• Published 13th Oct 2011
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The Quiet Place - Aynine

Twilight fights against sinister manipulations, struggling to overcome a deep-seated darkness within. As she battles to preserve everything she cares about, she will sacrifice anything necessary to succeed. But the price of victory may be herself.

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Chapter 1: Season of Wishes

Author's Note:

8/26/2014 - FOREWORD

The first nine chapters tend to feel "disconnected" from the rest of the story, but they are a part of it and heavily go towards character development. I need to retool them, but I've been busy focusing my efforts on advancing the storyline. In the mean time, I hope you'll forgive their current faults and read on, but it would be unfair of me not to understand if you chose not to continue.

Anyway, thank you for showing interest and I hope you enjoy the story!

The Quiet Place

By: Aynine

[Disclaimer: I own nothing of the MLP franchise and all rights are reserved by Hasbro and the respective parties involved.]

Chapter 1: Season of Wishes

Firecrackers whistled and danced across the ground in vibrant displays of sparks and pops. Fillies and foals ran around, zipping back and forth between them, laughing and giggling as they went about their innocent games. Older ponies cheered and clapped in joyous banter at the party, each tiny explosion lighting up their faces through the night. Bottle rockets screeched to life in the cool air and exploded into beautiful arrays of light that sparkled in the sky briefly before cascading and disappearing into a fading smoke. It was a farewell party for the one and only Rainbow Dash, soon to leave and join the Wonderbolts in Canterlot.

"Hey, Dashie! Are you liking the party?" Pinkie Pie chirped as she approached the chromatic pegasus from behind.

Dash stood on a hill overlooking the majority of the jolly crowd engaging in activities. She smiled in happiness, and in reminiscence. Pinkie Pie managed to take away a lingering sadness for a moment with the grand gesture, and all of it seemed like any other sweet memory. Dash turned around and suddenly hugged her long time friend from Ponyville, closing her eyes. Images from all of their past adventures with each other and their friends played across her mind like a photo album of her life.

"I'm loving it, Pinkie Pie. I was going to miss all of you when I left for the Wonderbolts, but I can always come and visit any time when we're not practicing or doing shows." She relinquished the embrace and turned around to view the fireworks again, and Pinkie stepped up beside her. "I'll get to see Twilight some more, too. I wonder how she's doing up in Canterlot." Her eyes trailed away to the capitol city far in the distance, shining like a tiny star. "She's so busy with her new studies... She rarely visits anymore."

"It's too bad she can't make the party," lamented Pinkie with a glum look to the city.

Dash nudged her gently. "Hey, don't worry. I'll tell her all about it," she said, shooting the party pony a reassuring smile. She did her best to fight back the disappointment for Pinkie, but her heart still ached. "I'm sure she's busy doing something important."

Pinkie brightened up and returned the gesture. "Yeah, you're probably right."

Suddenly, a flash of light bloomed briefly down below and the crowd began shouting and hollering in response. They spread out and in the center stood Twilight Sparkle, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna. The majestic presence of the princesses immediately caused bowing and abashed curtsies from their subjects.

"At ease, everypony," commanded Luna with a gentle voice and hoof. On cue, everyone rose and greeted them, but Twilight trotted off to Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash as soon as she spotted them on the hill.

"Is that..." Pinkie mumbled while squinting to her. "Hey, Twilight!" she cheered as the unicorn neared them. She fidgeted in place until she came close enough to hug. "Oh, I've missed you so much. You don't visit enough. You need to visit more. I thought you weren't even coming! How did you manage to get both princesses to come with you?" The barrage of questions brought the party pony back into good spirits.

Twilight returned the hug, gently patting her on the back and cracking a smile. "I know, I know. I've just been busy with all of my studies. Celestia and Luna are tutoring me to become an archmage, but I get to spend so much time with them now. I asked them if they would come, but I didn't tell you because I wanted it to be a surprise." She relinquished the embrace and turned to look at the princesses below. "It's so nice to get to talk to Princess Celestia all the time."

"Hey, you better not forget about us," teased Dash.

Pinkie giggled and turned around. "Hey, everypony!" she sang before even finishing her pivot. Prompted by the party pony's words, the others turned to see who she was talking to. Behind them approached Rarity, Applejack, and Fluttershy. Pinkie met them halfway and exchanged the usual, exuberant hugging. The party had caused her to become a bit emotional, even if she wouldn't admit it out loud.

