Papers and reference guides splayed in a half-moon shape around her, Twilight Sparkle was in her element: at home in the library. While the map room was growing on her as a place of importance, it was always the deep smell of old texts that brought her a sense of relaxation. As it was, her deep level of academic zen was nearing perfection when a runaway train of thought crashed into hers.
"Don't you hate it when stuff goes to waste?" Pinkie Pie stated out of the blue, squishing her face on the glass tabletop in front of her.
Twilight didn't bother to look up from the papers scattered about. "Mhmm".
"Look at this cupcake." Pinkie continued, one hoof to her head and another hoof pointing. "It's deceptive! It looks close to fantastic! It smells fine! The price is right! But…it's a couple of months old."
"Mmm." Twilight responded on instinct.
The baker stood up and paced the room in a fit of light frustration. "But throwing away food is such a shame! And there's such a stigma about it! I mean, nothing TERRIBLE ever happened when I ate last quarter's leftovers in the past!"
"Hmm." Twilight droned again. "Wait what?" The ring of sketchbooks suspended in the air visibly fell a few inches in their magical grasp. "Last quarter? You ate moldy stuff from three months ago on purpose?"
"Moldy?!" Pinkie halted, eyes wide open. "How could you say such a thing?! My culinary work does not succumb to mold that easy!"
The purple princess tilted her head. "So it wasn't a new shade of green from when you made it?"
"…Maybe a little." Pinkie's eyes stared up and off to the ceiling, then came straight back to stare at Twilight. "But not much!"
"I just - ugh, so many questions." Twilight set her instruments down and sighed. "Why didn't you make something new if you were hungry?"
"I went over this already Twi!" Pinkie's mouth turned into a pout. "I don't like wasting food."
"Well if that's the case, why didn't you eat it sooner? Like, I dunno', a week after it didn't sell?"
"I forgot I had it."
Pinkie stated it so matter-of-factly that it left no room for any other lines of inquiry, as if that was a perfectly acceptable answer to a question that obviously was directed somewhere else entirely. That being said, it wasn't something Twilight was willing to dive into at this point. Instead, she went back to staring at diagrams. "As your friend, I wouldn't want to see you get sick over this. Toss it and grab something from the kitchen; there might be leftovers from Swanky's."
"Swanky's?!" The pink pony perked up with a wide grin. "You go out for fancy dining and somehow DIDN'T eat all of it in one go?" She forced her face back to a normal-ish composure and coughed a few times. "I mean, um, if you reeeaaaally don't care, I could take it off your hooves."
And just like that, the cupcake sailed into the trash can.
Twilight simply shook her head and smiled at Pinkie as she bounced towards the kitchen, poofy mane accentuating the excitement. Much to her surprise, she watched as the door promptly opened of it's own volition, grew two arms, ushered Pinkie through, and then waddled off of it's hinges and over to her workspace. "Well, what do you think?"
"Um…Discord? Is that you?"
"Yes yes." A voice emanated from the rustic house piece. "I'm cool and unexpected and the Lord of Chaos and all that jazz. But what do you think?"
Twilight started to set her things down, freeing her from having to focus on lifting them. "I, uh, what am I commenting on, exactly?"
"How I look!"
"It's…fine?" She offered halfheartedly.
"Fine!" Discord popped back into his usual, vaguely-draconic self. "I think you mean that I'm a-door-able!"
A look of annoyance flashed over Twilight's face for a second, then the slightest smirk grew from behind the locks of her mane. "I 'wooden' get too carried away, if I were you."
"HAH!" Discord spun with glee. "See, you do appreciate the finer things in life." His face shifted to one of concern. "Now, where in the world did it go…"
"The universe is made of more than puns, Discord."
"This universe?" He balked, still looking around. "Naaaahhhh, it's pretty much all puns."
Twilight got up out of her chair and approached the not-door. "What are you here for, anyways?"
"Lost something. But this isn't to make this about me! What are YOU working on?"
"Eh, not much." Twilight shrugged. She pointed to a metal square with half of a magic circle embossed on it perched on the desk. "Trying to figure out what that thing is. Some sort of spell enhancer, or at least modifier, I think. Since it's fancy, shiny, and the size of my head I'm hoping for something cool and historic, but I have a feeling it will be a dud."
