Molly danced around the room in her pajamas and slippers. Twilight lay on her bed reading through her little black book. Her quill scribbled out notes in an unruly pad that was thicker than the book she was taking notes on. Trixie watched the two of them from the other side of the huge bed in Twilight’s quarters with a scarf tied over her eyes.
Twilight shined in the darkness as a shining purple star. Molly’s dancing light fluttered happily and looked somewhat green. Aloysius looked like a pale transparent moth flitting around the room. His light settled down on the bed and turned toward Trixie. “What do you want?” she asked.
“Lets not start that again,” she said. Trixie took her blindfold off and shot him a nasty look. The bird completely ignored her.
Twilight shone the little light from her horn from one book to another. The owl landed next to her and flipped pages for her without being asked. “I’m really excited about the second teleportation class, aren’t you girls?” she asked. She sipped green tea from a little cup.
“Hmmryeah,” Trixie said. Molly giggled, “Yeah!”
“And I’ve got artifacts class in the morning,” Molly continued. Trixie moved some books to make room for the filly to sit next to her. “It’s a lab class so we’ll actually be making stuff.”
“After going to the moon and back you’re excited about making enchanted charms?” Trixie asked sarcastically, “It wouldn’t have anything to do with Starshine, would it?”
Molly just giggled next to Trixie.
“Starshine?” Twilight asked, looking up and accidentally shining her light in Trixie’s eyes.
“Um,” Molly said, “He’s a colt who’s really into making stuff in the artifactory. He’s a genius!”
Twilight smiled. “I guess you’re pretty sweet on him,” she said.
Molly nodded so hard she fell over onto Trixie. Trixie felt the softness of her very fashionable silk pajamas against her cheek. Molly smelled like sweet hay and dried flowers. It made the blue unicorn blush.
Twilight said, “I think you two should get some sleep. You’ll both have classes tomorrow. I’ll be staying up late studying with Aloysius. I’ll try not to make any noise.”
Molly pulled up the covers and snuggled next to Trixie. “If I can get to sleep,” she said.
“I think I’ll get the folding bed from the closet,” Trixie said.
“You don’t mind if I stay here, do you?” Molly asked, making big brown eyes at Trixie.
“I don’t mind, kiddo,” Trixie said, nuzzling her neck.
“I feel so safe with you, Trixie,” she said, “You’re my best friend ever.”
Trixie wrapped her forelegs around the little filly. Within a few minutes Molly was asleep in her embrace and snoring quietly.
Twilight looked over at the two of them. Trixie stuck out her tongue. Twilight just smiled, looking at them sideways.
• • •
Miss Aurora showed up for the second teleportation class. It was only one night since their lunar field trip. The class met in the usual underground chamber. Moon Pie trotted around happily, skipping like a little colt. Despite his skinnyness and gangly legs he was no colt. He was probably older than most of the students and came from a less educated background than most unicorns.
Miss Selene gathered the class together. “My intention,” she said, “was to begin working on shadow dowsing tonight, but due to circumstances we’ll be working on sliding instead. If you have read the brief chapter in your textbooks you may be confused. Normal teleportation is subject to so many limitations that you may wonder why a form with no such limits isn’t better known. I will try to explain that as much as I can and will try to develop the ability in any of you who can manage it.”
Miss Aurora stepped in and took the lead. “You surely know that conventional teleportation takes a lot of energy and it’s difficult. Sliding takes very little and allows a creature to move from place to place with no such limits. It’s not just unicorns who can do it either. Many other beings, including earth ponies, can learn to slide.” She took an odd step sideways and disappeared.
The teacher spoke again from the back of the room. “I just moved across the room without using teleportation focus or using significant magical energy. It would have been just as easy to move to Fillydelphia as it was to move just thirty hooves to the other side of the room. The problem is it’s not something you can learn just by applying your magical energies in the correct way. For any of you lucky enough to be able to learn it opens the world to you in whole new ways.”
Selene spoke from the other side of the room, Aurora suddenly back at her side. “Miss Sparkle,” she said to Twilight, “Would you please come up here?”
Twilight trotted to the front of the room, Aloysius perched on her back.
