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An'on'ymous in Witch School

By SpeedBoostBlaziken
Created: 13th December 2020 09:09:28 PM
Modified: 1st March 2021 07:07:33 AM

  1. >Green
  2. >All in front of you, you see green
  3. >You tilt your head to the left and right
  4. >You continue to see green, with bits of brown and blue
  5. >You tilt your head far enough to see what's behind you
  6. >Green
  7. >You are suddenly aware that this green is actually beneath you
  8. >You're on your back, and the green beneath you is grass
  9. >Thus it stands to reason that the green and blue above you must be trees and the sky
  10. >A sky, at least
  11. >With a but of trouble and shaking, you make your way to your feet
  12. >It occurs to you now that you are stark naked
  13. >This, however, was not a far throw from the rags you had on before
  14. >Indeed, in the days, hours, and minutes leading up to your execution, you wore naught but a burlap sack
  15. >Ate naught but the potatoes from that sack, too
  16. >Ah, yes, your execution, you remember it so vividly
  17. >Tinker with some artifacts the Senate doesn't think you should tinker with and it's off with your head
  18. >Such a barbaric world you lived in
  19. >Hopefully this afterlife will be a bit better
  20. >After all, you're stuck with it for eternity, if you're not mistaken
  21. >First things first, you fashion a skirt out of leaves and vines
  22. >They may go naked here in the afterlife, but it'll take you some time to get used to it
  23. >You find a winding path through the forest, and decide to see where it goes
  24. >As you walk along the path, you feel a strange feeling
  25. >It is as though some sort of energy flows from the forest around you and into your being
  26. >It leaves you feeling rejuvenated, and full of life
  27. >Full of afterlife, maybe
  28. >You see light ahead, filtering in through what looks to be a clearing
  29. >Heading toward it, you realize that this is in fact the edge of the forest
  30. >Leaving the forest, you see a tall, Gothic building in the distance, its spires reaching out into the sky
  31. >Giant stone gargoyles and other statues dot the building and its landscape, with rolling green fields surrounding the place as far as the eye can see
  32. >As you take in the sight, you look down at the bottom of the hill you're standing on
  33. >A large group of young women are standing battle-ready with what appears to be wands pointed at you, as is a slightly older looking woman
  34. >The girls wear robes reminiscent of mages, and you guess that they have the powers of one as well
  35. >The grown woman's attire is more like a military dress uniform with elements of mage attire
  36. >The woman, whom you infer to be leading the group, steps forward
  37. >"Hands where I can see them, and keep them off your wand!"
  38. >You comply, raising your hands above your head, she stops about two arm lengths away, never taking her eyes off you
  39. >Or at least you think, her mirrored glasses make it impossible to see them
  40. >"State your name and what you're doing here."
  41. "My name is Antonon Ptolymous, or An'on'ymous for short. I was about to be, um,"
  42. >It suddenly occurs to you that you're not in the afterlife
  43. >Clearly you were suddenly transported to wherever this is
  44. >So you pick an explanation that mages like them will be more likely to believe
  45. >"Well?" she asks, aiming her wand between your eyes
  46. "I was, ah, tinkering with some magical artifacts. There was an explosion of some sort."
  47. >"Uh-huh, go on."
  48. "As I was waiting for death to take me, I blacked out, and then the next thing I knew I woke up naked in this forest."
  49. >She stares you up and down, looking for signs of deceit
  50. >Nothing you said was untrue, technically speaking
  51. >You just conveniently left out the fact that you survived the explosion but were about to be executed
  52. >Your story seems more likely to be believable to them
  53. >"Well, that would explain how you got here, and your state of dress."
  54. >She lowers her wand slightly and turns ever so slightly to the left
  55. >"Sunset Shimmer! Go to Headmistress Celestia at once, and tell her she's needed here. If any faculty stop you, tell them 'Emergency Code Briefcase'. They'll know what you mean."
  56. >"YES MA'AM!"
  57. >A girl with flaming red and golden yellow streaked hair reaches out next to her, and a broom suddenly rises from the ground into her hand
  58. >She mounts the broom as a child mounts a stick pretending to ride horseback
  59. >To your utter amazement, she lifts of the ground and flies, genuinely flies, toward the highest tower of the castle
  60. >Your jaw slacks as you follow her movement through the sky
  61. >"Eyes on me," shouts the woman in front of you, "and keep your hands up! Understand?"
  62. "Yes ma'am!" you stammer out
  63. >In no time at all, the fiery haired girl returns, along with a woman whose hair one could go on at length about
  64. >It flows through the air, even after she lands next to the drill sergeant lady, as though it has its own gravity
  65. >A pastel rainbow paints it in stripes, and it appears to have its own depth as though it were a portal to an elemental plane of color
  66. >"Oh my," she says more calmly than you expected, "what do we have here, Spitfire?"
  67. >"Ma'am, this unidentified subject wandered out of the forest during our flying practice," says the woman you now know as Spitfire
  68. >"He claims to have awoken nude in the forest following an accident with magical artifacts."
  69. >"I see," says Celestia, "and what is your name, young fellow?"
  70. "Oh, I, ah,"
  71. >Now that you're able to look away from Spitfire, the beauty and poise of this "Celestia" starts to dawn on you
  72. >Despite the fear and apprehension surrounding the others, she looks upon you with a soft, almost motherly face
  73. "Oh, right, my name! I am Antonon Ptolymous. People call me An'on'ymous for short. As your companion stated, I awoke in this forest following an unfortunate accident with some artifacts I was tinkering with."
  74. >Strangely, you seem to find yourself unable to lie to this woman
  75. >Not that you were lying before, but even withholding information seems difficult, even impossible
  76. "Although, my memory has started returning to me, and now that I think about it, there's more to the story."
  77. >"Oh really? Perhaps we should return to my office so you can tell me what has befallen you."
  78. >Spitfire, at hearing this, is so taken aback she lowers her wand and sputters, snapping her gaze to Celestia
  79. >"Headmistress, surely you're not thinking of bringing this man into the school?!"
  80. >"Oh, but I am. I'm sure I'll be plenty safe. Do you have any objections?"
  81. >Spitfire sighs and runs the hand not holding her wand through her blazing orange and red air
  82. >Hmmm, you wonder if she and the girl who summoned the Headmistress are related
  83. >"Well, in all honesty ma'am I have innumerable objections to this, but I trust you nonetheless. Whatever your decision, I shall accept it."
  84. >"Very well. Mr. Anonymous, follow me. Oh, and don't make any rash moves. I have eyes, and wands, all over the place."
  85. >Her smile as she says this is deceptively inviting, yet also somewhat coy and sly
  86. >She turns her back to you and begins to walk away, carrying the broom she rode in on
  87. >As the two of you approach the building, its sheer size becomes more and more apparent
  88. >Details you hadn't had a chance to notice before fade into existence
  89. >Carvings depicting battles, feats of spellcasting, and large figures of apparent importance cover the outsides of the walls, some appearing new while others are well worn
  90. >You enter the building through a pair of giant wooden doors, opened at the time being, and into a great hall
  91. >Celestia leads you to a flight of stairs spanning around the inside of the central tower, and as you ascend them you gaze around in marvel at the interior
  92. >It's just as impressive as the outside, if not more so, with a legion of armor suits, a gallery of paintings, and a greenhouse's worth of potted plants decorating the grand space you fond yourself in
  93. >Before you know it, you've reached the top of the stairs where yet another large set of wooden doors awaits you up ahead
  94. >You're vaguely aware of stares, murmurs, and even gasps during your travel, but the building itself has captivated you too much for you to care
  95. >Your guide to this place taps her wand on the doors, and they slowly swing open with an ominous creaking
  96. >She strides gracefully to a desk that could fill your workshop on its own, seating herself in front of a many times larger than life portrait painting of her own self
  97. >You take the initiative to place yourself in the plush armchair directly across from her, and sit rigid facing her
  98. >After a moment of sizing you up, and places her elbows on the desk, folds her hands, and smiles gently at you like she did before
  99. >"So, Anonymous. Do tell me that story you promised. Actually, you should start by telling me who you are and where you're from."
  100. >"Well, As I've said, my full name is Anotonon Ptolymous. I am from the Azorious District. Which reminds me, where am I exactly?"
  101. >"If you don't mind, I'll be asking the questions here, Mr. Ptolymous. Now, where is this 'Azorious District'? I'm not familiar with it."
  102. >You can't help but open your eyes wide at this, you feel your jaw drop and you shake your head side to side involuntarily
  103. >A moment later you collect yourself and give a nervous chuckle
  104. "Surely, you're bluffing, madam. You must know of the Azorious Senate and their District. Why they're probably the most wide-reaching guild in all of Ravnica. Even if we're not in the city proper, you must know of Ravnica's lawmakers."
  105. >"Hmm, I see, and where is this 'Ravnica'?"
  106. >...
  107. "Um, you mean the central city, right? I mean, Ravnica is the world. We're in Ravnica right now, are we not?"
  108. >"I hate to break it to you, Mr. Ptolymous, but I've never heard of Ravnica before now. Wherever it is, we're not there right now. We're at the Royal Magic Academy in Canterlot."
  109. "Oh, yes. I see."
  110. >Your head slowly starts to sink into your hands, and you bring your knees up to your chest
  111. "But, ah, as I stated, Ravnica is the whole world. For us to not be in Ravnica, that would mean, that here is, not the world. Not my world. But that's impossible. For there to be another world? But maybe, the rumors, the 'Living Guildpact'. Perhaps-"
  112. >"Ahem."
  113. >You're pulled from your ramblings and reminded of the presence of your host in this place
  114. >"If you're wondering of other worlds, I can assure you, they exist. When I was tampering with spacial magic in my younger days, I came across, well, myself. She was also running a school, although a much less magical one."
  115. >She rises from her chair and begins to pace the room, looking at the varied portraits, and back to you
  116. >"I didn't actually meet her, however. When I tried to reach across the tear in the fabric of space, I felt a chill that nearly took my life. I've never cast such a spell since then."
  117. "Of course. The Blind Eternities. The rumors must be true then. Of those who can cross the planes of existence."
  118. >"And you might be one of those individuals?"
  119. "No. It can't be. I've never possessed any magical talent. My only abilities lie with the artifacts I obtain."
  120. >"Is that so? Because I can feel a decent flow of magical energy flowing through you."
  121. >She stands once again in front of you, placing her hands on the desk and leaning over your form
  122. >"Do you feel it, Anonymous?"
  123. >You ponder on it, thinking back to the flow of energy you felt from the forest
  124. >You think back to that forest, picturing it in your mind
  125. >As you do, you begin to feel the same energy flow through you
  126. "I do feel it."
  127. >"Yes, indeed. But, most interesting, this energy does not originate from you. This is not the same magic that I and my students use. Instead it flows in and out of you."
  128. "Yes, I feel it, coming from the forest, entering me, and it leaves to the forest again."
  129. >You concentrate on the flow of this invigorating energy, and you feel the outward flow stifled
  130. >The energy builds up within you, collecting in your core
  131. >"You're harvesting this magic, storing it within you."
  132. >You feel yourself filled with the energy, but as you continue to hold onto it, you feel an almost indescribable feeling
  133. >Like if you try to hold onto it for too long, a seal will break, and it will leave you
  134. >"Yes, now release it. Cast your spell."
  135. >You feel the energy channeling around you, taking form
  136. >As you inspect yourself, you see your body cloaked with vines that give off a visible and magical aura
  137. >Confusion, curiosity, and wonder overwhelm you
  138. >But above all of those, there is happiness
  139. >You arise from your seat, laughing joyfully as you twist and turn, viewing the covering of vines that you created for yourself
  140. "Is this true? Could it be?! This is it! This is what it feels like to use Mana! To cast spells! To be a MAGE!"
  141. >"Yes, indeed. You most certainly are an interesting fellow, Anonymous. Do you mind if I cal you Anon, for short?"
  142. "Yes, yes. Call me Anon, call me a cave troll for all I care. This is the most amazing day of my life! First, a stay of execution, and now I have magic! Ah, I can't describe the wonder I'm feeling right now, Ms. Celestia."
  143. >"I'm sure I understand it. Every witch and wizard feels such joy upon discovering their magic. Now, I have a theory I'd like to put to the test."
  144. >She readies her wand at you, and your joy is somewhat dampened by fear as you remember that she's the boss here, and likely very powerful
  145. >"Don't worry, this is only a minor hex, just a test."
  146. >A bolt of energy fire from the tip of her wand at you
  147. >Rather than strike you, however, it dissipates into the vines and fizzles out within them
  148. >"Indeed, as I suspected. Those vines of yours have the power to dissipate spells. If you don't mind, I'd like to try a few more. Of course I'll take care not to do any serious damage."
  149. >You're understandably a little apprehensive, but you nod and spread your arms wide
  150. "I suppose I'll have to trust you. I am, after all, a mere visitor to your domain."
  151. >She gives a surprisingly childlike giggle, before readying her wand once again, with the mature serious look returning
  152. >"Very well then. Have at you!"
  153. >Slinging spell after spell at you, they all meet the same fate as the first, being taken away by the vines and dissipating into the atmosphere as a crackle of energy
  154. >Eventually, the vines wither up and dissolve, turning to sparkling green dust that fades away like the sparks from the defeated spells
  155. >"So, how do you feel?" asks Celestia, who you're surprised to see is panting slightly
  156. "I feel, a bit drained. I still feel the energy from the forest flowing through me slightly, but it's not strong enough to hold on to. It's continuously growing stronger, but it feels like it will be a while before I can harvest it again."
  157. >"I see. So you're all tapped out for now, I take it?"
  158. "It would seem so."
  159. >"Well, Mr. Anonymous, you possess a peculiar sort of magic, unlike anything I've witnessed before. I have a bit of a proposition for you. Take a seat."
  160. >You oblige her, thankful that your fashioned skirt of foliage didn't wither away with the magical vines
  161. >She pours some water from a pitcher into a pair of glasses and hands one to you, taking a sip from her own."
  162. >"As you can probably tell, this is a school for gifted young women. However, I'm thinking I could make an exception in your case. You can attend the academy here free of charge, including tuition, room and board, food, clothing, the works."
  163. >Taking a sip of your own water, you consider the offer
  164. "I assume in return you will wish to study my magic in hopes of understanding and possibly replicating it."
  165. >"My, you are a sharp one, aren't you? Of course, this would be a mutually beneficial deal. In addition to that, we'll want to know everything about where you come from, and what you know of magic in your world."
  166. >She sets her glass down and stands again
  167. >"Of course, that can be arranged later. For now, I'll give you some time to consider the offer. I can understand if you'd rather return to your home."
  168. "I gladly accept, Headmistress. To be frank, I have no idea how to get home, nor would I want to."
  169. >You set your own glass down and stare into the clear ripples within the surface of the water
  170. "To be honest with you, in the moments before I somehow landed here, I was on the chopping block. Those artifacts I mentioned, I hadn't filled out the paperwork and paid the filing fees to get a license for them. And for that, the Senate was willing to take my head."
  171. >"Oh dear. I can see why you wouldn't want to return then, if you're wanted for execution."
  172. >Celestia beckons you to follow her as she goes to exit the room
  173. >"Very well. Speaking of paperwork, I'll get started on yours. In the mean time, I'll prepare a room for you and get some clothing arranged."
  174. "Thank you very much, Headmistress."
  175. >She leads you through many winding corridors before arriving at a dorm hall, where she leads you to a room
  176. >"Now, if you present me your wand, I can set it to unlock this door for only you and those you bestow access to."
  177. "Uh, there's a bit of a problem there."
  178. >"Hm? Oh, right, silly me. You don't exactly have a wand. well, that's okay, I'll get you a spare and you can use it as your door key."
  179. >She taps the door with her own wand and it springs open, revealing a modest but not cramped room with simple furnishings
  180. >"The door will respond to the wand it's set to even for a non-magic user, so you won't have to worry about having to work it yourself."
  181. "I see. I'm sure that will prove plenty useful."
  182. >Stepping inside, you see an open closet with a set of dress-like robes hanging on a rack
  183. >"I know a shirt and pants would probably be preferable, but for now we can't have you running around in your current attire."
  184. >You approach the rack and see that the robes are all in good condition
  185. >"I'll give you some time to change and acclimate yourself. The door will always open from the inside, and you can leave it open for now since you don't really have any belongings here."
  186. "Right, that makes sense."
  187. >"Anyway, I'll be off to fetch you a spare wand and send for some more suitable clothing. Dinner is in three hours, but there are some snacks for sale in the rec hall just down here and to the left."
  188. >She starts to walk away, but then stops and returns to you
  189. >"Oh, of course, but that won't do you any good without some of these."
  190. >She reaches into a pocket of her robes and produces a small bag
  191. >Taking it from her, you realize there are some coins inside
  192. >"It isn't much, but it'll get you something to tide you over until dinner time."
  193. "Oh, I, um, thank you, ma'am."
  194. >"You're very welcome. Oh, and call me Headmistress, from now on. You are a student here now, after all."
  195. >She starts to turn away from you, but once again turns back
  196. >"Oh, by the way. How old are you?"
  197. "I'm seventeen, Headmistress."
  198. >"Ah, such fleeting youth. It makes me quite nostalgic."
  199. >And with that, she leaves you alone with your new room, your temporary new clothing, and your small bag of coins
  200. >Getting used to your new life will probably take some time
  201. >The initial shock of all this probably still hasn't worn off yet
  202. >But one thing is for sure
  203. >This definitely beats decapitation
  204. >That evening, you find yourself seated next to Celestia at a table in the back of a grand hall
  205. >You're now wearing a suit consisting of pants, a button-down shirt, a vest with the school's emblem, a red tie, and an open robe
  206. >It seems Headmistress Celestia has ways of getting things done in a hurry
  207. >Students fill the tables, serving themselves with various meats, vegetables, and breads
  208. >The entire hall is filled with murmuring, staring and pointing, all aimed unmistakably at you
  209. >It seems Headmistress Celestia hasn't filled everyone in on the circumstances
  210. >In particular, one group seems to be especially wary of you
  211. >The girl with the red and yellow striped hair is sitting with a group near your end of the hall, and she seems to be telling them the story of your arrival, if the gestures and reactions are anything to go by
  212. >One student, a girl with purple and pink highlighted hair tied neatly in a bun, approaches Celestia meekly
  213. >"Ah, Twilight, my most faithful student. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
  214. >Something about her tone makes you think she's being sarcastic, displaying obvious disdain at being approached like this
  215. >But at the same time it could just as easily be genuine
  216. >"Well, Headmistress, I was just wondering, when our, ahem, guest, would be leaving. After what happened today his presence is making some of us quite uncomfortable."
  217. >Oh and of course having someone talk about you like that right in front of you is just plain cozy
  218. >"Oh, I see. I was actually just about to make an announcement about that. Please, take you seat."
  219. >"O-oh! Right away, Headmistress."
  220. >Twilight, as you've learned to be her name, retakes her seat next to Sunset and several other girls
  221. >Servers walk down the aisles, clearing dishes and platters from the tables as the meal ends
  222. >"Right then, speaking of which, I think it's about time."
  223. >Celestia stands up, and claps her hands together
  224. >The sound of it booms throughout the hall, yet somehow doesn't hurt your own hearing despite your proximity
  225. >"Now then," she says, her voice carrying a similar enchantment, "I'm sure you're all wondering about our new guest here."
  226. >She waves her hands to you, and you take this as your cue to stand
  227. >"His name, as some of you have learned by now, is Antonon Ptolymous, though he also goes by 'Anonymous'. Mr. Ptolymous here possesses a very unique form of magic, one that is foreign to everything we here at the Academy know about magic."
  228. >The murmuring returns in full force, as students and faculty alike speculating as to what this strange new magic could be
  229. >"Now now, it's not as bad as it sounds. I've conducted some tests myself and determined that it is not unsafe for us any more than normal magic would be. That said, I've struck a deal with Anonymous. He shall let us study this magic of his and, in exchange, he will become the Canterlot Royal Magic Academy's newest student."
  230. >In contrast to the mumbling and whispering of before, the hall is now so quiet one could hear a pin drop
  231. >The deafening silence is broken when Sunset Shimmer slams her hands on the table and rises up, creaking the bench on which she and her fellow students sat
  232. >"Headmistress Celestia, this is an outrage!" she shouts, pointing a finger at you
  233. >"You can't make him a student here! This is an all-girl's school with a reputation to uphold! You can't admit a boy like him here, especially one that was just wandering the forest in a skirt of vegetation!"
  234. >The entire hall returns to its stony silence, all eyes flittering between Sunset and Celestia
  235. >Celestia, meanwhile, simply rests her shin on folded hands and smiles
  236. >"What is you name?" she asks
  237. >"My name? It's Sunset Shimmer."
  238. >"I see And what is my name?"
  239. >"Um, your name?"
  240. >"Yes, dear, my name. What is it?"
  241. >"Um, it's Celestia, ma'am."
  242. >"Indeed. And what is the name of the current headmistress of this academy?"
  243. >"'Celestia', ma'am."
  244. >"Oh really? You're sure it's 'Celestia', and not 'Sunset Shimmer'?"
  245. >"No ma'am. It's 'Celestia'."
  246. >"I see. Then I should like to believe that I have every power to admit Mr. Ptolymous here as a student of mine. Does that make sense to you, Ms. Shimmer?"
  247. >...
  248. >"Yes ma'am."
  249. >"Very well, then, it's settled. Now, I want everyone to return to your rooms and study hard, because tomorrow will be the start of you midterm exams. Ah, Ms. Sparkle, please see me before you go."
  250. >Ms. Sparkle, or Twiight as she was previously called, shrinks away at this but nonetheless nods obediently
  251. >Celestia leans over to you and talks just above a whisper
  252. >"I'm sorry your introduction wasn't exactly welcoming. But don't worry, they'll come around soon enough."
  253. >You simply nod and stare ahead, lost in thought about your new life here
  254. >Who was that girl?
  255. >Why is she so important?
  256. >And what exactly are you going to do about studying here? It's not like you attended magic school before
  257. >Perhaps some form of remedial work will be done?
  258. >These are all questions you'll need answers to, and fast
  259.  
  260. >After dinner, you make your way back to your room using the handy map that was provided to you
  261. >There you find a few more sets of clothes folded up on your bed, and a scroll with a wax seal on the small end table under the window
  262. >You sit down at the table and break the seal, reading the contents of the scroll aloud to yourself
  263. >~"Dear Anonymous, I trust that you have settled in well? As you can see I have provided additional clothing so you'll have something to wear in between laundry days. You're probably wondering how exactly you'll be attending the school. Given your age, you would normally be in your second year here at the academy.~"
  264. >"~As you're new, you will instead be placed in the first year course. Because you're joining in the middle of the semester, you'll be taking the remedial curriculum usually reserved as a last chance for students who fail their midterm exams. You'll still be attending regular lectures, but homework assignments and tests will be different from the normal course.~"
  265. >"I've asked Twilight Sparkle to tutor you from time to time and help you settle into the academia. If you have any questions about the coursework, feel free to ask her~"
  266. >"~I have also loaned you the standard first-year textbooks along with a primer on what to study in them for the remedial course. I hope you will be able to integrate here successfully, and have a wonderful time at RCA.~"
  267. >"~Oh and one more thing, you'll be joining me on Wednesdays and Saturdays for further testing.~"
  268. >Below this is Celestia's signature and a wax seal different from the Academy symbol used on the scroll itself
  269. >You look to the bookshelf and see a set of four well used but not ragged books
  270. >Reading their spines, you find "The Basics of Magical Theory", "A History of Magic, Vol. 1, Abr.", "Practical Safety for Spellcasters", and "The Bridesmaid's Secret"
  271. >Grabbing the last one, you crack it open and read a summary within
  272. >"Elowena has managed to keep her affair with Byron a secret, but when a powerful enemy steps forward claiming to know what she did, she'll need to keep her wits about her or face humiliation, or worse."
  273. >You start to thumb through it, and find that some of the pages are harder to separate than other
  274. >Figuring that this one is probably not a textbook, you decide you'll return it to Celestia tomorrow, since it's Friday and you'll be visiting her for testing then
  275. >You sit down instead with the copy of The Basics of Magical Theory and set to work
  276. >According to the book, magic is an energy that exists throughout the cosmos, connecting all living things and shaping the world around itself
  277. >Using a wand, a wizard gives shape to this energy, channeling it into physical, mental, or spiritual form in the shape of a spell
  278. >It is not contained within oneself, but rather drawn upon and used via the wand artifact before it returns to the universe
  279. >Hmm, kind of sounds like Aether
  280. >...
  281. >No way
  282. >There's no way it's that simple, is it?
  283. >Are these wands really just Aether channeling artifacts?
  284. >Come on now
  285. >You pick up the wand and twirl it in your fingers
  286. >You wave it around, concentrating on the feeling of mana flowing through you, but nothing seems to occur
  287. >It seems that your connection to the manasphere does nothing to help you draw the Aether present in this plane
  288. >Of course it's possible that it's not Aether to begin with, but it would provide the simplest explanation
  289. >Skimming through, you find more information about how to reshape the energy, theories about how wands work to form spells, and other things that look like they'd be on a test
  290. >You similarly look through the other textbooks, taking notes on important dates from A History, and taking extra careful notes on spell safety
  291. >Eventually, the curiosity of The Bridesmaid's Secret overtakes you, and you end up skimming through it as well
  292. >You're surprised to find how explicit it can be sometimes, going into more detail than you thought it would about the main character's lustful adventures with her secret lover
  293. >As you read the descriptions of their lewd actions, you feel your pants becoming tighter
  294. >Whoops looks like Celestia bought you the wrong size, heheh
  295. >You glance around the room, making sure that you are indeed alone
  296. >You look to the window and ensure that the curtain is drawn over it
  297. >Just as you start to slide your pants past your knees, you hear the door open wide
  298. >"An'on'ymous, how are y-"
  299. >Oh no
  300. >That's Celestia's voice
  301. >You just keep staring ahead
  302. >Maybe if you pretend she's not there she'll go away
  303. >And maybe she'll even forget she ever saw this
  304. >This being you with your pants around your ankles, covering yourself with your hands as an erotic novel sits on the table in front of you
  305. >"OH! Goodness! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-, I'll just be on my-, wait! Is that my..."
  306. >She walks into the room, shutting the door behind her, and looks at the book that lay open on the table
  307. >"Ah, so THAT'S where my copy of The Bridesmaid's Secret went! I must have given it to you by mistake."
  308. >You don't say?
  309. >"Well, as you can probably guess, this one isn't a textbook. I'll just, take this back to my room then."
  310. >She starts to leave, and you think you're in the clear, but then she pokes her head around the corner again
  311. >"By the way, Mr. Ptolymous," she says while blushing and looking to the side, "if you ever want to uh, read it, just... come let me know, okay?"
  312. >Without waiting for your answer, she closes the door and walks away, her heels clicking on the stone tile
  313. >Well, that was certainly a great impression on your first day
  314. ***
  315. >The next morning, you wake up gently to light streaming into your room from around the curtains
  316. >After getting dressed, you ponder for a moment on how you will bathe and get ready
  317. >As you make your way to the bathroom of this abandoned wing, you see two portals (of the non-magic kind) side-by-side with hallways leading in opposite directions
  318. >One is labelled "Restroom" and the other "Communal Shower"
  319. >Both have pieces of paper attached underneath reading "Males Only"
  320. >Underneath the papers you see that the original subheadings read "D Hall"
  321. >Well this will make things easy
  322. >An uneventful time in the restroom leads to you retrieving your fresh clothes from your room and heading to the shower
  323. >As you make your way inside you hear running water
  324. >Strange, surely they don't leave the water running constantly
  325. >Ah, perhaps there's an enchantment that starts the water when a student walks inside
  326. >You strip down in the locker room and round the corner into the shower with a sigh
  327. >You aren't expecting to see what you do
  328. >A figure stands before you, the first thing you notice being a rainbow of colored strands hanging from its top
  329. >Unlike Celestia's pastel palette, this is a true rainbow, bright and fully hued
  330. >Sky blue skin flows down in a slight curve, forming a human shape with long legs, tight muscles, and firm cheeks
  331. >The girls turns around, and you stare into her magenta eyes as they too stare back into yours
  332. >After a moment of confusion, the girl yelps and quickly moves to cover herself from your view
  333. >You also cover yourself with one hand while the other shields your eyes
  334. >"W-WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE! ARE YOU CRAZY?!"
  335. "I should ask you the same thing," you reply, "surely you'd have seen the sign reading 'Males Only'?"
  336. >"What? Males only? What are you talking about? I always use this shower!"
  337. "I'm talking about the paper attached outside under the shower sign that clearly reads 'Males Only'."
  338. >"W-Well whatever! Just GET OUT! And don't think you're getting away with this! I'm reporting you to the staff!"
  339. >Exiting with a sigh, you leave the shower room and head back into the locker room
  340. >When you uncover your eyes fully, you notice another set of showers on the other side
  341. >Quickly peeking in to ensure that it is empty, you step in and turn on the water in one of the taps
  342. >This school must have been quite populated in the past to need this many showers at once, given that this is but one wing of the building
  343. >You let the hot water wash away the stress, and deep breaths steady your wracked nerves
  344. >What happened just now wasn't your fault; you'll just have to explain the situation to the faculty
  345. >Of course there's the matter of whether they'll believe you, but someone had to have posted those signs, so someone will know that she shouldn't have been there
  346. >As you're finishing up and turning off the water, you hear a voice calling from across the locker room
  347. >"I'm in here, so don't even think about peeping on me again!"
  348. "Understood."
  349. >You stand and wait for what feels like a surprisingly short amount of time, until you hear her speak once again
  350. >"Alright, I'm leaving now, so you can come get your clothes on, pig!"
  351. >You make your way into the room and don your clothing for the day before heading back out into the hallway
  352. >You see the same girl leaning against the wall, eyeing you with annoyance and anger
  353. >You merely reach out a hand and point to the paper on the wall
  354. >"Yeah, yeah. I see it, whatever. I have broom practice, so I'm out of here."
  355. >Since you don't have a lot to do today, you decide to see if you can watch this broom practice, and maybe gleam how it works
  356. >When the rainbow girl notices you waling behind her, she turns on her heel and points a finger at you
  357. >"What do you think you're doing? Trying to follow me?"
  358. "Indeed. I wanted to see the grounds where the broom practices are held."
  359. >"Well quit it! I don't want a pervert like you following me."
  360. "But, I'm not a pervert."
  361. >"Oh really?" she says sarcastically, "You were peeping on me in the shower earlier!"
  362. "I didn't know you were in there. You know that that shower was labelled 'Males Only'. I had no reason to think a girl would be in it. And as for the water running, I thought it was an enchantment that started the water when a student walked in."
  363. >"Oh yeah, sure. You were totally peeping on me on purpose because you're just a pervert who wants to rape all the girls at the school!"
  364. >...
  365. "Look, you know as well as I do how ridiculous that is. Are you just pretending to be an idiotic character from a Rakdos illustration, or perhaps your emotions are clouding your judgment?"
  366. >"What emotions?"
  367. >You walk past her toward what you think is the direction of the field you were lead from yesterday
  368. "Embarrassment, for one thing. You were seen naked by someone you don't know, after all. I, however, am able to keep those emotions in check."
