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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8. Chapter 8

The familiar, feverish and chaotic rush subsided slowly around Twilight. She could feel her magic float away into the forever nothingness that used magic was destined to disappear.  It was a void that none could enter, and none could see.

A slight cold breeze brushed passed her, echoing around her surroundings and sending a shiver through her body. The sound was loud, reverberating off apparent walls. She stood up quickly, her hooves clattering noisily on the cold and hard floor.

She could feel a cold chill run through her as the breeze returned. She shivered, closing her eyes and trying her magic, desperate for any form of understanding of her surroundings. Her horn sparked and fizzled. The teleportation spell had eaten up the vast majority of her magic reserves, as such large spells did. It was unfortunate that such a long distance teleport had been instinctual, and not at all planned.

“Hello?” She shouted, hearing her voice echo around her and deep in to the distance. “Is anypony there? Hello!” The only answer she received was her own echo. Not a single sound or breath of another pony could be heard around her.

She shivered again, feeling tears form in her eyes. Wherever she had been taken, she was both lost and alone. This fate was worse than the one she had almost lived. She choked back her tears and slowly put one hoof in front of the other, taking careful and deliberate steps. If she was lucky, she would find a wall, a door, or somepony that could help her.

The sound of the wind, and general feel of the air gave her a sensation of being higher, and the cold, hard floor felt clean and flat, as if made for civilisation. Wherever she was walking, it had been made for ponies to walk on. She wouldn’t dare turn left or right, fearing that whichever direction she went, she would possibly fall to her death, or worse.

The edge of her hoof touched something hard. Slowly, she trailed it upwards, following the hard wall in front of her. The wall stopped abruptly, giving way to a new material. Her hoof clinked on it soundly. She tapped her hoof against it twice more, hearing a familiar clink of hoof-on-glass. This was curious.

The sound of hoofsteps echoed behind her. They sounded larger than a normal pony’s, their timing spaced much further apart than a mare’s, or even a colt’s during a regular walk. As the hoofsteps came closer, a familiar warmth encompassed her. As the warmth reached her, a terrifying undertone crept through and grasped Twilight on the shoulder. Her stomach sank.

Twilight had teleported herself to Canterlot Castle.

“Twilight? What are you doing here?” The sweet, soft and warm regal voice of Princess Celestia asked, with a mixture of pleasured surprise and deep confusion. She sounded tired, as if freshly woken.

Twilight turned around, facing the voice as best she could, staring up in the same direction she had done so for years, “P-Princess Celestia!” She stammered, “I-I-I c-came for... for... some... advice!” She could feel the sweat on her brow forming quickly as her stomach sank further, and her heart pounded mercilessly in her chest.

Twilight could feel the scrutinising gaze of her mentor.  She didn’t need to see it to know it was there. With a masked neutrality that had been practiced over centuries, the sceptical gaze of a mother and teacher cut through her like a knife. Princess Celestia had watched her with the same expression many times as Twilight had tried to cover her actions, and Twilight knew all too well that she was being treated to that same, scrutinising gaze.

“Well then, perhaps we should go somewhere more comfortable?” Celestia’s replied warmly without any evidence of the gaze Twilight had imagined.

“Oh... yes. Of course,” Twilight replied, hoping the princess would simply lead the way.

“Very well,” Celestia said, her large form slowly moving from her student.

Twilight followed quickly, simply following the sound and air of her mentor. Despite the situation, her idol’s mere presence made the world feel calmer, as if nothing truly mattered anymore. Her presence had always brought forth a sense of calm and willing obedience.

They walked silently through the corridors of the castle. Twilight’s mind raced over the series of events that preceded her arrival. The fear of death gripping her, only to be quelled by the air of her mentor. Her house would be okay, she was sure of this. Hopefully. Their walk concluded as Celestia stopped and opened a door.

“You first, my dear,” Celestia beckoned.

