• Published 8th Jan 2014
  • 421 Views, 3 Comments

A Great and Powerful City - TheDarkStarCzar

Trixie visits Manehattan as a filly and learns a few of the lessons it has to offer.

  • ...

The Magnificent Marvelo and Nova Lulamoon

Everypony hated Trixie. Possessed of a cutiemark for less than a year and already she was at loose ends as to what to do with it. Gimmicks, illusory magic and some well placed bits of stagecraft are all well and good when the only foes to vanquish are your rivals at the school talent show, but even as a foal Trixie knew the difference between a real mage and a stage magician and always knew she would be the latter, the lesser, a shadow of those she imitated.

In truth she had no interest in battling the forces of chaos that intermittently boiled up and rolled across the land only to be stamped out by those fool hardy and adventurous spell casters whose names were at the tip of every unicorn's tongue. Star Swirl the Bearded, who resealed the gates of Tartarus, Spectral Shield, who held off the dragon king's armies for eight days so so that reinforcements could arrive and drive them away for good, Coriander, the Timid, who did the best he could with what he had and saved the kingdom single hoofedly.

These were the real heroes, the real magicians, Trixie only knew her few sad little parlor tricks for amusing simpletons and foals.

Being renowned mages for the royal court themselves, her parents hadn't known what to do with the little urchin, so they'd sent her off to Manehattan where her Aunt and Uncle ran a small theater just off Bridleway. They'd said that it was so she could hone her stagecraft, maybe get some time in front of the audience, warming up the crowd with patter and a few tricks before the show started, but Trixie knew, they hated her and it was no wonder that she thought very little of herself in turn.

They'd said that the change of scenery for the summer would draw her out of her funk, but she'd resisted as hard as she could and made a point to keep her gloomy worldview intact. In fact the dark, soot streaked towers of the city and absence of sunlight in the block walled canyons of commerce and industry buttressed her morose bulwark even more. By the time the Taxi disgorged her in front of the theater she'd already turned it's chipped paint, tattered sign and grimy ticket window into a little ray of the apocalyptic, set out to shine just for her.

"Teresa!" Her uncle, by marriage, bellowed and enfolded her into a warm hug.

"Trixie." Her aunt corrected, then she too hugged the impassive filly, "What's with all the black clothes, did...did somepony die?"

"Didn't you know? We're all dying, every moment, a little more every second, and here we stand basking in the utter banality of it all when we should be celebrating the..."

"Yeah, you have to remember that Trixie's from Hoofington. It's a little town in the upper Midwest so they're not out of the goth craze yet." Her uncle, a trim periwinkle unicorn with a white mane and moustache pointed out, quite accurately. Trixie was at the tail end of a goth phase she'd been riding since middle school. He wore spats and a coat with tails that half hid a diamond pointed magic wand for a cutiemark, quite similar to Trixie's own save that it's trail of magic shimmered as if it were nearly real, ready to burst to life at any moment.

"Ah, I see. That was almost a decade ago here, wasn't it? Whelp, sorry Trix, I'm afraid that's not gonna fly while you're staying with me and The Magnificent Marvelo." In a brief flash of unicorn magic Trixie suddenly stood naked before the world, a blue aura glowing from her aunt's horn and the neatly folded black clothes settled on her back as she levitated Trixie's suitcase and ushered her to the door.

"Tyrant." Trixie said tonelessly, with little indication of whether she was kidding or not. Then, as if the absence of dark fabrics freed her from it's spell, she asked in a more lively voice, "Who's The Magnificent Marvelo?"

"Oh, that's his stage name, you can call him Marv." Her aunt chuckled.

"She'll do no such thing, it would be improper for the dear little filly to address The Magnificent Marvelo by a diminutive, for truly, if his magnificence doesn't inspire awe enough to use a full title, whose name does?"

"I dunno, Princess Celestia, I guess." Her aunt shrugged and paused, reaching out to bump hooves with Trixie and smile, "My name's Nova, by the way. I'm a Lulamoon, just like you."

"Celestia, hmm? The Magnificent Marvelo knew her when she was just a wee filly. Charming thing, just charming, Marvelo taught her everything she knows. Marvelo hears she's made out well enough for herself, if castles are your thing."

Trixie giggled despite herself, "Castles don't suit you, Marvelo?"

"The Magnificent Marvelo prefers theaters where his astonishing feats can be displayed for the teeming masses. No castle, no mere palace would satisfy his adoring throngs as he delights and astound them with miracles and illusions of every stripe." With a flourish he conjured a bouquet, plucked a single primrose from it to stick behind the foal's ear and vanished the remains. Trixie beamed for a moment, then her former dour disposition reappeared.

"So you're illusionists, then?" She sighed, "Not real magicians at all? Mom and dad said you were with a theater company. I was hoping that since I couldn't do real magic, maybe I could try acting."

"That's not what I heard." Nova said, "Fact is I heard you were a pretty talented little sorceress in your own right, but they don't know stage magic, so they sent you here to learn a bit."

"I can do some tricks, cast a few little spells, but I'll never be able to do real magic." Trixie demonstrated by creating an illusory dove, flinging her hoof up to let it fly free towards the stamped tin ceiling of the lobby as they walked, before having it puff into a burst of blue sparks which showered down and faded away.

