The sun shone blindingly upon their heads, with all the strength if possessed just before going into hiding.
An unicorn and a pegasus trotted at a seemingly lackluster pace, compared to their friend, an earth pony advancing with hurried steps, her hooves raising a cloud of dust that set her friends in a coughing daze, a small dog running at her side, tongue happily clinging off her mouth.
"Wait, Applejack!" Twilight screamed, breathlessly, her horn emitting a purplish glow. With a white flash, she appeared in front of the charging pony, whose speed and strength pushed the hapless unicorn forward.
"Ain't no time fer that, Twilight! We gotta' round up them bulls now!"
"Yes, I know, but, look…" Twilight gasped as she saw no sign of Fluttershy behind them. The timid Pegasus had been left back five minutes ago, huffing as she struggled to catch up. She wasn't in bad shape, despite not being very physical, but she had been moving around the whole day, attending some bunnies that had eaten a bunch of bad vegetables.
"Pinkie…" Fluttershy sighed, following two pairs of hooves that abruptly turned into one, much to her confusion.
Twilight teleported again, turning to run at Applejack's side, as a huge dust cloud rose just before them, the stamping of hooves growing louder.
The work pony gestured at her partner to go the left, and left Winona at the back of the stampede, aligning herself at the right. The dog barked loudly and both ponies hushed the bulls from the sides, the charging animals protesting in earnest, Twilight saved from a raging bull once by a quick intervention of Applejack and her lasso.
Finally the herd was pushed back into the proper path for them to follow, rapidly disappearing into a dust cloud in the distance. Twilight collapsed right there, her chest going up and down. Applejack and Winona watched the bovines run into the horizon, Fluttershy catching with them soon after. She stopped to catch her breath, panting.
"Thanks… Celestia… this is… over" puffed the strained Pegasus.
"Yeah" answered Applejack, angrily. "That Pinkie Pie. How can she come across a raging bull stampede making that ruckus o' her? Ah'll be havin' a word with her, that's right."
The three ponies returned to Ponyville, breaking ways at Sweet Apple Acres. Twilight returned to the library at a leisure pace, feeling she would never make it, but there it was. She let herself in, being received by Spike, who greeted her enthusiastically, as well as by Owloysius's hoots. The baby dragon approached here
"Hey, Twilight, listen!"
The mare raised a hoof, interrupting "Not now, Spike"
The unicorn ignored him, climbing upstairs to her bedroom, falling asleep as soon as she made it into bed. It was around seven o'clock when she woke up. She rubbed her eyes, a big yawn escaping from her mouth, and left her bed, coming down the stairs. Spike was sleeping on a chair, his head upon the table, her pet owl watching over him. At his side, a sealed letter waited for her. She opened it and read
My faithful student, Twilight Sparkle
My sister, Princess Luna and I require your presence in Canterlot as soon as possible. Once you have read this letter, please send me your answer and we will send a carriage for you.
The unicorn blinked, unsure of what to think; she pondered what would give the Princesses such hurry. She read the letter again, and quickly wrote her own response. An angry woken up Spike and a sent letter later, Twilight sat beside the window, looking at the sun shining, partially obscured by some clouds. She wasn't sure if it was meant to be a cloudy day, but neither the weather pegasi, nor her friend Rainbow Dash were anywhere to be seen.
She trotted away from the window, deciding to make breakfast for everyone, in an attempt to pass the time, finding very little success. She munched absent mindedly into a sunflower sandwich, and then sat down with a book.
The flap of wings heard outside finally awoke her from her thoughts as the white chariot pulled by equally white pegasi landed at her door. She left Spike in charge of the library and left for the castle.
As the vehicle rose in the air, heading for its destination, the purple unicorn found herself increasingly distraught, her mind unable to conjure just what could inspire that urgency. Every second that passed seemed to her like an hour, grains of sand falling with unbearable slowness through the hourglass small hole.
Finally they landed in front of the castle. She hurried to the doors, being greeted there by the guards who immediately allowed her inside. She was then showed the way by another of the guards who stood inside waiting for her, and took her to the Royal Hall, leaving her at the door. She opened it, entering the room. The Royal Princesses stood at the other side, Celestia's apprentice approaching them
"Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, I am pleased to see you again." the unicorn greeted as she came to a halt before the sisters.
"It is good to see you, Twilight." the Sun Princess smiled, hugging her pupil. Twilight smiled and turned to meet the Moon Princess.
"We are glad to meet thee again, Twilight Sparkle."
"As am I, Princess. I would like to see you again in Ponyville sometime."
"We will see to that. For now, we have other things to discuss."
A shadow fell upon Twilight's face, obscuring her eyes. Her gaze wandered worried from one alicorn to the other.
"Has something happened, Princesses?" asked the mare, a grave tone affecting her voice. Celestia came towards her, smiling
"Oh, no, no, there's nothing for you to worry about, Twilight. You see, Luna and I just want to give you a gift."
"A gift?" The worried expression was swayed away to be replaced by a perplexed one "For me? Why? It's not even my birthday, it's…" the unicorn began chattering nervously
"Hush, Twilight, be calm. We just want to give something special to Equestria's most magically talented unicorn."
"Something not just given to anypony." added Luna, in a calm but regal way.
