Panting, Twilight crawled back onto her shaky legs and wobbled several times before she caught her stepping. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that most of the trees around them had shattered from the shockwave. The dust was so thick that she could barely see anything over fifty feet away, which was just close enough to see exactly what she wanted.
Trixie was inside of a small crater from the impact of the fall. Her body was littered with massive cuts all across her coat, nearly staining her normally light blue coat into a shade of purple. What Twilight noticed the most was the stillness of Trixie's form. Her limbs were sprawled out awkwardly to her sides, not moving a single inch from their spots in the dirt.
The sound of Spikes voice caused Twilights body to freeze. She let out tears of happiness as she turned to see her friends running her direction, all of them had large smiles plastered across her face. "Girls, Spike. I'm so glad to see you all ag-”
The sudden tug on Twilights throat caused her to yelp in surprise. Before she could react however, the red aura around her neck ripped her amulet off and pulled it quickly towards the downed Trixie. "No!" Twilight's eyes shot open in terror as her hoof raised up and rubbed against her now bare neck. Her amulet was gone.
Crawling from the crater, Trixie gasped for air as she forced herself to get back onto her hooves and face Twilight. Her expression a mixture of near unbearable pain and an undying hatred while trails of blood dripped from her mouth. At the same time, she also displayed a look of excitement as she grinned menacingly at the amulet that drifted towards her face. "So ... this is the amulet that made you so strong, huh?" She coughed several times while forcing out a small chuckle that caused great stabs of pain to spread through her body like an infectious disease. "A unicorn like yourself shouldn't be the one to wear this." Using more of her magic, the former magician enshrouded her own amulet and pulled outward, ripping off the alicorn amulet off.
The moment she did, the red aura from Trixie's eyes sputtered out until disappearing, her own magic shifted back to its normal magenta color as well. She laughed as she threw the alicorn amulet behind her and into the trees, not even caring where it went. Her focus was on the new green jewel she had in her grasp. Quickly putting it on, she laughed out loud as the amulet began to glow a bright green. "Now that I have this, I will make you pay for destroying my life."
Fear gripped Twilights heart as she watched Trixie hobble up and face her, her horn glowing atop her head. The magenta unicorn trembled knowing that there was no way that she could hold off Trixie without an amulet of her own. 'How could I have been so stupid?!' she yelled at herself, 'I should have made sure that she was down for good before looking away!'
"Twilight!" Spike called out again as he dashed towards her.
"Spike, Girls! Get out of here now!" Twilight screamed to them, but they all refused and kept coming. "I said get out of here!"
"No we aren't leaving you again Twi!" Rainbow shot back as she came to a stop in front of her friend. Right after the rest of them skidded to a halt as well, with Spike running up and latching onto her in a tight hug.
"Twilight, we left you alone once already, we aren't going to do it a second time." Spike pleaded up to her.
"Y'all came back fer’ us, Twi. Ya’ve done enough alone." Applejack happily stated.
Twilight glanced back and forth between them, her mind racing on what she should say, but Pinkie Pie trotted right up to her face and gave a small smile. "It's okay Twilight, we’re all here, and that’s what matters."
Seeing Pinkie Pie in this state and still able to give a smile brought a tear to Twilights eye. Even in danger her friends were willing to take that risk to be with her. Nothing she could say was going to make them leave and she knew it. But before she could think anymore, the sound of magic charging behind her snapped her out of thought and made her turn around to see Trixie aiming her horn in their direction. "All of you, get behind me!" Twilight yelled as she moved in front of them.
Deciding that she had had enough of the sentimental display, Trixie’s smile dissolved into a dark scowl. She yelled out as she released a bright stream of magic towards Twilight and her friends, twisted thoughts of the bearers all falling to her power filled her mind all the while.
Twilight's heart raced as she quickly cast a large shield around herself and the others. Clenching her eyes shut, she mentally prepared herself for the feel of her barrier shattering the moment that Trixie's attack struck home. When it did hit however, the beam harmlessly bounced off.
The magicians eyes widened in confusion at her failure to break the barrier. "Wh-what?" She stumbled backward in shock.
Twilight opened a single eye to see her force field perfectly intact, not a single crack appearing on its surface. “What?” she mumbled to herself in confusion.
The injured magician collapsed back down onto the ground in disbelief; Her attack didn’t even faze Twilights barrier despite the fact she was wearing this new amulet. After a few moments she began to think her magic simply wasn’t bonding with Twilight’s jewel. “What kind of pathetic trinket is this?” she growled to herself. Wanting to retrieve her old one back, she flipped her head in the direction she threw the alicorn amulet, but to her shock, Zecora was already there, holding the amulet in her hoof.
