Chapter 1 - Shattered
The beautiful, warm sunlight bathed Twilight as she stirred awake from an energetic night of studying. The heat ignited the fire in her belly, and she rose feeling content and unworried. She had managed to meet another deadline, and without any hassle, excluding the last-minute study. Her time spent with friends certainly didn't help her studies, but honestly she had something genuinely wonderful in place of it.
She lethargically rose from the bed, stumbling her lack-of-full-motor-control-from-just-waking-up way to the bathroom, scrubbing her teath with some toothpaste she received from Colagte, then soaked her body in the warm water of the bath. Why there was a bath in the library was an interesting question, but not one she really could be bothered pondering as the steam relaxed her.
Following her ten-minute long bath, she trotted out refreshed, relaxed, and a little pruney, scrubbing her hair with a towel. Spike was beginning to stir as well, his rest less relaxing than hers. Twilight trotted up the stairs and watched over her baby dragon. Already he was 8 years old, and so mature for his age. It was probably a dragon thing, though, plus being surrounded by ponies. She smiled, as Spike lazily opened his eye to see his friend levitating a nice, juicy emerald over to him.
"Wakey wakey, Spike..."
Spike swung a hand at the gem, missing it by a few inches.
"Spiiiiike... time to get uuuup..." Twilight softly sang. Spike sat up, saw the gem hovering millimetres from his eyes, and snapped his jaw around it... unsuccessfully. Twilight had moved it an annoyingly tantalising distance from him.
"Ok, ok, I'm up." he mumbled, rubbing his eyes. "Can I have the gem now?"
"You can have the gem when you're out of bed." Twilight said, smiling.
Spike grumbled but hopped out of bed, grabbing the gem from Twilight's magic grip, and began chewing on it. He was about to climb back into bed, but Twilight grabbed him before he could. "We have a big day today, remember? It's Rarity's birthday."
"Rarity's birthday?!" Spike cried, frantically looking around, under and on his bed. "Holy guacamole! I hope I haven't lost her present!"
Twilight giggled. "Don't worry, I've got it. Now come on, Pinkie needs help setting the party up."
Spike plodded to Twilight. "So that's why I didn't feel it under my pillow..."
"You needed to sleep well."
"Yeah, I know, but you couldn't have left a note?"
Twilight put a hoof on her chin. "Well, there's that..." Spike faceclawed.
The party, not surprisingly, came together really quickly. With Dash's speed, Pinkie's... -ness, and Twilight's organisational skills, everything went supremely well. The room of Sugarcube Corner was festooned with balloons, party and posh foods (baked by Applejack and Pinkie), streamers and the large cake in the centre with a small miniature model of Rarity on top, respendant in her gala dress.
"Man, this party's gonna be awesome!" Dash exclaimed, pumping a foreled as she hovered a hoof off the ground.
"I know, right?" Pinkie replied, bouncing (literally) with joy. "Rarity's gonna love it!"
"Ah reckon' so." Applejack added, leaning on one of the back walls, hat tipped over her eyes. She removed herself from it, pushing her hat back from her head. "Ah hope so, that cake took a hayova long time t'make, even with four o'us."
Twilight nodded. "Plus, those decorations look great." She heard hoofsteps from outside. Sneaking a glance, she spotted it was, in fact, Rarity, being led to Sugarcube Corner by Fluttershy (in theory, in practice she was following, meekly giving directions).
"Quick, she's coming! Hide!" She whispered, and everypony found their hiding spots; Twilight and Spike behind the counter, Dash the chandolier, Applejack and Pinkie the cake.
The door opened slowly. "Fluttershy, dear, there's nothing here to be afraid o-"
"Whahahaaa!" Rarity whinnied, falling to her haunches in shock.
"Did we surprise ya?" Pinkie asked, bouncing up to Rarity. "Did we? Did we? Huh huh huh?"
"Um... surprise?" Fluttershy timidly and quietly said. Rainbow looked at her with annoyance.
"Oh my stars..." Rarity muttered. "You did all of this... for me?"
"Well, duh!" Pinkie said. "It's your birthday!"
Rarity picked herself up, smiling with joy. "Oh! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought you'd all forgotten about it! Um, no offence."
"None taken." AJ said. "C'mon, let's get to the partyin'!"
And so they partied, and partied hard...
...until the party ended in the late afternoon, when all the food that could have possibly been eaten had been, all the drinks consumed, all the presents given (so many that Fluttershy had to help Rarity carry it all back to her place), and a great mess left behind. Twilight and Spike volunteered to remain behind to clean it up, and the Cakes gave them permission to lock up shop while they brought the twins to sleep and then they too.
"Boy, some party, huh?" Spike said dreamily, a vision of Rarity dancing playing in the theater in his mind, all the little Spikes cheering. He pushed some loose streamers and popped balloons into the pile he was amassing in the centre of the room.
"When Pinkie throws a party, you know it's gonna be a good one." Twilight added, feeling fuzzy inside (not to mention full from cake). She lifted up all the paper plates and shoved them into the bin
"No doubt about it." Spike continued, signalling to Twilight that the pile was ready. Twilight nodded, transferring it to the same bin, then wrapped up the bag and trotted outside, levitating the keys to the shop up. "Spike, could you grab the bag, please?"
"Okie dokie!" Spike said contentedly, hefting the heavy bag and plodding outside. "So, what now?"
"Well, put the bag in the big bin and then we go home and rest." Twilight sighed, "I'm exhausted."
'Who knew parties could be so tiring?" Spike mumbled, rubbing his eyes.
Twilight woke up the next morning, the rays of the sun double-filtered by the clouds and curtains. While the rest was rejuvinating, it wasn't nearly as such as the night before. She sat up on the bed, stretching both forlegs. Spike was already awake (unusually for this time of day).
"Good morning, Spike..." Twilight mumbled, rubbing her eye and yawning.
"Morning? Naw, it's midday."
"It's twelve forty-two." Spike said, glancing at a watch on his wrist. "You overslept."
"No no no no no no no!" Twilight cried, frantically scurrying to her hooves. Her centre of balance shot out and she fell chin-first to the hard, wooden floor. "I can't have overslept!" She magically gripped Spike's watch and tugged it (and it's wearer) in front of her eyes. "Oh no! I'm going to be late!"
"Late?" Spike grunted, snatching his arm from Twilight's grip. "For what?"
"Princess Luna is visiting today, and I'm one of the only ponies she knows!" She responded, hefting herself off the ground and galloping to the door, her pupils small. "If I'm not there, she might not-"
"Relax, Twilight." Spike said dissmissively, not as worried as his friend. "She'll be fine."
Twilight refused to simply ignore such a potentially disasterous situation past, and flung the door open...
...and galloped right into something hard and metallic. She grunted in pain as her head swam, falling to her haunches.
