Yes, finally! This is my chance to redeem myself! Trixie ran through the woods. Over a year of shame and ridicule, about to be banished with this discovery!
The mare ran towards the crash site at top speed, dodging wayward branches and plants. She came to a clearing, able to see the crashed rock in a smoldering crater. There were scattered rocks all around, leading away from the hole.
Feeling as though nothing could stop her, the mare slowly walked towards the source of the commotion; the stars in the night sky almost seemed to force her towards it.
As she approached it, a cold numbness washed over her, almost as if trying to fight her off. Inside the crater she could see a small black stone, shimmering and glowing with unnatural light. There was also a slight shimmer around it, almost as if it was distorting the space around it.
She reached out with her magic, aiming to lift the shard up for a closer look. The mare felt a strong barrier around the shard, stopping her spell on the spot. She had never heard of anything like this before: an inanimate object actually resisting magic. She was determined though, and with enough force broke through the invisible barrier and latched onto it with her magic.
As soon as she touched the stone however, it lashed out violently with an immense wave of energy and her magic imploded with a painful crack. The black shard seemed to glow slightly brighter as the mare dropped to the ground in agony. “AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!” she screamed, grabbing her horn.
Just entering the clearing now, Twilight felt a powerful wave of ice cold magic pass over her. “Hello!? Is somepony there!?” Twilight yelled at the source of the disturbance.
No! It can’t be her. Not here, not now.
But it was too late; the other mare had already started walking towards her. She could hear her hoofsteps on the overthrown gravel through her own pain.
"Tr- Trixie? Is that you?" Twilight stuttered, slowly approaching the broken mare.
Trixie just buried her face in her hooves and cried, desperately wanting her to leave, but at the same time wanting her to help. The pain, now, was greater than it was before, too Trixie it felt like she was being drained of all her energy. So she did her best to curl into a ball and block herself off.
Twilight stood there, looking over her. It had been a year since the incident in Ponyville, and she could see that Trixie had not done very well. She had become quite thin, a few ribs being visible on either side. Her fur was dirty and disheveled and her mane had lost its silver sheen and had become a dull gray.
The Trixie in front of her had changed a lot from the Trixie that came to Ponyville a year ago. The first time she was bold, brash and beautiful. Now she was dirty, sad and broken. Obviously she had barely survived over the year. Although Twilight had no idea what she went through.
Twilight could obviously tell that Trixie was in pain, so she sat down next to her and put a hoof around her back. She could see that her horn has started to darken slightly, a sign that something was wrong with her magic. Twilight held her until she had calmed down enough to speak.
"I'm sorry Twilight..." was all Trixie managed to say. The pain in her horn and the shame of letting herself be seen so broken, in front of the mare that upstaged her life no less, was just too much for her to think of anything else to say.
"It's alright Trixie, you’re safe now." Twilight nuzzled her neck, hoping to relax her, but then she noticed her horn. "Ohmygosh! Your horn!" Twilight stared in shock: it was almost fully black. She quickly cast a basic healing spell on it, and much to her surprise Trixie’s horn eagerly sucked up all the available magic that was provided. To Trixie the pain slowly stopped. In its place though she felt hollow, she couldn't feel were her horn should be.
Twilight had seen this condition before; she had experienced it before. According to The Royal Encyclopedia of Medical Ailments, or R.E.M.A., this condition is known as “Magical Burnout.” The symptoms are high pain, darkening of a unicorn’s horn and the inability to perform magic. It occurs when very talented unicorns strain their magic too hard at once. Twilight had suffered a magical burnout shortly after passing her entrance exam, and becoming princess Celestia's personal student. She couldn't do any magic for days until her body's natural circuit had recharged itself, and she knew the pain it could cause.
"Tha- thank you…" Trixie said. She started to slowly uncurl herself to look up at the purple unicorn that had probably just saved her life. Twilight looked pretty much the same since the last time she was in Ponyville; Purple hair and mane, starburst cutie mark, and a cute flank.
"What happened?" she slowly asked the purple mare.
"Well, you suffered a magical burnout; a very serious one at that," Twilight replied, "It's a good thing I got to you when I did, any later and you might have experienced permanent damage. Do you have any idea what caused this?"
