• Published 3rd Jun 2014
  • 13,521 Views, 330 Comments

Lulamoon's Castle - Bookish Delight



The Great And Powerful Trixie has returned to Ponyville at last, and Twilight Sparkle doesn't stand a cha--hold on. What's this giant shiny house doing sitting in the middle of everything?

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2: Rock Bottom

There was no magic where Trixie was.

There was no joy. There was no fun, no laughter, no adoration of pony audiences. There was no audience.

There were only rocks.

Could rocks be made into an audience? Trixie mused. Probably not a satisfied one, considering what she had been told to do with them. And she had no choice but to do it, because her previous profession was, to put it in the most technical of terms, kaput.

And they say Princess Celestia is never wrong, Trixie thought to herself as she brought the hammer down on yet another stone. Honestly, these stupid things take far too long to break! There has to be a better way...

It'd been a while since she'd used her magic. Nopony wanted her to. Once ponies had found out that her grand tales of defeating Ursas and Cerberi and all other manner of creatures were false, nopony wanted to hear anything else she had to say. Much less see anything she had to offer.

Her wagon defaced, her name besmirched, her livelihood dissolved. She pressed on -- but it was the same story wherever she went.

And all because of one purple unicorn who I now know went the complete opposite direction I did! "Great things," indeed. "Great things" like heading up a failed traveling magic show? Trixie sighed. Any unicorn can use magic! What in Equestria was I thinking?

She had to stop. Getting depressed was not going to help matters. What would help matters, even if only a little bit, was solving the problem in front of her.

And while nopony may have wanted her to use her powers, nopony was here right now to judge, either. Maybe, just maybe...

She closed her eyes and concentrated, reaching for instincts nearly lost over months of discouragement. Her horn pulsed, then glowed. Old, familiar, wonderful feelings washed over her.

Power and joy intertwined, and coursed through her body. The smallest of smiles crept across her lips. Her horn glowed brighter, its blue light now opaque.

How she had so desperately missed this.

She rode the emotional wave, opened her eyes, and cast the spell.

Her magic enveloped the rock in front of her, weaving all around it until she felt... yes. Yes! Weakness! She turned it over, and struck her hammer in a single exact spot.

It was only the smallest of taps, but the rock crumbled almost to gravel.

Yes! The breaking point! That's it! Trixie, they may take away your fame, but they can never take away your skill! Nopony can!

Cackling like a mad mare, she went about making short work of her rock assignment.

Days later, she refined the spell, allowing her to break rocks clean in half. She made a game out of it. First she made halves, then quarters, then eighths. She made sculptures. She made forts. Others she just broke so no one would suspect she was making the best of things.

In time, there were still mostly rocks, but there was a little bit of joy to go with them.

Then one day, she broke a rock in half, and everything changed.

A fossil? No...

Trixie gave a puzzled look to the odd horned, winged insignia that was imprinted in the rock she'd just split.

Why does this look so familiar?

She scanned the rock with her magic. Its aura was a faint, but deep crimson.

---

"Lulamoon's Castle"

A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfiction

Chapter 2: "Rock Bottom"

Bookish Delight, 2014. MLP:FiM belongs to Hasbro.

---

Trixie was cold. Cold and warm. At the same time. Also, sleepy. Lots of things, actually. Still, she opened her eyes.

"What... hummuh... huh?"

Her consciousness returned, her vision cleared, and she soon found the sources of her sensations. She was atop sheets -- very comfortable sheets -- in a large and airy room. All around her were crystal walls giving off a soft shine.

"Trixie?" she hear a familiar voice ask her. "Are you all right?"

"Tw-... Twilight?" Trixie asked weakly.

"Oh, thank goodness. We found you outside, fainted. We weren't sure what happened."

Fainted? Had the sight of the castle shocked Trixie that much? She chastised herself. No matter how understandable, jealousy was a sign of weakness. Around Twilight Sparkle especially, any weakness would be her undoing!

"Here, drink some water. If you want, you can stay here until you recover."

Of course, once in a blue moon, weakness carried benefits. Comfortable, spacious benefits, with your rivals taking care of your every need. The natural order of things. Trixie revoked her self-chastisement, and instead congratulated herself on a plan well-executed.

Twilight levitated a cup towards Trixie, who opened her mouth and sipped. The cool liquid refreshed, bringing her back to full alertness.

"Th-... thank you," Trixie said.

She sat up in the bed. The fluffy, cloud-soft pillow her head had been resting on was replaced with nothingness, and she felt a pang of momentary regret. She looked around.

"Where am I?" she asked, looking at Twilight. Twilight's face was flushed, and her smile meek. Trixie was used to neither of these things.

"Well..." Twilight took a deep breath. "You're in my house. My new house, I mean."