"Well howdy, Twi. We heard you weren't gonna be makin' it to Rainbow's farewell party." Applejack gave a toothy smile and waved before moving to stand beside her athletic rival, playfully jabbing her in the ribs.

"Really now, Twilight. This is quite a surprise, but to bring both princesses here to a going away party for Rainbow Dash? I must say, even I couldn't dream of pulling off something quite as..." She peered past them and observed the rulers exchanging greetings with the others below. The image reminded her of the Grand Galloping Gala and how Celestia had been too busy to even talk to Twilight. "Ostentatious."

The purple unicorn giggled and rolled her eyes. "Oh, Rarity. It's really not that big of a deal. I asked them to come, but it's not like they had to."

Fluttershy stepped a bit closer to the edge to view the princesses. "Princess Luna seems to be doing better with her voice now," she noted.

"Every now and then she still yells at somepony accidentally." Twilight chuckled before continuing, "I didn't think the royal guards would actually jump when that happened."

Dash stuck out her tongue and groaned. "Those guys are so boring. What's the point of standing around like statues and never talking?" She sat down and folded her forelegs across her chest in defiance of their dull career choice.

"You'd be surprised, RD. Those guys are pretty tough. Big Mac probably woulda joined 'em knowing how he is, but I'm glad he stuck with the family." Applejack took off her hat and sat down next to the pegasus. "Heck, you might even be one some day yourself. Yah never know." Dash offered a look of disgust and the farmer gave a hearty laugh before patting her on the back.

Dash rolled her eyes and huffed. "Yeah right," she mumbled sarcastically. Her mood suddenly shifted as the Wonderbolts team flew in and dropped to the grounds below. The crowd was roused into a slew of cheers once more. "I still can't believe it. I'm finally going to be one of the Wonderbolts!" She let loose a high pitched squeal of delight while clasping her face.

"Now settle down there, sugarcube. Yah've got some partyin' to do before you up and leave us to go off to Canterlot," reminded Applejack.

"Yeah, Dashie. This is going to be the biggest party ever! It's so big, we had to move it out here instead of inside Sugarcube Corner cause everypony wants to say goodbye!" Pinkie gushed. She continued to fidget, beginning to wear divots into the grass.

Fluttershy offered a timid smile and raised her head. "Oh, and Scootaloo really wants to talk to you. She should be around here, too."

Dash pursed her lips and looked to the ground pensively. "Ah, I forgot. My bad...."

"Well, go on Rainbow. The party isn't going anywhere any time soon," encouraged Twilight. Dash nodded to her and bowed to the others. "I'm going to go talk to the princesses." With that, the purple unicorn disappeared in a white flash, opting to skip the jog back.

Dash nodded before leaping down from the hill and gliding gracefully to the crowd below. All of her friends from Ponyville and Cloudsdale had shown up, save for her griffon friend, Gilda. Now the Wonderbolts, Twilight, and even the princess had shown up; however, she focused only on finding her biggest personal fan. As she maneuvered through the crowd, she avoided the royalty and the Wonderbolts' attention carefully, slinking between ponies and keeping her head as low as she could.

An orange blur moved past her and she suddenly found herself being tugged off to the side. "Hey, wait," she protested. The words were ignored and Scootaloo pulled her out of the crowd and towards the outskirts of the nearby forest. Once behind the first large tree, she faced the young pegasus who had her forelegs crossed and a deep scowl carved into her features. "H-Hey, Scootaloo. What's up?" Dash asked casually in a vain attempt to mask her awkwardness and nervousness.

Scootaloo stamped a hoof and threw her forelegs into the air. "What do you mean what's up!?"

Dash reached out to her, but Scootaloo quickly stepped back and turned away. "Hey, what's wrong?" asked Dash gently. She tried to make the words sound confused, but they seemed more like the whine of an injured animal.

"You're leaving tonight. I can't believe you! You didn't even talk to me," retorted the orange pegasus.

Dash turned her head to glimpse the party while speaking. "Look, I was going to-"

"Liar!" Scootaloo whipped back to the older pegasus and charged her. She managed to push Dash into the tree and punch her softly. "Liar. Liar. LIAR!" she shrieked out before breaking into defeated sobs.

