven: There is no Bright Side!

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If one was to believe that the fabled Everfree forest would lose any of its fangs should they become some kind of monster themselves, they'd be mistaken. For one who still retained most of the mind of her former self, the dark trees of the thick and haunted forest were no less daunting.

For a moment on Twilight's long, grueling trek through the mud, she almost wished her curse had turned her into a far bigger and scarier dragoness. At least then she would not have to worry about some of the eyes staring back at her from the gloom while she had no magic to defend herself like she was used to.

Learning how to use these stupid wings would be nice! Learning how to fly was hard enough the first time, why are dragon wings so different? she thought, knowing full well that the lack of feathers and innate pegasus magic were a massive factor. Wonder if I can still walk on clouds like this?

Her head drooped, eyes downcast to the squelching mire at her claws as she placed one before the other along the long, unending pathway through the dense forest. How could she have been so stupid as to think coming out of the castle in her state had been a good idea, Rainbow and Applejack's anniversary or not? She'd failed to consider just how dangerous she was, the fire in her belly was like a furnace, building, and building until it had to break free. In the past hour alone she'd had to snort flames multiple times just to keep it in check.

Now I understand why Spike was spitting the stuff so casually all the time, she recalled, admitting to herself that in the past night, yes she had really seen a dragon sneeze, and way, way too much. Look on the bright side, you still have...

Her mind's reassuring suggestions were lost as she almost collided head first with a mossy cliff. Looking up just in time to see the jagged gray wall advance towards her, she halted her now far greater momentum and wobbled, eventually ending up with her scaly butt in the mud once again. Sniffling and wiping her muzzle with a wingtip, she looked around, seeing the road abruptly end and the cliff stretch on to both the left and right.

And this is just great, isn't it? Where's a damn cave when you need one? she internally grumbled, only for her new draconic ears to perk at the sounds of creatures moving through the thick undergrowth. Of course, you know those caves would have to be empty for you to move in, right, Twilight?

She imagined she must look like the strangest dragoness in Equestrian history as she pressed against the cliff face, cowering at every shadow. With no magic, no friends, even the mightiest draconic additions in the world would have been useless, let alone the weak lizard she'd actually become. Even so, with little trust for her mind's overly eager urge to spew fire at everything that moved, she suppressed her instincts as much as she could. A mindset similar to a timid filly took its place, and knowing full well she had no magic to defend herself, she could not shake the fear.

Get a grip, Twilight, you'll be eaten out here unless you get your head on straight! her more draconic side declared. Yeah, but what if I don't want a head with more than one stupid horn on it! her little imaginary alicorn snapped back valiantly.

Two foreclaws clutching her forehead, Twilight growled, another uncontrollable burst of flames flickering between her fangs as they ground together.

"I... I just don't want this!" she cried, wings flaring as she reactively opened her mouth, and without thought, set fire to a tree at the roadside.

Her eyes went wide and she flinched back as the tree went up like an amethyst pyre, smoldering as the dampness of the forest began to consume it. The purple embers flittered by her on the breeze as she clamped a muddy foreclaw over her muzzle and once again tried to hold back frightened tears. With a dry crunch and a scattering of charred wood, the tree fell into the road at her feet, causing her to jump away with an eep. With her mind in the state it was, however, it hardly took more than an animalistic caw from the forest to send her running again.

The flight response of a terrified pony took over, blocking out her suppressed draconic thoughts as she barreled through the thick undergrowth, smashing aside trees and vines in a trail of destruction. Fresh mud was thrown up over her scales by her racing claws as both twigs and whole branches alike became entangled in her ragged mane. She was like a purple missile carving its way through the undergrowth. She did not stop until finally, her lungs begged for far more air then even her newly large and flared draconic nostrils could draw from the surrounding dampness. Smashing through one last wall of broad green leaves, she skidded to a halt beside a small rocky pool, disturbing a flock of odd, luminously feathered birds as she gasped and panted.

The birds took to the air, scattering like roaches into the canopy as Twilight flopped forward. Her aching muscles burned despite their increased size and her heart pounded along with the gasping of her newly bellow-like lungs. Only when the strain of exhaustion began to fade, and she recovered from her horns first charge through the trees, did some common sense finally find a way to creep to the forefront of her turbulent mind. She lifted her head, twigs, and vines falling across her face as her frazzled mane drooped. Sweat and moisture in the air turned the trail of brisk lavender fur into a mangy mess akin to a purple mop atop her head, neck and back as she finally managed to collect herself somewhat and take in her surroundings.

It's okay, Twilight... Just don't think about fire, your claws, how dangerous they are or... She shook her head vigorously, stomping a foreclaw before inhaling through gritted fangs. Just think... erm, pony thoughts?

Swallowing her fear and suppressing the storm of emotion in her head again, Twilight dug up the logical reasoning she'd used to keep her calm throughout her life and desperately tied to apply it to her dire situation. She was in a small clearing, the trees like walls hemming her in on every side, and in the center, a small pool surrounded by a border of mossy rocks. The dark green canopy loomed over her like storm clouds, blocking out most of Luna's starry night.

Claustrophobia, it seemed, was a thing a large wing creature like a dragon could be subjected to in such situations, Twilight noted as she folded her wings close and really forced herself to think like her old self and not the creature she had become. She took another deep breath and staggered to her feet, claws squelching in the thick mass of mud, tree roots, fallen leaves, and branches under her.

Biting back the last of the wild emotions, she took a step forward, only to come to a complete standstill once again as she caught her full reflection in the water. Dappled moonlight shimmered on the pool where it pierced holes in the canopy, and a pattern of lily pads dotted the surface. Yet as if framing her reflected appearance like some kind of twisted portrait, the floating flora outlined the image perfectly.

The panicked mare that had been looking back at her from her bathroom mirror just this morning was completely gone. In her place a pair of bloodshot, puffy draconic eyes stared back, her face a narrow snout of lavender scales and body a sharp-featured, lean and fearsome predatory form. It also looked like she had at least a whole tree's worth of debris tangled in her mane, and the forest had left its many scratches and scrapes on her wings and scales. She rubbed a claw to her chest, wings closing even tighter around her as she fought to keep the tears back.

"What did I do to myself?" she asked nopony in particular, hoping that somehow her reflection would be the one to answer.

When it failed to do anything more than stare at her, mocking her with its twisted appearance, she gritted her fangs and swiped a claw across the water, scattering the image into oblivion.

"Some use you are anyway, you're the one who got me into this mess!" she accused, only for the defiant reflection to reform as the water settled. "Just go away... I... I don't want to look at myself!"

She fell to the floor again, muddy foreclaws cupped over her eyes as she sniffled. In that dreary darkness beneath her claws, she found about as much solace as she could while trapped in the middle of the most dangerous place in Equestria with a completely alien body. That silence lasted for a good few minutes before the crunching of the brush once again caught her attention. Her head shot up, eyes scanning the clearing half expecting to see a fearsome manticore or chimera come charging out to attack her.

Instead, her gaze fixed upon what appeared to be a common deer, exactly like the kind she'd seen many a time at Fluttershy's cottage. Either her mud coated body rendered her invisible to the senses of the timid creature or it simply didn't care she was there as it tentatively stepped out and moved over to the pool to take a drink.

See, you're not even dragon enough for a deer to take you seriously, Twilight, the draconic side of her snapped, spiteful to be under the control of a mind that would not let it go. Stuff it up your tail, I'm not a stupid dragon!

Twilight shifted, air escaping her lungs in a low and involuntary growl as she did so. The deer lifted its head, ears tall. That latter action made the dragoness wince, it had only been a few hours and there was little she would not give to have ears like that again. Moving slowly, she sat up, long tail coiling over her talons as she remained sitting across the water from the animal like some kind of giant, purple hound.

The deer locked eyes with her for a split second then went right back to drinking. See, you must still have some pony in you if it's willing to get this close, her mind offered as she glanced back at her cutie mark.

Yet the other side of her was not so easily suppressed, and one grumble from her stomach was its chance to grab dominance over her mind. Perplexed, Twilight looked down at her belly.

Seriously? I just ate a whole dress of gems a few hours ago! she told herself, the niggling sensation of draconic thoughts eating at her consciousness. Well, you can stuff that too, dragon Twi. There are no gems around here so tough!

The little alicorn in her head wiped her hooves of the matter, confident in her victory. Yet, humiliated by the way it was being shunned, her dragon side was not so swift to be defeated. It slithered out from the caves of her thoughts like a wicked serpent, glaring at the small, imaginary princess.

You know dragons can eat more than just gems, right? Twilight's eyes became far more fixed on the deer, enhancing the image like binoculars as a forked tongue began to lick her scaly lips. You ever tried meat before?

Disgusted with herself, the little mental princess spat out her tongue and gagged. If only the real Twilight could have forced herself to do the same, yet as her gut rumbled again it was hard to deny that she was hungry. True, the princess had never eaten meat, that was the diet of dragons and griffins. Yet her mind's only reasoning was that she really was one of those two creatures now.

Oh, by Celestia, why does it have to turn logic against me too! she groaned internally as she instinctively placed a claw forward and lowered herself like a predatory feline, ready to pounce. Oh, what's Fluttershy going to think… She looks after carnivores, right? I... I can't seriously be doing this can I?

Like a prisoner in her own mind, Twilight could do little to resist her new instincts as she flexed her claws in the mud. They felt so powerful, so sharp. Each of her muscles was like a thick rope and her bones were like a hefty skeleton of diamond. Her wings felt like they could blow away a whole cottage and her teeth were like daggers in her death trap of a mouth. Everything about her new body felt like it was built for strength, longevity, and more than a few headlong dives into a pool of molten rock. Only when it asserted itself over her did she feel that power, and for a split second, she was terrified at how much she liked it.

No, no, that's not you talking, Twilight. Don't let this thing take your mind away from you too! her mental avatar screamed as she tried to rip her draconic instincts away.

The deer once again looked up, an odd, calm 'are you serious' kind of look on its face. Unfortunately for the forest denizen, Twilight's draconic self was very serious about taking her new body out for a spin. With a coil of her hind legs and tail, and folding over her wings, she launched herself like a scaly rocket over the pool. Her talons outstretched, fangs flashing and fire smoldering at the edges of her mouth, Twilight flared her wings and dove right for her chosen prey.

The deer's eyes moved to follow her decent, and with an experience gained from countless situations just like this, it darted back, kicking up dirt as it elegantly pranced off into the trees. Spying a moment of weakness as her draconic mind recalibrated its intention to land and pursue the prey, Twilight took the chance to rip the controls back from herself and reasserted her equine thoughts. That resulted in a cry of panic from the mare turned dragoness as she found herself floundering in midair, wings, and legs wobbling in a futile effort to find solid ground. Unfortunately, there was a splash, a crack, and a thud, followed by a torrent of water as she slammed into the rock bank on the opposite side of the pool and her body came slumping down into the water behind her.

Water filled her mouth and once again her head was up in a flash, smoke, and liquid spitting from her muzzle as she coughed and spluttered before gasping. Her sloppy, wet mane fell over her face, twigs still scraping at her scales as she let out one exasperated huff.

Well, at least there's a bright side now. You didn't rip apart a defenseless deer, right? her mind offered, even as the bitter dragon side of her mumbled about how 'defenseless' the thing really was. I bet a real dragon wouldn't have had an issue with that!

"Shame I'm not a real dragon then!" Twilight snapped at herself, before looking around awkwardly.

