• Published 19th Feb 2014
  • 11,584 Views, 256 Comments

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.

  • ...

A Mare's Gotta Do

The Unchosen One
Chapter 4: A Mare's Gotta Do
by MagnetBolt

“My old bedroom! I can't believe the Princesses had it kept just how it used to be!” Twilight ran over to the stuffed bookshelves. There were only a few gaps in the rows of books. “It's not even dusty. How did they do that? It got dusty in here even when I was living here every day!”

“Trixie would guess it's clean because there isn't a unicorn living in here and telling the cleaning staff to go away so she can read.” Trixie looked out the window down to the city below. “You really did have everything I never had...”

“...I don't mean to pry, but I don't really know a lot about your life before you came to Ponyville. I mean, aside from going to the same school as I did.”

“And getting better grades on the final exam,” Trixie noted. Twilight nodded for a moment before the words really sunk in.



“...That was totally cheating!” Twilight said, stomping a hoof after Trixie finished her story. “That doesn't count at all! I spent years trying to figure out how somepony beat me!”

“Trixie can't help that the rules were somewhat more open to interpretation than you expected.” When she had retold the story, she had made herself sound considerably less afraid than she had actually been, and forgot to mention that it had taken a word from the Princess to keep her rather creative solutions from making her retake magic kindergarten.

“It's still cheating even if it isn't against the rules!” Twilight's ear twitched.

“Trixie is fairly certain that not being against the rules is one of the definitions of fair play.”

“Fair Play?! It only worked because they hadn't invented rules to disallow it! You're barely even technically correct!”

“Trixie thinks that technically correct is the best kind.” She touched her mane, striking a flattering pose. Twilight groaned.

“You're just lucky I can't go back and fail you myself.” Twilight paused for a moment dramatically. “Or maybe I can! I mean, I am a princess. I bet you'd love to go back to school and show them how talented you are. I mean sure, you'll be older than some of their teachers...”

“Hmph. Even if you did change her grades, Trixie wouldn't bother with school again. It didn't get me anywhere last time.” She folded her hooves.

“Well they probably would have done more if you had earned them fairly. So what, you graduated school and hit the road with your magic show?”

Trixie sighed. “If only it was that easy.” She looked at Twilight. “You probably went right from school to staying here at the palace for private tutoring, right?” The Princess nodded. “I didn't have that luxury. When I graduated school I had to find work.”

“Work? What about your parents?”

Trixie looked down. “Well that would have been nice. But my mother was a traveling showmare. I never knew who my father was, and she'd always make up all sorts of stories. She'd tell me he was secretly Canterlot Royalty, or that he was on the run from the law for a crime he didn't commit, or that he died tragically saving us. Once she even tried to convince me that I had no father and that I was a magical virgin birth.”

“But they can't all be true. Which story was the truth?”

Trixie smiled up at Twilight. “Twilight, that should be obvious. They're all true.”

“Even the lies?”

Especially the lies. That's part of being a showpony. You have to reinvent yourself for each audience. Sometimes that means you ride into town and dazzle them in town square. Sometimes that means you entertain children at a birthday party. If you're lucky it means you don't have to busk on the street. And trust me, if you'd seen how poorly I play instruments you'd agree that most of the time when I am forced to busk people are paying me to stop.”

“So after school you went back on the road with your mother.”

“No. I got into school on a scholarship and my mother promised to come back for me when I graduated. She went out on the circuit one day and was never seen again. I wish I had some story to tell you about it, but I looked for years and somewhere between Canterlot and Manehattan she just... vanished. I never even found a scrap of wood from a broken cart.”

“I'm so sorry, Trixie. I never knew...”

“It's better like this.” Trixie turned to look out the window, facing away from Twilight again. “I spent weeks just crying. The teachers were kind enough to keep a roof over my head, but when the new semester started, and I saw all the parents dropping off their foals...” Trixie shrugged. “I left before they could put me in an orphanage and went looking for my mother.”

