• Published 7th May 2015
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Actually, I'm Dead - Wave Blaster



What if the Alicorn Amulet did more to Trixie than we saw?

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Chapter 7: Dead Ends

Twilight snuffled awake, the scents wafting up from the kitchen having finally gotten to her. Stifling a tired groan, she rolled over and pulled the blanket up over her head. Her room was bright enough to tell her she should be getting up now but her head was making all manner of protest against any such actions.

Her stomach gurgled at the aroma, signaling its traitorous turn.

Grumbling again, Twilight burrowed deeper into her sheets. She had been up late the night before, as she had every night for the past week, working with Trixie on going through anything and everything they could get their hooves on that might relate to the Alicorn Amulet. The end result hadn’t been much. Aside from the singular entry in the singular book, they hadn’t come across so much as a mention of it in any other text in the entire library.

It had been when they were on their way to see Zecora, to see if the zebra herbalist had any insights of her own into Trixie’s condition, that Twilight had thought to investigate the library in the Castle of the Two Sisters. She had managed to enlist the help of Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Big Macintosh in hauling back four cartloads of as many books as possible to the Golden Oak from there. They had been able to clear out most of the relevant sections from the old castle with that, but there were still many, many more books left behind. Twilight was glad she had both Pinkie and Applejack helping her, otherwise she may never have gotten out of there given how often she stopped her loading to look through some obscure or thought-long-lost text that she had come across.

Most surprising of all to her was that Trixie had been almost the same way.

Though she had initially scoffed at the idea of Trixie having once enlisted in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, the more she worked with the other mare, the less silly that idea seemed. True, Trixie wasn’t as well versed in upper tier magic as herself, but given when she had departed the school and how long ago that was, it wasn’t too surprising. The fundamentals were there and certainly strong enough. What was probably most helpful in their task was that in areas of obscure and Dark magic, Trixie seemed to have a background and knowledge that well exceeded her own. When pressed on the subject, all Trixie would say was that it was her final master, Hell’s Blazer, that was responsible for all of it.

While the name rang vague bells with Twilight, it wasn’t one from any book she had in her library nor from any journal article she had read. She was positive she had heard it before, but couldn’t place where. It may even have been back when she was in school herself.

The lure of breakfast finally proved too much for the purple unicorn, and Twilight Sparkle rolled out of bed and braced herself to face another day.

“Look, just try a bite, okay?”

“I don’t know, Trixie. I haven’t had the best luck with Twilight’s cooking in the past.”

The voices drifted up the stairs from the kitchen below as Twilight made her way slowly down.

“Is Twilight the Great and Powerful Trixie? No, she is not. Neither is Mulia Mild. Donut Joe, he is not Trixie. But I…”

“Am Trixi -- urp!”

“Exactly.”

“Hey! That’s actually pretty good!”

“Tch, and you doubted the Great and Powerful Trixie’s prowess in the kitchen.”

“Well, I have to admit that it certainly smells good,” said Twilight as she finally entered the room.

“Morning, Twilight!” Spike called from where he stood next to the stove and a nearby stack of pancakes, licking his lips. “I was just helping Trixie with the last of breakfast.”

“It’s good to see you finally awake, Twilight,” said Trixie as she moved over to the fridge, emerging with a pair of bowls balanced in the crook of her foreleg. “Trixie had to borrow your assistant here for some taste testing since she’s a tad deficient in that area of late.”

“Oh, that’s quite alright, Trixie. I’m sure he didn’t mind too much,” she replied, noting the grin Spike was still wearing. There was already steaming cups of tea and place settings for two out on the table where Twilight took her seat.

“I have to admit, Twilight,” said Spike as he hauled himself up into his own seat, “she does seem to make breakfast better than you. The smoke alarm didn’t go off even once.”

Twilight spared him a dirty look. “My breakfasts aren’t that bad.”

“Look, no matter how many times you try and make it a thing, I keep telling you that blackened prench toast will never be a thing.”

“Well, then she can only hope that the Great and Powerful Trixie’s Humble and Simple breakfast will suffice,” Trixie interjected as she placed the pair of plates before her housemates and took her seat across from them.

“It certainly does look impressive,” said Twilight as she took up a fork in her magical aura. Spike was already tucking in with great gusto as she cut off a bite size piece, stabbed it, and floated it up to her muzzle. Her eyes went wide when she tasted it. “Oh, wow! This is good! What’s all in here?”

“Those are a favorite of Trixie’s,” said the other unicorn, proudly sitting up straighter in her chair. She was wearing her usual outfit for indoors, consisting of the vest and socks that Rarity had made for her. The hat and cape were for outdoors and the veil only for truly rare occasions. It was a look Twilight had grown used to seeing on her and it was one she was obviously quite comfortable with as well.