"Excuse me, are you Miss Twilight Sparkle?" the gold-plated metallic thing which was shaped an awful lot like a white-coated pony asked, stern and unwavering.
"Y-yeah... I am." Twilight mumbled, lifting herself up and brushing herself off.
"In that case, you're under arrest for the murder of Ginger Gold." He replied, with a hint of venom in his voice. Twilight felt her being grabbed by the wings of two pegasi and being virtually dragged... somewhere. She struggled to keep her legs under herself. "You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do." Then, quietly. "not that you'll be getting much of a chance for that."
"WHAT?!" Twilight cried. "Ginger Gold is dead?! And you think I did it?!"
"No, our forensics team know you did it. You weren't exactly careful with your methods." The mare to her right said. "Left a whoooole lot of clues behind."
Twilight stammered. "But- I- what- huh?!" None of this made any sense. She would never kill anypony! "What time did it happen?"
"You should know, seeing as though you did it." the mare grouched. "But for the record, it occured last night, at 12:47am."
"I was asleep!"
"Pffft, yeah right." The huge buck to her left murmured. "That's what they all say."
Twilight continued to protest against it, but stopped when she saw the toweringly tall midnight-blue pony in front of her, its wings spread wide and her face twisted into a frown.
"Twilight Sparkle!" Princess Luna bellowed. "Thou hast betrayed our trust in you by committing such an unspeakable act!" Her face scowling more, she leaned in close. "You have upset Celestia. I hope your happy."
No Twilight thought, her gaze lowering. I'm not happy. She was still confused; how could she do something she was not even aware of? And for that matter, why?
"Thou will be given a formal trial, in the spirit of fairness. But be warned, should thou lose, thou wilst be punished accordingly!" Luna continued to boom, as her long, slender horn glowed with an aura of blue energy. A similar field wrapped around Twilight and the royal guards holding her stepped away. Twilight felt energy building up around her body as she started to glow. Teleporting.
With a surge of energy and a sickening jolt, Twilight felt gravity once again taking hold, and she fell to earth, her legs failing to hold her upright. The floor she landed on was cold, uneven and hard, made of cobblestone. Her head was swimming and her stomach was twisting in knots, and it was all she could do to keep herself from vomiting. Teleporting yourself is one thing, but having someone else do it is less... pleasant.
Even with her body fighting just to make sure it was even alive, she could hear voices outside the little room she was teleported into. "Oh look, Luna sent us the little murderer." The emphasis on murderer tore a hole in her heart. "C'mon, captain, give it the speech."
"Ok, if I have to." Shining Armour replied. Shining Armour?!
"Allow me to accompany you." Celestia added. CELESTIA?!
"Certainly, your grace." Shining said.
This can't be happening... this can't be happening... this can't be happening!
"Ok, listen here, murderer." Shining said flatly, reading off a piece of parchment and not looking at her. Celestia, on the other hoof, was looking at her with... she couldn't tell. Shining continued; "your trial will be tomorrow, 8am. If you lose the trial, then you will be hung the next day. If you win, you will be set free. Understa-" He looked up from the paper and his eyes widened. "Twily?!"
Twilight tried to speak, but her words got caught in her throat. All that came out was a little squeak.
"You're the murderer?!" Shining cried.
"No, I'm not!" Twilight finally managed to say. "I didn't know about it until I was arrested!" Come on Celestia, say something.
"I'd like to believe it, but they're all saying the evidence..." He sighed, his brow lowering into a frown. "How could you..." He shut his eyes and stormed off, barely containing his sobs. Twilight reached out a hoof, but lowered it. She looked to Celestia. "Princess Celestia...?"
Celestia solemnly closed her eyes and trotted out, closing the door behind her with her golden magic. She didn't seem upset, angry or sad. Only... disappointed.
Twilight fell asleep, collapsing in a fit of sobs. It was all she could do.
Chapter 2 - Trial
She had always read about these things, but never thought it would happen to her.
She lay on the straw-filled sack that served as an improvised (and uncomfortable) matress, wishing she were back in Ponyville, reading about being arrested for a crime she didn't commit rather than actually living it. The stone-worked room was cold and damp, and with no lighting save the lamps in the outside and the light from the morning sun. She would have given anything to feel that sun again.
The metal slider on the door grinded open, and a dark-grey unicorn guard trotted in. "Twilight, your trial will be starting in half an hour. Please accompany me."
"Thanks..." she muttered sadly in reply. She slid off the matress and let the guard escort her to the trial rooms.
"So you're the mare everyone's talking about, eh?" The guard commented. "I thought you'd look... tougher."
"I didn't murder anypony." she said for the upteenth time. "I was arrested with no idea of it happening."
"Oh, I believe you." he said. "Nopony like you could do something like that. However, I'm not the one to tell that to."
"You... believe me?" Twilight said, stopping in her tracks. The guard turned around, smiling.
"Well, yeah. Only the regretful or the innocent cry that much."
"Oh." Twilight murmured, blushing. "That makes sense."
"What's your name anyway?" The guard asked, returning to his brisk pace.
"T-Twilight Sparkle." Twilight said, following the guard in turn.
"The captain's sister? Damn me, no wonder he looked pissed today." He looked forward. "I thought he might rip my head off."
Shining wouldn't. "What's your name?"
"Well, technically I'm not allowed to tell you in case you win and track me down to exact your revenge..." he said matter-of-factly but with a hint of sarcasm. "...but, between you and me, I don't think you'd do that. My name's Greylance."
"Nice to meet you, Greylance."
"Likewise. Oh, look, we're here."
Twilight looked up from the floor and spotted the tremendous doors that she knew led to the trial chamber, where her ultimate fate would be decided. If she won, she could return back to her life. If she lost...
She felt something clamp around her neck. Tight, but not chokingly so. She turned to see Greylance fiddling with it. "Sorry, standard procedure. Anti-ma-"
"Magic device, I know." Twilight said, smiling despite herself. "It makes sense. Don't want me doing something brash like teleporting or magic arrows, right?"
"Can you do those?" Greylance asked, genuinely curious.
"Only the teleporting." Twilight replied.
"Still, that's pretty cool. I can only use TK to move my sword." Greylance said, looking away. "Or my lance. I'm deadly good with a lance."
Twilight put a hoof on his shoulder. Surprisingly, she didn't push it off. "Thank you, Greylance."
"Aww, it's nothing. You'd better head inside, they're waiting."
"Mares and gentlestallions." The prosecutor began; a middle-aged pale-coated unicorn with a gavel on his flank. "It is impossible to not see that this pony-" He pointed a shakey hoof at her accusingly "-is guilty. The evidence is overwhelming, and we have heard, first hand, how powerful her magical talents are, and how she has been, on several occasions, reported to have mental stability problems." He turned to face the judge, who was flanked by both Celestia and Luna; the former looking resigned and solemn, the other's cold, judging glare piercing the souls of everyone in the room. "I'm sure we don't have to recite the Smartypants incident to the court?" How the hay is that even related to murder?!
