• Published 15th Feb 2020
  • 2,922 Views, 150 Comments

Resting Witch Face - Aragon



Trixie and Starlight discover witchcraft is real, and do the obvious thing about it.

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Pointy Hats

There’s an old piece of Equestrian wisdom that only makes sense when you remember—this is a species that’s produced both Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, and it’s still not extinct.

It goes like this: life is either a series of surprises or a series of accidents, and the only difference is attitude. Ultimately, the world is full of things you can’t control—the only thing you can understand and master is your own self. So, might as well do that.

It’s a cute idea. It’s completely wrong.

Nopony can control themselves, not to that degree. It’s just that the lucky ones don’t have to, and ponies are a very fortunate species, statistically speaking.

There is another piece of Equestrian wisdom, though, and this one’s dead on the money. It goes like this: whenever something happens to you, the first thing you think of is who you are. The second that you think is who you choose to be.

This is a story about the ponies who aren’t born lucky.


It all started before they saved the day, that day. Picture this:

The Great and Powerful Trixie.

Reading a book.

“The Mouse of Cards! Useless. The Verminister! Also useless. The Demice! Yeah, we know about all these already.” Then Trixie blinked, and stopped turning the pages. “Oh. Starlight! Here’s a new one!”

“Hmm?”

“A giant rat with a fork!” Trixie squinted, tilted the book to one side, her head to the other. “It’s called the Trodent.”

“Trodent?” Starlight perked up her ears and edged closer to Trixie, to peek over her shoulder, speedreading the page with the skill of a pony who’d spent her teenage years utterly friendless. “Never heard that one before.”

Trixie didn’t even bother reading anymore, she just looked at Starlight. “You think this might be it?”

“Well. It’s a sewer spirit. Big one, too!” Starlight pointed at a scribble near the end of the page. “Lord of Metropolitan Filth. Spreads a magic plague, causes headaches and minor discomfort.”

“Hmm.”

Trixie looked out the window.

Ponyville was completely flooded with rats.

Big, disgusting rats, all red eyes and sharp teeth. They moved in waves, screeching all the while, covering every inch of the ground, climbing up every wall. They clawed and gnawed, nibbled and scratched, eating or breaking everything in sight. The came from under the bridge, from the root of the trees, sprouted off the earth like fanged poppies.

Sweat and blood made them slippery, their fur ruffled and glistening under the sun. The only thing louder than the pitter-pat of their million little clawed feet was the terrified, painful screaming of ponies too slow to make it.

Trixie looked away from the window. “…Do rats trying to eat your eyeballs count as 'minor discomfort'?”

“It’s usually just a euphemism for nausea, actually.”

“Right. I don’t think we’re dealing with a Trodent.”

The place was the Ponyville Castle Library, which was a very decadent room, but in a strictly boring way.

The Library wasn’t big; it was ridiculous. It was in the second floor of the Castle because it literally did not fit the first—you could see it from outside, sticking out like the building had grown a conjoined twin. It was as spacious as the rest of the floor combined; bursting with bookshelves on every wall, on every column, every five feet give or take.

Trixie and Starlight had spent the last three hours there, sitting at one of the many many tables. Ponyville Castle had tight security; rats can’t eat through crystal. Thank Celestia for that.

“…So we’re back at square one.” Starlight put the book down, ears flat against her head, and shot Trixie a sympathetic look. “I’m really sorry, Trixie. It was a good guess.”

“Don’t worry! I don’t mind it.” Trixie swished her tail side to side—just casual enough not to be a wag—and sat down next to Starlight, grinning. “This is fun! We’re having fun.”

“Mmm.” Starlight nodded, gentle smile on her face, and patted Trixie’s head. Trixie leaned into it. “Trixie,” Starlight said.

“Yes?”

“Ponies suffering a lot out there.”

The screeching of the rats, and the terrified screams of the innocent citizens of Ponyville, came from outside and filled the room.

So Trixie blinked, and stopped swishing her tail. “Oh. Right.” She nodded. “We’re not supposed to have fun right now.”

“Worried, Trixie. We’re worried.”

