The city of Manehatten was experiencing one of the most intense storms it had been dealt this year. The Pegasi had missed a storm from two weeks prior due to a mishap in the organized list of dates at the Cloudsdale weather factory. Now, they had to make up for the loss by piling on the previous amount of rain clouds with the ones that were set to appear today.
The frigid winds mercilessly bombarded anything unfortunate enough to get caught in it’s path. Some windows threatened to fracture as their endurance was constantly being pushed to the limit by the near gale-force winds. The gathering rainwater on the rooftops cascaded down the sides and fell down into the streets below. Small streams flowed through the cobblestone alleyways and streets, in a downhill motion, following the flow of gravity. Everypony locked themselves indoors to escape the harsh weather.
All except one.
A lone pony ran through the vacant main street of the city, undeterred by the elements that fought against it. Its body was draped in a dark cape, partly used to help block the harsh weather, but mostly as a way to conceal its identity from anypony that may happen to be outside or look out of their window.
Dipping behind the covered wagons and stalls on the sidewalk, the mysterious figure made its way towards a certain shop in which it had been desperately searching for in this town. As the hooded figure approached the entrance, the storm outside seemed to grow in fury. It could almost hear a whisper in the wind, demanding that it turn back. The cloaked pony didn’t listen, of course. Months worth of careful planning, all of its hard work, its final chance to turn everything around … everything depended on this particular night and it wouldn’t be getting another chance as perfect as this one. The pony had come this far and it wouldn’t allow anything to bar its plans, mothernature be damned.
Coming to the door, the pony opened it and quickly escaped the bitter wind outside. Turning around, it pushed back against the wood and forced the front door shut once again to the storm. To its delight, the store lights were off. There was nopony else here.
Alright, so far so good. Now she needed to hurry before somepony else came in.
The cloaked pony then went on to shuffle through the many piles of loose items that were stuffed together in unorganized masses across the tables and floor. Pushing stuff aside, several items fell to the ground which created more noise than preferred, but the pony didn’t hear any of it. Nor did it hear the hoofsteps that creaked along the wooden floorboards, growing louder and louder at a steady pace. The pony’s mind was focused on something else entirely.
Suddenly, the lights at the front counter flipped on, startling the cloaked figure. Turning it's head around, it saw a pony coming from the doorway behind the counter. Entering the light, it was revealed to be a gray, middle aged earth-pony. Its braided light blue mane was topped by a tan and red cap, complementing the brown shirt and red scarf it adorned. His golden eyes stared through the spectacles on his muzzle at the pony that had entered his shop.
After a moment, the shopkeeper grinned at seeing a possible customer. "May I help you, traveller?" he asked in a curious tone, seemingly paying no heed to the mess that the mysterious pony had made. He watched as the dark figure slowly came into the faint light from the counter. All that he could make out under the black Cloak was the hooves of the pony, which were a bright azure color.
Walking behind his counter, he kept his eye on the secretive pony, "Something drew you to my shop, something powerful." He watched as one of the hooves lifted off the ground and pointed to the glass lid that covered the store’s most prized possession.
Inside of the glass container was a dark gray amulet In the shape of an upside down arrowhead. Inside of the amulet’s center was a blood-red diamond. On the top of the pendant was the head of a unicorn with red eyes. Spread out to the sides were gray wings tipped with red feathers. Just one glance and the cloaked pony could sense a small fraction of the near overwhelming arcane might that the artifact seemed to exude. That was why the pony was here. The cloaked figure hadn’t anticipated the shop owner returning before it could find the artifact and leave. No matter. He was just an ordinary merchant and, as far as he knew, the cloaked pony was just another customer. No need to do anything too drastic just yet.
The shopkeeper chuckled at the choice, "Aw, you have a keen eye. The alicorn amulet is one of the most mysterious and powerful of all of the known magical charms."
The "customer" once again pointed at the amulet on the shelf. The shop owner suddenly felt a strange chill go up his spine, 'What would anypony want with this trinket?' he thought to himself. Walking over, he stood between the pony and the desired artifact. "I'm afraid this is... Far too dangerous."
The shrouded pony reached under its cloak and pulled out a large bag. Tossing it onto the counter, the top of it tipped over, allowing the contents to spill out. A large number of bits toppled onto the wooden top, the gold sparking under the ceiling light. The owner was astounded; judging from the size of the bag, he guessed it must have contained at least three hundred bits. Still, he shook his head, "I don't think you understand. This amulet is not for sale and no amount of bits will ever change that."
The pony took one more look at the amulet and tightly clenched its teeth together. Taking the amulet without being seen had failed and so too did its attempts at playing the role of a common customer. The pony wasn’t leaving without that amulet, even if that meant that it had to “Improvise”.
From below the cloaked pony’s hood, a magenta glow suddenly appeared through the dark material and shot out towards the owner. His body enveloped in strong telekinetic aura, the owner thrashed about, fearful of what was to happen next. In the next instant, he felt his body thrown across the room and slammed hard into a wall.
