“Sorry, ma’am, this is a theatre, not an open venue. Please go see the owner if you want to schedule a performance for next week.”
Trixie turned up her nose and retorted, “No, Trixie cannot wait a week for her performance. Trixie is clearly more skilled than that second rate entourage you currently have performing, yet you expect her to wait? Absurd!” After saying her piece, she turned to leave, cursing her luck for the third rejection in a row.
The cream colored stallion waved her off. “Well, there is probably some venue down the road that may accept your kind of…flashy performances,” he told her with a hint of disgust. “The more open stages are usually on the western half of town if you really need a job.”
She flicked her tail at him and laughed. “Ha! You foals will regret rejecting Trixie one day!” She then marched out the door with her snout pointed high.
The showmare found herself outside on the cobblestone road, watching the sun sinking faster than she had hoped. Dammit, half of the afternoon is gone and still no place to earn any bits for a room. There’s bound to be something somewhere. She walked towards the setting sun while checking the buildings for a decent stage on which she could perform. She checked every sign and window, but found nothing for blocks. Every set of words was either ‘no vacancy’ or ‘full house’ and even the occasional advert for a ‘free lick of salt with a show.’ I’m getting nowhere. Her hooves started to drag and her stomach started to growl, so she checked again only to see the sun start to hide behind the mountains. She decided a moment to eat wouldn’t hurt her chances any further and took a small detour to a verdant, little park of a few trees and some small shrubbery.
Trixie found herself an open bench and wearily climbed onto it. She stretched out her forelegs and let her satchel fall to her side. With her magic, the azure unicorn unclipped the bag and set it in front of her. She sighed upon seeing it, then pushed away the thoughts of the old librarian; she was not going to apologize for choosing her only option. She pulled out a couple of Red Delicious, not in the mood to eat but unsure of what else to do, and forcefully munched on one. I can see the moon and still have nowhere to stay or perform. I really miss warmth of a soft bed…
“Excuse me, miss.” She heard a quiet filly’s voice. A petit, powder blue pegasus with a stone gray mane was staring up at her with watery, crimson eyes. “Umm, I was here earlier and lost my necklace. Have you seen it? It’s a silver heart with a drop of crystalized rainbow?”
Trixie gave her a curt “no.” She finished the last bite of her apple and grabbed the second Red Delicious. She turned to see the little pegasus still standing there, hanging her head in defeat.
A small drop of water splashed across the cobblestone. “I-I need to find it before m-my mommy brings me h-home and I h-haven’t been able to f-find it. I g-got it f-for my b-birthday.” The filly slumped down and buried her head in her hooves.
Trixie grimaced at the uneaten apple. She mumbled, “Wasn’t in the mood to eat anyways.” She climbed off the bench and sat next to the child. “Here, have an apple. Now quit your crying and let’s find your trinket. I’m making no progress sitting here anyways.” Trixie looked around for the filly’s parent but realized how empty the tiny park was. “Where is your mother?”
She sniffled and rubbed away her tears. “She’s talking with her friend at some place a block away.”
“Well, at least the necklace is the only thing lost,” Trixie said with a small hint of sarcasm. She fastened her satchel while watching the little pegasus nibble the apple to the core. Trixie asked, “Feeling better yet?”
“Not really. I don’t even like wearing it, but it’s something from her foalhood. It’s special.” The filly stared at the ground at her hooves and started to tear up again.
Not in the mood to wait longer or see more crying, the unicorn stood up. “If you want to find it, then you need to get up. I guess we should try the whole ‘retrace your steps’ thing.” She waited for a response, becoming annoyed with the filly’s dawdling. “Well?”
The pegasus answered, “Oh, I...I don’t remember.” Trixie groaned; she now regretted trying to help. “But I do remember napping under that tree for a while. Well, I think it was that tree.” She pointed her hoof at the only oak in the park.
The unicorn mare walked over to the tree and asked, “So you lost a necklace, right?” The filly dragged her hooves and followed after Trixie, watching the cobblestone as she walked. The unicorn noticed a small glimmer under the freshly fallen, autumn leaves.
“Yeah, mommy’s old necklace. It has a bronze chain with a silver-”
Trixie cut her off, “-heart surrounding a drop of crystallized rainbow.” Trixie grinned as she eyed the necklace held in front of her by a faint pink glow. “I think that it would look dazzling in the right light.”
The little pegasus looked up from the ground and saw her necklace in the air. She took a small hop and ran on her short legs towards the oak tree and Trixie. “You found it! Thank you thank you thank you!” She jumped into Trixie knocking them both onto the ground. “Thank you, you’re my hero Miss—” Her face flushed red as she realized: “I never asked you your name. I’m Cloud Catcher.”
