The air was pleasantly cool, sun still low in the sky as birds sang their songs. The smell of flowers in bloom was dancing in the air. Truly, it was a wonderful day to have a headache.
Trixie rubbed her head as she sat up in bed, shadows under her eyes. It wasn't her horn that was giving her grief, even though it did ache, but her temple, making her glare at the pain, as if trying to threaten it away.
The headache seemed indifferent.
Letting out a sigh, she pulled her hoof away, blinking when she noticed greenish-brown mud smeared on it. She winced as her horn glowed, one of the drawers opening up, a mirror levitating before her.
Her reflection showed a confused showpony, decorated in tribal markings. Frowning, she put the mirror back, before quickly exiting the carriage, a focused look in her eyes.
To her surprise, she found herself standing near the center of a small clearing. Its middle was bare earth, forming a hole in the otherwise grassy and flowery ring. A hole her assistant was laying in, tail scribbling through the dirt.
The trees lining the clearing's edge had marks on them, etched deep into their bark. Some looked like random scratches, while others had purpose put into them; markings none too different from the ones on the unicorn. Their canopies stretched out over most of the area, obscuring the sky, but not to the point of making it too dark for the flowers. Surprise lingered in Trixie's eyes as she took it all in, unable to get her bearings from the evidence provided.
The showpony then blinked when she realized she couldn't remember much of what happened after the fight last night. Maybe her throbbing head played some key part in that fact.
“T- Trixie!” Reina let out, looking over her shoulder to the mare, surprise in her eyes. She was also covered in similar markings, making Trixie raise an eyebrow at her. She sat up, slithering close to the mare, leaving intricate markings in the earth behind her. “Are you okay?” she asked with some concern, making the mare's annoyance falter. “Zecora said you were blown up!”
It only faltered for a moment.
“Trixie has a headache, so stop yelling,” she insisted, before eyeing their surroundings. “Where are we?” she asked, noticing that the most likely architect of their face paintings was missing, “Where's Zecora?”
“We're a little bit off the road,” Reina replied, adopting a considering look, “Zecora was very certain they wouldn't find us here.” She then blinked at Trixie's pressing look. “R- Right, she went out to gather herbs,” she added, before her eyes widened. “Oh!" Trixie winced, "She also told me to tell you: 'Just a sip was all you needed. Perhaps next time my words shall be heeded',” she delivered, her voice trying to sound like Zecora's, not being far from the mark.
“And she painted us because...?”
“To hide us from magic!” Tiko said confidently. Trixie came closer, considering the strange paint for a moment, before eyeing the markings in the dirt. Reina had been practicing the first few letters of the alphabet.
“Last question,” the showpony said in a demanding tone, getting the filly's full attention, “Who's the host of this garden?” she inquired, making the filly look a little surprised.
“You knew?” she asked, getting a nod from the mare.
“Of course Trixie knew! This isn't the first deer's den she's come upon!” she stated proudly.
“Well, Zecora said that this place was, ugh, 'vacant',” she explained, sounding a little disappointed. She then glanced back to her writing for a moment, before turning to Trixie, “I kinda wanted to see one.”
“And, we wanted to see your fight!” Tiko added.
“It sounded really intense.” She then covered her ears, “And loud,” the filly pointed out, getting a flat look from Trixie.
“Clearly not intense enough, Mr. and Mrs. Sleepy Head.”
“Th- That wasn't our fault!” Reina replied.
“Dum-dum! We're not married! That'd be weird!”
“Look,” the Reina added, “Sid, she's a lurker. She snuck into the carriage.”
“She was?” Trixie asked, looking a little put off, “Tch, Trixie had a feeling something was off,” she replied, before her eyes widened, “How did she avoid my sweeping spell,” she asked under her breath. Her eyes then narrowed curiously, “...How did you manage to fight her off?”
“I ... don't really know,” she replied with a confused look.
“She was a bigger dum-dum than you,” Tiko pointed out, “And she asked a bunch of odd things.”
“I ... don't think she's as bad as the others,” Reina concluded, looking very uncertain. Admittedly, that wasn't the answer Trixie was hoping to hear.
“Reina, the next time somepony- some lamia corners you. Call. For. Trixie!” she exclaimed, getting a surprised look from the filly, who glanced to the ground, ears falling.
“I thought it'd be fine,” she mumbled.
“Well, it wasn't,” Trixie replied, before rubbing her aching temple. She then paused when Reina lowered her head, eyeing the ground with a hint of shame in her eyes, making Trixie adopt a troubled look. The mare then glanced back to her carriage, causing her mouth to fall open.