Twilight nodded slowly, carefully trying to walk in a straight line. She halted as she felt the cushiony texture of a seat meet her hoof. Carefully, she climbed over and sat down, waiting for her mentor to take the seat opposite her as she always had. To her surprise, Celestia sat next to her, quietly settling down on the pillow to Twilight’s right, stifling a yawn.

“Now, what was it you were needing advice on?” Celestia asked calmly.

Twilight’s mind went blank. She had gotten this far, and now, there was nothing in her mind except the multiple gaping questions about her future. Twilight sighed, conceding to mentor and to herself, “Princess Celestia...” she began, looking for the softest way to get to her point. She swallowed, “Have there been any disabled unicorns in the past? Did you teach any?”

“I see,” Celestia replied simply, trailing off in to an uncomfortable silence. “Twilight, I’d like to ask you something first,” she asked quickly.

Twilight’s heart sank.

“I’d like you to tell me what has happened.” Celestia spoke calmly. There wasn’t a hint of anger or disappointment.

Twilight bit her lip, feeling her tears well in her eyes again. Celestia already knew, somehow. There was no point in beating around the bush. She swallowed hard and sighed, “I was studying Paradigms at home. I wanted to try a test spell, so I cast a simple light spell with one of the runes. And...  it... it exploded. I didn’t want this, Princess Celestia. I-I didn’t want any of this, I only wanted to test the spell! I wanted to—”

Celestia made a quiet and calming shushing sound, “It’s okay. I know what happened. I had only hoped that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.”

Twilight looked up to her mentor, a feeling of dread and shock overwhelming her, “But how? Did Spike send you a letter?”

“No, Twilight. My sister knows more than she would ever let anypony believe. She told me she visited you during the night, and left you a gift. Did anypony tell you about them?” Celestia’s concern flowed through her words, the unanswered question leaving a bitter tinge within them.

“N-no. I know somepony left me flowers.”

“Luna left you those flowers. They’re Moonflowers. White flowers that only bloom in the moonlight. She’s overly fond of them, and I know she often leaves them as a token of her own concern or affection. We’ve been worried about you, Twilight.” Celestia sighed deeply, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

The question poised knives to Twilight’s throat. She stammered quietly to herself, trying to word herself properly, and truthfully. Celestia had most likely figured it out, but still wanted to hear it from Twilight herself.

“I... I don’t know. I was afraid you wouldn’t want me as your student. That I was... defective.” Twilight hung her head low, hearing her thoughts for the very first time. Now, they only sounded selfish and unreasoned.

The Princess was silent for a moment, “Twilight I’m... very disappointed in you.” She replied. Hurt weighed heavily in her voice.

Twilight froze, her stomach curled and groaned as her mentor’s words sunk into her deeply, pressing down on the knives and cutting her insides. Those very few words that Twilight had tried so very hard to avoid had been spoken due to her actions. She hadn’t failed an exam, she hadn’t forgotten her homework, she had insulted the Princess.

The silence that hung in the air further intensified Twilight’s guilt and overwhelming grief. Tears slowly fell down her cheeks, her heart ached desperately as her mouth voiced silent words.  She shivered to herself, hugging her body as she turned away from her beloved idol.

“I’m... sorry,” Twilight choked. “I didn’t want... I didn’t mean to... I just wanted things to be normal.” She stammered through her tears.

Shock weighed heavily in the Princess’ voice, “I would never do that to you. I have always been so proud of you; I want to see you be the best you can possibly be. Never let yourself believe that you are expendable. Whether it is for your friends, your family or me.” Celestia turned Twilight’s head to face her with a hoof as she spoke.

Twilight could feel the hurt gaze of her mentor through her words. Yet, a semblance of hope filled them, and her. She wiped the tears from her eyes with her hoof and sniffed, “But... I’m defective.

