• Published 24th Feb 2016
  • 3,512 Views, 273 Comments

Phantasmare - Emperor



The Alicorn Amulet tainted Trixie. Over time, she recovered, yet it haunts her still. Exploring Equestria, Trixie is determined to finally achieve Greatness and true power, no matter what. In Phantasia, a mare shall defy destiny.

  • ...
5
 273
 3,512

In the End

Five Years After The Magic Duel

The stones rumbled slightly under her hooves, even the thousand-year-old masonry unable to dispel the tremors of a wild lightning strike nearby. In foalhood, the vicious thunderstorms that occasionally tore through the countryside terrified her, in spite of understanding the pegasi weather corps controlled the clouds, preventing them from causing any true damage. As a fully grown mare, she was unfazed by the sound of thunder even as she had taken refuge in the untamed Everfree. Here, the storms could roll over her territory, unabated for days.

She wondered sometimes at her choice for habitat. Common parlance would declare her a squatter, occupying an abandoned wreck only a relative stone’s throw away from the site of her greatest humiliation. The azure-coloured mare thought otherwise, wishing to honour the two pony sisters who ruled the realm, even as she aspired to the same lofty heights they were born into.

Another bolt of lightning struck, this one far closer. As if challenging her right to be here, a window pane at the far end of the room shattered, surviving for a thousand years before falling prey to nature’s wrath. She didn’t blink.

The pink of her eyes built up as she cast her magic, an effect of her pilgrimage through the lands of her home and beyond. The crystalline fragments of the window disappeared. An incalculable fragment of a second later, the glass reappeared in the window frame, whole and improved, her little defiance for the night against the physical realm.

Trixie Lulamoon let out a brief sigh. The feeling of fatigue had become a rare feeling for her, until she set up camp in the Everfree. Here, magic ran free and unordered, as unpredictable as the bonds between ponies. That this castle in the heart of chaos also held the Tree of Harmony never failed to tickle her sense of iorny. Trixie knew what she had been getting into, relearning her craft from scratch in a place where magic itself was different. That only a single wing of the grand castle had been repaired within the last month from the last great battle it had seen was testament to that.

“Trixie,” A voice called down from the opposite end of the large chamber she had staked out as their training room, “What did you want for dinner tonight?”

Trixie turned to eye the speaker, a Pegasus who defined the colour red. He was red from his hair to his mane to his Cutie Mark, a pair of red wings, even to the unusual red pigmentation of his irises, leaving half of his Cutie Mark, his pupils and the whites of his eyes as the only non-red part of him. Very few ponies could ever hope to perceive the incredibly tiny difference between his right and left wing, but Trixie was one of the few who could. After all, she was the pony who had healed his broken form. “If there are any of the white and red water-lilies left, I will have them in a soup,” Trixie said.

“Very well,” The Pegasus said, “I will call you again when food is ready.” Giving her a wink, he achieved lift-off from a still position, flapping backwards through the grand door and out to where Trixie knew the makeshift kitchen to be.

The former stage magician turned to look back outside, sight piercing the relentless torrent of rain, ears listening past its patter, to the edge of the Everfree Forest, where a single crystalline tower could be seen rising above the surrounding trees. Twice before had she come to blow with the alicorn who lived in that palace. Trixie hardly believed in the Fates Three, even if recent events implied their existence, but it seemed as if the last half-decade had been building up to this.

“Three days,” Trixie whispered to herself. “Three days, and then this will all be over.”

Another flash of lightning, this one illuminating the town of Ponyville, so close and yet so far. Change was coming on the Living Wind.


“Trixie!”

It was a simple, single word, a name, but the weight it carried was insurmountable. The speaker shouted it with rage, hatred, sorrow, confusion, a contradicting cacophony of emotions toward its intended target. Even as an expert on the nuances of language, the mare who had yelled it wasn’t sure if it was a declaration, a question, or an ultimatum.

The unicorn who the word was hurled at finally turned to face her accuser. She was wearing a plain brown cloak and a single piece of jewelry. “Oh, it’s you.”

Princess Twilight Sparkle choked on her voice, trying and failing to find words for a few seconds, before she managed to grind them out, “That’s it? That’s all you have to say after this madness, Trixie?”