“Would you please do as we discussed?” Selene asked.
Twilight turned to Aurora and said quietly, “Miss Aurora, there’s something you should know about… one of the students.” Then she smiled, looking in the middle of the group. Selene looked at the same place.
The gathered unicorns were startled. They moved aside, realizing there was a bright pink pegasus standing in the middle of the group shaking her head. The pony raised a hoof and made a zipping motion on her muzzle. Then she looked around at the group of unicorns around her. “Oh hi,” she said.
“Hello cousin,” Moon Pie said, “Nice wings.”
“Hi, Moonie, thanks,” Pinkie said in response, “Whatcha doin’ here?”
“Ah’m learnin’,” the white unicorn responded in a slow drawl.
Pinkie nodded, then trotted up to Twilight and stared in her eyes, her brows knitted. “You weren’t going to, were you?” she said.
“Oh Pinkie,” Twilight said, “I was just pretending to get you here.”
Pinkie looked around, confused.
“I’m sorry, Miss Pie,” Miss Selene said, “But we used a ruse to bring you to our class. Would you mind telling me where you were before you were here?”
Pinkie looked thoughtful, her blue eyes staring at the ceiling. “Hmm, in the bakery, I think, mixing buttercream icing for cakes for tomorrow,” she said, obviously unclear as to what really happened.
“Do you know how you got here?” Miss Aurora asked.
Pinkie looked around the room. “Nope,” she said shaking her head.
“Class,” Miss Selene said, “I think you can see it doesn’t take good magical focus to slide.” About half the class snickered. “Pinkamena,” she asked, “Do you know why you’re here?”
“Oh yeah!” Pinkie said, “Because Twilight was… she was going to tell a secret… or something.” She looked confused again.
“Thank you very much,” Miss Aurora said in her sweetest voice, “Twilight won’t be telling any secrets tonight. You can go back to your icing.”
“Okey dokey lokey,” Pinkie said and promptly vanished without explanation.
“Mister Pie’s cousin,” Selene said, “might seem a bit peculiar. The truth is she’s remarkably connected to her friends and the world on an unconscious level. Twilight happens to know her personally and has experienced this and other manifestations of her connection. We wouldn’t usually call this magical, since the term is normally reserved for unicorn magic, but she is an advanced practitioner of a sort of very ancient magic.”
“The truth is lost to the ages but it is believed that unicorns developed the art of teleportation in imitation of sliding, and scrying in imitation of this unconscious interconnection,” Miss Aurora said, “By substituting magical focus and energy to cross space they could move without moving in a similar way. It’s easier to teleport intentionally, but it requires energy and has limits. Those ponies who can naturally slide do it without thinking. They are very in tune with the underlying nature of reality and this allows them to move anywhere in Equestria or even beyond in a moment when it feels right for them to do so.”
“You won’t study this at all in your regular classes,” Miss Selene said, “Philosophy of Magic 402 might touch on it. Your regular history of magic classes won’t tell you about anything but unicorns and magical creatures like dragons. Natural magic doesn’t get much coverage.”
Miss Aurora stepped toward the class. “I want each and every one of you to experience this at least once. It is less disorienting than the teleportation you’re familiar with. You will also be traveling to some place familiar to you.”
Miss Selene motioned for Moon Pie to step forward. He trotted up to her with a beatific look on his face. A dot of light appeared on the end of Selene’s horn and the two of them vanished immediately.
Then Miss Aurora motioned for Trixie to come forward. Trixie could feel her heart thumping. She approached the golden maned unicorn almost in a trance. She gazed into her teacher’s violet eyes. She heard that heavenly voice through a fog. “Think of some place familiar to you, Trixie,” she said, “As if you were there right now.”
Trixie’s mind was in a cloud. She was so close to Aurora, to the deity she knew the teacher really was, that she could feel the warmth of her solar aura against her skin. Then she felt another warmth. There was a crackling fire behind her. She looked around in alarm. They weren’t in the meeting chamber any longer. It was a dark room filled with cushions with a blazing fire in a marble fireplace.
