• Published 20th Mar 2012
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My Choices: Twisted Tales Through Time - koolerkid



Twilight goes back in time to prevent Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon.

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Chapter Four

A/N: Hey look, a chapter that didn’t take months! Huzzah! Also, an advance warning: This chapter contains heart-exploding levels of HNNNNNNNNG! If you have a weak heart or are diabetic, please take precautionary methods before reading. Thank you.

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Chapter 4

It was 9:05 AM on a Monday morning, and Twilight Sparkle had not arrived for her lesson. Princess Celestia was worried. Twilight had only been her student for a few short weeks, but in that time she had never been late for a single class, always arriving exactly on time. For her personal lessons with Celestia, like the one meant to start at 9:00 this morning, she often showed up several minutes early. Today, however, she was running five minutes late. While Celestia did not know the filly too well yet, it seemed very odd.

Celestia considered what might have happened. It was entirely possible that Twilight was simply running late. She was a filly, after all, and even the most eager and studious of fillies could be distracted or sleep in. Little Twilight, on the other hoof, had a sort of single-minded devotion to learning Celestia was accustomed to seeing only in older scholars, and she found it hard to believe such a pony, even a little filly, would ever be late to a class.

Celestia resolved to give her student another five minutes to arrive before she began searching for her. After all, every young filly deserved a bit of leeway. It was early Monday morning; who wanted to get up for that? So, she waited.

At about 9:08, Twilight finally came shuffling in. Normally, when Twilight arrived for their private sessions, she was eager and excited, racing in with a big grin on her face and eagerly inquiring what today’s topic would be. Today, she dragged her hooves as she entered the little private classroom, her head low. There were bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, and she looked as though she’d been crying.

“Sorry ‘m late, Princess,” Twilight mumbled as she trudged to her seat. “I slept in.”

The Princess’ eyes widened in concern. Even ignoring how unusual it was for Twilight to sleep in, the poor thing looked terrible. “Is something the matter, Twilight?” the Princess asked diplomatically. “You look exhausted.”

“‘m fine, Princess,” the disconsolate filly mumbled. “Didn’t sleep much.”

Celestia considered for a moment. It had been, oh, a couple centuries since she’d last interacted with a foal, and she felt slightly out of place. However, she had always treated all her little ponies like her own foals, and seeing her normally exuberant student so distraught was downright upsetting. Finally, she patted the cushion she was laying on with a hoof. “Twilight, come here for a moment, would you?”

Dutifully, Twilight came to Celestia and lay down at her side. The pillow was very plush and comfortable, and Celestia watched with a small smile as Twilight got comfortable despite herself. Once she was settled in, Celestia extended a downy white wing over Twilight like a comforting blanket. “Now, Twilight,” Celestia said soothingly. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Twilight was silent for several moments. “Princess, why are some ponies mean to other ponies?”

Princess Celestia raised an eyebrow. “There’s lots of different reasons, Twilight. Usually, though, it’s because they’re hurt inside, and don’t know how to show it. Why, was somepony mean to you?”

“Not exactly,” Twilight sniffled. “Um... I don’t want to get anypony in trouble...”

“If ponies don’t get in trouble when they do something wrong, they never learn to do it right,” Celestia said in her most reasonable tone. Then she looked down and saw Twilight’s distraught face. “But why don’t you tell me what happened, and we can discuss if punishment is necessary.”

“O-okay,” Twilight said quietly. “Um... y-you know Trixie? Princess Luna’s student?”

“Yes, I know her. I met her briefly just last week.” Celestia peered down at Twilight. “From what I heard, the two of you were getting along very well, weren’t you?” Celestia had been relieved when she’d heard the two fillies had become friends. Despite their prodigious magical talent, both of them had displayed distinct anti-social tendencies, which was worrying. The Element of Magic required more than just power.

“Well... yeah...” Twilight said slowly. “I thought she was really great... at first. But...”