  369. >"Psh," she says while catching up to you, "as if I'd be embarrassed to show of my awesome bod to a pig who doesn't deserve to see it."
  370. "Really now? if you're so confident in your body, why would you be showering alone in this abandoned, out-of-the-way hall instead of in the communal showers with the rest of the girls?"
  371. >A moment of silence passes as a blush forms on the girls' face, her expression that of one who know's they've been caught in their logic
  372. >"Well, those showers are always hogged anyway! I wouldn't be able to get going on my routine if I took the time to wait for them."
  373. "And yet you are able to take the time to travel all the way across the school to the old surplus dorms?"
  374. >"I-"
  375. >Before she can form an answer, she swings out a fist and strikes you on the arm, sending you reeling sideways a bit
  376. >"Okay fine! I am self-conscious okay?! I know I don't have all the curves the rest of the girls do, and I'm embarrassed to let them see me naked!"
  377. >She wipes her eyes with a sleeve and stares you down as though she going to charge
  378. >But instead her breath catches on her throat, and she lowers her head
  379. >"Are you happy now?"
  380. "Of course not."
  381. >The girl looks up at you, her sadness turning to confusion
  382. >"What do you mean, you're not happy?"
  383. "I don't like seeing people upset. I know I may seem like I was being rude to you, but truthfully I just wanted to understand your feelings. I has already deduced your self-consciousness from your presence in that shower room, and I wanted to get to the bottom of why. I'm sorry for prying, I just got curious."
  384. >"Is that right? You wanted to know why I was embarrassed? Well I told you, it's because of this stupid body. Pretty ugly, right?"
  385. "Not at all. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you have quite a nice body. Certainly nothing to be embarrassed of."
  386. >"Really? You mean that. Did you` enjoy getting a peek of it in the shower?"
  387. "To be honest, I did."
  388. >"Well, maybe if you're lucky you'll get another peek at it later." she says, nudging your leg with her hip
  389. >You feel your own face start to run hot, as you imagine seeing her again under different circumstances
  390. "Really?"
  391. >"Psh, NO!" she exclaims, breaking out into a laugh, "I knew you were a big pervert!"
  392. >Your face starts to run even hotter as the girl sprints out the door to the field
  393. >"C'mon, dude! Oh, and by the way, I'm Rainbow Dash!"
  394. "I'm Anonymous!" you yell back as you run after her
  395. >You chase Rainbow Dash to the field where several students are gathered, chatting and readying for practice
  396. >You finally reach the edge of the group, long after Rainbow Dash, and you see her standing with the same group of girls she was sitting with last night
  397. >Come to think of it, you haven't eaten today
  398. >By the position of the sun, you think you've overslept through breakfast
  399. >You'll need to invest in an alarm clock if you'll be attending classes starting Monday
  400. >Or eating in the morning
  401. >You approach Rainbow Dash and her group, hearing part of their conversation
  402. >"And then that big pervert peeped on me in the shower!"
  403. >The girls all gasp, and you would were it not for your sputtering
  404. >"Really?"
  405. >"Oh my."
  406. >"No way!"
  407. >"Well I'll be!"
  408. >The tallest girl in the group, who you recognize as Sunset Shimmer from last night, turns and starts to approach you
  409. >"Oh did he now?"
  410. >She start cracking her knuckles, a wicked glare on her face, but before she gets too close, Rainbow Dash blurts out
  411. >"Nah! I was just kidding! He wouldn't do that, he's actually a pretty cool guy."
  412. >"Really?" says the girl with the purple and violet streaked hair and purple skin
  413. >"Yeah," says Dash, "he's alright, I guess. Not a bad guy in my book. I met him in the hall earlier and we had a little chat."
  414. >"Ooh, ooh!" shouts a girl with what appears not to be hair, but rather a mass of pink cotton candy, a shade darker than her own skin color
  415. >"What were you guys talking about?!"
  416. >This one seems to always be just on the wrong side of too loud
  417. >"Oh, you know, not much," replies Dash nonchalantly, "just stuff, like how he's doing getting used to the place."
  418. >"Personally," says Sunset, "I'd prefer if he got used to the idea of leaving."
  419. "And why," you say in between breaths, your heart rate just now starting to slow down, "do you want me gone so bad?"
  420. >"Because, you're a boy, and this is a girl's school. You're gonna be nothing but a distraction and a nuisance."
  421. "How can I be distracting you? I'm not even doing anything. Unless, of course, you're entranced by my rugged charm."
  422. >You wiggle an eyebrow at her and strike a pose you've seen in one of your Rakdos picture books, leaning back with one hand in front of your face and the other outstretched beside you
  423. >Dash bursts out laughing at your display, even slapping her actual knee, while the other girls just look confused
  424. >Or, in the case of Sunset, downright infuriated
  425. >"Whatever, just stay out of my way. That goes for my education, and my path. That I walk. Or fly. Or whatever. You know what I mean!"
  426. "Sure thing, Ms. Shimmer. I'm not here to step on any toes."
  427. >She turns from you with a humph and walks back to her broom, before mounting it and flying away
  428. >"I don't get what her deal is with him," says Dash, "like he said, he hasn't even done anything to her."
  429. >She turns and cracks a sly grin at you, her smug aura mocking you in jest
  430. >"Unless you count running around in nothing but a skimpy hula skirt."
  431. "In my defense I did the best I could with my limited resources."
  432. >"Of course, not that your resources are too limited."
  433. >...
  434. >"Uh, I mean, cause, y'know, there's lots of foliage out there. I bet if you took your time you could have made a full suit. Heheh."
  435. >Did she just, compliment your, "equipment"?
  436. >"Oh, Rainbow, you've just given me an idea!"
  437. >This comes from a girl with skin so pale you'd think she were a spirit were she not fully opaque, with royal purple hair in an intricate maze of curls and swirls that would make a sphinx proud
  438. >"A fashion line inspired by the natural materials of nature! Of course I can't use real plants like your friend here; no one wants to buy a suit that rots, but I can make it look like the real thing! Oh, you're a genius!"
  439. >She saunters over to you, hips swaying like a pendulum, and just as effective at entrancing you, if not more so
  440. >"And thank you, darling, for giving her the idea in the first place."
  441. "Oh, no problem. I mean, I don't know if you heard but I actually thought I was dead and gone to the afterlife when I first came here. I half thought about wandering around in the buff as I assumed dead people do, but fortunately I went against it."
  442. >"Oh, dear, that would be quite a sight, wouldn't it?"
  443. "Oh, I'm not so sure there would be much to see." you joke back
  444. >"Oh, come now. I can tell just by the way your pants are seamed, my dear, you're keeping something quite spectacular hidden away from us, aren't you?"
  445. >As Rarity gets a little too far into your personal space, she's yanked back by the collar by a tanned blonde girl wearing a hat that appears decidedly un-magelike
  446. >"Sorry about our friend Rarity here. She's a whore."
  447. >"APPLEJACK!" shouts Rarity with a gasp, "Why, I am DEEPLY insulted that you would refer to me in such a way."
  448. >"Well you could fix that by not bein' a whore."
  449. >"Hahaha, okay," says the girl with purple hair as she steps forward and places a hand on Applejack's shoulder
  450. >"AJ, we all appreciate your honesty, but remember when we discussed tact?"
  451. >AJ sighs and takes her hat off to run a hand through her hair
  452. >"You're right, Twi. I'm sorry I called you a whore, rarity. Let me start over."
  453. >She places her hand on Rarity's shoulder again and looks at you once more
  454. >"Sorry about our friend Rarity here. She acts like a whore to get boys to do what she wants."
  455. >"Applejack," grumbles Rarity
  456. >"Hey now, that's as tactful as I can be without just bendin' the truth."
  457. >"Hmm, yes well, I would have said 'uses her feminine charms', but I suppose as long as you're not actually calling me a harlot, it will suffice."
  458. >An awkwardly long pause follows which you decide to break for the sake of it
  459. "So," you say with a nervous smile, "I take it you all are friends then?"
  460. >"Indeed. I'm Twilight Sparkle, this is Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, and now you know Applejack, Rarity, Sunset Shimmer, and Rainbow Dash."
  461. "Ah, yes, it's a pleasure to meet you all. You certainly seem like a friendly group of people."
  462. >As you say this, you can't help but steal an unconscious glance up at Shimmer, which puts a slight scowl on your face
  463. >"Yeah, like I said, I don't know what Sunset's deal is with you," says Rainbow, "but trust me when I say she's good people."
  464. >You look to Rainbow, and then to Shimmer, then back to Rainbow
  465. >Perhaps she does have some personal reason she doesn't trust you or want you around
  466. >She did say that it's because you're male, implying that it's nothing personal
  467. "Alright, I trust you. If you say she's good people, I believe it."
  468. >"Heh, that was easy. You really do like me, don't you?"
  469. >As she says this, she delivers a playful jab to your arm
  470. "Well, you are my first friend here in my new life, in this new world."
  471. >"Oh, that's right," says Twilight, "you say you're from another world. What's it like? Was there magic?"
  472. "Oh, there was magic, alright."
  473. >As you're about to tell the [spoiler]gathering[/spoiler] your story, Rainbow looks at the clock tower and hops on her broom
  474. >"Sorry dude, I gotta go, I'll catch the quick version from you later."
  475. "No worries, Rainbow, I understand."
  476. "So," you say, turning to the rest of the group, "I come from a place called Ravnica. The entire world, at least as we know it, is covered by a city, also known as Ravnica. The city stretches as far as the eye can see, and then when you go as far as the eye can see, it stretches on as far as the eye can see again, and so on."
  477. >"Wow," interjects Twilight, "an entire world covered in one giant city. Imagine the materials and effort needed to build a city that large!"
  478. >"And what I wanna know," says Applejack, "is how they get any farming done."
  479. >"Girls, please, let the man tell his story. I'm sure he'll answer our questions when he's ready."
  480. "Thank you, Rarity."
  481. >She does seem to have her good qualities other than looks, like patience at least
  482. "As I was saying, the city spans our whole world, with different segments, levels, and there are ten factions that control it, known as the guilds."
  483. "I lived in the Azorious district, controlled by the Azorious Senate. They're the lawmaking body of Ravnica and are considered the 'leaders' of the guilds, even though there officially is no one guild to rule them all."
  484. "The farming, as you asked, is managed by the Golgari, who handle composting of dead material into fertilizer and actually running the farm fields. Of course the Selesnya Conclave is involved, ensuring that there is adequate land on which to farm."
  485. >Twilight, who already gasped at your mention of the Conclave, lets out a high-pitched shrill sound, like a squeak but drawn out
  486. >"Did you say Celestia Conclave? As in an entire assembly of Celestias?!"
  487. "Eh, no, I said SelesNYa Conclave, with an 'N'. I understand the confusion though, they are quite similar."
  488. >"Oh. I see. Sorry."
  489. "Not a problem. Anyway, each guild has it's own role to play. I already mentioned Azorious and Golgari, and Selesnya who handle the nature preserves. There's Dimir, whose existence was recently revealed, though no one's sure what they do. There's the Cult of Rakdos, the hedonists. They run the entertainment industry, like bars, clubs, brothels, and handling catering of all things."
  490. >You stretch and pop your back muscles, feeling your stomach rumble and your body already becoming tired
  491. "Anyway, there are ten such guilds, and they all have some function or another. They all have their dark sides too, but it's a lot to sit down and churn out in one sitting, even if I could remember all of it"
  492. >Speaking of sitting, you take a seat on the grass of the field and watch the fliers racing around each other through the air, practicing turns and stopping and all manner of maneuvers
  493. >It must feel amazing to be able to do that
  494. >"Yo!" shouts Rainbow Dash as she comes to a landing near you, "You should try this out, see what happens!"
  495. "Eh, I'm not so sure. I've never ridden a broom before. In fact, such a thing isn't done anywhere in my world. Magical flight is possible, but it's nothing like this."
  496. >"Well, you won't know until your try, right? C'mon, give it a whirl, what's the worst that can happen?"
  497. "I die."
  498. >...
  499. >"Okay that is pretty bad, but I'll make sure that doesn't happen. Anyone got an extra broom for him?"
  500. >A pale yellow girl with long pink hair that you barely noticed before steps forward and hands her broom to Rainbow Dash, who hands it to you
  501. >You stand up and take it, running your hands over it and trying to get a feel for any magical energy within
  502. >There's no response, yet to take to mounting it anyway
  503. >"Alright, now just kick off, and let the broom do the work."
  504. "Let the broom do the work, huh?"
  505. >You kick off as she instructed, but you only feel yourself tip forward and nearly lose your balance
  506. >You right yourself and try it a few more times, but nothing seems to be working
  507. >You're hesitant to draw on the mana directly, as you don't want to exhaust your supply without knowing a spell to cast
  508. >Eventually, you give up, handing the broom back to the girl who originally had it
  509. >As you mirror Rainbow Dash's shrug, Sunset lands next you and hops gracefully off of her own broom, giving you a very un-graceful scowl
  510. >"Really now? How can Headmistress Celestia even allow a boy like you to enroll here? You can't even ride a broom."
  511. "Well, Miss Shimmer, Headmistress Celestia personally broke her own rules to enroll me here so I assume she had a reason. If you wan't to know what is is you'll have to speak to her because I honestly have no clue myself. Just like I have no clue why you're so against a boy being here."
  512. >"Hmph. I bet you can't even do magic at all."
  513. "Now that much, I can do."
  514. >You draw on the mana flowing from the forest into yourself, preparing your usual spell
  515. >But this time, something feels different
  516. >It feels as though the forest is connected to something else, an energy completely foreign to you
  517. >Could it be?
  518. >You formulate in your mind a desire to tap into this foreign energy, and as you feel the mana manifest into a spell, you're suddenly connected to a flow of this cold, unidentifiable energy
  519. >Not only that, but you feel yet another foreign flow of energy
  520. >This one comes in the form of mana, you can tell that much, but it's different from that of the forest
  521. >It still feels lively, but instead of the raw primal energy of the forest's mana, this gives you feelings of order, unity, and peace
  522. >Just as with the forest before, you can visualize the place from which it flows
  523. >You see rolling plains covered in a sea of grain, with the school castle in the distance
  524. >Individually, these flows of mana feel quite different, the forest showing you instinct and wildness, and the plains showing you law and duty
  525. >But in the combination of them, you feel a sense of interdependence, family, and the natural laws of the world speak directly to your soul
  526. >Both mana flows are low, as though used up, even though the white one just joined you
  527. >However, the cold alien energy still flows through you, and in it, you feel all the people standing around you, their own connections to this Aethersphere bridging all of you together in a way that you can't see with your eyes, but can see clear as day within your mind
  528. >All of this stimulus at once threatens to overwhelm you, and you nearly collapse to the ground, but you're just able to remain on your feet
  529. >As your vision comes to, you see Shimmer and her friends all standing around you with shocked looks on their faces
  530. "Ugh, my head, is something wrong?"
  531. >"You, you're crazy." says Sunset as she takes a few steps back away from you
  532. "What happened, seriously, why is everyone staring at me like that?!"
  533. >"Anon," says Twilight as she takes a few steps forward toward you, "how did you hide your magic power like that?"
  534. "Hide? What are you talking about? I never hid the fact that I can do magic, it just hasn't come up yet. I mean, I wouldn't be here if I couldn't, right?"
  535. >"No, I mean your magic signature. A few moments ago none of us could detect any magical energy in you, and now suddenly we're all feeling a somewhat faint signature of magic. How were you able to completely hide it like that?"
  536. >You sigh and sit back down on the ground
  537. "I guess it's time for another explanation. You see, I don't, or rather didn't, have access to the same type of magic that you all do. As Celestia put it, my magic, and my magical energy, is completely different. Rather than draw on the same stuff you do, which I and my world's people would call Aether, I use mana, from the land itself."
  538. >"Mana? But that's just an archaic term for the same magic we use."\
  539. "Maybe in this world, but where I'm from mana is something different from what you're using. Anyway, it seems to me that you all lack a connection to the mana of the land, and instead you draw on the Aether using your wands. Tell me, are any of you able to do magic without a wand?"
  540. >They all shake their heads, with Twilight explaining that those who can do it exist, but they're extremely rare
  541. "Perhaps their bodies have a connection to the Aether, or perhaps it's mana. Either way, I fel myself being connected to the Aether for the first time after the spell I just cast. Like I'm attuned to it whereas before I wasn't."
  542. >"I see. So you have access to magic now, big deal, you still can't even get a broom in the air."
  543. "We'll see about that."
  544. >Rainbow tosses her broom on the ground next to you, and you reach your hand out over it as you'd seen done before
  545. >To your amazement, and everyone else's, it flies up into your hand at your mental command
  546. >You take a seat on it, and kick off the ground as before, only this time, the broom lifts you up and keeps you in the air
  547. >You can't suppress laughing at both the joy and ridiculousness of the situation
  548. >Here you are, sitting on the handle of a broom, floating in midair
  549. >You turn the broom around in the air, leaning side to side, and even give it a little nudge forward
  550. >Controlling it isn't easy, and you'll need quite a bit of practice before you can truly say you can control it, but these thoughts are drowned out by your elation at the fact that you are actually flying
  551. >You discover that you make the broom go straight down by slowly cutting off your flow of Aether to it, like lowering the pressure on a faucet, until your feet touch the ground, and the broom falls limp in your hands, no longer enchanted to stay airborne
  552. "That felt amazing! Is this truly what you do every day?"
  553. >"Well," says Dash, "not every day, but I like to take every chance I can get."
  554. "And I can see why. I'm not much for sports but wow, this feeling of flight was incredible, and I can only imagine feeling true speed and control."
  555. >As you hand Dash her broom back with a smile, you hear a slow clap from behind you
  556. >"Oh, bravo, you can fly a broom. Amazing display of magic. Truly worthy of being admitted here against the rules."
  557. >The sarcasm in Shimmer's voice is self-evident
  558. >Rainbow looks around you at her and scowls at her friend
  559. >"You know what? I've just about had it with you ragging on him. He hasn't done anything to you, or me, or anyone! So just back off, will you?"
  560. >"And why are you taking his side?!"
  561. >"Because he's cool and hasn't done anything wrong. He was nice to me and cheered me up I can't believe I'm saying this but he made me feel pretty."
  562. >"Oh, so he did? I bet he told you that you were beautiful, and have a great body, and all kinds of compliments, didn't he?"
  563. >"Wha-? How did you know?"
  564. >"Because that's what they do, Rainbow Dash! They say all kind of nice things to make you feel good, and think they're nice."
  565. >You notice that as she says all this, tears start to well up in Sunset's eyes, and her knees start trembling
  566. >"And then the next thing you know, they've used you for their own sick pleasure, touched you however they want, made you do all kinds of sick things, never stopping even when you cry and beg them to. And then they throw you aside like trash."
  567. >Suddenly, with an ear piercing shriek, Sunset's broom is flying toward you, but not in a magical way, more of a "this object is being thrown at you" sort of way
  568. >You duck under it, narrowly avoiding a knockout blow, keeping your arms raised in case she decides to attack you herself
  569. >But she doesn't, she just points a finger at
  570. >Not even her wand, just a finger
  571. >A shaking finger of a trembling girl with a face covered in tears and a voice that she can barely push
  572. >"That's what boys like him do. Don't you all get it?"
  573. >You stand speechless, completely unsure why Sunset has chosen to share this with everyone, including
  574. >In fact, it's likely she didn't intend to but rather did in an outburst of anger
  575. >After taking a moment to contemplate a response, you try to speak as calmly and amicably as
  576. "Miss Shimmer, whatever any boy, or boys, have done to you in the past that was like that, I can assure you they were not like me, and nothing like the man I hope to be."
  577. >"You're lying! You're lying again!"
  578. >Sunset reaches into her robe and draws her wand from it, readying it in your direction
  579. >As she does, time slows down, and you feel the flow of mana from the lands suddenly fill you once again
  580. >It usually takes a bit longer than this, you think, but you can't be sure
  581. >Surprisingly, Sunset doesn't point her wand at you, but rather in the sky
  582. >"présa kai danos!"
  583. >Swirls of magic flow around Sunset and into her wand, and then, with a flash of light, she shines with a red aura
  584. >You're not sure what the aura does for her exactly, but it-
  585. >Oh okay she's running toward you faster than a human should be able to
  586. >You barely put up your arms to block before a punch from Sunset sends you flying backward
  587. >She also hits harder than a human should be bale to, by the way
  588. >You stand up, trying to shake the daze off, and you see Sunset standing unreasonably far away from you, the red aura fading away, and Sunset herself looking a bit ragged
  589. >You look within yourself to try and think of something, anything, that will let you defend yourself
  590. >Memories of home flood your mind, as creatures, places and events from your travels are recalled and pulled into the forefront of your memory
  591. >You feel a forest from just outside your district, its mana reaching across time and space to flow within you
  592. >It adds to the green mana from the forest here in Canterlot, as well as the white mana
  593. >You draw on a memory of a creature from the flocks in the Selesnya preserves, willing it to be here with you now
  594. >Before your eyes, and everyone else's, crackling blue Aether energy swirls in the air just in front of you and takes the shape of a wolf
  595. >After a moment of concentration, the swirl of Aether is itself replaced with the flesh and blood of a Watchwolf
  596. >Several people gasp in surprise, and you see most of the crowd shaking in their boots, unable to move as the wolf looks around
  597. >"Calm down, everyone," yells Sunset, "this creature is but an illusion, it's not capable of harming us."
  598. >The wolf stands there, panting and looking around as though confused
  599. >Sunset once again starts to run after you, albeit at a much more reasonable pace
  600. >You feel a mental link to the wolf, and as Sunset is readying to move past it, you will it to jump in her path
  601. >She continues to barrel ahead, as if expecting herself to move through to giant creature, when instead she runs smack into it and falls to the ground
  602. >Just as the wolf is getting ready to pounce on her, you pull it back to avoid killing one of your classmates
  603. >Sunset is simply shocked
  604. >She quickly scampers away from the very real 5 foot tall wolf and readies her wand again
  605. >As a spark of electrical energy gathers at the tip of her wand, you prepare your original spell, only this time you intend you place its effects upon your new companion
  606. >A shot of lightning reaches out from Sunset's wand and rushes toward the Watchwolf
  607. >Before it can arrive, familiar vines spring up from the ground and wrap themselves around the beast, grabbing Sunset's lightning spell and dissipating it, much like it did for you with Celestia
  608. >She, upon seeing the effects of her magic become useless, sinks to the ground and drops her wand next to her
  609. >She stares at you and your summoned companion, eyes wide and mouth agape with shock and fear
  610. >You step past the wolf and make your way to Shimmer, taking confident strides, yet trying not to appear confrontational
  611. >As you walk, you feel the rush of battle subside, and as time returns to its normal pace, your connection to the lands replenishes, granting you a fresh supply of mana
  612. >Shimmer shimmies away from you, trying to retreat to the safety of her friends, but she meets a wall in the form of several students who remain frozen in place, spectating your encounter
  613. >As you tower over Sunset, your stoic face turns to a welcoming smile, and you extend a hand to help the girl up
  614. >She hesitantly takes your hand, and with your help she rises to her feet and dusts herself off
  615. >She picks up her wand, and you prepare to cast another spell, but instead she simply stows away her wand in her robes and sighs
  616. >The next things she does surprises you the most, as she smiles shyly and rubs her arm, just barely not making eye contact with you
  617. >"Well, Anonymous, you are an odd fellow, but I must say, you do some good magic. And, if I was wrong about that, maybe I'm wrong about the rest too."
  618. "So, you trust me now?"
  619. >"Well, to be honest I wish I could say that, but it might take some time before I can really trust you. Don't get me wrong, it's not because of you, it's my fault."
  620. "I don't think it is your fault. I know from experience that some wounds take time to heal, and that's okay."
  621. ***
  622. A couple of hours have passed since your encounter with Sunset Shimmer outside at broom practice
  623. >You're now sitting at a table in the dining hall, recounting more stories of your time on Ravnica, explaining more about the government and the functions of the guilds
  624. >"I think I'd get along well with this 'Izzet' group," says Twilight, "unlocking the secrets of the universe through science is right up my alley."
  625. "Eh, they seem to me a bit too 'mad science' for you. Trust me, when things go wrong within Izzet, they go REALLY wrong. Plus only the high-level people do research. Entry-level work mostly involves repairing and maintaining the public works."
  626. >"Well I think the Cult of Rakdos sounds like a party and a half! Imagine all the fun you could have with them!" yells Pinkie Pie, nearly jumping out of her seat
  627. "True, true, until they sacrifice you to a demon. Then you're not alive to have fun anymore."
  628. >"Sure sure, but I bet all the orgies in the mean time would make it SO worth it!"
  629. >You choke on your drink, nearly spewing it all over everyone, but fortunately you manage to keep it in your cup
  630. >You look around to see if anyone else is nearly as shocked as you, but her friends all merely roll their eyes as if silently saying "Oh, Pinkie" in unison
  631. >"What? It's just a joke. Besides, I'm sure there's not THAT many demonic sacrifices. If there were, they'd never have any members left. Besides, my dream is to open an alchemical bakery, and you did say Rakdos handles the food service."
  632. "True, their reputation might be worse than they actually are, though that's not really saying much."
  633. >Sunset glances over to you, looking like she has something to say
  634. "Something on your mind, Sunset?"
  635. >"Oh, well, you mentioned that the laws and ordinances are made by the Azorius Senate, but they sound like a bunch of bureaucrats. And it sounds like Ravnica isn't peaceful enough for an honor system, so I was wondering if there's a law enforcement guild."
  636. "Oh, yes, of course, the Boros Legion. How could I have forgotten about them. They were the ones who arrived to drag me off to prison, after all."
  637. >At this, the girls stop eating and stare at you, most of them wide-eyed with shock, but Sunset having a squinted glare of mistrust
  638. "Oh right, I didn't mention that to you, did I? It kinda slipped out when I was talking to Celestia, but, yes, before I came here, I was in prison. Death row, actually."
  639. >"Death row?!" asks Twilight, "what in Equestria did you do to get yourself executed?!"
  640. "Violations of Title 2, Article 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter 3, Section 1, Subsections 14-2.1, 11-1.1, and 13-2.1 of the Azorius Code: Possession of a magical artifact above class 9 without an artificer's license, possession of a class-4 magical artifact without a class-3 artificer's license, and destruction of a class 5 or greater artifact without a class-3 artificer's license and operational disposal permit."
  641. >More silence follows for quite some time, until Rarity speaks up
  642. >"So, technically, you're an escaped criminal?"
  643. "I suppose so, though I'm not sure what the extradition rules are across dimensions."
  644. >Seeing that your joke fell flat, you decide to explain the situation clearly
  645. "Look, I know it sounds bad, but remember, the Azorius Senate may well be the most overzealous, bureaucratic entity in the multiverse. You don't have to be violent or dangerous to wind up with your neck in their guillotine."
  646. >"Besides," says Rainbow, jumping into the conversation, "if he was dangerous, Celestia would know about it, and wouldn't let him stay here."
  647. >Giving you an aside glance, Sunset says "I guess, I just wish he was upfront with us."
  648. >The girls and you eat in silence for the remainder of lunch, before going your separate ways
  649. >You make your way to the school's general store and find an alarm clock for your room, purchasing it with the coins left for you by Celestia
  650. >After setting it up, you go over the course material and prepare for tomorrow's class, taking notes on the various aspects of magic
  651. >You can still feel the aether within you, and as you walk nearby fellow students you can feel it within them as well
  652. >Each person feels slightly different, though you doubt you'd be able to identify someone blindly going off it alone
  653. >Perhaps that's something that trained aethermages can do
  654. >Pondering the mysteries of the universe, or rather multiverse, is tiring, so you set your alarm clock, wind it up, and prepare to drift off to sleep
  655. ***
  656. >Running through the stone hallways, you round corner after corner
  657. >Your pattering footsteps are drowned out by the heavy footfalls of boots
  658. >Your raspy breath is drowned out by the voices shouting at you to stop running
  659. >But you don't stop, you run for your life through hall after hall, trying to reach the exit
  660. >And then your worst fear appears before you:
  661. >A dead end
  662. >You drop to your knees and turn around, skittering across the floor until your back is against the wall
  663. >Having nowhere else to run, you accept your fate
  664. >The mage before you raises her staff, preparing a spell as the rest of the guards block the hall behind her
  665. >As crackling swirls of energy surround her staff, your ear are filled with the deafening roar of a bell
  666. ***
  667. >You open your eyes and bolt upright in bed, the first thing you see being an alarm clock on your bedside stand
  668. >So waking up in the forest and meeting the school of witches wasn't just a dream
  669. >You silence the clock and prepare to begin your day
  670. >This time you have the shower room to yourself, thankfully, and after your morning routine you are ready to being your first day as a student
  671. >You've studied the materials and run a few practice quizes in your spare time, so you feel you should be ready for what's ahead
  672. >You meet your new friends at a table in the great hall, and begin to eat your meal quietly
  673. >While you'd normally be happily chatting away with them, your nerves are keeping your mouth sewn shut
  674. >"Are you okay, Antonon?"
  675. >Two things surprised you about this
  676. >One, you're hearing Fluttershy not only speak, but address you directly
  677. >Two, she's calling you by your first name
  678. >She gazes at you expectantly, and after taking a moment to charge your brain up, you finally swallow and reply
  679. "Uh, yeah, I'm okay. Just a bit nervous is all."
  680. >"Well, can't say I blame ya," says Applejack, "every witch gets nervous on her first day o' school. Or, uh, his, I guess."
  681. "Honestly it's not the coursework itself I'm worried about, I've been acing tests since I could hold a quill. It's more of the fact that I'm still not familiar with this plane's magic."
  682. >"Seems to me like there's something else to it." says Sunset
  683. >But rather than her usual condescending tone, she sounds genuinely concerned for you
  684. >"Oh, sorry. I shouldn't pry, but, if you want to share, we might be able to help."
  685. >After considering it for a moment, you decide you will divest your thoughts after all
  686. "As you've probably noticed, I'm not very good with social situations. My observant nature combined with my impulse to speak what's on my mind tends to lead to hurt feelings. Rainbow Dash could tell you that much, if she hasn't already."
  687. >The group look to Rainbow, who looks at you bewildered
  688. >"Uh, dude, you didn't have to throw yourself under the bus like that."
  689. "I know, but being honest and open is what you should do when you have friends, right?"
  690. >You take a sip of water from your cup and set it down
  691. "No seriously, is that right? I'm kind of new to this whole 'having friends' thing."
  692. >No one answers you, prefering to stare at you in silence, making you feel more awkward
  693. >"Anyway, what did he do, Rainbow?" says Sunset sternly
  694. >"Nothing. Like I said, he actually helped me out yesterday. I mean, yeah, he did kinda pry into my mind a bit, and it was kinda uncomfortable at first, but it worked out in the end."
  695. "Yeah, uh, I'm sorry for making you feel that way. Like I said, I'm brand new to this whole 'friends' business."
  696. >"Well, right now it's about time for all of us to get into the 'getting to class' business." says Rarity, standing up from the table
  697. >"Indeed, tardiness is no proper conduct for a witch." says Twilight, before blinking and turning to you
  698. >"Or, uh, Wizard."
  699. "Let's just not bother with separation of gendered pronouns or descriptors. It'll be easier that way."
  700. >"Fair enough."
