Lyra: I'm Lyra Heartstrings, and I'm a great musician. Music is my special talent; it doesn't matter that my cutie mark's not visible. I've played this piece so often I know it in my sleep. And I'm going to play it now.
Written by RainbowDoubleDashLyra has a bizarre dream in which she, as the pied piper and rhyming, tells a mayor and his corporation that she can get the rats out of their town. She wakes up as she falls out of Bonbon's bed.Later, Bonbon cooks her breakfast as Lyra applies ice to the bump on her head. They joke about tying Lyra to the bed, and then Bonbon reminds Lyra that she has a big show in Canterlot that night. Lyra groans that she should have just stayed overnight in Canterlot, instead of traveling there the same day; there are trains at 1, 3, and 5 PM, but whichever one she takes, it will be a pain to do all that traveling. The two banter, with Lyra also bringing up that she's helping Trixie with a new spell for Luna that might help fight Corona. The thought of Corona still frightens Bonbon, and she accepts this reason. Bonbon is still distrustful of Trixie, calling her a habitual liar, but Lyra says that Trixie isn't very good at lying, and she doesn't think Trixie was lying when Trixie said that the spell would be short and not a big deal. The two then talk about Lyra's performance in Canterlot, her first serious solo show.Lyra approaches Trixie's house, reflecting on how Trixie always seems to think that she (Lyra) is a starving artist, even though she isn't. She enters Trixie's unlocked house to find Trixie rehearsing a speech with an illusion of Lyra. She seems to be preparing to offer Lyra money in exchange for something ridiculous. Lyra probes the illusion with her magic. Trixie suddenly confesses her love to the illusion, startling Lyra into saying something. Trixie turns around and says that she noticed Lyra's magic probe and decided to tease her.Lyra asks what the favor is, so Trixie nods at a large book on her table. She explains that Luna and the Court don't know much about zebras, and they specifically don't know if Zecora was a lone zealot or if zebras as a whole support Corona's return. In an effort to learn more about zebras and their magic, Luna sent Trixie a translated copy of a zebra spellbook. Lyra leafs through it, noting that it's mostly a bunch of potion and ritual recipes. Trixie complains that she doesn't know much about magic theory, instead learning spells by watching when someone does them. She demonstrates by having Lyra perform a small spell (Lyra chooses to summon her harp), and then immediately copying it. Lyra is jealous and asks why Trixie needs her, so Trixie says that she wants to cast one of the spells on her to turn her, Lyra, into a zebra. She has both a specific counterspell and a general spell to reverse all zebra magic, so they'll definitely be able to remove the spell prior to the performance. Lyra is reluctant, especially since ritualistic zebra magic is so different from inborn pony magic, but her curiosity is piqued, and she agrees.Trixie prepares for the ritual, which includes painting Lyra black with a special mixture described in the book, surrounding her with a circle of coal, and lighting candles. Trixie dumps dust and pure water on Lyra, then begins to chant. Lyra feels herself changing, and then passes out.When Lyra wakes up, she hears Trixie panicking. Lyra finds that her mouth and lips feel differently than she would expect; she also has weirdly sharp teeth, and can barely see the end of her nose, which is pink. Trixie doesn't want to tell her what happened, and begs her not to freak out. She describes what Lyra looks like, which is basically a human woman. Lyra demands to see herself (Trixie is holding her immobile, so she can't move her head), and eventually Trixie agrees. Lyra is able to look at her body, and realizes that everything Trixie said was true. After verifying that the time is still only just past noon, Lyra demands that Trixie turn her back with the counterspell. Trixie runs to get the ingredients while Lyra learns how to control her new body. Unfortunately, she sees herself in a glass door, and screams upon seeing her face. She realizes that her teeth are designed for carnivores, and tells Trixie that she should hurry, since she (Lyra) is growing hungrier.The counterspell fails, causing the two to yell at each other over who screwed up. Lyra demands that Trixie use the general counterspell, but Trixie confesses that she didn't think she'd need it and so never got the ingredients. She doesn't even know where to get one of the required ingredients, a chicken. Lyra tells her that she should try Fluttershy's. Trixie begins to leave, telling Lyra to study the book and try to figure out what went wrong.Trixie thinks on the way to Fluttershy's, but the only explanation she can come up with is that Lyra was magically examining the spell as Trixie cast it, and that somehow screwed things up. She runs past Ditzy, verifies that Fluttershy has chickens, and continues on her way, turning invisible as she does so.Lyra gets used to her new body, noting that her hands and fingers are almost as good as telekinesis at manipulating