• Published 18th Dec 2011
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A Tale of Two Ponies - Silicas

Luna is pregnant with a colt sired when she was still Nightmare Moon. What will come of this?

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Chapter 4: It's Not the Destination

Chapter 4: It's Not the Destination

The Great and Powerful Trixie was hungry. Sighing, she stepped off to the side of the road and situated herself under a nearby tree. The leaves shielded the mare somewhat from the rays of the midday sun as she removed the burlap sack slung over her shoulder and unfolded it on the ground. There was not much food left inside, only a few old pieces of bread wrapped in a thin cloth. Trixie unwrapped a piece and nibbled on it. Her stomach protested as the first bite of the stale food made its way down her throat. It did not want this meal again; it wanted something fresh. Trxie shook her head, tore off a large piece, and forced it down. Her stomach wanted something that it could not have.

Trixie looked up from her meal as she heard the sound of hoofsteps on grass. From the direction of the road, a white unicorn mare with a red mane was approaching her.

“Are you okay?” the stranger asked.

Trixie raised her head and closed her eyes, trying to look as composed as possible. “Trixie is just fine.”

The stranger sat down beside her. “You talk like that even after the show?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is the Great and Powerful Trixie.”

The mare chuckled. “You certainly don’t look the part right now.”

Trixie looked back to the open sack in front of her and prodded it with a forehoof. “Trixie knows.”

“I bet that you’re wondering who I am,” the stranger commented.

“Trixie is.”

“I’m Sanguine. It’s a pleasure to meet the Great and Powerful Trixie in person.”

Trixie placed the half-eaten loaf of bread back on the ground and rewrapped it. When she looked up she saw that Sanguine had extended a hoof. The blue mare hesitated, forcing a smile.

Sanguine frowned and returned her hoof to her side. “You won’t ever get out of this rut if you aren’t nice to other ponies.”

Trixie scoffed. “Trixie can handle herself.”

“I can see that.”

The blue mare’s head snapped to Sanguine. Bitterly, she demanded, “What do you want?”

“I want to help you,” the white pony answered calmly.


“Because I think you can help me.”

“With what?”

Sanguine paused for a moment. “Let’s call it a research project. We’re both on the way to Canterlot, why don’t I tell you on the way there?” Sanguine pointed to a carriage parked just off the side of the road. “It’s a long walk from here to there, and I’ve got food too.”

Trixie looked back to her knapsack. After a moment, she sighed and wrapped it up with her magic. Standing, she said, “Trixie will hear what you have to say.”

Sanguine stood as well and motioned for Trixie to follower her. As the pair loaded into the back of the carriage, the white mare signaled for the two ponies that were pulling it to continue onwards. Immediately after entering, Trixie slouched against the soft red fabric seats. They matched Sanguine’s mane almost perfectly, but looked warn from years of use.

“So, what is this project of yours?” Trixie asked.

Sanguine smiled. “First, I want to tell you a story.”

“What about?”

The white mare’s expression darkened slightly. “It’s a story from my foalhood. The day I lost my mother.”

It was the middle of a cold winter night in Manehattan. Sanguine had been asleep, nestled into her warm covers like a good little filly. The clouds outside where the thick and puffy white ones, but they looked grey in the midnight light. The filly was very tired; she wanted to go back to sleep.

Downstairs, she heard another noise. Her eyes shot open as her breathing became shallower. The raised voices of her mother and father echoed up the stairwell.

Sanguine slipped out from under the bedclothes and dropped onto the floor. Moving as silently as she could, she opened the door to her room and entered the hallway in front of it. She could hear her mother yelling now. It sounded like it was coming from the home’s entryway.

As she descended the stairs a cold blast of air hit her. The front door was open and her mother was standing just outside the threshold. Her father was yelling now too. Sanguine heard her name, but they had not noticed her yet. The unicorn stallion was pleading with the mare, promising forgiveness. Her mother only shook her head, eyes closed. He was crying, but she was not. The pegasus mare looked almost confident.

“He’s better than you,” Sanguine’s mother explained. “He lives in Canterlot. He has a big home and lots of money. He loves me so much more than you ever have. And he shows it.”

Her father said Sanguine’s name again.

“I don’t care about her. How can you not see that? This is my life; not hers. I have a chance at a future now. He’s so much smarter and he knows other ponies in Canterlot too.” The mare turned around and faced the open air. “I’ve made up my mind.”

Spreading her wings, Sanguine’s mother leapt into the air. The stallion followed her on hoof, galloping as he shouted apologies at the night sky. Sanguine had followed her father out into the snow. It was cold and she was much slower than her father, but she knew that she could change her mother’s mind. If only she could reach her.