Trixie continued, “Living on the road as much as she did, one can very quickly grow poor eating at restaurants and diners too frequently, to say nothing of how tedious eating grass all the time can be, so Trixie had to learn how to cook for herself. Here you have oat pancakes with whipped cream on top, and then cut fresh fruit with minced fresh mint leaves tossed in maple syrup on top of that. Add in a few whole mint leaves for the end to take care of any dreadful morning breath and one is all set to face the day and the crowds.”

Twilight stopped eating and scowled at Trixie. “Are you trying to tell me something?”

Trixie opened her muzzle having realized her faux pas, trying to think quickly--

“Yes,” Spike said instead, from around a muzzle full of pancakes.

Her shoulders rocked in mirth as she watched Twilight turn her glare to the baby purple dragon. Trixie was sure that his obliviousness to the daggers being shot his way was intentional. “He said it, not Trixie.”

“I do not have bad breath in the morning!” Twilight cried.

“Was there another reason that Celestia would only give you strong mint teas at breakfast then, and actually forbade you being served any other kind?”

Trixie couldn’t help continuing to snicker as she watched the two bicker back and forth. The easy camaraderie that Twilight and her assistant had was something she had noticed soon enough after settling in. It reminded her a great deal of her time in Neigh Orleans, whether it was clever banter with Hell’s Blazer over a late breakfast of greasy eggs and hay bacon, trying to decipher some riddle Bootlegger had devised in his usual a half drunken state, or full verbal sparring with Reverse Mirror. She had never found ponies since those times that she had been able to connect with in such a way; seeing it now just brought to mind an ache and longing she had never acknowledged before. At least that seemed to be changing now.

Maybe.

“Oh, Twilight,” said Trixie, interrupting the bickering of her purple tablemates, “I was meaning to mention, I finally finished Doña Rocinante de la Mancha last night.”

Predictably, Twilight’s face lit up like the new day’s dawn at the chance to discuss books, any previous unpleasantness with Spike forgotten. “Oh, that’s wonderful Trixie! I do so love that novel. Tell me, what did you think of it?”

The novel was something that Twilight had suggested a few days ago, when Trixie had bitterly complained about how none of their work was panning out, and even the new books from the ancient library were proving fruitless. Twilight had recommended she take a break from researching in that case and perhaps indulge in other books; she had a whole library at her disposal now, and no need for sleep to interrupt her day, so why not take the opportunity to catch up on stories she hadn’t had the opportunity for before.

“I remembered why I couldn’t finish it back in school,” Trixie admitted, rubbing a hoof along the back of her neck. “I didn’t care for the character of Doña Rocinante at the time, how she lived her life under the constant delusions of knighthood.” She rolled her eyes dramatically and looked out the window. “I recognize how that sounds for one who devoted her entire life to illusion and show, but you have to realize that my magic was about understanding illusion, and making the unreal real; not about viewing the world as it’s not, through illusion, and then trying to fashion it to my perceptions.” A quick smirk curled her lips. “The world was here first and often wins those kinds of matches.”

Trixie’s gaze dropped and she pawed aimlessly at the table, her thoughts having gone in a direction she hadn’t quite anticipated. “That said, though, I was rather saddened by the end of the book. For all her mistakes and misadventures, Doña Rocinante did set out to make the world a better place. That she would regain her sanity and renounce that which led her to such grand adventure in the first place, essentially giving up on life and almost embracing death was just… I don’t know. Sad. Would she still have died in the end, but died a happier pony instead if she had never lost those delusions? If she had died Doña Rocinante instead of Antonia del Rocín? I don’t know. Part of me thinks so. Better to be thought of as famous and meritorious at the end, even if only in your own mind, then to look back on your life and decide that so much of it was futile and inconsequential.”

“Wow, that’s… that’s certainly not the reading I would have expected, Trixie. I always saw it as a journey to recovery, that the adventures Rocinante goes on and her attempts to impose a more chivalrous view of the world on all she encounters were what led up to her regaining her sanity. You see, because she only regained it the end, when her journey was over and she had done all she could, it shows the reader that she had earned her final rest and would not have to go through anymore trials.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Trixie conceded with a shrug of her shoulders. “It’s a complex book. We can talk about it another time.”

“Don’t think I’ll forget about it,” Twilight told her before tucking into her pile of pancakes again. By this point, Spike had already finished his pile and was dealing with the dishes. Trixie and Twilight made small talk over the rest of the meal.

