The sound of hooves on the pavement echoed through the streets of Fillydelphia. A black mare with a pure black mane galloped down the dark sidewalks and across streets, ignoring the traffic signals. She ran up the access ramp onto the bridge to the pedestrian walkway. She slowed to a trot, iron shoes clicking on the bare cement. The lights of the city reflected off the water far below and off her long straight mane. The wind scattered the black strands and blew them in her face. The dim light of lanterns overhead revealed her deep green eyes.
She stopped near the middle of the river. She looked over the railing at the water below. The autumn wind brought the smell of cooking food and manure from the city. Tears ran down her face and the wind took them away into the night air. They fell into the cold water of the river. She tore off her dark purple hock socks with her teeth. “Screw you, Cozy Hooves!” she shouted to the air. Her words were lost in the thunder of hooves and the rumble of late night wagons behind her. “Melanie…” she whispered with tears running down her cheeks. She put her forelegs up on the railing and dropped the socks toward the river. The stockings caught the wind and lodged in the steel framing of the bridge half way down.
Pale pink tracings showed through the black on her forelegs. “The biggest distributor of hock socks in Equestria can bite my shiny black ass and so can that bitch,” she said, snorting out the words. She drew the sharpened edge of a horseshoe along her fore cannon. It left a trail of fresh blood. She shivered again, this time from the cold.
She just felt numb inside. “What’s the use of being an intern? What’s the use of being anything when you’re not anything,” she said, choking on the words. She slashed at her blank black flank with her hoof. It left another trail of blood. The gaping wound was the only mark. The dark red ran down her leg and onto the cold cement.
“What’s the use of trying to care about someone who would ditch you as soon as a stallion came along?” she gasped, choking. She collapsed onto her hocks. She sat and sobbed for a long time. Nopony came along the walkway to disturb her. Her tears gradually subsided and the wind dried her wet cheeks. She was colder than ever. She could hardly feel her hooves.
She stood and put her forehooves up on the railing. She slashed at her leg, producing a spurt of bright blood this time. It sprayed onto her face and into her mane. She slashed the other, the shoe biting in deeper but not producing much blood. The searing pain wracked her body. She rose higher, beginning to push herself over the railing.
There was a voice behind her. “You shouldn’t do that,” it said.
She was startled and fell off the railing. She landed painfully on sidewalk on her wounded flank. “What do you know about it?” she shouted. Her eyes suddenly opened wide. A white unicorn stood before her. He was as pure white as she was black. His pale blue eyes shined in the darkness.
“You don’t need to hurt so bad,” he said, “There’s another way.”
She just sat and sobbed, grit on the walkway grinding into the wound on her hip. Blood ran down her fore cannon and pooled around her hoof.
The unicorn approached and touched her exposed flank with his hoof. “You’ve never found your place in the world,” he said gently, “but there’s a place for everypony.”
She glared at him and tried to move away. It only brought more pain. The unicorn’s horn glowed faintly and the blood stopped flowing onto the pavement. “Who do you think you are?” she yelled, “I just want to end it!”
“My name’s Moon,” he said, “and I think I can help you find your place.”
• • •
The class met in the palace garden under the full moon. The guards recognized the students somehow and let them all pass without interference. Molly was talking with Miss Selene, who was facing away from Trixie. Moon Pie showed up looking more weird and glowy than usual. Twilight was nowhere to be seen.
The moonlight cast strange shadows from the trees above. Trixie hadn’t been in the palace gardens before. Her meetings with Luna had been mainly in the underground parts of the palace. The garden was beautifully groomed. Paths paved with stone and brick led in a huge maze. Arbors and tea houses provided places to rest. The class gathered in a small pavilion with an open roof that let the moonlight shine down on them. An owl perched among the overhanging vines. The pavilion sat on a large island in a stream with a bridge on either side. There were a few small cages off to one side, one containing a cockatrice with a falconer’s hood on its head.