"Furthermore, there is the significant evidence left on the scene of the crime, all pointing to Miss Sparkle being the murderer... the first we've had in 23 years." He continued, pointing at Twilight again. "Until this little mare came along Equestria could feel safe to walk the streets at night." He turned to the jury. "Would you feel safe knowing that your life could be ended?" The muttering of the jury signalled the answer. "Your honour and your majesties, I rest my case."
"Very well then." The judge said. "We will now hear the defense's case."
"Thank you, your honour." Twilight's defender replied. He was a blue-coated Earth pony, and was at least 10 years younger than the prosecutor. He brisky trotted to the centre of the room, and turned his head to the jury. "Have you ever had a dream?"
"A dream to become whatever you want? Scientist? Adventurer? Sportspony?" He chuckled, facing away from them. "Of course you would. Everyone has a dream. My dream was to save ponies." He gazed at Twilight with his deep green eyes. "But this young mare's dreams have been shattered.
"Miss Sparkle is a straight-A student, directly under her majesty Princess Celestia herself. She has not commited any crimes beforehand, and the many character profiles others have given her describes her as intelligent and caring. Her supposed 'mental breakdowns' are the result of becoming overstressed. Even when she was at the sort of mental state that would normally make us want to wring the necks of others, Twilight simply, and-" he pulled a sheet of paper from his desk, with pink scrawl covering it "-I quote Pinkamena Pie here, 'went fwoooom like a campfire, before falling down'."
Twilight rolled her eyes, smiling despite her life being in this stallion's hoof. That's Pinkie all right.
The buck gently placed the paper back on the table before walking another labeled 'Evidence'. "Besides, how do we know she killed Ginger Gold? Mane hairs? Hoof prints?" He pointed to the roof, his head remaining level. "We live in a day of age where the finer points of the manipulation of magic are becoming common knowledge. I have a report, which I will display for the court, of a recent research report on changeling magic. With the right techniques, somepony could transform into the defendant.
"Furthermore, her assistant, Spike, has stated that Twilight was in the library for the whole night-"
The prosecutor stood up. "Objection, your honour. This 'Spike' you mentioned was asleep at the time; he would not be a reliable witness. And we know, for a fact, that we cannot replicate the magic used by changeling; the report on changelings has stated that pony and changeling magic is not interchangeable." He raised a questioning eyebrow at the earth pony in charge of not getting Twilight killed. "And no pony has ever been know to be able to change their very form to that of another, according to recent census."
The judge nodded, turning to face the defence. "Is this true?"
The blue buck blinked in surprise. "Yes, that is true."
The judge gestured to him. "Very well then. You may proceed with the rest of your case."
He took a deep breath, eyes closed. "Miss Sparkle had never truly met the victim. She only knew her by name and cutie mark. I'm certain that the defendant, neigh, anyone, would have a reason to murder her." He walked in front of the judge, looking at him from his side. "Certainly, your honour, you would not murder someone you didn't know." He rapidly spun to face the jury, who all flinched at his gaze. "The only I reason I see for 'Twilight' to murder this mare is to discredit herself."
He spun around to the judge again. "I rest my case."
The judge nodded, and on his word the jury trotted out to discuss the fate of Twilight. Twilight herself was returned to her cell via teleportation, only to be jolted back an hour later as the jury wandered back in. Celestia was still in her spot, her face the same as it had been for the past while.
"Have you reached a verdict?" the judge asked like he had said it over a thousand times.
"We have, your honour." One of the jurors repied. "We find the defendant guilty of all charges."
WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT?! Twilight's mouth hung open, her breathing halted in shock.
"Are you sure?"
"Very well then." The judge turned to face the princess of the night. "Your majesty?"
Luna lifted herself to her hooves, took in a deep breath and "Twilight Sparkle, on account of murder, you are hereby sentanced to death, 12 noon tomorrow." Her horn glowed and Twilight found herself back in her cell, landing on the hard cobblestone floor for what seemed like the hundreth time. Greylance was looking through the barred window on the door.
"I guess you lost, huh." He sounded... sad? Twilight couldn't respond, her gaze falling to the ground. "I see."
After a pregnant silence, "In case you're wondering why Luna didn't just teleport you into the trial room, it was to make sure you weren't doing something embarassing. Just thought you'd like to know."
"Thanks..." Twilight said, deflated.
"No worries... I guess." He rubbed his neck awkwardly. "I guess I gotta tell the Captain."
"No need." Shining sternly said, prompting a rapid salute from the young guardspony. "At ease, corporal."
He looked through the door window. "Look, I know you think I hate you for what you did, but, first of all, you're my sister and I'll always love you." Twilight turned her head and saw him smiling, sad blue eyes accompanying it. "And secondly, I don't think you did it."
"You're the first..." She said.
"No, I had a talk with Cadence. She knows you. I know you." The slider on the door grinded, and he entered and gripped his sister in a tight hug. "You would never kill anypony."
Twilight wrapped her forelegs around him. "I know I didn't kill anypony."
Shining lowered his head. "I'm not sure if this'll help any, but Celestia says she's got something to tell you tomorrow." he whispered. "I dunno what she means, but it's the Princess, so it has to be important."
Twilight said nothing, but nodded slowly.
"I can't stop this... and I know Celestia... she won't let this pass."
Twilight looked at her brother. "If she has the power, why is she letting it happen?" she said in a broken voice.
"I... I don't know. But I trust her, and I trust you." He squeezed her tighter. "You'll come out of this alive."
They sat there for what seemed like forever, not wanting to present the possibility that she wouldn't come out alive. Greylance coughed.
"Look, sorry to interrupt you, sir, but time's up. It has been for a few minutes."
Shining reliquished his grip on Twilight, holding her shoulders and looking into her face. "Thank you, corporal."
"I thought you'd like to spend some time with your sister, y'know?" He chuckled. "Wish I had a sister..."
The captain lifted himself from the ground. "Remember, BBBFFs." He sniffed, closing his eyes. "I just hope somepony will stop all of this."
"Me too..." Twilight murmured, barely getting the words out.
"Me three." Greylance added, smiling sadly.
With that, and final and tearful goodbyes, the guardsponies left Twilight in her cell, where she once again fell into a restless, dreamless sleep.
Chapter 3 - Execution
The sound of a crow woke Twilight up. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that she hadn't really slept (more rather laid on her straw-sack bed with her eyes shut hoping she'd actually get some sleep), she would have missed it. There was a dull, cloud-filtered light coming through the window, only making her feel colder.