Trixie stared.

"This castle is yours?" Trixie raised a hoof, waving it around. "What, so is this your bedroom?"

"Actually, this a guest room. My bedroom's about a hundred feet in that direction." Twilight pointed out the door and added in a much quieter voice, "It's much bigger than this, too."

Trixie continued to stare. "I... Trixie has only been gone the better part of a year, Sparkle. What did you do, win the Canterlottery?"

Twilight's blush went deeper. "Um... sort of?"

"Wait." Trixie looked closer, noticing Twilight's sides. "You're a unicorn, are you not? Why do you have wings? Only alicorn princesses have-"

Trixie froze. She felt herself going faint again. She overcame it and scooted backwards on the bed, pointing at Twilight with a shaking hoof.

"Y-y-you're a p-p-p-p-p-p-"

She lowered her head in her best impression of a bow. Rival or not, it made little sense to trifle with those in positions of power. Which included herself, of course. Just... perhaps not so much right now.

Twilight cocked her head. "Uh, Trixie, what are you doing?"

"Sweet Celestia, the rumors were true," Trixie said in a rushed voice. "I tried not to listen, I tried to ignore, I even threw the so-called 'coronation invitation' away thinking it was a joke, but..." she trailed off.

"Trixie?" Twilight inched closer. "Seriously, are you okay? Why are you... wait a minute." She did a double take. "Are you bowing?"

"P-perhaps," Trixie muttered, keeping her gaze averted from Twilight's view.

"Well, don't!" Twilight put herself right in front of Trixie. "I don't want you to!"

"Why not?" Trixie snapped. "Ponies bow to their princesses! Regardless of our relationship, it's just what's done-"

"Not here, it's not!" Twilight shook her head. "Look, I have to deal with political meetings in Canterlot from time to time, and when dignitaries bow to me, it always weirds me out."

Trixie cocked her head. "Always?"

"Always. I let it go because it's my job, but that's it. I never asked for this, it just happened. And it took me this long for me to be okay with it. But there are ponies who, no matter what, I will never accept bowing from."

Twilight brought Trixie's face to meet hers with one hoof.

"You're one of them."

With their faces aligned, Trixie looked back up into Twilight's eyes. They were... interesting, right now.

She'd seen those eyes angry. She'd seen them scared. She'd seen them indignant, and Luna help her, she'd even seen them defeated.

But never had she seen them so determined.

Curiosity overwhelmed Trixie in short order. Her mind spun with ways to find out more, until she made her decision. "Twilight?"

"Yes, Trixie?"

Trixie got out of bed. Twilight followed, and once Trixie was sure she had Twilight's full attention, she put on one of her trademark confident smiles.

"Can Trixie get a tour of this place?"

Twilight did a double-take. "W-what?"

"You heard Trixie. You don't want her to bow, then she won't -- but in exchange, The Great And Powerful Trixie wishes to know exactly what her greatest rival currently has to work with." She craned her head and looked around the room. "Especially given its impressiveness."

Twilight hesitated, then gave a sheepish chuckle.

"I don't see why not. So long as you don't mind getting lost. I've kind of been doing that all day."

---

The next hour consisted entirely of Trixie getting far more than she bargained for in terms of knowledge.

Also, stairs. So many stairs, going every which way. Up and down floors, and from wing to wing.

Most of the stair-climbing led her and Twilight to empty rooms and towers, though they'd also passed by Spike's new bedroom. For some reason Twilight made a huge deal about giving her little dragon whelp "his own bed, finally. And with soundproofing! I'll face down deadly dictators any day for that! Twice if we could do it for the rest of the castle."

Still, it was almost too much to absorb. Being led around a royal castle by Princess Twilight Sparkle, the girl she'd once dueled to a standstill. She imagined attempting to do so again. The resulting mental image made Trixie mildly dizzy.

"And you say this all started with a spell that switched ponies' very cutie marks and purposes? Bad enough we just got done with a villain able to eat those." Trixie shuddered again.

Twilight shuddered as well. "The less we talk about Tirek, the better. But yes. It was an ancient spell left over from Starswirl the Bearded's research. I chanted it, and it went awry, switching my friends' special talents, and the lives they led with them! I was just barely able to reverse its effects."

"Trixie had heard tales that Ponyville had come across more than one great calamity after she left, but..." Trixie shook her head. "The more I learn about Starswirl, the more dangerous I believe he was. Perhaps not malevolent, but certainly too smart for his own good. Did you know he was also the father of dimensional space magic? He made all sorts of trouble with that as well."

Twilight looked at Trixie, visibly impressed. Trixie would have gloated if that fact hadn't come to her unbidden. Maybe her studies hadn't completely escaped her after all.