Selene turned toward Trixie and she gasped. Her teacher was wearing a heavy silver necklace with an inscribed ruby set in it. Selene smiled. “Don’t worry, Trixie,” she said, “the situation is under control.” Molly looked confused. Trixie could sense a very strong enchantment on the gem. When she’d last seen it there had been none. But she had also encountered one of the scariest and creepiest situations of her life. Selene moved off to speak with other students. Part of Trixie wanted to go back over one of those bridges and forget about this particular lesson.
Molly sidled up to Trixie, who must have looked worried. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“It’s that ruby,” Trixie said, leaning against her friend, “Luna sent me on a quest with that thing once. It was a really freaky situation. Remember the wraith I met in Everfree Forest?” Trixie looked around nervously. She couldn’t see or sense anything lurking in the garden. She hoped the ghostly knight she had once encountered really had dissolved in the moonlight.
By the time Selene gathered the class together Trixie had stopped worrying so much. Surely her teacher knew what she was doing and Molly was standing by her side.
“Good evening class,” Selene said, “Tonight, as you may know, we’re going to be working with magical creatures. The first one you’re going to meet is a being nopony has seen in centuries, with a very few exceptions.” She nodded toward Trixie. Trixie’s mane stood on end.
Selene bent down her head and spoke. “Would you please show yourself to us?” she asked in a soft voice. The gem at her neck glowed ruby red for a moment and a wispy figure appeared in front of her. It was a unicorn knight in armor, his horn covered with a terrible iron spike. Trixie stared at his chest. When she’d last seen him there was torn armor and a gaping wound there. Now that seemed to be remedied. She wondered how a wraith could heal a wound and get his ethereal armor repaired.
The ghostly knight took off his helmet and bowed to the class. “Good evening, students,” he said, “I am Sir Gilead, once captain of the guard to our Princess Luna.” He pronounced that last with a ridiculous flourish.
“Sir Gilead,” Selena explained, “is a unicorn who died more than one thousand years ago. Due to an unfortunate incident he was exposed to revivifying water after having actually died he has become a wraith. The result is what you see before you.”
The knight’s form was becoming more solid in the moonlight. For the first time Trixie noticed a silvery crescent moon crossed by a lance on his hip. It was disturbingly similar to her own mark. “During the last thousand years many creatures such as him hid themselves away,” Selene continued, “With Princess Luna’s return they have reappeared in Equestria. He was bound to the spring where he had been revived, however one of our students very bravely broke that bondage.”
The teacher nodded toward Trixie again. She felt as if the whole class, who had been gaping at Sir Gilead, were now staring at her. “Now freed, the fine knight could have gone to his final rest. The princess went to him and discovered that he did not want to. He wished to resume his service to her, despite his condition.”
Sir Gilead spoke again, “I was proud to serve the Princess when I was alive and desire nothing more than to serve her as long as the land and the sky remain.” He bowed courteously in Trixie’s direction. “My lady,” he said.
Trixie wondered what had happened to his bones in the cave. The thought of his rotting still-shod hoof still disturbed her.
Selene spoke once more. “If you have read the chapter on ethereal creatures you should be aware of the dangers of a wraith and how to escape one. A wraith cannot cross running water and that is the primary method of evasion. If a wraith attacks it can drain a unicorn of magical energy, rendering the victim extremely weak and incapable of even telekinesis. It’s not fatal or permanent but to a magical unicorn it’s a devastating disability.”
“As you can see,” Selene continued, “We’re on an island in a stream. Sir Gilead couldn’t escape this place even if he wanted to.” Trixie thought the obvious, the wraith couldn’t cross moving water but Selene had brought him there in the necklace. It had to have a very unusual enchantment.
“Normally wraiths are bound to a place or to some hopeless quest. In this case Sir Gilead is truly unique. He has been freed of his bondage and wishes to serve the living. Given the chance to examine a cooperative wraith for the first time our staff at the school have been studying him closely and have made many new discoveries. None of that is in your books but you’ll be sent manuscript copies detailing more than we’ll be witnessing here tonight.”