"Hey, murderer." A brutish guard growled through the door. "You've got visitors."
Twilight was then ushured to a stone-lined booth with a pane of glass bisecting it, a series of little holes around mouth level. She was sat on a comfortable (comparatively) seat, and had to wait for five minutes before the door on the other side opened, five ponies entering; a prison warden, looking sternly at Twilight; Rainbow Dash, her face twisting in a mixture of emotions; Applejack, who looked surprisingly normal; Rarity, her eyes puffy and red; and Pinkie Pie, flat-maned and unhappy.
"Girls!" Twilight shouted as happily as she could muster; her voice reverberated in her section of the chamber. "You came to visit!"
"Shoot, Twi, of course we did." Applejack replied. Her voice sounded tinny coming from the little holes in the pane, but she could tell she was genuinely there for her. She hoped.
"So, you've heard, then..." Twilight continued hopelessly.
"Yeah." Dash abruptly blurted. She looked as if she wanted to say something more, but her face scowled as she looked away.
"Darling!" Rarity cried, her voice a little cracked. "You look like a mess!"
Twilight moved her focus to the reflection in the glass; Rarity was right, she did look like a mess. Her mane and fur was matted, she had bags under her eyes and red etching the sides of her eyes. "Yeah... I noticed."
"I'd have given you the cake I made, but they don't allow food from outside..." Pinkie muttered. "That, and it went ding in that doorway."
"What in tarnation did you put in that cake?!" Applejack asked, confused.
"A whole lot of spoons." She said matter-of-factly. Catching the stares (and glares) of the others around her, she added "I kept dropping them in while making it."
"Where's Fluttershy?" Twilight asked, a little heartbroken that her butter-coloured friend didn't appear to be there.
Rarity sighed. "She's scared of prisons." After a moment, "plus she's been in her cottage crying ever since you were taken from us."
Twilight looked down, sadly. "I see. Well, tell her I say hi."
Dash scoffed. "You sound like you're not gonna be killed."
Pinkie brightened up a little. "Oooh! I've got a brilliant idea!" She ducked down, only for the sound of electricity to fill the chambers. She stood up, smiling sheepishly. "I forgot about the anti-magic barriers."
"Pinkie..." Rarity said, noticing the harsh glare of the guard on her bubblegum-coated companion.
"So... what do you think?" Twilight asked, dreading the possible responses.
"About what, darling?" Rarity politely asked.
"About whether or not I did it."
"You ain't guilty of nothin', Ah reckon." Applejack said. "Sounds awful fishy t'me, this whole thing."
"You're one of my bestest best friends, Twilight!" Pinkie chirped. "I know you'd never do something so mean to somepony!"
Rarity sniffed. "I agree. I can't simply imagine you doing something that... vulgar."
Dash remained silent. Everyone looked at her, and she growled. "Man... I wanna kick somepony in the head... I just don't know who.
I wanna hit Twilight for getting into this mess, but I also wanna get the jerk who did this to her..." She gripped her head in frustration. "I am not a clever pony."
Twilight smiled. "Well, when I get out of this, I guess..."
"Pinkie here's been doin' some snoopin' and askin' around." Applejack added, surprisingly confident. "Turns out the evidence was faked."
Twilight just blinked. "So I didn't do it?"
"No, of course not!" Pinkie replied. "But somepony with really good magic did."
"But it's too late to stop alla this." Applejack continued, her confidence wavering. "Luna said so."
"Celestia just winked at me..." Rarity muttered. "I wonder what that could mean?"
Twilight smiled, tears forming in her eyes. "It means there's still hope."
She had talked about everything from Spike (who was busy cleaning up and doing jobs for other ponies) to birthdays to how the town was without her. Turns out that nearly everyone was in the same basket as her friends; they knew Twilight wasn't guilty. The infamous brown stallion with the hourglass cutie mark sounded absolutely sure of it, too. Must be a Trottingham thing.
Now she sat alone in her cell, again. It was an hour until she'd be executed. For some reason, she felt... resigned. She knew it was going to happen, she couldn't stop it, she could only let things pass. Despite her fatalism, the sound of golden-booted hooves trotting down the hallway filled her heart with a warmth she hadn't felt in ages... until she remembered the face that went with the pony.
The door slid open and Greylance let Princess Celestia into her cell. She easily took up a quarter of it, her magestic form radiating the warmth of the morning sun Twilight had recently begun to miss. "Princess Celestia!"
Celestia nodded to the door, and it slid shut. She turned to Twilight, then smiled. "You're not guilty."
"I know... I've had everyone say that except the ones who are going to be executing me."
"That's because it's true." She trotted closer, looking down with a motherly smile. "So I'm going to help you."
Twilight felt that warmth again. "How?"
"When you're up there, you'll be wearing an arcane limiter. It means you won't be able to do any magic when up there." She pointed to the right side of her neck. "This is where the crystal is. Hit your hoof there and it'll shatter."
Celestia closed her eyes. "Then look into my eyes. Keep looking. I'll tell you what to do next."
Twilight blinked. "But, Princess..."
"I know I have a lot to explain, but don't worry. When you're free, I'll find you and I'll tell you everything."
Twilight suddenly grabbed Celestia in a tight hug. "Thank you, Princess."
"Have faith, Twilight."
This was it.
Twilight was led up onto the wooden, raised platform in the centre of the courtyard. The pegasi had schedualed some rain in Canterlot that day, and the first drops of water were already hitting her muzzle. Greylance was one of the guards leading her up; the fact that he would be this close was heartbreaking.
She scratched, or tried to, at the flesh under the ring of cold iron around her neck. The thing was uncomfortable and tight. Not chokingly so, but it was irritating. She glanced down at a puddle of pooled water; she looked worse than yesterday. The rain started to increase, the water soaked into her mane and coat and crawled under the anti-magic device around her neck.
Luna, as expected, gave a little speech about how murder was bad and that those responsible would be punished in kind. Twilight still wondered why Luna, the introverted monarch she met at Nightmare Night, was so... enthusiastic about this. Perhaps her sense of law and order overwrote her compassion for ponies. Maybe she wanted to seek approval from the ponies of Equestia by removing a source of terror. Who knows.
As she was speaking, she felt a rope being placed around her throat, under the anti-magic device. Twilight recollected the fact that hangings hadn't been used in around 800 years. The most recent execution was by a volley of magic arrows, and that had reportedly been a pain to clean up. Then it hit her; she was going to die, and all she could think about was facts she read in a book. She wasn't sure she was humored or disturbed by that, but it certainly felt weird.
Celestia was seated next to Luna, her pale pink form much larger but equally magestic as her younger sister's. She was looking at Twilight, and she winked. That alone was enough for her to feel slightly better. Slightly.
Luna raised her hoof. "On my signal, drop her down." She looked at her sister, who nodded solemnly. She threw her hoof down. "Now."