It was covered in mud, leaves and branches. From a distance, the once gaudy cart now blended in seamlessly with the surroundings. Under the sticks, she could make out the burns and dents from the previous night. The whole scene started to make her blood boil, which only made her head throb more.
A little too much, in fact. Trixie swayed for a moment, almost toppling over as her vision briefly darkened.
“T- Trixie?” Reina asked with concern.
“...Trixie is fine,” she replied. “Just, need to calm down,” she added, more to herself, “Zecora is just doing right by us. It can be fixed, later...”
“You sure you're okay?” the filly pressed, getting a long sigh from the mare, who then turned to her.
“Never better~!” she replied sarcastically. She took a deep breath, hesitating for a moment before calling on her magic. The gem inside her home started to glow, the spell now armed. She then let out another long breath, before an odd realization struck her. “...Did Zecora get any sleep?”
“I don't think so?” Reina replied, getting a bothered look from the mare. Trixie considered it all for a moment, the fight, the clearing, the zebra and the filly. She then nodded to herself, before sitting next to Reina.
“What, what did that zebra show you?” she asked, getting a flash of annoyance from her assistant.
“Zecora, showed me how to write a few words, and the first five letters of the alphabet.”
“Words? Shouldn't it be all the letters first?”
“I guess so, but, there were a few I wanted to know first,” Reina replied, adopting a small blush as her tail wiped the dirt clean of what she'd practiced. She then wrote five words. She wrote them slowly, eyes locked in concentration, and Trixie found herself smiling as she saw the words come together: Reina, Tiko, Lin, Trixie, Zecora.
“Who's Lin?” Trixie asked, seeing the filly adopt a smile. “Wait, is that your mother's name?” she asked, getting a nod.
“Zecora knew,” she replied, writing the name a few more times. “Wish I could tell her I'm alright...” she said with a sad look in her bespectacled eyes, getting an assuring grin from the showpony.
“That's easily doable!” Trixie replied with a nod, getting a surprised look from Reina, “If Zecora knows where she is, we can send a letter. With a bit of magic, it'll get to her long before we do,” she explained.
“R- Really!?” the filly asked, “Wait, is it like that letter you got from the mayor?”
“Kind of, but Trixie has a faster way-” the mare's eyes widened when a swirl of dust started to form in the air nearby, giving off a magenta glow. “Talk about timing! Trixie's receiving one right now!” she said, the filly watching with wonder as the cloud of ash grew.
...And kept growing.
After several seconds, Trixie adopted an alarmed look as the 'letter' finally formed, into a small booklet which hit the ground with a small thump. She picked it up, reading the words on the front page out loud.
“Dear Trixie, From Twilight,” she let out, her surprise mirrored by her assistant.
“That's a big letter,” Tiko said.
“No kidding!” Trixie replied, quickly fumbling through the pages, finding each bogged down with paragraphs. “This ... will take some time to digest,” she said sheepishly, before her eyes widened in alarm. “Oh bu-” she eyed the filly, “-uuggadoodle, I need to write a letter for Luna!”
“Can I watch?” Reina asked curiously, getting a considering look from Trixie.
“Sure,” she replied as she turned to her 'decorated' home, entering.
She then froze as her eyes came upon an intruder. A woodland critter of gray fur and black stripes; a raccoon. It noticed her as well, both still as they looked to each other, seeing who would move first. Trixie's eyes narrowed, horn sparking as the gem shimmered, forming a small cage around the critter, completely catching it off guard.
It was carrying half a dozen apples in its greedy little paws.
“Thinking to steal from the Great and Powerful Trixie, are you?” she asked smugly, getting a sheepish look from the critter as it hid the apples behind its back. “Don't think Trixie can't see those!”
“What's that?” Reina asked.
“Is it a furry Tiko?” Tiko offered.
“It's a raccoon, and a little thief.”
“...Are we gonna keep it?” Reina asked enthusiastically, getting a troubled look from the woodland bandit.
“Most definitely not!” Trixie assured, before her eyes widened in alarm, seeing Reina giving her a pleading face. “In fact, Trixie is going to send it on its way, right now!” This group didn't need any more members, least of all a raccoon! Ignoring the small ache in her horn, she picked up the critter and apples, ending the cage before taking them outside. “You can keep these,” she added, leaving the apples with it, “Just don't come back! Oh, and tell your little friends to stay away too!” Where there was one, there were many. “Trixie will not be so generous next time!”
The raccoon looked at her, a little confused, before it let out a happy squeak, and left, apples in paw.
“Aww,” Reina said in a disappointed tone.