Celestia listened closely as Twilight began to explain what had happened.

-----------------

Yesterday afternoon...

“Hey Trixie? You wanna go... huh?” Twilight peered into her friend’s room to find the place a shambles. Drawers were flung open, her bedsheets were strewn about and her saddlebags had been emptied on the floor. Trixie was frantically yanking out everything in her closet, tossing it carelessly behind her.

“No, no, no... GAH!” Trixie shrieked, stamping her hoof angrily. “Where is it?”

“Trixie? Is everything okay?” Twilight nervously trotted into the room, eyeing the other filly carefully. She’d never seen Trixie like this before; admittedly, they hadn’t known each other very long, but the behavior still seemed very much unlike her.

Trixie gave Twilight an irritated look. “Okay? Okay? Does this look okay to you?” The blue filly seemed almost hysterical; Twilight had to admit that she did not, in fact, look ‘okay’. “I lost my locket!”

“You have a locket?” Twilight asked, tilting her head to the side. “I’ve never seen you wear one. What’s it look like?”

“That’s because I keep it in my saddlebags for safekeeping!” Trixie explained, returning to her frantic search. “It’s a gold locket with a silver chain and a bright blue sapphire on either side. There’s some sort of pattern on the cover but it’s really worn away. If you look close, it kinda looks like a porcupine.”

Twilight concentrated for a moment, trying to construct a picture of the missing locket in her mind. “What’s on the inside?”

“I dunno,” Trixie answered distractedly. “I can’t open it. It’s got some sort of super-complicated magic lock on it. That’s why I wanted to come to this stupid school in the first place! So I could learn to open it!” She gave another frustrated screech. “I can’t find it anywhere!”

“Don’t worry, Trixie! I’ll help you find it!” Twilight said confidently. Trixie looked at her, a glimmer of hope in her eyes. “I’ve read a bunch of detective novels, so I know just how to find it! It doesn’t look like it’s here, so the first thing to do is retrace your steps. Go to all the places you’ve been since the last time you saw your locket, and see if you dropped it anywhere.”

Trixie’s eyes widened, and she finally smiled a bit. “Hey - good idea, Twilight! What are you gonna do?”

Twilight smiled proudly. “I’m gonna go to the Library and look up a finding-things spell! I’ve got a pretty good idea what it looks like now, so I can probably find it with the right spell - and if I can’t, you might be able to!”

Trixie was smiling broadly now. “That’s a great idea, Twilight! I’ll go looking right now; I’ll meet you back here in an hour, okay?”

“Okay!”

-----------------

One Hour Later...

Trixie was significantly less enthusiastic as she returned to her room than she had been when she left it. She searched all over the school’s campus, checking every room she could remember visiting since she’d seen her locket that morning. Nothing. Her precious locket was nowhere to be found. Her only hope now was that Twilight had found something in the library.

As she approached her room, she noticed somepony else standing there. It was a unicorn colt, about her age, fidgeting and looking nervous. Trixie vaguely remembered him from one of her classes. Cotton Tail? Cabbage Trail? Something like that.

What was more important was that he was loitering outside Trixie’s room, and Trixie was in no mood to deal with anypony. “What are you doing outside Trixie’s room?” Trixie demanded rudely.

The colt started in surprise, spinning around to face her. “O-oh, I, um...”

He never got to say anything, though, because the second he turned around Trixie’s eyes locked onto something very familiar hanging around his neck. “MY LOCKET!” she roared, her horn lighting up as she telekinetically tore it from the colt’s neck. “How dare you take Trixie’s locket, y-you thief!

The colt stood there, mouth open in shock. “B-but I d-didn’t...”

Trixie didn’t bother listening to the stuttering pony, not interested in what would no doubt be a cunning lie. “Go away, you horrible little locket-stealer!” Her horn lit up, and the nasty little locket thief let out a gasp of surprise as a loud bang went off in front of his eyes, accompanied by a bright illusionary flash. With a terrified squeak, he ran away, tears in his eyes. “And be thankful Trixie doesn’t call the guards on you!”

