This is why you made your cultists miserable? This is why you've kept me looping through time for over a week? You have enough understanding and raw power to hold your own against me, and I'm the Element of Magic! And this time travel spell is absolutely brilliant! With your skill, you could do something amazing for the good of Equestria, push the bounds of practical and theoretical magic ahead by decades.
But instead, due to your amazing inability to figure out the postal system, you decide to hold the most foalish, the most petty of grudges.
And if that isn't enough, rather than that grudge being directed at your absent friend or his parents or even the school, you decide cutie marks themselves are at fault. And rather than talking it out or any of the dozens of ways you could solve this, you developed powerful anti-cutie-mark magic, raised a cult, and sought revenge when your obviously evil, misdirected, and unnecessary plan got foiled.
Did you ever stop to think during any of this? We're going back in time. We're letting events play out like they should. Then, we're going back to my castle and you are getting some friendship lessons. And help for your abandonment issues. A surge of light and sound from the throne room brought five mares barreling through the door. At their lead, Applejack. The five skidded to a halt, speechless and open-mouthed. A foreclaw was held close to his chest, cradling something against him, something suspiciously pony-sized.
But the five had no time to consider this, and spared little to consider the large, purple dragon. No, it was the large, purple alicorn that held their attention. She was tall, nearly as tall as Celestia. Her eyes glowed a brilliant white, pupils and irises lost to the shine. Faint wisps of other colors created a flickering corona around their edges while brief wisps and sparks of magic flowed from within, akin to the magic aura coating her long horn.
Her wings were massive, held outstretched yet unmoving. She floated in the air, as if suspended by mutual agreement between her will and the world. Her face was set in a frown, though not an unkind one, lines of casual disappointment and long-suffering sadness instead. There was something old about her, and that sense only grew as the magic flowing from her tapered off, no longer rippling her fur and obscuring her eyes, revealing a familiar shade of violet. The familiarity was cemented when they noticed the deep blue of her mane and tail, cut in a stark line along the bangs and hem and shot through with a streak of violet and rose.
Though it was borne aloft, floating and rippling, and gave the impression of nebulous sky come to earth rather than simple hair, it was more than enough to allow a connection to be made.
Applejack spoke up, surprise and a sudden sense of awe causing her voice to quiet. Is that you? She stared at the five for several moments, eyes wide, stunned silence holding with her breath as she sank - first out of the air, and then from hooves onto haunches.
After an eternity passed, she let the breath out. M-my friends? A smile grew with her happiness, and yet it was somehow harder to look upon than the frown it replaced. She stood, just looking as the five stepped forward. Twilight was stunned, but only for a moment; her hooves closed around her friend as the tears started to flow. These were not the dignified, stoic tears of one weathering a challenge, nor the elegant tears of a ruler.
These tears were ugly, brought forth by chest-wracking sobs and quiet whimpers, the strength to wail having long since flown. The alicorn held her smaller friend close as a child might cling to a stuffed doll while tears stained purple cheeks and matted patches of poofy pink mane. Pinkie Pie was soon joined by the others, curiosity forgotten in favor of the need to comfort, and all five soon found themselves being enfolded with broad lavender wings as they pressed up against her barrel.
Platitudes were spoken, soft reassurances, little comforts, and each drew out more tears. I have you back. It was several minutes before the tears had passed, and Twilight was coherent enough to speak. Several times already she'd tried to talk, only to lapse back into weeping. Eventually, breathing deep after letting it out, she gently withdrew her wings and looked down at her friends, who drew back to various extents, giving her concerned little smiles.
Twilight nodded, settling her fidgeting wings and trying to smile reassuringly, though her eyes were still watery. It's okay. The five exchanged glances, reluctant to push further until the kindest took up the task.
Fluttershy, still seated quite close, put forth the question. A deep breath and Twilight gathered herself, dusting off long-unused lecturing skills. You all remember Starlight Glimmer? Her plan was to stop it from happening, and thereby stop us from getting our cutie mark connection. Her scroll was left behind, and I used it to follow her to the past where I tried to stop her.
I failed, and I was returned to the present, only everything was different; in that timeline, we never defeated King Sombra, and the enslaved Crystal Empire was in a prolonged war with Equestria. She was met with stunned silence, and so pressed on. I used it to return again, but Starlight got brought back earlier, and she stopped the rainboom again. Again, I went back to the present, and it was again different; Nightmare Moon had conquered Equestria.
So, I went back and tried again, and again. And again. Her eyes grew distant, and her voice trailed off, leaving to another round of concerned looks. Rainbow Dash spoke up.