things like handles and faucets. She goes to get something to eat, but isn't sure of what food her new body can actually handle.Fluttershy sees that her chicken coup was left open. She goes inside, only to see one of her chickens floating and wrapped in a magic aura. Trixie's voice tells her that nothing's wrong. Fluttershy freezes up in shock, so Trixie leaves with the chicken.Lyra tries and fails to use her hands to open a jar of honey. Failing, she moves on to other foods. She finds that she can't handle hay and alfalfa, nor daffodils, but she can eat some of Trixie's other food, such as bread, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and pickles. She makes some sandwiches, gets some fruit, and begins to eat. As she does, she begins to examine the book, which contains both zebra and pony text. She realizes, by comparing common zebra and pony words in various spells, that the 'turn into zebra' spell they tried was mislabeled. The spell worked fine, but it didn't do what they thought it would. Trixie returns, and Lyra tells her that she found that the spell was mislabeled. Trixie says that this doesn't matter, but they just need to do the general counterspell.The two pluck the chicken, and then Trixie uses her magic to knock out the bird. She says that she just adapted another sleep spell for the bird, which again makes Lyra jealous. The spell also required a pound of silver, which is contained within the bits Trixie planned to pay Lyra for being turned into a zebra. Trixie sighs about the cost of almost fifty bits, but puts the money in the new magic circle anyway. Trixie then tries the spell, but rather than curing Lyra, it change the chicken's gender. The two realize that it wasn't just the pony-to-zebra spell that was mislabeled.Lyra begins to panic, and orders Trixie to get Luna to help them. Trixie says that Luna is away in the Griffin Kingdoms and can't be reached. Lyra says that she won't miss her show under any circumstances; she'll play even if she must do so in her new body. Trixie says they're still a chance; since the spells in the book work but are just mislabeled, if they can find the general counterspell, they should be able to cast it. Lyra identifies the zebra word for what she is by noting its position in the zebra text of the spell, and the two decide to find all the other spells in that book containing that word.At home, Bonbon watches the clock and worries. Three-thirty comes and goes, and Bonbon begins to worry that Lyra hasn't come home to get her things yet. Bonbon decides to get Lyra's travel gear and music equipment, then find her and make sure she's on the last train to Canterlot at 5.Trixie finds a spell called 'truth is a scourge' that uses poison joke for a mean-spirited truth serum. She also finds another spell that might, judging by the zebra words, turn Lyra back into a pony, but she is again out of ingredients. Bonbon arrives, and Trixie quickly turns her invisible. Trixie tries to get Bonbon to go away by saying that Lyra just left, but Bonbon won't listen and gets into Trixie's face. Bonbon asks why Trixie is being so shifty, so Trixie says that she heard Lyra and Bonbon having sex a few weeks ago, and now is uncomfortable around them. Lyra objects that they weren't that loud, then realizes that she's just revealed her location to Bonbon. Trixie says that she cast a spell on Lyra and can't undo it, but implies that the spell is invisibility (and that Lyra is otherwise a normal pony). The three argue over whose fault it is, and then Trixie tells Bonbon to get them the missing ingredients. When Bonbon says she won't remember what they are, Trixie casts a spell on her to give her perfect memory of the ingredients list. Bonbon leaves.Trixie says that she understand if Lyra hates her now, but Lyra says not to worry about it. She says that she knows that Trixie made a genuine mistake and is trying very hard to fix it, and that matters.The two then joke about Trixie overhearing Lyra having sex. Trixie looks awkward, and Lyra realizes (and says) that Trixie's a virgin. Trixie bucks her in the head.Trixie sets up another magic circle. Lyra, invisible, is inside the circle. Bonbon watches Trixie. Lyra and Bonbon talk about Trixie being a virgin and about their sex lives, to Trixie's dismay. Trixie casts the next spell,but all it does is remove Lyra's invisibility. Bonbon sees Lyra, then begins to advance upon and scream at Trixie.Lyra tries and fails to calm Bonbon down. Trixie tries to push Bonbon away, but accidentally sends her stumbling across the room. Bonbon leaps at Trixie, who flees out the door with Lyra, turning her invisible as they move. Trixie slams the door in Bonbon's face and the two run away, only to be stopped by Dinky. Trixie won't tell Dinky what happened, and turns herself invisible when Bonbon breaks through Trixie's window. Dinky tells Bonbon that the two went in another direction, and Trixie and Lyra then take off for the train station.As they run, Lyra (who is still invisible) complains of the cold. Trixie uses the lyre-summoning spell Lyra showed her earlier to summon her cape, which has heat spells. She gives the items to Lyra, making