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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7. Chapter 7

Twilight sat at her desk, under the glorious sunlight that shined through her window. The birds sang their merry chorus, little fillies ran past her house every so often lost in their games, and Twilight turned another page in the book she was presently engrossed in. It was a normal and wonderful day.

She quietly sketched another note on one of the various pages around her desk, and smiled over the progress she had made today. Today’s session began far earlier in the morning than usual, however today’s subject proved to be both fascinating and detrimental to her magic in the future. It was something that she had been waiting to get her hooves on for weeks, ever since she received her study schedule for the semester from Celestia.

The notes strewn across her desk were covered in descriptions, graphs, charts and various runes, detailing specific uses for each specific magical function. One could increase the power of a spell, while another could decrease the amount of magical energy that was consumed. If she was able to master these, there was little limit to what she could find herself accomplishing within the boundaries of magic.

And yet something bothered her about what she was reading. The subject was extremely advanced, even for her. For once, she felt as if she should request tutelage from the Princess or another unicorn, in order to begin the subject. It felt almost dangerous.

However, her desire for knowledge and ultimate need to please her teacher overrode this fear. She could simply picture what the next letter from the Princess would say:

Twilight Sparkle, it would say, you have once again surpassed my expectations and have successfully completed a subject that many ponies would find difficult.  I am proud of you, my faithful student.

The thought of receiving such commendation from Princess Celestia thrilled her, the butterflies in her stomach fluttered energetically at the thought. She adored those letters, she adored the praise, and above all, she adored the Princess.

It couldn’t hurt to try just one spell with these new foundations. A simple light spell to illuminate the room would do the trick, accompanied by the paradigm to allow her magic consumption to be lowered.

Twilight closed her eyes and focussed, visualising the complex rune amongst the orb of light that would soon materialise in front of her. Her horn sparked brightly as magic flowed around its base, momentarily idling around it before pushing in front of her and forming in to a bright, purple ball. It hovered before her, glowing faintly.

Twilight felt her insides lurch as her magic jerked outwards toward the ball of light, surrounding it with a bright blue hue.  The paradigm was now taking control. Twilight stumbled backwards as the hue enveloped her spell, growing brighter and brighter by the second. Instinctively, she exterminated the spell with force, watching intently in the hopes that the spell would simply dissipate.

The magic continued to grow brighter and brighter, expanding outwards with an unseen force as it exploded through the entire room. Twilight screamed as the spell encased her. It was too late by the time she brought her hooves to her eyes, as an immense and dire pain filled their sockets. Weightlessness filled her as the spell lifted her from the ground.

She gasped sharply, a sharp pain emanating from her back as she landed on the ground with a harsh crack.

Everything went black.

 

*

 

Twilight shot up in bed with a frightened scream, as the reality of life caught up with her. Instinctively she looked around, to see nothing but the dark void that had become so familiar. She could feel the sweat drenching her body and the tears staining her face. She could feel her deep and ragged breaths, and the sharp pounding of her heart trying to escape her chest.

She clung to the sheets, pulled them to her body, and cried.

 

*

 

Rarity and Rainbow Dash stared at Pinkie quietly as they ate their sandwiches, still waiting for her to say something. They had been helping her all day, and yet, she hadn’t said a single word to either of them. When either of them tried to get her to answer, she’d simply make a zipping motion with her lips, smile, and try to explain her next instructions with various movements or demonstrations with her body.

It had been a long day for all three of them, working tirelessly to get everything set up with Pinkie’s interesting delivery of instructions. For now, they’d taken it upon themselves to break from their preparations of Twilight’s party, for lunch at the local café.

“So...” Rarity prompted, feeling overly uncomfortable at the awkward situation Pinkie was putting them through, “what do we have left to complete?”

Rainbow Dash shrugged, swallowing a large mouthful of hay salad with an audible gulp, “We’ve gone through the list. So I guess we don’t have anything else to do, right?”

