There was a small field outside of Ponyville that was commonly used for gatherings of ponies. That day was no exception, but the specific ponies who had been gathered there for a meeting were quite different from the usual.
"Trixie and her apprentices have arrived!" Trixie announced, appearing suddenly from under a multi-layered illusion. At her sides were Rarity (who was manipulating a huge number of tiny rocks in her telekinesis) and Applejack (who blinked twice and then started rubbing her eyes, saying "urgh, Ah could not see through the illusions in time").
Soon after, Sunset telported in, causing a small explosion to appear around her, before repairing the damage to the ground with a quick spell. Rainbow Dash dived down from a distance at incredible speed, somehow managing to negate her inertia enough to stop completely as soon as she hit the ground, in an amazingly precise landing.
Then, Twilight shimmered into view, and Pinkie Pie appeared like she had just taken a step into the place and the step somehow covered a huge distance. Fluttershy flew in, gliding slowly through the air.
"As the teachers, we should introduce ourselves first." Twilight said "I am Twilight Sparkle. Teacher of basic magic, apprentice of Princess Celestia and Knight of the Realm of Equestria." She smiled as she looked to the gathered ponies.
"Here is the Great and Powerful Trixie Lulamoon." Trixie did a teatrical bow "Showmare extraordinaire, apprentice of Princess Celestia and Knight of the Realm of Equestria."
"And I'm Sunset Shimmer." Sunset finished with a casual tone "Assistant in sun-raising, apprentice of Princess Celestia and Knight of the Realm of Equestria." She smiled slightly "I know our introductions may seem similar, but we have literally lived together for half our lives and choose the same career path. It would be stranger if they weren't."
With that, the ice was mostly broken, and Rainbow Dash decided to shatter the rest of it by going next.
"The name's Rainbow Dash." She said in a voice full of confidence "I'm the fastest pegasus alive, a weather manager and in the future, a Wonderbolt!"
"Ah guess Ah'll go next." Applejack began with a calm voice "My name is Applejack. Ah'm a farmer from the Sweet Apple Acres, and Ah guess Ah got something called eyes o' truth?"
Suddenly, Applejack felt an immense existential pressure coming from her teacher, who was grumbling something like "introducing the ability needs work" and "remedial lessons are in order". She looked to the other two Knights, who were looking at her in slight disappointment (Twilight mouthing something that could be interpreted as "didn't even put the required capital letters"). The farmer suddenly felt like she had commited a grievous mistake somewhere, and would suffer the consequences later. Her fellow apprentice decided to take the focus off her.
"I am Rarity Belle. I work as a seamstress and fashion designer and have been chosen as an apprentice by Knight Trixie, and my dream is that my designs will be famous in all of Equestria." Rarity said in a smooth voice.
"I'm Pinkie Pie!" The aforementioned mare exclaimed, almost as soon as Rarity was done "I'm a party planner and baker. And Teacher Twilight choose to teach me because I can use chaos magic like her!" She then produced from her mane a hand drawn picture of herself and Twilight, with the words "chaos magic buddies" on the bottom.
The ponies present very deliberatedly did not stare at Fluttershy, for varied reasons (some knew her, some had enough social know-how to understand why it would be a bad idea, and some had heard from Twilight). So the pegasus did not have much trouble doing her own introduction.
"My name is Fluttershy... I'm an animal caretaker and I'm studying with Twilight to be able to talk to trees." She said in a somewhat low voice.
"Okay," Twilight said, seeming to have taken the role of leader of the meeting "Since this is a good chance, do you have any questions for us? I think it should be a good opportunity to see our differing viewpoints in practice."
"Actually, I have one." Pinkie Pie put a hoof in the air and started waving it "Why do you keep breaking things with your magic and then fixing them? Is this some kind of special training?"
"Actually, no..." Sunset said, with a doubtful expression "The whole 'destroying things' matter is because keeping my power unrestrained works well for preventing me from losing touch with my Magical Origin... But fixing everything later is because Princess Celestia made very, very sure that I learned to fix what I break." She did a deep, full-body shudder "Very sure..."
Rainbow Dash decided to say her own question before they could start thinking too much about this.
"What I wanted to know is, which of you three is the best mage?" She said with her characteristic eagerness.
"Trixie." Sunset and Twilight deadpanned, while Trixie said proudly.
"Oh." That was weird "That was an unexpectedly simple answer." Said Rarity.
"Don't get us wrong." Twilight said "We're not simply letting her have the lead position."
Sunset continued the explanation "It's just that, while I only managed to develop my Magic Enhance a few years after becoming Celestia's Apprentice, and Twilight's Magical Sign came even later, Trixie was already using Perfect Illusions while only ten years old, and she simply refined her magic and developed her aspects during this time. A few years headstart is no joke." She sighed.
"And here I thought saying this kind of stuff was a sure trigger to a fight." Dash joked.
"Oh, were you hoping for that...?" Twilight said teasingly.
