After the school house burned down, Nightshade and Fluttershy decided to donate all the bits they had amassed to go towards building a new, better one. Rarity's business had been booming, since Sweetie Belle had been picked up by a talent scout, and went on tour with Octavia, she became lead singer in an orchestra, and wearing her sister's dresses was huge publicity. Thus Rarity decided to donate some as well.
Since news got around about the school burning down, and how Nightshade had become a hero, (although he insisted it was a team effort, since it was), Sweetie Belle got the paper, and asked the manager to dedicate one of the concerts to fundraising for the school. Applebloom had been signed on with a construction company, and convinced her boss to give them a discount. Twilight used her connections in Canterlot to buy all the books they would need on the cheap, Mr. Timepiece, (You know, Dr. Whooves, except he's not actually a timelord.) offered to donate the clocks, and Vinyl Scratch added the PA system. Everyone in Ponyville helped out in their own different way. It was heartwarming to see how the whole community came, and it disgusted Lyra.
"Look at them all, happily giving to help rebuild the school. All of them working together, in harmony, makes me sick."
Her mind had been so poisoned by Nightmare, she started hating the happiness of others, much like the dark spirit itself. What's worse, he was now considered a hero in Ponyville, while she was considered a walking disaster. She moved out of Bon Bon's place, and was not renting as cheap a place she could find. She was bad luck. Nopony would hire her. Everyone thought she was cursed. If they only knew how right they were.
Nightshade and Fluttershy went on a great many dates, and were the happiest they had ever been. The school had been finished, and the names of everyone who had contributed to it's construction were placed on a plaque. Of course the press were all over it. He had become the hot topic of Equestria. 'Stranger from another land saves filly and teacher from blaze.' And such headlines were quite common. 'Alien donates fortune to build new school.' Was another. Even the princesses were bombarded with questions.
"Yes, we did have a bit of a falling out, before he went public. We tried to send him back to his world, and since where he's from is not a nice place, he didn't want to go. We ended up fighting him. He might have actually beaten us, except that he stopped to help somepony who got caught in the crossfire. Then we realized how wrong we were. Even we make mistakes." Celestia said humbly. She didn't really want to talk about this, because it was bad for her reputation, but Equestria needed to know the truth.
"However, none of us are ones to hold a grudge." Luna added. "We settled our issues peacefully, and have actually become quite good friends. I know better than anypony that once in a while, we all need a reality check, and a slice of humble pie." Luna had been getting better with talking to the press, and knew just what to say to save face.
"So, this 'Nightshade', is actually more powerful than the two of you combined?" a reporter asked.
"Goodness no." Luna responded. "He does have a unique ability, but he is not capable of magic. The reason he was such a challenge is because he does not give up, and a great deal of his perceived strength comes from his quick thinking. You recall the school fire? He became a hero in that event, but not because of his ability. He thought up a plan, and made the best use of the resources he had. That probably come from the fact that in his world, he had to think quickly to survive, and couldn't rely on his ability."
Murmurs from the crowd. While he was powerful, it was his intelligence that made him truly formidable. They were also wondering what this ability he possessed might be, but the princesses dismissed it.
"He made us swear not to tell."
Word got around to a certain blue unicorn about this creature. Able to stand on par with the princesses? If she could defeat such a creature, her career would be back on track, better than before. Since most of his strength came from his smarts, the arrogant unicorn said to herself.
"Who is more cunning than the Great and Powerful Trixie? Certainly not some alien who lived among the beasts of the Everfree for two years. While Trixie is loathe to return to that mud hole called Ponyville, she will make the necessary sacrifice to defeat this 'Nightshade' creature, and expose it for what it truly is, a fraud. For none is greater than Trixie."
Coming back from a week long camping trip in the forest with Spike, Scootaloo, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash, they had all had quite a bit of fun. Spike was glad to be roughing it with his new big brother, Fluttershy got to see more of nature, Rainbow Dash didn't have anything better to do, and wanted to prove her toughness, and Scootaloo was just happy to spend time with her dad and idol.
"So, how about we all go to Fillydelphia beach in two weeks? Right after the Summer Sun Celebration? Celestia is raising the sun in Manehatten this year, so the beach will be pretty much empty." He suggested. They all agreed it sounded good.
"We'll just have to get the other's to come along. Rarity shouldn't be too difficult to convince, but Twilight is gonna try and shut herself in the library, and Applejack might not be able to get off work, although if we all help her get ahead, we might be able to convince her."
They got back into town, and saw a strange stage in town, with lights and banners all over it.
"Oh geez, here we go again." Said Applejack.
"Gah, didn't she learn the last time she was here?" Rainbow commented.