Selene levitated a cage containing a white duck in front of the wraith. “Would you care to demonstrate, Sir Gilead?” she asked. The knight nodded.
His bare horn glowed and the cage stayed off the ground. Then the cage door opened and the duck peered out. Its eyes suddenly turned white. The duck flew out of the cage and circled within the pavilion. It settled to the floor and stood oddly stiff with its wings back. It opened its bill and began to sing very strangely in its quacking voice.
Mer in the mone stond and strit; On her botforke her burthen she bereth. It is muche wonder that she na doun slyt; For doute leste she valle she shoddreth ant shereth. When the forst freseth muche chele she byd. The thornes beth kene, her hattren to tereth. Nis no wyght in the world that wot wen she syt, Ne bote it be the hegge, whet wedes she wereth. Whider trowe this mer ha the wey take? He hath set her o hof her other toforen, For non highte that she hath ne syght me hym ner shake; He is the strangeste mer that euer wes yboren.
It returned to normal within a moment and quacked. It tried to fly away but Miss Selene grabbed it and levitated it back into its floating cage.
“As you can see,” Selene explained, “despite his death he can levitate and is also capable of possessing creatures. He hasn’t tried it on a pony yet but I’m sure we’ll learn if it’s possible once we find a suitable volunteer.”
Trixie shivered. Good luck with that, she thought. She looked around and saw she wasn’t the only pony shivering in the moonlight.
“I take it nopony is going to step forward?” Selene asked. Some ponies stepped backward.
“Lets have a demonstration then,” she continued, “Please step up, Mister Match. Don’t worry, you won’t be possessed. Just don’t come too close.”
Lucifer Match, a heavily built unicorn stallion with a dark red coat and black mane stepped forward reluctantly. He looked almost black in the moonlight. His head was pulled back and his ears flattened against his head.
“Would you try to burn the good knight, please?” Miss Selene asked.
Lucifer looked around nervously. “Do it, Lucy,” somepony in the crowd called. Trixie wasn’t sure if that was an encouragement or a taunt. He lowered his head and his horn glowed brightly. A ball of flame flew from his horn straight toward the ghostly knight. Its light greatly outshone his pale reflection of moonlight. The flame vanished as it touched him.
Lucifer snorted and backed away. “Quite warming, that,” Sir Gilead said. The wraith looked more solid than ever.
“Try again, if you please,” Selene said.
Lucifer snorted and his ears pricked up. He looked more confident. Some ponies shielded their eyes with their hooves knowing what was about to happen. The dark unicorn’s coat suddenly glowed blue-white. His mane and tail became flowing orange flame. He circled Sir Gilead, his hooves leaving black shoeprints branded into the wooden floor of the pavilion.
The armored unicorn stood his ground. Lucifer let loose a swirling ball of blue flame straight at him. It engulfed the wraith, his armor shining in the blue-white light. He seemed to grow larger and became much more solid. The flames faded and his armor gleamed in the moonlight.
“Takes a thousand years off my age, that does,” the knight said.
Some ponies chuckled.
He looked younger. In fact, Trixie thought, he looked much, much younger. The aged wraith looked like a young stallion again.
“That’s enough, thank you,” Selene said.
The enflamed unicorn stared at her with his glowing red eyes. His coat faded slowly, his mane and tail extinguishing. He stepped away from Sir Gilead, still leaving blackened hoofprints.
“Sir Gilead,” Miss Selene said, “Absorbs magical energy. That’s what happens when a wraith attacks. They draw the energy from unicorns or from artifacts into themselves. That also means most spells can’t affect him. He just absorbs the energy from them. For centuries he survived off energy from a magical spring. Once separated from it he normally would have faded away to nothing. Now, he exists by choice and can continue to exist on magical energy from natural sources and from others.”