'Madness' was a loaded term.

In using it, Twilight referred partly to the ponies that had barred her on the way into the old Castle of the Pony Sisters, ones that had apparently been recruited by Trixie as allies: a mammoth Earth pony, a stallion who dwarfed even Princess Celestia in size; a frozen-in-time vanquisher of the bitter spirits of the frozen North who even Sombra had hesitated to intimidate; a defector of the Royal Guard with far too many esoteric abilities, seemingly capable of using magic of all three tribes; a Pegasus whose dreams of freedom made him one of the most dangerous ponies alive; and a cocksure unicorn who fancied himself the Living Wind. Between those five ponies of diverse talents and the creatures that had come to this bizarre sextet’s aid, they had managed to hector both Twilight’s friends, the retinue of the Royal Guard that had come along with her, and their other assorted helpers. By the time Twilight had reached the mastermind, she was the only one left to press forward.

Mostly, however, in using the term 'madness', Twilight Sparkle referred specifically to the pony standing before her in the Castle’s throne room, wearing the Alicorn Amulet that had started and ended the mess that was their second encounter, and the insane scheme that Trixie Lulamoon had concocted.

“Madness?” Her opposite retorted with a hint of indignation, Trixie’s tone cool but slightly clenched, intent on keeping their sparring to the verbal arena for the moment. “I don’t see what the fuss is all about here. As far as I know, the only thing I’ve done wrong was to harbour somepony that went AWOL in a situation where she thought the state was persecuting her. Maybe Iceheart too, but she never joined the Equestrian army in the first place. In her case, I think a thousand years of service was more than enough.”

Twilight gritted her teeth, wings held in tight to her belly, unwilling to put up with Trixie’s banter, and said, “I meant your blatant desire to become an alicorn, Trixie.”

Both knew what Twilight had meant in the first place, but only one had attempted to deflect. There was no more dodging, but now instead of leaping out of the way Trixie twisted around the words. “Ah, that. Again, I don’t see the issue. Cadence and you both ascended within this lifetime, so it should be perfectly doable for me. There’s certainly no law against trying, either, unless it's buried within the pages of thousand-year-old statutes. Hmm, maybe I committed a crime here?” Always the showoff, Trixie gestured to her surroundings, the inner sanctum of the Castle of the Pony Sisters, once a wrecked throne room, now in near-new condition. “I suppose this might be considered trespassing, but after a thousand years I think it’s safe to call it abandoned. It was never declared a historical monument, so really, all the fixing-up can’t be illegal either.”

Though she was often thought to be unfailingly patient by most of Ponyville, the few who knew her much closer knew Twilight Sparkle could easily be riled up with the right actions or words. In that instant, she almost shook with anger. Almost. “I mean that you aren’t destined to become an Alicorn, Trixie!” Even as she said those words, Twilight felt the rage leaking out of her, knowing it was a poor argument that wouldn’t have merited a passing grade if she had still been a student.

If it had been Twilight’s goal to elicit a moment of frothing rage from her once self-declared rival, she would have seen a resounding success.

“Don’t you dare use that word!” Trixie hissed, her eyes bulging as she started to move forward, only holding herself back after her first hoofstep. “DESTINY? Was it DESTINY then that made me brag about deeds I never accomplished, bringing an Ursa Minor down on me? Was it DESTINY that caused me to purchase the Amulet and take over Ponyville? Did DESTINY decide that I was to be a mere stepping block for you on your own way to becoming a Princess?” She allowed herself a few seconds to pant heavily, Twilight prevented from speaking as she recoiled at the ferocity of Trixie’s words. Trixie visibly relaxed, bewildering Twilight with how much tension the younger mare had held at least since Twilight had confronted her. “If that was all so-called destiny, then buck destiny.” And so she had already, in a sense.

The beneficiary of so-called destiny struggled to hold her tongue, but failed. “No, but being a nasty pony was all your own doing,” said Twilight.

It didn’t trigger a second outburst like Twilight Sparkle had expected. Instead, Trixie just let out a small ‘hmph’, tossing up her head before coyly remarking, “And I imagine if you had been just like the old me in personality, you still would have become a Princess?” She shook her head. “I’ve heard of how you would study for days and nights straight as Celestia’s student. You achieved it on your own merits, with a bit of luck, not because somepony ages ago said you would get wings.”

