• Published 17th Nov 2014
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The Mare With No Name - Roberthood



On the run from the law, Trixie must do her best to lay low on her way through the tiny backwater of Appaloosa...but fate has other plans.

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1) Downfall

A dry wind whistled through the small town, stirring up grit and tumbleweeds in its wake. It muffled the sounds of passing ponies, and quieted the hoofsteps of one particular mare as she made her way down the central thoroughfare. Her blue coat and silver mane were stained with the dust of the trail, her gait slow and weary. The only possessions she carried were in a small pack atop her back.

“Trixie misses her wagon,” she muttered under her breath. It had been crushed, destroyed by the same events that had marked the beginning of her downfall, and ultimately led her to this backwater hamlet in the rump-end of nowhere. Though nearly a year had passed, and certainly used to the rigors of life on the road, she would certainly miss the simple comforts her mobile residence had provided her during all those years as a showpony. As if that were not enough, it seemed she was to be denied any of the luxuries she might have enjoyed in the larger cities.

Canterlot, Manehattan, Fillydelphia; These places and more had all been graced by The Great and Powerful Trixie, and more than once. Why, they likely knew her on sight, which, ironically, was the very reason she’d been forced to banish herself to this miserable little excuse for a town.

At least there was a bar.

Trixie stopped before that very building, faded and peeling paint spelling out “SALOON” in once-bold colors. Heaving a tired sigh, she pushed open the iconic double doors that made up the entrance and trudged her way inside.

The interior was richly appointed and decorated, vibrant silks and lace belying the place’s outer appearance. Art, mostly of enticing mares, adorned the walls, and in a corner a stallion played a cheerful tune on an upright piano. There were only a handful of customers at this time of day, which suited Trixie’s purposes just fine as she sidled up to the bar.

“Howdy there, missy!” Spouted the barpony in a jolly tone, wiping down the polished wood in front of him with one hoof and smoothing his impressive handlebar mustache and neatly trimmed goatee with the other. “If yer here for a drink, you’re in luck! We jus’ got ourselves a new shipment of Applejack Daniels; finest whiskey around!”

With a flourish, he pulled a bottle of the liquor in question from beneath the bar. Trixie’s muzzle wrinkled into a scowl aimed at the label, her eyes meeting those of the smiling mare on it. It was HER, one of Sparkle’s friends. That hat was unmistakable.

“Just water, if you please,” she huffed, turning up her snout a tad. If the barpony was insulted, he didn’t show it.

“Heh,” he chuckled. “Suppose its a mite bit early for some to start drinkin’ anyway.” Filling a glass from a keg beneath the countertop, he placed it before her, removing the offending bottle of whiskey as he did. Trixie raised a pale eyebrow.

“No ice?” she quipped. The barpony merely chuckled again.

“Naw, the unicorn ah hired hasn’t come by yet to refreeze mah icebox. No icebox, no ice, ah’m afraid. Sorry missy!”

Ignoring a spike of frustration, the former showpony waved a hoof at him dismissively.

“Save your apologies,” She said. With a frown of concentration, her horn lit up with a magenta glow as she stared down at the cup. Slowly, from the bottom up, it began to frost over, making the glass tinkle softly and tiny clouds of fog issue from the top.

“See?” she smirked, holding up the now-chilled glass of water with her hoof in a solo toast before bringing it to her lips and drinking eagerly. The barpony (Bottlecap, by his nametag) let out a guffaw.

“Lookie there, now!” he exclaimed. “How about that. What’s yer name, darlin’?”

“Why the Gr-” abruptly she choked, and had to resist the urge to facehoof. She couldn’t remain incognito if she went throwing her name around everywhere, could she? Best to drop the title, for now.

“Nopony special,” she said instead, a sour taste in her mouth.

“Well, Nopony,” Bottlecap said with a grin, “You needin’ a place to stay the night? Awful late to keep travelling.”

He was right. Reflected in the mirror behind him was the image of the sun beginning to set, the orange light pouring in through the front window. Night would arrive soon, and traveling after dark was generally a bad idea if you didn’t want to break a leg.

“Maybe,” she replied. “Why do you ask?”

“We~ll,” he drawled. “Ah’ll give ya a deal missy. Ah need some ice before the night rush shows up, so you do yer little trick on mah icebox, and ah’ll put ya up for the night.”

