Chapter 0: The Muddy Road of Life
CLOP - A single hoofstep echoed off the unlit cobblestone. The Great and Powerful Trixie fears no pony. Trixie is the greatest and most powerful po... illusionist since The Great and Powerful Trixie’s mentor, The Magnificently Unparalleled Hoofdini.CLOP The Great and Powerful Trixie neither fears nor needs anypony. Trixie is the Greatest and Most Powerful on her own. She needs nopony.CLOP Trixie needs no friends, no family; Trixie doesn’t even need a mentor anymore. Trixie, the Great and Powerful, needs no pony other than The Great and Powerful Trixie... though Trixie is not above occasionally enjoying the company of others. Peasants and minions are pleasant on occasion.CLOP Yes, The Great and Powerful Trixie does right by The Great and Powerful Trixie.CLOP The Great and Powerful Trixie attended the Canterlot School for Uniquely Gifted Unicorns, on a scholarship no less. Few in history have ever claimed such a feat. And NONE of them came from an orphanage.CLOP Fewer still have performed a half dozen feats of magic never before seen in front of Princess Celestia of Equestria as The Great and Powerful Trixie had, TWICE!Thud – Trixie’s hoof struck unlit dirt as she veered off the main path. But fewer still have banished an ursa, even if it was a baby.Thud But The Great and Powerful Trixie has performed and invented magic that has never been performed by another pony, before or after.Thud And The Great and Powerful Trixie was by no means great and powerful only in the ways of magic. Trixie designed, built, and pulled her own hoof-made cart with her own four magnificent hoofs.Thud The Great and Powerful Trixie hated pulling that cart now that The Great and Powerful Trixie thinks about it. In fact, thinking about it is making Trixie’s eyes water.Squish – Trixie ignored the mud beneath her hoof. The Great and Powerful Trixie admits to missing her cape and magic hat. They were passed down by The Magnificent Unparalleled Hoofdini upon his death.Squish And his mentor, The Showstopping ClopperfieldSquish And his mentor, The Mighty Dough ManeingSquish And his, The Humorous Inspiring Penn and TailerSquish And theirs…CLOP - Trixie's hoof landed on a stone doorstep. It would appear The Great and Powerful Trixie has reached her destination. A tear plummeted, the sound of its terminal collision with the stone going unnoticed in the light. Well, as Trixie's mentor use to say, no time like the present to dictate your future.------ “Done,” stated Twilight to herself. Talking to herself was always a bit of an odd pleasure to Twilight; she wished it wasn’t such an ‘odd’ behavior. “Wow it’s almost sunrise. I guess Exotic and Esoteric Earth Pony Magic of the Early Earldom Tribes of the Eastern Equiopian Empire volume II entranced another equine.”THUD THUD THUD “What's this, rapping on my chamber door?” giggled Twilight, still giddy from her reading binge. “You are lucky I was up,” stated Twilight. As she began walking to the door, she opened it casually with the violet glow of practiced magic. “Now how can…” Twilight stopped in her tracks. Before her was the one pony she never expected to see again. Trixie sat with her head held high, sniffling, with tears slowing trickling down her face. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is... apologetic for having disturbed you at this late hour, Ms. Twilight Sparkle; however, given the, shall we call it a sendoff, I received last time I graced this shanty town with my presence, I thought it might be best to call upon you at a late hour.” Twilight stared at the teary-eyed mare. “How can I help you, Trixie?” “I have a rather unique request, Twilight. Perhaps we could talk inside?” “Of course.” Twilight stepped aside, “Would you like some tea?” “That,” said Trixie, “Would be much appreciated.” Twilight closed the door behind Trixie as she entered the well-lit library.
