Before railways took travellers and traders directly up the mountain into Canterlot, all the major roads to the capitol met at the base of the mountain. The elevator installed into the side of the cliff carried fewer passengers than before, but was still operational. The two unicorns planned to take the elevator to save themselves a lengthy trip up the mountain path.
The pair eventually reached the mechanical contraption, a large platform suspended from the landing above. It was gated off and a sign next to it explained why; the sign read, “Hours: Sunrise to Sunset.” Underneath it was an advertisement: “Travellers can stay at the Sun’s Shadow Inn” with an arrow pointing towards a brightly-lit building nestled against the cliff face.
Twilight sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Way to go, Twilight Sparkle. That’s some good thinking ahead you did, going on hoof and not by balloon.” She stared at the solid cliff face for a while. When she turned to look, Trixie was already halfway to the inn. Surprised, Twilight ran after her. “Hey, we don’t have time to sit around!”
“Of course not. But there’s more than one way to scale a mountain. Watch and learn, as the Great and Powerful Trixie works her magic.” Trixie opened the door and sauntered in, Twilight following, confused.
The reception area was relatively small and sparse, with scant few decorations. A tall, lanky stallion stood behind the counter, at attention from the moment the door opened. “Good evening travellers! Welcome to the Sun’s Shadow Inn! The elevator up to Canterlot won’t be open ‘till dawn, so take a load off!”
“My good sir,” Trixie began, “My friend and I are in need of a more expedient way up the mountain. Do you have a rug or carpet I could borrow?”
Twilight was bewildered. “A carpet? How’s that going to help?”
The innkeeper didn’t bat an eye. “Nope, all outta carpets." he said, "Last one I lent out crashed into a tree somewhere and I haven’t gotten it back yet.”
Trixie pressed on. “Got any brooms?”
The innkeeper paused to think a moment. “Would a push broom work?”
“Ugh, please! The Great and Powerful Trixie has some standards. Flying on a push broom.” Trixie sneered at the thought. “I don’t suppose you have any turtles? Tortoises will also work in a pinch.”
“Well!” Trixie declared, “This was a waste of time. Unless you have any better ideas?” she said, looking at Twilight.
The other unicorn shook her head. “The only flight spell I know requires gossamer and morning dew, which means we would be stuck here waiting for dawn anyway. And, um, I’d rather not try an improvised solution.” Images of Rarity falling to her impending doom briefly came to Twilight's mind.
“Fair enough. Looks like we’re taking the mountain path.” Trixie turned back to the innkeeper as Twilight headed for the door. “Thank you for your time, sir.” With a flourish, Trixie made her exit as well.
The mountain path was a wide road that could accommodate two wagons passing each other even at the narrowest bend. A guardrail kept inattentive ponies like Twilight from walking off the cliff edge. Naturally, Twilight kept bumping into it, distracted by Trixie, who was rehearsing her tale.
And as far as Twilight was concerned, Trixie was getting the tale entirely wrong.
“No, no, no!” Twilight hollered, “My friends and I did not ‘vanquish’ a sea serpent! He had his moustache cut off by Nightmare Moon and Rarity cut off her own tail to restore it, thus embodying the Element of Generosity!”
“Pah, preposterous. The crowds would never be satisfied with such a contrived, peaceful solution.”
“But it’s the truth!”
“That doesn’t matter.” Trixie stated, “What matters is the first-hand account that was printed in all the papers the day after, which clearly described a drawn-out fight with a sea serpent. Now that was a tale worth telling.”
“What ‘first-hand account’? Who... oh no.” Twilight realized. “Rainbow Dash.”
“You rang?” Came the voice over the guard rail.
“Aah!” Both unicorns jumped back at the sudden interruption by a third pony. Rainbow Dash draped herself over the guardrail, laughing.
Twilight was the first to recover. “Rainbow, it’s not nice to sneak up on ponies like that. What are you doing out here anyway?”
