Vanilla entered the dark room, looking around and trying to see. The room was empty but for the furniture. Trixie’s bed was messy as always. The caramel pony rolled his eyes and smiled. He walked over by his wardrobe and pressed in a part of the wall, revealing the compartment that held Trixie.
The wall shifted and slid out of the way, revealing a blue, sleeping unicorn. “Pff, you’re always asleep.” Vanilla whispered. Trixie curled up and rolled over, facing away from the stallion.
Trixie groaned and mumbled, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” Vanilla paused and sat down by the hole, listening to her. “I thought I would help, and I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.” A tear formed in Trixie’s eye. “I’m so sorry.”
“You’re such a disgrace, Trixie! You’re so pathetic! You never listen and you always mess everything up!” Yelled a tall light blue pony.
“But, I was just trying to help!” A little blue filly replied with fear and teary eyes.
“Help? You’re just a filly, Trixie!” The light blue stallion snapped. “I had it under control! If you hadn’t come along, nopony would be dead!”
“But I… I…” Trixie sobbed.
“No! No more. I’m tired of hearing your voice! I better not see you tomorrow morning… If you’re still here when I wake up, I’ll do to you what you did to all those ponies… I’ll kill you.”
“But, Daddy! Please, I didn’t mean…” Trixie tried to reason with her father, but before she could even finish her sentence, the stallion was inside the house. Trixie broke down and cried for what seemed like an eternity. Where will she go? What will she do? All she knew was that it was true. She just killed about twenty innocent ponies, all because she interfered with her father’s work.
Trixie went inside and gathered her things, what few things she had. A hoof-stitched cape and magician’s hat that her mother made for her not too long ago before she was brutally murdered… by her own daughter. Trixie winced as she picked up these items. She had always been a reject, a worthless pony that always messed everything up, and this time, she messed up worse than ever. She only ever made ponies miserable; maybe it was for the best that she left forever. It’s not like nopony would care anyway.
Trixie grabbed the last most important thing she could think of: A necklace her mother gave her when she was younger. She put it on along with the hat and cape, which were a little too big for her, but she figured she’d grow into them. The blue filly left the house, the town, and even Manehattan forever.
Trixie found a nice place to stay for a while: Under a dank, trashy bridge. She sighed as she sat down under it. The sun was setting, and she was getting tired and hungry, but it seemed to her that she was going to bed hungry tonight. Trixie lied down and went to go to sleep, but was suddenly surprised by the voice of another pony atop the bridge.
“Nightly book sale! I have books and scrolls of all sorts!” The voice called into the dusk. Trixie heard several hoofsteps trotting up to the bridge. She was curious and instead of trying to ignoring it, she got to her hooves and went up to the top.
An earth pony with a gray coat and black hair was standing by a cart of books. There were only about five or six ponies browsing her collection of books so Trixie decided to explore too. She’d need something to keep her busy so maybe a book will help her through.
Trixie trotted up to the stand and looked at all the books. Adventure books, romance novels, scary tales, fantasy stories, and myths. Trixie smiled and excitedly browsed through all the books.
“My, you look to be an avid reader.” The gray mare said with a smile. Trixie focused her attention on the pony talking to her. “By the excitement in your browsing, I’d say you enjoy a good book.”
Trixie hesitated to reply. She wasn’t used to talking to anypony but her parents and was a little shy. “W-well… I… I don’t read a whole lot, because I n-never owned any books ‘afore.” The filly unicorn replied. “B-but I’ve always wanted to learn.”
The grey pony gasped. “You don’t know how to read? What a crime! I have an idea. Why don’t you stay right here with me, and when everypony is gone I will teach you how to read.” She told Trixie. “And I don’t care how long it takes, I will make sure you are reading and speaking at expert levels! You can come with me on my travels while you learn too.”
Trixie’s face lit up. She had never been shown this amount of kindness before. She nearly exploded with pure glee. “Wow, really?!” Trixie gasped. “That’s the kindest most sweetest thing anypony has ever done for me!”
The book keeper bowed and smiled, her long, black mane hanging over her bright, green eyes for a moment before being swept away with her hoof. “Anything to increase one’s love for reading, my sweet filly.”