All this talking to yourself, you're cracking up more than I thought, that other side of her sneered as she heaved her soaked body out of the water and trudged onto the bank. I'm not the one cracking up, you're the one who invaded my mind!

She shook her head, once again planting her butt down on the edge of the pool and looking herself over. As far as she could tell, slamming into a rock horns first did almost no damage to her now, at least compared to the almost certain concussion it would have caused if she were still a pony.

Celestia knows you're already brain damaged. Twilight ground her sharp teeth, fire flickering at the edges of her muzzle as she sank low and let out a growl.

She really wished she could rip the new, irritating and outright dangerous side of her mind out. Yet she only found herself clenching a claw in frustration as its hold over her grew. She was not about to lose herself to the transformation completely, Celestia as her witness, she'd fight to keep her mind.

If only I had my friends to help me this time... like the good old days, she thought, flicking a rock aside with a claw as she drooped. My magic alone would be nice, thanks! Argh, this can't get any worse.

Just like that, the universe was happy to oblige. She felt a drop on the end of her muzzle, then another on each of her ears until her whole face was bombarded by raindrops. The almighty boom of thunder that echoed seconds later caused her to leap to her claws like a terrified filly.

Okay, are you sure this is not still a really long and elaborate nightmare? She'd considered pinching herself to wake up, that was if her claws could cut her diamond hard scales.

One thing was for sure, if it was a dream a certain night princess had better learn to watch her back. Yet thinking about Luna only made Twilight wish more than ever that it all somehow was still a dream. If not, then at least think about what the dark alicorn had offered last night.

Twilight's head sank back, wings folding around her like a blanket as the rain started to pour. Oh, I should have just let her help me.


"Hello!" Twilight's deep voice echoed back to her ears from the depths of the cave, forcing her to wince as she recoiled from the alien sound. "Oh, I can't really sound like that."

She clutched her throat with a claw, gently squeezing. The thick muscles that pushed back were just another reminder that her equinity had been completely stolen away as she sighed. Her head drooped again as she grumbled, tail curling up against her rear claws and wings ruffling like a leather umbrella to shake off the raindrops. She hadn't thought a dragon could shiver, yet the amount of trembling her body was doing after hours spent out in the cold rain said otherwise.

Well, at least the thunder is not so bad now, right? her mind reassured, trying not to remind her that the last three times the storm had boomed out she'd bolted more than the deer she'd tried to eat. If you were a real dragon, you'd be wanting to fly through the storm, not hide!

She shook her head with a snort, glancing back at the ledge outside as rain battered down upon the sharp gray rocks. The rocky plateau was just about level with the tree line, allowing a look into the dark, storm marred sky above. She'd glimpsed the spire of rock jutting up through the trees only an hour ago and swiftly made it her destination. Upon finding out that she was still so susceptible to the elements, she'd hoped that the cliffs had at least one cave. It had seemed like the only logical choice she had left. Prior to that, a part of her had considered trying to find her way to the Castle of the Two Sisters. Yet after multiple frightened charges through the forest, and a crawl through some particularly thick vines just outside, she'd become far too disoriented to remember the way.

Just keep looking on the bright side Twilight. You've got a cave now at least, her mind suggested as she looked away from the storm outside and into the dark gloom leading off under the mountain. More like a shabby hole in the ground, this really is not up to dragon standards.

"H–hello!" she called out again, still clutching at her throat in an attempt to gain some semblance of her former voice.

No response came from the darkness other than the ghostly howl of the wind as it blew between the mountain's many cracks and crevices. That alone made her shudder, folding further into her wings as she took a tentative step forward. The cave floor sloped downwards, the dripping of water audible as Twilight's eyes spanned across a field of stalagmites.

Then there was a shuffling in the gloom and the dragoness froze, eyes darting around much to the chagrin of her draconic side. Come on, you're a damn dragoness, not Fluttershy! Stop flinching at every shadow!

Her brow furrowed as she took another step, really hoping that her hypothesis about caves in the wild seldom being empty wasn't true. You don't need logic anymore, Twilight. You are big and scary enough to get what you want!

"Okay, I've been civil and said hello, so if anypony is in here come out now!" she called into the cave, voice echoing back and once again forcing her to wince before squeaking out a final. "Please?"

Her dragon self rolled its slitted eyes, face-clawing in the back of her mind as the cave gave another skittering sound. Twilight then had about all of a second before the darkness came alive and surged right at her. The princess screamed, all aggressive thoughts forgotten. Seemingly out of pure spite, her draconic side left her to fall to the floor, claws, and wings pressed over her head as the largest swarm of bats she'd ever seen escaped into the night above her.

Beaten by bats, you're pathetic, her mind sneered, yet with no friends, no magic, nothing, she had no idea what else to do. You're not the one who's lost everything... erm... stupid dragon Twilight! Like an angel on her opposite shoulder, the little imaginary princess was there to defend her in a flash.

One of Twilight's eyes hinged open, her wings folding back as the thundering of a thousand tiny wings disappeared into the roar of the storm outside. She sat up, looking around to see if the cave had any more surprises for her. A small trickle of stragglers from the bats was all that greeted her gaze as she finally flopped onto her side with a huff.

Who knew turning into a dragoness on an empty stomach and plowing through the forest head first could be so tiring? She glanced over herself, head sliding across the damp cave floor as she flexed each claw in one final attempt to see if this was somehow a dream.

Once again, there was nothing to suggest that was the case. Twilight folded a wing over her body in a small effort to remove the reminder from sight. With nothing but the dreary cave wall to stare at, she felt the weight of her exhaustion pressing down, she sighed. Tendrils of darkness were already seeping into her vision from the oblivion in the corner of her eye and even her new, far stronger muscles were now begging for a reprieve.

So much for the princess of friendship, the hardened dragon part of her mind sneered as she closed her eyes.

Even the little imaginary alicorn that had been so valiant in her defense wilted at that observation, and for a brief moment, there was a sensation of utter defeat as the thought of giving up flashed through the former mare's mind. Her dragon self chuckled, echoing as exhaustion finally claimed her. All she could think as she was dragged into the darkness of unconsciousness was that when she woke up, there may be nothing other than that cruel, instinctive voice left in her mind.

Chapter Eight: Dimensional What?

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"Twilight!" The name escaped Twilight's mouth as she shot up with a start, then the world was knocked into a spin as she also happened to slam her head against the underside of a small rocky overhang.

"Ouch, Celestia damn it!" the dragoness cursed as she rubbed between her horns, her vision swimming for a moment before coming back into focus.

She was still in the cave, it was still damp, cold and pitch black outside with the storm's war cry now reduced to an ever-present patter of light rain on slick, wet rock. Her whole body felt stiff, yet for some reason, the air around her was almost liquid. As she recovered from the sudden awakening she staggered to her claws, the motion feeling even more awkward than before. It was almost like moving through water, the atmosphere was thick and soupy, the dripping of water in the cave reverberating through the gloom.

"What in Equestria?" she asked herself, yet for once every voice in her mind simply shrugged without an idea.

That was when she heard it, and her leathery draconic ears perked at the sound of a voice calling on the wind.

"Twilight!" She could not make out who it was, the rain along with the odd echoing effect of her reality distorted the tone, yet she heard her name and that's all that she needed.

They've come to find me... but... Her thoughts paused as she was caught between two ultimatums. Do I really want them to find me like this?

Her wings drooped again, tail coiling around her talons as her dragon self snickered something about how useless it was to care anymore. Yet regardless of what she thought, that voice drew closer, until it was virtually at the mouth of the cave. Caught by confusion, Twilight planted herself and resisted the urge to flee.

No, no more running. They're my friends and they'll care for me no matter what, she declared to herself. And I'd never let myself do anything to hurt them!

She furrowed her brow and straightened herself out. A dragoness that had crashed horns first into a hedge she may look like, but that was not who she was. This mess was not hopeless, she just needed to stick it to her new lizard side and do what she knew her true self would do.

"Twilight, where are you?" called the voices again, echoing as if coming from all around her.

She closed her eyes, face contorted and muzzle wrinkled as she finally bit back her fear and stepped up to the mouth of the cave.

"I'm here, girls, and I'm..." She opened her eyes, a sudden swell of happiness at the thought she'd get to see her friends again, only to find there was nothing there but the dripping cave mouth and the storm outside. "W-what... But I could have sworn..."

"Twilight, what in Equestria do you think you're doing out here!" The dragon-mare went stiff, wings rustling like paper as she turned around to find that somehow the voice was behind her.

It was there she found the scowling faces of five very disappointed looking mares. Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy all stood in the cave, and not one of them looked as happy to see her as she was to see them. Or at least as happy as she'd felt before seeing their scowling faces.

"G-girls... You came out here... I... I know what this looks like, and I'm sorry, but I can explain..." Twilight began, folding into her wings and bowing her head as she rubbed one foreleg against the other.

"Darn tootin', ya' got some explainin' ta do, Twi," Applejack was the first to declare, jabbing a hoof at the mare turned dragoness.

"I... I know, I'm sorry... I should have told you all," Twilight relented, peeking out from her wings.

"No, what you should have done, dear, is not show up at all. You're an utter danger to everypony," snapped Rarity and Twilight flinched.

"W¬what... I... I never meant to hurt anypony, I swear... Spike... He's okay, right?" Dread flooded into her mind at the thought that she may have somehow burned the dragon.

"Oh, he's perfectly peachy!" declared Pinkie Pie, before somehow miraculously appearing behind Twilight's head, swinging from her horns as she added. "But I wouldn't count on talking to him again, danger dragon. You've lost his trust fooooreeeever!"

The bubbly pink mare darted over Twilight's shoulder, materializing beside her other friends as the dragoness took in a staggered breath, clutching her chest.

"I... what do you mean, I couldn't control myself... I don't know what's happening to me," Twilight retorted, spreading her wings as anger spiked.

Fluttershy gave a small eep of alarm at the display, darting back. Like a bolt of cyan lightning, Rainbow Dash was at her foalhood friend's side, a wing wrapped around the butter yellow pegasus.

"Oh, I know what's happening to you. You're turning into a monster, Twilight. I saw what you did back at Sugarcube Corner, who's to say the whole of Ponyville isn't next?" Rainbow asked and Twilight shrank back, shielding herself from the pegasus' harsh gaze with a wing.

"No, I'm not a monster. I didn't do this to myself... It's some stupid magic I don't understand," she tried to reason.

"Then why did you try and eat that poor doe yesterday, don't think I don't know about that?" Fluttershy asked between tears as she looked up from Rainbow's comforting wing.

“Fluttershy, you keep carnivores… I was hungry… I…” Twilight once again felt the blood drain from her scales as she looked from horrified face to horrified face.

"Sure sounds like a monster ta meh," Applejack agreed with a firm nod from Pinkie Pie.

"Positively barbaric, I concur. Not to mention the amount of my fine work you destroyed, Twilight, and that you lied right to my face about this." Rarity added, throwing back her head with a 'tsk'.

"I... I..." Twilight desperately attempted to formulate words, yet nothing came to her that could even begin to excuse her actions. Neither could she think of any way in which her friends were wrong about what she'd done.

"Oh, Twilight, what have you done now?" sounded one last voice and the dragoness looked up to see Starlight looming over her from a ledge. "How does it feel to be driven away from all you love and forced to hide in a cave?"

With a flash, the lilac mare appeared between Twilight and her other five friends, a smirk plastered on her muzzle.