  701. >With that, the lot of you make your way to your first lecture, Magical Theory
  702. >You're sweating a bit, but now that you've eased yourself into the world of socialization, it's becoming less and less painful to think about the classroom with time
  703. >And before you know it, you're walking into the room, ready (for the most part) to take on your first day as a student of the Canterlot Royal Magical Academy
  704. ***
  705. >You take a seat in the room and place your books before yourself
  706. >The seating is comprised of rows of curved benches with a single long table-like desk on each one
  707. >These benches rise up from the teacher's desk area like those of an amphitheater
  708. >Near the front of the class, a woman with dark pink skin and lighter pink hair stands behind an oaken desk
  709. >Pieces of chalk write on the board behind her, and various books turn themselves deliberately to certain pages before plaicng themselves gently before her
  710. >As the students, including you, finish taking their seats, the woman looks up to address the room
  711. >Whether magically or through simple talent she seems to be speaking to everyone individually yet simultaneously, and with a strong voice hear loud and clear throughout the large room, but with no distortion or echo
  712. >"Good morning everyone, and welcome back to Magical Theory 101 with yours truly. Since we have a new student with us today, I'll go ahead and introduce myself. I am Miss Cheerilee, but you can call me... Miss Cheerilee." she says with a flourishing bow
  713. >A few chuckles can be heard around you, though you don't think they're aimed at you
  714. >Miss Cheerilee has a very bright, outgoing attitude, and you suspect quips like this aren't too uncommon
  715. >"One thing before we begin: Headmistress Celestia has instructed me to spend some extra time this week reiterating some of the basics of magical theory. Now, while this is partly because of Mr. Ptolymous' new presence here, there is just as much cause within the results of this year's midterm exam."
  716. >Several students visibly and audible wince at her mention of these exams
  717. >"An alarming number of you failed the exam, and among those who passed, many barely did. So for those of you who did well and aren't looking forward to repeating this early material, don't just blame our new student for popping in when he did. And I mean it. With that said, let us begin with chapter 2, page 1."
  718. >She begins to explain in depth many of the things you read about in the textbook, giving you new insight on the nature of the aether, or "magical energy" as she puts it
  719. >You take notes dutifully, making sure to pay special care to when she expounds upon the statements in the book
  720. >Finally, she calls her first question from the class
  721. >"Who can tell me what a spell actually is?"
  722. >Several other students, including Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and a few others you don't know, all raise their hands in unison
  723. >These are likely to be the ones who struggled with the midterm and want to prove they've learned
  724. >"Yes, Miss Cloudkicker?"
  725. >A girl near the front of the class stands up and addresses the teacher while holding her wand in her hands in a presenting manner
  726. >"A spell is, fundamentally, a manifestation of magical power, shaped and designed to have a specific effect on something in the physical world."
  727. >"Correct, you may take your seat. Now, speaking of which, who can explain the nature of the wand as it relates to spellcasting?"
  728. >This time you raise your hand along with some other students, and Cheerille smiles when she sees you doing so
  729. >"Alright, how about you, Mr. Ptolymous?"
  730. >You stand up and similarly hold your wand out for her and the class to see
  731. "Well, my understanding of it is that a wand is generally necessary for spellcasting as it provides the focal point for the spell to leave the casters body and enter the physical world to do, um, whatever it is that spell does."
  732. >"Hmm, not exactly how the book phrases it, but that sounds about right to me. I'm glad you're getting an idea of magic so quickly. Hopefully you'll be ready for the makeup exam next week. You may take your seat."
  733. >Several people are staring at you, as you are so uncomfortably aware, yet you see no malice on their faces
  734. >Instead, they seem to be looking at you with a sort of curiosity, as though you are some exotic animal or relic, wondering what you'll do next
  735. >You still wish they weren't doing it
  736. >You hear several more questions and their answers, continuing to take your notes, until you are roused by the sound of a ringing bell
  737. >"Alright, that's all the time we have for today. Because of the dual nature the class will be taking on over the next week, those of you who wish to prepare more for either the makeup exam or the upcoming tests can visit me in my office during the day after classes."
  738. >The students shuffle out of class and head off toward the next area, with a similar room taking the place of the one you were just in
  739. >At the forefront stands a woman with long scarlet hair and fair, rosy skin
  740. >You're beginning to think that you're may be not just the only male student but only male person in the while school
  741. >Similarly to Cheerilee, she has pieces of chalk and book floating around, writing on the chalkboard and turning themselves to various pages
  742. >Her name, or at least you assume it is, is actually written on the chalkboard itself: Miss Roseluck
  743. >According to your schedule, she is the Magical Safety 101 teacher
  744. >Her class goes mostly the same, except that she doesn't do as much review of the early materials you've read, instead taking a more hands-on approach with various segments from throughout the textbook
  745. >She pulls pieces related to each other from various chapters and pages, staying on certain topics before moving on to others
  746. >Today's theme seems to be safety with magical artifacts
  747. >Fitting, given the events that lead to your being here
  748. >After this class is over, you collect your notes and books and head out into the hall with your other students
  749. >It's already midday by now, and you're headed to the grand hall again for lunch with your friends
  750. >Rather than have every class be a short ordeal each day, it seems that each class only takes place a few days per week, but with long class sessions for each one
  751. >Thus, after lunch you'll only have herbology and magical history for today
  752. >You take your place among your friends as they ask you questions about how you're settling into classes
  753. "It's certainly not bad," you say to them over a glass of water, "I guess I was worried about nothing after all."
  754. >I figured you'd fit in pretty quickly," says Sunset of all people, "you definitely know how to read people and situations. I bet you'll be fine."
  755. >"Awwwww," says Pinkie Pie, throwing her arms around Sunset and rubbing her cheek up against hers, "look at our Sunset putting the past aside and warming up to the new guy so quickly."
  756. >She pauses to wipe a tear from her eye and blow her nose into a tissue procured from an unknown location behind herself before wrapping herself back around Sunset
  757. >"I'm so proud of you."
  758. >"Yeah," says Sunset as she pries herself off of Pinkie, "I guess I overreacted too. But, all's well that ends well, right?"
  759. "Indeed. and, I can't say i blame you either. Unfamiliarity is hard for people to deal with anyway, and it sounds to me like you had a some troubles in your past that interfered with it."
  760. >She casts her face down at the table and sighs
  761. >"Yeah, you could say that."
  762. >You swallow your water hard and look over to her, realizing you're mistake
  763. "Oh, uh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"
  764. >"Oh no, it's fine," she says, cutting you off, "you're not at fault for it."
  765. >You sit awkwardly with the group and they talk and eat, finding yourself at a bit of a loss for apetite
  766. >Though you have calmed down significantly since morning, your nerves are still there, and your faux pas with Sunset isn't helping either
  767. >You down some juice and bread hoping to get the energy for the afternoon's lessons, and before long you're shuffling through the hallway without any of your friends by your side, and their schedules diverged from your at this point
  768. >You take a deep breath and steel yourself for your first solo class experience as you walk into the greenhouse
  769. >In the greenhouse, you find a variety of plants, some of which seems to be regular, inert plants, others are clearly magical and alive
  770. >To your startled surprise, you recognize at least one of them
  771. "Is that what I think it is?" you find yourself saying aloud, without even meaning to
  772. >The professor, who has just walked in another door to the greenhouse and stands before the class, turns to look at the plant creature you stare at
  773. >"Well now," she says, "that would depend on what you think it is, dear."
  774. >You inspect the plant from what you presume to be a safe distance
  775. >It has a number of mouths on the end of long stalks, which themselves are connected to a central body with roots extending out like tentacles
  776. "I've seen something similar to this in the Selesnyan gardens in Ravnica. I believe it's a Phytohydra."
  777. >the teacher looks at you quizzically, as though you've said something outrageous
  778. >"Ravnica? Oh right, that other world you're from, or something like that. Yes, well, I'm surprised to hear you have Phytohydras there. I guess it would makes sense in a way, though. Plants are plants, after all."
  779. >You get the feeling that this woman isn't the type to question things too deeply, and her statement leaves you pondering the implications yourself
  780. >Despite what would normally be a somewhat embarrassing moment for yourself, you find that you aren't too worried about the attention anymore
  781. >Instead, you find yourself focused on the classwork
  782. >A small part of you feels slightly impressed with yourself for casting off your insecurities so quickly
  783. >Another part of you wonders if they're truly gone or merely suppressed
  784. >After identifying several plants and taking notes on how to care for them, you leave the greenhouse and head back to the castle, ready for your fourth and final class of the day
  785. ***
  786. >History has never been much of a strong suit for you
  787. >Of course, memorizing the dates and names posed little challenge, but giving an explanation of why certain things happened is a other thing entirely
  788. >You may decide to take up Twilight Sparkle's offer to assist you in your studies
  789. >Or, more accurately, Headmistress Celestia's offer for Twilight to do so
  790. >With all of the names and dates written down and stored in your memory, you stand, stretch your back, and join the other students in taking your leave for the day
  791. >You decide to take a stroll around the field where you and Sunset had your little, eh, confrontation
  792. >You're delighted to see your friends all sitting on the grass, talking and having a good time
  793. >You nearly catch yourself walking away and leaving them to it, a small feeling that you don't belong still nagging at you
  794. >But then Applejack sees you and waves to you, the rest noticing and following suit
  795. >Pinkie in particular is jumping up and down shouting "Oh! Oh! Nonny! Come over here!"
  796. >You oblige her and take a seat on the grass in a circle with them
  797. >You feel the sun shining brightly on your face, and the cool breeze washing over you carries away a lot of the tension you're feeling
  798. >"So," says Rainbow Dash, "how was it flying solo?"
  799. "Not nearly as bad as I brought myself to believe. As I expected, history class was the biggest challenge. We're supposed to write a paper on Starswirl the Bearded's motivations for banishing the Sons and Daughters of the Sirens, but I haven't the slightest clue where to begin."
  800. >"Don't stress it man, you're great at reading people, right? I'm sure you're already in Starswirl's head right now." she says, pointing to her own temple
  801. "That's the thing though," you say with a sigh, "I can't read what Startswirl is thinking, his emotions, his motivations, or his reasoning, without having him here in front of me and talking with him. I may need some help with this assignment."
  802. >"And I'm guessing having him naked would help too?"
  803. >The deep breath you were taking turns into a shaky cough as you look at Rainbow in a panic, trying to silently plead with her not to say any more
  804. >Rainbow, rarity, and Applejack all share a laugh as they look to each other in silent understanding of, well, something you don't know
  805. >Pinkie also joins in the laughter, though you doubt she even knows why she's laughing
  806. >"Don't worry, I told them the truth already."
  807. "Yes, well, that's what I was afraid of."
  808. >"Ah, young romance," says Rarity, swooning in a quite melodramatic fashion, "how lucky you are, Rainbow to not even have to leave the school to be with the object of your affections."
  809. >"Affections?!"
  810. >Rainbow, her mouth agape and eyes wide, double takes between you and Rarity several times before shaking her head
  811. >"Whoa whoa whoa, slow down Rarity. You got it all wrong. Anon's cool and all, but he's just a friend."
  812. >"Aw, c'mon, Dash," says Applejack, "y'already told us what ya think of him. Why can't ya just tell him too?"
  813. >Rainbow Dash shouts back at Applejack, "AJ! What-, I-, why-, ugh!"
  814. >She looks over at you, and you try to give her a reassuring smile to calm her down
  815. >Instead she buries her face in her hands, her cheeks turning as red as the streak in her hair, and she turns away from you and the rest of the group
  816. >"Fine," she says, muffled by her hands, "you want me to tell him the truth?"
  817. >"It's up ta you, RD," says Applejack, "but I think if he's really yer friend you should be upfront and honest with him."
  818. >Rainbow takes a deep breath, turns to face you, and, after a moment's hesitation, looks you in the eyes
  819. >"anon, i really like you. I don't know what it is, but there's something about you that makes me think you're a really nice guy, and worth being around, so, yeah, I like you, alright?"
  820. >She stares at you for a while, this same look of determined stubbornness on her face, and it occurs to you that you might want to reply at some point
  821. "I, uh, you too."
  822. >She blinks a few times and cocks her head, looking confused by your nonsensical reply
  823. "I mean, I like you too. You're bold, adventurous, but also really kind. Basically, I feel the same way about you. That's what that incoherent babbling was meant to convey."
  824. >She looks at you blankly for a moment before bursting out laughing, giving you a light punch on the arm
  825. >"You sure do like  to use big words, don't you?"
  826. "For you, maybe. It' not my fault I like to flex my linguistic expertise every now and then."
  827. >"See, that's exactly what I meant."
  828. >The seven of you sit in silence for a moment as you contemplate the happenings of today
  829. >You feel the same cool breeze washing over you, as well as the flows of mana and aether from your surroundings
  830. >You feel Rainbow leap to her feet and stride over to you, and the flow of ather between her and her broom as she summons it to her hand
  831. >You open your eyes to find Rainbow standing over you, broom in hand with her other hand outstretch to you
  832. >You take it and get to your feet as Applejack hands you another broom
  833. >"So, let's work on that flying."
  834. ***
  835. >You feel your stomach growl with hunger as you and Rainbow Dash complete your umpteenth lap of the field
  836. >With some tips and coaching from her, you've finally gotten the hang of it enough to ride smoothly and moderate speeds
  837. >You doubt you'll be winning any races or doing any stunts any time soon, but the feeling of flight fills you with joy nonetheless
  838. >You meet with Rainbow in midair, the two of you stopping your brooms in opposite directions next to each other
  839. >"That was pretty good, dude. You're really getting the hang of this."
  840. "You think so? I gotta say, the feeling of flight is pretty amazing. I've never imagined being so free."
  841. >"Yeah, I've been flying ever since I could walk, pretty much. Gotta be good at something, right?"
  842. >At this point you feel like you're at a crossroads
  843. >Do you ask her what she meant, or ignore the statement?
  844. >Perhaps she considers it private information and wouldn't want you to press it
  845. >On the other hand, it may be a call for attention, and your not pursuing it would be seen as apathy
  846. >you quickly formulate a response that you hope would cover all your bases
  847. "You certainly are good at it, in my opinion at least. I never grew up in a world where broom flying existed, let alone competitive broom flying."
  848. >It seems you made the right choice, as her expression remains as genuinely cheerful as ever
  849. >"You know, dude, you might wanna stop thinking so hard sometimes. Instead of reading into every little thing people do or say, it might work out to just go with the flow and trust your instincts."
  850. >You can't help but crack a grin at her surprisingly perceptive statement
  851. "It seems you've decided to try reading people as well. And I must say, you're not half bad at it."
  852. >She lets out a surprisingly feminine giggle, before bringing her broom in closer to you
  853. >She puts a hand on your arm and takes your hand in her own
  854. "You know the others can see us from down there, right?" you say pointing down to the rest of your friends gathered below
  855. >"That's fine by me." she says as she leans in close
  856. >You lean in with her as well, and the next thing you know, your lips are entwined with hers
  857. >You feel a surge of powerful emotions radiating off of her, and you imagine she feels the same from you
  858. >Her lips are warm, almost hot even, and her scent is like the sweet smoke of a fruit wood campfire
  859. >Soon enough you feel a blazing heat radiate from around her and you're forced to pull away, even fly back a bit
  860. >Rainbow Dash is surrounded by a shining aura of light and flame, and before you know it, she's disappeared
  861. ***
  862. >Okay, out of all the times to panic, this is not one of them
  863. >You calmly lower your broom to the ground and try to think rationally
  864. >The six screaming girls in a circle around you aren't making it easy
  865. >"Where is Rainbow Dash?!"
  866. >"Why did she vanish?!"
  867. >"What did you DO?!"
  868. >The last of those is accented by Sunset's hand grasping your shirt and pulling your face close to hers
  869. >You take a deep breath and exhale
  870. "You feel it too, right? Her aether trail?"
  871. >"Yeah, it just up and disappeared after YOU kissed her!"
  872. "It didn't disappear, though. I can feel it go on, past the boundaries of this plane of existence?"
  873. >"Tell me what you mean right now, or I swear you're dead!"
  874. >As she says this, Sunset draws her wand from her robe and raises its tip under your chin
  875. "I think Rainbow is like me. Her spark ignited from the rush of emotions, and she traveled to another world."
  876. >Sunset's expression falls, as do those of her friends, as they realize the implications of your words
  877. >"If that's true," says Rarity, "then Rainbow Dash is trapped in another world?"
  878. >Sunset release her grip on you as she slowly sinks down, her arms drooping and falling to her side as she drops her wand to the ground
  879. >Fluttershy approaches you, looking much more calm and together than the rest of them
  880. >"You know how to bring her back, right Anonymous?"
  881. >You sigh and run a hand through your hair
  882. "I don't think I can do that from here, but I may be able to follow her."
  883. >"Follow her where?" asks Twilight
  884. "I wish I could say I knew. But I'll try, post-haste."
  885. >You close your eyes and concentrate on the feeling of Rainbow Dash's aether trail
  886. >You're both pleasantly surprised and horribly frightened to find your grip on this world loosening
  887. >You concentrate harder on the feeling of Rainbow's aether trail, focusing your mind on her
  888. >Finally, with a rush of cool grass-scented breeze and shining light, you slip away into the unknown
  889. >You keep your eyes closed the entire time, focusing on your mental connection to Dash's aether
  890. >It's a tad difficult, considering that you feel nothing but raw aetherial energy flowing all around you, yet you are able to follow her trail anyway
  891. >Eventually, you begin to feel physical sensations again
  892. >Light, heat, and gravity all take hold of you at once, as you feel yourself sprawl out onto grassy ground
  893. >You quickly stand up and open your eyes, scanning your surroundings
  894. >You see Rainbow Dash, naked as the day she was born, lying on the ground nearby
  895. >As you rush over to check on her, she begins to raise her head and lean up on her arms
  896. >You're overfilled with joy at the fact that she's apparently alive, yet you can't shake the fear of this unfamiliar land
  897. >You lean Rainbow Dash against you as you scan your surroundings for sign of danger
  898. >Nearby you is a wooded foothill, and in the distance behind it are snow-peaked mountains
  899. >In the other direction a sparse forest sprawls out, seemingly having been nearly burned down judging by the looks of it
  900. >Dash stirs in your arms, looking around and then up at you, a confused expression on her face, that of one who knows not where they are or how they arrived
  901. >You can relate
  902. >"Anonymous? What are you doing here?"
  903. "I could ask you the same." you reply, smiling wide as you fail to contain the joy of finding her alive and seemingly well
  904. >"The last thing I remember is us kissing, and then something pulled me away? Where are we?"
  905. "I'm afraid I don't know, you're the one that led the way, after all."
  906. >She appears confused at your statement, and you imagine the shock of planeswalking for the first time hasn't worn off yet
  907. >She looks down at herself and notices her own nudity
  908. >Rather than cover herself, however, she simply leans into you more and chuckles to herself
  909. >"I guess you got to see me naked again after all. Happy?"
  910. "Truthfully I care more about seeing you alive. We had no idea where you went when you disappeared."
  911. >Rainbow takes a better look around and realizes, to her apparent shock, that she doesn't recognize the area at all
  912. >"Wait, what happened anyway?"
  913. "Your spark ignited and you traveled to another world, just like how I got to Canterlot. Speaking of which, we need to make our way back there as soon as possible."
  914. >"Wait wait wait. You're saying that I traveled to another world? How is that possible?"
  915. >You stand her up and wrap your robe around her, leaving yourself in your pants and shirt
  916. "We'll discuss the details later. For now, getting back is our top priority."
  917. >Suddenly, the two of you are shaken by a deafening roar
  918. >from over the foothill a huge creature flies into view, seems to spot the two of you, and makes a beeline for you both
  919. >From the outstretched webbed wings, scaled lizard-like body, and dragon-like head, you guess that this is a dragon
  920. "Okay, scratch that. Surviving is now our number one priority."
  921. >Rainbow begins to run away, but you grab her hand and hold her to you
  922. "Running won't do any good. There's no cover nearby and this thing is far faster than us. We'll have to fight it."
  923. >"Fight it?! Are you CRAZY?!"
  924. "No, I'm perfectly sane. Hence why I didn't try to run from a dragon."
  925. >The beast lands in front of the two of you and lets loose another deafening roar
  926. >You begin summoning another watchwolf as Rainbow Dash picks up her wand which miraculously survived the journey here
  927. >The dragon eyes the beast you summoned intently; however, it decides to instead focus on the two of you
  928. >Rainbow lets a small burst of lightning from her wand at the creature, and while it seems to have hurt it, it stand tall still
  929. >The dragon roars again, only this time a stream of fire follows suit, directly at Dash
  930. >In an instant you summon your familiar vines around her, hoping beyond hope that it will shield her as before
  931. >To your surprise and delight, the vines seem to absorb the stream of fire, dissipating them into the ground and air as they would a spell
  932. >The dragon attempts once again to roast Dash where she stands, but the flames are still stopped by those miraculous vines
  933. >Unfortunately, Rainbow Dash seems to have dropped her wand in a panic, and can't find it
  934. >Your wolf, meanwhile, has settled into its surroundings and awaits your command
  935. >You call it forward to the dragon, and it bites into it several times, ripping scales, hide, and flesh alike from its leg
  936. >The dragon roars and bites down on the wolf, tossing it into the air and letting it hit the ground with a sickening crunch
  937. >You can feel your connection to the beast die, as it has seemingly done, and so, out of mana and out of options, you wait and hope that something will rescue you
  938. >You look to Dash, who seems to have given up finding her wand and instead stares the dragon down intently
  939. >As the dragon licks its wounds, you feel hot, burning mana radiating from Rainbow Dash
  940. >She stretches her hands to the sky and a small storm cloud forms over the dragon's head
  941. >Just as it readies another fiery roar, a huge lightning bolt strikes it in the back, it's thunder threatening to pop your eardrums, and with one final roar, the great dragon falls to the ground, limp and unmoving
  942. ***
  943. >You and Rainbow Dash cower underneath a tree near the edge of the forest
  944. >She managed to find her wand following the battle, and the two of you are resting and recovering, trying to find the energy to make your way back
  945. >An eerie silence looms over the two of you, neither of you daring to make a sound
  946. >The silence is deafening, however, and you feel like some small talk will boost morale
  947. "So, you cast a spell without your wand. I take it you felt mana, then?"
  948. >Rainbow looks at you, but then turns forward and continues standing at the ground
  949. >"Yeah, I felt a red-hot energy from the mountains in the distance. When I pulled it into me, I just kinda knew what to do, and then the lightning bolt happened."
  950. "Yeah, that's how it was for me when I first created those vines. The joy of finally having magic of my own was indescribable."
  951. >"Oh yeah, you couldn't do magic before then, huh?"
  952. "Right, just like you couldn't cast spells from mana before."
  953. >"Which reminds me, what happened, exactly?"
  954. "Like I said, I promise to explain what I know and what I believe I know, but right now we should try to get back to Canterlot."
  955. >Sighing, Rainbow lifts herself to her feet and you follow suit
  956. >"So how does this work, exactly? You need to at least tell me that much before we can go back."
  957. "Well, unfortunately I don't know exactly how it works, but I have a theory. When I came here, I did it by following your aether trail. That is, the trail of magical energy, as you'd call it."
  958. >"Right, but without a trail to follow, how to we find our way back?"
  959. "Good question. I also focused a lot on you, thinking about who you are, both physically and mentally. That helped me tune in on where you were. So I'm thinking, if we focus hard enough on our friends and our home, we should land there. Or at least close enough."
  960. >She shifts back and forth apprehensively, appearing to weigh her options
  961. >"I trust you. We just gotta think about our friends, right?"
  962. "Exactly. Think about their faces, their names, their personalities, and the feeling of there magic signatures. Oh, and you may want to put a small amount of thought into keeping that robe on you, lest you end up stark naked again in front of everyone."
  963. >"Oh, haha, right," she says, blushing and looking away to the side, "we wouldn't want that, right?"
  964. >...
  965. "My my, Rainbow, you're a bit of an exhibitionist, aren't you?"
  966. >"Oh shut up," she says, shoving you away playfully, "I'm basically the opposite of that, in case you forgot."
  967. >You hear another roar in the direction of the foothill, and your expression turns serious as you turn to Rainbow Dash
  968. "Time to go."
  969. >She nods at you and the two of you lock hands
  970. >You both begin to fade away from this realm and make your way into the blind eternities
  971. "One more thing. Keep your eyes closed, see with your mind."
  972. >"Got it."
  973. >You slip fully away into the void, feeling Rainbow Dash at your side, as you concentrate on the feeling of your friends, your school, and your new life
  974. >It's much easier to find your way this time with Rainbow Dash adding her mental energy to the navigation
  975. >You feel the sensations of the world begin to take hold of you again
  976. >You're not sure how, but somehow it feels familiar, and you know that this is the world you meant to travel to
  977. >You and Rainbow Dash materialize within another forest, and by the flow of mana you can tell its the same one you originally landed in when you first arrived in Canterlot
  978. >You see Rainbow looking around worriedly, trying to gauge the surroundings
  979. >You put a hand on her shoulder, and smile at her, feeling all your worries fading away
  980. "Don't worry, Dash. We're home."
  981. >She breathes a sigh of relief, and looks down to see your robe still on her
  982. >"And I'm not naked this time."
  983. "Glad to hear it."
  984. >"But not glad to see it, huh?"
  985. >This time, you give her a playful punch on the arm
  986. "Come on Dash, I expect everyone's waiting for us."
  987. ***
  988. >You and Rainbow Dash exit the forest to a similar sight to when you first arrived
  989. >It's a bit later in the day, but there's still plenty of sunlight left
  990. >Headmistress Celestia and Captain Spitfire are talking to your friends one by one, as several other students and teachers attempt to console them
  991. >Sunset Shimmer is once again the first to see you, and her expression changes from sorrow to shock to elation as she jumps up and bounds toward the two of you
  992. >The others quickly follow suit with Sunset grabbing both of you and holding you against her
  993. >When the other five arrive, they surround the three of you and initiate a massive group hug
  994. >All of them are crying openly, and from the marks on their faces you can tell they've been at it for a while
  995. >It's especially easy to see with Rarity, whose mascara has nearly escaped her eyelashes entirely
  996. >Celestia and Spitfire land nearby, and Celestia separates the others from you with magic, much to their disappointment
  997. >"I see the two of you have returned safe and sound. I'll need to see you in my office soon to discuss this, but for now, I think I'll let you reunite with your friends. There is one thing I'm wondering though."
  998. >"What's that, headmistress?" says Rainbow
  999. >Celestia looks to Spitfire who nods understandingly at her, then faces back to you and says
  1000. >"You two want to explain to us why Ms. Dash is wearing nothing but Mr. Ptolymous' robe?"
  1001. >You and Dash look to each other, then back to Spitfire and Celestia, and then the you of you share a tired laugh
  1002. "You know, considering the circumstances, we completely forgot all about that."
  1003. >"Yeah," says Dash, "after fighting a dragon, clothes don't seem like much of a priority."
  1004. >You hear Rarity loudly scoff behind you
  1005. >"A dragon? Oh my, we really do have a lot to discuss, don't we?"
  1006. "Indeed, but to answer your question, it turns out that keeping your clothing on when traveling between worlds requires a small portion of your concentration, so when it happens for the first time suddenly and without warning, one may find themselves without said clothing upon arrival, hence why I appeared here the way I did."
  1007. >"Yeah," says Rainbow, "when I woke up in, well, wherever I was, I didn't have a thread on me either, so Anon lent me his robe to cover up."
  1008. >"Okay," says Spitfire, "but I heard talk about a dragon, so we might want to move on from Ms. Dash's state of dress and onto that."
  1009. >"Indeed," says Celestia, "we should make our way back to my office. I'd have us all fly there this time, but that doesn't seem like the best idea considering Ms. Dash's situation
  1010. >Dash blushes and looks away yet again
  1011. >"Oh, not to worry, Headmistress," says Rarity as she rounds into view, "I have just the thing for that."
  1012. >She procures what appears to be a fabric rectangle in a metal frame from her purse
  1013. >She then flicks her wrist and it unfolds into a large changing partition, seemingly using the same spacial magic within Pinkie Pie's hair
  1014. >After placing the partition such that Rainbow Dash is blocked from view by it, she moves behind it herself
  1015. >After hearing the sounds of wood being sawed, hammers banging on metal, and cats yowling, she folds it up to reveal rainbow wearing a full school uniform, with your robe folded neatly on Rarity's shoulder
  1016. "What just happened?"
  1017. >"I have no idea." says Rainbow, with Rarity giving you an almost smug wink
  1018. >"Dress magic, darling. Dress magic. I invented it myself."
  1019. "You would, wouldn't you?"
  1020. >After a beat, Celestia claps her hands together and says
  1021. >"Well then, flying to my office it is."
  1022. >"Wait, I just have one more thing before we go," says Dash, "watch this."
  1023. >She puts her wand on the ground in front of her, gestures to it, and then puts her hands together in front of her
  1024. >As she pulls them apart, arcs of electricity connect them, crackling into the air as her hair begins to raise outward and spike out
  1025. >She turns her palms upward and the electric arcs form an arch, growing thicker before shooting into the air
  1026. >"Now I can do the same kind of wand-free magic as Anon! It's so awesome!"
  1027. >Your friends all gasp in awe at her display, even Fluttershy, who started to cower behind Applejack, but doubled back and watched front and center
  1028. >"Impressive" says Celestia
  1029. >"Great, that's going to extend the debriefing even more," says Spitfire, "which reminds me, we should get going now."
  1030. >The set of four consisting of you, Rainbow Dash, Celestia, and Spitfire all mount brooms and begin flying toward the high tower of the academy
  1031. >While en route, you pull up next to Celestia and talk over the wind to her
  1032. "Headmistress, I understand you have many questions for us, but there's something I've been wondering for a while."
  1033. >"Well, ask away, my dear student."
  1034. "How is it that you're able to detect the flow of mana in me?"
  1035. >"Well," she replies, "how did you connect to the flow of our magic energy? Aether, I believe you called it?"
  1036. "Well, I basically just cast a spell that attuned me to the aether and allowed me to detect and harvest it."
  1037. >"And likewise, I developed a spell that allows me to feel the flows of mana through the surrounding lands, as well as those who hold it within themselves. Unfortunately, I'm not able to harvest it myself, though I've been trying for quite some time."
  1038. >She glaces your way and gives the same warm, motherly smile you've come to expect from her
  1039. >"Does that answer your question, Anon?"
  1040. "Yes, it does, Headmistress. Thank you."
  1041. >"Not a problem, my dear student."
  1042. >With these words, Celestia touches down on a balcony on the outside of the tower, with you, Dash, and Spitfire following suit
  1043. >She taps the door with her wand and it opens much like the door from the inside, and the four of you walk in, brooms in hand
  1044. >She waves her wand and an additional chair floats over and settles on each side of her desk
  1045. >She and Spitfire take the seats on her side, and you and Rainbow take the remaining two seats, you directly opposite Celestia and Rainbow opposite Spitfire
  1046. >"So, let's start from the top. What happened leading up to Ms. Dash's disappearance, Anonymous?"
  1047. "Rainbow Dash was teaching me how to properly fly a broom. We met in midair to have a little chat. As we did, Rainbow pulled me closer and, well, the two of us, uh, kissed."