Trixie slowly raised her hoof and pointed at the crater a few feet away. At this point there was a dark purple glow emanating from the crater. Both of them could sense an immense magical energy being released from it. Obviously this was not a natural occurrence.
"Wait, that's where the meteorite crashed, is that what caused this?" Twilight asked.
Trixie slowly nodded her head.
"I'm going to go have a look, will you be alright here?"
Trixie nodded again.
Twilight got up and slowly crept over to the edge. The same cold empty feeling when she came into the clearing washed over her again, sending shivers up her spine. She then saw the small black shard resting in the middle of the crater.
That's it? If it was something this small that caused such a bright light, then this shard must have immense magical properties. Her brain already off with questions about it.
As Twilight started to reach out with her magic to examine it, Trixie called out a warning to her: "No Twilight, no magic."
She understood and instead walked up to it aiming to inspect it by hoof. Much to her surprise Twilight encountered a small resistance when reaching out for it. Not as much as when Trixie had reached out to levitate it, but still noticeable.
At Twilight's touch the shard sent a small pulse through her, as if sensing her magical ability. The stone offered no more resistance as Twilight picked it up. From Twilight's perspective it almost felt as if it wanted to be picked up. At a closer look, she could see a faint purple glow in the center of the black rock, radiating outward into a mysterious white glow. She could feel herself becoming steadily weaker while holding it, as if it was sucking out her magic.
Twilight set it back down, deciding that at that moment that Trixie was more important than some glowing meteorite. Yes it might be the discovery of the century, holding untold magical wonders and secrets; but Trixie was still a bigger concern for her.
She walked back out of the crater to find Trixie attempting to stand up. She stood up on four hooves after a bit of struggling, but only for a split second before her legs buckled. Luckily she didn't crash onto the hard ground again as Twilight rushed over and used her body to prop her up.
"Don't worry, Trixie, I'm going to take you back home," Twilight cooed.
"So very tired…" Trixie muttered, barely staying awake.
Trixie couldn't hold it any longer. She slowly fell into blissful unconsciousness.
Comfort. It was something that Trixie hadn't felt in a long time. She slowly opened her eyes and took in her surroundings.
She was in a bedroom. Two beds, a window, a small basket and lots of shelves with an incredible array of books. Overall a very warm and cozy environment; one that seemed completely foreign to Trixie. The last time she slept this well was when she was still traveling with her caravan. After the incident she spent most nights under the stars.
Trixie slowly got out of the bed she was in and took notice of a full body mirror a few feet awayIt had been a long time since she had last taken a good look at herself. The last time she didn't look too great, now it was probably even worse. She stepped up and got a good look at herself. Her coat and mane were cleaned and brushed, but Trixie could also see a few ribs while turning sideways. Even her cutie mark had faded slightly. Was that even possible? Could a cutie mark fade and disappear? The thought of losing her wand and dust chilled Trixie to the bone. Then she noticed her horn.
My horn! My magic!
Trixie immediately tried to levitate a nearby pillow, which yielded no resultsThere was no more pain from her horn, just an empty hollow feeling. She immediately thought of the worst possible outcomes. She might not be able to do magic for the rest of her life! She could be the laughing stock of the world! Her horn could fall off!!
No, get a hold of yourself Trixie. Nothing like that is going to happen. I'm going to get fixed up and everything will be alright! She gave a face of mock happiness attempting to lift her own mood, to no avail.
Frustrated, she thought back to the events of the previous night. The crashed meteor, her magic failing, Twilight.
Twilight! I must be somewhere in Ponyville!
Trixie quietly walked up to the nearby door which she presumed lead to the main room of the building. She could hear talking coming from the other side. One voice belonged to Twilight, the other she didn't recognize. Possibly one of her friends that I upstaged? No, that voice sounds like a colt. Maybe if I just take a quick peek...
"-changed Spike, when I found her yesterday she was nothing like when she came here a year ago." Twilight said.
"And how do you know?" Spike questioned, "You said it yourself that she was an arrogant show off."