“Sir Gilead,” Selene said, “Wishes to observe our class, so he will be remaining here with us for the evening. You can all speak to him but be careful not to approach too closely. He may drain your energy without meaning to.” She levitated the caged cockatrice into the middle of the pavilion. “Could I have a volunteer from the class?” she asked.
• • •
Trixie climbed the spiral staircase. It never seemed to end. This was the first time she’d been summoned to the upper part of the palace. She’d hoped it would be for an audience with Celestia. As much as she was embarrassed by the incident in teleportation class she hoped to meet the princess personally again. But this time it was Luna asking to speak with her about her future. She had a future? She smiled a bit. She wasn’t used to thinking about her future.
The decorations weren’t the usual sun and crescent motif of the palace. Everything was silver moons and stars. A few of the wall scones looked hastily attached as if workponies had put them up in a hurry and just stepped out for lunch. Some windows were plain plate glass held in place by lumpy beads of putty and others elaborate stained glass panels carefully mounted in place.
The door at the top of the stairs was enchanted. It had silver hinges and a big ruby cabochon in the center that glowed for a moment before the door swung open to admit her. On the other side was a high ceilinged waiting area with tall windows. Cut glass moons and stars on blue fields decorated the tops. Some of the windows looked as unfinished as those along the stairs. The sun streamed in and shone on silvery decorations.
“This is a change,” she said to herself.
“For Princess Luna it certainly is,” said a silky voice from one side.
Trixie looked for the speaker and gaped when she found her. A beautiful all-black earth mare sat at a black lacquer desk decorated with a silver moon and stars. Trixie gazed into her dark green eyes. They glittered strangely in the sunlight. A silver plaque on her desk identified her as ‘Miss Sparkle.’
“The new tower isn’t quite finished yet,” she said, “as an audience chamber for the princess.” She watched Trixie from behind her long bangs. “The chamber itself isn’t finished but Princess Luna has a nice office now.”
“I-I’m…” she started to say.
“The Great and Powerful Trixie?” the mare asked, “I remember watching you perform when I was a filly. You’ve got style.”
“Err, and you are?” Trixie asked, taken a bit off balance.
“I’m Shadow,” she said, “The Princess’ new personal assistant.”
Trixie stepped forward and stumbled. Shadow caught her. Trixie’s nose pressed into the mare’s long straight mane. She smelled like sweet incense. “Pleased to meet you,” Shadow said. She smiled mysteriously. “The princess is waiting for you in her office,” she said.
Trixie looked embarrassed. She backed away a bit and her horn glowed. A bouquet of black roses appeared in a swirl of purple light. She bowed and offered it to Shadow. “Always glad to meet a lovely mare,” she said. Trixie caught a glimpse of her sleek black flank, which bore a silver moon with three stars within its crescent. Trixie saw a jagged strip of sparkling light across her cutie mark. She recognized it as the same sparkle from the wraith’s cave. There was more sparkle on the mare’s forecannons.
Shadow took the roses and sniffed them. “I get off at six, before the princess goes out to raise the moon,” she said, “Meet me outside the main gates of the palace?”
“I’ll be there,” Trixie said. She tipped her pointed hat and trotted into the inner office.
Luna sat at a huge desk with a silver crescent moon in the center on a field of lapis lazuli with silver stars. The desktop was made of a slab of lapis half a hoof thick. There was no name plaque, just an ink stand decorated with a silver crescent moon on. A scroll floated in front of her. She looked up at Trixie. “You’ve met my new assistant,” she said. It wasn’t a question. She looked at Trixie oddly which made her blush.
“Yes, she’s very nice,” Trixie said.
“I’ll say,” Luna said, smiling, “I think she’s been hoping to meet you.”
“I don’t know what to say to that.”
“You could say yes,” the princess said, “She’s an interesting pony. She may not be a unicorn but she can see through things better than you can.”
