Twilight looked up as she felt a hoof laid on her shoulder. She saw her old foalsitter smiling down at her.
"I'm so sorry!" she apologised, on the verge of crying.
Cadance's smile turned into a sneer. "Oh, that's quite alright, since I'm not actually Cadance, the real one is safe for now, but you won't be able to do anything about that in a moment." the false Cadance said. Her horn glowed green as the impostor prepared an unfamiliar spell, then Twilight lost consciousness.
[center]***Location: Unknown. Time: Unknown.***[/center]
When she came to, she was in a forest clearing. She saw strange slimy creatures and what appeared to be undead bipedal beings in basic armor moving around. She shuddered slightly, necromancy was a foul magic that forced a soul back from the afterlife and bound it to the necromancer's will.
The poor things had no say in anything they did, the only way to set them free was to destroy them, or at least the spell that had brought them back. The confirmation of there being an afterlife was the only beneficial effect of the use of necromancy, otherwise there wouldn't be anywhere to bring the souls back from.
It was then that she noticed that she had undergone a strange transformation. Her forelegs and forehooves had become slimmer arms and hands like Spike's, but ending in stubby digits instead of claws, they looked extraordinarily dexterous. Her hind legs and hooves were now slimmer as well, and ended in feet that appeared to be versions of her new hands that had evolved to be more useful for walking and enable bipedal movement, and thus lost much of their dexterity. She was also wearing clothes to fit her new form, a light blue shirt, a dark blue skirt that matched her mane and tail and had her cutie mark on it, and a pair of white boots.
Her horn was still present and her magic seemed fine, which kept her far more calm than she would have been otherwise as she continued her examination. Her ears were untouched, but her muzzle had divided into component nose and mouth. One of the skeletons had noticed her and charged at her with sword and shield, it's only armor was a battered helm.
She raised a shield spell that stopped it's attack more or less effortlessly, then hit it with one of the medium level Light spells that she had learned from the princess for such occasions as this, well, the creature tied to Darkness trying to kill her part anyway. It collapsed into a pile of bones, but the loud noises alerted the others.
30 more skeletons surrounded her, some with better armor and weapons, she repeatedly used area-of-effect type spells in strafing attacks and eventually cut them down. A 'Level 2' briefly appeared over her head in the middle of the fight, and it was abruptly easier to take out the skeletons, she had to ask someone about that later, she noted. She took the two best swords from the pile and the least battered helm from the collection, after checking for curses of course. She needed some form of protection in case something snuck up on her, she couldn't depend solely on seeing whatever it was in time to cast a shielding spell.
She avoided the slimes if possible, she saw one of them swallow a squirrel that got too close, what followed was going to give her nightmares for some time. They were essentially amoebas the size of a beach ball, which was impressive when you took into account how amoebas were usually microscopic, these, however, were entirely natural, there was only an almost ludicrously small amount of magic in them, less than many of the plants. This lent support to her theory on what exactly had happened.
She believed that the impostor had managed to send her to another dimension, it explained the slimes and her transformation, but since she'd seen some of the spell, she now knew some of it, and could, in theory, devise a counter, or even an outright opposing spell that would get her home. She decided to go visit a town, preferably with a library, assuming there was intelligent life wasn't a real stretch when there were undead walking around, that almost necessitated intelligent life of some kind.
She saw an occasional other person as she walked in the direction of decreasing density of vegetation, got directions from them to the nearest town, called BattleOn, and fended off attacks by the native fauna (and occasionally flora) all just to get there.
She didn't tell anyone about the undead as there were people already dealing with it, so she could safely say that they already knew about the skeletons walking around, and she saw what could only be a paladin with brown hair rush off into the forest with a huge grin on his face yelling. "Finally! I was getting bored!" so she could assume this happened fairly often.
She noticed that roughly half the people around here carried weapons and armor of some sort. This likely meant that there were similar threats to one's safety on a widespread basis throughout this world, so she ought to learn some more combat-oriented magic, just in case. Light spells were really only useful against those tied to darkness.
She was planning on hunkering down in the nearest library and researching a way home, but that didn't mean she was going to do nothing but focus on that to the exclusion of anything else up to and including the end of the world, or rather, this world. She ought to at least help out if she was going to be stuck here for any great length of time.
She got directions to the resident magician of the area, Warlic. Warlic was apparently the Archmage, which put him in charge of any and every mage in the world, or at least made him responsible for keeping anything related to magic from causing the world to come to an end anyway, if the seeming lack of any real restraints on what the mages used their magic for was any indication. She considered the idea that she was thinking a lot more morbidly than usual for a moment, but dismissed it.