  1048. >Celestia raises an eyebrow at this, and Spitfire simply buries her face in her hands
  1049. >"This is going to cause so many problems." she says, muffled and distraught
  1050. >Celestia simply nods and says to go on
  1051. "When we did, I felt a powerful surge of emotion coming off of her. It felt hot and passionate, and I don't just mean in the usual way. I felt it in the same way one would feel a magic signature."
  1052. >Celestia merely nods at you and gestures to continue
  1053. "Before I continue the timeline of events, I feel I must sidetrack a bit to explain some things about the travel between planes, as well as the nature of what I and Rainbow Dash are."
  1054. >"Very well," says Celestia, "whatever details you feel are important, please provide them."
  1055. "Thank you. Now, according to the rumors and legends, one in a million sentient creatures will be born with something called a 'planeswalker's spark'. Of those, one in a million will have their spark ignite, making them a planeswalker. That is, a being with the ability to 'walk' between the planes of existence. That is, the various worlds that exist within the multiverse."
  1056. >Celestia once again nods for you to continue
  1057. "These rumors and legends are denied up and down by the authorities, yet those in high places claim them to be true, as I've overheard many times."
  1058. >"Yet they're simply rumors, are they not?" asks Spitfire
  1059. "Perhaps, yet there is clearly some truth to them, given that both I and Rainbow Dash have planeswalked."
  1060. >"Very well, continue."
  1061. "It's said that a spark can be ignited in one of three ways. One is as a safeguard to prevent the person with the spark from dying. Another is due to an overwhelming surge of powerful emotions. And the third is by diligent meditation leading to a revelation about the multiverse and the nature of the spark."
  1062. >"So beings with this spark may go their whole lives without ever becoming one of these 'planeswalkers'?" asks Celestia
  1063. "Indeed. Again, it's said that only one in a million with the spark will ignite it. Although having a spark is said to be enough to survive the blind eternities, the space between planes. Without a spark, the slightest touch of the space between worlds will supposedly kill instantly."
  1064. >Celestia instantly perks up when you say this, a curious look on her face
  1065. >"You say a mere touch should kill someone without the spark instantly?"
  1066. "Well, such is the legend."
  1067. >"Then, since I survived my encounter with this space, then it's possible I might have this spark as well?"
  1068. "Well, it's certainly possible. Though, I must advise that you not attempt suicide to try to ignite it. After all, even if you do have the spark, there's a nine hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine out of one million chance it won't ignite. Supposedly."
  1069. >Her expression falters a bit, but soon the disappointment is replaced by a look of cunning planning
  1070. >"Anyway, do continue."
  1071. "So my spark ignited via the first method, saving my life as I was about to be decapitated. I believe Rainbow's ignited the second way, due to overwhelming emotions activated her latent spark."
  1072. >"Makes sense to me," says Rainbow, "I wasn't in any danger until after I, uh, 'planeswalked' away."
  1073. >"Speaking of which," says Spitfire, "I still want to get to the part about the dragon, so please continue with the debriefing. I think we understand the mechanics of this 'spark' well enough. Or at least the legends and rumors behind it."
  1074. "Very well. So after Dash disappeared in an aura of light and flame, I nearly panicked, but I was able to keep my cool as I realized it would be for the best for her. I explained to our friends that I believed I could follow her. Unlike the others, who couldn't feel her aether trail, that is her magic signature as you call it, I was able to feel it extending beyond the reach of this plane."
  1075. >"And so you followed that trail to another plane." says Celestia
  1076. "Indeed. I landed near to where I found Dash, seemingly unconscious. However she quickly came to and we got a bearing on the surroundings."
  1077. >"I see. Ms. Dash, tell me what you remember of the experience up to this point."
  1078. >"Well, it was like Anon said. We, uh, you know, kissed, and uh, I just felt really hot and emotional. Like not the usual way, but REALLY hot, like I was on fire. And then I noticed I WAS on fire. Then the next thing I know, I wake up feeling grass below me."
  1079. >"So you were burning up, and then you woke, up, and that's it?" asks Spitfire
  1080. >"Oh yeah, I almost forgot. As I felt this burning sensation, it didn't feel painful. Instead it felt kind of natural. But I also felt something pulling me away. I remember feeling like I was floating, and then the next thing I knew I woke up."
  1081. >"Does this sound familiar to you, Mr. Anonymous?"
  1082. "Actually, no. I had the guillotine blade about to slice through my neck, everything went black, and then I woke up in the forest. My guess is that because Dash's spark ignited due to emotion, rather than impending death, it happened slower, and she had time to experience these feelings before she blacked out."
  1083. >"Well, that makes as much sense as any other part of this whole thing to me." says Spitfire. "Continue, Ms. Dash."
  1084. >"Right, so I woke up and at first my vision was all blurry as I was getting up. I felt someone pick me up, and I saw Anon's face. We talked about how I disappeared, then I looked down and realized I was naked."
  1085. >"At which point you immediately covered yourself while Anonymous looked away," asks Spitfire, "right? Right? Please tell me I'm right."
  1086. >"Well, no," says Dash.
  1087. >"Ugh."
  1088. >"Look, it's not like that okay? Yeah, I cared I was naked, but given that we didn't know where we were, or what was out there with us, survival kinda took priority over modesty. I was more concerned with getting my bearings and making a plan of action than covering myself."
  1089. >Spitfire's expression turns from one of exasperation, to one of understanding, and even commendation
  1090. >"Okay. Okay you know what? When you put it like that, I understand. I can respect that. So you got your bearing and eventually you were covered with Anon's robe, correct?"
  1091. >"Right, after I wrapped up, we continued discussing what happened with my sudden disappearance and how he found me."
  1092. >"Alright then," says Celestia, "Anon, what happened after that?"
  1093. "After that, we heard a loud roar."
  1094. >You recount the tale of the dragon's appearance, how you made the decision to stay and fight, how the two of you took it down together, and how Dash cast her first mana spell to finish it off
  1095. "So after that we took cover underneath one of the remaining trees. I explained my theories of how to correctly planeswalk to Dash and together, we made our way back to Canterlot."
  1096. >"At first I wasn't sure we made it back to the right place, but Anon reassured me that we were back home."
  1097. "I could tell by the mana that it was the same forest I first appeared in here. Man, it feels like forever ago. Hard to believe it's only been two days."
  1098. >"Yeah, somehow I feel like I've known you forever." says Rainbow Dash
  1099. >She takes your hand in hers and gives it a little squeeze, smiling warmly at you
  1100. >"Oh yeah, that reminds me," says Spitfire, "we still need to have a little talk about your relationship."
  1101. >Your and Dash's expressions fall as the two of you both slowly turn to look at Spitfire
  1102. >She stares at you two for several agonizing moments before finally speaking
  1103. >"Don't get pregnant."
  1104. >...
  1105. >"That is all."
  1106. >Celestia stifles a few snickers, but her grip on it gradually loosens, and soon she is laughing out loud
  1107. >Spitfire gives a defeated sigh for the innumerable time today and turns to Celestia who does calm herself down
  1108. >"Ma'am, it's going to be kind of hard for them to take me seriously with this happening."
  1109. >"I'm sorry it's just, sometimes your delivery can be unintentionally hilarious."
  1110. >Spitfire, rather than sighing again, elects to change things up a bit by instead groaning loudly
  1111. >"Look, if you two are going to get up to any shenanigans of the potentially reproductive variety, make sure you use protection. And if you need any help or have any questions about that, ask someone who's not me."
  1112. >With that she stands and quickly strides out of the room
  1113. >"She does have a point, though," says Celestia, "it would be wise to avoid any unforeseen, complications arising from your relationship."
  1114. >"Oh, no need to worry about that, Headmistress. I think Captain spitfire has the wrong idea here. Anon and I have only been dating since today. We're not, I mean I'm not, uh. You know."
  1115. >As she says this she draws her knees to her chest and looks away from both of you
  1116. >"So you're not at the point of sexual intimacy then?"
  1117. >Rainbow coughs loudly and, still looking away replies
  1118. >"Right. That's what I was trying to say."
  1119. >"I see. Well it's good that you two are taking things slow, doing it right. I wish the two of you well. You are dismissed for now."
  1120. >You and Dash stand and exit the office together, heading down to the great hall where dinner is already in full swing
  1121. >You see your friends at a table, and you and Dash sit next to each other between Applejack and Fluttershy, and across from Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie, and Sunset
  1122. "I'll spare you the trouble of asking. Just let us get some food in our stomachs and we'll tell you all the full story."
  1123. >And so, after eating a modest meal of meat and potatoes, you recount everything once again to your friends
  1124. >The planeswalking, the rumors and legends, finding Rainbow Dash, the dragon attack, no detail is left out
  1125. >As you tell your tale, around the time you get to the dragon appearing, you hear all conversations in the great hall cease
  1126. >In fact, by the time you get to the summoning of your watchwolf you are indeed the only person in the entire hall talking
  1127. >Sunset actually casts an enchantment on you that raises your voice similar to Celestia's and asks you to start over from the dragon's first appearance
  1128. >So you do, though you leave out some details like your talk with Dash about your feelings until you finally reach the part where you were back in Canterlot
  1129. "And, well, you know the rest. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm thoroughly exhausted. Even if I fall asleep now and sleep twelve hours it's doubtful I'd wake up with my alarm tomorrow. So, good night everyone."
  1130. >With that, you shamble back to your bedroom and crash on the bed
  1131. >With your last vestige of strength and consciousness you activate your alarm clock, your hand falling down just as the switch is pressed and you fade into blackness
  1132. ***
  1133. >You wake up once again to the ringing of your alarm clock
  1134. >Shaking the thoughts of Rainbow Dash being devoured by a dragon out of your head, you arise and go through your normal daily routine
  1135. >Classes pass by similarly to yesterday, except this time you have Alchemy instead of Herbology
  1136. >As you enter the room for the class, you notice numerous small cauldrons over small fires, most of which have students already preparing some manner of items as though from a recipe
  1137. >"Mr. Ptolymous," says an exotic feminine voice from behind you, "you're our new transfer student, no?"
  1138. >You turn around to see a cyan woman wearing a flowery green dress, with braids of thick red hair wrapped into a tapering tower
  1139. >"Good news is alchemy is a pretty easy subject to pick up on. You've been reading the textbook, right?"
  1140. >Suddenly, something clicks in your head, and you remember why seeing Alchemy listed as a class on your schedule was so worrying
  1141. >You had meant to ask Celestia if you'd need a book for that class, but it ended up slipping your mind
  1142. "Actually, professor," you say sheepishly, "I never got a copy of the alchemy textbook."
  1143. >The woman looks a bit puzzled, and slightly startled
  1144. >"Oh my, well that is a problem. In that case, I'll pair you up with someone for today and you can assist them on today's assignment."
  1145. >She scans around the room for a moment, and turns back to you
  1146. >"Anyone here in the class that you already know?"
  1147. >You look around and see Pinkie Pie, surprisingly NOT jumping up and down waving at you, but rather calmly measuring and working with the ingredients at her station
  1148. "Wow, I didn't know Pinkie could be this focused."
  1149. >The professor laughs at your statement, which you then realize you maybe shouldn't have said aloud
  1150. >"Yeah, she's, eh, energetic alright. But she's real serious about alchemy you know. Actually, since you seem to know her, I'll pair you with her for today. Go ahead and join her at her station."
  1151. >You nod and turn to walk toward Pinkie's station at the other end of the room
  1152. >"By the way, I'm Mage Meadowbrook."
  1153. >You turn back and nod again to her
  1154. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Professor Meadowbrook."
  1155. >"Oh ho, just call me 'Meadowbrook', sugar. I'm not all as formal as the other teachers here. If you're respecting me and my class that's all I ask for."
  1156. "Very well, Meadowbrook. I look forward to your class."
  1157. >You go and join Pinkie at her station, taking a peek at what she's doing
  1158. >There's a noticeable rhythm to how she's cutting, peeling, and crushing the ingredients
  1159. >She glances at you for a moment before turning back to her work, but then she double takes and beams at you with her usual bright-eyed smile
  1160. >"Oh, hey Nonny, whatcha doin' here?"
  1161. "Hey Pinks, Meadowbrook told me to pair up with you and assist you today since I never got a copy of the textbook and couldn't prepare ahead of time."
  1162. >"Oh no," she gasps as she puts down her mortar and pestle, "you didn't get a copy of Potions and Elixers? That's a basic textbook."
  1163. "I guess it slipped Headmistress Celestia's mind when she was setting me up here. Of course I don't blame her. She did get me taken care of here for free while also running a school."
  1164. >"Well, I'll tell you what, when you do get a copy, just let me know and I'll help you get all settled in. Alchemy is my forte when it comes to academia after all."
  1165. "Thanks, Pinkie, I'll do that."
  1166. >Meadowbrook takes a place at the front of the room, in front of her own cauldron
  1167. >"Alright, class, I can see most of you are already getting into it, which is nice. Today's a pretty basic recipe for a speed-boosting elixir. It works by decreasing the response time between your synapses and facilitating the transfer of electrical signals from your nerves to your muscles. In this way, it shortens the amount of time it takes between making the decision to move a muscle and the actual moving, and also increases the strength of the signals that move them, making the movement faster and more powerful. Thus, you move more quickly and with less delay than without it."
  1168. >You're a bit shocked at the technicality with which the professor speaks, given her accent and appearance, and the informal manner of speaking she showed previously
  1169. >"So, as usual, if you have any questions about how to work with the ingredients or cauldron at this point, just let me know. But I think most of you have got it down by now."
  1170. >She then turns to her cauldron, at which you see her working with a number of plants and other materials different from those at the student workstation
  1171. >Pinkie walks you through the steps on preparing the ingredients for the elixir
  1172. >How to chop, slice, string, strain, et cetera
  1173. >The book's recipe details how much of each ingredient is needed and when and how to add them to the mixture to produce the desired effect
  1174. >"Most of the ingredients for anything more than a basic speed or strength potion are pretty expensive and sometimes restricted, but you can apply for permission to buy some things and use the alchemy lab under supervision if you want. Most students don't bother, usually just the ones really into alchemy like me."
  1175. "I see, so you schedule an appointment to have a teacher watch over you while you work on potions outside of class?"
  1176. >"Uh-huh. Me and a few other girls do little experiments or swap recipes from home. It's like we have a little alchemy club."
  1177. "Interesting. I had no idea it was such an involved process."
  1178. >"Yeah, there's a stereotype that alchemy is just throwing some herbs and other stuff into a pot and out pops a medicine, but like baking it's underappreciated how precise it is."
  1179. >She continues to add ingredients to the simmering pot and prepare new ones as she talks, never breaking stride or rhythm despite speaking in her normal cheerful, energetic fashion
  1180. >"Everything from the measurements to the handling to the temperature has to be just right, or you just get a hot mess."
  1181. >You contemplate what she's told you as you take notes on what she works with and how and when, trying your best to recreate her actions on paper
  1182. >"All right, that's everything. Now we just have to let it simmer down and stir occasionally, and we should have a speed-boosting elixir."
  1183. "So this elixir grants a boost of speed, hmm? Is it anything like the spell Sunset used to send me flying without a broom?"
  1184. >Pinkie inhales sharply through her teeth and grimaces
  1185. >"Sorry about that, by the way, she was just, you know-"
  1186. >As she says this, her voice deflates a bit from its usual bubbly form into a more serene, sad kind of tone
  1187. "Yeah, no, it's okay. The past is in the past. Anyway, as for my question?"
  1188. >"Oh, right. See, the thing about alchemy is that the elixirs we create act on the body physically, rather than magically. When people drink them, they can recreate magical effects of spells they can't use, but it's a bit weaker that way."
  1189. >Throughout her explanation, she stirs the concoction and adjusts the flame to keep the simmering consistent
  1190. "I see. So it's more of a scientific pursuit then?"
  1191. >"Well alchemy is still magical in that we draw out the latent magical power in the ingredients to produce the effects. By changing the ratios or cooking methods you can make the effects stronger or weaker. But it all depends on the magical energy flowing throughout the cosmos."
  1192. >As she says this, she gives the liquid one final stir before levitating it out of the cauldron and into a glass bottle sitting on the desk
  1193. "Pretty neat, huh?" she asks while waving the newly created potion in front of your face
  1194. "Indeed, it actually sounds pretty neat. I've always been an artificer rather than a mage, so I can appreciate taking advantage of external sources of magical effects."
  1195. >"Well in that case, you should totally join the Pinkie Pinkie Alchemy Club. We're always looking for new members to bounce ideas off of!"
  1196. "I appreciate the offer, but I think it would take a while before I'd be good enough to have any input. Besides, I personally would rather focus on exploring this plane's artifice."
  1197. >"Aww, well good luck with that. I know there's a few students around who are interested in artifacts too, but they're even more tightly controlled than alchemy, so there's not a lot to do with it until you get into a magic university."
  1198. >Pinkie puts a glass stopper in the bottle and moves to take it to the front of the class, waving for you to follow her
  1199. "There are magical universities?"
  1200. >"Oh, of course. The most famous is Luna Nova in the Crystal Empire. It has a high school too, but students from all sorts of schools apply to go there for the university."
  1201. "Interesting." you say, contemplating the existence of other magic academies.
  1202. >The two of you arrive with your class project in front of Meadowbrook, who looks up from her own work at you, but doesn't stop what she's doing until her current task is done and in the cauldron
  1203. >"Ah, done already, sugar? Guess that's to be expected from an ace student like you."
  1204. >You look around to see to whom she's reffering, only to realize that it is in fact Pinkie Pie
  1205. >"Let's test it, shall we?"
  1206. >She unstops the bottle and uses a dropper to measure a small amount into a vial partially filled with a golden liquid
  1207. >After dropping Pinkie's potion into the vial, it changes color to match the original
  1208. >Meadowbrook gives the vial a little shake, presumably to stir it, and downs the liquid in one go
  1209. >"Perfect as usual, Pinkie. You get an A+. Anon, tell me what you learned today."
  1210. >You recount what Pinkie told you to Meadowbrook, who grins at your comparison to Sunset's spell, though seemingly not in a bad way
  1211. >After you finish, she nods affirmatively and passes the glass bottle back to Pinkie.
  1212. >"Well, I'm glad to see you're picking up on things so quickly, Anon. I heard you were a fast learner. Pinkie, you can go ahead and keep that for yourself since it's pretty safe. I noticed you used your own bottle too, so I won't worry about that."
  1213. >"Thanks, Brooks!" says Pinkie, before skipping away back to her workstation
  1214. >The professor sighs and shake her head, but smiles and chuckles lightly as you've noticed many people do when dealing with Pinkie
  1215. >"If I've told her to call me 'Meadowbrook' once, I've told her a thousand times."
  1216. >She turns back to her work, which you take as your cue of dismissal
  1217. >You return to Pinkie's side, who's started to clean up, but stops and lays things back out again when she sees you
  1218. >"Oh, here you go, Nonny," she says, handing you the bottle, "you can have this if you want. I can whip up another before class ends."
  1219. "Are you sure? I mean, you worked kinda hard on this."
  1220. >"Pshh, oh Nonny. I don't want to brag, but I can make something like this in my sleep. I know, I've done it before."
  1221. "Somehow I don't doubt that." you say while taking the bottle from her
  1222. >The blue liquid swirls around inside the bottle as you turn it, and you wonder for a moment if it's safe to drink
  1223. >Then again, it was good enough for Meadowbrook, who you're sure could identify an unsafe potion with ease
  1224. >You look at the front where some more students are presenting their creations to the professor who tests them in much the same way as Pinkie's
  1225. >So far no one seems to have done too poorly, though a couple students are told theirs are slightly weakened by improper cooking times or other factors
  1226. >Perhaps it is as easy as Pinkie made it sound
  1227. >Eventually, the bell rings, signaling the end of class
  1228. ***
  1229. >History class is off for today, meaning school is out early, so you go to find your friends in the usual spot on the school grounds
  1230. >As you walk over to the group, you feel a cool breeze wash over you
  1231. >You're not sure why this is something you notice consciously, but it seems to feel important to you, somehow
  1232. "Hi, girls. Enjoying the breeze, huh?"
  1233. >The group smiles and waves at you, from which you notice that they're all fanning themselves as well
  1234. >"Good one, Anonymous," says Applejack, "but yeah, it sure is a hot one today."
  1235. >The rest all nod in agreement, while you look at them mildly confused
  1236. "Um, what do you mean 'good one'? Indeed today is hot, but this cool breeze makes it much more bearable."
  1237. >They all look to each other, then back at you, seeming confused and a bit worried
  1238. >"Um, Anonymous?" says Fluttershy, "I'm not sure what breeze you mean. None of us feel it."
  1239. >You raise an eyebrow, and point to the east
  1240. "I'm talking about the breeze coming from that direction."
  1241. >They do another glance at each other then to you
  1242. >"Like I said, we don't feel it."
  1243. "That's, kind of strange."
  1244. >"Well," says Rainbow as she hops to her feet, "if you want to feel a breeze, flying is the best way to do it!"
  1245. >She grabs a pair of brooms off the ground and hands one to you
  1246. >"Up for some more mid-air practice?" she asks tauntingly
  1247. "Of course, if you're prepared to put up with me again."
  1248. >She gives you her usual love tap on the arm before mounting her broom
  1249. >"Try to resist the urge to make out mid-flight," says Sunset smugly, "we don't want Rainbow to disappear to another dimension."
  1250. >"I dunno," replies Rainbow, nudging your side, "every time I do I end up naked."
  1251. >Rarity, Applejack, and Sunset all snicker, while Twilight and Fluttershy blush and hide their faces, completely in Fluttershy's case
  1252. "You say that as if you've done it more than once."
  1253. >You hop on your own broom and take off
  1254. >With Dash's help you've managed to get the hang of moving freely
  1255. >Though you're still not advanced by any means, you're nonetheless pretty comfortable in the air
  1256. >You twist and turn, chasing Dash around an imaginary three-dimensional racetrack that the two of you have practiced
  1257. >As you fly, you notice something unusual and slightly disturbing
  1258. >The breeze always seems to come from the east, regardless of the direction in which you fly
  1259. >At one point Dash turns sharply and disappears from your view, distracting you from thus thought
  1260. >You suddenly feel a sharp smack on your behind which you fortunately avoid falling from
  1261. >Rainbow pulls back up next to you with a cheeky grin as you slow down
  1262. >You feel your face run a bit hot as you look away and circle back to your friends
  1263. >Dash lands next to you at the same time as you, sticking her tongue out in a very childish way
  1264. >Yet somehow she makes it look so cute
  1265. "Say, Twilight, I have a favor to ask of you." you say approaching her
  1266. >"Huh, me? Oh, I, uh,"
  1267. >She blushes even harder and does her best Fluttershy impression, but without much bangs to work with she has to instead look away
  1268. >"What is it?"
  1269. "Well, I hate to put you on the spot like this, but Headmistress Celestia told me you were her star student, and you could help me with some of the academia. So, I was hoping you could assist me with the history assignment due Friday."
  1270. >"Oh, is that it? Of course, I'd be happy to help you with the schoolwork. I mean, even as intelligent as you are, it still must be hard dropping into the middle of the semester like that, and without any prior education here as well."
  1271. >She turns to finally look directly at you, and you can see she's still got the same blush on her face, which you can feel yourself mirroring
  1272. >"I'm really impressed with how you've been doing so far. Most people couldn't dream of starting off in RCA's second year without even attending a mage school before."
  1273. "Oh, well, I've always liked to study magic, even if I couldn't do it myself. I'm self-taught, but I always had some help gathering the right information."
  1274. >"Hey, Anon, can I talk to you for a sec?" says Rainbow, "It's kind of important."
  1275. >As she says this, she looks to the other girls, and especially to Twilight, who all nod in silent understanding of something you are frustratingly in the dark about
  1276. >You follow her a bit away, sitting down with her on a hill overlooking the plains to the west, and the mountains beyond them.
  1277. >"So, Anon, we're, uh, kind of dating now, right?"
  1278. "Um, yes. I do believe that is true."
  1279. >"So, I've always been someone that values loyalty. I think people should stay true to the ones they care about. Protect them, have their back, never double-cross them, you know?"
  1280. >You are Anonymous, and you're currently in a situation you rarely find yourself in, and one that you fear
  1281. >Here is Rainbow Dash, your first real friend, your first girlfriend too, and someone you care about
  1282. >Here she is talking to you
  1283. >And you have no read on her whatsoever
  1284. >You have no idea what her motives are, what she means by this, or how she expects you to respond
  1285. >So, you do what you always do in this situation
  1286. >You stay silent and go along with it, waiting for it to pass
  1287. >This time you throw in a nod to let her know you're listening
  1288. >"So, yeah, loyalty and all that. Thing is, I also value freedom just as much."
  1289. >She takes your hand in hers and gazes into your eyes, her expression serious and concerned
  1290. >"The thing is, there's other girls who like you, Anon. And I don't just mean in our group of friends, but there are other girls who've asked us about you, saying they had crushes on you after meeting you in class."
  1291. >"Of course I want to be your girlfriend, but at the same time I want you to be happy. And given that we've been together for going on three days, I don't think it would be fair for me to try to hog you all to myself."
  1292. >"I know it sounds weird, but to be honest, there's a good chance you only think you feel the way you do about me because I was your first friend in this new world, and I don't want you to feel trapped by a relationship that we honestly kinda rushed into."
  1293. >"So what I'm saying is, for now, while we're in this beginning, casual stage of dating, feel free to get to know other girls and date them too. And, if you do decide you want to stay with me, let me know and we can take things to the next step."
  1294. >She stands up and offers you a hand
  1295. >"You may have made that decision already, but if not, no biggie. Like I said, just don't feel like you're locked into anything just yet."
  1296. >You grab her hand and pull yourself to her feet, dusting off your robe and straightening your tie
  1297. "Thanks for the advice, Dash. What you said about us rushing into it, and how my emotions may be clouding my judgment, it honestly has been something I've been pondering lately."
  1298. >You wrap your arms around her, give her a smile, and gently kiss her on the cheek
  1299. "That being said, I do really like you."
  1300. >"You, too, big guy." she replies as she takes your hand to lead you back to the meeting spot
  1301. >"Oh, and don't tell anyone I told you this, but Twilight is one of the girls crushing on you hard. She's really into brainy guys like you."
  1302. "I see. I guess I should keep that in mind during tonight's tutoring session."
  1303. >Dash suddenly pulls you close and glares at you
  1304. >"It had better JUST be a tutoring session, got it?"
  1305. "Uh..."
  1306. >"Pfft. Ha! You should see the look on your face. Oh, man, priceless."
  1307. >As your rejoin your friends, you see that Pinkie Pie is back from presumably staying late in the alchemy lab and is her usual bouncy, hyperactive self
  1308. >"Hey, Dashie, whatcha laughin' about?"
  1309. >"Oh, nothing, Pinkie. Just pulled a great prank on Anon."
  1310. >"Ooooooh, did she getcha good, Nonny?"
  1311. >You can't help but smile at Pinkie's innocent, childish demeanor
  1312. "Oh yes indeed, Pinkie. I was absolutely shaken."
  1313. >Though your delivery is deadpan, bordering on sarcastic, you're not actually lying
  1314. >You take a seat on the grass and, surprisingly, Sunset comes over and takes a seat just next to you
  1315. >"So, Anonymous. Pinkie told me you're big into artifice, and I remember you saying it was an accident with magic artifacts that brought you to this world."
  1316. "Indeed, sort of."
  1317. >"Well, Headmistress Celestia actually has a vault containing a lot of powerful artifacts that she has locked away."
  1318. "Really? You've aroused my curiosity."
  1319. >"Is that the only thing she's aroused?" asks Rainbow Dash playfully, giving you her signature smug mug
  1320. >You wave your hands to her in a stereotypical "mage casting a spell" manner before shoving your hands at her with two middle fingers raised
  1321. >To her credit, Dash takes it in stride and laughs at your display
  1322. "As I was saying," you say, turning back to Sunset, "it sounds interesting, but I imagine they're sealed away for a reason."
  1323. >"True," she replies, "but I happen to have the key, so if you want to take a look around we could do so when you have free time, like Wednesday when school is off."
  1324. >Your eyes go wide at this claim
  1325. >Sunset has a key to Celestia's artifact vault?
  1326. >You thought Twilight was her favorite
  1327. >But then again, maybe she has her own team of prized students with whom she trusts certain secrets
  1328. "I'll take you up on that offer, but on one condition."
  1329. >Suddenly, everyone perks up and looks at you expectantly
  1330. >"Oh, and what's that?" asks Sunset, who for some reason has started to blush a bit
  1331. "I need you to promise to keep me in check. I tend to get, well, carried away when it comes to artifacts. After all, I did cause an explosion the last time I tinkered with them. And that was in my world where I'm familiar with how they work."
  1332. >"Sure thing, Anon. I'll make sure you don't go too crazy."
  1333. >You sit for a while in silence, basking in the warm sunlight and the cool breeze blowing from the east with your friends
  1334. "Okay, you know what?' you say, rising to your feet, "I have to go investigate this."
  1335. >"The vault? Sorry, Anonymous, but we can't go right now."
  1336. "No, not that. This mysterious breeze that apparently only I can feel."
  1337. >You hop on your broom and begin to fly east
  1338. >"Wait, Anon, I'm going with you." says Dash as she flies up next to you
  1339. >"Somebody's gotta bring Fluttershy's broom back after you bite the dust looking into whatever this is." she says, playfully nudging your rib
  1340. "Very funny, what is to the east, anyway?"
  1341. >"Just the lake, and a little island where students like to go for, uh, you know."
  1342. >You're not sure what students visit the island for, but you intend to find out why it seems to be calling out to you
  1343. >Wait, you weren't aware it was the island calling you before. Why do you suddenly know this?
  1344. >You approach the edge of the lake and look out onto a single small island in the center
  1345. >It's dominated by a large tree, with various foliage around the perimeter making what looks like a nice, secluded area
  1346. >As you set your broom down, you concentrate on the feeling of cold, gusting wind wash over you
  1347. >You realize that with the strength of the air current, your clothes and hair should be blown about, yet they remain still
  1348. >It seems this wind is merely an illusion
  1349. >You try to reach out to it to unravel the mystery
  1350. >Yet the more you try to get a feel for it, the weaker it becomes
  1351. >Why is this island calling out to you? Why does it resist your advances?
  1352. >As you ask yourself these questions, the feeling grows again
  1353. >You try to reach out to it now that it's stronger, yet once again it begins to fade
  1354. >You ponder it for a moment, then the realization hits you
  1355. >This force doesn't want you to 'reach out' to it, it wants you to question it, to think on it
  1356. >You try releasing some of the green mana from the forest out to it, and it shirks away more than before
  1357. >You try again using the white mana from the plains, and this time it responds, as if to a friend
  1358. >It seems this island mana doesn't like green mana, but it likes white mana
  1359. >You delve deeper into it within your mind, using the white mana as a guide
  1360. >Eventually, you're forced to leave the white mana behind and focus solely on the blue mana
  1361. >You twist and turn the flow of mana around to find its origin, and as you ask it more quesitons, it gives you more answers
  1362. >It feels like unraveling a puzzle within your mind
  1363. >You love puzzles
  1364. >Finally, the flow of mana is unraveled, and it flows freely through you before returning to the island
  1365. >It seems you now have access to blue mana
  1366. >You grab hold of it the same way you would any other type of mana, relieved to find that it no longer decides to work differently, and prepare to cast yet another new spell that you somehow know
  1367. >Before you are two shimmering images, merely illusions that you somehow know only you can see
  1368. >One is of a griffin soaring high above a set of rooftops that you recognize as the Azorius district
  1369. >The other is of a small bird holding an artificer's tool in its beak
  1370. >You mentally choose the bird, as you currently have no use for a griffin, and you feel the knowledge to summon the creature enter your mind
  1371. >Unfortunately, you seem to be out of blue mana at the moment, so you content yourself to return to school and wait for it to replenish
  1372. >You see Rainbow Dash looking at you worriedly, as though she has something to say but is afraid to tell you
  1373. "Is something wrong, Dash?" you ask, preparing your broom to ride
  1374. >"Uh, I guess not. You seem fine now."
