When Chrysalis first laid eyes on the royal larva with purple eyes, she was delighted to at last have an heir to ascend the throne when she was gone. She planned to train her daughter into becoming a great and powerful ruler that would lead the changelings into battle for Equestria. So she named her Bellatrix, meaning "female warrior."
She wanted her daughter to adore royal life and hence, spoiled her rotten. She even had a large room made for her and assigned several changelings to be her personal guards and valets. Whatever Bellatrix requested, it was hers. Chrysalis even allowed her to have a doll and to decorate her room how she wanted. She told Bellatrix how she deserved only the best, for she was special, not just because she was a royal, but for her unusual yet gorgeous purple eyes and green hair (though that wasn't entirely unusual because Chrysalis' mother had had green hair).
Naturally, all those praises and spoils went to Bellatrix's head. Even as a child, whenever she flew about the hive, she would hold her head up proudly and give her hair a show-offish flip. This brought disdain to the other changelings, but they knew they shouldn't complain about the heir to the throne. So instead, they gave her more praises, which only confirmed Bellatrix's belief that she was better than the rest of them.
Things would've stayed that way if she hadn't discovered how much of that was untrue.
At five years old, Bellatrix was ready to begin formal training with her mother. So far the only magic she knew was levitating objects when she needed them, though she preferred watching her valets do it for her. She and her mother went outside for their first lesson.
"Now, Bellatrix," Chrysalis said as she paced in front of her daughter, "as you know, we changelings are capable of turning into any creature, with some limits, of course."
"Like what?" Bellatrix snorted. "I thought you said I could do anything."
"Well, for instance, we can't change into anything larger than three thousand pounds in weight, like a giraffe or a blue whale. Besides, it would leave a mess, anyway. The easiest thing we can turn into, because we have an equine physique, is a pony."
Chrysalis levitated a picture of three ponies: one with a horn, one with wings and one with neither.
"Here you see three types of ponies: a unicorn, a pegasus and an earth pony. The fourth type, an alicorn, which has a horn and wings, is very rare, and we must only take that form if one alicorn is out of commission. Not very good for simple camouflage, though."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Bellatrix said, waving her hoof, "so when can I start doing the changing stuff?"
Chrysalis shook her head. "Bellatrix, darling, I do admire your ambition so, but you must be patient."
The young princess rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, whatever."
The queen sighed. "Alright. We'll start with an alicorn, since that is the easiest. You'll just be turning into young creatures for now, but as you get older, you'll learn to take adult forms and even change your sex."
"Meaning you'll learn how to change into a male."
The queen shrugged. "Sometimes it's necessary. You never know what your victim might prefer."
Chrysalis then instructed her daughter on the transformation process. Bellatrix attempted to try it out for herself by closing her eyes and focusing on the form she wanted to take.
"Make sure you have a clear image of what you want," her mother reminded her. "Fur color, mane color, eye color, mane style, everything."
"Okay, I got it," Bellatrix said with a nod.
"Good. Now, imagine yourself taking that form."
Bellatrix tightened her eyes and scrunched her nose as she concentrated. After about a minute, green flames surrounded her. She opened her eyes and looked down at her green hooves.
"Hey!" she squealed. "I did it!"
But when she looked up, she saw her mother with her hoof to her face.
Chrysalis summoned a mirror. Bellatrix had succeeded in changing her body, but her mane, wings, horn, tail and eyes had not changed.
"But I was concentrating really heard!" she insisted.
Chrysalis took a deep breath. "No matter. It was your first time. We'll try again. And this time, make sure you're focusing on your whole body and not just one part."
They spent the rest of the day trying to get the alicorn disguise right, but no matter how many times Bellatrix tried, there would always be something off. After the third time, she had managed to change her mane and tail, but her wings, horn and eyes still gave her away. Sometimes she'd get the horn right but not the wings, or get the eyes but not the tail. Over and over and over, all day long and she still couldn't get the full disguise.
By sunset, Bellatrix was panting after her thousandth try, her horn being the incriminating body part this time.
"Maybe I can wear a hat?" she asked with a nervous smile.
Chrysalis just scowled and shook her head.
"I'll keep trying, Mother!" the princess insisted. "I'll do better tomorrow!"
But it took a month for Bellatrix to get the disguise right, no matter how late she stayed up practicing. When she finally did it, she had hoped her mother would shout for joy, but she only rolled her eyes, saying that it was about time.
Her training over the next few years became more rigorous. Chrysalis pushed her daughter, hoping that her perseverance would make up for her lack of talent. However, it took even longer for Bellatrix to hide her wings for her unicorn disguise and even longer for her to hide her horn. As her twelfth birthday approached, she could not yet perfect the earth pony transformation. Nevertheless, Bellatrix was determined to please her mother and stayed up until midnight practicing her transformations and even trying to strengthen her levitation skills. Her mother had said that was her strong point, which she added wasn't saying much. Teleportation proved to be even more difficult for Bellatrix. The farthest she could travel was a centimeter, so no one could tell she had even done anything.