“That’s a terrible thing to say,” Celestia gasped. “You are not ‘defective’ or ‘broken’. There have been great and talented ponies that have risen to greatness, despite their disabilities. Blue Moon was an arch-mage many centuries ago, and one of my earliest students. She lost one of her legs in an accident. In those days, there were no prosthetic legs, there were no spells that could help her walk, and there were no forms of provision for such disaster. And yet, despite all of that, she rose to be an Arch-Mage in my court.”

The story seemed almost surreal to Twilight, as if the Princess had simply made everything up. However, she knew Blue Moon was real. She was the arch-mage who had fought side-by-side with the Princesses against the first invasion of Discord so many centuries ago. Blue Moon had never been referred to as being disabled, nor had she ever been called ‘Blue Moon the Three Legged,’ or anything similar. It hadn’t been recorded in anything she had read.

“Blindness is more common than I would like to admit, and more often due to lack of understanding of certain spells or the foundations of magic. I have had blind students before, Twilight. They were just as capable and wonderful as any other student that ever attended my school.” Celestia let go of Twilight’s face, the warmth that once encompassed the unicorn returned once more. “You wouldn’t even know it if you saw them. They look just like you or me.”

Twilight paused, allowing the information to sink in. Her relief filled her with an unfathomable joy. She would continue her life with Celestia as her mentor, and if she applied herself, perhaps her dreams would come true. However, one question still hung on her mind.

“Can I be fixed?” The question came out slowly, and not without pain. She knew the inevitable answer, that there was little hope that such a thing existed. It was for closure.

Celestia was silent for a moment, sighing deeply, “No, Twilight. Magic is functional, not a cure-all for everything. I’m afraid that even today, magic cannot fix organs, it cannot regrow limbs and it cannot cure the blind. There are limitations in everything, and this is only one of them.”

Twilight nodded. She expected to cry, or weep over the news. Yet, she found herself accepting it. There was no cure, only the provisions that she had been provided with to be able to see temporarily.

“And the echolocation spell? Will it become easier?”

“Of course. Like any form of magic, you will learn to use the spell efficiently and understand its ways. In the future, I think I will teach you to use Paradigms. It’s important to understand how magic itself will change when the foundations are disrupted. Naturally and innately, there is only one set of paradigms for every spell. When you change that set, the spell itself changes, and you will need to learn to control it.”

Twilight smiled wide at the prospect of being taught by her mentor once more. It had been far too long since she had been side-by-side with her, and learned from her very own words and examples. Her elation grew with the widening of her smile as Princess Celestia briefly explained the concept of paradigms to her.

Although the world may be dark, her dreams will always shine brightly. She pondered on this thought and smiled inwardly. She had been stupid, caught up in what might happen, instead of understanding what would happen. She needed to learn to trust in the care and love of those around her, rather than create a fantasy that would never happen.

“I’ve learned a lot from this, Princess Celestia,” Twilight said deliberately, “I’ve learned to listen and to feel. There is so much that I still have yet to learn, to be able to be comfortable with this new... way of life. I should be excited to go through with it. I should be willing to see it through to the end.”

“Excellent,” Celestia said with a strong, proud warmth, “I’m glad you’ll continue. I’ll make sure every book you receive for your studies is in Praille. In fact, I think we may need to begin sending you some replacements, won’t we?” There was a knowing hint in her voice, followed by a gentle ribbing.

Twilight’s eyes widened, feeling a grip of panic, “The library! What’s happened to it?”

“Your study room has taken a lot of damage; however a lot of the house is still intact. The fire brigade managed to arrive in time. However, I think a lot of cleaning will be in order.  I’m sure we can organise to have your room repaired, as well as acquire assistance to help poor Spike with all the mess.”

Twilight nodded, feeling a pang of guilt and pity for her poor assistant. Spike would be spending days cleaning the books, and hopefully finding little damage to the books outside of the study. If the damages to the study were too significant, it would be possible that she organise for the room, or house, to be extended. It would be wise, if she was going to need both a copy of a book in print, and in Praille.

