89w, 11hThe GREAT and POWERFUL TRIXIE
Trixie and others did not have to wait long. Princess Celestia came back with her sister after they waited for few more minutes. After the sun princess summoned the guard pony with the key, of which she inserted into the hole to open the steel-barred door, Trixie and the bearers walked inside, finding themselves at the part of the library which few knew nowadays, the Starswirl Wing.
Trixie thought of hesitating a second. Why? Because a magician was to plan her every move as much as possible, and being the greatest magician in all over Equestria, even the act of hesitation had to be planned. The chance of entering the place she aspired for so long-now it was coming to her so freely. A most gracious offer, a moment Trixie has been waiting for. The opportunity was there for Trixie to take it a filly getting her birthday present.
But was she truly ready? One could never be so sure about anything. Tricked or not be tricked, the dividing line lied in one being extremely careful as much as possible, expecting every possibilities and checking them again and again. She had to search her memory and be mindful of the particular thread well. Diligently her mind worked. Ancient could mean many things. The intricacies of words and their multiple meanings, was Trixie well versed in the art of trickery to face them?
After a quick look around the place, Trixie realized the place was just like her teacher described. There was nothing much special about the place, except for the giant hourglass that stood tall in the middle of the room, displaying its magnificent posture to those entered the wing, sustained by two huge wooden frames at its top and bottom. Through the glass one could see the sand falling steadily, its flow smooth as a trickle of a stream, never wavering but forming a rhythm that produced a silent music of its own. There was no way that the object could not be touched by unicorn magic-truly it represented the unending time with the incessant movement of shifting sands inside the apparatus.
Unfortunately, other than that, the Starswirl Wing was no doubt going to disappoint those who initially marveled at the grand and awesome sight of the giant hourglass. Trixie found the wonders of the place quick to run out. Even the most eager unicorn who delighted in learning the mysteries of magic would be unable to hide her disappointment. As soon as one moved her sight from the giant object, the next things she was going to encounter was the dull brown-colored bookshelves stuffed with pallid yellowish scrolls, filling every parts and corners, ultimately dominating the entire space. No fancy and comfortable sofas to sit down and enjoy reading the book, no soft blue lights that were great help to read at night, and no intricate, elaborate magical signs at the walls showing which section was one currently at. It was more of a large storehouse rather than a library, filled with scrolls and more scrolls that lay silent in the dusty shelves, smelling of the very age they withstood withering in the dark shadows.
The atmosphere even seemed to affect Trixie’s breathing. It was just like the ancient perfumes that resided in the old changing room when she first found herself as Trixie who was a friend of Twilight Sparkle. But that ancient was like memories that were waiting to be read upon by others, each one holding fragrances of the past that sometimes one longed for. This ancient, however, was something else. Trixie did not want to delve into its contents: covered in age-old dusts, forgotten in the shadows, holding deathly quietness and dreadful silence of the past that now completely ceased to exist, the memories now long gone from most of the ponies’ minds.
And of course, Trixie did not have to remind herself of the fact that such memories residing in the realm of the oblivion had many good reasons for doing so. Looking into such pasts could lead to problems. Her mind quickly moved to other subjects. She slightly moved her eyes to the bearers. How were they faring?
Like Trixie, she concluded. Initial surprise, then probably followed by subsequent disappointment. At first, Twilight’s eyes grew wide upon seeing the huge hourglass. Unfortunately for her, the lavender unicorn’s high expectations rapidly faded as she discovered the rest of the place. The rest of the bearers were not much different as they looked around the whole circle, they thinking how the place could be so dull and boring, and wondering if they had not yet recognized anything wonderfully mysterious about the hidden section of the library which was sealed for so long.
“Well…this is not what I quite expected.” Twilight’s head titled slightly to the right, probably hoping that she could somehow find some mystical icons or signs that could convince her that this was indeed the Starswirl Wing, known only by a few which held so many wonders of the past.
“Her teacher did say it did not live up to most ponies’ expectations.”
“It sure doesn’t look fun.” The cyan pegasus muttered.
“Old Starswirl specifically wanted it to be that way.” Princess Luna said with a smile on her face. “He begged us to let him direct the construction of the place.”
