As a filly, Trixie was reminded of many rules to keep in mind while growing up. Such was the life of all fillies as far as she knew. However, one rule stood out from the rest like an undisguised changeling in a crowd of ponies. Jealousy can cause us to think irrationally. Control it if you want to live a happy, productive life.
Like many of the rules she learned, Trixie never gave it much thought for the most part. Other than the rules of helping somepony in need, paying attention in class, or doing something to make a frowning friend smile, those constant reminders seemed more like excuses to nag on her than actual advice to help her in life's many bumps. She was the Great and Powerful Trixie, known as a gifted student during her youth and the brilliant, if overconfident magician she became. Why would she even be jealous of anypony with a resume like that?
Jealousy still consumed Trixie nevertheless, her accomplishments rather quiet in hindsight. There was somepony better, and as she stood within a small clearing in the Aroma Woods, Trixie couldn't help but think how wrong she was back then. Envy did drive her to madness a while ago, the Alicorn Amulet not helping one bit. The overconfidence and boasting talent she once wore were now mere memories cast out into the sea.
Taking slow, deep breaths, Trixie scanned the perimeter of the landscape around her. Everywhere she gazed, a thicket of dark green leaves rested before her, thick tree trunks standing from behind and spaced apart as though they were in a military formation, their thin branches somewhat wilted.
Nestled between some of the trees, however, was a cabin constructed out of pale gray stones, its texture somewhat chipped. The cabin was abandoned when she found it, acting more like her new home than a piece of scenery. At least the beds were nice, marshmallow-like cushions as far as Trixie recalled. The dust-covered interior itched her muzzle, however, the sensations returning to her just by thinking of it. Cleaning the cabin up was paltry to her with more important tasks always at hoof, most of them involving magic practice.
A slight breeze flowed past Trixie, her mane fluttering against it as well as her stylized hat and cape. The birds' chirps echoed in the air, singing a soft tune calm enough to paint a smile over Trixie's face. A nearby river roared off in the distance, a cold, soothing aroma entering her nostrils.
Nevertheless, the tranquil scenery failed to cover up a speck of anxiety within Trixie, its presence tightening her throat a little. Jealousy still persisted within her worn heart like a parasite with a lavender face.
Trixie's horn glowed a bright blue, a thick book flying off the ground and hovered before her. It's spine was wilted a little and the scars ran across the book's pale brown color. Flipping the pages until she reached the bookmarked section, she then glued her eyes to the book.
"Teleportation to magic beam," Trixie read aloud. She scanned the page's contents, taking note of the diagrams and runes inscribed in a black ink. "Okay then, I'm ready."
Trixie placed the book off to the side. Turning to her right, she noticed a small, wooden plank resting before her with most of its frame planted into the earth. It wasn't much and looked withered enough to where a slight tap of the hoof could break it in two, but Trixie figured it would do.
Closing her eyes, Trixie envisioned appearing behind the plank. An aura enveloped her horn once more, brighter than before, and a surge of electricity coursed through her veins. Opening her eyes, a blue flash appeared before her and, in a fraction of a second, she found herself before the plank and fired a blue beam into it a heartbeat later.
The plank was bisected, the upper half flapping in the air like a propeller and the bottom half remained earthbound. Trixie allowed the scent of burning ash enter her nose, the aroma ticklish and harsh. Cringing, she shuffled her hooves away from the charred plank and returned to where the book lay.
"I still need to shave some time," Trixie said, her brow furrowed. "Urgh, how can I ever hope to come close to Twilight if she's three times as fast as I am? I've been doing so many spells, but can only get a smidgen close to her at best." Sitting down on the dew-soaked grass, she buried her head into her forelegs for three seconds, a muffled moan leaving her mouth. "I remember the official report about her being able to do it that quickly in her unicorn state." Sighing, Trixie pushed herself up, shoulders sagging. "I know I can't match an alicorn in the arcane, but I have to be able to exceed her magical talent when she was still a unicorn, right?" Her expression became taut. "Right?"
Jealousy can cause us to think irrationally. Control it if you want to live a happy, productive life.
Trixie blinked, the phrase looping in her head thrice. "Stay calm, Trixie," she continued. Calmness would never come to her at this rate, something Trixie knew all too well. However, as she dug within her mind, no solutions were unearthed, only blanks. "I just need more practice. I'm being productive and doing something about it, not cheating like last time." Another sigh left her cold lips. "I'm a better pony now. I can do this." She paused, her heart sinking into the abyss.
"Or maybe I can't. Maybe I'll just be number two—no—number three. There's that other mare."