Something clicked below Twilight and she felt herself falling, jerked to a stop by the rope. The noose constricted around her neck, nearly crushing her windpipe. Aside from utter panic, she felt relieved and a little unimpressed. If they did it right, they'd have snapped my neck from the force.
Flailing, she almost forgot to swing her hoof at something. She slammed the right side of the anti-magic device, and she heard a little crystal shatter inside. She then looked at Celestia, struggling to get air in or out of her throat.
"Listen to me, Twilight." Celestia's voice echoed in her mind. "I want you to teleport out of here. Not Canterlot or Ponyville. You'll be found too easily. Imagine a safe place you can go."
Like thinking was even possible with her head swimming and lungs burning. She thought of all the places she felt safe. The library? No. The Canterlot library? Of course not. Fluttershy's? Maybe, but even so. The library? No- wait, didn't I already think that? The rope was clouding her mind, and her eyes rolled up.
She began focusing on the next best thing: teleporting out of there. She fought between keeping alive, which became increasingly harder, and getting magic to her horn. She felt like fire was building up in her throat, and her limbs involuntarily swung around aimlessly.
"She's using magic!" the guard who was not Greylance shouted. Or maybe it was Greylance. Or was it Luna?
"Stop her!" Luna bellowed. Only Luna could be that loud.
Twilight closed her eyes, spending what little energy she had left on her magic. She could hear hoofsteps above her. Somepony shouted her name. The hiss of steel on leather. The rope relaxing. Her falling. And the sickening jolt of her being magically transported from where she was to somewhere else... but no idea where.
Chapter 4 - Survivor
As Twilight flashed back into reality, she noticed that both the iron ring that was the anti-magic device and the rope were gone. Her breathing had returned, her thoughts were able to be pieced together again...
And she was in mid-air.
Gravity, the bane of many non-pegasi, began it's work as Twilight fell screaming to earth. Twilight though she was lucky enough to have not teleported into a wall, but this wasn't that much better. Her limbs flailed trying to grab purchase on something, her magic failing to instinctively teleport her. Finally, she hit something; a tree.
As her whole world shook and spun she felt branch after branch smack into her. One branch had such an impact her leg felt on fire, another slapped her across the face, and a third snapped off as it stuck into her tail. After what felt like an eternity of being savagely beaten by evil trees (which she knew weren't real), she finally left the foliage and fell a little more before landing on her burning limb, the pain so immense she lost all form of consciousness.
She stirred awake, lying in the same spot she had landed in. She had landed in a clearing of sorts, but fortunately through the treetops (if she had teleported a little to the right, she'd have been a pony pancake). She could hear and feel the rain barely penetrating the treetops, a small drizzle of water on her nose. She had no idea what time it was, but by the orange light filtering through the trees she knew it was around late afternoon. She tried to move, but as she shifted her wounded leg a flame erupted inside of it and she screamed in agony, and she collapsed.
Broken leg. She wasn't going to be able to move with that. Struggling to think of a solution, she remembered she had one spell in her arsenal which might have been able to help, but it was a long shot. Focusing what little energy she had left, she leant to her leg and filled it with the minor healing spell she had. She felt the bones shift into place and snap together. The pain so intense she screamed, the spell dropping.
As she lay there writhing (but trying not to move too much), her ears picked up a low growl, sounding like a...
As she lay still, in fear of being seen as food, one of the massive beasts pondered out into the clearing, sniffing the air. Manticores, according to a book she had read about them, tracked their prey by a combination of movement and smell. She moved her eyes to her body to see that she had been cut by the trees, her dried blood pooled slighty around her. The beast lumbered closer, stopped, sniffed, and moved again, his erratic path following the unicorn's scent. She mee
It stopped right next to her, sniffing. She could smell the carrion in its breath and she wanted to puke. It looked at her and prodded her with a paw. She felt herself being rolled over, her leg burning again. She stiffled a scream. The beast leant down and sniffed again, then roared, flinging tiny globs of foul-smelling saliva onto her. It raised it's paw as it's claws unsheathed.
Twilight felt her blood pump harder through her body and adrenaline kick in. She rolled over to narrowly avoid the gutting strike, receiving three bloody gashes across her back. She scrambled to her hooves and, ignoring the pain in her leg and back, bolted away. The manticore made a sound that was reminiscient to her of a laugh and heard the great leathery wings of the beast catapult it to her.
It slammed to earth in front of her, roaring. Twlight's limbs flailed as she turned around, only for the beast to jump in front of her again. Turn, jump. Turn, jump. Turn, jump.
Eventually, the gradually increasing pain in her leg spiked hard enough, and she collapsed to the ground, tears in her eyes. She wondered if it would have been better to be executed than to be poisoned and eaten by a manticore.
It raised it's tail to her face. She saw the poison dripping out of the tiny spike on the end. She closed her eyes, expecting death.
Instead she got Zebran words shouted at the manticore, the whoosh of swinging fire overhead. She opened her eyes and saw the manticore fleeing, a cloaked but all-too-familiar striped figure standing over her, dimly illuminated by the torch she bore in her mouth.
"Zecora!" She cried, barely even knowing if she said anything or not. "You saved my life!"
The zebra's reply, if there was one, was completely lost after her grip on consciousness once again loosened.
She smelt the alchemical work of Zecora long before she opened her eyes. She was lying on a bed in her zebra friend's hut, the tribal masks hanging from the walls, saying 'Welcome' and 'Hello' despite their horrifying appearances. Zecora didn't turn to face, but happily chimed "Twilight Sparkle, a most friendly mare; I was surprised to see you there."
"I'll explain later." She mumbled and coughed. "How'd you find me?"
"Ingredients for my elixrs I was looking for, but instead I found you on the forest floor." She finished stirring her couldron, and walked up to Twilight. "Manticore poison was the key, to the painkilling potion I gave you, you see."
No wonder she felt like her guts were twisting in a knot. The zebra pointed out a bucket and Twilight heaved into it. Lifting her foul-tasting mouth out of it, she noticed her legs were wrapped in damp cloth with green leaves interwoven in it. "And this?" She asked weakly, pointing at her mummified leg.
"Cloth soaked in my special brew. And the leaves of a unique type of yew." She smiled. "The leaves will help relieve the pain, the brew will make you leg right as rain."
Twilight let her head fall back onto the pillow and smiled. "And that one you're cooking now?"
"Your magic has taken quite a blow; it will take a while for it to regrow." The zebra mare said somewhat cryptically as she returned to stirring the couldron's contents.
Nopony (or nozebra) spoke for the longest of times, the bubbling of the strange broth providing a somewhat soothing ambience. Zecora finally spoke again. "I am afraid I must take my leave. I am missing some seeds, if I believe. I will return within the hour." She trotted up to Twilight and rubbed the unicorn's forehead. "Please do not look so sour."