"S–Starlight... You... what are you talking about... That was years ago?" Twilight responded, shuffling back as the mares started to advance as one.

"What, and you think I've forgotten? Sure, I have a life now with you guys, Trixie..." Starlight twiddled a hoof in the air. "But what are we all without you?" She jabbed the hoof right at Twilight as she felt her back hit a damp cave wall.

"I–I don't understand... We... we're nothing without each other," she insisted, and Starlight rolled her eyes.

"Wrong. You're the only one who is nothing anymore, no magic and..." Starlight looked back at each of the five mares behind her for confirmation. "Oh, and wouldn't you know it, no friends anymore. Who knew setting fire to Ponyville would do that?"

"What, no. I didn't set fire to the town, I swear. Girls, you know I would never..." Twilight pleaded, yet nopony looked like they even cared.

"The damage don't lie, Twi. Saw it with mah own two eyes," Applejack insisted, backed up by her wife soon after.

"Yeah, I find it hard to believe you didn't plan to use some crazy monster magic on yourself. Last time I brought it up, you told me how dangerous it was, yet here you are," Rainbow accused.

Twilight lifted a claw and opened her muzzle to argue, yet all that escaped was a dry squeak.

Starlight finally looked back at her with a smirk. "See, you're a danger, Twilight, and we can't have danger in our lives."

Only a hoof step away from the cowering dragoness Starlight's horn began to glow as she finally added. "Now, do you remember what we have to do to things that put us in danger?"

Utterly stunned, Twilight could only stare into the bright cyan glow of her former student's horn as it grew brighter. Her mind was like a wasteland, all hopes and dreams shattered. The open space just enough for her draconic self to take control.

"No, you won't take anypony from me!" Fire erupted from her mouth as she surged upwards, wings spread.

A gushing river of amethyst flames poured over Starlight and the others, smothering the light of the unicorn's magic as Twilight dropped onto all fours, claws digging at stone and teeth bared. The fire faded, leaving behind glowing hot rock and steam. Twilight narrowed her eyes, muzzle wrinkled and nostrils flared as a wall of cyan magic sat between her and her friends. The magical shield dropped with a flick of Starlight's head, an odd shimmering light passing over the six mares as it did so.

Like starlight, the glow twinkled, and when it had passed her friends were not the same. Each bore a golden neck brace, the signature look of the elements of harmony on each of them respectively. All save for Starlight who took one step forward and looked right at the snarling dragoness, a golden tiara topped by a cyan gem in the shape of her cutie mark atop her head. Twilight's eyes went wide, sensation coming back to her as the gleam of the Element of Magic flashed in her vision.

"My point exactly, Twilight," Starlight boasted, spreading a new set of lilac and purple wings from her sides before adding, "It looks like you've been replaced."

"Enough!" The image slammed into Twilight like a brick wall, seconds before a literal explosion of dark blue light blasted outwards from Starlight's crown, along with a booming voice.

Forced to the floor by the explosion, Twilight only caught a brief glimpse as the faces of her friends disintegrated into the inky gloom and sound left her reality. In their place, descending on a light beat of shadowy wings, appeared a midnight blue alicorn.

"Twilight Sparkle," Princess Luna greeted with a bow as her silver shoes gently touched the floor. "My apologies, I should have come sooner."

Twilight peeked up, eyes darting from left to right lest Starlight and the rest of her friends still be around to banish her. When the mares in question failed to show up and try to blast her, she locked eyes with Luna. For the first time, it was not the dragon side of her mind that was angry.

"You, you..." she stammered, shooting to her feet and glaring at her fellow princess. "What you said last night... lovesickness or whatever, you knew this was going to happen!" she declared, jabbing a claw at Luna as the whole world started to shake around them.

Luna took a long look around at the dissolving dream, then looked back at Twilight and sighed. "I had my suspicions, yet what you have experienced is far beyond anything I have seen. But please, try to calm down, you're destabilizing the dream."

So this is a dream? Oh Celestia, aren't you glad? Her mind added, before one more observant part of her noted. Wait, so she really did know?

"Calm down? You're joking, right?" Twilight snapped, gesturing to herself as rocks and dust started to fall around her. "Look at me... Look at what they just accused me of, that could be real for all I know!"

Luna took a step back, a pained and guilty look crossing her often stoic face as her ears folded and she looked at the collapsing dreamscape unsurely.

"Twilight, please. I have many things to tell you, yes... I should have been more direct, yet I did not believe things could go so far so fast," Luna stammered, but Twilight continued to advance, the anger at having seen her friends abandon her at the forefront of her mind.

"You have things to tell me? Luna, if this is seriously one of your pranks it's really, really not funny!" Twilight pressed.

"What... No! I would never take things so far. There are simply things I know that others are better off not knowing. Twilight, please, I would never seek to ruin anything of yours... I..." Before Luna could finish her words were lost in a flash and a loud gong like chime.

The world almost seemed to be sucked away under Twilight, like water down a drain as reality dove head first into a disorienting swirl and darkness sank its long, winding tendrils into everything. Just like that, the world was gone, and from nowhere distant sounds came racing to Twilight's senses, then smell and finally a blast of light.


With a groan and the scraping of a foreclaw on top of her head, one of Twilight's slitted eyes popped open.

"Urg, my head... I... Luna!" Her head shot up, and much like in a certain dream was sent spinning as she smacked it right into a rocky outcrop. "Ouch, not again you stupid thing!"

She glared at the rock, and it seemed to glare back with an unrivaled smugness. That was until she took it in a claw, snapped it off with a surge of draconic strength, and tossed it out into the early sunlit morning outside the cave.

Definitely hurts more in real life, her mind declared, yet the recollection of the dream made her feel both empty and furious. My friends, they'd never really... and Luna!

She narrowed her eyes, teeth grinding as she snorted fire. What did Luna know, how long had she known it, and why had she failed to help? Those questions spun in Twilight's mind for a long moment before the clap of wood against wood caught her attention and she looked to see she was not alone in the cave. Then she froze at the sight of somepony looking at her with a pair of curious blue eyes.

"Ahh, so you are awake I see. So tell me, Twilight, would you care for some tea?" asked, not some pony, but some zebra as she poured a steamy liquid from a kettle she had over a cooking fire into a small coconut cup and held it out to the dragoness.

"Z–Zecora?" Twilight stammered, rubbing her sore head before realization dawned on her. "I–I... this, me..." She gestured to herself in a fluster. "I can totally explain!"

Zecora chuckled. "Dear Twilight, I can see you have some issues, yes, but please do not fret. I know that as a dragon, you are no threat."

The zebra smiled, and for once Twilight gave up on any kind of improvised explanation as she slumped and took the tea Zecora was offering.

"Thanks... Sorry, I'm just kinda expecting everypony who sees me like this to freak out," Twilight confessed, taking a sip of what she discovered was wonderful herb tea.

Any particular reason why she's not freaking out, Twilight? She wondered as the minty freshness of the tea trickled down her throat and soothed her singed muscles. She lives out here, she's probably seen enough dragons to last a lifetime. Oh Celestia, she knows just what to give them too.

Twilight pressed a claw to her neck, rubbing her throat as she coughed. "Wow, that stuff is strong..." Her voice caught, breaking as her airways cleared and the sting of smoke disappeared. "M–my voice... I have my old voice back!"

Twilight spread her wings, almost impacting the cave roof as she jumped up. Adopting a triumphant stance, she was oblivious while Zecora rushed to settle her tea and stop the bubbling brew from spilling.

"Oh, Zecora, thank you, I..." Twilight paused as she turned to see the zebra with the kettle in her forehooves, then blushed, sinking into her folded wings. "Oh, sorry."

"Worry not Twilight Sparkle, I am very aware of what you're facing with this debacle," Zecora responded as she finally steadied her cooking stand and leaned back to take a sip of her own hot drink.

Twilight once again sat down, heat pooling in her scaly cheeks. "I guess you saw me last night then?" she asked and when Zecora gave a solitary nod she buried her face in her foreclaws.

"Urg, I just don't know what's happening to me... I've done all kinds of magic and never have I been stuck like this!" she declared, gesturing to herself.

Zecora leaned back against a rock at the dragoness' rather loud declaration, and Twilight once again felt a swell of guilt below that fire in her chest.

"I..." She sighed. "You shouldn't have followed me, I don't feel like I have enough control over myself right now." The grinding of her claws on stone only reinforced the dragoness' words as she glanced down at them.

Zecora gave a hum, drawing Twilight's attention as she pressed a hoof to her striped muzzle and seemed to think for a long moment.

"Hmmm. While usually coming out here to try and soothe an angry drake, would seem to be a great mistake. I can see you are suffering from great heartache. Twilight, I know you are not one of those things, so trust me, I can take whatever else the forest brings," Zecora assured with a smirk, then stood up, taking a stick that had been laying against the rock at her side.

Twilight observed the curious mare suspiciously, considering her cryptic words as Zecora took the stick in her mouth and trotted over.

"So you're saying you did not come out here because you saw me demolish half the forest?" she asked as Zecora paused at her side, propping up the stick with a foreleg.

"A few trees you smashed in the gloom, hardly something that will result in the forest's doom," she muttered, cocking her head and seeming to scrutinize Twilight's scales in great detail. "Yet, being so vigilant, I could not resist observing your predicament."

Twilight felt her muzzle wrinkle as confusion pooled in her mind, then that all went away in a yelp as Zecora jabbed her side with the stick.

Oh, you are so, so unlike a dragon. This is embarrassing! Twilight's inner draconic thoughts snapped as she jumped away from the offending zebra, growling. No, no, you are not setting her on fire!

"Hey, what in Equestria was that for?" Twilight asked, rubbing her side with a claw and finding, much as her draconic self had told her, that it did not hurt half as much as she was used to. "I'm still a pony in here you know?"

Zecora gave another curious hum, mumbling to herself. "As true as I suspected that would seem. Twilight Sparkle, you still are in mind, so this must really be some kind of scheme." She rubbed her chin with a forehoof again, setting down the stick.
At her words, however, Twilight's leathery ears perked, and her attention spiked. Is she talking to herself or to me... What does she mean a 'scheme'?

The dragoness edged back towards the striped mare. "Scheme, what scheme... Do you know what's wrong with me?" she asked hopefully.

Seriously, if this ends up being another of Discord's pranks I'm going to turn him back to stone myself! she declared internally, and for once her dragon side didn't disagree with the threat.

"Legends I know speak of afflictions from worlds beyond ours. Yet, as far as I know, they can only be caught when meddling with higher powers," Zecora elaborated, drawing out a picture of a dragon in the moist dirt, then a line and on the other side of the divide, a pony. "Some say that half our existence is an illusion. Yet when we meddle with one half, it affects the other, and can cause a fusion."

She drew a line through the central divide from the mare to the dragon, then scribbled out the two entirely.

Twilight's thoughts were spinning. A fusion, two sides of reality? This sounds something like that teleportation safety manual, remember? You know, like that one stallion who ended up fused with a Parrasprite?

Twilight shook her head with a grunt. "What, so you're saying I blurred the lines between myself and a dragon? How In Equestria does that work, every time I use magic I make sure to be as safe as possible," she exclaimed, wings flaring again.

This time Zecora didn't even flinch as she addressed the angry dragoness. "You say that you were the one to take the utmost care. Yet, I must wonder, were you the only one there?"

At the zebra's question, Twilight paused. "No, I do my magic practice with Starlight most of the time, sometimes her wife Trixie too," she retorted.