"Agh!" he cried out in pain. In the next instant that followed, he felt the all too familiar sensation of being lifted once more, only to be thrown across the front counter. Squinting through his now hazy vision, he looked up to see the now identified unicorn walking towards him.
Fear and adrenaline took over, numbing the pain just enough to grant him the strength needed crawl down the hallway. For a moment, it looked as if the shop owner would make it to the back door. If he could just make it outside, then he could shout for help. Surely somepony would hear him and come to his rescue. Alas, whatever hope that his panicked mind had conjured in order to help him escape had been immediately switched into thoughts of despair the moment that he felt a hoof connect with the center of his back, pinning him down in place. He flipped his head around to see the dark figure standing above him, its face completely hidden in the shadows. His blood ran cold as his mind began to create images of what was going to happen to him. "Pl-please..." he pleaded through fearful gasps for air. "Y-you want the amulet?! Just take it! Take it and leave me alone! Please!"
His eyes widened at the sight of a faint glow that came from the figure’s horn. “Stop! Stop it!” Enshrouding a nearby trophy in magic, the attacker brought it down and connected with the side of the stallions head, striking him directly in the temple. The owner screamed out in pain and fear from the blow. Before he could put his hooves up to cover up, the trophy came down again on the same spot, creating a large gash on his scalp. The earth-pony's head dropped to the ground with a hard thud, completely unconscious.
Stepping off of the owner, the pony walked back behind the counter towards the item that it desired. Approaching the glass, the cloaked pony could make out the outlines of it’s cape in the reflection, followed by the bright white grin that emerged through the shadows of the hood. The blood stained pony had finally obtained what it had been working for for months, but now there was something else on its mind.
*** One week later ***
Outside of the town of Ponyville, a small cottage sat pleasantly on top of a hill. The sounds of birds happily chirping in the sky was a common occurrence here, for the owner of the home was one who gave wonderful treatment to all animals.
To the side of the home, a collection of small animals consisting of beavers, raccoons and rabbits all sat together as they listened to Fluttershy, a butter colored pegasus with a pink mane, explain to them what exactly was going to happen. Her good friend Twilight Sparkle, a lavender unicorn, quietly sat back with her assistant Spike, a young purple dragon, as they waited for Fluttershy to finish speaking with her animals.
"Don't be scared little friends, Twilight is wonderful with magic," Fluttershy said to her animal friends in a soothing tone. Suddenly, she flipped around to Twilight, shooting her a cold and steely glare, startling the unicorn with the sudden change in demeanor, "If anything happens to them Twilight, so help me!" her words dripped venomous threats with each syllable.
Spike quickly got between the two of them, placing his claws on each of the two mares in an effort to keep them separated. "Aww, don't worry Fluttershy," he said as he walked Fluttershy away. "Twilight's magic has gotten a lot better since she accidentally crushed me and Applejack with a giant snowball."
Twilight blushed with embarrassment as she remembered the incident at her first winter wrap up in Ponyville a few years prior. She had tried to enchant her snowplow to help push the snow off of the fields much faster, but ended up losing control, creating a massive wall of snow which made an even larger mess than before.
Fluttershy took a deep breath to calm herself, "Well of course she’s good with magic. No ... Twilight is great with magic. I guess I just don't want my little friends to be scared." Her eyes suddenly widened as she looked down to her precious animals, "Oh, oh! Look how scared they are!"
Despite her panic, all of the small critters had wide grins on their faces as they patiently waited for the test to commence. Twilight calmly approached and then placed a hoof on the trembling pegasus in order to reassure her. "Don't worry Fluttershy, I promise that nothing bad will happen."
"I know!" responded Fluttershy, who was now covered in sweat by this point.
Twilight walked forward to the group of animals and focused her magic. After a second, her horn glowed as purple energy began to materialize. Next, all of the animals were enveloped in a warm glow as were then lifted off the ground with great care. All of the critters cheered with excitement as they felt themselves being lifted off of the ground.
Twilight could hear Fluttershy panicking behind her, but opted to ignore it so as to not draw her focus away from the performance. The last thing that she wanted was to make a mistake and hurt any of the animals.
Levitating them higher, Twilight weaved the animals up and down in a mix of different directions. Some she had dive down in a steep arc, while others were pulled up and spun through the air. Before long, they were all flowing in a very smooth figure eight pattern overhead. Chirps and laughs emitted from the animals as they flipped around inside the unicorn’s mystical grasp.
Spike stared in awe at the spectacle and clapped his scaly paws together. "Twilight, that looks amazing!"
The lavender mare smiled as she lowered the animals back onto the ground. Once they had been safely lowered, she deactivated her magic, causing the purple aura to dissipate. She brought a hoof up to her head to wipe away the small beads of sweat that had gathered. 'Phew! That took more concentration than I thought.' she mused to herself.
Her thoughts were disrupted by the cheering that came from the tiny creatures hopping around her, demanding that she do it again.
