This wasn’t the way to make a first impression, Trixie thought.
With sweat running down her body, with her cape just sticking to her flanks like that, her hat smelling like hot summer day—no, it just wouldn’t do. To show up to a simple farming town, dragging her cart behind her as if it were full of carrots or whatever these bumpkins hitched around. As if she were like them.
Over the distant town she could see weather ponies arranging clouds, but they hadn’t saved any for the road out here. Not a cloud. Not a single cloud to put an obliging shadow across her face. Not that the Great and Powerful Trixie needed a pegasus to make a cloud. She was perfectly capable of conjuring up storm clouds. Pegasus! Ha! As if the Great and Powerful Trixie needed wings to control the weather. Was there any unicorn as powerful as she?
Of course there wasn’t that’d be stupid.
And since there wasn’t a unicorn as great and powerful as the Great and Powerful Trixie she couldn’t roll up into town like one of these yokels. Might as well stuff a hay stalk in her mouth and start saying “ya’ll.” Pathetic!
No, a pony of the caliber of the Great and Powerful Trixie needed an entrance. She needed to make an impression. She needed to unhitch herself from her cart, get inside, and travel like a true unicorn should. With magic.
It had gone almost as planned.
She had gotten in the cart, yes. Check.
She had cleaned herself off, made her cape clean and fragrant. Check.
She had given the cart a magical push. Check.
The cart had rolled down the hill. Check.
She had tried to use her magic to steer it. This is where it had gone wrong.
From inside her cart it had been hard for Trixie to see where she was going. The folding stage took up a lot of its interior, and then there was the bed, and the dresser, so it wasn’t like the thing was built to be steered from the inside.
There was the door, and that door had a window, and of course Trixie had used that to see when she gave the cart a magic push forward. Steering the cart, now, see, now this, this was hardly Trixie’s fault. It wasn’t Trixie’s fault that the earth ponies who lived here had dragged their own carts up this road so many times. It hadn’t been Trixie’s fault that her cart’s wheels got stuck in the furrows all the other wheels had carved. What pony could blame Trixie, that her magic was so powerful, that the push she had given herself down the hill had been a bit too powerful? That her cart had reached bottom of the hill and had kept on going?
If anypony was to blame, it was the carrot vendor whose stall she had crashed through. What sort of idiot sets up their stalls that close to the entrance to town? Right in the way of Trixie’s cart? What did he expect? Why was he shouting?
Well, Trixie thought, as she slammed the window shut. She would wait until he stopped throwing rocks or carrots or whatever he was hitting her cart with. She had time. This was an entrance that would get ponies talking. No attention was bad attention, Trixie always said.
The “mayor” was meeting with Trixie. He was some rickety looking earth pony, the color of dirt, with a mane that looked like it was actually dirt. He was standing just outside Trixie’s door while she spoke to him, from the comfort of her cart.
“So yer like, some kinda traveling clown?” the mayor asked for the third time.
“A magician,” Trixie said. It was getting so hard to keep her voice civil. “And not just any magician, but the most powerful unicorn to ever cast a spell! The greatest—”
“Well, I think I follow ya,” the mayor said. “’fraid we’re all busy with the harvest these days, though. Few ponies in the market might stop to watch ya, but all hooves needed in the fields as it were. Well, except the children.”
“Could they not take time off from their jobs to pay attention to the most spectacular pony to ever come to their pathetic little town? What could be more important than watching Trixie?”
The mayor smacked his lips together. It was disgusting. “Well, keeping everypony fed for one.”
Trixie tossed her head.
“Although the children, now they could use a bit of a larf. Weather teams’ been had trouble getting enough rain last spring, so it’s tight saddles for everypony. Now we adults, we’re used to it, but I reckon the little ones might need some cheering up.”
“Children?” Trixie asked. She advanced on the door, too, and stuck her head out of it, until her chest pressed against the wood, and the mayor, quite rightly, backed away in what was clearly awe. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is no mere children’s entertainer!”