them invisible as she does so. Though she's starting to tire herself with all the magic she's casting it, she pushes herself, and they make it to the train statin. Trixie buys a ticket in a private cabin for herself with illusory bits, and then the two get on the train. Lyra begins to panic about having to play in her new form, but Trixie asks her if she can even play with her body shifted like it is. Lyra tries, and fails, to manipulate her lyre, and begins to panic more. Trixie reassures her that she'll do fine, that even though she's in a new body she's still a pony with a special talent for music, and adds that she has a plan to handle the performance as long as Lyra can play the notes.As the train approaches Canterlot, Lyra has improved some on the lyre, but not enough. Trixie, meanwhile, is perfecting an illusion of Lyra. Lyra is impressed by the illusion, which is incredibly accurate. Trixie says that she cast about six spells to pull it off. She tells Lyra that she can still 'have an accident' and miss the show, but Lyra won't hear of it. She reflects on the plan: she, invisible, will hold her lyre and play it with her hands, and Trixie will have the illusion of Lyra pretend to play the (apparently hovering) instrument with her telekinesis. Lyra, however, still can't play any real music with her hands. At that moment, the door opens, and Bonbon walks in.Bonbon storms into the train cabin, ready to attack Trixie, but stops when she sees the illusory Lyra. She embraces and kisses her, but quickly sees the real Lyra, still in her human body. Bonbon bursts into maniacal laughter and begins to strangle Trixie. She protests that she has to kill Trixie to end the spell, but Lyra says this is just a myth. Bonbon tells Lyra that she has to cancel, but Lyra refuses, saying it would kill her career. Bonbon won't listen, but Lyra yells at her to be quiet, and then says that it's not open for discussion. The two hug, with Bonbon saying she wants to protect Lyra and Lyra saying that she knows, but she doesn't have a choice. Lyra asks Bonbon to lay off Trixie until the concert is over, and Bonbon reluctantly agrees. Bonbon also asks to be turned invisible when they get off the train, since she had to fight her way past railway marshals to reach the private cabins, and knocked some of them out.The trio reach Luna's Magic Academy, with Trixie starting to feel an ache from using so much magic. They enter and greet Troubadour, the master of ceremonies. Trixie, as the illusory Lyra, says that they're ready to go onstage. After several verbal blunders (one of which reveals to Trixie that the concert is unpaid), they get past Troubadour and make it to the stage.As the concert begins, Trixie feels more and more pain at the base of her horn. She is continuing to run several complex illusions, which is rapidly sapping her energy. If any of the spells fail, they'll all collapse and Lyra's new body will be revealed to the audience. Troubadour beckons them forward, and Lyra and Trixie head towards the stage.Lyra looks into the audience, seeing everyone from Courtiers to students, as well as her mentor, Octavia Philharmonica. Trixie begins to bloviate, so Lyra pokes her and orders her to just begin. She proceeds to play. At first, she makes mistakes, but she soon forces herself to remember that music is her special talent, and that she knows how to play the piece, if she can just relax and let her body move correctly. She focuses on the music, letting her body motions happen naturally instead of trying to control them explicitly, and is able to play the music correctly. There's a hiccup when Trixie begins to visibly weaken and Lyra panics and botches a note, but she tells herself that she trusts Trixie, then continues and performs the piece brilliantly.When the music ends, Trixie (as Lyra) bolts from the stage. Lyra protests that the audience might want an encore, but finds that Trixie has gone outside and collapsed, completely out of energy from all the magic she used. Lyra panics, worried that Trixie overchanneled her magic and could wind up in a coma, but Trixie protests that she's not that bad off. Lyra runs to help Trixie. Troubadour comes out and sees Lyra's new form, but Bonbon follows and hits him over the head with a horn so that he won't start a panic. Trixie says that their new plan is to go to the castle and methodically try all the remainingspells in the zebra book that mention Lyra's new form. Unfortunately, they then realize that they left the spellbook on the train, where a janitor named Noteworthy is finding it.Trixie tries to get into the castle, but the guards won't let her in without identification. Trixie protests that they know her, but they point out that Trixie soaked them when she melted the ice palace, and so they're not inclined to cut her any slack, even when she says it's an emergency. Lyra takes off Trixie's hat, which removes her invisibility spell. Her appearance convinces the guards that the emergency is genuine, and they let Trixie, Lyra, and Bonbon inside.Once inside, Trixie, Lyra, and Bonbon begin arguing again. This quickly accelerates into a fight that carries them into the