Blink And You Miss It

by Fervidor

Chapter 1: Instantaneous.



By Fervidor

Twilight Sparkle went through the spell in her head for what must have been the tenth time that morning. It was a complicated one for sure, even for a pony as studious and talented as herself, but by now she knew it by heart. The theory, at least.

She stepped up on the low podium marked with a large letter A. At the other end of the chamber, just a few meters from her current position, was a similar podium marked B. The test was very simple: Just travel from A to B. Of course, she would have to do it in an instant and without moving through the space between.

This was the day: Twilight was about to teleport for the first time.

It had taken a great deal of studying. The spell was very advanced and most unicorns never mastered it, but now her teacher had finally deemed her ready to try it in practice. Twilight had been very excited at first, feeling a great deal of personal pride for making it this far. But now, at the moment of truth, she felt a tiny bit of doubt gnawing at her heart.

Twilight knew she could do it, so why did she hesitate? Why did the thought of blinking over to that podium suddenly seem so daunting?

"Are you ready, Twilight?" Princess Celestia asked.

"Ah, y-yes," Twilight replied, struggling to focus on the task at hand. She hoped the princess hadn't noticed her apprehension.

Celestia had noticed, however. "You seem nervous. Do you want us to go over the spell one last time?"

Twilight shook her head. "No, that won't be necessary. It's just that I've been looking forward to this for so long, but now when I'm actually about to do it for real I can't help but feel a bit uneasy." She sighed. "It's silly, I know. I've read enough about teleportation to know it's perfectly harmless."

Celestia cocked her head. "But?"

"But... doesn't it bother you at all that we don't really know how this spell actually works?" Twilight asked.

This was true. The spell was very old - ancient in fact, predating even the founding of Equestria, and the details regarding its invention and exact mechanics had long since been lost to time. Its structure was archaic and strange, unlike any other spell known to modern magicians - it didn't even appear to have anything to do with traveling. There was plenty of speculation, of course. Many hypotheses had been formulated on the subject. But they were just that: Hypothetical speculations. Most of it was guesswork, really. So far nopony had been able to answer many of the questions surrounding the actual effect of the spell.

"It's harmless, yes," Twilight carried on. "Nopony has ever merged within an object or ended up with body parts in the wrong places, even when teleporting by accident. And that's great! But we don't know why that is. Then there's the fact that it's practically instantaneous, but not really. There's always a very slight delay we can't account for. We simply don't know what actually happens during that tiny fraction of time. And isn't it weird it's always the same fraction of time no matter the distance you travel?" Twilight looked at podium B again, frowning. "I know I'll disappear from this spot and reappear over there, but how does it happen? Does the spell take me apart and then put me back together again? Or do I literally vanish while another, identical Twilight takes my place? If so, does that mean this spell actually... kills me?"

She realized Celestia was just standing there, looking at her with the same inscrutable expression she always wore when her student started rambling. Twilight blushed slightly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to rant."

Celestia shook her head. "No, it's quite alright. What you say is true, we don't really know exactly what happens during a teleportation, and some ponies find the implications to be existentially troubling. But speaking as one who has teleported many times, I can at least assure you that the process will be too quick for your mind to register, and no test devised by me nor anypony else has ever detected any physical or metaphysical difference afterwards. When you reappear, you will be exactly the same pony who left. I promise you that."

"I know, I know," Twilight sighed. "I shouldn't be making such a big deal out of this. It just bothers me a bit, using a spell I don't really understand."

Celestia's expression softened. "Twilight, if you don't want to do this, nopony will force you. I certainly won't. Teleportation is a very useful spell, but some ponies are simply uncomfortable with the idea and learning it in practice is not essential. I wouldn't think any less of you if you decide to call it off."

Twilight drew a deep breath and shook her head. "No, I'm not going to back down now. It's just my nerves making me irrational, that's all."

Celestia nodded. "When you feel ready, then. Take your time."

Trying to empty herself of any remaining doubts, Twilight channeled her magic into her horn and focused on the spell. Celestia was right, there was no reason to worry. Worst case scenario, she would mess up the spell and then nothing would happen. If she did it right, she would simply find herself at the other end of the room in an instant. The exact same pony who left.

She held on to her magic a little longer than usual, then let the spell go. It all happened in a single bright flash.

The room was gone. Celestia was gone. Twilight found herself floating in an empty void. There were no walls, no ceiling, no ground nor floor. It was a completely featureless space, the size of a universe for all Twilight could tell – there was simply no point of reference.

