Trixie finally managed to untangle herself from the Apple family banner, with help from Raindrops once the pegasus had joined her. It still took several minutes, however, and by the time she was free, a number of ponies had begun to creep back into the festival grounds, given that there was no longer a gigantic blue bear destroying it.
“Where did it go?” one pony asked as Trixie shook her left rear hoof free of the streamer. This was followed by numerous questions, all of them directed at Trixie and Raindrops, but the two ignored them as they both trotted over to Twilight Sparkle, who was still passed out, but looked mostly unharmed. Trixie breathed out a sigh of relief, turning around to regard the crowd.
“Is anypony hurt?” she asked, slipping comfortably into her role of ‘Representative of the Night Court of Luna,’ which was her normal job in Ponyville. This usually simply meant that she served as a glorified messenger between the Ponyvillians and Luna, but in times like these the official authority was useful.
There was several minutes of low chatter between everypony as they checked each other. Fortunately, nopony seemed to have been injured by the Ursa. Trixie leaned quickly that there was a good reason for that: despite its later actions, apparently the Ursa had rather peacefully wandered into Ponyville initially, largely unnoticed due to essentially the entire town being at the Eventime festival. On sighting its approach, most ponies had quite sensibly already fled; the remainder made good their escape once the Ursa had turned obviously violent.
“Did you get rid of it?” a pony, an orange colt with a green mane, asked.
Before she even actively thought about it, Trixie was opening her mouth to answer yes, and then proceed to go on about how she had been instrumental and a vital part of doing that very thing – at least until she saw Raindrops watching her actions closely, left eyebrow raising by about half an inch.
“I helped,” Trixie decided after a moment, ignoring a twinge in her jaw as she turned around and pointed to Twilight, who was awake and groggily getting up onto her own four hooves, shaking her head. A look of mild panic overcame her features when she saw how many ponies she was surrounded by. Trixie placed a re-assuring hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “But most of the credit goes to Twilight Sparkle,” the mare explained. “Raindrops and I distracted the Ursa, but she was the one who cast the spell that teleported it away.”
Trixie blinked a few times even as she finished saying that. Huh. That hadn’t been as hard to admit as she thought it was going to be.
“Wow…” a short green colt with an orange mane said, trotting forward several paces, eyes locked on Twilight. “You beat an Ursa Major!”
“An Ursa what?” Raindrops asked.
“An Ursa Major!” the colt repeated. “A big bear, bigger than any other bear! The biggest bear to ever walk Equestria! Nopony but the Princess is supposed to be able to beat one!”
Trixie pouted a little. “I helped,” she repeated in a low voice. She heard Raindrops chuckle, but decided to ignore it.
Twilight closed her eyes, shaking her head. “That wasn’t an Ursa Major,” she explained. “That was just a baby. An Ursa Minor.”
“A baby?” numerous ponies exclaimed at her statement. Trixie, herself, was having a difficult time comprehending that. “If that’s an Ursa Minor…what’s an Ursa Major like?”
The lavender unicorn laughed, rubbing a hoof behind her head. “You don’t want to know!” she responded, smiling a little and finding some inner reserve of socialness. “But trust me, I’d never be crazy enough to try and bring an Ursa Major into…town…” Her voice trailed off as she realized what she had just said, or more to the point implied, eyes wide and pupils shrinking to tiny dots. Looks of furor that would have done the Ursa Minor proud began to appear on their faces of the Ponyvillians as their eyes locked unerringly onto Twilight Sparkle.
The lavender unicorn sputtered a little, before snapping her eyes shut, horn glowing brightly and disappearing in a flash and a pop. There was a protracted silence, before Trixie turned to Raindrops and poked a hoof at where Twilight had been.
“That one’s not my fault,” she insisted.
Trixie found Twilight Sparkle on the floor of her wagon, saddlebags slung over her back and desperately looking between a pair of books – from the looks of things, trying to decide which of the two thick tomes to take with her. On hearing her enter, the lavender unicorn eeped and spun around, horn glowing brightly. “Stay back!” Twilight ordered. “I have a horn and I know how to use it!”
Trixie decided that, given Twilight’s current frame of mind, it would be better to leave that one be rather than come up with some witty response. Instead, the blue unicorn sat down just inside Twilight’s wagon, closing the door behind her and taking off her hat. “Full disclosure,” Trixie said, “there’s about a hundred ponies outside who are very, very upset that their Eventime festival has been ruined. More will be showing up soon, too. So don’t try to run.”
