Bright Eyes

After an accident, Twilight's life is turned upside down and changed forever.
With her friends standing by her, she must manage to overcome new obstacles, learn a new way of life, and discover just how long secrets last when hidden from those who know you best.

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6. Chapter 6

Those three words rang throughout the house, echoing off the walls like a long lost chorus. Spike leaped from the bed to the staircase excitedly, failing to gauge how he would land on the stairs. After tumbling and crashing down the stairs, he quickly righted himself and hurried to the door, taking no time in rushing over to embrace the unicorn as tight as he could possibly manage.

The unicorn gagged and patted him on the back, “Great to see you too.”

“I’ve missed you, Twilight! The library hasn’t been the same without you!” Spike smiled, hurriedly unfastening the saddlebags from her.

Twilight staggered slightly as the uneven weight pressed against her without warning. Spike grimaced, “Uh... sorry.”

Twilight shook her head, “It’s okay. Give me a little warning next time.”

Spike nodded, taking a little more time to take the saddlebags off Twilight’s back. He wandered over to the side of the room, placing them next to her desk. He took a moment to glance through the inventory, noting the two books, Sweetie Belle’s drawing and the brochures.

Fluttershy stood in the doorway with a smile, “Spike, where can I put these flowers?” She opened her saddlebag, producing the white, star-shaped blooms.

“Let me get a vase. I’ll put them on the windowsill.”

Once the vase had been acquired and placed, Fluttershy gently left the flowers floating in the water. She smiled at them before turning over to Twilight, who had taken to slowly feeling her way around the side of the living room.

She padded across the floor, every so often using a hoof to touch the wall as she began the slow journey. Spike felt intense pity rise up in his stomach as his closest friend had been reduced to such a slow and clumsy pace. It reminded him of a newborn foal learning to walk, exploring their house for the first time.

Spike hurried to her side, grabbing one of her hooves instinctively, “This way, Twi. Come sit down at the table.”

Twilight hopped along with him, awkwardly walking on her three grounded hooves, “Thanks, Spike,” She said with a hint of reluctance.

Spike guided her to her seat, gesturing Fluttershy to sit on the opposite side of the round table, “I’ll get some tea started.”

“How is the library?” Twilight called as Spike donned his apron and began organising a pot of tea for the two ponies

“Oh, uh... yeah, everything’s been... good!” Spike lied, setting the teapot to boil.

In truth, he’d had enough trouble trying to get Owlowiscious to help out with cleaning the library each day, only to find himself doing that darned bird’s job. While he’d maintained the cleanliness of the library today, he decided to forgo mentioning his procrastinations for the last two.

“Good,” Twilight replied. Spike heaved a sigh of relief. “I’ll need you to do an extensive order as soon as possible. We may even need to begin storing books in the basement again.”

Spike leaned on the bench, waiting for the water to boil, “Again?” He shouted, “The last time we did that, we almost lost half of the books behind your machines!”

“Oh, that won’t happen this time!”

Spike rolled his eyes, muttering to himself “That’s what you said the last time.”  He righted himself up as the water began to bubble, “Why’re we moving books down there this time?”

The teapot whistled loudly.

“Because I’ll be ordering my books in Praille. We’ll need to keep a portion of my current books in the basement, to make room for the books I’ll be using regularly.”

Spike placed the cups and kettle on the tray and carefully wandered out, “Why not just have a bookcase for your new books? I mean, you can’t use that many books regularly, right?” He placed a cup in front of each pony and the teapot in the middle. As he finished his sentence, he chided himself over the underestimation of Twilight’s working habits. They’d be lucky to have any room left once Twilight’s order arrived.

Twilight considered this for a moment, “We’ll see.”

Twilight’s horn lit up as a magical light hue enveloped the pot. It slowly levitated inches in to the air, levitating slowly in to the air, clattering loudly as it came toward her, stopping just in front of her at the edge of the table.

Spike frowned, “Twilight, are you sure you want to do that? I can do it.” He moved over to her, reaching for the pot.

“Let me try. I can do this.” Twilight replied with intense conviction, snatching the pot out of arm’s length.

Spike sighed, letting his arms drop to his sides as Twilight continued her attempt at pouring her own tea. With the tone she used, Spike knew there was no chance that Twilight was going to accept help. He had seen it far too many times.

The spout of the teapot tapped gently on the side of the cup and Twilight smiled, “See?”