Twilight looked around in confusion. "Oh no," she gasped, feeling the panic well up inside her. Something must have gone terribly wrong. "Oh no, no, no. What happened? Where am I?"

Her voice sounded strangely muted and very, very small. The sound just seemed to disappear into that vast inky darkness.

"Hello?" she shouted, her tone turning frantic as desperate fear overran her mind. "Somepony help me! Princess Celestia, where are you!?"

"Over here, Twilight," came a familiar voice from her left, distant but somehow also right nearby.

Twilight turned her head. A large door had appeared right next to her, just hanging there without any walls to go with it. It looked no different from the countless other doors she knew from the castle in Canterlot.

Twilight didn't hesitate. Grabbing on to the doorknob with her magic, she immediately flung it open. Bright light spilled out from the other side and Twilight hurried to pull herself through it, not caring where it led. It was a way out, and that was all that mattered.

Her hooves found solid ground. She was outside, on one of the palace balconies. The sun shone brightly and the light felt warm against her coat. A gentle breeze flowed through her mane. In contrast to what she had just experienced, the normalcy of the scenery seemed almost jarring. At a table in front of her, raising an elegant teacup and kettle in a glow of golden magic, sat Celestia.

"Hello, Twilight," she said with a smile.

"Princess Celestia!" Twilight had never felt happier to see her mentor than at that moment.

"I'm glad you could join me," the princess said. "Would you like some tea?"

"Ah, n-no, thank you. I'm good." Growing increasingly confused, Twilight struggled to focus. "Princess Celestia, what just happened? I... I tried to teleport, but the next thing I knew I was in this void." She quickly turned around, but all she saw was the white marble stairs leading to the main part of the castle. The door had simply vanished. "What was that place?"

"Just a place," Celestia said. "One of many. I hope it didn't scare you too much. You have taken a first step, but you still have a long journey ahead. You must be patient." She put her teacup down and stood up. "Come, walk with me."

Twilight followed her, having to trot to keep up with Celestia's calm yet impressive gait. Although she felt safe in the presence of her mentor, she was still very confused. She had never read about anything like that place she just escaped, though Celestia seemed to know what was going on. It couldn't have been a prank, could it? Celestia had a mischievous streak, but Twilight knew she would never do something so randomly mean-spirited to anypony, and least of all her personal student.

"Princess, what just happened to me?" Twilight asked. "Did something go wrong with the teleportation spell?"

"Not at all," Celestia replied. "The spell worked exactly as intended."

"Then why didn't I end up where I was supposed to go?"

"Because you are, in fact, still in the process of teleporting."

Twilight stared at her teacher, momentarily speechless. "...What? That can't be right. Teleportation is supposed to be almost instantaneous!"

"Yes, that's true," Celestia said, "but there's no hurry. You have all the time in the world. Look around you, Twilight."

Twilight looked around, and what she saw confused her even more.

They were walking down a sparse corridor, quite different from the polished stone of the palace. Twilight recognized the place immediately – she had walked down this corridor and others like it many, many times throughout the last years of her life.

"This is the School for Gifted Unicorns," she said. "How did we even end up here so fast?"

"We walked," Celestia said. "You just didn't notice, since you were distracted talking to me."

That didn't make much sense to Twilight. "I don't understand."

They arrived at a large door at the end of the corridor. Lighting her horn, Celestia swung it open. "You will, soon enough."

On the other side of the door lay one of the large lecture halls. Twilight had anticipated this, but she could not have anticipated the scene taking place within. Down by the blackboard, overlooked by a quartet of serious professors, a lone purple unicorn filly aimed her horn at a dragon egg she had been tasked to hatch. The child struggled, over and over, but was unable to produce anything even resembling a spell. On the side, her parents were watching in suspense and worry.

Twilight couldn't believe her eyes. "That's... That's me! This is my entrance exam all those years ago!"

"Yes," Celestia said, watching fondly as the younger Twilight jumped around in desperation, trying her hardest to affect the egg yet managing only to produce a few tiny sparks of magic. "This moment is particularly important, so I thought it was a good place to start."

The ground shook when the Sonic Rainboom exploded over Cloudsdale far in the distance. Twilight watched, in a daze, how her younger self hatched Spike from the egg in a single blast, only to lose control of her magic the next moment. She watched her parents turning into cacti, watched Spike grow to an awesome size in an instant and break through the roof of the school. She saw Celestia approach and place a hoof on the foal's shoulder, stopping the violent surge as abruptly as it began.