Trixie, now feeling much better after retrieving her locket and venting her anger, fastened her locket around her neck with no small amount of satisfaction. “Ah, much better,” she sighed happily.

“T-Trixie?” Trixie looked behind her, where a shocked Twilight stood, staring at her.

“Ah, Twilight!” Trixie exclaimed. “Look! Trixie has found her locket!” She lifted it up with a hoof, showing it off proudly. “And she scared off that thieving little nopony who took it, too!”

Twilight didn’t appear to share her friend’s enthusiasm. “Trixie, Comet Tail didn’t steal your locket!” she shouted, looking mortified. “Why would you even think that? He found it for you! I found him holding onto it at the library; he was looking for you so he could return it!” She stamped her hoof angrily. “I sent him on ahead so I could return the book I was reading.”

“Really? Oh.” Trixie considered this for a moment, then shrugged. “Oh well. At least he’ll think twice before crossing Trixie again.”

Twilight watched her friend in growing horror. “‘Oh well’? ‘Oh well’? You made poor Comet Tail cry and all you can say is ‘oh well’? W-why would you... how could you... gah!” Twilight was growing so agitated she could hardly speak. “Y-you... you’re the worst pony I’ve ever met!” She spun on her hoof and galloped away, tears in her eyes, leaving Trixie to stare after her in puzzlement and hurt.

-----------------

“I see,” Princess Celestia said comfortingly, levitating a handkerchief to wipe at Twilight’s tears. “It’s never nice to see the darker side of those closest to us.” Celestia remembered her own personal experience with that uncomfortable truth; luckily Twilight didn’t see the brief grimace that passed over her face. “I assume you haven’t spoken to Trixie since?”

Twilight shook her head tearfully. “I-I was so angry,” she sobbed. “I thought Trixie was so nice before! How could s-s-such a n-nice p-pony be s-so mean?”

“Shhhh.” Celestia drew the little filly closer, comfortingly. “I’m not sure Trixie understands what she did was so wrong.”

“How could anypony not understand?” Twilight asked, confused. “She made poor Comet Tail cry!”

“Yes, and it was very wrong of her,” Celestia agreed. “But Twilight, you must remember that Trixie has lived a very different life from yours. You’ve spent your entire life in Canterlot, the daughter of a moderately wealthy and influential family. From what my sister tells me, Trixie grew up as an orphan on the streets of Manehatten.” Celestia paused to ensure Twilight was paying close attention; she was. “Manehatten is not a very nice city, Twilight. I’ve done my very best to help improve the lives of the ponies living there, but there’s only so much I can do, legally. Theft is a serious problem there, and I don’t doubt it’s an unfriendly place for a filly with no family to grow up.”

“B-but Trixie said she grew up with a lot of other ponies!” Twilight protested. “She said she slept in a big room with a bunch of other ponies with no families, just like her! She wasn’t alone!”

Celestia sighed. “Unfortunately, the orphanages in Manehatten are not very well-funded, something I hope to fix. Trixie’s ‘home’ was little more than a place to sleep and a kitchen that gave two bowls of thin gruel a day. From what my sister tells me, Trixie had few friends there, and spent as little time in the building as possible.” Celestia dropped her head down to be level with her student’s. “You see, Twilight, Trixie has grown up having to protect herself from other, bigger ponies. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had problems with other ponies trying to steal her locket before; it’s a very valuable item for such a young pony to be carrying. Trixie probably thinks behaving the way she did was smart; that she was protecting herself and her property from another pony.”

“But Canterlot isn’t like that!” Twilight exclaimed. “Nopony’s gonna hurt her or steal her stuff here! She doesn’t need to act like that anymore, does she?”