Trixie floated her assailant off her and brushed a few leaves out of her silver mane. “Trixie, and no need to call me ‘Miss.’ And I’m glad that you have your necklace back.” Trixie allowed herself a small smile before she fully realized how dark it had become. “I need to get back on the road. Where did you say your mother was?”
Cloud frowned and kicked a pebble to the side. “Oh, mommy has been at the place called ‘Ron-something Theatre’ talking to an old friend all day long.”
The unicorn nodded and said, “Then let’s go find the theater.” Trixie took a few steps and beckoned the filly to follow. “Coming?”
The pegasus sighed out, “Yeah, I’m coming,” and dragged her hooves down the cobblestone road.
The two found themselves on the main road and quickly spotted the theater. The large sign read ‘Rondure Theatre,’ which was decorated with the advertisement of ‘Dinner and a Show’ and a banner saying ‘Watch the renowned Lord Chamberdale’s Mares put on a classic play every weekend night!’ They entered what was a tidy establishment to be greeted by archaic decor and the scent of fresh pine. Cloud Catcher shattered the somber atmosphere with a loud “Mommy!” and scurried over to a slender, yellow coated earth pony at the bar.
The yellow mare standing next to a mauve unicorn embraced the filly. “Hi, sweetie, did you enjoy the park?” Trixie watched the mother nuzzle her child, allowing herself a small smile.
Cloud Chaser pointed to Trixie and told her mother, “Mommy, I’d like you to meet the kind pony who walked me home. Her name is-”
A door swung open and slammed into the wall, knocking over an old vase and a few paintings off the wall. A colt’s voice bellowed, “This is absurd! I refuse to entertain here even again you miserly, old codger.” An alabaster unicorn with a maroon mane and a single, silver note for a cutie mark stormed from the dressing room, towing away his cello case with him. As he stormed out the front door, he shouted back to the unphased owner now standing in the lobby, “And you can forget about tomorrow!”
The dark brown earthpony in a suit was standing there, his face bent in disappointment from the last minute cancellation. He sauntered up to the ticket booth and told the ticket taker to put up a sign to let patrons know that the show portion of the dinner had been canceled.
Here’s your chance Trixie. Go show this ‘old codger’ what a real entertainer can do. She strode up to the owner and suggested, “Sir, Trixie could offer you her services; she is a master of the fine art of stage magics and will certainly enthrall your guests like none other. So what do you say?” The owner stared in disbelief, checking over Trixie’s shoulder looking for the pony she was talking about.
He quickly realized she referred to herself. “Ah, you are one of those entertainers...the odd and loud ones. I believe I will have to decline.”
Trixie started to feel hot, her temper starting to build. “What do you mean ‘those entertainers?’ Trixie is not some freak or money grubber, she’s a magician, and one of the best at that.”
The owner looked her over. “Sure. Fine, you can have the stage for an hour; something is better than nothing.” He started to rationalize. “Most of the guests have paid in advance anyways. There’s not much point in a dinner and a show without a show. I suppose you will do fine. If you’re willing to only get paid fifteen bits for the hour unlike the colt from before.”
Trixie balked. “Fifteen bits?! No wonder that pompous airbag left.”
The owner gave her a stern look. “Fifteen bits is plenty reasonable. It is a Thursday evening; most everypony is at home with their family. And the couples who would come will come tomorrow evening. If you don’t want it, that’s fine; good luck trying to find anypony else who’d even offer ten bits for a show on Thursday.”
Trixie retorted, “Fine. It’s acceptable, just not up to Trixie’s usual standards.” She stood there with a blank façade, not wanting to seem over eager for her first show in weeks.
The owner brushed her off. “Yes, well you don’t have much time before it starts. Go prepare for the show already.” He turned back to the ticket booth and finished giving instructions to the worker.
Trixie was appalled at being dismissed so simply but bit her tongue. She was not going to ruin her chance to be on stage. “Trixie will not simply put on a show; she will entertain and win the hearts of everypony.” The unicorn walked to the dressing room with a bubble of pride in her chest.
He plainly replied, “The show starts in an hour,” and returned to giving jobs to his ticket taker and maitre d’.
Trixie stepped over the fallen vase and into the room. Cloud Chaser pouted and looked up at her mother. “I guess you won’t get to meet Trixie. She wasn’t talking funny earlier, I don’t get it.”
Her mother brushed through her mane. “Some ponies just act a little funny sometimes. So are you looking forward to the show tonight?” The mother and child sat down and caught up on their day's events over a small plate of hayfries.
Though it’s not a large crowd, you have to start again from somewhere,Trixie. She slowly walked onto the stage and looked to her audience. Most every patron had finished dinner and was now munching on candied apples while waiting for the show to start. A small audience of twelve partially filled tables made very few claps as most watched the azure unicorn settle onto the stage.