"Please tell me she's not." Said Spike.
"Who are you all talking about?" Nightshade asked.
"Trixie." They responded. "She calls herself The Great and Powerful Trixie, ALL. THE. TIME. She goes around claiming she's this super magical unicorn, when she doesn't have a lick of talent. She's just a blowhard." Applejack explained, with an annoyed look on her face.
"Last time around, she claimed she bested an Ursa Major, so two numbskulls brought one to watch her do it. It ended up only being and Ursa Minor, and she couldn't do anything to it. Twilight had to step in and save the town. I never thought she'd be back after that." Spike said.
"Ah well, she's in show business, she makes her bits being full of hot air. They all do. None of my business." Nightshade said. They all looked at him like he was crazy.
"You mean you don't care at all that she spouts nothing but lies and insults?" Applejack asked.
"If you think those in show business are blowhards, you should meet politicians from my world." He chuckled. They all laughed. "You know, why don't we just go watch the show? Doesn't matter what she says, as long as we know it's not true, that just makes her an idiot for saying it." Scootaloo remembered him telling her the very same words the day before family appreciation day.
"Surely ONE of you has some aspect of talent? Can none match the awesome abilities of The Great and Powerful Trixie?"
"Does she always speak in the third person?" Nightshade whispered to Spike.
"Yes, she does. Please shut her up. PLEASE." He said with begging eyes.
"Hmm, I think I've got an idea."
There was a large crowd of ponies in front of the stage, so Nightshade climbed in a tree, and made it look like he was sleeping in it.
"Come now, I require a volunteer from the audience to test my skills against. Hmmmm." She spotted her target, the whole reason she came to Ponyville, sleeping in a tree. "You! You dare have the audacity to sleep while The Great and Powerful Trixie performs amazing feats of magic the world has never seen?"
"Who, me?" Nightshade said, pointing at himself, acting all innocent.
"Yes you, you must clearly think yourself superior to Trixie to be sleeping during her performance, come, show her what you are capable of." She demanded.
"Aw, no, I couldn't. I wouldn't want to steal the audience from you with my charming wit and dashing good looks, who are you by the way? I don't think I've ever heard the name Trixie." He said in a sophisticated tone, trying not to sound sarcastic.
"I am The GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie, perhaps you recall now?" She said, full of pride.
"Nope, sorry, doesn't ring a bell." He responded playfully. She was troll bait and he knew it. Celestia would have a hay day with her.
"You must be rather uncultured to have not heard of The Great and Powerful Trixie. Trixie thinks you have been living under a rock." She said with a smirk.
"No, actually in the forest. I even wrote a book about it. Perhaps you have heard of 'Forest Survival: Life In The Everfree'? It's a best seller." He was eating this up. She made it way too easy. He could clearly see the veins beginning to pop out on her head.
"I have heard of it, but I found it poorly written and dreadfully dull." She was beginning to catch on to his game.
"True, but it was not meant to be entertaining, it was meant to be useful. A tool, not a toy. And I never claimed to be an author. My claim to fame is maple syrup. I am the sole producer in all Equestria, and as such, have made quite a name for myself." He didn't like boasting, but it would goad Trixie to continue their verbal battle.
Trixe was quite shocked. Those maple treats were her favorite. They had come out in early spring, and were quite expensive, given the limited quantity. Now she had an idea.
"It seems you are quite the character after all. Trixie may have... underestimated you. What do you say to a contest? We shall each bring forth our best magical abilities in an attempt to sway the crowd." She thought she was being clever, but as soon as she said that, he knew she was a fool.
Not only was Nightshade a local hero, so the crowd would already we on his side, but most of the crowd was sick of Trixie. She would be hard pressed to win this competition. Still, he wanted to push her a little further.
"I must decline, for you see, while I do possess a unique power, it is not magic. I cam incapable of performing magic, and so you would win by default." He explained. Of course. The papers said he didn't have magic, so how could she get him to enter the contest, so she could best him?
"You possess a power however, perhaps you could show us that? My magic versus your ability." She said, desperately trying to get him to accept. After all, if he simply declined, she could not best him and earn her fame. Nightshade saw through this, and thought she was an even greater fool. Going up against a power you not only don't understand, but have no knowledge of what soever? Unless you are forced to do so, like when he had fought the princesses, it was incredibly foolish.
"Hmm, I accept." He said simple enough.
"Shall we make a wager then?" Trixie was getting to the best part of her plan.
"What do you propose?" He asked.
"If I win, you will teach me to use your power."
"Denied." He said without hesitation.
"Do you fear that you will lose, and the secret of your power become known?" She taunted.