“And never found anything,” Twilight whispered. She walked over and sat next to the blue unicorn.

“I'm sure you can fill in the rest. I wandered around, and my only real skills were some simple magic tricks I had learned in school and what I remembered from my mother. I gave up looking for her years ago. If she's still alive she doesn't want me to find her.”

“I'm sorry.”

“You're sorry? Ah, Trixie sees how it is! You saw how much better her grades were than yours, and you felt the only way to get revenge was to seduce Trixie's mother and run off with her to Las Pegasus!”


“Oh, so that's not it? Then you shouldn't apologize. You did nothing wrong and Trixie told you of her own free will. Maybe next time Trixie will tell you a happier tale, of one of her great adventures. If you ask nicely she might even tell you the truth.”

Twilight smiled. “I'd like that.”

“Then Trixie will tell you. In the morning.” She yawned. “Now, where are the beds?”

“Um...” Twilight blushed. “There's actually... only bed. Singular. I never had two beds while I was living here. I didn't have any friends so I never needed it.”

“Oh.” Trixie sighed. “Well, that's fine. If you give Trixie a blanket and a pillow she'll be quite comfortable on the floor.”

“No!” Twilight said, with a frown. “You're my guest and I won't have you sleep on the castle floor! I'd feel like an awful friend.”

“And Trixie can't force a Princess out of her own bed!” Trixie stood and stomped a hoof. “It's inexcusable. Even if you order it, Trixie won't do something so crass. She has her pride, after all.”

“Look, there's only one way an argument like this ever ends in pretty much every book I've read.” Twilight left out that all of the books with that argument could be shelved in the romance section. “We'll just share the bed. It's big enough for both of us.”


“This bed is not big enough for both of us.” Trixie said, her voice muffled slightly by the feathers in her face.

“I swear it was a lot bigger when I lived here!” Twilight frowned. “Even if I was alone. And smaller. And had fewer limbs...” She sighed. “Maybe one of us is going to have to sleep on the floor after all.”

“The only way this is going to work is if you turn around so your wings aren't in my face!”

Twilight turned over so she was facing Trixie. “Sorry. Is that better?”

“Yes,” Trixie admitted. It was still a little too close for comfort. “At least Trixie won't be smothered by downy feathers while she's trying to sleep.”

“That would be a hard one to explain to Celestia. 'Oh Twilight, where's your friend?' 'Sorry, Princess, there was an accident again. Can you get me a shovel and keep everypony out of the back garden for a few hours?'” Twilight and Trixie shared a laugh.

“If you asked nicely maybe she'd send my corpse to the moon.”

“You know she doesn't do that to everything, right?”

“I know. It's just a funny rumor like how she constantly eats cake.”

“Well, um, about that one...” Twilight looked nervous. “That one's kinda true. I don't think I've ever seen her go a full day without cake. I mean didn't you ever wonder who invented National Cake Appreciation Day, or Baked Goods Month?”

“I suppose it's good to be the Princess.”

“Yeah,” Twilight said, smiling. “I mean, um. Not that I eat cake like that!”

“Well I had thought you looked somewhat more... generously figured than when we last met.”

“It's not true!” Twilight gasped. “I- It's just a habit from living here! And Pinkie Pie makes really good cupcakes! I eat a lot of healthy food to compensate! I can go on a diet, no problem!”

“Relax, Twilight. I'm kidding. You look fine.” Trixie blushed. Thankfully it was too dark for anypony to tell. Twilight started to get up.

“No, no. I should go make a quick list to make sure I remember to watch what I eat, and I think I have a few books on proper exercise. If I follow pegasus exercises it should basically be right-”

“Twilight!” Trixie groaned. “Just be quiet and go to sleep. It's bad enough we have to wake up at some unnatural hour just so we can see the Princesses before the Day Court begins. Trixie needs her beauty sleep and doesn't need it interrupted by a purple princess who decides to do research when even Luna would think it's too late!”

