• Published 15th Feb 2020
  • 2,985 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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Wicked Deeds

“I’m sorry,” Twilight said, and she was smiling in that way that made her eyes cold and her voice burn fire-red. “You are doing what.

Starlight smiled back, and it was only slightly awkward. “Well,” she said. “We’re… testing the limits of moral ambiguity?”

In the background, Trixie’s voice:

Not about witches!

And then the sound of glass breaking.

So Starlight’s smile got a bit more awkward. “It’s a delicate process,” she explained. “We’re learning the ropes as we go.”

Fifty minutes had passed since the hunt and defeat of the Rat King. The day had been saved, Ponyville had survived, and the Ponyville Castle Library looked like a mess.

Which is no small feat, because the Ponyville Castle Library made Sweet Apple Acres look like Fluttershy’s cottage. To take every single book off its shelf and then throw it around, to topple over half the bookshelves and leave them there, to move every single table out of its rightful place—that wasn’t an accident. That took a conscious effort to be legitimately terrible.

Not about witches!

Speaking of.

Trixie, the Great and Powerful, was still checking books at random. She was standing atop a little hill made out of piled-up books, rocking her signature hat with a tad more pride than usual. She threw the book over her shoulder, and then checked another. “Uh-oh! Starlight! Duck! Because this book—”

Starlight ducked. Twilight didn’t. She simply looked up and focused on her horn.

“—is not about witches!” Trixie yelled, throwing the book like a baseball pitcher.

FLASH!

And with a burst of purple magic, the book froze midair right before hitting Twilight’s face, which was clearly where Trixie had been aiming.

“Subtle,” Twilight said, putting the book down, giving Trixie a look that would make milk go sour—and then she looked at Starlight. “Seriously, though. What is going on.

“Right.” Starlight gave her a little smile, and then gulped. “Okay. So, long story short, we found a book that was—”

Not about witches!”

Starlight ducked. Twilight just flashed her horn a second time, and a semi-transparent pink bubble surrounded both mares. The book bounced off it with a BONK!—which made Starlight wince.

“TRIXIE!” she yelled. “STOP DOING THAT! Oh my gosh, Twilight, I’m so sorry. I get Trixie doesn’t like you, but this is completely—”

“No, no, there’s no need.” Twilight said, and another book bounced off the bubble with a second BONK! “Trust me, the hatred is absolutely mutual. I’d throw a book at her face too if I had the chance.”

“Oh.”

“I’m more concerned about what you’ve done to my library, honestly.” BONK! BONK! Twilight never looked away from Starlight. “So you’re researching witches. Why?”

Starlight blinked. “How did you know we were—?”

Not about witches!

BONK!

Starlight nodded. “Right. Dumb question.”

“Trixie’s rubbing off on you.”

“Thanks.” Starlight smiled, no irony in her voice, and then went on. “So, we found a book—the one that talks about the Rat King! Remember? Tails of the Macabre?

Twilight flashed her horn one more time. The book in particular appeared between the two, floating in midair. “This one?” Twilight asked.

“Yes! It has a chapter on witches. Wicked witches, not evil witches. I feel there’s an important distinction there. And the picture that comes with it—”

“Starlight!” And out of nowhere, Trixie jumped down the hill of books—causing a little avalanche on the way down—holding a book up. “Starlight!” She knocked on the bubble. “I found a book! It’s not about witches, but it’s about rats.”

Starlight and Twilight looked at her. Twilight was frowning. “Trixie.”

Trixie looked at her and gave her a sly smile. “Oh, hi, Princess Twilight! Didn’t see you there.” Then she went back to Starlight. “Do we still care about rats? Or can I throw this book away too?”

Starlight blinked, and looked at Twilight—who rolled her eyes, thoroughly ignored Trixie, and started to page through Tails of the Macabre with a frown.

So Starlight looked at Trixie again. “Rats? I mean…”

And then she looked out the window.

Ponyville had been completely taken over by cats.

Fit and fat, fast and slow, hunting and sleeping; they were everywhere, by the hundreds. Nature’s deadliest tiny predators, creeping around with dead rats in their mouths. They ran across roofs, climbed up trees, slept under rogue rays of sunlight. They pounced from above and reached from below, eviscerating every little critter in their reach.