Twilight had already seen how Trixie had reacted darkly over the idea of destiny, and how she was beginning to rant about it. Even if Trixie was a mere unicorn, she still could cause damage with the Alicorn Amulet if she got furious enough, and so Twilight sought to derail her. “What would your mother September think, or your father Wooden Chisel?” Twilight quickly asked, fumbling at ideas to make the madmare in front of her stop. “Wouldn’t they want Bellatrix Midsummer to succeed in life instead of chasing after something that will only lead to despair?”

Twilight wasn’t quite sure what she expected when she invoked Trixie’s true birth name. She didn’t expect Trixie to laugh, a hearty chuckle that nearly left her face red with its ferocity. “Oh, that’s rich! So you finally found out where Trixie came from, and the names of her parents! Maybe you even found out that she worked like an earth pony when she was young hauling hay and wheat, or that her father built her first cart for her. Perhaps you found out her fillyhood crush, the stallion she had a few lays with, or the exact location of her two birthmarks. Truly, Trixie is amused that you finally found her a threat enough to look into her origins, even if you still fail to appreciate Trixie’s true art.”

Yet Twilight knew her words had prickled something in Trixie. Trixie herself may not even have noticed it, but for those few brief moments, she had adopted her old habit of referring to herself in the third pony.

With a flourish of her robes, Trixie turned around, Twilight finding herself strangely mesmerised as her nemesis demonstrated the ease she pulled off a graceful canter, no doubt from her years working as a showmare. Quickly swiveling back around, Trixie spoke once more, slipping back into first pony speech, “No matter though, I am certain my parents would have approved. I’ve worked hard these last few years, you know. I’ve seen, touched the realm above.”

Princess Twilight Sparkle shivered at those words. The royal sisters had thought as much, but this was just confirmation that there was no turning back.

“Please, Trixie." She found herself practically pleading regardless, even as she readied a spell on the tip of her horn, many long hours of practice finally paying off as there was no glow to indicate her charged magic. “Stop this madness. Turn back now. The Great and Powerful Trixie wouldn’t let herself be used by the Alicorn Amulet again, would she?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is no more,” Trixie declared, “I felt it would dishonour the only one to ever truly defeat me.”

Twilight paused, partly surprised at the fact that Trixie had finally dropped the appellations she was notorious for, and partly from confusion at the latter remark. “But I’ve never called you anything other than Trix—“

“It wasn’t you,” Trixie said, cutting her off. “You were a challenge, yes, and you outwitted me at my own trade, but you never truly had the aggression to really win. She, on the other hoof, was a menace to all of ponykind, neigh, all living things, and it was only luck that I vanquished her even as I was beaten. In turn, she gave unto me the name of Phantasmare.” Trixie sighed, the breath of ages releasing itself from her lungs as she looked down at the floor. “I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, honestly.”

“Because you want to be helped,” Twilight gently responded, thinking about how she might be able to destroy the Alicorn Amulet with a carefully timed blast, her skills at delicate magic improved since the last time she had faced off against the madmare equipped with the Amulet. “You know what you’re doing is wrong, and you want to be eased off the path you’re galloping down. Just take it off. If you come with me and train under me, you might even be able to become an Alicorn in time under your own power, not the Amulet’s.” Twilight's last sentence was a lie, and it fell to ashes in her mouth. Trixie had devoted no small effort into her latest scheme, after all.

For once, Trixie didn’t respond right away with words. Instead, she slowly raised her head. It was the first time that Twilight felt there was no act to Trixie. The unicorn had a small smile, a barely visible curl of the lips. It was a sad smile. Trixie raised a hoof to the Alicorn Amulet, and in that instant Twilight knew—

—and suddenly, Twilight fired a condensed beam of scarlet mana at the Amulet, the spell a forbidden one capable of unravelling even the most powerful artifacts—

—and with little visible effort, Trixie batted the spell aside with her raised hoof, the beam tearing a large gouge in the stone wall, the sound of falling rock and the sight and taste of grit and dust in the air. With a blink, Trixie had vanished, even the telltales of magical leftovers undetectable to Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight reacted on a sense that was something even higher than instinct, an ethereal prescience of what was to come available only to the Alicorns, and teleported, moving several hoofsteps to the left. Even as a searing blow of force meant to debilitate sent shrapnel flying, she was already casting, one spell to shield herself against the flying splinters of rock, another an arcane blast of raw power to find her enemy. The ancient Diamond Dog illusionist Hound-Inu had been clear on that – when lacking the talent to counter the fog of the senses, only the power of will was sufficient to pierce reality’s veil.