"This isn't possible,” Twilight said. “Did we seriously travel back in time?"

"That is certainly one way to put it, Twilight Sparkle, although I think you will find it is not quite that simple."

Twilight had been so mesmerized by what she saw that she almost didn't notice how the voice beside her had changed. She quickly turned her head and found that the tall, white alicorn had changed into a different one. This new alicorn was shorter, with a dark blue coat and wearing black regalia. Her ethereal mane shimmered like the night sky.

"You're not Celestia," Twilight gasped.

The stranger rolled her eyes slightly. "No, I suppose I am not. Come along, Twilight Sparkle. There is much more for you to see."

She turned to leave, beckoning Twilight to follow with her wing. Twilight looked back a final time, seeing herself dance around, overjoyed at her cutie mark and the more than successful test. Then she followed the alicorn, though she wasn't sure why. She didn't even know this pony. Or did she?

Something nagged at Twilight's mind, like a memory lost in distant years. The more she looked at her companion, the stronger it grew. "You're... Princess Luna? Celestia's sister?"

"Yes," Luna said. "I am glad you remember me."

"But we haven't even met each other yet," Twilight said. "I didn't even know Princess Celestia had a sister. Besides, shouldn't you be sealed in the moon?" The moment she said that, she realized how little sense it made. "Okay, there is no way I should be able to know all these things!"

Luna shrugged. "In this place, you would do well not to rely too much on what you think you know. Look around, Twilight Sparkle."

Twilight looked around, and again found that the scenery had changed. They were now walking down the dirt street of a small pony town, all quaint thatched country houses, completely different from the refined Canterlot architecture she was used to.

"Wait, where are we now?" she asked.

"Home," Luna said just as they approached a building different from the others: A giant oak at the town's center, hollowed out and converted into a house.

Once again, something stirred within Twilight's mind. "I... I know this place. This is the Golden Oaks library in Ponyville."

"Quite right." Luna opened the door to the library with her magic. The sound of merrymaking and a murmur of ponies chatting among themselves spilled out. "Go ahead, take a look."

Twilight stuck her head into the doorway. There seemed to be some kind of celebration going on inside and the place was packed with partying ponies. At the far end of the room, she once again saw herself, drinking punch through a straw while seemingly trying to ignore five other ponies who had just assembled behind her.

Twilight turned to Luna. "Why are you showing me this?"

"Nostalgia, perhaps?" Luna shrugged, then started walking again. "Let us continue. We still have a long way to go."

Twilight threw one last look into the library. There seemed to have been something wrong with the punch, causing the other Twilight to run off to the upper floor with teary eyes and a burning face, leaving the other five sharing a surprised look.

She quickly caught up with Luna, but the faces of those five strangers still lingered in her mind. Strangers, she realized, with names she somehow knew very well.

"Pinkie Pie," she mumbled. "Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy... Those are my friends! This is the day I first met them." She shook her head. "No, that can't be. I haven't even been to Ponyville, and I don't know these ponies."

"Then how do you know their names?" Luna asked.

Twilight frowned. "I... I don't know, I just do." She looked around only to find that somewhere along the way, Ponyville had changed into a wild, dark forest. The sky had turned to night and the moon shone down, illuminating an ancient castle ruin towering above the treetops ahead. Something occurred to Twilight. "Wait, if you're Princess Luna, does that mean this is all a dream?"

"Ah, I can see how you would think so." Luna looked amused at the idea. "But no, you are wide awake. Possibly more awake than you have ever been, as a matter of fact."

"Then what is going on here?"

Luna cocked her head. "Hm, I am not sure I could easily explain in a way you would understand. You know how they say that when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes?"

Twilight's eyes widened. "So I am dead? Teleporting actually kills you?"

"I did not say that." Luna winked at her. "No, you are quite alive, and this is not the afterlife. It is just a place you will need to pass through on your journey. But the analogy is apt, I dare say."

Twilight let out a sigh of relief. "Don't scare me like that."

"Aw, shucks. Ah'm sorry, sugarcube. Ah didn't mean to spook ya."

Twilight saw that her companion had changed again, taking the form of the earth pony Applejack. This time Twilight hadn't looked away from Luna, but she were still unable to tell how the shift had occurred. There was no elaborate transformation or magic spell. She had blinked once, and in that tiny fraction of darkness found herself walking by a different pony.

Twilight's eyes narrowed. "Who are you?"