“And we thought it would be nice to grant his wish for all the services he provided to Equestria.” Princess Celestia said. “But yes, even we do find it very strange. You could say it is quite stuffy in here. Well, this is Starswirl we are talking about, so it should not surprise us much.” She grinned.
Plain or not, if the princesses could find the scrolls they talked about, and then it did not matter for Trixie. Even her intricately woven mind holding so many threads of realities and illusions could not fathom over her situation so effectively she desired to be; sometimes a help from others was, indeed, necessary. She just had to return the favor in some way, for the Great and Powerful Trixie was determined to pay all the debts she owned to others, as her title required a bit of generosity that was expected from one being so Great and Powerful. She had to her image to keep, after all. But how to? She had to think while all these events were happening around her.
“So sister, where do you think we can find the scrolls? I am very sure it is located here somewhere. Even I sometimes lose direction in this ancient place.”
“If I am right, Luna, any spells related with mirrors should be on section M. He did stress alphabetization was important for later uses. He was right, it seems.”
“Let us head that way, then. Lead the way, sister.”
“As you wish, Luna. Come, my dear ponies.”
The two alicorn princesses swiftly strode through the tall bookshelves which were lined like soldiers in their marching position. Twilight and others followed. Trixie too, seeing that they were on the move once again, did not hesitate to join the trail. As long as she was here, it was probably best for her to make good impression, she told herself.
As the group moved Trixie did not have to remind herself who was at the very last of the whole group. But did she really have to point out the obvious fact? Yes, for clarification was very important. Then again, she could not help but to cringe a little when she saw where she was. Trixie was behind them. Princess Celestia and Luna, Twilight and her friends; they could group together. What about Trixie? Well, she was on her own, right at the very end of the line.
It should not have bothered her. Definitely not. The fact was as clear as pure crystalline water. It was dead obvious to the point that even the most foolish neighsayer could not dare to ask a question about it. So clear it almost hurt to look at its brightness, piercing the very blackness of ignorance. Well, there was only one who could be truly Great and Powerful. She was better off alone.
But she knew something was not right, did she not? A magician’s sense was as sharp as a blade-and as deadly as well. Her logic could be so easily refuted. Of course one needed not to be alone to be Great and Powerful. Twilight Sparkle, she was better skilled then her in magic, and yet she had friends which she could look forward to-
Just why did she suddenly think of the lavender unicorn? Because Trixie was jealous, was she not? Her thoughts stopped for a second. For Trixie it felt like an eternity, the flow of time completely stopped at this very specific point, everything else not mattering to her. In reality-in the world inside the mirror-the very present lasted no more than a second. Nevertheless Trixie realized that she could almost perceive the concept of time being very unreliable, so easily influenced by her own feelings. When she felt afraid, time also felt afraid, and then it refused to move forward, abandoning its movement. Or at least that was how her mind was going to interpret it.
To question was her nature, and Trixie just had to ask herself what she really thought of this whole situation. How did she feel when she saw Trixie being so intimate with the lavender unicorn? How did she react when she realized with a cold shudder that Trixie was not really Trixie herself?
Control. Word had power. Control. It was going to make her feel much better-no, no really, but it could make her calmer.
It could not. As long as she was here, she could hardly feel better. She just pretended herself that she was fine with the current situation. She was a shrewd liar-she had no shame in proclaiming herself to be so. To deceive, to trick, to tell not the truth, to speak less of the fact, and to tweak here and there-she just loved the act, delighted in doing so. Because she was a magician, also an illusionist, and also the Great and Powerful Trixie.
The confusion inside her was never to be revealed; the most basic step of practicing the path of a magician was to choose what to display to others. As the Great and Powerful Trixie, she was to read, not to be read. As she followed the groups in front of her she stayed close, not straying off by being lost in her thoughts. She was trained well, and she was not going to make such basic mistake.
But she did fail, as she did not except that she could not expect. The two asses. The neighsayers. She was not so effective in handling untold circumstances. On the other hand, the lavender unicorn who was much better than her, even in terms of magic skills, under the immense pressure of facing the terrible Ursa Minor, composed herself well and quickly acted in a way that Trixie could not.
Could she doubt the skill of the lavender unicorn?
Nope, she said to herself.
So she was better than her, right?
