Actually, I'm Dead

by Wave Blaster


Chapter 9: Almost Alive

After that night, when Trixie finally realized she was not going to be left alone in the dark, things changed.

Celestia had no breakthroughs on her end of research we’d learned. Almost a solid week of work on all our parts, and we were no closer to a solution or even knowing the slightest bit more about the Alicorn Amulet itself.

At least the latest incident motivated Celestia to allow Luna to help more directly with the investigation. Although the Princess of the Night wasn’t as versed in the dark arts as Trixie would expect, she has helped in other areas. What Trixie thought had been a dream Luna declared a hallucination. She said she would have been able to feel Trixie in the realm of dreams, that her imprint would have been left there even after she had awoken, all the more so after such a frightful awakening as my report to her described. Since there was no imprint, there was no dream.

Luna explained that a pony mind requires sleep to maintain itself and since Trixie has been incapable of sleep for over a week now… what she saw was her mind’s way of trying to rebalance itself. It was suggested that Trixie try meditation, that such activity could rest the mind and put it in a state close enough to true sleep so as to mitigate future hallucinations or at least minimize them. Either way, this is one more thing Trixie has to contend with regarding her failing body.

Fluttershy has been a true friend to in this regards, educating Trixie in proper technique, though the breathing exercises are rather lost on her. She’s come to the library every late afternoon to assist as she knows Trixie won’t go near her cottage again.

One other boon that Princess Luna’s involvement has provided is to reduce the time of the investigation. After four days of two alicorns magically scanning various books per minute, they finally came to the conclusion the Alicorn Amulet is not an artifact listed in the archive. Even the author of the book on it that Twilight’s friends had found doesn't appear to have written anything else. Where the Amulet came from continues to be a mystery.

However, Princess Luna did come up with a solution for Trixie’s blindness. Although Twilight’s idea of goggles enchanted with a dilation spell did work to a degree, it was found that any intense light hurt Trixie, most notably during the day. At night and under limited lighting conditions she was better. After hearing about it, Luna sent to Ponyville another set of goggles. The Princess correctly guessed that limiting the spectrum of incoming light in addition to its intensity would help. While the goggles did rob Trixie of most of her ability to see colours and still had to be worn at virtually all times, they did allow her to function as a normal pony again. Trixie was quite grateful for that.

But sight wasn’t the only thing Trixie got back.

Having confronted her worst fear of being forgotten by others, and having listened to the Princesses’ words, gave her a new perspective of things. She still felt that hers was a lost cause, especially after the news of the Amulet’s origins being too obscure to find any information on. On the other hoof, it is because of this that Trixie decided to stop trying to undo her condition and started working with it. Twilight, her friends, and the friends Trixie made at Pinkie’s party all helped along the way.

The first step was to get outside of Twilight’s library. It took a lot of Twilight’s convincing, her face being covered by her veil, and Rainbow Dash offering her personal brand of assistance by tackling her outside -which failed the first attempt as Trixie dodged and slammed Rainbow against the floor out of instinct-, but she eventually made it. After that, it was time to start socializing with the town’s ponies. Cheerilee and Pinkie gave her a proper tour around the town, Pinkie helping with the talking and Cheerilee helping with Pinkie.

The next day involved something Trixie actually dreaded the most; getting a job. This time, Rarity and Carrot Top assisted as they both were at speaking terms with Mayor Mare, or Ivory as Carrot called her. Again, it wasn’t an easy task, and even if the Mayor assured Trixie her legal background was not a problem, employment in Ponyville was limited this season. Just when Trixie was about to get out of there, Applejack trotted inside, conveniently asking for an assistant at the Apple Stand.

Trixie, being a trained showpony and having met at least two of Equestria’s most shameless con-stallions, recognized the masquerade on the spot. She decided to buy into it anyways as an act of good faith towards Applejack. That didn’t prevent Trixie from having some fun ‘finding out’ about it later at the stand, of course. It was a prank that Pinkie and Rainbow helped pull off quite effectively.