“No, she doesn’t,” Celestia agreed. “But I’m not certain she knows that. I’m not saying this excuses her behavior, but perhaps it makes it a little more understandable?” She met Twilight’s eyes with a steady gaze. “You should forgive Trixie, and try to be her friend again. She’ll need a friend to teach her that it’s okay not to be afraid anymore. Consider this a homework assignment, okay?”

“O-okay Princess!” Twilight said, and Celestia felt her heart swell as the little filly finally smiled. “I’ll go talk to her right after class!”

Celestia chuckled at her student’s dedication as she stood, freeing Twilight from the comfort of her wing. “Why wait? I’m sure Trixie is as eager to make up as you are.”

Twilight blinked. “But... what about lessons?”

Celestia bent down to meet her student’s gaze again. “Listen to me very carefully, Twilight Sparkle, because one day it might be very important. Your studies are very important and you should never neglect them, but there is nothing in the world more important or more valuable then friendship. Do you understand?”

Celestia could tell she didn’t, not completely, but she nodded her head anyway. “Y-yes Princess,” she squeaked out.

“Good.” Celestia’s horn glowed briefly as she cast a simple location charm. “Trixie is in her room. Go on, hurry now!”

Celestia smiled as Twilight scampered from the room.

-----------------

Twilight knocked on Trixie’s door, slightly out of breath from having galloped all the way here. Unfortunately, there was no response. “Trixie? It’s Twilight! I want to talk!” Still no answer.

Twilight was undeterred. She tried to open the door, but it was locked. No matter; Twilight’s horn lit up, and there was a click of an opening lock. Twilight nudged the door open, poking her head inside. “Trixie?”

Trixie’s room was still a mess from her frantic search last night; it appeared she’d never bothered to clean up. Trixie herself sat on her bed, buried a messy bundle of blankets. The bundle stirred, and Trixie’s head poked out, staring at Twilight with teary eyes. “Twilight...?” she whispered, sounding surprised.

Twilight opened the door further and walked inside. “Umm... hi Trixie. I... I wanted to... see how you were doing. I mean, I wanted to... I wanted... ummm...” It had seemed so simple when the Princess had told her to make amends with Trixie but now that she was here she didn’t know what to say.

She was saved from having to think of something by a flying tackle from Trixie. With a surprised oof, Twilight was suddenly bowled over by an overly-enthusiastic hug from the crying filly.

“Twilight!” Trixie sobbed. “I am so so so sorry, I didn’t mean to make you mad at me, please please say you’re not mad!” Trixie hugged the other filly so hard Twilight was afraid her ribs might crack. “I was so scared you would never want to see me again! You’re my first friend ever, please say you don’t hate me!”

It took Twilight a moment to catch her breath, and another moment to get a word in edgewise between Trixie’s apologetic babbling. “I don’t hate you, Trixie,” she reassured her friend, hugging her back. “Though I’d appreciate being able to breathe...” Trixie immediately released Twilight from the bone-crushing hug, but stayed nearby, cuddled up against her. “I’m not mad, Trixie,” Twilight assured her again. “I was just upset. You shouldn’t have yelled at Comet Tail like that.”

Trixie just nodded, eager to agree with anything if it meant her first, only, and best friend would like her again.

“I’m serious, Trixie,” Twilight admonished, with the extreme seriousness only a child could achieve. “Princess Celestia told me about how you grew up in Manehatten and it was really hard for you, but you don’t have to worry about ponies being mean to you or taking your stuff anymore, okay? Ponies aren’t like that here. And if somepony does try to be mean, I’ll help you. Because that’s what friends are for.”

Trixie sniffled and nodded, cuddling up closer. After a moment’s silence, she spoke. “I’m sorry, Twilight.”

“It’s okay, Trixie.”

“It’s not okay! You said I was the worst pony you ever met!”

“I didn’t mean it!”

