"Alright, kitties! We've got three fillies with three cutie marks! They've done more to earn them than anypony can know, so that means this has gotta be the bestest cute-ceañera ever!"
Pinkie Diane Pie was wearing a hard hat covered in smiley-face stickers. She was barking out orders through a megaphone, though not her giga-sized one for reminding ponies to write.
"Mew-mew!" 'Aye aye!'
The wuv-cats hurried about, adorably barefoot in overalls and hard hats with holes for their ears. They had promised Pinkie they'd return to help, after all. A party for three fillies, which even by Pinkie Pie standards was going to be a grand affair indeed. By pure coincidence, insurance rates in Ponyville had dropped slightly after the last of the Crusaders had earned her cutie mark.
Pinkie Diane had received a large unsigned donation from the 'Cutie Mark Celebration Charity' (that had existed for all of one day) from Canterlot. The Cakes themselves were awestruck at the little cat creatures going about their work busy as bees, acting like Pinkie Pie's every word was a command from Celestia herself.
The wuv-cats had played with Pound and Pumpkin, but now gave the babies a wide margin, since they didn't want any more bruises or chew-marks on their tails.
The work being put in to prepare for this grand event couldn't be done in an afternoon or even a couple of days, not if one wanted it done right. But the CMC for once were actually showing a smidgen of patience. This party would truly be Pinkamena Diane Pie's masterpiece.
It wasn't every day that foals got a cute-ceañera not just for getting a cutie mark, but two other foals got their cutie marks 'upgraded' or 'completed' with a red and a green shield behind them.
Diary of Silver Spoon
Diamond, before all of this, would have panicked if she saw a cutie mark change. Most foals wouldn't have a clue what that means, so I guess maybe it's a good thing Diamond wasn't here, or she'd have gotten humiliated when she saw the Crusaders and freaked out. But me, Diary? Tiara told me how her mom's cutie mark changed and she got put in the mental ward, back when I was still getting used to not being called Silver Tray.
I wish Tiara would come home soon, she'll be so happy when she finds out her mom is well again. I'll bet she'll be so happy that she won't care about her grudge with Apple Bloom anymore. Honestly, Diary, she only disliked Sweetie and Scootaloo by proxy.
This upper class filly had learned how to read ponies, and I could tell Cheerilee had her eye out for 'cutie mark problems,' but somehow those three having a matching set just feels right, and Cheerilee knows it too.
Scootaloo's Book (Not a diary!)
But it didn't stop Cheerilee from sending notes to our families just in case. And Sweetie's newfound talent for spying let her know her parents sent a message to their family doctor about her cutie mark changing.
Of course, one of those notes went to my parents, which means it really went straight to me instead, and I told my friends. But since it would be suspicious if we knew, we had to keep quiet about it. Not that it matters... just because we got our cutie marks 'powered up' when Apple Bloom got hers doesn't mean we're gonna 'act odd' or 'get sick' or whatever.
Of course, as my guardian, Dash knows that I know, since she got the same message as 'my parents' did and knows that I'm the one who's answering all their mail. She told me not to worry about it.
At least now that I'm Dash's ward, not just her apprentice, I don't have to be scared of my own cute-ceañera anymore. Even if... even if mom and dad aren't there... at least I'm not gonna end up being taken away by Foal Services or something. I can just be happy I found out what makes me 'me'... twice! And I did it with my friends, saving the world! Even if only we and Applejack, and Pinkie will know that part. Oh right, and Button Mash too, and Featherweight and maybe the Princesses? Quite a crowd, actually!
Everything that's happened? And seeing Apple Bloom and Twist? Makes me wonder how it goes with other foals who don't get their cutie mark at the same time as their friends.
Apple Bloom's Diary
Ah haven't told my friends yet, but Ah wrote in the Big Book of Everythin' that our cute-ceañera will happen the day after Applejack and her friends face Discord and Diamond Tiara. Ah don't want that happy day we've all waited so long for to happen with that big fight hangin' over our heads, even if only Ah'm the only pony who knows what's coming.
If books could talk, Ah know ya'd be shoutin' at me that Ah should tell everypony, or at least Miss Twilight and the Princesses and my friends about what happened 'n' what's gonna happen.
But Ah just want things to happen as natural as they can now. When Ah was in charge of everythin', Ah wrote up things to happen on their own, includin' Twilight getting her heads up, if Ah try to force things along now, it could all go off the rails, Ah think.
Applejack had me sleep in her bedroom for a few nights after... after Ah got my cutie mark. She said she just wants to make sure Ah'm fine and that Ah'm not having any nightmares. Ah think that's Princess Luna's job, but good luck arguin' with big sisters.
Ah wish Ah could say that'll be just Applejack and her friends saving the world like they're supposed to ... But Ah can't remember. Silver Spoon, Sweetie Belle, will they be needed there to save Diamond Tiara? What about the rest of us Crusaders? Did Ah not remember, because me rememberin' would screw things up somehow?
Enough about all that, Ah guess.
Today in class, the more things stay the same, the more they change.
Scootaloo still has that braid, and she's not losin' it any time soon. She still had that pinecone pendant since it wasn't part of any of the rumor curses, and she gave it to Cheerilee 'again' as a gift.
And Ah'm still wearin' the earring Zecora gave me (and any damage done to Ma's ribbon durin' our quest got undone). Land's sakes, Ah couldn't believe how many questions Sweetie Belle kept askin' about it, like she was more interested in that than me bringin' an entire population of ponies back from oblivion! It'd be like if ponies got all excited about a talkin' dog while demons and angels were punchin' it out in the schoolyard.
Huh, that's funny. Why did Ah doodle Blanky on the other page while Ah was thinking about that?
Pipsqueak is now getting and sending letters to his pen pal in Canterlot, Moonlight and her big sister Sunny Day. Turns out they got a bit more in common, Discord hadn't gotten to Pip or Moonlight or their families before my sister and her friends beat 'em. Not bein' a jerk, Pip doesn't talk a lot about it. Though... Ah think big sister told 'em that good fortune ain't somethin' to be ashamed of.
