Trixie trudged down the road while the unusually hot, autumn sun further irritated her. By noon, she had returned to the split in the road after leaving Las Pegasus, but was too scared of returning to the library at the end of the first road; she picked the one road she had yet to travel. The path was barren bar the occasional tree; not a soul was seen on the trail as it led her onto a rockier path up the side of a small mountain. The monotony mixed with the heat bore on Trixie, refusing to let her mind wander to more pleasant thoughts. She spoke to no pony in particular. “Everything should have been perfect; the skills you showed were stellar, your poise was perfect, the flow was flawless, but no pony cared. Everytime you prove that you are the best, they don’t care or run you out of town. Only one time has anypony shown better skill than Trixie, and it was naught but greater brute strength. The only reason she could beat Trixie is obvious, but they all choose to ignore the truth anyways. She clearly didn’t have a lame horse for a father; a useless, spineless, mag-” She froze when a small, icy drop of water plunked on her nose.
The unicorn looked up and stared in disbelief. “When the hell did it get cloudy?” The clouds taunted back by sprinkling a few more droplets across her backside. One landed on her horn causing her to flinch. She then heard a soft roar building in the distance and realized that the sudden clouds were also bringing an icy torrent. She began to trot cautiously as she could along the increasingly rockier road, but soon the wave of rain caught up to her. It matted her mane and chilled her coat, spurring her faster in search for some shelter. The clouds began to blow their howling winds and caused the azure mare’s coat to turn a shade more purple. The sudden chill after the midday heat was now fully taking effect on her; her teeth rattled and every few steps sent shivers up her spine.
As she pushed up the shallow mountain slope, the rocks started to resettle under her hooves and slipped on occasion messing with her balance. To her relief, she stumbled upon a small cave and threw herself out of the rain. Panting and sore, she weakly cursed at the pegasi for letting such a storm rampage with her under it. With nothing to warm her and no sign of the downpour slowing, she curled up around her satchel with hopes that rest would see her warmer by the storm’s end.
“Mommy! Welcome home!” shouted an excited filly unicorn with a mane of silver and coat of azure.
“Hello, my little Trixie. Do you know what today is?” Her mother carefully nuzzled her filly.
“Today’s my birthday! And now you’re home! And now we can spend lots and lots of time together and go to the park and get ice-cream and...” the filly’s bubbly voice prattled on until the door was snapped shut once again.
“Now now, Beatrix sweetie,” a stallion’s voice called out, “it is your birthday, but mommy needs a moment to rest after the doctor visit.” The dark brown earth pony set down the work satchels slung over his shoulders, sauntered over to his wife, and put an ear to her bulging belly. “Nothing but good news from the doctor, but he did say mom and the baby still need lots of rest.”
The filly’s excitement left her. She solemnly walked over to her mom. “It’s okay if you need to rest, mommy.” She dragged her hooves and slunk down onto the recliner.
Her mother followed her into the room and took a seat on the sofa. She smiled softly as she levitated a small box out of one of her husband’s work satchels. “Now now, my little Miss Trix, your mother wouldn’t do nothing on your birthday.” A small, gift-wrapped box floated above the sulking filly. “If you just sulk all day and stare outside the windows, you won’t get to see your present,” she teasingly sung the last word. She giggled as her daughter squealed and bounced up and down on the sofa, attempting to snatch the present from her mother’s magical grip. She quietly coughed, which caused her to falter and lower the box just enough for the bouncing filly wrap her forehooves around it. The mother gave a small smile to her husband; she knew that her state wore heavily on his mind. They both turned upon hearing a gasp.
“This is the best gift ever!” The filly scurried over to her mother, but she stopped right before pouncing on her and instead carefully hugged her and her belly. “Thanks mommy.” She walked over into her father’s embrace. “Thanks daddy.”
He ran a hoof through her mane. “Well, you gonna show us what you can do?”
“Yeah! I can do anything with the ‘Box of Tricky Tricks’ and a little bit of magic. It says so on the box!”
Her mother laughed. “Well, show us what it says you can do.”