library, where they bump into the team in charge of translating zebra spells. The trio quickly overwhelm and tie up the team, then demand to know what went wrong (while Bonbon threatens to kill them). The researchers are named Regal Tome, Vast Volumes, and Glitter Scrolls. They admit that when they did the translation of the spellbook, they each took a different part - Glitter did the ingredients and steps, Regal did the descriptions, and Volumes did the magic words. Volumes then matched the magic words to the ingredients and steps, and Glitter matched the combination to the descriptions. Lyra protests that this was inefficient and extremely prone to accidents, but the researchers just say that they were overworked. They argue that nothing bad could have happened, but Lyra takes off the hat again, and the translators scream in panic. Regal begs not to be eaten. Lyra says that the trio is going to find the original spellbook (since they lost Trixie's copy), and are going to find the correct counter-spell. Trixie unties them, and the researchers race to do the job.The translators finish, and Trixie sends Bonbon to the castle apothecary master, a stallion named Hex Node. Bonbon goes. The researchers threaten to tell Luna about being assaulted by the Ponyville ponies, but Trixie and Lyra point out that their negligence could have seriously hurt Lyra. The researchers say they won't tell anyone if Trixie doesn't. Trixie agrees, though she whispers to Lyra that she's lying and she'll tell Luna as soon as she can. Trixie then asks for translated copies of the zebra-to-pony spell, a rooster-to-hen spell (for Fluttershy's chicken), and the 'truth is a scourge' recipe.Bonbon returns with the ingredients, commenting on how Hex Node seems enamored with Trixie. Trixie tries to change the topic to curing Lyra. Lyra comments that she's almost used to her hands, and they're a lot better than her hooves for using her lyre, but just as she's starting to like them, she gets a paper cut on her finger. A little later, Trixie is able to cast the counterspell, and Lyra is a pony once more. Bonbon hugs her, and the two share a romantic moment. They then embrace Trixie as well. The three head back to Ponyville, leaving behind the scholars.One week later, Luna writes Trixie. She says that the researchers will be barred from working in Canterlot for quite some time, although she still thinks that Trixie and her friends were a bit too violent in dealing with them. Luna also says that she is impressed by Trixie's emotional maturity (as communicated to her by Lyra) in going to such lengths to aid Lyra. Lastly, she describes Lyra's altered form as a 'hominan.' Trixie and Lyra joke about Lyra needing a better stage presence, and Trixie says that she still can't believe that Lyra did her show gratis. Lyra decides not to remind Trixie that she probably makes more money than her.Trixie prepares to cast the spell to make the rooster into a hen again, but sees that Lyra has fled outside and is watching from behind a door. Trixie sighs, wondering if this will make it harder to convince Lyra to help her in her next magic show.
- Body Horror: Lyra's transformation back to unicorn is... not pretty.
- Call-Back: Trixie reveals that she heard Lyra and Bon Bon making love, which occurred during the short The Night After.
- Continuity Nod: Another nod to the 'ice palace incident' first mentioned in Longest Night, Longest Day, this time with direct testimony from two characters who were present at the incident.
- Culture Clash: Trixie and Lyra discuss zebra culture, and how they worship the sun. Lyra's utterly freaked out by the idea, and considers it as utterly wrong.
- Did Not Think This Through: As Bon-Bon points out, Trixie probably should've known better than to experiment with untested magic and Lyra on the day she had a massively important concert ready to go.
- Foreshadowing: While looking through the book, Trixie finds a recipe called Truth is a Scourge, and takes some interest in it...
- Insistent Terminology: Lyra decides to dub her transformed form a bear for convenience.
- Language of Magic: Zebra spells are verbal and spoken in the Zebra tongue (which is equivalent to modern-day Swahili).
- Master of Illusion: Trixie's talent at illusions is on focus. Apparently for most ponies maintaining a good illusion is difficult, and can be see through with some ease, usually because the caster can't duplicate all the necessary details. Trixie manages to create an illusion of Lyra that she cannot find any real fault with (outside of a slight difference in their furs - Trixie's fur is softer than Lyra's). It's also good enough to fool Bon-Bon.
- Never My Fault: Trixie swears up and down she's not responsible for what happened to Lyra, and in fairness, she has a point - Princess Luna gave her the book, and left it to be translated by a trio of complete morons. Trixie wasn't to know the spell would turn Lyra into a hominid.
- Ritual Magic: Zebra magic is like this.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Bon Bon. If you didn't already know her cutie mark, you might get the impression that her special talent is knocking ponies unconscious.