"I refused because my power is not something that can be taught. Me teaching you to use it, would be the same as you teaching Applejack magic. Even if you understand the concept, the method, means, and all of its subtleties, you would not be able to perform it. It is a power that is mine alone, and cannot be passed to another." He said.
Trixie was mad. He wasn't going to teach her his power. Even if he did, she still couldn't do it. She had to think of something else valuable.
"Then when Trixie wins the contest, you will teach her the method of making maple syrup." That was the next best thing. If she had that, she could compete with him, making thousands of bits, and drive him out of business.
"Very well, but if I win, you will never again speak in the third person. You will drop your title, and the only time you may ever say your name is in introduction. Why? Because its annoying. You will simply become Trixie." If he won, then he could shut Trixie up for good without ruining her. He wasn't heartless, he just wanted to see her put in her place.
"Agreed, should Trixie lose, which she will NOT, she will drop her titles Great and Powerful, never to take on a new one, and she will refer to herself as, 'I' and 'myself'." Trixie gulped as she said those words. She wasn't used to them.
"Then, we shall meet tomorrow at noon, perform a single trick using our abilities, and let the crowd decide. Since the crowd is already partially on my side, I shall give you the option to choose who goes first." He gave a bow.
"Trixie will perform first, and after her display, you will no longer have the will to compete, as it would be utterly hopeless." She said confidently. Nightshade and friends left the town square, and headed to Twilight's library. They were followed in by the remainder of the mane 6.
Entering the library, Nightshade explained why Trixie is a fool.
"Well, for starters, she's going up against an unknown. She doesn't even know what my power IS, and she's confident she'll beat it. Secondly, she's having the crowd decide who's trick they like better. Everyone in Ponyville knows me, and I can safely say, are not too fond of her. Third, in showmanship, you always want to go last. Whoever goes last will have a greater effect. If you go first, then while your talent may be good, the crowd will likely forget about it when they watch the other show. The important part is leaving an impression on the crowd." He told them.
"Um, I hate to be a bother." Fluttershy said timidly. "But, um, while I know Trixie isn't very nice, what you said before was, kind of mean."
"Yes, I suppose it was, but at the same time, she didn't seem all that offended by it, and it will do her a bit of good to be taught some humility. It was just banter between rivals. I didn't sling any insults like she did though." He explained softly to Fluttershy. "Trixie is full of hot air, and the only way to let some of it out was to give her some of my own."
"I don't mean to interrupt, but do you know what Trixie's powers are?" Twilight asked.
"She's an illusionist, right? Using trickery to puff herself up and be more impressive than she really is. She could be truly talented if she knows how to cast subtle spells that require high precision, using her big flashy ones as a distraction, but something tells me she can't. Even if she can, I'll be expecting it, so I don't think it's anything I can't handle." He said.
"Wow, you're right, how'd you know?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"I'm just good at reading people, and ponies for that matter. Like how I got the crusaders their cutie marks. it's the same thing. That's also why I kept egging her on, I was expecting her to want to compete against me, and to make a wager as well. She would have done that no matter what I said or did, so I tried to make her talk, which was easy since that's what she loves to do. Once I heard enough from her to figure out her personality type, I was able to determine her skill set, and what she'll plan for tomorrow." Nightshade said with a snicker. He whispered something to Fluttershy, and she nodded.
"Besides, either way, she's going to come out of this with something."
"As for what I'm going to do, I'm going to leave an impression. Rainbow, tomorrow, I want you to bring a bunch of rain clouds over. AJ, a couple bags of fertilizer. I'm gonna wow that crowd."
"Well well Mr. Nightshade, you decided to show up after all. Trixie was getting worried that you would 'chicken out' and disappoint the crowd." Trixie said mockingly.
"It's called being fashionably late, and besides, I needed to gather some things. I am fully prepared, are you?" He returned her mocking tone.
"Trixie was born ready." She stated.
"Very well, audience, are you ready for a show!" The crowd cheered. Neither had even performed any feats, and he was already winning the crowd. Spike came to referee.
"No interfering with each other's tricks, no talking during the other's performance, no trying to manipulate the crowd. Let's begin!" Said the dragon.
Trixie started off by sending sparks flying, spinning clouds together, charging the whole thing, then sending it into the sky, making it explode in a shower of sparks and lightning. It was impressive. More impressive than any of her other tricks. She had obviously used all her creativity coming up with it, and since the writer came up with it last minute, and literally threw it in on a whim, that tells you something about how creative Trixie was. (Here lies Wall IV, R.I.P)
Now it was Nightshade's turn. He pulled out an apple, ate it, and held up the core.