The pot slowly tipped upward, pouring the liquid.

The room was silent as Spike took out a cloth and began mopping up the mess on the table. Twilight had poured on the wrong side of the cup.

Twilight made a quiet noise under her breath.

“It’s okay, Twilight,” Fluttershy said as she watched the unicorn quietly as Spike finished cleaning the mess.

Twilight hung her head and sighed under her breath. The teapot and cup landed on the table as her magic withdrew. A soft sob emitted from her as she shook her head, “I thought I could do it.”

“You’ll get the hang of it, Twilight,” Spike smiled, hugging the unicorn softly. “You only need to practice some more. You only tried once.”

“You’re right.”

Spike poured the two ponies their tea and went about his business wringing out the cloth over the sink.  He sighed deeply, Twilight, you’re being too ambitious.

“Can you cast more than one spell at the same time?” Fluttershy asked.

“I can. It’s the same principle as levitating more than one object. However, I need to concentrate more if I’m casting two different spells. Once I master the echolocation spell, things will become easier to work with. Although, it’s as if I’m seeing the skeleton of the world when I use it. It’s... uncomfortable.”

“What do you mean?”

“How can I explain it?” Twilight considered, “If the world was a painting, I’m only seeing the underlying sketch.  The outside lines, with little detail.”

Spike listened carefully as he began his chores once more. With Twilight around, there was no chance to be lazy.

“Oh,” Fluttershy leaned forward as if looking for something in Twilight’s eyes, “I think I know what you mean.”

“It’s very disorientating, and something I’ll need to get used to... being able to see the lines of everything.” She went quiet for a moment, “There is no colour or shade, only black and white.”

 

*

 

A familiar three-beat knock echoed through the room, followed by the door creaking open, “Pinkie, you here?” Rainbow Dash shouted.

She cautiously walked towards the counter, “Pinkie? Hello?”

Sugarcube Corner had been closed today. Mr. and Mrs. Cake were both out of town, and Pinkie hadn’t spoken to anypony since her last conversation with Rainbow and Rarity. The lack of light and customers made the building seem eerie.

A bead of sweat wandered down the back of Dash’s neck. She could feel that something odd was happening, something overly familiar that she had been subjected to time and again by a pony whose voracious need for laughter often had her cooking up schemes of unimaginable surprise. This was just another trick.

“Pinkie Pie! I brought the rainbows. Not that it’s going to help,” She trailed off cynically.

It had been easier than she imagined gaining the two jars of liquid rainbow. She hadn’t counted on the lack of concentration and mental cognition of the ponies who were monitoring it that day. Although, she doubted that they could be any help at all to Twilight.

She stood at the end of the staircase, “Pinkie, I know you’re here!” She shouted, “Do you want these or not?”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. She took the jars from her saddlebags and placed them next to the cash register, “They’re on the counter!”

Unease set in to Rainbow as she stood in the apparently empty room. She had been subjected to this exact thing before. Pinkie would hide somewhere, and pop out when Rainbow least expected it. Sometimes, she even went to the extra effort of wearing a mask.

Rainbow Dash had two choices: Leave the room at breakneck speed, or stay where she was and wait until Pinkie ultimately became bored. However, she could also try reasoning with her.

“Pinkie, I want to go and see Twilight. Let’s not do this. You can come with me or something!” She called out in to the emptiness.

There was no answer.

Rainbow sighed, “C’mon! This is stupid!”

She growled under her breath and made her way for the door, stomping her hooves with each step to further emphasise her impatience.

With each step came another wave of fear and expectancy. She could feel that Pinkie Pie was near.

She reached the door and looked around in shock. Pinkie hadn’t appeared at all. A mixture of fear and relief filled her. Perhaps she forgot to lock the door. Rainbow shook her head and chuckled under her breath, “Darn Pinkie, you almost had me.”

With a final glance towards the apparently empty building, Rainbow trotted off. She would need to ask her friends about Pinkie’s weird behaviour in the last two days. At least, it was weird by Pinkie’s standards.

She wandered down the street, towards Twilight’s library. A thought crossed her mind about how difficult it would have been for Twilight and Fluttershy to walk all the way from the hospital to her house. It wasn’t a short distance, despite being almost literally ‘down the road.’

She pictured Fluttershy draping a wing over Twilight’s back as they slowly walked home. They must have walked at a snail’s pace. Even then, the snail might have arrived first.

