A window exploded open over Canterlot, and a unicorn came flying out.

The unicorn came trailing through the cloud of shards, screaming and flailing to no effect against the green aura holding him suspended in the air. Bright purple light coalesced briefly around his horn several times as he desperately tried to draw magic in to dispel his bindings, and a disruptive whip-crack of acid-green magic would slap against his horn each time for his pains. A large rainbow-coloured clown mask, complete with red rubber snout, bobbed out after him.

The aura around him winked out once he was well clear of the window, and he dazedly hung there for a brief second. Physics, which had a rocky relationship with Equestria at the best of times, took a few moments to register the proper reaction to an unsupported mass in mid-air.

Remember it did, and there then came a drawn-out wail from the unicorn as he plummeted down the side of the marble tower to the stone sidewalk far below. Then there came a solid thunk, accompanied by the patter of glass and multiple startled cries from the gaggles of students who had been in the vicinity, and a decidedly under-the-weather moan from the unicorn-shaped hole in the stone. The mask plummeted down after him, bouncing nose-first off his skull with a morose parp.

From the broken window far above, at the topmost level of the dorm tower for Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, another unicorn glared down.

He was of slight build, with a skewbald coat of white and dark brown, a black combed-back mane, and pale green eyes that regarded the world from behind steel-rimmed spectacles, the broiling anger in them simmering down to cool unconcern. Three small stars glinted on his dark brown flank. He distastefully brushed some stray shards of broken glass off the window edge after the defenestrated unicorn.

"Idiot," spat the unicorn, acid lacing the word.

His name was Skewbald Doul. And it suddenly occurred to him that he might get into trouble for this.

He took a few steps back and summoned up his magic once again, winding out green spell-energies from his horn and exerting his will upon it so that it settled into a flat plane across the broken window. A further pulse of magic from the horn kept it in place, and made it into a reasonable simulacrum of the hitherto-intact plane of glass, complete with light playing off the surface.

Reasonable, that was, so long as nopony noticed the draft, which was decidedly unmissable this far up. But that couldn't be helped. Fine control was his speciality; he wasn't enough of a magical heavyweight to create solid matter, however briefly.

Skewbald kept part of his attention on the illusion, keeping it active while he dealt with whatever was strewn across his room's floor. A quick sweep of his tail sent the remaining pieces of glass behind a curtain, which he pulled out to ensure their cover. He turned to his desk and shelves, from which several books and a sheave of papers had been sent tumbling when he had started in alarm at Caballus's interruption. He plucked them off the ground with the most casual of telekinesis, setting them back into their proper, orderly places while he paced impatiently, trying to think his way out of this.

He had plenty of room in which to pace. The room, large by dorm standards, was bare but for the basic furnishings: a meticulously-made bed, a desk topped with neat stacks of books and notes, a empty wardrobe, and shelves of carefully arranged library-marked books, the covers of which were the only splash of colour in the room beyond brown and grey.

From the city beyond, the rush of sky-chariots and steady throb of airships came as a constant drone. Distant wagons and carts clattered on cobbles, and the hubbub of the city's busy ponies came as a continuous mutter. The astonished cries of students and the pained cries of Caballus both rose in volume, and Skewbald savagely wished they would all shut up. It was hard to think, for goodness sake. Did they have no consideration?

He had possibly overreacted, he was already telling himself; and merely returning the room to its normal state was as pathetic a deception as you could get when the evidence weighed against you was a unicorn embedded in the pavement and a multitude of witnesses. It could at least buy him a few extra seconds once anypony arrived to think of a convincing story.

It had been Caballus's fault anyway for provoking the reaction, as far as Skewbald was concerned. If you were going to burst out of the wardrobe when other unicorns were trying to study, wearing that ridiculous mask and gurgling like an idiot in the name of 'fun', then you deserved whatever happened to you.

The school authorities would likely reject that notion, however. Assaulting another student with magic warranted immediate expulsion, as far as Skewbald knew.

Hurried hoofsteps were already sounding on the stairs, and Skewbald tapped one hoof incessantly on the surface of his desk as he tried to bully a story out of his skull. His fault … he came in here maddened, he must have had too much salt and he wouldn't calm down, I tried to defend myself … It was a magical accident, we were working on a rote spell mentioned in a lecture and something wouldn't click, there was a magical overload and he went flying … Just a bit of bother between students, sir, he'll heal quickly enough and I'm truly sorry if it caused any concern...

Two loud knocks sounded on the door, jarring Skewbald out of his train of thought, and were quickly followed up by the rustling of keys and the door flying open. The burly frame of the school's proctor loomed, flanked by a pair of equally burly assistants. Three sets of eyes blazed, and three horns glittered with pent-up magic. Behind them, wide-eyed students were craning their heads to see the source of the commotion.

Skewbald turned around, his expression cool and composed, his manner yielding nothing, his eyes as emotionless as they usually were. With a cool breeze and a rising cacophony at his back, he said "Is there a problem, proctor?"