“Alright...” Twilight said, with a sigh.

“Besides, Trixie has already solved the problem. You can pull Trixie's chariot on the way back to Ponyville. It will be excellent exercise.” They shared another laugh before falling asleep on the soft bed.


“No, Trixie, don't!” Twilight screamed. Trixie laughed as she flung the last of the royal guards out of her new throne room. Twilight and her friends were bound with collars and chains to Trixie's new golden throne. Trixie adjusted her new crown, twisted gold and black in a spiked spiral that looked almost organic, like a seashell.

“Trixie is now the ruler of all of Equestria. Thanks to her new powers, no pony can stand before her!” Trixie laughed with dark joy. “Now no pony will be able to look down on Trixie!”

“Trixie Lulamoon!” Celestia shouted. The roof collapsed as a blast of solar energy tore through it, admitting the Princess from above. “This has gone too far. I should have known you could never be trusted. All you care about is power.”

“There's nothing you can do to stop me,” Trixie said, smiling. “Your magic is useless against me, all of your guards are defeated, and I even have your precious student to myself.” Trixie picked up Twilight with her magic and put her down close enough for the unicorn to stroke her hair. With a flourish, she draped Twilight in silks and jewelry.

“T-Trixie!” Twilight blushed.

“See, Princess? All mine!” Trixie stroked the little alicorn's mane.

“I'm sorry, Twilight,” Celestia said. “It seems that I am going to have to protect Equestria myself. Trixie, it is with a heavy heart that I must banish you to the moon, forever!” Celestia's eyes blazed with a blinding light as a white bolt of light lanced towards Trixie.

Trixie braced herself, and there was a feeling of bending, like rubber, as the magic scattered away from her, rebounding.

“Hah! Trixie is even immune to your most powerful spell!” Trixie posed. “Now, Twilight, I believe we were about to-” the lavender mare was gone. Trixie blinked. “W-where-” She heard screaming, and looked down to where her other friends had been chained to her throne. Pinkie Pie was slowly turning into starlight, being drawn upwards towards the moon and vanishing. The screaming suddenly stopped.

“When the magic reflected off of you, it hit us!” Fluttershy said, sadly. She started to fade from view. “Now all of us are going to be stuck on the moon for a thousand years.”

“I didn't mean to-” Before Trixie could apologize, Fluttershy was gone, her metal collar clattering to the stone floor.

“Ya shouldn't have lied to everypony,” Applejack said, before she too was gone.

“This is all happening because you weren't willing to make sacrifices for other ponies.” Rarity said. “Ooh, maybe I can start a new lunar collection...” She disappeared, muttering something about spacesuit chic.

“You finally made friends and really screwed it up,” Rainbow Dash groaned. “Now everypony's really going to hate you!” She looked up just before puffing into a twirl of twinking dust.

“No!” Trixie shouted, tears forming in her eyes. Celestia loomed over her.

“And now I'm going to exile you,” Celestia said. “And then lock you in a dungeon where you're exiled! You'll never escape, and in the end no pony will even remember your name.” Trixie cowered before her. “And you know what else?”

Trixie shook her head.

“Stop squeezing so hard!” Celestia yelled, with Twilight's voice.


“Mwah?” Trixie gasped, blinking awake. Her face was pressed into something purple and fuzzy and warm and- and a Princess! She gasped and let go.

“You could have warned me you were a cuddler,” Twilight joked sleepily.

“I'm sorry,” Trixie said, turning away.

“You were crying. Were you having a bad dream?” Twilight sat up to look at her. Trixie took a few deep breaths to steady herself.

“It was just a stupid nightmare. It didn't even make sense.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Trixie shook her head. Twilight shrugged and stretched.

“It's time to get up anyway.” The princess hopped out of bed. “Celestia will be raising the sun soon. We'll be meeting her right after that.” Trixie looked out the window. It was still dark.

