"Is there something you wanted to talk about?" asked Spear.
Bluebelle hesitated but decided that she had no other choice. "Fine." Bluebelle began, "I suppose one could say that my problems began with my talent, if one could even call it that."
"What do you mean?" Spear shifted on the bench uncomfortably. Doubting one's talent was equivalent to actually giving up one's identity. Ponies' special talents make them who they are, so much so that the talents become an integral part of them, the core of their being as represented by their cutie marks. If that was what was happening, then Bluebelle's problems could be much deeper than simply being a spoiled brat.
"From the time that I was a little filly, I would come down to the palace whenever I could. Sometimes I would be there to visit my uncle, but most of the time it would simply be to play with other colts and fillies who resided near the palace. I was surprised to discover that some of them belonged to the castle staff, though the majority did come from the Canterlot Academy for Gifted Unicorns. There was one filly in particular--"
--a light blue unicorn colt was calling for her. "Hey! Bluebelle! Over here!" He trotted over to her, but his legs got caught in his purple cape, and he fell to the ground. As he tangled himself further in his efforts to get out, his over-sized hat fell over his eyes.
"Are you okay?" giggled Bluebelle. "You look pretty stuck."
"The Great and Powerful Presto does NOT get stuck, he only--oof!" Falling over again he sent Bluebelle into another fit of giggles.
"Help me up."
"The Great and Powerful Presto does not subject himself to such trivialities as--"
"As being polite? I could just leave you here, you know."
Presto sighed. "Please help me up"
"Okie dokie lokie!"
She helped him up and the two of them ran off to join a few other foals in a game of hide and seek.
"Presto and I were inseparable. We would always get into all sorts of trouble together."
"Didn't either of your parents worry about you two?" Spear interjected.
Bluebelle replied uncomfortably, "Presto was an orphan... I think, and my parents were never very involved. They did not see me as a pressing investment during my childhood."
"I'm so sorry, I didn't know, I--" Spear stammered, trying to save face. "Well... what types of messes did you get in?"
Bluebelle laughed, recalling the various adventures she and her companion experienced, "My favorite was the incident when we decided to stage a coup against Prince Solaris--"
"Hey, Presto, what are we going to do today?"
"The same thing we do every day, Bluebelle, try to take over Equestria!"
The two foals looked over their plans again on the floor of the school library, doodles that resembled a Rube Gallopberg Machine more than a plan to overthrow Prince Solaris. The paper was covered with lines, arrows, X's and O's, plans for tunnels and explosions and the release of an Ursa Major.
"Where the hay are we going to find an Ursa Major?" Bluebelle asked.
"The Great and Powerful Presto shall use his charm and natural charisma to lure the Ursa Major into the palace," said Presto with a grin. "It is but a simple task for such a stallion as talented as myself."
Bluebelle opened the copy of "A Pony's Guide to Fantastic Beasts" that the foals were using for reference and pointed to a picture of the Ursa Major. "This is an Ursa Major. This," Bluebelle pointed to a capital letter "A" in the caption, "would be the relative size of a pony. The Ursa Major wouldn't be able to fit through the castle gate, let alone the secret passageway we plan to take."
The Great and Powerful Presto was disappointed but he nodded in agreement. "Well, if we aren't going to use an Ursa Major, then what are we going to use to overpower Prince Solaris?"
Bluebelle paused for a moment in thought. She paced back and forth before suddenly springing up with an idea. "We shall take him by surprise!"
"Surprise?" said Presto dully. "You really think we can simply... trot into the throne room and surprise Prince Solaris into giving us his kingdom?"
Princess Bluebelle stared into her friend's eyes with a look of such sincere confidence that Presto had to wonder if his friend had really gone crazy. "Of course!"
With a shout Bluebelle and Presto charged at Solaris, who had just turned his back on the potted plant behind which they had been hidden. The Sun Deity smiled and, playing along, fell to the floor. Levitating the crown off of his head Presto began to gloat.
"Ah-ha! Not even the mighty Prince Solaris can stand up to the wits and cunning of the Great and Powerful Presto!"
"Honestly, Presto. You didn't even think this plan would work!"
"I did! I believed you the whole time!"
Solaris let them bicker for a few moments before he muttered "Psst! Why don't you share the credit?"
The two usurpers looked at each other and nodded.
Solaris then stood up and bowed to them.
"What will your first orders as rulers of Equestria be, your Majesties?"
With barely a pause the two of them shouted, in perfect unison, one word: "CANDY!"
"That really was an absolutely massive sugar high. There was also this one other time when we--"
"Blueblood?" interrupted Lance. "What does this have to do with how you got your cutie mark?"
"Yes, I was getting to that part. I was a very late bloomer in that sense. Most of my classmates had received their cutie marks before me. After a party for a filly by the name of Moondancer, I was rudely confronted by a small group of colts who were known for being bullies. They were acting strangely friendly. I should have noticed something was amiss, but at the time I was more willing to give other ponies second chances. They said that Trixie had gotten lost in the maze, so, even though I was deathly afraid of getting trapped in the maze or that this was a cruel trick by the bullies, my desire to help my only real friend outweighed my fears. So I went to the maze and began to search for Trixie, whom I only could hope hadn't gotten into greater trouble than I could handle--"
"Blueblood!" called Trixie, "Where are you!"