Control. She firmly said to herself, biting her lips (she lost count already) so hard that she thought she could taste the blood inside of her mouth. Control.
She had to focus on what was going around her right now. Even now Princess Celestia and Luna were guiding Trixie closer to the answer she so strived for. One step closer to solving the strange situation that she has gotten into, though the solution was most likely to be given by others, not Trixie herself. Not that it particularly bothered Trixie. It did not hurt her highly conceited self at all. Why should she feel that way? Getting help from others was not going to look so honorable, but it was highly unlikely that anypony would mind. A straight path was best to take, but detours and crooked sideways could be welcomed on various occasions.
The problem was that her ice cold reason sometimes conflicted with her burning feelings. It was a very tiresome task of maintaining balance between the two, she prowling along the edge. Trixie was definitely going to remember later she could not solve this riddle on her own. When she would come across this thread of her memory in the future, how would she react? Admit that she was not so Great and Powerful?
But what was so wrong about receiving help from others? She could feign humility if she wanted to. Even the Greatest magician ever in all over Equestria could not expect to face every obstacles with dignity that was often expected from her. Sometimes, one needed some nice little tricks to get away with some minor inconveniences. And sometimes, situations of the most extremity did require some novel approach that she never dared to consider before.
“Aha! It seems we have arrived at our destination.” Princess Luna stopped at one bookshelf that did not look any different from other countless similar shelves aligned in the room. She raised a hoof to point the large ‘M’ sign imprinted on its side.
To Trixie it looked no better than the somewhat rusty cases back in Ponyville library. Actually, its quality was much worse. The cracks were very visible even to the most untrained, and the paints were peeled off which gave it a rather unsettling sight. Supposedly each one of these decayed wooden structures held ancient wonders (or complexities) that nopony now looked. And among those piles of scrolls smelling of ancient age itself there was a clue to unravel the trick Trixie had fallen into.
Princess Celestia walked close to the shelf and looked at the scrolls. Trixie did not exactly know by what method the princess found the scrolls she wanted among many of them looking virtually same with all holding their murky brownish coloration, but she figured the sun princess had understood the complexities of this place long time ago, already forming an explanation for this strange phenomenon inside her head. Trixie wondered whether the alicorn princess’ conclusion was as same as hers.
Twilight and others watching Princess Celestia nervously, all very quiet, not intent to interrupt the solemn task she was doing right now. They were not magicians, but even they knew the serious nature of the whole operation.
“Mirror spells…there are many magic about the object. It itself is quite magical…it shows one’s reflection. But what exact reflection, one has to question herself.” Princess Celestia muttered.
Trixie’s mentor too, once said such words about mirror. Because when Trixie looked in the mirror, she saw nopony but Trixie. The pony behind the mirror-or rather inside the mirror-was Trixie. There could be no doubt. To be proud of oneself, to boast how Great and Powerful Trixie was, she had to know her own self very well. Reflection of Trixie was Trixie; that was the starting point.
“Oh, like how you look funny on convex mirrors?
“Yes, Pinkie. But we are not just talking about normal mirrors. Magic can be a strange thing. And Mirror itself, even on its own can be quite tricky and magical; now if one were to combine magic and mirror…”
“One may never know what might the result would be.” Twilight spoke, now with a serious look on her face.
The lavender unicorn learned quickly-Trixie knew it way before she did, of course, for she was a magician who relied on tricks and illusions. Twilight here, and presumably back in her own world, did not seem to be interested in magic of trickery. Still, she could guess about its nature, for she was the student of the sun princess. Trixie had to bitterly remind herself of the fact, her inner self involuntarily cringing at the thought of the lavender unicorn being able to understand the concept fairly quickly.
Well, Trixie sighed unnoticeably. There was nothing she could do about the fact, except probably brooding the thoughts inside her mind and let it develop into not so desirable feelings that did not fit for her title the Great and the Powerful, of which she did not clearly intend to do. She had her own issues that needed to be solved.
Mirror and magic, the two combined could produce unforeseen consequences. She perfectly knew she was not to expect the outcome in the very first place-and thus she found herself here, in this strange world inside the mirror where Trixie was friend of the lavender unicorn and the proud hero of Equestria.
So in here, Trixie was really Great and Powerful as she often proudly proclaimed back in her own world. And because of that, Trixie here did not have to say Great and Powerful all the time. Because others did call her with the title.