Despite how little she had accomplished, it was still tradition for the princess to go on her first hunt the day she turned twelve.
"Start small on your first target," her mother had said. "Perhaps a foal of some sort, or a large crowd where love is always in the air for the taking. Remember to show no mercy, but also be careful."
Bellatrix came across a small town called Hoofington and disguised herself as a unicorn filly, since she found that easier than a pegasus and an alicorn would've raised too much attention. As she walked through the streets, she gazed in awe at her surroundings. She was surprised to see the ponies living in separate houses and to see the children playing strange games involving ropes and tiny metal balls. She considered going over to them to feed, but paused when she saw a group of ponies gathering around a peculiar wagon opened up to look like a stage.
"Mares and gentlecolts," a male voice echoed, "colts and fillies, griffons and minotaurs and all those in between!"
Bellatrix figured a show was going on and, remembering what her mother said about crowds being good feeding grounds, walked up to the stage. She pushed to the head of the crowd to get a good view.
"Brace yourselves," the voice continued, "for what you are about to see will shock and amaze you! Feast your eyes on the wonderful, amazing magic of Ozcar the Great!"
In a puff of smoke, a green cloaked figure appeared onstage. All Bellatrix could see of the pony was his blue eyes underneath his green top hat. Then his cape swished open and doves flew out. Bellatrix's eyes widened in wonder at the light brown stallion with the brown beard.
The crowd cheered and the stallion, Ozcar the Great, tipped his hat and bowed, revealing his horn and wavy brown mane.
"Thank you, thank you!" he exclaimed, putting his hat back on. "Now, for my first trick…"
Bellatrix watched in amazement as the unicorn stallion made rabbits and birds appear and disappear, turned water into oil, and made sparkling lights called fireworks spring up behind him. She didn't even pay attention to the crowd's adoration for the magician that was pouring into her.
"And now," Ozcar the Great announced, "I should like a volunteer from the audience."
Many ponies raised their hooves, the foals jumping up and down. Bellatrix, suddenly feeling a little shy, tried to shrink back into the crowd. Ozcar noticed her, however, and pointed to her.
"How about you, little lady?"
Bellatrix straightened up, glanced around and pointed to herself. "Me?"
"Yes, you. Come up and join me!"
She grinned in excitement and raced up the steps.
"Now what's your name, little filly?"
She paused. Should she say her real name?
"Bellatrix?" Ozcar said, tapping his chin. "Unusual name, but I think it suits you."
She blinked. "Really?"
"Of course. A pretty little filly like you deserves a pretty name."
She couldn't help but blush.
"But wait!" Ozcar gasped.
"I think something's wrong with your ear!"
"What?!" she exclaimed, putting her hooves to her ears.
"Let me see," he said, looking closely at her left ear. "Ah, there's the problem! There's something stuck there!"
"What? What is it?"
"Why, it's a…"
He reached behind her ear and Bellatrix gasped at the black and white stick he pulled out.
"A magic wand!"
"I didn't even see your horn glow! How'd you do that?"
He winked. "A magician never reveals his secrets. Here, hold this for a second."
Bellatrix couldn't help but squeal as she took the wand in her hoof. A large tank of water then appeared onstage.
"Now, mares and gentlecolts!" Ozcar announced. "I am going to chain myself with these," he summoned a pile of chains, "and climb into the tank and try to escape before I run out of breath!"
The crowd and Bellatrix gasped in alarm. Ozcar pulled her close.
"Now, Bellatrix, this is very important. When the curtain falls on the tank, I want you to count to ten and then tap this wand on the tank three times and then say the word, 'Abracadabra.' Then I want you to lift the curtain off the tank. Got it?"
She nodded. "I think so."
Then he began strapping the chains to himself and climbed into the tank.
"Wish me luck, folks!"
He took a deep breath and submerged as a red curtain suddenly covered the tank. Bellatrix nervously counted to ten, tapped the wand three times and said the magic word. Then her horn glowed as she tugged the curtain off the tank. Every pony gasped to see that only the chains remained. Then Ozcar poofed onstage and the crowd erupted in applause. Bellatrix clapped her hooves together excitedly.
"That was incredible!" she exclaimed. "I've never seen such amazing magic as this!"
Ozcar chuckled. "Well, Bellatrix, any pony can do these things with the right amount of practice, and I couldn't have gotten out of there if it hadn't been for you." He lightly touched her chest. "You've got the magician's gift."
Her eyes flashed slightly at the thought. "You really think so?"
"I have a good feeling about it."
Bellatrix looked down at the wand and handed it to him. He held up his hoof.
"Keep it, kid. A little something to get you started. In fact…"
He took off his hat and turned it inside out, transforming it into a pointed purple hat decorated in yellow and blue stars. Bellatrix bounced excitedly as the hat floated onto her head. Unfortunately, it was so big that it fell over her eyes.
"You'll grow into it," Ozcar said, lifting the brim of her new hat. Then he turned back to the audience. "Let's give a big hoof for Miss Bellatrix here!"
The ponies cheered and Bellatrix could literally feel their love transferring to her, but that wasn't what was making her heart pump. The applause, the praise, the cheers, they made her feel so important, so loved, so…powerful.