Ruby Pinch is still Berry Punch's daughter, and Noi is still Carrot Top's little sister. No way was Ah gonna mess with stuff like that!
Sweetie and Button Mash are still together, and nearly nopony remembers it bein' different. Everypony really likes it that way. Sweetie's always makin' sure Button Mash doesn't play video games in class... heh, and is makin' sure he knows how to dance for the Junior Grand Galloping Gala, whether he likes it or not.
... Alright already, Ah'll confess. Ah'm feelin' blind in one eye with the Truth gone. Ah know Ah was being a truth-obsessed jerk, and it was turnin' me into a Nightfilly, and we sure as heck don't need two Nightfillies runnin' wild... but after havin' the gaze that pierces all, Ah really do feel a little lost without it, even if Ah still have Toola-Roola's artist eye.
Even so, Ah think it's better Ah don't remember everythin' Ah knew when Ah had power over the world book. The more Ah think about it, the smaller Ah feel, like Ah was the whole world and now Ah'm just one tiny speck. Like it or not, there's no goin' back. Ah ain't gettin' the Truth back, and Ah'm not gonna become some all powerful filly with Equus in my hooves again, and it's better for everypony that Ah don't.
Let's talk about Ruby and Sunny Town. Fluttershy insists to Applejack that Threeleaf and the rest understand that cutie marks and cutie pox aren't the same thing, and that I can visit Ruby now without bein' afraid. Applejack still doesn't like it. Fluttershy says it'll help them move on. After seein' Threeleaf and the others as the ponies they could've been... Let's move on.
By the way, Ah found out today that Snipsy Snap and Snailsquirm are Snips and Snails' full first names after meetin' their mas at school. Learn somethin' new every day.
Twist and Truffle are still together and happy. Now that Ah know, Ah can tell Tootsie is never gonna be overjoyed about it, even if she's accepted it. Ah considered hooking her up with somepony, but one thought about the Love Poison sinks that ship right to the bottom of the sea. Ah can't choose who her special somepony is gonna be.
Tootsie, Lyra, Moth, and Bon Bon are still a lovin' family. And Tootsie isn't hidin' that she wants to be the new Mare-Do-Well when she grows up. Heh, Bon Bon still isn't happy about that. She's just a regular filly now... with three parents, family members who are war heroes, and one that's a gifted unicorn. And she's one of the most tolerant foals I've ever met.
She's also still friends with Alula AND Pipsqueak and his 'pirate crew.' Tootsie and Alula apparently don't remember a thing about bein' perfect princess ponies. Tootsie still wants to change her name to Liza Doolots, though.
Shady Daze, Sunny Daze, and Peachy Pie are all fine, with Shady Daze still part of the Foal Free Press, and more power to him and Lickety Split and Featherweight.
Speaking of Featherweight, Ah never expected him to come and help us out of nowhere, even if he was the reason we knew Diamond Tiara was involved in Discord's scheme to begin with. And Ah didn't expect him to remember everythin' that happened during the curse. Or how things were before Ah fixed stuff up. And... well... we keep a door open for him. He knows stuff he can't share with his auntie or his friends, and he's half the reason Ah was able to fix the printing press. He's a hero, and it's a crying shame so few ponies can ever know about it, but he still keeps that smile on his face. He can come to us whenever he has trouble, or whenever else he wants.
Ah know Featherweight wants to save Diamond Tiara too, and Button Mash wants to be Sweetie Belle's hero whenever he can... but Ah think they should get to be foals while they can. Miss Maud Pie had said we had to give up our foalhoods, she never said anything about our friends having to give up theirs.
Supplemental Material by Silver Spoon
Excuse me just for a second here. I didn't have a proper place to write this before, but I think I can write this part better than Apple Bloom. The day after everypony had whacked-out dreams and we had career day at school, Alula met with me, this time without Tootsie. She didn't tell me that I should be friends with the Crusaders because it might hurt Diamond's feelings.
Alula's been hanging out with Rumble for some time now, trading tricks, comparing pegasus gymnastics and stunt flying. Their big siblings don't give each other so much as a glance at work. Why do some ponies think everypony HAS TO have a special somepony to be happy? I'd die for Diamond Tiara, but that doesn't mean I like her that way.
Alula... she asked me, "Can you help me know more about the real Diamond Tiara?"
You know how if something is cold enough, it actually feels like it's burning? I almost feel like that's also the case with Alula a little. Since I was in diapers, my family has taught me how to read the feelings that ponies try to keep hidden, but Alula was able to read them without any of that.
It's like it's because she didn't know the rules that normal facades didn't work on her or something, but that couldn't be the case, could it?
The truth is... Alula knew Diamond Tiara was hurting. She'd even spoken to Mr. Filthy Rich about it!
I wonder if it's because of being born in a privileged herd, or just pony nature that I didn't recognize Alula when she first spoke with me. Ponies we don't form strong bonds with... we don't really see them, even if we see them every day, sorry, we look at them, like background props in a play. I wonder who sees me as just a background prop in their lives?
It wasn't even the REAL first time she'd spoken with me. She'd asked me if I knew where Diamond Tiara was, and I'd told her 'No', and not even given her a second thought! I think I get now why she thought Tiara would misunderstand if she saw me being friends with the other Crusaders.
What if I'd paid more attention to the filly besides me who showed Diamond Tiara kindness? If we'd teamed up? Would Tiara still be here right now?
Needless to say, my circle of friends has gotten bigger again. I'll admit, maybe I am a little scared that Tiara will think of all the new foals I'm hanging out with, that I won't have time for her. I promise Tiara, I'll always have time for you.