Picking up the book, Trixie trotted over to the cabin. Her lips curled into a dark, grim frown and her eyebrows sagged. A tightness in her chest urged her to cry, her heart yearning for her to enter a state of catharsis. Even she wanted to weep and collapse against the grass, just to get it out there. However, not a single drop was shed, Trixie's vision as clear as a pony's could get. Crying was something foreign to the Great and Powerful Trixie and, while she cried in the past, she couldn't muster such an act. The weight of the world crushing her body also didn't help matters.
"Stupid magic," she muttered under her own breath. Thrusting herself against the cabin's walls, a sigh escaped her lips. She let go of the book, which plopped onto the ground with a soft thud, gravity's influence flipping it to a random page. "Why does it have to be so—well—difficult to understand?"
Turning her head around, Trixie lifted her blue cape up and then glanced at the cutie mark adorning her flank, a blue crescent moon adorned with twinkling lights and a magic wand perpendicular to it. Such an image conjured visions of magical talent and a gift in the most complex spells known to ponykind. To Trixie, however, such a mark twisted her visage into a scowl and froze her veins whenever she stared at it for even a second.
"Blasted cutie mark," she said, placing a hoof on her chest. "Why couldn't I have gotten something that wouldn't hurt me?"
The rustling of leaves echoed in the air, Trixie's head swiveling from left to right.
"I know many ponies just like you, miss," a deep voice said. "Lots of them."
Trixie turned to the voice's source, gritting her teeth. "Who's there?" She rubbed her hoof against the earth, her body leaning down. "Show yourself! The Great and Powerful Trixie demands it!"
"Trixie, is it?" A second of silence passed. "You go from speaking normally to referring to yourself by your name. How interesting."
Trixie straightened her posture, eyebrows raised. "What do you mean? Were you snooping on Trixie?"
"Naturally. Anyway, it sounds like something to protect that fragile ego of yours." The voice chuckled, her tone sounding like a griffon's talons against a chalkboard. "That has to be it, right?"
"O-of course not." Shaking her head, Trixie's hooves shuffled away from the voice's source. Her body felt lighter. She couldn't help herself from thinking she'd float away like a balloon as her face became tauter. "It's just something I do from time to time. Especially when I'm up on stage!" Trixie bobbed her head, biting her lip. "It's something I've always done."
"Is that so? Then perhaps you'll tell me why you were speaking like anypony would before I showed up."
Trixie trotted a few steps forward, then let out a faint snicker. "Well, perhaps you'd like to start by telling Trixie why you're asking me this and who you are." Freezing in place, Trixie then glared at the rustling bushes. The contents hiding within the foliage piqued her curiosity, pupils dilated and muscles tightened in response. Any sort of strange creature could have been lurking there, waiting to pounce on her when she was vulnerable.
Whoever is waiting in there, I'm prepared. Steam bellowed from Trixie's nostrils, her unblinking eyes focused on the wobbling bush. If it's a monster looking for trouble, I'm going to give it trouble.
"Well, I guess I can show myself." Emerging from the green background was a light pink unicorn, some small bruises covering parts of her body. Her mane was colored a dark purple with light blue strands, some of it parting through the middle to make room for her imposing horn. However, what stood out most of all was the bright smile adorning her face, the wide-eyed stare and glowing pupils making causing Trixie to shiver. Everything felt colder as the mare approached her with short, slow steps.
"W-what's with that smile?" Trixie asked, struggling to stay upright as her legs wobbled. Taking short breaths, her heart rate picked up. There was something about the mare which spooked Trixie, but while the smile didn't help at all, she couldn't help but feel a poking sensation form in the back of her mind telling her there was more to her. It was as though the unicorn before her was anything but.
"My smile?" The unicorn assumed a straight face and stopped trotting. "Well, you'll soon learn to love it."
The unicorn resumed trotting, stroking her hoof against Trixie's neck upon passing by. The sensation tickled a little, but Trixie's throat tightened nonetheless. Something about the glint in the passing unicorn's eyes turned her face pale and made her heartbeat audible in her ears.
"Maybe I will," Trixie replied. She pursed her lips for a second, then took a deep breath. "So then, would you please tell me your name?"
The unicorn raised her head up high, her hoof touching her chest. "I'm glad you asked." A wide smirk adorned her visage, the shine in her eyes brighter than the sun. "My name is Starlight Glimmer. I am the mayor of a town I like to call Our Town!"
"A mayor?" Trixie cocked her head a little. "What's a mayor doing out here?"
"It's because I was—well, I need to expand my town elsewhere. I had a bit of a running in with some of the townsponies in Our Town. In fact, it may no longer be called Our Town once we part ways."