The zebra eyed the trinket curiously before looking up to the injured magician. “So this is the jewel you used to rule. I must say however you are a fool. To rely on the amulet to increase your power, you failed to realize that fault this hour.”
“What are you talking about?” Trixie snapped, “Twilight did the exact same thing as me. She used this amulet to fight me, but you made it so only her power worked with it.”
“Yes, I did give her that jewel to fight, because her heart was too filled with fright. With that she trained hard to increase her skill, but the strength of her power came from the strength of her will.”
Twilight deactivated her shield, confused at what Zecora was talking about. “What do you mean? The amulet is what helped me stop her.”
The zebra couldn’t help but cast a small grin. “That amulet of mine, with your magic it does glow. the truth, however, is it is all for show.”
Spike’s jaw dropped slightly in disbelief to what he heard. “For show? you mean… That amulet was…”
“Your friend Twilight thought her power raised in its wake. The fact however is the amulet is fake.” Zecora watched as every pony there gasped in shock. “I had to tell her this would give her aid, if not her heart was far too afraid. While she was broken, hurt and stripped of pride, I could see the true power she had inside.”
Twilight stuttered as she tried to put together all of the facts she had just learned; all of that time she trained with that amulet of Zecora’s, she truly believed that she was stronger with it on. Now she was hearing that the entire time, the illusion was just in her head. Everything that she had done was completely on her own. All of it came from inside of her. She was this strong all along.
Before she could think anymore, All of her friends jumped on top of her and pulled her into a massive group hug.
“Twilight! I knew you could do it!” Fluttershy yelled out in excitement.
“Wow, you beat her even when she had that amulet on! You are the toughest unicorn ever!” Rainbow chimed in with delight.
While Twilight celebrated alongside her friends,Trixie was busy focusing on the lavender mare’s “Amulet”. Slowly, she reached up with her hoof and pulled the amulet from off of her neck. Trixie stared at the necklace, her hoof shaking in the air before she slammed it into ground, shattering the false totem against a rock. She clenched her teeth tighter and tighter in her growing anger. After all of that effort and determination, combined with the power from the alicorn amulet, Twilight was still strong enough to fight against her using nothing but her own power. 'No … this isn’t happening!'
Flashbacks about Trixie’s humiliating retreat shortly after Twilight stopped the Ursa Minor began to play through the ex-magician’s mind over and over like a broken record. ‘Why …’ The images in her head were replaced by the laughter of everypony who ever mocked her since her first trip to Ponyville, followed by Zecora’s words after retrieving the amulet. ‘So this is the jewel you used to rule. I must say however you are a fool.’
Amiss her inner struggle to block out all of the thoughts running through her mind, Trixie’s gaze was lifted back back up to Twilight, and then she saw another sight that caused her blood pressure to reach an all new peak.
Twilight was in the center of her friends, laughing and crying happily as she was being hugged by the mares around her. Pinkie Pie's mane puffed out back into its cotton candy like state as she hopped up and down in happiness to everything. Twilight reached down with her hoof and pulled Spike into a hug, kissing him on the forehead. All of them were so happy together, embracing each other with love. But while they were happy, Trixie felt a pain bore through her heart at the very sight.
The void inside of Trixie's heart doubled in size. All of the emptiness that she had felt before the duel was growing by every moment. Subconsciously, her hooves gripped her shoulders, almost as if she was embracing herself. Then, she did the only thing she felt at the moment.
Twilight and the others jumped back in shock from the decibels emitted by the magician. The magenta unicorn flipped around to see Trixie drop back down to the dirt, her head shoved down while repeatedly smashing her right forehoof into the ground. Cautiously, she stepped away from her friends and crept towards the azure unicorn. Soon after, she recoiled in shock as Trixie shot her face up in her direction, but Twilight was caught off by the expression across the other mares face.
Trixie was crying.
Tears cascaded down the unicorns face as she glared up at Twilight. "Why is this my life!?" Trixie screamed out. "Why did I ever get this life!?"
Twilight stepped back in shock from the question. "Yo-what do you mean your-
"Why couldn't I have your life!?" Trixie's lip started to quiver slightly, "Why couldn't I get what you had?"
"What are you talking about?" Twilight mumbled in confusion.
"You are a pony who had everything in your life handed to you from the start. You had a mother and a father always there for you. To be with you. You even had a brother that helped raise you too. Growing up in a home with that, you were never alone in your youth. The princess was even there to help you. The princess! You had the ruler of this land help raise you! But me? No ..." She stopped for a moment as she coughed up several times. "I had nothing.