She knew that, right? Trixie instantly recognized that from the start when she looked into the mirror.
And yes, looking at that scene made her sad. Her recollection clearly spoke to her of how she cried after Trixie found herself in old cottage, its dry voice factual to the extreme.
So what did she do? The Great and Powerful Trixie still had few magic up her wings-as pegasus sayings went-and there was this mirror showing what it normally did not reflect. At that very moment the mirror did something-so why could she not do anything about it? How did she found herself in other Trixie’s place so easily, not even without a fight? The sudden change did not make any sense at all. She should have at least recognized the magic workings out its wonders. Even back in her own world, though she could not vanquish the star-bear, there was no way she could possibly miss the flow of magic that undeniably happened when she looked into the mirror.
“You’re right. Old Starswirl actually spent some time studying mirror magic. His works included imbuing mirrors with magical qualities to distort their reflections as well as casting spells on mirrors to produce variety of effects.” Princess Celestia’s horn glowed as she lifted several scrolls from the shelves, the pinky light clearing off the age-old dusts that had accumulated over all the papers.
Trixie was still very much occupied at trying to understand the apparent absence of magic when she looked into the mirror, but another part of her was still attentive to the alicorn princesses and the bearers. Maybe they knew something she did not yet know.
“As we said, I and my sister talked over the case of Trixie while we were away doing our royal duties.” Princess Luna said as she too, with her horn glowing, picked up a hooffull of scrolls from another shelf.
Both alicorn princesses removed the strings that bound the scrolls, making them reveal their full contents to Trixie and others as the papers unrolled.
Twilight and Trixie could not suppress their sighs of wonder immediately upon seeing the scrolls. Even the white unicorn, whose name Trixie knew as Rarity and who was not so much interested in magic itself, stared at the documents with interested eyes.
Magical. Mysterious. Marvelous. Miraculous. Every unicorn upon seeing the scrolls was naturally going to be delighted. It was hard not to; among ponies unicorns had the most affinity with the magic itself. They were born with the ability to somehow grasp the ever-changing flow of magic, and learning to harness its energy to do their biddings.
The inscribed characters and drawings, Trixie could hardly understand most of them. It must have been same for the lavender unicorn too, for Trixie was absolutely sure that if the Great and Powerful Trixie herself could not readily perceive any scrolls that was related to magic, then nopony else could do the job. Save alicorns, of course. She knew better than to claim to be superior to them. Trixie’s place was high up above the stage, possibly highest she could imagine, but the royal princesses stood entirely on different plane. She accepted the fact a long time ago.
“Fascinating, isn’t it?” Princess Celestia grinned playfully, opening up several more to Trixie’s amazement.
“Ah don’t know much thing about magic, but heck, even lookin’ at them makes me feel quite strange!” Applejack said. She looked almost mesmerized, just like when Trixie cleverly manipulated her rope to make a fool of herself. “Only problem be that we really can’t understand what’s on the scrolls.”
Ancient could mean many things. But mostly, it meant mystery, something that captivated whoever deciding to gaze upon it. That was what Trixie knew for now.
“Do not worry, Applejack. These words I am quite familiar with. It seems like only yesterday I walked upon this hall, reading scrolls that suited my fancy.” Princess Luna’s eyes looked around the place, recalling her past moments. “So, it should only take a few minutes before me and my sister read them.”
“In fact, we are about to begin the task now…so let’s see, mirror magic. What do we have here?” Princess Celestia’s horn glowed as her powerful magical energy enabled her to levitate dozens of scroll simultaneously on the air, her gaze not lasting more than a minute on each one.
“Please allow us to decipher their contents.” Princess Luna said, as she picked up another handful of papers into the air.
Twilight Sparkle’s eyes shone like a bright star in the night. Others too were still under their magical allure; perhaps the scrolls themselves were magical, Trixie thought. Could she herself ever understand their contents?
Yes, because she was Great and Powerful.
But she was not. Did she not know the answer already?
She could be Greater. More Powerful.
But Trixie knew such hope was very fragile, right? Meaningless thoughts, false light that ultimately led one to darker places, making her to despair, starting the ever-downward spiral she could not dare to escape. So she cast a trick, did she not? She always tricked others, and that was her job as a magician. That was all she did. Trixie made others to believe her lies and deceits. She was really nothing. She just pretended to be what she claimed to be.