Twilight chuckled at how much fun the animals had and respectfully declined. "That's all for now, little ones. Maybe we can practice again later, if Fluttershy says it's alright."
All of the animals then ran over to Fluttershy, who was still cowering in her hooves. She had been so worried that her animals would get hurt that she didn't even notice how much fun they were having. Spike giggled to himself, seeing her like that. He then turned and smiled up to his unicorn caretaker, "Your magic has really improved since you came to Ponyville, Twilight! Princess Celestia is going to love it!"
Twilight gave a small grin; normally she never liked others bragging about her skill, but having a compliment now and then always felt good. "Thanks Spike. I have to be at my best when she arrives with the delegates from Saddle Arabia. Even though its next month, I figured practicing far ahead would make it easier."
"But... A whole month ahead?" Spike frowned slightly. "Is that a little early?"
Saddle Arabian ponies are very impressed by flawless performances. I know I have gotten better, I still can't believe that she’s trusting me with the entertainment ..."
Twilight felt herself get hit in the side by something quick, knocking her off her hooves. After her eyes had finished spinning around, she looked up to see a cyan pegasus with a multi-colored mane standing above her. Instantly recognizing her friend, Twilight glared at her in a fit of iritance, "Rainbow Dash, what are you doing?"
"Twilight, come quick! It's an emergency!" Rainbow nearly shouted.
Twilight's grimace disappeared when she saw the panic on Rainbow's face. Rainbow never worried about anything, so to see her so stressed was a huge cause for alarm. Picking herself up from off the ground, she shook dust off her coat before speaking, "What's the matter?"
"Some weird pony came to town and is causing trouble!"
"What!?" Twilight gasped.
Several minutes later, Twilight, Spike, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy had arrived in Ponyville. A large crowd of ponies had all gathered in the streets, watching something with great interest. Twilight looked around, curious as to what was happening. "What's going on here?"
Suddenly, a bright flash of red appeared in the middle of the crowd. As soon as it vanished, a massive wave of panic, washed over the ponies. The crowd dispersed, making room for a screaming white unicorn who ran away from the mass of onlooking ponies. Twilight's eyes went wide when she saw who it was. "Rarity? What's wro-" She quickly brought a hoof up to her mouth at what she had seen, "Oh my gosh! What happened your hair!?"
Rarity's normal purple mane had been nearly burnt all the way off, leaving only enough to hang past the base of her scalp. Her eyes were filled with tears as she looked up to her friend, "Oh Twilight! I can't believe what that horrible pony has done to me! Look at this!" she screamed as she pointed a hoof up to what was left of her hair.
"What? Who did this to you?" Twilight then looked past her crying friend to see a single pony standing in front of the town hall. Its form was completely covered by a black cloak that concealed the entirety of its body, except for its azure hooves. Anger washed over her as Twilight forced her way through the crowd so that she could confront the stranger.
"Who are you? Why did you Do that to Rarity?" Her voice rising high above the murmurs coming from the crowd,bringing forth an eternal silence.
The figure sat stone still for a few moments before bringing one of its hooves up to the top of its hood. "Well, well, well. It’s good to see you again ..." it paused as it pulled back on the hood, revealing a shining two toned silver mane and azure unicorn head, "Twilight Sparkle!” She smiled as she took in the uncertainty on the lavender unicorn’s face. “I was wondering how long it would be until you showed up! I mean, that is what you so called ‘Heroes’ do, right?"
Twilight's mind immediately recognized the unicorn as the magician who came to Ponyville years prior, claiming to be the most powerful unicorn in the world. She was also the one who nearly caused the destruction of Ponyville from the lie that she created. Despite the fact that this mare never set foot in their town again, Twilight could never forget the name of the fraud who stood before her.
Looking up, Twilight stared up into the eyes of Rarity’s tormentor and spoke her name with heavy disdain . "Trixie."
The lavender unicorn silently stared at the azure mare, eying the dark cloak and the strange amulet that was connected to the front of her outfit. She was still trying to put together her thoughts as she wondered why Trixie had returned to Ponyville. Spike glared at the once show off magician with contempt. "What is she doing here?" he sneered.
Trixie glanced around to the surrounding buildings, never losing the smirk that seemed to be chiseled into her muzzle, "I have to give credit where it’s due. You have all done a wonderful job of cleaning up since the last time I was here. If I were a first time visitor, I would have never been able to tell that the little ‘accident’ ever happened here."
Rainbow Dash flew forward, crossing her hooves in front of her chest. "You mean after you nearly got our town destroyed by an Ursa Minor?"
Trixie just closed her eyes and smiled. "You have a big mouth, but I doubt it’s as large as your wing." The amulet on her chest began to glow bright red. Snapping her eyes open, they glowed the same color as the amulet. Before Rainbow could react, a bolt of red magic shot out from Trixie's horn and struck the startled flyer.
Rainbow screamed in agony as the bones in her right wing began to shift and bulge under her skin. All sorts of sickening popping sounds could be heard across the courtyard. The pegasus’s throat threatened to go raw as she fell to the ground, clutching her treasured appendage. Her body began to spasm as the magic contorted with her physical features. After a moment, it all stopped instantaneously.