Dash relaxed and slid to the ground with the younger pegasus resigning herself to her rampant emotions. The older pegasus cradled her in a loving hug and let her cry it out into her chest. "Hey now... I'm not leaving forever. I've been chasing my dream for a long time, and now I've finally caught it."

Scootaloo stopped for a moment and raised her head to meet Dash's eyes. She had only cried for a few minutes, but her eyes had already reddened and her cheeks puffed up. Her breaths came in small huffs and sniffles as she tried to speak as clearly as she could. "What... What about... my dreams?" she managed in an unsteady voice.

Dash gazed into her eyes for a long while before tilting her head back to the tree tops and the night sky. She gently stroked Scootaloo's purple mane as she spoke softly. "Are you sure those are really the dreams you want to chase?"

"What... do you mean?"

Dash turned back to her and smiled, her eyes watering slightly. "You always want to be like me. I've always wanted to join the Wonderbolts. Are your dreams still the same?" she asked.

The filly turned her head away briefly. "I... don't know..."

Dash pulled her face back up towards hers. "Just try to be happy for me. Maybe some day we can both be in the Wonderbolts together." She offered the younger pegasus a warm smile. Scootaloo returned it as her mood began to reverse.

"I think that's what I'll do," she said, snuggling under Dash's chin.

"Why don't we get back to the party? The Wonderbolts are here so you can talk to them."

"The only one I want to talk to is right here. Can we stay here like this, please just for a little while longer?"

Rainbow Dash smiled and looked out to the party. "Yeah. I can stay here all night if you want," she whispered.


In a flash of light, Twilight appeared in the middle of the crowd again. She garnered some looks of shock and awe before everyone settled back into the usual festivities. Games, dining, and friendly chatter all resumed as normal.

"I thought you would want to spend more time with your friends," spoke Celestia as soon as Twilight got her bearings straight.

"Indeed, Twilight. You do not need to spend your friend's departing festivity with only us," chimed in Luna, her eyes laden with mild confusion and curiosity.

Twilight glanced around and scanned the crowd with a disappointed look. "Hey, where's Spike? He would never miss one of Pinkie Pie's parties, let alone Rainbow Dash's going away party."

The sisters exchanged the same look of uncertainty. "I don't know, Twilight. Perhaps he got caught up in some unfinished business at the library," suggested the sun princess.

"We did not request or assign any tasks to him that would risk ruining his record of punctuality," answered Luna.

"I'll ask Rarity." Twilight vanished into a light again, this time with no effect upon the crowd. A few minutes later she reappeared with Spike beside her. "Found him!" she sang in glee. The princesses smiled at the sudden arrival of a new guest.

Spike had definitely grown over the years. From head to toe he matched Twilight's height, and he had also gained a bit more girth about him. He was no longer the stubby, adorable whelp on the outside.

It took the dragon a moment to realize what had just happened. "Hey, Twilight. What's the big idea, huh?" he asked quickly. He carried a somewhat disgruntled look, but the moment the unicorn grinned, it faded away with a chuckle.

"Oh, Spike. You can take the day off from your duties. Besides, Rarity is here."

At those words, the young dragon whirled his head as if to look in all directions at once. "Speaking of Rarity, where is everyone else?" asked the dragon. In another flash of light, they disappeared.

"Perhaps she could at least inform us beforehoof of when she intends to teleport away," said Luna, rolling her eyes.

Celestia snickered softly before replying. "Come now. How many ponies do you know that can teleport?" Luna sighed and rolled her eyes again. One last flash, much larger than any before it, occurred before them. When they could see clearly again, Spike, Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie all appeared with a panting Twilight.

"Come on, everypony! It's KA-RA-OKE TIME~!" sang Pinkie Pie at the top of her lungs. Cheering ensued and the party pony began heading towards a pre-erected stage, complete with a curtain and preparation area behind it. "Follow me!" she commanded with a sudden, determined look. She led a substantial chunk of the partygoers off to participate in the activity.

"Hey, is Rainbow Dash still gone?" asked Fluttershy.

Applejack raised a hoof above her brow and scanned the distance now that they had been given more breathing room. She spotted the cyan pegasus on a return trip from the forest edge with Scootaloo beside her. "There she is. I reckon she's done clearin' the air with her biggest fan." Applejack chuckled and continued to watch them.