"Sounds boring." He waved a claw, attention already lost. "Good talk though. I need to…bolt."
With a snort, a "poof", and a random splattering of what appeared to be shredded lettuce, chaos incarnate teleported off to places unknown, muttering something to himself about "hyperactive amphibians".
"Hold on." Twilight put her hoof to her chin. "Bolt. Is that a lock pun?"
She shrugged and collapsed back down into her plush chair, attempting to pick up her train of thought wherever it had last been derailed. By the time she had looked up again, Rarity and Pinkie Pie had taken Discord's place in the door and were ambling over to her.
"Princesse!" Rarity declared in her best Prench accent. "How are you on this most lovely day?"
Princesses don't get days off, Twilight mused to herself. "I'm doing fine! What's up?"
"I was on my way over to visit the shoe store and found Pinkie in front of the castle, and then I told myself it would be even better to see you as well!" She embraced Twilight briefly, then broke contact and glanced over at the metal artifact on the desk. "That's a curious piece you have there; where did you get it? Looks expensive."
"A university student found it out west, which is strange considering that it looks distinctly south-eastern, or at least southern aesthetically. I was just explaining to Discord that I think it augments spells somehow, but for the life of me I can't figure out what half of a magic circle is supposed to mean."
Rarity started towards the opposite door with Pinkie in tow. "Well, if it weren't for the rust here and there, it would much resemble trendy wall art used to spice up a fancy office space. Let me know if you want to get rid of it at some point; I know a number of interior decorators who would find a good use for it."
A gasp from Pinkie made the others jump. "What if it helps food last longer?!"
Rarity caught Twilight's eye roll. "That's an idea, I suppose. In any case, it looks like we should let Miss Sparkle return to her work. I wish you the best of luck Twilight! Let us know how it goes!"
Twilight waved at the pair as they turned the corner. "Will do!" Once they were fully out of sight, she leaned the metal square up on it's edge and talked at it. "I tell ya', if only I could be a fly on the wall in the age when you were crafted, this would be so much easier."
She barely finished the sentence when the metal plate thrummed with light, the engraved half-rings extending their lines to meet each other and complete the circle. By the time Twilight had started to understand that a reaction had begun, it was already too late.
Consciousness returned slowly for Twilight, eventually pooling together in the form of primitive, halfway coherent thoughts. The wood floor was too cold, the world at large was far too bright, and her feeble attempts to get to her feet revealed a disturbing lack of control when it came to her own limbs. Moreover, the world seemed very fuzzy and vague, and her eyes wouldn't adjust. Her sense of time was also out of sorts, and she couldn't tell if she lay on her side for a few minutes or a few hours. Instinctively she knew she was all in one piece, but that was about as far as her rational self could go.
She lay there for an indeterminate amount of time, head spinning, before something just on the edge of her vision forced her to gather her mismatched consciousness together. As she slowly came to, a tall, creeping shadow lumbered it's way towards her off to the right. For a brief moment she was elated that someone was around to assist, but that idea quickly fell out of grace when she glanced over at the towering mass. For one, her visitor was large. Stupidly large. Like, "five times larger than her" kind of large. Also, it had eight legs, with way too much hair.
Eight legs? Despite her brain functioning on par with a two year old, the math checked out: "That's a spider."
With the obvious out of the way, Twilight's brain kicked her rear in gear: "THAT'S A REALLY BIG SPIDER."
Adrenaline now being injected directly into her bloodstream, she flung herself upright for the first time, causing more strange sensations to come to the front of her attention. The first inclination in mind was to scream, but what came out was far quieter than she expected. The second idea was to point, which revealed not pony legs, but thin, wiry appendages with hook-like growths on the end. This started an endless stream of questions such as "WHAT IS THIS?", "WHAT AM I?", and "WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?", until it was interrupted by the enormous spider moving more intently in her direction. The third and final idea was to put as much distance between her and the arachnid as possible. Buzzing brand new paper thin wings as fast as possible, she went rocketing off of the floor and into the air, completely unready for the sheer momentum of her launch.
