• Published 29th Oct 2017
  • 1,183 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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Immigrant's Song

Trixie, having agreed on her performer's honor to draw the ghostly stallion back from his precipice, inched towards the dangling phantom across what looked to Trixie's eyes to be a perfectly stable and solid oaken floor. But, however solid and tangible said planking appeared, it was still a fact that an enormous and red-tinted earth-pony was swaying back and forth like a somewhat anxious pendulum through the middle of that supposedly-solid floor, and Trixie was taking no chances.

The ghost's hoof had been solid enough when he had knocked Trixie halfway across the turret in which the Beast's sandclock ticked everypony's lives away.

Trixie probed carefully with her hooves, tapping on each plank as she advanced, even feeding a bit of magic into her ensorcelled shoes to put proper stress on her hoofing before she committed her full weight to each step.

What? Yes, of course Trixie wears horseshoes. Any pony who travels as much as Trixie does, who claims to go bare-hooved, is an arrant liar and a fool. Trixie knows that the bare-hooved look is the feminine ideal, and of course she is fully committed to making a proper display for Trixie's audiences. Trixie respects her audiences, and part of that respect is a full faith effort to look Trixie's absolute best for her lovely viewers.

See? Are they not gorgeous?

What, yes, of course she has her shoes on, here – there! See? No, that's not an illusion, that's her precious, precious thunder-forged horseshoes, twice enchanted by a specialist Trixie knows, and then ensorcelled again according to a series of cantrips Trixie learned when she was a youngling and first went on the road with her sibling's carnival.

Hmm? Yes, thunder-forged. Trixie has a farrier who specializes in this sort of thing, she shoes all of the cadets at Hobblehurst. Oh, no, no. These are not combat shoes, Trixie is a lover, not a fighter. But Trixie used to spend ten months of the year on the road, and on her hooves every single minute of those months. Trixie doesn't care how much ladylike stamina and resilience a mare might be able to boast of – hooves chip, they crack, they split – unless one puts a great deal of investment and effort into preserving and protecting one's hooves. Which Trixie has. Once Trixie's vardo was destroyed by that damnable star-bear, Trixie's shoes became the single most expensive possession she had to her name.

Well, until Trixie spent her savings on this amulet. But still! Excellent shoes! Absolutely vital to a young mare's career!

Trixie used her excellent shoes to probe the edges of the phenomena through which the ghost threatened to plummet, dangling over an entirely invisible precipice. And Trixie could find no gap, no weakness in the boards. They were there, until they were not, for whatever instant in which there was ghost and not planking as he swung through the flooring.

And then he ran into Trixie's extended left forearm, and the fireworks were back.

The library faded before the crimson burst of light, and Trixie's other three hooves, spread out to grip at her hoofing on the supposedly-solid floor, suddenly felt like they were frog-deep in something soft, permeable – almost wet.

And Trixie experienced the most amazing sensation, as if she had been, all this time, floating placidly in a strong river-current, holding her up, supporting her entire body. And then, all at once, the current reversed itself, and flung Trixie – not backwards, but in the opposite direction, as if every motion had been reversed and she floated, free for that one instant of a force she hadn't even been aware had been pushing her forward in time.

And then Trixie felt the instant end, and gravity re-asserted itself, and she felt her hooves begin to slip through the substance of the floor-boards.

Trixie may have panicked a bit.

Trixie's marvelous, ensorcelled shoes burned as they were born from their thunder-forges, crimson lightning licking her hooves and her frogs for just the slightest of seconds. That reflexive flow of magic stopped the slippage, whatever had caused it, and then…

The world made physical sense again. Trixie was on firm, if somewhat scorched, oak planks. Her left forelimb was still in contact with the ghost, who was staring awkwardly over his shoulder, still straining to keep hold of the book on that shelf.

But at least his pendulum-motion was stilled, though he still dangled right through the planks upon which Trixie was standing.