The two pegasi playfully shoved each other back and forth, laughing and smiling as if there had never been a moment of sadness between them. Reaching the rest of their friends at the party, they maintained their happy demeanor, but suppressed their laughter in time to talk.

"Hey, guys," greeted Dash. She glanced off to the stage where Pinkie Pie had already begun singing. "I see Pinkie's already started the real party."

"Hey, Rainbow Dash," began Twilight. "This party is for you, you know."

The pegasus scratched the back of her head and looked away with a sheepish grin. "Yeah. Being famous can be such a pain sometimes."

Scootaloo jabbed her in the ribs and she coughed and choked out a few laughs. "Come on. You were gonna introduce me to the Wonderbolts, remember?" she nagged.

Dash turned to her, "Yeah, yeah." Glancing back to Twilight, she shook her head. "You guys better enjoy yourself at my party for me!" With that, the pair wandered off towards the crowd by the stage, their friends chasing them giggles. The Wonderbolts had gathered to perform a group karaoke themselves, taking turns singing lines off key and slurring when they didn't know the lines.

"Well, I reckon we oughta go and enjoy ourselves, too." Applejack nodded and started off towards the stage. Everyone but Twilight and the princesses followed after her.

"Is something the matter, Twilight?" asked Celestia, concern etched into her face.

Twilight smiled and moved closer to the sun princess. She stood up and gave her a big hug, snuggling into the princess's white fur. "Nope. Everything's just perfect," she muttered, grinning. She gave the same hug to Luna, and when she decided to return the gesture, Twilight found herself slung over the moon princess's shoulder and receiving pats on the back as well.

"We are glad that you are happy, Twilight," she beamed. Setting the dizzy unicorn back on the ground, she pointed off to the stage and they all began heading there together.

Before they could reach the edge of the crowd, a familiar unicorn quickly stepped in front of Twilight. Startled by the other pony's sudden appearance, Twilight reeled back and fell to her back with a startled cry. She immediately recognized who it was, and unnamed emotions welled within her atop the familiarity and nostalgia.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't Twilight Sparkle," observed The Great and Powerful Trixie.

"Trixie? I... I didn't expect to see you here." Twilight gulped back in her breath and watched as the magician looked down upon her with harsh, judging eyes. However, she soon took in the fact that both princesses stood just behind the downed unicorn, each one casting an expectant gaze upon her.

Trixie's eyes widened and she quickly dropped to the ground in a deep bow. "P-Princess C-Celestia and Princess L-Luna," she stammered. "Forgive m-me for my behavior." Her words left her throat faster than her cape could settle on the ground behind her, much to Twilight's surprise.

"That is quite alright... Trixie, was it? Are you a friend of my wonderful protégé?" inquired Celestia. Trixie snapped her head up in surprise. Twilight sat up and looked at her expectantly, wondering how the magician might answer that question in the presence of their rulers—and her personal mentors.

Beads of sweat formed beneath the magician's hat as her eyes shifted between Twilight and Celestia over and over again. "Uhh..." she started. "Why... Why we're old friends," she lied, adding a forced grin and desperately trying to hide her sudden anxiety. "We met during one of my magic shows. We've known each other for years," she added, putting up her best poker face. Twilight crinkled her brow and clamped her eyes shut in disbelief, but the princesses couldn't see her expression.

Celestia warmed up to a smile. "Oh, how nice. I don't recall Twilight mentioning you in particular in her letters, though."

"She was the basis of one of my friendship reports," corrected the faithful student, restoring her composure and playing along with a bit more truth to back up the ruse.

Before either princess could speak Trixie cut in. "Y-yes! I was with her when she wrote it." The magician grinned with fake pride as the act continued to work on the sun princess.

Luna cocked her head to the side and shot her an unimpressed, almost accusing look. "Really? Which one was it then? I have read them all for myself and I know for a fact that you were not mentioned by name in any of them."

Trixie forced a smile that struggled not to collapse into a guilty wince. She looked to Twilight, pure pleas of help glazing her eyes. The purple unicorn sighed and caved. "It was the one about being afraid of showing off and hiding a part of who I was," she began. Then she cut to quoting the letter directly. "My friends helped me realize that it's okay to be proud of your talents and that there's a time and a place to show off... especially when standing up for your friends." The magician collapsed to sitting in relief and could only nod enthusiastically in agreement.