Starlight ground her teeth, her smirk twisting into a scowl. "It's because I was—I was driven out of town. I did nothing wrong, but everypony else disagrees. I only wanted to bring happiness to the town." She coughed into her foreleg, then raised her head back up in a flash. "So that's why I'm here."
Trixie raised her hoof up, her gaze locked on Starlight. "You said you were a mayor, but wouldn't you be the former mayor instead?"
"Not in the mood!" Starlight growled, a vein bulging from her neck. "Not in the mood!"
"So sorry." Shuffling her hooves back, Trixie's pupils dilated as though a ghost gilded past her face. She felt the mare's tone of voice left much to be desired. "I'll try to be more respectful."
"That's good, Trixie." Starlight's tone turned hoarse, her lips flashing the faintest of grins. "That's very good."
Gulping, Trixie then let out a brief chuckle. Whatever Starlight was planning, it had to be devious, and Trixie knew this well. The smirking, Starlight's tone of voice, and a look in her glinting eyes which could frighten a cockatrice couldn't just be mere coincidences. Nevertheless, something about her posture, her colorful design, and the way she seemed invested in her balanced such dark thoughts out. Trixie's mind fizzled as it tried to piece Starlight's identity together, the puzzle pieces all ill-fitting and bent out of shape. All she could muster was one, simple thought.
Why is she interested in me?
Waving her hoof across mere inches away from Trixie's muzzle, Starlight ruffled her brow. "Pay attention, Trixie!" she sniped, cheeks flushing.
Trixie flinched, her heart rate spiking up for a fraction of a second. "T-Trixie is paying attention, Starlight," she replied. "Geez, don't hit Trixie!" Scrunching her muzzle, she trotted toward Starlight, flames flickering within her pupils. There was a small dab of displeasure within her regarding Starlight's character, her tone loud enough to break glass leaving much to be desired. Still, her more acceptable smile and her straight posture oozing a palpable confidence at least made Starlight look decent enough.
"You know, I always imagined you as being much more boastful," Starlight said. "You know, being a magician and all."
"I was boastful—once," Trixie muttered. Lowering her head, her shoulders then drooped. "I loved flaunting my magical talents." She looked back up to Starlight, a sigh leaving her mouth. "It's just that with what's happened to me—" Trixie placed a hoof on her chest, her lips pursed "—I don't think I should be too boastful. I guess that explains a little."
"There will be more time to explain." In a flash, Starlight cracked a grin. "I can help you become boastful again, but let's chat a little more first."
Blinking twice, Trixie gazed into Starlight's eyes. A splitting image of herself appeared within their shimmer, but Trixie's reflection only bore the Alicorn Amulet around her neck and a pair of red eyes straight from Tartarus. A chill ran down her spine. Trixie gulped as though she swallowed a marble, her breaths short and thin.
"Well, I can see something is on your mind, though it's probably something embarrassing," Starlight teased. "And besides, I'd only have to hit you if I said something secretive." With a bright blue aura covering her horn, she vanished in a flash. Trixie swiveled her head from left to right, her muscles constricting as not a trace was left behind. "I'm behind you."
Trixie turned around as instructed; Starlight's face now mere inches away from her's. Jumping up in place, a faint gasp left her mouth upon being caught off guard. "W-why are you doing this, Starlight?" Trixie asked, sounding out of breath. She stepped a few hoofsteps back. The lack of personal space wasn't helping from what she could tell. "Are you here just to bully me?"
Starlight giggled, her hoof covering her lips. "Trixie, why would I ever bully anypony?" She winked, surprising Trixie to where she didn't even register a reaction. "You wouldn't think I'd do that, right?"
Trixie's eyes looked up for a moment, a bemused expression painted on her visage. "You see, Starlight—" Trixie brought her gaze back to her "—I don't think that may be the case."
"This coming from the mare who taunted others during a stage show."
Trixie's eyes widened. She stepped back, legs wiggling as she almost tripped over the grass. "How did you know?"
A smirk formed across Starlight's cheeks, the aura it emitted enough to boil blood on sight. "I may have run a town in the middle of a desert, but I'm not blind to news like Ursa Minor attacks."
Trixie groaned. A reminder of her first visit to Ponyville was the last thing she needed, those memories still poignant enough to form a twinge in her chest. While there was no doubt in Trixie's mind she was in the wrong, her stomach churned as thoughts of jealousy returned. "Look, can you please just get on with it. Trixie needs to practice her magic."
"There you go again." Starlight's lips twisted into a repulsive grin, her eyes twinkling like stars. "I think—no, I do get it now."