"Ah'm many ponies," Applejack replied.

"Yeah, obviously," Twilight groaned. "But who are you really?"

Another blink and her companion had shifted again. Twilight was now walking next to Pinkie Pie.

"That's a veeery good question," Pinkie sing-songed. "But you're not supposed to ask it just yet. I know I'm the last pony who should be saying this, but you've gotta be patient!"

Twilight rolled her eyes. "Whoever you are, you sure like being cryptic. Fair enough. If I'm still alive and this isn't a dream, then where exactly am I?"

Pinkie giggled. "You're between, of course."

"Between what?"

"Between point A and point B," Fluttershy said. "Between the ticks and the tocks, in the middle of a single step, after raising your hoof and before putting it down. You are between the pony you were in the beginning and the pony you are going to be in the end." Seeing Twilight's annoyed look, she gave the unicorn an apologetic smile. "Twilight, you know the paradox of Areion and the tortoise, right?"

"Yes," Twilight nodded. "It's an example of reductio ad absurdum in classical logic: Areion races against a tortoise with a head start, but even though he's the fastest runner in the world, he can never catch up since he has to cover half the distance between the tortoise and himself, then half of the remaining distance, and so on. Since you can always divide the remaining distance by half, the race would logically go on for all infinity."

"Quite correct, darling," Rarity said. "And in a matter of speaking, you could say this place is that infinity between Areion and the tortoise. Or, in your case, the space between departure and arrival when you teleport, stretching on forever as it were."

Twilight blinked. "You're telling me teleportation is a supertask?"

"Twilight, you are such a nerd," Rainbow Dash laughed. "But yeah, kinda. You need to travel an infinite space in a really short amount of time, sorta like when I want to get home from work and read the new Daring Do all day. Lucky for you, time has no real meaning here, so you'll still reach that podium eventually."

They were in Cloudsdale now, and Twilight found that she could walk on the clouds as if they were solid despite being a unicorn. Rainbow Dash hovered by her side rather than walking, flapping her wings. Twilight recalled that Rainbow practically never touched the ground while moving.

"Time..." Twilight glanced at the pegasus. "Is that why I feel like I know all these ponies? My... friends, from Ponyville? It's like I can remember them and all the happy times we shared, all the battles we won and the things we learned together. But how can I know about things that haven't even happened yet?"

"You probably shouldn't think too hard about that." Rainbow tapped a hoof against the side of her head and grinned. "Even for an egghead like you, that's just gonna get confusing. Let's just say that stuff that will be and stuff that has been is basically the same thing. You know, 'cause of space-time and stuff. It just depends on where you happen to be at, and right now you're kinda all over the place."

Twilight let out a small sigh. "I don't suppose you could turn into somepony a bit smarter?"

"Is this better?" Rainbow was gone, replaced by a golden unicorn mare with a fiery mane. A friendly smile lit up a pair of bright turquoise eyes.

Twilight looked at the stranger and found a name. She smiled back. "Sunset Shimmer."

"The one and only," Sunset chuckled. "Now then, where were we?"

"Between," Twilight said.

"Right, right."

They were walking down a Canterlot street while the sun rose in the east, painting the clouds in bright hues of rose and gold. The only other ponies around were a few yawning early risers still getting ready to greet the new day.

"You see, Twilight," Sunset said, "the spell doesn't take you apart and reassemble you, nor does it replace you with a copy. It just lets you move from one point in space to another, in practically no time at all, without having to pass the distance between them."

"And how is that possible?" Twilight asked.

Sunset shrugged. "It isn't. Turns out, there are no shortcuts. The spell simply reveals the truth."

"What truth?"

Sunset grinned. "That distance and time are illusions. Of course that means moving any distance in any amount of time is also an illusion. Ponies like you simply don't realize that since you're limited to perceiving things that way. When you teleported, you partially overcame that limitation and transcended to a higher state of awareness. The concept of distance no longer applies to you. Like Rainbow said, you're all over the place."

"But she said... You said I have to travel an infinite distance to get to where I'm going," Twilight argued. "Now you're telling me distance isn't real?"

"Not infinite distance, infinite space," Sunset corrected. "Not the same thing. That's how you can go from one place to another without moving - because this place is everywhere, all at once."

Twilight's eyes widened. "...Which means I'm everywhere all at once."

Sunset chuckled. "You're catching on."

"So why all this walking?" Twilight asked. "If what you say is true, why can't I just go to podium B right away?"