"Ah, yes. That was a great letter indeed. I am so glad to know that my student made a new friend that day and that you both wrote that letter together," beamed Celestia.

Twilight offered a nervous laugh. "So, Trixie. Umm... How've you been... since... uh, the last time we saw each other?"

The magician was now at ease and she let her eyes wander away as she explained. "Oh, I've been doing great. My magic shows are starting to get famous again. It was hard overcoming the incident with the Ursa Minor, but I managed. What about you, Twilight? I've missed you so much," she added, throwing up a less forced smile.

Twilight used every ounce of her willpower from spilling everything to Celestia right there, if only to prevent herself from setting the record straight at the magician's expense. "Well, I've moved back to Canterlot and I'm studying under both Celestia and Luna. I'm going to become an Archmage," she announced with legitimate joy, clasping and rubbing her forehooves together.

Trixie's right eye twitched for a moment while she held her smile and processed the information. "That's... wonderful!" she cheered reluctantly after the pause.

"Oh, it seems you two have quite a lot of catching up to do. Well, don't let us hold you up," Celestia chimed in. "We're going to join in the karaoke, too. A little fun can't hurt."

Twilight nodded and watched as they wandered away and left her with the boastful magician. It was Trixie's turn to rub her hooves together and she chortled in delight.

"So, you're the prized student of Princess Celestia? The famed hero? I never thought it would be you of all unicorns." She stood up and brushed herself off before walking in a slow, predatory circle around Twilight. "That explains a lot, though. After those two brats brought the Ursa Minor into town, my reputation and my career were ruined!" she ground out in a hushed voice. "Everything I worked so hard for!"

"Trixie, I'm really sorry about that, but—"

"Now I've lied to the faces of both of the princesses. If they enjoy my show then my reputation will be completely restored—no, even better than before! You're going to help me through this, Sparkle. Got it?" The magician came to a stop in front of Twilight and offered a hoof to both seal the deal and help her up.

"And why should I help you? Why shouldn't I just go tell her right now that you lied, huh?" threatened Twilight while staring at the hoof.

"You wouldn't dare..."

"Try me." Twilight gave her sour look.

Trixie looked back and forth to make sure no one else was watching or eavesdropping on their conversation. She crouched down in front of Twilight and leaned in close, lowering the volume of her voice. "Look, will you please help me? It's those two colts' faults that all of this even happened in the first place!"

Twilight narrowed her eyes. "You were exaggerating your accomplishments. That was your fault. You led them to believe you could stop an Ursa Major," she retorted.

Trixie glanced around again before whispering. "What will it take for you to help me through this party's show tonight?"

Twilight pondered the question for a moment. I've got Trixie wrapped around my hoof... What could I ask for that would benefit both of us? she wondered.

Trixie tapped a hoof on the ground impatiently. "Well? I've got a magic show coming up and I don't want to get booed off the stage before I get there."

Twilight put up a sly grin, and Trixie's ears folded back. "Since we're old friends, I want you to apologize to all of Ponyville for being such a braggart..."

"Are you serious?" Trixie loosed a groan of disgust.

"And aside from your magic show, you'll be spending the party tonight with me and the princesses."

Twilight could've sworn she felt the sheer horror emanating from Trixie in that moment. The magician took the brim of her starry hat and pulled it over her eyes, rotating it back and forth while cringing, grimacing, and gritting her teeth as she weighed her options. After several more movements conveying her dire straits, she reset the hat with her magic.

Trixie groaned again. "Alright, fine! We've got a deal, but you'd better not double cross me, Twilight."

Twilight beamed. "Yay. We're going to have so much fun... friend."

"This is going to be miserable," grumbled Trixie.

Twilight got up and took the magician by a hoof. The touch caused them both to hesitate and look away from one another briefly. Twilight made a sound and Trixie responded by rolling her eyes before they walked to the stage together. Several ponies, led by Pinkie Pie, bowed after finishing a karaoke cover and Princess Luna took to the stage.

"Uh oh..." started Twilight.

"What?" asked Trixie.

"Look, you might want to cover your ears," suggested Twilight as she did so herself.

"What are you—"

Before the magician had time to gather more information, Luna's voice blasted through the speakers on and around the stage. The volume came out in a rush of wind and Trixie's hat took to the skies. Too shocked to grab it herself, Twilight seized it with her magic and returned it to the stunned magician. Trixie clenched her teeth while experiencing the overload in audio stimuli.