The third day was more relaxed, as Trixie gained enough confidence to go out alone, but armed with a deck of tarot cards under her cape. She decided to test if she still had it in her or if she was beating a dead horse. She started it simple. Just sitting down and using the market stall as a table, offering to Applejack’s clients a free reading with their apples. To keep things active when she was between clients, Trixie reprised a song she learned in Neigh Orleans about voodoo. After lunchtime, there was already a line of ponies who wanted to see the pony with a hoof ‘on the other side’ and were buying apples just as a formality.

By the end of the week, Trixie was doing small shows again, dusting off her older and simpler tricks from when she was still a lost orphan wandering around Equestria.

Side Note: Must visit Mister and Miss Free’s tombs, it’s about that time of the year.


Trixie finished updating the journal and closed it. She turned around from her new own desk. It took a private show, climaxing with her escaping from a safe while wearing hoofcuffs at that Tiara filly’s birthday, but she finally got enough money to buy some proper furniture for herself. Trixie placed the journal under the bed’s pillow and decided that, since it was Saturday, she had earned a good afternoon of doing nothing but read a calming book.

“Trixie!”

Despite two closed doors between herself and the pony upstairs, Trixie could hear herself being called as clearly as though the other mare were in the same room with her.

“Should have seen that one coming,” Trixie thought, getting up and opening the basement’s door to greet Pinkie Pie.

“Yes, what’s the--”

“TrixieyouhavetocomewithustodeliverthisawesomepackagetoRainbowDashsoshedoesntforgetaboutusnorourfacesandnamesandsinceyoureourfriendnowyouhavetocome.” Pinkie only stopped to catch her breath, but Trixie took the opening to raise her hoof in front her.

“Hold on.” Trixie rubbed her temples. “So, you want to visit Rainbow Dash at the Academy and came here to invite Trixie?” She ventured after taking a moment of contemplation and meditation to understand what was said to her.

“Well, duh, I just said that!” Pinkie said abruptly. “Come on, it will be fun.” Her attitude had a hint of urgency that Trixie had yet to meet. She considered it and realized that with Snowflake, Cloudchaser and Raindrops in the academy too, it would be a good move for Trixie to visit them as well.

“Alright, Pinkie, Trixie shall tag along.”

She turned around to take the cape, hat and veil, but a pink hoof placed itself on her shoulder before she could take the last item. Trixie looked back, encountering Pinkie’s uncharacteristically silent expression. Pinkie was a very expressive pony and just by her face Trixie could tell what she was trying to say.

“Alright then, Trixie will not use the veil today.” She placed it down. “But if I heard one single pony scream ‘the horror’ at Trixie again, she’s buying an iron mask.”

Pinkie Pie only smiled and squeed in delight before letting Trixie’s shoulder go. Once Trixie was ready, both mares went outside. Upon reaching the library’s door, Trixie stopped for a moment. It was her personal ritual, each time before stepping outside, under the light, she would follow the same steps; the first thing was to check her hooves, one by one till being completely sure each boot and each glove wasn’t lousy. Then, her vest needed to cover the amulet in her chest and the diamond on her cape had to be exactly over the Amulet, to remind herself who was wearing who. Finally, Trixie would touch her light goggles, checking if it was firm and no chances of accidentally falling off. After all of that, and only if everything was in its place, Trixie would put her hat on and open the door, ready to face world once again. She was happy to see Rarity was outside waiting for them.

That lasted only as long as it took her to realize where they were all headed.

“Nope.”

Trixie turned tail away from the sight of Twilight’s balloon and tried to head back at the library, failing only because certain mass of pink was blocking her way back to safety.

“Trixie?” Pinkie innocently cocked her head. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing worth mentioning, but Trixie prefers to stay behind.” Trixie’s mind raced through reasons to not set a hoof inside that thing until she came up with something. “After all, Ponyville is still accepting Trixie’s presence, it wouldn’t be prudent to test her amazingly bad luck on other towns so soon.” Trixie wasn’t sweating only because she had no inner fluids, otherwise, she was sure she would.

“That’s not all of it, now isn’t it, darling?” A white hoof placed itself over Trixie’s shoulder. She quickly put hers over it, out of reflex. “Tell us, Trixie,” Rarity said in calm but steady voice.