"I did say you've only partially transcended your limits," Sunset said. "You're still a creature that simply wasn't meant to see reality for what it really is. You still think of time as a sequence of past, present and future, and you still see space as a distance to cross. All this walking is a metaphor – a way for you to process what is happening to you in a way you can comprehend."

"Huh." Twilight wasn't sure if it was the strange future memories helping out, but it was all making more and more sense to her. "Is that why there's always a delay when we teleport?"

"Yes," Sunset confirmed. "Teleporting itself takes no time at all, obviously, but there's a whole lot of infinity to go around. A small bit of lag while you take it all in and get your bearings can't be avoided."

"And you?" Twilight regarded her companion with sudden skepticism. "Are you a metaphor as well?"

Sunset shot her a slightly bemused look, raising her eyebrow. "I'm your friend, Twilight. I just thought you could use some company along the way."

Caught off guard, Twilight blushed a little. "I...Thank you. Somehow I really believe that, even though we just met."

"You know me better than you think, Twilight Sparkle," Sunset said. "Don't worry about it. We're all friends here."

They kept walking, through cities and jungles and deserts and snow, and Twilight saw many things along the way. She saw the battle against Tirek, the redemption of Discord, and her duel with Trixie. She saw Luna's first Nightmare Night, the Grand Galloping Gala turn into a disaster, and the second sonic rainboom over Cloudsdale. She saw herself fight a horde of changelings with her friends by her side. She saw them all lose their cutie marks, only to win them back. She saw them face a dragon together. She saw birthdays and weddings and so many smiles.

She watched, in amazement, herself appear in a bright flashing star, spreading her new wings to the sky. "I become an alicorn," she whispered, still struggling to take it all in.

"You are quite an extraordinary pony," Cadence said. "And you will do many extraordinary things."

"Maybe," Twilight said, "but I know I couldn't have done any of them without my friends. All of this would have been impossible without them."

"Well," Cadence gave Twilight an affectionate nudge with her wing, "I suppose it's only fitting that the Princess of Friendship should have caring and reliable friends."

Passing through the Crystal Empire, Twilight witnessed another scene from her future: She was with her friends and family, all gathered around a newborn alicorn filly. Flurry Heart, her own niece. She saw herself bend down and gently kiss the baby's cheek, causing the child to let out a happy squeal and reach for her with tiny little hooves.

Twilight felt a tightness in her chest and her eyes teared up slightly. "...I just didn't expect there to be so much happiness in my life."

"Weren't you happy before?" Cadence asked.

"I thought I was," Twilight said, hanging her head. "I thought all I needed was my books and research. I thought that as long as I studied hard and made Princess Celestia proud of me, I didn't need anypony else. But now? Now I know there's more. There's so much more, and I'm worrying I was just wasting my precious time alone."

They were wandering across the surface of the moon, among vast craters and hills, past dunes of silver dust and dark basalt seas. All around them, the silence of space reigned undisturbed save for their own voices.

"Time," Starlight Glimmer said. "Ponies are so worried about time. That it'll run out. That you won't have enough of it. That it will be wasted. Oh, Twilight, if you could only see time the way I do, then you'd never worry again."

Twilight turned her head to the sky. Above them the great planet shone bright blue and white in all its majesty, spinning at a dizzying speed. Continents drifted across its surface, breaking apart and joining together into ever-changing forms. "How long have we been walking?" she asked.

"By now you should know that question is nonsense," Starlight replied. "If I said 'forever', is that good enough?"

Twilight couldn't begin to estimate how far they had traveled. It felt like eons had passed her by in the blink of an eye. She felt ancient and like a child all at once. She closed her eyes and sighed. "And how much further do I have to go?"

Starlight looked ahead. "We're there."

Twilight looked up and saw that they were back in the chamber where it had all started. Podium B was right in front of her, only a few steps away.

She turned to her companion, who was once again Celestia. The princess looked down at her and smiled. "You have done well, Twilight, and I'm glad I could keep you company. But this is the end of your journey, at least for now."

"So, do I just walk over to it?" Twilight asked.

Celestia nodded. "That's what you've been doing all along, isn't it? Go on now. Just a little bit further."

Twilight frowned. After countless steps across an endless space of yesterdays and tomorrows, her goal was so close now. And yet she hesitated.

"What if I go somewhere else?" she asked, even though she could already guess what the answer would be. She knew it was irrational. She knew the spell didn't work that way, that changing the destination in the middle of a jump made no sense, but still: "What if... What if I go to Ponyville instead and find my friends?"