Trixie mulled his offer over a another deep pull of water. She didn’t want to appear too desperate to save her precious few remaining bits, after all.

“I suppose that would be agreeable” she stated, with all the magnanimity she could muster.


The rest of the evening went by smoothly, Trixie relaxing in a corner booth after taking Bottlecap up on his offer to wash up from a basin in the back. Now free of the dirt marring her coat, she rested in drowsy contentment, eyes lidded as she slowly rehydrated herself from a magically frosted pitcher of water. The only anxious moment had been having to dodge the saloon’s proprietor when he asked for her story.

Trixie grunted at the thought, roused from her half-nap by the memories drudged up. After her humiliation in Ponyville with the Ursa Minor, which had brought about the destruction of her beloved wagon (and a few buildings, so what?), she’d been bent on showing up that Sparkle. So determined was she, that she had resorted to more… illicit means to get her revenge. And then, just as it was in her grasp, The Great and Powerful Trixie had lost everything. Now she was the Wanted and On The Run Trixie.

She hadn’t meant to fall so easily for Sparkle’s tricks, or to break the Alicorn Amulet in a magical tug-of-war. She CERTAINLY had not meant to purchase an ancient artifact stolen from Princess Luna and sold to Trixie by an illegal fence posing as an antiques dealer. Meant to or not, however, these things had happened, and now she was stuck hiding out in the sticks while ponies across Equestria searched for her. Destruction of royal property was a serious offense, it seemed.

So no, she hadn’t much wanted to share her story with the barpony.

Fortunately, he didn’t pursue the issue, distracted as he was by the influx of new customers. As the sun finally set, ponies streamed in through the saloon’s double doors, eager to quench their thirst after a hard day’s work in the orchards. Bottlecap must have had the only watering hole in town; Trixie was soon glad she’d arrived early enough to snag a spot to herself.

Although, she was tempted to leave it for a bit, maybe let one of the rugged stallions at the bar buy her a drink… No, better to keep her wits about her. The only thing worse than being a wanted mare was being a wanted mare who was too drunk to remember not to use her name.

While she was ogling the eye candy, debating whether she should reconsider, her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a new arrival to the saloon. The stranger’s bulk filled the doorway, easily differentiated from the other ponies by the simple fact that he was not a pony at all. He was a griffon.

One of the last creatures she would have expected to show up here. Their xenophobic traditions usually kept them confined to the mountainous homelands north of Equestria, where the forbidding terrain and miserable climate discouraged most outsiders from bothering them. So why was one here, now, on the other side of the continent? And why was he so clearly scanning the room as if looking for someone?

It made Trixie nervous. She didn’t trust coincidences, and a little paranoia was healthy for a mare on the run who wished to stay on the run. So when his wandering gaze turned towards her booth, she allowed herself the indignity of ducking beneath her table, hoping her form was shielded by the crowd of drinking patrons.

After a moment, she peeked out through the forest of pony limbs. Her eyes following the griffon as he made his way to the bar, careful not to step on anypony while looking around. Trixie took the opportunity to study him a bit more closely. He was tall, even for his kind, and sported both plumage and fur in varying shades of gray covered by a dun serape. A coil of rope hung from a leather pack resting on his back, and she shuddered at the thought of how exactly he’d gotten the hide.

Now the stranger was speaking to Bottlecap, who wore an uncharacteristic frown on his face as he scratched his bearded chin with a hoof. With some small relief, Trixie noticed he didn’t point her out, or even glance in the general direction of her booth. What were they talking about?

She had to get closer, find out who this deadly-looking griffon was and what he wanted. If it had nothing to do with her, then there was no risk, but if he WAS looking for a certain mare who had once operated under the title of ‘The Great and Powerful’, then she definitely needed to know.

Trixie grabbed her own pack from its resting place next to her, slinging it on in case she had to make an expeditious retreat. Slowly she crept along the floor of the bar, careful to keep as many ponies as possible between her and the stranger. Luckily, they all seemed to be too engrossed in their drinks and conversation to notice a lone mare crawling on her stomach. Ugh, her fur was going to need another wash after this…

At last she reached her destination at the end of the long bar. Here, she could stay hidden behind the wooden corner while remaining close enough to eavesdrop a tad. All she could make out over the din of the lively patrons, however, was a word here and there.