“Right, yes, our friends are in danger, how terrible. Anyway!” Trixie got up, spring in her step, and trotted to one of the shelves on the wall. “Time to read more books! Do you think this is a good place to start looking?”

Starlight gave the bookshelf a look. “I suppose?”

“Good!”

Trixie flashed her horn.

Forty books fell from the highest shelves.

“I’ll never get tired of that.” Trixie said, grinning. Then she picked up one of the many books, and read the title. “Okay! Not about rats.” She tossed it over her shoulder and picked another. “Not about rats.” Another. “Not about rats.” Then she paused, and looked at Starlight. “Still worried, by the way! Having a terrible time over here.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

“I know you can! Oh wow this is definitely not about rats.”

Starlight chuckled, and then went back to her own book.

It was a lackluster folklore anthology, one of many—a series of bedtime stories to traumatize your children into sleep. Still worth a look, mind you; Equestria being what it was, the difference between a fairytale and an encyclopedia entry started and ended at font choice.

“Not about rats!” Trixie tossed another book over her shoulder, and then moved to another bookshelf. “I have to say, seeing how Princess Twilight is a massive loser, you’d think she’d at least know how to run a library.”

“Hmmm.” Starlight opened a new book and frowned at the index. Nothing useful here either, she could tell already. “I can guarantee you that this place uses the single most efficient filing system Equestria’s ever seen. It’s just so big that I never got around to learn the speci—”

“Yes, yes, I get it, she’s a neurotic mess. Not about rats!” Trixie tossed the book over her shoulder, and then hesitated a bit before grabbing another, biting her lip and frowning before going for it. “You know, I get why she’s a princess? But also, you know. Why is she a princess?”

“Well. It’s hard to say.” Starlight opened a new book and frowned at the index. Nothing useful in there either. “Talent, fate, hard work…”

“Nepotism?”

“The politically correct term is friendship, actually. Kind of her whole deal.”

“Ugh. I guess.” Trixie rolled her eyes, and tossed another book over her shoulder. “Not about rats.” Then she looked at Starlight. “But don’t you ever get tired of it?”

“Tired of what?”

“Of living under her shadow!” Trixie said, picking another book. “Don’t you hate how she’s always hogging the spotlight? Just because she’s better than you at magic? I’m surprised you don’t want to run from this place. Or burn it down, really; I can honestly work with both.”

Pause.

“Uh.” Starlight blinked, looking up from her book, ears flat against her face. “I’ve never felt Twilight looks down on me?”

“Oh,” Trixie said. She frowned. “Well, of course she hasn’t,” she said, and then she grinned in that sly Trixie way of hers. “She couldn’t even if she tried, I’ve got exquisite taste in friends.”

“Rrrright.” Starlight got up from the table and put the book aside. It wasn’t about rats anyway. “Trixie?” she ventured. “Are you okay? You know nopony’s looking down on you just because your magic’s not—”

“What? Looking down on me?Trixie grabbed another book and smirked at Starlight, positively dripping with smugness. “Starlight, you need to work on your jokes, because Princess Twilight can’t stand to—” and then her eyes caught the title of the book. “Ah.”

Starlight saw this. “Ah?” she repeated, ears perking up. “I know that tone. What is it?”

“This is called Tails of the Macabre.” Trixie waved the book in the air, and then walked to Starlight and showed it to her. “I think it’s a typo, though.”

Starlight looked. It definitely was—this was not a good edition. Starlight wasn’t as book-savvy as Twilight, but she could tell a knockoff when she saw one, and this book was counterfeit. Cheap paper, terrible font.

But still. “Horror stories?” She glanced at the blurb on the back—one paragraph that included the word “monstrous” five times, each one misspelled in new and interesting ways—and then opened the book. It had pictures. “This looks like a very shoddy translation, but it’s worth a chance, I guess. The rats are getting feisty.”

Trixie looked out the window again. Three rats had made it all the way up to the window frame. Two were trying to gnaw at the glass, while the third was hitting it with its tiny clawed fist, murder in its eyes.

“Yikes.”