“Well shucks,” the mayor said. “That so? Thought just maybe the children wouldn’t mind seein’ somepony important. Be a shame if they grew up here never knowin’ what somepony great looked like.”
“Oh! Well! Why didn’t you say so? Very well. Trixie will perform for the… children. She will give them a look at a truly magnificent mare! The Great and Powerful Trixie shall inspire them beyond their fields and, and, whatever it is you farm ponies have.”
For a moment it looked like the mayor rolled his eyes, but it must have been the light, because nopony would treat Trixie like that. “Yeah, that’s it. Maybe one of em will grow up to be as great as you someday.”
“Hah! It is unlikely any pony could compare to the Great and Powerful Trixie!”
“Yeah, ain’t that the truth. Takes a real special pony to compare to you, bless your heart.”
A crowd had gathered. Trixie could hear them through the big hole in the side of her cart. This was the only reason she had never had it repaired. It let her gauge the audience inside without showing her hoof. There was a crowd. It was time to get it excited.
Her sound amplification magic made it so Trixie could just talk and every pony in town was sure to hear every word she said. “Tricks that will astound you, tricks that will confound you, magic all around you, the Great and Powerful Trixie!” Right now Trixie was just laying on her bed, on her back, rolling a magic 8-ball around between her hooves. “Has there ever been any pony more powerful than the Great and Powerful Trixie? Never! And in mere moments you will understand why!”
The magic 8-ball slipped out of Trixie’s hooves, bounced on the bed once, and rolled off onto the floor. “Oh shoot,” Trixie said, and she didn’t even bother to turn off the magical amplification. “It’s no matter. For now, you will all witness the Great—” Trixie snagged her hat—“and Powerful—” there was the cloak, gotta get that on—“Trixie!”
Trixie hopped off her bed and kicked a lever. The cart groaned and her bed unfolded, stretching her blankets out into a grand curtain. From behind the bedsheets/curtain Trixie could hear the wall fold out into a stage. This! This was her cue. Her moment.
Trixie couldn’t teleport, but that was a power beyond the range of even great unicorns, so she just used firework magic and ducked out onto the stage before the smoke cleared. This was the moment! The moment this pathetic little town finally had something worth talking about!
Trixie reared back and threw out her arms to the crowd of cheering children.
It didn’t matter. Children would be so much easier to impress, that her act, which knocked full grown ponies off their hooves, would very likely murder the entire crowd! No, not murder. Maybe not murder children.
“Uh, so, prepare yourselves, then, ponies of…” what was this town called? Hooftown? Maneburg? Earth ponies always named towns after bodyparts. “… ponies! The one who stands before you is the most powerful of ponies, the greatest of unicorns!”
The fireworks spun and flashed over Trixie’s head and some of the children gave half-hearted cheers. Well! Well, Trixie would show them.
Trixie went into her act. First she retold the story of how she had defeated the Ursa Major—the foals cheered a little at this—and then, then it was time for displays of her power. First, the rope snake! While to some unicorns it might look like simple unicorn telekinesis, to make the rope slither and rise as fluidly as she did took real skill! She made it rise from its basket and slither down to the ground, snaking its way towards—
“I can do that!” one of the children shouted.
Trixie paused, the rope frozen in place. Did a foal just heckle her?
“Yeah, any unicorn can move things,” another foal said. The voice sounded really fat to Trixie. Probably a porker.
Another aura grabbed Trixie’s rope—this one a pearl-white—and tugged it off the stage. Trixie could really basically only let her mouth hang open as a unicorn child in the crowd made the rope snake around on the ground with his magic. “Look!” he was shouting. “I’m the most powerful unicorn now!”
All the children laughed.
If that was how this was going to be.
Trixie stomped to the edge of the stage (it wobbled and she reminded herself that she really did okay really did after all have to get some repairs done). She tossed her hat aside, and, amplifying her voice, shouted, “You think you are a match for the Great and Powerful Trixie? Watch in awe, simple child!”