“How can you even tell?” She slowly got out from under the covers.

“Oh, well, you know. I lived here for a long time. I guess I just know. Like I heard the cooks and the gardener using the well outside, and the maids always make a lot of noise getting Celestia's morning tea together.” Twilight lit a candle to brighten up the room.

“I was expecting something more impressive.” Trixie walked over to a mirror and tried to fix her mane. Unfortunately with her poor aim she ended up yelping as she pulled her own hair.

“What, like alicorn magic?” Twilight smiled and grabbed the brush with her magic to help Trixie with her mane. “Sorry. I guess it's a little disappointing to hear it's just a trick.”

“It's not a very good trick if you explain how it's done,” Trixie said. “Half of magic comes from not knowing how the magician did it. I've seen earth ponies manage sleights of hoof that made people check them for a hidden horn.”

“I'm not trying to trick you.” Twilight smiled. Trixie blushed again. “Now let's go see how Celestia is doing.”


Trixie watched Celestia levitate another dainty bite of cake to her mouth. She was on her second piece. Luna and Twilight had stopped after one. Trixie had politely declined.

“So, you want to go to Bibbidi Boo's lair,” Celestia said quietly. “It isn't a place I would willingly send you. Even my magic would be blocked my the Smooze. Truthfully, I had worked to put it out of my mind since the events that occurred so long ago.”

“Tis the place they must go,” Luna countered. “Even if only to be sure that we were not mistaken about the fate of that witch.”

“After what happened I believe we can be quite sure,” Celestia said, putting her cake down. “I will send word to have the rest of the Elements of Harmony brought here.”

“Oh, there's no need,” Twilight said, with a smile. “I'll just bring Trixie.”

“What?” Trixie asked, blinking. “Trixie can't go on an adventure! Trixie can't even get on a train without it turning into a disaster!”

“Trixie, you saved my life a few times already. Besides, don't you want to be one of the great heroes who saved Equestria? For real this time?”

“I... suppose.” Trixie conceded.

“Besides, I need you.” Twilight reached over to put her hoof on Trixie's. “You're the only pony who can use magic where we'll be going. Whoever's controlling the Smooze won't be expecting anypony to be able to do that! We'll have the element of surprise!”

“I suppose it's my responsibility to help.” Trixie glanced down at Twilight's hoof. “And if I'm going to be a living disaster zone I might as well do it somewhere I won't hurt anypony else.”

“That's the spirit!” Luna said. “Come! I know my sister wishes to speak with Twilight in private. I will assist you with preparing for this great adventure!” Luna stood. Trixie swallowed and followed. Celestia took another bite of cake as they left.

“You have a lot of faith in her,” Celestia noted.

“We're a lot alike, I think. Maybe if I hadn't been so lucky and had a great family and friends, I would have ended up falling into the same place she did.” Twilight looked towards the door. “And she's really not that bad once you get to know her.”

“Oh, I can tell.” Celestia smirked and her horn glowed as she plucked a long silver hair from Twilight's mane. “It seems you two are very close already.”

Twilight turned bright red. “It's not like that!”

“Is that so?” Celestia's eyes widened in mock surprise. “I suppose we could get Princess Cadence to visit so we can be sure.”

“Princess, it's not like that!” Twilight frowned, pouting and blushing. “I mean sure, we have a similar taste in books. And we both have the same special talent. And went to the same school. In the same class. And we were both lonely. But that's just all stuff we have in common! It doesn't really mean anything except that we have stuff in common.”

“Well, I'm certain you'd know best,” Celestia said, keeping her voice neutral and trying not to laugh.


“And thou will need armor.” Luna strapped dark armor to Trixie, the Unicorn helpless to resist. It was the leaden color of Luna's personal guard. Her coat flashed as it resisted the enchantment designed to change its color, the magic turning the tough straps instead. “Tis lucky my guard is still so few. We have plenty of suits to spare.” Luna adjusted some of the straps. They were standing in a dusty armory. Despite their obvious age, the weapons and armor stored there were in excellent condition. Trixie wondered if they were enchanted to resist the ravages of age.