“Yikes is a good way to put it.” Starlight paged through the bootleg booklet, eyes darting left and right. The translation was terrible, you had to read every sentence twice to understand what it meant—but they seemed to be indeed stories about monsters; every chapter about a different one. “Hootligan, Gorgon Zola, Beeholder, Dinotaur, Bearwolf, Neck Romancer…”

Trixie peeked over her shoulder. “Neck Romancer?”

“Sexy vampire.”

“Aaah.”

“The Tyrantula, the… Verminister again? That guy’s popular. And—”

The next page had a picture. A flood of brown rats, taking over a city. Sharp teeth. Red eyes. They covered every inch of the ground, they climbed up the walls and gnawed at the windows, their fur glistening with sweat and blood.

Up in the sky, floating, seven rats with white eyes, forming a wheel, their tails tied up together. That’s what controlled the rats. That’s what brought them to the world of the living.

And its name was—

Starlight’s voice grew colder. “The Rat King.”

“Ooooooh. I think we’ve got it!” Trixie said. “We’re so good at this.”

“We are.” Starlight moved back to the table—Trixie followed—and paged through the short story at a slow pace. “And if we’re lucky,” she muttered as she read, “this will do more than just give us a name. This is a fairytale, so maybe the heroes defeat the monster at the end of the tale, or maybe we get a clue of what kind of weakness—”

“Cats,” Trixie said, peeking over Starlight’s shoulder.

Pause.

Starlight looked at her. “What?”

“I skipped to the ending.” Trixie pointed at the last two paragraphs of the last page. “Says it’s cats. We gotta bring some cats and they’ll just hunt the Rat King themselves.”

Second pause, slightly longer. Starlight skipped to the ending too, and speedread what Trixie was pointing at.

“Oh. Yeah. It’s just cats,” she said then. “If you want to get rid of the rats, you need to find a bunch of cats and let them hunt the—we spent three hours researching this?”

“We’re so good. We’re the best at saving the day.” Trixie flashed her horn. “What’s the next monster in the book?”

“Trixie, we don’t have the time to—wait what’s that.”

Another illustration. Pretty cute, for once.

It was a mare on a hill, under the full moon. Her eyes said “go away”, and her skirt said “the artist doesn’t know how to draw clothing.” Shadows played on her face, sharpening her features; there was a broom by her side, there was a cat on her back. No matter where you were when you looked at the picture, the mare was looking straight back at you.

There was a pointy hat on her head.

It was identical to Trixie’s.

“…The Wicked Witch,” Starlight read out loud, not entirely on purpose. “Also known as the Desired Mare. Is that translation right? That can’t be right.”

“Huh.” Trixie took off her hat, looked at it, and then back at the picture. “The hat is always black in those Nightmare Night costumes, isn’t it?”

“And witches are a legend,” Starlight said. Her eyes drifted around the page. “Or so I thought, at least. But seeing how everything else in the book exists, might as well—”

“Everything?” Trixie asked, frowning. “Really? Even the Neck Romancer?”

Especially the Neck Romancer; you should talk to Fluttershy one of these days.” Starlight went back to the book, eyes darting around. “So I guess that, yes, chances are witches are also a thing. Who would have thought.”

“So what’s the story about?”

“A wicked witch subjugating an entire town,” Starlight said. She turned the page around, and skimmed some more. “She’s a unicorn without magical talent, but she’s really beautiful, and knows witchcraft. So she’s the most powerful pony around. She kind of sounds like you?”

“I was just thinking that!” Trixie said. “I really am gorgeous, aren’t I?”

“No, I mean—well, yes, you clean up nicely.”

Trixie batted her eyelashes.

Starlight went on. “But I more mean, this witch talks in third person now and then, too? She gets a lovely lady to join her in her evil witchy ways, does some horrible things, and then leaves.” Starlight finished the story, and then went back to the start, to the illustration. Then she said: “Hmm.”

And then a second, stronger: “Hmmmm.

But Trixie didn’t notice, cause she was still looking at her own hat. And—though Starlight didn’t see this—she then looked around her, at this library she hated, in this castle she didn’t like.

“Hmm-hmmm,” Trixie said then, and her voice and Starlight’s harmonized.

Then Starlight said: “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

And Trixie tipped her hat. “I think I am.”


She was not. And they were both lying to each other.

That’s what this is all about.