"I did," Twilight said, "but not many other ponies do." Twilight smiled at her. "Sometimes I forget you're a fellow high-level mage."

"Oh, not that high." Trixie blushed. No, stop it. Rivals. Keep the word in your head, she told herself. Rivals. "Just high enough that ponies notice."

"Oh, here's the kitchen," Twilight said, stopping in front of one of the cellar chambers. "At least, I think it is."

Trixie looked around. There were all sorts of pots and pans and utensils, neatly lined on wall and ceiling racks, not to mention top-of-the-line ranges. "Like the rest of this place, rather large. Also, elaborate. Have the servants gotten used to it yet?"

Twilight blinked. "Servants?"

Trixie walked around the kitchen. "You know. Castle? Servants? These things, they go hoof in hoof. Your mentor's castle is probably crawling with them."

"Don't have any. Don't want any."

Trixie stopped short.

"Hold on, let Trixie get this straight. You're a princess who doesn't want to be bowed to, and who doesn't want servants?"

"Huh." Twilight blinked. "I guess so."

Trixie gestured around the kitchen. "Well then, what do you plan to do about things like this? Kitchens require cooks, Sparkle! To make you meals fit for a princess!"

Twilight shrugged. "I guess this is where I learn how to cook, and make myself meals fit for me. Oddly enough, Spike knows more about cooking than I do. I guess he'll be teaching me for once." Twilight put a hoof to her chin in thought. "Pinkie and Applejack could help too. Oh, and washing dishes together could be fun!" She giggled.

"I..." Her mind reeling, Trixie simply shook her head, exhaled and left the room.

Walking to another one, she peeked in through its slightly ajar door, then smiled. "Ahh, now here's something more like Trixie would expect from you." She chuckled. "Books galore -- oooh, and of course, mostly on magic! Just how much of your castle is made up of these?"

"I used to have more. Either way, they're all down here now. I decided to make the library a basement wing this time."

Trixie blinked. "Any particular reason why?"

"Protection, mainly."

"Protection?"

"Well, when I fought Tirek..." Twilight shuffled from side to side. "Let's just say, my entire house used to be a library. As in, what this place used to be."

Trixie took in the new information, and noted Twilight's crestfallen look. She quickly connected the dots, and gasped.

"This place... Twilight, your home... oh, Twilight-"

Trixie threw open the door and ran into the library, and saw her fears realized. Several books on the shelves were charred and burnt. Some pages were torn, some eaten away entirely.

Twilight stepped into the library, standing beside Trixie. "I guess you could say it's a fixer-upper," she said, with a rueful grin.

"You don't have to make light of it." Trixie turned to Twilight, put her hooves on her shoulders, and nodded with empathy. "The loss of one's home, one's livelihood, one's source of knowledge... it's never easy. I'm so sorry, Twilight," Trixie said, and she meant it. "I... I speak as someone who's been there."

Twilight gave a solemn nod back. "I know. Thank you, Trixie."

"You say this was Tirek's doing as well?" Trixie asked.

Twilight nodded again, more slowly.

"One minute it was there. The next it was a fragment. It... was hard to take at first. The day after the battle I walked around Ponyville for hours, looking for lost pages. I didn't want to admit it to myself. Some of those books, I'd had since birth -- to say nothing of pictures from my walls, spare parts, decorations and heirlooms..."

She gave a sniff despite herself, and Trixie firmed her grip in response.

"But knowledge can be relearned," Twilight went on. "Books can be rewritten. Memories never fade. And homes can be rebuilt..."

The two looked at what was left of Golden Oaks's inventory together. The massive shelves dwarfed the small collection. It was technically still a library by all rights, but a broken one.

"...right?" Twilight's voice came in a soft waver.

A silent moment passed, with Trixie deep in thought, until struck by inspiration.

"You know, you could rebuild. Don't you have princess magic? I'm sure there's a spell we could find that could bring your old home back. Or restore those books you lost, or-"

Twilight shook her head. "Even for alicorn-level magic, I'm afraid some things are impossible. But that's okay. One of my good friends, Applejack, taught me a lesson that stuck with me. If everything in our lives could be restored with a twitch of a horn? We would lose sight of what those things meant to us in the first place."

"So what you're saying is, even if you could bring everything back..."

Twilight gave the smallest of smiles, contrasting the sadness still in her eyes.

"...I wouldn't. I'm going to build the shelves again, book by book. I already picked up a few history texts from the Crystal Empire last week. And things will only grow from there."

Trixie's mind reeled again. She closed her slackened jaw, shaking her head to regain her composure. "You're an odd one, 'Princess Twilight'. Very, very odd."

Twilight giggled. "Thanks, Trixie. You know, I'm actually glad we had this tour. I've got so much more of this castle mapped out now. But there's one more place I was saving for last."