And with that, the striped equine left her hut, shutting the door quietly. Twilight spent some time looking around from her makeshift bed, not wanting to risk standing on her injured leg, before falling into a dreamless sleep for what seemed like the upteenth time this day.
"...Ah think she's wakin' up." A familiar, accented voice said as her eyes started opening.
"What's going on?" Twilight tried to say, but all that came out was "Whuh...?"
"Oh thank goodness." Fluttershy sighed quietly, barely audiable even in the silence.
"Yay!" Pinkie squealed, shocking Twilight into full awareness. "She's alive! She's alive! Whoo hoo!"
"Pinkie!" Twilight yelled, the rush of adrenaline starting to wane. "Don't do that!" Before she could say another word, the pink, pony-shaped ball of energy gleefully wrapped her forehooves around her. Applejack and two other ponies joined into the group hug, and while it was so very very comforting to know that her friends were here, it was also very constricting. Pain started to worm its way into her leg again and she had to force everyone off with her free legs.
"Twilight, darling!" Rarity exclaimed, her eyes as poofy and red as they were when she was in the jail. Twilight felt her mane being tugged on telekinetically, as her fashionista friend used her magic to try and make her look some way decent. "I knew you were a mess in that dreadful dungeon, but now..."
Rainbow sighed in frustration, then smiled at Twilight, not needing any words. Pinkie was busy bouncing around, proclaiming her joy and managing to not knock over any of Zecora's potions. Applejack set down her hat.
"We all knew this wasn't gunna end all badly." She said. She closed her eyes. "Ah guess y'all gunna come back soon, right?"
Twilight simply looked at Applejack as the farmpony opened her eyes. "No."
"No?!" Rainbow screamed, her smile dropping. "But you're alive! We can't leave you here!"
Twilight sat up, clutching her stomach as it twisted like a gymnast. "I can't leave. As far as I know, I'm an escaped prisoner. I can't be found or this will all happen again." She ulped, grabbed the bucket and heaved her stomach's contents out. Damn, she was going to have to drink another one of those horrible potions. Zecora dutifully brought another serving to her. When she finished throwing up, she looked up at her friends.
"I have to stay here."
Applejack stomped. "Horseapples! That... that just ain't right! We all miss you, need you, and y'all decide to not come back?"
"We're your friends!" Rainbow exlaimed. "You can't just leave us!"
"I'm sorry, but I don't want to be executed for real." Twilight muttered, drank some of the foul elixr and lay back down on her bed.
Pinkie stopped bouncing midair. "Wait, I just got an idea!"
"Oh no." Dash drawled.
The pink earth pony dropped down. "If Celestia was behind saving you, maybe she could make everyone realise you weren't a meany mean pony!"
"That's a stupid idea." Dash groaned.
"Actually, no." Twilight murmured. "But it would help if somepony could try to find out who the evidence used to frame me belonged to..."
"That's quite a hard task..." Rarity added, also thinking about the possibility.
Twilight sat there, pondering. She hoped it would work. But, knowing her, her plans didn't often fail.
"Ok, here's the plan. Rarity, Pinkie Pie, try to grab some of the evidence and bring it back here. Rarity negotiates for it, and Pinkie can sneak in, if the talk fails-"
"Ain't stealing illegal?" Applejack muttered.
"-so that's why it's a last resort." Twilight sharply retorted. "Rainbow Dash, Applejack, bring me as many books on forensics as you can. Fluttershy-"
Her mind drew a blank as she looked at her butter-coated friend.
"Um... yes?" Fluttershy timidly replied.
"I... I need you to... um... never mind, just help Applejack and Rainbow Dash."
"Oh... ok." Fluttershy said, weakly saluting (much to Rainbow's chagrin).
"You need to stay here and rest a while," Zecora said, urging Twilight to finish her drink. "I am sorry your cure tastes vile."
Twilight forced herself to consume more of her cure. Yep, still horrible. "If I'm right about this, somepony framed me and I'm going to find out who."
Everyone (excluding the preoccupied zebra) cheered, not just because Twilight was alive. It was because she was still Twilight Sparkle.
After her friends departed for their missions, for the first time in what felt like a long time, Twiligh gradually fell asleep, happy and unfettered by the troubles that had plagued her in recent days.
She had a plan. And it was going to work, she was sure of it.
Chapter 5 - Return
Canterlot Law & Order office
Rarity sat across the pudgy stallion in charge of all law and order. She felt nauseous; the smell of body odour, cigarettes and a distinct lack of fresh air didn't sit well with her lungs or stomach.
"Lemme get this straight..." the bloated buck said. "You want confidential evidence from the murder case a while ago, because it would make a great reminder of your once-friend, who has escaped us, and her deeds in life?"
"Only a hair, of course." Rarity replied, maintaining her dignified expression despite the need for a bucket. "I'm sure you won't miss one hair out of, oooh, seventy?"
"Eighty-nine." The stallion replied. "Yeeeaaaaahhhh, no, not gonna happen."
Rarity batted her eyelids in an attempt to charm him. "Surely you could do a lady a favour?"
The stallion simply rolled his eyes. "That's not gonna work. If you have any more business, I suggest you find someone who cares."
Rarity stood up, huffing as she left. "Most unpleasant..." she muttered to herself, trotting past the distracted eyes of the other stallions in the building.
"Well, if negotiations won't work..."
Applejack pushed the heavy wooden door open, it's creaks echoing slightly throughout the book-clad shelves. She trotted slowly inside, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy hovering silently above her.
"Hello!" a chipper, young mare called out, causing everypony to jump back in alarm. Rainbow's head connected painfully with the doorway.
"Are you here to borrow a book?" The little mare beamed, staring eagerly at them through her oversized glasses.
Applejack nodded, trotting in further. "D'ya have any books on forensics or somethin'?"
The mare bounced from her desk, trotting briskly around and muttering to herself. She eventually stopped at a shelf. "Aha! Forensics! How many do you need?"
"All of 'em." Dash bluntly stated, rubbing her head.
"All of them?" The librarian asked in disbelief. "Wow. Ok then."
Fluttershy floated to Rainbow, reaching out with a comforting hoof which was batted away.
One minute, five books and two saddlebags later, the three visitors left, the mare smiling as a purple and green dragon skulked about with a broom.
Twilight was just starting to get to sleep when there was a knock on the door to the hut. Zecora has said she was going to get more herbs for the magic restoration potion. Her magic hadn't been completely restored, however, and she could barely manage to lift a stick at the moment, let alone open a door.
"Who is it?" she asked, then realising that if anyone recognised her voice... she cleared her throat and said in a deeper voice, "I mean, who is it?", hiding under the blanket.