Thinking back to her recent dream Twilight felt a twinge of doubt in her mind. That couldn't be it, Starlight was trying to help me. She's my friend, why would she curse me to turn into a dragoness?

"Hmmm," Zecora hummed, forehoof on the tip of her muzzle once again. "Then this magic, what is it? If what I suspect is true, it may just fit."

The gears in her own mind grinding, Twilight scratched the back of her neck as she answered. "Transformation spells. All body, no soul. Only into other pony tribes too, we didn't even go inequine!" she exclaimed, but at those words, Zecora seemed to reach her conclusion.

"Practising the art of altering one's self on one side of the line." She gestured to the scribble in the muck. "The sickness that you have is a sure sign."

Twilight glanced at the ruined scribble, then at Zecora before seconds later her head was back in her foreclaws.

"What in Equestria does that even mean? So I'm sick, this is lovesickness, that's what Princess Luna called it! So that means you could cure it, right?" she offered and Zecora once again seemed to consider that.

"If love is what your Night Princess believes is the cause, then it may be true. Yet this is not a sickness that can be cured with a simple brew," Zecora responded.

Twilight sat up, no care for the intense heat surging to her cheeks. "I'm not in love with anypony. All the feelings I had in the past week were for Spike and Ember, and that's just because of this stupid dragon brain!" She jabbed a claw to her head, growling smoke.

"Love is a powerful emotion, even across reality, it can set things in motion. To think that the love of another is affecting you now is not out of the question. Yet whoever thinks about you in such a way must have great power to leave such an impression," Zecora elaborated.

Oh, that sounds great. So what, some great, all-powerful, cosmic being from another world has a crush on you? Twilight wondered as pieces steadily began to form in her mind. Wow, who knew inter-dimensional monsters had a thing for sexy dragons?

Twilight shook all but the most pressing questions from her mind, leaning closer to the zebra, claws tapping against stone.

"So you do know what's happening to me, Zecora? Oh, please, please tell me you do!" Twilight practically begged.

Zecora lifted a hoof. "Know what ails you, I have a theory, yet I warn, the truth may be a little eerie," the zebra offered, but Twilight had no care for how dark the truth may be as she nodded rapidly.

"I need to know, I really don't want to be stuck like this forever, so please, tell me." Zecora nodded once, lifting a forehoof and opening her muzzle to respond.

Before the striped mare could utter a single word, however, there was a sudden flash of bright light and the cave was consumed by a blinding glow. Instinctively, the dragoness lifted a wing to shield her eyes, wincing. Beyond her leathery curtain, there was a frazzle and a pop, magical lightning sparking to all corners of the cavern. Then a whoosh as the whole phenomenon faded.

Wait, that magic... If I didn't know any better I'd say that was a temporality shift teleportation! Twilight lowered her wings, hoping that she'd once again been greeted by the one mare she figured could offer all her answers.

"Twilight, thank Celestia, I... Oh, wow, that curse has really come along." What the dragoness found was a very surprised looking Starlight Glimmer turn to face her.

Zecora's words about her magical partner's effects lingered in Twilight's mind as the zebra too regarded the suddenly appearing mare with shock.

Moments later, Starlight shook her head, frazzled and singed mane waving as she announced. "I'm just glad I finally found you... and don't worry, I'm here to finally put an end to this."

Chapter Nine: Unleash the Dragon

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"S–Starlight... You... I... How did in Equestria did you find me?" Twilight blurted, and Starlight shrugged, flicking a strand of her singed mane with a forehoof.

"Oh, you know, I may or may not have put a tracking spell on you years ago and never got the chance to take it off," she admitted, offering a look that kindly asked that the dragoness not set her on fire.

"You what? You've been tracking me all this time?" Twilight exclaimed, wings ruffling.

Oh, because that sounds so innocent. Zecora and your dreams are right, she's trying to replace you! The more blunt part of her mind screamed, before once again her valiant little mental alicorn leaped up. No, I've known her for years, it can't be true!

"What? You and I both know we were different mares back then. Plus, I was going to tell you, but it would be super awkward to have to take it off," Starlight protested.

"Awkward, Starlight you did a detailed scrying spell on me yesterday for Celestia's sake!" Twilight countered, and one little awkward snort from Zecora made both mare and dragoness blush.

"It's not what it sounds like, I swear!" the pair exclaimed in union, forehooves, and claws waving as Zecora took a wary step back.

Starlight was first to shake the awkward idea from her mind, smacking a forehoof to her forehead as she turned back to Twilight. "Look, Twilight, after last night the game is up, everypony knows something's going on and I was the only one who could teleport right to you."

"Yeah, because you put a stalking spell on me," the dragoness snorted, smoke hissing from her nostrils as, within the depths of her thoughts, her dragon self rubbed her imagnary foreclaws together.

That's right, Twilight. She wants to know where you are at all times. Waiting for the moment to strike. It grumbled before the more logical side countered. Well, if that's true then she would have done it years ago!

"What, no, I've never been stalking you, Twilight. Not since that whole time travel thing, anyway," Starlight declared, yet Twilight merely crossed her forelegs and huffed as she folded into her wings.

"Oh, because knowing that makes me feel so much better," she huffed, claws scraping at rock and smoke simmering from her mouth as she resisted the urge to let herself shout again.

Maybe it's just because she really does think you're dangerous. How do you know that fire didn't spread throughout Ponyville? the dragon in her suggested, inner fire swelling at its prompts as the other side of her mind countered. You know that's not true, even if they did hate me, no way would they have let that fire spread.

"Twilight, you should be glad that I did have that spell. Spike spent most of the night flying around looking for you. Rainbow's got all of her old weather team scouring the forest this morning too. I'm supposed to send up a magic beacon as soon as I find you because no pony else can," Starlight started, hardly noticing as Zecora shot an ungrateful look.

"Yeah... W–well did any of you ever consider that I may want it to be that way, hum?" Twilight snapped over one of her wings as she turned away from the lilac mare. "I didn't come into one of the most dangerous places in Equestria for sunshine and rainbows, Starlight."

At the dragoness's words, Starlight frowned. "Twilight, what in Equestria has gotten into you? Last night you wanted to do whatever you could to be there for your friends now you're what... some crazy mare in the forest?"

"Oh, I have no idea what's gotten into me... Wait, no, try the mind of a big, scary dragon!" Twilight growled, her restraint slipping as she shifted to face her former student.

Starlight narrowed her eyes, yet didn't even budge as her gaze locked with Twilight's.

"If I may intrude in this conversation, I would have to agree that the mind of the mare you know has suffered some enervation," Zecora chimed, glancing at Starlight before looking up and addressing Twilight. "Yet, for you to think as if your ability to reason dies, I assure you, it is most unwise."

Seriously, she makes no sense, Twilight. Why is it the only pony I can find with any answers is one that talks in riddles!

"Oh, I'm the one who's unwise? How about you two... I almost set fire to Ponyville and you're here goading me like I'm some lost puppy!" Twilight declared, only to recoil and grit her teeth, wincing.

No, don't let it out Twilight. Keep it together, you're not a dragon! the little alicorn in her head reassured.

"So it has seeped into your mind. Here I thought it would have just been the feeding and sexual instincts," Starlight observed, seeming to think for a moment.

She took one glance at Zecora and the striped mare nodded. "That her mind is fading, yes I fear, and that only means more that she cannot stay out here."

"I'm still sitting right here you know, stop talking like I'm not... I... I" Twilight's words trailed off as her mind soothed her worries.

Your mind's going nowhere, Twilight. These feelings right now, that's the new you. She clutched her head in her foreclaws, talons scraping at scales.

"I'm like this... There's nothing wrong with me, damn it." There was a break in the dragonesses' voice, and from under her old tone, the new, deep draconic voice broke free. Her eyes went wide as she looked between her claws at Starlight. "I don't know what's happening to me!"

"Twilight, it's okay... Just calm down, we can still fix this," her former student assured, slowly taking a step forward and waving a forehoof in a downwards motion. "We can still find a way to reverse it, I promise."

No, you know that's not what she wants. She really does want to replace you, steal the treasure of a life you've been living for herself! That serpent amidst her thoughts growled as more smoke began to bellow from Twilight's nostrils. No... no, she's my friend, she'd never!

"S¬Starlight... don't... get away from me, I can't keep my head on straight anymore," Twilight whimpered, scooting away from the advancing mare. "I'm dangerous!"

No, no, you're not. You're powerful, you're free. You can do whatever you want now, no restraints, no limits, no morals to hold you back. You're a dragon, Twilight, and dragons don't do anything other than dangerous!

Starlight paused as Twilight shuffled right back to the edge of the cave wall, back pressed to the stone and wings coiled around her like a protective cocoon. Who are you trying to protect, Twilight? Yourself, or her. Drop this stupid pony facade and live as the creature you've become!

"Twilight, just look at me, focus on me. I know we have had some rough patches, but I'm here to..."

"Replace me!" Twilight suddenly declared, cutting Starlight off as she lunged at the mare. "You just want to take everything from me, my treasure, my life!"

Starlight didn't even get a chance to call out before the dragoness was on top of her, smoke billowing from between her formidable fangs as fire welled up in her throat. Zecora was the one to call out, yet with one slashing motion of a wing, the zebra was knocked aside. Her vision consumed by red, Twilight reared up and opened her fire filled mouth wide.

Starlight acted on pure survival instinct of her own, eyes closing tight as her horn flashed to life. An orb of cyan light formed around the pinned mare before it began to rppidly expand with a flash, blasting outwards in all directions. Twilight was cast back by the wall of magic, thrown back across the cave before slamming back first into the wall and slumping to the ground at the base. The magic faded, leaving only blackened stone singed by arcane smoke, and all three mares sat sprawled out over the cave.

"Twilight!" Starlight was the first to recover, shooting to her hooves and darting over to the fallen dragoness. "I–I, I'm sorry... I..."

The mare froze as she found Twilight utterly broken. Her scales where bruised and dented, her wings ruffled and slightly torn. Several of her dorsal spines were snapped and her left horn was crooked. Yet for Twilight, what was most crippling of all was not her physical pain. She'd hared ponies say that crying was vomiting for the soul, and right now her soul was filled to the brim. Tears streamed from the dragonesses' eyes, a claw pressed over her muzzle as she wept

Starlight tentatively reached out a forehoof. "T–Twilight... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."

"Stop it, Starlight!" Twilight declared through her weeping, hoarse voice strained as she shifted her drooped head to look up at the mare. "Stop making excuses for me... I turned myself into a monster, okay. I did something wrong!"

Starlight pulled back her hoof and took a step back. "Twilight, this isn't your fault, you're brilliant at magic, I know you'd never have done this to yourself."

"Explain it then, Starlight! Admit it, I messed up, I let my ego get the best of me and messed with things I didn't fully understand..." Twilight trailed off as her head drooped. "Now I have to pay the universe's price."

"No... Twilight, you..."

"Just go, Starlight." Twilight's tear-filled eyes locked with her former student's. "Both of you, just go. I don't want to hurt anypony, so just leave me here."

Starlight and Zecora exchanged glances as the latter mare, looking a little battered herself, trotted up.

"Twilight, I'm not just leaving you out here," Starlight insisted, yet Twilight fixed her with a dangerous glare.

"Perhaps, for now, this is the best course of action, you and I have both just seen how bad the dragon in her can have a reaction," Zecora suggested reluctantly, placing a hoof on Starlight's shoulder.

