• Published 29th Oct 2017
  • 1,182 Views, 72 Comments

Trixie And The Beast - Mitch H



Trixie thought the amulet she'd bought would bring her vengeance. It brought her something else, something much more important. An audience.

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Something's On The Move

The next morning – if you want to call something without a dawn, or sunlight, or a true night to put to bed, a 'morning' – Trixie found herself with a very special conundrum.

Have you ever tried to mix a hangover cure without eggs? Trixie eventually figured it out, but it was a very close-run thing, Trixie swears. And she might have doped the mixture with a bit of hair-of-the-dog. But you really, really don't want a demon-lord stumbling about the place with a pounding head and the capacity to light things afire with his muddled mind.

And Trixie hardly imagines that it could be pleasant to be sent away into non-existence hung-over and bleary-eyed and the Wise and Benevolent Trixie is never one to send an audience away miserable and headachey. Not since that mishap in her youth with the mis-mixed fireworks and the Dodge Junction state fair, anyways.

So Trixie poured her barley-bean-and-beer-tea into the Miller as test-bed, and when he perked up with a screwed-up expression on his muzzle, triple-dosed the Beast, and then tracked down the love-birds in their nest of sin to do the same.

Everypony survived breakfast, and since the Beast and the Miller had nothing planned before the ceremony, there was plenty of time to recover in the great hall as Trixie cleared away the remnants of the drinking-party down into the kitchens and the Beast's surprisingly forward-thinking sinks for disposal.

They almost didn't wince at all the clatter and commotion as they nursed their triple-B teas.

The four of them trooped up into the Beast's ritual chamber, and, as Trixie said, made a proper going-away ceremony of it. As the final watch of the glass tolled loudly up the stairs, the Miller shook hooves with his liege, and hoofed over some bits of paper scrawled over with notes, muttering last-minute advice and suggestions. Trixie stood between the two embarrassed peasants, whose day-after regrets had led them to essay a sad pretense that nothing had happened the drunken night before.

Well, never say that Trixie is not Great and Compassionate. She shook hooves with Sharp Hone and Loose Bind – individually! – and stood witness as the Beast began his somewhat terrifying little ritual to put away his ponies into their semi-eternal rest.

Trixie will never grow used to seeing living, breathing ponies reduced to slivers of obsidian. It is against all laws of magic and sensibility. And more than a little heavy on the tentacles…

Anyways, the Beast and Trixie were briefly alone, as he put away his former-ponies, and consulted the notes the late Miller had given him. Trixie looked at the woodworking detritus left by some unnamed carpenter-pony, and wondered how many glasses would pass before this woodworker could return to her work.

The new trio of ponies reclaimed from the void and the Beast's half-built vassals-cabinet included a unicorn this time, and Trixie found herself looking up with curiosity. The new mare immediately pulled the Beast aside, and grabbed the Beast's notes from his greyfire with her own horn-glow. The other two ponies looked around in placid delight as the ivory-coated unicorn poured over the Miller's instructions, muttering to herself and her Lord.

Trixie walked up to the two earth ponies, and introduced herself in what she thought was proper Old Ponish.

"'Godt at kende dig', hvad betyder det? Hej, Pole Bean, tror hun introducerer sig selv?" asked the one mare of the other.

"Hej, Tight Seams, rart at se dig igen. Og jeg ved det ikke, lyder som en ædel, ikke sandt? Hvad tror du 'stor og kraftfuld' kan betyde?" replied the second to the first.

"Did, did Trixie say that wrong?" asked your narrator of the new ponies. "Trixie is quite sure that was what Loose Bind suggested to Trixie."

"Ha! Loose Bind fortalte hende at sige det? Hvis den mare har været igennem, forklarer det, hvorfor vi er ude, Pole Bean."

"Ja, de skærer, vi sår. Verdens made. Hej, blå dame - Dame Trixie, gjorde de to buck endnu?" This last bit was delivered with a salacious grin, and Trixie was starting to understand that ancient language, because she was pretty sure she was being asked if…

"A true lady never gossips, ma'am." The two peasant-mares looked so woebegone at being rebuffed, that Trixie relented. "Although perhaps one of the guest rooms might need cleaning once again, from what Trixie did not hear."