"This is an ordinary apple, yet within it, lay something extraordinary. It contains the spark of life, and is the future of this world." He hopped off the stage, into the crowd, who cleared away. Trixie looked on, amused. He dug a hole in the ground with his hands, placed the apple core within it, and buried it. He used 5 years of his life, (which he had grabbed from a tree in the Everfree beforehand in preparation) and the green mists swirled around him. He held out his hand for dramatic effect, and channeled it into the ground.
"Applejack, if you will?" He motioned to the farm pony. She brought a bag of fertilizer, and dumped it on where the apple core was buried.
"The seeds in the apple core are children just like any other. When cared for properly, they will grow, and flourish." He motioned to Rainbow Dash, who emptied a cloud onto the pile. Slowly, a green plant sprouted up from the ground.
"We must take great care in raising them. Not enough of something, and they cannot grow, too much, and they become smothered. While an apple seed needs water, too much and you cause it to drown. The same can be said for care. We must care for our young to allow them to prosper, but we must not stifle them by being over protective, or they will not flourish." He said, the tree still growing. It was now up to his waist.
"Given the proper care, the young grow, and become able to give back to the world." He was silent for a time as Rainbow Dash emptied more and more clouds onto the growing tree, and Applejack dumped some more fertilizer at it's base. It was now a full grown tree, and a single apple grew on it.
"Applejack?" He asked again. She bucked the tree, knocking the apple out of it. Nightshade picked the apple up, and ate it.
"Now, the cycle is complete. Or is it? All things must eventually die. From the humble fly who's lifespan is only three days, to the sun itself which shall last for countless eons, there will come a time when all must sleep, and the old will pass the torch to the young. If not, the world would be full of apple trees." Everyone gave a quick laugh.
"While that may sound nice, it wouldn't leave any room for the rest of us, or any more trees to grow. So no, unfortunately for our friend the apple tree, his time has come." Nightshade dug another hole, put the second apple core in it, buried it, then placed his hand on the tree. The tree wilted, it's leaves fell off, followed by some of the smaller branches. Finally, the tree trunk itself rotted, and the tree fell. He caused the tree to grow and degrade faster than normal, draining the life energy from it that he had added in the first place, and using bacteria to make it rot. Taking a shovel, he moved the pile over the newly buried apple core. Another tree began to grow.
"Notice how this time I didn't add fertilizer? That is because this dead tree knows what must be done. Throughout it's life, although it was very short, it did all it could to make the world better for it's child. It's roots tore up the soil, making it easier for the seeds to take root themselves. It's very body, once broken down, will feed the new tree. It did everything It could to ensure that it's child had the best start it could, and then it let it go." The crowd was eating it up. They weren't cheering, they were listening intently. Trixie was in awe at how even though it wasn't flashy, he held the crowds attention in an iron grip. The new tree began to grow again, but this time, it stopped at being a sapling.
"In the world I am from, the people have forgotten this. They live only for the now. They thrive in opulence while they poison the world they live on. They do not care, for when the time comes that their children inherit the world, they will already be gone, having had their fun. Their children will curse their names, and scorn them for not being more responsible with the world they were given. They sought immortality, something they should not have, and for it, they paid the price. They forgot that the most important thing they can do with their lives, is improve the world for those who come after."
Nightshade stood up, and walked back to the stage. "We must always remember that we are but relics of the past, but they.." He pointed at a group of fillies and colts, listening intently. "They are the future. Equestria has learned this lesson well, and while you do not think on it much, you act according to it. My people once did so as well, but then they forgot their place. A world of blue skies and green grass turned grey. Grey stone, grey skies, grey clouds, grey rain. The people themselves turned grey, and lost hope. By trying to live forever, they forgot how to live." He said, with a tear in his eye.
"This world is one of beauty, one of peace. You do not starve, you do not have war over resources, you live happily, humbly, and in harmony with the world in which you live. When I came to this world, and saw it's beauty, I was afraid to be a part of it. I feared that I would be like my people, and cause this land to rot as mine has. I was wrong. So long as we hold this lesson in our hearts, we shall have happiness. Living in the forest, I learned this lesson, and I wanted to share it with you all."
The crowd was awestruck. Many were crying at the beauty of what he had said. Others were crying at the though of what a dull and grey world would look like. Even Trixie was moved. Using such subtle methods, and words alone, not of boasting, but of advice, he had clearly outmatched her.
He then walked back to the small tree, and caused it to grow to full size. "For those who come after." He said, and walked away, with the tree in bloom.
Nightshade headed back to his house, where he was met by the mane 6 and Scootaloo. Trixie followed him. Upon heading inside, Trixie stopped at the doorway, but he motioned for her to come in.