Pinkie shook her head and began moulding an explanation with her hooves. Rarity was awestruck by how comprehensive her instructions were, despite having spoken no words.  Granted, now that Rarity thought of it, Pinkie was incredibly good at charades.

“You want us to pour the rainbow liquid... in to a portable pool?” Rarity said incredulously, trying to comprehend what her friend had planned.

Pinkie simply nodded and sipped her drink through the straw.

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and groaned, slouching on her seat, “C’mon, Pinkie. What’s with this weird silence stuff? It’s annoying.”

Pinkie stared at Rainbow quizzically, as if she was completely mad.

Rarity rolled her eyes, turning the conversation to a better subject, “So, Twilight is available for this evening? You’re sure about this? After all, we can reschedule it, if she’d rather get some rest.”

Rainbow took a bite from her meal, “She said she’d be here. I don’t doubt her. Besides, she needs it.” Rainbow smiled at her sandwich, “We need to make her understand we’re here for her, and we need to convince her to talk to the Princess, y’know?”

“I agree. After all, it shouldn’t be that different, right? She’s still our Twilight.”

“I don’t know, Rarity,” Rainbow replied, putting her sandwich on the plate. “Twilight’s new spell doesn’t work as well as we hoped it would. She said it makes her tired and disorientated. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem to help her much.”

Rarity frowned, considering this for a moment. Her grandfather never said anything about being disorientated, and he seemed to manage to walk around just fine. He had passed on many years ago. Perhaps he had said something about the spell, or the way he used it.

She couldn’t remember him too clearly. She was too young to form a vivid and lasting memory of him and his ways. She only had a photograph in her photo album at home, and that wouldn’t help Twilight at all.

“I’m sure she’ll get used to it, dear. After all, a new spell is always disorientating. Why, I remember when I learned my levitation spell. Dreadful, really. All of my items would fly in every direction except the one I wanted it to go.” She smiled, “Twilight will be fine.”

Rainbow Dash went quiet for a moment and nodded, “Well, yeah, are spells that different? I mean, this is Twilight we’re talking about.”

“Well, dear, spells can be practiced as thoroughly as you do in your...” she gestured towards the pegasus’ wings, “flying. If you focus on the right part of the spell, you can improve it. Given the right amount of time, Twilight will be able to maintain it for longer periods of time.”

Longer was the best word to use. Rarity didn’t want to admit to herself that Twilight would probably never be able to use it for an endless amount of time. She could use it longer if she reduced its power, however the effects that that may have on the spell would vary. Anything could happen.

Rainbow looked at her wings as they were pointed to, following it up with a shrug, “I guess. It was kinda creepy watching her, you know? She looked like she was staring through you.  I don’t know if she was looking at me or not.”

Rarity raised a brow, “In my grandfather’s picture, he has that same look. Was her horn lit up when she was looking at you?”

“Yeah. She cast the spell, and it was like she was normal. Her eyes were moving and stuff. But it didn’t feel like she was looking at you.” Rainbow looked somewhat uncomfortable as she explained what she saw.

“It’s intriguing, I must say. I’m sure I’ll see her use it sooner or later, I suppose.”

“Or nothing will happen, and Twilight will use her magic to see!” Pinkie blurted out suddenly, startling both of her friends.

Rarity and Rainbow Dash stared at her, frozen in their seats. Rarity’s stomach lurched as her mind caught up to what just happened. “Pinkie, what was that for?” She snapped.

“I was waiting and waiting to finish the sentence from ages ago, but it was getting so boring not speaking! Especially when the conversation is so interesting, ‘cause I wanna talk about Twilight! Twilight won’t be any different, because Twilight is Twilight, and if Twilight wasn’t Twilight, well she wouldn’t be Twilight. That’d be silly if she wasn’t Twilight, because then who would she be? Would she be Rainbow Dash, or would she be somepony else? Maybe she could be Minty!” Pinkie exploded in a flurry of words.

