I woke up somewhere familiar. Michael Carpenter's guest bedroom.

"Okay, this is a nice change of pace from the usual ice palace, Mab." Considering how things had gone the last time I came within a hair's breadth of ending up dead, it wasn't hard to guess what happened when I heard a woman's voice, and then there was darkness. I'd done what she wanted, and then Mab came to pick up her dog's leash. Odds are she was put out with me for managing to bust myself up again on my first outing after she'd finished fixing me.

The voice that answered me ... wasn't Mab's. "We are not the Queen of Winter, though we do share some of her domain."

I followed the voice back to its point of origin, and found, "Princess Luna?" I couldn't help chuckling a bit at that. "Guess the cavalry turned up just in time after all."

"So it would seem," the Princess of the Night agreed regally. "You are fortunate—both thy life and the life of thy companion were upon the knife's edge when I found thee."

"Well, it wouldn't have been exciting if it was too easy." A quick check under the covers revealed that I wasn't exactly in a fit state of dress to be entertaining royalty. Fortunately there was a fresh set of clothes sitting on the dresser by the bed. From the ridiculous levels of … there's no other word for it, 'bedazzlement', I could only guess that it had been put together by Rarity or one of the younger Carpenter children. Given the 'R' shape of the stylized jewelry in place over the right breast, my money was on the former. I wonder where she found the jewels, though...

Wait a minute... if I was in new clothes... I suddenly hoped that those were the only jewels my rescuers had found. Though it was kinda too late for that where Rainbow Dash was concerned.

The clothes did remind me of some more important things. "What happened with the girls?" I took a quick look around the room, but as far as I could tell Luna was the only one here. I guess that was better than being mobbed by pastel-colored equines the instant I regained consciousness, but still...

"Discord is undone," Luna confirmed for me. The giant rainbow kaboom happening in his general location had been a pretty clear sign that the ponies had nailed him with the Elements of Harmony, but it never hurt to get a little confirmation. "The others remained at thy bedside for as long as they could but when thou didst not regain consciousness for several days..."

"Wait, I've been out for how long?" I grabbed the pants, which thankfully proved to only have a moderately insane number of gem embellishments, and started putting them on under the covers.

"Almost a week's time," Luna informed me. "The others wished to remain at thy side, but the one called the Gatekeeper was insistent that they depart. The connection between our realm and thine is ... in a state of flux at the moment. 'Tis unwise for too many of us to linger here overlong, lest things become even more chaotic."

Damn. I kinda felt bad about not getting a chance to even say goodbye. Perhaps it was just as well. There would be tears and sobbing and promises that we would all be best friends forever, and the girls might get a little emotional too. "So ... how bad is this whole dimensional flux thing? Is this gonna be goodbye for good?"

"Neigh." I let out a relieved breath—I will never admit it where someone else could overhear me, but it would've broken my heart to never see any of those ponies again. If for no other reason than the fact that I'd miss out on all the wonderful pony puns. 'Neigh.' Classic. And the best part was that she said it so ... straight-faced.

"This is not goodbye forever," Luna assured me. "It is simply ... a very brief farewell."

Then Luna was gone again. Not even a flash of light or disappearing into inky shadows or something. Just ... gone. Just like how you never knew how some being was going to appear when you summon them, you never knew how they would leave. Now that I think about it, for some reason, the whole conversation with Luna just felt a little ... fuzzy. Dream-like, almost.

I finished dressing, and walked out the door. I got all of two steps before I ran into Michael and Lash. Man, that must have been a nicely awkward introduction. 'Hi there Mr. ex-Paladin, I'm an ex-Angel.'

Michael put one hand on my shoulder to help me keep my balance while his other shook mine warmly, like he was greeting a long-lost friend. Oh, wait. He was beaming at me, but didn't say anything. He didn't need to, the look on his face said it all.

"Good to be back." I definitely didn't sound as choked up as the climax of a chick-flick.

Lash interrupted our moment of guy-bonding. "It's Saturday morning. My Little Pony will be on soon."

I let out a very pained chuckle at that. "No offense, but I think it's gonna be a while before I'm in the mood to watch the show again."

Michael finally spoke. "She's a fan."

She? She who? Oh ... he meant... "Maggie?" Yup, definitely not getting choked up at all.

Michael nodded.


I borrowed some salt from the kitchen, and made a quick circle around the couch. Yeah, we'd have to clean it up later, but vacuuming up the salt was a lot less trouble than letting my wizard-ness burn out Michael's TV.

Then I settled down on the couch next to my daughter. My mouth was hanging half-open as I tried to think of what I could possibly say to her.

"Shh." My little girl urged me. "It's starting."

So we sat on the couch, and watched My Little Pony together.