• Published 10th Jul 2011
  • 3,454 Views, 22 Comments

Trix of the Trade - Miyajima

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5
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Learning the Ropes

Trixie looked around to make sure the crowd of angry Appleloosans had dispersed before darting out from her hiding place and making a bolt for the caravan. She didn’t know how long it’d be until the Sheriff decided to move it, or some nosey pony decided to have a look inside, and she needed some peace and quiet to decide what to do.

She shot inside before anyone had a chance to see her and bolted the door to prevent interruption. Letting out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, she looked around at the caravan’s interior, her gaze lighting on the piles of prepared stock that Leechcraft had intended to sell that morning. She started sifting through the bottles, bags and dried herbs, trying to recall what Leechcraft had told her about them all barely an hour or so earlier. Admittedly, she hadn’t really been listening to most of it, too preoccupied with her own thoughts (and preening), and now she was beginning to regret it.

“Gah, was it the one with the spiky leaves and blue petals, or smooth leaves and square stem?” She thought as she picked up first one herb, then another, peering at them both closely. “Why doesn’t he label anything!?” She let them both fall, and huffed in frustration.

“Trixie, you’re going about this all wrong. If you’re going to break Leechcraft out, first you need to make a plan.” She looked out of the window of the caravan at the buildings lining the street, taking care to avoid being seen. She quickly spotted the Sheriff’s office; it was the only building in Appleloosa with barred windows. She knew she had to get inside and have a look around the place, but at the same time was reluctant to let herself be seen in case she was recognized later.

“... It can’t be helped, I need to know the layout of the office before I try anything.” She looked around at the caravan again. Leaving it unguarded while she went over to the sheriff’s office was a risk she’d have to take. She put on her satchel and took one of every item Leechcraft sold, in case the caravan was emptied or taken during her absence.

Peeking out of the circular hole cut into the door to make sure no one was looking in her direction, she quickly stepped out and closed the door behind her. Assuming an air of confident disinterest (one she’d long since mastered when talking to ‘fans’), she trotted briskly down the street to the Sheriff’s office.

She looked up at the building, quickly making a mental note that there seemed to be only one visible door, directly at the front. All the windows were barred, with the bars built into the frames, and securely fastened. It was only one storey high, and she supposed that there was no skylight, from what she’d seen of other Appleloosan buildings. Clearly getting in and out was only possible through the front door.

While she was contemplating any other possible means of entry, the door swung open to reveal the deputy. He saw Trixie standing in front of the verandah and quickly stood to attention, adjusting his hat and trying to look as single and available as possible in front of the gorgeous light-blue mare.

If there was one thing Trixie had learnt from her years on the road, it was how to read body language. Ponies could lie with their mouths easily, but the rest of the body took a lot more training. She saw the opportunity, and seized on it. She drew in breath and was about to state her demands in the same haughty tone she was used to using, but stopped and checked herself.

“No no no. Not the ‘Great and Powerful’ Trixie this time. You want him to be putty in your hooves. Eye flutter and pout at the ready!”

The deputy stepped forward, putting on his best charm. … Which wasn’t saying much, but he made the effort.

“Yer look a little lost there, missy. Can I be any help?” He said, giving her a wink. Trixie looked up at him and instantly put on the full works. She pouted a little, doing a convincing impression of a scared little filly lost in the big city.

“W-well, I’m n-new here, and, uhm, I was... Looking for work?” She said, fluttering her eyes at the deputy.

He fell for it hook, like and sinker.

“Then yer come to th’right pony! I’m Deputy Irons.” He said, turning to show her his cutie mark; a pair of hoof-cuffs. “If yer after work, we could always do with more helpers in the orchard...”

Trixie looked down and let her ears droop, scuffing a hoof on the ground.

“... but if that ain’t yer cup o’ apple juice, me an’ th’Sheriff could do with someone t’help with all this filin’!” Deputy Irons waved a hoof at the office door. Trixie looked back up, smiling sweetly.

“Oh, th-thank you, sir! That’ll be just perfect for somepony like me!” She said, pulling out all the stops. Deputy Irons never stood a chance.

“Well, I gotta go on my rounds, but uh... Maybe you an’ me can get some salt later, huh?” Deputy Irons winked at Trixie again, walking past her. “Oh, jus’ head on in an’ talk to th’Sheriff. Tell ‘im I sent yer if ‘ee asks.”