“Is this really a good idea?” Trixie asked. “It's heavy, and Trixie has never worn armor before.”

“You will be the bodyguard for a princess!” Luna exclaimed. “You will need to be protected for when you throw yourself into danger on her behalf!”

“I'm immune to magic. Isn't that basically safe enough?”

“Tis good if thou are planning on getting in the way of sorcerous attacks, but it would do little against an opponent who is aware of your condition.” Luna stepped to a rack of spears and grabbed one. “For example!” She threw it at Trixie. The mare shrieked in alarm, flinching. The spear glanced off the armor.

“What are you doing?!” Trixie demanded. “I could have been killed!”

“I was being careful,” Luna said. “You wouldn't have gotten hurt. But you must remember that whatever protection you have is of little use if your opponent decides to throw a spear or a rock at you. T'would be ironic if you allowed yourself to be killed by something so primitive.”

“Well Trixie doesn't like having spears thrown at her,” Trixie said. Luna laughed.

“Good! No pony should!” Luna grabbed some saddlebags and attached them to Trixie. “You'll also need rope, and torches, and crampons-”


“Aye! In case you need to walk on ice.” Luna packed more. “And marbles.”


“You can use marbles to check for a slope, or to set a trap for enemies that will cause them to fall. Marbles are always useful on an adventure, as long as you don't lose them.” Luna giggled at her joke. “And you'll need climbing spikes so you can anchor rope and spike doors open or closed. And waterproof blankets! And...”


“Sister! I have prepared Consort Lulamoon for the adventure!” Luna burst into the room excitedly. “I outfitted her just as we always used to!”

“Oh Luna...” Celestia facehoofed as Trixie awkwardly walked into the room, overloaded with enough equipment to fill a cart. She awkwardly clutched a long stick in her mouth. “Consort?”

“She isn't a Princess and needed a title.”

“Does she really need all of that stuff?” Twilight asked. Luna nodded.

“Of course! My sister and I once went on many adventures together. Often it was the unexpected that saved our lives and allowed us to rescue Equestria from a terrible evil.” Trixie spat out the pole. Twilight picked it up with her magic and looked at it curiously.

“Even this?”

“A ten-hoof pole is among the most vital and important tools in any adventurer's arsenal!”

“Um. If you say so.” Twilight looked skeptical. “Trixie are you even going to be able to carry all of that?”

“I might make it all the way to the stairs,” Trixie said, sitting down heavily. A tambourine rolled out of one of her overstuffed saddlebags, clattering on the floor. Celestia sighed and put her tea down.

“Luna, perhaps you and I could discuss something for a moment? Twilight, why don't you help Trixie repack some of that?” Celestia led Luna away while Twilight walked over and opened up the bags, spilling their contents.

“Luna packed half of the castle!” Twilight whispered, surprised.

“It sure feels like it,” Trixie complained. Twilight pulled a heavy pot out of a bag. “I couldn't just tell her to stop! She's a Princess!”

“Daring Do never packs like this,” Twilight noted. “Though Rarity does. Maybe she and Luna have a lot in common- why do you have a full set of kitchen knives?”

“Apparently in case I need to prepare a gourmet meal while in the field,” Trixie said, rolling her eyes. After a few more minutes, Twilight had things sorted out, taking what she thought were the most important things and leaving the rest in a pile for the maids to clean up. Trixie shifted the load on her back.

“Much better. The last thing I need is to have to drag you back here because you collapse from exhaustion.” Twilight smiled. Trixie felt uncomfortable, and it wasn't the armor.

“Why do you want to go with me instead of your friends? Tell me the truth.”

