• Published 19th Feb 2014
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The Unchosen One - MagnetBolt



Princess Twilight decides to reconnect with old friends and ends up exploring a mystery that may end with the destruction of all magic and love in Equestria.

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The Dirt I Had To Swallow

The Unchosen One
Chapter One: The Dirt I Had To Swallow
by MagnetBolt

Trixie shoved the huge rock, her hooves sinking into the earth as she strained to move it. The stone dug a furrow of loosened soil that old made her footing more precarious, which was quickly proven as she tripped and fell into the mud. The unicorn lay there for a few minutes, the muck seeping into her coat and mane, and wondered where it had all gone wrong.

***

Twilight read over the entry in the diary again.

“Dear Diary, today was a day of sadness. I have been alone since my sister forced my hoof, and I sought to reconnect with some of my friends who were dear to me, but whom I lost touch with as I have been focused on my duties. One of my oldest and dearest friends had passed away, years ago, and I only learned of it now after going to visit her. I now realize how much she meant to me, and I wish I could have spent more time with her.”

Twilight put the diary down, closing the cover.

“I forgot how lonely Princess Celestia must have been after she had to banish Luna to the moon for a thousand years,” She said.

“But Princess Luna is back now,” Spike said, trying to reach a shelf to put a book away from the stacks Twilight had left out. She gently helped him with her magic. “And everypony liked Princess Celestia. She had a lot of friends.”

“I don't know Spike, it's different. She's a Princess. She has responsibilities and probably didn't have much time to make friends.” Twilight passed a few more books to Spike as the little dragon put them away.

“You're worried because you're a Princess now,” Spike said, looking at her. “Aww, you don't need to be worried, Twilight! You've got lots of friends around Ponyville!”

“Yeah, you're right.” Twilight smiled and put Spike down. “But I should check up on the ones that I don't see very often.” She levitated a scroll and quill into Spike's hands. “Let's make a list.”

***

The first part of the list was easy enough, even if it was basically everypony in Ponyville and it took the better part of a week to get through it. They'd even taken a day to go to the Crystal Empire and visited Shining Armor and Cadence. Spike sighed and checked the Mayor's name off the list.

“That's almost everypony, Twilight. Don't you think that's enough?” Spike looked up.

“How many are left?” Twilight grabbed the scroll to see.

“Just one, but-” Twilight found the name before Spike said it.

“Trixie,” Twilight said, with a sigh. She wasn't entirely sure if the mare counted as a friend. But after their last encounter she had seemed like she was making an effort to change, and her fireworks display had helped impress Celestia.

“I don't even know where she'd be,” Spike said with a shrug. “Not that I mind. Every time she shows up it's trouble.”

“I know, Spike.” Twilight sighed. “But maybe that's a good reason to try and find her. It's easy to stay in touch with everypony here. If it takes more work to find Trixie, that just proves how little it would take to completely lose touch with her. It might even help keep her out of trouble.”

“If you say so, Twilight, but where do we even start?”

***

It had taken a few letters and a lot of luck for Twilight to find where the unicorn she sought was hiding. Pinkie Pie had provided the crucial clue after she'd mentioned offhand that Trixie had been making a living on a rock farm before she'd used her savings to buy the Alicorn Amulet. She'd written a letter to Pinkie's family asking about rock farms in the area, only to find that they had a blue unicorn working on their farm. Though all of her friends had offered to come with her, Twilight had in the end decided to go alone. She had a feeling Trixie might not want a lot of people coming to visit unexpectedly.

Twilight walked across a field that gave slightly underhoof, just soft enough to be unpleasant and just hard enough that it wasn't quite mud. There was a small shack at the edge of the field, a pile of broken rock shards on one side. Apparently it was where Trixie was living. Twilight strode up to the door, took a deep breath, made sure she was smiling, and knocked. There was no answer. Twilight knocked again a little harder, and the door cracked open from the impact.

“Trixie?” Twilight said, into the darkness. “It's Twilight. I was just in the neighborhood-” after a train ride and a long walk into the middle of nowhere. “And I wanted to see how you were... doing.” Twilight stuck her head in. It was rude, but if she really wasn't here, she'd never know. And as Twilight had read, it was only rude to snoop when you got caught.