A few minutes passed as Trixie continued to browse the collection of book before her. She kept going back to one particular book: “Magic Tricks for Beginners.” It seemed like an interesting book because she had always wanted to learn how to use magic, being a unicorn, but never could get it to work for her. Just like everything else, it just made everyone else miserable or exploded in her face.
Trixie picked up the book in her mouth, carrying it over to the gray mare. The gray mare looked it over. “Ah! A wondrous book for aspiring magicians.” She said picking it up with her hooves. “I assume this is the book you’re wanting?”
Trixie nodded and looked up at the older pony with bright and beaming eyes. She glanced back at the book. The book had a pony wearing a cape and hat much like Trixie’s, except the pony wearing them had a white coat.
Trixie looked back up at the gray mare and said, “Miss Book Keeper, can I stay with you?” The filly became sad suddenly. “I don’t have a home anymore.”
The gray mare became serious suddenly as well. She smiled soon after, though. “Well, of course you can stay with me. I said so earlier didn’t I” She told Trixie, giving a sweet grin. “My name is Textbook Pages.”
Trixie gleamed with joy and nearly shouted her next statement, but controlled it and said, “I’m Trixie. Thank you so much for letting me stay with you. You’re the nicest pony I’ve ever met.”
“Well,” started the gray earth pony, “you’re a special pony, I think. And judging by your story I’d say you deserve a little compassion.”
“Trixie.” Vanilla’s voice called. “Hey, Trixie, wake up.”
Trixie woke up violently, wiping the tears away immediately, as if knowing she was crying in her sleep. “Huh? What? What’s going on?” Trixie groggily asked.
“Tonight’s the night.” The caramel pony said as he smiled.
“The night? For what?” Trixie inquired, still half-asleep.
“The night you make your great escape.” Vanilla Delights told her. “You ready to go? I found a vent that leads to the water processing department. And there, you will find a pipe that leads to the outside.”
Trixie started to wake up. She climbed out of the hole in the wall and stretched. “Sounds simple enough.”
“You think that, but there are Shadow Watchers all over out there.” Vanilla reassured her.
“Shadow Watchers?” Trixie repeated with more of an upward inflexion.
“Yes. Just stay out of the darker shadows and you’ll be fine. As soon as you get the chance, run as fast as you can and don’t stop until the palace is out of sight, okay?” The pony turned and faced away from Trixie, taking off his shirt to replace it with a cleaner one. Trixie looked over in his direction, and noticed something she hadn’t noticed before, something very peculiar: Two scars in his back going down his shoulder blades. They were evenly spaced apart, too perfectly to be stabs from blades.
Trixie hesitated, but after a few silent seconds, she said, “Yeah, okay. I should be fine.” She decided not to ask him where the scars came from, but only pondered it further.
“Alright, you’re going to have to step out into the hallways with me, so just stay as close to me as you possibly can.” The stallion ordered. Trixie nodded and changed clothes. “Oh, and you may keep those clothes. My gift.”
Trixie looked down at her hooves, but looked back up and smiled. “Heh, thanks, Vanilla.”
“No problem.” He told her. “You ready?” The tall caramel pony asked. Trixie nodded, and Vanilla opened the door slightly. The hallway was just as eerie as Trixie remembered it last time. Vanilla headed out the door and Trixie followed closely. The two did their best to run as silently as possible throughout the halls.
They trotted along a seemingly endless hallway, avoiding the searching lights that cut them off or came their way. Soon, they turned down another hallway. They passed several doors along the way, and Trixie observed them, to see if anything caught her eye from pure curiosity.
“Here.” Vanilla said, pointing to a vent by a door. He quickly, and silently, opened the vent door, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a piece of parchment with scribbles on it. “I also drew a map for you.” A light turned the corner in the distance, coming their way. “Quickly, go!” He whispered. “You’ll know where to go; the map explains everything.”
Trixie looked into his eyes as though lost in thought. “I’ll miss you.” She told him. The light drew nearer, and Trixie climbed into the crawlspace. Vanilla closed the vent door and waved at Trixie.
“Good luck.” He whispered before he ran off. The light followed just seconds after he left. Being from her angle, Trixie got the chance to see the creature holding the light: A large, black, blob-like creature with glistening tentacles and several arms in places they don’t belong. An absolute abomination.
