• Published 22nd Jul 2012
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Rites of Ascension - CvBrony

Twilight makes a new spell and starts the gears of fate with her ascension to alicornhood. (Writing started before Season 3.)

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“Less than ten years, then. Celestia was right. This should be something, indeed.” Charlemane took a long sip from his tea, expecting to taste the hint of whiskey he added, but as he stared at the shield over Canterlot, all he could taste was the heavy echo of Celestia’s words. They played in the center stage of his mind, over and over, so much so that they remained untarnished by the erosion of memory, like a film reel in perfect condition.

“You must understand, Ascension is eventful…”

“My Lord?”

Charlemane held up his hoof, silencing his subordinate. Gently, he set down his tea on the table, watching the steam rise up in the crisp fall air. “The world is a storm in a teacup, an easy place to lose oneself and drown. Yet to live, one need only take the world in one’s grasp, lift it to the lips, and drink.”

“My Lord, if I may—”

“Of course, it helps to spike the drink a little.”


“Patience.” Charlemane picked up his tea and took it over to the balcony railing, listening intently to the tink sound the fine china made as he set it down. “We are all ever at the edge of the future, but this… The view from here is quite spectacular, don’t you think?”

Charlemane turned his head slightly to look at his confused subordinate’s face, but it wasn’t quite as satisfying as he had expected, and once again turned his attention to the scene below. “If you are wondering why I am calm, I can assure you, I am most frustrated. But in the face of history, it helps to occasionally take a step back to look and remember. The moment may seem small in the face of events like the siege or Discord… But such moments may mean more to the path of our civilization than the outcome of any great war. Indeed, they may decide such conflicts on their own. Savour them.”

“Er, yes, my Lord…”

Even without looking, Charlemane could tell his assistant had bowed to the ground, instead of heeding his advice and watching. Not that it matters. As ever, I shall lead the blind.

Time passed on in silence, allowing Charlemane to enjoy his tea, or at least the whiskey in it. On the final sip, the fading daylight poked its way through the shield over the city. Second by second, pieces of Shining’s — or rather, Obsidian’s — shield faded away, leaving only the crepuscular light of evening.

The Duke couldn’t help but smile as the last drop made its way across his tongue and down his throat. “Fading to twilight… How appropriate.” He waited for his subordinate to try and speak to him again, but found only silence. “Report. What have you heard?”

“My Lord, RGIS says that the Grand Mage intercepted a group attempting to harm and possibly abduct one Trixie Lulamoon. The battle was the cause of the explosion and the subsequent raising of the shield over Canterlot. The Grand Mage was victorious and has launched an investigation. Sir, should I—?”

“Do nothing.”

“Sir? There’s an opportunity here, and a huge risk, so we need to—”

“I said, ‘do nothing.’” Charlemane laid his forelegs on the railing, staring down at the city below. “The fight does generate a potential advantage for us, yes, along with some significant risks. But its importance pales in comparison to that of our new Grand Mage, Twilight Sparkle.”

The brightest first stars appeared in the sky, their light dancing in the Duke’s eyes.

“I know this mare. At least, that is what most would say. I’ve met her, talked with her, read her psychological profile, and even more than that, believe it or not. I should know her inside and out. And yet… Of all the ponies in all the world, this one is unique in an exceptional way, which means that I only know the surface of her. I must delve deeper.

"The storm in the teacup shall provide the stimulus. Only when the time is right shall I add the whiskey. Thus, for now, we do nothing, come what may. Is that understood?”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“I need an update, doctor. How is she?”

The doctor looked up from his chart and at Twilight. “Perfect timing. She woke up a few moments ago, albeit in a bit of a panic and quite a lot of pain. The good news is that she didn’t ruin the set on her bones, thanks to the integrity spells on the casts. The breaks on her hind legs should heal, in time. We gave her some morphine to help ease her pain and stress.”

Morphine? Uh-oh… “Is she still lucid enough to talk?”

He nodded. “Of course. But I wouldn’t recommend anything more than that, especially with her injuries. She’s going to be bedridden for quite a while.”

Twilight folded her forelegs. “And vulnerable. I’m going to have to add an anti-candle or something to the entrance… Thank you, doctor. I’ll let you know if I need anything more.”

“Of course,” he said, bowing before leaving.

Okay… A bit unnerved that the bowing is becoming normal already, but there’s more important stuff to do. She took in a deep breath and slowly opened the hospital room door. Inside was a single bed and patient. The windows were nearly completely blacked out with a security spell, leaving only a dark blue hue from the moon for lighting and plenty of shadows for hiding.