Rainbow began to pant as she looked over at her horribly disfigured wing, which was now at least five times larger than it was before. With a heavy grunt, Rainbow spread both of her wings in an attempt to go airborne. Her efforts were futile as she could only rise a few inches before falling muzzle first into the dirt.
Trixie chuckled at her work before her eyes fell back onto the crowd. When she saw two certain familiar colts, her smile was replaced with a snarl, "You!"
Snips and Snails both jumped in alarm as the angry unicorn glared at them. "Uh oh! Snips, I think we should get out of here!" the gangly orange unicorn stated to his shorter green friend.
"Y-yeah, I think you’re right, Snails." Snips shakingly replied.
Before Either of them could move, however, a blast of red magic enshrouded them and pulled them through the air towards Trixie’s face, her eyes filled with unmatched fury. "You were the stupid foals who brought that Ursa Minor into the town in the first place! That entire incident was all your doing and yet I’m the one who was made to suffer for it!"
Both young colts trembled under the gaze of the enraged unicorn as they thought back to when they groveled at the hooves of Trixie when she had last visited their town, bragging about how she defeated an Ursa major, and how they had the bright idea to bring one to town for her to fight. Snails shook his head clear of the memory to focus back on Trixie as she held him, "We just wanted to see you vanquish an Ursa Major!"
"Y-yeah, we didn't know you were just a fraud!" Snips said without thinking.
The sunlight above Ponyville seemed to dim down, the clouds began to contort and transform into shades of gray, and an ominous chill began to hover through in the air. “A fraud …” she silently whispered. “A fraud.” she said again but at a higher volume. Suddenly, her eyes became enveloped in a bright red light. "Insolence! Insolence at every turn!" she shouted while stomping her right forehoof into the dirt, over and over again. “I won’t stand for the disrespect any longer!” She lifted them both higher and threw them hard across the clearing. They screamed out as they came towards a tree before a purple Aura caught them moments before impact.
Twilight gave a sigh of relief as she lowered the two frightened fillies down onto the ground before returning her glare back to Trixie. "Trixie, what do you want?!"
"Well, that sure got your attention didn’t it?" Trixie said with a smirk. "I’ve been doing a lot of research on you and your friends, miss Element of Magic, student of the Sun Goddess herself, and younger sister to the new King of the Crystal Empire!” Twilight flinched back a little at hearing this. “You know, I took the liberty of interviewing some of the ponies who claimed to have met you all before.”
She began to pace back and forth as if trying to find the right words to express what she was feeling. “I pretty much heard the same thing phrased at least a hundred different ways. They all spoke of you and your fellow ‘Defenders of Harmony’ as if you were all immortal protectors who had been sent from the heavens themselves.” She paused for a moment to look around at the other Elements. Fluttershy was trying to help relieve some of the pain in Rainbow Dash’s wing while Rarity covered her partially exposed scalp in tears. “But as I stand here now, all I see is bone and sinew …”
She slowly looked back at Twilight and smiled. “What I want, Twilight, is a magic duel. Just the two of us. Winner stays and loser leaves Ponyville, forever!" her eyes glowed red once again as she shouted louder.
Twilight was startled, both by the challenge that was thrown at her and by the strange glow that came from Trixie's eyes. 'What is that? It’s the same color as that amulet' she thought to herself. After a moment, she glared back at the blue unicorn, "Forget it. I'd never agree to anything like that."
Trixie sighed, "In that case, I think I’ll have a little fun for the rest of the day." She quickly shot another blast of magic at Spike, catching the small dragon off guard.
"Ahh! What's going on!?" Spike screamed as he was lifted into the air. Suddenly, he felt his body being contorted into a tight ball, forcing his limbs to lock tightly against his body. He cried out in pain as his bones were pushed to their limits in terms of flexibility. Then, Trixie began to bounce his body up and down off the ground like a beach ball.
Twilight gasped at seeing Spike being tortured like this. "Trixie, leave him alone!"
The azure unicorn laughed as she threw Spike against a wall, causing him to rebound and ricochet off towards the crowd of onlookers. "Why don't you make me, Twilight?" she snickered as she made Spike bounce off the heads of the scared ponies around the courtyard. After a few more seconds of fun, she dropped her grip on him, causing him to fall into the mud.
"Why are you doing this?"
All of the twisted enjoyment on Trixie’s face had crumbled away at the sound of Twilight's question. She slowly turned her head to face the purple unicorn. "Why? You mean you haven’t heard? I suppose that that shouldn’t be all that surprising, given how nice you’ve had it. I mean, you’re ‘The Almighty Hero’ who helped to save us all from the rule of a mad god and the iron-patriot who fought tooth and nail so that we wouldn’t become the live-stock of a few thousand hungry changelings! Why in blazes would you ever hear word of what happened to me?!"