So, you won? What happened, did you unlock some secret alicorn magic and beat her down? Is that why you're so big and? Twilight huffed a dry laugh, shaking her head. I mean, I have a lot of alicorn magic now, but I gained it naturally. The pieces began to come together for the five. While you were goin' through time over and over? How old are you now?
Twilight's ears folded back, her gaze drifting downward. Rarity took her turn to place her hoof on Twilight's foreleg, having to avoid Pinkie Pie in the process, who had continued to hug throughout the explanation. Twilight drew a deep breath, steeling herself before she answered. Her friends hadn't braced themselves nearly so well; jaws dropped, eyes widened, and a slightly-confused Rainbow Dash asked, "Us?
A massive, scaly head descended, smiling almost sheepishly at the group. It's me. He stared cross-eyed at the mare hugging the end of his muzzle, the corners of it turning further up as she spoke. The tension in the air broke, and most couldn't help a few laughs at the absurdity of it all. Spike laid himself down, arranged so his head rested near the six, one of his claws still cradled to his chest. The other mares took their turns acknowledging him. You're huge!
Ohmygosh, are those wings? Those are wings! We've got to go flying some time! Twilight smiled as the group began to get reacquainted, though Applejack cleared her throat before that last comment could go anywhere, drawing the attention back to Twilight. A few moments of awkward silence, and Pinkie Pie returned to hugging Twilight. Eventually, Rainbow Dash took up the lead. If we fought, you - young you - would just get distracted, and the race wouldn't happen anyway.
We spent some of the time in the alternate presents, and none of them were really pleasant. Oh, and we still needed to sleep every so often. So I spent much less than three hundred years actually fighting. Starlight Glimmer.
Starlight Glimmer is a unicorn; how'd she keep up with you for three hundred years? Shouldn't she be, like, long dead by now? Near the beginning, I warned her; I told her that Spike and I were immortal, and would only grow with time; she would age.
I wasn't expecting her to take that as a challenge. During the time Spike and I spent in the alternate presents, she remained in the past. From what I gather, she began to spend much of her time while we were sleeping doing research. She was trying to find ways to defeat me, and as you can see she failed at that. However, she managed to steal research materials from several libraries, including the Royal Archives, and began to gather whatever magical objects she believed could help her.
I don't know when she had her breakthrough, but it must have been somewhere in the first four decades; with her experience in the magic of time and fate, she held off old age. But she developed a spell or spells that would hold off the aging process, letting her stay young and fit as long as she lived. And, apparently, to prolong the process; I doubt she'd have lived to be over three-hundred otherwise.
I've beaten age! You're not the only one who can go on forever; thanks to my new spell, no matter how old I get I'll keep my youth! I've won, princess ; you can't just wait for age to wither me, for I, Starlight Glimmer, am no mortal mare! Is she A pause.
Her attention flicked over the different sorts of spells she knew, the things she could use to lay the princess low; no answer was apparent. Her teeth grit, anger taking over where denial had left off. Her eyes darted about as she sought options; nothing new presented itself. All the while Twilight stood there watching her.
The shout from Starlight was accompanied by a burst of magic, burning away the clouds between the pair and forcing Twilight to conjure another shield. Not after what you did! Twilight hid behind her shield as clouds and terrified foals and one gryphon chick were sent tumbling through the air.
Starlight was left panting, gradually losing altitude as her magical grip upon herself weakened, watched by fearful pegasi in the distance. Her rage was spent for the moment, dying back from the blazing inferno that had dispersed the flight camp to mere embers of loathing, the sort that had fueled her plan to begin with.
These, she clutched close. Twilight Sparkle had made her realize that despite her protests, she was on the defensive; one loss, and it was over. And she just spent most of her magic crumbling clouds.
The thought alone was almost frustrating enough to have her lashing out again - and had a convenient blue-colored foal been present she well might have - but she reined herself in.
She did not find talking to herself to be worrying. She had just enough time to touch down on the ground before the portal called to her once more. And so, for the next few iterations, she held back her magic; she would make a token attack or two, but she upset the race with words and guile as she recovered. The princess and the dragon seemed content to make similarly token overtures at stopping her, but they mostly watched and waited.
Once her magic was on the mend, she turned to other strategic concerns. Food and water came to mind. The latter was easy enough; Cloudsdale is made of clouds, after all. Food was harder, but so long as she was willing to subsist on lunches stolen from foals she should be fine. With the simple matters settled, the question became sustainability.
After all, she had enough magic to deal with Twilight now, but they were right; as time passed, they would grow and she would wither. What she needed was an equalizer, something to let her deal with them. Something that would let her fight on an even level with a full-grown alicorn.