“Ha!” Twilight exclaimed. “I just teleported an Ursa Minor miles without having line-of-sight to where I was sending it, and to somewhere I’ve only been once. You really think I’d run?”
Trixie sighed, waving a hoof. “Alright, fine. You can teleport. You can make the perfect getaway. At which point I write to Princess Luna about what you did and you become a hunted criminal.”
Twilight stared, and for a second Trixie was worried that she had made a mistake mentioning to the desperate pony that she could turn Twilight into Equestria’s Most Wanted. After several long moments of uncomfortable silence, however, the lavender unicorn hung her head in defeat. “I didn’t mean to,” Twilight stated, sounding exhausted, hurt, and in all other ways like a pony at the end of her rope. “I just…I figured that you must have unicorns coming up to you all the time, being the Element of Magic…so I had to impress you to make you teach me what you know. Either that or you were treating me the way you were because you were a fraud, in which case I’d show you what real magic was…”
Trixie blinked a few times, considering, before rubbing a hoof behind her head. “Option two, for the most part…” she said.
Twilight locked eyes on Trixie. Despite being the one to bring up the possibility, she seemed shocked. “But…but you’re the Element of Magic!” she exclaimed.
The blue unicorn spent a few moments to try and figure out the best way to go about this. “Twilight,” she said, “what do you think magic is?”
“This!” Twilight exclaimed, waving a hoof around her wagon. “Research! Documentation! Experimentation! Spells!”
“Never been much of a spellcaster,” Trixie admitted sheepishly. At Twilight’s uncomprehending look, Trixie pressed on. “During the fight with Corona a few months ago, she destroyed the stones that I thought were five of the Elements of Harmony. At that point, I was ready to just give up, to let Corona win. I’d given everything I had and it wasn’t even close to enough. But then Cheerilee – you haven’t met her, she’s the Element of Laughter – pointed out that Corona hadn’t destroyed the Elements. She’d destroyed a bunch of rocks. The spirits of the Elements of Harmony were right in front of her. And one by one, each of the five ponies that followed me into the Everfree Forest claimed their Element.
“But Corona…well, actually, me, but Corona agreed with me on this…said that it didn’t matter, because we still didn’t have the sixth Element. But the ponies claimed that they did, and it was me. They pointed out everything I’d done to help them during the lead-up to the Longest Night celebration, and during our time in the Everfree. They said I hadn’t let them down yet and they said they knew that I wasn’t going to let them down now. Because they were my friends, or wanted to be my friends, despite the fact that I hadn’t acted very nicely towards them. And I realized that I wanted them to be my friends, too. That I didn’t want to let them down.
“And that’s when I earned the Element of Magic. Not because I knew so many spells, not because I had some kind of deep reservoir of magic to draw on. But because I had a…a connection with those ponies. My friends.” She scuffed a hoof on the wooden floor of Twilight’s wagon in slight embarrassment. “That’s what magic is. It’s connections. Unicorn spell-casting is the most obvious kind of connection, when we take our inner power and cast it out to the world around us and shape it by making connections with whatever we touch. But magic is also how a pegasus has a connection to the air and the clouds and the seasons. Or how an earth pony has a connection to the land, to growing things.
“But it’s more than just that, too. It’s the connection between friends, or family, or lovers. It’s the connection a teacher has with her students. The connection a musician has with her instrument, or a weather pony with her job, a farmer and her business, a mother and her daughter. Or a magician with her audience. It doesn’t matter what the connection is. If it’s there, it’s a kind of magic.” Trixie looked to Twilight hopefully. “Is any of this making any sense?”
Twilight considered for a few moments. “Not really,” Twilight she decided after her ruminations, her voice deadpanned. “No.”
Trixie huffed, hopeful expression dropping to one of annoyance. “Well, too bad. I’m not explaining it again.”
“So what happens now?” Twilight asked. As she did, her muscles tensed slightly, her head drooping a little. Clearly, she was expecting a fight, and in all honesty Trixie’s first instinct was to give her one.
Instead, however, the blue unicorn sighed. “I don’t know. This whole situation is sort of my fault. I manipulated you into making yourself look like a tribalist, and should have treated you better.” She looked to Twilight. “But it’s also your fault, for bringing the Ursa Minor into town. I’m willing to take responsibility for my part. What about you?”