"That was beautiful." Fluttershy said.
"Who knew that our way of life could come from a simple apple tree." Said Applejack.
"So poetic." Said Twilight.
"That was absolutely divine." Said Rarity.
"I'm just glad you made Trixie shut up." Said Rainbow, not realizing she was in the room. Trixie cleared her throat.
"It seems that Trixie.." Nightshade cleared his throat. "It seems that I owe you an apology. You are a far better showpony than I. To captivate the audience like that, and remind us all of our mortality, but in such a beautiful way. With one such as you in this world, I do not deserve to be in show business." Trixie took off her hat and cape, and threw them into the fireplace. It wasn't burning, since it was summer, but everyone got the idea.
"So, what will you do now?" He asked her.
"I, I don't know. My life was show business. I don't know anything else." She said, sobbing, as she didn't know how she'd live after this.
"You know, I could always help you." He said.
"You would help me, after I treated you, and your friends, in such a way?" She sniffed.
"It's really quite simple. I know for a fact that maple syrup is a best seller. Everypony wants it, and the craving isn't going away anytime soon. I can't possibly produce enough for all of Equestria, and many will go without it. So, how about I teach you how to make it. I show you everything you need to get started yourself, and give you 1000 bits to get yourself started. In return, you give me 25% of whatever profit you make, and you get to run your own Sugar Shack. I hear Trottingham has excellent forestation, and would be a prime location, as it's currently too difficult to ship large quantities there."
Trixie looked up. "But the wager..."
"I decided last night with Fluttershy that even if you lost, we'd still show you how to make it, that way, you could quit the miserable show business and do something more wholesome. We figured that after the last time you came here, you might want a way out. This is it." Nightshade always was one to help those down on their luck. Trixie just nodded.
Trixie, Nightshade, and Fluttershy headed out into the forest. He showed her which trees were good for tapping, where to tap them, when to tap them. He showed her the facilities needed to refine it, and how to make all the different sweets like taffy. Trixie still had enough bits from her show business for food, and had made quite a lot during the contest, as many ponies loved Nightshade's performance, and when they wanted to pay him, he simply told them to throw it in the stage collection bucket. This way she would be able to set herself up in Trottingham, and still be able to eat. She bid them all goodbye, and thanked them for their hospitality, and her second chance.
"See Fluttershy? We did a good thing today. Now we don't have to feel so bad about earlier. This did her a world of good." Fluttershy snuggled up to him. Pinkie wondered if there was anything syrup couldn't fix, and the rest of Ponyville was happy to have Trixie out of their manes.
Lyra was furious. She had seen the whole show, and spied on them afterwards. While she was glad to see Trixie's life in show biz ruined, she wasn't happy at all that they had given her a new, better life to replace it.
"If it was me, I would have made a public mockery of her. She deserves it. Why did he help her? He must like helping those who need it." She was talking to herself again, or at least that's what it looked like.
"Maybe I just need to get in REALLY big trouble." She said.
"I can help with that."
[SPOILER] Lyra, a criminal? Ha, that's all I'm gonna say.
Pinkie: You broke the 4th wall, IN THE CHAPTER
BlackWing: Who let you back in here? I thought I kicked all of you out!
Pinkie: You did, but then it didn't upload, and you lost the conversation, so it never actually happened because it didn't get posted. And telling everyone you kicked us out isn't the same as actually doing it!
BlackWing: Discord, take the syrup from Pinkie, she's way too hyper.
Discord: *Gets hand bitten by rabid Pinkie*
BlackWing: Well okay then. At least everyone is being quiet. Seems like they're all playing Jenga. Not really fair since it's infinitely harder with hooves and mouth than with magic, although for some reason Rainbow Dash has won every round.
Nightshade: Discord, you're lucky Fluttershy is here. I guess I'll just have to wait for the sequel to kick your ass.
Discord: Like you could. I'm the eternal spirit of disharmony.
Nightshade: More like irony.
Nightshade: Nope, I'm saving our battle of insults and wits for an actual chapter, not some abomination of a 4th wall blog.
Celestia: *Massaging BlackWing's shoulders*
BlackWing: Are you hitting on me?
Celestia: Well, you ARE kind of the creator of this branch of our universe, and as a princess, I find ultimate power to be attractive.
BlackWing: Well, that's too bad. I like Luna better. She has flaws in the show, which make her seem more real. I actually had to make some up for you, like having a short temper.
Celestia: Wait, YOU did that?
BlackWing: Yep, and now you're going to go play with Discord. He's terrific at connect four.
Discord: Yay, somepony to play with!
BlackWing: See ya next chapter everybody.