Rarity rolled her eyes and tuned out, waiting for Pinkie to catch up on days of silence. She glanced over to Rainbow Dash, who gave her the same exasperated and pleading look. This would take a long time to pass.

 

*

 

Applejack frowned at Fluttershy’s further failure to barter at the local marketplace, “What happened to being assertive?”

“Oh, um, well, I try to be... but, it’s hard, and what if they needed the extra bits?” Fluttershy replied meekly, putting the carrots in her saddlebag.

Applejack gave her a deadpanned look, “With empty shelves like those? I don’t think they’ll be needin’ much.”

Fluttershy frowned, “Are you sure?”

“Positive, sugarcube,” Applejack smiled as they began walking. “Anythin’ else you need?”

Fluttershy shook her head as she glanced through her acquired inventory, “I don’t think so. I was running low on a few things for the animals at home.”

Applejack nodded, “I was doing the same. Figured seein’ you was the most interesting of comin’ here.”

Fluttershy smiled, “Well, it was nice seeing you too, Applejack. Was there, um, anything else you wanted to do here?”

Applejack shook her head, “I suppose I should return to the farm and get a head start on tomorrow’s apple buckin’ before the party starts. What about you?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what to do before the party... I don’t want to be late.”

Applejack laughed. She had felt that dilemma far too often. In truth, the apple bucking would be more of a distraction, rather than a job that needed to be completed. If she didn’t find some sort of distraction soon, she’d find herself in the familiar dilemma as her friend; the inability to decide to do something, in case she was late, however having too much time to not do something.

“Oh, it’s the others.” Fluttershy smiled, gesturing to the café across the road.

The two approached a sleeping Rainbow Dash, extremely bored Rarity and a Pinkie Pie who’s senseless tirade of words had apparently driven her friends to a state of mental stasis. Despite the approach of Fluttershy and Applejack, she continued to talk.

Applejack and Fluttershy exchanged a look with Rarity, both sharing the same opinion.

“What’s goin’ on?” Applejack shouted over the pink pony, glancing over Rainbow Dash, who had taken to sleeping on her half-eaten salad.

“I don’t know, dear! However from what I’ve gathered, I think it was some kind of failed joke she was trying to pull by staying silent until the time was right. She never finished a sentence a while ago, I think she was hoping to finish it later.  She got bored of being silent, so... now she’s catching up, I suppose.” Rarity replied with a roll of her eyes.

“Didn’t she try that once before?” Applejacked asked sceptically.

“Yes, and she didn’t have much success then, either. Face it, dear, she’s not patient enough.” Rarity remarked, glancing irritably at the talking pony.

Pinkie turned her attention to Rainbow Dash with a raucous laughter, “You should’ve seen your face at Sugarcube Corner! You were all like ‘I know you’re here!’ and I was like ‘Shh!’ and then you were like ‘I’m leaving!’” She giggled, deepening her voice and imitating a storming motion as she imitated her friend, “I almost jumped out and scared you! But you left as I was going to! Oh! I got the Rainbows you gave me, these are going to be so great! The games are going to be so much fun!”

“Games?” Rainbow Dash inquired, having been woken up by Pinkie’s laughter at her.

“Of course, silly! I figured the rainbows wouldn’t work. Because, I mean, come on. They’re rainbows! They don’t help ponies see, if they can’t see them already! So we’ll use them for games, instead!”

Applejack furrowed her brow, looking to Rainbow for answers. Rainbow only sighed and shrugged, clearly annoyed. Applejack twisted her lip, but decided it was better to leave this be and ask at another time.

“So, uh, how’s the party goin’?” She decided to ask to the group.

“We’re almost finished! Spike’s making some cupcakes for us, and I’ve got lots more! We just need to get a few more things ready, like the rubber mats for the rainbow games, and we’re all ready!” Pinkie replied ecstatically.

“Rainbow games?” Applejack raised her brow inquisitively, and not without a hint of sceptic interrogation.