Unfortunately, while the speed of her departure got her out of immediate harm, it also propelled her directly into cobwebs near the ceiling a few seconds later. "NO, NO, No, nonononono…" Try as she might, struggling only seemed to make the problem worse. After a few seconds of wild thrashing, Twilight started to calm her hyperventilation. "Okay, okay, thinking time. I'm a bug. A very small, very weak, but highly nimble bug." A few more seconds of wild pondering gave her a guess. "I'm a fly. I'm a fly? Okay, why would I be a fly?"
Ceasing to fight her entanglement gave her a chance to breathe. From the top of the room she gained an entirely new perspective on the landscape: her previous "floor" wasn't really the floor at all. The wood was her desk (was it really that dusty?), and the spider was not big. Twilight was just very, very small, which meant it would probably be a wise idea to find someplace safer than a spider web. With a tug and a pull, she began to yank herself free of the wire. "Ugh! Come…on…it…can't…be…this…hard. When I get out of this mess, I'm going to need a word with my assistant about the importance of keeping the library clean!"
The old webs had long since lost their sticky coating, making escape much more feasible. Twilight was thankful for that; had this been a new web it might have been over before it even began. She zoomed over to the nearest bookshelf where she had a wide view of all possible angles, and skidded to a halt. Freaking out wasn't going to help solve the problem. Problem solving was going to solve the problem.
"Okay, this is something totally new, and the only new thing in the room is that western artifact. Logic says that the simplest answer is probably a good place to start, so let's say for a second that it's the cause of this mess. Who makes a metal plate that turns ponies into flies? Why not a bee? Or a dog? Or a cat?" Suddenly it hit her. "Huh. Actually, I DID mention that I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when it was crafted…"
So it was a wish granting piece of metal? That didn't quite add up. First off, she never said it was a wish specifically, and none of her words could be construed as part of a spell. Besides, even if it did grant wishes, it was really bad at it's job. It only fulfilled the "turn Twilight into a bug" piece of the wish, not the "turn back time" part. It was almost like it did half the job, but maybe that was the meaning of half a magic circle? Perhaps it functioned similar to one of those "corrupted wish" games. It grants your wish, but only half of it - or only by the letter of the law, not the intent.
"That's a dumb use of someone's talents…" Twilight mumbled to herself. She took off and floated down to the desk and over the square, keeping a watchful eye on the spider camping out in the corner. To her dismay, the disk pattern hadn't shrunk back down to the original half circle. That meant it either needed to cool down after use, or it was a disposable creation to begin with. It was worth a shot anyways, wasn't it?
She landed on the plate and looked down at her reflection. "So if this thing only grants half a wish, then can I cheat? I uh, I wish I was a pony, as well as a pony!"
"Your owner thought about duplicate statements, didn't they? Okay then, I wish I was a pony, and the smartest being in Equestria!"
"No? Really? Come on, at least give me the brains to get out of this one."
The inanimate object declined to comment.
"Why does this have to be so difficult?!"
It was obviously time to find help. While Rarity and Pinkie Pie were long gone, it was unusual for Spike to leave the castle in the early morning hours. If she had to guess, he would probably be lingering around the kitchen as per the usual. She zipped and weaved through the stone hallways, marveling at how new and grand everything looked when it was so much larger than her. The myriad of color in the stained glass windows was her favorite. Much to Twilight's delight, she rounded the final corner to find Spike in the middle of tidying up the dining area.
Her first attempt at talking was an immediate reminder that she didn't have a pony voice anymore, which brought an entirely new challenge: how was she to communicate? If she couldn't talk, could she write? Of course, she was too weak to lift a pen, so she would have to get creative. Writing with her leg was viable if she could get some ink, but she was always careful to cap the inkwells with a cork. Food dye could work as a substitute as well, but those bottles had the same problem. Even a powder-like substance such as flour could be used provided it was accessible to the open air. Instead of lingering on the idea, motioning felt like something easier to rule out.