"I grew up in an orphanage unlike you ... unlike any of you." Trixie shot a look to the stunned group behind Twilight. "I never had a pony to call family. I never knew what it was like to wake up to a pony waiting to help me through my day, to show me how to do things. To ... to say that they loved me." Sniffling hard several times, she clenched her eyes shut. "I was stuck in a place the stallion in charge never did anything for us. He wouldn't give us meals if we got too loud. that was my life as a filly.
"I got out of that crap hole as soon as I could, taking to the road and never turning back. I lived on the road for days, picking up anything I could eat to stay alive. Then I saw a magician, and the love and bits he got with his show. I wanted that, for ponies to shout my name with joy and happiness when they saw me. I wanted to be able to eat like anypony else and not out of the garbage." Her eyes opened up again, but instead of anger, there was only pain. "None of you know what it feels like to live as I did, the things I had to do to get the bits for my wagon.”
"Once I got my show wagon, it finally felt like I could have something for myself. I started traveling to different cities and doing my shows. Ponies saw me as wonderful, magical, and they saw me as powerful. In time, I began to forget all about the life that I had before and what I went through to get to where I was. The past felt more like a bad dream and I was finally starting to wake up. But then ... your town destroyed me." Trixie bared her teeth in anger once again at Twilight. "I lost everything I had that day! I spent years busting my flank just so I could change my life for the better and, in less than a day, you and your precious little town knocked me all the way back to square one! No, I take that back! You all knocked me off the board!
“I’ve worked so hard for everything, always pushing myself to become better than before. I had to do that all by myself, but you didn't have to do that, did you Twilight?"
Twilight didn't respond. She couldn't respond. She didn't know how to.
"You had a princess to teach you your magic! You were chosen to be an Element of Harmony and save the land, making you famous and special! You were born with a power far beyond most ponies and you didn't even have to earn it! Even now you have a home here with friends always there for you! In the end, the only thing I ever had was my pride and even that was taken away since that amulet of yours was nothing but a fake!"
Trixies sobs were becoming so quick she could hardly even breath. "Tell me right now Twilight! I want you to look me in the eye and tell me if it was fair! Why was I the one who never had anything? Why was I given nothing while you got power and ponies who love you!?"
Twilight and her friends were speechless. None of them knew what to say to Trixie; no rebuttal, no retort, nothing. Twilight gulped and tried to step towards Trixie.
“We are sorry to hear that.”
Twilight froze when she heard the new voice. She looked over Trixie’s back and saw two figures approaching from behind. Princess Luna and Princess Celestia came towards the mares with mixed expressions. Zecora was already bowing in respect while offering the amulet up for them to take.
“Princess Celestia! Princess Luna!” Twilight gasped in surprise, bowing with her friends.
Trixie did not bother to turn around, for she knew why they were here and she didn’t care. Trixie had been so very tired for so very long. Besides the endless abhorrence that coursed through her body, there was a small part deep within her heart that only wanted to rest, an end to her struggles and hardships. Even further down, there was a miniscule piece that had been hoping that Twilight would be able to grant her the rest that she so desired, but it seemed as though she’d just have to settle for the Princesses instead.
Twilight sat still for a moment before she stood back up. “You knew something was wrong, didn’t you?”
“Yes we did, Twilight. After I returned from Saddle Arabia, Luna told me everything that had happened.” The white alicorn’s face revealed the pain she felt. “I am so sorry we couldn’t stop this horrible act, but we knew the barrier was too unstable to try and free the town. So Luna and I waited for the right moment to act, which happens to be now since the barrier has vanished. We came as soon as we could, but it seems that you have already done your part.”
The sun goddess stared down at the cracked amulet in Zecora’s hoof. Picking it up with her magic, she breathed deeply seeing the trinket that had entrapped the town in its dark power. Summoning it back to the palace, she turned to the other Elements who were still bowing with respect. “Please rise,” Celestia instructed to the mares, and they obediently did as commanded. She winced at the condition that Equestria’s six champions were in. Lashes, burns, and cuts were all present on their features. She then gazed off into the distance and took in all of the devastation that hung over Ponyville. She shook her head with a frown forming on her face. Her attention was then drawn over to Trixie, looking down on the mare as though she were the school principal punishing a schoolyard bully.
“Trixie Lulamoon,” she spoke with a tone that echoed with authority. “You have committed crimes against the ponies of Ponyville, the Elements of Harmony and, by extension, Equestria as a whole … do you deny this?”