With Twilight’s disability, it couldn’t have been easy. Above all, it would have been frightening.

 

*

 

“And finally, Zebrica: A Land of Beauty. Did you get all that, Spike?” Twilight smiled, carefully sipping at the tea. Over the last hour, she had become more comfortable with doing this.

Spike groaned, “Yeah. Are you sure that’s all?”

Twilight nodded, “So long as I get the Paradigms book first, it will be okay. The Princess is surely expecting to hear from me. How many books are on the list?”

“You want me to count them all?”

“Of course. Weren’t you keeping a running tally?”

“I lost count at 239.”

“Well, then yes, I need you to count them.” She glanced over to Fluttershy’s direction, “Do you need any books, while we’re ordering things?”

“Oh, uh, no. I don’t want to be a bother. There’s nothing I’m really looking for, and I’m sure the local book store has what I like.” Fluttershy replied.

Twilight nodded, tapping the large book in front of her with a hoof, “I can’t wait to get these!”

“What will you tell the Princess?”

“Yeah. I think she’ll notice the bill for all these books,” Spike added.

Twilight furrowed her brow, “Well, I... can explain that I’m studying in Praille. The best way to study it is to immerse yourself in it.”

A feeling of unease washed over her at the realisation that she would be lying to the Princess. However, it was for the best in the end. The Princess would have her prized student, and Twilight would be able to live the life she lived before.

Spike tutted, “I don’t know, Twilight. Are you sure?”

Twilight froze. There would be no way of hiding her obvious lie, unless she could manage to say something else. Although, there was little use for any pony to learn the Praille spell unless they needed it.

Essentially, she should be in the clear.

“She wouldn’t have any need to know it. Everything will be fine, Spike. I just know it!”

“You’ve said that before. Twilight, are you really thinking this through?”

“Yes... of course.” Twilight replied. Her mind raced and her stomach sank. She should have thought of alternatives, in case the Princess somehow found out.  The Princess always seemed to busy, so perhaps Twilight would be lucky enough for this to be either missed, or procrastinated upon.

It wouldn’t be the first time...

“If you say so.” Spike didn’t sound at all convinced. The sound of scribbling continued.

“Don’t tell her,” Twilight said, her tone coming out far more commanding that she had meant to. She flattened her ears and frowned, “I don’t want her to know.”

“You already told me not to,” Spike snapped, “so I won’t.”

“Sorry, Spike.”

“It’s okay. Is that everything? I’ll send it off.”

Twilight nodded, “Yeah.”

The familiar sound of Spike’s flame sounded throughout the library, accompanied by the magical tingle of the magic that he used almost every day. It was such a wonderful green flame that Twilight had always found herself enchanted and inspired by it.

She had seen it develop from a tiny ember, to the beauty it was today. It would only grow larger and more impressive as he grew older.  The older and larger he grew, the more impressive and awe-inspiring his flame would become.

And she would never see it again.

A knock came from the door, jerking Twilight out of her thoughts. She stood up instinctively, about to head towards the door, wherever it was.

“I’ll get it,” Spike shouted.

Twilight sat back down, twisting her lip. Spike seemed to like answering the door, even before this. It wasn’t at all related to her having trouble getting there.

“Hey guys,” Rainbow Dash sounded cheerful.

“Rainbow, good to see you,” Twilight smiled. Her stomach sank at the use of ‘see’.

“You doin’ okay, Twi’?” Rainbow’s voice came closer. By the end of the sentence, Twilight could feel Rainbow breathing on her, “Got here alright?”

Twilight smiled, “Of course. Fluttershy talked to me the entire way.”

She appreciated Fluttershy’s help.  During their trip home, Fluttershy’s descriptions not only gave her an indication of where she was going, and a mental image of what was near her, it allowed to her feel less alone in the void she now lived in.

“Talked? Well, anyway, Pinkie’s party is tomorrow evening. You can come, right?” Rainbow asked, her voices trailing over to Fluttershy’s direction.

Twilight’s mind’s eye pictured her sitting next to the yellow mare, across the table from her.

“Yeah, I migh— I will be there,” Twilight smiled. The thought of reading that new book Rarity had bought her had crossed her mind. However, she reasoned that Pinkie had put so much effort in to this, it would be rude to not attend.

“I dropped off some stuff for her earlier... I haven’t seen her since yesterday. Have you, Fluttershy?”