Aurora smiled at her. “That’s very interesting, Trixie,” she said gently, “I know you’ve never been here before.” Trixie turned to her teacher and found herself looking up. She was gazing into the same violet eyes, now framed by a gorgeous billowing mane with all the colors of dawn. The firelight glinted off her crown and long slim horn.
Trixie’s whole body shuddered. She found herself unable to speak.
“I never imagined a student would end up sliding into my personal chambers when you’ve never been here before. Please sit down, we need to talk for a little while,” the princess said. She indicated cushions on the floor and curled up demurely.
“P-princess,” Trixie began but didn’t finish.
“Trixie,” she said almost in a whisper, “I can tell what’s happening. Your feelings are so strong I can easily sense them.”
Trixie sat on a dark cushion. The scent of the princess surrounded her.
“It’s okay, Trixie,” the princess said quietly, “I know how you feel about me and I won’t play with your heart. I hope you can be satisfied with just being near me.” She reached out and gently kissed Trixie on the forehead, just in front of her horn. “I love all my subjects,” the princess said, “and I appreciate my admirers. I understand how you feel.”
Trixie sat quietly, looking ashamed.
“I just want to be your teacher and will be teaching you teleportation. You showed great potential in yesterday’s class and you’ve shown a very unusual talent in sliding, it seems. We do need to go back to the class, but if you’d like to talk for a while longer that’s okay.”
Trixie shook her head. There were tears in her eyes.
“We’ll go back in a little while.” The princess stayed close, her warm breath on Trixie’s cheek.
• • •
Molly ran up to Trixie as soon as she reappeared. “Isn’t it great?” she asked excitedly, “Where did you go?” Trixie wasn’t in a mood to respond. She was very quiet for the rest of the class. Molly was concerned but said nothing. She just stood by and comforted her friend.
• • •
Trixie lay next to Molly on the bed. Her tears had soaked into Molly’s mane. She held the larger unicorn with her forelegs. “It’s okay,” she said and nuzzled Trixie’s cheek.
“I can’t believe it,” Trixie sobbed, “I’ve wanted to get close to the Princess for so long. I’m so stupid. It’s never going to happen. I’ve been so envious of Twilight and her being a personal student. Now that I have the chance, I can only think of…” She looked into Molly’s big brown eyes.
“I guess the Princess was my first crush and I never got over her,” Trixie said, “Not that I haven’t been involved with other mares, but she’s the princess and so beautiful and powerful, and, and, I know she wouldn’t be interested in some common unicorn like me.”
Molly shook her head. “You’re anything but common,” she said, “You’re lovely and talented and if I were interested, I’d be, uh, interested.” Molly giggled a little uncomfortably.
Trixie smiled a little and nuzzled her wet cheek. “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, maybe the only true friend I’ve ever head, do you know that?” she asked.
“Trixie…” she said.
“Molly,” Trixie said, smiling, “It’s true. I’ve never had any mare I could really confide in.” She leaned against her friend. “I guess you’ve been in a similar situation but you’re so strong, with all you’ve been through in your life.”
Molly blushed. “I-I did have to hide things, I guess, and it was stressful and it wasn’t until just recently I felt I could get really close to others, other than my mother,” she said.
“Molly,” Trixie said, “You had to hide everything about who you were. I don’t think they’d have let you in the door except to sweep the floors as you were. You convinced a team of admissions unicorns and I guess everyone except for one mare. If you don’t think you’re one strong young filly you’re wrong.”
Molly whickered a little. “There is a story to that,” she said, “and I guess it’s okay to tell it now. You see, a few months ago I was walking to class and noticed Princess Luna up on the old wall by the administration hall watching me. I got a note that I was to meet with someone in admissions. I was terrified. I was always afraid I’d slip or someone would find out about my father…” Her long ears flattened at the thought.
Trixie quietly nibbled her cheek.
“Princess Luna was in the office. She asked if I wanted to enroll in a special program that would help me develop my abilities. She wanted to speak privately. She was very gentle in mentioning my background and said that it wasn’t a problem and that I’d have no more worries about it. She said that the truth had to be known, at least to a select few, and it would hurt but I was some great undeveloped talent. She said I’d be wasting my time learning to be a magical scholar, which is what I’d been trying for.”