The unicorn scrambled up onto the recliner and was about to announce her act. Her mother chimed, “Oh dear, I almost forgot.” She pulled a small, purple wizard’s cap and floated it onto her daughter’s head. “There, Trix. Now you can start.”
On the verge of exploding with excitement, the now adorned unicorn stood and announced, “I am the one and only, most greatest, most awesomest, most powerfulest pony that ponykind has seen! I am the Great-Awesome-Powerful Tricky Trix!” It was met by a round of stifled giggles from her parents.
Her father chimed in. “That’s quite a mouthful, Beatrix dear.”
Her mother added, “Hmm, yes. And some bad grammar too.”
“How about we call you the Great Beatrix?” her father offered endearingly.
His daughter retorted, “No way, that’s not amazing enough! How about the Powerful and Great and Magnificent Beatrix?”
Her mother took her turn. “Hmm, that’s still quite a mouthful. Oh, how about The Great and Powerful ‘Tricky Trix’?”
Her daughter’s eyes sparkled. “That’s perfect! I shall be known as The Great and Powerful Trixie.”
“Well, that is much better than ‘Tricky Trix’.” The stallion teased his wife. “Who would ever let their daughter be called ‘Tricky Trix’? I hope no pony that I know of would ever do that to their daughter.”
She shushed him in response. “Be quiet or you’ll miss the opening act.”
The azure little unicorn cleared her throat. “Behold all as The Great and Powerful Trixie amazes everypony...”
The a bolt of lightning cracked down, ripping a tree in half and startling the unicorn from her slumber. Trixie’s eyes snapped open and she scrambled to her hooves, only to realize the sound was a remnant of the storm outside. It dawned on her that it was the middle of the night with a small pitter-patter of rain still falling. She gave a soft glow from her horn and groggily staggered towards the entrance of the cave. She stepped out of the cave to be met by the small rhythm of drizzle and the occasional crack of lightning accompanied by the now roaring river from the earlier downpour.
She scanned the sky and occasionally flinched when a raindrop would attack her eyes. The mare found no sign of how long the storm would last or any idea of how long she had slept. She treaded towards the edge of the path and balked when she saw the terrifying river below. As she decided to go back into the cave, the clouds once again chose to drench her with water. The angered unicorn shouted back at them. “Stop raining on me you stupid clouds!” In a fit of anger, she stomped her rear foot down and started to step forward only to have the rocks slip from her back legs. Her hindlegs fell off the ledge and her forelegs buckled from the jarring movement. She flailed as she slid off the wet cliff. Her forelimbs latched around a dead root protruding from the ground. For a moment it held them both, but soon the soft soil let go of the root and the clinging mare with it. Trixie plunged into the river and was whisked away by the winding current that’s roar drowned her screams.
On occasion the river would toss her above its surface for a moment to breathe before pulling her back under. The unicorn tried to grab onto loose branches with her magic, but failed every time and was thrusted further down a steep drop into the torrential waters of the winding river. The rapids refused her a chance to breathe; her eyes were slowly getting heavier and limbs going limp as she was pulled down to the bottom of the river’s end.
The brown stallion had just nodded off; his daughter had one foreleg draped across him and the other clenching her favorite cap. The soft and solemn patter of a towering, tan stallion adorned in a white lab coat woke the father. He wearily rubbed his eyes, not having more than a moment of rest.
“Mr. Moon,” the doctor hesitated, “might I have a word with you?”
He stood up, careful to not wake his daughter, and walked over to the doctor. “Please tell me nothing’s wrong.”
“Sir, nothing is wrong, but we are getting worried that she’s a week overdue and there are still no signs of the foal coming soon. She’s been getting weaker and more tired every day.”
“Is there anything you can do to speed it along? It’s been a week now.”
The doctor shook his head. “There’s nothing we can do. I just wanted you to know that it looks to be a lot longer of a wait than expected. You should consider bringing your daughter home for the night. And you need some rest also.”
“I’ll do that if she wakes, but she won’t want to go home...she has problems when she can’t see her.”
“Beatrix.” The sound of her father’s voice woke her up. “Beatrix, dear. Mommy’s awake now. Let’s go see her.”
