It's Impossible! by AlicornPriest
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How does magic work?

It was a simple question, the kind that every young filly asked their parents sometime as they were growing up. The answers usually varied depending on age: “focusing really hard,” “drawing on latent talents,” and “shut up until I get my coffee” were all common responses to the inquisitiveness of youth. But like the other mysteries of the world, like why the swallows returned to Coltistrano, where the universe came from, or how Pinkie's hair always stayed frizzy, most scientists were content to simply shrug their shoulders and say, “It just sort of does, I guess.” Twilight Sparkle, however, was not most scientists. She had determined to become the first scientist to finally understand and quantify the method by which unicorns, and indeed the other pony tribes, were able to perform magic. It would surely be the discovery of the century, akin to the universal law of gravity, squaring the circle, or putting cheese into pressurized bottles. And, she thought, it wouldn't even be that hard. With modern technology, she could perform brain scans, X-rays, weight tests, distance measurements, accuracy judgments, polywave dissociation, phrenology, color transmittances, hi-speed camerawork, and even a bit of mind-reading if need be.

None of it was doing anything.

It was about day 9 or 10 of near-constant studying. Twilight had polled nearly every unicorn in town, and no success. She'd even gotten Celestia, Luna, and Cadance to come down and have their own magical signatures tested. She'd tracked every brainwave and pulsation, every flicker of emotion on her subjects' faces. Nothing. There was no significant correlation that she could find between the brain activity of the subjects and the following magical output. This was causing her no amount of grief. As a healthy skeptic, she wasn't about to admit some metaphysical aspect of the system. She would find a naturalistic answer that could explain such a simple anomaly. Or die trying.

Spike found her next to her desk, an empty carafe of coffee next to her mountain of books almost as tall as herself. The paper in front of her was covered in illegible scribbles, with the occassional “magic!” or “I don't understand...” written across it. He nudged her once, but she only continued to stare at the paper, the odd twitch in her wings belying her continued living state. “Twilight? Are you okay? It doesn't look like you've made any progress...” he asked.

“No, I haven't,” Twilight replied. Her head snapped to a wild angle, and she glared at Spike. “I've got to figure this out so I can publish the darn paper and get it out of my head!”

“I think you need to relax, Twilight,” Spike said. “You can't figure out everything. Just let it sit for a while, go and do something else, and maybe something will come to you.”

How would relaxing help me come up with something?” Twilight said. She laughed once, then turned back to her paper. “Nose to the grindstone, I say!”

“You're gonna kill yourself with that attitude! Just half an hour. Pinkie Pie's doing a thing over at Rarity's, and they were hoping you could come.” Spike scuffed his foot before adding, “They've missed you, you know. They haven't seen you in a week.”

Twilight realized he was right. She couldn't keep putting this before her friends. “All right, if I have to. I guess it would be nice to get some fresh air.”

“Let's go!” Spike said. He helped her up and got her to the door as she slowly recovered. At last, once they were out the door, she realized how truly nice it was outside. She'd been cooped up inside the library for so long that she'd almost forgotten what the sun felt like. She stretched her neck and her wings as she walked, and soon, she was back to her old self.

Or at least, she wanted to be. She tried for a while. But then she saw Sea Swirl out with her friends, and she was carrying a bouquet of flowers with her magic. She looked the other way, and a painter pony was casually changing the color of his paint with his magic. There, a unicorn with a parasol. There, a stallion meditating, his horn alight with green magic. All around town were unicorns, out on their daily lives, doing the unexplainable. How could they casually accept it like that? How could they go around doing something they didn't understand? Of course, then she realized most of them voted for mayor without thinking twice about the policies they'd be voting for, so that explained that. But the point still stood. How could millenia of unicorns not figure out the most natural and basic of processes?

When the two of them arrived at Carousel Boutique, it was Pinkie Pie who let them in. “Hey, you two!” she chirped. “Glad you're here. Now the party can really start!”

“What sort of party is it?” asked Twilight.

“Where's Rarity?” said Spike, asking the important questions.

“A fashion party, and upstairs!” Pinkie replied. She bounced her way to the back of the room, where she saw Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash fighting to get their dresses on.

“Hey, Twilight! A little helping hoof over here?” Rainbow asked. Twilight used her magic to help them; it hardly took a second or two before the two pegasi were looking their snappiest.

“Hey, girls. I have a question,” Twilight said.

“Is it about your work?” asked Fluttershy.

“No! Well... I guess. I just wanted to ask what you guys think of magic.”