Trixie snatched control of the rope back from the child again. She made it rear up, like a cobra, and then snap forward, also like a cobra. Then, getting into more of a python mood, Trixie wrapped the child’s legs up with the rope. Now there wasn’t really any pretense of snake going on, so Trixie just hauled him up onto the stage, plopped him on his back, stared down at the crowd, and said, “What do you think now, foolish foals?”
Some of the children started crying. Why did children always cry?
“Oh yeah?” a little pink pegasus shouted. “I can do something you can’t!” Her little wings fluttered like a bugs’ but she got up into the air, a good hundred feet, and nabbed a tuft of cloud from the weather ponies. She bustled back to the ground, working her hooves on it, and by the time she landed it was fashioned like a little cloud-statue of Celestia.
All the children ooed and aahed at something that the Great and Powerful Trixie had absolutely nothing to do with whatsoever. This, now, this was not even just insulting, this was outright rude! A challenge!
“Well,” Trixie shouted, and she amplified her voice, too, and the windows of distant buildings shook, and some of the adult ponies in the shops and stores poked their heads out, “you are not the only pony who can control the weather!”
And Trixie cast her bad weather spell, and the little cloud sculpture of Princess Celestia turned into a storm-cloud sculpture of Nightmare Moon, and rose up over the foals’ heads, and for good measure Trixie had it blast a lightning bolt at the filly who had dared to upstage her. She squealed and her hair stood up, burnt and smoking. Children screamed.
“Who else?” Trixie shouted, letting her magic amplification pound at the distant houses, make the ground shake. “Who else thinks they are the equal of the Great and Powerful Trixie, most amazing and wonderful pony to ever grace your pathetic town with her glorious presence?”
None of the children said anything. Most looked away. Some on the fringe ran. Several started crying. Trixie stomped back and forth across the stage, stopping to point. “You? How about you? You, with the earthworm cutiemark, do you think you can prove yourself greater than the Great and Powerful Trixie?”
The crowd was quiet. Good. Trixie only came here to entertain, and asked only their boundless adoration and respect and love. Ungrateful children.
“Hey!” An earth pony voice, amplified only by the magic of being really angry, rolled over the crowd. At the back a massive earth pony was pushing his way past the children. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Trixie was demonstrating her power—”
“Are you insane?” the earth pony shouted. Trixie could feel his hoofsteps, all the way up on her rickety stage. “A clown show rolls into town and starts attacking—”
“Clown? Trixie is no mere clown!”
“I think you—”
“You think nothing!” And now Trixie reached back with her magic behind the curtain, grabbed her makeup, and brought it out into the open air. Before the earth pony with his not horn could react she slathered him in white paste and red goop. Clown! “Who looks like the clown now?” Trixie asked. She lifted her head and smiled.
The sign said Hockville. Of course it had been named after a body part.
Trixie dragged her cart up the road, away from the jeering crowd. Tomato juice ran down her face, over the bruises of harder fruit that hadn’t burst when it had been thrown at her. Her cape and hat were stained and had been trampled. That watermelon had smacked her in the leg really bad and she was limping. The weight of her cart was almost too much to drag along.
“And stay out!” one of the voices shouted after her.
It wasn’t Trixie’s fault, she told herself. Of course ungrateful farmfoals of some provincial hamlet wouldn’t understand what an honor it had been to have the Great and Powerful Trixie herself in their midst.
The next town, Trixie told herself, the next town would appreciate her. All the other towns had. They had all cheered her name. Nopony had challenged her skill. She had entertained, and inspired, and was adored. Just a fluke. Just the children. It was only because children were all awful and unsupervised. The next town.
“Ponyville, one-hundred miles,” Trixie read off the road-sign. “Well, Trixie supposes that isn’t the name of an actual body part. Trixie is sure the ponies there will be more appreciative of her astounding talent.”