“Molly,” Trixie said, “When I met you I thought you’d have been destined to be a librarian or something. But what I’ve seen in the last few months is amazing. I thought I was good at fooling ponies but you’re the master. I think you’re better at it than our teachers and they’ve been doing it a long, long time.”
“You can’t mean that. What I do just feels natural. I don’t even try. I worked so hard at learning and doing regular magical work…”
“That’s it, my little filly,” Trixie said, “You are a natural. Like Miss Sel…Luna said, “You have a fantastic natural talent. I think in the classes she’s trying to help you unlearn things more than learn them. She’s wants you to trust your feelings, not follow what you’ve learned from books and the other teachers. It’s not like casting a ward where there’s a standard formula and you have to be a studied expert to figure it out or modify it.”
“I want to believe that, but it’s so hard. I never saw myself like that. All I really wanted was to be in contact with magic. I could always feel it in myself but didn’t think I’d ever be really good with it.”
“You are great at it,” Trixie said, “and you’re getting better. Luna didn’t put us both in her classes to learn to do what’s in the regular books. She knew we were both special in our own ways. I think some of the other students are special in the short bus and helmet way.”
Molly giggled. “Moonie,” she said. The two sat quietly for a while. Trixie’s tears slowly dried.
“You must’ve been very lonely,” Molly said.
“Yeah, for a long time I guess.” Trixie thought back to all the years she spent on the road alone after the split with her family. She’d had brief passing relationships and occasionally something more serious but she had never gotten close to anyone really. Not until now.
• • •
The griffon pursued a pine marten into a corner. She licked her beak with a long pointed tongue and let out a “Skree!” She spread her wings, blocking any escape. The marten pressed its back into the corner, its paws spread, looking terrified. The huge hooked beak scooped it up and snapped shut. The griffon trotted around the room like a happy puppy, her tail held high. An owl watched her, happily hooting in her direction.
“You see,” said the flour sack on the podium, “you may sense something that doesn’t make much sense to you but it may be correct.” “Miss Mudd,” she continued, “I don’t believe Mister Bubbles can hear.”
The griffon opened her beak, revealing the marten lounging on her tongue with a rather blissful expression. Molly put him down with a wet plop. He looked disappointed. “You taste like uck,” she said. The marten stuck out his tongue at her.
The transfiguration class had dwindled to half a dozen students. Molly, Trixie, and Twilight had remained as had a pair of sisters and a goofy colt, who seemed useless in other subjects but had a definite talent for transfiguration into small animals. The sisters were better at inanimate objects.
“Molly has an ability to sense the desires of others,” said the teacher, pointing with one of her corners, “which allowed her to sense Tiny’s, uh, desire to be, uh, pursued and, ehh, caught.” Miss Selene became herself again and flipped through the notes she had been sitting on. A small cloud of flour rose from them.
“Miss Selene,” an owl asked, “Isn’t it dangerous to play with the feelings of others this way?”
“Oh it is, Miss Sparkle,” she said, “Remember in our first transfiguration class when Molly transformed into that purple-maned unicorn. Your assistant, that little dragon, was quite indignant. Molly had sensed a latent desire in him and transformed into the unicorn he has a crush on and which she idolized.”
Twilight looked a bit embarrassed, hiding her beak under her wing.
“If Spike hadn’t been aware it was really Molly taking on the appearance of this Rarity she could have easily manipulated him. In the case of your present situation I think the situation is similar but a bit different.”
Despite Twilight’s appearance as a female owl Aloysius was more interested in Molly. The griffin sat on her haunches and he nuzzled up next to her. She wrapped her wing around him, the owl looking lost in her embrace. He cooed happily. The soggy marten snuggled under her other wing.
“Molly is quickly becoming a master of manipulation,” Miss Selene said, “I think you have a more intellectual approach, Twilight, Molly’s ability is entirely intuitive. That doesn’t make the way you do it wrong, it means you’re utilizing your abilities differently”
“Trixie,” Miss Selene asked, “are you doing okay?”