“We’re going to have a slip and slide! With the rainbows! Just don’t swallow any, that stuff is spi-cy!

Applejack was speechless. Pinkie hadn’t been kidding when she said she was ready to make games up, especially for this occasion. She was far more creative than she had been given credit for. Pinkie had been working tirelessly to gather items and find a way to make this day special for Twilight, while also keeping it relatively ‘in theme’ for everypony else.

This would certainly be an interesting night.

 

*

 

Spike hummed to himself as he worked tirelessly in the kitchen. After each instruction in the recipe, he would glance up at the clock with anticipation, only to find that barely a minute had passed. He was getting frustrated at how slowly time was moving today.

Breaking between hums, he’d mutter the words of his song to the tune in his head, quietly enough so as not to draw attention from the purple mare in the study, but loud enough to enjoy himself.

“As I go riding merrily along...,” he sang quietly, placing the tray of cupcakes in the oven, kicking it shut with his foot.

He glanced up to the clock again and sighed. Two hours remained before it was time to bring Twilight to the party, and there was almost nothing left to do. He’d woken up earlier so as to finish all of his chores early enough to be allowed to join in the party, and he’d finished them too soon.

He frowned, remembering the slight interruption to his early chores. He found Twilight crying in to her sheets as he came up to investigate a loud scream. She was so distraught, finding very little voice between her horrified sobs. She shook violently, hugging her sheets as close to her body as she could. Spike did all he could to calm her down, and eventually, managed to.

She quietly explained the dream she had, finding comfort in explaining as much detail of the dream as she could remember. Every now and then, she’d bite her lip and sniff quietly as emotion built up again. Gently, Spike brought her back on track and she would continue. At the end of her story, there was a long and uncomfortable silence before she finally explained why the dream was so vivid and horrifying.

”This was what happened in the library the day that I was blinded. I was blinded by my own lack of foresight.”

Spike shook his head, snapping out of his trance, noticing that he was staring at the oven.It was disturbing to think what Twilight went through, and was still experiencing in her own mind. It didn’t take a genius to see the disturbed look on the mare’s face, or the out-of-character quietness she had been exhibiting since Spike brought her downstairs.

He quietly walked out of the kitchen and peeked in to the study, seeing Twilight at her desk with her horn ablaze with magical light. The breakfast Spike had prepared for her sat untouched next to her book. Her posture was slumped, her shoulders sunken and her usual mutterings replaced by silence.

It was normal to hear Twilight muttering to herself when she was studying, it was even normal to hear her cheering when she accomplished something. Today however, she was completely silent. Spike wondered if a single page of the book in front of her had been turned.

He sighed and wandered back in to the kitchen to check up on the muffins. Their smell gently wafting out of the oven was far too inviting. He opened the door and gently pressing down on the closest one, tutting under his tongue as he felt the soft dough in the middle. They’d need a while longer.

He smiled briefly, at the remembrance of his own deduction on what had happened to Twilight. He was so close, it felt as if he might have been completely right. It was an odd feeling, to feel accomplished in being right about the misfortune of his closest and most-loved friend.

The clock had moved forward twenty minutes. At least time had decided to cooperate with him now. Still, there was so much time to kill, and chronocide wasn’t a skill he possessed, aside from doing chores or sleeping.

He leaned back against the cupboard and twiddled his thumbs idly, staring at the clock. He sighed, glancing out the window, watching the sun quietly begin its descent for the night, throwing an orange hue throughout the sky. The sunset left an excited bubbling in his stomach, as it foretold the night’s event.

Spike adored Pinkie’s parties, when he was able to attend them. This one in particular would be one he had been anticipating ever since it had been announced. It was a chance to enjoy the party, and help his closest and most cherished friend. Admittedly, he felt useless. Twilight had to deal with the bulk of her condition alone, leaving  little room for him or the others to offer any assistance.