Dash eventually stopped laughing, and flipped over the railing, landing on her hooves. “I was just coming back from an awesome Wonderbolts show in Canterlot. And it was so awesome! They were showing off completely new tricks, like this one, where all the ‘Bolts come together at a single point and then all explode out in all directions, and it creates this huge shockwave that just knocks the crowd off their feet! And I’m all the way out here because, uh, I am just so pumped after seeing them that I had to do some flying of my own!” She paused in her fangirling, looking over the two unicorns. “So, uh, how about you, Twi’, what are you doing out here? And what’s she doing out here?” Dash pointed a hoof at Trixie. “You here for some revenge?”
“Oh, you must be Rainbow Dash!” Trixie exulted, “Hero of Equestria! Vanquisher of both the evil Nightmare Moon and the embodiment of chaos, Discord!” Trixie swept down low into a deep bow, the kind normally reserved for Princesses. “I must apologize for my atrocious behavior to you the last time I was in Ponyville. I had no idea I was speaking to a living legend like yourself.”
“What? I mean, oh, yeah!” Dash smiled. “I guess I am pretty awesome, huh?”
“You are,” Trixie gushed, “In fact, I was so impressed by the tales of your bravery that I gave up on telling my own stories, because I could be telling the stories of the Great and Wonderful Rainbow Dash!” Trixie’s declaration was accompanied by a few bursts of magical fireworks.
“Woohoo! It’s about time somepony recognized my talents!” Dash jumped up into the air and did a twirl, but stopped halfway into it.
“Wait,” Dash looked at Trixie carefully. “Are you making fun of me?”
Trixie batted her eyelashes. “Who, me? Why, I would never have fun at another pony’s expense!” Her innocent facade immediately cracked into a wide smirk.
“All right, that’s it! I’ve had just about enough of you!” Dash zipped off into the sky and, just as quickly, began speeding towards Trixie, who was making a show of not defending herself. Dash aligned herself for a flying tackle...
...And slammed directly into a door Twilight put up between the two other ponies. Dash peeled herself off the door and shook her head to clear the extra stars from her vision. Once she was back on her feet she glared at her friend. “What the hay, Twilight?” She snarled.
“Dash.” Twilight’s voice was flat. “If you have a problem with Trixie, just ignore her. I won’t have you two fighting.”
“What?” Dash's voice cracked, “Why are you on her side?”
“I’m not!” Twilight insisted. “I’m trying to keep you two from fighting!” She turned to Trixie, who was studying one of her hooves disinterestedly. “And you! That is exactly the kind of trouble I don’t want you making in Ponyville!”
“Yeah!” Rainbow Dash chimed in, “That Ursa coming into town was all your fault! If Twilight wasn’t there to save the day the town would be a complete wreck!”
Trixie continued to study her hoof. “Very well. The Great and Powerful Trixie admits it. The Ursa minor in Ponyville, the parasprites in Fillydelphia, cola rain in Cloudsdale... It’s all Twilight’s fault.” Trixie turned her glare onto Rainbow Dash and stomped her hoof on the ground. “Now, mule, get out of the way!” Her hat floated up, revealing Trixie’s horn. A thin beam of light shot out, eliciting a yelp from Dash as she twisted out of its path.
“Trixie!” Twilight shrieked, “What are you doing?!”
“Just a few warning shots,” Trixie replied calmly, continuing her volley of light into the sky. As Dash flew close to the cliff a laser hit the wall, leaving a blackened scorch mark. Dash’s face whitened, and her maneuvers became faster and more erratic as she tried to close in on the unicorn.
Deciding that enough was enough, Twilight bit onto Trixie’s hat and pulled it down over Trixie’s horn and eyes. Surprised, Trixie reared and tried to cast again - her hat glowed brightly, light escaping under the rim. When she managed to pull back her hat, her face and mane were darkened with soot. She coughed, a tiny puff of smoke escaping her lips.
Dash fell over in mid-air laughing, “Hahaha, that’s great! I always knew it would blow up in your face one day, and it did!” She composed herself under Trixie’s venomous glare. “Here, lemme show you a trick that’ll blow you two away!” Dash dove off the cliff, out of sight.