  1375. "Was I not fine before?"
  1376. >"Well, right after we got here, you started having a bit of a, well, I guess Rarity would call it an 'episode'. You started looking around at nothing and mumbling to yourself."
  1377. "I... I see. Well, certainly nothing is wrong. In fact, quite the opposite. It seems I've learned yet another new trick."
  1378. >"Whoa, really? Let me see."
  1379. "Unfortunately," you say, taking off toward the school, "it's not something I can really show you. At least not know while my only source of blue mana is spent."
  1380. >You ride with Dash in silence, pondering the implications of your new discovery
  1381. >You now have three different colors of mana coursing through you
  1382. >Will you access the red mana that Rainbow Dash now has, or the black mana of necromancers and the like?
  1383. >It seems doubtful. You know enough about mages to know that most only access one color, some two, and rarely three
  1384. >To use four or even all five colors of mana is extremely rare
  1385. >Then again, you are a planeswalker, so you don't write it entirely out of the question
  1386. >You eventually arrive back with your friends, feeling the blue mana return to you as you touch down and return Fluttershy's broom to her
  1387. >She gives you a quiet "thank you" as she sets it down next to herself
  1388. >"So, Anonymous. Did you find anything interesting?" asks Sunset, "Or did you just want an excuse to run off with Dash?"
  1389. "Indeed I did find something interesting, Sunset. Rainbow and I went to the island in the middle of the lake to the east."
  1390. >The girls, minus Fluttershy and Twilight, all looks to each other with an "ooooooooh" followed my stifled giggling
  1391. >"How scandalous." says Rarity in a mocking tone
  1392. >"Whoa whoa, it's not like that!" shouts Rainbow, "We didn't even go to the island, just the shore."
  1393. >"And what did you find there, Dashie?" asks Pinkie, jumping in Dash's face
  1394. >"Well I didn't find anything, but Anon apparently discovered something there."
  1395. >"Really?" asks Sunset, "what did you find?"
  1396. >You turn to the group and say
  1397. "Well, it turns out that island is actually a source of blue mana, much like how the forests and plains here give me green and white mana respectively."
  1398. >"Ooh, can you show us a trick?"
  1399. "Sure, but I'll need a volunteer."
  1400. >"Well, I reckon I can help with that," says Applejack as she stands up, "I been wantin' to see what this is all about ever since I heard about it."
  1401. "Very well. What I need you to do is just think of something. Anything at all. I just need you to concentrate on that thing and keep thinking about it in detail."
  1402. >"Alrighty then, I'm ready."
  1403. >You draw in the blue mana and cast a spell
  1404. >You feel the thoughts in Applejack's head as though they were in your own, and you try to extract as much detail as you can before she realizes what's going on
  1405. >You see Applejack in a small fire-lit room sitting next to a young man, and hear her telling him stories from her youth
  1406. >As you exit her mind, a new spell already comes to mind, its ghostly image appearing upon Applejack herself
  1407. >"Ugh, my head," she groans as she stumbles a bit, "now what in tarnation did you do?"
  1408. >"AJ!" shouts Rainbow as she runs over to Applejack's side, "Are you okay?!"
  1409. >Sunset gives you her usual glare that she does when she thinks you hurt one of her friends or are going to
  1410. >"Yeah, I'm fine, I suppose. My head just felt really weird for a second. Not painful, just kinda off balance."
  1411. "See?" you say to Sunset, "She's not hurt."
  1412. >"So what was that all about, Anonymous?" asks Applejack as she looks at you, more confused than anything
  1413. "Well, you know that thing I asked you to think about?"
  1414. >"Yeah, what about it?"
  1415. "You were thinking about a young man around my age named Jonathan who lives in the nearby town of Hoofington. A memory of when you two held hands and shared a mug of apple cider in a tavern over stories of angels."
  1416. >The more you say of this, the more shocked and embarrassed Applejack's expression turns
  1417. >"Wha-, I, now listen here! I weren't thinkin' o' none o' that, ya hear?!"
  1418. "Oh, come on Applejack, you know I'm right. Go ahead, turn to your best friends in the whole world next to you and tell them that's not what you were thinking about."
  1419. >Her face turns redder than a real apple as she hides her eyes behind her hand
  1420. >"Alright, I admit it, I was thinkin' about Jonathan. Ya' happy?"
  1421. "Hmmm, not really."
  1422. >"Wha-?!"
  1423. "Like I told Rainbow Dash before, I don't like seeing people upset. But you know, this could be an opportunity for you."
  1424. >"Opportunity? How'd you figure that?"
  1425. "Well it's clear you like this Jonathan guy, and now that your friends know they won't let you stop yourself from asking him out. It's a win-win."
  1426. >"Well, except there's one thing you forgot to factor into all this. That would require me to tell Jonathan how I feel."
  1427. "And?"
  1428. >"Oh dagnabbit Anonymous! Not everyone can just be a stone cold smooth talker like you alright? Some of us actually have emotions and they mess with our heads, okay?"
  1429. >You consider for a moment what she just said
  1430. "Wow, Applejack, I'm a little offended. You think I don't have emotions? I do, I just got really good at hiding them because the alternative was getting beaten down by other kids who thought I was just a 'little pansy boy'."
  1431. >It takes everyone a few moments after you say this, but then everyone's gazes turn to you, looks of concern directed toward you as some of them slowly start to walk over to you
  1432. >"Are you okay, Anon?" asks Fluttershy as she puts a hand on your shoulder
  1433. "Yeah, I'm okay. That was all in the past. And now there's an infinite number of worlds separating me from those days. I've got you guys now, so everything's gonna be fine from now on, right?"
  1434. >You smile at your friends, feeling the green mana flowing stronger, mixing with the white mana and filling you with a sense of interdependence and familiarity with them
  1435. >Tell you what, Applejack, how about I make it up to you? You want to fly?"
  1436. >"Well, I never was too good with a broom. Decent enough to move around but you're already about a better flyer than me to be honest. I'm much more at home on the ground."
  1437. "Fair enough, but I wasn't talking about flying on a broom."
  1438. >Applejack shakes her head at you and tips her hat up with a smile
  1439. >"If yer thinkin' about castin' another spell on me, I think I'll pass."
  1440. "Hm, fair enough. Any other takers?"
  1441. >Fluttershy takes her hand off your shoulder and steps in front of you
  1442. >"Um, if you're sure it's safe, I' like to be able to fly without a broom."
  1443. >"Fluttershy," says Sunset as she grab's Fluttershy's arm, "are you sure?"
  1444. >"Well, I trust him. He seems to be pretty good at this kind of magic."
  1445. "Alright then, here goes."
  1446. >You draw in the white mana from the plains and a green mana from the forest to help it along
  1447. >You cast your spell upon Fluttershy, and the glowing white mana takes the shape of a pair of wings
  1448. >As they manifest, you feel yet another spell enter your mind, this one with no image, yet simply the feeling of you being healed and you or someone else being shielded
  1449. >The mana solidifies and a great pair of angelic feathered wings roots itself on Fluttershy's back
  1450. >She jumps and shouts a bit, but upon realizing that they're harmless, she instead takes interest in the wings
  1451. >She then runs her hands along the bones and feathers and then flexes them a little to see how she can move them
  1452. >"Wow, this is amazing. Can I really fly with these?"
  1453. "You should be able to, though I can't guarantee how well it will work. Try just hovering above the ground at first."
  1454. >She gives a wings a few good flaps and lifts herself off the ground, dangling her feet in the air
  1455. >She gasps and "ooh"s and "ah"s at you and the rest of her friends with a look of sheer elation about her
  1456. >She twists around and even moves around a bit as she tests out her wings' capability
  1457. >After a while, she rises enough to be above all of your heads as she floats and flies about
  1458. >Never once does she look like any less than a child enjoying their favorite feeling in whole world, laughing and shouting the whole time
  1459. >You didn't know Fluttershy even could shout
  1460. >You could feel the power of the spell start to drain as soon as you cast it, and it seems it will soon reach its limit
  1461. "Fluttershy," you call out to her, "the spell is going to end soon, you may want to come down first."
  1462. >Hearing your call, she turns around and returns to the group looking a bit disappointed, but still happy at the experience she just received
  1463. >The wings dissipate back into mana, and return to the world seeking their home in the plains
  1464. >In the mean time, Fluttershy runs toward you and wraps you in a surprisingly strong hug
  1465. >"Oh, that was amazing! Thank you, Anonymous."
  1466. "Not a problem, Fluttershy."
  1467. >"Actually, darling, I see a bit of a problem," says Rarity as she pulls out a pair of mirrors
  1468. >"Take a look at this."
  1469. >You look in the mirror she holds behind Fluttershy while she looks into the other one reflecting the first
  1470. >The two of you gasp as it reveals two large tears in the back of her robe near her shoulder blades
  1471. "Uh, sorry about that, Fluttershy."
  1472. >"Oh, it's okay, I'm sure Rarity can fix it."
  1473. >"Oh, I can do you one better, darling. Do you plan on flying like that again?"
  1474. >"Oh absolutely. Any time I'm able to, that is."
  1475. >"Well it's settled then. I'll get right to work."
  1476. >Rarity draws her magic folding partition from her robe and disappears behind it with Fluttershy
  1477. >Accompanied by the sounds of elephants, monkeys, and an orchestral rendition of March of the Gladiators, the partition shakes and rumbles before collapsing back into Rarity's hand
  1478. >Fluttershy reappears as it does, looking much the same as before, at least from the front
  1479. >Rarity holds up the mirrors again, and you and Fluttershy can see two diamon-shaped holes hemmed in to the back of Fluttershy's robes, with a matching pair in her shirt underneath
  1480. >"Oh my," says Fluttershy, blushing deeply, "do you think it'll be okay to go around like this?"
  1481. >"Oh of course, darling. Remember when Pinkie was growing a tail and having it fall off constantly? She had a hole in the back of her shirt so it wasn't lifting her skirt up."
  1482. >"Oh yeah, I remember it. That was pretty funny."
  1483. >"Well I didn't think it was funny," says Pinkie, "I thought it was annoying."
  1484. >She pauses for a moment, and then snickers
  1485. >"Okay, it was pretty funny."
  1486. >They laugh together for a moment, but after they cease, an awkward silence ensues
  1487. >You decide to break it
  1488. "So, uh, back home I was trying to recreate artifacts that channel extra mana for a mage to use, and make them work with a non mana user such as myself."
  1489. >"Oh, and you want to try to recreate them here?" asks Twilight
  1490. "Indeed. Knowing now what I didn't back then, I think with some help I can make a runestone that would allow one to use aether to activate a temporary flow of mana into oneself."
  1491. >"Well that would be cool," says Rainbow Dash, "if you made one for Fluttershy she could fly like that whenever she wanted."
  1492. "Indeed, if she were taught the spell I used. Given my new telepathic abilities that shouldn't be too hard either."
  1493. >"You certainly are full of surprises," says Sunset, "how did you even know how to do that vine trick back then?"
  1494. "I don't know." you reply, "I felt the connection to the forest I awoke in, like it was sending out a ribbon that flowed in and out of me, and when I held onto it and let it grow, I just somehow knew how to cast it."
  1495. >"Wait," says Fluttershy now, looking surprised, "you said you felt a connection to the forest, like a ribbon that crosses the world and touches you?"
  1496. "Yeah, that's about how it feels."
  1497. >"Oh, well I was going to say, I've felt a connection like that to the forest I grew up in all my life, but no one ever believed me."
  1498. >...
  1499. "Wait, hold on, really?"
  1500. >"Yes, it feels like the flow of magic, except warm and wild. I haven't told anyone in years because everyone made fun of me for being crazy."
  1501. "Well, I certainly know that feeling. But that said, look inside yourself and see if it's still there."
  1502. >"It is."
  1503. "Alright, have you ever tried to grab hold of it?"
  1504. >"No, I wasn't certain what is was, and I was afraid of what might happen if I played with it. So I just leave it alone and enjoy the warm feeling it gives me."
  1505. "Alright, well, see if you can hold onto it. Let it build up inside you, and then try to cast a spell. At first it'll feel a bit cold, weak, and distant afterward."
  1506. >She looks a little worried about this
  1507. "But don't worry, it'll regenerate eventually."
  1508. >"Are you sure?"
  1509. "Positive. Mages that use mana like me exist aplenty back home, even though none of them are planeswalkers. It works the same way for them, too."
  1510. >Fluttershy takes a deep breath and appears to enter a meditation state
  1511. >From where you stand, you can feel the mana building up inside her, and then she opens her eyes as green mana begins to form around Rainbow Dash
  1512. >The mana forms into a coating of leaves, which glow faintly before falling to the ground and dispersing back into mana
  1513. >Rainbow beings to feel around her body, rolls up her sleeves, and raises her shirt to expose her midriff
  1514. >"Whoa! My burns are gone! Well, some of them. But still, that's amazing!"
  1515. "Indeed it is. Congratulations, Fluttershy, you're a mage. Well, not that you weren't before, but you know what I mean."
  1516. >"I, oh, wow. WOW!"
  1517. >Once again Fluttershy surprises you with the volume and enthusiasm of her cheering
  1518. >You can tell she's even more excited about this than about the flying
  1519. "Well, we should probably inform Headmistress Celestia about this. But maybe we ought to wait until the mana returns so you can give her a demonstration."
  1520. >"That sounds like a wonderful idea, darling." says Rarity. "I'm sure she'll be delighted by this."
  1521. "And I'll set to work on an artifact that can allow her to use mana. If I can get it right, she'll be able to cast the same spell I used to give her her wings."
  1522. >"That sounds cool and all," says Rainbow, "but did you know I get mana from the plains now too, instead of just mountains?"
  1523. "Wait, really? Why didn't you tell us?"
  1524. >"I was going to, but then this whole thing with Applejack and Fluttershy happened, and I didn't want to take away from that."
  1525. >"Well how about that," says Applejack, "Rainbow Dash passing an opportunity to steal the spotlight? Never thought I'd see the day."
  1526. >"Hey! I don't always steal the spotlight."
  1527. >"Sure," says Twilight, "and you never show off on your broom, either."
  1528. >"Now listen here-"
  1529. "Ladies, please. We have more pressing matters to attend to. Fluttershy doesn't appear to be a planeswalker, and yet here she is casting spells from mana. You realize the implications, right?"
  1530. >"Wait, you're right." says Twilight. "This means that people who use land mana are native to this plane as well. If that's the case, the whole world's understanding of magic will be upended!"
  1531. "We need to inform the Headmistress as soon as possible. Fluttershy, you'll probably regenerate the mana on the way. We should head up now."
  1532. >She gives an affirmative nod and hands you her broom while she borrow's Applejack's
  1533. "I really should get myself one of these."
  1534. >You, Rainbow, Twilight, and Fluttershy head off toward the tower, aiming not for Celestia's personal balcony, but another school entrance in an adjacent tower
  1535. >It will still save a lot of walking versus taking the ground entrance
  1536. >You all make your way to Celestia's office where a woman greets you at a desk in a waiting room outside the main officer
  1537. >You didn't see her before, yet you did notice the desk at which she sits
  1538. >She has blue skin and dark blue hair which seems to consist of a night sky in much the same way that Celestia's hair resembles a pastel rainbow disguised as hair
  1539. >"Chancellor Luna, we have pertinent information for Headmistriss Celestia, regarding the foreign type of magic."
  1540. >"I see," she replies, give me a moment."
  1541. >She rises from her chair and enters Celestia's office, returning a moment later and holding the door open
  1542. >"You may enter."
  1543. >The four of you step inside the office to see Celestia patiently awaiting you
  1544. >"Anonymous, Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
  1545. "We've discovered something interesting about Fluttershy, arbiter."
  1546. >"Arbiter?"
  1547. "Sorry, Headmistress. Force of habit. Anyway, you'll want to see this."
  1548. >Fluttershy steps forward and enters her calm state again
  1549. >However, she turns to Rainbow Dash and asks something quite surprising
  1550. >"Rainbow, I'd like you to shoot a lightning bolt at me. If you don't mind, that is."
  1551. >"What?!" shouts everyone, you included
  1552. >"Trust me. I'll be fine."
  1553. >"Well, alright, I trust you."
  1554. >Rainbow Dash conjures up a small arc of electricity in her hand, and with one final nod of confirmation from Fluttershy, she lets it loose toward her
  1555. >In that instant, Flutershy conjures the same covering of leaves, but this time on herself, before the lightning reaches her
  1556. >You expect them to dissipate it much like your vines; however, it instead hits Fluttershy square in the chest
  1557. >Everyone in the rooms gasps in shock, again, you included
  1558. >However, despite the lightning striking her, Fluttershy appears unfazed by it
  1559. >"When I first cast this spell, I realized it could be used not only to heal, but also to prevent getting hurt in the first place."
  1560. >Celestia bolts up from her seat, running around to Fluttershy
  1561. >"Are you alright, my dear student?"
  1562. >"I'm fine, headmistress. Like I said, this spell can prevent damage even from a spell that hits me.
  1563. >She twirls around to show that she's unmarked
  1564. >"I did feel tingly and my muscles contracted, but I didn't feel any pain, and I didn't get burned."
  1565. >"I see," says Celestia, "well I'm glad you're alright. Where did you learn such a spell? I didn't see you-"
  1566. >Her look of concern and questioning turns to one of of shock
  1567. >"You didn't use your wand. does that mean you too are-"
  1568. "I don't believe so, Headmistress. Fluttershy didn't experience a planeswalkers spark igniting. I believe she's just a normal mana mage."
  1569. >"But, how is that possible? I thought one needed to be a planeswalker to draw mana from the lands."
  1570. "Not at all. I guess I didn't explain it very well, but non-planeswalker mages are quite common where I'm from. Sure, most people are neither planeswalkers nor mages, but mages still exist in abundance."
  1571. >"I see. But I wonder why I never noticed the flow of mana in Fluttershy before."
  1572. "I'm not sure either. Assuming you developed this spell after your dabbling in planar magic, it may be unintentionally tuned to only detect mana use in planeswalkers."
  1573. >"Well, that certainly is possible. I honestly barely know anything about mana, let alone planes. My knowledge of it is just a drop in an ocean."
  1574. "I'm more interested in the implications of this. Previously I thought there were no mana mages native to this plane, and it seems that's the general consensus here as well. But as rare as planeslwakers are, it's possible that mana mages are just as rare here while still existing."
  1575. >"Perhaps. I believe that while this is something notable, we should actually keep it under wraps for now until we all understand more about this."
  1576. "Very well."
  1577. >Another long silence ensues, while Rainbow Dash fiddles with her thumbs
  1578. >"So I mentioned I have, uh, 'white mana', you said? I managed to make a spell that hurls out lightning that also heals me at the same time."
  1579. >Her boastful declaration is coupled with a thumb pointed to her own chest and a self-affirming grin
  1580. "That sounds useful. You can keep shocking yourself without any burns." you say with a smirk
  1581. >"Hey," she says indignantly, "I don't burn myself any more. I've gotten the hang of it now."
  1582. >"If the three of you don't mind," Celestia says to the present company, Fluttershy excluded, "I'd like to work with Fluttershy in private."
  1583. >You, Twilight, and Rainbow nod your heads and turn to exit Celestia's tower
  1584. >"So, Anon," says Twilight, "would you like to join me for tutoring now?"
  1585. "Sure. I appreciate the help, by the way."
  1586. >"Oh, no worries."
  1587. >The two of you break of from the rest and head in the direction of the library
  1588. >But then you stop heading in the direction of the library and begin heading toward the dormitory wing
  1589. >Is she planing on bringing you to her room?
  1590. >You are not prepared for this
  1591. >The two of you step onto a large, winding staircase leading to the top floor
  1592. >The doors to the rooms on this level are separated by much more space than before, alluding to much larger living spaces
  1593. >Finally, the two of you reach the end of the hallway, at room #1
  1594. >Twilight taps her wand on the impressive wooden door and it springs open
  1595. >You enter behind her, still staying quiet and futilely trying to keep your palms dry with your robe
  1596. >"So, this is my room. What do you think?"
  1597. "I think that's a lot of books."
  1598. >Indeed, her room seems to be a small library unto itself
  1599. >Bookshelves line each wall, save for two spaces for a modest yet comfortable looking bed and a large study desk, currently strewn with papers
  1600. >"Yeah," says Twilight, "it's nice to have my own little library here. It definitely saves time on homework assignments."
  1601. "Indeed it would. Speaking of which, shall we get to it?"
  1602. >"Of course"
  1603. >She waves her wand and summons a second chair into existence at her desk, then whisks the papers away into a neat stack
  1604. >The two of you take your seats as she opens her copy of the history book to the correct chapter
  1605. >She also brings a spare notebook and quill to rest in front of you
  1606. >"So, Starswirl the bearded's motivations for banishment. Where do you want to start?"
  1607. "With Starswirl's motivations for the banishment."
  1608. >...
  1609. >"Okay, so, I find it helps to put something down on paper and work from there. Just give a single sentence to answer my question: Why did Starswirl banish them?"
  1610. "Because they were a threat that needed to be neutralized?"
  1611. >"Good. Write that down."
  1612. >You dip the quill in an inkwell and jot down the sentence."
  1613. >"Now, why did Starswirl banish them rather than use another method of neutralization?"
  1614. "Because he thought banishment would be most effective?"
  1615. >You jot down that answer too.
  1616. >"And why would banishment be a more effective method than, say, destruction?"
  1617. >You ponder on this for a moment, until it hits you
  1618. "Starswirl knew about the necromancers in their ranks. With destruction a single mage who slipped through the cracks could, in theory undo all of it."
  1619. >You begin to jot down notes at a furious pace
  1620. "But banishment to another plane ensured that any remaining members hiding in secret wouldn't be able to raise the dead."
  1621. >You continue to write and write until your wrist gets sore
  1622. >But the more you write, the more you feel needs to be written
  1623. >Eventually, you've exhausted your retelling of events as you understand them
  1624. >Additions explain why the courses of action taken could be considered the correct ones
  1625. >Eventually you set the quill down and flex your wrist
  1626. >"Very good. Now we're going to circle around to the beginning. Why did Starswirl consider the Sons and Daughters of the Sirens a threat?"
  1627. >You lean back and groan, dreading the thought of having to write any more
  1628. >"Don't worry, this need only be a few sentences, even in your full essay. Just an introduction to get to the meat of things."
  1629. "Right."
  1630. >"Exactly. Write." she says, pointing to the notebook
  1631. >You groan again, partially at her pun, while she simply watches in amusement
  1632. >You jot down a few sentences, and when you're done you sever the pages from their binding with magic and lay them down before you
  1633. >"Perfect, you should have enough there to compile into a full essay."
  1634. "So it would seem, and I owe it to you."
  1635. >"Oh, it was nothing. I just helped you along is all."
  1636. >You lean back in your chair and pop your back, still rubbing and flexing your wrist
  1637. "I feel like things might just work out well, given the kind of friends I have here."
  1638. >Twilight turns away and says to you
  1639. >"Yeah, you seem to get along with everyone pretty well. Like Sunset, and Fluttershy... and Rainbow Dash."
  1640. >You smirk, though Twilight thankfully can't see you
  1641. >But when she starts to turn back to you you quickly assume a neutral expression
  1642. "Yeah, the two of us had a little chat about that today."
  1643. >"Oh really? Like what?"
  1644. >Twilight leans toward you, appearing interested in hearing gossip about your budding relationship
  1645. "She basically said we should take things slow, and, uh, consider our options while we get to know each other better."
  1646. >Technically Dash didn't say anything about her doing that, but you assume she would feel the same way
  1647. >"Oh. Like, seeing other people too?"
  1648. "Yeah, something like that."
  1649. >"I see," she says, suddenly blushing and twiddling her thumbs, "is there anyone else you were, um, interested in? Like, dating, I mean."
  1650. >She nearly squeaks the last part, shrinking in as though impersonating Fluttershy
  1651. "Well, there is someone. Someone who was a big help with some classwork I was having trouble with."
  1652. >"Oh, really?" she asks, perking up in her seat with an anticipatory expression
  1653. "Indeed. Pinkie Pie was a huge help with alchemy class today. I'd have been lost without her."
  1654. >"Oh." she says simply, looking aside and slouching
  1655. >"I see."
  1656. >You let the silence brew until the perfect moment, and
  1657. "Hah!" you should with a grin, startling Twilight
  1658. "I'm kidding. Pinkie's nice and friendly, but she's a little too, eh, unpredictable."
  1659. >"And goofy?" asks Twilight with a laugh
  1660. "Yeah, that too. Not really my type."
  1661. >"So, does that mean-"
  1662. "Yes, Twilight. I was referring to you."
  1663. >"I see. Well, I too find you favorable. You're intelligent, kind, and really easy to talk to, which I can't say about any other guy I've taken notice of."
  1664. "Oh, you flatter me too much." you say with a wave of your hand
  1665. >"I mean it. And you're brave, too. The way you rushed off into the unknown and risked your life to save Dash, that was pretty amazing."
  1666. "Well, what was I supposed to do? Let her get eaten by a dragon? even for just a friend, or a complete stranger, I don't consider that an option."
  1667. >"I still think it was pretty amazing."
  1668. "I'm sure any of you guys would have done the same."
  1669. >You take Twilight's hand in yours, and gently caress it with your thumb
  1670. "So, would you like to be my, uh, courtship partner?"
  1671. >Twilight giggles so hard she snorts, which she then realizes and covers her face
  1672. >"Well, when you put it like that? Who could refuse?"
  1673. >The two of you look into each others eyes for a moment, before Twilight leans into you and wraps her arms around you in a warm embrace
  1674. >"I'd kiss you," she says leaning back into her own chair, "but I don't think now's a good time to disappear to another dimension."
  1675. "I think that only happens if it's on the lips." you say with a smile
  1676. >She nods, leans forward, and gives you a peck on the cheek
  1677. "Well, I should be going," you say looking at a wall clock above the desk, 'it's getting kind of late."
  1678. >"Are you sure you don't want to stay? At least for a little while?"
  1679. "Well, I suppose I could stay a while. School is off tomorrow so I can afford to sleep in."
  1680. >The two of you chat the night away, you talking about books, magic and historical events of Ravnica, Twilight doing the same for her world
  1681. >Eventually the clock strikes one in the morning and the two of you agree it's time to part ways
  1682. >You stand and Twilight shoes you to the door
  1683. >"I enjoyed our time together tonight, An'on'ymous."
  1684. "As did I."
  1685. >She reaches up and gives you a gentle kiss on the lips
  1686. >"Don't tell Rainbow Dash I did that."
  1687. "Of course, my lips are sealed."
  1688. >You make your way back down the hall and head for the empty boarding wing
  1689. >Eventually you reach your room, and with a tap of your wand, the door is opened
  1690. >You set your alarm for nine-thirty in the morning and drift off to sleep, thoughts of Twilight and Rainbow Dash conflicting in your head
  1691. ***
  1692. >The next thing you remember is the ringing of your alarm
  1693. >You deactivate it and drag yourself out of bed
  1694. >After a quiet daily routine, you wonder if breakfast is served during off days
  1695. >If it is, you likely missed it
  1696. >You grab some biscuits from your desk and munch on them absentmindedly
  1697. >You know you have a meeting with Celestia this evening, but what to do in the mean time?
  1698. >Perhaps you'll see what your friends are up to
  1699. >You head out onto the field to find that they're nowhere around
  1700. >You do see a group of girls you recognize from alchemy class, so you decide to head over to them and strike up a conversation
  1701. >When they see you coming, one giggles and whispering something to another one
  1702. >The girl in question has blonde hair and pale yellow skin
  1703. >Her friend on her left that was doing the whispering has chocolate brown skin and green hair
  1704. >The last girl has slate off-white skin and beige hair
  1705. >She also appear to be missing her left arm just above the elbow
  1706. "Hi there," you say as you approach them, "I'm Antonon. I believe I saw you all in alchemy yesterday?"
  1707. >"Yeah," says the brown girl, "we remember seeing you there. I'm Oak Forest."
  1708. >She gestures to the yellow girl next to her
  1709. >"This is Pollen Haze, and this," she says, gesturing to the marble-looking girl, "is Venus."
  1710. "Nice to meet you all." you say, extending a hand
  1711. >The three of them in turn shake your hand, Pollen seeming a bit hesitant to do so
  1712. "I was just taking a stroll through the grounds and thought I should try to get acquainted with everyone. It seems I'll be living here from now on."
  1713. >"Well, it's nice to finally meet you in person," says Oak, "we've heard a lot about you from Pinkie. About how you're an alien and can do special alien magic."
  1714. >You can't help but laugh at this, for how incredibly Pinkie-ish it sounds
  1715. "An alien, huh? Only Pinkie could come up with something so ridiculous and off the mark, yet still perfectly accurate. I do believe we're the same species though."
  1716. >"So," says Pollen, "what was it like back home for you?"
  1717. >You go through your abbreviated speech, introducing them to the concept of the guilds of Ravnica, and recounting how you got here
  1718. >"So you're some kind of cosmic dimension-hopper? That's so cool." says Oak
  1719. "I don't know if you heard, but Rainbow Dash is the same way."
  1720. >"Oh yeah," says Pollen, "I hear the two of you are dating."
  1721. >You cough a bit and rub the back of your head nervously
  1722. "Uh, yeah, basically. I mean, we're like. Em, it's kind of hard to describe. I mean we definitely like each other but we kinda jumped into it so we're kind of taking it slow, and, uh, you know."
  1723. >"What a shame, too," says Oak, "a boy is admitted to the academy for the first time in fifty years and he's already taken."
  1724. "Well, like I said, it's uh, complicated. I guess you could say we're not exactly exclusive, but, I don't know. I'm just as new to all this as I am to this plane."
  1725. >"Ooh, is that right?" she asks, nudging Pollen
  1726. >"Stop it!" she yells back, pushing her friend away
  1727. >You crack a smile at the display, as even you can see what's going on here
  1728. "I take it these two have been teasing you about my presence here?"
  1729. >"Just me," says Oak, wrapping an arm around Pollen's shoulder, "Venus is the one keeping me in check."
  1730. >"Speaking of which," says Pollen, "a little help, here?"
  1731. >Venus walks around to Oak's other side and, with her single hand, lifts her up by the scruff of her shirt and deposits her on her other side
  1732. >Now Venus is between the other two girls
  1733. >"Thanks, V." says Pollen
  1734. >Venus simply nods to her and smiles to you
  1735. >"She doesn't talk much. But you should see what she can do with a wand."
