On Monday, Twilight lectured her class with a slide show and passing out worksheets with Spike’s assistance. She’d practiced at home with a chalkboard and mouth or hooves only to realize her writing was notably messy and certainly enough to stand out compared to these other options now in use. Most of the students didn’t notice, but one of them did, one of the students new to Ponyville and not a pony at all. Ocellus eyed her teacher’s behavior carefully.
“What’s up?” Gallus asked her. “You seeing something the rest of us don’t? You’re watching Twilight like a hawk.”
“I’ll tell you all during lunch,” she muttered.
So during their lunch break, the Student Six gathered around and listened in. “Have any of you noticed that Headmare Twilight is not using any magic today?” Ocellus asked in a low tone of voice.
“Not until you said it just now,” Silverstream realized.
“That is weird,” Smolder said thoughtfully.
“Aw, I wouldn’t worry about it,” Sandbar told them with a casual air.
“Why not?” Yona asked.
“Because she isn’t, and none of the other teachers are. They know what’s up, whatever it is. Weird things happen in Ponyville all the time, and our teachers have been around to handle a lot of them.”
“Are any of the others acting weird?” Gallus asked. “Professor Rarity used her magic in class without any problems.”
“All our teachers act weird already,” Yona muttered, soon followed by an amused, friendly smile at the idea.
“Weird for them then,” Gallus said. “I mean, what if they’re just trying to save face about whatever is wrong but actually need help.”
“We should ask Professor Applejack. She’s the Element of Honesty,” Silverstream suggested confidently and with authority.
“Maybe we should just ask Headmare Twilight ourselves,” Ocellus figured.
“But dudes, that is so rude to do to any unicorn and even worse for an alicorn princess,” Sandbar said.
“But what if something is seriously wrong?” Smolder pointed out, echoing Gallus’ concern.
“I’ll ask her,” Gallus offered. “You all come back me up, but I’ll do the asking. How’s that?”
The others nodded in agreement.
Just then, Rainbow Dash flew nearby.
“Or we could ask Professor Dash since she right there,” Yona said. It was just loud enough for Rainbow to hear.
“Hmm?” She turned her head and flew just above where they all sat. “What’s the scoop?”
“Nice going Yona,” grumbled Gallus.
They all avoided their sky blue pegasus teacher’s gaze as she stayed hovering slightly above them.
“O…K. I’m going back to flying now,” Rainbow said slowly.
“Professor Dash,” Ocellus said before the teacher left hearing range.
Rainbow paused and looked at the young changeling.
“Have you noticed anything wrong with Headmare Twilight today?” Ocellus wondered.
“Wrong?” Rainbow blinked and asked as innocently as she could.
“She’s not using magic,” Ocellus explained.
“Yeah, well, there’s no rule that anyone with a magical horn has to use it every day. I don’t see what’s wrong with that,” the still hovering teacher pointed out.
They all looked at each other, then Gallus. The young griffon finally added, “We were just worried that something in general is wrong. I mean, is there a reason she’s not using magic? She didn’t lose it, did she?”
Rainbow tapped a hoof to her chin. “How can I explain this?”
“So you do know what’s wrong!” said an eager Ocellus.
“Whoa, all of you, you need to stop with the whole ‘wrong’ thing, okay?” Rainbow urged. “Just chill. Something is different, but it’s not wrong. Twilight knows what’s going on, and so do I. She’s fine, alright. Some stuff happened this weekend, and we’re working on it, but everything’s fine. It’s also kinda personal and between friends. Got it?”
“Sorry, Professor Dash,” Ocellus said, hanging her head as if ashamed.
“No, it’s fine. Let me chill for a moment too.” The pegasus teacher flapped her wings, tapped her hoof to her chest, waited a moment or two, and then spoke. “I know you all mean well.”
“So, it’s some kind of secret?” Silverstream asked. “We certainly didn’t mean to intrude.”
Rainbow shook her head. She sighed. “Fine. I’ll tell you, alright? Better you hear it from me than anyone else. Come on. My gym is clear at the moment. You might not believe me without a little demonstration.”