“Don't 'aww' Trixie! We've got letters to write!” she said, laying out some paper on the table. She then blinked, “Your mother can read, right?”
“Of course she can read and write, dum-dum!” Tiko exclaimed.
“Both pony and lamia,” the filly added, making Trixie pause as she brought a quill to the parchment.
“Lamia? What's that like?”
“It's like...” Reina said, being a hoof under her chin, before nodding to herself. “It's like pictures,” she explained, pointing at the quill, “Can I?” she asked, and Trixie gave it to her, backing from the table as Reina took a stab at writing with it. After a few terribly rough attempts, she managed to ink down something coherent. A line of hieroglyphs. When it was finished, she smiled at Trixie, “This says: I'm fine, see you soon, and I love you.”
Trixie took in the line. It looked like several snakes in strange postures that all tied together into what she figured was a sentence. It had a certain style and appeal to it that Trixie liked, but couldn't quite pin down why. “Want to try?” she asked as she gave Trixie an eager grin, making the mare shake her head.
“Trixie sees no need to learn this. Nor does she think trying to learn it would be a good idea.” She then waved Twilight's pamphlet before the filly, “The author of this would be most curious though, Trixie can promise that.”
“A friend of yours?” Reina asked, sounding a little put off, but still curious.
“A good friend,” Trixie replied, before pulling out fresh paper. “Write a note for your mother, and we can do the next step later, after Zecora returns.”
“What about you?” Reina asked, getting a sly smile from Trixie.
“Trixie has more than one quill,” she replied as she pointed to her horn.
“Gonna rub your head all over it?” Tiko asked with a small laugh, getting a flat look from Trixie.
“And when Trixie's done, she'll make Tiko do the same.”
“S- Scary!” the doll let out, getting a sly grin from the mare, before giving attention to her own letter. Her horn then glowed, words forming at her thought.
By now, you've probably heard about the bridge in Vanhoover. Suffice to say, no, I'm not staying there. I'm heading east, and will be making a stop at Canterlot along the way.
About the bridge. A group of goons blew it up trying to take something important from me. Naturally, the Great and Powerful Trixie sent them running.
What happened to the bridge couldn't be helped, and I can assure you, it wasn't my fault. So, as I said, you don't need to worry. I can manage this.
But, I promise that if I get in over my head, I'll ask for help.
So please don't send any of the shadowbolts to tail me or something like that.
My best regards and wishes, Trixie Lulamoon~
Ps. Got Twilight's 'letter'. It's a freaking booklet!
Trixie nodded to herself, then flinched when she noticed Reina looking over her shoulder. “W- What is it?” Trixie asked, making the filly glance to the side.
“Nothing, just looking,” she replied, before pulling back, sitting on the bed. “So how do you send it to … who?”
“Luna. Princess Luna,” she replied, getting an intrigued look from Reina.
“Princess? That sounds important!” Tiko said, getting a nod from the mare.
“Indeed she is. She taught Trixie a lot. Like how to send letters to others with magic. It goes a little something like … this!” Trixie explained with a grin, the tabletop candle briefly flickering to life, the flame matching her glowing horn as the letter turned to ash, and flew out the window. “It should reach Luna pretty shortly.” She then looked to the filly, “Later, when Trixie's magic is up to maximum power, she'll be able to do that with your letter.”
“Why's mine harder?”
“Because Trixie doesn't know this 'Lin', so she's going to have to get creative with her magic. And unless your mother has a crafty unicorn close by, you're not likely to get a reply.”
“I had a feeling about that,” Reina replied as her ears briefly fell, “But, it's fine as long as she knows I'm fine!”
“That's the spirit!” Trixie replied, before moving to leave, “Now, let's get ready to go. Trixie wants to hit Tall Tale as soon as Zecora returns-” she paused as she looked forward, surprised to see the zebra was already back. She was looking over a rolled out cloth covered in leaves, ferns, and flowers. Zecora smiled as she glanced over her shoulder, before nodding to herself, and rolling it back up. “How long have you been back?” Trixie asked with a guarded look.
“I've been here for a minute or two. Now tell me, how are you?”
“Head hurts,” Trixie replied curtly, before pointing at the carriage, “Let's go, we've got a city to visit,” she said, getting a nod from the alchemist.
“After we continue on our quest, would you allow me some rest?” she asked, pointing at the carriage. Trixie appraised her for a moment, before letting out a sigh.
“Once we get on our way, the bed's yours. And … thanks,” she said, blushing slightly before her horn glowed, “Now, help Trixie clear all … this off!” she exclaimed as she waved at the camouflage, getting a smile from the others, as they did just that.