When Deputy Irons was safely out of the way, Trixie broke into a grin. She trotted up the steps and pushed open the door to the Sheriff’s office. Sheriff Silverstar was riding a chair behind a desk piled high with papers, his hooves crossed and on top of the pile. His hat was tilted over his eyes, and Trixie guessed he’d decided to catch some sleep while his deputy was out. She tread as lightly as possible on her hooves, trying not to wake the Sheriff unnecessarily.

She took a quick glance around the room. The Sheriff’s desk was to the left of the door, and behind it were a row of cells with brick walls and iron bars. Two were currently occupied. Leechcraft was in one, facing the wall with his back to Trixie, and in the other snored an old pony with a pickaxe for a cutie mark and salt encrusted on his muzzle. To the other side of the room was the Deputy’s desk, some cabinets for filing, and finally a humble bed and living space off to one corner.

Trixie was shocked out of her mental planning by the loud creak of a floorboard. She lifted her hoof off the offending piece of lumber immediately, but too late. The Sheriff jolted awake, overbalancing the chair and collapsing to the floor with a yelp. Leechcraft turned and barely suppressed his laughter, before noticing Trixie. Fortunately, he had the presence of mind not to call out to her, guessing that it was best, for the time being, to leave the Sheriff under the impression that they were unacquainted.

Sheriff Silverstar picked himself up, muttering curses at the chair, now little more than a pile of kindling. He caught sight of Trixie at the same time as Leechcraft, and narrowed his eyes at the blue unicorn.

“Can I help yer, ma’am?” He said, in the tone of one who has no intention of actually helping but is obliged to ask. Trixie giggled nervously.

“I-I was... told I could find work here?” She said, quickly adopting the same stance and tone as earlier.

“Who told yer that?”

“Y-your deputy, sir. He s-said I could help with... filing.” She looked down at her hooves, rubbing her forelegs together. Sheriff Silverstar wasn’t quite as easily swayed as his Deputy. He stood in silence for a few moments, glowering at Trixie, but finally sighed and waved a hoof in the direction of the Deputy’s desk.

“Fine. It’s all over there. Get ‘er done by tonigh’ an’ I’ll see about payin’ yer.” He said, and started picking up the pieces of his wrecked chair off the floor. Trixie saw the opportunity to ingratiate herself and swept over.

“Please, let me!” She didn’t wait for an answer, and immediately began levitating the pieces of the chair, quickly slotting them back together. A little light from her horn escaped from under the brim of her hat while she worked. Sheriff Silverstar blinked, looking back and forth between her and the repaired seat.
“Unicorn! Well naw, that’s more useful. Problem with half the ponies out ‘ere in Appleloosa is they can’t grip a pen in their mouth fer longer than a coupla hours, so we never get this paperwork done. But you’ll be absotively perfect!” He said, smiling enthusiastically behind his moustache.

Trixie smiled sweetly at the Sheriff and went over to the deputy’s desk, perching herself on the chair. She briefly pondered why chairs were always made in this style, with the uncomfortable and unusable backrest, but dismissed the issue for later contemplation. She fidgeted for a few minutes, trying to get comfortable and simultaneously cause as little squeaking as possible on the floorboards. The Sheriff had climbed back into his chair and fallen asleep, which Trixie was thankful for. Keeping up that false smile and shy-yet-enthusiastic demeanour was tiresome.