  1736. "I'd ask if she can lift whole people with her magic but she seems capable of doing that without it."
  1737. >The other two giggle as girls do while Venus simply gives you a humored smile
  1738. >"Yeah," says Pollen, "she's so strong and tough, you'd think she was made of stone or something."
  1739. "You mean she's not?"
  1740. >They laugh more while Venus gives a quiet hum, and you bask in the admiration of your peers
  1741. "Well, I'd better see where all my friends went off to. I must admit that without them I'm much like a lost puppy."
  1742. >"And cute like one, too." says Oak, eyeing you up and down
  1743. >You blush and back away a few steps before turning and making a beeline for the school
  1744. >You hear two voices of laughter behind you as you walk away
  1745. >Overall, you think that that was successful
  1746. >You find Applejack strolling through the main hall of the school
  1747. "Ah, Applejack. Nice to see you. Where's everyone else?"
  1748. >"Oh, Hey there." she says turning to you with a single wave
  1749. >"The rest o' the girls went to town. I'd join 'em, but I got a mountain o' homework that needs doin'. I'm on my way to the library."
  1750. "I see. Would you like some assistance?"
  1751. >"Nah, I'm good. Just gotta get down to it is all. You should head into town too. The girls'll be there all day so you can find 'em 'round. Not too big of a town, after all."
  1752. >You think to yourself about going there, but one question pops into mind
  1753. "And how does one get to this town?"
  1754. >"Well, to get to Ponyville's only a 10 minute broom ride away. Y'all can get there in no time."
  1755. "True, but that poses one problem. I still don't own my own broom."
  1756. >"Hmm," she says putting a finger to her chin, "well that's fine, ain't it?"
  1757. >You raise an eyebrow and gesture for her to elaborate
  1758. >"That same spell you used on Fluttershy aught to work on you too, right? And she was up there for over ten minutes."
  1759. >You open your eyes in surprise, partly that the thought didn't occur to you and partly at the thought of you flying into town on angel wings
  1760. "I suppose it might work. Alright, I'll try it. Thanks Applejack. And if it doesn't work, I'll come back and see if I can help you with that homework after all."
  1761. >"Aw shucks, Anon. You take your day off enjoyin' yourself. Like I said, ain't nothin' to it but to do it."
  1762. "Very well. Good luck on that."
  1763. >Applejack waves goodbye to you as you make your way around the field to the castle's northern grounds
  1764. >You see a few other students you recognize, and you prepare to begin drawing the mana
  1765. >You stop yourself however, as you realize a problem
  1766. >You don't want to ruin the shirt and robe Celestia so graciously provided you
  1767. >Sure, Rarity may be able to fix it like Fluttershy's, but you might not be doing this as often
  1768. >So, you do something you'd never thought you'd do in public
  1769. >You remove your robe and shirt, right in front of everyone, and stow them away in your satchel bag
  1770. >Immediately, nearly everyone in the vicinity stops and stares at you
  1771. >Most are whispering, and you see several worried or confused looks
  1772. >So be it
  1773. >You begin to draw on the white and green mana, and cast your spell
  1774. >You feel the mana surround you, and two pairs of wings form on your back
  1775. >The looks you were getting turn to shock and astonishment
  1776. >Flexing your new appendages to get a feel for them, you give a good flap and ascend to the sky
  1777. >You move faster than you anticipated, but after a moment you're able to get a decent balance
  1778. >You move forward and upward, heading toward the road that presumably leads to Ponyville
  1779. >As you fly, you get a bold thought in your head, and decide to act on it
  1780. >You twist, fold your wings in, and begin to fall
  1781. >As you do, you look back at all the girls still staring slack-jawed in awe
  1782. >You give them a salute before bending back to descend head-first
  1783. >As you fall you twist back around, unfurl your wings, and use the momentum to get a boost of speed and lift jetting you toward your destination
  1784. >After around ten minutes of flying, you feel the spell begin to drain out
  1785. >You see the town not too far away, and decide you can make it
  1786. >You try to see what happens when you add some more mana into it
  1787. >You channel an additional forest, and to your surprise the spell seems to be refreshed
  1788. >So it appears the white mana is only needed to form it, and any kind can fuel it
  1789. >You fly farther until you're over the town proper, where you see a several witches and wizards walking, flying, commiserating, and doing business
  1790. >A quaint town below you, you scan around for signs of your friends
  1791. >You don't see them at first, but you do see a number of looks similar to those of your schoolmates
  1792. >You spot a large pink building that seems to be made of sweets
  1793. >It seems likely that Pinkie Pie at least would be there, if not the rest of the girls dragged along by her
  1794. >You fly to it and see through the window that, indeed, your clique minus Applejack are sitting inside enjoying a number of sweets and drinks
  1795. >The double doors are open so, feeling bold yet again, you fly straight in
  1796. >Immediately you're met with several gasps, and your friends upon hearing it turn to look at what the source is
  1797. >When they see you hovering up next to their booth, they freeze in place, Rainbow Dash dropping her spoon on its way to her sundae
  1798. >You touch down, dissipate the wings, and to your friends you say
  1799. "Hello there. Hope you don't mind me dropping in."
  1800. >They look to each other, then back to you, and simply shake their heads
  1801. "Good, I was worried my entrance might be a bit grandiose, but man do I understand how Fluttershy feels now."
  1802. >You retrieve your shirt and robe from your bag and don them, then sit down at the oversize circular booth encompassing the table
  1803. >"So, Anonymous. I see you decided to fly over for a visit. Not in the traditional way, of course." says Rarity
  1804. "Yes, I realized that, lacking a broom of my own, I would need an alternative method of travel to reach the town."
  1805. >"And what provoked you to fly over here shirtless?" asks Rainbow
  1806. "I didn't want to damage my shirt or robe." you reply aloofly
  1807. "And even if Rarity can fix it, I don't think I'll be doping that too often."
  1808. >"I'm sure some of us wouldn't mind seeing you like that more often, eh?" says Pinkie, nudging Rainbow Dash, Twilight, and Rarity
  1809. >"Pinkie please," says Rarity shoving back at her, "have some tact."
  1810. >"Uh-uh." replies pinkie, who then continues to devour her enormous dessert
  1811. >Rarity rolls her eyes and likewise returns to her cup of coffee
  1812. >"So Anonymous," asks Fluttershy, "how did you get more mana than just the one forest?"
  1813. >Just then an eccentric looking waitress in a dress resembling ice cream and confections skates up to the table and asks what you would like
  1814. "Hmm, I hadn't quite though of that. I'd like something simple..."
  1815. >"A vanilla shake with a chocolate drizzle for him, and put it on my tab." says Twilight
  1816. >"Gotcha," replies the waitress, who then skates off toward the kitchen
  1817. "Alright, apparently I'm having a vanilla shake with a chocolate drizzle. Whatever any of that means. and I could have paid for it but, thanks."
  1818. >"No problem." says Twilight with a smile
  1819. >Pinkie Pie, in contrast, looks horrified, as though she were staring down a ferocious dragon
  1820. >You would know from experience
  1821. >"Actually there's a HUGE problem!" shouts Pinkie
  1822. >"You don't have milkshakes in your world? What kind of torturous place is that?!"
  1823. "I'm sure if milkshakes did exist they'd be outlawed in my district for being too fun, considering how important they are to you."
  1824. >"Not just to me, milkshakes are important to everyone. How can your people do a classic milkshake and two straws without a milkshake? Two straws isn't a date!"
  1825. "Well Pinkie, I wouldn't know how many straws are used for a date on Ravnica, but I can assure you we get by without whatever this 'milkshake' is."
  1826. >Pinkie slumps down in her booth, seeming downtrodden at what she clearly considers to be an entire world of people living a hellish existence
  1827. "I'm not sure why anyone would shake milk anyway."
  1828. >The waitress comes back and sets something familiar in front of you with a smile and immediately dashes off to the next table
  1829. "Wait a minute."
  1830. >You take a sip of the concoction and
  1831. "Oh yes. I see now. It's a vanilla blend-up with a chocolate squeeze. Why didn't you say so?" you say to Pinkie with a grin
  1832. >"Wait, what?" she says, looking at you confusedly
  1833. "We do have these in Ravnica, it's just called something different."
  1834. >Pinkie lifts up like a rocket with a giant smile like she just won the lottery
  1835. >"Oh thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to build a dimensional portal just to bring milkshakes to the multiverse."
  1836. "I mean it's a simple concept. I'd think most cultures would develop it at some point."
  1837. >You go back to quietly sipping on your sweet drink
  1838. >"Um, Anon, I hate to bother you," says Fluttershy, "but I had a question."
  1839. "Oh right!" you say, smacking your forehead, "The mana. Yes, well, it happened when I was demonstrating my ability to do magic to the skeptical Sunset."
  1840. >She looks up at you when you mention her name but instead of looking worried or pennant, she gives you a cheeky smile and return to her drink, still looking at you
  1841. "Yes, it was when I first gained my 'magic signature' as you call it. I was preparing to cast a spell, but instead of my usual vines, I felt a connection between the mana and the cold magical energy of this world. What we call 'aether' back home."
  1842. >"I see," says Fluttershy, nodding
  1843. >She produces a notepad and pen from her bag and begins to jot down notes
  1844. "So I cast a spell that attuned me to the aether. But in addition, it also had the effect of connecting me to a plain outside the school."
  1845. >"Uh-huh, and then you had the white mana, correect?"
  1846. "Indeed. However, I was eventually able to connect to other forests by simply recalling them and meditating on them. The first time was just afterward during my fight with Sunset."
  1847. >Sunset once again looks up at you, puts on a fake angry face, and shakes her fist at you
  1848. >You choke on your drink and hiccup, trying to force the creamy white liquid down your throat
  1849. "Can you stop being so cute when I'm trying to tutor my new protege?"
  1850. >"Aww, I'm sorry," she says in a mock innocent voice, "I guess I just can't help it."
  1851. >She smile the cutest smile you've ever seen, cocking her head to one side and fluttering her wide eyes at you
  1852. "Ahh," you groan, clasping your head in your hands, "between you and the ice cream I'll get diabetes for sure."
  1853. >"Hey now, just how many girls are you trying to hook up with?" asks Rainbow Dash, eyeing you skeptically
  1854. >"You mean me and Twilight aren't enough for you?"
  1855. "Wha-, no, I-"
  1856. >Then her mask cracks and reveals a mischievous trickster out to prank you again
  1857. >"Come on, dude. You really think I'm being serious?"
  1858. "You need to quit that. I nearly had a heart attack."
  1859. >"Wait," says Sunset, "two girls? 'Me and Twilight'?"
  1860. >You gulp and slowly turn to Sunset
  1861. "Oh, right. Well, uh, I guess my relationship with Dash is, eh, non-exclusive? To be honest I'm not really sure how this works. Like at all."
  1862. >"Basically he's casually dating me and Twilight right now." says Dash, coming to the rescue
  1863. >"If he decides to go steady with one of us, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
  1864. >Rarity daintily sets her tea down and remarks to the three of you
  1865. >"I think it makes perfect sense. Anon here is in high demand at RCA, and sharing IS caring, right ladies?"
  1866. >"Ugh," says Dash, "not you too Rarity."
  1867. >"Oh calm down Dash," she replies, "I'm not trying to weasel my way into things, if that's what you think. I actually have a date lined up for next weekend."
  1868. >"Oooooh," says Pinkie as she slithers up between Rarity and Fluttershy from under the table
  1869. >You're not sure when she left her spot, how she did it, or how you failed to notice her do it
  1870. >But she did it
  1871. >"Come on, gimme the details."
  1872. >Rarity weaves a tale of some young man she met around town last weekend, et cetera, to Pinkie, while you turn to Fluttershy
  1873. "Anyway, mana seems to regenerate faster in high-adrenaline situations such as a fight, or a dragon attack."
  1874. >"Oh my" she replies
  1875. "It seems to sometimes trigger the ability to also gain access to a new land quickly, although that has only happened once."
  1876. >"So you thought about the forest and its mana came to you?"
  1877. "Essentially, yes. I can try to teach you the spell I used as well."
  1878. >"I would appreciate that."
  1879. >You feel Dash wrap an arm around you from the side
  1880. >"Yo, thanks for helping 'Shy out with this stuff. I'm pretty much as lost on all this as you were when you showed up."
  1881. "Oh, that's right." you say with a bit of shame
  1882. "I didn't think of helping you out with your spellcasting."
  1883. >"Hey, no biggie. Fluttershy's the one who came to you and asked. I've been meaning to, but I guess my pride got the better of me."
  1884. "It happens to the best of us. Oh, and thank you again for the help with flying."
  1885. >You turn to Twilight once again
  1886. "And thank you again for the help with the assignment. I'll have the final draft done tonight and ready to turn in tomorrow."
  1887. >"I'm glad to hear it," Twilight replies, "it seems like once it clicked you were in it."
  1888. "Couldn't have done it without you guys."
  1889. >You leans back in your chair and stretch
  1890. "I sure am glad to have all of you."
  1891. >"Even me?" asks Sunset with her mock worried face
  1892. "Yes, Sunset Slugger, even you."
  1893. >And then everyone laughed
  1894. >The waitress skates up to your table once again, does a twirl, and stops on a dime
  1895. >"Anything else I can getcha?" she asks in a peppy accent
  1896. >The rest of your group turns to each other and shake their heads
  1897. >"We're ready for the check" says Twilight
  1898. >The waitress skates off leaving you with everyone again
  1899. "So, what were you all planning today?"
  1900. >"Well, we were thinking of doing some clothes shopping," says Rarity, "and I think you might just be able to help us out."
  1901. "Oh, gee, that sounds great Rarity, but I'm afraid I'm gonna be super busy with not helping a bunch of girls shop for clothes today, so I'd better head back to school and get on that."
  1902. >You start to excuse yourself from the booth, but Rainbow Dash grabs you by the collar and pulls you back
  1903. >"Come on, dude. It won't be that bad."
  1904. "Rainbow Dash, you know I'm pretty much a recluse and don't know much about other people, let alone girls, but even I know about girls' clothes shopping."
  1905. >"You'll be fine. Besides, most of us have worn out our bras and panties and need new ones." she says in a sing-song voice
  1906. >The rest of the girls at the table, sans Pinkie, blush and look at rainbow in a gradient between glaring and looking surprised
  1907. >You sigh and resign yourself to your fate, resting back down in the booth
  1908. "You know, Dash? You can be pretty evil sometimes. You haven't been messing with black mana, have you?"
  1909. >"Black mana? I don't even know what that is."
  1910. "Black mana is mana from swamps. It's generally used to either directly kill something, or raise it from the dead as a zombie."
  1911. >Fluttershy gasps at this declaration; she begins shaking and looks like she might pass out
  1912. "Oh, of course that's not to say it's all bad. I mean, uh"
  1913. >You try to think of a single good example from your home world, but you're mostly drawing blanks
  1914. "I mean, remember the Golgari I mentioned? they treat death as a natural part of life, so a lot of their use of black mana goes into regrowing things from decomposed material, or euthanizing creatures that are barely hanging on and need to let go."
  1915. >She seems to calm down a bit at least
  1916. >After the girls count out their money and give it to the waitress, the seven of you head outside ready to begin the next part of your day
  1917. "So, where are you planning on shopping then?"
  1918. >"Why, only the most fashionable outlet in town. The Carousel Boutique." says Rarity
  1919. "Carousel Boutique?"
  1920. >"Indeed. It's currently run by one Sassy Saddles, but I plan on taking it over after graduation."
  1921. "And how do you plan on taking control of it? Is the owner retiring?"
  1922. >"Oh she doesn't plan to, but of course I'll be challenging her to a fashion duel."
  1923. "Is that even a thing? Wait, don't answer that."
  1924. >You pretend to listen to the details of a fashion duel for a few minutes until you arrive at a gaudy building on the northeast side of town
  1925. >It seems to have once been an actual carousel, since gutted and re-purposed into a store
  1926. "I'm guessing that this is the Carousel Boutique?"
  1927. >"That's right, Nonny," says Pinkie from behind you, "it's a gem, isn't it?"
  1928. "I must admit it does have a certain charm to it."
  1929. >You head inside with the girls and are immediately greeted by a tall, thin woman with sky blue skin and burnt orange hair
  1930. >"Hello there, dearies. Welcome back to the Carousel Boutique and, OH, I see you've brought a young man with you. Unfortunately, sir, we only carry ladies' apparel."
  1931. >"That's fine," says Dash to the woman, "he's just our pack mule for today."
  1932. >"Oh, wonderful!" she replies
  1933. "Yes, simply marvelous." you say dryly
  1934. >"Oh don't worry, sweetie, there's plenty of seats available." she says in a somewhat understanding and somewhat condescending tone
  1935. "I'm overjoyed to hear that."
  1936. >You head toward the changing booths and sit down in a seat nearby as the girls file into them three at a time
  1937. >Rainbow Dash, Twilight, and Rarity are inside right now while you wait with Fluttershy, Pinkie, and Sunset
  1938. >The three of them are currently hiding things behind their backs, either out of embarrassment or to keep it a surprise
  1939. >Perhaps a mix of both
  1940. >"Are you ready, everyone?" says Rarity's voice from behind the curtain
  1941. "Ready as I'll ever be." you say flatly
  1942. >Rarity seems to find humor in this as she giggles and pulls the curtain back slightly
  1943. >She, Rainbow and Twilight all pull their curtains back at the same time, and you're nearly floored instantly
  1944. >Rainbow is wearing a jet black bra and panties, both quite small but with full straps
  1945. >The panties ride low and hug her hips, while the low-cut supportive bra accentuates what she does have to work with in a way that makes it seem like more than it is
  1946. >Twilight, on the other side, is wearing a sky-blue lacy ensemble, with thin-strap panties riding high showing off a lot more of her thighs and hips than you were prepared for
  1947. >The bra is kind of plain, but the lacy accent adds a nice touch
  1948. >Finally, Rarity is wearing a black bra that seems to be more lace than not, barely hiding anything but the bottoms of her breasts
  1949. >Her panties are similarly lacy and open, with a little heart-shaped window showing off a neatly trimmed patch of purple hair
  1950. >The thin straps of her panties are held by small belts to a set of notably non-lacy black stockings, framing her thighs and giving the whole thing and appearance of a Gothic window
  1951. >"Well, Anonymous, what do you think?" she asks as she shifts her stance and blows you a kiss
  1952. "I think I feel quite faint." you reply as you struggle to keep your footing, eyes shifting between the three of them
  1953. >"Calm down, boy," says Sunset as she nudges you from the side, "you've still got more to see."
  1954. "Oh dear."
  1955. >The curtains close for another minute before opening again to reveal the three girls dressed in their normal attire
  1956. >They each hand a bag to you, so you take one in your left hand and two in your right
  1957. >"Our turn." says Sunset as she and the remaining girls head into the booths
  1958. >"So, Anon, I'm guessing you liked what you saw?" says Rainbow Dash in a low voice next you
  1959. "Of course," you say looking into her eyes, "you're very attractive."
  1960. >"And?"
  1961. "And, uh, well yes, Twilight and Rarity were both quite appealing to view."
  1962. >"Is that you're way of saying they're sexy?"
  1963. "It's my way of saying all three of you are sexy."
  1964. >"Aww, you're such a sweetheart." she says sarcastically as she punches your left arm
  1965. >At least she still has a smile, so she's clearly not mad at you
  1966. >Right?
  1967. >Lately it's been getting harder and harder to read all the girls around you
  1968. >Perhaps it's because, for the first time in your life, you're actually emotionally invested in these people
  1969. >As you take your time ruminating on the subject, the three curtains open in sync once again
  1970. >On the far left is Pinkie Pie, wearing a black lacy set, somewhat similar to Rarity's except slightly more covering and less lacy
  1971. >Hers lack the stockings, but the straps or her panties and bra are actually strings tied together
  1972. >It does a nice job of showing off her thighs and shoulders
  1973. >On the far right is Fluttershy, wearing a simple white bra and panties. While it's certainly not as risque as the other sets, the panties do ride somewhat low, and the sheer size of her bust is enough to make the bra revealing by nature
  1974. >And in the middle is sunset, wearing a red strapless bra and a pair of tiny red panties that leaves very little to the imagination
  1975. >Hers too are string panties, and as she twirls around, you can see that the back consists of a thin triangle that bares nearly all of her buttocks
  1976. >"Alright, everyone, what do you think?" says Sunset, as she strikes a pose
  1977. >"Simply wonderful, darling," says Rarity as she moves forward to inspect her more closely
  1978. >You're tempted to follow suit, but instead you stand in place and simply nod your head
  1979. >"Sounds good, we'll change back and get ready for the final part."
  1980. >Rarity stifles a giggle and says "of course, darling."
  1981. "Final part?" you ask with a hint of nervousness due to mischievous delivery of the statement
  1982. >"Oh, don't worry, you'll see." says Rarity in a worrying tone
  1983. >You gulp as you wait for the three girls to get changed back into their street clothes
  1984. >The curtains open again on Fluttershy, Pinkie, and Sunset in their casual wear, as they go to hand you more bags
  1985. >Except, they don't
  1986. >Rather, each of the girls sans Rarity takes their own bag with Sunset holding the extra
  1987. "Oh I do like this new development." you say flexing your sore fingers
  1988. >The bags were relatively small and light, yet the handles were so wire thin in one dimension and so thick in the other that just holding them was hurting your hands
  1989. >"Well, we'll see how you feel about THIS development." says Rarity as she leads you into one of the booths
  1990. "Uh, Rarity? Where is this going? Because I don't think I like where this is going."
  1991. >"Oh, don't worry dear, it'll be over soon." she says in a rather sweet and soothing voice
  1992. >Too bad it doesn't do much to sooth your fears in this case
  1993. >Rarity shuts the curtains behind you, you feel her wand tap your back, and suddenly everything goes black
  1994. >You blink twice and open your eyes to a bizzare sight
  1995. >You seem to be standing in a giant sphere made of mirrors, your own reflection shown at every possible angle in each of them
  1996. >An invisible force rips your robe from you
  1997. >No, rather it pulls away your robe which passes right through your body
  1998. >Then follows your vest, shirt, shoes, socks, and pants, leaving you in only your undergarments
  1999. >Those too are pulled away, but before you can react to cover yourself, a new pair replaces them
  2000. >This pair is a lacy set of black panties not dissimilar to what Rarity was wearing before
  2001. >It barely hides your manhood, bending it into a somewhat uncomfortable position to keep it inside
  2002. >Then again it was clearly designed with someone with a completely different set of parts in mind
  2003. >A bra made seemingly for a woman with a severely underdeveloped chest is placed on your own, you feel the straps holding onto your shoulders and hugging your back
  2004. >The mirrors suddenly shatter, revealing the world around you, albeit the tiny portion of it you can see
  2005. >You're standing in the changing booth again, and immediately look around for shards of broken glass due to being barefoot
  2006. >When you fail to find any, you realize that the mirrors were simply an illusion
  2007. >Unfortunately, you also realize that the change in your clothing was not
  2008. >You stand in the stall wearing an ill-fitting lingerie set with Rarity standing in the booth next to you
  2009. >She reaches for the curtain, and you realize what's happening just a bit too late to stop her
  2010. >She throws the curtain open revealing the other six girls standing in anticipation and excitement
  2011. >Even the store owner seems to be in on it
  2012. >A couple of other girls wearing school uniforms are also standing in a corner watching you
  2013. >This is dreadful
  2014. >Rather than laugh at you, however, most of them seem to be looking at you with an air of understanding
  2015. >Rainbow Dash in particular seems to be eyeing you hungrily, as Celestia did on that strange and fateful night
  2016. >"Whoa," says Sunset, breaking the awkward silence, "I gotta say, you're looking good, Anon."
  2017. "Haha, very funny, now can I have my clothes back?"
  2018. >The girls, discounting Fluttershy who has backed away from the group, all shake their heads in unison
  2019. "Excuse me?"
  2020. >"Nope, you're gonna have to get another set from your room." says Sunset
  2021. "From my room? All the way back at the school?"
  2022. >"That's right, Nonny. Aaaaaaaaall the way back at the school."
  2023. >"Oh, of course we'll provide you with a cloack to cover yourself." says Twilight, "We don't want you getting arrested after all."
  2024. "Oh thank-"
  2025. >"BUT," says Rainbow Dash, "we're taking it back when we get to the school grounds."
  2026. >You sigh and place a hand over your head
  2027. "And why, pray tell, are you doing this? I thought we were friends."
  2028. >"We are friends," says Twilight, "it's just that, you're the new girl, or rather, new guy,"
  2029. >"I don't know, Twilight," interrupts Sunset, "he's looking like the new girl right about now."
  2030. "Haha, very funny." you say with maximum sarcasm
  2031. >"Anyway," continues Twilight, "this is the standard hazing ritual here at the school. We all went through it at some point."
  2032. "You all walked the school grounds in your undergarments?"
  2033. >"That's right." says Sunset, "in fact the whole reason all of us let you see us like that is because you arrived late, so you missed out on it the first time around."
  2034. >You raise an eyebrow and cock your head
  2035. "We wanted to really make you feel at home, so we figured we'd make up for it by letting you see what you missed out on."
  2036. "Uh, alright then? So I just have to walk from the edge of the grounds to my room wearing this?"
  2037. >"That's right."
  2038. "Standard procedure every new girl goes through. You swear?"
  2039. >"I swear."
  2040. >You look into Sunset's eyes for a moment trying to hold a neutral expression, but you can't help it
  2041. >What you know, that she doesn't know you know, well, it brings a smile to your face
  2042. >"What's with THAT expression?" she asks, "Wait, don't tell me you're, into this?"
  2043. >You tilt your head back and inhale deeply, suppressing the urge to laugh aloud
  2044. "Oh, no, it's just. Well, ever since I got to know all of you and became emotionally attached to you, it's actually gotten harder to read you all."
  2045. >You step out and face Sunset, looking down into her eyes
  2046. >While you aren't particularly tall, you still have a couple of inches on her
  2047. "I'm always second guessing my readings, and the green and white mana seem to only hinder it even further."
  2048. >Her stoic expression begins to crack as she noticeably wonders what you're getting at
  2049. "That said," you say, moving your face very close to hers, "I can still spot a bad liar from a mile away."
  2050. >She steps back out from under you and looks at you competitively
  2051. >"So, you figured it out, the jig is up. But you forgot something."
  2052. "And what's that?"
  2053. >"We still have your clothes, so unless you plan on fighting all five of us for them, I suggest you be a good boy so we can give you that cloak."
  2054. >You glare at her
  2055. "I'll ask again then: why are you doing this?"
  2056. >"Oh, I wasn't lying about everything. It is customary to prank all the new students each year, including transfers. We just figured since you're such a special case, you deserve a special prank."
  2057. "And all of you are in on this?"
  2058. >"All of us except Fluttershy," says Twilight, "she didn't want to get involved, but she agreed not to interfere either."
  2059. "Very well then. I suppose I have no choice then."
  2060. >"That's right," says Sunset, "now take your cloak and get ready for a ride back to school. We brought an extra broom for you."
  2061. >You begin to take a step forward, head down as though defeated, only to show Sunset the same victorious smile
  2062. "I've got a better idea."
  2063. >You begin to glow with a bright white light
  2064. >Leaves materialize out of this air and swirl around you on a cool breeze
  2065. >Your physical form slips away, and you decide to keep the lingerie on
  2066. >You'll bring it back anyway
  2067. >You're not a thief after all
  2068. ***
  2069. >You're Rainbow Dash
  2070. >You're trying to keep your cool, to not panic, but Anon sure didn't make it easy
  2071. >"Come on, Dash," says Sunset, "go after him!"
  2072. "It's not that easy!" you shout back unintentionally
  2073. >You recoil back and lower your voice
  2074. "Sorry, but it's not like that. I don't know as much as Anon about all this. I'm afraid I'm gonna end up in some random place, trapped with no way back."
  2075. >"Come on Dashie," says Pinkie, "what happened to that trademark bravery of yours?"
  2076. "This is different, okay?! If I fall off my broom, Nurse readheart can fix me up. If I get trapped out in some random world out there, no one can fix that!"
  2077. >"Girls!" shouts Twilight over the confusion, "I'm sure Anonymous will make his way back eventually. He wouldn't just leave all of us behind, even over this."
  2078. >"Twilight's right," says Sunset, "I'm sure he'll be back any second now."
  2079. >You all wait a few seconds and nothing happens
  2080. "This is all your fault," you say coldly, pointing a finger at Sunset without looking at her
  2081. "You and your stupid prank idea."
  2082. >"Hey! You were totally on board with this from the beginning." she says back
  2083. >Suddenly a gust of cool wind blows a leaf onto the ground in front of you, illuminated by a golden light
  2084. >You look up and-
  2085. ***
  2086. >You are Antonon Ptolymous
  2087. >And you are back somewhere you never thought you'd be
  2088. >Your old shop and home, in the Azorious district of Ravnica
  2089. >The place looks trashed, but that's to be expected following an aethereal discharge of that caliber
  2090. >In hindsight this plan was somewhat stupid, surely your belongings would have been seized and placed in holding by now, if not destroyed by he blast
  2091. >So you're surprised to see that all of your clothes, tools, and even your artifacts and supplies are still here
  2092. >More so that most are in good condition
  2093. >The blast shield you'd set up had prevented widespread destruction, but that doesn't explain why they're untouched
  2094. >Then the thought strikes you
  2095. "Oh, of course. They're probably still filing the paperwork to call a hearing to vote on authorization to file the paperwork to authorize a search and seizure."
  2096. >Those bureaucratic ways of the Azorious guild do come in handy sometimes
  2097. "Now, first order of business, new clothes."
  2098. >You set about putting on a simple outfit
  2099. >Your undergarments, a set of thick cloth work pants, and a long sleeve cotton shirt
  2100. >You strap your goggles on your head and begin throwing your most important tools in a bag
  2101. >The rest can be rebuilt later, hopefully
  2102. >A separate bag contains vials of aether in cloth bags, as well as several rune stones and other things you'd been tinkering with
  2103. "Well, that seems to be good. Better get going then. I do have one other stop to make though."
  2104. >You head outside to the street and are immediately greeted by an old acquiantance
  2105. >What a coincidence you'd run into each other
  2106. >"Antonon?" asks Drulido, "I thought you were dead!"
  2107. "So did I friend, but fate smiled upon me. I don't have much time, but know this: the rumors of the planes and those who walk them are all true."
  2108. >"They are? How do you know?" he asks
  2109. "From experience. Anyway, the rest of what's inside is yours to scrap. Have fun."|
  2110. >With that, you begin to pull away from the confines of the world of Ravnica
  2111. >Drulido watches you go, his face a mixture of fear and amazement
  2112. >As you slip into the void of the Blind Eternities, you focus on the feelings of your prior exchange, the aether trails of your friends, and the feeling of victory when you put your plan into motion
  2113. >Before you know it, you're standing once again in the Carousel Boutiqie, in front of the changing rooms, right back where you started
  2114. "I'm starting to get the hang of this." you say to yourself before you're tackling by something fast, blue, and rainbow-haired
  2115. >"Oh my god, Anon! What the hell was that? Where did you go?"
  2116. "Home." you say simply, "Or rather, the place I once called home. I needed to change, you see. And I grabbed some things while I was there."