"EXIT LIGHT! ENTER NI-IGHT~!" sang, or perhaps bellowed, Luna. Despite the initial shock, the crowd cheered, danced, head banged and sang along to the best of their ability.

When the stream of excess sound ended, Luna received mass applause, cheering, and whistling. Trixie turned to Twilight, her mouth still hanging open and her mane disheveled. "What... How... Is she...?" The magician fumbled with which question to ask first.

Twilight giggled before answering. "Yes. She rarely gets to use the royal Canterlot voice now. It used to be tradition for her to always speak that loudly to her subjects." She watched as Trixie collected herself, starting with the realignment of her jaw.

Pinkie Pie took the mic and thanked Luna for her high volume performance and pointed a hoof towards Trixie and Twilight. "And now for a special guest: The Great and Powerful Trixie!" The crowd's energy seemed to die almost instantly as they recalled the magician's history. Murmurs and whispers took over while a few boos managed to make their way above the other sounds. "Oh come on, you guys. The Ursa Minor thing was such a long time ago," reminded the party pony.

"You're coming with me," declared Trixie abruptly. She snatched one of Twilight's hooves and pulled her up to the stage before she could say anything.

"Hey, this wasn't part of the deal," protested Twilight after coming to a stop on stage. Trixie ignored her and immediately took up the microphone with her magic. A heavy silence fell upon the crowd as they awaited her opening speech.

Trixie sized them up before gulping heavily. "Hello again, Ponyville," she started, adjusting her loose cape collar nervously. "I know the last time I performed here I... exaggerated my accomplishments, and that caused some... problems." A few heckling words escaped the crowd, but it quickly died back to silence when Trixie paused and allowed them to belittle her freely. "I'm very, deeply sorry about that," she continued. She cast the crowd a sympathetic look before turning to Twilight beside her. The purple unicorn returned a nod and a warming, reassuring smile.

Trixie smiled faintly and cleared her throat. "Tonight, I'll be giving you the grandest show ever. I've improved a lot, and my good friend Twilight here is going to help me make it all up to you," she announced in a sing-song voice.

"What!?" cried Spike over the crowd as he jumped and shook a fist, but the gentle hoof of Rarity resting on his shoulder pacified him immediately.

Twilight shot him a sour look before taking the microphone from Trixie. "Yes, I'll be assisting her tonight. Let's all give Rainbow Dash the best farewell show we can!" she cheered out. The crowd moved into an uproar with the pegasi in the air shifting about in anticipation. Rainbow Dash floated the closest with Scootaloo and the other Wonderbolts hovering beside her.

The stage darkened and whispers began of what the show could be like with Twilight's assistance. An aurora of blue light gave vision of Trixie alone, the microphone and Twilight having vanished from the stage. With her horn glowing, she formed a wisp of blue light in front of her. A purple flash to her right revealed Twilight and she formed a wisp of purple of her own.

"Follow my lead," whispered Trixie.

Twilight nodded and closed her eyes, both mares standing up and using their hooves for control. Trixie raised an eyebrow before sending her wisp to the right with a hoof. It left a magnificent trail of light twinkling and cascading down behind it. Twilight followed suit, using her hoof and mimicking the magician's movements in the opposite direction while in perfect synchronization. The crowd cheered softly, voicing their varying degrees of delight.

The lights began swirling around the magical duo before separating and exploding into another display of lights and sparkles, but the starting orb remaining intact. The orbs swirled around them again before erupting into many more. The lights dissolved into a mist that flowed out into the audience. They gave awed and fascinated murmurs, and the mist quickly turned into a thick fog. The magicians disappeared into as it expanded, seeping back onto the stage. In a flash, rays of light bounced in between the audience members and cycled between them, illuminating their delighted faces and changing vectors periodically. The marvelous laser show caused some to step back in fright of the sudden beams, and others to eagerly place a hoof into them in wonder.

The laser show in the crowd continued for several more minutes before they faded all at once. The stage lighting returned and the two mares appeared, each in a deep bow. "Wow, Trixie. You've sure learned a lot since you were last here," Twilight said as she came out of the bow. She opened her eyes only to be met with an indignant scowl from the magician.