The two earth-ponies tittered at this. The Beast's field-vassals might not speak proper Equish, but they seemed to understand it well enough. Trixie is still not quite sure how that worked, to be honest. How could one resist the urge to speak as the wealthy and powerful spoke?

Trixie dun drop dem Gullah-wallah fo' Buckrah-langwidge de secun' 'e lef' de do'. Langwidge 'e b'long t' ah hawss, yent hawss 'e na' b'long t' th' langwidge.

Ahem.

As Trixie was saying, the Beast and his unicorn were muttering back and forth over the Miller's suggestions. Trixie shuffled closer, to overhear what they were on about.

"…What I cannot understand is how you can possibly be out of beans. The last harvest I remember, we put away enough lentils to bury the tower up to its foundation-stones. Have you been eating anything else, my lord?"

"Now, Tally Stick, don't be like that…"

"Stygian! It can't be healthy for a lord to eat nothing but beans!"

It rather appeared to Trixie like the Lord of Shadows had summoned his steward, and so it proved. Tally Stick's accent was barely noticeable, and if Trixie was still doing funny voices for you all, she'd probably have to stuff toffees up her nostrils to quite get the affect of that stiff-flanked mare.

Trixie is still not sure why the new cadre of the Beast's servants were entirely female. Perhaps to avoid a repeat of that little incident? Bah, not worth thinking of!

The Beast continued quarrelling with his tetchy steward, while his other minions nosed around the books and ephemera in the chamber, until Trixie could stand no more.

"Look, you two! Those are probably delicate. Uh, Ingen! I to! Omsætning med alt det!" Trixie's Old Ponish was quite laughable at that point, Trixie is sad to relate, and her attempt to ask the peasants to stop messing with the Lord's tools attracted the attention of the new unicorn.

"Who are you, and why are you yelling at my ponies about pastries, ma'am?" demanded the snooty steward.

"Ah, Tally Stick," interjected the Beast as he dashed in between his unicorn and the inoffensive and mild Trixie. "This is a guest of the manor, one Dame Trixie."

"Your name is Dame? What are you, some lord's byblow? And what is that, a Star Swirl costume? Who do you think you are, you blowsy bint!" sneered the newcomer.

"If you must demand my name without any return, you see before you a showmare among showmares, paragon of prestidigitators, mistress of miracles, sultana of sleight-of-hoof, the Great and Powerful TRIXIE LULAMOON!"

Now, usually, Trixie would punctuate this declaration with a flashbang and some pocket-rockets, but as we all were indoors and nearby more delicate equipment than Trixie cares to think of, she merely punctuated this with a handkerchief-rope flourish. Unfortunately, she'd forgotten that she'd loaned out half of her handkerchiefs the other day, and hadn't re-tied her rope, so all she managed to do was fling the other half across the room, just missing Tally Stick-up-her-rear's sparking horn.

"Nope! No! Nope! You two are not doing this in here!" The Beast pushed Trixie out of the room out onto the stairs, while his other greyfire-tendrils snuffed out whatever spell his steward had been brewing. "Dame Trixie! Wait for me upstairs, until I am ready to turn over the time-piece! Tally Stick! Behave yourself with my guests! No, I don't care that I haven't had one in over a millennium, I've got one now. Take these two downstairs, and see what we can get planted – Trixie! Please, go now."

Trixie closed the door behind her, and tromped up the long stairwell, hearing behind her the raised voices of the Lord of Shadows and his jealous steward. She knew he didn't mean anything by that tone of voice, but after all Trixie had done for him that day…

Trixie found the sand-clock ticking along as it had the last time she'd laid eyes on it, the last cup or so of time-keeping grains trickling from the future downward into the past. She found herself pulling her hat off of her mane, and lying down against the base of the time-machine. She sniffed at her forelock, and wondered if she shouldn't have gone to find where the last bunch of minions had found to bathe.

The Beast did not appear with any celerity, and Trixie eventually got tired of her moping, and reached up to leverage herself up on her hooves. She grabbed that peculiar shovel-axle that the Beast had built his sand-clock around, and her frog came into contact with the base of the shovel-blade.

And suddenly the turret's spartan interior was lit up like a bonfire of celestine-fireworks all bursting at once like an accident in a pyrotechnics shop. Trixie pulled her hat down over her face to protect her eyes and her nostrils, and waited for the crimson flare to burn itself out, falling to her knees to protect her other vulnerable bits.