The mare rose ever higher until she finally slipped inside the gray clouds and vanished. Sanguine and her father both stopped running. He turned around and, seeing his foal, scooped her up in his hooves and lifted her onto his back. He was mumbling words of comfort, but Sanguine could not make them out over the sounds of her crying.

The stallion carried her back into the warm house and up to her bed. He stayed in her room the whole night, watching her closely. It took Sanguine what felt like hours to finally drift back to sleep. The whole time, she thought of only one thing: If only I were faster. If only I could have flown.

“What do you mean?” Trixie said as she scooted slightly further away from Sanguine.

The other unicorn sighed. “Around two years after that night my father took me to the Summer Sun Celebration. It was in Las Pegasus that year. It was the first time that I saw Princess Celestia. You’ve seen her, right?”

“Yah,” Trixie said, “but everypony has. Pictures of her are in every foal’s schoolbooks.”

“But have you seen her in person?”

“No,” Trixie admitted.

Sanguine pointed to her eyes. “It took me actually seeing her to put two and two together. If she’s an alicorn, why can’t we all be?”

Trixie cocked her head to the side. “I don’t know. That’s just the way it is, I guess.”

“That’s not an answer,” Sanguine scolded. “I have devoted my life to finding out how these princesses came to be. I did well in school. I got into The Canterlot University of Magic. It didn’t take long for me to find out that finding an answer would be an uphill battle. I scoured the libraries and I even got to speak with Celestia myself.”

“What did she tell you? What did you find?” Trixie asked, her eyes wide with curiosity.

Sanguine slapped a hoof against her leg. “Nothing from Celestia and only worthless clues in the books. I tried to reach out to other scholars. I tried to get their help, but I got nothing but laughs from them.”

Trixie shook her head. “That must have been terrible. I bet you felt a lot like I do right now.”

“Hah!” Sanguine shouted, bumping Trixie on the shoulder roughly. She crossed her forehooves and beamed.

“What?” Trixie asked, slightly stunned.

“You said, ‘I’. Twice.”

Trixie smiled. “Oh. I, er, Trixie just slipped up.”

“That’s a regression,” Sanguine commented, “but I’m sure we can make back the progress.”

Trixie did not answer. The carriage rolled over a large bump, shaking the two ponies within.

“So,” Sanguine said after she steadied herself, “this is where you come in, Trixie. I need your help.”

The light blue mare shook her head and looked out the carriage window. “Trixie is not a scientist. She can’t possibly help you.”

Sanguine let out a loud laugh and rested a hoof on Trixie’s shoulder. “I saw your show; you’re pretty good with magic. That’s all that I need. A unicorn who’s young enough to learn a few new tricks and ambitious enough to face down an alicorn. Don’t you want out of this traveling showpony business?” Sanguine swept a foreleg in a wide arc in front of her. “Don’t you want to see the world? Don’t you want to make it a better place for everypony?” Trixie was nodding, but Sanguine kept talking. “Don’t you want to learn how to fight? Don’t tell me that you’ve never been hurt by another pony before and wanted revenge. Everypony has.”

“I can think of one,” Trixie said, stomping her rear right leg against the carriage floor as a picture of Twilight Sparkle filled her mind’s eye. She could see that arrogant sneer on the purple mare’s face. That sneer of a mare that needed to be put in her place.

Sanguine grinned. “Exactly. Tell me about the pony. What happened?”

“She made a fool of the Great and Powerful Trixie,” the blue mare said, nearly spitting each word. “I lost everything that day. All because of her. All because of Twilight Sparkle.”

“Wait? Who?” Sanguine asked, her eyes going wide.

“Twilight Sparkle,” Trixie repeated.

“Well, that’s a coincidence.” The white pony leaned back in her seat and sighed contentedly.

“I think you’ll be a perfect fit,” Sanguine said, patting Trixie on the back. “You’re not the only pony who’s been hurt by Twilight Sparkle before. Remember how I told you about my time at the Canterlot University of Magic?”

The white pony’s words elicited a nod from Trixie before she continued, “Well, I had a classmate named of Twilight Sparkle. We were sort of friends, as much as somepony could be friends with that mare.”

Sanguine smiled, asking, “How about another story?”

Trixie did not protest.

Twilight Sparkle shook her head and laid the thick stack of paper back on the desk in front of her. “You can’t be serious about this, Sanguine.”

Sanguine sighed and looked around the room. The library at the University of Canterlot was cold. Cold. Sanguine thought for a moment, milling over the word in her mind. It was the only word that Sanguine could find to describe the place. The feeling did not just come from the frigid temperature that radiated from the gray stone walls or the chilling drafts of air that circulated throughout building. It came from the rows upon rows of heartless, data-driven texts stacked to the ceiling around her. It came from the suppressed, voiceless sounds of students whispering back and forth. It came from the relentless, unforgiving rigor of academic life. But most of all, it came from the purple mare sitting just in front of Sanguine.