Apple Bloom's Diary (Resumed)
So here Ah am again. Back listenin' to history class, after me and my friends helped save the world again. Except, Ah don't feel the same as Ah did after the weddin'. Maybe bein' in charge of everythin' for a minute gave me a new view on things. Ah don't feel like my life's run out of steam while I'm still in grade school, Ah don't feel like an actor still on stage after the show's over. Ah know there are ponies that are never gonna forget what we did. Ah've got a lot more to do, and that includes finishin' school.
"Soon after Princess Luna and Celestia defeated the villain Discord and were crowned rulers of Equestria, Princess Celestia located several sealed tombs from the Age of Miracles. Except she explained to treasure hunters that these were not tombs at all, nor places of honor or worship, but dumping grounds for dangerous stones and sludge that would fatally poison anypony merely by being close to them."
"So rocks that shoot invisible death rays?"
"... Yes, Snips, rocks that shoot invisible death rays." Miss Cheerilee explained. "But Princess Celestia explained to the ponies of the era, that it worked based on the same magic as the sun itself, so she was able to absorb this power harmlessly, and save the lives of ponies who had been exposed."
Now that Discord and Nightmare Moon bein' myths is kinda kaput, lots of new history is comin' out, must be drivin' the historian ponies nuts.
"-and when Princess Celestia tried to have Equestria's naming as a kingdom replaced with the technically correct principality, it ignited a scandal among the upper and lower classes, which is why we are still nominally listed as a kingdom-"
"My pencil sharpener broke!" said Archer, holding a broken pencil. The other half was stuck in the turn crank sharpener on her desk. It appeared that the gears were jammed.
"Just borrow a pencil from the foal next to you, Archer," said Miss Cheerilee patiently.
Ah didn't really think 'bout it, Ah just did it.
Ah marched up to Archer's desk, took apart the sharper, dumped out the pencil shavings and broken end of the pencil, then put it all back together again better than before. Ah did all this in less than thirty seconds.
"Wow! Thanks, Apple Bloom!"
"It was nothin'."
Sweetie Belle grinned. "So, how does it feel using your very own special talent, Apple Bloom?"
"Huh? Ah did? Oh!" Ah didn't think fixin' that little doohickey could be anythin' special.
Back at home, my family wasn't 'bout to let my special talent go to waste neither. There's always somethin' that needs doin' on a farm, and every Apple knows it! Applejack had thrown together a whole list of stuff that needed fixin' an' put me to work the day after we saved the world!
"Granny's favorite old music box, check! Broken goat pen latch, check! Gazebo boards (have Big Mac get nails), check! Leaky roof (ask Big Mac to help!) ... check!"
Now listen, a lot of what Ah remember from when Ah was the Architect of Everythin' leaked right out of my head. So after Ah got home from school and Ah finished off everythin' on the fix-it-list for the day on top of my regular chores. Then Ah spotted the markin' on my calendar... Uh-oh. Here we go. All the preparations we'd been makin'? It was almost time to put 'em to the test. 'Vacation' was almost over. We had a day to go.
Ah rushed to the clubhouse; Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle were waitin' right there, wearin' their crusader capes like me. Scootaloo had on traditional Pegasopolis war paint, while Sweetie had a stack of books with 'er that may or may not have been from the forbidden black magic wing of the library.
Ah'll admit now, it feels like a definite cheat that Discord's not done after we finished off the curse, but Button Mash said it best:
"First rule of any RPG, the 'final boss' isn't ever the real final boss."
!$*(!@(!( ERROR! Diamond Tiara
'The stage is set, the supporting cast has been drilled on the choreography, and the special effects are primed!' proclaimed Discord's voice. No doubt, he wished he had a top hat on and a cane to twirl. 'All that's missing now is the enforced method actors, and we can begin the premiere, my little princess!'
"Good," I said. I sat on a ledge opposite the upper story windows, watching Mom and Dad inside. Ponies didn't notice me any more than a pegasi would think about a flagpole he'd avoided while flying. Unless I made a show of myself, nopony was going to notice me. I'm an incomplete Concept without any Concept to be, I'm a corrupted virtue without a virtue. Being this way feels like nothing.
"The artificial filth and grime that Apple Bloom couldn't remove will be washed away."
'You know this won't end it, my dear. Nythy's boy, Chrysalis' protege, there's always going to be troublemakers, not because of any cosmic mandate to keep things interesting... Chaos always SCREAMS OUT in a perfectly orderly society, it WANTS to exist, I WANTED to exist! That infernal Age of Dreams would NEVER let me in! I was BANNED from MY VERY REASON FOR BEING! . . . Ahem, my point is, troubles are a part of living. This won't end theirs.'
"Maybe not, but at least the last artificial monster who was never supposed to exist will be gone."
'You could always just give up. Surrender. Be my innocent hostage that saw the light and now I'm evilly mind controlling you with evil mind control after you realized that evil was bad and good is nice. That always gets the goody-four-shoes to forget the troubles you caused before. Especially teenagers and titans.'
I put a hoof over my empty chest.
"That only works when their brains are being strangled by their puppet masters. I undid their universe and turned them into monsters for a plan that didn't even work... you think any sane and intelligent pony could ever accept me back? I will be free the only way I can be."
Much earlier that day...
"LO AND BEHOLD! THE ONE AND ONLY TRIXIE HAS RETURNED!!!" Smoke billowed over one of the Ponyville train station platforms. Pigeons flew and fireworks burst in the air, startling and annoying other passengers.
Rainbow Dash chuckled. "Yeah… Could you say that a little louder? I don't think they heard you in Canterlot!"
"If you insist..."
"No, no, no, no I don't!" Rainbow Dash frantically waved her forehooves.
Trixie laughed and looked around. "What? No brass band?" She smirked as she stepped off the train platform, levitating her luggage.
"Wellll, they're still tired out from the 'Rainbow Dash Is So Awesome Parade' they had this morning," Rainbow Dash replied slyly.
"You said you'd be back soon," Twilight cut in with a smile, "and here we are!"
"It sure felt like a LOOOOOOOT longer than just a few days,'" Pinkie Diane said, with a hint of more than just hyperbole.