After the flares burnt out, Trixie dared a look around the surprisingly un-scorched brim of her wizard's-hat. The turret was astonishingly not destroyed, despite that amazing light-show. Not fireworks going off? Trixie blinked the after-images out of her dazzled eyes, and looked around the empty, if somewhat dusty walkways and floors around the sand-clock. Nothing obvious was out of place, and nothing could be seen out of the windows overhead, or the eaves hanging over those.

Then, as Trixie was turning around one more time, she thought she'd seen something red and glowing out of the corner of her eye, and she spun around violently, trying to track what she'd spied.

Nothing.

It was at that point, while Trixie was standing braced and wild-eyed, looking back and forth and in general looking like a very model of a madmare, that the Beast came stomping up the stairs. Thankfully, his heavy hoof-falls were such that Trixie was able to restore herself to some semblance of sanity, and when his great and massive horned-head came up out of the stairwell, Trixie was sitting on her haunches, smiling innocently.

Not at all out of her screw-headed mind.

"Did you just see something, Dame Trixie? One of the peasants said she saw a flash up here. Is the time-piece operational?"

"What?" Trixie looked behind her, and watched the last few grains drop into the lower bulb, and then turned back to the Beast with a rictus-grin which she hoped he would mistake for further innocence. "Looks fine to me!"

"Hrm. It's not good that they're seeing things so soon out of the cabinet. Seeing phantasms and phantom lights is one of the markers of shadow-rot. Well, along with the actual shadowing. But I'd hate to think that we rushed Tight Seams in the furlough schedule, just because I needed a thatching-pony this glass."

As the Beast mused to himself, and passed by Trixie to look at his sand-clock, Trixie found her eyes widening in horror as a spectral pony strode through the stone wall behind the Lord of Shadows.

"Phantasms, you say, your Lordship?"

The ghost was nearly as tall as the Lord of Shadows, with a vast, terrible beard, a white blaze down the middle of his face, and grim, staring eyes. Trixie couldn't tell what color the phantasm's coat was, through the baleful crimson glare which it radiated like a torch on fire.

"Oh, yes, skittering shadows, horrible things with staring yellow eyes, sometimes seeing other ponies like they were dead or decaying or what have you. Really threw us for a loop the first few times it happened, we lost far too many of my ponies to the Harriers before we figured out the signs."

The earth-pony ghost was moving his jaw, as if it ached, or as if he was chewing peanut-butter.

"Oh, Trixie might have used a bit too much horn-glow a few minutes ago? There might have been a bit of a light? Trixie is sure that your peasant is not defective."

The ghost leaned forward, glaring at the Beast, so close to the more tangible monster that Trixie
couldn't understand why his ectomorphic breath didn't tickle the nape of the Beast.

Traitor, whispered the spectral stallion like the echo of a distant rockfall. Thief. Warlock.

The ghost drew in a great chestful of imaginary air, and bellowed in the Beast's ear, STYGIAN!

And still, the loudest noise that enormous barbaric crimson-hued mass of ghostly muscles and sinew and
bone could project was like a tumble of gravel displaced by a scurrying mouse.

Trixie couldn't help it, she giggled. Which proved to be a mistake, as both the imaginary stallion and the
very, very real one turned their eyes to your narrator, glaring.

Oh, didn't Trixie mention it? While the ghost was attempting to scream into the Beast's ear, the Lord of
Shadows had been awkwardly trying to apologize for his ill-behaved underling's rudeness towards Trixie.

"Dame Trixie! While I grant that Tally Stick's attitude left much to be desired, I must say that your
attitude is not helping matters! My little cousin's lot in life was hardly an easy one even before the great
kidnapping. This manor by all rights should have been hers in feoffment, not simply as castellan. I-"

"All apologies, your lordship. Trixie did not mean to insult or respond to insults, and she is, herself,
penitent before your grace. Sometimes Trixie's temper runs away from her, and you must have noted
her pride is perhaps, if only slightly, over-sufficient to requirements. Trixie will endeavor to make peace
with your - is she a steward or a chatelaine?"

Trixie was now positive – both stallions were staring at her in disgust.