Twilight met Trixie’s gaze, and the silence between the two of them stretched on, and on. Trixie could see the gears turning in her head, her weighing the situation carefully, trying to find a way out of the situation. After a long moment, she looked away from Trixie, eyes closed, a look of defeat on her face. Trixie smiled at her apparent choice. “You’ve made the right – ” she began, when Twilight’s horn glowed. In a flash and a pop, the lavender unicorn disappeared from sight.
Dear Princess Luna,
As you are well aware, tonight was the Eventime festival in Ponyville. I put on another magic show, and once again I found I had a captivated audience. You were absolutely right about my desire for attention and how showmareship would be an excellent outlet. The Great and Powerful Trixie could be a regular part of Ponyville’s festivals for years to come!
Unfortunately, I had more than just my adoring fans of Ponyville watching me. A unicorn named Twilight Sparkle had journeyed to Ponyville on hearing that I was the Element of Magic. She thought that because I was the Element of Magic, I must have been a superb spellcaster, and was distraught when she learned that wasn’t the case, enough to cause a minor interruption to my show. Unfortunately, I was not as sympathetic to her as I should have been, especially after she came backstage accusing me of being a fraud and wasting your teachings. I tried to leave the situation peaceably, but when she pursued me into the festival, old Canterlot habits came back to me, and I managed to make her seem like a tribalist to the ponies of Ponyville.
I have included a more formal testimony of her response in my regular report to you. Here, I just wanted to make clear that Twilight Sparkle is not entirely responsible for what happened in Ponyville tonight, that I bear a large responsibility for goading and dismissing Twilight. I don’t think she’s a bad pony, she simply made a few bad decisions – because of me. I ask that you consider that when deciding how to deal with her when the law enforcers of Equestria catch up with her.
Your faithful student & servant,
Trixie considered her letter for a moment, illuminated by the dawn’s light that was coming in through her home’s window. She hated having to send letters like this, ones where she was forced to admit to Luna that despite everything she was learning about not acting like a complete and total jerk to others, about the ‘magic of friendship,’ she still had a long way to go in that regard. A large part of her wanted to just crumple up the letter and toss it into the fireplace, but she knew that wouldn’t solve anything – Luna would find out sooner or later anyway, and putting off telling her teacher would only make her that much angrier when she did find out.
With a sigh, Trixie took off her magician’s hat, chanted a few magic words over it, and tossed the parchment she had written her letter on into it. There was a flash as the letter disappeared from her hat, the enchantment inside of it seizing it and transporting it to Luna’s private study, where the Princess would read it in a few hours after she rose from her sleep – though she held dominion over both sun and moon, Luna still considered herself primarily a creature of the night, and so typically slept from dawn until about noon, or later if she could help it.
Having fulfilled her duties, Trixie slipped her hat back on her head, and went back out into Ponyville. The mess that the Ursa made of the town’s center had been largely cleaned up, or at least turned from a chaotic, widespread collection of debris into a single large pile that would be dealt with later, after everyone had slept the day away as well – ponies were not themselves nocturnal, like Luna, but even without the Ursa, the Eventime festival would have itself been enough to prompt most ponies to decide to sleep in.
Some industrious pony had, from the looks of things, dragged Twilight Sparkle’s wagon into that pile. Trixie could definitely understand the sentiment. Despite being perfectly functional, it belonged to a pony who had ruined what was supposed to be a time of celebration, and so as far as the Ponyvillians were concerned the wagon and everything in it was just so much trash.
Still…there was a tremendous amount of knowledge in that wagon. Trixie recalled that Twilight Sparkle had been expecting her to be some mighty archmage, a sorceress supreme with magical power second only to the Princess herself. Despite her special talent being magic, however, Trixie had never really been much of a spellcaster.
But there was no reason that couldn’t change. Twilight Sparkle might not be the last unicorn who came to her looking to learn something. Maybe next time, she could actually have something worthwhile to teach.
Plus, Trixie supposed as she opened the door to Twilight’s wagon, there might be something I could use in one of my shows. Teleporting would be a neat trick…
Thank-you all for reading! I hope you enjoyed this. Also, I would like to take the time to thank Cerulean Starlight for taking it upon himself to serve as an editor for this story! Thanks again, CS, for the effort!
Still have a horrible plan for this universe, but I'm going to wait for CS' final edit PM first.