Shrugging, Trixie cocked her head. "Get what?"
"Why you speak like that on occasion." Starlight chuckled. "It's because you're nervous, isn't it?"
Trixie looked down. "Um—no." Raising her head up, she trudged toward Starlight, teeth gritted. "It's an old habit of Trixie's that fits with my stage persona." She leaned forward, her muzzle bumping Starlight's, then pursed her lips. "I don't know why you think I'm nervous, especially when I'm the Great and Powerful Trixie!"
"But let's delay no longer." Clearing her throat, tail whipping about, Starlight raised her hoof up. "I think we could become great allies. We both want to be stronger and we both desire something important. If you join me, you'll be able to boast once again!"
"Something important?" Trixie rubbed the top of her head. Nothing one would call important was revealed to Starlight as far as she knew. However, whatever it was, she couldn't help but feel a cold sweat cascading down her forehead. "What do you think is important to me?"
"Power, attention, magical talent, and much more!" Starlight's smile widened. Her glowing teeth were bright enough to act as mirrors. Bopping her brow up and down for a second, she extended a foreleg to Trixie. "All you have to do is join me, and it'll be yours."
Trixie raised a single eyebrow, lips sealed and not a peep leaving them. Instead of seeing Starlight as a former mayor, let alone one whose mouth would water at the mere mention of control, an image of her pitching an invention popped into Trixie's mind. Then again, power was never something she valued too much. Politics and the like were too stressful and complex. Attention was something Trixie knew she craved. Those stage performances with the flashing lights and dazzling sparks of magic would attest to such a fact, the crowd's roars as she pranced around with amazing spells making her heart race and lips curl into a radiant smile.
Then there was the promise of acquiring magical talent. Four days of practicing spells and wearing her body out once night came, only to progress mere millimeters was what Trixie could choose. Years of chugging along with no end in sight were what she had before her, the mere thought of being stuck in such quicksand turning her face pale. The other side to the fork in the road was clear as far as she knew. Join Starlight Glimmer, get magical powers, and achieve her goal right there. The answer was obvious.
However, as Trixie's lips budged open, not a word left them. The loud thumps of her beating heart were telling her something. Starlight's offer just didn't add up, a looming dread hanging above Trixie like a shadow. Trixie's body shivered, a blizzard-like sensation constricting her. She wanted to get this deal over with and just sleep the rest of the day, the stress kicking and beating her without remorse. There had to be something behind the offer, as the thought of something akin to serving Starlight's whims turned her cheeks a bright green. One day with her was tough enough as it was.
Do I really want to put my trust into her? Trixie stuck her tongue out, her brain twisting into a corkscrew. I want to accept, but is it good for me? Sighing, she adjusted her hat. Thoughts erupted from her mind's crevices, all of them either worthless or repeats of the questions she asked herself. What does she want? Why does her name sound a lot like Twilight Sparkle's?Perhaps she just needed time to think, but Trixie never knew how long she could take. This wasn't a daily occurrence, nor did she want it to become one with how much her muscles tied themselves into knots.
I need to get it out of her, but how? What would—wait a second. With widened eyes, a thought flashed before her. Maybe—
"Starlight Glimmer, can I ask a few questions?" Trixie asked, her tone softer than before.
"Well—" Starlight massaged her muzzle "—I guess you can."
Did she just pause for a moment? Something's not right. Trixie blinked. "Well, have you met a mare known as Twilight Sparkle?"
Cringing, a hiss left Starlight, her veins bulging once more. "Of course I have!" She shook her body, reassuming a relaxed posture with her head held up high. "That winged nuisance is always stirring up trouble! She must be your rival, right? Well let's get back at her together! I'll make you a better user of magic than she'll ever be if you help me!"
Trixie's brow ruffled, her eyes glaring into Starlight's. "Well then, was something she did the reason why you're here?" The puzzle was already complete. There was no longer any doubt what Starlight did had to have been horrifying to those impacted. Getting the details out, however, would be anything but effortless.
Starlight nodded as predicted, her grin fading away. "Good guess."
"Guess, huh?" Trixie assumed the grin Starlight once, her muscles loosening up. "Tell me, did you do something the villagers of what you call Our Town didn't like? Did you say—I don't know—trick them into something?"
"How did you—" Starlight planted a hoof to her lips, cheeks blushing a vibrant red. "I mean, maybe so, but I was doing it out of the goodness of my heart. We wanted to all be equal."
"I see. Define what you mean by equal, please." With a brief snicker, Trixie trotted closer to Starlight, the latter recoiling and drenched with sweat. The mere action of outmaneuvering Starlight brightened her visage. She hadn't felt this much joy since before her first performances. "I'd love to know, Starlight Glimmer."