"What was that?" she asked snappily, but hushed enough that the audience couldn't hear.

Twilight tilted her head sideways. "What do you mean?"

"That... thing you did. Whatever it was. How did you follow my performance so perfectly?" The tone of frustration died down to one of mere annoyance, and the magician tugged at her cape to alleviate the feeling.

"Oh, that. If I concentrate hard enough, I can follow your magic. It's something I learned from Luna. I can teach you how to do it if you'd like," offered Twilight. She extended a hoof, but Trixie glared at it.

"The Great and Powerful Trixie does not need any help from the likes of you." The magician took the hoof and brought them into another bow for the crowd. "I shall learn on my own."

Twilight came out of the second bow and shrugged. "If you change your mind, all you have to do is ask." She smiled and waved to the crowd, mimicking Trixie's leading movements again. The magician let a frown slip briefly as Twilight followed all of her cheering movements as accurately as her performance.

"Alright. Everypony give it up for Twilight Sparkle for her gracious assistance," Trixie shouted. She prodded the purple unicorn off the stage as soon as her cheers had ended. "The show must go on, and I will join you as soon as it's over," she said.

"I'll hold you to it," said Twilight, sticking out her tongue playfully. Trixie blinked a few times, but said nothing. With that, Twilight departed the area and returned to the sides of royal sisters.

"That was a wonderful display, Twilight," said Celestia.

"Indeed. You managed to focus and let your senses guide you completely. Congratulations on your mastery over that skill." Luna beamed her pride and threw a foreleg around Twilight. "Such a glorious celebration to coincide with, for our student carries a bright future," she declared louder than intended.

Twilight blushed as the crowd turned to her and gave a light clap. She peered beyond them and to the flustered magician being ignored on stage. "Come on everypony. This party is for Rainbow Dash," she reminded, pointing back to the stage.

"Yeah!" cheered Dash while raising a newly acquired mug of cider. She carried a light blush while floating beside the other Wonderbolts and Scootaloo.

Trixie took the cue and began weaving more displays with her magic. After half an hour of her intricate spellwork, she paused and took a breather, dimming the lights for a moment. "Now for the grand finale!" she announced suddenly, rekindling the crowd's anticipation of her show.


"Yes, Twilight?"

Twilight watched as Trixie continued her greatest efforts, building a vivid masterpiece of magical lights. "Trixie wasn't actually a friend..." she confessed.

"Oh? Is something the matter?" The princess rested her neck over Twilight's and watched the magician thoughtfully with her.

Twilight fidgeted and scraped a hoof on the ground. "Well... She wasn't there when I wrote that letter. We lied."

Celestia pulled back and gave her student a puzzled look. "We lied? What do you mean, Twilight?"

Twilight chewed on her bottom lip before summoning the nerve to answer. "I hope that, if I help restore her reputation as a magician here tonight, that she'll become a true friend."

The princess held the look of deep thought for a few more seconds before melting into a smile. "Oh, Twilight. That's wonderful and I hope she does become a friend."

"Can you forgive me—us, for lying?" asked Twilight. Her eyes moistened as she gazed at the sun princess anxiously.

Celestia pulled her into a hug and turned her head back to the stage. "I forgive you," she whispered. Luna observed them in silence, her expression remaining stoic.

They watched as Trixie created beautiful displays of lights, explosions, and sounds. She didn't limit her finale to the stage and many lights appeared and absorbed the audience into the performance. The ambient light died down and Trixie clasped her hooves together. A small blue orb appeared between them and she slowly raised it into the air with her right hoof. Lights on the ground spiraled outward around her like flaming trails.

"Watch, in awe, as The Great and Powerful Trixie performs the most spectacular feat of magic ever witnessed by pony eyes!"

The orb swelled into an enormous size and emitted a powerful blue shade upon the audience. Trixie grinned with anticipation as the masterpiece neared completion. The flames on the ground were pulled up into the orb and the magician held a massive, flaming blue sphere above her head. With a spark from her horn, she threw the sphere at the audience.

Many cried out in panic while others simply gazed into the magical creation with awe. It crashed into the ground and detonated with a soft boom, and many smaller, weaker explosions followed after. Waves of light spilled out and flowed over a greater area, and a few members of the audience fainted from the shock while most watched everything happening, marveling at such a bizarre and extravagant display of lights. The blue shades soon shifted back into the natural night as the explosions ceased.