Intrigued at Rainbow focusing on her having a role in the matter when they were all concerned about Twilight, the Student Six followed. Once in the gym, the students all stood on the floor in a row. Sandbar was the student furthest on one end to the group’s overall right. Their line went onto Yona, then Smolder, then Silverstream, then Ocellus, then Gallus to be the final student on the end to the group’s left.
“First, a question for the six of you,” Rainbow paced back and forth in a hover. “Have any of you ever heard of mevs?”
“What are mevs?” Gallus asked aloud to everyone else.
The others all shrugged or shook their heads just as clueless as he was.
Rainbow descended to land centered in front of the group. “Yeah, neither had any of us.” She cleared her throat and took a few steps back, adding some distance. She closed her magenta eyes and coiled her wings to her sides. Her audience waited in a moment of stillness, anticipating that whatever their teacher was about to say was important to explain what mevs were and why Twilight was not using magic this day.
Once Rainbow’s eyes re-opened, red irises greeted the students and six pairs found themselves locked onto her figure. They heard a hiss that didn’t come from her mouth, turning their heads to see a brilliant red line on the gym floor encircling them and Rainbow Dash. As all of this happened in the span of two or three seconds, each of them realized their eyes were compelled back to meet hers and lock on again.
Rainbow spread her feathered wings, satisfied to know she had their attention while oblivious to the circle line she’d instinctively put around them all. “Mevs are…”
A fierce-looking silvery translucent sea serpent head lifted itself out from the red line of the circle. All heads wanted to jerk to the right for a better look, but the mev was speaking now, wanted their attention to her words, and they would give it.
“Magic.” Their teacher spoke slowly, and two of her teeth visibly elongated into pointed ends while the frame of her spread wings solidified into a new substance.
The translucent sea serpent lifted more of its body out from the red line. It completed a circle upward and as it did so, the room felt darker to the students though the sun outside the windows remained in its expected place. The lights of the gym stayed steady.
Rainbow’s voice went on with slow precision.
“Eating.” Two particularly pointy teeth remained noticeable enough as sky blue feathers flattened into sky blue leathery flaps.
Again, the mysterious snake-like vision circled higher and now tighter, making the room itself feel tighter, as if the walls closed in and ceiling lowered. Yet the walls were still as far and the ceiling still as high.
“Vampires.” Fangs gleamed momentarily to indicate their sharpness before hiding within the mev’s mouth.
The sea serpent lowered its circling act, opened its mouth wide and descended quickly toward and through the group of young creatures with an icy breath before dissipating away. All students expected a wind that did not happen. The red lined circle was gone too, but it felt as if Rainbow’s own shadow reached over from the floor to trap their collective one altogether. From their peripheral, the shadows did not meet, so it could not be that either. Their bodies trembled, unable to flee yet longing to do so. Rainbow Dash looked no larger than usual yet the power emanating from her body towered over them as if the mysterious serpent never left. Although the group saw Ocellus transform into seemingly threatening creatures regularly enough and Smolder herself had similar wings and teeth, they suddenly felt threatened with the knowledge that their teacher was strong, agile, and extremely fast. Somehow, these facts mattered when knowing of the sharpened teeth hiding within her muzzle, and that something here in this moment made each of them immobile.
A word echoed through each of their minds. Master.
The students turned their heads slightly to look around at each other, yet unable to bring themselves to be the first to speak, before finding their eyes retreating back to the red pair gripping them tight into some unseen cluster. Finally, it was Gallus who said, “Master?” like a question to the air.
Rainbow blinked. The sensation surrounding the students melted away as they watched the mev turn back into a pegasus. Rainbow shook her head ever so briefly as if lifting out of a stupor, gently rubbing her right front hoof to her front red, orange, and yellow mane hair. “Well, that was unexpected,” she commented to herself. She lifted her body above the ground with her wings, starting to pace again in contemplation.
“Professor Dash, what was that?!” asked a scared, whispering Ocellus.
Rainbow stopped pacing but did not look or acknowledge that she was spoken to, still thinking in her own world, as if she didn’t hear the young changeling.
“Master!” Gallus hissed quietly in Ocellus’ direction. “Call her ‘Master.’ Especially if you’re scared.”
“Master Rainbow Dash…?” Ocellus asked, gathering a stronger, louder, and firmer voice.