He continued watching the clock, while every so often checking on his rising muffins until they were baked completely. He placed each muffin on the counter before dumping the hot tray in to the sink to cool down. Each of them had risen almost perfectly.  He brought out a plastic container and gently placed each muffin inside, closing the lid with a loud snap.

Spike heard a startled yelp from Twilight’s room. With a quick stumble, he hurried in to the darkening room, to see Twilight instinctively turning towards various directions. The snap had obviously either woken her, or snapped her out of a trance.

“Twilight, it’s okay. It’s only me,” Spike said as soothingly as he could manage, reaching for the closest candle, lighting it with a short flame from his mouth.

The candle lit the room in a familiar orb, the light forcing the shadows to its edges. He walked over carefully, illuminating Twilight’s startled features. He placed the candle next to her pillow, allowing him to wrap his arms around her comfortingly.

Twilight calmed. Spike could feel her breathing slow once more. “What time is it?” She asked, returning his hug quickly before pulling back. Her horn lit up again as she looked over the page in her book. Had she even turned it?

“It’s almost 5:30. The party is in about an hour. I was thinking about dropping off a couple of things, and coming back to get you. Is that alright?” Spike asked, desperately hoping she would agree. Not only would it be hard to carry both his muffins and direct her as well, he was also hoping to see how the party was set up, so as to find a better way to surprise Twilight as she was lead through the door.

Spike’s stomach sank as Twilight thought about it, tapping her hoof against her chin and emitting a long and thoughtful hum. She did this far too often when he asked to do things.

“Alright,” Twilight smiled, “you’ll be back soon, right?” She seemed worried, and almost lonely.

“I’ll be half an hour, on the dot!” Spike replied proudly, puffing his chest out. This was perfect!

Twilight nodded, “Okay. I’ll see you when you get back.”

Spike grinned wide, hugging Twilight tightly before hurrying out the room. With sheer swiftness, he grabbed the box of muffins and bounced excitedly to the door, “I’ll see you soon, Twilight!” he shouted as he opened the door. Without waiting for an answer, he shut the door and ran towards Sugarcube Corner, smiling wide.

 

*

 

“See you... soon,” Twilight replied quietly as she heard the familiar click of the door. Spike’s eagerness took her completely by surprise. Perhaps the party would do her well, after all. If anything, it would provide her a sense of comfort that her friends were truly there for her.

She still battled as to just how much she could allow her friends to help her, as compared to her doing things on her own. Tonight, she promised herself she wouldn’t think about her burden, her burden on others, or even Princess Celestia.

Princess Celestia. The thought of her mentor and idol lingered in her mind, as she visualised the various outcomes if the Princess found out about her condition. Both the good and the bad waged a war in her mind, painting her teacher in such various and polarising lights.

She lit her horn up once more, allowing the words on the paper in front of her to form properly before reading. The book she was given was extremely interesting, despite that she found herself reading the same paragraph over and over again as varying thoughts filled her mind. At the bottom of the page, a small piece of paper had been jammed in to the spine of the book.

Written in perfectly curved lettering were three simple words. These three words had somehow pushed themselves to the forefront of her mind, quieting thoughts of her condition, of her future, and even of her nightmare.

The author of these words was more than evident. Such neat, careful and beautiful writing could have only come from Rarity.  She meant well with her gift, and the words she left, while simple, begat an intense amount of thought.

Tell Princess Celestia.

She could choose from two options: Tell her, or don’t. The former would allow her to live her ultimate fate as soon as possible, and could potentially change her life forever in either direction. The latter would allow Twilight to live her relatively normal life, with a few further white lies to cover her condition and reasons why she would be unable to conduct certain requests from the Princess.

She sighed, retracting her magic and closing the book with her hoof. This was the hardest decision she could ever make. The Princess was her idol, the one she wanted to model herself after. If she reacted negatively to this new condition and way of life, Twilight could not fathom how she would be able to function. Her dreams would be further destroyed.