Ponyville bathed in blood, in filth and pain and the screams of the dead. But you could barely hear it through all the purring.

“Yeah.” Starlight looked away from the window. “Pretty sure we’ve got the rat thing down by now. What’s the title of the book?”

Of Mice and Mice: How to Deal with the Pests, Critters, and Small Animals that are Currently Ruining your Life. And on the cover there’s a picture of a cat violently eviscerating a rat.

Starlight perked her ears, and leaned towards Trixie, so she could get a look too. “I’m sorry. Eviscerating?”

“No, violently eviscerating,” Trixie said, holding the book up. “There’s a difference, see?”

“Oh. Oh, wow. That’s needlessly graphic.” Starlight made a face, and then leaned away, looking back at the town. “I suppose you might as well keep it for later? Maybe it’ll turn out to be useful. Does it say anything about how to deal with cats?”

Trixie arched an eyebrow, and then paged through the book until she stopped at a page with a picture of a cat violently eviscerating a bird. “Cat Conquest: How to Deal with the Inevitable Uprising when a Magical Mishap turns Feline Friends into Foes. There’s an entire chapter dedicated just to that.

Definitely keep it around for later.”

“You’re trying to walk the line between wicked and evil.” Twilight’s voice made both mares perk up and look at her. Twilight wasn’t paging through the book anymore; she was looking at one single page. “And the witch in this drawing has Trixie’s hat, which is a pretty creepy coincidence. So.” She put the book down and looked at Starlight. “Please tell me you’re not trying to turn Trixie into a witch?”

Pause.

Twilight closed her eyes, rubbed the space between her eyes. “You’re absolutely trying to turn Trixie into a witch.”

“We absolutely are, yes,” Starlight said.

“And you,” Trixie said, smiling in that way that made it look like she had fangs, “are welcome.”

Twilight opened her eyes, looked at Trixie, and smiled back.

And then she closed the book with a SLAM! that made both Starlight and Trixie flinch.

“You know,” Twilight said, voice of molten glass and fire, “I live with Starlight Glimmer. I talk to her daily! And this is still the single worst idea I’ve heard in my entire life.” Pause. “No offense, Starlight.”

“No, no, none taken, I’m a handful.”

“And this book,” Twilight said, waggling Tails of the Macabre in the air, “isn’t exactly thorough, either. How much do you two know about witchcraft?”

“I wasn’t aware it might be an actual school of magic until fifty minutes ago,” Starlight said.

“And I literally have no idea what we’re doing! I’m just going along for the ride,” Trixie said.

“Right.”

“But,” Starlight said, and she walked closer to Trixie, here, standing by her side, so they’d face Twilight together. “There are barely any books on witchcraft around! Looks like it’s been, what, centuries since the last one? We could learn so much.” She nudged Trixie. “Right?”

Trixie was very quick on the uptake. “Of course!” She nudged Starlight back. “Absolutely. I’m doing this strictly out of scientific curiosity.”

“Yeah!”

And they both stood there, grinning at Twilight. Pitch-perfect, nothing but innocence and thirst for knowledge in their eyes. This was Fluttershy levels of sincerity, Pinkie Pie levels of naive childhood wonder.

So they were, like. Super lying.

But that’s what nagged Twilight—they were lying too well. Starlight and Trixie were natural predators, sure, but… There was an undertone of honesty to this lie. Twilight could hear it in their voices.

Because they weren’t lying to Twilight.

They were lying to each other.

So Twilight squinted a bit harder. “...The difference between witchcraft and magic,” she said, taking a step back, looking at both at the same time. “You know nothing, about that, right? You only know witches are wicked, and that’s it.”

“Literally nothing,” Trixie said.

“Witches have to be wicked, that’s definitely part of how it works,” Starlight said. “I don’t know why, but it’s a strict requirement. And witchcraft doesn’t seem to involve casting actual spells either.”