Applejack added, "Ya can say that again." She quickly glared at Pinkie Diane.
"What? You don't think Pinkie would do a joke that cheap and amateurish, do you?" Pinkie scuffed a hoof innocently.
"We do think so," said Fluttercruel matter-of-factly.
Pinkie's jaw fell halfway to the ground. "Pinkie Pie is a professional party pony!"
"And!" Trixie cut in boldly. "The One and Only Trixie is the one who speaks in third person around here!"
"Oh, I haven't forgotten," said Pinkie Diane casually. "I'm just getting my allotted lines in!"
"Hey, am I in the script too?" Spike spouted.
"Sorry, Spike, Trixie didn't see you there." She grinned down at him.
"Just kidding!" Trixie laughed.
"Better be," Spike mumbled under his breath.
"We're so happy to see you again," said Fluttershy, with a perfectly gentle smile.
Rarity put in her two bits. "The same, darling!"
Twilight gave Trixie a hug that was swiftly returned. "It's wonderful to have you home, Trixie! I mean, it’s good to have you back! In Ponyville, which is my home! That didn’t sound awkward, did it?" Twilight coughed, talking faster. "So how did you like 'Starswirl The Bearded for Layponies?'"
"How shall Trixie put this? It was inspiring and modestly helpful, but entirely too wordy." She touched the back of her hoof to the brim of her hat dramatically. "Honestly, how does Twilight endure so much reading?!"
Twilight was scandalized. "You don't ENDURE reading! You ENJOY reading!"
The showmare scoffed. "Clearly, Trixie does not share your passion."
Before Twilight could start getting a seriously frazzled mane, Pinkie Diane jumped in. "So, Trixie! Had any interesting dreams lately? Huh, have you, have you, huh?!"
AJ shot Pinkie another look.
Grateful for the out provided, Trixie said, "Truth be told… when Princess Luna made her confession, Trixie did dream of her great and glorious destiny of becoming an Alicorn Princess!" Her cape fluttered impressively, lifted by a fortunate breeze, or maybe just a wind charm. "All the ponies loved her and rejoiced!"
"That's… nice." Twilight nodded with a straight face.
"Well, I wouldn't know, dear," said Rarity. "I've never fancied myself becoming an immortal and eternally loved goddess."
"Um, nopony asked," Fluttershy delicately offered.
"Oh." Rarity blushed. Applejack for no reason was looking in the opposite direction of Rarity.
"But Trixie also had..." Trixie looked around, glancing at everypony and dragon present. "Another dream. One that was... of a different sort."
"Well, are ya gonna tell us?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"You don't have to say anything if you don't want to Trixie," Fluttershy added.
"But we ARE here to listen, darling. And you wouldn't have brought it up unless some part of you needed to share," Rarity added.
Trixie hesitated again before nodding. "Trixie... admits you might be right. But, can we discuss this somewhere private?"
Pinkie Diane saluted. "Leave it to me!" She reached over and grabbed the edge of something, then rolled up the scene of the train station, revealing the interior of the Golden Oaks Library beneath… whatever it was that she'd just flung away.
"What-when-why-how-who?" stuttered Trixie, looking wildly around the library.
"Yer better off not knowin'," AJ said, shuddering.
"I was just trying to hurry things along, silly," said Pinkie Diane innocently.
"Trust me, just go with it," Spike said sympathetically, putting a claw on Trixie's side. Trixie's luggage and props were stacked neatly to one side, as if the girls had carried them to Twilight's place.
"Now dear," Rarity said with the gentle force that Fluttershy couldn't quite bring herself to use. (A breezy encounter in a couple years would help her with that). "What were you saying about other dreams?"
"Well, if Trixie must share... I was laying in bed in the dead of night, when I saw my reflection crawl out of my mirror! My reflection slithered up to my bed, while I felt powerless to make even the slightest movement. My reflection spoke like she was reciting Hearts and Hooves Day poetry.
"'Oh myself, are you not so grateful to the Awesome and Super Awesome Discord? We owe Discord EVERYTHING! Without him, surely Trixie would still be in her pit of self-pity, making excuses for herself every three seconds rather than face the truth that she was a screw-up with her life and needed to put in EFFORT to make it better.' My reflection laughed haughtily. 'I guess we should be happy Twilight Sparkle was willing to do ALL the hard work for you, AGAIN.'
"Naturally, I told her to shut up. I'd heard quite enough of her nonsense. Nevertheless, my errant reflection persisted! 'Oooooooh. Don't want to hear it that badly?' My reflection grinned from ear to ear, as if I was merely a toy for her amusement. 'Your Element of Magic ... '" Trixie blushed. "Uh, I'd rather say this next part just for Twilight."
The girls and dragon nodded.
Trixie leaned close, whispering. "She said, 'Your Element of Magic was born from an imaginary friend. No wonder you're so worthless.'"
Twilight hugged her close. "You're not worthless, Trixie. You're anything but."
Trixie coughed and spoke up to the others. "My reflection continued, 'Do you see yet, dear Trixie? You don't just owe Discord...' Then, my reflection actually became the fiend himself!"
The others shivered, some disturbed, others disgusted.
"That's enough to get nightmares from your nightmares," said Spike.
"Quite. She, he, it, then cried out, 'You BELONG to Discord!'" Trixie rose her hooves, borrowing Pinkie Pie's 'evil enchantress' pose. She held it dramatically for a moment before continuing.
"Discord offered up a charm that Trixie had seen once before in another bad dream, taunting her with it, holding it just out of reach! The charm itself spoke, 'I am power! We are destiny.'" Trixie coughed. "Trixie wasn't interested or tempted in the slightest, though!"
"Suuuuuure you weren't," Rainbow Dash said.
"Magicians don't do the same trick twice, and Trixie had seen this trick already. Of course, even in a dream, it would be too much to expect courtesy from the likes of Discord. He spoke again, my beautiful voice coming from his gruesomely mismatched form! 'You know what they call Hoofington's magic school when they think you aren't listening? What was it… oh yes! The Chaff Academy. It's the dumping ground for ponies who are natural failures, but are too stubborn to quit.'