Trixie shook her head. “I get the feeling you’re trying to fix me up.”
“Would I do that?” Luna asked, looking up from her scroll.
“I think you would and I think you have good taste. But, uh, Sparkle?”
“Sparkle,” Luna said, “Miss Sparkle.” She put down one scroll and levitated another.
“Should I ask if she’s a relative? Maybe a sister?”
Luna smiled. “She’s a cousin. Shadow is a bit of a black sheep of the family, especially after Twilight became Celestia’s personal student.”
Trixie thought about that. An earth pony in a family of unicorns. She had a sister like that. She was a clown. Trixie couldn’t imagine being in that situation. It had to be horrible. Her chest tightened. She found herself thinking… had she ever really cared that way about anypony else before? Maybe about Molly. She was jealous of Twilight and Twilight was more of an equal than anything. How would a member of her family feel?
“It must be awful being a nonmagical pony in a magical family,” Trixie said.
“Oh?” Luna asked, looking over her scroll, “Why do you assume she’s not magical?”
Trixie produced blue sparks from her horn as a response.
Luna shook her head. “I thought you were learning. Unicorn magic isn’t the only magic. You saw Pinkie, that pegasus who can slide. She’s really an earth pony and she has some weirder abilities than that.”
“What?” trixie Asked, “An earth pony?”
“Trixie, there are transfigurations that can be permanent. It’s in your book, if you’ve read that part. Despite coming from the most pedantic family in Equestria she has both unicorn and pegasus ancestry. Her genetic nature is mixed and her individual nature is completely unique, if a bit unstable.”
Trixie shook her head.
“You’ll learn,” Luna said, “and I think you’ll learn to appreciate Shadow.”
“I think I already can in other ways.”
“Be that as it may, we’re supposed to be talking about your future. I’ll be making public appearances while Celestia’s school is on winter break. I’d appreciate it if you could come along and stage manage some events along with my party planner.”
Trixie was startled. “What?” she asked incredulously, “Aren’t there professionals for that?”
“There are, and I think you should be one of them. Shadow will be traveling with me too.” Luna peered at Trixie over a scroll.
“I guess I could do some tricks or something.”
“You could do much more than tricks. Pinkie knows how to plan a party but you know how to deal with an audience and how to do public magic. Not many ponies have experience with that. You make magic more than the everyday thing it is to most ponies. The first Harvest Moon went pretty well but it was a very small event and the audience didn’t know what to expect. By the next harvest moon I hope to have something much bigger and better planned. Something more like the Summer Sun Celebration only more dark and mysterious. Maybe you could do an opening act too. Could you think about that?”
Trixie smiled. “I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be performing again.”
“You’ve been performing this whole time. I’d just like you to do it for the public again.”
“I’ll definitely think about what to do. You have the when and where?”
“Shadow can give you a list of dates and locations on your way out. She’s very efficient about things like that. There’s one more thing. I believe you have reservations for two at La Fille tonight.”
Trixie shook her head. “You move pretty fast. Who’s paying, if I may ask?”
“After a thousand years you bet I do and so does another pony I know,” Luna said, smiling, “You have credit with the Two Sisters Sovereign Wealth Fund now. Just tell them to charge it to Trixie at Two Sisters.”
“How far does that credit extend?”
“As far as my personal assistant thinks it should. Treat her good, Trixie.”
“I will. I have to ask one more thing about her. I noticed a sparkle on her forelegs and her flank that looks awfully familiar,” she said, holding up her hoof, “Like the magical sparkle I picked up on my hooves from that cave.”
“It’s just a side-effect of the healing waters,” Luna said, “Don’t worry about it. Only ponies with magical perception can see it anyway.”
“That’s not what concerns me. The only other pony I’ve seen with that sparkle is your bodyguard. He’s covered with it from being healed from that lightning strike. What happened to her? I’ve seen a lot of ponies get beat up. Those are the kind of places you’d get injured from a serious attack.”