As she bowed, her hat fell off and she noticed a piece of paper inside. It was an autographed poster of Ozcar the Great. She smiled up at the magician, who winked at her.
When Bellatrix returned home that evening, Chrysalis was not only surprised to see a magician's hat on her daughter, but a giddy grin.
"Mother, it was amazing!" the princess exclaimed. "There was this magician, and he made all these things appear and disappear, and he made these things called fireworks, and he called me up onstage so I could help him escape this tank of water, and then he gave me this cool hat and wand and…"
"What about your hunt?" the queen interrupted. "Did you drain any ponies of their love?"
Bellatrix blinked. "Oh, right. The hunt. Well, I certainly got a lot of love when the ponies started cheering for me and shouting my name! Oh, Mother! It felt so wonderful to be adored in such a way!"
"But did you get enough to feed?"
"Oh, um…I think so."
Chrysalis' horn glowed as she looked her daughter over. "Well, seems you've had a decent fill, anyway. Not entirely terrible for your first hunt. Next time, however, try something a little less…artificial."
Bellatrix frowned for a second but then brightened up. "Mother, do you think I could do magic stuff like Ozcar the Great?"
Her mother raised an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Ozcar the Great!" the princess repeated, showing the poster. "The magician I was telling you about!"
Chrysalis shook her head. "Darling, that's not real magic. Magicians can't do any real magic, so they use illusion."
"But don't we use illusion all the time?"
"That's different. Our transformations are real. He cannot truly change things, only make it seem that way."
"But when he pulled that wand out of my ear…"
"A simple slight of hoof. Any pony can do that."
"So that means I can too?"
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. "Bellatrix, if you are going to rule the changelings one day, you must avoid any…silly distractions."
Bellatrix frowned as her mother lifted her hat from her. "What are you doing?"
"A Princess of the Changelings cannot go flying around with a ridiculous…"
"Please, let me keep this stuff, Mother? I'll only wear it when I'm alone!"
The princess stomped her hoof. "It's not fair! You've always gotten me what I wanted before!"
The queen groaned. "Fine. Just don't wear that thing in public."
Bellatrix grinned as the hat returned to her. "Thank you."
"But no more of this silly magician stuff! You are only to practice serious magic! Understood?"
The princess grumbled. "Yes, Mother."
But Bellatrix didn't stay true to her word. Whenever she would go out hunting, she would take her chance to see Ozcar the Great or any other magician she would happen to stumble upon. She even swiped a magic kit from a toy store and would practice card tricks and making objects appear when she was alone. She even found a way to fake teleportation, though the puffs of smoke she made confused her mother.
While she got better at these little tricks, her transformations still progressed slowly. She eventually got the hang of the earth pony disguise, but when it came to other species, the best she could do was a donkey or a cow, and those weren't nearly as impressive. Sometimes she'd turn into a white donkey with brown spots, or a cow with long ears.
Yet Bellatrix wasn't giving up on improving her magic. She got her hooves on magic books from libraries and studied complicated spells. Chrysalis didn't object to this, thinking her technique might improve. However, the only magic she seemed to excel in was what her mother called the artificial kind. The queen eventually took notice of this when Bellatrix's puff of smoke diminished before she could duck out of sight. The guards then reported finding a magician's kit in her room.
When Bellatrix was eighteen, her studies had not gone as well as Chrysalis had hoped. She decided it was time to give her daughter a real challenge, so she called her forth. Bellatrix suspected something was wrong when she approached her mother's throne and the entire colony was hovering around her. Nevertheless, she tried to put on a bold face and stood erect before her mother.
"My dear daughter," Chrysalis said, shaking her head. "It has come to my attention that you are rather…behind on your studies."
"I've tried, Mother!" the princess insisted. "I practice every night!"
"Yes, I know." A pack of cards appeared between them. "I know how much you 'practice.'"
"Mother, that's just a hobby and it's actually helped…"
"You're wasting your time with this magician nonsense! You really think card tricks and plastic wands are going to get you power?"
"Oh, Bellatrix, Bellatrix, Bellatrix," the queen said, shaking her head again. "You must understand. A ruler must be great. A ruler must be powerful."
She hovered over to her daughter and lifted her chin. "Unfortunately, my dear, you are none of those things."
The princess' eyes were watering. "But…I've tried! I'll try harder! I'll do better!"
"Ah, so emotional, so passionate. I actually thought you having a heart wouldn't get in the way of things, for it always seemed set on power. I would've taken it out years ago, but it seems to be the only thing that has kept you going this long."
"I only live to please you! You know that!"
"Yes, I know."
Chrysalis turned around and hovered back to her throne. "I only have one option left for you, Bellatrix. Perhaps it would be better if you were to live on your own for a while."
The princess blinked. "What do you mean?"
The queen sat on her throne and addressed the assembly. "I, Queen Insectra Arachne Chrysalis Changeling III, hereby decree that Princess Bellatrix Insectra Arachne Changeling shall henceforth be exiled from the changeling hive for five years!"