Trixie was moping in a corner with the two sisters. They were all doing inanimate objects but Trixie wasn’t really into it. She was a sad little stone.
• • •
Spike lay curled in his basket softly snoring. Little puffs of smoke rose from his nostrils and drifted out through an open window. Twilight sat quietly reading. For once she was reading a fantasy novel about owls, not her usual fare of texts on magic or natural history. She had already read the first dozen books in the series and wasn’t able to put them down.
There was a quiet rush of air as an actual owl fluttered in through the open window. He dropped a scroll in front of Twilight and settled silently on a perch by her desk. Twilight stuffed a marker into the book she was reading and lifted the scroll into the air. It unfurled and a sack of coins fell out. It landed on her desk with a loud clink. The scroll revealed itself to be a crudely written grocery list. From the sound of the enclosed coins they could buy wagonloads of butter, flour, and turnips.
Twilight concentrated for a moment and the parchment glowed. The scrawled list vanished and another message in a very neat hand filled with flourishes was revealed. “Dearest TS…” it began.
Twilight read, sometimes with a snicker and then a satisfied smile. She read the whole thing over again and made sure she had memorized the details. Then she touched it with her horn and it went up in flames. The dark smoke joined the puffs of thinner smoke coming from the sleeping baby dragon.
Twilight gazed at the ceiling and thought. She tapped a quill on her inkwell. Then she noticed throat clearing noises coming from her pet.
“Oh, I’m sorry Aloysius,” she said. She levitated a white mouse out of a little cage on a bookshelf. The owl immediately leapt from his perch and pursued it. The floating mouse led him on a chase around and around the whole library. He flew in near silence and didn’t disturb anything. The mouse, on the other hoof, squeaked in terror the whole time. When she was tired of the game Twilight let the owl catch it. He pinned it with his claws and swallowed the squealing thing head-first.
Twilight had gotten over any squeamishness about feeding Aloysius live animals. One week of feeding him worm pills was enough for a lifetime. Giving him nice clean mice was so much easier in the long term than letting him hunt parasite-filled vermin in the fields.
She rubbed his head gently with a hoof. “Who’s my good boy?” she asked.
“Aloysius,” she said. She scruffled his back. Under his feathers he was a skinny little bird. He wriggled happily and fluffed his wings.
Twilight turned to thinking about the message again. Part of her wanted to shout “Yes!” and another part to gloat. What she did was go through the drawers of her desk and pull out a letter.
“Dear Princess Celestia, I’ve learned so much about dealing with your friends’ peculiarities” it began, “…never insult a turnip because they can go bad…” She concentrated for a moment and the words faded out. She sat the parchment on her desk and began to write.
I’m so glad the information I sent about T’s obsession with you proved useful. I don’t think she knows the lock had been opened. If you hadn’t known and had rejected her more harshly it could’ve been disastrous.
I’ve spoken with M again and she has been very receptive. She followed my suggestion that she get closer to T, to the point of outright teasing her. I believe M will be a very useful source of information. She’s quite an actress too. I don’t think the gifts are really needed but she’s a very nice mare and deserves a better lot in life than she’s had. I’ll use the money to get her something nice. I believe she will be faithful to us and do the right thing if it comes to it.
P informed me that L has a ‘ghostie’ bound to a ruby necklace. She said L told her a sad story of love but her version was confusing. Still, this sounds too similar to the story D told me about a wraith that I related earlier. It may be the same creature.
Love always, TS
Twilight raised it in the air again. Her writing was replaced by the scribbles of a baby dragon’s unpracticed claws that had been there before. She rolled it up and put a seal on it.
“Are you ready for a second trip tonight, my good boy?” she asked the owl.
“Who!” he hooted happily. He snatched the scroll out of the air and swooped out the window. Twilight wasted no time getting back to her book. “Tumblebones?” she asked herself, “I’ll have to ask Dash about those.”
How does Pinkie suddenly materialize in a bin full of sponges? Now you know.
Tiny Bubbles? I just can’t help myself.
Twilight reading Guardians books? A purple magic unicorn reading fantasy books about heroic owls and dark magic is just right somehow.
Twilight is referring to events in my story Thunderstuck in her letter.