Twilight stretched her legs. She felt contact with something, followed by a light thud. Whatever it was, Spike must have placed it beside her, forgetting to take it with him when he left.

She closed her eyes, finding comfort in visualising things as a normal pony would. She allowed her mind to focus on the illustrious Princess Celestia, sitting on her royal throne as she overlooked the business of the day’s orders. Twilight sat next to her, adorned with her own royal attire, as she wrote down all of the Princess’ desires, commands and laws.

She was the royal scribe. Her duties allowed her to be with the Princess at all times as they both attended royal business both inside and outside of Canterlot, as well as various summits the Princess was required to attend.

Alternatively, perhaps she was the royal advisor, or arch-mage. Whatever duty that would require consistent contact with the Princess. Nothing would be different, nothing would change, and Twilight’s dreams were still intact in this alternate reality.

As she slowly returned from her apparent doze, the smell of smoke filled her nose, awakening all her senses. Her eyes instinctively snapped open and she glanced around quickly, seeing only blackness. Her stomach sunk and she stumbled from the feeling of heat beside her. Intense heat filled the room, accompanied by the crackling of fire and dense smell of smoke.

“Help...” she croaked quietly, trying to find her voice. “Help!”

Fear filled her veins as she stumbled in her mind for the echolocation spell. Her head was blank, wiped clean with instinctive fear. She needed to run; she needed to escape the encroaching furnace. Disorientation and confusion filled her as her mind raced for a solution. Stumbling away from the searing heat, she bumped into a bookcase, hearing the familiar thud of books falling to the ground.

She placed her left hoof on the bookcase, following its contours towards where she could remember the door. Each step wrought the agony of fear in her mind. The heat of the room made her sweat, and the smoke made her cough and heave. The door had to be near.

As she felt the wall around the room, the heat began to strengthen. She stopped, feeling the sheer burning heat in front of her. Her mind’s eye envisioned the fire surrounding her, blocking all forms of escape.

Her heart beat furiously, every fibre in her body screaming for some form of escape. She began screaming loudly, “Help!” as she backed towards the bookcase again, pressing herself against the wood in a futile hope to avoid the fate before her.

She shook violently, fighting for her breath. Cursing and screaming, searching in her mind to find an escape from this death trap. Her mind latched on to the thoughts of Princess Celestia once more. That this lie, she would carry to her grave.

Princess Celestia, I’m so sorry.

 

*

 

Sirens rang loudly through the town, causing the group to exchange looks between each other before hurrying out the door to see the ruckus. Fire trucks raced passed them towards the smoke that billowed towards the already darkened sky.

Their respective stomach dropped and hardened as a unanimous fear filled their collective minds.

“Twilight!”

As they arrived the scene before them filled their minds with the fear of the worst.

Red and blue lights flashed fiercely through the area as Fireponies raced around the Twilight’s library with a hose, screaming orders in various direction. A ladder was being erected to Twilight’s room, as one firepony attempted to breach in through the window.

An ambulance screamed up behind the scene, with two ponies and a stretcher poured out, ready and waiting for the word to run inside. One paramedic took it upon himself to interrogate the closest firepony on the situation.

Rarity intercepted a firepony as he returned to the truck, his face blackened by the smoke inside.

“Where’s Twilight? What’s happened to her?!” She screamed frantically.

The firepony frowned, glancing back at the scene as he spoke with authority, “We haven’t been able to get into the room. So far, there is no sign of any residence in the rest of the house. We’re working as fast as we can to quell the fire, and reach the effected room. However, we have not heard any signs of anypony inside.”

Rarity turned back to the others as the firepony pushed passed her and retrieved another hose. Each pony had turned ghastly pale. Rainbow Dash and Spike had stormed up closer to the tree, only to be blocked by an authoritive  firepony telling them to return to their friends.

There was nothing anypony could do, and there was no sure fate of their friend.

All they could do was wait.

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