It wasn’t so much the sound of shattering glass as it was a similar sensation several dimensions above the four ponies normally operated in that alerted Twilight, and she moved again. Her first instinct was a doppelganger spell, but she quickly vetoed that idea: never attempt a spell that her opponent was a master at. She didn’t know it for a fact, but the traps that Trixie had laid within the Everfree Forest to immobilise the attackers were circumstantial evidence enough.

Instead, Twilight leaped into the air, her natural Earth pony strength complementing her wings as she touched the ceiling, her hooves sticking to the surface in a trick she had picked up from the batponies, whose evolutionary divergence from the pegasi had seen it become natural instinct.

Twilight’s eyes widened as she felt the magical backlash from the broken illusion pass through the point Twilight had just been. It was a normal side-effect of unravelling a spell, but that much would have seriously maimed her. Trixie’s strength had grown significantly to be capable of pouring that much power into just one spell. What was more, it hadn’t even done much, as Trixie was still nowhere to be seen, nor was she giving herself away to any of Twilight’s physical or magical senses.

All the while ready to teleport at the slightest hint of a move from the nemesis, Twilight focused. Quickly inverting a normal spell matrix in her head, Twilight laid a circle on the ceiling with a quick stomp of her hooves, the shape quickly glowing as runic patterns engraved themselves, prodded into shape by Twilight’s magic. With a last fusion of energy into the circle, Twilight waited, and watched as it fizzled out. She cursed quietly. That had been a LaFlanke’s Demon spell, supposed to give the caster an inequine perception of the future, able to see all the routes the next few seconds could take.

That it hadn’t worked meant Trixie was operating at a level higher than any of the non-divine trainers Twilight had ever practiced against. Sighing, and notching her opponent up several threat levels once again, the Alicorn Princess released her mental restraints, put in place so she could deal with mortal ponies. Trixie might be mortal, but she was no longer a normal opponent with normal amounts of power.

Magic filled Twilight, magic became Twilight and the world was a mere derivative of the twilight.

There! A precise force shield the size of her hoof sprung up in front of her, blocking a beam of magic an emerald green that curdled Twilight’s stomach just looking at it. The beam reflected off the shield before smashing into a balcony, stonework falling down. Twilight grit her teeth at the noise even as she took to the air, and created an energy dome around her form, a talent she had picked up from her brother.

Unlike her brother, Twilight Sparkle had strayed beyond defense into offense, and the dome fell apart as it fed thousands of tiny pinpricks of magic, launched faster than the speed of sound outwards. The lasers may have been tiny, but they were legion, and as they radiated out from Twilight in a blast zone, the radii between each pinprick never differed more than a few millimetres. Unless Trixie had become a Breezie in the last few minutes, there was no way she could dodge all of them.

Twilight narrowed her eyes as a series of energy bolts stopped in mid-air. The spell itself was harmless, leaving little dots of paint, but to the superior eyesight of an Alicorn it was as if it had painted a target on the otherwise invisible Trixie.

The air shimmered around the target, and Trixie lifted a hoof, brushing paint off her fur with one hoof, her horn glowing as she removed the robe from her body. “Well well Princess, it seems you’ve gotten more clever over—” She was cut off as an energy beam stared her in the face. Just at it seemed Trixie would be knocked out in one hint, the unicorn disappeared, the beam instead gouging a hole in the side wall.

Twilight Sparkle didn’t even think, her own body also teleporting so she wouldn’t remain at the disadvantage of Trixie knowing where she was in the room, and not vice versa. Twilight wasn’t surprised that Trixie had picked up the skill of teleporting in the last five years, given the former showmare’s other spells so far, but Twilight really should have expected it wouldn’t be that easy. Trixie had done it so effortlessly, not even hesitating to teleport.