Chapter 1: Derailment
"Here is your tea, Trixie. I hope you like Earl Grey," said Ms. Twilight Sparkle. The perfect hostess even at the late hour. "and I found some cinnamon pine cones if you’re feeling peckish, but I should warn you, they're a bit, um, stale," Twilight added with an 'appropriate' smile, floating over a small tray with stale, but quality, pine cones."Earl Grey is most acceptable," said Trixie 'polity,' "as are the pine cones. The Great and.." Trixie coughed, "I mean thank you, Ms. Sparkle. I actually prefer my pine cones on the stale side." This is your last pair of wings, Trixie. Don't fly too high until you test them out."Oh, just call me Twilight. I'm trying to be more personable," said Twilight, setting down the tea to cool. "I'll be honest, I'm still surprised to see you here. You seemed pretty angry at me for showing off with the Ursa."The Great and Powerful Trixie is above revealing eye twitches. "Yes," affirmed Trixie with mostly honest regret. The Great and Powerful Trixie composed herself momentarily before continuing. "The... I still am... However!" said The Great and Powerful Trixie, cutting off any potential interruptions, "You had good reason to VANqui—" started Trixie before being 'impudently' shushed."Spike is still asleep.""Spike?" asked a confused Trixie in her 'indoor' voice."Oh," said Twilight with a blush of embarrassment, "Spike is my dragon assistant, has been since I hatched him as a foal."Lied Twilight, obviously, no foal could hatch a dragon egg."You mean to tell the Great and Powerful Trixie that you, Twilight Sparkle, hatched a dragon's egg as a filly?" inquired Trixie with righteous curiosity and only a hint of disbelief."Yes!" exclaimed Twilight, hiding her obvious pride quite well. But not so well that the highly attuned senses of Trixie could not pick up on it. "It's how I got into Celestia's school for gifted unicorns, and got my cutie mark." Twilight Beamed. "Here," She floated over a small, plainly framed picture."It's a picture right after the entrance exam," stated the librarian with a causality that surprised even The Great and Powerful Trixie.Trixie ignored Twilight. The picture before her did not just show a young Sparkle with a floating, flailing baby dragon. Nor did it simply show a filly, freshly accepted into the most prestigious school in the world, flanked by two proud parents who were intelligent enough to stay away from flailing baby dragon claws. It showed The Celestial Goddess, Princess of Equestria, and Guardian of the Sun, Princess Celestia of Equestria, standing behind the proud family. She was beaming, knowingly, at the her new pupil.Trixie's great mental, and physical, control kept her strong, yet feminine, jaw from lowing more than the polite 1-3 inches required by decency in such situations. Twilight decided to play it coy. It was not Trixie's favorite trick, but in the circumstances something she could appreciate professionally."That there is my mother, Twilight Velvet, and my father, Night Light. I was magically burnt out after hatching Spike after my," Twilight blushed, "uncontrolled magical release. If Celestia hadn't been there, the sun above only knows how far my magic could have gone."The wise and patient Trixie visibly pondered this. A Unicorn's magic was an extension of one's self. Spell variety, power, control, and application are all expressed during an uncontrolled magical outburst. What a pony desired was expressed in its purest form, though the means through which that desire was expressed could vary greatly. An accepted theory was that the means the magic expressed to reach the pony's inner desire depended largely on the strength of the pony's power base and their special talent. The means never seemed to conflict with a pony's moral conscience.However Trixie had never heard of a pony having a true uncontrolled outburst before getting their cutie mark. Had the Great and Powerful Trixie not seen the strength of Twilight's magic, she might not believe it possible for a pony to have a outburst before a cutie mark. The knowledge of one’s special skill was innate, and without that focus, a pony's magic cannot readily manifest itself as well. Even spells unrelated to a pony's talent became easier after its discovery.The Very Understanding Trixie also knew how private an uncontrolled burst was. It is the closest thing non alicorn's could get to having a glimpse into somepony's soul. The fact that Twilight was willing to talk about it at all was perhaps the most revealing thing one could observe, given the situation. Assuming Ms. Sparkle was telling the truth of course...It was not unheard of for a unicorn with morals far below that of Trixie's to dramatically reveal their inner self with a well-conceived farce of a story in order to get something, or somepony. The Quick and Observant Trixie knew this from experience. Luckily she saw through the ruse before such a sorted stallion was able to get under her tail; though, figuring out one's first love was a lie tended to put a damper on even the most iron-willed pony, such as Trixie.Regardless, few ponies were crass enough to falsify such facts about oneself. They were private and intimate, and Trixie knew better than to commit such a faux pas as to become close enough to share such details herself.Besides, while personal, unicorn foals usually had at least two or three minor uncontrolled magical fits in their youth. In fact, these fits, when properly observed by knowledgeable unicorns, could lead to the discovery of new spells. Which, now that the Great and Powerful Trixie thought about it, could lead to another interesting line of questioning, one that might circumvent the rules of proper etiquette.Then again, Trixie was here as a guest, and desperate. No reason to be rude. It's not like Twilight is actively trying to outshine her at one of her shows."Ms. Sp... Twilight, the Princess was there during your, episode?"Twilight's 'convincingly' innocent blush confirmed the statement, even before she nodded."Then I am curious, if I may be so bold as to ask?" The Great and Powerful Trixie prompted for permission with an extended hoof.Twilight again nodded."Would you consider yourself friends with the Princess?""Yes," stated Twilight quickly but casually, with perhaps a hint of pride. Yes definitely