“You're still the only one who can use magic against the Smooze. And...” Twilight looked towards Celestia and Luna, who were arguing about the benefits of bringing marbles. Well, Luna was arguing. Loudly. In the Royal Canterlot Voice. “...I thought that if you went on an adventure it might help you feel better about yourself.” Twilight blushed.

“You're going to risk the fate of Equestria on trying to make me feel better?” Trixie raised an eyebrow at that. Twilight laughed nervously. “Is that really something a Princess should do?”

“Celestia has put important things in my hooves before too, because she trusts me. After what you did in the forest and the way you were willing to apologize to everypony, I want to believe I can trust you like that too.”

“FINE, SISTER, BUT WE WILL HAVE WORDS ABOUT THIS!” Luna stormed back over to Trixie and Twilight. “Unfortunately, my sister has pointed out that thou are but little ponies and can't be expected to carry every implement that has ever come in handy to my sister and I. I would still request you take the most important things.”

“Of course they will, Luna,” Celestia assured her. “They're both quite wise for their age. And I'm sure between Twilight's planning skills and Trixie's improvisation, they'll be just fine.”

“Yeah,” Twilight agreed. “We've got a map, supplies, I sent a letter to my friends so they know where we are, and I memorized all of the notes on what happened when you two were there. Everything's going to be fine. If we get into real trouble we'll back off and wait for help.”

“I know if anypony can solve this, it's you.” Celestia smiled.

“Oh! I almost forgot!” Luna ran over to Trixie and kissed her on the cheek. Trixie and Twilight both turned bright red. “Tis a kiss for good luck. Fortune is always a welcome addition to an adventure, and will not weigh thy packs down.”


“When did you two get so friendly?” Twilight asked, with an eyebrow raised. Trixie stammered, not sure what to say. They were taking one of the Princesses' flying chariots out to the mountain where Bibbidi Boo had made her lair.

“I didn't- She just-” Trixie touched her cheek where Luna had kissed her. Twilight gave her a stern look then started laughing.

“I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it. It was probably just some old crazy tradition, like bringing firewood along with you on an adventure.” Twilight hesitated. “I mean, unless she did mean something. Did you two do anything inappropriate while you were alone?”


“She called you a consort.

“While Trixie is certain that many mares and even royalty desire her perfect body, she has not done anything inappropriate with Princess Luna.” Trixie huffed. “She is just a very determined and forceful mare who has some rather old-fashioned ideas about appropriate behavior.”

“Old-fashioned, huh?” Twilight considered. “Does that include a last-minute makeout session? I don't remember that from any history books.”

“Trixie and Luna were not 'making out'!” Trixie yelled. “She simply gave me a kiss for good luck! A chaste kiss on the cheek! B-besides, Trixie is sure that Princesses don't do those sorts of things. Princess Celestia and Luna don't have-”

“Consorts?” Twilight finished. Trixie buried her face in her hooves. “I don't know how to break this to you, but my brother is married to a Princess. And while I try really hard to block it out when Cadence starts going into detail about just what my brother does to her when they're alone, I have permanently ruined any image I had of alicorns being pure and chaste.”

“And now you ruined Trixie's mental image too!” Trixie wailed. “Now Trixie will never be able to look at Princess Cadence...” Trixie hesitated. “...Who is your sister-in-law. Ugh. Why is everypony that Trixie knows so much more important than she is?!”

“Heh...” Twilight smiled nervously.

“Sorry. I don't mean... Part of me still wants to be the center of attention.”

“Maybe you should look at it a different way,” Twilight suggested. “You used to be a spectacle for small-town ponies. Now you're the type of pony who has private audiences with Luna and Celestia and goes on adventures with another Princess.”

“...When you put it that way...” Trixie blushed. “I suppose it does make it sound better.”

“And I think they like you,” Twilight added. “I mean, obviously Luna does.”

“I'm not her consort! I didn't even lay a hoof on her!”