Trixie had been in the maze for nearly an hour in her desperate search for the prince. So far she had encountered an out of place apple grove, a clearing filled with balloons that looked like a good place for a party, and a slab of rock, but no Blueblood. She had even passed what appeared to be a hammock made out of clouds, though she couldn't know for sure, as she wasn't a pegasus. Even her talent for magic was not proving useful, as she was only truly proficient at illusion spells.
"He probably isn't even in here." Trixie thought, "Why did Trixie even listen to those jerks. They never helped Trixie before, why should they have done so this time?"
"It's okay, Trixie." she muttered to herself, "Somepony will come along soon and find you. Everything will definitely be all right."
"All Right? You call being lost 'All Right'! 'Great' and 'Powerful'? Don't make me laugh." a small portion of her subconscious spoke up. "You're just a lost little filly with no family. The best thing you have is a single friend, but that's not going to last, is it?"
It was finally too much for her. The Great and Powerful Trixie curled up on the ground and began to cry.
Blueblood was utterly and completely lost. The maze itself seemed to be continuously shifting around him. After traveling up and down the same passage several times, he realized that this was not simply an illusion, but that the walls were actually moving. He would take three steps forward and suddenly a hedge would grow up behind him, blocking the path on which he just walked.
"Trixie! Are you even in here?" he bellowed again. As with all the other attempts there was no response. He kept walking.
"I wonder how long it will take for somepony to find me?" Blueblood wondered, He had a special tower, one of the royal suites, in the castle where he spent most of his time, and it wasn't unusual for him to stay up late and wander around the palace and the nearby Canterlot streets. He wouldn't be missed until sometime tomorrow... or today. It was pretty late and midnight may already have passed.
Lost in thought, Blueblood wandered the maze, negotiating the twists and turns with the uncertainty only possessed by those who know that they are completely clueless. The maze seemed to be leading him in one direction more than the others, and due to its continuous shifting, he had little choice but to follow it or sit still. After a while he began to notice a change in the direction of the meandering paths. No longer did they continuously push him forward and left of the entrance, but in a loose circle. To test this he levitated a small pile of rocks into the middle of the path. Sure enough, after a few turns, he came across either the same pile of rocks or a clever facsimile. Even though his experience in the maze so far has taught him that he can't trust anything he sees, he decided to give the rocks the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the one he made, . Exhausted after the long night in the maze, he stopped and leaned against a hedge, trying to think. The next thing he knew, the hedge had vanished, causing him to tumble to the path on the other side. He fell, face first, into the ground, startling a certain light blue unicorn.
"Guahh!" Bluebelle shouted in surprise as she fell into the dirt that made up the maze floor.
"Eeep!" squealed the Great and Powerful Presto as his best friend unexpectedly fell at his feet.
"What are you doing here?" they exclaimed in unison.
"I came looking for you!" they answered, again at the same time.
Presto quickly sputtered out his next line before there could be any more awkward synchronous speaking. "Some students told me that you got lost in the maze, so I came looking for you!"
Bluebelle facehoofed. "Looking for ME? Some students told me that YOU were lost in the maze so I came looking for YOU!"
Presto stared back in shock. "Don't tell me," he said, now realizing the predicament they shared, "they were a group of jock unicorns led by a mare who looked like she'd had one too many spells blow up in her face. She had a signet ring as a cutie mark, right?"
Bluebelle was now banging her head against the nearest hedge, "Yes, yes, I cannot believe we both fell for the oldest trick in the book." She took her head out of the hedge and began to pace in a tight circle, almost as if she were chasing her own tail. Bluebelle began to speak frantically, "But if they tricked both of us, and no one knows where we are..."
"...then it could be hours before anyone even begins looking for us, let alone finds us," Presto concluded.
"Can't you, like, teleport us out of here?" Bluebelle asked. "I mean, you have more magic than anypony I know!"
At this Presto looked down at his hooves. "I can't."
Bluebelle was undeterred in her confidence. "Well I'm sure that you'll think of something."
Presto couldn't take it anymore , he broke down and started to scream at his friend, "My magic just isn't good enough, okay!" Then, quietly, he muttered, "Nothing I do is good enough."
At that he turned away and started to cry softly. Bluebelle was uncertain of what to do. Presto was always somepony she could depend on in any situation. Of course, those predicaments were either school related, self inflicted, or both. In fact, she now realized that most of the good things that happened to her, and most certainly the best ones, had something to do with Presto. Lost in thought over all the good times they had and the ones that were to come, Bluebelle didn't even notice when her horn started to spark of its own accord, eventually coalescing into a steady glow. It pulsed and shot a beam of energy so strong that it knocked her over.
"P-Presto? What's happening to me? I didn't even cast a spell!"
"Well, I don't think that your horn knows that."
"Help me turn it off!"
"I don't know, just do it!"
Bluebelle began to skid forward, pulled by the light of her horn.
"It's pulling me!" she squeaked.