Her senses quickly cast out, hoping to find Trixie before the other pony could cast another one of those damnable illusions. They were too effective by half, standing up to Twilight’s scrutiny and sending multiple Royal Guards astray. Twilight bared her teeth in a feral grin unbecoming of a noble Princess as she sensed Trixie. It seemed the Amulet was making Trixie even more cocky than normal again, as she wasn’t even hidi—

Twilight teleported again to dodge an energy beam of Trixie’s own, her heart running even harder than before in a mad panic. She could still feel the heat from the laser, inches away from smacking her in the nose. Twilight didn’t let her pony instincts run rampant, crushing the temptation to flee and throwing an energy beam at where Trixie’s energy beam had come from, savage glee overtaking panic as her blood burned from the fire of the battle. It didn’t last as she felt a brief blip in the surroundings of the room, Trixie teleporting once more, as Twilight knew she would.

“You know what Trixie thinks the only bad part about being an alicorn must be? Your wings make you a bigger target. I certainly wouldn’t ever let my wings spr—” The voice was cut off as Twilight launched another attack at Trixie before teleporting.

Twilight regretted never learning to self-levitate, having depending on her wings to fly since obtaining them. Trixie was right in that regard, but still: Twilight may already be getting into the heat of the fight, but she simply wasn’t savage enough to even consider clipping another pony’s wings, if not cutting them. If Trixie was hinting at what she might do, then the Alicorn Amulet might already be heavily influencing her. Unfortunately, Twilight didn’t have time to sit around analysing Trixie’s beam spells to figure if they were for blunt force or for cutting.

In a blink, Twilight teleported again, throwing out multiple attacks this time, and threw up another shield even as Trixie returned fire, the two magic-wielders getting into a third and final rematch, this time for keeps of their lives’ purpose. Twilight only had enough time to cast a cooling spell over her body to stop from overheating in between the multiple teleports and spell casts, straight energy beams giving way into looping energy beams, homing orbs of power that took precious seconds to dispel, fireballs every colour of the spectrum of the rainbow and more, jagged bolts of lightning that left Twilight’s wings tingling, and solid daggers of ice. Twilight Sparkle used every field and element of battle magic she knew except for wind, and gave as much as and more than she took.

It wasn’t enough.

“Wha—” Twilight didn’t even have time to completely form an exclamation of surprise as she teleported right into a shadow taken solid form, the phantasmal spectre smacking her into the nearest wall. It felt like she had been hit with the full force of one of the battering rams of old, worse than Rainbow Dash crashing through a window into Twilight, only luck making it her back side that cracked the stone wall before she flopped to the ground.

Pain filled Twilight Sparkle, but she soothed it away with multiple spells within the first two seconds. Her teeth may have been rattled, but it could have been worse: she could have hit the wall face-first to the front, breaking her jaw, knocking out teeth and snapping her horn. That would have required considerably more time to heal from.

Picking herself up off the floor, Twilight grit her teeth, even as she detached the tiny segment of space around her from the greater timeline, moving back in time several seconds. After applying the anti-paradox spell paradigms and stepping back into the world of moments ago, she growled as she was incapable of perceiving her opponent. How could this be? A unicorn not only matching an alicorn horn-for-horn in a magical duel of both strength and stamina, casting multiple energy beams and teleporting all over the place, but actually winning?

What was more, Trixie appeared to have overspecialised in illusions to the point Twilight was only able to decipher the most elementary of them. Five long years ago, Trixie had been nothing, her talent boosted by the arcane Alicorn Amulet at the cost of her sanity. Now, it seemed Trixie herself was in control, and the progress the mare had made was astonishing. What was more, the longer the battle ran the more her thaumaturgic prowess seemed to increase, as if Twilight was a living star, and Trixie had executed an orbital slingshot around her, picking up speed as their fight progressed.

Well, Trixie had claimed to have studied over the last few years, but still. When Twilight herself had been training, she found it difficult to believe five years had made that big a difference.