Starlight let out a growl, glaring right back at the teary-eyed dragoness cowering in the corner before her. "The Twilight I know would never give up like this!" she declared, stamping a hoof.

If only you were still that mare, hm? Accept it, you're better off now. Twilight's head fell to the floor, muzzle in the damp dust.

"If only I were still mostly that mare, Starlight." She didn't even glance at her former student as the words left her muzzle, not even when Starlight gave an indignant huff.

"I can't believe what I'm hearing... I... I don't know you anymore," she muttered, yet without a response from the dragoness, she swiftly turned, flicking her tail as she added. "Well, unlike you, I've not given up. So when my friend decides to come back and talk to me, I'll be waiting outside."

The sound of her hoofsteps retreating was followed by a small bow from Zecora, who followed after Starlight, leaving Twilight alone in the dark, dank corner of the cave. Water dripped down rhythmicaly around her, and the wind howled between the damp stones. Twilight gave a wet sniff, even her inner fire feeling subdued by sorrow.

Dragons don't do moping. One side of her grumbled, crossing her clawed forelimbs. Yet for once it was shoved aside by the miniature mental image of her former self. Twilight, please... Is this really what you want?

What does it matter what I want anymore, the sooner I realize what I am the sooner I just take whatever I want! The mental dragonesses sneered.

"Just get out of my head, everything," she openly whimpered, a foreclaw pressed flat over her muzzle as she closed her eyes

You can't just run from your thoughts, Twilight. You're a dragoness now, I'm starting to get sick of you not acting like one. The mental argument persisted, before one half of her shot back. No, I'm not! This is some stupid disease.

You can't cure being a dragon! Why would you even want to? Twilight opened one eye and glanced out towards the dull light of dawn beyond the cave. So what if I can't cure myself physically, I can still try to get rid of you!

Her dragons side recoiled, a claw to her imaginary chest as she snorted. You can't get rid of me, you are me!

"No, I'm not!" Twilight shot to her feet, calling out with a burst of fire. "You're nothing but words in my head. I'm still myself and there's no way I'm going to become what you want me to be!"

Such a glorious mare who's abandoned her friends then, aren't you? Her mind spat and she winced, head bowed as she looked down at one claw. It's wrong about me. Prove it's wrong. I know what the real Twilight would do right now. I still am the real Twilight!

The dragonesses' jaw clenched, her brows furrowed as she looked up to the cave mouth. You do this and it will end in fire, you can't hide from that.

Maybe if I try to stop myself alone, but I have my friends, what do you have? she declared inwardly. We'll just see how well that goes.

The dragoness amidst her thoughts hissed, skulking back into the shadows at the back of her mind as Twilight finally swallowed her doubt and took a step towards the edge of the cave.

"Starlight!" she called, wincing slightly as she emerged from the cave and the dawn sun hit her eyes.

Recovering, she could make out in the new light that the sleek, wet ledge of rock was empty save for a few puddles and lingering shrubs. Glancing both left and right she saw only dense trees with no sign of either of her friends anywhere?

"Starlight, Zecora?" she called again, taking a step down the ledge towards the tree line. "I'm, sorry about what I said... You're right about this."

Maybe they really have left you. See, she's not your friend, she doesn't care, neither does Zecora. You almost killed them, so why would they? her draconic mind offered, but she shook her head. No, that doesn't make sense.

"Starlight, look I'm sorry, okay. Please, can we just try and fix this?" she called into the darkness amidst the trees as she stepped down from the ledge. "I promise I won't try and set you on fire again!"

There was nothing from the trees save for the sound of the local wildlife and the rustle of leaves as the canopy swayed in the breeze. Twilight drooped, head hanging low as her wings sagged.

No, that stupid part of you can't be right, she wouldn't leave. She tried to reassure herself, yet after a few long minutes of nothing, she could feel her hope begin to slip. My one chance to try and make things right... No.

A loud shuffling in the bushes caught her attention and she perked up, leathery ears standing tall. Her eyes darted left and right, scouring the mass of leaves and tree trunks before she caught a glimpse of a purple tail sink into the undergrowth.

"Starlight!" she called, reaching out with a claw as the mare vanished, then without thought she jumped up and charged right toward her. "I understand if you don't want to talk to me, but can we just go home?"

As she'd suspected the mare gave no response, instead she seemed to be rather rapidly scurrying away into the forest. The rate at which she was able to get by the trees was astounding as Twilight struggle to claw her way through the branches after her, at least until falling face first into a muddy clearing.

Urg, what is it with my face and mud! she mentally screamed as she pulled herself up from the floor and looked around.

The trees were like fortress walls on all sides, the clearing was small, dipping in its center to form a boggy ditch littered with pale white branches. Twilight took one step and felt her claw sink ankle deep into the mud. Lifting her talons free, she shook off the sickly wet grime and looked ahead to where Starlight was standing with her back to her. The mare's coat looked odd, slightly dulled and wrinkled. Her mane and tail had a swampy tint to them, twigs and vines jutting from her ruffled fur.

Twilight cocked her head, noting that the mare seemed to be standing effortlessly on the thick mud. Wait, she can telekinetically fly but... no magic?

The images her eyes were providing her had both sides of her brain stumped as she asked. "Erm, Starlight... What are we doing here, and where's Zecora?"

She dared take another step, claws sinking deep as the lilac mare twitched. Then something caught her attention.

There was a muffled cry seconds before Starlight's voice called out. "Twilight, that's not me!"

The dragonesses' eyes shot up to the canopy above and fixed on the thick mass of thorn laden vines wrapped around the tree branches like dark snakes. At that moment she almost wished she hadn't looked. In the thicket of wicked tendrils, she saw both Starlight and Zecora pinned to the underside of the trees, legs bound and Starlight's horn entombed in a coil of glowing thorns. Starlight had has just enough time to call out before the vines once again covered her mouth, constricting around the two mares painfully.

Looking back at the doppelganger before her, Twilight swiftly made out the scene. Those pale branches were not branches at all! Bones littering the soggy mire around her, the impersonation of Starlight turned to reveal a pair of hollow back eyes. Then her coat fell away, the chameleonic vines shifting color as the form of a lilac mare slithered away and the thicket uncoiled. The last vestiges of the plant's wicked illusion faded as the fake Starlight opened her mouth and from it erupted a lashing swam of vines, all aimed right at Twilight's face.

The dragoness gasped, the loose ground under her talons rippling as more of the vines snaked their way through the mud to ensnare her. More shot out from the trees, coiling around her neck and wings, serrated thorns digging at dragon scales in an effort to find purchase. Fear once again took over her mind as more of the vines entangled her muzzle, squeezing hard to prevent intake of breath. She instinctively reached for magic with a horn that was no longer there and squashed back that eager fire in her chest.

I'm not a dragon, I'm not a dragon! She declared to herself over and over, forcing back that fear as she grit her teeth and tired to rip a claw from the mud as the other side of her screamed. You're kidding, right!

The vines tugged back with an unnatural strength that would have surely ripped her leg off if she were still a mare. Yet, flexing a claw and taking the long strand of damp vegetation in her grip, Twilight ripped one foreleg free, talons slicing through the offending vines. The broken limbs recoiled with a hiss, yet just as soon as they did so, more exploded from the shadows to take their place.

Her wings, legs, and tail were all swiftly bound, the grip painfully tight as the whole thing tried to drag her kicking and screaming into the thick mud. More vines shot up to wrap around her forehorn, yanking her head down as another coil snaked around the crooked pair at the back of her skull. The vines around her muzzle squeezed hard, fangs grinding under the pressure as she fought to take a breath. More began to knot up around her chest and midsection as they all worked harder to drag her immobilized body into the mire.

Augh, what in Equestria is this thing... If only I had my magic! Twilight internally cursed, glancing up at a very petrified looking Starlight and Zecora becoming even more ensnared in the canopy themselves. Starlight’s got magic and look where that's gotten her. Damn it, Twilight, you have what you need, stop fighting and let it go!

The dragonesses' face scrunched, muzzle wrinkling under the strain as she closed her eyes and gritted her fangs.

I'm not a dragon, I won't fight like one. I won't be a monster! She screamed at herself as she swore she could hear scales cracking. And neither will I let anything happen to my friends!

With a surge of newfound strength Twilight's wings flared, straining against the force of the vines before, with a series of wet pops, the vegetation gave way. The vast plant gave a fit of painful hisses, it's severed limbs retreating back into the undergrowth. Ripping a leg up from the muddy wallow once again, Twilight seized the attacking thorns in her claws and cut them loose before tearing the vines that bound her muzzle free and taking a deep breath.

The vines recoiled as flames started to smolder in the dragonesses' mouth, amethyst fire leaking from between her fangs as she bit down hard and ripped the plant's thorny appendage from her right foreleg too. The thing tasted like swampy water with the consistency of sponge and she spat the grime from her mouth with a jet of flame. Seconds later, and her tail whipped up, vines severed by the spines along her back and snapping apart with wet cracks.

The attacking vines retreated and she fixed her attention on the two mares still suspended above. Kicking up and standing on her hind legs, she was just able to reach the pair. Weight shifting, her hind claws began to sink deeper into the mud, and from the shadows, more of the wicked vines started to creep forward.

"Just hold on, I can get this thing off you," she assured the others, steadying herself before ripping the plant away from Starlight's mouth with one claw and freeing Zecora with a whip of her tail.

The vines recoiled from the pair, leaving them hanging by a few thin strands around their legs and Starlight's horn.

"Starlight, I'm sorry, I should have just listened to you," Twilight admitted, yet before she could apologize further, Starlight called out.

"Feeling sorry later. Look out!" The sensation of vines going taut around her neck was all she felt before she was yanked back.

Falling into the mud with wings and legs outstretched, the vines were swift to capitalize on their opportunity. With a woven coil choking their prey, more of the thorny limbs slithered to ensnare her claws. Half gagging on mud and half gasping for breath, Twilight once again felt herself start to sink into the bog, only this time the vines were not about to let her go.

Looks like you could use a little fire right now! Her mind exclaimed and she bit back the urge to suppress that flame bubbling away inside her and opened her muzzle wide. How dragons do, do that!

The vines gave another hiss, shying away from the heat and scattering like cockroaches back into the shadows. Those that did not retreat fast enough were torn to black ribbons by Twilight's claws as she surged to her feet and slashed out.

"That's right, I'm still not a pony you should mess with!" she called after her attacker, both sides of her mind cheering.

That was until the vines began to pool across the mire, coalescing into a rough black mass, slowly shifting into a lavender form.

"A mimic thicket this is, whatever it touches it can become a part," called Zecora, as the mass forming before Twilight started to look unnervingly familiar. "To kill it for good, you must destroy its heart!"

"Oh, now, Twilight, why would you want to do that?" croaked a very twisted and inequine voice as the pale, dark-eyed alicorn cocked her head. "I'm you, you're me... We're the princess of friendship."

Twilight paused. Seeing herself like that again, even as rotten and decayed as the plant made her look, sent a shiver through her whole body. What she would not give to look like herself again, forget this transformation had happened and get on with her life as everypony else had already.

"You would not really destroy yourself, would you?" the false Twilight asked, and the dragoness shook her head.

"I still am the real Twilight, you're just some monster," she declared, snorting fire. "Now let my friends go."

The false Twilight frowned, features cracking like a dry river bed. "I see how it is. Let's see how you prefer this then!"