"WHAT?!" Bellatrix snapped, buzzing up to her mother. "You can't banish me!"
Chrysalis smirked. "My dear, I just did."
"Where will I go?! What will I do?! I'm your daughter!"
"If you can learn to fend for yourself out there, then you've proven yourself a true ruler and changeling."
"But you told me what happens to changelings who leave the hive! They don't survive long!"
"Ah, but you're a royal and have a longer life expectancy. Besides, if you're truly clever enough to be Queen, you'll figure it out. Don't think of this as banishment, dear. Think of it as an extended vacation, or a lesson that needs to be learned. I'm giving you an opportunity, not a punishment. If you wish, I can have the guards escort you safely to the nearest town."
Bellatrix huffed. "I will let myself out, thank you!"
She turned around and hovered toward the exit. She turned back to her mother and narrowed her eyes.
"I'll show you! I'll show you all!"
Chrysalis only rolled her eyes as her daughter vanished. "I certainly hope so."
Bellatrix kept her head down as she walked further and further away from the hive and deeper into the forest. She paused for a moment to look back and then closed her eyes as she tried to hold back her tears.
Then she growled in anger.
"After everything I've done to please her, she throws me out like some useless house pet?!"
She trudged on, not caring where she was going as she continued grumbling to herself.
"Eighteen years of enduring her criticisms, practicing day and night, working to become the queen I was born to be, and this is the thanks I get?!"
She started mimicking Chrysalis. "'A ruler must be great! A ruler must be powerful!'"
Bellatrix stopped to look at her reflection in a puddle. "I'll show her great and powerful!"
As she examined her appearance, she realized that if she was going to be living in the outside world, she would need a new identity. She ran her hoof through her green mane as she thought of what she could do with herself.
"Hmm," she uttered. "I've always liked the color blue, but that doesn't look good with green. Hmm, I could keep the eyes though. That way no pony would question those stupid flashes. I could be an alicorn! Nah, I'd look suspicious. If I become a unicorn, I could still do magic. Now what about my cutie mark? Can't go around with a blank flank. Hmm, what talent could I at least fake?"
Her horn fizzed for a second and she grinned. "Perfect!"
Bellatrix looked back in the water as she changed into her chosen disguise. Her sleek, black body sprouted blue fur, a picture of a wand and a sparkling handkerchief growing on her flank. Her cobweb green hair softened, turning platinum with light blue highlights and gently curling upwards. Her wings and shell vanished and her horn became better formed. The slits in her eyes shaped into round, black pupils.
Once she saw her new reflection, she smiled.
"Ooh, not bad!" she exclaimed, looking at herself from all angles. "Not bad at all!" She ran her hoof through her silky new mane. "Definitely won't need conditioner." She turned so her flank was visible in the puddle. "Ooh, la, la! The stallions won't be able to resist me!"
She caught sight of her new cutie mark. "Well, I've always admired the great magicians, and every pony will admire me once I join them!"
She tapped her chin as a new idea occurred to her. "Of course, every magician needs to look the part!"
She remembered the hat she had left at the hive and used her magic to teleport it to her. She put it on and gazed at her reflection again.
"Perfect!" she chuckled darkly. "Simply perfect! Though I should probably get a cape somewhere."
She lifted her head and glared at the faraway image of the hive.
"Just you wait, Mother," she growled. "I will be great! I will be powerful! I will be the greatest, most powerful changeling…no! The greatest, most powerful equine that has ever lived! All shall bow down to Queen Bellatrix, the Great and Powerful!"
As she said this, she dramatically threw her front hooves into the air and, as a magical reaction, fireworks exploded behind her. But the fireworks suddenly fizzed and extinguished when the changeling's face scrunched in disgust.
"Blech! That doesn't really fit, does it?"
She returned to her hooves and tapped her chin. "Okay, okay. The Great and Powerful Bellatrix? Nah, too many syllables. This body doesn't even look like a 'Bellatrix.' Something short, something snappy… Bella? No, sounds like a dumb vampire, though that would be appropriate, considering. Belle? Nah, too girly. Trix? That sounds like some cheap cereal! Trixie?"
She paused. "Trixie…"
Her lips curled into an evil grin. "The Great and Powerful Trixie! Huh. Has a nice ring to it."
She turned back to the hive one last time. Her mother was right about one thing. This banishment wasn't a punishment. It was an opportunity. An opportunity to prove to that she was a true changeling.
"You'll be sorry, Mother. You'll be sorry you ever kicked your daughter out!"
She looked at the path ahead of her.
"Princess Bellatrix is gone. Long live the Great and Powerful Trixie!"
On the road to the nearest town, Trixie had the fortune of meeting a zebra selling her wagon. Trixie kept some bits in her hat for such emergencies. On the downside, she had to pull the wagon herself.
She reached Hoofington where she put on her first show, using the tricks she had been developing over the years. She was a success and earned plenty of bits. The first thing she bought was a purple cape. She used her magic to make the pattern match that of her hat.