  2117. >"Don't ever abandon us like that again, you hear?" she says angrily though her cheek is buried into your chest with her hand gripping your arms tight
  2118. "Of course, but in my defense, you all forced my hand this time. I couldn't be outplayed that easily."
  2119. >Sunset sighs and approaches you
  2120. >"I'm sorry Anonymous. This was all my idea, and I think it might've gone a bit too far."
  2121. "No worries, Sunset. You were a worthy opponent, but I won this round."
  2122. >She smiles at your reassurance, then she cocks her head to the side with a smirk
  2123. >"And what would you have done if running home grabbing those clothes wasn't an option?"
  2124. "I'd have my wolf eat you and bring me my school clothes." you say as you begin to walk past her
  2125. >Her smirk turns to a look of mild worry
  2126. >"Uh, Anon. This is the part where you're supposed to say 'Just kidding, I'd never have my wolf eat you'. I'm still kind of scared of that thing."
  2127. >You turn and look at her quizzically
  2128. "Why would I say that?"
  2129. >Her look of mild worry turns to a look of moderate to severe worry
  2130. >"Anon that's not funny."
  2131. "Nor was it supposed to be."
  2132. >You ignore Sunset's protests and return the lingerie you were wearing to the counter
  2133. >Or at least you try to
  2134. >"Oh no worries, dear. You go ahead and keep them. They were paid for in advance."
  2135. >You inhale sharply and exhale
  2136. "Very well then."
  2137. >You turn back to the girls
  2138. "Tell you what, Rainbow," you say as you pat her head, "you be good and maybe I'll let you see me in these again."
  2139. >She slugs you on the arm a bit harder than usual, looking at you with an embarrassed and annoyed expression
  2140. >She blushes and looks to the side
  2141. >"We'll see." she says quietly
  2142. >"Um, Anonymous?" asks Twilight as she steps forward
  2143. "Yes, Twilight, that offer extends to you too."
  2144. >"What? That's not what I-, okay I was going to ask about that, but I have a more important question: what's in the bags?"
  2145. "Oh, right. These." you say, holding the bags up
  2146. "One contains most of my shop tools, and the other is raw materials for creating artifacts."
  2147. >"Oh wow. How were they still there this whole time?" asks Sunset
  2148. "The wonders of bureaucracy." you say as you step outside
  2149. >The girls follow you, taking in the warmth of the sun as you look around the town for anything that might interest you
  2150. "I should consider eating some actual food soon. I'm afraid I'll get stomach sick with nothing but sugar in it."
  2151. >"Well in that case, I know a great place that does take-out." says Twilight
  2152. >"The rest of us ate earlier, but you can grab a bite to eat."
  2153. "Sounds good." you say as you follow her
  2154. >She leads you to a nearby establishment that seems to sell various forms of grilled and fried foods
  2155. >After a quick explanation on what things are, you decide to order a "gyro"
  2156. >You pay the last of your coins and bite into the delicious sandwich
  2157. "I must say, this is quite nice." you say between bites. "Unfortunately I seem to be broke now."
  2158. >"That'll be alright." says Rarity, "the stipend will buy you all the gyros you desire, and it comes in today."
  2159. "Stipend?" you ask
  2160. >"Oh right, you don't know. Part of the tuition for RCA students is a deposit of money made by the parents of the student. This is given to them in increments to spend on their hobbies, going out, et cetera."
  2161. "I see. There is a bit of a problem there, however; I wasn't enrolled the traditional way. Housing, educating, and feeding me for free is already asking a lot. I doubt Celestia is going to give me an allowance on top of it."
  2162. >"She might," says Twilight, "and besides, you mentioned bringing tools and artifacts with you. You could probably sell them as a little side business."
  2163. "Perhaps." you say as you rise. "In any case, I'd be happy to show you what I've got."
  2164. >You produce a fairly large vial of glowing blue liquid from your bag
  2165. "This is an aether vial. Pretty standard stuff, not terribly cheap, but not exorbitantly expensive either."
  2166. >"Wait," says Twilight, "aether vial? As in a vial of pure aether?"
  2167. "As pure as I can make it. I harvested and refined it myself."
  2168. >"You said this 'aether' is what we call magical energy here."
  2169. "Correct."
  2170. >She places her hands over the vial and gently lowers it back into your bag whilst looking around
  2171. >"Anon, I don't know how abundant or expensive aether is in your world," she whispers while she zips the bag up
  2172. >"but here in ours, even a vial like this would be worth thousands of bits, even more on the black market."
  2173. >Your eyes open wide at the sudden realization that you may be holding a small fortune in your bag
  2174. >"And if you have means to harvest ambient aether from your surroundings safely, you could revolutionize the whole world of magic."
  2175. "I don't know what to say."
  2176. >"For now, you should say nothing. Keep this a secret until Headmistress Celestia can advise us on what to do."
  2177. "Sounds like a plan to me."
  2178. >You finish your sandwich and prepare to head back to the school
  2179. "Oh, Rainbow, would you like me to teach you how to grow wings?"
  2180. >"I'm good," she says while mounting her broom, "I'll fly back the normal way. You can use it on yourself, or Fluttershy."
  2181. "Well if I teach you, you can use your white and red mana to cast it on either me or Fluttershy, then I can cast it on the other."
  2182. >Fluttershy perks up at the idea of getting to fly like that again
  2183. >"Alright, then, hit me. How do I do it?"
  2184. "I'll show you instead. I just need you to trust me, and open up your mind."
  2185. >She nods her head and closes her eyes
  2186. >You begin to weave your Blue mana into a spell and you feel a psychic connection to Dash open up
  2187. >You send your knowledge of how to cast the wing spell to her, and she receives it openly
  2188. >The two of you reopen your eyes, from which you see Dash smiling excitedly
  2189. "So, why don't you give it a shot, with me as the test subject?" you say while you take your robs and shirt off
  2190. >"Alright, here goes nothing." she replies as she weaves her mana into a spell
  2191. >A familiar set of angelic wings sprouts from your back, taking root on your shoulder blades and flexing easily
  2192. "My turn." you say, turning to Fluttershy
  2193. >You weave the spell yourself, and a few moments later Fluttershy has a similar set of wings to your own
  2194. >She smiles and begins to take flight; you follow suit and take off toward her
  2195. >Rainbow Dash catches up to the two of you on her broom and takes Fluttershy's into her hand
  2196. >"I'll bring this back for you." she says
  2197. >Fluttershy nods in affirmation and looks to the road that leads to the school
  2198. "We should get going before the spell wears off." you say as you begin to fly southward
  2199. >Fluttershy nods again and follows you, the two of you zipping and weaving through the air together
  2200. >"Oh this is still so wonderful!" she shouts
  2201. >"You'll teach me how to use this, right?"
  2202. "Of course, but first you need a way to access white mana, but I don't think that'll be a problem." you shout back
  2203. >"Your artifacts, right?" she replies
  2204. "Indeed," you say, nodding your head, "I should be able to make it happen."
  2205. >The two of you fly together the rest of the way
  2206. >At one point you feel Fluttershy grab your hand
  2207. >You look at her with a bit of surprise
  2208. >She blushes, pulls her hand away, and looks away
  2209. "It's alright," you say, "I don't mind."
  2210. >She takes your hand again
  2211. >"I don't mean anything by it. I just, well="
  2212. "I get it. It's all a bit scary, isn't it. A whole new type of magic? A power that could make us famous, or infamous? It's a lot to take in."
  2213. >She nods understandingly to you and looks forward again
  2214. >Her hand drops away again but you understand the circumstances are different
  2215. >The two of you fly casually, doing tricks and showing off to each other
  2216. >You finally make it to the school and drop down together
  2217. >Both pairs of wings fade away as the mana returns to the world
  2218. >You walk to the building's back entrance with Flutter in tow, meeting your friends at your usual spot
  2219. >You lay back on the grass and close your eyes, feeling the swirls of mana coalesce around you
  2220. >"Uh, Anon?" asks Sunset, "Were you planning to put your shirt back on?"
  2221. >Your eyes shoot open as you sit up and look at yourself
  2222. "Uh, right." you say, reaching into your bag for your shirt and robe
  2223. >You don them once again, now conscious of the stares and whispers, not just from your group but the general student body
  2224. >"You sure you don't want to wear the outfit we picked for you?" asks Rainbow with a snicker
  2225. >"You seem to be the exhibitionist here."
  2226. "Ha ha," you say sarcastically, "I'll give it to you, instead. We have a similar cup size after all."
  2227. >Dash turns red and looks away angrily
  2228. >The rest of the group looks at you and shakes their heads
  2229. "Too far?"
  2230. >The rest of the group nods their heads
  2231. "I-"
  2232. >"Whatever." says Dash, "Say whatever you want. It's nothing I haven't heard before."
  2233. "I'm sorry, Rainbow."
  2234. >...
  2235. >"I know." she says with a sigh
  2236. >You lay back and groan, wishing that talking to your girlfriend was as simple as traveling dimensions and growing angel wings
  2237. >You feel someone sit next to you, and you hope it's one of six particular girls
  2238. >You open your eyes to find that it is indeed Rainbow Dash
  2239. >She glares at you and begins manifesting lightning in her hand
  2240. >You reflexively summon your signature vines, preparing for an attack
  2241. >Dash drops the lightning and smiles
  2242. >"Glad to see you're still on top of things." she says with a laugh
  2243. "Can't be too careful with you, can I?" you say back
  2244. >"Fair point." she says while she looks away
  2245. >The two of you sit in silence while the rest chat amongst themselves
  2246. >"It feels great, doesn't it?" says Dash, "Feeling the mana, I mean."
  2247. "Yeah, I can't wait to share it with all of you."
  2248. >You hop to your feet and grab your bags
  2249. "In fact, I won't. I'm going to go work on this now."
  2250. >You head to the entrance, intending to go to your room
  2251. >"Is there anything I can do to help?" asks Twilight
  2252. "No offense, Twilight, but I don't think your knowledge will apply here." you say as you head toward the D wing
  2253. "I'm going to be working more with mana. The aether will just be a power source."
  2254. >"Oh. Alright." she says as she falls away
  2255. "You're more than welcome to watch, though."
  2256. >"I'd love to," she says, "even if I don't have this 'mana', I'd like to learn more about it."
  2257. >"Well I'll tag along too," says Rainbow Dash, "someone's gotta keep an eye on you two, right?"
  2258. >Twilight gives her a disapproving look before turning away with a huff
  2259. >"Hey, take it easy, I'm kidding. All this magic theory stuff will just be mumbo jumbo to me anyway. I'm gonna go throw lightning around."
  2260. "You enjoy, that, Dashie."
  2261. >"Dashie?" she asks, "When did you come up with a pet name for me?"
  2262. "It's already Pinkie's name for you, isn't it?"
  2263. >"Oh yeah, you got a point. I don't really notice it anymore. But feel free to call me that."
  2264. >She looks at Twilight with what might be mistaken for a smug grin
  2265. >Twilight looks away again, with a 'Hmm'
  2266. "Oh, don't get jealous." you say as you pat Twiight's head, "I'll call you 'Twily' if you want."
  2267. >She blushes and turns away from you now
  2268. >"To be honest I'd rather you not." she says in a hushed tone
  2269. >"It's my brothers nickname for me, and it means a lot to me."
  2270. "Oh." you say, pulling your hand away
  2271. "If that's your prerogative, I'll respect that, Twi-Twi."
  2272. >"That's better." she says, patting your head back
  2273. >Dash falls away and head back toward another wing
  2274. >A bit later, you and Twi reach your room
  2275. >You tap your wand on the door and it springs open
  2276. >You clear the books off your desk and begin setting up tools and stones in their place
  2277. >You tinker around with one of the stones, inscribing runes with an aether torch
  2278. >"So these runes have some kind of significance to the mana?"
  2279. "Long ago, an obelisk with five sides was discovered in Ravnica. No one knows where exactly it came from."
  2280. >You continue inscribing them from memory, making sure each line is correct
  2281. "Rumor has it that it was built by ancient precursors. Others say it was there from the beginning of the world."
  2282. >Twilight is silent as she listens and watches
  2283. "Each side was inscribed with different runes. And they say there exists one or more in every world."
  2284. >You finish one spiral and move on to the next
  2285. "Each side correlated to a different color of mana, and the mages who discovered it were able to draw mana from it, provided they were close enough."
  2286. >You work diligently and carefully
  2287. "Eventually, some tried carving those runes into various artifacts. And if done correctly, those rune stones could be used to draw mana as well, from the obelisk itself, from any distance, seemingly."
  2288. >"And if you can recreate the process, you can make a new rune stone?"
  2289. "That's what I'm trying. I hope it works."
  2290. >You finish the last runes and begin to flow white mana into it.
  2291. "You may want to leave. You might die if you don't."
  2292. >She nods and leaves, and you hear her footsteps down the hall
  2293. >You carefully drop a single drop of refined aether from a vial onto the stone before putting the vial back in your strongbox
  2294. >The runes glow, and you prepare for both the worst and best
  2295. >The glowing fades and you feel a connection of white mana from the stone
  2296. >You dash out of the room to meet Twilight face to face
  2297. "Twilight! I think I did it! But I need you to test it for me."
  2298. >You quickly put the necklace on Twilight and step back
  2299. "Now, try focusing on what you can feel."
  2300. >She closes her eyes and focuses intensely
  2301. >"I feel, a warm sense of unity."
  2302. "Perfect, focus on that."
  2303. >"It feels like its flowing from somewhere off in the distance, into the stone, and back out."
  2304. "Excellent! Let's go find Fluttershy."
  2305. >Twilight yelps as you take her by the hand and whisk her away to find your shy friend
  2306. >It doesn't take long before you return to your friends with Twilight in hand
  2307. "Fluttershy, I have excellent news!" you shout
  2308. >You then notice stares from a number of students and realize that while they may have begun acclimating to your presence, shouting like you just did is still sure to draw their notice
  2309. >You also realize you're still grasping Twilight's wrist, which likely doesn't help, so you release it
  2310. >Murmurs abound as you approach your friends
  2311. "Although, perhaps we should discuss it in private." you say, nodding for Fluttershy to follow you, "like, in my dormitory."
  2312. >The murmurs grow even louder now
  2313. >You fake a cough and continue
  2314. "Of course, the rest of you are welcome to come too."
  2315. >Finally, the murmuring and whispering stops, and for a moment you feel proud of yourself
  2316. >Then it all starts up even more, and even louder
  2317. >Sighing, you chance to peek into the mind of one of the girls blatantly pointing and muttering about you to her friend
  2318. >~'At first I thought he was up to something perverted, but c'mon, all of them? He must be letting them in on whatever weird alien magic stuff he's working on'~
  2319. >You breathe another sigh, this time of relief, when you realize that they weren't wrong, and at least they no longer think anything suspicious of your invitation
  2320. >Luckily, the girl whose mind you read seemed to distracted to notice it
  2321. >"HelooOOOOOooo! Equestria to Anon?"
  2322. >You suddenly become aware of Rainbow Dash's hand waving in front of your face
  2323. >Oh, it seems that girl isn't the only one distracted
  2324. "Oh, sorry" you stammer out, "I was a bit distracted."
  2325. >"What?! With what?" she asks
  2326. >...
  2327. "Stuff"
  2328. >Sunset cocks her head at you
  2329. >"You offered all of us to come to your room to discuss some 'excellent news', and then /immediately/ became distracted with 'stuff' before we could answer?"
  2330. >...
  2331. "I'll uh, explain that too, but for now what do you say? And I am listening this time."
  2332. >They all nod their heads in agreement
  2333. "Perfect. Follow me."
  2334. >You're absolutely giddy as you lead your friends down the abandoned hallways to the males' wing (Population: 1) and toward your room"
  2335. >As you round the final corner, you are surprised to see Celestia turning away from your room and toward you
  2336. >She and your group stop, and she smiles
  2337. >"An'on'ymous, I was just looking for you. I came to leave some more bits in your room, I hope you don't mind."
  2338. "Of course not, Headmistress. Indeed I'm glad you're here, there's something I'd like to show you. Now that I think of it, my room is a little small to crowd this many in, so, why not here?"
  2339. >You approach Celestia with your necklace
  2340. "I was going to loan it to Fluttershy but I'd like you to try it, Headmistress Celestia. Twilight has already tested it."
  2341. >"Very well then, if even my dearest student has tested it, it must be fine."
  2342. >She slips the necklace around her neck and gasps
  2343. >"This feeling," she says as she closes her eyes and touches the runestone, "this is how it feels?"
  2344. "Indeed, except that rather than feel the mana flow through the stone, collecting it there, and drawing from it, we feel it flow through our own selves."
  2345. >"Ah, this connection, to rolling, grassy knolled plains far away, how wonderful."
  2346. "Indeed it is, I-"
  2347. >You freeze
  2348. >It's as though a thousand-pound cart has slammed into you at light speed. You feel almost faint for a moment, as though you'll collapse
  2349. >You do stumble a bit, but right yourself
  2350. >"Are you oka-"
  2351. "Wait!" you shout at Celestia, "Forgive me, but you said you felt a connection to some plains?"
  2352. >You turn to Twilight
  2353. "You as well?"
  2354. >She nods her head slowly
  2355. >You lean against the wall and grasp your head with one hand
  2356. "How? I-, but-, but that's impossible."
  2357. >"Anon?" asks Twilight, "what do you mean?"
  2358. "Recall what I said earlier, about the obelisk?"
  2359. >"You said that the runestone allows mages to draw upon the mana they're able to draw from the obelisk itself, regardless of distance, correct?"
  2360. "Exactly!"
  2361. >"But..." you wait patiently for her to make the connection
  2362. >"But this stone is letting us feel mana from the land itself. Why?" she asks cautiously
  2363. "I'm afraid, Twilight, that I have no idea."
  2364. ***
  2365. You, your friends, Celestia, Luna, and Spitfire are all sitting in Celestia's office with your bag of tools, box of aether vials, and runestone on her desk
  2366. >"So, for one thing, you can harvest latent magical energy, what you call 'aether', and store it as a concentrated liquid in vials?" asks Spitfire
  2367. "Indeed. I would need to recreate my machinery from my notes, and modify it to work on the ambient aether present in this plane, but it should be possible."
  2368. >"On top of that," asks Luna, "you've created a stone that lets just anyone feel mana from land?"
  2369. "That is correct as well, though we haven't tested whether it actually works to cast a spell yet"
  2370. >"Alright then," says Celestia calmly, "let's get to it. I believe you wanted to use it to have Fluttershy use the wings spell?"
  2371. >You nod to her and hand the runestone to Fluttershy
  2372. >She dons it and focuses calmly
  2373. "Do you feel white mana flowing through you now?"
  2374. >She shakes her head in negation
  2375. "Wait, what?" you ask, alarmed
  2376. >"I feel it flowing through the stone. I can feel my 'green' mana flow through me though."
  2377. "I see. It would appear as though the stone facilitates the flow of mana itself, even for a manamage. Alright, I'm going to impart knowledge of the flying spell on you now, okay?"
  2378. >She nods her head and locks eyes with you, a determined expression on her face
  2379. >You cast your familiar telepath spell, and implant the arcane knowledge on Fluttershy with no resistance
  2380. "Alright, you should be able to hold the mana from yourself and the necklace too. Try using it to cast the spell."
  2381. >She focuses for a minute, and you see the familiar shape of wings form from aether, and then solidify into the real deal
  2382. >"Oh, my, it's wonderful to be able to do this."
  2383. >She takes off the necklace and hands it to you
  2384. "I'm interested to see that the spell holds once you remove the runestone. I'm also interested that the flow that I could detect from a distance was faint when you had it, but seemed to 'recharge' once I took possession of it."
  2385. >You notice now that Celestia and Luna and scribbling down notes as you talk and observe
  2386. "Perhaps we should try to have a non-mana user cast a spell with it. I was able to instinctively cast one spell upon gaining access to mana, as were Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy."
  2387. >"I see," says Celestia as she smirks toward Spitfire, "any volunteers?"
  2388. >"Absolutely not, ma'am." is the instantaneous reply
  2389. >Rarity meekly raises her hand
  2390. >"I would like to try this out." she says, "If that's alright."
  2391. "I have no issue with it, if the Headmistress approves."
  2392. >Celestia nods in affirmation
  2393. >"I think we've established it's quite safe, insofar as magic goes."
  2394. >You hand the necklace to Rarity and she dons it gracefully, as expected
  2395. >"Oh, my, this is quite lovely. This sense of peace, and unity, but I must say it is a little overbearing isn't it? It feels like... a loss of individuality."
  2396. >"Is that so?" asks Celestia. "I can see where you're coming from, but as the shepherd of my own flock I can appreciate the ideal of the safety of the group as a whole."
  2397. >"Ooh! Ooh!" shouts Pinkie, jumping up and down with her hand raised. "You guys are getting fuzzy feelings from the necklace? Let me try!"
  2398. >"NO!" rebuts Rarity, shocking everyone, including, it would seem, herself
  2399. >"I-I mean, you should wait your turn, right? It is only fair since I volunteered to test it."
  2400. >You all look at Rarity with varying amounts of curiosity and concern
  2401. "You know, Rarity, I can potentially make more of those. I've already promised that one to Fluttershy, after all, assuming she's allowed to keep it."
  2402. >Rarity shrinks back even more, blushing heavily
  2403. >"R-right, of course, anyway I'd better get to it, then. How did you say this works?"
  2404. "You hold onto the stream of mana coursing through it, letting it build up more, and more, and when it reaches its peak and feels like it'll burst, you let go and release it."
  2405. >Everyone in the room looks at you a bit awkwardly, sans Pinkie Pie, who looks more lost than anything
  2406. >Speaking of Pinkie, she's the first one to speak
  2407. >"I'm confused. Are we talking about magic, or sex?"
  2408. >You blush crimson red as everyone in the room chuckles at your phrasing, of which which you're only now realizing the implication
  2409. >You decide to shrug it off and press forward
  2410. "Right, so, if you follow the pattern of everyone else, you should instinctively be able to cast a spell from this mana, unlike any spell cast with a wand. The purpose of this test is to see if you DO follow the pattern, being that you're not a mana mage."
  2411. >"Very well, darling, but do me a favor and look away when I 'release' the energy, would you?" she says coyly and with a smirk of unquantifiable smugness
  2412. >You merely sigh and lean against the desk
  2413. "Do be a dear and get on with it." you say in a mockery of Rarity's voice
  2414. >She closes her eyes and fondles the stone in her hands
  2415. >From where you stand you feel a surge of magic around it, as expected, and then the most peculiar thing happens
  2416. >An alms box appears in front of you, and a beam of light connects to your chest right over your heart
  2417. >It doesn't hurt, but you are curious as to its purpose
  2418. >Just as quickly, it disappears
  2419. >Rarity seems quite pleased as she doffs the necklace, holding it tightly in her grasp
  2420. "Well then, it seems our theory is correct. People from this plane can use mana if an external source is provided."
  2421. >You see Celestia and Luna once again scribbling notes furiously
  2422. "I wonder if it's possible that not everyone has the potential for it. Actually, come to think of it, Headmistress, are there non-mages in this world?"
  2423. >"Oh, absolutely, An'on'ymous. In fact, while mages are abundant, they still represent the minority of humans."
  2424. "I see. I wonder if there's a correlation between being able to use a wand and being able to use mana, let alone a causation."
  2425. >Twilight lets out a hum and leans toward you
  2426. >"You know," she says in a hushed tone, but not quite a whisper, "the fact that you know the difference shows why I like you."
  2427. >"Oh for crying out loud," groans Spitfire, "are you going to be father to a whole generation?"
  2428. "Woah, calm down, 'Sunset Shimmer', I think you're the one jumping the gun here." you say defensively
  2429.  >"Anon," says Celestia is a chastising tone, "please show more respect to my instructors."
  2430. "Oh, right. I apologize. And I apologize to you as well, erm."
  2431. >"Captain."
  2432. "Captain. To be quite honest I forgot you were an instructor and thought for a moment you were Headmistress Celestia's personal guard, or something."
  2433. >"Well, since you didn't elect to take my flying class or my combat magic course, I haven't had you as a student."
  2434. "Ah, yes, that makes sense- wait, there are elective courses here?"
  2435. >"Ahem". Luna gets the attention of the group and looks to her sister. "We believe we should focus on that for which we came here."
  2436. >"Indeed," her sister responds in kind, "I have several ideas for tests to collect more data on this phenomenon. So, Rarity, if you please,"
  2437. >Celestia reaches out to take the necklace from Rarity, but the latter snatches away
  2438. >"Oh, I don't think that's REALLY necessary, I- I mean we've learned enough for a day's work haven't we? I mean, it's only natural I should hold on to something so marvelous and wonderful."
  2439. >She turns to you as if for confirmation
  2440. >"Don't you think so, Anon?"
  2441. >You straighten up and begin to approach her
  2442. "What I think, Rarity, is that you're acting strange."
  2443. >As you approach, she begins backing away, desperately clinging to the amulet
  2444. "Now please, hand back the necklace so we can move on-"
  2445. >"STAY BACK!" She shouts as she raises a hand at you
  2446. >Perhaps if you were expecting it, or even thought it possible, you could have reacted
  2447. >A dark energy coalesces around her hand in an instant, and before you can even think about gathering the mana with which to summon your vines, her spell is released
  2448. >You feel a stinging pain on your neck
  2449. >It's not completely unbearable, nor does it seem indicative of a life-threatening wound, but it sure does sting
  2450. >You reach a hand up to touch it, and when you pull away you see two small drops of blood with slight streaks running down
  2451. >Looking up at Rarity, she looks slightly revitalized, as though she's taken a nice nap
  2452. >You also notice some blood on Rarity's canines as she smiles wickedly
  2453. >Her expression quickly fades from triumphant to horrified, as though she's snapped out of a trance and seen her work
  2454. >She drops to a side sitting position and the necklace (thankfully) falls gently out of her hand to the floor
  2455. >In your peripheral vision you see the adults have stood and drawn wands, holding them ready but not aimed
  2456. >"Anonymous," she stammers out softly, "I'm so sorry. I'm so incredibly sorry."
  2457. >She looks at you through teary eyes and almost whispers
  2458. >"Could you possibly forgive me?"
  2459. >You offer her a warm smile and a thumbs up
  2460. "Don't worry about it, Rarity, after all," you say, pointing said thumb to the side at Sunset, "I've had worse."
  2461. >Rarity giggles and Sunset leans back with an exaggerated groan
  2462. >"Still on about that?" you hear from a voice behind you, one with faked exasperation, as you help Rarity up
  2463. >"Well then," says Celestia as she rises and strides toward Rarity, "I think we've seen what we need to see."
  2464. >She reaches out her hand to take the necklace; Rarity obliges this time
  2465. >"Anonymous may be very forgiving with you, but I will be less so." she says sternly, but not coldly
  2466. >Rarity shrinks even more and winces, but then looks resigned
  2467. >"For starters," she continues, "I don't think you should be messing around with mana anymore, for one thing."
  2468. >"Ahhhhhh, that will be a bit of a problem, you see."
  2469. >"Oh? And why might that be?"
  2470. >Now Celestia just sounds more curious than anything
  2471. >"Well, you see, after I took off the necklace, I no longer felt the white mana flow through it, like all of you, but..."
  2472. >"Oh no." groans Spitfire
  2473. >"I maaaaaay be feeling a similar feeling flowing through myself now."
  2474. >Everyone in the room is shocked, except for Spitfire, who growls into her hands
  2475. >"This is getting out of hand, ma'am! Now there's another one!"
  2476. "You reali-"
  2477. >"YES! Anon, we realize the implications." says Twilight, "Is that your new catchphrase or something?"
  2478. >You cock your head to the side and point at her shiftily
  2479. "You're teasing me, aren't you?"
  2480. >A nod confirms your thoughts
  2481. >"But she's right, sugarcube, we all know what this means. Someone can get your fancy land magic when they didn't have it before."
  2482. >You're surprised to see Applejack picking up on things so quickly
  2483. >"And without becoming a planeswalker" adds Celestia
  2484. >You smile, pondering how this could work
  2485. >Then you help Rarity to her feet, and begin interrogating her, as friends do
  2486. "So, describe this feeling."
  2487. >"Well, it's like, it's similar to the one from the necklace, but different, like it's intertwined with something."
  2488. "Intertwined? There's something corrupting it?"
  2489. >"No, it's more like, it's wibbling and wobbling to and fro, between the familiar energy and a different one."
  2490. "Wha- but that-, oh wait a minute."
  2491. >You start to chuckle to yourself
  2492. "Why didn't I think of this? There's no need for this interrogation. I have a much easier way of knowing what's in your head." you say, tapping your temple
  2493. "If you're alright with it."
  2494. >Rarity looks at you hesitantly, but resigns herself and nods
  2495. >"Just don't go peeking around for more than you need, got it?"
  2496. >You smile and shake your head softly at her
  2497. "I'll do my best."
  2498. >And with that, you-
  2499. >Realize you're out of blue mana
  2500. "Ah, well, we're going to have to wait a while for that anyway.'
  2501. >Rarity smirks at you and cocks a hip
  2502. >"Are you always this anticlimactic?"
  2503. >You smirk right back at her
  2504. "I think you'll find I can be quite climactic."
  2505. >And once again there is an awkward silence
  2506. "I may be good at a lot of things, but phrasing is not one of them, is it?"
  2507. >Rarity shakes her head pitifully at you but with a friendly smile
  2508. "Very well let's see if I can do something about that."
  2509. >You once again call upon the same spell that connected you to the Aether in the first place, as it seems to also grant you use of more land, and thus, more mana
  2510. >You feel an island far away, but it still seems to be on this plane, and your connection to the aether also grows stronger
  2511. >As this happens, you feel the knowledge of this spell fade into the background of you memory, as though you still know it, but it is now somehow blocked off
  2512. >Just as well, you suppose, it would be a little much if you could just constantly cast it and gain access to more and more mana and aether
  2513. >The rules of this magic seem almost arbitrary at times
  2514. >Finally, a new spell enters your consciousness
  2515. >This one requires much more mana, but you can tell it's more powerful, and you're eager to try it out
  2516. >Your mana returns to you as well, sans the one forest you used to cast your spell
  2517. "Alright, Rarity, I'm ready. Are you?"
  2518. >She nods once again, looking more resolved this time
  2519. >You weave your spell, and you feel a much deeper psychic connection this time
  2520. >You can see what you see, or see what she sees, or both, one layered translucently over the other
  2521. >Similarly, you can hear her thoughts, and use all of her other senses as well. You try making her move, but it seems like you can't actually control her
  2522. >Still, being inside her head with her in real time continuously is very powerful
  2523. >"What kind of spell did you cast?" asks Twilight
  2524. >"Indeed, I'd like to know as well." says Rarity, "After all, you cast it on me."
  2525. ~'A simple psychic possession spell,'~ you think
  2526. >Rarity simply shrugs, seeming to have not heard you
  2527. >Oh, this gets even better
  2528. "I'm sorry, it's well, you see, I'm in your mind with you. I can see through your eyes, hear with your ears, and feel your body as though it were my own."
  2529. >Rarity looks puzzled for a moment
  2530. >"Alright then," she pauses for a moment and then looks at you confidently, "what am I thinking of right now?"