"There's still more? Are you sure there's no dimensional magic holding this place together?"

Twilight giggled. "None that I know about. And it's just one more room. You'll love this one, though. I promise."

The two went back up, climbing twisting staircases to the ground level of the castle, and stopped in front of a huge, golden door.

"I'll let you open it," Twilight said.

Trixie tugged at it with her magic. Then she strained. The door rewarded her struggles with all of a three-inch opening. "Starswirl's beard," she said, catching her breath. "This thing weighs a ton!"

Twilight laughed. "Doesn't it, though? I hate opening it too." She added her magic to Trixie's, and the door gave way.

When Trixie walked inside, she made sure to keep her jaw shut this time, if only as a change of pace. However, she still allowed herself a single shocked gasp as she saw what lay inside.

She walked around large ivory-colored crystal chairs, all placed around an equally large table. She recognized the cutie marks imprinted on them -- Twilight's friends. Of course. Her assistant world saviors.

"This... this is incredible," Trixie whispered.

"That's what I said," Twilight replied. "Almost too much. I haven't gone in here too many times. Out of all the big rooms in this place... well, this feels the biggest."

Nodding, Trixie touched the table... and images flashed in her mind.

Unicorns shaking hooves. Squabbles for the fate of the world. Battlefields and peace summits. This very room would be the site of great things. It would be where so many of Equestria's future historical events would begin... and end.

She jerked away from it with an involuntary cry. Too big, as Twilight had said. Too much. So much. She felt herself falling, then caught, in Twilight's forelegs.

"Whoa, Trixie, be careful!"

"Right, right, sorry," said Trixie, getting back on her hooves. "But this place... oh my gosh, the magic in here is off the charts! Do you know what this is?"

Twilight nodded. "Yup! This is where I and my friends will have meetings to help better serve Equestria. Behold the..." Twilight stopped. "Huh. Actually I haven't thought of a good name for it yet. I mean, what do you call something that's just a big round table?"

Trixie's shocked gape was back -- only this time, directed at Twilight. "You're kidding, right? You don't know what this is for? Why it would be entrusted to you..." She gestured to the logos on the chairs. "...and you friends?"

"I do," said Twilight with a casual air that made Trixie cringe. "As Princess of Friendship, my job is to spread its magic throughout Equestria. It's a job I gladly accept, but that doesn't mean I fully know how this room figures into that yet. I mean, I'm sure we'll have some meetings in here, but I can't see the future-"

"Stop."

"Huh?"

"Seriously, Sparkle," Trixie said between labored breaths. "Stop. Just stop."

"Stop what?" Twilight asked.

"Stop what?" Trixie could feel her temperature rising. She wished to the heavens that she could control it. "Stop being so insufferably humble, that's stop what! Or oblivious! Or whatever it is that you're doing! Just stop it!"

"I'm not being humble. Or any of that other stuff. I just got this place three days ago! Things keep falling into my lap, and if I thought about all of them all the time, I'd go crazy!"

"Well, excuse me for not thinking you have the hardest life ever! You and your princesshood, and your castle, and your grand council!" Trixie pounded the table, her voice cracking. "You know what? Forget it! I knew coming here was a mistake to begin with -- but for some reason I just can't get rid of the stupid hold that Twilight Sparkle has on my mind! And I just figured out why she irks me so much! "

Trixie walked to Twilight and leaned in, her voice low and razor sharp.

"Privilege is wasted on the privileged."

Trixie disappeared in a flash of blue smoke, leaving Twilight alone in the Room of Friendship.

---

In an instant, Trixie reappeared back in her carriage.

She took a good look around.

Her old wagon had been tiny, made of wood, and had barely enough room for her to rest. This was spacious. Still a single room, but it held several comforts of life. Shining trinkets adorned her shelves and her dresser, given to her from entertained and grateful ponies.

She'd been proud of it all. So proud.

Until an hour ago.

She looked back out at the gleaming castle, then shut her carriage's blinds, leaving her in darkness.

"...and what have you truly accomplished with your life, Lulamoon?" Trixie asked herself in a shuddering whisper. "What have you proven by throwing everything away?"

You are destined for great things, Princess Celestia's voice echoed in her mind. Whether you like it or not.

The last of Trixie's resolve crumbled. She tried her hardest to stop the tears, and failed. They ran, no matter how much her mind screamed for them not to.

Then came the chokes, and finally, the sobs, quiet and sorrowful, her heart squeezing in her chest.

She sat on her bed, sniffling and sobbing, until she lost track of how long she'd been doing both. She cried until it felt normal to do so. She cried until it felt good to cry. She cried, realizing she had been holding it all in for too many years to count.

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