“Why don’t you understand?” the white mare asked, still not looking at Twilight.

Sanguine could hear Twilight flip through the first few pages with her magic. “You don’t have anything here.”

The red-maned mare chuckled. “That’s half of the point.” Sanguine waived her hoof in the space in front of her. “Research needs to be done.”

Twilight shook her head again. “There’s a reason it hasn’t. I’m–”

Sanguine spun to face Twilight and cut her off.

“Yah. I know. You know Celestia. Everypony in this entire university knows that. You’re the special one, Twilight. You get all the best grades. The princess makes sure you get into all the best classes. You can conjure up a spell in your sleep that would put half of the professors here to shame.” Sanguine spread her forelegs wide, nearly throwing the mare over as the chair beneath her tilted backwards. “You’re the pinnacle of a unicorn’s existence.”

Twilight was speechless. Before she could marshal a response, Sanguine launched into another point.

“Look around you. Look. What do you see? Unicorns. Everywhere. Just us. No pegasi, no earth ponies. Just us.”

The purple mare’s eyes flicked to the side. She knew that she did not need to look, though. There were only unicorns at the Canterlot University of Magic. It was a university… of magic. Twilight was about to inform Sanguine of the fact when the white mare pressed a hoof up against her mouth.

Sanguine shook her head violently. “Don’t you say it, Twilight Sparkle. I’m not a foal.” The irate unicorn withdrew her hoof. “I know this is a university of magic. But that’s not my point. Why do we unicorns get all of this? Why do we get magic? Why do we get all this knowledge? Why don’t the pegasi? Why not the earth ponies too?”

Sanguine pointed a hoof to the east. “Now look at Cloudsdale. Ever been there? Ever even heard of a unicorn going there? Bet not. Pegasi only, on account of it being two and a half kilometers off the ground. How come they get to fly and we don’t?”

The white mare pushed her chair out from under her and stood on all four hooves. She was practically yelling now. The eyes of the entire library were on her.

“Now, look out to the Everfree Valley. You see those rows of apple trees? Those stretch forty times as far as Cloudsdale is off the ground. You think a unicorn could make that? No. That’s earth pony’s job. Why do they get to bend and shape nature to their will? Why can’t we make a flower spring from the ground with little more than a tender thought?”

Sanguine lifted the desk in front of her in her magic and cast it to the side. The pages of her thesis scattered in the air as the wooden table collided with the ground a few meters away. Twilight flinched backwards, but Sanguine did not stop. She stepped right up to Twilight, her muzzle only inches from the purple mare’s.

“It isn’t bucking fair. None of it. Look at us. We’re three races, bound together by the one thing that bests us all: your beautiful alicorn princess. A pony that has it all. Celestia. That’s what I want, Twilight Sparkle. I want us all to be equals. Pegasi. Unicorns. Earth ponies. Alicorns.”

The white mare jabbed a hoof into Twilight’s stomach. “But you wouldn’t know about that, would you? There’s not a heart in there. You don’t care what you feel like inside when you wake up. All the closed doors, they don’t matter to you. Life is not the destination, Twilight; it’s the journey. Maybe Celestia should have taught you that first.”

Sanguine took a single step backwards. Sighing, she said in a more even tone, “Everypony being able to experience everything. Nopony left behind in the cold as a pegasus flies off. Is that too much to ask for? Is that not worth spending my life on?”

Sanguine was nearly yelling and with each word her forelegs waved wildly through the air. Trixie had been forced into the far corner of the carriage for fear of being struck. She felt a little like Twilight must have: completely overwhelmed.

“What happened?” Trixie managed as Sanguine’s story tapered to a close.

The white mare chuckled. “Disciplinary probation. Or do you mean the presentation? That was a few days later. I think most everypony was too afraid to laugh, but a few did anyways.” Sanguine shook her head. “I handled that significantly better.”

The pair went silent for several minutes. Trixie watched the Equestrian countryside roll past them through the carriage window. Just the thought of walking that distance made her hooves hurt and her stomach rumble.

Sanguine’s voice interrupted Trixie’s thoughts.

“So, how about that food I offered you?”

Trixie looked up. The other unicorn was smiling back at her.

“What? Oh. Trixie would appreciate it greatly.”

The white pony’s horn lit with a dull red glow. A few seconds later a wooden box floated in through the carriage window. Sanguine opened it and extracted a bowl filled with leafy greens. Trixie felt her stomach growl. Finally, something that was not stale bread! This meal would be a simple salad for Sanguine, but Trixie would make it a feast for herself.