“That's not what I meant.” Twilight laughed. “Do you know anything about the Lulamoon family and Luna?” Trixie shook her head. “I looked into it. Apparently they were Luna's most faithful servants and basically controlled half of the noble court. There were rumors that, well, Luna did have a consort. Or two.”

“Do you think she expects me to...” Trixie blushed harder.

“No! I... hope not.” Twilight looked unsure. “Anyway, after Luna was banished to the moon, they lost a lot of favor with the rest of the nobility. They didn't do anything wrong, but most of them ended up being run out of Canterlot because people assumed they were as bad as Nightmare Moon. They were the ones who invented that ribbon you had. Most of them ended up changing their names and finding work where they could, which actually helped spread unicorns around Equestria, since before that they were almost entirely in Canterlot. After a few generations this actually resulted in the creation of today's strong middle class- I'm boring you, aren't I?”

“No, it's fine. I like hearing it.” Trixie was looking down at the clouds below. “I never got to learn much about my family. My mother was all I had.”

“I did find a few other stories,” Twilight said, smiling. “One book I read had the story of Imbrium Lulamoon...”


“...and that's why the Crystal Empire was lost!” Twilight finished.

“To think it all started with a reference pear and a deck of cards,” Trixie replied, shaking her head. “I mean that makes so much sense. I wondered why King Sombra was so evil.”

“I know. Before I found out, I thought he wasn't much more than a disembodied evil force that kept mumbling about crystals.” Twilight sighed.

“Ma'am, we're here,” one of the Royal Guards pulling the carriage said, looking back over his shoulder. “Where do you want us to put down?” Twilight and Trixie stopped to look down.

“Put us down in that clearing.” Twilight pointed. “We can walk the rest of the way.”

“I should have asked before,” Trixie said, quietly. “How is your wing? If we get in trouble, are you going to be able to fly?”

Twilight stretched it and winced. “It's gonna have to be pretty bad trouble. I think I can fly for a little while but it's gonna hurt a lot.” The carriage landed, and Trixie got off first, still carrying that long pole. The royal guard who had spoken up looked at the two.

“Excuse me, Princess. I know we were instructed to stay back to let you handle this, but if you ask it, we'd be happy to go with you.” The other guards nodded agreement. Twilight smiled.

“Don't worry. This is a magic problem, and it needs a magic solution. Besides, we need you here to help us make a quick escape once everything starts to explode.”

“Is it likely to explode?” the guard asked.

“Given past experience, I'd say it's even odds.” Twilight wiggled a hoof.

“Trixie would prefer to avoid any unintentional explosions today,” Trixie said. The guard looked at the armored unicorn sternly.

“Remember, its your duty to keep the Princess safe.” He said. Trixie raised an eyebrow. “That's Royal Guard armor. If you fail while wearing it, we all fail. And since the Princess is the Captain's little sister, I wouldn't want to be you if she gets hurt on your watch.”

“What?” Trixie blinked. “I'm just wearing this because Luna shoved me into it!”

“Come on, bodyguard,” Twilight said, pushing her before it turned into an argument. “Let's not complain about how you got drafted.” Trixie grumbled as they started walking on the old, overgrown trail towards the cave that led to the underground lair of the witch. Trixie managed to get out of earshot before she started complaining again.

“I'm not part of the Royal Guard,” Trixie muttered. “I should just find somewhere and dump this stupid armor.”

“It might come in handy,” Twilight said, with a shrug of her wings. “Besides, I think it looks good on you. It's very... heroic.”

“It is?”

“Sure. Even if it does make your coat look a little darker. Maybe when we get back we can make it official.” Twilight giggled. “Princess Celestia never assigned any guards to me, but my brother keeps bothering me about it. He wants to make sure I'm safe. Plus Luna thinks it's improper for a princess to go around without any staff.”

“Oh yes, that would just be perfect. We can get Spike a little set too. Then Trixie can order him to stand outside the library with one of Luna's ten-hoof poles and keep all visitors away until they've been screened. Actually, Trixie suspects Spike would prefer that to having to put your books away all day.”