“Trixie,” Luna said, “Don’t worry about Shadow. She’s had a rough life and if she wants to tell you about it that’s her business. It’s not my place to tell you about it. Why I used the healing waters on her is my business.”
Trixie was put off, but not for long. She jumped at another possibility. “Aah, but the cave isn’t guarded by your other bodyguard anymore, is it? I suppose anypony could go in there and use that water now.”
“Oh I suppose they could,” Luna said mysteriously, “If it weren’t for the dragons.”
“Dragons,” Luna said, peering over her scroll, “Two of them.”
“I guess two dragons just decided to move into the neighborhood then?”
“Oh no, they’re there for a reason. That place is more dangerous than you’d think, Trixie. The waters can do more than heal, as you should see from Sir Gilead. It’s been used to heal many ponies but only four have had a drink of that water. One is dead, one is undead, the other two have lived over a thousand years without aging. In fact we grew younger.”
“Oh, I see. It’s not deadly dangerous but in that sort of way.” Trixie’s scheming mind was spinning.
“Don’t even think about it, my student,” Luna said, “You know how Twilight has her own little assistant. Why my sister and I were younger we had our own firebreathing helpers. They’re much older and much bigger now. If you’ve read your schoolbooks on magical beasts you’ll know they have indeterminate size. Dragons just keep growing as long as they live, though more slowly than they do when they’re hatchlings.”
“But if it can make ponies younger…”
“It certainly can,” Luna said seriously, “and other creatures as well. I may as well tell you the story of it.” Luna put down her floating scrolls.
“I found that magical spring by shadow dowsing long ago. It was an amazing source of magical power but it’s hard to tell just what sort of power something has. Swap teleportation was too dangerous. I hired a team of diamond dogs to dig it out the conventional way. When they were done I rewarded them with quick deaths to protect the secret.” Luna held her head low. “I wouldn’t do that today but it was a different time.”
“I didn’t even tell my sister about it at first. I observed its effects on small living things. It seemed to miraculously heal injuries. Then I found an aged rabbit and fed him some of the water. Within minutes he had become a young buck again. He’s still alive today. I’m sure he’s fathered a million bunnies over the centuries”
“So are thousands of ancient worms and bugs, I suppose,” Trixie said.
“Probably, but only a few ponies were allowed to drink from the spring. My sister and I took our turns as well as one of her companions and of course my captain of the guard under circumstances you already know.”
“One of those ponies is dead?” Trixie asked.
“Yes,” Luna responded, “The water doesn’t make a pony or other creature completely immune to death, though only a horn injury seems to be lethal.”
Trixie shuddered. “Celestia’s companion was killed by a unicorn’s horn?”
“Sir Gilead and one other pony died by the horn. It’s a special sort of injury. The water won’t heal it or prevent death by that barbaric means.”
“I suppose it would be dangerous to have thousands virtually immortal bunnies and ponies running around,” Trixie said.
“Dangerous to the future of Equestria. Especially considering the sorts of ponies who would be the most eager to seek it out. Have you ever met the inmates of the infamous banishing place?” Luna asked.
Trixie shook her head.
“You should. It’s not too bad a place to spend the day either. Their facilities are more luxurious than the Canterlot Club and the inmates aren’t too bad. Most are just a bit unstable. There’s quite a difference from the dungeon denizens of my youth.” This time Luna shook her head. She shuffled some scrolls on her desk. “I think I should be moving on to other business,” she said, “I’m sure Shadow can give you a draft tour schedule on your way out.”
• • •
“I’m afraid you’re just not good enough, Miss Mudd,” the examiner said, tapping his quill, “Simply not good enough for our school.”
“It is a school for unicorns, after all,” the other said, fiddling with her mane.
Molly felt so naked standing before them. She wasn’t wearing any clothes but it was much more than that. She could hear them laughing at…
There was a tapping at the window. Molly awoke with a start. Moonlight was streaming in through the window beside her bed. It cast a huge shadow across her bed linens. She unlatched the window.