“I hope you don’t mind, Trixie, but I have a number of errands that I have to take care of this morning. The mayor has been asking that I assist in helping her with a number of forums and reports regarding what happened around town involving, well, us, before she sends the paperwork to Canterlot. Based on past experiences with similar matters, that will take me well into the afternoon. Then Rarity is getting back from a camping trip with her sister and her sister’s friends, and she’s asked Fluttershy and myself to the spa to help clean up and refresh from all that ‘pesky nature’ as she put it. Usually we do dinner after something like that.” Trixie couldn’t help but sigh internally, her ears wilting, as she watched Twilight become more and more uncomfortable. “Now it’s not that you wouldn’t be welcome to join us there, it’s just that given your condition--”

“Such things would be wasted on Trixie. Yes, she sees where this is going, Sparkle.” She waved a dismissive hoof when Twilight opened her mouth to object. “Think nothing of it; Trixie takes no offence. She is quite aware of what she is.”

Twilight groaned and seemed to sink in on herself in a form of self-effacing defeat. “I’m sorry, Trixie. I just don’t want to seem like I’m excluding you and I don’t like the idea of just leaving you in the library.”

“Trixie is quite capable of holding down the fort, Sparkle. Never you fear.”

Finally conceding defeat, Twilight nodded and got up from the table. The smile she was wearing did nothing to convince Trixie she had accepted what she had been told. “Okay then. I’d best get what I need and head out then.”

Trixie nodded back and got up as well, making her way into the library and the window seat she had morbidly come to think of as her resting place. It was towards the back of the library, well shielded from the sun by one of the tree house’s larger branches. She had staked it out the first day that her and Twilight had begun their research into her condition and had become quite attached to it. Taking a fresh book from the pile, she set in for what she expected would prove another fruitless attempt at research.

“Trixie?”

Looking up, Trixie found Twilight standing only a few meters away from her, saddlebags on and ready to head out for the day. “Yes?”

“I was wondering… why did you make breakfast? You’ve never done that before.” Twilight had the most horribly guilty expression, as though she hated herself for having to ask.

“Can’t you accept a pony doing something nice for you once in awhile, Sparkle?”

That almost did it, the guilt almost pushed Twilight over the edge and got her to leave like Trixie wanted but she held fast at the last instant. “It’s not that I can’t accept it, it’s that… You’re under my protection by Princess Celestia’s order and I have to be careful about anything out of the ordinary and--”

Trixie scowled and turned away, looking out the window. She saw the grey pegasus from the party, Ditzy, walking along and a purple-greyish unicorn happily bouncing along beside her. She had to look away, turning to the book before her as she had nowhere else to look.

She could tell Sparkle was still standing there waiting for an answer and looking guilty for wanting it. Suddenly too tired to lie or try and mock her, Trixie gave her the truth.“I wanted something normal, okay? Even if I couldn’t partake myself… I wanted something normal.” She waved a hoof at the books before her. “It’s been almost a week now and we have nothing. Celestia has nothing. I just… I just wanted to try and forget and go back to who Trixie was, even for a little while. Okay?”

Now Twilight really did look guilty. She rubbed one hoof over the fetlock of the other. “I’m sorry, Trixie. I didn’t realize. Look, I can cancel--”

“Just go,” Trixie snapped. “Do your things. Have your fun. Trixie will still be here when you get back.” For some reason, she found it impossible to focus on the words in the book she had been reading.

Twilight had been around Trixie long enough to know when she wasn’t wanted and that staying otherwise would only make the situation worse. With a few muttered apologizes, she slowly backed off, eventually turning and leaving Trixie in peace.

Trixie waited until she heard the front door close, then gave herself the time where she once would have taken several breaths, before she closed her eyes and laid her face down in the book before her. She wanted to take a deep breath and to yell and scream at the top of her lungs. She wanted to rage and cry over the unfairness of her situation. She just wanted the simplest things back, the little bits of normality and everyday life that regular ponies took for granted because they were so normal and every day. Even if it was just for today, just for a little while, she wanted them back so badly. She wanted others to stop walking on eggshells around her as though she was some hideous monster lurking beneath the surface and not plain old Trixie.

She wanted to be able to make a simple meal for friends without being suspected of ulterior motives.

She wanted to eat a simple meal with friends.

All like a normal pony would.

All like she would never could again.

When Trixie finally lifted her head from the book there were no stains on the pages, no smudges. Of course not, why would there be? Trixie had no tears to be blotted up, not any longer. With a resigned mummer, she swiped her hoof to the left and flipped to the next page.