Trixie cringed as her eyes grew wide. “Why in Equestria would anypony make something like that?!” Trixie whispered loudly to herself. She shook her head and began crawling down the vent a good ways before opening the poorly drawn map Vanilla made. She studied it for a while before rolling it back up and crawling further. Judging by the map, she had a long ways to go before she even got to her first destination.
Trixie crawled through twists and turns, the metal labyrinth frustrating her more. She knew she was going in the right directions, but the length of these vents just made her question the size of the palace even more.
The blue pony made a turn and opened the map. She grinned as she realized she had arrived had the vent she needed to climb out of. She looked around for the vent door and saw it just ahead. She was relieved that it was on the side of the vent this time, meaning she would be able crawl out simply.
Trixie opened the door and looked out the vent, realizing she was wrong. She looked down to see a large fall. She was also surprised to see that the room was empty. It was also very dark, which worried Trixie. She’d come to realize that every bit of security Twilight has is focused on the shadows.
“This could either be really good, or really bad.” Trixie said shaking her head. Trixie closed her eyes and her horn lit up. She jumped from the vent, falling to a severe injury or two, but before she hit the ground, a gust of wind swept up from nowhere and immediately broke her fall. She planted her hooves safely on the ground. “They don’t call me ‘Great and Powerful’ for nothing.” She giggled, mocking gravity itself.
It was dark which prevented her from seeing much, but in this room were several crates in corners and large generator-looking machines. She assumed that the large generators were like motors for the processing of water. They seemed to be silent though, as though no water is being filtered and cleaned.
She sat down in a corner, by some crates, as though to hide from anything that might be nearby to pursue her. The blue pony unraveled the map sketch and looked around the room. She glanced down at the map and then back at her environment. She noticed a large hole in the floor covered by a steel plate over in the corner opposite her.
Trixie looked around to make sure it was safe before dashing off to the marehole. Once beside it, she lifted it up with her magic, straining to exert enough strength to move it aside. She slid it across the floor to reduce the amount of noise it made.
The unicorn breathed heavily and climbed down the ladder of the hole, using her magic to conjure some light. She made sure to cover up the hole as she planted her hooves on damper ground. She focused her attention on her new surroundings which seemed to be a dark, dank sewer passage.
“Really, Vanilla?” Trixie sighed and opened her map once more. There were two ways to go from here. Left or right. Opposite of the ladder was just a wall, and she was only standing on a small sidewalk of the filthy sewage street between her and the brick barrier. The map pointed Trixie to go right once facing the wall, opposite of the ladder.
The eager pony began trotting down the path, staying alert and cautious but picking up the pace. She was tired of living amidst the danger and just wanted to get somewhere safer.
The sound of Trixie’s hoofsteps echoed along the walls. Even with the light from her horn illuminating the area around her, the darkness was so thick that couldn’t see very far. Trixie continued down the path anyway, occasionally checking her map to see where she should go next. The path she was on already, though, just seemed to go on endlessly. Trixie sighed and an agitated expression swept across her face. “Hmph. I break out of a tube to avoid drowning, bunk with a super good-looking stallion for four days, and walk forever so my hooves can fall off. If I weren’t in danger of getting caught, I would scream right now.” She told herself.
The blue unicorn sighed but soon saw a turn. She was finally getting somewhere again. And even better, she could see a dim light in the next tunnel. She hurriedly turned onto the next path, crossing a small bridge over the sewage water that just continued to flow into a grate. Trixie made her way further into the tunnel, being alert and cautious.
As she got around the corner she suddenly covered her mouth and stepped back. The light was coming from one of the tentacle monsters she saw earlier in the palace. This one, however, was blocking her path to freedom. What should she do? How could she possibly get passed it? It took up nearly the entire space of the passage way.
The creature did not move. It remained stationary, giving the occasional flick of the tentacles and a heavy grunt. Trixie tried to think of a spell she might know to slip passed it or distract it, but nothing came to mind. She was virtually trapped at this point. Even if she could figure a way back into that vent, she couldn’t remember for the life of her how to get back to Vanilla’s room.