Leechcraft, meanwhile, was sitting in his cell, watching Trixie through the bars. He guessed she was planning something, and he supposed that ‘something’ involved getting him out of jail, but he didn’t know how she planned to accomplish it. He’d only been locked up for an hour or two, but had already counted all the bricks in the wall (twice) and given up on making conversation to the snoring miner, taciturn Sheriff or over-zealous Deputy. He hoped that whatever Trixie was planning, she went through with it before he died of boredom. Or Apple Pie to the face.

~~~
In the hours that passed, Trixie felt she’d learnt more about Equestrian Law than was strictly safe to one’s health. For such a small and new town, Appleloosa had a lot of ‘criminals’, even though some of the charges were... questionable.

She levitated one form in particular, peering at it.

Braeburn

- Charged with Over-Enthusiasm in Guided Tour of Appleloosa, Resulting in Loss of Trade.

Fine: Two Hours Community Service as Appleloosa Tour Guide

Rolling her eyes, she ticked and signed the appropriate boxes and rubber-stamped the form, placing it in a neatly stacked pile with the countless others she’d already worked through. It seemed that for every file she took from the mound of paper, two more appeared in its place.

It hadn’t been a total waste of an afternoon. Not only had Trixie learnt that there are at least seven different ways to assault somepony with an apple, but more importantly, she had learnt where the Sheriff kept his keys. Only an hour or so previously, the Sheriff had awoken from his nap to let the old miner out. Judging by the way he talked so amiably to the eldery pony, Trixie guessed he was a regular customer. Sheriff Silverstar kept the keys inside his waistcoat, returning them swiftly as soon as he’d let the miner out. He’d left Trixie in charge of the office while he took the miner back home, but before she had a chance to go over and talk to Leechcraft, Deputy Irons had returned from his rounds.

The last hour or so since had consisted of Irons flirting, badly, and posturing at any given chance. Trixie had tried her best to ignore it and carry on with the filing, but by now her patience was wearing thin. She wasn’t sorry to hear the town’s (newly reconstructed) clocktower strike five, releasing her from duty.

Veritably leaping from her seat, she made a quick dash for the door, but was surprised to find Deputy Irons blocking her way, leaning on the doorframe, both sets of legs crossed in a casual manner and hat tilted down.

“So, how about that salt?” He said, flicking his hat back up with a well-practised gesture and a grin. Trixie felt her heart sink. There was no way she was getting out of this one. She nodded, mutely, feeling the tiniest pang of guilt when she saw how overjoyed the Deputy was that she said yes.

“Great! Come on! If we get to th’Salt Block early we’ll avoid the rush!” He said, rearing up and running off down the street without waiting to see if Trixie was actually coming. She looked back at Leechcraft in the cell, who shrugged at her. Sighing, she followed after Deputy Irons.

He was standing outside the saloon waiting for her as she approached, still grinning enthusiastically. He pushed open the swing-door with such force it was nearly knocked off its hinges, and held it open for Trixie to enter. She looked around the familiar saloon. It was still warm and inviting, and she could hear a pony clumsily trying to play a piano in the corner, not an easy feat with hooves. The saloon was still mostly empty, a couple of ponies sat here and there at tables, and two stood leaning against the bar, talking to the barman.

Deputy Irons came in behind Trixie and strode to the bar, knocking on it with his hoof and making the other customer’s cups rattle. The barman strode over and looked down his nose at the Deputy. He was at least two hands taller than Irons, and took full advantage of it.

“Yes?” He said, the single syllable hanging in the air like a death threat. Irons fought to keep up his bravado in front of his ‘date’.

“Two salts, Morton, an’ I’ll take an Apple Twist. The lady here’ll have a...” He paused, and turned around to Trixie. “... a, uh... Whaddya wan’ t’drink, missy?”

Trixie blinked. “Oh, uh... H-hay smoothie, please.”

Morton, the barman, peered at Trixie, but decided not to pry. He set to work preparing the drinks and measuring out the salt as Trixie took a seat next to Irons at the bar. Irons scooted his stool closer to hers.
“So, I didn’ catch yer name...” He started. Trixie forced herself not to roll her eyes. She gulped and adopted the same tone of voice she’d used earlier.

“T-Trixie.” She replied, avoiding looking at him directly. She’d had an idea of how to remove Deputy Irons from the equation, and now needed to wait only for the perfect opportunity. They chatted, although the conversation was a little one-sided. Deputy Irons didn’t seem put off by Trixie’s short answers and had started talking enough for the both of them.

Morton returned a couple of minutes later with their drinks and salt, and Irons flicked a hoof-full of bits at the barman. They talked as the bar slowly filled and their drinks emptied. Irons was telling Trixie of how he came to settle in Appleloosa and his life in Manehatten, always wanting to be a cop but never quite making the grade. Trixie, in return, made up a story about her life on the road before coming to Appleloosa, at least when she got a word in edgeways.

Irons was onto his third Apple Twist and second salt when the moment Trixie had been waiting for finally came.

“I’m jus’ -hic- g-gonna... go out b-back fer a sec, -hic- Trix. Wait up -hic- f’me!” He half-rose, half-fell off his stool and stumbled towards the saloon’s doors. Trixie briefly wondered whether the ‘no alcohol’ thing was strictly observed in Appleloosa, but didn’t waste time thinking about it.

She flicked open her satchel and dug through the herbs inside, using her hooves to avoid unwanted attention from the other ponies in the bar. She thought it quite likely that she was the only unicorn in the entire building, and didn’t want to draw light to that fact. She cast her mind back to the previous night, trying to remember which herb Leechcraft had given her to send her off to sleep. She hadn’t gotten a good look at it, but she remembered that it smelt quite strong and tasted spicy. After looking through a few of the small bags, she found what she was looking for. A bag of small, jagged-edged leaves, that smelt strongly of pepper even through the combined scents of the other plants.