Sanguine passed the bowl to Trixie and watched quietly as the blue unicorn devoured its contents. After Trixie finished, Sanguine ferried the bowl away and returned the box. The blue mare had said no words of thanks, but her purple eyes spoke differently.

After another few minutes passed in silence, Sanguine said, “So, about my offer?”

Trixie jumped at the sudden words. “Uh, yes. Yes.”

Sanguine smiled. “So you’re agreeing, then.”

The blue pony repeated herself with a nod.

“Splendid. In that case, I don’t think Canterlot is our destination. Do you mind if we make for the caves?”

Trixie cocked her head to the side. “Caves?”

“Yes. That’s where the whole operation’s been set up. There’s a system of caves and abandoned mines only a couple kilometers away from the town of Ponyville, which, as you know, is on the way to Canterlot. That’s where we’re working from.”

“We?” Trixie asked. “How many ponies are working for you now?”

“You’ll be the thirtieth or so. Most are unicorns, but we have a few pegasi and earth ponies too. This is about everypony, after all.”

Trixie looked back out the window. “How long until we get there?”

“An hour or two,” Sanguine said as she too turned to look out her window.

Sanguine coughed as she lay back on her cot in the conclave’s communal quarters. The strip of cloth strung between two sturdy pieces of cloth was rough and uncomfortable, but it was certainly better than the cavern floor. She rolled over and faced towards the exit, breathing in the slightly fresher air. Before long the mare heard the creaking sound of the room’s door opening.

Opening her eyes, Sanguine saw Trixie. A thin burlap sack of belongings was slung loosely over the blue mare’s back, obscuring her wand and crescent moon cutie mark. One of the conclave’s acolytes stood behind her, but he had turned away and looked to be leaving. He had probably been the one that showed Trixie around the cavern after her arrival.

“Can I help you with anything?” Sanguine asked, gesturing at the sack on Trixie’s back.

Trixie answered in a confident, if slightly anxious voice. “Would you be so kind as to tell Trixie where she might put her belongings?”

“Ah, yes,” Sanguine said. The mare slowly removed herself from her cot and rose to her hooves. “I think we have an open bunk or two over here.”

Sanguine led Trixie to a cot in the opposite corner of the room. The white unicorn tapped an empty patch of ground just beside it with a forehoof.

“Just set your belongings down here and I’ll get them put away for you. Meanwhile, you should head to the kitchen. Just tell the cook that you’re new and he should give you a little extra to eat; he’s a bit of a sucker for unicorn mares.”

Trixie smiled. “Thank you, Sanguine.”

“No,” Sanguine said, putting a hoof on Trixie’s shoulder. “Thank you for offering your help. We’re in desperate need of more magical talent. Any strength that you can lend us is worth much more than a few spoonfuls of oatmeal.”

Trixie nodded. After levitating her belongings to the floor she asked, “Now that Trixie is here, could you tell her what she needs to do?”

Sanguine forced a smile. “Don’t worry about that at the moment. I promise that I’ll explain what’s going on here, what our plans are, and where you fit in very soon. But I want you to focus on getting settled right now. Learning to navigate these caves is difficult enough.”

The white mare ushered Trixie out of the room with a hoof.

“Go and eat now. We’ll talk later.”

The blue unicorn hesitated. She eyed her sack of belongings beside the other unicorn. Sanguine traced Trixie’s gaze and chuckled slightly, shaking her head.

“Don’t worry about your things,” said Sanguine as she leaned back against Trixie’s cot. “I’ll get them sorted.”

The white mare repeated the waving gesture. “Just go eat now.”

Without another word, Trixie obeyed and exited the cavern, leaving Sanguine alone in the space. After a moment of contemplation, the she unlaced Trixie’s bag with her magic and looked inside. She saw a pair of purple capes, each fastened by a false gem; a small satchel of bits, with no more than twenty coins; a loaf-and-a-half of bread, near-spoiling and wrapped in thin folds of cloth; a worn leather-bound journal, accompanied by a recently drained inkwell and quill; several pouches of alchemical ingredients combined into a curious powder; and a single tattered wizard’s hat. No more.

With a sigh, Sanguine stowed the clothing and satchel beneath a cot and placed the journal and quill on the canvas-wrapped pillow. Ferrying Trixie’s inkwell to one of the writing desks along the room’s walls, the mare drew a large flask of ink from the communal stores. With her magic, Sanguine and transferred a small amount from the flask into Trixie’s vial. Returning to the cot, Sanguine unwrapped the pieces of bread and tossed them into the fire that burned in the center of the room, leaving the cloth scraps folded neatly beside the cloaks and hat.

Organization completed, Sanguine returned to her cot and closed her eyes. Though her head still hurt, she felt much better than she had before. She was one step closer to Luna. One step closer to equality.

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