"By Luna's teat!" Marvelo exclaimed and was promptly elbowed in the ribs, "I mean to say, The Magnificent Marvelo is tolerably impressed. You have potential, to say the least. Why is it you think that this isn't 'real magic'?"

"Because it isn't. You can't fight demons, turn back a horde of dragons or save kingdoms with it, all it's good for is...entertainment." She sighed.

"So? Certainly The Magnificent Marvelo could do any of those things, but just how many monsters do you see around here, or anywhere? Have you ever even seen a proper monster my dear Trixie?"

"Well, no. I mean I saw a minotaur once, does that count?" She looked up hopefully.

"That's a minotaur, not a monster." Her aunt chimed in, "Marv's point is that Equestria's a pretty peaceful land these days. There's not a lot of demon slaying that needs done over the course of a year and there's a glut of wanna be heroes to do it. Bored ponies, though, there's a whole passel of them and when they get bored and cranky they turn into monsters themselves and make everypony miserable. Entertainment is real magic and it's way more important than some stuffy old head up their plot mages and their doomsday spells. The Magnificent Marvelo has more power than any ten of those louts you read about in books, you just sit right down and see."

They'd arrived before the stage and Trixie was pointed to a seat front row center while her aunt and uncle continued backstage. Ponies of all ages started filtering in and within half an hour the stadium was packed and the assembled ponies were stomping and whistling for the show to start.

The lights dimmed, a spotlight flared to life at the same moment Nova Lulamoon burst from a cloud of smoke, a purple cape and hat liberally sprinkled with stars adorning her lithe white frame. She set the hat on the floor and in lifting it produced The Magnificent Marvelo from thin air before resettling it on her own head and walking to stage right while he introduced himself and Nova, his lovely assistant.

Trixie was fascinated. Father had talked about his brother in law in a sneering way at times, but his work was amazing. Her uncle told stories enhanced by motes of light suddenly forming into a picture at just the right moment, blowing away into coals and sparks of spent fireworks only to coalesce, seemingly by chance for their next illustration. He didn't rely on tricks as the object of the show themselves, they simple enhanced his point as he spieled and coincidentally came to hoof as needed as if capriciously. As she watched, she instinctively understood the dance. Neither a moment or movement was unchoreographed, not a flick or flair without purpose. The audience loved him, roared and thundered for him and Trixie did too. She knew at last that this was what her cutiemark was telling her.

Settling in was a difficult thing. She had a tiny guest bedroom to call her own and a shared bathroom. Whether it was for the stage or just in their nature, both her relatives required considerable time to primp and there was little privacy to be had, but it felt homey. The kitchenette was miniscule and it's storage capabilities quite minimal which necessitated frequent trips to a deli some blocks away where nearly all their meals originated.

During one such trip Nova accompanied Trixie as they strolled down the broad, paved way full of ponies hustling here and there. Trixie felt like a drop in a mighty river and paused for but a moment to take it all in. She was promptly plowed into from behind, knocking her down.

"Quit Gawking, ya' tourist!" Somepony pushed by on her right.

"Hey! Watch it! This is a sidewalk, emphasis on walk, alright lady?" A smartly dressed pony said before slipping back into the flow and disappearing.

"Get out the road." Another said as he trod closely by.

Several other grumbles were heard as Trixie rose to her hooves and rejoined the ever moving throng. She had to trot briefly to catch up with her aunt who was looking back over her shoulder.

"This really isn't like home at all, everypony's so rude!" Trixie said as she resettled a black shawl across her shoulders. It was her compromise to try and look less dark and dated, but the black crocheted thing would look right on an elderly widow and looked like a tasteless affectation on a youngster, which of course, it was.

"Maybe. You could look at it that way I guess." Her aunt admitted as she ducked into a thrift shop to give her niece a quick respite and a quiet place to talk.

"I don't see how else you would look at it."

"Well...Like, yes, it's definitely not the same as where you're from, but consider what just happened, ok? Somepony ran into you and said some rude things, happens everyday here because there's so many ponies all crammed together and everypony but you's already forgotten about it. They don't care and if somepony had said the same thing to them, well they wouldn't care about that either. Back where you're from, if somepony disrespects or insults somepony else, whether they're in the right or not, they're libel to sit and stew about it and keep it alive until it turns into a grudge or worse, and they're likely to see the same pony day after day and just let it build 'til something stupid happens. Now here, you can walk the same street with the same ponies at the same time each day and still never manage to catch a glimpse of each other again, so what's the use in having a chip on your shoulder about it?"

"When you say it like that, it makes it sound like they're either very enlightened or they don't care a thing about their honor, like they're all humble as monks or something." Trixie said, idly sorting through a rack of old coats near the door.

"Oh, quite the opposite, I'd think. Humility is the first thing out the window when you're living right on top of so many other ponies, y'know? A shrinking violet act doesn't work here. You've got to stand up for yourself and your rights, be confident and don't let yourself be trampled on, and if you are, get back up and get moving again. That's just the way it's got to work if you want to make it." Nova picked out a white peasant blouse, held it up to Trixie to check it for size, set it aside and kept browsing.