“Oh! I don't mind it,” Fluttershy said. She pulled at the front of her dress. “It does help when hooves can't quite do the job.”

“I've gotten my tail pulled more than once with magic,” Rainbow Dash added, “but other that, I like having you unicorns around.”

“Well, I'm glad you think so,” said Rarity as she came down the stairs. Twilight noted that she was wearing a stunning royal blue dress that perfectly matched her eyes. “We unicorns do pride ourselves on our magical prowess.”

“Yes, but Rarity, I was just about to ask--”

“Now hold on here a minute!” It was Applejack, coming out of one of the dressing rooms. “Unicorn magic may be all hoity-toity and what not, but there ain't nothing as reliable as a set of good strong hooves.”

“I get that, but I was going to say--”

“Yeah, but what about wings?” Rainbow Dash said. She swooped right up to Applejack and looked her right in the eye. “We've got speed on our side, you know!”

“Tell that to our last Iron Pony, 'Dash.'”

“Girls, this isn't a fight, I just--”

“I wish I had wings! Ooh! Or a horn! I'm not picky.”

“I don't even like flying all that much...”

“Girls!”

The Traditional Canterlot Voice bowled over all five of them. Twilight told them, “Look, I just wanted to know if any of you have any idea how magic actually works. I didn't need all the drama.”

She received five blank stares. “Uhh... beg pardon, Twi, but most of us ain't magic scholars like you,” Applejack answered first.

“I think the first step is 'focus...'” Fluttershy said.

“Oh, and 'draw from within!'” Pinkie added.

“No, that's not what I mean,” Twilight replied. “I mean, how does it actually work? Neurochemicals? Thaumic particles? What?!”

“I honestly don't know, darling,” Rarity said. “But it works, so why question it? I could hardly do the work I do without it, you know.”

“It's the same thing with earth pony and pegasus magic, ain't it?” said Applejack. “We don't rightly know how it works, but it's mighty useful all the same.”

Didn't you learn this lesson once before?” Rainbow Dash added. “With 'Pinkie Sense' and all that.”

“No, Pinkie Sense is easy to explain. It's a special type of magic I don't fully understand. But that's the problem!” Twilight said. “I don't understand magic! If I understood magic, then maybe I could understand Pinkie Sense!”

“Maybe it's impossible to understand from our simple pony minds,” said Applejack.

“Like my hair!” Pinkie added.

“Maybe it's impossible...” Twilight muttered. She turned away from the others. The gears in her head were spinning, and suddenly she began to have an idea. “It's impossible!”

“To understand, darling,” Rarity reminded her.

“No, that's just it! Magic is impossible! I've gotta go. Spike was right all along.” Twilight dashed out of the boutique, while her friends watched on, perplexed.

“Of course I was!” Spike said. “Err... right about what?”

 

***

Her notes were perfectly clear. It was as simple as could be. Simply perform an inverse proof rather than a forward one. Assume magic. However, everything contradicts that assumption. Therefore, not magic. There was nothing more to consider than that.

Granted, it was a bit of a strange result, and she was pretty sure that wasn't totally valid logic, but she was a little too tired at the moment to care. She had made the discovery of the century. No, the millenium. No, of all ponykind! Magic did not exist!

“Haha,” Twilight heard herself laugh. “Hahaha! HAHAHAHA!”

“What in Equestria are you doing?” asked Spike as he came in through the door. “What's so funny?”

“I've done it. I've well and truly done it! Take a look!” she said.

He hurried over, ready to see what was so incredibly shocking. “'Assume magic. Everything contradicts that assumption. Therefore, not magic.' I don't get it.”

“It's simple. There is nothing in the unicorn physiology capable of magic. Nothing to make objects float, nothing capable of changing things colors, nothing capable of telepathy, telekinesis, or television.”

“Television?”

“It's obvious, therefore, that any evidence of such actions are the product of a wild imagination! There is no such thing as magic. It's impossible!”

“So that's what you were so excited about back there? Sheesh. And here I thought you'd figured something out.”

“No, Spike, I'm serious! Watch.” She pointed with a hoof at the inkwell next to her. “Suppose I wanted to lift that up. How would I go about it?”

“Uh... lift it with your magic?”

“I can't! It's impossible!” She stared at the inkwell, pointed her horn at it, waved her hooves at it. Nothing happened. “There is nothing in my body capable of making it float, Spike.”

“But you've done it hundreds of times before!” Spike said.

“No I have not. It was obviously just a delusion that I had. I have never been able to do magic.”

“Then how could I have seen it?” Spike asked. He smirked; there was no way to get out of that one.