Celestia chuckled, as if Twilight had told an amusing joke. "That would be quite the detour, wouldn't it? But even if you could do that, what will you say to them? What will you think when you meet them for the first time and they are just strangers to you?"

Twilight's heart sank when she realized the implications of those words. "I won't be able to remember any of this, will I?"

Of course she wouldn't. Nopony ever did. She felt like an idiot.

"It happens too quickly," Celestia confirmed. "Teleportation is practically instantaneous, after all. This is all just an instant, a flash, far too short for your physical mind to register."

"And I'll be the exact same pony who left," Twilight sighed. Those words were far too ironic this time around. "Exactly the same foolish mare who only cares about books and studies, with no idea of what she's missing. How much more time will I spend like that? A year? More?"

"There are no shortcuts, Twilight," said Celestia gently. "Not really. You can't simply change who you are in the blink of an eye. Life is a long journey and you have to take it one step at a time." She raised a wing, gesturing to the platform. "This is where you are supposed to go. You knew that from the beginning."

Twilight drew a deep breath. "I understand." She approached the podium, but just as she was about to reach it she suddenly stopped. She recalled a memory from a long, long time ago: A question that still hadn't been answered.

"Who are you?" she asked. "Who are you really?"

She turned around and looked at herself. Except this Twilight was taller, more majestic, older. The alicorn princess looked back at the unicorn with the ancient eyes of one who had lived countless lives, all of them adding up in this single infinite moment between moments.

"I am many ponies," said the other Twilight. "We are all just... reflections of one another, you see. It's just our limited perspective playing a trick on us. Distance and time are illusions, and words like 'you', 'me' and 'them', they are really just synonyms. That's why we need each other, why we are incomplete when alone, why hatred hurts us, and why we are healed by love. I know you don't fully understand this, but some day you will."

Dozens of questions ran through Twilight's head, but she knew it would be pointless to ask them, so she settled for just one. "I guess we'll be seeing each other a lot more from now on, then?"

"That we will, Twilight Sparkle." The alicorn smiled. "That we will. Don't worry, my little pony, everything will be just fine. We're all friends here."

Twilight didn't say goodbye, because she knew they wouldn't truly be parting. She made the last step and reached the podium. It was all over in a single bright flash.

Twilight blinked, looking down at the big B beneath her hooves. "Huh, that wasn't so bad."

"You did it!" Celestia exclaimed, clapping her hooves. "Congratulations, Twilight!"

"I... I did it!" Twilight repeated, more to herself than her teacher. Turning around, she looked at the spot where she had just been standing. "You were right, I barely even noticed moving."

Celestia walked over to her. "So, how are you feeling?" she asked.

Twilight frowned slightly, "I'm fine, but I feel a bit... sad? Nostalgic, almost? As if I've forgotten something important from a long time ago. It's strange, I can't quite put my hoof on it."

"That sometimes happens when a pony teleports for the first time," Celestia said. “Many experience emotions they can't explain. We don't know why, but it's only a temporary side effect."

"That's good to know," Twilight said, and already the unexplained feelings were giving way for excitement. "Wow, I really did teleport. This is going to be so useful! I kinda want to do it again."

"I am very proud of your progress, Twilight," Celestia said. "But for now, I think we'd better call it a day. We have the Summer Sun Celebration ahead of us, and I still have some preparations to attend to."

"Oh, yes, of course!" Twilight realized she had been so focused on her research that she'd nearly forgotten about the upcoming event. "Um, is there anything I can help you with?"

For a brief moment, Celestia's smile turned slightly wistful. She shook her head. "That's kind of you, but I have it covered. There will be more lessons for you to learn soon enough, but for now you've earned yourself a break. Take this time to relax. Perhaps do some reading?"

Twilight scratched her chin. "Hm, I have been meaning to read up on Equestrian myths and legends for a while now. I brought in a few books on that subject but I haven't had time to look into them."

"I'm sure you will find them very enlightening, as always," Celestia chuckled. "Off you go then."

"Thank you, princess!" Twilight said. "Oh, and good luck with the preparations."

She left the chamber with a spring in her step. After the success of the test, her previous anxiety was all but forgotten. Twilight still didn't understand how teleporting worked but she no longer felt worried about it, as if somehow the experience itself had dispelled her doubts.

Invigorated, she headed home to find something to read.

Author's Note

This is probably the strangest thing I've written so far.

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