“...Sure… last heard… Princess.” Not good. “About a… trail...Lulamoon?”

Uhoh.

That was Trixie’s cue: if they had found her already, she needed to skip town yesterday. Downside to hiding in a small village was that when ponies (or griffons) did come looking, there weren’t many ponies to ask or buildings to search.

Trixie readied herself to crawl yet again, this time through the back rooms to the door, and silently cursed the weakness that had allowed her to take up Bottlecap’s enticing offer of a night’s sleep in a real bed for once. Just as she was about to skulk into the night, though, fate intervened in the form a drunken pony stumbling over and peering down at her.

“Wash yoush doin’ down thur?” questioned a more-than-tipsy stallion. Loudly. She tried frantically to hush him, gesturing wildly with her hooves, but the large shadow that fell across them both told her she was too late. Gulping, she looked fearfully to her left (and up, goodness he was tall), meeting the cold stare of the griffon looming over her.

“Er… hello?” Trixie said, trying not to panic. Panicking was a bad thing, it clouded the mind when you needed it the most.

“Trixie Lulamoon.” It was a statement, not a question. “You are wanted by-” Whatever else he might have said was lost forever as Trixie grabbed a nearby bottle in her magic and smashed it over his head.

Okay, maybe she WAS panicking.

Ignoring the surprised cries around her, she scrambled to her hooves and made a mad dash to the door… only to yelp as she was hauled up by her tail. The griffon held her, upside down, in front of his face while glaring at her. He was soaking wet, covered in shards of glass, and exhibited an up-and-coming lump at his temple. All told, he did not seem pleased.

“You little-” Trixie doubled down, cutting his speech off once more, this time with surge of magic from her horn. The flash of light sent him reeling back, dropping her to grasp at his eyes with his claws while he let out a squawk of pain. She landed in an undignified pile, limbs akimbo, before scrabbling upright and away with all possible speed.

She’d finally made it outside, at least. Bursting between the doors of the saloon, Trixie galloped into the street, looking left and right for someplace to hide. A cacophony of shattered glass sounded behind her, and she risked a glance over her shoulder long enough to see that her pursuer had forgone squeezing his bulk out the door, opting instead to fly straight through the large window. It didn’t seem to slow him in the slightest, and the sight made Trixie’s legs move even faster, her body coursing with adrenalin.

In desperation she tore off down an alley between two buildings, only to pull up short when she realized it was a dead end. How in Equestria had she managed to find the only blind alley in a town with a mere dozen buildings?

Turning about, she saw her escape was now cut off by a snarling griffon. He wasted not moment with talking, simply charging at her with a wordless roar.

Trixie’s horn flashed again, but this time he was ready for it, and covered his eyes with an arm. When the light had died down, he leapt at her, claws outstretched, serape flapping at the speed of his passing. He flew towards Trixie’s cowering form…

...And passed straight through, impacting the wall behind her dissolving shape. There was a sickening crack as he hit, and he collapsed to the dusty ground in a heap. A few feet away, the real Trixie poked her head up from an empty rain barrel.

“Ha!” she shouted. “Nopony alive can best The Great and Power Trrrrixie!” She waved her hooves in the air, forgetting for a second she was still in a barrel.

She was quickly reminded that fact as her revelry was cut short by the arrival of what appeared to half the population of Appaloosa. Her stomach dropped when she noticed they were led by a mustached pony bearing a shiny metal star on his chest.

“What in the hay is goin’ on here?!” he bellowed, halting a few steps away. The crowd whispered and nudged one another behind him.

“Er-” It was Trixie’s turn to be interrupted by the griffon, who let out a loud groan as he stirred. He struggled to his feet, but fell back again after trying to put weight on his apparently broken leg.

“My name...is Griswold,” he panted. “And I am… a bounty hunter.” The sheriff squinted at him for a moment, then turned to Trixie.

“Which would make you ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’?” he asked.

She hesitated a beat before nodding. She HAD been just yelling it for all the world to hear a minute ago, after all.

“Right. Yer under arrest!”