a hint of pride, but that is to be expected. "After my episode, she took me on as her personal student. Since then, I feel proud to say we have grown into good friends."Trixie was, simply put, stunned. If what Twilight said was true, and Trixie begrudgingly admitted she had no reason to believe that any of what Twilight said had been falsified or overly exaggerated, then she had to be sitting in the presence of one of the greatest unicorns in modern times, if not the past three centuries. It had been at least that long since Celestia had formally taken on a personal student.The Great and Powerful Trixie, however, found Twilight's presentation lacking. There was no buildup, no tension. It was, simply put, plainly stated. Yet the bluntness, Trixie found, was endearing. It was straightforward and presented as fact. It wasn't bragging; it wasn't pride, though that was present; it was a straight, objective fact.A fact shared in response to a somewhat private question. Perhaps even shared in mutual respect. While most ponies Trixie dealt with would have been using the information to better their standing, Twilight simply did not seem to care. Trixie found it refreshing, intimidating, exotic, unquantifiable. A loose variable in social behavior that Trixie simply does not understand. And, in Trixie's experience, anything Trixie does not understand is dangerous as far as other ponies are concerned.Twilight was staring at The Great and Powerful Trixie. Because of this, Trixie finally realized that she had been staring at Twilight for at least half a minute, her jaw slipping dangerously low."My apologies, Ms. Sparkle." The Great and Powerful Trixie damned her reaction. Trixie knew even before Twilight responded with a curt 'Just Twilight!' that she had offended the star mage. It was something that confused Trixie, as she regretted her word choice because of the obviously frustrated and slightly pained expression on the face of the purple unicorn."I mean, I’m sorry Twilight. I did not realize that you studied under royalty."The celestial student sighed, possibly in practiced acceptance, definitely in exasperation."It's okay. Just don't make it into a big deal. I spent my childhood in the shadow of the title ‘student of the Princess’."The Great and Powerful Trixie chuckled, honestly chuckled, much to the now-irate purple unicorn's offense."That wasn't a joke! Do you realize how hard it is to live up to everypony's expectations? Literally demigod level expectations from everypony you meet!""No, no," laughed the blue mare into her grave. "It's just, just." More giggles snuck out of the ever deepening hole. "The Great and Powerful Trixie does not find much in common with the common pony. The fact that you, Twilight Sparkle, happen to have something in common with me is quite amusing.""I fail to see how having anything in common with you could be amusing?" The Great and Powerful Trixie damned her lack of self control and the anger it brought forth from the one pony who was willing to help her. The one pony who was able. She chose to blame the late hour, despite knowing the truth."Trixie is sorry. Trixie does not associate with other ponies, so imagine her surprise that the shadows that Trixie can associate with, are cast by the Sun Princess herself."Twilight paused to consider the implications. "What metaphorical shadow do you live under?"Oops. "The shadow of The Magnificent and Unparalleled Hoofdini, as well as Trixie's own. After all, they do say that a candle burns brightest just before it goes out.""Well, hopefully we can relight your flame soon," added the completely oblivious Twilight to the now amused Great and Powerful Trixie. "What? Did I say something?"Trixie bothered to hide her grin behind her magnificent hoof. This served to both hide her smile and increase the imminent embarrassment of the clueless mare. "Oh, my Twilight, I did not realize you had those kind of emotions for strong mares."Twilight's jaw dropped predictably as far as it could short of dislocating. She was likely trying to identify where the conversion went horribly wrong.The innocent and inflammatory giggles, produced by none other than The Great and Powerful Trixie, likely added to the poor mare’s confusion and horror. Then again, they did cause Trixie to blush, naturally eliciting a similar response from the sheltered librarian.
Chapter 2: Back to Sleep
The Great and Powerful Trixie woke that Sunday morn, not of her own volition.Muggy. Why is it muggy? And why does it smell like a rock quarry?"I see you’re up, finally," a young voice said from several hooves away.Belligerence. Trixie hates belligerence."Please. You can't fool me. I've had to wake Twilight up so often that you would never be able to fool me."I especially hate belligerence directed at me."Come on, I have chores to do."And I really, really, hate waking up to belligerence directed at me. And I think my hoof is asleep.Show Time!"What do you think you’re doing, waking... Trixie!"The voice harrumphed. "I am doing ‘work’. You know, that thing that productive ponies do."Trixie kept her head still as she opened one eye and peered over the room, setting her sight on the owner of the voice. The first thing Trixie noted was that in the daylight, the library looked less foreboding, and actually quite homey. The next thing Trixie noticed was the purple reptilian face at Trixie's eye level, scowling at Trixie with a look that would, in the future, quell the mightiest cities. Trixie found the look to be like that of a slightly adorable foal. Of course the pink apron he wore only added to the image.Trixie continued to lounge with one foreleg raised comfortably onto the armrest above Trixie's head. The other Foreleg hung limply at Trixie's side, off the couch, and fully asleep."You must be Spike.""Yeah, what's it to ya?""Twilight spoke very highly of you last night. You make her very proud."The small dragon pulled back, slightly, in surprise. His eyes softened.Still adorable.He brought his claws together and tapped in a nervous gesture. "She said she was, proud of me?"I still got it. This is too easy. Telling the truth helped too.Trixie lowered her eyebrow as she turned her head. "She didn't have to. It was obvious."Spike slowed his tapping, but the fight had obviously been stunned out of him."You really