Inside the shack, there was almost nothing. A few gems scattered around, a threadbare rug on the ground, blankets more patchwork than original fabric on a bed. Twilight had been expecting something grander and more ornate, or at least with effort put into it. It barely looked like anypony lived there at all. There wasn't any kind of personal touch to it at all.

“What are you doing?” Asked somepony behind Twilight. The Alicorn stumbled and quickly turned away from the door.

“I was just- Trixie?” Twilight blinked. The mare looked older, or at least tired. Her coat was matted and dirty, her mane was a mess, and she might not have slept in days. She didn't seem very great or powerful with her hooves coated in mud almost to her knees. There was a ribbon around her horn. It looked familiar, but Twilight couldn't place it.

“Oh. It's you.” Trixie frowned. “I wasn't expecting visitors. Sorry.”

“No, it's fine!” Twilight had to force the smile back onto her face. “I sent a letter, but Mister Pie said you hadn't picked up your mail.” Trixie walked past the princess and lit a lamp with a hoof.

“I don't have anypony who would write to me,” Trixie said with a small shrug. “I'm sorry if it was something important. I wasn't expecting mail, Princess Twilight.” She kept her back to the Princess, not welcoming her in but not forcing her to leave either. “Was there something you needed from me?”

“I just hadn't seen you in a while and I wanted to make sure you were okay.” Twilight stepped inside, looking around. In the light, things seemed even more grey and worn.

“I'm getting on with my life,” Trixie said. She stumbled as she walked across the room.

“Are you sure you're okay?” Twilight raised an eyebrow.

“I'm just tired. A rock farm isn't the easiest way to make a living, but it's honest work.” Trixie sat down, leaning against her bed. “I'll be fine after I've had some rest.”

“If you say so.” Twilight got closer. “So... you've just been hanging out here? I didn't think you liked rock farming much. You seemed to hate it last time you were in town.” And trying to take it over and prove she was more powerful than Twilight. Even if she had been under the influence of an evil amulet, that made the conversation even more awkward than it was.

“I did. But it's also the only honest way I've ever made bits,” Trixie admitted, with a sigh. “Mister Pie was gracious enough to take me back.”

“You know, for a unicorn with your talents, there are probably a lot of other things you could do if you wanted. I could ask Celestia-” Trixie cut her off with a look. It wasn't hostile, just tired.

“No thank you, Princess. I got where I am through my mistakes. I need to do things the right way, not just through favors from people I've already wronged. I appreciate the thought but I can stand on my own four hooves.” Trixie stood up straight. Straightish. She was wobbling. “And I... I...” Her eyes fluttered, and before she could complete the thought, the unicorn tumbled, finally passing out from exhaustion.

***

“I don't understand, Mister Pie. No magic at all?” Twilight sat with the stallion as his wife checked on Trixie again. She'd rushed the mare back to the Pie's home. They'd cleaned her up and put her somewhere to rest. It seemed like it wasn't anything serious.

“Not a bit,” the elder Pie shook his head. “She swore off all magic. Said it had only ever made a mess of her life. From what I heard from my daughter, it seemed true.”

“That's where I've seen that ribbon before...” Twilight rubbed her chin. “There was a movement a few years ago in Canterlot where unicorns would stop using magic because they thought it was making them lose perspective.”

“She's been working herself a bit hard, but she's been much more dependable since she came back. I suppose whatever happened made her change.” Twilight sighed and looked down at the table at the rock juice they'd given her. Trixie had changed, but she wasn't sure it was for the better.

“Maybe I should go,” Twilight said. “I guess she probably isn't too happy to see me.”

“It's getting dark,” Mrs. Pie said, walking downstairs. “You can stay here for the night. We've got more than enough spare rooms. It's been quiet since Pinkie left and it's nice having company over.” The older mare smiled at Twilight. “Especially royal company.”

“Thank you, Ma'am.” Twilight smiled back at her, feeling warm inside. If there was anything Pinkie really shared with her dour-seeming family, it was that they knew how to make a pony feel welcome.

***

Twilight stopped at the top of the stairs. There was light coming from the guest room she'd helped get Trixie into. She hesitated at the doorway, then knocked.