Twilight carefully stepped forward, closing the door behind her and locking it so nothing would sneak up on her, or at least she hoped as much. “Trixie?” she asked as she approached the bed. Twilight gazed curiously at the broken mare in front of her when she received no response. “Trixie, are you awake?”

The earth unicorn stirred, ruffling the blanket.

“Trixie, I need to talk to you about what happened.” She sat down next to the bed, her gaze unmet by the other mare’s dead, exhausted eyes. “I need to ask you about what you can see, and how you can see it. I’ve got the beginnings of answers here, but I’m not going to get much farther without your help.”

“How does Trixie know you’re real?” Trixie sneered. “You are so pathetic. You don’t even know what’s going on under your nose. Trixie cannot even trust that you aren’t some ghost they’re making to get Trixie to talk.”

Twilight’s ear twitched. That’s a good point. She’s got no reason to think I’m not something meant to trick her. I need something specific. Something only we would know… but all the ‘communicating’ we’ve done over the years is her saying things in tabloids and me denying it. The only time we’ve actually shared… Hmm…

She cleared her throat. “When you came to Ponyville, you turned Rarity’s mane and tail green, and she ran off in the most sorrowful gallop I’ve ever seen. It looked like her hairs were made of moss.”

“Hmph.” Trixie smiled a little. “Yeah. That was funny.”

Twilight’s lip curled. “No. No it wasn’t. She’s my friend. I only held back so I wouldn’t wind up looking like you.”

“Another point!” Trixie finally looked at Twilight. “Trixie is starting to believe it really was you that lifted that Ursa Major.”

Twilight shook her head. “It was an Ursa Minor. The colts you got to practically worship you were named Snips and Snails. And I’d prefer it if you wouldn’t be so casual about hurting my friends’ feelings.”

“And deliberately putting your town in danger? What are you going to do?” Trixie scoffed, motioning to the casts on her rear limbs. “Break Trixie’s legs? Please. You have no more power over Trixie.”

“It wasn’t deliberate. You never meant to unleash an Ursa Minor. You never even tried. It was Snips and Snails that did it.”

Trixie inhaled and sighed. “Damn. Trixie would have almost prefered it if it wasn’t really you. It took every bit of will Trixie had just to surrender. Now you can mock Trixie to your heart’s content.”

Twilight shook her head. “Trixie, I’m not going to do that to you. I—”

“Trixie would have. Were our positions reversed.” Her eyes glared daggers at her. “You ruined Trixie’s life.”

Twilight jerked her head back. “Me!? You’re the one who was bragging about vanquishing an Ursa Major!”

“And the Ursa crushed Trixie’s cart. And you showed Trixie up. Trixie had to go crawl under a mountain of debt to get a new one. Getting a real business loan would have been easy had it not been for word of Trixie’s utter humiliation at your hooves. No, instead, a measly forty thousand bits from the wrong ponies has kept Trixie in debt perpetually. It’s four million now.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “The mob? You took money from the mob? Those are mob ponies after you!?”

“Ha! Hahahahahahaha! Oh, you are so damned naïve. No, Twilight Sparkle.” Each laugh sounded like Trixie’s mind losing it’s grip on something, but whether that was sanity or just her calm, Twilight wasn’t sure. “Do you really think those idiots and fools in the mafia would have illusion magic like that? Ha! No, these ponies showed up years after the mob was after me. Trixie even managed to play them off each other; the mob moves in, Trixie finds a phantom, and escapes while the other two fight. The only reason Trixie is not already dead is because these other ponies want me alive, but for what, Trixie does not know. Now it’s just a race to see which will get here first. The mafia, or these invisible hunters.” One side of her face grinned enough to expose her back molars. “And you think that damned idiot hiding in the corner will be enough to stop either of them?”

Idiot in the corner? What is she—! Twilight jumped back as a figure stepped out of the shadows, his glowing eyes and smouldering mane finally visible.

“It looks like I need further training,” Obsidian chuckled. “I’m still new to this ‘sneaking around’ thing.”

Twilight pinched the bridge of her muzzle with her hooves. “Dammit, Shiny, you practically scared the cutie mark off of me!”

“Then perhaps you need more training as well, Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight spun around and stumbled on the tile, catching herself on the edge of Trixie’s bed and seeing yet two more figures in the dark. One was the Princess, and another was a Night Guard mare with a jet-black mane and a blindfold.

“Luna! Is everypony trying to give me a heart attack today?”

Luna waved a dismissive hoof. “Please. If I were trying, I would have surely succeeded by now. Wouldn’t you agree, Trixie Lulamoon?”