Trixie walked forward until she was so close that she could have spit on Twilight. “Well allow me to get you all caught up. You ruined my life beyond all hope of repair, plain and simple.”
Twilight furrowed her brow at what she heard. "What are you talking about? I haven’t even seen you since you ran away from Ponyville!"
The azure mare sighed before walking a few paces away from Twilight."That Ursa Minor you sent back to the cave just so happened to destroy my wagon before you felt the need to show off your skills and humiliate me. After I left, I had to live on the streets for months! I had to scrape by for anything that I could get my hooves on just to eat."
"Trixie, if it was so bad, why didn't you just go home? Why did you live like that?" Twilight asked.
"You just don’t get it at all, do you? That wagon was my home! Not all ponies are like you and have a Princess to help them out with any problem. That wagon was all that I had. I had to save up months worth of bits from various odd jobs so that I could finally get myself a new one. It looked as if I’d finally be able to move past my minor setback and, once again, go back to doing my shows. But guess what? My problems were just starting! Word of what happened in Ponyville spread all over Equestria. I became a laughing stock in every town that I tried to visit. Ponies saw me as nothing but a joke ... a fraud."
Trixie began panting out of anger as she continued her story, "I was hated and pushed out of nearly every city and backwater town that I went to! I couldn't even get enough bits buy food on most days! Just so I could eat, I had to sell my new wagon and go back to living in the dirt. Months’ worth of hard work … gone. I couldn't even show my face in a town without being laughed or pointed at.” Trixie had a distant look in her eyes, as if her past was being played before her like a movie. “I’ll never forget this one day when I walked into a restaurant. I hadn’t eaten in so long and I finally had enough to get something that would keep me going for a little while longer. But, the stallion behind the counter recognized who I was. Turns out that he was the manager. And do you know what he said to me before I could even finish putting in my order?”
She turned back towards Twilight and, for a moment, her anger had been replaced with something else. “‘We don’t serve trash like you. Now leave before I have you thrown back onto the street where garbage belongs!’ That was when I had to start wearing a cloak ... only moving around when it got dark.
Trixie finally came to a stop, the same hatred in her eyes from before had been relit. "Now, I want revenge for everything that you did to me. I am going to prove that I am the strongest unicorn in Equestria. And in the process, maybe I’ll show everypony that ‘Heroes’ aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be."
Suddenly, Pinkie Pie bounded right up to Trixie's face and glared right at her. "Bring it on! Twilight is the most super awesome unicorn ever! You’ll never be able to beat her!"
"Shut up!" Trixie snapped. Shooting a bolt of magic at Pinkie's mouth, she clamped it shut and summoned a thick, metal muzzle. Placing it over the pink ponies head, she latched it on so tight that it caused her face to scrunch up in pain. Trixie grinned at silencing the annoying pony. "There, maybe now somepony will actually want you around."
Twilight looked back to all of her other friends behind her; she saw how Rarity was still distraught over her destroyed mane as Applejack tried to comfort her. Rainbow Dash was awkwardly trying to control her disfigured wing on the ground. Fluttershy was helping Spike get off the ground and stretch out his sore limbs. Her anger grew inside her as she saw her friends humiliated and even somewhat injured. She knew she couldn't let Trixie get away with what she’d done. She turned and faced her challenger, "Fine. I accept your challenge. If I win, you never come back here."
Trixie gave a sinister smile seeing that her wish was about to be granted. "And if I win, you are to live off alone, far away from this pathetic little town. Then you’ll understand what it truly means to fail … to be alone."
"First, I want you to fix what you did to my friends."
Putting a hoof to her chin, Trixie glanced up to the sky, "Hmm. No, I think I'll leave them like that until after we are finished. They will be my insurance to make sure you that you don't try to leave early. We finish this to the end."
Twilight glared at Trixie, "No. I won't duel you until you fix them!" Her eyes went wide as she watched Trixie shoot a blast of red lightning towards her. Jumping to the side, she barely dodged the attack as it crashed into the dirt. She looked back up, seeing the red glow illuminating from Trixie's eyes.
"Sorry, but the duel has already begun, Twilight!" Trixie shouted maniacally as she shot out another beam of magic.
Twilight felt her heart speed up as she quickly jumped out of the way of the incoming blast. Landing on her hooves, she stared at Trixie for a moment as her thoughts raced inside of her head. 'She is serious. She really wants to fight like this.' Charging her own horn, she fired a purple blast at her opponent.
Trixie smirked as she stood still as the beam raced towards her. "You’ll have to do better than that!" She pointed her horn down and focused her magic into the ground beneath her hooves. Suddenly, a column of Earth lifted Trixie up and over the blast, causing it to harmlessly strike the dirt. Looking down, she charged her magic and levitated a large portion of dirt, crushing it into a tightly compressed ball and launched it at Twilight.
Seeing the giant dirt mound rush at her, Twilight somersaulted forward with only a second to spare before the giant mound slammed down and shattered everywhere. Before she could stand up, however, a bright flash of red to her right caught her attention. "What the-" Trixie had teleported down to the ground, lifting up another large chunk of earth and hurdled it at Twilight.