“No, you don’t cast any spells.” Twilight looked at Tails of the Macabre—still floating by her side—and made a face. “That’s how normal magic works. If you want to, say, find a treasure, you cast a spell, and try to detect gold.”

Starlight frowned. “And I’m guessing witchcraft doesn’t do that.”

“Witchcraft doesn’t do that,” Twilight said. “If you ask a witch for a treasure, she’ll point at a spot in your garden, and say ‘dig’. And if you dig, you’ll find treasure, because it turns out your grandparents buried it there years ago. It was always there. But it’s the witch who pointed out where to dig.”

“Right.” Trixie nodded, looked at Starlight. “So it’s a scam. Witches are scammers.”

Starlight looked at her. “It kind of fits you, doesn’t it?”

“I was literally born for this.”

“You have, but they’re not scammers,” Twilight said. “Starlight Glimmer, surely you’ve already realized—”

“—That if that’s how witchcraft works, witches are indirectly manipulating the timeline.” Starlight waved a hoof in the air. “Or directly, but only when you’re not looking. I get it, I get it, I’ve got a type, time travel is my personal—”

Twilight shook her head. “It’s not time travel,” she said, never blinking. “Not in that sense of the word anyway. Because they don’t use magic, they don’t use spells. They just point, and say ‘dig’, and then you dig, and then there’s treasure. There’s always been treasure there, but only once they want you to dig.”

“What,” Trixie said.

“What?” Starlight said, frowning. “Then how would they do that?”

“We don’t know.” Twilight said the words like a statement, not like an apology. It wasn’t a problem, it was a matter of fact. “Witches were researched at length centuries ago, and there wasn’t a single trace of magic detected whenever they did their thing. They just did it.”

Trixie put her hat on again. “So… that’s it?”

“That’s it.” Twilight bit her lip. “There are two main schools of thought regarding witches. Some scholars think their whims were powerful enough to alter reality—that whatever they desired would happen, naturally, without them actively doing anything.”

Starlight arched an eyebrow. “And the other school says that…?”

“Witches don’t exist, anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot, and our ancestors were incredibly stupid.”

That made Starlight frown. “And you don’t side with them? Feels like you’d side with them. No offense.”

“None taken! I’ve read history books, I have no idea how we survived as a species.” Twilight waved a hoof. “I used to think witches didn’t exist, too. But, you know, then I met Pinkie Pie.”

Starlight blinked. “Ah. Right.”

“Right. Right! Of course.” Trixie nodded. “Pinkie Pie.” Then she leaned closer to Starlight. and whispered: “Who’s that.”

“Pink one. Maud’s sister.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

Starlight frowned. “Likes to throw parties, loves to sing? Looks and smells and talks like cotton candy developed a brain?”

Trixie shook her head. “Nothing.”

“…The one you find particularly annoying, Trixie.”

“Ah! The baker. Sugarcube Corner. Yes.”

Twilight stared at them, unflinching, for a good three seconds. Four. Five.

Then she looked at Starlight. “And you genuinely find this pony’s company to be rewarding, you tell me?”

“I mean—”

“Trixie.” Twilight took a deep breath, and then forced herself to look at Trixie in the eye. It was the spiritual equivalent of submerging your head in ice-cold water. “Listen. If a witch commits a crime, it’s impossible to prove it’s her. There’s a reason they all got burned at the stake. So I very heartily recommend—”

“Well, Princess, that’s what the normal witches went through.” Trixie raised her snout up to the heavens, and closed her eyes, blinded by her own brilliance. “I, however, am the Great and Powerful Trixie! And even as a witch, I will be on my best behavior at all times. You have my word.”

“The toilet paper in my bathroom is worth more than your word and we both know it.”

“That sounds like another ‘you’ problem.”

Meanwhile, Starlight was frowning. “If witches can manipulate reality like that…” She looked at Twilight. “How did they manage to burn them at the stake?”

You could see smoke coming out of Twilight’s ears. “Trixie,” she said, speaking with the slow pace of someone trying, and utterly failing, to control their anger. “The ‘wicked’ bit is in the title. You’re—oh, uh, they caught them while they were sleeping, Starlight; ultimate power doesn’t mean anything if you don’t see it coming.”