Uh-oh. Twilight turned to see what kind of disrespect Trixie was going to show the Princess, but found the mare sitting up as best she could, staring wide-eyed at the ‘new arrivals.’”

“Okay, Trixie admits it and is gracious enough to give credit. She didn’t see you two there. But he needs work.”

Luna’s mane bristled and sparkled in the darkness of the room. “My Cardinal is new to our ways. His inexperience shall not last long, I can assure you.”

Trixie screamed out and slammed a hoof into her bed. “Trixie doesn’t care how much experience he has! You have no idea just what these ponies are capable of, and you have no way of stopping their magic! Either leave Trixie alone or kick her out to die!”

“That’s not true!” Twilight took another step or two closer to her. “Anti-candles can dissolve their illusions. And we ran them out of the abandoned newspaper office they used to trick you. RGIS is on their way to comb for physical evidence as we speak.”

Trixie rolled her eyes. “You won’t find any.”

The mare next to Luna stepped forward. “According to Sparkle-denka, we already have. Fresh scrape marks on the concrete. If they left in such a hurry as to damage concrete, we may yet find something.”

“That alone actually signifies more than you realize, Acolyte Seer.” Luna stepped over to the other side of Trixie’s bed. “Given that the object was probably something on a tripod, I believe that it was a device used to project their illusions over a wider area. Most likely a magically charged crystal of some kind.”

Trixie’s jaw fell open. “Impossible… How could you…?”

Luna leaned in. “I am much older than you, young one. Cooperate with us, and we shall wipe your debt and shield you from these phantoms.”

“Ha!” Trixie’s attitude returned like a tsunami. “You? The banished Princess? I’m so grateful, Your Majesty. You talk like you’re some great leader, and yet here you are, begging my help to chase after the ones that nearly tore down your throne!”

Twilight furrowed her brow and thought, She’s dropping the third person, so I’m betting she’s ready to talk. Just one more push. As for whether this is the same organization

“The doctor said you have years of healed injuries. You’ve been on the run from the illusionists all that time, haven’t you?”

A wince and shiver from the bedridden mare confirmed Twilight’s suspicions.

“Then I rather doubt the illusionists are involved with the coup. If the ponies involved with the Siege had magic like that all this time, why didn’t they use it in the attack? I think this is an unrelated group.” Twilight put her forehooves gently on the bed. “But they’re still after you, and I want to help. I know you’re scared, Trixie, and considering I just fought off a couple ponies I couldn’t see and could barely touch, I think it’s completely understandable.”

Trixie flopped down and buried her head under the pillow. “You understand nothing. Nothing!”

“I understand that you thought I was your only hope.” Twilight put a hoof on her shoulder. “That’s why you surrendered to me personally, isn’t it? You thought I could shield you. That whatever revenge I had in store couldn’t possibly be worse than what they had in store for you. And when you realized I never had an arrest warrant out for you, that’s when you saw them racing to catch up.”

Trixie cringed and pulled the blankets closer.

“Trixie, let me help. Show us the magic you use to see them. Share it with Princess Luna, if not me. She’ll teach her Night Guard. They’ll teach the Guard, who will teach the military. I wouldn’t be surprised if that will wind up being the largest blow this group has ever had to suffer. We can smoke them out together.”

Trixie buried her head more deeply in the blanket. “Why help Trixie? After all I’ve done…”

Twilight leaned in close. “Because I think we can be friends. I’m Grand Mage now, and these ponies are going after my subjects, including you. I can’t sit by and not act. Even if you don’t help us, I’ll still try to stop them. So what’s stopping you from helping us?”

She stirred more under her covers, shaking and sniffling. “Trixie never… I… never wanted to say those things about you, Twilight Sparkle. It was my manager’s idea. Former manager’s idea. To get my name back out there.”

Twilight smiled. “I’m relieved to hear that, Trixie. Does this mean you’re willing to help us?”

Trixie deflated into the mattress, weeping softly into the pillow. “I’m tired of running. I don’t care about it anymore. If you can provide me safety, great. If not, then I shall fight until I die. Either way, I will help you.”

“Thank you, Trixie.” Twilight gave her a modest bow. Trixie has a huge ego, but it’s been shattered. I should keep a good level of decorum and respect, help build her back up. We’ll need her help.

Luna stepped forward. “We accept your proposal. Tell us which mafia you borrowed money from. They shall not bother you again.”

Trixie shook as she inhaled. “The Scomparsas. In Manehattan. You can find them in a dingy Roan restaurant on Canal St.”

Oh, great. Twilight thought. She borrowed money from a family whose name means ‘disappearance implying death.’