"Agh!" Twilight yelled as she was struck in her side and knocked across the clearing. Ponies gasped as they watched Twilight being thrown down, but they were too terrified to try and move in to help.
All of Twilight's friends stared in shock at how Trixie was actually beating Twilight. "How did she get so strong?" Rarity asked.
Applejack glared and scraped her hoof on the ground, "Ah don't care how tough she is. Ah'm gonna go give her a hoof up the side of her head!"
Spike quickly put his claws on her shoulder, "No, you can't!"
Applejack turned back to him, confused by his statement, "Why can't Ah’?"
“If a pony is challenged to a magic duel, they cannot accept help from those watching it or they automatically lose!" spike exclaimed, "Once engaged in the duel, a magical bond is formed between the two combatants. It keeps them connected until the match ends."
Rainbow's eyes floated up from Spike to her friend on the ground across the clearing, "So she has to fight her alone."
Twilight rolled up to her hooves and stretched out her legs. She felt an odd tightness in her chest as she tried to breathe. "She *huff* must have broken a rib from that hit," she said to herself. She glanced up to see Trixie slowly approaching her, the glow in her eyes illuminating the same as the amulet across her neck. "What is that thing? Why is it changing the color of her aura?"
Trixie grinned to herself as she looked down to the amulet she adorned. 'The rumors of the Alicorn Amulet were true. I’m in a completely different league than I was before!' she thought to herself. Knowing she had power beyond normal, Trixie felt unstoppable.
Looking to her left, Twilight spotted a nearby fountain. A new idea began to take root as she observed the water inside. 'Let's see how she does against water!' Focusing her magic, she lifted a large stream of water, controlling the liquid as if it was a slithering snake. Beads of sweat began falling down her forehead as she strained to keep the stream from falling down into the ground. Using all of her willpower, she shot the long stream through the air towards her opponent.
Trixie shot out her own magic, colliding with the stream and enshrouding it with her aura. The water was now locked in a match in which whose force of will could overcome the other. Both were pulling with all that they had. To Trixie's surprise, Twilight was giving her amulet a run for its money. 'She’s actually resisting the amulets power!?' she sneered to herself. 'No, I won't lose! Not to her!'
Trixie's eyes grew an even brighter red as she focused her magic. After a moment, she ripped the water out of Twilights grasp, causing the purple unicorn to drop to the ground from the strain. Pulling the water behind her, the former magician separated the water into several small liquid balls. They then began to shift and distort into elongated spears, which were then frozen solid seconds later thanks to a sudden burst of magic from Trixie. She smiled when she saw the fearful expression on her target, "I'd be careful if I were you, Twilight. You might actually chip one of your precious librarian hooves if you strain yourself like this." she then turned the spears and launched them through the air.
Knowing she couldn't outrun them, Twilight focused whatever power she had left and illuminated her body. In an instant, she teleported behind the incoming ice spikes, dropping down into the dirt again and putting a hoof to her horn. "Ugh! My head!". The use of so much magic was beginning to take its toll on Twilight, causing her mind to blur. She looked back up to Trixie, who suddenly enveloped herself in a powdery glow before vanishing completely. "What-, what was that? Teleportation?"
"No. I'm still here, Twilight..." Trixie's cold voice said, "You just can't see me."
Twilight's blood ran cold when she realized what was happening. "An invisibility spell? That's impossible! Only Mage level unicorns can perform that!"
A sinister laugh was heard in the air from an unknown location, "Hard work pays off, as they say. Not that you’d know. You’ve had everything handed to you on a silver platter. You can’t even begin to comprehend how powerful my magic has become, Twilight! And this is only the tip of the iceberg!" Her laughter echoed again and Twilight fired a blast off to her left, but the blast just kept going and hit a tree. “Look at you. You’re tired … weak. Why don’t you just make this easier on yourself and submit?”
Twilight stood up and looked around, trying to find where Trixie was hiding, but was blindsided by a blast of magic from her right. "Agh!" she collapsed back down, her side burning from the strike. She shot a small blast in that direction, her magic failed once again to hit anything. Then, another blast hit her, this time it was from the left again. She collapsed onto her belly, unable to keep her head up anymore as her chin hit the dirt below. Before she could try to move, another beam hit her, this time connecting with her left shoulder.
“Ha … it’s amazing how pathetic you look right now. It’d be pretty funny if it weren’t so sad. You can go head to head with a corrupt Moon Goddess, but you can’t even put a scratch on a ‘Fraud’ like me? How embarrassing. If you can be considered one of Equestria’s greatest protectors then I’m genuinely concerned about this land’s future, and that’s saying alot considering how much I hate it here.”
Her body was aching all over from the mix of injuries and from the overuse in magic. She couldn't take anymore punishment; she just wanted it all to stop. "Alright. I *huff* I surrender."