“Who?” the owl said and dropped a package in Molly’s lap.
“Thank you, Aloysius,” she said, scruffling the feathers on his head. The owl hopped onto the bed and snuggled next to her.
Molly lit her horn and tore open the paper. Inside was a scarf with matching hock socks and cannon warmers. She read the note.
With winter coming I thought you’d like something to keep you warm at school. I know how chilly it can get in Canterlot. It’s the mountain weather. Those shoddy hock socks they sell everywhere are popular, but these are the real thing from Rarity’s shop.
With Love, Twilight Sparkle
There was a little brown tag attached to the socks. It said, “100% organic naturally colored cruelty-free merino wool. Produced with fair trade dragon labor exclusively for The Carousel Boutique” She held the scarf against her foreleg. The dark wool complimented her coloring perfectly.
“This is really too much,” she said to Aloysius.
“Who?” he replied.
“Twilight Sparkle,” she said, shaking her head, “that’s who.”
She floated a quill and paper over from her desk and started writing, using a large book as a desk. The owl watched her.
Thank you for the lovely gifts. But please, you’ve sent me far too much and been too good to me. I only hope I can repay your friendship in kind some day. I’m looking forward to visiting on winter break. Until we meet next…
Love Always, Molly Mudd
She rolled up the scroll and gave it to Aloysius. “Fly home to Twilight, little cutie,” she said. She kissed him on the top of his head. The owl hopped onto the windowsill and in a moment he was gone. Molly watched the winged shape flap away in the moonlight.
• • •
Spike rolled over in his basket and looked at the world upside down, yawning widely. He let out a little puff of smoke. “Umnf,” he said. For a moment he thought he was seeing double. He tilted his head. “Good morning Aloysius, and Aloysius,” he said. He snickered a little. The identical owls sitting side-by-side didn’t wake.
Spike stretched and toddled to the kitchen to start breakfast. Twilight could get grumpy if she didn’t have fresh hay browns and coffee in the morning. Maybe he could have a fresh mouse ready for her too. “Would you like some breaklight, Aloysius… Alois… Aloisio… Louis… Aha! Lousia!” he said to himself. A first assistant always has to have witty quips ready, it’s part of the job, he thought.
He heard hooves on the steps. “Louisa?” Twilight asked, “Who’s Louisa?”
Spike suppressed a snicker. “Oh, no one important,” he said.
“Anyway, thanks for having breakfast ready so early, Spike,” she said, “It’s been a long night and I’m starving.”
“I’m sure what with the flapping and terrorizing small animals.”
“Oh Spike,” don’t be silly, “I’m just studying owls first person. That’s all.”
“So long as you don’t start laying eggs,” Spike said, Smirking. He was standing on a box to reach a cabinet.
“I’ll let you know if I do,” she said, “Then I can let you hatch one for me.” She seemed lost in thought and had dark circles under her eyes. “Could you get me some paper and a bottle of ink?” she asked, sitting down. Spike ran out and came back with both. Twilight pulled an owl feather from under her mane. She started scribbling notes immediately.
“I’ll need to send some letters later, Spike, so don’t disappear on me,” she said, “If I can’t find you I’ll blink into the shop and you don’t want that to happen, do you?”
“No, Ma’am,” he said, “Your number one assistant will be on the job.”
“Argh!” Twilight gasped, clapping her hoof to her forehead, “I left my balloon in Canterlot.”
What happens to a pony who never finds her cutie mark anyway?
The song the duck sings is real Middle English, with a few modifications. Here are the historical lyrics and a translation.
“Fair-trade dragon labor”? I imagine Spike knitting hock socks with little hearts floating around his head.
For anyone not familiar with the Guardians of Ga’Hoole books, breaklight is a morning meal at the end of the night. Tweener is more of a breakfast, at the beginning of the night. They’re night owls you know.