The doppelganger's voice began to warp, bubbling and writhing along with her vine crafted body into a shape that almost perfectly mirrored Twilight's new draconic form. Eyes dead, black sockets, the false dragoness grinned.

"Like how you look now?" it asked before, with an alien and unnatural grace, it lunged forward, black vines trailing behind it like the strings of a puppet.

Twilight pressed low to the ground, careful not to sink into the mud too much as the false dragoness came down. With all of her remaining might, she thrust upward, catching the underside of the vine mass with her horns and cutting a deep furrow in the doppelganger's chest. It fell over her, sprawling in the mud as more vines snaked from the trees to repair the damage.

"If I'm honest, I don't like how you look one bit," Twilight retorted, opening her mouth as flames welled up in her throat.

The false dragoness snarled, long, black vines shooting out of one of her eyes sockets to clamp Twilight's muzzle closed and yank her head downward. Her cheeks puffed as a gout of fire caught in her mouth and backfired down her throat, singeing all the way to her stomach. Smoke puffed from her nostrils and she fell back, coughing on her own breath. Before she even knew it, the false dragoness charged, ramming her horns right into Twilight's gut and knocking what was left of her scorched breath out of her.

Oh, now that hurt! winced even the dragon side of her mind as she doubled over in the mud.

"Twilight!" called Starlight, and glancing above she could just about make out the two mares wiggling their way out of the last of the vines.

The dragonesses' doppelganger did not even take notice of the pair as it prowled over Twilight, starting to slowly disintegrate back into its base form. As the scaly illusion began to fall away, Twilight caught a glimpse of something jagged and hard in the cage of its chest. Yet as soon as she was able to register the fact, more of the vines had already begun to coil around her wings and legs.

"Humm, there's never been a dragon stupid enough to wander in here before. You'll keep me fed for months," the dissolving dragoness cackled, voice fading away along with her improvised form.

Twilight wriggled her neck free of the thorny coil and glared right up at the thing's hollowing eyes.

"Yeah, well unlucky for you, I make a really dumb dragoness!" she curled her tail free, surging the tip round and right into the monster's chest.

She felt a kind of sickly wet substance against her scales, mixed with shards of rock and coiled vines. For all of its lack of emotion, the false dragonesses' eyes went wide seconds before Twilight squished the exposed heart within the coil of her tail. She poured all the draconic strength she had left into the force, and with a sickly wet pop, the thing busted like a foul water balloon.

Twilight smiled, the mixed voices in her thoughts soothed as she finished. "Oh, and watch the mud, it's bad for your scales."

"What... No... No...!" The thicket's reverberating voice distorted into nothing but a groan, as it, along with all the vines around the pool, disintegrated into dust to be blown away on the breeze.

There was a pair of wet thuds somewhere in the mire, yet Twilight's head fell to the floor long before she could look up. The monstrous plant's grip around her faded, relieving her of the pressure and leaving her to lay exhausted in the swamp as she heard the sound of rapidly splashing hoofsteps and a shadow finally appeared over her.

"Twilight? Oh Celestia, Twilight, are you okay?" Starlight asked frantically, yet to Twilight the mare appeared as nothing more than a pink blur in her fading vision.

Well done, I'm actually impressed, The draconic side of her muttered as the pony side of her mind simply nodded in agreement with Twilight's next words.

"I'm fine... Totally fine... Just do me one favor, Starlight." The lilac unicorn paused and nodded.

"Anything you need, Twilight."

"Take me back home now, okay?" That was the last thing to leave her mouth before the tendrils of darkness in the edges of her vision won out, and the oblivion of unconscious claimed her mind once again.

Chapter Ten: Love Sickness

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"Twilight Sparkle," stated Princess Luna as she trotted up to sit beside the lavender dragoness on the cliff top. "I did not expect to see you in this realm again so soon."

Twilight looked back over her shoulder, frowning at the midnight blue mare.

"Believe me, you're not the only one. I think I kinda got into a fight with a monster plant from the Everfree, so yeah." She shrugged, and Luna looked taken aback.

"And how, pray tell, did that come about?" Luna asked, before waving the idea away with a hoof before Twilight could answer. "Never mind, Twilight, where are you? I will come and find you."

Twilight shrugged again. "Right now I think I'm wherever my friends are, so at home, I hope," she admitted then slumped slightly. "Where I always should have been."

Once again Luna appeared to suffer a small amount of doubt, her usually reserved stoic expression slipping like it had done when talking to her about the dream involving Spike. Only now it was not the look of whimsical teasing, but guilt once again.
"You know what's wrong with me, don't you?" Twilight asked as a flock of odd blue and red bat-winged birds flew over her and off into the oblivion beyond the vast cliff.

Luna sighed. "I know of it, but..." Her ears perked as an ethereal wind began to blow. Twilight looked around, yet it was as if Luna could hear things she could not. "I will find you Twilight. There are things we must discuss."

She reached out with a dark blue wing, feathers tantalizingly close to Twilight's before that pained look once again crossed her face and she drew back, folding the feathered limb over her chest.

Twilight's vision tilted along with her head, yet just like that the image distorted, then it was gone, Luna taken away along with it.


"Twilight? Hey, Twilight? You in there? Come on, wake up," a raspy voice called from beyond the gloom.

"Darn it, Dash, give her some room. Ah bet the last thang she wants ta see in her face right when she wakes up is yer dumb mug," added another voice that Twilight recognized, and her ears perked.

"Hey, when I asked her to do this to me, she said no. I kinda wanna know why," retorted the first voice, and Twilight's eyelids twitched.

"Hush now, the both of you. I think she's waking up," added another elegant voice that was familiar.

Her eyes opened, vision blurred at first, yet took only a few seconds to come into focus. A plethora of rough shapes and colors were arrayed around her. Then came recognizable eyes and manes, before finally, she made out the faces of her friends all peering at her. Their expressions ranged from joyful to concerned, yet not a single one of them looked like the ones she'd seen in her nightmare.

"Urg, girls?" Twilight groaned, moving a forelimb to rub her weary eyes only to find that it was still a draconic claw.

Oh, of course it is. Her mind moaned along with her as she rubbed her scaly face. All this time it wasn't just a crazy dream, just my luck.

"Well, of course, silly-filly, or silly dragon. Who else were you expecting?" declared Pinkie Pie as she forced her bright pink face right up to the tip of Twilight's muzzle. "Oooo, your scales are so smooth and shiny!" she added, all four hooves standing on the dragonesses' chest.

"Pinkie! Urg, why do ah even bother, ah rest mah case," Applejack groaned, receiving a smirk and a nudge from Rainbow.

Pinkie sat back, butt planted on Twilight's midsection as she looked back at the married couple. "What? Come feel it, she's so smooth now." She rubbed a hoof on Twilight's armored underside, giggling.

Twilight bit her bottom lip, blushing. "I... err, thanks Pinkie, I guess," she muttered, scratching the back of her neck with a claw as Pinkie Pie beamed.

"I must admit, as far as scales go, you are looking rather dashing, darling," offered Rarity, the alabaster mare appearing at the side of the mound of cushions Twilight now found herself on. "Quite the alicorn problem, I see," she added with a knowing grin.

Twilight's blush doubled. Oh yeah, forgot about that little excuse did you? Her mind recoiled, yet the little alicorn still sitting amidst her thoughts simply shrugged. What does it matter now, I'm busted.

"A problem? You're kidding right?" Rainbow exclaimed, jabbing a hoof towards Twilight. "She looks awesome, scales, claws, wings that look like they could blow down a house. Where do I sign up for my dragon-ness?" she added eagerly.

"Don't even think about it, Dash. Yer not gettin' yerself turned into a dragon. One is enough," Applejack ordered, yanking her wife back by the tail to stand at her side.

"Seriously, AJ," the pegasus huffed, before giving the farm pony another nudge. "So you're saying you wouldn't like me any more rough and tough?"

Applejack stiffened, a little pink creeping into her orange cheeks. Beside her, Fluttershy's reaction was similar, yet the shy mare hid her subtle embarrassment behind her mane, looking away from the couple. Taking note of the odd reaction, Twilight failed to notice she was staring, and at Fluttershy's recognition, she instinctively offered an awkward smile.

Oh, mouth full of sharp teeth and she's terrified of dragons. Her mind backtracked and she lowered her muzzle, placing a claw over the predatory display in her mouth. How could I forget?

Fluttershy, however, didn't even seem to flinch at the sight of Twilights teeth. Instead, she appeared to be trying to keep her eyes off the couple next to her as she finally spoke up.

"I think what everypony is trying to say is that we're glad to see you're okay, Twilight." She scuffed a hoof on the crystalline floor, offering a small smile before adding, "Sorry if I made you feel awkward at the party, I didn't know."

"She's right, sugarcube. The most important thang is that yer back here safe n' sound," Applejack agreed, shaking free of the stupor Rainbow had put her in

Twilight looked between them all, from relieved faces to the still overjoyed smile of Pinkie Pie only inches from her muzzle. Then she finally sighed.

"Look, girls. I... I'm sorry I didn't tell any of you about this... I just had no idea what was happening to me and it was all so sudden," she began to explain but was interrupted as Rarity shook a forehoof.

"Now, now, we'll have none of that, dear. I'm sure if any of us had been in your situation letting every pony know would have not been at the top of our lists either," the fashionista admitted, looking at the others.

Fluttershy and Applejack both nodded, and even Pinkie Pie a second later. "Well, you say that. But just think how awesome the anniversary would have been if I were a dragon. You should have totally let me do some fire tricks, Twilight."

At the five frowns the Rainbow received a moment later, she paused, face scrunched as she asked, "What's wrong with that?"

"Ah think y'know exactly what's wrong with that, sugarcube," Applejack responded, flicking her wife's muzzle with her tail.

"Yeah, Rainbow, believe we when I say you don't want this to happen to you, trust me," Twilight assured, flexing one claw awkwardly.

Even so, Rainbow looked only half convinced that she did not want the powerful body of a dragon at her disposal. Yet before she could voice her desires she was once again cut off by Applejack.

"An' what's that, sugarcube? Ya' have any idea what's happening ta ya' now?" the farm pony asked.

"Oh, oh, oh, is it a kind of dragon sickness? Like super, super rare and turns ponies into dragons?" Pinkie Pie asked, leaning close to Twilight's face again.

"No, I don't think so, Pinkie... But that's just it, aside from some odd hints from Zecora, I have no idea what's wrong with me," she confessed, looking at her foreclaw as she flexed her talons

Don't forget about Luna. Her mind offered, yet she thought it best to leave that part out for now. I'll open that can of worms myself the second I can get to Canterlot and see her in person.

"Well, that's exactly what I aim to find out." The doors to the large, crystal chamber swung open, heralding the voice of Starlight Glimmer, and with her, both the only and the last creature Twilight wanted to see.

Spike looked at her once and smiled, summoning back Twilight's blush in full. Oh, he's still so handsome and... No, just move past it, Twilight!

She shied away slightly, bowing her head, ears folding back as she bit her scaly lip. "Hey... about before, I'm sorry," she mumbled, but Spike's smile did not falter. Before he could respond, however, Twilight looked to each of her friends.

"Girls, could we... have a moment, please?" she added, nodding at Spike.

All eyes were on the purple dragon, before a moment later, Applejack declared, "Sure ya can, sugarcube." She looked at her prismatic wife in particular. "Come on y'all, y'heard her, let's give em a moment."