She went into his shop, he was the tutor on spells in the area as well, he had silver hair, an orb on a rod, and a blue robe, she found him reading a book, he dropped it in surprise as she came in.
"Miss, are you aware that you're leaking magic like some kind of fire hose gone mad?" he asked. No one had said he was very subtle.
"Really? I thought I'd gotten better about that." she had in fact thought she'd improved since school.
"I sensed you appear nearby, I was looking into how on Lore you could hide your presence so well, only to appear now when there were no obvious threats, which is actually fairly rare, wars and other such events are so common that if Death weren't so lenient on most people, the continent would be depopulated by now, it would have been like trying to hide a lit bonfire at night." he said.
"That's... somewhat disturbing actually, who's in charge of this place?" she asked, more than a little perturbed at the off-hand way Warlic could talk about wars, from the sound of it, they happened all the time.
"Technically, there is no one supreme ruler of Lore and the Elemental Lords only rarely get involved in our affairs. King Alteon the Good and Sepulchre the Doomknight are in almost constant conflict, and the Creator will only intervene if there is absolutely no hope of the world not being destroyed otherwise." he explained.
"Oh, great, I'm going to have problems if I want to visit anywhere else, aren't I?" she asked.
"Yes, monster attacks are common, and have been slowly increasing in frequency of late. I think something big will happen within the month, but I can't figure out or scry what exactly it might be. Incidentally, what level are you?" he asked.
"Level? That thing that popped up in the forest? Sorry, I'm pretty sure this is a different dimension from my home, so I'll likely need pointers on things that will seem basic to you." she apologized.
"Right, your level determines how powerful you are, though you can boost that sort of thing artificially with equipment, a person of a high level with poor equipment will usually be able to overpower a person of a low level with good equipment. There's a cap of 999, but most don't get past 100. You really only need be 60 or so to defeat most strong enemies though." he explained.
"Okay, I'm only level 2 though." she said.
Warlic sighed. "Right, then I suggest you fight the monsters around town. BattleOn has relatively weak monsters, but there are some dangerous ones about, even here. There's a proverb that most adventurers stick to, 'Be brave, but if things look grim, run away and live to be brave some other day.' it applies to the situations you'll encounter.
I can lend you some spells as well, though I'm afraid I can't just give them away, but don't worry, winning monster fights awards money that's automatically added to what you have." Warlic said.
"Right, what have you got?" she asked.
Warlic turned to the bookshelves in the back of the shop. He pulled out a blue hardcover book.
"This book contains the low-level combat spells, but first we have to figure out what Class you are. Before you ask, Classes are essentially jobs that influence what abilities, and spells you can learn, and how your attributes grow over levels." Warlic said, holding a book with a blue cover and the same star as her cutie mark.
After several tests, Warlic announced his verdict. "It seems that you're a new Class. You can dual wield swords, but also use magic, and your statistics appear much more well-rounded than most people's. I think we should tentatively call your Class Red Mage. A mage with light and dark magic, but who also uses weapons.
A jack-of-all-trades, your strength lies in your versatility, but you aren't quite as good as a specialist at their skillset. You can heal like a Priest, but not as well, but you can also deal damage effectively with physical attacks or black magic, something no Priest can do. You'll be slower than a Rogue, but faster than a Warrior, have better Endurance than a mage, but less than a Warrior." Warlic said.
"So, does that mean I can have all the spells in that book that I can afford?" Twilight asked him.
"Yes, yes it does." he deadpanned.
She started to look through the spellbook for spells that seemed useful.
She left Warlic's shop with her money bag considerably lighter, but her mind and spell list considerably fuller. She'd gotten a spell in each element of the 8 elements (fire, water, ice, lightning, earth, wind, light, and darkness) as well as a spell to increase the force of her physical attacks and a small healing spell.
Though now she was almost broke, she had a plan, fight the nearby monsters until a day's worth didn't get her to the next level, get more spells and better equipment, then visit the library in each town and research a way home. She'd have to help in any major problems that happened though.
She fought a few monsters on the edge of town to raise the necessary money, and then rented a room and board at the town's inn. She repeated the process of fighting monsters, re-outfitting herself, and studying at the library for a few weeks until she hit level 15. Then she left for the next town over, she fended off the occasional monster, until she ran into that same Paladin that had been slaying the undead when she got to BattleOn being swarmed by more undead. She ran to help him.
'It's going to be a long day, I can tell already.' she thought as she began to cut down the enemies in her way.