Trixie licked her lips, and pulled back her arm, and tapped her chin with the edge of her hoof.

Trixie shuffled to one side, and reached down with her magic hoof to take a grasp of the ghost's right thigh. He started to struggle again, and Trixie, irate, clipped him one across the back of his crest just under that preposterous mane-style.

"Stop struggling, and give me your leg!"

Trixie grabbed the dangling leg again, and lifted it, carefully. The poor stallion went into a strange contortion, as if he were being held up by some force mightier than Trixie's feeble mare hooves – as if a giant was pulling him to one side. Trixie tried to not think about what she was doing, as she concentrated, and brought that leg back down, so that his knee hovered just over the planking. His leg glowed with the amulet's power, and she laid his knee down, putting it into contact with the surface. And…

It took his weight.

"Try to use that as a leverage-point, Sir Ghostling."

Augh! How didst thou do that? What am I kneeling upon?

"The same thing I'm standing on, you doofus. The floor. Here, get your other leg up. Come on, stop being so damned shy, I'm not going to grab anything else down there. And get that tail out of my face, big boy!"

After a bit of struggling and uncomfortable weirdness, Trixie had gotten reality and Rockhoof back into a détente with each other, and he lay there, quivering with reaction, his now-solid forelegs stretched over the library floor like a half-drowned mare hugging dry land.

"Not that Trixie is exactly sure what just happened, but she'd like to offer as a hypothesis that this was because you took a swing at her precious self. Try not to do that again, Trixie's not sure what would have happened if you had been on solid land, instead of most of the way up a tower."

The ghost of the earth-pony just kept wittering on about the wonders of solidity, and Trixie took that as acquiescence. This gave her time to plan out how to sneak this inconvenient phantom out of the Beast's fastness. Trixie wasn't quite sure if other ponies would be able to see her haunt. She supposed that she could just parade the stallion right through the grand hall, and if it was now visible to the others, all her troubles were at an end.

Well, more or less.

But if the late Rockhoof was now Trixie's personal retribution from a blind and judgmental fate? She didn't quite trust herself to not react to her new semi-tangible acquaintance's rough starts and demands. Trixie wasn't quite sure how exactly the Beast would respond to Trixie acting as if an invisible companion was present, but she strongly suspected her future fate might feature a nice padded slot in the Beast's half-built stone-cabinet if she wasn't careful.

In the end, Trixie coaxed the somewhat addled ghost off of his stomach, and back up on his hooves, and prodded him down the stairs. Really, fall through a half-dozen floors of an ancient, creepy castle-tower, and some ponies just lose all composure and self-assurance.

As they passed through the great hall, Trixie fell back a bit, and let the crimson-glowing phantom stallion walk unsteadily across the somewhat filthy rush-covered stone floor, looking to see if they had any audience observing them.

Nothing.

What doth we here, witch? the stallion suddenly blurted out, as he looked back and forth between the doorways leading to the other tower and the kitchens on the one hoof, and the stairwell down to the main gate. I have been here before. Stygian's squalid little fortified tower. So house-proud, the little warlock. Never thought he wouldst come back here after he stole away our magic, our power for himself.

The ghost of Rockhoof turned to stare up at the two thrones, the one cleared of its clutter, the other full of rubbish.

I imagine he returned to his seat of authority, when the wizard's grand plan failed to contain his evil. We did fail, did we not? This land, it clearly groans under the shadowy yoke of the Pony of Shadows. Equestria has fallen, it were all for naught. He fell to his haunches, thumping solidly down on top of the dirty straw and stonework.

All unicorns be damned anyhow.

"Ha!" laughed your narrator, doing her best to ignore the ghostly earth-pony's tribalism. "As if all the troubles in the world can be laid at our hooves, you great blustery fool. What makes you think this is Equestria?"

What? blinked the great lummox at Trixie. It is the Old Bailey. The Old Bailey is in Equestria. What foolish riddle is this?