Something like an amulet, perhaps. Unfortunately, she had no idea where she might find such a thing; it's not like ancient artifacts of tremendous power grew on trees, after all. At her current time, the scroll was unmade and the resources she would need to make a new one were still in the Star Swirl the Bearded wing of the Royal Canterlot Archives. Should she want to create it, she would need to get to Canterlot, sneak in, and either finish it within one loop or steal what she needed.
Or try without her notes, but that was a disaster waiting to happen. If she had access to the Cutie-Map it might be easier, but that wouldn't exist until far later. No, she'd have to do without and find a way to tip the balance. Several further loops passed by, the original events oh-so-cleverly subverted each time. Unbenounced to her, Twilight continued to return to ever-stranger futures; she all but ignored Starlight for three loops straight trying to imagine just how Mr.
Cake had conquered Equestria that one time. She asked while she was there; it didn't help. As time turned forward for the three of them, and only them, it wasn't much longer before a complication arose that neither of them had considered. Each loop in total rarely lasted longer than fifteen minutes, and sometimes as few as five; it was only three hours or ten loops in when Starlight began to feel it. She already taught the foals, blasted the foals, and distracted the foals; while she could do the same thing again and again, she found herself working to add in variations on those themes.
Perhaps a shield spell to block the race. Perhaps a fireworks spell to distract them they had no attention span, after all. She didn't know it, but her attempts to keep things fresh were doing the same for the futures Twilight was whisked away to. In that regard, Twilight was luckier; she got to see any number of alternate futures play out, even if there were several repeating themes there as well.
Of course, they were horrific perversions of the Equestria she knew, so perhaps she wasn't too lucky. Twelve hours in and Starlight began to worry that alicorns don't sleep. Fifteen hours in, her worries were proven unfounded when she found herself waiting longer than usual to be drawn back to the beginning. After one more hour of not being drawn back in time, she found a modestly-comfortable place on the ground to settle down for a nap.
Her sleep was restless, disturbed by daylight and the occasional animal. Still, she got what she could before the portal finally opened for her and dropped her into the past. She drowsily convinced the foals not to fight before the princess showed up, looking better rested than Starlight herself.
Indeed, as it turns out Twilight had found an apocalypse intact enough to have an inn she could stay in. And so, they continued. It wouldn't occur to Starlight for another fifty hours or so including two more periods of sleep , but that was the first "day" of their eternal battle. When the thought finally did come to her on the fourth "day", as she was transforming Rainbow Dash into a bowl of petunias, it was followed by "exactly how many days do I have to do this?
This is the only way for me to get my revenge. And any foals that were staring at her were surely just reacting to her transmogrifying one of them into a plant. She didn't have to justify herself to them.
Brief skirmishes and magic duels punctuated longer periods of inactivity, neither willing to invest their whole strength. Twilight's sleep schedule was becoming predictable, and Starlight began to learn how to power nap, sparing time while Twilight slept with which to prepare. As each "day" approached its end, she sought more peaceful resolution, which would enable her to move about Clousdale in a way that shooting at foals with magic would not.
She learned that the pegasi were surprisingly touchy about that in the loops that she stuck around. In her off-time, she found that the Cloudsdale library didn't have much to offer on advanced magic or artifacts, but she poured over what it did at the expense of rest. It was as she was beginning to make some progress nearing the end of the first "week" that she noticed something new.
Twilight and Spike had found an old chess set in some absurd future, and had brought it with them. In the middle of one of their fights, with magic beams dodged and blasts crashing against shields, Twilight spared enough focus to hold the board steady in her aura.
At first Starlight mistook it for some sort of secret weapon, what with the pauses and the way Twilight kept glancing back at it, but no, they were just playing chess. Spike would make a move, and Twilight would make her own after a shield was properly stable before getting back to the battle. This annoyed Starlight. This enraged Starlight. The question was rhetorical, after all, even if she said it out loud. She tried to ignore it, she really did, but it was just so irritating that she wasn't being taken seriously.
Sure, Twilight made a point that she had a friend with her but this Still, best not to dwell on it; she had to make them suffer, she had to keep them from the rest of their merry little band of dream-crushing equality-haters.
Never mind; she'd think up a better word later; she couldn't afford to get distracted. Which is why it was even more annoying when she was snapped out of her obvious distraction by a shout of "Ah-ha! Starlight perked her ears, gathering her magic to deal with whatever masterstroke the alicorn thought to unleash against her.
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See more words from the same year From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. The Best Tech Newsletter Anywhere Join , subscribers and get a daily digest of news, geek trivia, and our feature articles. Skip to content. How-To Geek is where you turn when you want experts to explain technology.Jun 25, · View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the File release of Touched Two (The Remixes) on Discogs/5(11).