Trixie turned her head to see the rest of the girls readying the balloon and not paying attention to them. Deciding this was her best shot to keep things from becoming another ‘friendship report’ with her as the subject, Trixie stepped aside to put both Pinkie and Rarity in front of her.

“If I must expose myself, once again, I ask that you respect what I say and keep it confidential.” Trixie lifted the brim of her hat to look at them with a glare that could freeze a fire, even through her light goggles. “Trixie’s story is hers for share but not yours to do the same.” She pointed at them with her left hoof. “Do not spread around what I’m offering.”

“Oh, a secret origin.” Pinkie grabbed some popcorn from… somewhere and sat down. “Cool,” she said through a mouth full of popcorn. Rarity was more austere and limited herself to nod at Trixie. Seeing as her request met no resistance, Trixie mentally reviewed the long and complex tale she was about to give her friends to explain her aversion towards the hot air balloon. In keeping with her new philosophy, she decided to try and keep it as simple and unembellished as possible.

“Truth is,” she started, not very sure of herself, “as a daughter of the road, as a Roani, Trixie’s hooves are too attached to the ground under them.” There was a sepulchral silence. “And she’s not a pony who likes to separate such a strong relationship.” She added a flourish from her hoof before turning around and looking down, innerly praying to anyone listening for Pinkie and Rarity to not press the matter any further.

“Wait.” To Trixie’s surprise, it was Rarity who spoke first. “You mean you’re afraid of heights?” Trixie pulled down the brim of her hat while hiding inside her cape, trying to cover her shame. It was one of her most personal secrets, and the only other pony who knew about it has disappeared from the face of Equus.

“Aww.” A pair of pink hooves surrounded Trixie. This time, she was too distracted to even react. “Don’t be sad, Trixie.” Pinkie started to press the hug, inadvertently lifting Trixie completely off the ground. “We’ll be by your side all the time…” Trixie wasn’t hearing her, she was too busy trying to keep herself together. Although it wasn’t that much of a height, or at least not enough to really scare her, being lifted involuntarily while dwelling on the reason she was afraid of heights triggered some bad feeling for Trixie. She tried to tell Pinkie to put her down, but her lungs were empty again and she couldn’t concentrate enough to force the air back inside. Trixie started to kick the air frantically till she felt a hoof taking hers.

“Calm down, Trixie, we won’t let anything happen to you.” Trixie dared to open her eyes, seeing through her goggles the calmingly serene expression in Rarity’s… and the obliviously oblivious one in Pinkie’s closed eyes. Not without a good amount of effort, Trixie eased her mind and did that move Bootlegger perfected to escape a specially angry sea serpent. Free from Pinkie’s constrictor hug, Trixie turned around and willingly opened her own hooves.

“Thank you for understanding.” The three friends shared the hug. “Trixie will try, but you will have to stay at her side.” Pinkie and Rarity did the steps of the Pinkie Promise and the three of them trotted closer to the balloon that was almost ready to take them to the skies. Trixie made it right up to where the basket was moored to the ground, the massive white envelope casting a shadow on the ground around it, before feelings of trepidation threatened to overwhelm her again.

“I… really don’t know about this, girls,” Trixie said, cringing. “Unicorns weren’t meant to fly, you know. Good solid ground beneath our hooves and all.”

“Trixie, there’s nothing to worry about it,” said Twilight. She tossed in a coil of rope and trotted over. “I’ve done this dozens of times. Trust me, you’ll love it when you get up there.” Trixie was still wincing, her ears back amongst her thin, grey mane. “I promise, nothing bad will happen to you up there.”

“Promise?”

“I’ll Pinkie Promise if I have to, Trixie,” Twilight told her with a cheery laugh.

The laugh was infectious and Trixie could feel herself smiling in return. “That won’t be necessary, Twilight. I trust you.”

With the help of the other four ponies, and some unceremonious lifting with Twilight’s magic, Trixie eventually managed to settle herself into the center of the basket amongst their supplies. The others were quick to pile in and join her. No matter that Trixie knew her heart no longer beat and her lungs only did by conscious effort, she still felt her chest was tight in anticipation and her blood was racing. Phantom pains, like ponies who lost limbs, she fleetingly thought.