Luna spread a wing over the bed and leaned down next to Twilight and Trixie. “By this time tomorrow their Don will rather mail himself to the Fratellanza family than so much as think of harming you. I have some things I must set up with my sister, and then I shall return shortly to hear what you know of this detection magic. Everypony, let us leave her to rest a while.”

The group all turned to leave, but Twilight made certain to be the last one out. “Trixie, thank you. We’re going to save lives.” She then backed out of the room and gently closed the door.

“The first thing I’m going to have to do is break her of that annoying third-person speech,” Luna grumbled.

“Says the Princess that still uses the ‘royal we’ from time to time.” Twilight smirked. “Although, I do agree it would be nice if she could talk more normally.”

Obsidian sucked in a deep breath. “Well, at the very least we’re gaining leads now. But I hate the idea that there is yet another group that’s been operating under our noses. I take it you want me to deal with the mafia first, correct?”

“That is so, Cardinal. Take Acolyte Seer with you. Her bow should come in useful. Use whatever means you deem fit. I will expect your return to duty will not take too long.”

“Consider it done, Sovereign. Before I leave, though, did Twilight’s investigation tell you anything?”

Luna looked around, then lowered her head and voice. “Yes. This is absolutely magic borne from Lady Optika’s illusions. How in Equestria anypony knows of those is beyond my ability to guess, but I’m certain of it. They used to use large, heavy crystals on tripods to help amplify their abilities over a larger area. Lady Optika herself didn’t need them, of course, but her followers made extensive use of them and similar devices. It’s extremely likely that is what made the scrape marks on the concrete.”

Twilight lowered her voice too. “Makes sense to me. What’s our next move?”

Luna’s wing twitched a little. “First, we need Trixie’s detection spell. Other than that, though it pains me to sit on my hooves, we should wait and see if Intelligentsia’s investigation turns anything up. Thus, I recommend you rest for the night, Twilight. My Night Guard will take care of everything else for the time being, and I will inform my sister that your trip to Ponyville was delayed. We’ll bring you up to date in the morning, and if we have nothing for you, then you can continue to your adoptive hometown. I imagine Applejack and the others are anxious to see you again.”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll let my guards know we have the night off. What about Trixie? She’s rather vulnerable here in the hospital. We’ve already had somepony that wasn’t invisible sneak in here and kill Towers.”

Luna looked over them and down the hall, visibly still weary of eavesdroppers. “I agree. I’m going to arrange it so that one of the side rooms in the War Room facility is transformed into a medically-appropriate bedroom for her to stay and heal in. There’s no way to keep an illusion spell active through that portal, even when it’s enchanted into armor. There’s a delay of several seconds before the glamour can reset. That’s the safest place in the world for her right now.”

Twilight stretched her legs and shoulders. “Agreed. Give a copy of any notes Trixie gives us to Spike, and have him deliver it to me in the morning if possible. And let the Guard pegasi that flew me to Hoofington today know I appreciate their help. That was quite a long way to fly a chariot in a single day.”

Acolyte Seer tilted her head. “You show respect for your subordinates. The praises my Sovereign showers you with appear well earned, Sparkle-denka.”

Twilight couldn’t help but tilt her head as well. The blindfold the Night Guard wore looked enchanted and most likely completely blocked her vision. “Um, thanks, I guess?” How in the world does she hide in shadows when she can’t see them?

Luna’s ears twitched. “We should go. Ponies are coming. I have additional Night Guard already in the room that will watch her until she can be moved.”

The group broke up, Twilight going a different direction that the others. One of these days, Princess, I’m going to learn to spot your Guards before they poke their heads out.

Author's Note:

Hey all. Been a while, but can’t be helped. My trip to the US was a disaster, as those following my blog know. I’m real nervous about this chapter, to be honest. But then, what else is new?

I’m going to start taking voice lessons to try to get my voice’s resilience up, which should, hopefully, allow me to write more via dictation.

Pre-reader conan helped me set up a Rites Skype text chat for fans of the fic. If you have Skype installed and open, you should, in theory, be able to use this link to add yourself to it. Seems to work, anyway.

For those curious, the "-denka" honorific is supposed to mean non-sovereign royalty.

Starting next chapter, I have to put the same number of words back into the backlog as what I post. So, if I post a 5,500 word chapter, I have to write 5,500 new words.

Also, since this chapter is very short, I’m making it a freebie on Patreon. Next one will have more words and will be a contributing one, but before I post it here, I have to write those new words. Patrons will get their sneak peek as normal, though. Thanks again everyone for sticking with me.

'Til next chapter,

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