Twilight assessed her options. It didn’t take long for her to realise what they were, and the Princess of Friendship wanted to cry. Unfortunately for Trixie, she had defeated herself with her cleverness by splitting up Twilight and her friends. If Twilight had had her friends here, they could have brought Trixie back from the brink with the Elements of Harmony. Twilight Sparkle closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, she could See. “Trixie!” Twilight barked as a distraction, her mouth nearly on autopilot as her hooves quickly flashed out, drawing lines of raw magic in the air.

It was a shame that only those possessed of Sight could see it, for when Twilight had first created this shape of non-Euclopidean proportions it had left her breathless with its beauty, both in its form and the seductive promises of power it promised. Her inability to describe what she saw was one of the few academic thrills that Twilight had left, its indefinable lines and even the colour of the multi-dimensional creation one of the few things that Twilight struggled with, and ergo knew an eternity would pass before she ran out of things to solve. After this battle, the power behind Trixie’s illusions would be another thing she could add to that short list.

The Princess of Magic’s hooves stopped, and she activated the construct. Nature abhorred a magical vacuum, and so it filled the spell, engorging it with energy far surpassing the ambient magical density even this deep into the Everfree Forest. Every beat of blood from her heart brought to her cells a new dose of adrenaline, and Twilight could feel herself shaking in time with the spell, its original stillness displaced by the vibrating power that threatened to tear apart the foundations of the spell matrix.

Twilight held the construct within her mind for as long as she could. When she felt as if she could go on no longer, her lungs compressed to their minimum capacity and the non-stop sweat stinging her eyes, she let go, blinking briefly as she teleported away from the throne room, landing on the ground of the Everfree Forest outside their chamber of battle.

The windows were the first to go, the shattering of a thousand panes of glass all united in a horrifying crystalline beauty of sound. Mere fractions of a second later the high pitch of the shattered windows was drowned out by a large, overwhelming roar, as superheated compressed air shot out the windows, only the natural magic of the Everfree preventing the surrounding trees from being lit afire by the overwhelming heat.

Twilight Sparkle winced as she heard a large thud from inside the throne room, and saw a torrent of dust and dirt rising into the evening outdoors. Despite Trixie’s mad scheme, fixing up the castle had been a good idea of hers, and now Twilight’s spell to kill her had apparently damaged the roof.

She counted the passage of several minutes, casting her senses out for her friends, and found herself disappointed. As usual, the natural chaos of the Everfree blocked her from sifting too far into the world, and she could not tell what was going on in the battles she had left them behind in. Twilight supposed that so long as she cut off the head of the proverbial snake, the body might flail for a few hours, but it would eventually give in.

A soft breeze swept through the night. It sounded almost like whispering. Even through all her fur, Twilight shivered, only now realising how sweat clung to her.

At last satisfied that enough energy had been vented out from the throne room that she would no longer cook, Twilight took to the air, flapping her wings to gain lift, a dozen minor spells instinctively cast to protect her face and horn from the dust and dirt that had been kicked up and still lingering in the air, filtering out pure air for her to breathe.

Eyes as good as any pegasus pierced the hazy interior of the throne room, and the romantic historian in Twilight cried out in horror. Gone were the tapestries of sun and moon, ones which Rarity had spent some time years ago on fixing up. The organ that Pinkie Pie had fooled with had been shattered, a priceless artifact of the pre-Nightmare Moon era destroyed just like that. The architecture of the stairs and railing leading up to the raised stage was no more, and the ground was littered with glass, stone and metal. Twilight’s heart sang with despair, and only her noticing the thrones had been removed from the throne room, presumably by Trixie or one of her minions, kept her from bursting out in tears.

“How disappointing.”

Twilight’s head snapped up, and a growl began to form in her vocal cords. She hadn’t been entirely certain the blast would take out Trixie, though it did the job of breaking whatever illusion Trixie had been hiding. However, the blue-furred unicorn didn’t appear to have even been singed, blood, bone and fur virtually unharmed by the blast. Even more, Trixie was floating in the air, yet another trick she had saved until late in their fight. Twilight Sparkle could count on her hooves how many unicorns she knew who were capable of self-levitation and still have hooves left over.