Presto sprang into action, clamping down on her tail, but it was to no avail, as he was dragged forward with her through the twists and turns of the labyrinth. The maze's landmarks, the balloons, the apple orchard, and the mysterious rock whizzed by faster than one could say "chimmicherry" and soon the pair found themselves outside the entrance of the maze, out of breath, and extremely dizzy. When they were finally able to keep the world from spinning around them, they noticed something strange about Bluebelle's appearance. Her flank, which had previously been blank, now bore the symbol of a compass rose.
Bluebelle was exhilarated. "Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh! I have a CUTIE MARK!"
She began to bounce around in a circle squeeing with glee as Presto stood watching her in a state of mild melancholy, smiling on the outside that he and Bluebelle had escaped, but at the same time worrying about something. Bluebelle could tell just by Presto's preoccupied expression that he was hiding something.
"Presto, what's wrong?" Bluebelle asked, concernedly. Presto looked up, then suddenly averted his gaze. "Presto, look at me and tell me the truth. You're not telling me something and I think I should know what it is."
Presto scraped his hoof along the ground in front of him, stirring up a small cloud of dust
"Presto knows he shouldn't have kept this from you, but he didn't know how to say it. I-I'm leaving."
Bluebelle's smile instantly dropped into a look of surprise and disappointment. "Wait, you mean, you're leaving the maze? Or you're leaving the school? Or Canterlot? Or... me?"
Presto continued to paw the ground with his hoof as he mumbled, "Even The Great and Powerful Presto has parts of his life he cannot control. Presto is leaving everything, this maze, this school, Canterlot, and... and you."
"When will you get back?" Bluebelle asked.
"That's the thing... Presto... I mean... I won't be coming back." His last words were nearly a whisper. "I'm... I'm sorry."
Bluebelle stepped towards Presto with tears in hear eyes. His words had hurt her; her only friend, Presto, was leaving, possibly forever. She reached out to him with her forelegs, desiring to embrace him so he wouldn't leave her side. Presto couldn't bear to meet his friend's eyes, so with a quick 180 degree pivot, he ran, leaving a puff of smoke behind him.
"--And we never saw each other again. Things only got worse from there. I was angry at my uncle for a long time. I blamed him for not doing anything. I still do. On top of that my parents didn't even talk to me unless it would get them some leverage over the other. Our house was never quiet. If my mother wasn't shouting at my father, he was shouting at her. Prince Solaris went on to get himself a personal student. Sometimes I would try to play with Solaris, like Presto and I used to, in order to feel liked in the only place I had left, but he would always have an excuse to avoid me. His 'prodigy' was more important to him than I was. I just wish... I just wish I could see Presto again."
Spear was silent, listening as Bluebelle poured out the secrets of her heart in front of her. "Had Bluebelle really been keeping all these things to herself?" she thought.
"Ever since then I've felt lost, lost in a world that I used to know. I know that change is a part of life, but life seems determined that I should not find true happiness. I lost my only friend, and them my life fell apart. I hardly know who I am anymore. My special talent may be navigation, but I cannot find my way out of my own misery."
Spear finally decided to speak. "Wow. I don't know what to say. I... I never knew. I don't know what I could do to help you through these troubles, but I'm glad that Solaris granted me the opportunity to try."
Bluebelle's ears perked up in surprise. She smiled bemusedly then began to chuckle to herself. "Are you serious?" she asked semi-sarcastically. "You, a mere commoner, help me, who has the very blood of Solaris flowing through her veins? If there is one thing that I learned from my tragic childhood, it is that dealing with commoners is never a pleasant experience; being friends with them is impossible. I may be forced by my uncle to spend time with you because he cannot be bothered to deal with me himself. I may have told you my life's story because nopony else would listen and because I wasn't thinking straight, but I shall never, EVER be your friend."
Bluebelle trotted back towards her tower, then remembering that she couldn't enter it, changed course and headed back to Spear's house, leaving the guard stunned at her reaction.
The image faded in the mirror as Solaris relinquished the spell's hold on the glass, and he turned to face Professor Mesmera.
Solaris sighed and shook his head as he began to speak. "And I was just beginning to hope that she had grown out of her snobbishness. Well, back to what we were discussing when we were interrupted by news of Bluebelle's disappearance. What did she tell you about the mirror that she broke?"
Mesmera thought about it for a while before answering. "All she really said was that she thought she had seen somepony - or something - in the place where the reflection should be and then mirror shattered. I couldn't really gather anything else from it other than that she wanted to know what it could have been."
"I thought so. That mirror is a portal based on the designs of Starswirl the Wise, from the time that she was one of my students. It is a means of dealing with some... diplomats from places outside my rule. I think that you should help Bluebelle to fix the spell. It would be a good chance for her to see that she isn't as important as she thinks."
"Whatever you say sir. When should I expect her to be sent my way?"
"In a few weeks. I'd like to give her a chance to reform a bit more, otherwise you might not be able to put up with her long enough to get anything done."
Mesmera chuckled. "You're more right than you know. I should be going now so I don't oversleep and miss teaching tomorrow's lesson. Goodnight Solaris"
"Good night my little pony."