"Trixie rather thinks that there has been no Old Bailey in Equestria for some fourteen hundred years, Sir Ghost. She has lived most of her life in Equestria and this, Sir Ghost, is not Equestria. We stand in some afterlife, or worldlet, or fragment of existence floating in what Trixie knows not. Probably not the void? Although she is less certain of that than she was before you nearly fell into whatever lies beneath this place. Seeing physical objects slide through each other like fish through water rather leads one to lose faith in reality as a thing, don't you think?"

The ghost made a face at this little speech, which Trixie rather thought was worth taking pride in, but she supposes you can't please everyone.

That maketh my head hurt. I believe I need to see this with mine own eyes. The exit lies below, or has that changed as well as what world we findeth ourselves within?

And down we went, down the stairwell to the outside world, such as it was. The ghost paused before the polished shield that had pride of place in the foyer, saying nothing, but looking troubled.

"Sir Ghost! Please, Trixie does not wish to linger here where somepony who is not a ghost might find her in conversation with – she is not at all sure if others will see you."

He sighed, and pushed his way through the doors into the courtyard. The heavy timbers of the doors themselves parted for him as if he were a living, breathing pony. Trixie was blessed once again with a lack of audience. She was beginning to adore this dingy, dark half-world – when she needed an audience, it appeared; when she needed them to go do something else, they were nowhere to be found. It was as if they knew her intentions before Trixie knew them herself!

Trixie subtly guided the ghost-serjeant out of the compound, and followed him as he stomped through the abandoned little manor-village, door after door barred against the mist and the occasional Harrier. Trixie thought of the hundreds of obsidian shards lying in their mostly-padded cubby-holes in the Beast's cabinet, and wondered what this place looked like when all of its inhabitants were out and about, bustling in the infinite tasks of rural industry.

Where are all the ponies? whispered Rockhoof in his voice like shifting sands. There should be… ponies.

"Trixie has been told that the magic of this realm can only support a hoof-full of ponies at any one time. The Beast rations existence among his minions, equitably as far as Trixie can tell, if in a somewhat utilitarian fashion."

The Beast… Rockhoof rumbled a ghostly laugh. Do you call him such to his face? It is a good name for him. More proud than the sly sneaking colt deserves, though. And taketh away all responsibility for his culpability for what he hath become. That were his choice, thou witchy thing, you.

Trixie wrinkled her muzzle at this – the ghost was recovering his pride, and with it, his lack of manners.

We passed beyond the village, and the empty farmer's hovels, and Trixie noted that the crimson ghost's hooves were drawn as if by magnets outwards in a spiral, towards the distant hazy bulk of one of the great statues, on an edge of the manor into which Trixie had not yet ventured. The mists were rising again, and moisture beaded on the tumbledown fences and weeds by the side of the way. Trixie found herself wondering of what use fences were in a world without wild animals.

Well, aside from the Harriers. Which Trixie had neither seen, nor heard from in a good number of watches. The two of us came to the foot of the ghost's own great statue, in a sort of clearing between two arms of wildwood curling into the heart of the manor from outside. The clearing was full of high grass, growing wild itself, and the bare bones of a dead hovel was visible at the mouth of the clearing, as if it had been given even less attention than the abandoned dwellings closer to the center of the manor.

Roofhoof looked up at his own stony visage, an indescribable expression upon his great bearded muzzle.

The Pony of Shadows built a… monument to me? What in the seven seas did that warlock think he was about?

"Trixie is not at all sure that any pony made those statues. She hasn't examined all of them in detail, but they are cleverly made, and would have taken a great deal of effort by many sculptors to create. The Lord of Shadows can barely keep his larders full, and hasn't even managed to build a proper cabinet. He almost certainly does not have a corps of masons hidden in a croft somewhere in this place. That is your face, is it not, Sir Ghost?"

Kindly cease ‘sirring' me, thou witchy perplexity. I have never been knighted; I work for a living.