This was how her and Twilight had spent the past week, how she had spent almost every waking hour; on research. They had journeyed out to the Castle of the Two sisters a few days ago after exhausting the (actually surprisingly comprehensive) resources of Twilight’s library home. There, in that old castle, Trixie had found a treasure trove of books and lore that would make Reverse Mirror and Hell’s Blazer green with envy. A thousand years old archive, untouched aside from time and the elements? Her mentors would have been in heaven the moment they set hoof in the place.

What her and Twilight had managed to haul back so far had proven absolutely fascinating, but not terribly helpful. Like what Celestia has turned up in Canterlot, the various grimoires had references to artifacts and spells that could do some similar things to the Alicorn Amulet, but nothing that could do all of it, nor of course to the Amulet itself.

She set her current book aside in the discard pile and started on the next. Maybe this one would be different, but she was strongly suspecting not.

“Hey, Trixie, I’m gonna run out and help Pinkie with a party she’s setting up for Thunderlane for his little brother,” Spike called from down on the main level. “You gonna be alright while I’m gone? Twilight should be home before I am.”

Trixie just grunted and waved a hoof at the little dragon, barely even lifting her gaze from the book she was reading. She scarcely paid attention to his exuberant goodbyes. Being left alone in the main library wasn’t uncommon for her at this point. At first she had thought it sign of Twilight’s trust in her but was coming to suspect that was just that they viewed her as incapable of causing harm on her own so no longer cared what she did.

Still, being left to her own devices was something Trixie was used to. Hers had been a one-mare show for the many years she had spent touring Equestria. This wasn’t so different. Between the nights when it was just her and Owlowiscious --with Duo dropping by when he felt like it and was least expected-- and the days when Twilight was downstairs running some experiment to try and test some property of the magic that had ensnared Trixie, all while Spike was out running errands, she had grown used to being alone up there in the library.

Even the ponies in town seemed to have grown used to her, or at least her presence in the library. There were still some odd looks directed her way, but not as many as before. Her second outing to town had been the day after her party, to visit Rarity and shower her fellow unicorn with thanks for the outfit she now wore. Rarity had accepted it with the good graces that Trixie had swiftly come to expect, though the showmare could tell just how pleased the dressmaker was with herself and how pleased her client obviously was in turn. There hadn’t been many occasions for Trixie to leave the library since, but she always wore the main pieces of her new outfit. Like she had told Rarity; it did make her feel truly more equine.

But as time passed, her world had become ever more narrow, now almost totally consisting of the main level of the Golden Oak with occasional forays to her room in the basement and sometimes Twilight’s lab. For the most part now, though, she didn’t move from her current spot except to get more books. She had come to regard herself almost as one of those stone gargoyles that were seen on old castles and libraries; always present, always watching, almost never moving. The first few visitors to see her there, perched in her niche by the window, had been rather unsettled and almost frightened, but Twilight had managed to reassure them. As more and more ponies came and went, they grew used to the strange new figure in the window that would offer them advice on where to find the books they were seeking when the normal librarian was otherwise occupied.

Trixie stuck a couple bookmarks in the latest text and moved it to the distressingly small “possible leads” pile. These latest weren’t solid leads by any means, but they seemed to touch on topics related to the Amulet and that was as good as they had been getting.

It hadn’t taken terribly long into their research before her and Twilight had decided that they needed to stop focusing solely on the Amulet itself and start looking at magic that was similar to it and its function. If they could divine its underlying principles -- even just the critical ones -- then there was the hope of reversing what had happened to Trixie.

Or at the very least ending her state of limbo between the lands of the living and the dead.

Trixie blinked and shook her head, reaching up with a hoof to rub her eyes. There was a dull ache to them now and an itch that had grown unavoidable. The itch reminded her of all the late nights she had spent in Celestia’s School, and then in Neigh Orleans under the tutelage of Reverse Mirror and Hell’s Blazer trying to understand some piece or other of arcane lore.

Another book to the “useless” pile. She’d have to get more from the main floor soon, she was almost out.

The more she worked on the whole problem, the more her thoughts kept going back to Blazer. Things outside the realm of normal magic, not known by the magic community at large, that was his bag. When they hadn’t been nose deep in his library, they were out dealing with some kind of frightful weirdness that had crossed their path, that he always tried to pass off as a learning experience.

Trixie said it was more like his way of trying to get them both killed.

Same thing, he would tell her.

When they weren’t doing that, and his mood was just right, he would sometimes regale Trixie with stories from when he knew her mother, Hope. The adventures that the two had shared--

It was like Celestia had just stabbed her in the eyes with the noon day sun. Trixie made a sound as close to a scream as she could in her condition as she fell off her seat, thrashing about and using her forelegs to shield herself from the blinding light.