As time went on, Trixie traveled from town to town, showing off her magic. Sometimes she had to make up stories of her accomplishments to grab ponies' attention. When there wasn't much of an audience, Trixie would hang out with a few groupies. Their adoration was like chili peppers.
If she had kept it up, she would've gained enough power to impress her mother, had it not been for her run-in with Twilight Sparkle. As if humiliating her wasn't enough, Trixie found more reasons to get her revenge on Celestia's prized pupil. Months later, she heard there had been a changeling attack on Canterlot, which enraged Trixie. Her mother had already started her takeover plans without her! True, she failed, but the idea was still insulting!
The straw that broke the camel's back was a news story on Twilight Sparkle's latest victory over Queen Chrysalis. According to the article, Chrysalis had attempted to turn Twilight as dark as her in order to make the unicorn her pupil. Trixie had not only crushed the paper but zapped it to a crisp.
"Even my own mother thinks Twilight is better than me! Well, I'll show her!"
This was the reason Bellatrix never took a new form to start over. The next time she met Twilight Sparkle, she wanted her to be aware of who she was dealing with. Of course, she couldn't improve her magic overnight. She heard rumors of a powerful necklace called the Alicorn Amulet and spent months searching for it, until she found it in an old antique shop.
Unfortunately, that plan didn't quite work. Yet again, Twilight had outsmarted her. Not long after her defeat, Trixie took time to reflect on her actions. That amulet had made her do things she had never dreamed of doing. She had spent years draining others of their love, but never really hurt any pony.
She hadn't liked it. She hadn't liked it one bit. She was a performer, not a dictator. She wasn't…her mother.
That was why she felt compelled to apologize to Twilight Sparkle. Bellatrix hadn't quite forgiven her yet, which was why she did it as Trixie.
She set out to start anew, to figure things out. That's when she stumbled into Dimondia where the Diamond Dogs, thinking she had the power to summon gems, made her Queen. It was glorious at first and she couldn't wait to inform her mother about her sudden rise to power…until Trixie realized how difficult it was being Queen. The Diamond Dogs wouldn't let her leave and kept expecting her to produce more gems, which she could not do! She was lucky that Rainbow Dash had agreed to get her out of that jam. Something about having some pony at her side made Trixie feel wonderful, and she started pondering on that "friendship" thing Twilight was always talking about. So once she was free from Dimondia, Trixie decided to focus on her magic and helping others, hoping to find the path rewarding.
Five years went by quicker than Trixie had anticipated. When she crossed out the big red circle on her calendar, she felt…disappointed. Five years ago, she would've been thrilled that her exile was finally over. But now…her heart wasn't in it. In her exile, she'd become a huge success as a magician and was now a household name. She'd also been helping with the police, the homeless, and orphans. Some of those deeds had been for publicity, but she later found the activities rather enjoyable. There was something fulfilling about bringing joy into ponies' lives. The idea of sucking them all dry made her feel…sick.
And yet that's what her mother wanted her to do. Once she was Queen, Bellatrix was expected to take over Equestria, if her mother never succeeded in doing so herself. Bellatrix didn't want to do that. Sure, ponies were her main source of food, but she never took more love than she needed. Besides, after the incident in Dimondia, it was clear Bellatrix wasn't cut out to be a ruler.
So she knew what she needed to do.
Chrysalis smiled when she saw her daughter buzz into the hive.
"Ah, my sweet Bellatrix!" she exclaimed, putting her hoof around her. "You've returned, at last! My, how you've grown!"
Bellatrix frowned as she wriggled out of the queen's grasp. "Mother, we need to talk…"
"Of course, my dear. Now that you're back, it's time we take your training to the next…"
"There's no more need for training, Mother."
Chrysalis blinked but then smirked. "I see. You think you're fully prepared for the throne. Well, my dear, we still need to test your…"
"What Bellatrix means, Mother, is that Bellatrix will not be training here anymore."
The queen arched an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
The princess placed her hooves firmly on the floor and stood up straight. "Bellatrix wishes to abdicate her position as Princess of the Changelings."
Chrysalis jumped back. "You're not serious, are you?"
"No, Mother. Bellatrix is quite serious."
"Why are you referring to yourself in the third-person? What has the outside world done to you?"
"Helped Bellatrix see clearly, Mother. Before, Bellatrix thought all that mattered in the world was power, but now she sees that there are more important things. Like friendship, love, thinking of others rather than yourself…"
"Who taught you such vulgar language?! What happened to my daughter?! The changeling who would've done anything to get what she wanted?!"
"That Bellatrix doesn't exist anymore. She has changed. Bellatrix is very sorry, Mother, but she can no longer live in this hive after all she has seen."
Chrysalis clenched her jaw and looked about ready to explode. Then she took a deep breath and looked calmly down at her daughter.
"Very well, my dear. Do what you like. Doesn't matter to me. In fact, I already have a replacement. I've just given birth to a prince."
Bellatrix nodded. "You would do that, wouldn't you? As soon as you find a more powerful candidate, you cast your own daughter aside! Bellatrix knows about your offer with Twilight Sparkle, Mother! She knows you wanted her to replace Bellatrix!"