“What is it?” Trixie asked from within, her voice muffled by the door and her exhaustion. She didn't sound angry or hauty. Just tired.

“It's me. Can I come in?” Twilight bit her lip, not sure how the mare would answer. Part of her expected to be told to go away. Another part of her was cringing at her gall in trying to bother the sick mare in the first place when she should have been resting.

“I can't stop you,” Trixie mumbled. Twilight sighed and opened the door. Trixie was lying in bed, facing away from the door. There was a lantern on the dresser providing the light Twilight had seen.

“I just wanted to apologize. I didn't realize you were so tired before.” Trixie put down the book she had been reading and turned over to look at Twilight.

“It's nothing. I'll be back to normal in the morning.” Trixie couldn't meet her eyes. She kept looking down at Twilight's feet, or the bed, or anywhere except her face.

“You're going to hurt yourself. You should take a few days off to rest.”

“Maybe,” Trixie said, with another shrug. Twilight sighed. Somehow, Trixie being so... passive was almost as bad as when she was boasting and turning the town upside-down.

“What's wrong with you, Trixie?”

“I'm tired. You said it yourself.” Trixie turned back over, away from Twilight.

“I don't mean that and you know it.” Twilight walked closer. “You're not acting like yourself at all. Did something happen?”

“You were there. You know what happened.”

“What?” Twilight frowned.

“I almost destroyed Ponyville.”

“Trixie,” Twilight smiled. “You were under the influence of the Alicorn Amulet. That wasn't really your fault. And we got everything put back to normal-”

“It was my fault. The Alicorn Amulet didn't make me do all those things. They were things I wanted to do. It just made me... not care about what the consequences were.” Trixie sat up in bed, looking out the window. “I had to flee town, again, because I couldn't control myself. And you know what the worst part was?”

Twilight didn't answer. She sat on the rug and listened as Trixie finally started talking.

“The worst part was that I lost to you again. And it wasn't because you were stronger than me. I was great and powerful and I lost to simple tricks and a light show! Magic tricks are supposed to be my special talent and I was beaten even at that.” Trixie shook her head, wiping at her eyes.

“Well, maybe that was the problem,” Twilight said, moving around the bed to get closer to the unicorn. “You weren't using your special talent. You were just trying to use brute force instead of being clever and smart about things.”

“That's easy for you to say, Princess. You've always had both brute force and a brain to use it. The first time I challenged you I proved I wasn't strong enough, and last time I proved I wasn't smart enough either.” Twilight frowned at that.

“You don't mean that. You're just depressed. And working like this without a break can't be helping.” Twilight sat on the bed next to her. She felt responsible, even if it was Trixie's own fault for challenging her. “I'm going back to Ponyville in the morning. You could come with me.”

“To Ponyville?!” Trixie reacted like Twilight had struck her. “I can't go back! After what I did they'll run me out of town, for a third time!”

“I'm sure they wouldn't do that... again...” Twilight tried to push the vision of ponies with pitchforks and torches out of her mind. “I mean I'll be there to keep it from happening.”

“That's very reassuring, Princess.” Trixie's voice was so thick with sarcasm it almost left stains. “Forgive me if I'm not enthusiastic.”

“Trust me. I read in Fifty Habits of Highly Effective Ponies that when you hurt somepony the most important step in putting things right is to make a personal apology.” Trixie raised an eyebrow at that and looked at Twilight.

“So is that what this is supposed to be? An apology?”

“Well I-” Twilight was about to explain that if Trixie apologized she might feel better when the blue unicorn cut her off.

“I don't need an apology. I did all this to myself. You didn't push me into starting those duels, it was my fault in the first place.” Twilight rolled her eyes. Trixie had taken it entirely the wrong way. “I am sorry about what I did.” Trixie sighed. “I'll talk to mister Pie in the morning but I don't know if I can take that much time off.”

“Oh I'm sure he'll be happy to let you go,” Twilight smiled. “I mean, not that you aren't doing a good job. But because he's worried about you.”

***

Trixie pushed past Twilight to hand bits to the mare in the ticket booth. She hadn't brought much except bits and a brown, rather ragged cloak. Twilight frowned at the blue unicorn.