Celestia's horn shone brightly and then Twilight saw it. A small bag came levitating towards her, landing between her hoofs.
Twilight gazed at the small golden-colored bag, tied with a black string that lay before her
"Go ahead, my student. Open it"
Her magic pulled the string, opening the bag and revealing its contents. Inside it were some feathers. The white and dark blue feathers levitated in front of her with a white glow. She cast her mentor an inquisitive glance. The elder alicorn nodded.
"These, Twilight, are alicorn feathers. Feathers than my sister and I give to you, to be precise. They contain a trace of our magic. We want you to keep them and study them properly. We want you to increase even more your magical prowess."
Twilight just stood there, speechless, staring at the white princess.
"Pri.. pri… princess." she stuttered, unable to speak any coherent words. Tears soon rolled down her cheeks. "I… -the unicorn sobbed quite loudly "I don't deserve this. You both are so nice with me… I…"
"Twilight Sparkle-" Luna began to speak, being silenced by Celestia negating with her head.
"Hush now, Twilight." repeated Celestia, comforting the crying unicorn, who slowly regained herself. She stared at her mentor again, her eyes slightly red.
"I'm sorry… I'm sorry… I… Thank you… I accept it…"
"That is very important for us, Twilight. With this gift, we recognize you as a greatly talented unicorn. And we give them to you in complete confidence that you will use with wisely"
"O.. of course, Princess!" The unicorn nodded hurriedly, hurting her head. "Ouch… I will treasure it"
"That's all that matters, then. Also, you will need this"
A black covered book floated towards her. She caught it in her hooves. Alicorn Magic read the title. It was her key to understanding the feathers' powers. She thanked both sisters again, profusely, and fell silent then. They were so kind… She still could not believe this… She packed the feathers and the book in the bag she carried with herself.
She waved a hearty goodbye to the Royal Sisters and departed again, pressing the bag against herself with all her might. By the time she got back to the Library it was midnight. She hurried back to her room, closing the door behind her with a loud thump
Dear Celestia… what a night…
Her heart thumped even louder. She could not get to sleep for a long time. Finally, she slipped into dreams.
The birds chirping woke her up. The sun was already high in the sky, and she immediately got off her bed. The bag was still by her side, next to the book, and inside of it the feathers. She smiled contently, remembering yesterday's events. She felt light. She could fly, she could sing. She couldn't believe it yet. It was the most wonderful gift. A voice called her from downstairs
"Twilight! Are you up yet? Breakfast's ready!"
She trotted happily to the first floor, heading to the kitchen, where Spike received her with some pancakes and oats. She hugged the small dragon tightly, getting all the air out of him.
"Gee, Twilight. What's with you today? What was that business with Princess Celestia?" asked Spike, separating himself from the excited unicorn.
"Oh, Spike, I have the most wonderful teacher anypony could wish!"
A huge grin appeared in her face. Spike waved a claw
"Yeah, right. Just get your breakfast, ok?"
Twilight got out the bag with the feathers, and showed them to Spike, who was amazed by it. She remained in her room the whole day, occupied in the book's study. It was a very complicated matter, and she was sure it would take several weeks before she managed to decipher it appropriately.
She asked Spike to summon all her friends there tonight, and sure enough, just half hour before Luna raised the moon, a knock on her door startled her.
"Sugarcube, it's us. How'r ya doin'?" Applejack's voice reached her as she scurried towards her door to open it. And sure enough, all her friends were there. She smiled widely and motioned for them to get inside. Her room would be a little crammed, but it would suffice.
Her friends listened to her story, showing them the beautiful feathers, eliciting cries from Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Rarity. Rainbow Dash attempted to play with them, before being scolded by Twilight. Rarity let out a loud gasp, covering her mouth with her hoof
"My dear, that is just the most amazing gift you could have received. It is simply fantastic." Rarity,always the histrionic mare, let herself fall upon her friend's bed, a leg on her forehead. "How nice from the Princesses" She let out a prolonged sigh. Everypony else just chuckled, even Fluttershy
"I've been studying all day. It's a complex process. It will definitely take time for me to get all the potential from the feathers. But I know I can do it"
-That's great, Twilight!" Fluttershy beamed warmly at her, embracing her. "I'm so happy for you!"
"Thanks, Fluttershy" the unicorn smiled broadly
"We all are, sugarcube. It is really a very nice thing they did fer ya" affirmed Applejack, joining the embrace
Pinkie jumped excitedly on her hind legs. "Yes,Twilight! We can even throw a party, no, WE HAVE TO GET A PARTY NOW." With that, the hyperactive Pink Pony disappeared, to nopony's surprise.
"You better make well use of it, Twilight. I'm expecting you to be such an awesome magic pony as I'm the best flier in all of Equestria!" the rainbow-maned Pegasus gave her a pretty strong pat on the neck, almost sending her to the floor.
"Be gentle, Rainbow Dash," said Fluttershy, helping Twilight to recover
"Yeah, sorry, Twi, you know I get excited!" the other Pegasus grinned sheepishly.
"It's all right, Dash. I promise you and everypony that I'll do my best effort"
Soon enough Pinkie had organized a small night party for the six friends and the small dragon, who enjoyed themselves greatly.