Now how did her thoughts progress into this mess? She questioned. She answered. This Trixie was not even other Trixie who was currently outside the mirror. Her own self she was. Divided-now she was divided, her own self gradually splitting. When she first came here, there were two Trixies. But the other Trixie was different from her, thought she was still Trixie. That Trixie was different from her from the start. So what was this voice inside her which assumed her own self, yet feeling so distant and unfamiliar? It was baffling, but she could somehow see it made sense in a way. Trixie looked in the mirror. And at the same time, there was Trixie on the other side who looked at the mirror. There was something else-some factor that made the situation a whole lot more complicated. But what really was it? And how could she come to such a conclusion?
Because she knew how it happened. Her memory was not going to fail her. It could not fail her at all. It was dead honest. Many times she searched upon her memories-and she was very familiar with the method. When it came to remembering things, nopony could claim superiority over her. Threads of her thoughts, containing illusions, past, future, realities, fantasies-among the maze she herself erected inside her mind Trixie always found a way, picking out a single thread she was looking for, the thread of reality of which all of her tricks were based on. She was not afraid to look inside her mind. She could check upon her shames and mistakes, reflect upon them, study what went wrong, and eventually learning not to repeat the same mistake again.
Nevertheless her mind failed on this occasion. She did not know what really happened when she looked into the mirror. It was not so far within her memory. Just this night Trixie talked with Princess Celestia. What did she say? Of course she knew, for she was the Great and Powerful Trixie. She knew that she did not know much about how the incident happened. She looked in the mirror-Trixie looked into the mirror, and at the same time on the other side of the mirror Trixie looked into the mirror. Both Trixies looked into the mirror.
And one Trixie did something…right? She remembered it. Her mind never failed her. She could fail it, but not vice versa. That was how her mind operated itself.
But no, she did not know anything. She just could not remember. It happened at an instant. She just suddenly found herself talking to Twilight. Only after hearing the word star-bear did she realize that something was not right.
Trixie tried best to hide the creepy feeling of sensing something she could not yet quite figure it out, but the rash on her skin made it very difficult to do so. Tiny invisible bugs freely roamed inside her fur. Imaginary creatures, but they all felt increasingly real.
She heard the voice. It spoke to her once again.
Now Trixie remembered, right? Because she was so good at remembering things, right? No details left unchecked, right?
She felt something very heavy inside of her-not just the feeling, to be exact. The sensation became extremely real as her stomach ached from the phantom rock that somehow found a way to be inside of her body and crushing her innards.
Just her wild imagination making things increasingly real, no real harm; of course her organs were intact. It was just her thinking that made her feel so.
And yes, her thinking led this entire thing to happen…right?
The alicorn princess’ voices struck her like a hammer. “Hmm, it seems in order for a mirror magic to work, somepony must direct the flow of magic. Starswirl has confirmed from his several experimentations that the mirror alone could not cast magic.”
“Why, it does make sense! Magic only happens when a unicorn casts it, isn’t it?” Twilight said excitedly.
So simple fact-how did she miss it? Just how did the Great and Powerful Trixie completely miss the point?
Trixie spoke. You know the answer, right?
No, I do not. Trixie said. I am Trixie. She said to herself. I am the Great and Powerful Trixie. She is Trixie. She is the Great and Powerful Trixie. I am Trixie. She muttered.
“Which means somepony-or something-must have done something when Trixie looked into the mirror!” Rarity said proudly, like a filly who just solved out a question that bothered her for so long. “Hmph, as a unicorn I do know such things.” She grinned at Dash who just shrugged.
I am Trixie. Trixie muttered. I knew it, right? Because I was so Great and Powerful. Trick was my specialty, and so I did it.
Yes, you did it. Trixie did it. The voice said again.
Control, she said. I am Trixie. I am the master of me. The one and the only.