“What are you doing? I said I'd pay-”

“I don't want charity. The last thing I need is to be even more in debt to you.” Trixie bought both tickets for the train back to Ponyville. “Besides, all I've been doing for the last few months is earning bits. I might as well use some of them.”

“If you say so.” Twilight shrugged and walked towards the train. “I was just trying to be polite.”

“Well I-” Trixie stopped herself from snapping at Twilight and took a deep breath. “I don't want you to be polite. When I saw you I expected the rest of your friends to be around waiting so you could throw me in a dungeon or banish me to the moon or something.”

“What?! Why would I do that?!” Twilight blinked in shock. The two got into the last car and sat down. There weren't a lot of ponies on the train today, so they had the entire car to themselves.

“Well it's what I'd do if I was a Princess. Which is probably why it's for the best I'm not one. We've both seen how well things go if I have any power at all.”

“I wouldn't do something like that. Actually, I kind of consider you a friend.” That was stretching the truth almost to the breaking point. Applejack would have disapproved. “I know we haven't... ever... met under the best of circumstances, but we're not that different.”

“Twilight if you consider me a friend I shudder to think what your enemies are like.”

“Oh you know. Shapeshifting monsters trying to take over Equestria, cloudy forces of tyranny and evil, ancient evil gods that want to bring eternal drought.” Twilight shrugged, smiling. “They're enemies. You're just somepony who needs a little help.”

“What I need is somepony to yell at me when I'm doing something stupid and the wisdom to actually listen for once in my life.” Trixie kicked the back of the empty seat in front of them. Almost as if she'd kicked the whole train into gear, it started rolling slowly away from the station, picking up speed.

“Have you thought about asking any of your friends for help? It must be lonely in that-”

“I don't have friends. I had fans, but they're all gone after the mess I made of things with the Ursa Minor. Not that I ever really knew them. It's not easy to make friends with people who just want to faun over you because you did a few simple tricks any unicorn could manage and then lied about having gone on some kind of great adventures.”

“Well, you know, I didn't have any real friends either until I came to Ponyville. I just locked myself in my rooms and studied all the time.”

“Oh please. Everypony knows you're Celestia's favorite student, and you have that little purple dragon that always follows you around.”

“Yes, I guess...” Twilight frowned. She really hadn't ever been completely alone. She'd always had somepony looking out for her. Trixie looked like she was about to say something else, then stopped, sighing and looking out the window. It was going to take a lot of work to actually befriend the mare, and she wasn't making it any easier.

***

An hour later, Twilight was jolted awake. She blinked and found Trixie looking around in surprise too. Both of them had fallen asleep in the uncomfortable silence of the train. The entire car rocked again.

“What's going on?” Twilight asked. Trixie looked out the window.

“I don't know.” The unicorn frowned and narrowed her eyes. Twilight moved to look out of the other side, and found herself looking down an almost sheer cliff over a valley of thick trees. She couldn't see anything that would cause the train to rock. She turned back to ask Trixie something when the unicorn gasped. “Hang on to something!”

The train car rocked and then started to tip. Twilight felt herself falling and the next few moments were a blur of confusion and pain. She only caught flashes as her mind struggled to keep up with what was going on. Trixie hanging onto the seat, which was somehow above her. Slamming wing first into the floor. Tree branches shattering the windows, glass flying everywhere.

***

Trixie woke up first, coughing and pulling herself out of the mud. For a long few moments she thought she was back at the rock farm, but the haze in her head cleared suddenly as she put weight on her left forehoof. A shock of pain surprised her, and she looked down to find a cut reaching almost from her hoof to her elbow. It wasn't dangerously deep, but it was bleeding freely. The memory of the accident suddenly returned.

“Oh no... Princess?!” She looked around, then spotted the train car, partly sunk into a deep pit of some kind of ochre mud. Ignoring the pain in her hoof she ran over. “Princess?! Twilight?!” She bit her lip. It was all happening again! “Celestia's beard... they're going to run me right out of Equestira if you're dead! I'll have to go to Saddle Arabia! I hate sand!”

“Ugh... I'm not dead...” Twilight said. “But I am stuck. Give me a hoof.” Trixie ran around to the other side of the train car and found a way in that didn't have her running through more mud. Twilight was still inside the train car, pinned against a wall by seat that had broken free and gotten wedged in place.