"Quite so, dear, come on, chop, chop," Rarity added, ushering the others away along with Applejack.

Pinkie Pie gave Twilight a hug before bouncing off after them, a rather unsatisfied looking Rainbow Dash being shoved in the butt by Applejack.

"Ah, okay, okay, I'm going!" the pegasus protested, blushing as her wings shot from her sides with a light floomph sound.

Starlight looked between her old mentor and the mature dragon, before giving them a nod and moving out the door along with a trailing Fluttershy that seemed just as awkward regarding Applejack and Rainbow's interaction.

The moment Starlight's magic closed the door, Twilight found herself almost unable to look at Spike. Yet she forced her awkwardness and instinctive drives to the back of her mind as she returned his smile.

"You look good, 'Kindle'," he chuckled, laying down at her side. "If I hadn't known you all my life you know I may have actually fell for that. Though the cutie mark was kind of a giveaway."

Twilight's blush returned. "A moment of panic, not going to happen again," she assured with an awkward chuckle of her own.

"Something you were always good at." He smirked and she cocked her head, huffing.

"And what's that supposed to mean?" she asked bluntly.

Spike rolled his eyes. "That brain of yours can be too good for its own good sometimes, Twi. You didn't have to hide from me, you know?"

A long breath escaped Twilight's nostrils as she sighed and looked down at her foreclaws.

"I know... And I really am sorry, but I have no idea what's happening to me and... well, the fire, I didn't want to become a monster," she admitted, then felt her thoughts catch and reverse. "Not that you're a monster, Spike. Just all the new thoughts, urges, I could not handle them all at once."

He pressed a wingtip to her babbling mouth, stopping the torrent of words. "Twilight, the last thing you are is a monster," he assured her, sitting up and pressing a claw to his chest. "If anypony knows what it's like to be a growing dragon around this age, and the associated issues, it's me."

Once again, Twilight cocked her head, face scrunched in confusion. "This age? I'm nine years older than you."

Spike flexed his own claw. "Ember said with as long as we live, the generation gap is pretty comparatively small. She's actually only two years older than me. Though after the molt, puberty kinda hits like a train."

Oh, isn't there a lot about that topic you'd like to learn about. No, no! Twilight considered his words for a second.

Her final conclusion, dragons were weird and Equestria should really do more research. And that's purely in the name of science, brain!

"So I suppose I can skip over the parts that concern how I thought about you in the past few days, huh?" Twilight finally confessed, both she and her adopted son sharing a blush.

"Haha, don't worry about it. I'm sure it's nothing compared to how mad I suddenly became for Ember." He waved the issue away with a claw, grinning despite his pink cheeks.

Twilight chuckled. "How is she? I should probably apologize to her too."

"She's fine, just didn't want to scare you so she stayed in our chambers," he responded, and once again that hole in Twilight's chest felt a little deeper.

"She thinks she'd scare me?" she questioned, and Spike rubbed the back of his neck before explaining.

"Well, the last time she saw you she was ready to battle to the death, so yeah." The recollection of the sapphire scaled dragoness snarling through fire came back to Twilight, and she nodded slowly.

"So that's what she was doing... Okay, I see your point," she murmured.

"The way I hear it, though, you don't make that bad a dragon when you have to," Spike went on with a smirk.

Twilight ruffled her wings. "Well, if you mean in a fight, then if it happens to be a fight against an evil, magical plant version of myself then yeah... You'd do the same thing for them too, though."

"Twilight, I'd do anything for any of you girls in a wingbeat. But for you, I'd move the world," Spike said, placing a claw on her shoulder.

She felt another flutter in her chest, the fire burning brighter as if stoked by a forge. The sensation of his strong claws against her scales made her shudder, yet all of those basic instincts were forced back as she staggered up and wrapped him in a broad-winged hug.

"Thanks, Spike. I don't know what I'd do without you," she offered, pressing her head to the underside of his neck.

"Wow, feels weird being the same size again, what's it been, five years?" he chuckled, patting her back with a claw.

Twilight drew back, still embraced in his wings as she blushed. Yet a smile crept onto her muzzle all the same. "Try seven... Life's moving pretty fast."

There was a look of surprise on Spike's face as she considered that, then he shrugged. "Yeah, being around dragons that live for millennia recently, kinda screwed up my view a little."

"Try being an immortal alicorn. There's only three mares in Equestria I could live out my life with and one's already taken," she joked, waving a wing as she staggered back down to her feet.

Her claws still unsteady, and legs having the consistency of jelly, she stumbled. Yet Spike was there to steady her with a wing in a flash. The motion ensured that her blush was not going to fade anytime soon.

"Who knows, maybe you should ask about it sometime," he suggested with a wink, and Twilight rolled her eyes.

"Haha, yeah right, Celestia and Luna have had plenty of time to settle down, they'd have done it by now if they really wanted to." She waved the idea off with a claw and Spike shrugged.

"You could always come back to the dragon lands with us? Ember's going to need to go back soon and she said there's room on the council she's trying to set up. Equestria's representative could be a dragoness, right?" He nudged her side with a wing, and she paused.

A life with dragons, a safe life where I could not hurt anypony and I could still speak for my home country? She lifted a claw to her chin, truly considering the offer. Then what about the Princess of Friendship, they still need you, you know?

"It sounds great, Spike, but... well..." She glanced up and out of the tall window, spying the silhouette of Canterlot on the distant mountainside in the late afternoon sun. "There's somepony I really need to talk to first."

Spike cocked his head. "Sure thing, Twi. The offer's still open though, if you want it."

She smiled. "I'm glad, tell Ember she has my gratitude, but I really do think I need to get this sorted out." She took his foreclaws in her own. "You were the only dragon my life ever really needed, and let's face it, I make a pretty lousy one."

She chuckled, and he once again rolled his eyes. "I can think of worse ponies for this to happen to. I did more damage then you when I grew up that one time," he admitted.

"That time doesn't count... Greed, huh, just another thing I guess I'll have to watch out for now," she mumbled, though more to herself at the latter fact.

"The book hoarder of the crystal tree palace, I can see it now," Spike joked and she shot him a disapproving look. He laughed again, pulling her close. "You're still just Twilight, Twilight, and whatever you decide to do, I'll always be here for you."

She wrapped her wings around him, yet for once that spark of lust stayed as far away from her thoughts as possible, right where it belonged.

She nuzzled up against his scales, feeling his strong breath and drumming heartbeat, both like a thunderstorm under his smooth scales as she pressed one side of her head against his chest.

"Thanks, Spike. I promise that whatever happens, I'll always be here for you too."


Night could not fall quickly enough for the lavender dragoness sitting by the window. Magnificent moonlight projecting a glowing pillar around her long shadow as the majestic celestial sphere rose into the starry sea above and started its long voyage across the inky black ocean.

Twilight placed one claw on the window, catching sight of her reflection in the glass. Two amethyst eyes with slitted pupils looked back at her from a draconic face. A dark purple mane with lavender highlights hung down from a trio of dark horns, one of which was now fairly crooked.

It's not a bad look really, you've seen dragons that look outright ugly, at least you're not like that. Her mind reassured, all the while the more primal side of her still grumbled about how wrong it was to think the transformation was a bad thing. Seriously, you're a good-looking dragoness now, get over it.

"Maybe I should go with Spike and Ember," the princess muttered to herself, still not wholly believing she could abandon her life in Ponyville.

There was a shift in the room behind her, hooves stepping lightly on a polished floor. Twilight's ears perked and her body straightened as she sat up and lifted her head.

"Is this another dream?" she asked, not even turning to look into the shadows behind her as they shifted.

"No, Twilight Sparkle, I don't believe it is." Princess Luna emerged from the gloom like a phantom, shimmering mane catching the moonlight as she spoke. "Though, I suspect you wish it was."

Luna uttered a small chuckle as Twilight finally turned to see the brilliant midnight mare illuminated in the pale moonlight. Shimmering, Luna was utterly in her element, no artist or sculptor could have portrayed the mare better then she was right now. Ponies probably would have done a great deal of things to witness the sheer beauty of what Twilight was seeing yet, despite all of that, the dragoness frowned.

"You have no idea, Luna," she grumbled, looking right into the alicorn's eyes.

Luna seemed to see something that Twilight did not as she looked back, a somewhat humble look flashing across her features. Then she took a deep breath, head bowing as she exhaled, long and slow.

"Actually I do, and I am truly sorry for what has come to pass," she admitted, glancing up at Twilight.

"It's you, isn't it?" she asked simply, and Luna's eyes widened as she shot up straight, feathers ruffled as she started to stammer.

"Me... I–I... I... What do you mean?" She took a step back, wing folded across her front as she blushed hard.

"What Zecora said about something else having power over the half of me, or... whatever I messed around with. That's you, isn't it?" Twilight pressed, her tone even as Luna looked more like a nervous filly than a royal princess.

"I... It's..." She continued to stutter before sealing her muzzle, closing her eyes, and stomping a hoof. Her face downcast from Twilight's gaze, Luna finally found her voice. "It's not that simple, Twilight. I promise I never did anything to you initially... But, it's the truth."

Twilight felt a lump catch in her own throat. She'd theorized about the truth ever since Spike and the others had left. Starlight too had offered her own opinions on Zecora's cryptic diagnosis. There were many magical hypotheses of a world that existed around reality, many unicorn philosophers believed that was where magic came from. Yet both she, and her former student, suspected for that to have such an effect on her as it had should be impossible.

Twilight said as much, all of the fear, awkward tension, and pain the last two days had caused her flooding out as she told Luna everything she'd been put through.

"So then I learn that is all because of some stupid love thing and..." The dragoness cut herself off as she saw Luna staring up at her, the usually calm and collected composure she often adopted failing as a tear ran down her cheek. "I find out that you're the one who loves me."

Twilight sank to the floor with a huff. No matter how much she prepared for her suspicions to become a reality, actually saying them was a whole new feeling altogether. Meanwhile, Luna sniffed, wiping her eye with a wing tip.

"Love is a strong word, an emotion not bound by time, space, reality... It's limitless." The alicorn sighed and finally sat down beside the larger dragoness. "Your zebra friend is right on a few levels. Though the reality she referred to is what I know as the dreamscape."

Twilight shifted her neck to peer at the smaller alicorn, the sensation of being the one to look down to a mare she usually had to look up to, both literally and figuratively, very odd.

"So this is all about dreams? But I've never used dream magic, you're the only pony who's ever been known to do that?" she countered, and Luna chuckled.

"There is truth to those words too, yet nopony, not even myself, can truly understand the dreamscape. It is not simply a realm of dreams and nightmares, but the mind itself. Souls, memories, your very thoughts have a form of physical existence there. Some do more than others and they can be manipulated too."

Twilight's eyes narrowed, and she once again found herself holding back her short-tempered draconic mind. "So what, you went over there and messed with my soul then?"

The moment that accusation left her mouth she really regretted it. Damn it, brain, think before you speak!

Luna looked heartbroken that she would even suggest such a thing, and before the princess of the night could start to stammer again, Twilight swiftly corrected herself.

"No wait, that came out wrong." She waved a claw as if to dispel the notion. "I don't think that you would go out of your way to mess up my life, I promise."

"Yet that's exactly what I've done. For every year since my banishment, you have been the mare I looked up to, Twilight. You saved me from my nightmare, saved me from my own guilt, every right I did was outnumbered tenfold by your deeds." Luna looked at her raised forehooves as if to count.