Then it clicked. ‘The life of her.’ Maybe those creatures will report back to Twilight when they’ve captured someone trying to escape. It was worth a shot. The creature gave another intense grunt as Trixie started to focus. Her horn lit up brightly and a mirage of her began sprinting down the tunnel and just slipping by the beast. When the mirage passed the fiend, it took off after her, giving Trixie a quick moment to check over her map.
The exit was just through that passage. She was almost free.
Trixie sprinted toward the door and rolled up the map as she ran as fast as she could. Before she even made it through, she could see the ground. Her face lit up with excitement, she could taste the freedom already.
She almost made it through. Out of the sewers, away from the palace, but as she passed the edge where the pipe and ground meet she felt something grab her legs. Her eyes widened and she gasped as she fell face first onto the ground. What she felt around her legs were tentacles.
“No!” Trixie screamed. She suddenly started being dragged back into the darkness, away from the moonlit field ahead. So close to freedom. The blue pony started to sob as she was being pulled further into the veil of shadows. In the moment of panic there was no time for her to think of a spell that could free her from the monster’s grasp. It was over. She was caught. She was going to die by Twilight’s hands again.
The unicorn dug her hands into the concrete flooring, hoping to stall the inevitable, but all was in vain. She wasn’t slowing down the process at all. And as the darkness began to take her vision, she heard a blood-curdling screech from the creature, which was only inches behind her.
The tentacles released and Trixie scrambled to her hooves. A caramel-colored stallion with black, shifting wings had cut the monster in half. The pony seemed familiar, but he had wings that looked as though they were made of shadows, and the way the wings shifted resembled fire. The pony was shirtless and wearing white linen pants. He held a long sword of a regal design but was as black as the shadow wings he had. The sword gave off pieces of itself, like little shreds of paper when burned and released back into the air.
Trixie stepped back from him and hesitated. He turned and faced her. The unicorn gasped and pointed at him. “V…V-Vanilla?! But, the wings, and the sword! The incredible creature killing!?” Trixie couldn’t gather her words as fast as she could process her thoughts.
Vanilla chuckled, his voice sounding deeper now suddenly. “I’ve been lying to you, Trixie. My name isn’t Vanilla Delights. It’s Shadow Feather.” He looked more serious suddenly, turning and stepping toward Trixie. His irises were a gleaming and radiant red. They seemed to be ablaze with flames rather than soothed with ocean.
“But… Why would you lie to me about this?” Trixie inquired, backing away closer to the edge.
Shadow Feather only smirked, continuing to walk toward the blue unicorn. “Because… I didn’t want you to know who I really was. I didn’t want you to know that I was a pegasus. That I was once beautiful. I wanted to change for the better. But it seems my old ways just keep coming back.” He smiled and licked his lips as he began walking faster toward Trixie.
“Old ways? W-what are you talking about?” Trixie’s heart started to pound as she neared the exit of the pipe.
“Why, my thirst for victory. For companionship. For blood.” Shadow gave a wicked grin as he continued toward her.
Trixie’s eyes grew wider and she turned to run, but he was there, in front of her. “Let me go, Vanilla! I thought you were helping me escape!” She said as tears formed in her eyes.
“Oh, no, you’re not going anywhere. Alive or dead, your body will be mine to do whatever I please.” He stepped up and stroked his hand across her face. “Now cooperate and come back home so we can have a nice night together or die and have me enjoy it all alone.”
The unicorn’s heart pounded in her throat, she was on the verge of bursting into tears. “Why, Vanilla? Why would you?” She cried to him.
He only laughed. “Why not? I want inside you, and that’s reason enough for me. And I will get inside you, whether you have a head or not.”
Trixie bit her lip and glanced out behind him. She had no choice. She closed her eyes and looked down at her hooves. “I’ll go with you.” A tear escaped her eyes.
The caramel stallion chuckled. “Keep your eyes closed, and don’t move anything. I’ll move it for you.”
Trixie tried to suppress her sobs. She kept her eyes closed as she was ordered and felt his hand on her chin. She started to tremble. What exactly was he going to do to her? Was he bluffing and just going to kill her right there anyway?
Suddenly, she felt the most serene and pleasant filling she had ever felt. She felt his hand reaching into her chest. His hand had phased into her, and it felt as if he was connecting with her very soul. But it didn’t hurt at all. Instead she felt relaxed. Was he killing her in a peaceful way? No, this was something else. He was giving her something. But what was it?