“Wait, what.” Trixie frowned. “They actually burned the witches? I thought that was just Princess Twilight threatening me?”

“Trixie, Twilight would never—”

“I was absolutely threatening you, yes, but historically a lot of ponies got burned at the stake, and most were believed to be witches.” Twilight frowned. “Especially in little towns like this one. Witches are dangerous, ponies get paranoid—”

“And our ancestors were idiots,” Starlight finished. “Burning witches at the stake was barbaric.”

Trixie frowned, but then she took another look at Starlight—and flipped her mane off her face. “Well! Let them try if they dare!” She stuck out her chest. “See where that gets them.”

“Right,” Twilight said. “So you might get hurt, or alternatively, literally everypony else gets hurt. See why I’m so against this idea, Starlight?”

“Yes.” Starlight looked at Trixie, who simply nodded, and then back at Twilight. “Yeah.”

Twilight knew that face. “But you still want to do it.”

“Yes.”

Twilight had to rub the space between her eyes, and then look at them. “Okay. Why.”

“Because it’s Trixie!” Starlight said. “It’s her, and—Twilight, she’s perfect for this, you know it, and I… trust her with my life.”

“Yeah,” Trixie said. “I’m not going to hurt anypony. Not on purpose.”

And then Twilight saw the face Trixie was making—and so she relaxed, and showed doubt for the first time since she had walked into the library. “…Right,” Twilight said. “I mean, I guess, yes, she has proven her redemption a couple times already. She’s on our side nowadays.” Squint. “Still terrible, mind you, but not an outright villain.”

“Love you too, Princess,” Trixie said.

“She’s still Trixie, yes; that’s why it’ll work out,” Starlight said. “We need wickedness.” Then she pushed Trixie behind her again so Twilight could look at nothing but Starlight’s own eyes. “Please? Twilight?”

Twilight frowned. “Starlight—”

“Do it for me?”

And there it was.

Starlight had this uncanny ability to make her eyes look really big, and really pleading, and really full of stars. And you can’t really live with someone for years, show her the true meaning of friendship and how to fight for what’s good, and not get attached.

So Twilight clicked her tongue, and then took a step back. A flash of her horn, and Tails of the Macabre disappeared. “The problem with witchcraft is that it’s affected by itself. If you become a witch, you were always going to become one too, and that’s a path that leads to—”

“Twilight.”

“Ugh, fine. I guess we might… learn something interesting, if you’re really careful.” Pause. “And if you clean up this mess.” Pause. “And if you do everything under my strict surveillance.”

Starlight lit up, her ears perked up, her tail swished side to side. She grabbed Twilight and gave her a quick hug. “Thank you,” she whispered. “For real.”

“Yes, well. I’m starting to understand why Princess Celestia cried every time I drew her a new portrait when I was five.” Twilight returned the hug, and when Starlight let her go, she cleared her throat with a cough. “Are you sure you’re up to the task, though? Researching something like this takes time. Even if I help you find the right books.”

Trixie grabbed Starlight and dragged her closer to her, so she would also be further away from Twilight. “What, with Starlight on the case?” she said. “It’ll be a matter of minutes. She’s a genius! Aren’t you, Starlight?”

Starlight chuckled, and shrugged. “It’s not like we’ve got anything else to do.”

Twilight arched an eyebrow. “You’re kidding me, right? You’re going to be cleaning all week.”

Pause.

Both Trixie and Starlight looked at her. “What?” Trixie asked, looking around. “No way. How big is this place?” She looked at Starlight. “Can we force Spike to do it?”

“Probably yes.”

“Good!”

“You can absolutely get Spike to help you,” Twilight said, “but I’m not talking about the library.” She nodded at the window. “You do realize Ponyville was just taken over by rats, right? And by cats, too. The place is drowning in filth. Castle included.”

“Uh.”

“So you mean…?”

“I mean,” Twilight said, and you really couldn’t blame her for the absolutely terrible smile that made it to her face when she said this, “that you better learn to hold a book while you’re mopping the floor, because that’s what we’re going to be doing for a long time.”