Trixie cocked her head, and now the dust was beginning to finally clear out, and Twilight stirred with disgust even as her throat burned, the strenuous magic she had been pulling out causing acid reflux. Gone were her robes, to where they went Twilight didn’t know, if they weren’t another illusion Trixie had conjured up. Trixie was normally possessed of fur a lustrous shade of blue not dissimilar to the sky on a clear day, but now her hair colour was a far lighter blue like water tinged with a drop of food dye. What was more, the glow of magic around Trixie’s horn was red. Her irises, normally close in shade to Twilight’s own magenta, were a haunting crimson of fresh blood, and Twilight felt an unsettling feeling, uncertain if the shade of red was from her dark magic or from the albinism that seemed to be settling in on the unicorn.

Despair was making a strong claim for Twilight’s soul, but she had to try, “Trixie, please take off the Amulet. This obviously isn’t you.”

Trixie sneered. “What are you talking about, Princess Twilight Sparkle?” The mocking tone she placed in Twilight’s royal title was obvious. “Trixie feels more like herself than she has in five years! This is perfect!”

She was right about that, Twilight thought to herself. This situation was perfectly wrong. Being able to escape one of Twilight’s strongest attacks unscathed meant that Twilight would have to attempt what she had never committed before.

It was a maxim of military ponies, something Twilight had heard from her brother and her battle magic trainers on several occasions: it was far more difficult to subdue a fighting pony than it was to kill her.

“Very well." Twilight grit her teeth, and her eyes glowed white even as her mane became streaked with wild stripes of yellow, purple and light pink, six-sided stars appearing around her hooves. Magic flowed out of her in ethereal waves, pulsing in time to her heartbeat as the seat of her mana infused her depleted blood, replacing the effused power. The power of Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, Princess of Magic turned visible as it floated around the room, coating the entire area in the essence of twilight.

Trixie observed, a smirk on her pale lips, only trickles of colour left on her body outside her eyes. “Trixie finds this amusing. Do you really believe you can beat the Great and Powerful Trixie and her illusions?!”

That’s right, keep talking...Twilight thought to herself as Trixie stuck out her chest, as if she were intent on proving the proverb of pride before the fall. Forty five seconds...forty seconds...She could provide her own distract, actually. “You won’t win, Trixie,” Twilight proclaimed.

“Is that so? Is Princess Twilight purple with envy over Trixie’s skill? Oops,” Trixie giggled, a weird dissonance as the pitch of her voice was dropping, “You’re already purple!”

“And you’re turning white,” said Twilight. “Is this skill you speak of really worth turning over your independence, dignity and sanity to the Alicorn Amulet, Trixie?!”

The snarl that crossed Trixie’s lips was easy to spot even if she vanquished it quickly, but Twilight would have sworn she saw a tinge of violet in the unicorn mare’s eyes for the briefest of moments. No matter, Twilight thought to herself even as she struggled to keep her own eyes from tearing up with water. Trixie had been a bit of an arrogant braggart the first time they had met but had still attempted to stop the Ursa Minor, and she managed to turn back from the whispers of the Amulet in their second meeting.

Twilight Sparkle had apparently been a chosen one of destiny when she was young to become the wielder of the Element of Magic and later a Princess. Was it that same fate that demanded she kill Trixie Lulamoon this day? Twilight could suddenly see why Trixie hated destiny, if this was what cruel fate it had in store for her.

“Trixie thinks you don’t know what you’re talking about, Twilight Sparkle,” Trixie declared. “For Trixie, winning this battle is as simple as an illusi-er, an illusi-er, an illu-Trixie demands to know what is going on here!” The mare’s arrogance had collapsed into panic within seconds as Trixie had repeated herself twice over before finally breaking.

Twilight smiled. It wasn’t a happy smile. It wasn’t a vengeful smile.

What did you do to Trixie?!”

“It’s simple, Trixie,” Twilight said slowly as if she was explaining to a dim-witted filly, though in truth she was delaying to gather more energy for her last spell. “This room is coated in my magic taken mist form. It doesn’t matter how good your illusions are when your very essence, your very soul is incapable of hiding from this mist.”

Trixie trembled, before sneering again, “No matter, I’ll just-just-just-no!,” she exclaimed, and Twilight could swear she saw violet again past the red.