"Naturally I called the thing out on this obvious falsehood! Still speaking in my voice, the fiend said, 'You had two fates, my dear. Either to rise and become the monster you were supposed to be, or fall and wallow in your own self-pity until you died of old age. You have only ME to thank for changing that fate!'"
"Uh, was the scary face really necessary?"
"Sorry, Fluttershy, Trixie was just getting into character. Ahem. Whatever perverse part of Trixie's subconscious had chosen to bedevil her that night, she could have easily fended it off until morning, but it was right around then that Princess Luna finally put in an appearance."
Her audience listened on, enraptured.
"Trixie instantly realized that she was indeed dreaming. Princess Luna spoke in the voice of the heavens..."
"It's called the Royal-"
"I know what it's called, Sparkle! She spoke in the voice of the heavens, saying, 'Twilight Sparkle could not have saved ye if thou didn't WANT to be saved. Ye couldn't have become a better pony unless THEE made the effort to be! 'Tis EASY to be a selfish and wicked little pony. We speak from experience... being noble is the trying and hard path. 'Tis not something others can do for ye.'
"Trixie thanked Princess Luna for her generous assistance. She was grateful to know our night goddess cared enough TO help, truly, she was, but she informed Luna that she had the situation well in hoof! This was not the first time Trixie had fought back!
"Trixie informed the thing that Trixie was NOT worthless, that Trixie didn't need Discord for her to be saved! Trixie needed friends, and Discord was no friends of hers! The thing then scurried back into the mirror and became Trixie's reflection again.
"Naturally the Princess congratulated Trixie on facing her demons. Which Trixie accepted with absolute humility."
"Why do ya even try when Ah'm in the room?" AJ asked flatly.
"...For the challenge. Sadly, there were many a dreamer in Equestria and she could not stay long. For some reason she had an owlbear waiting for her. But I think that might have just been part of the dream."
"Well!" Twilight said with her head high. "I feel proud of you Trixie! I think you've grown up! You've shown you're more than just a show pony."
"And what's wrong with being a show pony?"
"Oh! Heheh. Nothing! It's just that your magic has been a sore point and... I'll stop digging myself into a hole now."
"Good idea," Rainbow Dash, AJ, Spike, and Trixie all said together.
"But seriously Trixie, you've grown stronger and wiser in the ways that count, and I'm proud of you for that. I'm happy I could help you along the way."
"And... Trixie is happy there were ponies who cared about TRIXIE to help her... Trixie still doesn't like Snips and Snails for bringing the Ursa Minor. It's not like every foal I've ever told the story to did such a reckless thing, or took a dragon's rhetorical remark too far!"
"Hey... I said I was sorry." After the first electric shock.
"And that's that! Happy ending! Trixie's part of our herd! Hooray!" Pinkie Diane jumped in. And I'm sure Snips and Snails will still like to be your apprentices someday Trixie but for now could you answer few real quick questions? Yes? Good! So-"
"But Trixie didn't say-"
"Now Trixie, you still going by 'One and Only' instead of 'Great and Powerful?'"
"Well I already have 'One and Only' written on my cards so it would be awkward to go back to 'Great and Powerful'-"
"Okay! Next! What's your favorite holiday, and do you have a talent at wand making?"
Trixie arched a brow. "Is Trixie being interrogated now?" The showmare smirked, adjusting her hat. "No matter. The One and Only Trixie is in a good mood, so she will play along and pretend you are interviewing her, the better to spread her fame far and wide! Yes, of course, Trixie's favorite holiday is Nightmare Night, and no, Trixie does not have a talent at wand making, please don't take Trixie's cutie mark literally."
"And can you still replicate any unicorn spell you see with the Element of Magic now that you used it together with us to help that poor filly in Canterlot after the changeling invasion?"
"Me using the Elements with you after the invasion was satisfying but rather sudden and out of nowhere when we used them to undo the curse on that poor filly in Canterlot. But yes, Trixie can still copy any spell Trixie sees, and she could before thank you very much. And it's not just unicorn magic that Trixie can 'Spell-Copy.'"
"Nice name by the way," said Rainbow Dash calmly before asking. "Does that mean you can copy Alicorn magic too? Move the sun like Princess Celestia? Make your own constellation? Make ponies fall in love like Princess Cadence?"
Twilight raised a hoof. "Um, Cadence doesn't..."
Trixie waggled a hoof. "Alas, knowing how to cast a spell is quite different from being able. Trixie can't cast a spell if she doesn't have enough mana, any more than Rainbow Dash could lift a tremendous weight just because she saw that strange white muscle-pony do it." Trixie frowned. "And Twilight's mana reserve is still considerably larger than Trixie's own. Spell affinities play a part as well, something Trixie was reminded of when dealing with her mother's-"
"Speaking of which! Are you still going by Mid-Summernight? Or did you switch to Lulamoon?"
"... Yes Trixie is still going by Mid-Summernight as her surname. Lulamoon is still the name of our larger herd, and it IS shorter to write. An advertiser suggested I use it for a wider appeal, but after everything, I think I'll stick with the names my sisters and brothers still have."
"Ah! So they still exist, good to know."
"What?! Of course they still exist. What are you getting..."
"Oh!!! By the way..."
"I'm a Pink-ie Pie, there's Rainbow Dash, a Rarity, and Applejack, a Flutter-shy, a Twilight Sparkle, a Spike, but what exactly is a Trixie? What's a Morgan?"
"What's a Diane?"
"Ooh, yeah. Sorry! I guess we covered that a LOOONG time ago. So what inspired your costume?"
Trixie sighed. "What inspired my costume?" She smiled. "Well, that was a who more than a what. I was inspired by my substitute teacher, White Beard The Gray, though I designed a much more eye-catching costume for myself, of course! He told me I looked like I was destined to wear it... Trixie still wishes she'd had more time with him. Not that your improvements aren't appreciated, Rarity."