“Well I'd still need somepony to do shelving. Unless the Great and Powerful Consort Trixie is willing to lower herself to menial labor...”

“I've done a lot of menial labor- and stop calling me Consort!” She tapped Twilight on the flank lightly with the long pole she was carrying in her magic. “It was bad enough that Luna did it. Trixie doesn't want people to think she's just a trophy to parade around! The only one allowed to parade Trixie around is Trixie!”

“That doesn't even make sense.” Twilight was hit with the pole a little harder. She jumped and laughed. “Alright, alright! I promise I'll stop.”

“Good.” Trixie stumbled as her hoof sunk into wet earth. Twilight stopped as Trixie took a step back. There was a wet, sickly sound as the hole she'd made with her hoof closed. “Ugh. There's mud already.” Trixie looked around. The ground under her was firm, but it looked the same as the danger she'd stumbled into.

“This area must be being undermined by the Smooze,” Twilight said. “It must just be really close to the surface here. We're going to have to watch our steps. The way it took that train car back in the forest, if we sink they might never find us again.”

“Hm...” Trixie considered.

“I know! I bet I can cast a spell to find where the ground is softest!” Twilight clapped her hooves. “Oh! I could use a variant of Cloudhoof's Firefly Cloak! If I put it on the ground, maybe it'll only glow where it's safe to walk!” Twilight quickly whipped up a spell and flung it towards the ground. For a brief moment, it seemed to work. But instead of going dim where the magic-absorbing smooze was close to the surface, the whole things unraveled and tore apart.

“Is that bad or very bad?” Trixie asked. Twilight sighed.

“Just regular bad. I could probably cast it a few more times, but I don't think we can memorize where it's safe to step after just seeing it for a second or two.”

“There must be an easier way...” Trixie thought, twirling the long pole idly as she considered. Then she looked at the pole, an idea dawning. “I know!” She prodded the ground firmly, feeling it with the long stick. “Luna was right about this thing coming in handy. Just follow me. Try to step where I step.”

“That's a great idea, Trixie!” Twilight smiled and let the other mare lead the way. It was slow-going but Trixie was able to keep them out of the mud. They made their way towards an ominous looking cave entrance. From the air it hadn't looked like anything, but at this low angle it had the grim visage of a pony's skull.

“This is it,” Twilight said. “Princess Celestia wrote about looking at this cave. It hasn't changed at all in a thousand years.”

“Trixie does appreciate the flair for the dramatic, though. If she were an evil sorceress witch she would also want a remote mountain lair with a skull motif.”

“Really? I thought you'd want a big bright lair in the middle of Las Pegasus. All bright lights and your face everywhere, with fine dining and entertainment.”

“No, that is what Trixie wants as a non-evil sorceress witch. Evil witches have standards to meet. Haven't you read any stories? Daring Do never fights an evil cult in a posh high-rise. They have to be somewhere secret, full of death traps and minions and darkness.”

“Um, Trixie. I have bad news.” Twilight had turned around, and bumped into Trixie's flank. “Those minions? I think we just found some.” Trixie paled and turned around slowly. A half dozen figures silently watched them, blocking off the way they had come. They were ponies, but there was something wrong with them. They looked dirty, caked with partially dried mud, their manes just unkempt tangles. Their eyes looked black and distant.

“Get behind me,” Trixie whispered.

“What are you going to do?” Twilight asked. Trixie swallowed.

“Trixie has a plan. You have to follow Trixie's instructions exactly. Can you do that?” Twilight nodded. “Good. Now what we're going to do is-” Trixie squeezed her eyes shut and tried to launch fireworks directly into herself. The magic rebounded and strengthened, a cascade of blasts and sparks erupting outwards. “RUN FOR IT!

Author's Note:

And now we get to the first proper part of the adventure.

Let's hope Trixie's next plan is a little better.