“Here we go, girls!” Twilight cried as she threw off the last of their mooring lines. Trixie splayed her legs out, bracing herself as the bottom of the basket leapt up into the skies, as the others around her cried out in joy. She wished she could share in their cheer instead of standing there shivering in terror.

Yet after that initial jolt, things settled down remarkably quickly. Twilight adjusted the magical ballast on the balloon and soon they were at a stable altitude. She explained to the rest of them that it was the height with the best wind current to take them to the plateau where the Wonderbolt Academy was and she’d bring them up to the height of the Academy itself when they were ready to land.

After that, the thing Trixie noticed most was the silence. There was no other noise besides the wind blowing around them. All the other ponies had gone to the edge of the basket, leaning over and looking out over the landscape far below. Even Pinkie was quiet for once, a remarkable feat in Trixie’s estimation.

Trixie steadied herself and made her own way to the edge, nudging Twilight a little to get past.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Rarity commented softly.

Trixie could only nod, not wanting to break the breathtaking silence. She had never seen Equestria like this before. The closest she had ever come was looking out from the main town while at School and seeing Canterlot spread out below her. That had been awe inspiring, and she could only imagine what Celestia saw off her balcony high in the palace each day when she raised the sun.

This though… Trixie had no reference to this. To see so much of Equestria laid before when she looked out; to see houses and ponies so tiny below her; to think, this was the average viewpoint of a typical pegasus, but it left her without words. The silence of the world around her allowed her to just relax and soak up the whole experience. The only movement came from the gentle swaying of the basket in the wind and the odd bounce as one of her fellow passengers shuffled around. Yes, she was further off the ground than she had ever expected to be, yet standing there with her friends around her, she felt safe.

So preoccupied had she become with the whole experience -- the goggles allowed her to look almost directly at Celestia’s sun if she wanted to do so -- that she didn’t notice Twilight had laid a forehoof over her withers until Twilight gave her a nudge with it. “So, what do you think? Worth it?”

Trixie couldn’t help the smile that was still on her muzzle as she turned to look at her purple friend. The excitement of the whole thing shone in Twilight’s eyes and Trixie could feel some of that enjoyment in herself.

“Yes. Yes, it is,” she finally answered. “Thank you girls, for dragging me out of that basement. This is… this is something I would have never had to courage to do on my own. And I would have been the poorer pony for it.”

Twilight gave her a nod and a friendly pat at that before pulling herself away and checking on her other friends. She left Trixie to her own devices, and Trixie in turn resumed her gazing out over the landscape below. Oddly enough, she didn’t feel the terror that had gripped her before. The basket was stable beneath her hooves, only a gentle swaying at most. She was surrounded by friends and knew they weren’t going to let her come to harm.

The balloon was just under the cloud cover now. She could see the roads and rivers that cross Equestria below them as they floated by, she could trace their winding paths for miles before they faded into the horizon. Sometimes she saw ponies on the roads there and waved to them. Sometimes they saw her and waved back.

Lunch was had by Twilight and her friends, Trixie taking part in their light conversation and not feeling at all left out for not being able to take part of the meal itself. She soon resumed her post at the side of the basket, her forehooves dangling idly in the wind as she watched the forests slide along below.

It seemed almost too soon to her that Twilight called that they were close to their destination and she was going to bring them up through the clouds. A adjustment to the magical ballast and the floor of the basket lurched up under Trixie's hooves once more and a wave of cold dread to pass through her, but it was over quickly. The clouds that they went through were the strangest thing she had ever felt and she wished she could reach out and touch them herself. Perhaps she could ask Twilight for a cloudwalking spell when they reached their destination and give it a try if she felt brave enough. It certainly couldn’t be more intimidating than what she’d already done so far.

Then they were above the clouds and back in the sunlight. Trixie spared a quick glance over her shoulder where Pinkie was practically bouncing herself out of the basket in excitement over being able to get back with Dashie and find out all that had been going on all the time she had been away training. Even the pink mare’s prattling wasn’t enough to wipe the smile off Trixie’s muzzle as she turned to look back.

That’s when she saw something that made it drop slightly as she cocked her head to the side.

“Is that a tornado?”