"It's me, Twilight." a familiar magestic voice replied. "May I come in?"
"Oh." Twilight flushed, pulling the blanket off her head. "Zecora's out at the moment, but I guess you can come in."
"Thank you." The door was pushed open, and Celestia entered, seeming to take up most of the room. She eyed the hut, a smile rising. "So this is your zebra friend's home. I must admit it's... rather homely."
Twlight smiled weakly in reply. Celestia closed her eyes. "I'm sure you have many questions about... what happened."
"I... um... actually, I only have one." Twlight replied, sitting up. Even if she was mostly healed, at least physically, she hadn't moved for quite some time.
Celestia looked around for someone to sit. Only the floor seemed good enough; she sat down on that, looking at Twilight with the same motherly, compassionate look she always gave to her subjects.
Twilight coughed. "If you knew I wasn't guilty... why didn't you just pardon me?"
Celestia frowned and sighed. "It's... difficult. I couldn't just declare you innocent. If I did... then someponies, Luna included, would see me as abusing my power to get my student out of this all, guilty or not."
She looked away. "There would have been an outcry. Who knows what would happen after that? Rebellion? Luna demanding the throne? She isn't ready to rule a kingdom yet."
Twilight nodded, looking down. Surely they would all believe Celestia... right? She felt a hoof on her shoulder, and looked up to see her mentor smiling with those compassionate eyes.
"What matters, Twilight, is that you're free." She sighed. "It is a shame I cannot do anything more to help clear your name."
Twilight smirked, looking up to the magestic white alicorn. "Actually, I'm working on that right now." As she spoke, her mentor's eyes widened and a smile formed on her face. "I've got my friends going out to get some things I need. Then I'll see if I can prove the culprit."
"Even if you prove the evidence to be fabricated... you're going to have to prove it in the eyes of everypony else."
Twilight's head lowered. "I know. But it's better than sitting here doing nothing."
A ghost of a smile formed on the Princesses face. Turning to leave, she quietly said: "I wish you luck."
Canterlot Law & Order office
All was quiet in the empty offices. Only the soft trotting of the night guards could be heard, the cones of light from their horns illuminating the dark patches of the offices.
Unnoticed by them, however, was a pink and black mare. Weaving between the cubicles and desks, she evaded every flash, darting silently across the room to the large office. Smacking noiselessly onto the door and fiddling with the lock, the door eventually clicked open; the sound echoed, drawing the attention of the closest guard.
"Huh?" he muttered, narrowing his eyes as he trotted over, readying a baton with his magic. "Who's there?"
"No-pony!" An annoyingly high-pitch voice rapidly replied. After a minor coughing fit, it continued, in a deeper voice "I mean, nopony stealing stuff?"
The guard raised an eyebrow, and started to swing the door open. "Who are you?"
"New guard, just checking out the room making sure stuff isn't stolen!" The mare's voice continued. "Carry on!"
The guard sighed. "Arright, just don't nick anything, or else you're doomed."
"Okie dokie lokie!" The newbie said, then returned to work. The guard went off to continue his rounds, groaning.
Nopony noticed the black-pink, mare-shaped thing crawl out of the offices through the windows, stalking silently through the night,
at speeds normally not thought of as possible.
The sun was setting, but the ponies inside the hut couldn't see it thanks to the thick blanket of foliage blocking it. Twilight sat behind a desk which looked like it didn't belong in the hut (which it didn't, it had been brought in for this occasion). Her friends, either anxious, excited or worried, stood around her, peering over her shoulder to see the table.
The princesses Celestia and Luna, both feeling minorly claustrophobic, stood over. A host of three other ponies stood by: a black and gold unicorn with a star cutie mark, a pegasus with a video camera, and another unicorn with a gavel depicted on his flank. The zebra who lived in the hut was not present.
"What is the meaning of waking me up so early, dear sister?" Luna growled, yawning . "And why are you not letting Us... I mean, me, take this criminal away?"
"I admit," the gavelflanked unicorn muttered. "I have to agree with her magesty Luna."
"Patience, my friends." Celestia calmly said. "You will soon see why." She gestured a hoof to Twilight.
"Thank you, Princess." Twilight said, bowing. "Now, it was said in my trial that anypony with the right magic could transform into another pony, right?"
"Yeah," the black unicorn, an arcane scientist, said. "but there's no known magic that could do it. Only changelings can transform, and the magic signatures of ponies and changelings don't mix."
"I've fought changelings, and I know a spell which can remove any of their disguises." She gestured to the purple and pink hairs on the table, laid out in a bundle. "Suppose somepony, I don't know who, found out how to use the changeling magic. Someone good with magic."
"Like you." The lawpony said.
"Why would Twilight transform into herself?" Rainbow mockingly asked, her voice dripping with uncontained sarcasm. The lawpony blinked, then facehoofed.
"Of course. Sorry, do continue."
Twilight beamed, then coughed and recomposed herself. "If the magic is the same, then my spell should de-disguise the hairs."
The scientist put a hoof to his chin thoughtfully. "I see. Let's see if it works, then."
Twilight nodded, then pointed her horn to the hairs, channeling magic into it. Her magic potential hadn't fully regrown yet, but she hoped she had enough. As the horn glowed brighter, it finally shot out a beam of magenta energy that washed over the hairs. The arcane scientist's eyes widened, along with the pegasus who was recording the scene. The others shielded theirs.
The light stopped abruptly; Twilight stood leaning over the desk, panting and starting to sweat. The once-purple hairs had become ice blue, a light greenish smoke rising off them.
"Amazing..." the scientist muttered in awe, then shook his head. "but... how do we know you didn't add the disguise yourself?" A chorus of mutters followed.
Twilight flushed a little, looking down. "I'm not that good at illusionary magic."
"Prove it." The lawpony said. Twilight sighed, focusing her limited magic around herself and tried to take on the appearance of Rarity. The image fizzled and crackled to life, but just as soon dispelled in a haze of white and purple. Twilight felt even more drained than before.
The scientist levitated a couple of the blue hairs up. "I'll take this to the forensics department. They'll find out who it is."
Celestia smiled at Luna. "I told you that Twilight didn't do it."
Luna frowned. "That does not mean that pony hadn't been murdered."
Two days later, [LOCATION UNKNOWN]
Flicking through the local newspaper, she found herself even more bored than before. Nothing about her, nothing about that mare who ruined her. Not a word of her death, or even anything new on the story.
Finding nothing of interest, she disregarded the paper at the nearest wall. It fluttered as it fell, landing open to a page. A single image caught her eye, and she pulled the paper up to her face.
She had been pardoned?!
Reading below the smiling image of that young mare, she found that the evidence had been false. Impossible! I made sure that it could not be...
The mare had disproven it herself. And they believed her.