“Can't you just use magic to get yourself free?” Trixie walked over slowly, mindful of how the train car shifted under her weight.

“No. Something in this slime is...” Twilight groaned and tried to move the seat. Her horn's glow flickered and died. The seat barely moved, just rocking a little. “...See? I can't cast any spells.”

“Fine, just hang on or something.” Trixie braced herself against the seat and pushed. It had about as much effect as Twilight's magic. Unicorns were a lot of things, but physically powerful was not typically one of them. She gave up after a few moments and started throwing rubble aside.

“What are you doing?” Twilight winced as she tried to squeeze out again.

“I just need... this.” Trixie grabbed a metal pole with her teeth and dragged it over, jamming it under the seat. The mare grabbed the other end and pushed, using it as a lever. The metal strained and started to bend, but the seat moved a few inches, enough for Twilight to free herself. Once the Princess was standing, Trixie let go, the seat crashing back down.

“Thanks, Trixie.” Twilight said, catching her breath. “Wouldn't it have been easier for you to just use magic, though?”

“It would have been easier if I could do magic,” Trixie said. “This ribbon isn't just so I don't forget my promise not to use magic, it's so I can't even use it accidentally.” She touched it with a hoof. “It blocks magic, and it takes a few minutes to get it off.”

“That seems kind of dangerous. What if there was an emergency? Like the emergency we're in. Right now.” Twilight raised an eyebrow. Trixie sighed. Before she could say anything, the broken train car shifted. There was a pop from the mud outside as a bubble burst. The two mares looked out the window and saw the muck creeping higher and higher.

“I hate mud!” Trixie yelled, as she ran for the exit, leaving a trail of blood. Twilight was on her heels and they got out just seconds before the train car slipped, falling into the sinkhole of ooze. They were silent for a few moments.

“That was way too close,” Twilight said. Trixie just nodded.

“Well, you're an alicorn. Fly us up to the train tracks. We can follow them to the next stop, if the train hasn't halted entirely already. They can't have not noticed we went missing.”

“I'd love to, Trixie,” Twilight stretched out her wings and winced. One was clearly injured. “But I don't think that's an option right now. I hit my wing pretty badly and- your leg is all cut up!”

“Hm?” Trixie looked down. She'd almost forgotten about the wound. “It doesn't really hurt that badly.” It was almost the truth. It only hurt when she put weight on it, and even that was manageable. She tore a strip from her cloak and bandaged the wound, pulling it tight with her teeth.

“Great. Two mares stuck in the middle of nowhere and we have no magic, no flying, no maps, and we're both hurt.” Twilight sighed. “The safe thing is probably to wait here. Once they see we're missing, they'll come looking for us.”

“I hate to admit it, but at least you're important enough that somepony is bound to come look-” Trixie stopped as a sound cut through the woods. A howling noise, close-by. “That does not sound like the sort of thing I want coming to look for us.”

“That's a timberwolf,” Twilight said, helpfully.

“I don't suppose they're called that because they eat trees?”

“Unfortunately no.”

“Wonderful. I could be shoving rocks around and smashing them open to find gems, but instead I'm going to be eaten in the woods along with the mare who ruined my life.” Trixie kicked a rock and it bounced off a tree without much force.

“I didn't ruin your life, Trixie. Or at least I didn't mean to.” Twilight stepped over to stand next to her. “What should I have done differently?”

“I don't know! I'm not- I'm not the same mare I was when we first met.”

“I can tell that. You haven't spoken in the third person in hours.”

“It's a lot easier to break that habit when you don't want anypony to know who you are,” Trixie muttered. “Since we're probably going to be eaten by timberwolves, you might as well know. The reason I did everything since you defeated the ursa minor and I couldn't is because I've been jealous of you.” Trixie started walking, distancing herself from the Princess. “You have power, friends, you go on adventures, you're friends with royalty, and oh yes, you're a Princess now. That's everything I ever wanted and you just... walked right into it!”

“I wouldn't say it was exactly that easy. A lot happened.” Twilight glanced back at the woods. “We need to move. Maybe if we're lucky we can find another way up to the train tracks and then we won't have to get eaten by timber wolves at all.”