“Uh... well, I did. But... she didn’t speak to me. I mean, she was her usual self but... she didn’t say a word.” Fluttershy replied, stuttering over her own explanation.

“Weird...” Rainbow trailed off. “So, uh, Twi’, how’s that spell coming along? Can you do it yet?”

Twilight furrowed her brow. It had been a while since she had practiced the spell, the reserves of her magic would have replenished by now. It was worth trying once more, if only to see her library in this new sight.

“I’ll try it again,” She answered with a nod.

She instinctively closed her eyes, executing her magic with innate ease. She focussed on her spell, visualising the magic’s effects with her mind. She pictured herself being able to see her friends, and the room around her. In her mind’s eye, she was normal again.  Her magic flowed freely from her horn, she could feel it course through her very soul, gripping on to her and never letting go. The magic sparked and shined in her mind, filling her sight with a flash of bright light.

The light intensified, becoming brighter and brighter until it began to hurt. A throb of pain coursed behind the back of her eyes. In a way, it was almost comforting to know that she could still feel pain. Yet, the reminiscent thoughts of staring at the sun made her instinctively want to turn away.

The tingle of her magic tickled her forehead, reaching down to the bridge of her nose and expanding over her eyes. She could feel it grip to them, crawling down her optic nerve and to the forefront of her brain.

The light slowly died down, a foggy haze filling her vision as she adjusted to the visualisation the magic provided her. There they were, watching her intently for a reaction. Each of her friends seemed confused, excited and worried at the same time.

As she had described, it was almost like looking at an artist’s scratch painting of the entire world. Their features were scratched into the black canvas.

What she had read about the spell’s pulses wasn’t as accurate as she had imagined. While there were notable pulses around the room, they were far more frequent than she had been led to believe. It was more accurate to describe what she was visualising as a scratch painting, rather than to describe its similarities to actual echolocation.

Why would they call it echolocation, if it isn’t?

A memory rushed through her mind, answering her question. Like many modern spells, this had been developed from a time far before anypony lived today.  It was originally designed for echolocation, however it was later improved to what she was visualising now. The name had just stuck.

She wished already that she could see shadows on objects, or some semblance of depth. While her friends’ features were clear to her, and she could read their emotions once again, detail on objects were sparse. She could once look in to Spike’s eyes and see a shine, or the difference in colour along his iris. Now, they were two ovals inside a larger oval. There was a feeling of emptiness.

Twilight smiled, “I... can see everything around me. “ She winced, feeling her magic begin to use her energy. The spell weighed heavy on her.

As Rainbow Dash moved closer, parts of the sketch broke away. They danced and blurred along the distance that her friend had moved over. Her entire being broke in to lines and shapes, to slowly reform where she now stood. Twilight’s world spun.

“So, that’s all it is? Your problem’s fixed?” Rainbow Dash asked, waving a hoof in front of Twilight’s face.

Rainbow’s hoof turned in to a large, indistinguishable blur in Twilight’s face.

“Not exactly,” Twilight said, beginning to feel queasy at the odd visions. “It’s so disorientating. So... weird.”

Spike’s form blurred in to nothing, his own sketch breaking and forming along the room. It rushed to a bookcase, froze, and then hurried towards Twilight. He held out a blank book in front of her, pressing it towards her, “Can you see what it says?”

Twilight raised a brow, “Of course not. It’s blank.”

Rainbow Dash and Spike exchanged an uncertain and concerned look, “No, Twilight... it’s not.” He turned the book around and cleared his throat, “Summoning spells are amongst the most difficult to maintain, particularly the larger the object becomes.”

Twilight stared at him, and then to Rainbow, who nodded affirmatively.

“That’s what it says, Twi’.” She said.

Twilight hummed thoughtfully.

She nodded slowly, her mind clicking in to place the usefulness of the Praille spell. The sight spell simply allowed the caster to see little more than the basics of the world around them. Text, pictures and anything that would be considered as detail would remain blank.

“Spike, would you please bring me the book Rarity gave me? It’s in the bag.” She asked.

Spike did as requested, opening the middle of the book and presenting it to her.

Unlike the previous book, this one wasn’t blank. Rather, it was filled with the same sketches and lines that the rest of her world was. However, with the slightest movement of her head, or refocussing of her sight, the words would shiver. That was why the Praille spell had been developed; it was based on lighting up the etchings, rather than forming them. It was similarly structured to the spell she was using, except it could only pick up things it was able to light up.