Trixie stared at herself through the bars of her new cell. In front of her was a wanted poster bearing her own features, magically captured in a perfect likeness. Most likely taken from one of her old show posters, in fact. The paper was held in the claws of one Griswold, legally appointed bounty hunter for the Equestrian criminal justice system, and currently not happy with one Great and Powerful mare.

He’d refused any medical attention, instead relying on the strength of his wings to carry him to the local jail, where Trixie had been unceremoniously dumped in a cell. After sealing her magic with a nullifying ring around her horn, of course.

“So~,” the sheriff drawled. “Ya got anything to say ‘fore we cart ya off to Canterlot, ma’am?”

She remained silent. What was there to say? They had her, and soon so would the Princess. Trixie shivered when she thought of what might be done to her once in Canterlot. Princess Luna had had thousands of years to come up with truly excellent methods of punishing ponies. If Trixie were lucky, perhaps she’d simply be turned to stone for eternity.

The once proud pony hung her head in despair.

“Well then,” Silverstar continued. “I reckon you’ll be wantin’ me to pay yer bounty then, Griffon.”

“...No.” Trixie’s head shot back up, meeting the cold gaze of the bounty hunter. “She bested me, fair and square. My honor stings from being defeated by such a tiny creature, but it will not allow me to collect a reward I have not earned.” He stared down at her, unblinking, before shrugging out of his cloak. The sheriff pushed his hat back to scratch his head with a hoof.

“Among my kind,” Griswold went on, “when one warrior defeats another, he is granted a token or possession of his fallen opponent, both as tribute, and to serve as a reminder. A reminder that one day they may meet again and do battle, and perhaps the lost item shall be reclaimed.” Nodding to the imprisoned mare, he stuffed the tan cloth through the bars.

“Remember me, Trixie Lulamoon. Grow strong, so when next we meet, it may be interesting”. Without another word, the griffon turned and hobbled out the door and into the night. Muffled flaps of wings could be heard, and then he was gone.

“Huh,” said a baffled Silverstar. “If that don’t beat all!”


The next day was sunny and bright, with nary a cloud to be seen. A gentle breeze blew, and there could even be heard the sound of birds singing somewhere in the distance. Trixie found herself unable to enjoy the beautiful day, however, as she was currently marching to her doom.

At least she’d gotten a decent night’s sleep. Griswold’s serape, though ridiculously oversized, had proven to be delightfully warm bedding, keeping her snug in the otherwise cold and bare cell. It now lay rolled up and tucked behind the pack on her back. Sheriff Silverstar had been kind enough to let her keep her things for the trip to Canterlot, though he’d made a thorough inspection of them first, of course.

Now they stood together, waiting for a train that would arrive at any minute. Trixie peered anxiously down the tracks every so often, dreading the occasion she would look and see the billowing smoke that would herald the locomotive’s arrival. A few ponies stopped to gawk at the mare who’d caused all the ruckus last night, who was wanted by the Crown itself, congregating briefly before Silverstar waved them on their way.

Sure enough, another group was coming now. They must have believed the train would be arriving soon, because they were coming on at a gallop. And yelling. As they approached, Trixie could make out looks of fear and even terror written on their features.

Huh. With her magic still bound by the damnable ring around her horn, Trixie was hardly a threat to anypony. Why was this group so-

“SHERIFF! DRAGON!!!”

Oh.

The half dozen ponies skidded to an abrupt halt, showering the sheriff and his captive with dust and grit. Trixie groaned; would she ever get a proper bath again? She must be filthy by now…

“What’re ya’ll going on ‘bout now?” The sheriff demanded. He seemed to be cross at having his official business interrupted by these shenanigans.

“No foolin’ Sheriff!” one proclaimed. “It’s all Pathfinder’s fault, he’s led the beast right to us!”

“Calm down, folks, calm down. Now, what’s all this ‘bout a dragon?” A mare in rear of the group seemed to shrink in on herself. “Pathfinder? You know anything ‘bout this?” The other ponies pushed the nervous mare to the front, her limbs dragging on the ground.

“W-well Sheriff,” she stuttered out. “It’s l-like they said, mostly.” She wilted even further beneath the Silverstar’s stare.

“She was pokin ‘round them hills to the east again!” Another of the group piped up. “We told her not tah, told her what ya’d said, that there was all manner ah dangerous critters runnin’ ‘round, but she wouln’t lissen!”