Gasps were heard from all of the ponies watching the duel after they heard Twilight give up. They could not believe that she had actually been beaten. Trixie's laughter echoed across the clearing as her body became visible once more. "Ha ha ha! Oh my, I really am disappointed. I honestly wasn’t expecting you to give up so soon! And what’s more, not only didn't I get to test that last spell too much, but I came here for a fight, not target practice." She trotted and stood over the battered unicorn in the dirt. "But you know what? You still look okay to me from where I’m standing. Nothing but a few cuts and scratches … Surely the Element of Magic can handle more pain than this." Tilting her horn down, she fired a beam at point blank range at Twilight.
Trixie grinned as she watched Twilight fly across the clearing and crash into the side of the nearby store. Charging her horn, she teleported herself above the battered purple mare, grinning at her accomplishment. "It’s not fun lying around in the dirt, now is it? Trust me, you’ll be doing that a lot after everypony hears about how you lost to a washed up magician!" Her eyes once again glowed red as she shot another blast of red lightning at Twilight.
Twilight screamed in pain as the magic struck her body. The powerful shocks made her mind pulse from the overload of torment that her body was being subjected too. Unable to focus at all, she knew that trying to use magic was pointless, not to mention she was drained above that. She tried to thrash around, but her muscles felt locked in place as she laid there, helpless under the wrath of her tormentor.
Trixie's heart fluttered with excitement as she watched the unicorn below her cry in agony. After all of that time living like a street rat, nothing in her heart was wanted more than to find the one who took everything away from her suffer for her sins. Her grin spread even further across her cheeks when she saw Twilights movements become less and less frequent as the seconds rolled passed. "So much for the almighty Twilight Sparkle! I suppose that even the Elements can choose poorly!" laughed the azure unicorn.
"Trixie, Please stop this!" Spike screamed out from behind her, "You already beat Twilight, now leave her alone!"
Trixie stopped her stream of magic and turned around to face the small dragon. Like she figured, he was right there with the rest of those mares that tried to challenge her up on stage. All of their eyes were filled with pain from what they were watching. She turned back to look at Twilight, who was barely conscious as she tried to crawl back onto her hooves. Snickering to herself, she charged her horn up again, "Alright Twilight, as part of the duel, you are to leave this town." Shooting it at Twilight, her magic enveloped the startled mare and held her eight feet off the ground.
"That's enough, Trixie!" Applejack yelled out, "Y'all beat her in a duel, now let her go!"
"You can't possibly make Twilight leave Ponyville!" Rarity exclaimed.
Trixie just chuckled as she listened to the pleas behind her, "She agreed to this and one must honor the code of a magic duel. Even your oh-so-precious princess would know this to be true." Her eyes began glowing even brighter as she lifted Twilight higher into the air, "Now, you are to live in anguish with nothing to call your own. Just like I had to do for all of this time." Charging her horn up, she blasted Twilight into the sky and away from the town.
"Twilight!" Spike and the others sprinted after their launched friend, but as they reached the edge of the town, a large wall of red energy dropped in front of them and stopped them from advancing any further. They looked up and saw the shield stretched all the way into the sky above the town square, coming to a center point and completely sealing Ponyville inside. A sinister laugh quickly followed behind the energy, causing all of them to shudder in fear.
Trixie was standing on top of a large chunk of Earth as it lifted it her above the crowds of frightened ponies. Her eyes shined brightly as she looked down to all of the scared faces below, "This is my town now!" She tilted her head up and began shooting blasts of magic Into the clouds inside of the barrier. “Blame your heroes, the six Bearers of Harmony, for they have all failed you!” The once white patches became dark, spreading out and blotting out Celestia's sun from coming through. “And blame yourselves for destroying me with your rumors and your lies!” After several more minutes, Ponyville was enshrouded in darkness.
Meanwhile, several hundred yards away, Twilight could feel herself falling through the thick branches of the Everfree forest. She bashed and smacked against the limbs as she tumbled down through the canopy of leaves towards the muddy ground below. Panicking, she focused her magic and caught herself just inches from smashing into the forest floor. Deactivating her horn, she collapsed down into the dirt.
After a few minutes of rest, Twilight tried to stand up, but her legs gave out from beneath her. Her body was pulsing with pain. Every muscle was twitching, sending waves to her brain, making her head dizzy. She felt her mind begin to slip into blackness, but the sound of a rustling bush caught her attention. She quickly turned her head in the direction of the sound, her heart racing as she imagined what could be stalking her in the forest. "H-hello?" she hoarsely asked, unsure if whatever it was could even understand her.
A cloaked figure stepped through the leaves, walking straight for her.
Twilight panicked as she tried to crawl away, fearing Trixie was coming back for more. "Please, j-just leave me alone!"
The figure chuckled as it came closer. "Why do you back away in fright? I do not wish to fight." lifting a black and white striped leg up, the figure pulled the hood back, revealing a familiar zebra.
"Zecora?" Twilight happily exclaimed. She tried to stand up to greet her, but gasped and collapsed back down.
The zebra's grin disappeared when she saw the condition of the unicorn before her, "My, what happened, my dear? What did this to you, please tell me, I wish to hear."