"What does it sound like to you?" Shivering, a cold breath left Starlight's lips. She smirked. "It's—well—nothing really."
Trixie raised her right eyebrow, lips pursed. With a bright smile, her muscles loosened. Trixie had Starlight where she wanted. "Nothing, huh? I'd like to know a lot more. There has to be some rules in place in order to make them equal, right?" Trixie clasped her hooves together, a satisfying clack echoing in the air. "I mean, if they really are equal, there needs to be something ensuring that. Or do they have free will?" Trixie's grin widened. Something about her questions sent an ecstatic sensation coursing through her veins. She couldn't remember the last time she had such acuity of the mind.
"Why do you ask?" Starlight recoiled, her tail twirling around her hind legs. "I told you, the society is equal!"
"I don't know. It sounds to me like you're doing something you know is wrong, but do it anyway." Trixie paused. "Equality is wonderful, but there needs to be some free will in the world. And differences can—"
Starlight's cheeks burned a bright red, a twisted scowl painted on her. "Quiet!"
"I'll shut up if you tell me the truth! I demand it!"
Pouting, a snarl left Starlight's lips, her brow ruffled. "Listen up, because I'm only saying this once." She cleared her throat. "Now then, I used my magic to steal cutie marks."
Trixie gasped. With dilated pupils, she shuffled her hooves back. "You're serious?"
"I didn't leave them with nothing. I'm not that evil." Starlight straightened herself out, chest puffed. "Instead, I replaced them with an equals sign, but left my cutie mark untouched."
"So you promise a peaceful utopia of equality and don't give it?" Trixie's muzzle scrunched up, her mouth open and tongue sticking out. "What kind of mayor are you?"
"Not like Princess Twilight 'Friendship Speech' Sparkle. You're sounding like a copycat of her at this point!"
Trixie gazed into Starlight's eyes, their bloodshot form and bulging form making them look like they'd burst at any moment. It wasn't like she wanted to upset a pony, given the events regarding her two meetings with Twilight herself, but there was a bit of schadenfreude in watching such a vile mare break down into a sentient ball of rage.
"Well then, I guess I feel better about myself now that I was compared to the one I'm jealous of," Trixie confessed, raising a hoof up. "Actually, I know what I want to say in response to your offer."
"Y-you do?" Starlight replied, rolling her shoulders with a sheepish smile.
"Yeah." Trixie snickered. "I decline, and there's nothing you can do to convince me otherwise."
Sighing, Starlight stared at the ground for a moment, then raised her head back up. "Well, I guess that leaves me with no choice."
"Huh?" Gulping, Trixie's veins froze. "What do you mean?"
"I won't take your cutie mark. I have other plans than to do that again, to be honest." A flash of light appeared in Starlight's eyes. "I'm just going to knock you unconscious and flee. I can't let you follow me."
Shuddering, Trixie stepped back as Starlight swung a hoof toward her. A breeze brushed across her face, her light blue mane flowing with the current. "Wait—"
Trixie opened her eyes, noting the soft cloth of her cape and hat still rubbing against her. A searing ache pulsated on her left cheek, the dew-covered blades of grass tickling face. The coldness of the dew felt nice against her worn body, the pounding pain of where Starlight hit her anything but pleasant.
"Ungh, w-where am I?" Trixie muttered. She rolled onto her back, the sky above lit a brilliant orange. "Oh, I'm still here." Breathing a sigh of relief, Trixie took a little solace in knowing nothing bad happened to her while unconscious. Still, bonking her in the head was not what she'd call wise. Her recollection of encountering Starlight was as clear as day, right down to her pink coat and smug grin. Nevertheless, the sky's glow warmed her heart, her eyes glowing at the twilight above.
A small itch formed in the back of Trixie's mind. One of the last things Starlight said to her was a comparison to Twilight Sparkle, the words still fresh in her mind. The part after those words was a deep, dark abyss devoid of senses, but Trixie smiled nonetheless. She didn't care about what else happened before being knocked out. As she remained still for a few seconds longer, her eyes widened. A thought flashed into her mind, one which released the last bit of tension from her muscles.
On second thought, maybe I'm going about this the wrong way. I'm still the Great and Powerful Trixie, but I've earned that title. Not because I can boast about magic, but because I learned something. I'm a better pony than I think. I learned it all by myself. Maybe, just maybe, I can spread my message to ponies across Equestria.
Trixie pulled herself up, adjusting her hat and cape. "Okay, I'll do that. The new Trixie is born!"