The familiar sight greeted Trixie. She had been here before-in fact, many times. Except for the fact that the atmosphere was not so pleasing, ponies looking visibly startled whenever Trixie looked at them. But this was Ponyville she knew, at least a very similar version of it. The library was indeed made out of a giant tree, as she could confirm it from the distance. Inside she saw what she expected to see, bookshelves towering over to the ceiling with each and every one filled with books, with a stairs at the side leading to the second floor, which Twilight’s room was located. There was cage and an artificial tree branch for the owl to rest upon-Trixie even remembered its name was Owlicious, who stared at her with is keen gaze.
And then there was Spike, a young dragon whose job was to send and receive letters. She also knew Trixie here did not hold a favorable opinion towards him. He too, had the same thought about Trixie, even if that Trixie was not Trixie he knew.
“So you are from another world, huh?” Spike looked at her, obviously still not convinced of her explanation.
“Spike, you do believe me and Fluttershy, right? Whoever she is, she is not Trixie!”
“Actually, she is Trixie.” She said. Rainbow Dash was looking at her with a confused look. “She is not Trixie you think of-as she said, Trixie here is from a different world.”
“Um, yeah, Spike. Trixie here is not the street magician that ran away.” Dash said, though sounding not so sure.
“I’m still not really convinced. So Trixie here is saying that she looked into the mirror and found herself in this world? What if this is part of her plan to trick us? Making us to believe that she’s now changed, but secretly plotting something against us?” Spike was not easily impressed. Maybe he thought it was his duty, being the number one assistant of Twilight Sparkle, to detect any sign of danger that could approach them without a warning sign.
Not bad, Trixie grinned. Even back in her world, the dragon was always willing to be a help to Twilight Sparkle.
“She assures you, Trixie here would not do such a thing. Why would she do such a thing to her friends?” Trixie said as she made the most gentle, serene expression she could put into her face.
It was an artificial act, but her emotions were real. Harmless pranks, then she could maybe consider about it. But planning on revenge on behalf of other Trixie was not her intention. That was her problem, not this Trixie’s. If Trixie who was inside the mirror now was really Trixie, then she had to solve her own issues, being the Great and Powerful Trixie she was.
“Whatever you say, Trixie, but this is just not scientifically possible…well, yeah, okay, maybe Dash is right. I thought time travel was not feasible, but I did cast a spell to go back to the past in the end. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see mirror-version of Trixie…” Twilight looked nervously at Trixie, fixated at the blue unicorn who bore the exact same cutie-mark as the street magician whose performance came to a swift end after arriving in Ponyville. “Now, can you tell me how did this happen? So there is a spell that can make a pony swap places with her mirror-self?”
“Unfortunately, that was what this Trixie was going to ask you, Twilight.” Trixie said, noticing the unicorn in front of her being disappointed. “You are Princess Celestia’s protégé, after all. Trixie here thinks this world and her world is quite similar-one almost the mirror version of another. Back in my world, Twilight there too is a favorite student of the sun princess.”
“That is…interesting.” Twilight pondered for a second. Then seeing Trixie standing there, she spoke, as if she just realized something very important of which she could not remember till now. “Wait, you are not just going to disappear suddenly are you? It happened with my future self last time, and I don’t want to go crazy over you suddenly vanishing into thin air. You are not leaving, right?”
“Um, No.” Trixie replied. “At least not for now, as Trixie is pretty sure she is stuck here right now.”
“Okay…” Twilight sighed. “Mirror spells…I think I have some books in the library that can help you. Spike, can you go to section M and pick out all the books and scrolls from 23 and 24?
“Alright.” Spike nodded. After a while he came back with several books and scrolls. Twilight’s horn glowed as the purplish energy made the pile to float.
“Let’s see. This won’t take long.”
“Yes, mirror magic. But there is just something Trixie here does not quite get.”
“What is it?” Twilight said as she finished scanning several books .
“You know magic requires some kind of locus, right?” Trixie asked, looking at Twilight directly to her eyes.
“Uh…yeah? What about it?” Twilight made a curious face.
“This Trixie just looked into the mirror. She did not do anything.”
“Huh?” Dash frowned. “What does that supposed to be mean?”
“Magic does not just happen. Somepony needs to gather magical energies first. Her memory is still not clear, but Trixie here thinks somepony-or something-cast the mirror magic spell when she looked into them mirror and saw her own reflection. Who-or what-could that be?”
Twilight looked surprised now. “You did not cast the spell?”
“Why would she ever do such a thing?” Trixie replied.