think so?"This is too easy. I might as well go for the knock out."Of course. Why do you ask? Has she given you any reason to doubt her pride in you or the love she shares?"The little dragon's eyes dilated, and the tapping stopped. "L... love?""Familial not romantic." Did that really need to be explained?Spike relaxed. "Oh. No, well." He let out an exhausted sigh and sat down with his back against Trixie's couch.The Great and Powerful Trixie took the opportunity to roll her eyes. Damn your soft heart, Trixie. You have a image you need to uphold."I know she loves me like a brother, and I love her too. And I know she is proud of me. I mean I am her number one assistant."There's more than one... Oh right the owl.Spike continued. "But sometimes I feel like I am just her butler or something. I mean she helped raise me since I could walk. But it always seems like she expects me to be doing chores or something. Sometimes I just want it to be us doing something we like to do, like old times, ya know?"Trixie did not, but that hardly mattered to her wisdom."How old are you, spike, in dragon terms?"Spike turned around, staring blankly.Trixie held in another sigh. "Would you be considered a baby, a toddler, child, etcetera, etcetera." Trixie found herself absently waiving her sleepy hoof in tiny dismissive circles, and realized she didn't care."Oh," said spike sitting up straighter as he turned back around to sit against the couch and think. "I, don't honestly know. Twilight thinks I am still technically a baby. But when I went on the dragon migration..."Trixie sat up a little, or at least lay flatter, as her eyebrow arched in interest."... I made friends with these other Dragons that I guess would have been teenagers. But they ended up being real jerks. Now that I think about it, I don't think dragons look at it like ponies do."Interesting mused the crafty illusionist. "Go on.""I think Dragons see eggs, dragons smaller than themselves, dragons the same size or strength, and dragons
larger than themselves."Not exactly an epiphany."In pony terms then, how developed are you then?"Spike scratched his chin while he thought. Then he slumped a bit."I guess I would say I'm still a kid. But mature for a kid," he added, turning around in challenge before turning forward again."I'm probably more grown up than most of the colts and fillies around, but I still tend to overreact and act before thinking.""I would agree with your assessment," Stated Trixie who smiled inwardly.Spike looked back at her warily, unsure where this was going."You’re probably a child in dragon terms, but you seem quite mature for your age if compared to a pony."Spike smiled a bit and nodded in acceptance of the complement.Swish.Spike looked back around as Trixie continued. "But when you were younger, Twilight was still just a silly little filly. To her, you probably did seem like a brother. But here you are, still a child, and she is pretty much a full-grown mare. She has a lot more responsibilities, and it probably dawned on her that you were a responsibility. So she probably began to treat you like a you were her kid."Trixie let Spike contemplate Trixie's words deeply before she continued. "Tell me, how was our bookish Twilight’s relationships with her parents?"Spike sighed, seeing where this was going. "She mostly did things by herself. She loved books and has always been very self motivated. They sometimes took her out with them, but she always seemed to turn it into a field trip somehow. And they pulled her away to make sure she did her chores.""It seems you are wise enough to see where The Great and Powerful Trixie is going with this.""Yeah, I do," sighed the slightly downtrodden dragon as he got up."Look, I have some other chores I can do. I'm sorry for waking you. I'll leave you to your nap if you want. I'll get you when lunch is ready."Success.Spike turned partially around to look at Trixie. "Would you mind not telling anyone about this? I kinda got a image I wanna uphold.""We both do." Trixie winked. "Just remember, she does love you and is generally proud of you, Spike.""Yeah, thanks."As Spike walked off, Trixie smiled herself to sleep.Played nice with Ms. Apprentice's assistant, check.Helped potentially problematic dragon grow close to Twilight, check.Several hours of extra, much-needed rest, check and priceless.Trixie, filly, you've still got it.
Chapter 3: Gaining Leway
Trixie woke happily, and of her own volition, after roughly an adequate amount of extra sleep."Oh hey. I was just about to wake you."Trixie looked over at the small dragon as she lazily made her way off the couch, to her hooves, and stretched.I see the assistant is treating me better already. Trixie, you're the best.Why thank you Trixie.Spike covered his mouth with his left claw in a vain attempt to also cover his rising giggles."Hmmm?" I don't think I said that out loud?Spike could only point to Trixie's couch head.On the Balcony above Trixie an equally disheveled Twilight emerged from her room, prompting Spike to fall to the floor in rolling laughter.Maybe I thought too soon. Flare Trixie, make it a strength!Trixie dramatically placed a hoof upon her brow. "The Great and Powerful Trixie may be gorgeous beyond normal means, but alas I concede. Bed head is a mare's moral enemy. You should feel blessed Spike, for your simple, yet elegant, spines are immune to the travesty of a good rest. Naugahyde thy name is nemesis!"Stifled laughter accompanied the dramatic delivery demanding drastic defenestration for dastardly dragons and delirious unicorns.Twilight composed herself while Trixie patiently waited in a dramatic chest out pose. "That was quite a speech Trixie. But rest assured that my hair is in a similarly sorry state."Trixie managed to poignantly glance casually toward Twilight, breaking down into chortling agreement."Alas, twood appear dragons are the superior morning creatures.""They make good breakfast too," said Twilight descending the stairs. "Spike would you be so kind as to make us some?""Sure. The quiche is in the oven, seeing as it is 1:30. But you're the prodigy.""Thanks spike." said Twilight reaching the bottom and turning toward Trixie with a slight blush.Spike waved his claws dismissively. "Yeah, yeah. It'll be done in ten."Even after just waking Twilight seems amiable. Maybe