That comment hurt Trixie. Yes, she was an arrogant show off when her ego was fed. But normally she was quite friendly and polite. How somepony could have such drastic personality changes was beyond Trixie, but maybe she could get help from Twilight? For Trixie this was a once in a lifetime opportunity: somepony actually wanted to help her, so she wanted to make sure not to screw anything up.
"Yes, I did say that," Twilight countered, "but I also saw what she had become since leaving. She needs help Spike, and I'm going to be the one who helps as I doubt anyone else would."
"Fine Twi, just don't do anything drastic," Spike said, "Now I'm starving, so I'm gonna go make a daffodil sandwich; you want one?"
"Yes please, could you also make one for Trixie when she wakes up?"
"Yeah alright…" Spike grumbled while heading into the kitchen.
At the mention of food, Trixie's stomach rumbled, reminding her that she hadn't had a proper meal in days. She debated whether to open the doors and join Twilight, or just sit in the bedroom. It was a very one-sided argument.
Trixie slowly opened the door trying to be as quiet as possible, but of course the door let out a huge groan which anypony in the building would have heard. Twilight's ears perked up at the sound, and she turned towards the staircase to find the azure mare slowly walking down.
"Good morning, Trixie!" Twilight welcomed, cheerfully, "You're looking much better than last night. I trust that you slept well?"
As if on command, hearing compliments instantly bolstered Trixie's ego. She stood up straight, puffed out her chest and looked at Twilight as if above her.
"Yes, The Great and Powerful Trixie must thank you the for- Ahh! No! Stop it, stop it, stop it!" Trixie yelled at herself. She shrunk back down, attempting to push back her ego. It seemed to work for the moment, the real Trixie regaining enough control to push her ego back.
Twilight was immediately at her side, trying to find a way to help. "Trixie! Are you alright!?" she asked.
"I'm sorry Twilight, I'm so sorry," Trixie apologized.
"For letting my ego take control and getting part of the town destroyed."
Trixie was practically crying now. All the hurt and shame of the past year came flooding back, breaking the wall that she had put up in her head. The loss of all her possessions, specifically her hat and cape. The ridicule of being shown up by Twilight. The awful nights she spent alone, trying to piece her life back together, the loneliness. She cried into Twilight's arms until she had run out of things to cry about.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Twilight gently asked Trixie once she has calmed down.
"Well, *sniff* you remember how I acted last time I was here?" she asked.
"Yes, you weren't the nicest pony to ever come into town."
"I was a stuck up, arrogant jerk," Trixie replied flatly.
"And this is relevant how?"
“Well, last year you saw me at my worst. I love performing for ponies, well, loved performing. But every time I get on stage, my ego takes over and I become somepony else entirely. I hate it. I haven't had a show where ponies enjoyed themselves in years.”
Twilight held and listened to Trixie until she was all finished. Which was quite some time, as Spike came in part way through and was forced to wait with the sandwiches until they finished. Spike really couldn't stand Trixie, he had only heard the endings of her sobbing but that was enough to complete reverse his opinion of her. Gone was the boastful jerk that he remembered form a year ago. Now she was just a hurt lonely pony. Taking notice of him, Trixie slowly let go of Twilight.
"Oh, I'm sorry for making you wait, umm…"
"Spike," he replied.
"Well, thank you for being so patient."
"Eh, it's okay. I had my sandwich here," Spike said, gesturing to an empty plate, "Would you two like yours finally?"
"Yes please!" Twilight eagerly accepted Spike's offer, with Trixie following close behind. The three of them then sat together at the table, Twilight enjoying her food and Trixie absolutely adoring it.
The three of them then sat together at the table, Twilight enjoying her food and Trixie absolutely adoring hers. How Trixie had attempted to start up her caravan again, but was met with ridicule and shame wherever she went. Mostly because word of the incident in Ponyville had spread like wildfire, completely destroying any positive reputation she once had. Trixie's attempts to regain fame, and each time she tried, her ego would flare up and cause her to make a foal of herself.
The sun was already setting by the time Trixie's tale had wound down to the last couple of days, though none of the three noticed that they had spent the whole day in the library.