Trixie sighed. “No I don’t.” she said, before standing up to face the princess. “If you’re going to kill me now or banish me, then make it quick. I stopped caring months ago. There’s nothing left for me here anymore …” She wiped away the tears that stained her cheeks but her expression remained neutral, something that matched the monotone in her voice. “What do I have left to lose? Its not like anypony is going to miss me once I’m gone.”
Celestia’s eyes widened at the mare before her; it was so shocking and tragic to see a pony give up on life as easily as Trixie was doing now. She had almost finished preparing herself to pass her verdict when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Luna who, to her surprise, walked forward until she stood inches away from Trixie’s battered form.
Luna stared deep into the empty unicorn’s eyes and saw the nihilism in the mare. Her eyes widened at what she saw, her vision becoming hazy from small tears forming from the sight of the young form. She shook her head, clearing her eyes as she glared down upon the mare before her.
“I shall be the one to judge you, Trixie Lulamoon!” Luna shouted out in her Canterlot-voice, creating a boom around her that made the other ponies knees buckle. “For your crimes against the town of Ponyville and for the life you have lived thus far…”
Trixie took a deep breath, her eyes were sealed shut, patiently awaiting the end.
“I am making you my personal student!”
“What!?” Twilight and all of her friends screamed in unison. They couldn’t believe the words that just came out of Luna’s mouth. Even Celestia’s eyes were wide in utter disbelief at the sudden choice her sister just made.
Perhaps the most shocked of all of them was the magician herself. Trixie’s eyes shot open, this time in confusion while looking up to Luna. She blinked before tilting her head to the princess. “Wh-what?”
Luna lowered herself until she was on eye-level with Trixie. “I want you to be my student, Trixie, for you see-”
“Now just hold yer horses!” Applejack cut Luna off,seething anger and rage chiseled into her features. “Do y’all know what kind of horrible things this here pony has done?! She made me… she made me whip Fluttershy or she woulda hurt Applebloom!”
“She kept us prisoner for over a month in that barrier of hers. I lost count of how many times I saw a pony assaulted by her!” Rarity yelled out.
“But Princess, she… she tried to kill Twilight and the rest of us!” Spike shouted.
“Yeah, a pony like that should be locked up somewhere for the rest of her life!” Rainbow Dash shout out.
Princess Luna’s serene gaze remained locked on Trixie even through all of the shouting. She took in all their anger that they had built up over this month, something she knew they needed to release. After a few moments, she took a deep breath before finally speaking again. “Then perhaps I should still be locked away on the moon.”
All of the element bearers went silent at the statement. Celestia stepped forward, her face stern as she confronted her sister. “Luna, what are you doing? This pony has committed serious crimes against an entire town. My own student and her friends were injured because of her actions.”
“How was I any different, sister?” Luna retorted, catching her sister off guard. “Back when I became Nightmare Moon, I tried to overthrow you Tia. I wanted the land to be plunged into eternal darkness out of my blind greed and selfishness. Then, after you banished me for a full millennium and I returned, I tried once again to take over, successfully imprisoning you within the sun.” Luna turned her head to look at her older sibling, who was too stunned to say anything in response.
“But this is different, princess!” Twilight yelled out. “She tried to destroy Ponyville and everypony in it! She tried several times to kill me and-”
“I tried to do the same thing to you as well, Twilight.” Luna shut her eyes as she thought back, her guilt still haunting her for what happened. “I attempted to make you fall off of a cliff. I made a manticore attack you and your friends. I even assaulted the guards back in Ponyville. I did those things and yet you still had it in your hearts to forgive me and let me have a second chance at redemption.”
Twilight opened her mouth to speak again, but she couldn’t think of anything to say in response to the princess. While she didn’t want to admit it, Luna was right; she had done horrible things in an attempt for her quest for power, yet they found themselves able to forgive her immediately.
“But Luna, that was completely different…” Celestia said, “You were given a second chance because the Elements of Harmony removed the dark power around you.”
“Or was I forgiven because I’m your sister? Did I receive special treatment because I am a blood relative, a sibling to the princess?” Luna shot a stern look to her sister, “Is it fair that a pony who has nothing should be treated differently than one with a title despite the fact they did the same thing?”
Trixie’s body dropped back down to the dirt in complete shock about everything that was happening; she was certain that the princesses would have immediately punished her without mercy for the everything that she did to Ponyville and for what she had attempted to do to Twilight. And yet here before her, one of them was not only forgiving her, but was also requesting that she become her student.