She looked around, then surreptitiously dumped a good portion of the bag into Deputy Iron’s drink, quickly stirring it in. Fortunately, an Apple Twist called for cloudy apple juice, so the leaves weren’t immediately visible, not that she thought it’d be a problem with Irons in his current state.

No sooner had she put the bag back on top of the other herbs and closed the satchel, than Irons came back into the saloon, after a false start walking headfirst into the door frame. With some difficulty, the Deputy managed to slump back onto his stool.

“Y’know, yer n-not -hic- like the other m-mares around ‘ere, Trix...” He slurred. “Y’really -hic- l-listen. It’s n-nice to have so-someone -hic- t’talk to, y’know?” He finished with a flamboyant wave of his hoof and picked up his drink in his teeth, knocking it back.

He went out like a light, hitting the floor with a thud.
Morton leant over the bar, looking down at the now-snoring form of Deputy Irons. A small smirk played at the edge of his lips.

“Well, seems our good Deputy can’t hold his salt, fellas!” He announced to the bar, getting a response of raucous laughter as the other ponies turned to look. Trixie had slipped off her stool and made a move for the door as soon as Irons picked up his drink, and took advantage of the distraction to slip out unnoticed.

“One down...” She thought to herself, glancing up at the darkened sky and rising moon. The sky to the west was still awash in orange and purple, so she guessed the sun had only just set. There were a few stragglers on the main street going to and fro, but most were now at home or in the saloon. She made her way back along the street to the Sheriff’s Office, peering in through the barred windows. Sheriff Silverstar was still working at his desk, and it looked like Leechcraft was asleep.

“... One to go. How am I going to get him out of the way?”

Her eyes twinkled with inspiration, and she briskly trotted away, back towards Leechcraft’s caravan. She was relieved to find it was still there, and quickly went inside. She ransacked the cupboards once more, before lighting on the canister Leechcraft used to hold his prepared mint cordial. She flipped the lid open and poured the rest of the sleeping herb into the mixture, shaking it to make sure it spread through. Dumping her satchel and taking the canister in her mouth, she ran back out of the caravan and up the street, coming to a halt outside the Sheriff’s Office. She composed herself, fluffed up her mane and tail a little, and then walked inside smiling.

Sheriff Silverstar looked up from his work as he heard Trixie enter.

“Back already, missy? Would’ve thought Irons’d keep yer occupied fer the evenin’.”

Trixie placed the canister down on the Deputy’s desk. “Oh, he’s gone to bed. Had a long day of patrols.” She replied, flicking open the lid. The minty smell of the cordial filled the room, and Silverstar craned his neck to see what she was doing.

“Already? Mighty early fer him. Say, whatcha got there?”

“It’s a cordial I made, it’s not much, but I thought it could be a small thank you for letting me work here.” Trixie poured out a cup of the cordial and levitated it across to the Sheriff’s desk. He looked at it quizzically.

“Really? Fer me? Tha’s righ’ kind o’ yer, missy. It smells delicious, mus’ say.” The Sheriff said, picking up the cup and taking a swig. He set it back down on the desk and looked up at Trixie.

“Say, I was lookin’ through that paperwork y’did an’ it’s... it’s... uh... Land’s sakes, I feel... t-tired...”
Sheriff Silverstar slumped forward and hit the desk with a thud. Trixie smiled. Knowing exactly where to look, she levitated the keys from the Sheriff’s jacket and slotted them one after the other into the lock on Leechcraft’s cell until one finally turned.

Giggling to herself, she swung the door open and dropped the keys on Leechcraft’s head. The earth pony shot to his hooves with a start, looking around wildly.

“Whas- wheresth’fire- … … Oh, evenin’ missy.” He said, blinking in disbelief as he took in the open door and Trixie standing before him, grinning.

“I’ll tell you when we’re out of here, come on!” Trixie turned for the door as Leechcraft caught sight of the Sheriff and gasped.

“... You... You didn’t...” He stuttered, looking agape at the slumped over pony.

“Didn’t what?”

“You know... You didnt...” Leechcraft drew a hoof across his throat and stuck his tongue out.

“Of course I didn’t!”

“Then wha-”

“I said come on!”

Trixie was out of the door before Leechcraft had chance to continue. To settle his own fears he put an ear to the Sheriff’s head, and sighed with relief when he realised Silverstar was just asleep. Wasting no more time, he galloped out of the door after the blue unicorn.

When they reached the caravan, Leechcraft quickly harnessed himself to his mobile home and began moving. However, speed was of the essence, and Leechcraft was no draft pony. Trixie placed a hoof on his shoulder, stopping him, and levitated her hat off her head, setting it down over Leechcraft’s own.

She stood in front of the caravan, legs apart to ground herself, and concentrated hard. With a spark, her horn ignited, magic flowing up the spiral and gathering at the tip as she cast the spell. Leechcraft suddenly felt his load lighten, and looked back to see the entire caravan lit up in that eerie purple glow that accompanied any unicorn magic. The wheels began to spin of their own accord, slowly at first, but quickly picking up the pace. Leechcraft was pushed forward, still tied to the harness, but felt the straps loosen and pulled free.

He watched in amazement as his caravan rolled past him at a quick trot. Trixie’s horn stopped glowing, and she panted for breath, but the caravan kept moving.

“Quick! Follow it!” She gasped, taking a gulp of air and breaking into a gallop after the caravan, now moving away at a good speed. Leechcraft blinked, and grabbed Trixie’s hat from his back, running after her.