  2531. "You're going to visualize the castle, your house, and then Twilight in that order, and ask me what you thought of."
  2532. >"Well, I mean, that's just surface level-"
  2533. "You're also holding three fingers up behind your back, and, oh, your left hand is itching on the back like it always does when you're nervous."
  2534. >Speaking of nervous, she seems increasingly so
  2535. "And you didn't THINK about your itchy hand, you just felt it in the back of your mind,"
  2536. >You raise your hand and tap a particular spot with your finger
  2537. "just like I did."
  2538. >Now she seems truly shocked and horrified
  2539. >But, as always, she composes herself again
  2540. >"Very well, I'll just think about the events which we're investigating."
  2541. "No need," you say with a grin, "I can find it myself."
  2542. ***
  2543. >You're Rarity
  2544. >Well, not quite, you're An'on'ymous, but in Rarity's head, but in the past, but you can still think and act for yourself separately in the present
  2545. >Woah
  2546. >You focus on a few minutes ago, when Rarity first gained this new mana
  2547. >Rarity, and thus yourself, remembers a flow of energy that's similar to white mana, but different, as though mixed with something
  2548. >No, not mixed, that's not right
  2549. >It's more like a quantum superposition, being both white and decidedly non-white, being either or depending in your (Rarity's) need
  2550. >You can see the place from whence it came
  2551. >It is some sort of shrine, with a sun and moon fresco behind it
  2552. >Rarity (you) also envisions a rolling field with a different, perhaps more impressive castle in the distance
  2553. >As you return fully to yourself, you can still feel your connection to Rarity, so it would seem it's always there and can be "dialed In" so to speak
  2554. >~'So Anon can feel my body as if it were his own? Does that mean he knows what it's like to have lady parts?
  2555. "Indeed, Rarity, I now know what it feels like to have 'lady parts' as you put it."
  2556. >"Ewww," says Pinkie, "I don't like this spell, Anon's being too weird with it."
  2557. >"This is a fucking disaster." says Spitfire hopelessly
  2558. >"We have a hormonal teenage boy in the school who can psychically possess girls, reading their minds and perceiving their senses in real time."
  2559. >...
  2560. "Yes." You reply flatly
  2561. >She glares Daggers through you, and you decide that messing with the captain in this way is just too much fun
  2562. >"Is there any sort of safeguard against this type of thing?" asks Celestia, "The school has a latent enchantment that protects the students and faculty from mind reading, but as you'd imagine it only works on our type of magic."
  2563. >You ponder the possibilities for a moment
  2564. "Well, I can think of 3 potential methods of safeguarding from this. Well, 4 really."
  2565. >"Do go on," says Spitfire, "we're all ears."
  2566. "Well one is that you simply trust me not to misuse this magic or make it available to others. One boon of this is that this spell uses what is currently nearly all my mana, of which the rules for when it 'recharges' so to speak are seemingly arbitrary. It does, however, seem to refresh all at once at least once per day or when entering a dangerous situation such as a battle for the first time, and periodically afterward."
  2567. >"And the others?"
  2568. "The second is that I mass produce a certain type of artifact that protects against all mana based magic and probaby your own kind as well, and distribute them to the students and faculty. Among the downsides of which I'm sure you see some immediately, are that such artifacts are expensive and difficult to make, and I'm not entirely sure I can make more than one or two with my current amount of materials and aether, though perhaps your vault would help me."
  2569. >"So that pretty much rules that out" says Sunset
  2570. "The third is that I scour the multiverse for knowledge on how to produce a similar enchantment to your own that works on mana spells."
  2571. >You chuckle morbidly to yourself as you prepare to deliver your final line
  2572. "The fourth and quite final option is that you kill me... or, otherwise remove me from the school."
  2573. >"Well, I don't know about killing you, but otherwise I'm liking the last option."
  2574. >"Now Spitfire," Celestia calmly interjects, "don't be so hasty."
  2575. >She once again arises from her seat, and moving around to you she places a hand on your shoulder
  2576. >"I did make a deal with Mr. Ptolymous here, and I intend to keep it. Besides,"
  2577. >She holds the amulet up before everyone present
  2578. >"Now that we know our people can be users of this type of magic, even natively, whatever insight he does have into it will be invaluable."
  2579. "You flatter me too much, headmistress."
  2580. >"You really do."
  2581. >You give Sunset The Look™, to which she responds with The Smile™
  2582. "Ooh. That's just too effective."
  2583. >"So," says Rainbow as she nudged Sunset, "do Twi and I have even more competition, or what?"
  2584. >Sunset looks sideways at you with a mischievous grin
  2585. >"I'll get back to you on that."
  2586. >Spitfire simply buries her face in her hands again
  2587. "Don't worry, Captain. Once the mystique of my extradimensional origin and strange alien magic wears off, they'll realize what a boring, awkward nerd I am and move on."
  2588. >"Oh come off it, Anon. We've been over this. You rushed off to an unknown world and fought a dragon to save me. Most guys wouldn't do that!"
  2589. >"I have to admit," you hear semi-muffled from behind Spitfire's hands, "she does have a point."
  2590. >"It's settled then." says Celestia as she hands the amulet back to Fluttershy
  2591. >"Mr. Ptolymous, could you perhaps make another of these and place it into the vault? Speaking of which, Sunset can assist you in accessing it for now. I'll get you your own key made later."
  2592. "I'd advise against that, ehadmistress. You see, if I were allowed unsupervised access to a vault full of powerful artifacts, well..."
  2593. >You try to think of a concise way to phrase this
  2594. "Let me put it this way: Artifice is my addiction, and I tend to get carried away. I've nearly starved to death on a few occasions from a tinkering binge."
  2595. >"I see."
  2596. "I've already asked Sunset if she'll supervise me. As long as someone does, it should be fine."
  2597. >"Very well then. Once you've tested it, I'd like you and Miss Shimmer to put it in the vault."
  2598. "Can do, Headmistress."
  2599. >"Well, we think that concludes things for now. You are all free to go. My sister and the Captain will be discussing where to go from here."
  2600. >"Oh, that reminds me," says Celestia, turning to Fluttershy and Rarity, "I already have An'on'ymous scheduled to test his magic with me on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6:00. I think we've done enough for today, but I'd like you two to join us in the future."
  2601. >They nod their heads, and with that, you all turn to exit Celestia's Chamber.
  2602. ***
  2603. >It's Wednesday evening, and you and your friends are gathered in the commons discussing the recent developments
  2604. >"So, Anon, where did you say black mana comes from?"
  2605. "Swamps."
  2606. >"Swamps, dear?"
  2607. "Indeed. Swamps."
  2608. >"Like, the kind with boggy, wet ground?"
  2609. "Yes, Rarity, those kind of swamps. It doesn't need to be botanically or ecologically a swamp, though. Any area of land where wet ground meets decaying material can be a source of black mana."
  2610. >Rarity looks quite disgusted at the prospect
  2611. >"And if I'm to gain more black mana, I may have to visit one of these swamps?"
  2612. "Most likely, unless you can recall a swamp to which you've been that harbors a strong connection to you. Or you can find a spell that connects you to a swamp."
  2613. >"Aha, and plains are the source of white mana?"
  2614. "Indeed. Once again, any relatively flat field can be a potential source of white mana, whether a rolling prairie or a wheat field. That said, lands which have existed in the same state for a long time and are permanently in their state tend to be the ones through which mana can be drawn out from the world."
  2615. >"Well, if you don't mind, I think I'll be focusing on white mana. Besides, I can already recall visions of a faraway plain from which I don't seem to feel any mana yet, but somehow I know I can if I go there."
  2616. "Ah, yes, the one with the other castle?"
  2617. >She shudders at the mention of your mental trespass
  2618. >"Not just any castle. Luna Nova Academy."
  2619. >The rest of the girls gasp at this
  2620. >"Luna Nova? The most prestigious magical academy in the world?!"
  2621. >The rest of your friends, as well as several students nearby, give Twilight a sour look
  2622. >"Uhhh besides RCA, of course!"
  2623. >Everyone rolls their eyes at Twilight, even you, as you can see how bad her acting is
  2624. "I take it then, that you tried to get into this Luna Nova school?"
  2625. >"Well, uh, maybe. I mean, I dreamed of going when I was little. But when I was 14, they wouldn't let me in, so I came here."
  2626. "I see. Well it soun- wait, you said you came here when you were 14?"
  2627. >"Yep, and now I'm in my second year."
  2628. "A-huh. And the rest of you are?"
  2629. >"First years, like you," says Sunset, "but Twilight came in 2 years early cause, y'know, super genius."
  2630. >Running some quick mental calculations, you conclude that you're not a cradle robber
  2631. >"Oh, come on, Sunset. I'm not much smarter than all of you guys, I just like schoolwork so I took summer classes every year."
  2632. "Well the important thing is... Really, Twilight? 'Not MUCH smarter'?"
  2633. >Everyone rolls their eyes again except for Rainbow Dash, who just stares ahead with glassy eyes
  2634. >A moment later-
  2635. >"Hey! What do you mean 'not MUCH'?"
  2636. >Twilight blushes but simply grins at Rainbow
  2637. >"You know what I meant"
  2638. "Speaking of black mana, Rarity, if you're going to take another bite out of me,"
  2639. >You point to the still-healing marks on your neck and smirk
  2640. "could you give me a heads up first?"
  2641. >"Oh? You mean you're okay with me giving you a little nibble as long as I warn you first?"
  2642. "Um, well, I mean, I would prefer you not, since it kind of hurt."
  2643. >Her expression turns from one of satisfaction to annoyance
  2644. >...
  2645. "Oh. I think I get it now."
  2646. >She and the girls roll their eyes yet again at you
  2647. "But I thought you said you weren't... interested in me, uh, in that way."
  2648. >"Oh I'm not. No offense, you're just not my type. It's called 'teasing', darling. Look it up."
  2649. >You start to reply but Applejack cuts you off
  2650. >"Don't actually look it up. I've noticed you take things pretty literally."
  2651. >You pause and look down, then back at AJ
  2652. "That I do, I'll admit."
  2653. >"Well, girls, I'm a bit tired after today's events. Who new trying out a new type of magic would be so draining?"
  2654. "Last I checked, Rarity, you're the one who drained me."
  2655. >"Oh, darling, if you want me to drain you, I'd be happy to, for a price, of course."
  2656. >Your jaw drops and you stare at Rarity dumbfounded for a moment before shaking yourself back to reality
  2657. "I don't suppose that's more of this 'teasing' thing you've told me about?"
  2658. >"Indeed it is. Now then, a lady needs her beauty sleep, and we all have class in the morning."
  2659. "True enough. I guess I'll head to my room too."
  2660. >"I bet it's pretty lonely out there, having to sleep so far away from everyone else." says Dash offhandedly
  2661. "Hmm, maybe a little. Any, particular reason you're asking?"
  2662. >Dash simply raises her eyebrow at you
  2663. >"There you go again, reading too far into things."
  2664. >For a moment you're worried you've gone too far yet again
  2665. >But then she smiles and riffles your hair
  2666. >"It's called teasing, daaaahhhling. Look it up."
  2667. >She pecks you on the cheek
  2668. >"Or don't."
  2669. >You return the favor with a peck to her cheek and wish her a good night as she walks away
  2670. >Various classmates around you ooh and ahh at this, but you pay them no mind
  2671. >Twilight approaches you as you stand up
  2672. >"Good night, An'on'ymous."
  2673. "Good night, Twilight."
  2674. >She looks at you expectantly
  2675. >Oh
  2676. >You lean down and give her a light kiss on the forehead
  2677. >She smiles and walks away in the same direction as Dash
  2678. >The oohing and ahhing is even more intense now, but you still elect to ignore it
  2679. >"So," you hear from an unfamiliar voice behind you
  2680. >Turning around you see three girls from the school
  2681. >One has dark blue hair with an off-white bluish streak and light blue skin
  2682. >Another has cream-colored skin and light pink hair
  2683. >The third has lemon yellow skin and two-tone light blue hair
  2684. >The pink haired one is the one addressing you
  2685. >"You're just giving out free kisses?"
  2686. "Maybe. Are you interested?"
  2687. >She smirks at you and addresses the blue girl
  2688. >"I told you all this was gonna go to his head."
  2689. "Okay, hold on. I was kidding. I'm trying my best to develop a sense of humor."
  2690. >"Alright then, fair enough. I'm Twinkleshine."
  2691. >"Minuette" says the blue girl
  2692. >"And I'm Lemon Hearts"
  2693. "Nice to meet you all."
  2694. >So, like everyone, we were curious about, well, everything about you. We won't bother you too much right now, but would you mind sitting with us at breakfast tomorrow?"
  2695. "Not at all. I'll be there."
  2696. >"Great."
  2697. >Minuette step forward and faces you directly before turning her head to the side
  2698. >"Goodnight, An'on'ymous."
  2699. "Um, goodnight, uh, Minuette?"
  2700. >As you turn toward the hallway leading to your room, Minuette clears her throat
  2701. >You turm back to her to see what she wants, and she leans forward, moving her cheek toward you
  2702. >"I'm waiting."
  2703. "uhhhhhhhhhhhh"
  2704. >"Well?'
  2705. >Looking around for some kind of clue, you eventually lean forward and tentatively give Minuette a very quick peck on the cheek
  2706. >She smiles, backs up, and cups her mouth with her hand
  2707. >"Hey everyone, Anon is giving out free kisses!"
  2708. >A gaggle of giddy girls surrounds you before you know it, all clamoring toward you
  2709. "Wait, what is this? I'm not- hey, stay back!"
  2710. >They begin to pull you this way and that and plant kisses on various parts of your head, neck, and arms
  2711. >Trying to quickly discern the best option, you consider summoning another watchwolf to aid you
  2712. >No, too dangerous
  2713. >Planeswalk away?
  2714. >You might not have the energy to return tonight, and you have class in the morning
  2715. >AH! Good old escape plan
  2716. >You conjure up a set of wings and with a flap, take off toward the ceiling
  2717. >Fortunately it's high enough to place you well enough above all the girls
  2718. >You struck a few of them with your initial flaps, but feathers aren't exactly the most harmful blunt weapons in the world
  2719. >"Aww come on, An'on'ymous," Twinkleshine shouts up at you, "we were just playing around!"
  2720. >You call back down to her
  2721. "It's already more than I can handle when one or two girls tease me, but a dozen?"
  2722. >You sigh and prepare for your descent
  2723. "This school is going to be the death of me."
  2724. >You arc up, around, and down, and glide over the girls heads into the hallway to D wing
  2725. >When you meet a corner, you bank and run along the wall to prevent crashing
  2726. >You touch down, dissipate the wings, and walk the rest of the way to your room
  2727. >Opening it with a tap of your wand, you settle in for the night
  2728. >A moment later, as you're preparing to sleep, you hear a knock on your door
  2729. >Cautiously opening it, you see Minuette, thankfully alone this time
  2730. "Can I help you?" you say with a slight bit of irritation in your voice
  2731. >"I never gave you your kiss back."
  2732. "I-"
  2733. >She cuts you off with a quick peck on the lips
  2734. >Nothing crazy, but certainly not what you were expecting
  2735. >Should you be upset that she did that without your permission?
  2736. >Nah, she's too cute for that, you admit to yourself
  2737. >"See you at breakfast, Anon."
  2738. >Thusly she turns toward the exit to D wing and you reenter your room for the night
  2739. >Now fully settled in, you set your alarm and drift off to sleep.
  2740. ***
  2741. >Your alarm wakes you as harshly as ever, and you prepare yourself for the day
  2742. >At breakfast, you initially head toward your clique, but you tell them about your agreement and head over to where the girls from last night are seated
  2743. >Taking your seat between Minuette and Oak Forest, you notice that she, Pollen Haze, and Venus are here as well
  2744. "I'm here as promised."
  2745. >"Glad you made it."
  2746. "Indeed. Now, Minuette, before we begin what I'm sure is going to be quite the interrogation about Ravnica, mana, the multiverse, and Twilight and Company's role in all this, I'd like to ask you a bit of a personal question, and I'd like an honest response."
  2747. >"Alright, hit me."
  2748. "So, since I'm not very good at figuring these kinds of things out for myself I must ask: regarding last night, do you have genuine feelings for me, or was that simply more teasing?"
  2749. >Minuette smiles at you and rests her head in her hand, elbow on the table
  2750. >"I don't know. It started out as teasing, but maybe if we got to know each other more, I might develop an interest in you. Or I might not. I'm not the type to fall head over heels at first sight."
  2751. "You sound like a blue mage to me."
  2752. >"Oh no, I'm quite happy this way."
  2753. "Oh no- not, I mean blue as in the color of mana. Logical, analytical, and precise."
  2754. >"Ahhh, I see. Although, I could tell you who is quite infatuated with you."
  2755. >You follow her gaze to Pollen Haze, a hand does she raise, and anger she displays
  2756. >"Minuette, don't."
  2757. >You cock an eyebrow at her
  2758. "Don't what?"
  2759. >"Tell you I have a crush on you!"
  2760. >Wait for it, wait for it...
  2761. >"Oh."
  2762. >There it is
  2763. >"Well, I guess the cat's out of the bag, now, huh?"
  2764. >You see tears start to form in her eyes and even hear a couple of light sobs
  2765. "Oh, I'm sorry, I-"
  2766. >"It's alright," Oak cuts you off, "you did nothing wrong. Pollen is, eh, a bit overemotional. She just reacts more to things than most people"
  2767. "I see."
  2768. >Then, from out of nowhere, quite possibly the most beautiful sound you've ever heard
  2769. >Not just a sound but a voice
  2770. >"It's something she's been working on,"
  2771. >You realize not a moment too soon that the source of the voice is Venus
  2772. >"but it's still a work in progress."
  2773. >You sit awestruck, a single tear even escaping your eye to roll down your cheek
  2774. >"Yo, An'on'ymous."
  2775. >Minuette shaking you returns you to reality, as you wipe away the tear
  2776. "Sorry for staring, it's just, you have the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. It's like the soothing words of an angel mixed with a dryad's song."
  2777. >Venus simply smiles the same way she always does: with gentle friendliness and soothing familiarity
  2778. >"Oh, right, you haven't heard Venus speak before, have you?"
  2779. >You shake your head disappointedly
  2780. "Indeed I haven't. To think of all the time on which I've missed out."
  2781. >"So you don't know the full story then. Venus is a demihuman."
  2782. "Demihuman? As in part human, part non-human?"
  2783. >"That's right. She's half human, half siren. Which basically makes her three quarters human, one quarter bird."
  2784. >Venus shakes her head at this, never loosing that sweet smile
  2785. >"Her words carry powerful magic of their own, so she has to limit how much she uses it, lest she accidentally take over the minds of everyone in the school."
  2786. "You're really that powerful?"
  2787. >She nods at you and sips her morning tea
  2788. "Wow. I would need to amass a lot of mana to be able to do something like that, and you must restrain yourself to avoid passively doing it. Amazing. But tell me, why then did you speak to me?"
  2789. >She smiles, sets down her tea and opens her mouth once more
  2790. >You can't wait
  2791. >"I like to take the chance to speak whenever I can find an excuse. And besides that, I felt you deserved to hear it at least once."
  2792. >You can't stand this anymore
  2793. >Your eternal undying love for Venus must be declared here and now
  2794. >You stand up, jump over the table (with an athleticism you didn't know you had) and land behind Pollen Haze
  2795. >You turn to Venus, who has herself turned to you with the first new expression you've seen on her
  2796. >She almost looks worried
  2797. >No, she must simply be impressed at your physical prowess
  2798. "Venus, my love. I have thought of you day and night since the dawn of time, and would follow you to the end of existence. Please, take my hand, and join me in marriage."
  2799. >The love of your life smiles one again and draws her wand from her robe
  2800. >Perhaps she intends to use magic to aid in the wedding preparations
  2801. >She taps you on the forehead, and you remember that she isn't the love of your life and sole object of your infinite affection
  2802. >Wait, why did you propose to her?
  2803. >Wait, you proposed to her
  2804. >And confessed your eternal love to her
  2805. >Oh
  2806. >Oh no
  2807. >The great hall, silent but for a moment, becomes the site of what surely must be the greatest uproar of laughter ever produced almost solely by teenage girls
  2808. >Your worst nightmare since joining this school is now reality, and you can't wake up
  2809. >You're already awake
  2810. >A thunderous clap echoes throughout the hall, so loud as just short of painful
  2811. >The hall goes silent once again, and you do what everyone else did: look to the source
  2812. >You see Chancellor Luna standing at the staff table, hands clasped tightly together
  2813. >"Thank you students. Now while we must admit that Mr. Ptolymous' display under the effects of Venus' song was, to put it mildly, utterly hilarious, we must ask that peace in the great hall be kept. And besides, the entire student body laughing at one student, no matter how good the cause, is no way for young witches to conduct themselves."
  2814. >You rejoin your side of the table by summoning your familiar vines but this time willing them to carry you over the table before dissipating
  2815. >Retaking your seat, you begin to quietly finish your breakfast
  2816. >Oak Forest pats you on the back and gives you a thumbs up
  2817. >"Hey, don't sweat it, dude. You're not the first student to confess your alleged love to Venus in front of people. Hell, you're not the first one to propose. Although I must say you're the first one to do it so publicly and with such flair."
  2818. "I take it she's turned down the other marriage proposals as well?"
  2819. >"Yep. Not least among the reasons being that they're from other girls. Believe me I've been trying to get with Venus for months but it's always straight this and hetero that- blugh. I even tried the line about spaghetti, didn't work."
  2820. "Spaghetti? Do I want to know?"
  2821. >"Hmmmnn. Nah."
  2822. "Alright then."
  2823. >You then turn back to Venus again
  2824. "So, since I'm a young man myself, does that mean I have a chance at marrying you after all?"
  2825. >Venus, as you hoped, seems to understand your intentions, and chuckles softly to herself
  2826. >She holds up her finger and thumb close together in the universal sign for "tiny"
  2827. "So you're saying there's a chance?"
  2828. >Venus shakes her head in her version of laughter, but then turns back to you and nods once
  2829. >Oh, alright then
  2830. >Twinkleshine, who's been very quiet this whole time (laughter notwithstanding), nudges Pollen Haze with an "ahem"
  2831. >"Oh, right, so Anon, since you're technically available as of right now, I was wondering if you maybe wanted to go to town together on Saturday to get to know each other a bit?"
  2832. "I see. And would this be what people from your world would call a 'date'?"
  2833. >"Ah, yes, I was asking you on a date."
  2834. >This girl doesn't really seem to be your type
  2835. >Of course a week ago you wouldn't have cared
  2836. >You'd have desperately accepted or turned her down out of suspicion of being a spy
  2837. >Now things are different
  2838. >That said, why not?
  2839. "Alright then. One date won't hurt I suppose. After all, it's not a marriage proposal."
  2840. >Your secondary group of now friends laughs along with you
  2841. >"So," says Minuette, "I don't suppose you could find time in your schedule for a date with me?"
  2842. >You can't help but bury your face in your hand
  2843. "Of course, Minuette, I'm sure I can find time in my schedule for a date with you."
  2844. >You can't help but chuckle at the whole situation
  2845. >"Told you it would go to his head." says Twinkleshine
  2846. "If someone told me but a week ago that I would ever need to keep an itinerary of dates with pretty young women, I'd have laughed them right out of my workshop."
  2847. >"You do know what to do on a date, right?" asks Lemon Hearts
  2848. "Of course," you proclaim proudly, "listen carefully, let her talk about herself and what she's like. Only talk about yourself if asked, and only as much as needed."
  2849. >"Huh, that's actually pretty solid advice from a girl's perspective. Where'd you learn that?"
  2850. "One of my acquaintances on Ravnica told me about it, in case I'd ever actually need the advice."
  2851. >"So, what kind of dates have you been on with Twilight and Rainbow Dash?"
  2852. >You think for a moment and realize something
  2853. "You know, now that you mention it, I haven't really been on any formal dates with either of them so far. With Twilight it's mostly been studying together and chatting about history and stuff."
  2854. >You think about your budding relationship with Dash
  2855. "And with Rainbow Dash, well, it's mostly flying practice and just chatting with each other. Oh, and dragon fights on other worlds, I guess maybe you could call that a date."
  2856. >"Oh yeah," says Minuette, "that story's made it's rounds. First time you got a real good look at Dash, huh?"
  2857. "Oh no, that was the second time."
  2858. >"Wait, you saw Dash naked before that?!"
  2859. >...
  2860. >You really should think more before you speak
  2861. >You used to, but then you started working on that
  2862. >Dammit, where's the happy balance?
  2863. "Um, well, you see..."
  2864. >And so you embarrassedly recount the story of running into Dash in the shower, though you left out all the mind probing
  2865. >"Wow, I'm surprised Dash didn't kill you."
  2866. >"I'm surprised Sunset didn't kill you."
  2867. >"You know her thing with guys?"
  2868. "Oh yeah, I know. I have the bruises to remind me."
  2869. >"Alright then, about time for morning class. See you around, Anon. Don't forget to meet up with me and Pollen about our dates."
  2870. "Will do."
  2871. >You head off to your morning classes and can conclude the the routine is firmly settled into
  2872. >At lunch, you sit with your regular fiends once again
  2873.  >"So, what did Minuette al want?" asks Twilight
  2874. "Ha! I'll have to remember that one. Anyway, they wanted to ask me more about my world and mana. Which, now that I think about it, we never actually talked about that at all. We mainly just talked about dating and romance and stuff."
  2875. >"Oh that reminds me, Anon,"
  2876. "Yes, Sunset?"
  2877. >"When's the wedding?"
  2878. "You mean, mine and Dash's? Or mine and Twilight's?"
  2879. >The two of them look at you surprised
  2880. "Or maybe mine and Minuette's? Mine and Pollen Haze's? You couldn't mean mine and yours, you know that one. Oh, you mean mine and Venus'. Right. Oh yeah, by the way, Sunset, I hope you don't mind being my sixth wife."
  2881. >"Uh, Anon," says Twilight, "I know you haven't talked much about marriage on Ravnica, but polyamory hasn't been practiced on this plane in centuries."
  2882. "Well, seems to me it's time for a renaissance."
  2883. >"Keep dreaming lover boy."
  2884. >You smile to Sunset in the most innocent way you can muster
  2885. "I don't have to, Sunset, every day with you girls is a dream come true."
  2886. >Instead of a smirk, a smug smile, or The Smile™, she just, smiles at you
  2887. >"Thanks, Anon. I'm glad to hear it."
  2888. >Pinkie is next one to speak to you
  2889. >"So, Nonny, have any plans for the weekend?"
  2890. "Well besides the usual homework and testing with Headmistress Celestia on Saturday, I was hoping to check out the vault with Sunset."
  2891. >"Can do, Mr. Tinker."
  2892. "Also, I'm supposed to take Minuette and Pollen Haze out on dates at some point this weekend."
  2893. >Rainbow Dash actually chokes on her drink a bit and comes up gasping
  2894. >"Geez, Anon, I know I said we should explore our options for now, but I didn't say the whole school."
  2895. "But you didn't say NOT the whole school either."
  2896. >Rainbow rolls her eyes at you and goes back to her lunch
  2897. "Man, just getting to eat like this every day is a huge plus of coming here. If I keep this up, I might just get some meat on my bones."
  2898. >You swear you see Twilight bite her lip at that out of the corner of your eye
  2899. >But you might just be imagining things
  2900. >As you finish your meal, you realize you need to use the bathroom now
  2901. >Good thing you still have some time before your next class
  2902. "I'll see you girls later."
  2903. >You head off to D Hall, and the girls wave you goodbye
  2904.  
  2905. >You're Rarity, and you wonder about that boy sometimes
  2906. "So, Twilight, what do you think?"
  2907. >"Um, about what?"
  2908. "About An'on'ymous bringing back polygamy, of course."
  2909. >"Wha- well I think it's a silly idea, and I like to think he was joking."
  2910. >"Yeah!" Rainbow interjects, "He definitely was kidding."
  2911. "Struck a nerve, have I darlings? I was only asking."
  2912. >Your sly smile, however, hides none of the fact that you are teasing your friends to no end other than your amusement
  2913. >They're fine with it, of course, in the long run
  2914. >If they weren't, they'd tell you, because you all trust each other like that
  2915. >"He better have been." Twilight says with a sting you wouldn't expect from her
  2916. >"I won't hold it against him if he doesn't end up choosing me, but I don't plan on sharing him past the point of casual dating."
  2917. "Hmm, suit yourself."
  2918. >You take a sip of your tea, dainty as always, and set your cup down
  2919. "Besides, if there's one man in this world who's *not* prepared to manage a harem, it's him."
  2920.  
  2921. >You're Antonon Ptolymous, and you're in Practical Spellcasting 111
  2922. >Miss Daisy is waiting patiently for your feather to arise, as is the rest of the class
  2923. >But it won't, regardless of how hard you point your wand at it
  2924. >"Ahem, Mr. Ptolymous, try using the incantation
  2925. "Oh, right, of course."
  2926. >You ready your wand again and say
  2927. "Salta."
  2928. >The feather leaps from the desk to a height of a few inches before gently fluttering down to the desk
  2929. >It's, well, it's uh
  2930. "Pathetic."
  2931. >You say out loud, your disdain for your own failure clear in your voice
  2932. >"It's quite alright, Mr. Ptolymous. While your normal magic may not be as impressive as your alien magic, it's important to work hard at it for the sake of your academics. And with time and hard work, I'm sure you'll catch up."
  2933. >You steal some sideways glances at your classmates and they seem, well, apathetic
  2934. >No one's rushing to your side to console you, nor is anyone teasing you or even looking down on you
  2935. >It's quite acceptable
  2936. "Alright, Miss Daisy, I'll be sure to do so."
  2937. >"Good. Now then..."
  2938. >The rest of the class drags on similarly, with you being not quite adequate but better than nothing at the various spellcasting feats needed for the class
  2939. >Teacher was right, you definitely need to work on your aethermagic more
  2940. >At least you're not a complete loser in the field though
  2941. >When you first came here, you couldn't do their form of magic at all
  2942. >Progress is progress
  2943. >After classes are over for the day, you are with your friends in the field again, you and Rainbow doing lazy laps around on your brooms
  2944. >Applejack has joined you as well
  2945. >Though she's not much for flying, she says she needs the practice for class
  2946. >That's right, you've been meaning to take some elective classes, though you imagine that's something you'd have to wait for until next semester, or even next year
  2947. >"Not bad, guys, but I think you can do better."
  2948. >AJ turns to you with a smirk
  2949. >"Well, I reckon she's challenging us. Think you're up for it?"
  2950. "Only one way to find out."
  2951. >The two of you take off after Dash, and while it's clear that she's going very easy on you just to give you a chance of keeping up, the two of you do fairly well
  2952. >At least, you think
  2953. >You and Applejack stay pretty much together the whole way, not on purpose, but you both seem to be the same level of slightly below average when it comes to flying ability
lwa SAFE Sunset Shimmer Rainbow Dash Romance

SciLight Laboratories, Inc

by SpeedBoostBlaziken

Anonymous, age 17

by SpeedBoostBlaziken

Flower Sisters

by SpeedBoostBlaziken

Mama Pinkie to You [Human, incest]

by SpeedBoostBlaziken

The Substitute

by SpeedBoostBlaziken