She turned her back to her. "And you wonder why Bellatrix prefers the world out there to here."
And with that, she departed the hive without looking back.
Many years passed, and Trixie found that the size of her audience was declining. She knew this happened to all performers eventually, but didn't know what she'd do if she couldn't perform. She couldn't go back to the hive. That life wasn't for her and she wasn't wanted anyway. What she needed was new material, or to at least shake things up a bit.
While she was walking through Trottingham, pondering on this, she passed by a theatre with a large crowd in front. She caught sight of a poster with a blue minotaur on it that read: "The Incredible Iron Will." She had heard of this minotaur and that he'd been giving motivational speeches for decades and his popularity had yet to fall. Trixie figured it wouldn't hurt asking him for a few pointers and followed the crowd in.
She pushed for the front row, glaring her horn at any pony who tried to push her back. When the lights dimmed and music sounded throughout the auditorium, the adrenaline inside her started pumping. She had forgotten the excitement of sitting in the audience. Fog covered the stage and a spotlight came up. When she saw the brawny figure rise through the smoke, her eyes widened. When the lights came up and laser beams highlighted the minotaur's ripped body, Trixie's heart pounded wildly against her chest.
"Greetings, friends!" he announced. "My name is Iron Will! And today is the first day of your new life! I want you to stomp if…"
Trixie stomped hard before he could finish his sentence. The minotaur glanced down at her briefly and then continued. She didn't even process half of what he was saying. She was too engrossed in his stage presence. His deep voice, his flare, his muscles, the way he spoke in the third-person like she always did…she was hooked with no chance of ever getting back in the ocean.
After the show, she just had to go meet him backstage. However, she was stopped by two security goats before she could knock on his dressing room door.
"Um, excuse me?" she said. "Trixie doesn't have an appointment, but she just has to speak with Mr. Will."
She tried to step around them, but they blocked her path again and brayed.
"Oh, Trixie's not thinking anything naughty!" she insisted, though this was slightly less true. "She just wants to speak with him, showpony to show…uh, minotaur."
The goats brayed again and shook their heads. Trixie scowled and started up her horn.
"Get out of the way, NOW!"
A small dark cloud grew above them and zapped them both with lightning. They shrieked and scattered.
"Thank you," Trixie said, smiling in satisfaction.
She raised her hoof to knock, but the door opened for her. She looked up at the minotaur, who was nodding at her in approval.
"Iron Will saw the whole thing through the keyhole. It was all part of the test. No pony gets to see Iron Will without proving themselves. Come on in, Miss…"
"Trixie," she said as she stepped inside. "The Great and Powerful Trixie, to be exact."
"Uh-huh," he said, noticing her cape. "Magician?"
"Cute and smart," she giggled. "Trixie must say, Mr. Will, that was quite a performance."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why you referring to yourself in the third-person?"
She snorted. "You're the one to talk."
That got a chuckle out of him. "So what brings you to Iron Will's assertiveness training seminar? Were you one-hundred percent satisfied?"
Her eyes wandered to his broad chest. "Oh, Trixie's satisfied, alright, though she didn't come here for any assertiveness training. She's quite capable of speaking for herself."
"Clearly," Iron Will said, looking out at the goats shivering by the door.
"Trixie actually came to get a few pointers from a fellow performer. See, her audience has been…lacking, lately."
"Really?" he said, rubbing his chin in interest. "Well, perhaps the Great and Powerful Trixie and the Incredible Iron Will could discuss this…over lunch?"
Her eyes flashed. "Really? I mean…you sure your…?" She paused to quickly check for his loved ones and frowned when she saw a female minotaur. "Girlfriend or…wife won't mind?"
The minotaur's face fell. "Iron Will has been single since…the Mrs. passed on."
Trixie's heart sank. "Oh, I…I'm sorry, I…"
He held up his hand. "It's okay. Iron Will's had time to get used to it." He smiled slightly. "You still up for lunch?"
Trixie nodded ecstatically.
Lunch was only the beginning. It was followed by four weeks of ecstasy. After they had both done their shows for the day, they would meet for dinner. They exchanged performing techniques, shared their likes and dislikes, and talked about their feelings…something Trixie had never been able to do with anyone. One day, he took her to a carnival where he won her a stuffed pig at a Test-Your-Strength game. She returned the favor by winning him a gorilla at a dart booth.
Before they got off the Ferris wheel, he whispered in her ear, asking that they head back to his place.
When she awoke in his bed the next morning, Trixie had never felt so wonderful. She was alone, as he had gotten up to make them breakfast, which gave her time to ponder over last night's events.
All these years since she left the hive, she'd been searching for something to fill the emptiness in her heart. She'd done more than given herself to someone she'd grown to care about. She'd found closure with someone. True, he wasn't exactly what she'd expected from a significant other, but changelings were never really picky with species.
However, something unpleasant was nagging at her brain. Iron Will had said last night that he was falling in love with her. But he wasn't in love with Bellatrix. He was in love with Trixie. Yes, she was as much Trixie as she was Bellatrix, but there was a whole side of her he didn't know. She felt guilty hiding a big part of her life from him; especially after all he had shared with her.