she is actually a good pony and last night wasn't a fluke."Oh quiche, that's a nice treat. Thank you Spike. And I'm pleasantly surprised to see you two getting along."Yes Trixie, Twilight does seem honestly nice. But what's that gain her?Spike and Trixie shared a look. Trixie managed to shrug as if she was above petty squabbling."Spike is easy enough to get along with once you figure him out."Twilight giggled. "Figure out, like a puzzle?""More like a trick."Spike and Twilight shared a look of confusion; Trixie rolled her eyes."Once you figure spike out he is easy to get along with. Once you know how to work with him you can simply follow through the steps and everyone gets along.""Hey!" said Spike defensively. "Are you insulting me?""No, Spike," Twilight glared, "she's not. But that's kind of a sad way to look at a friendship.""Yeah, it totally sounds like you’re were blowing me off.""Spike, what were you doing when we started talking earlier today?" Asked Trixie who managed to not roll her eyes."I was trying to get you to move so I could clean the living room.""And what was I doing?"Spike blinked in silence for a second before realizing where this was going. He looked ashamed as he stared at the ground. "You were sleeping.""Spike!" intersected Twilight. "You woke up a guest to clean. That's terribly rude.""I know Twilight. I just, I-I was still mad at Trixie for the whole Ursa thing. And how full of herself she is."The Great and... Trixie is not full of herself. She is merely exceptionally talented and recognizes said talent. It's not Trixie's fault others want to bask in her glory.Twilight saw the insult resonate in Trixie's face. "And now your’re insulting her like she's not even here! This is unacceptable Spike, I expected better from you.""Hey that was before Trixie helped me. I said I was sorry and everything. Tell her Trixie!""Trixie cannot Spike, for she has promised she wouldn't discuss the conversation in favor of your image, which as a performer I respect."Twilight was caught off guard, both by Spikes admittance of apology and Trixie backing him up and upholding a promise, even if it did reveal her support for the little guy."Is this true? You two already made up?""Yes." Came the stereo response before Trixie added, "I think you're being a little hard on your, number one assistant here Twilight. He is just a baby dragon." Make sure Twilight see's the wink at spike. "He did apologize to me and we had a productive conversation.""Productive?" asked the two."Yes, productive. Yielding results, benefits, or profits.""I know what the definition is, thank you Trixie." Added Twilight hotly.So vexing. "Then why did you ask the Great and... Trixie such a question?" Asked Trixie in honesty born from obliviousness."I wanted to know how you could be so cold!" Demanded Twilight."Oh, that's the definition." said Spike after thinking it through. "I always thought Twilight just wanted me to do more work."What?Twilight and Trixie turned to stare at the distracting dragon. He put his hand's forward to assuage the intensity of their looks. "Hey, baby dragon remember. Still learning here.""True." Conceded Trixie with cordial bemusement. Twilight grit her teeth.Twilight turned back to Trixie. "How can you be so, so... Neutral after making up with somepony.""Hey, I'm not a pony.""Somebody." Clarified Twilight without dropping what was becoming a glare at Trixie."Neutral? Neutral! Trixie happened to have found Spike waking her up when she was the guest very annoying. Trixie was being nice. Like Twilight asked last night!""Hey!" exclaimed Spike, who was ignored."Trixie, he is right there." Said Twilight still glaring at Trixie while pointing at Spike.Trixie defended herself confidently, returning the librarian's stare. "Trixie knows that. And Trixie did not say Spike was annoying. Trixie finds most creatures annoying. Trixie also did not say that Trixie disliked Spike. Trixie thinks Spike is better than most because at least he apologized.""Apologize to Spike, since that seems to be a quality you admire!"Trixie continued to stare at Twilight as Trixie blithely conceded. "Fine, I am sorry Spike for being annoyed at a behavior that was completely understandable and that you apologized for. Thank you."The stare continued."Um, apology accepted?" Spike asked, careful to not say anything wrong."You seem to be getting along with him quite well. So why don't you seem to care about him as an autonomous and intelligent being?""Trixie was woken, up. Which, as Trixie previously stated, annoyed her. Sorry, Spike. I wanted to get back to sleep because I have been walking for three days to get here. I am tired and I am broken. So when this damnable dragon, sorry, woke me up I talked him into letting me get some extra sleep by distracting him and helping him with a problem! Again, sorry, Spike!" Trixie finished with a yell."Stop yelling at Spike!""Stop yelling at Trixie!""How about we all stop yelling?""Quiet!" They yelled in unison.Spike flinched at the noise. "I'm going to go check on the quiche.""Thank you spike." said the two angry mares.As Spike left for the kitchen, the two unicorns continued to stare at each other for a moment before Twilight broke the silence. "Did we just yell at spike for asking us not to yell?"Trixie broke her serious pose and smiled slightly. "I suppose we did."Twilight relaxed. "We should go apologize. Obviously we still have some... issues we need to deal with."Trixie finished lowering her guard. "Agreed, he did nothing to deserve that from either of us."The two mares turned to head toward the kitchen."So," Twilight added, "How did you manage to get along with Spike. He seemed dead set on opposing you at every turn, something about not letting them get into your head.""Oh it was quite simple," said Trixie proudly. "I helped him with a problem he had been having."Twilight stopped, forcing Trixie to do the same. "Problem? I mean, what problem did he come to you for?""Oh." said Trixie casually, buying time to figure out how to hide Spike's private concerns. "He didn't come to me. But I recognized he had a issue with a, um, friend that, I sort of intervened in to give him, erm, perspective. So that he can understand the otherpony."I don't think I have ever seen that emotion on a pony before."Well. I suppose that's a