"Think nothing of it, dear."
"Why do you keep repeating Pinkie Pie's questions?" Spike asked.
"Why do I keep repeating Pinkie Pie's questions?" Trixie realized what she just said. "You know, Spike, I am actually not sure."
Pinkie Diane didn't let up. "Are you a descendant of Starswirl the Bearded?"
Trixie startled. "If Trixie is, then she wishes somepony would tell her! Am I descendant of... no, let's not start that again..."
"I'm not sure Starswirl had any descendants," mused Twilight. "Let me check!" She levitated a genealogy book over from a nearby shelf, the same book that would later inspire her to do an entire research project on the subject, unwittingly discovering the link between the Pie and Apple families.
"So you're still spinning tall tales for your show?"
"For the record, ponies LIKE being told impossible things. It's why they go to plays. Trixie is proud to be a storyteller." She then grinned. "But why boast of the fictitious subduing of an Ursa, when I fought the legendary Twilight Sparkle to a standstill?"
Twilight paused in her frantic flipping through the genealogy book. "Um, you do remember that I was brainwashed to think that Cadence was Chrysalis, right? And I thought YOU were brainwashed, and I was trying my best not to hurt you?"
Trixie narrowed her eyes. "Truly? I really couldn't tell with the spears, fireballs, and lightning bolts."
"... You'd have recovered." Twilight said quickly. "So Trixie, how is your mother?"
"Quite well!" Trixie grinned. "If you're not yet tired of hearing Trixie talk about herself, I could tell you a fascinating tale of how my mother forced me into a fight so I would be FORCED to spell copy her black destruction magic."
Jaws dropped all around. "Say, WHAT?!"
"Cool," said Spike and Fluttercruel together.
Trixie struck a theatrical pose, somehow not knocking anything over when she flourished her cape.
= Mournweald Encounter - Darkest Dungeon =
"Yes! Mother's plan was a crafty one… Trixie barely understood it herself until it was happening!
"The very day that Trixie was to return to Ponyville, mother asked me, her middle foal, to come with her at the crack of dawn to a spot far removed from Hoofington. Yes, I still live there, Pinkie Pie, and yes Fluttershy..." Trixie rolled her eyes. "Far away from any cute fuzzy bunnies as well. Mother said she'd been here many times before, but she had never brought Trixie herself.
"The place looked like a rock quarry, so blasted and torn was the ground."
Trixie drew her cape around herself, affecting a somber, maternal voice. "'Beatrix', mother said calmly, 'This is where I first discovered my special talent.'
The friends shuddered.
"'No, it was not all at once,' she answered my unspoken question. 'I came back here to practice... where the damage had already been done. Hoping I could eventually do more than just destroy. In my heart of hearts, I felt cheated. Why couldn't my talent be for making sunflowers grow, or be the sun for your moon my little Beatrix? Just having the power to destroy, what kind of gift was that for a pony? I asked myself again and again. I didn't practice my magic because I wished to master it, I practiced it because I feared it! So I wouldn't atomize another innocent,' I mean-" Trixie broke character seeing Fluttershy's eyes. "- 'hurt another innocent familiar.' Then she turned darkly towards me, and for the first time I can remember, I feared my mother. Her magic aura darkened around her, the pebbles around rattled, floating into the air.
"'And what of YOU, Beatrix? What of THIS power you suddenly now have? I did all this with just ONE spell! You can now take any spell you wish for yourself! Do you think any unicorn should have that much power? Can anypony be TRUSTED with that much power? Will you fight alongside Lady Twilight Sparkle and her friends again? Can they trust you with this power?' Mother's eyes glowed red, I swear! 'My cutie mark is a queen! The most destructive piece on the board!'" Somehow, Trixie made her voice reverberate, like grinding stones.
"'Mother, you know me!' I said, quite afraid!
"'Do I, Beatrix? Do I? Or has the little Beatrix I've known ever existed? Perhaps the real Beatrix takes applause like a needle! You don't HAVE friends! You don't WANT friends! You want SYCOPHANTS!'
"'THAT ISN'T TRUE!' I roared. I may have used the Royal Canterlot Voice. 'Trixie doesn't want mindless praise! She doesn't want soulless cheering! She doesn't want ponies who agree with her just because! Trixie HAS friends who tell her when she's going too far! Trixie WANTS friends who are there for her when she's lost in the dark! THAT IS WHAT TRIXIE WANTS!!!!'" The room vibrated.
Fluttershy looked like she wanted to hide under a table, but Fluttercruel made them lean closer, hanging on Trixie's every word. Rarity just noticed Trixie's eyes getting a little misty.
"'Then show me little pony! Show me what that 'magic of friendship' can do against the witch of destruction!'
= Undertale the Musical - Death By Glamour =
"Needless to say, I was not inclined to fight my own mother, but she left me no choice! She caused explosions to my left and right. I used ice as walls, and lightning as fences to block off the debris. She used her destruction magic to create a vacuum that I countered with wind magic!
"She shrouded everything in darkness, but I conjured light to pierce it.
"She created ball sized 'bombs' of her own magic that would go off once far enough away from her, forcing me to stay alert and teleport away.
"'Come on little filly, I know that isn't half of what you can do!'
"And she was right.
"I saw her use her destruction magic in ways I'd never seen before. She carved swords, shields, spears, lances, clubs, and warhammers out of solid rock, all finely detailed, all proving very effective. I couldn't conjure enough weapons of my own to block them all, and resorted to tearing some of hers from her grasp!
"She created a giant serpent out of her own black magic, I countered by creating a fire snake of my own, they clashed and canceled each other out!
"I finally went on the offensive, and fired an electric shock at mother, as strong as I dared. She smiled, and brought up a WALL of her magic that absorbed the lightning. I threw spears on either side of her wall and fired the lightning again, this time it leap frogged off the spears and shocked her. She cried out, then laughed and smiled all the more.