"You won't even look me in the eyes, Dame Trixie! If you won't take me seriously, I really have pressing business elsewhere," the Beast said, offended, and clearly feeling as if Trixie was mocking him. He pushed past Trixie to the sand-clock

At the same time, the ghost-stallion was rumbling something so indistinct, Trixie could not make it out, and indeed, Trixie was so distracted by the Beast turning over his enormous time-piece, that the grumbling of the re-setting gears drowned out whatever malediction the phantasm was sending in Trixie's direction.

The Beast stomped past Trixie again, and down the stairs, leaving your narrator alone with the angry, red-faced ghost.

Well, he was rather red all over, but the expression on the enormous phantasm was that which is usually associated with choler among your average pony. Not that this stallion had been average, even in life. Trixie recognized him now, now that she did not have a piqued alicorn prince of darkness to distract her from the raging ghost now advancing upon her.

The ghost-companion of Beardo, in that blasted stone-circle in the wilderness below the rail-line from Canterlot. The bearded stallion and, now that Trixie thought about it, the ancient eastern unicorn whose statue she had seen the other glass on the far side of the manor. The pieces were starting to fall into place, Trixie remembers having thought at the time –

If only a vast bellowing rage-ghost was not getting into Trixie's face, and distracting her from thoughts of magic and ritual and things seriously beyond a poor show-mare's knowledge and understanding.

"My Lord Ghost! The more you shout and bustle at Trixie, the less she is able to understand what it is you're on about! Kindly calm down and find your words!"

The phantom, enraged beyond all control, swung a transparent limb at Trixie, and she cringed, throwing up her hooves.

And he connected, knocking Trixie into the wall, and just barely avoiding driving her into the ticking time-piece.

"Ow! That hurt! What kind of ghost are you?"

Ghost? whispered the great ghost stallion. Thou thinkst me a ghost? I just knocked thee for a loop, thou blasted mare. Clearly I am as real as thee. See? And he kicked out a rear hoof, clearly expecting to splinter the bannister behind him.

And tumbled hoof over withers when his leg went right through the heavy oak bannister, and then fell through the wooden floor beneath him, as if the solid surface had, once broken, refused to maintain his considerable weight.

Trixie got up from where the ghost had thrown her, and walked over to where the ghost had disappeared, prodding the too, too solid surface of the turret-flooring. Solid oak, like the rest of the wooden surfaces and fittings of that sturdy space.

Trixie rapped on the planks through which the ghost had dropped. "Lord Ghost? I rather think we were in the midst of a discussion?"

No reply.

Trixie clopped down the stairs, looking for her phantom. The chamber below the turret was hidden behind a closed door, but not, thankfully, a locked one. Trixie noted that her horn-glow had gone crimson again, but it revealed no baleful ghosts, nor vengeful ones, nor even an embarrassed one.

She checked several floors in succession, before she found a small library across the stairwell from the Beast's ritual space, and within that library, an embarrassed ghost hanging halfway through the floor, his left forehoof clinging precariously to a heavy, ancient-looking tome.

Well, they all looked ancient to Trixie, but this one was particularly substantial-looking, and strangely, in fairly good shape, given its neighbors on either side of it on the shelf in question. Trixie looked at the woebegone ghost-stallion, dangling by its hoof-hold on the book, and giving her half-annoyed, half-pleading colt-eyes.

"Find a friend, did you, Lord Ghost? Trixie cannot keep calling you this. Did you have a name in life, spirit?"

Bedamn thee, thou hoofmaiden of evil! Undo thy wicked spell, and restore to my hooves solid hoofing!

"Ah-ah-ah! First, names, Lord Spirit! Show me that you have some courtesy in your ghostly breast!'

Fine, fine, whispered the ghost. Thou perceivest before thee, one Rockhoof, serjeant and stalwart of the Mighty Helm, and companion to heroes and wizards.

Rockhoof, hero of ancient Equestria, legend of strength and power, exemplar, dweller-within of countless foals' books. Including, sadly enough, several Trixie remembered from her unlamented foaldom.

She'd always hated those blasted books. And now she'd have to figure out how to get her hateful haunt back onto solid ground.

Somehow.

Author's Note:

Thanks to Shrink Laureate, Oliver, and the general Company for editing attention and pre-reading.

Chapter title from Jethro Tull's Stormwatch album.

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