"Ha! Then maybe you might consider not ‘thouing' me, if you're nothing but a humble serjeant, Mister Rockhoof. Even the Lord of Shadows is polite enough to grant me a ‘Dame'. My name is Trixie, and I am not a witch."

Are you not? asked the ghost. …Dame Trixie, is it? Well enough.

He looked away from Trixie again, up into the face of the evidence of his posterity. Not in Equestria, are we?

"No, Serjeant. Nor in your era. Not by millennia, from what the Lord of Shadows says. And I have observed. You are a legend, you know. Rockhoof of the Mighty Helm. Protector of the weak, scourge of the monster and the beast and those who would subjugate ponies. Where is your helmet? With the horns?"

Helmet? What helmet? Oh, the Helm. No, no, that was never the meaning of the name, Dame Trixie. Although Flash always mocked us for it. The Helm was our steady hoof upon the tiller of our nation. Our command stood in the helm, and directed our ship upon uncertain seas. Even when the great abomination tore us away from our neighbors, and gifted us terrors and confusion in their stead.

"The Beast said certain things about that, but Trixie still doesn't understand. Why has she never heard these stories of towns and cities torn away from their proper homes before?"

Do not look at me, Dame Trixie. For I, I was engaged in banishing the damnable Pony of Shadows not an hour ago. Worlds come and gone in the moment it took me to blink. The ghost turned away from his statue, and sat on his haunches, looking back at the distant tower which was disappearing in the rising mist.

I was a yearling, still a foal when the skies turned mad, and the adults they all lost their minds. Many never quite found them again – their senses. Our elders were always a bit mad. In some ways it helped, in others, their judgment was often… lacking. We were blessed, compared to some. The great thief stole not simply our villages and isles, but an entire archipelago, and several peninsulas as well, the entire Helmmark, or near as much as made no difference. The griffons found in us no easy mark, I can tell you that, no, nor the bugbears either, nor the lumber bears, nor any of the insanities the draconequus laid around our lands like fencing, or barriers against our might.

I grew up under the rule of the Mighty Helm, and grew strong in their example. We found ponies here and there, and brought them under our protection. No two groups had the same story to tell. And then Stygian appeared, at a moment when we needed somepony clever. And the warlock was clever enough – his suit was clever, in spades. No magic to speak of, but cleverness by the bucketful.

I cannot believe how easily we fell into his clutches, fell in with his schemes. So clever, so sly. So often right. It is hard to not put your trust in somepony who is always right. Gave him too much credit, and then he cashed it all out, did he not? Wait – what is that barking?

And the ghost was correct. There was some sort of commotion on the far side of the copse of wildwood to our right – and Trixie thought she recognized that noise.

Harriers.

Author's Note:

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

And I've been waiting to use this chapter title since I first committed to riffing on blues-rock and prog-rock music. :yay:

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Comments ( 14 )

...Not sure why there still aren't any comments on this. I don't actually have anything specific to say, but given the silence, I thought I'd post this to let you know that I read and enjoyed the chapter.

8574137
Thanks. I trust the radio silence isn't horror at Trixie's taste in highly-engineered hoofwear. :trixieshiftright:

8574153
I hope not! :D

So ... Trixie is proud of her shoes? :pinkiehappy:

I wonder if the harriers can see Rockhoof...

8575465
Good question.

8574153 Even before I read this comment I was planning to say that my favorite part of this chapter is the description of Trixie's horseshoes. You write a solid Trixie (no pun intended for this chapter).

Good to see some explanation of how these Pillars came to be. Interesting that, depending on how this stories go, the Pillars could be free right about the same time Discord is.

Thunder forged definitely makes shoes sound badass.

More soon please

Any chance this story is not dead? :fluttershysad:
It's really good...

9163401
I'm really sorry, I keep getting side tracked.

Please continue.

You are good at writing Trixie. This story has potential for sure, wouldn't mind seeing it continued.

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