~~~
“... So then, while he was outside, I slipped the herbs into his drink!”

“Hah! Bet he wasn’ expectin’ that.”

“Went out like a light.”

Trixie and Leechcraft were sitting out on the prairie surrounding Appleloosa, around a small fire blazing under the starry sky. Trixie’s ‘Come to Life’ spell had finally worn off the caravan, allowing them to stop and take a break. After catching their breath, Leechcraft had built up a fire and Trixie had lit it, and then related her day’s activity to the earth pony.

“So I’m guessin’ you tried the same stunt on the Sheriff?” Leechcraft said, wiping a tear of laughter from his eye.

“I took your cordial and emptied the rest of the bag into it, then gave him some to drink. Worked like magic.” She said, grinning.

“Well, I can’t thank yer enough. Mind, they wouldn’ ‘ave done anythin’ bad t’me. Probably jus’ forced me into community service for a week or two ‘til I’d paid off my charge, but y’saved me that much. My only regret is that I won’t be there t’see ol’ Silverstar’s face when he wakes up tomorrow. Hah!”

Trixie’s grin faded a little, and she stared into the fire.

“Leechcraft... Can I... Stay on with you?” She asked, after a moment’s silence. Leechcraft put on a stern expression.

“‘Course not. I’m goin’ t’leave you out here all alone with nowhere t’sleep an’ no food or water.” Trixie looked up at him in shock. Leechcraft’s mouth twisted into a smirk. Trixie followed suit, and the pair soon burst out laughing.

“Yeah, ‘course y’can stay with me.” He said, after they’d finished. “We both saved eachother now, so I reckon we’re even.”

Trixie smiled, and looked Leechcraft right in the eyes.

“Thank you. For everything.”

She realised she meant it, too. She’d come to Appleloosa looking for a fresh start, somewhere she could begin anew and become the Great and Powerful Trixie once more.

Now she sat out here on the plains with a con artist that she had just broken out of jail. A con artist that saved her life and had given her, unconditionally, a place to sleep, food and water, a new wardrobe and, above all, work.

Her boasting had cost her friends in the past, but this was the first time she remembered it helping her make a new one.

“Doctor Leechcraft, and his assistant: The Great and Powerful Trixie.” She thought to herself, smiling. “I can live with that.”

Comments ( 14 )
#1 · Sep 11th, 2011 · · ·

Very cute story; quite enjoyable.

Although I kept imagining the male lead as a pony version of Nigel West Dickens from Red Dead Redemption, ha ha

:trixieshiftright: This story pleases Trixie, though she finds it far too short :trixieshiftleft:

Quite an interesting take on Trixie after fleeing Ponyville; I laughed out loud at Braeburn's charges, so kudos for that.

Solid four stars.

1257782

It probably was, to be honest. Although it could be argued the defensiveness is in-keeping with the character, there.

Delightful.

I liked this story a lot. :twilightsmile: But I do wish that they decided to, uh, you know... stop scamming ponies. Still a very nice story.

Is this going to get reposted every day?

I liked the story a lot but I have to say it was short

Comment posted by ShahDaniel47065 deleted July 10th

10788133
Not true, I'm afraid; Sethisto's The Greatest Equine Who has Ever Lived! was published on July 8, 2011 (10 years ago today!), predating this fic by two days.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a good story; it's just not the first.

10893086
But that one is unfinished

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