Howling in rage, she flung the newspaper into the fireplace. The last words to burn were "-oon has been proven gu-"
Sliding a green-slicked knife off the metal desk, she stormed out, looking for blood.
Twilight was still not allowed to leave the hut, despite her protests, and Pinkie warning everyone of a itchy ear (a Pinkie-sense sign nopony had encountered before). Twilight admitted she was feeling much better, even though her magic still wasn't up to par. Zecora, once again, was collecting more ingredients for another one of those disgusting magic restoration potions. Funny, Twilight thought. Maybe she should just grab as much as possible and stockpile it... Of course, there was probably a good reason for it, but Twilight couldn't see it.
She closed her eyes, trying to get to sleep. It wasn't working, but she wasn't known for giving up like that. The door creaked open, slowly. Twilight kept her eyes closed, hoping Zecora wouldn't try to wake her.
Hooves trotted up to her. She could hear Zecora's ragged breathing. Her heartbeat speeding up, albeit it barely audiable. The sound of magic holding someth- wait, magic?
She opened her eyes and saw a not-Zecora, hidden beneath a bone-white cloak with some strange green splatches on it, wielding a slimy kitchen knife in her lavender magic aura, pointed right above her neck.
"Good night, Twilight." The mare murmured, and Twilight recognised the voice... but from where. However, there was more on her mind at the moment. Like dodging.
As the knife sped down she rolled out of the way, the blade embedding harmlessly in the bed. Twilight flailed a hoof at the assailant, knocking her hood off. She was just about to run when she caught the mare's eyes. "Trixie?!"
"Die, damn you!" Trixie bellowed, tearing the knife out and slashing at Twilight. Twilight raised a hoof instinctively and got a few deep slashes for her efforts. She jumped out of the little cove the bed was set in, and galloped for the door. A searing line of pain in her hindlegs forced her legs to give out under her, and she collapsed right next to the door.
"Zeco-MMPH!" She tried to call for her zebra friend, but a lavender glow enveloped her muzzle, shutting it tight. Trixie laughed, and trotted up behind her. The knife listed lazily next to Twilight's eyes.
"I bet you're wondering about what I did. How did I fool everypony... until you." She spat those last words out like they were venom. "While everypony was trying to work out how changelings worked... I... aquired one myself." The knife moved to just in front of Twilight's eyes, and she could clearly see the green slime on it. "I managed to perfect my illusion spells, all with the right... potions." Trixie laughed, moving the blade to Twilight's throat. "You must be feeling so defeated right now... that this little mare you humiliated in front of a whole town has surpassed you, the Element of Magic, in sheer talent." Trixie chuckled and pushed the knife into her victim's flesh. "Was there ever any doubt?"
The door opened, and Zecora stood in the doorway. "I have returned from my harves-" whatever rhyme she was going to say died on her lips. Her eyes widened, then narrowed. "You! Mallae!"
Trixie brought the knife up, aiming it at Zecora. "You think you can best me? Come on, show Trixie what you-"
Zecora dropped the basket of herbs, and lept at Trixie. The unicorn lifted the blade into the zebra's path, smirking, but Zecora simply batted it aside as the magic field imploded around it. The zebra was fast, but Trixie flashed her horn, puffed away in a cloud of smoke and appeared behind Zecora as she landed. Twilight stared in amazement. Since when could she teleport?!
Zecora kicked her hindlegs out, Trixie rearing back to dodge. She tried to slam her forehooves down on the zebra's legs, but it did nothing as Zecora spread them after her attack, then wrapped them around the unicorn's forelegs. Trixie felt herself lifted up in the air, then thrown to the nearby wall. Another puff of smoke and she finished her flight into Zecora.
The resulting hoof to hoof battle was too chaotic to make out anything, with hooves flying, mouths swinging, bodies flying and the occasional puff of smoke. Twilight tried to stand up, but her legs were almost incapable of lifting anything, let alone her own body. From what she could make out of the battle, Trixie's magic was giving her the upper hoof.
Twilight had magic of her own. Shakily, she lifted the discarded knife. It seemed almost alien to her; she had never used a weapon before. Grimacing, she waited until the right opportunity in the combat... which presented itself soon enough.
Trixie was standing over the zebra, pinning her with her magic. She smiled, and created an aura around the zebra's neck. "Any last words?"
Zecora barely muttered something in zebran, which translated as "go to hell."
The unicorn tightened her grip around her second victim's neck... then all her magic imploded as she felt cold, wet steel on her neck.
She slowly turned her head to face Twilight. The wounded mare was smiling. "I still have magic."
Trixie stammered. "You... but... what...?"
Twilight focused on keeping the knife hovering. "Zecora... go tell... somepony..."
Zecora slid from under Trixie and galloped off, ignorning her own wounds. Twilight kept Trixie pinned down; everytime the blue-coated mare tried something, the knife would press harder. Twilight barely moved; if she did, her concentration could break.
Eventually a couple of silver-plated unicorn stallions returned with Zecora. "That is the mare you seek," Zecora said, pointing a hoof at Trixie. "Who committed a crime unique."
"Trixie Lulamoon?" One of the guards asked, sternly. Trixie nodded as the blade dropped from her neck. "You're under arrest for murder, identity theft and attempted murder." Both officers encased Trixie's forelegs in a set of manacles, and dragged her away, the mare screaming for vengeance.
Twilight gazed into the distance, starting to tremble. She was this close to death. This close to loosing everything. She sniffed, fighting back tears.
Zecora walked over and grabbed her in a hug. "You are safe from that fiend now, Twilight. There is no need to worry about that fight."
Twilight sobbed quietly, eventually falling back into sleep.
Dear Princess Celestia,
It's been some time since those events, and I must say I've been getting a lot better. Nopony in town seems to be scared of me, or hates me. After everypony (and everyzebra) told them about Trixie's attack, they all became sympathetic of me. Well, at least the one who are capable of sympathy.
I still have nightmares about it. About what could have happened to me. About what I could have done to her. I've been finding myself staying up later and later. Even now as I'm writing this, I'm planning an all-night study session. If you have any suggestions on how to cure this insomnia, please let me know; I haven't been able to find anything useful in the library.
What's going to happen to Trixie? Please don't kill her. I don't think I could deal with it.
Your faithful student,
Dear Twilight Sparkle, my most faithful student,
I am so happy you are getting better. Give my regards to your friends, and my thanks for helping you through this hard time. I know it must be difficult, and I wish I could help you much more than I can.
As for your insomnia, I do not have many ideas. I will search the library for anything that may help.
I have decided to abolish the execution punishment for murder. She will instead be given life imprisonment (about 60 years), with that time reduced to 40 if she behaves. If she tries to pull anything again when she's free she will be given another life sentence. I hope this is ok with you.
I hope you get better soon. Feel free to talk to me about anything that troubles you.