“You’re not going anywhere, Trixie,” Twilight said with a grimace, her magic holding the other pony in a strong telekinetic grasp, simultaneously preventing Trixie from teleporting. “Rainbow power wasn’t meant to be wielded this way, but just this once I’ll make an exception. I gave you several chances to turn back. Sadly, it seems you weren’t strong enough to resist the Amulet this time.”

No! No! NO!” Trixie thrashed and struggled, but the magic constraining her allowed a movement measured in mere centimetres.

“For what it’s worth Trixie, I’m sorry,” Twilight apologised, tears running freely down her face even as she built the same spell bomb as she had earlier, its size expanded by her use of Rainbow Power. “I can only hope that you find peace wherever it is ponies end up after death, and that the Amulet won’t survive this to corrupt another pony ever again. Hush, Trixie.” She brushed the now fully-white showmare’s cheek. “It’ll cost me some of my precious remaining magic, but I’ll even stay as a witness to your death. Maybe I’m not as good as you are at illusions, but I’ve still learned how to become incorporeal. This bomb won’t affect me.”

Twilight finally took a step back, moving several steps away. She judged how much longer the bomb could gather magic for. With thirty seconds left, she set the bomb on autopilot. With quick spells to modify her senses, Princess Twilight Sparkle cast the last spell of the battle, one to turn her form temporarily insubstantial to reality. Energy couldn’t phase her in this form, and so she would watch as Trixie died. A Princess had to be responsible, and for the first pony she would ever kill, Twilight would watch her end to remind herself of how tragic death was.

“Goodbye, Trixie.”

She counted the seconds in her head, keeping an eye on the radiant bomb and the ensnared mare sitting in front of it. Twilight was taking no chances here, an enormous explosion at point-blank range was certain to smash any last-minute protections the Alicorn Amulet might have to protect its bearer against death. Trixie’s eyes seemed impossible wide, her mouth open in what may have been a loud scream. Twilight burned the sight into her memory.

Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Thre-

Trixie’s mouth suddenly closed, her lips curled upwards, and her eyes narrowed. Her horn glowed violet.

Twilight didn’t have the chance to react as she felt herself being pulled back into the physical world. Panic set in as she realised she too would be exposed to the impending explosion. Nonononono-

The world exploded.


She attempted to open her eyes. The scent of iron was strong, her tongue numb to its taste.

With a struggle, she managed to weakly crack her right eye open, then closed it just as quick, the gust of wind through the open wall stinging it with the fine particles left behind by their battle.

The wind. Something about that word bothered her. There was something about a unicorn who was too good with wind magic, pale not as a natural coat but the deficiency of all colour. The medical documents left behind indicated it appeared to be albinism, but his eyes…

Groaning, she focused her attention on each of her limbs in turn. Although in great pain, a quick diagnostic cantrip showed nothing was broken. Finding the floor, she staggered her way to a standing position, front hooves first, then her back. The effort cost her dearly as it felt like all the blood on her body, inside and out, had congealed in her head, threatening to pull her over into gravity’s sweet embrace. It was good she had yet to open her eyes, lest she see double, perhaps even triple.

Triple. That was the second word that tickled a spot in her currently limited mental capacity. Triple, triple, triple, trippy, trippie, trickie…

Her one good eye shot open as she finally remembered.

Even with her other eye sealed shut by blood and mucus, Twilight Sparkle didn’t need the extra depth perception to take in the scene before her.

At last, she opened her muzzle—

—and the words “It’s over” came from Twilight’s mouth.

End

Author's Note:

In case it wasn't obvious between the context of this chapter itself and the chapter name, this begins in media res, so the next chapter will pull you all the way back to the chronological beginning. I will probably change a few lines here and there in this beginning bit as the story goes on, but this first chapter? Very important.

This is a sequel to There’s No Place Like Home. It’s a short one-shot and isn’t really required reading for Phantasmare. However, there is one essential plot detail from TNPLH that gets spoiled in the next chapter, and it sets up for the location of the story's first arc.

As a writer, one of my quirks is that I like to take several paragraphs before revealing a character’s name, after which I’ll use his or her name on a regular basis. In spite of this, I did not once use the words ‘lavender unicorn’ ;) (well, Twi's an alicorn now, but you know what I mean)