A Pony and a Portal
Twilight Sparkle was out documenting some of the wild flowers near her house when she spotted a small, white object lying in the tall grass.
For once, the unicorn had taken a break from studying magic and had decided instead to explore outside her backyard. After redesigning some of the library for an extension of her bedroom, she had unearthed a variety of gardening and flower identification books. Not one to leave a book unturned, she started researching and, like most things she researched, became instantly obsessed. All of the flowers outside of the library now had neat, pristine little signs telling what genus and species, how to care for them, and other minutia.
When all of the flowers at the library had been deciphered, Twilight started toward the outskirts of the Everfree Forest. After identifying some toadflax, three kinds of daisies, and more than ten types of clover (and all of them delicious), Twilight Sparkle came across an odd object lying within a clump of dianthus.
She lifted it with unicorn magic, and, upon seeing what it was, immediately dropped it back into the pinks with a shocked gasp like somepony who had found a severed leg. Unbelieving, she lifted it again. It was a large ivory fang tied to a loop of string. Her experience with magic led her to believe that this was a magical object. Her keen sense of the logical told her to put it back and walk away. She studied the tooth for another moment before pulling it towards her with her magic. Against her better judgment, she decided to research it a little more before discarding it.
Twilight didn't walk five steps before a brilliant purple light burst in front of her.
There was very little study in Equestria about the theory of portals. 'Theory' was and always had been the necessary term. Theoretically, if portals existed, they required a sort of 'key' to activate. Theoretically, they could transport one to a different dimension. Theoretically, they would not randomly appear in front of Princess Celestia's best student and ardent researcher. Yet here it was, a swirling vortex of black and violet. It made the sound of whipping wind, but no breeze was felt. It even had a scent, like fresh ink. Shocked again, Twilight dropped the fang. The portal closed in on itself with a whssssssh.
Twilight galloped off as fast as her hooves could carry her back towards the library.
"Now, Twilight," drawled the orange earth pony, her tone bordering on cynical, "what exactly are we lookin' at, here?"
She had assembled her friends, trusted comrades whom she knew could keep secrets. A portal would have been a huge to-do in Canterlot; in the more rural confines of Ponyville, there was no judging the reaction.
Applejack, the pony who had spoken, looked a little impatient, more than likely considering this scientific discovering a gigantic waste of her precious time. The pegasus Rainbow Dash rubbed at her ruby eyes sleepily, tired from a long day of doing nothing. Pinkie Pie sniffed at a clover but otherwise didn't appear to pay attention. Rarity, another unicorn, looked more annoyed at being pulled away from her work than excited by a new discovery. After all, dresses didn't design themselves. Fluttershy, her wings closed tightly against her sides, looked confused and a little anxious, knowing Twilight didn't get excited for no reason.
Twilight picked the fang necklace up in her mouth, eliciting sounds of disgust from her friends. She approached the proper place, and the portal spun into existence with a loud whoosh.
"-the hay is that?"
"This is a portal," Twilight said, putting on her matter-of-fact voice. "There's no telling where it leads or if it's dangerous. As my friends, I want to know what you think we ought to do with it."
"I ain't sure about this, Twi," Applejack said, frowning at the vortex. "Maybe we should tell somepony else about this 'n let them deal with it."
"No way! We should totally go in," spouted Rainbow Dash, hovering above the portal and looking at it from both sides. It was as thin as a sheet of parchment, nothing visible except the inward-thrusting black swirls. "I mean, how often are you gonna see somethin' like this?"
Twilight looked expectantly at the rest of the group, who mostly expressed disinterest. Pinkie Pie was trying in dizzying vain to follow one of the swishes of vortex with her eyes. Her head looped up and down, and soon she fell backwards, giggling to herself. Rarity mumbled something about 'garish,' and Fluttershy merely blinked nervously.
Twilight considered what her instincts were screaming at her. She thought for a long time about the dangers and possibilities. After a moment, she knew. The nagging voice saying that this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance overruled any silly instinct - or perfectly logical reason - not to go into the portal.
"I'm with Dash. I think we should go in. I have a plan..."
A few minutes later, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack were saddled up and prepared to step in. Twilight had very little trouble convincing Applejack to change her mind; merely mentioning that the task would be impossible without her was enough to get her packing her saddlebags.
Twilight had brought a book containing all the recent theories on portals and was leafing through it. Applejack once again secured her bags. Rainbow Dash circled the air with an impatient glee, waiting for the portal to reopen.
"We'll be gone for two hours," Twilight announced, snapping the book shut and putting it into her bag. "After that time, I want you guys to tie a line to Fluttershy and let her in. She should be able to get back if she's tethered. Theoretically."
"Wh-why do I have to -" Fluttershy stammered.
"Just in case the portal opens somewhere in the sky, you can be safe. Just call for us; we'll stay around the place we appear. Theoretically, it should be the same area. If we run into any trouble, Rainbow Dash can fly. I can lift Applejack and myself up with my magic. The three of us will make a safer entrance than six of us. Theoretically."
"Will ya'll quit sayin' 'theoretically'?" Applejack said. She tried to look brave, but her hooves were shaking in their shoes.
"This should be fairly safe. Theor-" Twilight stopped, noticing Applejack glaring daggers. "Er, I mean, it's pretty safe."
"Let's go already!" said Dash, fluttering her wings so excitedly that a few feathers popped out.
Twilight lifted the fang necklace up, forcing the portal into existence. It opened with a loud noise, like the grating of two pieces of rusted metal. Black, cloudy swoops poured out of it, like a drain in reverse. Twilight watched it for a moment, a last chance for her logical mind to take over, to stop this foalishness, return home, and send a letter posthaste to the princess to report her findings. To her mild surprise, there was no such inclination. It was too tempting to find out what lie beyond. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and stepped into the swirling vortex. There was a loud noise around her, like the banging of tree limbs on the roof on a stormy night. She felt Applejack pressed against her flank and was obscurely aware that Rainbow Dash was hovering above them. Just as suddenly, the noise stopped, replaced with the distant sounds of birds and a running river. She felt grass under her hooves. Twilight dared to open her eyes...