"Then she formed a whole sphere around herself of her magic and began to slowly, deliberately, calmly walk towards me. I panicked, but only an instant! It couldn't actually be a sphere, because the ground was intact behind her.
"With earth pony magic that I subtly copied from Applejack, I sent a tremor through the ground! It made my legs ache terribly, but I was able to knock her off balance and disrupt the dome so I could zap her yet again! Even then, she still chuckled. I swear I heard pride in her whinny."
"Now, hold on just a sec!" said AJ, bewildered and a little disturbed. "Ya'll can copy earth pony magic? What's next? Copy pegasus magic and fly?"
"Well I don't have a telepathic connection to rocks, so-"
"That ain't earth pony magic," AJ frowned.
"Tell that to my big sister," Pinkie Diane said.
"Ahem! She conjured her destruction magic above her, stronger and more intense than I've ever seen her... and... she began to float, the vacuum, or maybe the pull of the magic, I don't know, I'm not you Twilight Sparkle! The point is... Her hooves were far off the ground.
"'A combat-mage does not fear a wizard who has practiced a hundred spells once, she fears the wizard who has practiced one spell a hundred times!' Mother shouted. She began to rain down destructive blasts all around me.
"Then... I used that gossamer wings spell... Trixie is mare enough to admit to her friends, I'm proud of not fainting from using that one. I joined my mother in the air.
"Then she formed her magic into rings, but they were not giant spinning brightly colored floating rings, and too small for me to fly through. Instead she hured them like chakrams! They were faster than her spell in beam form! I began to shoot lightning and ice to cancel them out, but in that time, mother came in close and rammed me in the side.
"'Hey!' I grunted.
"'I don't see a referee, and I don't recall agreeing to no hoof to hoof combat!' Mom admonished.
"I was forced to block mother's hoof jabs and kicks at close range.
"'It's all in the mind Beatrix! Show me you have one!'"
"You have GOTTA know she was just egging you on that point!" Rainbow interrupted. "Even I'm getting it!" Trixie ignored her.
"I used a flash spell, and she retreated. We landed on opposite ends of the crater. Then mother's horn truly began to glow with her black magic, looking like a torch. Trixie's knees felt weak." Trixie dramatically fell to her knees looking up sympathetically.
"'This is my magic in its purest, most potent form! What shall you do now little Beatrix?!'
"And... there was only one thing to do. As mother carefully and steadily powered up her magic... I did.
"SPEEELL COP-PY!" Trixie struck a badflank pose, with blazing Neighponese kanji for the words appearing behind her.
"I don't do that... do I?" Twilight wondered.
Trixie hesitated before continuing. "Mother's power… was NOT like any magic that Trixie has wielded before. I felt a tidal wave of a cold brutal terrible will, a ruthless sense of 'the end' reaching for what it was directed at. Thinking back now, it's a wonder I wasn't overwhelmed, but I had no time to dwell upon that then. I lashed out with my black magic, and mother unleashed hers at almost the same instant! I gave it everything I had, literally, I kept pushing and pushing, until my mana was exhausted and... instantly my mother stopped, her spell dissolving in midair with less than a thought from her!
"With a spell that only mothers possess, she was at my side, helping me stand, smiling. She nuzzled me.
"'It took me forever to realize the real meaning behind my cutie mark: great power, and how to properly use it,' she told me. 'Use your gifts the right way too dear.' And... she sang.
= Mother Knows best - Tangled =
"In the world outside, there is everything
Things you don't even know exist!
Now Trixie, isn't that just something?
I just have to insist,
Go out with your friends, and see it all face to face!
I love you all the same,
But a mother knows holding you back would be a waste!
My Trixie is not so tame!
Listen to your mother, I want you to fly!
Go see the world out there!
There's so much more to see out there under the sky!
I just simply could not bear,
If you let your mother be the one to hold you down!
To me you're always important
Back here with me, you'll find my love always abounds,
But dear, don't be impotent.
Listen to your mother, go world wide!
Your friends are out there waiting for you!
There's room in your heart for more than just us to abide!
And you know they care about you
And so do we, but you can have us all, Trixie dear!
So please go out and play!
So go, please brace the world without fear...
We can have our fun another day."
"Triiiiixie... dearest is there something you weren't telling us before?" Rarity asked calmly.
"... Oh! Heh. Now what would ever make you say... that?"
Fluttershy and Applejack were both cornering Trixie with a deadpan look.
"Well," It was Trixie's turn to blush again. "Maybe when I got home, after you know, going to war and everything, and traveling so long... maybe I was maybe just maybe, just a little you understand, just a little, wanting to spend time with my family, just to make up for all the years I wasn't there... And mother might have been, just a tiny bit, mother is no worry wart, just a tiny bit worried that I may have been smothering myself. Just a little. Mom was just helping Trixie be decisive on the matter. That is all. Ahem."
"Mother hugged me, still smiling. The aura and glowing eyes gone, only mommy was there. 'I didn't hurt you anywhere too badly did I? Mommy is very sorry if she did.'
"I told Mom that I was fine, but I had to ask, 'Couldn't you have just shown me your spell for me to copy?' Like a filly, cross at being tricked into learning a lesson.
"'But then you wouldn't have a dramatic story to tell, now would you?' And I couldn't argue with that."
"She's your mom, alright!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.
Twilight asked, "Why do you suppose your mother felt the need to teach you this magic now? Did she have some premonition of impending doom?"
"Oh nothing like that. It's just after I've helped save Equestria twice, mom wanted to hedge her bets if I was in the next crisis."
Rarity would have turned pale, if she could get any paler. "The NEXT crisis? Darling, don't you think we're due for a rest, after saving Equestria three times in as many years? Although, it almost makes me relieved that Sweetie… knows how to defend herself. If I had foals, I'd take no chances either."