She fluttered around Spike's head in an attempt to get his attention, and promptly was waved away by the annoyed dragon. Not to be deterred, she kept dive-bombing his head until he started talking in her general direction, claws on hips. "Can we please not…I don't need this in the morning."
He didn't need this experience? How dare he! SHE didn't need this sort of experience. She was the one living an out of body experience! In a spat of defiance, she landed directly on his ear, causing him to flick his head and promptly spawn a bright red flame inches from her face. Twilight beat a hasty retreat, looking back at the small dragon venting smoke from his nostrils.
"Oh no you DIDN'T." Twilight admonished.
But so he did. Twilight pulled even further away when a growl and second spout of flame singed her side. Spike's broom dropped to the floor with a clatter, leaving the reptile free to chase her down with a vengeance.
"OKAY, I'M SORRY SPIKE!" Maybe now was the time to panic.
Spike, not hearing any of it, made a beeline straight for her, taking down a chair in the process. With a tiny "Eep!", Twilight zipped through a crack between the door and the wall and out into the hallway, hiding just above the door frame. Her assistant burst through a few moments later, looking up and down the hall for any signs of life. While momentarily distracted by the shadows of trees through the window, the fly made her escape in the opposite direction. After what felt like a safe distance, she chanced a look back at the dragon.
As footsteps came running down the halls, an idea flashed through her head. She ducked into the library and onto one of the shelves on the opposite wall. From her vantage point, she could see Spike slow his pace upon entering. The gears were turning in his head, and his gaze shifted up and down the shelves until she made herself known by darting in random directions. He grew more agitated while the smoke vanished; he knew exactly what had happened. Even if he ignored the rules in other parts of the castle, he wouldn't dare ignite open flame in the library proper.
A single talon pointed right at her. "You are a very lucky bug, you know that?"
"Luck!" Twilight stood aghast. "That was pure brilliance!"
Spike's squinting turned into a devilish smile, and he ventured over to a bin full of recycled notes and rolled up a piece of parchment. With a leap of such speed as to make athletes proud, he came sailing across the room and smacked the shelf right below Twilight, scaring her silly.
"I SAID I'M SORRY!"
Thus began an endurance contest: Twilight dodging anti-air magazines, toys, and other knickknacks, while Spike swooped in and tried to catch her off-guard while preoccupied with the aforementioned objects. It wasn't too long before Twilight's luck gave out, and a stray beach ball smacked her head-on. As she descended to the earth and Spike closed in, she had only enough time to control the general direction of her crash landing: the personal journal sitting on her desk.
The magazine-turned-hammer dropped almost immediately, and halted a few inches from her face. A distinct look of frustration crossed Spike's lips. "Get off of there! Shoo! I can't make a mess of Twi's journal!"
That was precisely the opposite of what Twilight decided she should do. She dug her claws (are fly's hooks considered claws?) into the pages of the book and held on for dear life. Not to be outdone, Spike leaned in as close as possible and tried to blow her off of the paper and onto the desk. Boy was his breath atrocious. She'd have to remember to get him some mints or something.
"Okay then." Spike muttered.
Twilight wasn't super enthusiastic about the way he marched out the door; it seemed very much like he was still on the warpath. At least she had time to compose her thoughts -
Something green passed just beyond the edge of her peripheral vision, coming from the direction of an open window. A quick glance found nothing, but she was sure there was movement. Ever so slowly she crawled up to the edge of the table, only to find…a frog. It was a very dumb looking, spaced out frog, staring back up at her from the floor. She frowned for a moment (as well as insects can frown), before the frog launched directly at her and smacked the desk side with it's face. Twilight jumped away and took off into the air, heart now doing a solid impression of an earthquake.
She maneuvered forward just barely enough to see a flailing mass of arms and legs recover from it's tumble. No sooner than it had shaken off the bruise when it flung itself into the air again towards it's tasty treat, sending it whizzing past a nimble Twilight, landing squarely on a wall. This, in turn, became a platform to try once again. The more Twilight tried to out-fly (hehehe) the hungry predator, the more fanatical it's attempts to catch her became. Every few seconds it would leap an unthinkable distance, completely ignoring dangers in favor of what was right in front of it. With this in mind, the next obvious stratagem was to hover over the nearest trash can and let the amphibian throw itself away. This was highly amusing until it simply jumped to the ceiling, then careened towards Twilight again and ultimately crash landed somewhere behind a couch.