She cautiously opened the kitchen door and found him whistling joyfully as he flipped pancakes on the stove. She couldn't help but smile and imagine what it would be like to wake up every morning to this display. He turned his head and grinned at her.
"Morning," he said.
"Morning," Trixie replied, taking a seat at the table.
"Sleep well?" he asked with a wink.
She nodded and said in a sultry voice, "Oh, yes. One-hundred percent satisfaction guarantee."
He chuckled as he set a plate of pancakes in front of her.
"Iron Will also made some hay smoothies," he said as he poured her a glass from the blender. "He remembers how much you like them."
"They taste like love," she whispered.
She levitated the glass to her lips, but then paused and set it back down.
"What's the matter?" Iron Will asked. "Too sweet?"
"Willie?" she said, looking up at him with worried eyes. "Last night's not going to be…the only time, is it?"
He grinned as he propped his elbows on the table. "Not if you want it to be."
"I mean…do you think…you and I…that we…?"
His eyes held a glimmer of hope. "Do you want to?"
"Oh, I do! I do! It's just…" She bit her lip. "Well, last night was…new to me."
His smile disappeared and his face was etched in concern. "It wasn't your first time, was it?"
"No, no, it wasn't my first, but…it was different. I feel…I feel…close to you…like I can tell you anything."
Iron Will grinned again as he took her hoof. "Iron…I feel the same way."
"I know," she said under her breath.
She knew all too well. She could feel the love radiating from him, and the beating of her heart reciprocated it. Still, she wanted to hear it from his mouth.
"Do you love me, Willie?"
He took a moment to ponder and then nodded. "Yes. We may have known each other a short time, but I believe I do."
"Even though we're…not exactly…the same?"
"Come on, we're very much the same! We're both show-creatures, we live to impress others and we have that strange compulsion to speak in the third-person." He nodded toward the bedroom. "And I think we've already proven that our differences won't get in the way of anything."
Trixie smiled slightly at this sentiment but then frowned again. "What if…what if I didn't look like this?"
He blinked. "If you mean once you get older…"
"No, I mean…" She sighed. "If I wasn't…beautiful…would you…would you still love me?"
"Trix, I like you for you, not how you look."
"Then…promise you won't freak out?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Freak out about what?"
She sighed again as she let go of his hooves. "I haven't been entirely honest with you. Not because I don't trust you, but…I was scared of how you'd react."
He tilted his head in confusion. "Trixie, what are you…?"
"First of all, my name's not Trixie. It's Bellatrix. And this…" She gestured towards her body. "Isn't the real me." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Please don't freak out."
She immediately regretted it the moment she abandoned her disguise. For as soon as she did, Iron Will shrieked and fell out of his chair. Bellatrix opened her eyes in terror and saw him on the floor, giving her an equally frightened gaze.
"I know this looks bad," she started to say, "but if you let me explain…"
"Changeling!" he shouted, crawling backward.
"Yes, I'm a changeling," she gently said as she held her deformed hoof out to him, "but that doesn't mean I don't…"
"Get away from me!"
"Willie, it's me!" she insisted, changing back to Trixie. "See?"
"You tricked me! You've been feeding on me this whole time!"
"Willie, no, I would never…!"
He grabbed his chair and held it in front of him. "Back off!"
Tears filled her eyes. "Willie, please…!"
"Don't come any closer! You're not getting a piece of Iron Will!"
"Willie, if you'll just listen to me…!"
"WILLIE, I LOVE YOU!"
Trixie rushed out the door and picked up her cape and hat. She wept as she ran through the streets. The pain in her heart was too much to bear. She had willingly given herself to him, shown him her full trust.
And she had scared him away.
Her first instinct was to take her wagon and leave town. She wanted to get as far away from him as possible.
And yet, as the weeks went by, she found she couldn't get over it. It became harder for her to perform, for the thought of Iron Will standing in the audience would always come. She could not even drink hay smoothies or eat pancakes anymore, as they reminded her of that awful day.
After a month had passed, her heart still hadn't healed, and the thought of the creature that had broken it made her queasy. She didn't think time was going to heal this wound.
Then she remembered something her mother had told her. When the queen's heart was broken by the creature she adored, she had found a remedy. Trixie shivered at the thought. She didn't want to ask her mother for help and the idea sounded painful, but it couldn't be more painful than what she was going through now.
So she returned to the hive for the first time in over a decade. Chrysalis was surprised to see her, but greeted her warmly.
"Well, well, well. My dear, dear Bellatrix. So good to see you again, my dear."
"Let's cut to the chase, Mother," the former princess said bluntly. "You've told me numerous times what you did to mend your broken heart and…well…I want you to do the same to me."
Chrysalis' eyebrows shot up. She had not expected this, but the thought made her grin mischievously.
"Let me guess. Some male has broken your heart, hasn't he?" She smirked. "Or was it perchance a female?"
Bellatrix narrowed her eyes. "Just do it."