“Not literally, I hope,” Twilight said, eyeing the cliff edge suspiciously.
Rainbow Dash’s voice echoed from all directions, “Illusionary Dominance!”
The two unicorns saw a blur shoot across their field of vision. The wind Dash left in her wake nearly knocked them over, but they managed to hold their ground. When Dash made another pass coming from the opposite direction, the turbulent winds caused both unicorns to go tumbling to the ground. Twilight lay herself flat on the ground, trying to minimize the wind’s effect on her, while Trixie struggled to stay upright, bursts of light shooting wildly out of her horn. As Dash sped back and forth, her multichromatic, blurred form began to fill the night sky, and the winds picked up around her.
“Dash!” Twilight shouted above the howling winds, “Would you quit it!?”
“No way!” came the reply from all sides, “She hasn’t learned her lesson, so I’m gonna teach her! You got to teach me one, so I get to teach her! That’s how it works, isn’t it?”
“Are you still bitter about Mare-Do-Well?!” Twilight shouted back.
The winds seemed to subside a moment, just long enough for Dash’s reply. “Maybe a little.”
“A little?!” Trixie exclaimed, still trying to hit the speeding pegasus with a beam of light.
Looks like I’ve got to be the bigger pony here, Twilight thought. That’s it! It wasn’t a spell she had ever cast intentionally, but she remembered it well enough from the time she got her cutie mark.
Twilight’s body suddenly grew. Trixie stopped to stare as Twilight eventually got so big that the path was too big for her; she had to step down off the mountain path into the valley below. Dash, unable to react to the spell, bounced off Twilight's giant form harmlessly and landed on the path near where Trixie was gawking. The giant unicorn turned around, her head level with the other two ponies, up on the mountain, whose jaws had dropped.
“Now then, my little ponies”, the giant Twilight rumbled, smiling. “are you two quite done fighting or do I have to separate you two?”
“Yes ma’am” came the automatic reply from the other two ponies, who looked like toys to Twilight. Very frightened little toys.
“Whoa, Twilight, you’re huge!” Dash floated around Twilight, in awe. Twilight craned her head to try to follow her friend.
“Not as big as your two egos, apparently.” Twilight sighed, careful to exhale away from either of the other two ponies. “Whoa, this spell takes a lot to maintain. Lemme just..” Twilight put a hoof onto the mountain path next to Trixie, who flinched away from the huge mass of purple. Twilight quickly shrank back down to her normal size. “There, that’s better. Dash, I’m heading to Canterlot to speak with the Princesses. Trixie is coming with me. All right?”
“Uh, sure, Twilight. But what’s so important that you’re heading to Canterlot in the middle of the night about it?”
“The night.” Trixie responded simply.
Dash followed Twilight’s gaze up at the night sky. “Huh? What about it? I mean, I’m not a big egghead about stars like you are, but I know basic night navigation.” She pointed her hoof at a particular star, which Twilight would swear had not been there two hours ago. “There’s the Little Dipper, with the North Star at the end of the handle. What do you need any other stars for?”
“Normally, yes,” Twilight explained, “But if you followed it right now you’d be heading south, not north.”
“What?” Dash flew up high into the air, surveying her surroundings. When she came back to the ground she looked immensely confused. “Whoa, that’s messed up. No wonder I got los- I mean, I can see how it would be really easy for some pony else to get lost.” Dash glanced at the two unicorns, hoping her slip-up wasn’t noticed. “Okay girls, it’s been fun, but I gotta jet.” She took off into the night sky.
“Running away...” Trixie muttered under her breath. She fetched her hat from an exposed tree root it had caught on in the wind.
Twilight sighed, something she seemed to be doing a lot of on this trip. “Well, so much for making sure you stay out of trouble. I almost think I’d rather have the Ursa Minor come back to town. At least I know how to deal with that.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Trixie readjusted her hat and set off again, Twilight in tow.