As simple as it sounded at first, the couch posed a significant problem. Twilight settled down on her table again and pondered for a while: on one hoof, not knowing where her attacker was could be the end of her, but on the other hoof, any sort of angle that would give her a sight line would also put her too close to escape if she was seen first. Did she stay put and let the uncertainty of the situation increase? Or should she venture out and know for sure? She could always retreat do a different room, but then things would revert to complete unknowns, and she would never be able to rest easy. Even sitting here was making things more dangerous-
A quick "thud" followed by a deafening "WHAM" caused Twilight to jump, and she turned around to face a large cardboard box with a twitching frog leg sticking out from the bottom. Above the box was Spike, holding it firmly against the desk to keep the green monster from getting away. For some reason, his squint conveyed second thoughts about it. "…I should let him eat you, you know that?"
Twilight strongly disagreed.
All at once, a long body came floating through the nearest wall with a reckless disregard for physics. "Spike! I need your help!" Discord's frantic antics (frantics?) came to a halt when he spotted Spike with a rattling box under his claws. "Please tell me there's a frog in there."
Spike blinked. "I'm not going to ask how you knew that."
His voice almost gave off a glow. "Oh thank goodness! You have NO IDEA how long I've been looking for him!" He swooped over and took ownership of the container. "I was bored last night and wondered what would happen if you gave a frog caffeine! Little did I know that the results would be so drastic!" He dropped to a low, serious tone. "But knowing the luck I've had in this town, something as innocuous as a frog would probably lead to the destruction of a few towns, plus or minus a country. So I'm getting in front of it before it happens!"
On the sidelines, Twilight wasn't sure whether to feel angry or proud of him for his actions. She took off from her perch and circled Discord.
"Now I need to figure out the easiest way to get this energy out of his system. It would be best if I had help…"
"Want me to find Twilight?" Spike offered.
"That would be fun, but I don't think I need brains specifically for this." He passively tracked the circling bug with his eyes. "Here, see."
With a flick of his talons, Twilight popped back to her old self, falling out of the air and onto the floor in a heap.
"There. A replacement Twilight."
"Oooowwww, my heeeaaaad…"
Discord did a double take. "A genuine Twilight? How did - where were - but I - hold on." He slithered over to where the pony-shaped fur ball was on the floor. "Is that you? Usually I'M the one who gets asked strange questions, but what were you doing in your own home as an insect, miss Twi-fly?"
"Uuugghgh…don't call me that." A muffled voice returned.
"But it works so well! You were pretty fly for a purple Twi!"
Twilight lifted her head and stared at him with wrinkles under her eyes. "Your science experiment nearly ate me."
"Oh. Oh no. Oh dear."
"I should zap you back to the next dimension."
"But you wouldn't. We're too good of friends."
"Of course I won't." Twilight conceded. "I shouldn't joke about misusing princess-ly powers. Besides, you even surprised me by taking initiative to fix things before they got out of hoof."
"Surprised? Twilight! Inter-dimensional prankster I may be, there are still standards I must uphold. Tidiness is one of them believe it or not, hence why I had to 'jump' on this little mistake." Discord's grin was unnaturally wide.
Twilight could only glare. "What did I say earlier today?"
"I think it was 'What are you here for?'"
"The phrase I'm getting at is 'The world is made of more than puns'."
He put on a very smug face. "Suuuuuure it is. Remind me princess, what insect did you spend your morning as?"
"What kind of fly, specifically?"
Twilight looked up with a pondering face. "Well judging by the relative size, I'd say it was a horsefl-HEY THAT DOESN'T COUNT!"
"Twilight my dear." Discord patted her on the back, "That totally counts. The only thing that doesn't count is a broken abacus, though come to think of it I haven't seen anyone use one of those recently."
With a hiss of magic and a forceful tug, Twilight introduced Discord's face to a "throw" pillow.