“So, how will Zecora help?” Reina asked, getting a curious look from the zebra, and a confused one from Trixie.
“Help with what?” she asked.
“The letter!” Tiko exclaimed.
“Oh!” the mare replied, before turning to the zebra, “Zecora, do you know precisely where Lin is? Can you form a strong mental image of the place?” she asked, getting a nod.
“A yellow cave by the sea, shadowed by a smitten tree,” she replied, “A strong image indeed, if that is what you need.”
“Excellent! Once we're both in tip-top shape, we'll send the letter.”
“But, how?” Reina asked, getting a sigh from the mare, “And don't say 'magic'.” She used air-quotes, both hooves plus tail. “I want to know more.”
“Fiiine,” Trixie let out, “When the letter is burnt, Trixie's magic carries it to the intended pony it's for. When Trixie does it, she thinks of who it is as she does. She pictures Luna in her head, and the spell does the rest. Trixie has Lin's name, and Zecora has her location, so Trixie will mix her magic with Zecora's thoughts to complete the spell.”
“Your explanation seems rather flat. Are you certain you can magic that?” Zecora asked skeptically, getting a scoff from the pony.
“Of course Trixie can! It's not the first time she's used her magic in tandem with another, you know,” she assured, getting a tired nod from the zebra.
“Then later, we'll put your words to the test. Now excuse me, but I'm in much need of rest.”
“Yes yes go on,” Trixie said dismissively.
After being shown the path back to the road, Zecora went into the carriage. As soon as she was out of sight, Trixie's horn shimmered, cleaning herself and Reina of the mud that shrouded them. “Now, assistant, Trixie is intending us to stay for two days. She'll be doing another show, and she'll be expecting the same from you. But this time, your audience will not be so easily won, understand?” she asked, getting a determined look from the filly. “Good,” she added, lifting her assistant to the carriage's roof, Trixie's smile growing as they reached the road, seeing brick structures a healthy stroll down the way.
She pulled the cart across the cobblestone for several minutes, letting Reina continue with her alphabet with the quill as the mare wondered what the city had in store. Her thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of a letter. A normal sized one, with Luna's seal. Trixie's ears dropped as she opened it, eyes filled with trepidation as she began to read.
You'll be surprised to know that I've heard absolutely nothing of this incident!
Trixie felt her heart skip a beat.
Good thing I happen to know a worried mare who was willing to send me a very incriminating letter!
Said mare let out a pained groan, before her eyes narrowed upon the next line.
Guess this means it's time to summon the shadowbolts and have you brought in for questioning!
She rolled her eyes at that, before letting out a long sigh.
Trixie, here you are, telling me not to worry. Have you considered the possibility that you are the one worrying too much?
You, Twilight, and Sunset have already proven that each of you can take care of yourselves. You're not my students any longer, but your own mares. So, don't worry, I trust each of you.
If you say you can manage these 'goons', then manage them. I'll be looking forward to the tale you have to tell when it's all said and done.
But, if things get a little too wild, don't be shy to call for a bail, okay?
Continue being your Great and Powerful self. Love, P. Luna.
Ps. If you can, try and keep away from any more bridge burning.
Pps. I would not send the shadowbolts after you. I would come get you, personally!
Trixie looked over those last few lines, mixed with a sense of amusement, sprinkled with a dash of dread. She then took a deep breath, her chest warm as she glanced over the words again, before letting out a long sigh, and shaking her head. After levitating the letter into the carriage with the others, she continued pulling the cart.
“Was it a good letter?” Reina asked, getting a surprised glance from the mare.
“What makes you ask?”
“You're smiling,” Tiko replied, getting an oddly soft look from the showpony.
“Yes. Trixie thought Luna would be worried about all this. She wasn't.”
“...Mom's probably really worried,” the filly as she glanced to the side.
“Of course she would be!” Trixie didn't hesitate to assure, “It's only natural for a parent to worry.”
“Really?” Reina asked, seeming oddly sad and happy to hear that.
“Really,” Trixie affirmed, “And that's what your letter's gonna fix!” She then paused, her eyes widening as a thought struck her, giving the filly an odd look. Trixie's brow furrowed for a moment as she glanced to the city in the distance, before pulling the carriage to the side.
“You reminded Trixie of something important she needs to do! A letter that she needs to write, and it's one she should have written days ago,” she explained, eyes glancing to the city as she levitated out some paper. She then eyed the parchment, adopting a warm smile. Tall Tale could wait.
“A letter for who?” Reina asked eagerly, mirroring Trixie's smile, getting a sly look from the mare, as she began to write.
Dear Mom and Dad...