The unicorn filly stumbled off the chair and groggily asked, “Mommy’s awake? Did the baby come yet?”
“Not yet, but she says it’s close to that time.” He stopped a moment and grabbed the purple cap. “Don’t forget your hat, dear.”
The filly skipped to her father who then knighted her with the hat. “There, now you’re ready.” Her father gave her a loving nuzzle, but was quickly pushed away by the now embarrassed filly. He smiled as she giggled and scurried away to her mother’s room.
They quietly opened the door to the softly illuminated room. A tired, motherly voice welcomed them. “My, my, what a blessing to be greeted by the greatest and most powerful mare in all of Equestria.” She quietly coughed after the last word. “What will my Great and Powerful Trixie do for me today?”
The filly bounced up to the bed. “I could...tell you a story! You always tell me one when I’m in bed.”
Her father walked over, took a seat next to her, and rested a hoof on her shoulder. “What’s the exciting tale going to be?”
“Oh, I could tell you of the time...the time I beat a Timber Wolf?”
Her mother weakly giggled. “A timber wolf? Is all that you’ve beaten? I think some pony who wants to be great and powerful would need to at least beat an Ursa Minor to earn a title and a hat. The strongest and greatest unicorns all have done it once!” She teased her daughter, weakly knocking the hat off center of her daughter’s head.
The filly pouted and fixed her hat. “Hay! I’m the one telling the story, and I not only beat the wolf, but an Ursa MAJOR too!” she scolded her mother, but quickly returned to the excitement her story. “Yes, The Great and Power Trixie hath beaten a timber wolf and an ursa major too. She was lost, alone in the woods...”
The now busy lobby muffled the conversation between the doctor and father. “Sir, there’s no easy way to put this. Her, her heart gave out before the baby was born. I’m so sorry for your losses. Please, if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate. We’re here for you.”
The azure filly nudged her father. “Daddy, is something wrong?”
Her father turned around, his visage blank. “Mother has,” he paused for words, “passed away.”
She started to cry. “What are you saying?” Large teardrops skittered across the tiled floor.
Her father pulled her in close, having yet to shed a tear. “She’s gone off to the Golden Lands and isn’t coming home.” His daughter broke down as he said: “She’s not coming home. Her heart wasn’t strong enough.”
She finally realized the whole truth. She hit her father in the chest and shouted, “Don’t you say that! She wasn’t weak! Take it back!” Her father pulled her tighter, unwilling to let himself cry. Her sobbing eventually stopped but tears kept falling. She buried her face in his chest. “She’s supp-posed to watch m-me be the b-best ever.”
The log that was carrying the unicorn touched ground and tossed her onto the beach. She was jarred awake and immediately felt the after effects of being dragged down the mountain by the river’s current. The lingering clouds blotted the scarce light that would come from the moon. She blindly stumbled off the driftwood and onto the beach. She tripped occasionally as she trudged along the beach until she felt grass underhoof. She quickly found a large tree and nestled against its scratchy bark. A small breeze picked up, chilling her already cold and damp coat. She curled up to keep warm, wishing that she still had her satchel to help keep her warmer.
“Yes, dear, this is where you are going to be staying from now on.” The teal, winged stallion in a suit walked her along the stone path up to the small, suburban house.
The filly asked, “Who lives here?”
The stallion answered, “Your grandmare does. Now, miss Beatrix-”
She snarled at him. “Don’t call me by that name! That’s what he calls me.” Her ears pinned down and voice became naught more than a whisper. “That’s what he’d call me before he left me.”
The stallion sighed, kneeled down and hugged her with a wing. “I’m certain that he loves you. Some ponies just get...lost in their sorrows and make a bad choice. But you have a new home and a loving grandmare to care for you.” He curled his wing to dab a tear off the filly’s cheek. “Whenever you’re ready, you can knock.”
She hesitated a moment, then knocked. An elderly earthpony with a bleached white mane and a fading brown coat opened the door greeted them with a drawl. “Welcome, welcome, come on in. Thank ya for bringin’ my granddaughter...”