***

Trixie had been silent for almost half an hour while they walked along the ridge, right up to the point where the tracks turned into a tunnel and they couldn't follow.

“I don't suppose you can fly yet,” She said, quietly. Twilight shook her head.

“Magic isn't working either. I keep trying to use it and it's blocked off. Maybe if we find a river I can wash this ooze off of me. But I should probably keep a sample to study later...”

“Ugh. And I paid so much for this ribbon.” Trixie sighed and reached up to her horn, starting to work at the knot. “I'd rather break that promise than get myself eaten alive. Trixie does not want to die for her own stupid pride quite yet.”

“That's good, because I'm pretty sure the howling is getting closer.” Twilight swallowed.

“How are they even following us?” Trixie frowned. Twilight pointed to her leg. Even bandaged, it was bleeding enough to leave a trail the timberwolves could follow. “Oh wonderful. I just love-” And that's when Twilight's warning about the howling getting closer was proven to be all too correct. A timberwolf broke through the bushes, directly in their path.

“Quick, run!” Twilight took off. Trixie followed a moment later as they blindly crashed through the woods. The timberwolf was hot on their heels, obviously excited by the chase. It could have caught them easily, but it almost seemed to be playing with them. Trixie looked down at her injured hoof. If it had really been tracking them, this was her fault too!

“I'm going to lead it off! You try and get help or something!” Twilight looked back at her in shock.

“What?! Where am I going to get help?!”

“I don't know! You're Purplesmart, you figure it out!” Trixie yelled. Twilight gave her a look.

“What?!”

IT'S A NICKNAME!” Trixie yelled as she veered off, the timber wolf following her. She was lucky it wanted to chase her almost as much as she wanted to not get caught. She ran literally for her life, her creeping exhaustion quickly overtaking her, her vision starting to go black. She'd been running for almost ten minutes when she hit the river, stumbling on the wet rocks and splashing into the water. The cold shocked her back to her senses, and she fought her way to the other side, half swimming.

The timberwolf hesitated at the edge of the water. Trixie stood on the other side of the river and watched, then laughed.

“Ha! I should have known. No mere timberwolf can match the... tenacity of the Great and...” she sighed. “The very tired Trixie.” She slumped, sitting in the rocks and mud. “Now if I can just find where that idiot Twilight went we can-” The timberwolf howled, and bounded into the water. Trixie held back a scream and ran, hooves slipping on the wet stone.

The mare ran up a streambed, looking for a way out, but the sides were slick with mud and without magic she wasn't strong enough to pull herself out by the dangling tree roots. She had at most a few moments before the timberwolf got across the river and followed her. She tried to climb out and fell back, mud tumbling down in a wet landslide that left a thick layer on her coat. Not a trace of her blue fur was visible.

Then she heard the sniffling. The timberwolf was almost on top of her. Too tired to run and with nowhere to hide, she closed her eyes and pressed herself against the wall, hoping the end would at least come quickly. After a few seconds when she wasn't dead, she slowly opened one eye. The timberwolf was sniffing around, confused. It walked right past her, not seeing her. The mud was covering up her scent and letting her blend in! It was the first and only time Trixie was thankful for mud.

She slowly reached up and started untying the ribbon around her horn. The knot was complicated, and without something to cut it with she'd have to work it loose carefully. And quickly. Very, very quickly.

***

Twilight panted for breath. It probably wasn't becoming of a Princess to run away from danger, even when her wing was sprained and her magic wasn't working. She froze up with sudden fear. What was and what wasn't becoming of a princess didn't matter! She'd just let Trixie run off with a hungry timberwolf chasing her!

“What am I doing?!” Twilight screamed, running back towards where she thought Trixie might be. “She's going to get eaten and it's all my fault! I'm a terrible Princess!”

***

The timberwolf sniffed and turned, focusing on Trixie. She suddenly realized her little ruse was at an end. Her hooves fumbled at the knot. “Come on! Stupid thing-” The wolf charged, and Trixie bit back a scream. Something in the ribbon gave, and she felt- something returning, tingling, like a numb limb that was suddenly granted uncomfortable feeling again.

Bursts of light and sound exploded in the timberwolf's face, sending it scrabbling backwards, blinded and deafened. Trixie pulled the ribbon off the rest of the way, her horn feeling painful and strange, like pins and needles were prodding it from all directions.