good thing, of course. But which friend could you have seen a problem with? I'm fairly sure that if any of our friends came by the ensuing, uh, 'discussion,' would have woken me up."Send me to the moon! I need to avoid telling the truth. But she would totally catch me in a lie. Which means I have to divert her attention, like a trick. Can't let her figure it out... or can I."Actually Twilight. I am not sure I should talk about this without Spike's permission."Twilight smiled with happy surprise. "Well then let's just go ask Spike."Yes, lets go ask that rascally little dragon.The two sorcerers trotted into the kitchen where their target was putting the quiche back into the oven."Spike, oh Spike."The individual in question looked over surprised, but happy, to see two smiles, one honest and happy, the other slightly forced and curious, coming directly toward him."Uh, yes?"The two ponies stopped in unison as Twilight followed through with her questioning, "Trixie here was just telling me about the help she gave you."Spike looked quickly between the two, slight worry on his face. Trixie noticed, Twilight either didn't see the gesture or didn't show she did. "And Trixie here didn't want to share too much without your permission. So I figured I would just ask you."Spike looked toward Trixie, searchingly. Trixie shrugged as if to wish him the best of luck and apologize.Suddenly spike smiled.No no no no—"Well of course Trixie can tell you whatever she wants."—Ponyfeathers. Well I guess if he gave me permission then I won't violate his... whatever it is that we have.Twilight looked at Trixie, slightly confused, presumably as her inquiry was again redirected.Spike smiled, nervously at Trixie."Well, okay then. Spike voiced that he felt like he was only your assistant. He misses hanging out with you and was wondering why things changed from when you were back in Canterlot."Twilight frowned a moment before looking at Spike, she wasn't smiling anymore. "Spike, do you really feel this way?"Trixie stepped back slightly, away from the private moment.Spike looked down. "I... Don't know. I mean- I like being your assistant. But when we were at school we would spend some time together, relaxing. Sure sometimes we were reading about history for school work, but we spent time together doing other things too. Like Doughnut Joes, taking a walk in the park. Now we only seem to spend time together when we’re doing chores or working.""But we watched the meteor shower just last month.""No, we didn't Twilight. That was two months ago, and it wasn't just you and me, it was you and me and Pinkie, and Rainbow Dash, and all our other friends. I miss just spending time with you, you and me. No work, nopony else. No offense Trixie.""None taken."Twilight was obviously taken aback. "I... I... Two months? Are you sure?Ooops.Spike blinked, Twilight began counting. "I've had.... 1, 2...4,... 7. Seven friendship reports. Oh spike. It has been two months hasn't it?"Friendship reports?"Uh, yeah?""That's, that's, unacceptable."Spike and Trixie shared a confused, uncomfortable glance."I'm... I'm..." Twilight sighed, "I'm sorry spike. I guess I just got caught up with my other friends." Twilight stepped into Spike and gave him a loving, if slightly uncomfortable, hug. "You’re the most important friend in my life spike. You were my first real friend, and I'm sorry."Well, that was certainly over dramatic. I don't really think Spike needed that much dra—Spike fully embraced Twilight. "I've missed you to Twilight."—ma. Well at least The Great and Powerful Trixie was able to help. That should cover my stay for the next few days with Twilight."I need to get this down in a friendship report."Spike rolled his eyesA what now?Twilight broke the hug, resting a hoof on spikes shoulder. "Hey, I think Rainbow said something about The Wonderbolts being in Canterlot next week. How about you and me see if we can get some backstage passes from The Princess?""Back... Back... Twilight you’re the best,"And with that Trixie made a quiet, not that it needed to be, getaway from the kitchen. After checking on the breakfast of course.
Chapter 4: Reasons, Debts, and Absolution
"So," said Twilight, "we never did get around to why you needed my help last night."
"That's because... I mean, s-sorry," said Trixie. I can't even sit through a meal without my ego getting in the way. "I was tired and we kept getting distracted."
"I know," stated Twilight as she sipped the last of her coffee.
Get it together Trixie, show her your worth it but remember don't, over, do it!
Twilight smoothly levitated the empty cup onto the table "It was nice."
Trixie heard what now?
"I haven't talked with a real magician in a long time. I mean, I get the odd conversation with the princess or when I travel. But Zecora is the only other equine in the area that has real arcane training."
Zecora... Zecora. Why is that name so familiar?
"Even then she specializes in Zebra magic; which is fascinating by the way, you should defiantly talk to her. But I never get to just talk about whatever comes up with another—"
Zecora... Zecora. Oh?
"Zecora! Was that the zebra that helped you trick me?"
Twilight's mouth hung open as she momentarily contemplated the implications. "Oh, yeah... she was. I was actually training with her to try to get good enough to challenge you again. Then we ended up going with the trick once Fluttershy told me about your amulet."
Trixie cleared her throat. "She was the meek, yellow one, correct?"
Twilight nodded bashfully.
"Good for her then."
Trixie sipped her coffee before continuing. "She was meek, yes?"
"Yet she managed to sneak out and contact you, despite Trixie's... authoritativeness at the time. Trixie is glad she did of course, but more importantly she stood up to me. She may not have stood up to me directly, like in a story for foals, but she figured out how to escape with the information needed to defeat The Great and Powerful Trixie. Then she found the one magician who could draw me out and, as she was present during our second duel, snuck back in and filled everypony necessary in on the plan. All without Trixie becoming wise to her actions. Trixie finds this quite impressive actually, especially for a non-unicorn. Why are you smiling at Trix... I was saying Trixie instead of I again, wasn't I?"