“Don’t say anything. Don’t open your eyes. Just trust me…” Shadow told her. Suddenly his dark and shadowy wings began to blossom into golden feathers. A bright aura surrounded the two as Shadow did his work. Dark purple energy wrapped around the stallion, shredding his clothes off and revealing his cutie mark: A dark purple crescent moon with a silhouette of a winged tombstone.
Trixie started to feel like she was going to lose consciousness. She began breathing a little heavier. Her body felt weak and she now felt like he was stealing her energy, but at the same time giving her power. The light lasted for a long time but Shadow’s wings finally rejuvenated and gleamed with a bright golden color. He pulled his hand from Trixie’s chest who nearly collapsed to the floor.
“There, the trade is done. I’m myself again!” Shadow cheered. His cheering was suddenly ended with Trixie sudden sobbing. “Oh, Trixie, I’m sorry, I was only playing around…”
“Vanilla?! Why would scare me like that? I thought I was going to die.” The unicorn screamed at him. She was trembling but didn’t notice the sudden increase in power through her fear.
“Oh, come on Trixie, I was just dramatically teasing you. I’m sorry, but, I needed to do that.” The caramel pony told her.
Trixie’s sobs lightened. “Wh-why?” She choked.
“Because I was told that if I showed true compassion to somepony, I would get my wings back. By giving up virtually all of my shadow powers to you, I showed that I care for you enough to give you something special to me.” Shadow explained.
“Lost your wings, but how’d you…” Trixie gasped and suddenly remembered the story Vanilla told her. “Wait… You mean you’re the pony that lost that race and tried to win by cheating?”
Shadow looked at his hooves and hesitated before nodding. “Yeah… That’s me… And I’m not proud of it either. That was hundreds of years ago though.”
The unicorn tilted her head and looked at him. “Hundreds of years? How are you still alive?” Trixie asked him.
He replied with a chuckle and said, “A long time ago I had a spell cast on me that made me pretty much immortal with the downfall that I am cursed with these dark shadow demons that grant me unholy powers. With these demons comes great evil, hence my behavior during that race.”
“But, didn’t you just give me those shadow powers?” Trixie asked him, her eyes widening.
“Yes, the powers, not the demons.” He assured her. “The demons fed off that power, and now that it’s all gone, they will perish, and my original age will begin where it left off.”
The blue pony was confused but did suddenly feel the dark energy coursing through her. It was dark, but it wasn’t evil. “So, what can I do with these new powers?”
“Well, I’ll leave most of it for you to discover,” Shadow chuckled as he began to explain, “but two of my favorite particular spells are the shadow wings and shadow sword. Just think about them. The energy will do the rest. Knowing how to cast the spell will come natural.”
“So, I can use those shadow wings to help me escape right?” Trixie asked, making sure.
Shadow nodded. “But, these shadow spells only work in the dark, and are especially strong at night time. They are powered by darkness.” Shadow walked up to Trixie and hugged her tightly. “I need to go. You’re on your own from here on out. Please, try not to die.”
The unicorn looked him in the eyes and smiled. “Heh, with these new powers, I’m sure it’ll be a lot harder to take me down.”
Shadow smiled, a pool of shadows reaching up from the ground, taking hold of him and eventually engulfing him in darkness. When the shadows vanished, so did he.
Trixie concentrated, the shadows shifting around her. She focused on her back and thought of flying; more so dreamed of flying. In seconds, wings made of the shadowy fire formed and stemmed from her back. Her mind was taking control and guiding her to her new dark side.
“This energy. It’s so serene.” Trixie closed her eyes and walked to the end of the pipe, taking in the moonlight hidden partially by the toxic clouds. For some reason, the moonlight felt more tranquil than ever before. Perhaps the shadow powers were the reason for that.
The unicorn opened her eyes and looked to the moon. She spread her shadowy wings and took to the sky. The wind stroked its soothing invisible hands across her cheeks and swept her mane away. Her eyes became engulfed with smoky shadows and suddenly, she was piercing the wind at incredible alacrity. She noticed that she was also faced with flying shadow monsters. She should have known it wouldn’t be simple even with wings, but she knows now that with this new power, this will be much easier than before.