She sighed to herself, returning to look towards the Princess’ voice, “I’ll be glad when things return to normal. I’ve been looking forward to enjoying life without having any problems hanging over me. This... whole thing has been so hard. I don’t know how I’ve managed.” It was the truth. She had spent days in hospital haunted by her condition, a day at home haunted by her dream, and now she was here, haunted by the fire that drove her out of her house. It was hard to imagine just how much pain she had lived through in these past days.

The accident had haunted her from the beginning. The explosion of magical energy was something she had never felt from herself before, without the use of the Elements of Harmony. This was a new form of magical power, unlikely anything she’d felt before. The feel of such power almost scared her.

Her friends had been beside her the entire time she was in hospital. Rainbow Dash had spent hours reading to her, despite her silent state. She could only picture her friend flying around the room, acting out key scenes as she read the book in a boisterous and involved voice.

Applejack, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie had returned to see how she was doing. They stuck by her, waiting and hoping that she would return as the mare they once knew. When her fate was sealed, they found ways to adapt and accept her for who she would be in the future. Pinkie Pie had planned a party for her. Tonight’s party had now been delayed by this disaster. When Twilight returned, she would make it up to her.

Rarity gave her a Praille book, out of her own money. Twilight smiled at the thought of it. This would be something she would treasure until the end of days. She would appreciate all of her friends for everything they had done for her.

“Disaster happens to the best of ponies. I’ve dealt with much in my time, and seen far more than I would like to admit. It is something we all must overcome,” Celestia said simply, her voice trailing off to the end.

“It’s hard.” Twilight exhaled deeply, “I never thought my life would change so drastically.”

“Indeed. Some changes are as drastic as they are extreme. Don’t let that discourage you. Some things never change.” The white mare’s voice hinted a smile.

There was a long and understanding silence between the two as the emotion of the conversation caught up with Twilight. She couldn’t see what Celestia was doing, however, she could only imagine her staring pensively out a window, or even watching her.

“Princess Celestia, may I... would you take me home?” Twilight asked carefully. It was time that she returned to her friends, and comforted them of her continuing existence.

Celestia slid a hoof over her students back, and pulled her in for a close and momentary embrace, “Of course. From now on, I hope you’ll keep in closer contact to me. I look forward to hearing from my most faithful student.”

Twilight felt an elated tickle in her chest as her most cherished words reached her ears. My most faithful student. A goofy grin crawled on Twilight’s face, as pure relief replaced all forms of emotion. This conversation had been for the best.

 

*

 

The sudden screams of her name and embraces from six different forms covering her took her by surprise. Nevertheless, Twilight smiled at all of them. She was home once more. Celestia had promised to send her to the living room.

“Twilight! What happened to you? We were so worried!” Rarity practically yelled down Twilight’s ear.

Twilight’s smile became one of pensive maturity, “I had a lot of time to think. I was taken to Canterlot Castle before the fire got out of control.” That small white lie would prevent any further worry. “I spoke with Princess Celestia, and I told her. She understands... I understand.” That was the best summary she could come up with at this moment. It was all that was needed.

“Pinkie, I’m sorry I missed your party. I didn’t expect for any of this to happen. Maybe I can make it up to you?” Twilight said, facing in no particular direction. For all she knew, she was staring at Rainbow Dash.

“Oh, don’t be silly!” Came the bouncy voice beside her, moving in front of her, “We can still have the party now! It’s not that late! We can still have a ton of fun, I’m sure!” That was Pinkie, always ready.

“What  does my study look like?” Twilight inquired, bracing for the worst possible news. She could only imagine that half of her study would be missing, with the rest of her house covered in thick, black soot.

“It’s very damaged,” Fluttershy chimed in, “But we could get some of the books out for you. Although... everything in the house is very black... I’m sure we can get this cleaned up soon.”

Twilight nodded and sighed, it wasn’t the worst possible scenario, but it was close enough to it. Time would allow this to be repaired, and with Princess Celestia promising to organise help, it wouldn’t be so much of a worry.