“Trixie?” Twilight called out in alarm from below. “What’s happening? What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?” Trixie shrieked in response as she tried to pull the cushion from her seat over her head, scattering still more books around her. A part of her wished she had worn her cape that day so she could pull it up and wrap it around her head instead. “What in the depths of Tartarus is wrong with you, you sick pony witch, trying to blind Trixie like that?”

“Blind? Trixie, what--?”

“Yes, blind!” She had managed to get the cushion over her head and had cut off the worst of it, though spots were still swimming through her vision. “Trixie cannot see after what you did to her! What were you thinking!”

“Trixie, it was dark, all I did was turn on the lights.”

“Lights, pah! It was a perfectly bright day in here without any need for the lights.” She was able to see from the edges of her protective wrap that Twilight had dispelled whatever devilry she had cast upon returning home and the light in the tree house had gone back to normal.

“Trixie, it’s well after sunset. When I came home, you were just sitting there in the dark. All I did was turn on the lights.”

Tentatively, Trixie poked her head up from under the cushions. The library looked normal, just as it always did during the day. Lifting her head higher, she looked out the window and froze at what she saw. The windows in the houses, the streetlamps; all held that telltale warm glow of fire and light at night, yet she could the rest of the town as clearly as though it were Celestia’s sun shining down on it and not Luna’s moon.

“Trixie, can you look at me?” Trixie turned back to find Twilight at the top of the stairs and slowly approaching her. The magical glow at the tip of the other unicorn’s horn caused her to squint and hold a hoof up to shield her eyes.

“Gah, can you turn that down? Trixie cannot see past the glare.”

“I’m sorry,” Twilight muttered as she adjusted her magic. “This is as low as I can make it and still see myself.” She bobbed her head down and side to side. “Trixie, I need see your eyes. Please.”

Not able to easily look at her directly, Trixie nodded. As painful as the overly intense light of Twilight’s magic may be, even she realized there was indeed something seriously wrong.

“Okay, now just let me have a look,” Twilight whispered as she cupped Trixie’s head in her hooves, drawing her in while holding her steady at the same time. “I promise to try and be quick.”

Trixie twitched a nod, a soft whimper escaping her throat as she struggled not to squeeze her eyes shut. As Twilight turned her head this way and that, a sudden coldness washed over Trixie at realization that despite what Twilight was doing she could barely feel her hooves on her. She should be able to feel them on her face yet she was getting was only the faintest impression of where they held her. The serious look that had overcome Twilight’s own face during her examination didn’t help matters either.

Eventually she released Trixie, allowing the other mare to duck her head out of the way and try and shake off the effects of the light while squeezing her eyes shut. “I know what happened,” Twilight muttered softly.

“What?” Trixie grunted, pressing her hoof between her clenched eyes in an effort to rid them of their spots.

“Your eyes have changed,” Twilight continued in the same measured tone. It was the same tone that the doctors, that Celesita, had taken when they were giving Trixie some bit of bad news. “The pupils are now fully dilated and fixed. They don’t show the normal reaction to changes in light like they did before. Additionally, I think they may be more clouded than they had been but I’m not sure yet. The sclera have changed, too; they’re now completely black.”

Trixie blinked and tried to look back; failed. “So what does that mean?”

Twilight pursed her lips, and admitted softly, “I don’t know.” She got up and began heading to the stairs. “I have some goggles in my lab that should help for now. We’ll work on a dilation spell for them tomorrow so you can use them normally under variable lighting conditions. I’m going to have to write Princess Celestia about this and have Spike send it as soon as he’s back. It’s the first major change in your condition since you woke up. I don’t know what this means for you, but maybe the Princess will.” She paused and looked up at Trixie, illuminated in the middle of the bright library by a pool of magenta magic. “Don’t be afraid, Trixie. I’m here with you and we’ll get through this together.” She then disappeared into door to the basement lab.

Trixie sat on the floor before the window seat, amidst the piles of scattered books, and blinked out at the unlit but perfectly visible night library. “Trixie isn’t afraid, Sparkle,” she whispered back. “She’s terrified.”

Author's Note:

nightwalker: Could it be? An actual chapter 7? :trollestia: This is the first full chapter of the story I’ve written, and while it’s not a story on its own, it feels good to have written a solid 4900 words of material on my own again. I hope that you all enjoy.
Oh, and yes, Trixie in the kitchen at the beginning is a tribute to Orgazmo. Because Sancho is awesome.

Wave Blaster: What can I say. Maybe my concept, but this one is mostly nightwalker's doing. Come on people, congratulate the man able to bring Chapter 7 to life.

It's alive! Alive!

:trollestia:: And now, only six more parts till chapter 8

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