“I know. But it wasn’t right.” Trixie looked down at her locket. “I get really mad when somepony tries to take my locket. I had it around my neck when the orphanage found me as a little foal. It’s the only thing I have that might connect me to my... my parents.” She stifled another sniffle, and Twilight put a leg around her, hugging her close. Trixie was quiet for another moment, before speaking again. “Do... do you think I should go apologize to Comet Tail?”

Twilight smiled. “That’d be a good idea.”

-----------------

Just outside The Princess Sisters’ School for Gifted Unicorns was a small, carefully cultivated garden. It was sparsely populated, save for the gardener, a few older students who preferred to work outside, and some younger students who liked to play outside. All these ponies were easily avoided if you found a good, secluded spot, making it an ideal meeting place for those who don’t wish to be observed.

In a small secluded clearing, hidden from the rest of the garden by a well-placed hedge, stood two ponies, conversing in hushed tones. One was a gray unicorn pony, who looked vaguely uneasy and occasionally glanced over the edge to check for eavesdroppers. By contrast, his companion was nearly invisible beneath her cloak, and all that could be seen was a single golden eye which never wavered. She hardly even twitched.

The unicorn’s name was Stalwart, and he was a member of the Royal Guard assigned to security at the School. However, without his distinctive golden armor, he was near impossible to recognize; he was forgettably bland without it. An unicorn with a dull gray coat, brown eyes, brown mane, and a simple brick wall for a Cutie Mark, few ponies remembered meeting Stalwart unless they knew him well - which was exactly why he was chosen to meet with the cloaked pony.

“Are you absolutely certain it’s her?” the cloaked pony asked quietly. Her voice was a bit deeper then one might expect for such a petite pony, though it was difficult to tell gender beneath the cloak. “We’ve waited too long to make a mistake now.”

The guardpony shook his head. “No ma’am, I’m pretty sure. My little brother Comet Tail showed me the locket himself; I saw it with my own two eyes. He said it belonged to a filly in his Basic Charms class, a filly named Trixie. Princess Luna’s student.”

The cloaked figure breathed in slowly. “And it was the locket? You’re absolutely certain? His locket?”

“Yes ma’am.” Stalwart tapped his horn. “It’s easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for, but the magic signature is very old, and very powerful. It’s almost identical to the other Artifacts in the Vault. If that wasn’t enough, I saw the sigil on the front; it’s faded but recognizable if you know what it’s meant to be. It’s the right locket, no question.”

The cloaked figure was silent for a minute. “If it wasn’t meant to be hers, it wouldn’t have stayed in her possession.”

“No ma’am.”

There was a slow sighing sound from beneath the cloak. “ It’s just like the prophecy foretold, then. The time is approaching.”

“Yes ma’am.” Stalwart grinned slightly. “I’ve waited my entire life for this, you know. I can hardly believe it’s happening. Right here, at my post!”

“I know, Brother Stalwart. We’ve all waited a long time for this.” The androgynous voice actually sounded a little excited as well. She glanced up at the sky; the sun was going down, and the stars were just beginning to become visible. One star, in particular, was shining particularly brightly. “Look up, Brother Stalwart. Our Mistress’ Star burns especially bright tonight. She is blessing our efforts today.”

Stalwart looked up and smiled, feeling slightly giddy. “Sister... do you think she’ll reward us?” he whispered quietly. “Do you think she’ll remember us?”

The cloaked pony rested a hoof on Stalwart’s shoulder. “I’m sure she will. Our Mistress would not forget the Order of the Stars so easily, not after a thousand years of service. After all our waiting, and watching, and careful planning. No. Our Mistress is sure to be grateful. Not that we ask for any reward.”

“Right. I was just asking.” Stalwart breathed in and out nervously. “We do this for the Mistress. For a better future. That’s what the Manuscript says.”

“That’s right.” The cloaked figure removed her hoof and stepped away, spreading her wings as she prepared to leave. “Stay strong, Brother Stalwart, and stay watchful. May the stars watch over you.”

“May the stars watch over you, Sister Bright Eyes.”