Couldn't she just tell Trixie like a normal pony? It's almost as if—
"It's kind of cute actually.'
The Great and Powerful Trixie is not cute. Trixie isn't either, why just the thought of how stallions treat 'cute' mares is despicable.
"Yes... cute." said Trixie raising an eyebrow.
"Oh my. I didn't mean I found you cute like that." said Twilight blushing, "I mean you are certainly an attractive mare but I don't find you attractive."
Hold your tongue Trixie girl, you can do it. Maybe she will give away something.
"I mean I find you attractive I just don't think there could ever be anything between you and me. I mean, if you were into mares that is—"
"I am," said Trixie raising a hoof to stop Twilight, "but I fail to see how that matters. You were simply attempting to give me a complement, I think. But let's be perfectly clear here. I came to you for guidance of a very different and personal sort. You bested me, The Great and Powerful Trixie, not once but twice, once when Trixie held possession of a powerful magical artifact, and as such I would like to learn something from you. However bringing in a personal relationship at any time would be quite inappropriate. As I plan on returning to a life of performing after this I cannot have a scandal hanging over my head. Nor would the Princess, I feel, want one hanging over yours. And just to be clear this applies to your friends as well. Beside I tend to have a, dominate personality and I do not think you, or your friends, would fit with that very well. So, as far as I am concerned this topic is forever closed for discussion. Am I clear?”
"Perfectly," said Twilight blushing. "I'm... my barn door doesn't swing that way anyways, not there is anything wrong with—"
Trixie held a hoof up before Twilight rambled past her point. "Understood. I thank you for your understanding and... I realize that I misinterpreted you're earlier comment. Trixie is very grateful that you have been willing to help her, but was worried that she might, that I might have done something to lead you on in some way. I wouldn't want to think that I had somehow seduced you. I have done such things in the past which is one of the reasons I came to you for help." Trixie paused to breathe in deeply, centering herself for what she had to say.
"I need to become a better pony. It has become obvious to me that I have not been any good. Sure I can dazzle the masses and even controlled near-unparalleled power once. But Trixie realizes that she has failed as an Equestrian. I have no real friends to speak of. I am not very tolerant of others. But most of all, I began to use others as I had once been used. I did not have a very good upbringing, Ms. Sparkle. Part of that was my own fault for running away from the one pony who I can remember ever trying to take care of me. Even if he was a bit lecherous he did on occasion show me kindness beyond what was required of him as my guardian. But since then Trixie always pictured it as Trixie against the world. Trixie could be the best and she could declare it to all!" Trixie declared as she stood on her hind legs and dramatically swept her hoof in the air only to lower herself a moment later, flushing with embarrassment and closing her eyes.
Twilight stared at Trixie as a tear ran down her face and began to timidly reach out a hoof to show support.
"But!" said Trixie with disgust, causing Twilight to pull her hoof back. "It didn't work that way. I've lied, stolen, cheated. Not often mind you," said Trixie, opening her moist eyes to look at Twilight. "But I have. Nopony ever gave an adolescent filly street performer a chance; at least nopony gave adolescent Trixie a chance. I think it became more important to become The Great and Powerful Trixie then, though I didn't call myself that yet. Back then I could back up my boasting because I was a overlooked child. My fireworks were almost as grand as they are now. I knew some illusions that were impressive for such a young performer, and I knew enough about how to work a crowd to get by when others were more impressive. Sure I would learn here and there, it's why I challenge others when I perform. I basically stole their performance, their stage persona, and their tricks."
"Then came school. Trixie hated school. I had no patience. I worked my way in on a scholarship based on a few fancy tricks, a sob story, and the same crowd working skill that put food in my mouth. Trixie even cheated on her entrance exam.”
There... well... that wasn't so bad. T—I even feel better. Perhaps this was a good idea after all.
Twilight sat with her mouth agape, saying nothing, not even breathing. Twilight slowly leaned away from Trixie, the only motion in the room.
No no no! Trixie you blew it.
"Yes! Trixie has made mistakes, Ms. Sparkle," said Trixie as she hurriedly held out a pleading hoof, "Perhaps one of them was going overboard just now. But regardless, I feel better already. I spent a few weeks soul search, as is the trend in Prance these days, and besides the realization that even Trixie is above grazing for her meals, Trixie realized that her biggest life changing moments since school happened in Ponyville. They also revolved around you, Twilight."
Twilight nodded as she slowly closed her mouth.
"So, I came here for guidance. I wish to work to redeem the name of The Great and Powerful Trixie. I seek your guidance and wish to find work around this town. I will do whatever is asked of me so long as I am allowed to remain decent. I will seek shelter nearby so that I do not overly impose on you and your kindness." Trixie breathed deeply, eyes closed. "I wish to have you help me learn to better myself. I will pay for such services of course, either in services of my own or through whatever work I can get. With whatever bits I can save up I will send to those who I stole from, primarily bits that I acquired for that accursed amulet. Trixie has no wish for any legal action, but if you insist, Trixie will turn herself in and confess to every crime Trixie can remember." Trixie ended her heavy confession by bowing to Twilight, as if she were at the mercy of some, hopefully benevolent, princess.