“Well, obviously, you were just as deluded as I was.”

“Okay, Twilight, this really isn't funny. I'm starting to get worried.”

“Oh, you don't need to be. For once, I finally know the truth.” She smiled, obviously out of her mind. “There is no such thing as magic.”

“Okay, well, I'm sure you'll start using it again,” Spike replied. “You use magic for so much stuff that most of the time you don't even think about it!” He added with a laugh, “I mean, it's not as though you've completely forgotten about magic.”

 

***

“I can't believe it! You've completely forgotten about magic!”

Twilight was currently standing on top of a shaky stack of books. Where normally she would use magic to reach for the books on the top shelf, she was now using the same method Spike normally required. In fact, she'd been doing it all day. She cooked without magic, she wrote without magic (with her terrible mouthscrawl), she even picked everything up without magic! He watched, almost disgusted, as she grabbed one of her favorite books with her teeth. He'd never seen her do that; she wouldn't have dared get spit all over her precious tomes. As she drew it out from the shelf, she lost her balance, and the whole stack came tumbling down. He yelled out, “Twilight! Teleport!”

WHUMP! She hit the ground hard, knocking the wind out of her. Gasping, she replied, “Can't... impossible.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Spike answered. “You're a unicorn! You use magic! Magic is your freaking cutie mark!”

“No, my cutie mark is stars. The fact that my magic frequently looked like stars is obviously proof of the delusion.”

“You know what? I'm going to bring Rarity over, and she'll show you that magic is real.”

“You do that,” Twilight said with a smirk. “And if she can't do it, then we'll know who's really right.”

Spike left, then came back a few minutes later with Rarity. “See, here she is,” he told her.

“Good evening, Twilight. What exactly is the problem?” she asked.

“Nothing at all. I've never felt better. I've just proved to myself that magic isn't real.”

“Magic isn't real? Why, surely, you must be mistaken.”

“I am not,” Twilight said, “and don't call me Shirley. Heh, I've always wanted to say that one.”

“Look, I can do magic, dear. I'll lift that book up next to you.” She looked at it and gave it a dramatic flip of the hoof.

Nothing.

Rarity paused. “I'm sorry, something's not quite right. Just... give me a moment.” She screwed her eyes shut, drew deep within herself, then opened her eyes.

Nothing.

“What's wrong, Rarity? This should be cake for you!” Spike cried out.

“I know. I just don't understand. It was working just fine back at home.”

Twilight looked incredibly smug. “So tell me, Rarity, just what exactly are you using to do your magic?”

“My magic.”

“That doesn't answer the question; it's a tautology. How?”

“My brain!”

“How?”

“My thoughts!”

“How?”

“I don't know!” Rarity replied.

“Hah! Exactly!” Twilight said, pointing at the perplexed pony. “You don't know. Well, I do know. The answer is plain as day. It's impossible. You have no way of doing magic, therefore you can't!”

“Spike, this is bad. I don't know how she's doing it, but somehow she's cancelling out my magic too!”

“Maybe she has some kind of anti-magic field going on?” Spike asked.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” Twilight replied. “It's called Logic! There is no such thing as magic, and nothing you can do or say will ever convince me otherwise!”

“Please, Twilight, that doesn't even make any--”

There was a sudden knock on the door. “Come in!” Rarity said.

It was Sparkler. “Rarity! Oh, Twilight! Both of you! Something terrible is going on.”

“What is it?” asked Spike. “Spiders? Giant bears? Zombie ponies?”

“Worse! I can't use my magic!”

All three of them turned to Twilight, who was wearing a cheerful smile on her face. “Oh, don't worry about it, Sparkler. It's not a problem. It's not as though you've been able to use magic in the past anyway.”

“Uh, yes I could,” Sparkler said. She turned to Rarity and Spike and asked, “What's her problem?”

“She thinks magic isn't real,” Rarity replied.

“I know magic isn't real!” Twilight called out. “And now you and Sparkler do, too!”

“Sparkler didn't even hear Twilight talking about it, and all of a sudden she lost hers, too?” Spike asked. “What if this somehow gets out to the whole town?”

“We've got to hurry!” Rarity replied.

“I'm right behind you!” Sparkler said. Together, they all raced out towards the rest of Ponyville.

“Hrmph. Crazy ponies, believing in magic. It doesn't even make any sense,” Twilight said. She turned back to her work, where a fresh new problem lay out before her. “Now let's see... where was I? Ah, yes. 'How can a pegasus pony fly?' It just doesn't seem feasible...”

 

End Part 1


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