Rainbow immediately descended. Her right hoof lightly tapped to the ground, followed by her left, then right again, bouncing her into a polite bow on instinct. “Miss Ocellus,” she said and raised her head, looking on with a friendly smile, waiting for the one who called on her to speak.
All the students blinked at each other in wonder, then looked at their teacher.
The petite changeling asked again, “What was that? That circle, the snake, all of that stuff you just did.”
Rainbow stared at the floor for a moment, her smile disappearing. When she looked up again, she looked serious but not threatening or amused, maintaining her pegasus magenta eyes. “It’s all new to me too, but if I had to give it a name, I’d call the circle a ‘fear snare.’ I didn’t know I could do that. My instincts tell me the snake was a ‘leviathan dread’, an aide for the trap. She’s not physical or solid, but she’s more than an illusion since she can mess with your head beyond what you see. I haven’t named her yet, but it feels only proper that I should. She is mev magic. If I understand what happened, I sensed your fear, fed on it, and trapped you.”
“And then you were going to eat our magic?” Silverstream asked worriedly.
“No, no, I actually can’t eat your magic,” Rainbow replied, shaking her head. “All of you are too young for me to feed from. Plus, I assumed when I read in a book that I can sense and eat fear at night, that it wasn’t something that happened during the day too.”
“So, what were you going to do to us?” Smolder asked, her tone almost accusatory but also mildly curious as she pointed toward Rainbow.
Rainbow ascended into a hover and exclaimed in a defensive tone, “Nothing! I mean, I was going to soak it in and revel in that fear for as long as I could, because I was eating, but that was pretty much it. Evidently, fear tastes like chocolate. An overwhelming fountain of tingly chocolate. Who knew?”
“Yona not like what you did, Master Dash,” Yona grumbled.
Rainbow flapped her wings not saying anything for a moment, giving the remark serious thought. She liked it very much herself. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly a nice thing to do, but she didn’t hurt them. It wasn’t as if she lured them there intending to incite terror…at least not consciously. She wasn’t sure their fear level would even be considered terror. The whole thing must have lasted less than a full minute. Still… “I don’t blame you. I promise though, I did not know revealing my mev self to young creatures would result in a fear snare. So far as I knew, kids are off-limits to my new powers. Clearly, I was wrong.”
Yona looked up to see Rainbow’s sincere magenta eyes and nodded in understanding acceptance.
After a few quiet moments, Gallus spoke. “So, you ate Headmare Twilight’s magic? But you said she’s fine.”
“She is fine,” Rainbow answered. “I had permission. I only ate her unicorn magic, and it will probably be back tomorrow morning or by this coming Saturday at the absolute latest. I have certain things I need to do now that I’m like this, and eating her magic was something she could do to help me out and learn more about mevs in general.”
“What things do you have to do?” Silverstream asked.
“Eat,” Rainbow answered with concise force. More gently, she added. “It’s a reserve. I don’t want to bore you with the details. My friends know, and they will be helping to take care of me. We know what we have to do and believe it or not, we’ve got a plan to keep me fed in a way so that what happened to Twilight won’t have to happen to anypony else.”
“I don’t suppose we can know what that plan is,” Ocellus openly wondered.
“No,” Rainbow decided. “I’m drawing the line here for that bit of our personal business.”
“Is Headmare Twilight going to be mad at you for telling us about you biting her?” Silverstream asked in a sad, guilty tone.
“I should think not,” Rainbow said. “We were all kinda hoping no one would notice or at least not say something. Apparently, it’s kind of rude to point out when a unicorn, or in Twilight’s case, an alicorn, isn’t using their magic.”
“That what Sandbar told us,” Yona admitted.
“Anything we can or should do?” Smolder asked. “What about all the other students?”
“Hopefully the other students will continue not noticing,” Rainbow replied. “As for what you should do, don’t panic and keep quiet. Don’t announce it to the other students. They have nothing to worry about. Be honest if and when you must if you’re asked about it, but only then. Either way, it’s just another day in Ponyville, alright?”
The six students looked at each other. Five of them looked to Sandbar, who nodded. They collectively considered the experience and their teacher’s own genuine explanation. At last, they looked at Rainbow Dash with nervous nods of acceptance but nods all the same.