“...That true, Pathfinder?” The mare in question nodded miserably, eyes staring into the dirt below.

“I-i was just lookin’ around a bit. At first. Then the rain started tah come down somethin’ fierce, all outta nowhere! So I took shelter inna cave I found. And, since I was stuck, I, well…”

“You went explorin’,” The sheriff groaned, rubbing his face with a hoof.

“Y-yea,” Pathfinder agreed, continuing. “but, it weren’t like I had anythin’ better tah do. So I started scoutin’ out the back of the cave, and it jus’ went on ‘n on. Felt like fer miles! Just when I started tah think mebbe I aughta be headin’ back, I found THIS.”

She removed her saddlebags, one side bulging near to bursting, and poured it’s contents onto the ground. Trixie’s breath caught when as she realized what it was.

Treasure! A small fortune in gold and jewels, all lying there in the filthy street. Why, just a hoofull of that loot would be more than enough to fund her escape, letting her leave Equestria forever!

Get a hold of yourself, Trixie. Remember the dragon.

Sheriff Silverstar, it seemed, had not forgotten, his face turning pale beneath his fur.

“Pathfinder. D’you know what ye’ve done?” When the mare seemed unable to reply, he went on. “You’ve DOOMED us, that’s what ye’ve done! A dragon don’t take kindly tah ponies pokin’ round their lairs, an’ even less kindly to them that STEAL from ‘em!” Pathfinder was quivering now, shaking in fear. Nearby ponies had started to gather, attracted by all the commotion.

“I didn’t know, Sheriff!” she cried. “I Swear! I had no idea the stuff belonged tah a dragon till after the thing started chasin’ me.”

“I’m confused,” Trixie butted in (the sheriff was too far gone to mind, apparently). “If the dragon caught you stealing, and gave chase, how exactly did you manage to outrun it back here?” A dragon old enough to start hoarding should have been able to fly faster than any pony.

“W-well,” Pathfinder stammered. “I-i dropped some of it’s treasure on mah way outta them hills, a bit at a time. It had to stop an’ gather the stuff up, then fly it back to the hidey hole.”

Trixie blinked at the mare.

“Why,” she asked slowly, “did you not simply drop ALL of the loot? Apart from lightening your load, you might have dissuaded the beast from pursuing you further.” The assembled ponies stared once more at the thieving mare. It did not seem possible she could make herself any smaller, but that did not stop her from trying.

“I-i-i, I was, um…”

“You got greedy.” The sheriff finished for her. He glared at her so hard it was a wonder that she didn’t erupt in flames on the spot. Instead, she collapsed in a crying heap, great sobs bursting from her while she tried to explain she was sorry, that she hadn’t meant to.

“Somepony get this wretch outta here,” The sheriff commanded. “I’ll figger out what tah do with her later, assumin’ we survive what’s comin’. Hope one of ya’ll has some bright ideas, ‘cause I don’t know what good pies are gonna be ‘gainst a dragon.” His face was set in grim lines.

By now, they had amassed quite a crowd of townsponies, who all began to jabber fearfully. Some took off running, likely to round up their families and maybe try to high-tail on out of town. Abruptly one ran the front of the throng, shouting excitedly.

“I got it, I got it!” He yelled. “It’s simple! All we gotta do is, build an exact copy of the town of Appaloosa a coupla miles to the east. Every building, every storefront, every rock, and every tree! Right down the orange roof on Mudpie’s outhouse. Then when the dragon comes a-lookin’, it’ll burn down the fake town insteada the real one!”

Silence reigned over the throng, every eye boring into the pony who’d spoken. After a moment, the sheriff slowly trotted over, lifted a hoof… and slapped the stallion upside the head.

“Blaze, that has gotta be the STUPIDEST idea of yours I ever heard! And that’s sayin’ something!” Silverstar continued to berate the poor pony, while the rest of the group went on fretting about what they were to do.

Trixie however, wasn’t listening. Instead, she was gazing about the town, eyes unfocused as she tried to calculate its size. After a time, she nodded to herself.

“Oh Sheriff?” she called out above the rabble. “Could I talk to you for a minute?”

Author's Note:

My first published work. Thank you for reading!

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