(Spike checked his personal calendar again to see how many decades it took for dragons to reach puberty. Apparently they hit young adult around age 51. But that had been from his Ogres and Oubliettes books, which was not the best source for such things. )
Trixie beamed. "And Trixie likewise knows how to protect herself, and her friends. Thank you for the background music, Pinkie Pie."
"No problem," Pinkie Diane said, putting away the music instruments in their hiding place. "Gotta be prepared for background music emergencies."
"Wait, what happened after that?" Spike asked, genuinely invested in Trixie's tale at this point.
"Mother explained how she wanted me to not fear leaving the nest, but wanted to give me a gift I couldn't lose. She politely asked me to show some of the variances she had used, but they required more than me simply knowing the spell, it seems the Element of Magic can only copy the spell, not a unique way it is used, Twilight."
"Fascinating!" exclaimed Twilight, and she meant it. If all this were true, that she and Trixie had been able to match her brother and Twilight herself move for move in their duels meant it was Trixie and Twilight's own quick thinking that had let them keep up with their opponent, not just their Element.
"We then went out for waffles."
"What, that's it?" Spike demanded.
"With extra butter and strawberries!"
"Great ending!" Spike retracted.
"Your mother was training you," mused Twilight. "I don't really approve of her style, but that was... still so neat!" she admitted. Twilight had studied with her mother, but she certainly had never spell spared with her before!
"The One and Only Trixie is happy you approve, Twilight Sparkle." Trixie said as formally and properly as she could.
Twilight hugged her, followed by the rest of the group.
"Take it from somepony who's both here and there!" cheered Pinkie Diane. "You can have more than one home, Trixie!"
"Trixie will... remember that."
"Trixie, I don't have any sisters but..."
"You're not going to reveal you have a big sister we've never heard of, are you?" Trixie interrupted.
Twilight's irises shrunk as she shuttered in discomfort. "I... don't... THINK so..." Twilight shook her head. "The point is, I know you have lots of sisters, and you want to make up with them. But, well... I never thought I'd say it, Trixie, but I like having you around."
"Yep!" AJ channeled her brother.
"Mm-Hmm!" Fluttershy nodded.
"Part of the herd Light Blue." Fluttercruel added.
"Ditto!" Pinkie Pie cheered. "Minus on the 'never thought it would happen!'
"Double ditto on the 'would've never believed it' part." Rainbow smirked gently ruffling Trixie's mane.
"Triple ditto of double," laughed Spike. "And I'd NEVER want you gone NOW!" Spike nuzzled into Trixie's side.
"So... wanna try the Sisterhooves Social with me next year?" Twilight asked. "Pie eating, egg carrying, grape stomping, haystack climbing, mud pit leaping." That didn't sound much like Twilight. "I have a pony-point plan to complete it as efficiently as possible!" That did!
"Trixie... isn't sure she can get past the mud part."
"If Rarity can get past it, so can yew," AJ said confidently.
"Trixie will, have to think about it."
"So where ya sleepin'?" Pinkie asked.
"I have your old, I mean the spare room already set up for you Trixie." Twilight smiled. Nopony had broken the group hug yet.
"Thank you Twilight."
"I better go, my shift at Sugar Corner is gonna start soon! Oh, and Apple Bloom got her cutie mark, Trixie!"
"What?! You don't drop news like that out of nowhere!" Trixie had spent enough time recuperating in Ponyville to know all about the CMC's quest.
"Sorry! But I meant to ask, would you like to perform at the Crusaders' Cute-ceañera as long as you're in town? You'll be paid in bits for the commission! I promise!"
"Trixie would be happy to accept! We can work out the details later."
"... You're not going to offer to to do it for free?" Fluttercruel of all ponies asked.
"Trixie needs to eat."
"Oh my, speaking of which, I still have some custom dress designs to go over with Sapphire Shores this morning!"
"And there's always more that needs doin' at Sweet Apple Acres. Ah've been gone too long already."
Rainbow Dash shrugged. "Weather duty."
"And I need to prepare for my animals' new day meals, and I have a meeting with a pet owner at-"
"Don't look at me. I live here." Spike said. "And Apple Bloom and friends are all at school by now."
"... Why are you never in school?" Trixie asked, suddenly curious.
"I homeschool this dragon," Twilight said proudly.
"She means I read over her shoulder a lot."
"Do not! I take your education very seriously, Spike!"
"And what of you, Twilight?" Trixie asked.
"I think I'll be clearing my schedule... I have GOT to see your mother's black magic in action! In a safe, contained, controlled environment, of course… if you're willing."
"Trixie is... willing, but black magic is not a toy, not a frivolous research project. You must be very responsible with it, Sparkle, as Trixie herself promised to be. Spike had better make a note of that."
"Already on it!"
"Twilight, why are you smiling?" Trixie frowned.
"Pride, Trixie. Pride in you." 'So this how Celestia feels.'
The girls all gave Trixie one last 'see you later' hug for the workday and headed out.
After they'd all left, and Twilight was finding her magic-reader helmet, Trixie sniggered.
"What's so funny?" The purple pony asked.
"It just occured to me, with mom's magic, I wouldn't have to fake defeating an Ursa!"
"Don't even think about-!"
"Good! Maybe you and Sweetie Belle can sit on the same class!"
"Me in the same class as a filly, joy."
Twilight didn't pick up on her lack of passion. Spike gave Trixie a sympathetic look.
"According to 'Dark Glass' 'Delving into Dark Dweomers,' true dark magic can be difficult to control, seeing as how it taps into the most fundamental aspects of magic. I hope your mother gave you the appropriate warnings."
"Who do you think told me this magic was not a toy? My mother is not an idiot Twilight Sparkle."
"No but it is her special talent, so maybe she can use it without it corrupting her. A few good cross references between you and Sweetie would be good information, since you both LEARNED, well, sort of learned in your case, black magic, so it should provide different results from your mother or Princess Luna. And-"
"The more things change, the more things stay the same," Spike remarked. Trixie nodded.