Zecora quickly hoisted the battered unicorn onto her back and picked her off the ground. She carried her through the bushes as she listened to everything that Twilight had to say about the pony that came to her town, hurting her friends and challenging her to the duel. Zecora was surprised when she heard how Twilight had been beaten in the challenge. She knew Twilight had an incredible talent in magic and was perhaps one of the strongest unicorns around.
Eventually, the two of them came to a small clearing in the trees. Walking past the tiki heads set up around the path, Zecora opened the door to her home and set Twilight on the couch against the wall to the side. Trotting over to her table of potions, she began mixing up a strange glowing blue liquid with a dull green powder. As she poured them in a bowl, the contents began bubbling and sizzling like hot soup. "Now, drink this brew. It will bring relief to you."
Twilight stared curiously at the bowl that Zecora handed her, unsure about the contents. Choosing to trust her friend, she put her hooves around the sides, lifting it up to her lips. To her surprise it didn't have any kind of taste; it was like plain water. As she drained its contents, a strange feeling came over her body.
The throbbing inside of her head had disappeared almost as soon as the bowl was empty. "Huh?" she whispered as she sat up from the couch. Even the injuries across her body seemed to dull down compared to what they were before. She looked over to Zecora, who just smiled down at her. "What was that you gave me?"
"A special drink to regain your power. It removes the urge of feeling sour. Your injuries still remain as you see, but your magic can heal those as easy can be."
Twilight focused her magic in her horn, and to her relief felt it flowing steadily. Targeting her injured rib, she used her magic to realign the bone back into place, settling it in its proper setting. After that was done, she began tending to the other spots that were hit by magic. After a few more minutes of tending her wounds, she felt almost fully recovered. Smiling, she turned back to Zecora, "Thank you. I feel much better now."
"No need to thank me. You need to go back and make your friends free." Zecora bluntly stated.
Twilight tilted her head in confusion, "What?"
"The one called Trixie is still in that town. Go back right now and take her down."
"I tried that already." Twilight grumbled as she stood up and jumped to the floor, "Trixie is too strong. Somehow she is able to do spells that shouldn't be possible for a pony like her. She was doing an invisibility spell for pony sakes! Her eyes were glowing red like that amulet and-
Something in her mind clicked all of a sudden. "That amulet. I've seen it before! It's the alicorn amulet, I've read about it in several books."
Zecora came closer as Twilight was deep in thought. "The amulet that is in her hold, what makes it so special to her magic you've told?"
Twilight walked over to the couch and sat back on her haunches, "The alicorn amulet is a dark relic that amplifies the users power to a level far above normal magic usage for them. Because of how dangerous it can make a unicorn, it was taken and kept locked away. After some time though, it was lost, and nopony knew where it had gone. Most believed that the amulet was lost for good, but Trixie must have searched for it to come and challenge me."
"Hm. Her magic is strong due to that piece. So to stop her you must take that off and-"
"You don't understand, Zecora! Even if I challenged her again and somehow beat her, only Trixie can take off the amulet. The power bonds the user to it, giving them an advantage so some pony couldn't steal it. The biggest problem is getting to that point. I. Can't. Beat. Her." Twilight turned her head to the wall, her eyes swelling up in tears.
Zecora sat still for a moment before going up to Twilight and putting a hoof on her shoulder. " You are the strongest unicorn that I know in the land. No pony comes close to your talent and gets hit to the sand. I can sense in your heart that you are afraid, but there is also power that you have yet to be laid. You need something to let it all free, giving you the chance to fight full out for others to see."
Twilight lifted a hoof and wiped out several falling tears away. "Unless I have an amulet of my own, there is no chance for me in beating her."
Zecora sat there, thinking what could be done to help, when something clicked in her mind. Standing up, she went to her chest and searched for the item she desired. When she found it, a large grin spread across her face. Pulling it out, she trotted back over to the couch and tossed it onto the cushion. "Here is the item that you seek, now go and stop feeling bleak."
Twilight turned around and looked at the golden plated necklace that Zecora had brought over. On the center part was a golden jewel attached to it. "What is this for?" she asked.
"You need an amulet to beat your foe. Use this and you will feel its glow."
Twilight was skeptical about what she was told, but when she lifted the amulet in her aura, the jewel shined brightly as the magic touched it. "Wh-what was that?"
"That jewel is special from my land, for when blended with magic it makes it grand. The amulet will focus your magic and make it strong. Put it on and you will feel your magic grow like how it belongs."
Twilight quickly slipped the amulet onto her neck, clipping on the latch in back. After she had it on, she charged her magic in her horn, then noticed the amulet also gave off its own bright green glow. Closing her eyes, she continued to charge her magic, noticing through her closed eyelids that the glow getting brighter. The corners of Twilight’s mouth stretched into a large grin. "I can feel it. My magic is stronger than before! I feel like I could go on longer already!"
Zecora had to try and suppress the bright smile of her success. 'Just like I thought.'