“Welcome, welcome. Trixie will take your breath away with a dazzling display of magic tonight. Be ready to witness the Magnificent Trixie!” She stomped down on the last words and lit her horn with magic, causing a few illusory orbs to rise from the floor then burst into thousands of glittering lights. She gave the audience a grin, but it soon faded when she saw how complacent they all seemed. If only I could use my other stage name; it always got the crowd roaring. She continued her show with dazzling displays of light and manipulation of objects. Yet, no matter how many tricks she tried, no pony but the little filly Cloud Chaser was amazed or astonished by her routine. Even her mother gave nothing more than a courtesy clapping every few spells. The azure mare pushed herself onward. She started to tell a small story of a hero fighting monsters, animating the whole story with brilliant illusions and spectacular lights. As the story went towards the end, some patrons went to the exit. At first a table left, but then two more followed. Part of Trixie’s joy from doing a show boiled into fury.
Fine, if they don’t like mystical lights or stories, I’ll give them something a bit different. Trixie conjured a large rope from behind the stage. “Now you all shall see a great and powerful trick of the Magnificent Trixie has yet to be seen by ponykind.” She wove her magic on the rope, tying knots and loops into a bundle. When finished, she tossed the bundle towards the audience.
Then, she set it ablaze with blue flames and shaped it into a dragon’s form. With sweat now trickling down her brow, she grabbed the dragon’s form with her pink glow and sent it out above the audience; its wings scraped across the ceiling causing small bits of magic to rain down and fade away over the audience. The dragon flew around, barely leaving any space between itself, the patrons, and the walls. Trixie pulled on the dragon with the last of her energy; it cycled around the room and launched itself at the stage with a large flap of its wings. Its maw opened and spewed faux flames at the exhausted unicorn. She put up a small bubble to push away the flames and threw an orb of neon light at the head. They impacted and the theater became filled with a blinding, white light.
When the few patrons left could once again see, they saw Trixie on stage with a bundle of defeated rope at her hooves. More beads of sweat rolled down her neck as she realized that half of the audience had left before the last trick. The silence was broken by the pegasus filly jumping up and down and cheering, giving an uneven round of applause to the showmare. The patrons soon joined with a softer round of applause, most of them unnerved by such an eccentric stunt that came terrifyingly close to the audience. Her heart sank. No pony enjoyed it. Her body slouched as she walked back behind the stage.
Trixie wiped her brow and stared at the mirror. My best stunt. The one time I do it perfectly, no one cares at all. A knock interrupted her sulking. She answered, “Come in...not like I care anyways,” mumbling the last few words.
The owner walked in and set a small sack of bits on the vanity. “Here’s what I promised.” He tried to comfort her. “Most of ‘em were just expecting dinner and some quiet music. Ponies just don’t enjoy show magic much these days. If you want, you can try again tomorrow. I still need to fill that slot before the playwrights do their bit.” The old earth pony said his bit and left, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Unsure of what went wrong, she started to sulk. “Only a little foal enjoyed my show...just one pony, no one else.” Before she could cry, the door smashed back open.
Cloud Catcher bounced around and shouted, “That was the most amazing show ever! I knew unicorns were great, but that was the best thing ever!”
The pegasus was followed shortly by her mother. “Calm down, Cloud; she looks very tired after that performance.” The yellow pony put a hoof on the over excited filly. “The show was quite unique, wasn’t it, Cloud?”
“It was the best, mom! Completely worth waiting all day for it.” The pegasus was still smiling but had finally stopped jumping.
Trixie let a tear drop onto the vanity. “Yes, it was a unique performance. Not only did Trixie pull off the Either’s Cobalt Blaze flawlessly,” her voice started to escalate, “only one pony enjoyed it. One of the hardest illusions to do and a little filly is the only one who knows how special it was!” She finished on a yell.
The mother balked and the filly’s ears drooped; her little heart split upon hearing her newest hero yell at her. The earth pony pulled her daughter into an embrace. “Miss Trixie, you have no need to yell. My daughter enjoyed your show throughly.”
The little pegasus muttered, “It was something really special, Miss Trixie.”
Trixie looked back at the mirror and wiped her tears away. She grabbed her things and headed to the door. She muttered to herself, “It doesn’t matter if one pony likes the show. Everypony needs to like it.” She turned and looked at Cloud, then averted her gaze. “This city doesn’t have anything for me.” The showmare shut the door to the dressing room and left the building. Trixie walked out onto the street; the sun had finally set behind the mountains and and the lights of the city glowed brightly. She was met by a rough autumn wind that chilled her spine. Unknowing of where the road west would lead, she started to backtrack down the path that brought her to the city.