“That's right! Cower before Trixie!” She planted her hooves and focused. Her magic was weak and hard to direct, either from some lingering effect of the ribbon or simply because she hadn't used it in so long. It took three tries before she got a good grip on the trunk of a tree whose roots were almost washed out at the edge of the stream. Another burst of magical zazz put the timberwolf where she wanted, and she pulled, dragging the tree down. The monster yelped as it was buried under a crash of rather less animate and much heavier timber.

Trixie watched and tried to breathe steadily. It had actually hurt to pull the tree down, like she'd strained something inside her. It was easily the heaviest thing she'd ever moved, and she wasn't in any condition to be doing it in the first place. She'd gotten lucky. The timberwolf howled, then burst into black smoke, vanishing. Trixie collapsed.

“That's... what you get.” She said, panting. “The great and powerful Trixie... is far superior... to a bundle of sticks.” And, more or less safe, Trixie allowed herself the luxury of passing out.

***

A splash of water woke her up. Trixie coughed and sat up, looking around. Twilight was standing over her with water floating in the air, held up by her magic.

“Are you alright?” Twilight asked. Trixie stood.

“I'm fine.” Trixie tried to look casual and brush herself off, but that didn't work too well since even with the impromptu shower she was still covered in mud. Again. “I just needed a little nap after taking care of the timberwolf problem.” Very humble and restrained. She'd managed to avoid speaking in the third person.

“I found a river and got the rest of that gunk off that was blocking my magic,” Twilight explained. “I was worried after I heard the blasts and then everything went quiet.”

“Yes well, I had to use magic but it was nothing I couldn't handle.” Trixie started walking back towards the river.

“I can see that. I'm glad you didn't get hurt.”

“And I can see that you haven't managed to get help. I held up my part of the plan and got rid of the danger. The least you could have done was find Daring Do and bring her back to rescue me.” Trixie splashed into the water, cleaning the mud out of her coat and mane.

“Wait, you read the Daring Do novels?”

“I stole half of my best tall tales from them,” Trixie said, shaking herself to dry off. She could have used a spell for it but a big part of her wasn't sure if she should be using magic, even if she could right now. She was still worried about what kind of an effect it would have on her. “That's my real talent, if anything. Lying to people about going on adventures.”

“You know, we're on an adventure right now.” Twilight's horn glowed, and Trixie was suddenly dry. “I mean, there's no lost Incanter gold, but I'm pretty sure this qualifies.”

“No, this is an accident. An adventure means you want to do more than just live through it.” Trixie looked around. “And hopefully it's over. Do you think you can get us up to those train tracks now that you aren't... oozed?”

“I can probably get us all the way to Ponyville,” Twilight said, then hesitated. “Well... no. That wouldn't be a good idea. Even now that I'm cleaned off there could be some residual effect, and the last thing I want to do is mess up the spell and put us a half-mile in the air.”

“I think back up on the ridge will be fine.”

***

In the end they hadn't even needed to go that far. There was indeed a rescue party looking for them, and they met them halfway back to where the train car had crashed. Trixie should have expected it. Twilight was a princess. There were probably people watching out for her all over the place. The two were rushed to a hospital, and after getting a proper bandage and some medicine to make sure her cut didn't get infected, Trixie was starting to feel a little better.

“How are you feeling?” Asked a nurse, a white earth pony with a pink mane. She handed Trixie a cup of warm tea.

“Much better, thank you.” Trixie smiled at her. She took the tea gratefully and sipped at it. It was bitter, but honey had been added to make it tolerable. The mare was just thankful for anything warm at this point.

“Is it true you saved the Princess' life?” the nurse asked. Trixie raised an eyebrow.

“I... suppose. Why do you ask?”

“Well she told quite a story while we were getting her wing splinted. A train derailment, saving her life from being buried alive in ooze, then leading a timberwolf off her tracks and facing it alone...” The nurse smiled. “The reporters are having a field day.”

“Reporters?!” Trixie froze up.

“Oh yes. By this time tomorrow, everypony in Ponyville will know what happened! I bet you'll have a string of visitors just waiting to say thank you!”

Trixie fainted.