"Actually..." Trixie considered "We haven't had a spar in a while." She looked to the apprentices "What do you think about seeing a semi-serious fight between Knights?"
The five agreed with the proposal, with varying levels of enthusiasm, and the three Knights started setting up the arena. They went to a less frequented location in order to avoid interruptions and started drawing on the ground, creating a complex, multilayered magic circle which they then activated, causing small light streams to come out of of it and infuse the three.
"This is for safety," Twilight explained "This special circle is connected to the minicircles created inside of us, and if it detects that we are about to receive a major injury, we are teleported out of the battlefield."
"This seems like it would be fairly useful for fights." Rainbow Dash decided.
"It's not as great as it might seem. We need a lot of preparation to make it work, it only works for a limited time in a limited zone and can be disrupted very easily." The chaotic unicorn answered.
Everything ready, the three Knights positioned themselves at equal distances from each other, and the apprentices went to a safe distance in order to watch.
As expected, Sunset made the first move.
"Magic Enhance: Solar Missile!" And her sphere of light extended and became denser and hotter, before flying in Trixie's direction.
The showmare teleported out of the way of the attack and reappeared in two different places at once, meaning that one of them was an illusion (or both were illusions, and the real one was concealing her presence). Twilight always felt this was the hardest part of fighting Trixie, you had to split your attention between many things at once, becasue there was no way of knowing which parts were dangerous. The fact that she also had to pay attention to Sunset only made it worse. Still, it was only the beginning of the battle, and she had enough concentration to spare to be able to think all those things, while she prepared her own attack.
"Chaos Magic: Living Earth!" She blasted the ground, which started shifting up and down in irregular patterns, aimed at restricting the movement of the opponents. Twilight's regular strategy was based upon controlling the envinronment.
On the other hand, Sunset's regular strategy could be described with only two words: Overwhelming Power. As such, she decided to hit two birds with a single stone, and charged her magic a little longer than usual, while struggling with the shifting ground and having to keep an eye on possible Trixie interruptions. All that to be able to use a powerful enough spell.
"Magic Enhance: Flying Earth!" And the sphere of power she had gathered shot into the ground, before releasing a huge explosion, that completely ripped apart the structure of Twilight's spell, as well as caused bit of earth to fly all over the battlefield. Trixie was good, but even her would not be able to manipulate her illusions to take all that into account so fast.
However, Trixie would not simply allow herself to be caught.
"Perfect Illusion: Shadow World!" One of the two Trixies announced, and suddenly a deep darkness fell into the battlefield, completely denying sight.
Sunset thought of banishing the darkness with a spell, but only for a moment. In the following moment, she used a small, omnidirectional force spell centered on herself, and was rewarded with the feeling of a small object being destroyed.
Twilight, on the other hand, almost got to feel the pain of a sharp stone fragment piercing her neck. She managed to chaotically shift forward, even blinded like she was, but the distraction made her subsequent spell take a little longer to charge.
Sunset realized that Trixie had probably sent that attack sneakily during the first stage of the fight, and attacking while she was blinded, and just after Sunset had used a lot of magic in her attack was exactly the kind of thing she would do. However, Sunset had detected the attack, and Trixie should not have enough power for any big spells for at least four seconds, which was a huge amount of time in a battle like this.
Two seconds later, Twilight finished casting her own spell.
"Chaos Magic: Exploding Golems!" She called, and earth golems suddenly appeared all around the battlefield, trying to grab anything they could get their hands on.
Trixie cast a hasty spell on the closest golem, confusing its its targeting system, and moved away using the rest of her magic in a shield to try to resist the explosions. Yet, she realized her position was becoming more and more untenable.
Sunset, on the other hand, was caught by a golem. However, by that time, Sunset had already charged her magic for three seconds. It was more than enough.
"Magic Enhance: Eruption!" And then, the entire battlefield was utterly annhilated by a flaming eruption coming from under the ground. Sunset rode on the edge of the explosion, freeing herself from the golem as it was destroyed. Her two partners didn't have energy enough to do anything, and were teleported out by the magic circle. Sunset flew to the air, and then came back down, victorious.
"OW, OW, OW!" She started jumping in place "BURNING HOOVES, BURNING HOOVES!" Sunset threw herself to the ground and started casting spells on her own hooves.
Twilight and Trixie had teleported to her, as soon as she started yelling, but soon realized that everything was fine.
"That was an experimental spell, wasn't it?" Twilight surmised.
"Yeah." Sunset answered, already feeling better "I still haven't completely worked out the heat transference problem. But just a few burns doesn't count as a major injury, so..." She ignored the stink eye Twilight was giving her.
"Hey, you guys!" Meanwhile, Trixie was talking with the apprentices "We're going to rest a little bit, so if you want to talk about us behind our backs, this is the best opportunity!"
Pinkie Pie laughed, and the others followed suit soon after. Then they started speaking with each other, exactly the way Trixie had planned.
The rest of the day was considerably more normal, but the apprentices ended up becoming friends with each other, which was the main goal of that exercise anyway,