For several minutes the only sounds were the distant shuffling of hooves in the street, and the occasional creak of a wagon wheel.
Twilight finally took the coffee in her magic and drained the cup dry in two massive gulps before poring another cup. "Trixie?"
"Yes, Ms. Sparkle.”
"Do you remember Rarity? The white unicorn with the brilliant violet mane that you turned green on the first visit?"
"The one who you volunteered when you defeated me on my second visit?"
"Yes... I think I would like to get her opinion on this proposal of yours; perhaps the opinion of all my friends. You make it sound as if your putting your life in my hooves, and I am not sure that I feel comfortable with that."
"Oh," said Trixie with lowered ears. Not like you could have predicted that Trixie. It's... It's okay. Trixie still has a card or two up her sleeve... she always does.
"T—I, um, I'm afraid I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps... let Trixie put it this way. I have made several decisions regarding my future and how I can atone, and become a better pony. One of those ways was to seek guidance from you. If you do not feel comfortable with that, then... Trixie will accept your answer. I did make a rather staggering request and you have already afforded Trixie a generous amount of hospitality. Regardless, Trixie would like to stay in Ponyville. I still plan on working, at least until I can collect enough to pay for my greed with interest."
Twilight nodded solemnly. "Perhaps that is the best place to start. I would like to talk to my friends before agreeing to help you. After all they were the ones you hurt, not me."
Trixie raised an eyebrow. "Trixie embarrassed them, but Tr—" Trixie sighed and breathed deeply. "I have never harmed another. I want to make that perfectly clear. I may have descended into the well of Darkness, Twilight Sparkle, but Trixie has never gotten so dark that a little polish wouldn't shine through the blemishes. If I hurt anyone it was you. I sought you out and challenged your very existence. I violated your trust in pony kind and wanted to destroy you. And I can tell you from experience that having someone seeking your utter destruction is a deep violation of the personal freedom that we, as Equestrians, take for granted."
"Hmmm," Thought Twilight with a hoof to her chin. "Not really."
"What do you mean, not really. I hated you, I loathed you, I—" Trixie cut herself off, leaving a sudden awkwardness befall the pair. "Trixie will be quite now, and allow Twilight to explain herself."
Twilight nodded, acknowledging Trixie's resentment in lieu of convenient denial. "Well. I never gave up. I may not have known how to defeat you, but I knew there had to be a way. And I knew I could do it. I am Celestia's personal student. And though I was outmatched, Celestia had given me similarly hard challenges in the past and I had the time I needed to devise a counter strategy. But my friends... Ponyville." Twilight trailed off looking over to the window as Trixie followed her gaze.
"They are just ponies. They weren’t gifted, it's not likely that any of them are going to be more than a footnote of history. Even with all we have done, Defeating Nightmare Moon to rescue Princess Luna, defeating AND reforming discord —which was all Fluttershy by the way— even rescuing the crystal empire. They will all be a footnote in history. Sure Rainbow Dash will probably become a Wonderbolt known for her sonic rainbooms. But after a hundred years or so, when all her fans have passed on, who will remember. We are all just ponies, THEY are all just ponies. But at some point, I realized that I could be remembered as one of the great Magicians. I might be the next Starswirl the Bearded, the next Clover the Clever. Foals may be writing reports about me a thousand years from now..."
Twilight languidly rose and walked deliberately to her reference globe, pockmarked by small holes from a thousand different tacks used to mark places of interest in her research. "But I am already going to be known as the most powerful unicorn magician," said Twilight heavily as anger slowly crept into her voice. "Sure somepony will pass me someday, but I was special long before I came to Ponyville. I knew I could stand up to you! They didn't have a chance in Tarturus!" berated Twilight as she pivoted on the now sulking, teary eyed mare.
Trixie flinched; she had already backed away as far into the sofa as she could.
Twilight looked away.
"That is how you hurt them. They had never been helpless before, all their problems... I know you were possessed by an artifact, but the fact is you shattered their sense of safety, and you made them feel small. They couldn't get away. I could, I was always safe. Even if I couldn't defeat you, you wouldn't have been able to find and catch me, and I could always run to the Princess."
"Why, why didn't you. I mean for all you training why didn't you go to Celestia? I'm sure she could have beaten me."
Twilight sighed. "Because how are my friends suppose to trust me if I didn't try my best to help them, if I pushed my problems onto somepony else? How am I suppose to make my footnote in history one to inspire if I didn't do what I do best, if I didn't do better... If I can't even trust myself?"
"So you felt you had to prove the strength of your magic?" asked Trixie meekly.
"Studying. Well, studying and lecturing. It was always the joke at school that I had the wrong cutiemark." Twilight turned back to Trixie and smiled at the sullen mare. "But I think your right."
Trixie cocked her head.
Twilight smiled as she looked back out the window. "Coming back to Ponyville was the right thing to do."
Huh, guess that mare does know how to work a crowd. She even made me smile.