Twilight nodded, “Thank you, Spike.” The look on her friends’ faces begged the obvious question. “I can’t read using this spell. I just... wanted to try.” She explained her conclusions to them, going in to further detail of what she could ‘see’.

“So you need one spell to see, and another spell to read?” Fluttershy asked curiously.

“That’s right. I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is based on inexperience, or the spell itself, however... I think I can manage with this. I suppose this is better than nothing.” She replied.

Twilight grunted as a short, sharp pain stabbed down her horn, crawling to the back of her neck. She instinctively dismissed the spell. The sketches froze in place, like a finished picture. Her friends stared at her both concerned and curiously, yet despite the breathing she could hear, they forms didn’t move. Slowly, each line began to trail down and melt, dissipating into nothing. It was almost ghastly to watch her friends dissolve in to blackness.

The void returned once more.

“Twilight! Are you okay?” Her friends shouted in unison. She could feel them touching her shoulder and back.

Twilight nodded, “Yes. The spell is quite draining. As time goes on, I’ll be able to use it for longer spans of time.  Although, I may need to find other ways of using it, if I’m to maintain it for long periods of time.” She forced a smile, feeling the familiar throb that accompanied the overuse of magic, or the use of an unfamiliar spell.

“You’re sure you’re okay?” Rainbow asked.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine, Rainbow. Thank you.” She forced another smile, “So, any idea what Pinkie is planning for the party?”

Rainbow chuckled, “Oh, you’re not gonna believe it. From what I last heard, she was making games for us to play that don’t need us to see.”

Twilight giggled, “Really? Like the Trust game?”

Rainbow gasped, “You know that, too? They made us go through it in Cloudsdale during ‘friendship month’ every year. It was supposed to prepare us for stormy weather and stuff. Remember that, Fluttershy?”

“Oh... yes,” Fluttershy responded, sounding almost haunted.

Twilight nodded with a fond smile, “Back in Canterlot, Princess Celestia would often let us play the Trust game. She said if we could learn to trust one another, we could become closer study partners.” She giggled, “There was one time, Mint Breeze and I were paired up and without me realising so, she lead me out of the classroom, all the way through Canterlot Gardens and to the local café, because she was hungry!”

They all shared a laugh, beginning to swap stories of their own fillyhood back in their home towns. Their conversations moved from one subject to another, barely representing where they had first started.

Their conversation lasted hours, until it was time for both Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy to return home. They said their goodbyes, once again offering their help to Twilight whenever it was needed, and left the library, leaving Twilight and Spike to their own devices.

“Spike, I’m going to bed. It’s been an exhausting day.” Twilight shouted across the room, hoping for Spike to be within earshot.

“Let me help you up the stairs,” Spike replied, touching her foreleg. His sudden touch made her skin crawl, not knowing he was beside her.

Twilight shook her head, “No. I’m going to try my spell. I can do this.”

“If you’re sure... at least let me make sure you’re safe. I’ll come with you.” Spike replied, sounding unsure.

Twilight nodded, “Okay. I can do this.”

Twilight lit her horn up again, casting her echolocation spell once more. She stood up and wandered slowly to the stairs, keeping a close gaze on them, as they shifted and blurred with every step she took. Even the slightest movement or her head, or the change of her gaze, would cause her surroundings to break and shift slightly.

She stared down at the stair in front of her, testing the ground with a hoof. As her hoof connected with the stair, a pulse emitted from it, causing the surrounding lines of the stair to shudder and wobble. She tested it again, seeing the same effect. Every time her hoof came in to contact with an object, visual pulses would emit for a moment.

She took each stair as slow as she could manage, watching the pulses with curiosity and caution. Every step was another obstacle to overcome, one that she was determined to conquer. As she stood on each step, she refocussed her vision to the next, and the next, and the next. It was her challenge, and she would overcome it.

Her world spun and twisted as it shifted with every motion of her body as she ascended the stairs. Every line would blur and break as she ascended her next step, causing her to stop once more, and wait for them to reform, before taking another step.

She glanced upward, waiting for the world to form once more. She was only a few more steps towards her bedroom.

She smiled in triumph as her bed sat before her, letting the spell fade and disperse.

Today was the first day of her new way of life, and perhaps with practice, it wouldn’t be so bad.

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