Trixie stared out into the crowd, stiff as there was no applause. Forcing a smile, she adjusted her cloak by the gem that fastened it to her neck, beads of sweat forming beneath her hat. Twilight began a slow clap with glee, listening as it evolved into an uproar of cheers and drumming of hooves. She beamed to Trixie and their eyes locked for a moment. The magician smiled back, nodding before slipping into a chain of bows.

"That was awesome! Best magic show ever!" cried Dash.

"Th-thank you, everypony," replied Trixie with a tone that threatened to waver further. She reveled in the attention and glory, bowing and waving back. Afterwards, she returned the stage to a dumbstruck Pinkie Pie and wandered over to Twilight.

"Wow, Trixie. That was magnificent. It's much better than your old fireworks."

"Only the best," she replied while raising her nose and placing a hoof to her chest. "The Great and Powerful Trixie settles for nothing less."

"That was a most wonderful performance, Trixie." Celestia turned to Twilight. "Well, it's getting late for me. I must be going now," she announced. She turned to her sister who was watching Trixie intently. "Luna, are you going to stay here?"

The moon princess's eyes wandered around for a bit before falling back to Celestia. "I think I shall tarry for a while longer. Twilight and I do not get to enjoy as many events together as I would like."

Celestia glanced between them before nodding. "Very well. I hope you two have fun."

"Goodnight, Celestia," said Twilight.

"May your dreams welcome you, dear sister." Luna smiled and waved as Celestia flew off towards Canterlot. When she left visual range, the remaining princess turned to her student. "What would you like to do now, Twilight?"

"How about we join the others and play some games," she suggested. Twilight stepped forward and grabbed Trixie by a hoof, dragging her along with Luna following after.

"H-hey. I don't have to play, too, do I?" she asked while stumbling to keep up with Twilight's enthusiastic pace.

"Yes, you do. Now come on, it'll be fun!" she reassured.


A lone knight lay on a hill, quietly overlooking the glowing lights from the party down in the distance before her. She sighed and shook herself to adjust the magnificent armor she wore, but it failed to make her any more comfortable than she already was. Polished steel plating covered vital parts all over her body, her wings free to move between gaps in the back of a breastplate. She wore a visor-less helmet with two wings extending back and upward from beside the ears; the breastplate carried the symbol of Luna's cutie mark on the front; bracers covered her forehooves while sollerets protected the rear ones. Lastly, a small heater shield rested on her back, a baldric with a broadsword sleeping in its sheathe just beneath.

As Princess Celestia came into view, the knight snapped up and to attention with a disciplined salute. "Good evening, Your Majesty. Did you have fun at the party?"

"You know you don't have to stand watch from so far away. Why don't you go and enjoy the party yourself?" Her eyes looked over the knight thoughtfully, drinking in her reaction.

The knight looked down at the ground for help. "I, um... Well, you see..." she said while fumbling around for words. She bit her lip as inner conflict culminated into a lack of coherent thought.

"Don't keep it a secret forever. Just go," urged Celestia.

"B-but we're leaving," protested the knight. Her mouth crinkled, desperately laying into the excuse for salvation.

"You will be assigned to me for anything that involves her until you speak your mind to her," ruled the princess.

"But—!" The knight glimpsed the party behind Celestia, the sight and its honored patron compelling her to go, but a lack of confidence pushed her to maintain the great distance from it.

The princess offered a faint smile. "You will thank me on the day that you finally lay these fears to rest." She turned and looked off towards the party. "I'm assigning you to my sister's detail tonight."

"But, Your Majesty..." whined the knight with a subtle groan, dancing around direct complaints to the order, "that's unnecessary." The knight knew what she meant, but there was nothing she could do or say to change the princess's mind.

Celestia sighed and looked up to the night sky briefly. "I leave the distance at which you wish to carry out your duties entirely up to you. Just... promise me that you'll act soon."

"Thank you"—the knight bowed graciously—"I promise," she vowed, unsure of herself. "What about you, Your Majesty? Who is taking my place?"

"Don't worry. There are other knights to take your place. Have a good night." The princess smiled and the knight bowed again. She flapped her wings and began soaring back towards Canterlot. The knight breathed out in relief and laid back down. She stared out to the party and summed up a regretful smile.

It's not as pretty as you, she thought.

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