Luna turned her attention the stunned Trixie, standing up and moving towards the young mare’s side before nestling back down again. Opening one of her wings, she moved it over and laid it across the unicorns back. Trixie flinched at the sudden touch, but Luna pulled her long feathers tighter around until they encircled to her other side. The magician trembled in confusion at what the princess was doing, but as she sat there, she couldn’t help but feel… warm. The warmth itself had nothing to do with her being shielded from the chilly air, because the feeling was coming from inside of her.
Here on the dirt, the princess of the night was using her own body to comfort Trixie. After a moment, Luna pulled her closer until their sides were almost touching. Trixie then looked up into the bright sapphire eyes of the princess, filled with kindness and comfort for her. Tears began to form in Trixie’s eyes, not from pain, but of fulfillment. She realized what Luna was doing, what she was giving her. The broken pony was experiencing something for the first time in her life at this moment.
Trixie’s eyes began to moisten. Her chest suddenly felt sore as her heart burned. Trixie’s breathing began to hasten as she was losing her breath with each second. By instinct, her hooves shakily reached out to Luna’s neck and began to encircle it, the latter gladly accepting it and giving Trixie something else she hasn’t never received in her life. Something so soft she thought it only existed in her dreams and in the afterlife.
With her lips quivering, the fluids of Trixie’s eyes began to overflow. The unicorn was now overcome with unbearable guilt for every atrocity that she had committed. Such a feeling that she believed that she was no longer capable of feeling, slowly re-emerged when one pony gave her the kindness she had been denied since day one. What’s more, the pony that gave it to her was a princess.
Trixie immediately submerged her head into Luna’s neck, wailing out as her crying grew from barely audible whimpers into loud and out of control sobs. She started muttering out words in the princess’ neck, mostly a single sentence: “I am so sorry!” She felt a tender hoof on her neck, stroking her mane gently and felt a soft weight press down on her head. She opened her eyes to see Luna resting her head on top of hers.
Twilight and her friends looked at the scene with a new sense of sympathy and sadness. Before any of this, they merely thought of Trixie as a blight to the harmony they sought to protect. Yet now with wishing misfortune on a pony who had seen no harmony in her life, had made them feel rotten after seeing this display. Even with every horrible thing she had done to them, they felt it hard to have any anger at this moment.
Celestia was speechless at what she was seeing. Never before had she seen her sister commit such an act of kindness like this before. The elder princess however could see the pain running through the weeping mare, almost as if she was watching Luna cry after returning as Nightmare Moon. While she had come to punish Trixie, she found it hard to find the urge inside her heart anymore. Lifting her head up, Celestia looked to Twilight and the others, who all were staring down at the scene before them. She then took note of the town and saw the destruction that had been caused from everything. She looked back down to Luna with concern. “Luna, are you sure that you want to do this? After everything that has transpired here, are you absolutely sure that you still wish to make her your student?”
“Every pony deserves a second chance at life, Tia…” Luna quietly answered, “For them to change for the better. Work harder to overcome what they have gone through. And sometimes…” she smiled down to the crying mare at her side, “They need somepony to help guide them.”
When Trixie lifted her head from Luna’s neck and looked at the lunar deity with red-rimmed eyes. “Why? After everything I’ve done… why would you help me?”
“Because young Lulamoon, I see myself when I look at you.” Luna used her hoof to lift the crying mares chin up higher. “I know what is feels like to be alone, to have nopony there to comfort you when in pain. I can sense the fractures in your heart, but I know that any broken soul can be mended in time, something I am willing to give for you. Will you accept my offer?”
Trixie had no idea what to say to Luna. She brought a hoof up and rubbed at her tears to clear them away. Before this, anger and pain were the only things that gave her body the fuel needed to press on. All she wanted to do was to make Ponyville feel the same way that she had felt for all of her life. But now, it was all gone. All she felt was a warm feeling growing inside of her chest, and she didn’t want to let it go. Sniffling, she gazed up and nodded to the princess.
Luna smiled and stood up, helping Trixie up to. She looked over to Twilight and her friends, and then to Celestia. “Will you stay here with them?”
Nodding, Celestia made her way over to her own student. “Yes. I will help with the town and explain to them everything that has happened.”
Looking back down to the silent Trixie, Luna signaled for her to follow. “Come with me, we have much to discuss back at your new home.” She began walking, but stopped when the unicorn turned to face the Element Bearers.
Where once animosity towards the opposite was present in their eyes, only a deepening sorrow remained. Twilight and Trixie locked eyes with each other, each of their eyes moist with sadness. Trixie tried to say something, but stopped and closed her eyes. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything at the moment, no matter how much she wanted to. Turning back around, she trotted up until she stood alongside Luna. The latter used her magic to form a dome around herself and Trixie, which started to close in on them. When the dome was gone, so were they.