"-and that's when you came running to my side in the clearing. At the time, you were the last pony I would have wanted to run into. But now, it couldn't have gone any better," Trixie said while flashing Twilight a smile. "It's so nice to be able to just talk and have fun with somepony rather than just antagonizing them."
"Huh, sounds to me that you were just very lonely traveling by yourself," Spike suggested.
"Yes… yes I was," Trixie replied, still coming to terms with just how alone she was.
"Well don't worry Trixie, you'll always have a home here in Ponyville," Twilight happily explained. "No matter where you go or what you do, you'll always be welcome here."
"Thank you, Twilight; you have no idea how much that means to me." Trixie paused, a thought coming to her head, "But what about your friends? I didn't exactly leave a good impression with them last time I was here."
"Don't worry about that. I already have a plan to meet up with each one individually tomorrow. You can work up the list to reform each one's impression of you," Twilight said.
"Alright, Twilight, if you think that's the best idea…” Trixie said with a bit of uncertainty in her voice.
"I do, because the sooner you become friends with my friends the better off you'll feel," Twilight smiled.
"Friends?" Trixie asked, almost not believing the word. As if it was some cruel joke.
"Yes! Oh it'll be so much fun!" giggled Twilight, already thinking of the next day.
A small tear dripped down Trixie's cheek, unnoticed by Twilight nor Spike. "Thank you, for everything, Twilight."
"Of course! Friends help each other out!" Twilight said enthusiastically.
Trixie then stood up and stretched her hooves out, taking a deep yawn. "Well, I am starting to get tired, so I think I'll be going to sleep. Umm, where will I be…?"
"Oh! Right, you can use the spare bed in the bedroom," Twilight replied.
"Okay then, goodnight," Trixie said while heading up the staircase.
After hearing the bedroom door close, Twilight turned to Spike.
"So, Spike, still have any uneasy feelings about her?" she asked, grinning like a mad mare.
"No, Twi, you were right. She really has changed," Spike replied.
Spike's perception on the ex-stuck up showmare had been completely flipped in the afternoon. He now felt sorry for her, having heard what she endured for most of her life.
"Well, I think we should be heading to bed as well," Twilight stated.
"Right behind you."
So the two went up the stairs to the bedroom. Trixie heard them walking in and getting into their respective beds. After many sleepless nights under the open stars, she was finally able to fall asleep with a bright smile across her face, hoping for a new beginning.
"So what'll it be?" Red Cider asked the mare stopping in front of his stall.
Cider was a small apple farmer who ran a stand in Manehattan. He was not related in any way to the Apple family, but he did know of them. He had pretty good business daily, serving out apple-based products from his cart on the busy streets.
"Ah'll have a' apple fritter," the orange mare replied.
“Sure thing, that'll be 2 bits," Cider said while leaning over to scoop up a fritter.
Cider felt something change in the air; not just him but everypony within viewing distance felt it. The air rapidly cooled and a wave of energy washed over him. He didn't think much of it; it was normal for temperatures in Manehattan to change suddenly because of the wind. Cider ignored it, until he looked back up at his customer.
"Say, you at all related to the apple family? Cause you look quite a lot like somepony- Ah... know...” Cider gasped while looking through the glowing mare. "Uh, miss? Are you alright?"
"Why yesss. We’re fiiine," the mare hissed while glaring at Cider, seeming to stare into his soul. Quite a few other ponies were already staring at the sight. Cider felt another wave of cold energy wash over him, as though all the kindness in his hearts just vanished in a puff of smoke. His coat also started to dull in color.
Cider then stopped paying attention to the mare and turned on the ponies who were watching the spectacle.
"What're you all looking at!?" Cider yelled at the onlookers, "Nothin' to see here!"
The sudden reaction startled the group, who immediately started dispersing. There were grumbles throughout, having lost the opportunity to watch a good show. Some leaving ponies however felt quite a bit more rotten then they did a few minutes ago, yelling at a few other ponies.
"I said leave!" Cider yelled, "Don't make me hurt you!"
The glowing mare gave a wicked smile before disappearing in a flash of light.
Big thanks to Dr. Jekyll & NikitaKitten for prereading and editing the chapter!