"I've known for a long time that those feelings were blooming into something more, yet every time I saw you, how happy you were, I never wanted to pollute your life with my mistakes," she finally confessed, head drooping.

So much for giving her a piece of my mind. I've never seen her like this. Twilight thought, unable to even see the mare that stood beside Celestia on the royal throne, and about as far from the nightmare she'd been when they'd first met as ever.

"I should have just told you two nights ago, yet I did not think the effect would go so far," Luna added, and Twilight silenced her with a huff.

"Luna, I can think of far, far, more ponies that could make a mess of my life. Most of them would probably do it on purpose. But I've never thought that of you before..." Twilight twiddled a claw. "Well, at least until you apparently turned me into a dragon with some crazy lovesickness."

A laugh escaped the lavender dragonesses' mouth, once again goading Luna to meet her eyes as she spoke up. "Your forgiveness of my transgressions is misplaced. I should have learned to control myself the first time."

"What do you mean?" Twilight questioned and Luna sighed.

"The magic you began to perform, transformation magic. No matter what form, that kind of spell manipulates the dreamscape. True, you left your soul intact, but continuous use of the magic left it vulnerable to subconscious manipulation," Luna began, lighting up her horn and summoning a small arrangement of tiny stars

Like Zecora's interpretation, there was a line, a pony on either side, one lavender and one a golden yellow. Like the spells Twilight had used with Starlight, the lavender mare shifted forms, horns, and wings flashing in and out of existence and as they did so, her golden counterpart began to shine dimmer and dimmer.

"When I dreamwalk I do not physically enter the dreamscape, yet my power gives me a vast influence over it regardless. Once, before I was banished, I had better control. Then the nightmare attempted to use that power to destroy my sister." Luna gave another sniff, a wingtip wiping her eyes once again.

"When you freed me from her, everything I'd gained before was lost to me, like amnesia that's still healing. I lost control over the influence I have over the dreamscape, yet in today's age, when ponies are less concerned with magical modification, their souls were protected from my subconsciousness." On the images of stars, a version of Luna appeared, outlined in dark blue light as a series of ripples emanated out of her.

The more the ripples impacted the vulnerable glowing version of Twilight, the more she began to change. Claws, leathery wings and a long tail sprouted as she began to turn a similar shade of blue.

"Just like I was, until that magic I was using weakened the resistance... I..." Twilight's own words died as the realization hit her.

How could she have been so reckless, transformation magic was a frontier, there were risks, but she'd had no idea. Damn, I should make sure she doesn't have a thing for Starlight or Trixie too.

"You are particularly vulnerable, regardless. Usually, it would take far more transformations to weaken your soul enough. Yet, my feelings for you combined with your raw magical power resulted in, well..." She gestured to Twilight's scaly body and tried to force a reassuring smile.

"So what, you have a thing for dragons?" the dragoness asked, and Luna went stiff, wings ruffling at her sides as she blushed.

"No, no... I'm into mares and stallions... millennia of curiosity will do that," she swiftly assured before tapping a hoof on the floor.

"Dreams are hardly ever direct... The transformation is more a personification of the power and strength I desire in a partner. I do find dragons to be rather fascinating creatures too, those are the kind of things that influence the effect," she elaborated, battling to keep her wings at her side.

Despite everything, Twilight giggled, pressing a claw to her muzzle as she could not help but think how adorable Luna looked when she was all awkward and flustered.

So you've gone from wanting to kill her to loving her just like that? her mind stated, making it her turn to blush. No... I, well... love her?

"Sorry, I'm usually far more composed," Luna apologized as she pressed down both of her wings with a forehoof and shook herself. "It's been a long time since I've had to go through this with somepony."

At those words, Twilight's attention perked. "Wait, so this has happened before?"

Luna nodded once. "A long time ago, before I was banished. I loved somepony once and I hoped they'd love me back. Only my sister knows about it, and she promised to keep it a secret," she admitted.

"And this pony, what happened to them?" Twilight pressed, but at Luna's look she swiftly added, "Sorry, if you don't want to talk about it then..."

"As far as I know, she died. She was not immortal like us, yet even that is not my biggest obstacle," Luna interrupted, before bowing her head. "When one is as in touch with the realm of dreams as much as I, they forfeit some perks of the real world."

"I'm sorry... I didn't know..." Twilight said simply, before finally asking the question that had been on her mind since first growing claws. "So there's no cure for this?"

The pained look on Luna's face said it all. "The sickness does not lie in you, but in me. I should have controlled my admiration for you. Yet even if I could, I'm not sure it would reverse unless we could somehow transform you from the other side," the night princess explained.

Twilight felt her heart sink, memories of her prancing around on four hooves, from filly to princess, all evaporating as she came to a conclusion that she'd be stuck as a dragoness forever. What would her family think? How would she live without magic? Could the princess of friendship really be a dragoness?

You really, really should just go with Spike and Ember, try to have a happy life. Both sides of her mind agreed, albeit some parts reluctantly.

Yet as she looked at the mare beside her, her facade completely broken, Twilight couldn't help but feel sorry for Luna. To come back home after a thousand years, to have been turned into a monster and left with hardly any friends and no love.

"This dreamscape, can we go there?" Twilight asked, and Luna glanced up at her curiously.

"I have never thought to teach another the ways, I didn't want to spread the burden. Yet I don't see why it cannot be done," Luna admitted, still looking very unsure.

"But you said you are never there physically, can't we do that somehow?" Twilight continued, and Luna's eyes went wide.

"There are legends, but such magic is even beyond me. Not even in my long years have I even considered..." Twilight silenced Luna's rambling with a wave of her claw.

"So there's a small chance there's a gateway to this dreamscape out there somewhere?" she pressed, and thinking for a second, Luna nodded. "Great, then we just find it, go through, and transform me from the other side."

The dragoness stood up, marching over to one of her bookshelves in an effort to find anything she could on the subject.

"To think it will be that easy would be folly, Twilight. The realm of dreams is a danger to the mind, never mind the body if we're exposed. I would never want any harm to come to you." The conviction in Luna's voice gave Twilight pause and she dropped the first book she'd picked up as that feeling she'd had for Spike was momentarily overshadowed.

That... That can't be dragon instinct... I... Feelings for her? Twilight shook her head.

"One step at a time, let's cross that bridge when we come to it. We're two of the most powerful mares in Equestria, and if I ask Starlight maybe we can do something." She turned back to Luna. "We can all fix this together."

Luna glanced back out of the window and Twilight was swift to note that her eyes were fixed on Canterlot.

"You can ask Celestia too, surely then we can..." Luna cut the dragoness off as she stood and shook her head.

"No, we can't risk them too. Trust me, Twilight, I know the ways of dreams and if we do this, we must not risk more lives," Luna declared.

Wow, talk about a first date. Just a stroll into the physical mind together. Twilight slammed a door in the face of her thoughts. Those feelings, they're... Damn it, I thought dragons were complicated!

"Are you sure, if we got help then..." Luna trotted up and placed a wing on Twilight's shoulder, their eyes meeting.

In the moonlight like this Luna truly did look magnificent, more so than any mare, even her sister illuminated by the sun. The aura of mystery and wonder she had about her was far more intriguing to a pony who wanted to know all the facts of the universe. That was just the mare Twilight had always wanted to be, and learning the things about Luna that were yet to be uncovered didn't seem like too bad of a fate. Not that there wasn't a part of her that really wanted to find out what the realm of dreams really was too.

What was that she'd said about her sister's after dark parties? A staggered breath left Twilight's nostrils as she came almost muzzle to muzzle with Luna.

Then the dark blue alicorn smiled. "After all you've done for me, I'd do anything for you Twilight," she assured, then bowed her head as she pressed a hoof to Twilight's scaly chest. "My feelings or not, if it is to the realm of dreams I must return then so be it. I know exactly where to find somepony who can help us."

So not Starlight or Celestia then? Twilight wondered, yet once again Luna's face said it all, there was adventure ahead. A dive into dreams with the princess who's had a secret crush on you for years? Yay, what in Equestria could go wrong?


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Two mares stood in the doorway of Sugarcube Corner, the cafe around them utterly trashed. Tables, walls, and dining booths were all covered by a colorful mixture of icing, sponge cake, jams, and pie filling, along with the remnants of broken streamers and balloons. Spilled drinks mixed into a rainbow concoction around the cake-spattered battlefield and half-eaten food littered the tables.

"Here, now ya clean up this mess," Applejack ordered as she thrust a mop into the hooves of the pony next to her and slid over a bucket of water. "An' not a peep outta ya 'til it's done, y'hear."

"Seriously, AJ... I was drunk okay, I admit it!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, throwing open her wings and forelegs. "This isn't my mess to clean up anyway!"

Applejack raised an eyebrow. "Oh, then whose is it?" she questioned, and Rainbow smirked.

"It's Pinkie Pie's, she promised that if I did the trick then she'd clean up. You know it's one of the only things she can do way faster than me," the pegasus boasted.

The smugness that formed on her wife's face, however, made Rainbow pause. "Oh, ah wouldn't be too sure 'bout that."

Rainbow craned her neck to see where Applejack was looking, her eyes finally coming to rest on Pinkie Pie laying sprawled out on a table, her hooves and muzzle stained by cake, in addition to her slightly distended belly.

"P–Pinkie, what are you doing, I thought you could clean this," Rainbow exclaimed, darting over and hovering above the stuffed mare.

"I'm sorry, Dashie... But when nopony showed up to the 'Twilight is now a dragon party,' I kinda may have gotten carried away and eaten all the food I took over to the castle too," Pinkie Pie admitted before a belch escaped her mouth. "'Scuse me," she added with a giggle.

Rainbow face hoofed. "Seriously Pinkie, she didn't need a dragon party!"

"Well, looks like both of ya are gonna have to clean it up, ah want this place spotless, every piece of cake, frosting, and pie off them there walls, ya hear?" Applejack ordered, and within seconds another light blue pegasus appeared at her side.

"Did somepony say pie, I was just going to get Rarity her bath minerals from the spa and heard you say something about pie?" Soarin perked, almost prancing on the spot like a giddy colt.

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes, before glaring at her wife. "You know just because we're married doesn't mean I'm your slave."

"Yer right about that, Dash. But if you want all the perks that come with this mare, ya gotta do as ah tells ya." Applejack winked, interrupting Rainbow's hover as her wings went stiff and she fell beside Pinkie Pie, cheeks burning.

"Another score for Pinkie Pie, you two are so perfect for each other it's unreal," Pinkie cheered, thrusting a hoof in the air before doubling over as her stomach grumbled. "Oh, okay, way too much cake!"

"You have to clean up pie, I can help with that, Rainbow. I always was faster at making them disappear then you," Soarin boasted.

"That's why you were over the weight limit five times in a row, Soarin!" Rainbow called back, and the stallion's ears folded as he bit his bottom lip.

"What, Spitfire shouldn't have brought so many, it's like she lives to mess with me," he muttered to himself.

Beside him, Applejack chuckled. "Knock yerself out, sugarcube, she could use all the help she can get," she told him, patting his withers.

"Good to see you have faith in me, AJ. Some things never change," Rainbow huffed before her wife once again called out.

"No problem, my little Dashie." The farm pony's teasing tone was insufferable enough to force Rainbow to sit up and glare again. "Oh, an' if it ain't done by the time ah'm back, then ya gotta clean the bathroom too."

Rainbow's eyes went wide as dinner plates, her wings flaring. Never before had she ever moved so fast.