"I guess, but where does that leave all the useless foals like me, ambling along all out of sorts with all these paragons of perseverance, huh?"

"Trixie, you're not useless, you're doing what little fillies are meant to do, learning. Once you're here a while you won't feel so out of place and you'll see you're just as good and important as all those other ponies. Instead of a small town full of ponies who secretly think they're useless, wasting their lives, we've got a whole city full of equines who hold their heads up high because they know how great they are."

"Even when they're not?"

"Oh, especially when they're not." Nova giggled, "Now, as far as you fitting in, though, no more black. It's not your color and it makes you look like a rube. Now don't take it like that, it's just that we have actual dark, mysterious, deeply creepy stuff going on around here, so a filly playing at being all brooding and self effacing, it's a bit trite." Nova snatched the shawl away, wadded it up and flung it into a donations bin towards one wall, then as Trixie indignantly moved to retrieve it, her aunt slung a shiny, dark blue blouse onto her. Pausing to look in the mirror, she had to admit she looked the part of a city girl much better wearing it and moreover, she felt it and resolved to give it and the city the benefit of the doubt for a time.

The summer of helping around the theater, from selling tickets to set building and light pyrotechnics passed quickly and Trixie eventually had to return home, but her uncle gave her a list of spells and told her that if she could master them he'd let her assist in the show once in a while.

From that moment on she studied hard and every summer thereafter she went back to the theater, which usually ran a play each night with the magic act bookending it (with Saturday morning shows for the younger set.) Soon enough Trixie had learned the tricks and the moves and subbed in seamlessly for her aunt as naturally as could be.

Then one day, The Magnificent Marvelo and Nova approached in matching copper colored costumes, mischievous grins on both their faces. Trixie was an old hoof by now and was soon to graduate from school. She'd even been performing on her own at clubs around her own town and was drawing modest crowds. The blue unicorn eyed them suspiciously, "Alright, I'll bite. What's up Marvelo?"

"Nova and I have been talking. You know the routine inside and out. You're confident and charming and pretty soon you're going to go out on your own, so tonight," He sniffed back tears of pride, "Tonight you do the show and we'll assist."

"Marvelo, I couldn't..."

"You can just call me Marv, Trixie, and you can and you will."

"I remember a sullen, silly little filly who showed up here all dressed in black with some pretty funny ideas about magic," Nova said, "but now look at you, a beautiful grown mare, strong, smart and with a bag of tricks that neither of us could hold a candle to."

"I...I can't, I'm not that good or that strong, I'm not ready." Trixie stuttered.

"Nonsense, I've showed you everything I know and you've exceeded it all. Anything I can do, you can do, and better. You're ready. All that's left is for somepony to give you a push out on that stage." Marvelo flicked his head to indicate the dimming lights. It was almost time for the show.

"I...but...sure I've assisted and I do alright, but I've never been the center of attention. At clubs maybe, not in a real theater, I don't deserve to be the center of attention!" She muttered and her uncle tutted.

"You do, and now's your time to shine. You're great, Trixie, great and powerful. If you want everypony else to believe it, you have to believe it. Say it."

"I...I am gr...great and p...powerful."

"Now mean it!"

"I am...I am great and powerful!"


"I am great and powerful!" She bellowed, an imperious look gracing her face.

"Good." Nova nodded, "Now for the last touch before we go up on stage. Have to have a costume. You can't be a magician without a costume." Nova floated the cape and hat she'd worn up 'til then over to her niece, beaming as she settled the purple hat down on those silver locks, "These..." She choked up for the barest second, "These were Grandma Lulamoon's. They're yours now. Take good care of them." A single tear ran down her cheek as she nuzzled the blue unicorn, but the show must go on. She steeled herself as the MC announced her.

"Manehattans newest conjurer extraordinaire, The Great and Powerful Trixie!"

Trixie never forgot the lessons Manehattan taught her. She grew a thick skin, never questioned her own worth again and she never questioned the importance of her magic or thought it any less real than the monster fighting sort. She could fight the monsters in her stories, and unlike the highly variable heroes of the real world, she always won. Everyone loved Trixie and from that day until the day she faded into obscurity, as all magicians invariably must, she was great and powerful and anything you can do? She can do better.

Author's Note:

I couldn't help but write another Manhattan story.
I hope my Midwestern musings make sense to people other than me. It's like people here are outwardly polite, but if they feel slighted they're secretly sitting home sharpening their knives and plotting to burn your house down while you're sleeping. The people I know from out East seem quick to anger, but seem quick to forget as well.
Thanks for reading and I hope you liked it.

Comments ( 3 )

I liked reading this. Pretty interesting on how you took on explaining the origin of Trixie Lulamoon's, and for that I thank you for giving me something interesting to read.:twilightsmile::raritywink:

Thanks for saying. I wrote this for one of those story prompts and it just dropped right off the radar once I posted it. I think everyone was after Suri and Coco that week, so I'm glad to see my efforts weren't entirely in vain. :twilightblush:

Comment posted by TheDarkStarCzar deleted Sep 27th, 2015
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