Trixie quickly stopped. She remembered back to what Vanilla said before. Watch out for the darker shadows. As long as she avoided the darkest shadows, she should be okay.
The unicorn dashed off again, weaving and dodging shadows. She was making very quick movements and was certain it was enough to get her caught, but no creatures came after her. This made it obvious that the creatures can only see as far as their light expands.
Trixie was surprised that the palace was large and even the amount of guards in the radius. She was certain she had flown several hundred hooves away, but there were still guards. What didn’t Twilight Sparkle control?
She began flying even faster, straining and trying to get beyond the barriers of harm. She looked over and saw there was a shadow monster flying on a collision course with her. She dove down and pulled back up, making it passed the creature. When she looked back, it looked to be an avian of some sort, but made entirely of the fiery shadows. It had bright red eyes and shifted constantly, looking as though it was having a difficult time maintaining its current form.
“I’m beginning to wonder if the creatures are even created. They seem to be from somewhere.” Trixie pondered to herself. She focused harder on the way out, trying to fly even faster but instead, shadows began to wrap around her. She didn’t realize this and just continued flying. Before she had a chance to understand what happened she had crashed into a large sand mound. “What the hay?” She said, digging her head out of the sand.
Trixie looked behind her and saw the palace off in this distance. She beamed and jumped up and down. She was speechless. The unicorn turned and made her way over the sand mound, trying to brush the sand out of her mane with her hand.
Trixie flew on slowly for a while. She looked around for civilization, but all she found for miles was dust and ruin. Trixie started to feel dejected. Morning was breaking and she was about to lose her powers for the day. She was also starving and thirsty from all the exerted energy.
“So, this is what Twilight’s done?” Trixie said as a tear dropped from her eyes. Everything was gone. Equestria was a desolate dustbowl and, thankfully, Trixie was ‘asleep’ for the majority of the destruction. The blue pony continued walking through the warming sand and dust. For miles it looked to be a desert, but this didn’t stop Trixie. She was determined to take her freedom as long as could take it.
The sun was beaming hot, and Trixie hadn’t gotten anywhere. There was no sign of civilization and she was feeling weak. Her vision became hazy, and her legs became wobbly. She came to the reality of the situation and realized she was likely to die out here where not a single soul would ever even be able to find her.
The blue pony panted and breathed heavily. But she caught something out of the corner of her eye. Something that she wasn’t sure how she missed. She turned and saw a huge forest. A dense, moist, and shady forest. She turned slowly and weakly.
“Must get to forest… Must… Get… To…” Trixie made it halfway to the jungle-like environment before collapsing. She no longer had the strength to make it the rest of the way, and it was so close. She only needed to walk a bit further, but she couldn’t move. Her body was like cement; connected to the sand around her. She closed her eyes and lost consciousness.
“Miss Textbook Pages?” Trixie called quietly. It was night time and moonlight crept into the bedroom.
The grey-coated mare rolled over with a gentle smile and rubbed her eyes with her hooves. “Yes, Trixie? What is it?”
Trixie gave sad, sorrowful eyes. “I had a really bad dream,” the blue filly said, “may I please sleep with you tonight?”
Textbook smiled sweeter and took the small pony into her hooves and cuddled up beside her. “Aww, Trixie, you cute little filly, you know don’t have to ask. Of course you can sleep with me tonight. Whatever it is that scared you, I’ll be here all night to protect you.”
Trixie nuzzled into the earth pony’s neck and smiled. She wrapped her front legs around Textbook, and she did the same to Trixie. The grey pony pulled the sheets over them both, and they giggled.
“You know, Trixie,” Textbook said quietly, “you are the cutest, kindest, and most loving pony I’ve ever met. I’m glad to call you my daughter.”
Trixie kissed the mare’s cheek and closed her eyes. “And I’m glad to call you my mama.” The filly replied. “I love you, Mama.”
Textbook’s heart melted with love. ‘Mama.’ She held that title as though her life depended on it. “I love you too, Trixie.”
“Oh my, do you think she’s still alive?” A gentle, hushed, female voice asked.
“We need to get her back to safety.” A charming and regal female voice replied.
“We’ll carry her together.” The gentle voice offered.