The queen shrugged. "Alright, keep your secrets. Well, my sweet daughter, I'll comply with your request. However, I must warn you of the possible side effects. See, while this will devoid you of most of your emotions, it will not take all of them. Emotions come from other areas of your body, like the brain…"
"Yes, yes, whatever! Just get on with it!"
"Alright. But there's one thing you must remember." Chrysalis looked seriously, almost sympathetically, at her daughter. "You'll feel liberated at first, but soon you'll find yourself with an emptiness that can never be filled." She said the rest in a low voice. "And once you've had a taste of this emptiness…you can never go back."
Bellatrix shook her head as tears developed in her eyes. "I don't care. I just want to stop hurting."
Chrysalis sighed. "That's exactly what I said."
She raised her hoof to do the deed. Bellatrix closed her eyes and braced herself. She cried out as she felt her mother's hoof plunge into her chest and squeeze around her insides. And then suddenly…she felt nothing. She opened her eyes to see a glowing, green heart pounding in the queen's hoof.
"How do you feel?"
Bellatrix patted her chest, making sure there wasn't a hole in it. She looked about herself and then up at her mother.
"Free," she uttered. "I…I'm not hurting anymore, but…it's a bit strange."
The queen smirked. "You'll get used to it, my dear. You'll see how much easier it is to live without emotions getting in the way of things. Perhaps now that you are more like the rest of us, you'll consider rejoining us?"
Bellatrix's face fell. Suddenly, her brain was working at a pace faster than ever before, and she saw things clearer than ever before. She had been hesitant to rejoin the changelings before, but she was certain of it now.
She stood defiantly before the queen. "You don't need me here, Mother. You've got my brother to take over for you. And you were right. I'm unfit to be a ruler. I've had my taste of power, and blew it. So I doubt this is a real loss for you. Keep my heart. Lock it away where no one, not even I, will find it. Today is the last day you'll see me, Mother. I am done with the hive."
She could not read the expression on her mother's face. After a moment of silence, the queen bowed her head.
"If that is your desire, I wish you the best of luck, Bellatrix."
And so, Bellatrix turned her back on the hive for the final time.
Trixie was dedicated to her career more than ever. Now that her destiny was clear, she had nothing else to live for.
However, it didn't take long for her to realize the side effects her mother had been talking about. Without her heart, she didn't feel as passionate as she used to about performing. Her head told her it was all she had in life, but her heart was literally not in it. Because of this, the emptiness her mother had warned about slowly grew inside her. After a month of heartlessness, Trixie was beginning to think there was no point in living anymore.
Then she felt it. The squirming inside her, like there was a worm trying to wriggle out of her belly. Her mother had explained these symptoms, and that after feeling them multiple times, one got used to it. But Trixie didn't think it would happen without the royal blessing. Part of that spell was meant to kick-start a royal changeling's reproductive organs, so she could have multiple births each month. Her mother also said one would feel queasy during the first few pregnancies, but those would eventually go away. But could she? Without the royal blessing?
There was only one way to really be sure.
Trixie looked in a mirror and tried the love-seeing spell on herself. Nothing showed up for her, but a picture of herself appeared on her stomach.
That's how she knew she had a new life growing inside her. She couldn't reproduce asexually yet, which meant she was carrying the child of the minotaur who had broken her heart.
When the baby arrived, Trixie made sure she was in complete solitude in her wagon. She didn't know how the baby was going to turn out and couldn't risk startling a doctor. It was a pain going into labor alone, but luckily, the little black larva seemed to slip right out.
As Trixie held up the larva, she frowned. She felt no joy over seeing her daughter. Even when the little thing opened her slit yellow eyes, she felt nothing. She didn't even cry.
It was disappointing.
Then she noticed something odd about the larva. It had a small gray horn growing out of its forehead. The yellow eyes also reminded her greatly of the father. Anger welled up inside her, one of the few emotions that seemed to stay. Her heart was gone, yet this child was here to take its place as a reminder of her heartbreak. For a moment, she considered getting rid of it.
Then the larva sneezed and was encased in green flames. Trixie yelped as she was now holding a blue unicorn foal with black cloven hooves, a cow-like tail and a curl of highlighted blue hair. The child sneezed again and turned back into a larva.
"Goodness!" Trixie exclaimed. "You're certainly going to have a hard time with the world."
The baby responded by sneezing back into a foal. Then she started crying. Trixie tried to shush her as she cradled her. It took a few minutes for the filly to fall asleep, a small smile on her face. Trixie couldn't help but smile a bit too.
"You're a strange one," she said. "You're going to need someone to help you hide these oddities, so you won't be ostracized like your mother was."
Trixie still felt no pleasure in holding her newborn, but she did feel a sense of responsibility. She was all this unusual child had and no one was going to protect her but her mother. As a moonbeam shone on the child's peaceful face, Trixie realized that her life wasn't so empty anymore. She had a new purpose. She vowed that no matter what, she was going to bring happiness to this little filly, even if that happiness could never be reciprocated.
Still, she found herself wishing every day for the next nine years that just for a moment, she could feel love for her daughter.