"Twilight, what happened to you? Are you okay?" Spike asked anxiously, refusing to remove himself from his vice-like embrace.

Twilight simply smiled and wrapped a hoof around the dragon's back, "I'm fine, Spike. Everything is going to be okay. However, I think we both have some adjusting to do in the future."

"What do you mean?"

"We're going to need extra room for a lot more books. And I think we're going to need a little more communication in the future, don't you think?" Twilight replied.

"I-it was the candle, wasn't it?" Spike visibly shook, "I saw it there, it was knocked over and-"

Twilight made a gentle and comforting shush, "It's okay. I'm fine, and the library will be too, eventually."

Spike's hug somehow strengthened, enticing a pained squeak from Twilight.

“So you told the Princess everything?” Rarity inquired beside her, placing a hoof on her shoulder.

Twilight nodded, “Yes.”

The silent and expectant air held the question from all of her friends.

“I was wrong. Princess Celestia will support me with my blindness,” referring to her condition by its name felt good.  She could feel the pain lift ever so slightly, “and my studies will resume as normal. From time to time, I will have lessons with her, so there is little risk of getting hurt again.”

“So you’re saying... nothing’s gonna change?” Rainbow Dash asked above them.

Twilight nodded again, “That’s right.”

It was time to accept that her life won’t change significantly. It was time to accept that she was now, who she was. This was now a part of her identity. There was little she could do to change any of that, aside from conducting research into any possible provisions to further expand the echolocation spell. With enough research, she may even be able to perfect it. It would not only be for her, but for everypony.

Right now, it was time to celebrate. Twilight sighed wistfully. This party would mark the next, and newest chapter in her life. She would celebrate her new way of life, and cast aside any doubts of herself, replacing them with a calm understand, that this is how life would be.

With a smile to her friends, and one final embrace, they set off. Tonight was going to be fun.

 

*

 

The white princess walked quietly outside behind her sister with a calm smile, staring up in to the night sky. The sky seemed different this morning; it held something different. The sky seemed fuller, and brighter.

Celestia clicked her tongue, “What have you done tonight, sister?” She asked curiously.

Luna grinned almost mischievously, an expression Celestia knew all too well. It was one that was displayed whenever Luna had taken it upon herself to create something new.

“It’s such a beautiful night, isn’t it, sister?” Luna replied, “I thought it would be a nice change to see the sky shine during the dark night. Don’t you agree?”

Celestia raised an inquisitive brow at her sister’s demeanour, “And why would that be?”

Luna’s grin turned in to a smile as she levitated a scroll from the balcony over to her sister, “I hope you didn’t mind. I had a feeling something special was going to be said in tonight’s letter.”

The letter had obviously been sent while Celestia had slept during the night. Its sender could have only been one mare. Luna was right. Tonight, something special had been said. Something that made the winged unicorn’s smile grow wide as pride buzzed within her.

 

 

Dear Princess Celestia,

 

Sometimes, life takes an unexpected turn for the worst and you may not have any idea how to deal with what life deals to you. However, it’s important to realise that not everything is the end of the world. Whether the change is major or minor, big or small, forever or temporary, you need to be strong and stand against it.

A burden may be something that changes you, but it can also be something that makes you stronger if you allow it to. If you stand up and allow yourself to become a stronger pony, then you will. It’s important never to let it defeat you. When you allow your will to be strong, there is nothing that can stop you.

Friends will help you become stronger in the face of adversity, they will always want the best for you, and will always do their best to make things as good as possible. Some may be able to distract you, some may be able to help you adjust, and some may be there for as much moral support as you need. Whatever the case, it’s important to allow your friends to help you, and never to take your burdens on alone.

They will love you for who you are, not what you are or what you can’t do. They will cherish your differences, as you cherish theirs. When you change, they will support you. In times of adversity, they will support and adapt with you.

Friends will make each day just that much easier.

Your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle

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